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Training wheels


Azarion
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Mid-October, 75CE

Azarion was slowly getting better at being a charioteer. A trainee, anyway, since he had not competed in any of the races yet, but Marcus had him on a tight and brutal schedule. Honestly, if he had not cared for the horses' health and safety, it probably would have been even worse. Azarion went to be d every night with aching muscles. But also, he thanked his gods every night that he had something to work for. Even though he couldn't ride the horses freely like he wanted to, and he was not allowed to carry bow and arrows, the chariots gave him a sense of freedom, and hope for his future. One day, they might even free him. If he did well enough.

Which was the only reason why he did not complain when he was told he'd drive a mock race with Marcellus one morning. That man was the worst.

Azarion was not deemed ready for a quadriga yet, but he knew how to drive a biga securely by now. So, the early morning found him up and ready on the race tracks, with only a few men from the sables walking around here and there. Azarion checked the harnesses, the chariot, and patted the horses on the nose, making soothing sounds. Borena and Tabithi had been training alongside him the whole time, and he knew them well. Now it was time to put the whole thing to the test - by racing another charioteer.

@Echo

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Marcus had been watching the mute stableboy's progress and training, both in person (when he could) and via reports from Varica and others responsible for various aspects of training and care of the horses. Today he had deemed the boy far enough along in his training that it was time he actually raced another charioteer, although he was not yet ready for the full spectacle of a big race. This would be a private race between the mute and Marcellus, a freedman whose career had started out in much the same way as Marcus' before him, racing the two-horse bigae.

Marcellus was one of those charioteers whose cockiness was based in real skill and talent. He might rub people up the wrong way sometimes, but he was one of the best charioteers the Whites had. Marcus would be interested in seeing how the two interacted on the course.

He took his seat in the nearly-empty stands, picking a spot that he knew from long experience would give him a good view of proceedings. He had sent Linus, one of his scouts, to a seat on the other side of the Circus in case something occurred there that the spina would prevent him from seeing, and settled in for an interesting morning.

 

@Echo @Chevi

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Marcellus, far from being offended at the things people said or thought about him, was highly amused. He had never particularly cared about the opinions of others, and he believed that he had earned the right to be cocky about his skills in the chariot races. One person who amused him more than most was Azarion, who was a younger boy training to be a charioteer. In fact, the boy reminded Marcellus a lot of himself - good with horses, skilled early on. The only thing was that Azarion did not have the mouth that Marcellus did - that would probably make him more successful in the long run, which amused Marcellus, too. He enjoyed his life far too much to get caught up in the minor details. 

The day arrived for Marcellus to race Azarion, both driving a pair of horses, and Marcellus led his team down to the track. He had chosen two of the feistiest stallions in the stables, Aethon and Ballista, both to challenge himself and Azarion. He spotted his opponent and a cheeky grin flitted across his face at the boy's sour expression. "Cheer up, Azarion, it's not a funeral! It's a race, by the gods!" he all but shouted. He then noticed Marcus in the stands and hailed him. 

@Chevi @Sharpie

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Marcus was going to watch the race. Great. No pressure.

Marcellus was not the words of the worst, but he tended to be more cheerful than what Azarion had the stomach for on a good day. He seemed to regard the younger charioteer as some kind of a little sibling.

"Cheer up, Azarion, it's not a funeral! It's a race, by the gods!"

It might still be a funeral. Azarion rolled his eyes as he got into the chariot. He glanced over at Marcellus. In a real race, they would have the reins wrapped and tied around them in an elaborate way; he had not been doing that in training, because falling and being dragged was much more likely when one was still practicing. He was not sure what they were supposed to do today. Not die, hopefully.

@Echo @Sharpie

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Usually, the chariots would start behind a gate. At the beginning of the race, all the gates would open simultaneously, allowing the horses out to run the track. That was not going to happen today, for obvious reasons, and nor was the race going to be the usual seven circuits of the track, each circuit marked by one of the gleaming golden dolphins above the spina.

Marcus made sure that both drivers could see him, and dropped a cloth, the more traditional method of starting a race - and the method used in the smaller circuses which would be where Azarion would make his debut as a charioteer if all went according to plan.

 

@Echo @Chevi

 

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