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May, 75CE

Caecina had always been a fan of the races, and even more a fan of the Greens. She remembered fondly all the races she had been to over the years, and reflected that she had even more of a reason to enjoy them than when she was young: the attractive men who drove the chariots. Today, after a morning spent in the markets, she decided to treat herself and Astraea to a race. Caecina watched the whole thing with vigor, adamantly rooting for her team, both with her comments as well as her pale green chiton, which highlighted her eyes quite nicely. 

Afterwards, she sent Astraea to fetch a litter, leaving her with a lucky opportunity to go and speak with the charioteers. A little harmless flirting never hurt anyone! The stables seemed the most logical place to check, and besides, she loved horses, so at least she would get the opportunity to meet them. As she made her way in, she looked around, stricken by what a male environment it was. So coarse and brash. She enjoyed it quite a lot! The girl stopped by a stall to examine the horse within, a handsome bay stallion that reminded her of her own Mirandus. 

@Atrice

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What a day it had been! He felt… empowered, almost, as if he could do anything and nothing could touch him, not even the gods. His four, brown horses had done exceptionally well today, as he knew they would, for they were well-fed and well-trained and ready to stretch their legs and turn and twist whenever he wanted them to. It had felt as if he was flying through the Circus Maximus, as if his horses had wings, like those the Greeks had in their pantheon. Or maybe Caeso had wings? It certainly felt like it, now that he (and his team) had once more won today’s race and the crowd had cheered and thrown roses at him.

 Now it was all over and together with the others, he had returned to the stables to water the horses and allow them some rest. The other charioteers of his team got swept away by some of their fans though, or, they weren’t quite as present. Well the horses had done well too, they also needed attention. Caeso glared at his team-members, sometimes they could show a little more care to the horses and not just think about themselves and their own pleasure.

 Another slave came with a bucket of water and a bag of apples and Caeso took over and carried both things to the stalls with the horses. As he approached however, he saw a young lady stand there, not quite poor either, judging by her clothes. She was admiring one of the horses and he gave her a small smile, “He’s beautiful, isn’t he?” He said, Caeso sometimes felt better connected with the horses than with some of the other people he surrounded himself with. He sat down the bucket and the bag with the apples.

@Echo

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Caecina was scratching the nose of the horse when she heard a voice approaching her from behind. She turned and smiled when she saw it was Caeso, one of the well-known Greens, bringing food and water to the horse she was examining. "Oh, he's a magnificent beast. I actually have a horse quite like him, but he's a bit lazy," she laughed. "I don't think my horse would be up for the races." Mirandus wasn't a difficult mount, but he did often like to get distracted by spring-fresh patches of grass while on rides and stubbornly refuse to move on until he had his fill. "What is this beauty's name?" 

While she talked, she examined the man. He was taller than she was, which wasn't unusual, and he had a serious air about him. He was well-known among his team, often leading the Greens to victory over their opponents. And he was handsome, she noticed. "Your name is Caeso, correct?"

@Atrice

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Caeso liked all of the horses that tended to run in front of his chariot - and after such a rough time at the racing course, they deserved some tender loving care. All creatures deserved and needed that sometimes. Towards people, he would often be annoyed and reserved. With the horses, it was different. They were always likable. The young woman who stood by one of the horses seemed to know what she was doing, as she scratched its nose and called the animal magnificent and said she had one quite like him, but that hers would not be up for races.

"Don't be too sure about that, any horse enjoys stretching its legs properly. And if they are treated right, they will be your best friends." He said with a smile, approaching the horse too and fishing an apple from the bag, "His name is Hercules." Caeso told her proudly and stood next to her and held the apple to the horse. Hercules instantly became more curious about the apple than about the young lady and chewed it with great satisfaction. Caeso smiled at the sight and the young woman talked to him again.

"Yes, the one and only." He replied, "I suppose you saw the race." Because any noble lady that came back here came to see the horses and the charioteers. He had been told to be good to them and welcome them, even if he would prefer just being left alone with his beasts. So he spoke, because they were both here anyway.

@Echo

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Caeso told her to not be quite so sure about her own horse's abilities, to which she laughed. "Well, perhaps it's just that I'm not ready for the races, then. Maybe if he had a more expert handler, he'd succeed." Mirandus wasn't really of racing stock, and had been given to her as her first horse because of his easy (and often lazy) temperament. "Hercules is an appropriate name for him!" She smiled at the note of pride in Caeso's voice. Talking about horses was one of her favorite topics. 

Caeso then confirmed his name as 'the one and only,' supposing she saw the race. "I did! You and the rest of your team were excellent. Congratulations on your win." She glanced at the bag of apples and then back at Hercules. "Could I feed him one?"

@Atrice

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She laughed and suggested maybe it was her and not the horse, who was not ready for the races. She spoke of a more expert handler and Caeso thought she was right. He couldn't really recall any women participating in the races, although they did have women working behind the scenes. Maybe she would be a patron for his team and earn them more coin to even better horses and chariots. He would just have to be nice to her. Meanwhile she liked the name Hercules for the horse and he nodded, "It is quite appropriate. Together with the others I usually put him with, you'd think the gods had granted them special powers." He explained and had fed Hercules an apple. Then the girl wanted to do it too. She'd also congratulated him on his win today and he smiled at that. She'd get her wish granted.

