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A Brother's Forgiveness (Marcus Silanus)


Chris
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JULY 74 CE

Lucius was seething. Where others might turn to wine or other distractions in times of stress or frustration, Lucius had no such desires. Typically a calm and collected man outwardly, he was a man who battled his temper inwardly. More than a few times in his life had he wrestled with an utterly overwhelming surge of rage. This time was set to boil over anything that had come before.

The trial was lost. He could not fathom it. He could not understand, or even bring himself to think of the minute details that brought his case crashing down. Was it particular wording he had used? Flawed logic in one of his arguments? He knew he should have paid more attention to lessons in law and legal recourse.

As always, he had returned to the home of his mother-in-law, Flavia Juliana. The place he had spent all of his fortune to leave behind (not that he particularly disliked it). He was leaning over a table, his hands gripping firmly onto the sides and all of his weight pressing down on it. He was consciously telling himself to breathe slowly, to feel the air come in and attempt to exhale the poison building up inside of him.

He needed a calm voice to speak with his brother.

@Atrice

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Marcus of course knew about their family home – how could he not, he’d lived there on and off for years and he’d watched while his brother made sure to work on Decimus’ home and bring it back to its former glory. He’d looked forwards to living there when it was done, when it would look extraordinary and amazing and they would find all the right friends to invite there. But this year, when he’d just turned 16, things seemed to not turn out in their favor.

Lucius had somehow ended up in a trial with their cousin, regarding their family home, which might not be theirs after all? Marcus didn’t understand half of it, but tried to pay attention in the current lessons with various tutors while having fun with his cousin Caecina in between. He knew Lucius would handle it all, he trusted his brother to do well, because well… that’s what Lucius did. He knew the world and he knew what to do. He always did.

A slave came to his room to inform him that Lucius had just returned to their mother’s home and that he wished to see Marcus. And added that Lucius did not seem in a good mood. Uh uh, this was not good. Had something gone wrong in the trial? Marcus sent the slave to fetch drinks for them and bring the drinks to where Lucius was waiting. Then he went out to find his brother. He saw him from behind, leaning in over a table and Marcus closed his eyes briefly. Now he would have to brace himself to understand everything Lucius would tell him.

“Brother…” Marcus began, approaching him, trying to not sound too gloomy, “How did it go?” As if he couldn’t tell by his brother’s appearance!

@Chris

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Lucius' eyes narrowed as his brother Marcus entered the room. Though internally he told himself to put on a carefree expression, outwardly his face clearly showed the anguish he was wrestling within. He let out a quick huff of air in mild amusement of Marcus' innocent question. "Not well," was his response.

Lucius took in a deep breath to center himself and then corrected his posture. Not one to take overly long to get to the point, Lucius didn't waste any more time in telling Marcus what was going on. "We lost our home, brother. To that bitch Vitellia." A cousin he'd never properly met in person prior to their court date.

Another slow, controlled breath to calm his frustration. "I know we haven't had proper time to discuss everything, but you need to be familiar with the details. What questions do you have?"

@Atrice

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He had tried to not sound cheerful, but not too cheerful... and not too gloomy either, when he approached his brother, asking how the trial went. He knew Lucius well enough to tell just by his body language, that it did not go well. But how badly did it really go? He trusted Lucius and knew Lucius would do what was best for their family and especially for his siblings. He would try his very best to save their family home. It was theirs, after all! He'd worked so hard on it, spend so much coin and it was a great place to be now. Losing it would be hard. But now Lucius said it did not go well.

"Oh..." Marcus began, while Lucius inhaled a breath and sat up more straight... and then he got to the point, telling how they lost their home. He could tell Lucius was upset - angry, even - and didn't want to upset his brother further. But it had already happened. How did they lose their home? How could it happen, after all that Lucius had done? His brother wanted him to be familiar with the details and ask questions. 

He mostly, right now, just had the one question... "How... why did we lose? I thought we couldn't. It was our father's..." And therefore, it was theirs. Especially Marcus', in fact, because Decimus had not just been his father through adoption, but his real father. It really wasn't fair if they lost it all.

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Lucius heard his brother's questions, and was still running over a thousand questions of his own internally while also wrestling with the urge to take action against those who thought to steal what wasn't rightfully theres. The courts be damned!

