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Gaia Lupa

Sleep I Give, Though Sleep I Shall Not

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30th of June (The Earthquake)

 

Gaia had been with her brother while he was in one of his stable moments, lounging in a chamber somewhere far inside the Elysium, where only bronze pottery had sat between them, burning herbs, and releasing their smoke into the air. Although Gaia was often uneasy in the presence of her brother, whether there was any clear reason to be or not, the fumes as she breathed them in and out began to give her a sensation of relaxation. At some point, her brother had rose up and she watched him leave without a word, then what had been the crossing off footsteps across the floor eventually turned into silence until the walls seemed to shiver. At first, it was just a shiver then they began to shudder violently and not in the way that they might when customers were making merry against the rather thin walls of the brothel. The furniture began to skip and drag against the stone, the pottery atop clattered, and it was only until something shattered that Gaia roused from her semi-dream-like state, sitting up in a hurry, and felt fear penetrate through the drunkenness.

Uncertain of how to respond, she remained paralysed by the sudden and overwhelming terror for her life, but it was no more paralysing than the passing thought of her son who was elsewhere in the city and the torturous anxiety that came with not knowing. Without him there, she could only think of herself first. For a second, she considered calling out for her brother but the next thought that entered her mind was, what would happen if she did not? Or what would life be like if he were gone? The temptation was strong as was the moral conundrum that seemed to play out in a painful twisting in her gut.

As she moved out into the halls, trying to balance her shaky legs against the walls, all she could hear were screams inside and out that were suffocated by the rumbling and then the sound of a crumbling structure that was first slow then gained momentum into an invading, sickening crash. “Titus!” she yelled out, trying not to fall into that thoughtless state when fear truly took over, but it was unlikely he would hear her. It was not him that she had been calling out for exactly but really for the concern for the customers and slaves. Was he helping any of them out? As she made her way for one door to the next, she peered in before moving onto the next.

@Beauty

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Titus found himself in front of a wall in the Elysium, peering through carefully constructed holes, he could see the sweaty backside of one of his clients, rising up and down as the sound of one-sided groans filled his ears but he felt nothing, merely emptiness, as he simply watched. And yet, just for the sake of it, his hand reached underneath his garments but it was in that moment, as his hand sought his own flesh, that there was a loud rumble. It was so loud that it had practically rendered his ears useless.

Suddenly the wall fell before him crumbled, pellets of rock hit against him, and then fall into a large heap of stone near to his feet. Dust collected in the air and on the bed opposite of him, the whore and his client both stared at him in bewilderment. His hand around his cock and his eyes were bolted on them, looking at them in return. They stared back. He stared back at them. Their eyes did not move their gazes from him and he did not let his eyes waver, glaring back at them.

It was almost like an eternity, their eyes linking in a moment of uncertainty and chaos, but in reality, it had only been for a split second. The ceiling began to give in and the world shuddered, Titus watched carefully as a crack from above slowly made way towards the couple. Once it reached them, the a part of the ceiling collapsed right on top of them. Their yells had barely penetrated the air before both were unavoidably crushed, the bright Roman sky could be seen.

Titus sprinted for the door and let his instinct control his feet, bringing him to where his sister was last. A whore covering her tits, swathed in blood and dust, was weeping as she attempted to flee. Coming to a narrow hallway, Titus took a hold of the woman and tossed her in the way of a collapsing wall. A man lay partially crushed by a wall with blood pooling at his mouth, his pained eyes following Titus as he groaned. Titus ignored him as he entered one of the rooms with shaky feet. In one plunge, he grabbed Gaia and dragged her underneath a table. 

@Joaquin

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Gaia was out of it and under the influence, she stumbled, intoxicated, while her feet vibrated against the shaking ground and the walls around her chattered with the threats of cracking. She had not seen her brother coming, instead she had been staring out at the darkened hallway, then the next minute, she felt her body plummet towards the ground as something large and heavy collided with her. For a split second, she let out a brief, high-pitched yelp, thinking – instinctively – in that short period of time that she had been struck by a section of the wall. It did not register that it was human until she was on the floor, the skin of her arm aching from the impact with the ground, when her eyes rose from the obscuring of his arm to his face. She felt a mixture between relief and then disappoint or fear that he was alive.

“What are we doing under the table?” she asked, her eyes with wide with worry. She wanted to bury her head into her hands and wish the earthquake away, but she knew not to give into the temptation of panic. Once you fell down that road, it was hard to come back. She had felt the earth rumbles before, of course, but this was different. In the back of her mind, her son, the hurt, their money came up, but that would all be for after. If there was an after. “Shouldn’t we be going outside?” she asked again, but perhaps it was better that they remained where they were. If they moved again, their luck might run out. She wanted to believe that Titus was right.

