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Another World, Another Time


Cynane
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60 AD

Cinnia had finished her training for the day early on, so that she could ready for this party. Gone were now the spears, the shields and the swords and the armor. Instead she had been dressed up, which didn’t happen all that often. She’d always been more comfortable in the convenient clothes for battle, rather than the inconvenient dresses they made her wear for occasions like this. But her father, Owen, had told her not long ago that there was a great celebration to attend for everyone who mattered in the Brigantes tribe. And that included her family, for Owen’s brother was the King of the Brigantes. And now it would be made official, that the princess Ysulda – Cinnia's cousin – was to marry one Eppitacos, the new and young King of the Catuvellauni. And so she would be wearing a dress.

She had not really met him before, but of course she’d heard about his victories and she was curious to see this young man, who was now suddenly king of one of the other tribes. She wore a light blue dress over her white and light flax shift this afternoon. Around her waist was a leather-belt with a very finely made belt buckle. Her hair had been done up on her head and her sisters had put flowers in her hair, even!

Together, the whole family arrived to the celebration of Eppitacos and Ysulda. There was a feast, food to be had and drinks to be had. Cinnia was 16 years old and of course she had attended weddings and celebrations and the festivals that marked the wheel of the year, but this was different. She got the sense that this really mattered. She stood together with her own family, not far from the most important couple tonight, when Ysulda's father declared the betrothal official and the druids would declare it sacred. Together, the two tribes would now stand against their common enemy, Rome. And together, they would defeat Rome and send them back to the hellhole they came from!

Afterwards, the proper festivities began and Cinnia suddenly found that her brother and her sisters had drifted from here. And there he was, suddenly, not so far from her. The young king Eppitacos. She looked at him over the edge of her cup of mead, he wasn’t too bad looking at all. Ysulda was lucky, she thought. She was betrothed to a King, who was also known as a warrior and he was good looking. He had it all, didn’t he? Would she ever be so lucky and marry such a man? One could only hope he was nice too. And now he was looking her way. Gods, this was stupid. As if she stood a chance, when he was already claimed by her cousin.

@Chris

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Still not into his second decade of life, Eppitacos found himself a king. Just a year ago he had been Diolain, a bastard born to a Roman slave; a member of the priestly caste who found his way of life being rapidly erased from the world as the Romans pressed on in their colonization. It was less than half a year ago he had made himself known as Eppitacos, the son of Caratacos. The news spread quickly that the warrior-priest and son of Caratacos had continued raiding Roman lines and harassing their efforts, and soon enough Cogdobunos - brother to Caratacos and Roman-made ruler of the Catuvellauni - wanted to meet his nephew. Eppitacos at first made no overt moves against his uncle's position. Instead, he continued to maneuver as he always had: against the Romans. In time it was Cogdobunos' jealousy and insecurity that led to conflict. Even then, his uncle deferred to the Roman governor to settle the matter. Eppitacos, instead, deferred to the traditions of their people and challenged his uncle directly.

Cogdobunos could not decline combat, and so he fought, and he died. Eppitacos, still nineteen, was named king of the Catuvellauni and with his rise a fire of resistance against Rome had been reignited. For the first months of his rule, Eppitacos trained his people in a new way of warfare against the Romans, and meanwhile he reached out to the other tribes to gather support and convince them that the gods were on their side; that they could defeat this new and seemingly unstoppable enemy on their island.

The greatest of all the tribes, by far, were the Brigantes both in their wealth and the might of their army. Though a king ruled the Brigantes, their nobility stemmed from a female founder, and it was their queen who held the power... and it would be her daughter Ysulda, who would hold the kingdom next. In an effort to garner the support he knew he would need against the Romans, Eppitacos offered a betrothal to the still preteen Ysulda in exchange for the power to call upon the Brigantine army when needed. Queen Cartimandua and her king agreed to the terms, and a feast was planned to celebrate the arrangement and the future of a free and united Britannia.