"Just be careful he won't bite you." Caeso said and picked a bright red apple from the bunch and handed it to her. She seemed so excited. She would be a good patron. What would the others do to make her want such a thing? They would compliment her and get close to her. Make her feel special. Ah, he had an idea!

"If you'd like, I could take a look at your horse and see if he's as divine as Hercules." 

@Echo

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Caecina was an accomplished rider, but it was never for anything but fun. And when she rode Mirandus, who Hercules reminded her of, it was for a leisurely stroll or trot. Her real race horse was Aurelia, a spirited palomino with a temper and a real attitude problem. Caecina loved both of her horses, though, because they both served different purposes. "You are quite the charioteer. I loved watching you today - the horses may be fabulous but it takes a masterful driver to get them to work together like that!" 

Caeso relented and let her have an apple, to which she smiled triumphantly. "I won't! I know horses." She placed the apple in her flat palm and offered it to Hercules, who was more than happy to accept it. Then, Caeso offered to take a look at her horse and she smiled. "Oh, I wish you could! Unfortunately, he's not in the city. I keep him at my father's villa. But his name is Mirandus. Perhaps I could bring him to the city some time." She didn't want to stop talking to him, though. This was interesting! "Could you show me the other horses instead?"

@Atrice

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She really laid it on thick on Caeso. He enjoyed the compliments, of course, but what was she up to? Now she said he was quite the charioteer, how she loved watching him and he must be a masterful driver. It was impossible though to not smile proudly at such words, “If you think so. I just do my best… or what I think is best for them. I Listen to them and reward them, then they pay me back with their friendship and loyalty.” He explained to her and had allowed her to feed Hercules an apple. She promised she would be careful for she knew horses and she did indeed not get bit.

 She really did know horses, at least a bit. He suggested he could see her horse and judge him, then, but she said he was not in the city – but she could bring him. Caeso nodded, “If you can, then I will see him.” He promised her and then she wanted to see more horses. Great, so he was now reduced from charioteer to tour guide. At least she knew a bit about horses so she wasn’t entirely stupid. And he would have to be good to her, because wealthy Romans and all that. He nodded, “I can show you around a bit. What is your name, by the way? I don’t think you told me.” Not that he would remember it unless she really impressed him, but he decided to give her a chance. Just in case.

@Echo

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Caecina grinned back at his prideful smile, listening to him explain how he got to be so good with horses. Some of the charioteers on other teams seemed to be all about flash, and even some of the ones in the Greens. But Caeso seemed to really understand what to do and how to communicate with his horses. "Well, Hercules certainly seems to enjoy his reward," she said, glancing fondly at the horse. "My Mirandus is quite gentle, a bit lazy, honestly. But I have another horse, Aurelia - she's a firebrand. Golden as the sun and hot-tempered, too." She laughed. "Aurelia might outrun anything if she wanted to."

Caeso agreed to show her around and she smiled gratefully. She could, after all, look around herself, but being accompanied by a handsome man like Caeso never hurt anyone. "Oh, how rude of me! Caecina. Pleased to meet you."

@Atrice

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Caeso just liked the horses and felt he understood them - and they never complained, yet showed their gratitude with good work, if treated right. And if treated wrongly, you'd easily see it too and maybe even feel it. So well-trained and well-treated horses were those who functioned best. It was the same with people. Treat them right and they would be good. The young woman who had come here also seemed to know what to do, as she fed Hercules an apple and then continued speaking about her own horses. She called her one horse lazy and the other hot-tempered. 

"Aurelia sounds interesting. And it sounds like she is named right too." He said, if she was golden as the sun, hot-tempered and would outrun anything. That did remind him of the golden sun, warm and hot and filled with energy. He had then agreed to show her around and wondered about her name.

"It is good to meet you too, Caecina." He replied, gesturing that they could begin walking. Around them the area of the stables was filled with life, slaves taking care of horses and manure and hard work and charioteers helping out and taking care of fans who came to see them, like Caecina had approached Caeso and his horse.

"So you really enjoy horses, Caecina? For how long have you been riding?" He wondered, others might ask such a question with hidden agendas or meanings, but Caeso was honest as he asked. He really was asking her about horses. Nothing else.

@Echo

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Caecina grinned as Caeso remarked that Aurelia sounded as though she were named appropriately. "Oh, yes, it was the first name that came to mind when I rode her for the first time. She nearly threw me off! But we've come to an understanding with one another and she's as fast as the wind." Caecina was never the kind of girl to complain overmuch when thrown by a horse, or swoon when a mouse or a snake came into her view. It just wasn't practical! And if Caecina was anything, it was practical. 