@Beauty

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Spurious had been sitting in a nearby tavern when the earthquake had first started. It began with some light tremors that he ignored but when it became clear that this was going to be more than a light quake he was running out of the tavern and back to the Elysium. When he got there he found the place in chaos, screams and cries could be heard from inside the collapsing building and scantily clad prostitutes were darting out anyway they could. He scanned the people gathered outside, looking for his mother. When he didn't see her, despite his better judgment, he charged into the crumbling brothel in search of her. Inside was even worse than the outside was, walls were falling and the hallways were lined with those who couldn't make it out. "Mother!" he called for her as loud as he could, but if she responded he couldn't hear her over everything that was happening. He passed a collapsed wall with the body of a girl crushed lying under it, not far off there was another one with a dying man beneath it, groaning as the last bits of life left his body. He had the urge to try and free him, even as the ceiling rained down on them, but he re-focused his thoughts on his mother, he had to find her before it was to late. 

"Gaia!" he called for her again, though he doubted she'd be able to hear him over the sounds of breaking objects, screams, and the building falling apart around them. He finally spotted her looking dazed under a table with his uncle. He made his way over to them and crouched under the table with them. After looking over his mother to check for any injuries he directed his words at Titus, nearly shouting so that he could be heard above all the noise, "we need to get out of here, the walls have already started collapsing, the ceiling is bound to be next." He spoke with a sense of urgency, from what he had seen if they didn't leave soon they would surely be crushed by rubble.  

@Beauty @Joaquin

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Posted (edited)

The alarm in his sister’s eyes was clear, though he could tell that she was fighting to remain calm. Going outside was the last thing they needed to do. If the Elysium was barely standing, what were the odds that other places were as well? Rubble and debris was likely to be falling in all directions, it was no more safer out there than it was within the Elysium. And yet, remaining underneath a table, he reasoned, would prevent any bit of wreckage from harming them. He did not help her, merely held her there, hearing the world around them fall to ruin.

Spurius came into the room. Titus would not have bothered looking for the boy, though his heir unless his sister had demanded for it. His priority had been solely on what he knew he could manage. Titus’ lips thinned as his nephew voiced having to leave. Titus was not fond of the idea of leaving, the way in which the outer world was at the moment was unknown. Within the Elysium, they were beneath a table, which could, in some way, keep their bodies from harm’s way. The downside was the possibility of being trapped or unable to breathe until help arrived, if it ever arrived. It was the Elysium, after all. Not Caesar’s palace.

“How are the streets outside, Spurius?” he shouted back, responding to his nephew while he had blatantly ignored his sister. He wasn’t about to reason with a woman, even when their lives were on the line. “Are there crowds? Are the people in panic? Where is the nearest clearing? I will not leave one disaster only to enter another. Should we do as you say, whoever gets left behind, stays behind.” At that moment, three whores came hurdling into the room, each heading towards the table with frightened expressions, covered in dust and coughing. Only two of them made it as a part of the ceiling clasped onto the third. Spurius’ predictions were correct, the ceiling would not hold. Not for long anyways.

@Laria @Joaquin

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When Spurius appeared, Gaia felt herself lift up with a breath of relief and she could not help but want to hold him, returning his concern for her with the same as she placed a hand on his cheek and haphazardly moved her hands down to his shoulders, here and there carefully to see that he was not harmed while moving through the Elysium. They were joined by two half-clad slave-women who squeezed themselves under the table, shrieking in a way that tempted that primal level of fear to come out by those around to hear it. They looked fear-stricken, one of the two sobbing uncontrollably with the other looking unresponsive, her eyes staring but her vision was not reaching anywhere. Gaia could still make-out what her son was saying over the noise and nodded. “Titus, we should go, we should all go,” she added the last a little louder so that the other women could hear, even though her voice was shaking. “Please, Titus, come with us.” She wanted her brother to agree with them. She did not want to leave without him.

She looked towards the entrance into the room, worried that they might lose their chance. In that moment, she realised why one of their workers was weeping and it had not occurred to her why before, everything had happened so suddenly. Just near the door under a portion of the wall that had collapsed as a result of the shaking was what remained of a third woman who had not made it under the table. What if that had been Spurius instead? Gaia had seen blood all her life, as a woman through the months, childbirth, and miscarriage, and as a midwife, but not like this. She felt herself suddenly grow numb, beginning from the lips then spreading like poison through her, and her stomach felt warm and tight. Her eyes travelled to her brother briefly, wanting to say something, before she felt her body betray her as she bent and vomited towards his lap from the sight of the body.

 

@Beauty @Laria

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"I'm alright" Spurius said as Gaia checked him for injuries, he had a couple scrapes from falling rubble but nothing serious. 

 "How are the streets outside, Spurius?Are there crowds? Are the people in panic? Where is the nearest clearing? I will not leave one disaster only to enter another. Should we do as you say, whoever gets left behind, stays behind.” 

He noticed how Titus's had lips thinned when he said they had to leave, it was no suprize to him that even now his uncle didn't want to be challenged. “People are panicking, but that's because a god-damn earthquake is happening! When I was out there the streets weren't overly full but they will be if we don't hurry, I don't know where-" his next words were cut off by a horrible cracking noise and a shriek as a part of the ceiling crushed a girl before their eyes. All he could say was, "we need to go, now." The two companions of the woman who had been killed joined them under the table, one of which was sobbing now, he wanted to help comfort her but now was not the time, right now, they all had to leave. 