It was the second such celebration in all of Eppitacos' life (the first being after the victory over his uncle), and though he had received no lessons in court manners, he relied upon his natural confidence and charisma to guide him. As they feasted many came forward whom had fought with his father; some who remembered Eppitacos' own exploits in the first war against the Romans... all of them pledged to lend their chariots so long as Eppitacos for for Britannia, and not himself.

He was called upon to make a speech, and he kept it short. Talking of his commune with the gods. Of the spirit of his father that remained within him. Of the spirit of Britannia that they all needed to protect. There was applause and some shouting in agreement, and then the feast broke into an unorganized mess of people meeting and speaking with one another.

Eppitacos had not spoken with his eventual wife-to-be, but he really was unsure of what to say to her and so he continued making the rounds, speaking to anyone who caught his eye.

He quickly found another young woman in his sights, her hair adorned in flowers, and her frame draped in a blue dress that was kept in place with a belt held securely in place with a finely-crafted buckle. Her dress marked her as nobility, and he found himself curious as to who exactly she was. So he took a step toward her.

"Evening," he said with a quick smile. He thought there was some similarity in her features and those of the princess, and he wondered if they weren't related. "Might I ask your name?"

@Atrice

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Cinnia did not know his full story – she knew what she had been told, of course. That the young king Eppitacos had defeated his own uncle and that there was finally a proper uprising against the Romans in Britannia. Cinnia had never met a Roman, but she knew they were here to conquer their lands and erase their way of life. And it wasn’t a bad way of life. She enjoyed her house and her family and she enjoyed the nature and the gods in it. And she enjoyed fighting, of course. If the time came, she would join the battle against the Romans alongside the handsome Eppitacos.

It wasn’t hard to imagine him with a sword in his hand, she thought as she watched him over the edge of her cup. She felt so young though, when he was suddenly approaching her. She wasn’t short, but he was taller than her and even more impressive up close. She’d heard his speech not many moments earlier and she saw how the others applauded and of course she had joined them too. He most certainly had everyone in the palm of his hand, but why was he approaching her?

He greeted her with a smile and wondered who she was.

“I am Cinnia, my lord.” She said with a smile back to him – she had not forgotten her manners, even now, “Your betrothed is my cousin.” She then added, just to make sure he understood her reason for being here. Feeling a bit uncertain though, now he stood with her. Was he just curious about her? She should probably say something… “That was quite a speech.”

@Chris

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"Cinnia, cousin of Ysulda," he said, repeating her name and her place in the midst of things. Even in their politics the Brigantes were more developed and complicated, for the sheer number of families claiming some connection to the royal house.

He smiled at her compliment. "You think so?" And then chuckled despite himself. "My advisors all told me to prepare something, but I thought it might be more rousing to speak from the heart." He said, making a fist of his right hand and tapped it against his chest.

He took a drink of the warm honeyed beer in his goblet and then asked a potentially deep question in a rather simplistic way. "Other than being the cousin of Ysulda, who are you really? Or, who do you want to be?"

@Atrice

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She smiled, when he repeated her name as if he wanted to remember it - for future reference or because she interested him? Again, it was a stupid thought. He was not her man, after all. She had complimented his speech then and Eppitacos smiled, chuckled and explained more about the speech. About how he preferred to speak from the heart, rather than prepare something beforehand. She nodded, "Words spoken from the heart are the truest, my mother says. And they were good words." She added with a friendly smile, watching him drink from his own goblet. Cinnia was not some lovestruck youth, but she had to admit he was easy on the eyes and she felt kind of proud that he'd picked her to talk to, among all these people. Even over her own cousin, his betrothed! Perhaps he just wanted a relaxed conversation and no one else could give him that. He had a lot of responsibility on his shoulders, and while he was older than he, he was also still young compared to many of the other men and chiefs. 