Caeso then asked her if she enjoyed horses and how long she'd been riding. "I love horses! They're easier than humans, I think." Though Caecina understood people, she felt more at peace among horses because they were simply less demanding or judgmental. She could be herself around them. "I don't even remember when I learned to ride! I suppose when I was a little girl, my mother sat me on a pony and let me learn. But of course, living in the city, I rarely have the chance to ride nowadays." She looked at him again. "And when did you learn to ride?"

@Atrice

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Caecina appeared so excited, he thought to himself while they walked through the area of the stables near the great circus. When he said her horse had been named right, she told him about how Aurelia had been the first time she rode the horse, which earned the horse its name. She called the horse fast as the wind. Caeso smiled, thinking he might really like to see this horse sometime and find out if at least half of Caecina's stories were true. He then made a move for more conversation, asking further into her interest in horses. She exclaimed how she loved them and thought them easier than humans. 

Caeso nodded, "They often seem so. Humans can be so complicated. Horses are more... sympathetic." He replied to her and she went on with how she learned how to ride, but rarely did it in the city. Then of course she was curious as to when he learned how to ride. 

"I was 13, when my current master acquired me and I came to work here. I knew little about horses before. But as we already discussed, I find them easier to understand than humans. I thought they were interesting beasts to work with and I enjoyed getting to know them. You might say I got along with them, as I still do. I learned how to ride when I was 14, I think. And then I learned how to use the chariot. I enjoyed that too - working with the horses as a team to gain the victory we all desire. The rest is history, I guess. As it is made every day." He said thoughtfully and looked at her as he realized he had talked a lot, "Apologies, I get carried away sometimes, young domina." 

@Echo

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Caeso seemed like such a thoughtful young man, which was impressive to Caecina. He even shared her same thoughts about horses - though Caecina suspected there was a fundamental difference because Caecina also enjoyed spending time with people, while Caeso seemed to prefer the company of his horses. But the young woman definitely agreed that horses provided a good break from people - allowing her to just be quiet. Horses never expected much from you except a friendly pat and perhaps a treat every so often. "Aptly put. And you can tell them everything and not worry about it getting out."

Caecina listened as Caeso explained how he came to work with horses with interest. As he finished, he apologized for getting carried away and she shrugged happily. "No, not at all. It was an interesting tale. Tell me, Caeso - do you ever do horseback races instead of chariot races?" She only asked because sometimes it was a nice break to watch those races instead and because she could relate to them, having often gotten into races with Marcus at the villa. 

@Atrice

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Caeso was indeed thoughtful, probably too thoughtful to be a charioteer, to be honest. But that was his lot in life now, as he was not born into a wealthy family. His father was not a high and mighty Senator, no, he hadn’t even known his father and he was never freed. He learned a great deal from his first master though, but here… he used everything he learned on the chariot races, because what else was there to use all that knowledge on? He had to use his mind. He couldn’t stop using it.

Caecina listened with interest, after he shared that the thought horses were less complicated and then told the whole tale about how he came to the chariot races – how he became a charioteer. Then he realized he had talked too much, probably boring her, and apologized, because he was still just a slave and had to remember that. But she said it was alright to get carried away, that it was interesting and she would know if he did horseback races too.

“Not so much… I do what my master wants me to do. And he wants me to focus on the chariot races, so I do that. A horseback race sounds like it might be fun though. Although I suppose winning such a race would really depend on the skill of your horse and not just the way you steer it. There wouldn’t be as much strategy in it, it would more be a matter of luck.” He added thoughtfully and looked at her, “It sounds like you are family with such races though?”

@Echo

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Caeso explained that he didn't really engage in the less-popular horse races, commenting that he thought it took less skill than chariot races. Caecina, who had an affinity for both chariot and horse races, would be inclined to disagree. Horse racing was certainly dependent on having a skilled horse, with long, strong legs, but the rider had to maneuver the horse around the other racers and determine how best to go around corners. But she didn't bother arguing with him, being in too good of a mood to do so. 

"I enjoy watching them," she said with a smile. "But of course I enjoy the chariots as well. It does take an awful lot of skill." As for being familiar with horse races - "At the villa, I often race my stepbrother through the countryside. My Aurelia is much easier to goad into flying, so whenever I want to race, I use her." She chuckled. 

@Atrice

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Caeso didn't think horse racing in itself sounded as interesting or difficult as it was to steer a chariot and beat the other teams. When he raced, he had to control several horses and keep an eye out both for the other chariots, but also for the other horses and the walls around the racing course. There were a lot of things to consider and naturally, a lot of things that could go wrong. Especially for the other teams, if Caeso had a say in it, and he often did. The young lady said that she did enjoy watching horse races though, but also the chariots. But she went on about how she raced with her stepbrother at the villa.

"They allow you to do such things?" He wondered, looking at her. He'd seen so many of these young and noble ladies before and they always seemed like the same types. They liked... feminine things. Not horseback riding and racing through the countryside and the wilderness. That wasn't very feminine at all. Not that he could blame her for enjoying it.

"Speed does make you feel free, doesn't it? I feel most alive during the races. And after." He added, it often felt as if his heart would beat faster and his blood raced faster through his body and it was a rush afterwards. Like he was flying, even when the race was done. 

@Echo

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