Jump to content
Aeterna Roma RPG

Recommended Posts

Posted (edited)

The summons to a private interview with Quintus Caesar Augustus could not have come at a more opportune time, as far as Aulus was concerned. He had news that he needed to impart, and the sooner the better, for all concerned - if he could.

He arrayed himself in his Senatorial finest, reflecting that the last time either man had seen the other, they had been in far more comfortable military gear. He idly wondered if Quintus Augustus would recognise his former tribune out of his breastplate and military cloak.

The Domus Augustorum was designed to impress and overawe those who approached it. Doubtless the original house, inhabited by the Divine Augustus, had been somewhat less impressive - he had been famed for the simplicity of his habits and lifestyle, after all - but it had been extended and improved upon until very little, if anything at all, could be discerned of the original. Aulus refused to be overawed; he had a previous acquaintance with the primary inhabitant of the place, which many of the visitors to it did not, and Quintus Augustus would be the same man whether Aulus met him here or in the midst of a military encampment in Cappodocia.

He gave his name to the slave at the door and was allowed inside, guided within the rabbit warren to the very heart of the palace, to be admitted to the presence of the Augustus himself, a private interview without the presence of all those who wished to present petitions for this favour or that.

He went forward, enough to be seen by the man seated upon the curule chair at the far end of the room, and waited to be acknowledged.

 

@Chris

Edited by Sharpie
  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

"Ah, Aulus Praetxtatus!" Quintus stood as he saw the figure of his ally enter the room. He matched the man's steps until near enough to him to extend a military hand shake. "Good of you to come. Wine?" He turned to a slave who, with near impeccable placement, was standing just a few feet away from them with a vase and cups in hand. Quintus went ahead and took his, and took a drink. 

"I trust the preparations for your campaign are in order?" Quintus of course backed Aulus' nomination as consul, and would see to it that the man took the chair of prominence in the coming year. Though Aulus was two decades younger than himself, Quintus considered him a strong ally, daresay a friend. It was no secret that Quintus was not a man to trust easily. For almost all of his life he had relied upon his own strength and cunning to advance his career and his station. But those few men who showed not only loyalty, but a consistent kind of loyalty.. those were the kind of men worth supporting.

@Sharpie

 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Aulus grasped the arm extended to him in a firm military shake. He had never wanted the purple; his own ambition was not of that sort, but in the chaos and confusion of Clemens' purges, he had known that his place was by the side of his old commander, and he had supported Quintus Flavius Alexander in his own bid for power, knowing that the older man's quest was the best hope for peace and prosperity for Rome itself - and so it had proven.

"Thank you," he said, accepting the wine-cup offered to him. "And yes, I think so. I had in mind to build a thermae or some such for the city - with your approbation, naturally." He would not go against Caesar's wishes, of course, but there was a long tradition of consuls (and those seeking that position) offering civic works for the benefit of the city. "I understand Octavius is building a new library now that his amphitheatre is finished and in use."

 

@Chris

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Looking over the brim of his cup, Quintus nodded. "Yes," he said, returning his now emptied cup to the slave, "Octavius has the gift of seeing space for great and impressive buildings where I only see slums." He chuckled, and then continued on to the point, which was Aulus' own ambitions. "Certainly the city could use a thermae... or some such. All new building projects are now passed through Octavius, but whatever it is you have in mind, give me the outline first and I'll make sure it gets approved."

At the break, Quintus motioned for Aulus to follow him through the rear exit of the Aula Regia into the courtyard where they might enjoy the fresh weather as they talked. "So tell me, Aulus, what other ideas do you have in mind for your coming year?"

 

@Sharpie

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

"I had heard that, but it didn't feel right speaking with him before I'd spoken with you, Augustus," Aulus said. He finished his own wine, handed the cup to a waiting slave and followed the Emperor through another door into a private courtyard.

"I think the thermae will be my major project for the year, although I do intend to allocate funds for the Domi Alimenta, which will no doubt please the Augusta. I am sure that Horatia Justina would also like a way to be involved - she is quite the organisational force. You may have heard of the ladies' reading club she has set up?" Maybe not, unless Quintus and Octavius had discussed it; Quintus Flavius would likely be far too busy with projects of much greater importance.

 

@Chris

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Though Quintus trusted his brother Octavius, he nevertheless appreciated Aulus' intuition to defer to the higher authority when it came to matters of the state. He allowed a quick smile to cross his expression before returning to his regular straight face.