Eppitacos wondered who she was and who she wanted to be. Cinnia chuckled, "That's a... deep question, isn't it? Kind of personal too." She added with a small wink, but she was only teasing. He was curious and she'd be happy to answer him, because she did, after all, know the answer, "All I know is I want to help defeat those Romans. I've been training since I was strong enough to wield a sword. And you'll have mine, when the time comes." She then promised. Did it sound stupid, coming from a girl in a dress? He couldn't know she preferred more masculine clothing, because it was easier to fight and move in. 

@Chris

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Eppitacos grinned quickly at Cinnia's wink and took another quick drink as he listened to her answer. "I see..." he said, contemplating her answer. Still not long removed from the conclaves and lessons of the Druids, Eppitacos' mind still worked inquisitively, taking in everything and breaking it apart to ask more and learn more. "That is a good answer for what you want to do, and of course Britannia will appreciate your sword," he did not think of any of the soldiers he was now in command of as being his but rather the gods'. "... but that isn't what I asked," he returned her wink.

"Surely there is more to you than an arm to hold a sword."  He paused to look her over, standing proudly in a dress that didn't seem to exactly fit her build - or what he could see of it. "When the Romans are defeated, and you return to your own betrothed, then who will you be?" He simply assumed she, too, as a member of the nobility was spoken for.

In that moment, Eppitacos knew exactly who he was, and he believed the gods were constantly reminding him. If only he knew the years of struggle - internally and externally - that laid in wait for him. But he was still young, and brave, and ignorant... for all his confidence.

@Atrice

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The way he answered her while sipping his drink, told her that he did not buy her answer to his question – or he wasn’t entirely satisfied with it. It was odd, he was not that many years older than she, but it felt like he had so much more experience and knowledge. Probably because he was a man. Sometimes Cinnia envied the men, they had so many more opportunities to do something and be someone and women were just supposed to marry when they were the right age, and then the rest of their lives was decided. Cinnia imagined the same to happen to her, although she honestly could not picture herself spending all of her time cooking and caring for children. She liked having a sword in her hand much more.

Eppitacos said she gave a good answer for what she wished to do, but it was not what he had asked her about. She arched a brow, not sure if she understood what he meant, although he winked at her too and she wondered what this was all about. He said there had to be more to her and wondered who she would be. Not what, but who… and he suggested she’d return to her betrothed and continue the life everyone imagined women lived.

“There’s no betrothed for me to return to… yet.” Cinnia admitted and took a drink just to do something while she was thinking. It was a personal question and it was difficult to answer for a young, 16 year old woman like her. But he asked and why should she not answer?

“I imagine than when the Romans are defeated though, my family will find me someone to wed. And then I will be a wife and a mother?” She suggested, looking up at him, although she did not think he’d be satisfied with such an answer, “It is what I imagine will happen anyway. But I don’t know. If I should be honest with you… I like the sword. And I know it sounds odd, coming from a woman, but… these skirts are not very useful. I don’t know if that answers your question… does it?” She then said and emptied her drink, which felt warm down her throat. If only she knew how her words would come true, she might have taken them back. That she'd get to hold a sword and wear breeches and not become a wife and a mother. But she didn't know. Instead she just felt oddly relaxed talking to Eppitacos. Maybe it was because of the alcohol. Or maybe he just affected her like that.

@Chris

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He kept his eyes on Cinnia as she shifted under his questioning. There wasn't really a right or wrong answer that he wanted to hear; he simply wanted to test her resolve to be whatever her desires pulled her toward at that moment. He was surprised, though, that she was still not promised to anyone. Surely it would come in time. It was simply how their culture worked for the majority of the nobility.

"That is good," he said, "that you have something you like." He took another drink. "I don't think it odd at all." He looked over to the queen, who ruled over the most powerful kingdom in all of Britannia. "This banquet might look like it's for me. It's really a show of her power. To most of these people I'm just a kid. The bastard of a warlord who was killed by the Romans. But, those are just titles put on me. The gods give me purpose, and guide me to who I'm supposed to be."

Eppitacos paused and emptied the rest of his drink into his belly, and then looked kindly at Cinnia. 