He took a long breath in an attempt to calm himself and clear his mind, and then looked to Marcus. Though they were brothers, they were also cousins, and Lucius had suspected in the back of his head that some day Marcus - as Decimus' true son - would feel some entitlement to the wealth his father had left behind. It was understandable. Now, however, that wealth had all but disappeared.

"I thought the same," came his controlled response. "Proculinus assured me as much. But the court ruled in Vitellia's favor on grounds of the land having belonged to her mother, our aunt Calvina." He paused again, sifting through his thoughts. "There must be something else we can do," he said, and muttered under his breather, "I'll burn the damned home down before I let that bitch step foot in it. She can have the ashes." And an idea was born.. small and tender as a flame that builds to blazing fire.

@Atrice

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Lucius was so angry, he wasn't sure if he had ever seen his brother so upset before. And of course it was something to be upset over. They had lost their home and because Lucius had spent all their wealth on rebuilding it, well, they had lost that too. They had nothing. And why? Marcus did not fully understand it and in the whole process here, he had fully relied on Lucius to carry it all out and ensure their wealth and their home. He had not expected it to go so badly! Lucius inhaled a long breath and looked at Marcus, as if he was tired but had to explain. Great. No, none of this was great. What was Marcus supposed to do now? Just stay with Juliana? When he had been hoping and thinking he had a home of his own to start on a fresh with... finally...

His brother said he also thought they could not lose, but then the court had ruled differently and he wondered if there was something else they could do. Marcus wondered if he could do anything, say anything, talk to someone... surely someone could help them? He opened his mouth to talk, but before he had a chance, Lucius said something about burning it all down.

Marcus stared at him, "What?" As if he didn't hear it right, because surely, that was not what Lucius meant to say, right? 

"There's really nothing we can do? What about... me? Maybe I could do something... there must be something, Lucius!" 

@Chris

 

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Lucius looked at his brother with a blank stare, still processing his own thoughts on what their next move should be. He didn't notice the silence that fell around them as he kept Marcus waiting for a response. Then at last he blinked and refocused his eyes on his brother. He needed to include Marcus. He needed to think of a way they could both work together to secure what was rightfully theirs. Most of all they needed something to focus on that could keep them focused... and he needed to keep Marcus distracted.

"Yes, there is something..." he said, before pausing again. "I need you to head to the Vestals and request a copy of Decimus' will. And any of the wills of our aunts and uncles that you can find. There has to be something in there to counter Vitellia's proof. As for me, I need more information on our dear cousin."

He paused and looked at Marcus, waiting to see if his brother had a question, or anything else to add.

@Atrice

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There was a long pause after Marcus asked if he could do something... stating there had to be something they could do. This could not be the end of it. His brother had not spent their entire fortune on rebuilding a beautiful home, that they would thrive in and get married and raise families in, just to lose it all - both the fortune and the home! That was not what was happening here, right? Lucius was silent though, staring at him and Marcus inhaled a breath, about to yell at Lucius to speak, when he finally did. He told Marcus to go and fetch the will of his father and from uncles and aunts too, while he would find information on their cousin.

"Dear cousin indeed!" Marcus exclaimed, "That's really it? So the trial is not quite over yet, after all? I hope not. This can't be it, Lucius." It really couldn't and he hoped Lucius would agree with him. They would get this fixed, they would get their home back and an opportunity to start over with some wealth and not... nothing. Marcus was enjoying his life so far and he wasn't going to stop with that anytime soon.

@Chris

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Where there was a will, there was a way - and Lucius was determined to find a way to continue combating their cousin. "I'll level with you, brother," Lucius said, as Marcus pondered aloud whether that was all they could do, "most of our fortune, as you know, was put into the walls of that domus. I'll have to ask Juliana for a small loan again to continue a legal battle against Vitellia... though honestly, I might as well save myself the fees and represent myself, for as piss poor a job as that invalid of a lawyer did."

Lucius could feel the anger swelling in him again. "Once you have the wills, get them copied and give the copies to Juliana. We will certainly need them. And then we need to figure out where our servants have gone." Since Lucius did not agree with the institution of slavery, he did not keep slaves in his home. Every servant was freed, either before being hired, or once he came across them. Hiring them didn't help with his finances, but he had hoped giving them all freedom helped with their loyalty to him and the Junii-Silani name. "Assure them we are working to secure our home and we may call upon them when needed. They are likely as confused and outraged as we are."

He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "I need a drink." He said.