He continued to listen as Aulus talked and they strolled into the courtyard. The caretakers of the courtyard were out, trimming bushes and tending to flowers as necessary. In the distance were two of the German Guard, different from the Praetorians in that they alone remained within the halls of the palace as the Praetorians protected the imperials everywhere outside of it.

As Aulus expanded upon his plans for the coming year, he touched the subject of his wife and her resourcefulness. "I believe Octavius mentioned something of it," Quintus said, seeming to remember his brother broaching the subject not so long ago. "It is an inspired thing, to be sure. If we have more educated and socially engaged women, we can hopefully have better-educated and more responsible children." Quintus gave most of the credit for his own success to the morales his mother had instilled upon him.

"I am sure the Augusta will be happy to help however she can."

Just then, one of the message runners approached from the far end of the courtyard. He was promptly stopped by the guard, who intercepted the message and brought it to Caesar.

"Ah, just a moment, Aulus," he said, and stepped away from his guest to read the missive. His eyes scanned it over quickly and without a word he returned the parchment to the guard and then returned to Aulus. "Apologies. Where were we?"

@Sharpie 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Aulus stepped back as a messenger brought a missive to the Augustus. He found himself a little annoyed at the sudden sense of trepidation and put it down to the sudden scrutiny his family had come under for no apparent reason. The Emperor must receive hundreds of written communications daily; even as a provincial governor, Aulus had been the recipient of several score of letters and notes all seemingly of the utmost importance. He was not so self-centred that he was convinced any such message must concern him, but he could not completely dismiss the notion that perhaps it did.

"I hope that you will forgive the presumption, Augustus, but I find myself in the middle of a... delicate situation, concerning one of your own Praetorians," he said once Caesar had returned the note to the guard, without saying a word in reply to whatever its contents might be. "One of my slaves was picked up and taken to the Castra Praetoria where he was questioned with regard to my connections to certain men including but not limited to Lucius Cassius Longinus and Marcus Scaurus. It was suggested that my loyalty to you might be in doubt."

If Quintus himself thought that Aulus was poised to betray him, then there was nothing that Aulus could do to stem the tide. If, however, it was all due to the Praetorian in question as Aulus suspected it was, then he had at least made the Emperor aware of it. And his relationship with Quintus went back a good twenty years or so - to Aulus' service as a tribune many years before Quintus had risen to the purple. Twenty years of loyal service would not easily be put aside, by either man - or at least that was Aulus' fervent hope.

 

@Chris

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Caesar's eyes narrowed in on Aulus as he spoke, as he could tell from the tone of the man's voice that the matter he quickly brought to attention was his real reason for visiting. He listened carefully and then lifted his brows as if the news was new to him.

"Is that so?" The missive had in fact been from Prefect Tertullus of the Praetorians with a small list of names. "I'm afraid a few of the more ambitious tribuni within the Guard can be overzealous in their duties to protect the empire. They go hunting for leads wherever they can." While Caesar didn't know the background behind why Aulus' slave was detained, he didn't feel any need to be alarmed over whatever loyalties the man might have had over a decade earlier.

"What many of them don't know, friend Aulus, is that their very own actions are also watched and documented." He took a steady look at the consul-to-be and then continued. "Rest assured this note has nothing to do with you, and I have no reason to doubt your loyalty to Rome."

Caesar paused again, but cut it short with an interjection of his own. "Though, I am curious how you came to be in a... what was the word, delicate situation with a member of the guard."

@Sharpie

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Aulus could not help the relief that replaced the trepidation when Caesar reiterated his faith in Aulus' loyalty. He was not used to feeling trepidation or anxiety, but those feelings were only natural when there was a chance, however slim, that someone had poured poison into Caesar's ear regarding the loyalty of one of his staunchest allies. Even the shrewdest of men (and Caesar was extremely shrewd) could be taken in by someone with a silver tongue and evil intent, after all.

"To tell the truth, Caesar, I have very little idea, apart from the fact that my wife somehow came to the man's attention. I understand that it was a combination of a slight sprain, and the negligence of her litter bearers, that led to her seeking a rest in the same caupona as the Praetorian Tribune in question. I myself have had no dealings at all with the man, and everything else that has occurred has taken place since that meeting."

He could not blame Horatia Justina for anything that had happened, although he knew her well enough to know that she blamed herself. It was merely a combination of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, although quite why the man had then set out on the path he had was something Aulus had yet to puzzle out for certain.

