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Late July, 75 AD

 

The problem with boat trips was that they, without exception, were all far too long. The moment Titus stepped aboard a vessel whether big or small, civilian or military, his stomach began to threaten to make its way out of his mouth and quite literally abandon ship and jump overboard. It had not yet succeeded, though it wasn’t for lack of trying. He knew all the tricks in the book and had tried each of them at least once, some to greater success than others. Travel on an empty stomach. Fix your gaze upon a far-off point in the horizon. Close your eyes. Try not to move your head.  Press down on the inside of your wrist, approximately in the middle. Press down on the area between the thumb and the index on the back of your hand. Promise Neptune a great many sacrifices. Curse all the gods and threaten to withhold sacrifices.

In the end, what worked best for Titus was lying on his back, eyes covered by his arm so he resisted both Sol’s unforgiving rays and the temptation to open them and look about and make matters worse, and distracting himself by reviewing what was to come. Aenaria had better be all the touts promised and more, or else he would personally drown them all once they were back on the mainland. Thinking objectively on it, they were probably right: a number of quality vineyards that offered wine tasting tours, quaint little towns, pristine beaches and hot springs and therapeutic mud capable of healing tiredness if nothing else. He looked forward to spending a few days there and sampling all those portents; it would give him the fortitude to mentally prepare himself for the journey back.

Fully aware of how childish he looked and just as equally unbothered by it, Titus readjusted his head on Valeria’s lap and repeated the plaintive question he had posed some three-quarters of an hour earlier, though he kept his arm in place as a sun shield. “You spot land yet?” Any similarity to their children's 'are we there yet?' of some days prior was purely and entirely coincidental.

@Joaquin @open-ish

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In contrast to Titus, Valeria was enjoying herself. On the boat, the hot day had grown slightly cooler as the wind out on the water almost seemed to take on a life of its own. The boat bobbed up and down with the arrival of every rise in the water that had appeared more serene on land as it shimmered and sparkled beneath the sun. Valeria was filled with a sense of adventure, the same that she had felt initially when she was met with the scenic Dacian country of deep forest and slopping mountains. From the beginning, she fully embraced the wild sea as the wind had begun to unravel and undo the morning work of the slaves that had curled and tucked her naturally straight hair. She observed the distance growing between them and the city of Naples as they were rowed, eventually their view was met with shoreline and the occasional opulent seaside villa beyond the city on one side and a scattering of boats and then the endlessness of the sea on the other.

Through the sound of the wind whipping in her eardrums, Valeria angled her head down towards her husband. “Did no one tell you this boat was a ten-day journey?” she asked with feigned surprised, brushing her thumb gently against his hair in a subconscious gesture to at least say that she was there for him. She could both understand his impatience, having felt that to a degree while sitting in a carriage on her way to Dacia, and equally take some pleasure in his pain. The island itself was beginning to materialise into something more than a dark blue shape in the distance, she could make out its greenery and sandy beaches.

After briefly pausing, she said, looking up towards Aenaria, “Rejoice, Titus. I can actually see land now.  I’m not joking this time.”

@Liv @whoeverwantstotorturetitustoo

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It sounded so very tempting, like a siren's song. How easy it would be, to let his arm drop, rise and take a look for himself. But like the sirens, it might also be nothing but a lure to greater struggles. Dare he believe it? His most recent act of credulity had earned him nothing but laughter and an even more upset stomach - which had in fact been possible - as the boat bobbed up and down on the seemingly infinite blue that extended in all directions.

"I was told a few hours, but it sure feels like ten days!" Titus groaned, instinctively leaning against Valeria's light touch. On the way back he should ask one of the rowers to sock him good so he would be knocked out for a portion of the journey; can't get sick if you're unconscious, he surmised. The emperor Gaius should have built his infamous pontoon bridge across the sea between Puteoli and Aenaria, not Puteoli and Baiae. 

Reluctant to leave the perceived safety of his prone position for what might be another fluke, Titus went with what he felt was a reasonable compromise and let his arm drop down onto his chest, squinting as the sun hit his face with full force. "What do you see?" If the description followed those exemplified in dry textbooks, he might just risk sitting up to look; if Valeria started mentioning a cyclops or red sand or something similarly uncanny, he would just shield his face again and stew in his misery for an hour or two longer. 

Speaking wasn't very wise, experience told him, but focusing on someone else's words gave him a slight reprieve from the assault on his sense of balance.  The sun was offending, too, making his eyes water. Titus closed them again. "What are you looking forward to the most?"

@Joaquin

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Also in contrast to Titus, Aurelia was quite enjoying herself. With every upward motion and drop, Aurelia was at the side of the boat, gripping onto the wood for dear life, shouting profanities in the wind and enjoying how it made her insides flop. And she wasn’t even drunk yet. She planned to go straight to the vineyards and then to the beaches, if time allowed for it. Aurelia had taken the time to dress over-the-top like a statement that said she was there for pure self-indulgence.

Brutus, her brother, was not with her, unwilling to crawl outside of his deep, dank office back in Rome like the tedious piece of meat that he was, and so, he was not there to restrain her. Unfortunately for the masses and she was living for the moment, hoping to spend money, not only for herself, but to purchase trinkets for her children left in Naples and wine for her brother.

The wind played with her hair, shoving loose strands into her face which she had to occasionally tear away from her face, and caused her overly luxurious clothes to flap. As the ship moved slowly in the waters, forming ripples, she could see their destination in the distance. Valeria seemed otherwise engaged so her eyes then fluttered downwards towards the water which the sun reflected off of. She rested against the edge of the ship, her chin sitting firmly on her hands as she watched the waves and examined fish. As much as she reverted to a child when on ships, she just wanted it to dock already. 

@Liv @Joaquin (+ others)

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