"I apologize if my questions caught you off guard," he smiled softly. "I simply like to ask questions people don't expect. It gives me a better idea of who they are. These parties are all practiced, right? You prepare. You dress up to fit a look that's expected... even if it isn't really you.

"If I'm honest, you didn't look entirely comfortable. I was curious to know why that might be. Now I know. You'd rather be outside practicing with your sword."

He looked inside his empty goblet. "Me too, truth be told."

@Atrice

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She felt her eyes upon her while she tried to answer his questions. His gaze was both calming and a bit… not quite unsettling, but it made her feel a bit like she’d been caught off guard. And like she’d have to be careful with what she said. On the other hand, why did he make her feel calm, then? Could she trust him? She hoped she could. And she explained her thoughts on what she’d become and what she preferred the best she could.

 Eppitacos said it was good to have something to like, and did not find her odd. Cinnia looked at him, wondering why. Sure it was not uncommon for women among the Brigantes to be warriors, but at the same time, she knew most men expected the women to settle down at some point. They would not stay warriors forever, like the men. Even if that’s what they wanted. Eppitacos went on, saying how her cousin was showing off her power with this party and they didn’t think much about him.

 “I’m sure the gods are showing you the right path.” Cinnia said, although she didn’t know much about gods. But she knew people… “And you’re more than your titles, I know. I heard you speak. And I think I see it too.” Cinnia added with a smile to the handsome warlord, while he emptied his drink. He apologized for catching her off guard and said she did not look comfortable and now he knew why that was. She felt that she blushed a little by his bluntness, but he looked at his goblet and said he preferred practicing with the sword too.

 “Perhaps… if the gods and your betrothed will allow it… we could do it together sometime. I’m sure you could teach me many useful skills.” She said with another little smile, “It could be fun. And then I’ll also be even better prepared for the Romans.”

@Chris

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Eppitacos grinned at Cinnia's suggestion. "Why sometime?" He asked before shooting his eyes in all directions to survey their surroundings. The party seemed lively, with anyone who was someone involved in some sort of conversation or drinking competition.

"I could use a breath of fresh air," he continued, "and you can show me your stance." He jerked his head for her to follow him and without waiting for any sort of response turned his body to leave the main chamber where the gathering was being held. A short hallway connected the great hall to an open air plaza of sorts.

@Atrice

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It would be interesting to practice the swordfighting and fighting in general with Eppitacos here - he did really seem nice and she really did doubt that her cousin had the same interest in fighting as she had. But he was not her man, he was to marry her cousin, so the thought was mostly interesting and not something she imagined would come true. Until he grinned and questioned her suggesting it could happen 'sometime'. He looked around as if to make sure the coast was clear, as if they were partners in crime somehow. Then he looked at her again, saying he could use some fresh air and wanted her to show him what she did.

"Now?" She asked, a bit surprised. What would her cousin... and her family... think? But they'd just be practicing together, that's all. And the fact that he was handsome and treated her so nicely wasn't of any importance at all...

"Alright." She said, but he'd already begun walking and Cinnia downed her drink, set away the cup and followed him. But she didn't bring her sword here. Of course you could fight without one... and she couldn't help but smile and look forwards to it and to being alone with him. She knew she should not, but she did.

@Chris

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Eppitacos smirked as he walked away and heard Cinnia's "Alright" lift into the air behind him. He dashed quickly through the hall leading out into the open air plaza, and once there let his eyes dart around for anything that might work as a sword.

Hearing Cinnia's footsteps behind him, he found nothing than a tree in the corner with barren limbs. He reached up, using his strength to snap nearly sword-sized limbs from the tree. They were hefty enough to grasp tightly, and not too flimsy. He turned to greet Cinnia. "Not quite swords, but these will do," he laughed, and handed the longer of the two limbs over to her.

"Now, any last words?" Again his smirk crossed over the corner of his lips, and he waited for Cinnia to make her move.

@Atrice

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