@Atrice

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Marcus knew all that Lucius was telling him, but still he could not help but feel his heart drop and beat at the same time, when Lucius said he'd put most of their fortune into rebuilding their home and he'd now have to ask Juliana for a loan. They were sons of Decimus Junius Silanus and they were asking for a loan from his widow! Marcus loved Juliana liked a mother, but it was humiliating. Lucius was angry too, he knew it and he could see it too. But he stood quietly, listening to Lucius' orders concerning the wills and then Lucius also mentioned they needed their servants back. This was one point where Marcus did not quite agree with his brother, but Lucius had the final say in everything and freeing the slaves was his choice. Only now it might be bad, because now they had run away or something. If they still had the slaves, at least they had something and slaves could be sold and they'd gain coin... but there was nothing. Nothing.

He didn't mention it though, only nodded at Lucius' words, "I'll see if I can find them." He promised, "I'll do whatever I can, brother." Marcus added and then Lucius needed a drink.

"Me too." Marcus replied, he was old enough to drink and wine was no stranger to him at all. He looked around, but the slaves had left them alone, knowing when to not interfere with this set of brothers, "Should we retreat to the kitchens then?"

@Chris 

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Lucius only nodded at his brother's suggestion for them to move into the kitchens and then pulled away from the desk where he had been leaning and let his younger sibling lead the way. It wasn't long before he had a drink in his hand, and not long after that before the cup was empty. After some time drinking and speaking more of their plans to restore their family's position, Lucius felt a sudden urge to see the domus from a new angle. How would it look from the eyes of someone who no longer owned it?

"I might take a stroll," he said, rather abruptly. "I need some fresh air, and... to walk off some of this wine," he smirked.

@Atrice

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Wine sounded like a very good idea now and he was happy that Lucius didn't stop him from drinking. Marcus led the way towards the kitchens, where Marcus had a slave pick a good jar of wine for them and they sat down by a table there to drink. They didn't talk much. Marcus considered what all this meant to them. They'd lost their fortune and Lucius was angry. They needed to get it back, because what if they didn't? What would they do then? Would Marcus be forced to live forever with Juliana's new family (not that they were bad and especially not his step-sister Caecina) or what? He needed his own wealth. Lucius was deep in thought too until he suddenly said he would get some fresh air and walk off the wine.

That was rather sudden, Marcus thought. And why walk off the wine, when it made him feel so... relaxed and thoughtful?

"Should I walk with you, you think?" He asked though, just in case and because his brother always knew the better way to do things. So maybe it would be for the best to take a walk. He'd always admired Lucius, after all.

@Chris

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Lucius took in the sight of his younger, still more innocent brother. He still had a boyishness about his face. In that moment he realized that Marcus looked more like their true father while Lucius had a more narrowed face like their grandfather and uncle Decimus. He gave a quick, soft smile when Marcus asked whether he should tag along.

"I think I'll go it alone this time, brother," Lucius said. He walked closer to his brother and set a hand on his shoulder. "Rest up, and I'll call upon you in the morning. We'll get our home back."

With that Lucius set down his goblet and left. His mind was clouded, unbalanced and fighting between revenge and patience. He thought the stroll might help him keep his focus...

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He thought it was kind of odd that Lucius wanted to take a walk now, but it didn't matter in the long run. Lucius did what he thought was right and Marcus knew that Lucius always had a good reason for what he did. Lucius gave him a smile, when he suggested he walked with Lucius, but then he said he would go on his own. He suggested Marcus got a rest and they would talk tomorrow and get their home back.

"We have to." Marcus replied, while his brother stood and left him there alone. Well, that was that. They'd lost everything and Lucius still believed they had a chance. That was something at least. He didn't really feel like going to bed just yet, at least not alone. Maybe he should see if anyone else were still up and he'd amuse himself with them. He emptied his wine too and left the kitchen to find entertainment elsewhere. Tomorrow was tomorrow and right now was all that mattered... at least in this very moment.

@Chris

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Lucius let his legs take him around the villa of his mother-in-law Juliana as he thought about what he should do. Eventually he found his way to the stables where he came to his trusted steed. He decided then to travel into the city proper. The farther he got from the villa, the more his thinking drove him to frustration. He spurred his horse to a swift charge, as if he were preparing to run down an enemy. His body charged with adrenaline and he knew what he needed to do.

"I'm going to burn it to the ground."


finis

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