"I would not trouble you with any of this except that I would not like you to hear rumours of any sort of disloyalty on my part and suspect there might be any truth in them," he said. It would be so simple for someone with access to the Emperor to try to feed lies of that sort to him, and for those with little or no expectation of access to the Emperor to disprove rumours and lies would be next to impossible.

It was through such whispers that men sowed suspicion and dissension and they had both witnessed the instability that could be wrought by a paranoid man with the all-encompassing imperium of an emperor.

Aulus had had faith in Quintus Caesar's discerning mind, and had been vindicated in that faith. Quintus Augustus' shrewdness and pragmatism would always inspire loyalty in his followers, and Aulus would be staunch in his loyalty as he always had been.

 

@Chris

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Quintus kept his eyes trained on Aulus as the man spoke what he knew of the situation, and for his part Quintus believed what he was told. The mere fact that Aulus had made the effort to come and speak with him in person said enough about his character. He knew that Caesar was the type of man who preferred to hear any sort of news face-to-face, rather than through missives and whispers. And to put it simply, Caesar truthfully had little love for any Praetorians lower than those at the top whom he trusted with his life.

"I understand," came his simple response. He felt that he needn't say much more than that. "Rest assured I currently have no reason to consider you, or your wife, targets to be tracked." The Praetorian, on the other hand, would be watched carefully. "To be rather blunt with you, Aulus, I have no great love for the Praetorians. They are a necessity, of course, but an annoying one." Most of them were seasoned soldiers making more pay to stay at home and get fat and drunk.

"I can pry into this matter, should you wish. I'm sure this tribune's senior officer has more information he has not relayed directly. A favor for a faithful supporter." And in just a matter of words, Caesar had offered his hand.

 

@Sharpie

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

"I hope that you will never find the need to consider me a target, Augustus," Aulus replied. He debated for a moment - having Caesar deal with the matter would be final, of course but... "You are a very busy man, I should not like to burden you with this."

He did not need Augustus to do him the favour - Quintus Augustus knew he could call on Aulus at any time even without being able to call in a favour. Though the Emperor, being the Emperor, would hardly be likely to get his own hands dirty when he could call on the services of all sorts of people to do his dirty work for him - and in a way that would be completely untraceable back to the Palatine, should the necessity arise.

"I would not like to put you to any trouble, Augustus - I merely wanted to reassure you, again, of my loyalty if you had heard anything to cast it into question." It was a weight off Aulus' mind to know that Augustus knew that Aulus was loyal, that he was certain of the Senator's fidelity. Horatia would be relieved to hear it, too, though he thought that she was more worried about the Praetorian's direct threats than any indirect threats he could make, persuading others of some perceived disloyalty or slight and using them against Aulus.

But to know that Augustus was as certain of Aulus' loyalty as ever - that he had little love for the Praetorians instead, in fact... That was an immense relief.

"Your reassurance and trust is all the favour I could ask for," he said quietly and fervently.

 

@Chris

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Quintus put on a kind, if not overly expressive smile. Truthfully, he had already decided to have the senior officer of the tribune in question investigate all of his subordinates. It was a regular process that he had instituted within the Praetorians - regular checks and balances to avoid the all-too-often deceit and treachery that had plagued their ranks under previous rulers.

"Very well. I am confident you will serve Rome well in the coming year, and beyond," he said, "and you will have my support in getting there."

He was then reminded of a lesson his mother had taught him, and one he had extended to his own sons. It is a rare thing for a man at the top of things to remain in his position without trustworthy supports. Each has their own place, and therein their own purpose. Should a single support decide to go to the top, the entire structure crumbles.

Caesar did not fear that Aulus Praetextatus was a support eyeing to take the top spot.

@Sharpie

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Aulus nodded. He noted that Quintus' smile was narrower, more constrained, than usual, but supposed that was understandable. Quite what had been set into motion by his words remained to be seen, but Aulus knew enough of the corridors of power, and of Quintus' character, to know that something had been begun simply by virtue of Aulus' visit.

"Thank you for your confidence and your support, Augustus. I will endeavour, as always, to remain worthy of them."

To have the Emperor's support in his quest to become consul meant that he as good as had it - but he would not boast of that, nor would he completely count on attaining it until he reached it. That was as high as he had ever hoped to rise in power - he was a supporter of Quintus Augustus and would not dream of ever trying to take his place. He had seen far too much blood shed by people seeking the purple, and it had taken someone with the strength of character of Quintus Flavius Alexander, who had himself not sought the purple until there was nobody else worthy of it.

 

@Chris

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...