“Titus, we should go, we should all go... Please, Titus, come with us.”

He saw Gaia look over at the entrance, and saw the look of horror cross her face, apparently she hadn't seen what had happened. The corps of the now-dead prostitute was partially buried under a portion of the ceiling with a pool of blood leaking out from under her. She turned to Titus and promptly threw up on his lap. As if the earthquake hadn't been terrifying enough, Spurius felt a jolt of fear in his stomach that reflected on his face, and instinctively pulled her twoards him and away from his uncle. 

@Beauty @Joaquin

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His sister’s begging was as expected of the weaker, more gentle sex. He just looked down at her and whatever he felt inside, he hid, and turned his attention to his nephew as he spoke. The boy’s tone did not sit well with Titus, the state of the Elysium as well as his tongue were two things that needed to be discussed later. If there was a later. Being a man who liked control, merely running into the world’s chaos was not at all to his liking.

As his sister turned to look at him, Titus’ brow quirked upwards in a way that could only be read as “what?” but it was not long until she spewed everything she had been puffing earlier onto him. Titus’ lips thinned in disgust, annoyed, but he had seen worse and it was his sister. Had it been the whore quivering and crying next to him, there would have surely been a fourth casualty and Titus wasn’t a man who cared about having blood on his hands. From the woman next to him, he used a portion of her gown to haphazardly wipe away his sister’s mess on him, though she struggled. Not only was his fortune falling apart, his nephew talking back to him, but he now smelt of his sister’s insides.

A crack caught his attention. They would be safe where they were but they would be entombed. The one drawback.

“Very well,” he said, his face without any bit of enthusiasm. “Whoever gets left behind, stays behind.” He repeated those words so they understood. “Myself included.” He didn’t care what Gaia thought about that, what mattered was that Spurius understood. It was important the boy survived for their family and the Elysium. He had built his family up from poverty, certainly, but while he would never voice so, he did care for Gaia and Spurius. The Elysium would be Spurius’ when he was gone, after all. He pushed himself up from the position.

“Get her up, she is in shock,” he said, speaking quickly. “You are going to have to keep a firm hold on her, keep her eyes away from the body. Do you understand?” The whores with them rose onto their feet too, one of them clinging to Titus but he ignored her. He could always get new whores, his family was irreplaceable. “Go!” he shouted, waving a hand for Gaia and Spurius to head out the door first. He could hear other walls within the Elysium and presumably outside too collapsing.   

@Laria @Joaquin

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After her short-lived retching, Gaia felt immediate dread wash over her that her brother might take out his disgust or irritation on her and if not in that moment, then later as he was never one to forget anything. Her body was shaking as if she were out in the cold and her hands rose to meet Spurius’s arm as he pulled her closer in his direction protectively. It was him that was comforting her rather than the other way around as it should have been. Even though, Titus had expressed for a second time what he wanted, Gaia still worried for both Spurius and Titus, the two other women, and herself and the unease she felt was almost paralysing. It was difficult to think clearly. She had seen women and new-borns go from flesh-coloured to almost stone grey with death, which never became any easier, but seeing the remains of someone contorted and crushed under a wall was… beyond description.

She rose up from under the table, knowing the woman’s body was still where she had last seen it but kept her eyes up, glancing at the ceiling as if searching to see if it would give on them. As Titus ushered them out, she held onto Spurius, gripping him firmly with both hands, as she began to move out from the room and through the door. One foot of hers slipped a little on the floor that had collected pooled blood. Once they were in the hallway, Gaia quietly said to Spurius, fighting to sound calm and collected, “I think Titus is right. If anything happens, you keep going. You must promise me that.”

@Beauty @Laria

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Titus didn't seen it be to upset about being thrown up on, at most he seemed a but discussed and irritated. Spurius watched as he used the hem of on of the girls dress' to clean himself up and listened to his orders, glad that he had finally agreed to leave. 

 “Very well, whoever gets left behind, stays behind, myself included.”

Spurius gave a curt nod in response, he honestly didn't know what he would do if something happened to his uncle, he had a complicated relationship with him. 

“Get her up, she is in shock, you are going to have to keep a firm hold on her, keep her eyes away from the body. Do you understand?”

"Yes" he said, he almost had to shout for it to be loud enough for him to hear, just in case he gave another nod. As the five of them rose he put an arm over his mothers shoulder and spoke right next to her ear so she could hear him. "It's going to be okay Gaia, just ignore everything else and look at me, okay? We'll get you out of here" with that Titus waved them forward and Spurius starting leading them through the wreckage. 

 “I think Titus is right. If anything happens, you keep going. You must promise me that.”

His lips tightened at the idea of leaving Gaia behind, he knew that he could never do that but also if he was the one in danger he would want her to save herself. "Let's not even think about that right now" he answered, he hoped that it didn't come to it but he knew that he would be able to bring himself to abandon her.

@Beauty @Joaquin

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