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December 19th, 75AD

The fact that gambling was banned during the year unless on the festival days proscribed in law baffled Lucius. He supposed he understood it - if he really dredged his mind - from a practical perspective in that it caused no end of temper tantrums amongst the sore losers and those caught cheating, enough drama to entice further violence, but surely the Senate or the Emperor didn't need to legislate to prevent against such inane fighting? Ridiculous, and another facet of life in the city that was too rigorously controlled.

The ability to gamble during Saturnalia - as far as he could see it - was one of the festivals only benefits and as he sat at one of the outdoor seats, throwing his dice in the Game of Twelve1 he was currently enjoying, he managed a rare, rueful smile. He'd not really celebrated the previous two nights, aside from ordering his half-sister and son to prepare some meagre meal for the slaves on the first night. He'd shuttered himself away in his room for the rest of the evening and let them have their fun, whilst he stewed in his own melancholy. When all was said and done, he was rather proud he'd only yelled at them to be quiet once or twice throughout the evening. 

As he cast his final throw and manoeuvred his piece in the dim light, his smile grew and his opponent - some portly equite man (judging by the gaudy clothes) through down the money Lucius was owed in a huff, before storming off into the dark of the evening, overturning his chair in the process. Lucius only smirked and gestured for a slave girl to right the fallen article with a flick of his wrist. Nobody knew him here, which is why he liked it. The Forum was packed with the festivities and he blended in as just another upper-class man on an evening jaunt. He was dressed finely, as befit his station, but in the shadowy corner of the Forum - with only the flicker of oil lamps and torches, he felt fairly discrete. It's why he'd risked a turn on the table (and won, he hastened to add in his thoughts).

Picking up his cup of wine, he reclined in his seat, in no hurry to find another opponent for a third match. Instead he let his green eyes wander over the forms of the people congregating in the square. Gods most of them were vile; plastered drunk, sweaty and stumbling even in the dead of December. He swallowed the sneer he wanted to affect as he took another sip of wine. 

 

TAG: Open! 

1The 'Game of Twelve' or Ludus duodecim scriptorum

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A night like tonight was perfect for Marcus. It was Saturnalia and it was supposed to be a joyful night, but it hadn’t been that much for his slaves. He knew that if he allowed them too much freedom and allowed them to go out, they might try and escape. They might never come back. Or they would tell someone about him, they would tell the wrong person about him and they would tell the wrong things. He could not risk that. So the night at home had been like any other. Aculia had cooked, Marcus had eaten his meal and the slaves ate theirs and then he’d made himself ready to go out and left the slaves at home. Behind closed and locked doors. They were not going anywhere. He could not risk them going out on a night like tonight.

 And the streets were packed with people, as usual. People running mad and wild. It was both fascinating and disgusting at the same time. Marcus sometimes found his eyes lingering at people, but then he moved on. It would be easy, tonight. He just had to find the right… target. With him he had simply a small bag with precious items, like a purse and a small knife and a larger one. He was a simple man like that, he didn’t need much. Just enough.

 In a corner of one of the several forums, known together as the Roman Forum, there were a few tables for gamblers, since that was allowed for Saturnalia. Not that Marcus cared for games. Not those kind of games. A pair of men were playing in a corner and one lost, the other won. The loser made sure to show his anger, before he stormed off and Marcus looked after him. He could have been useful, but he was already gone. Then he looked at the other man. He was dressed finely and did not seem to belong among these common people. But he just sat there now, smirking, ordering the slaves around, drinking his wine... seeming so pleased with himself. He was a Senator though, he had that going for him. But to Marcus, he seemed arrogant.

 A plan began forming in his head. The man was a gambler. Among common people. Perhaps he liked games a lot. Perhaps Marcus could come up with a very interesting game for him. He smiled briefly and then he approached the game, “Salve, esteemed Senator… you seem… bored? Do you want company?” Marcus spoke in his usual voice, a strange hissing one, not quite a whisper, but there was a urgency to it you could not miss.  

@Sara

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Lucius flicked his eyes up as a male voice filtered down to him. A man, a good few years younger than himself, dressed cheaply. A pleb most probably - the streets were swarming with them. Still, Lucius was not one for outright displays of disgust and vitriol - he preferred to keep that sort of thing tucked away in the recesses of his mind or the privacy of his domus. "Salve." He said neutrally and gestured at the vacant seat opposite him. Saturnalia had relaxed the boundaries of class and plenty of Senators were wasting the night away in the company of slaves and plebs, Lucius was just one of their number for the evening. 

"It depends what sort of company you're offering," He added with a smirk and rolled the dice over his fingers, taking in the measure of the man, "I have no need of your services if you're plying your trade." He commented neutrally. He wasn't one for male liaisons, it had just never appealed to him, but he didn't suspect the man in front of him to be a prostitute. It would have been mighty foolhardy to ply his trade so openly if he was, given how regulated prostitution was in the Empire. 

 

TAG: @Atrice

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Marcus was a pleb indeed – but one of the wealthier ones, although not the wealthiest. Yet. Still, his access to luxury had improved since he came to Rome, because he was the kind of man who strived for perfection, and if it was not achieved… he’d just work harder next time. That was just one more reason why he demanded so much from his slaves. Anything less than perfection was simply not good enough for him. Tonight, he was also looking for perfection. But among the people in the streets… and what they contained.

 He had chosen this fancy looking Senator to talk to, to offer him a game of chance. He didn’t now yet if he’d want to see this man’s blood or someone else’s, it entirely depended on the Senator, although Marcus had already kind of prejudged him. He greeted the other man nonetheless and the man greeted him back and invited him to sit.

 Marcus took a seat, while the other wondered what sort of company Marcus offered and Marcus could not help but wrinkle his nose briefly at the Senator’s next comment. As if he was some kind of simple whore! Did he look like one? Not likely! Although… maybe he was plying his trade. Just not what the Senator assumed.

 “Maybe I am, who knows. Although I know what you’re thinking and you’re wrong.” Marcus said, “I’m a barber you see… not that you look like you need a shave, but maybe another day.” He added and lifted his chin a bit, looking at the Senator as if studying him intently, “But no… you seemed bored and I saw you were gambling. Do you like to gamble… Senator?”

@Sara

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"Ahhh," Lucius said in his low voice, a smile gracing his lips as he flicked his eyes over the man. "A barber, my apologies. You do get all sorts out at this time of the night, I meant no offence." Had he meant no offence? He wasn't entirely sure. He wasn't drunk by any means but he had the warm glow of a man who'd had a few cups of wine and won well on the tables, and his mouth had gotten the better of his brain for a moment. 

The way the man spoke, and the ways those odd eyes darted over him made Lucius sit up a little straighter. How odd this one was. "Sometimes," He said nonchalantly in answer to his question, "When I'm in the right mood and right festival of course, I don't want to be breaking any laws doing it for fun out of festival season." He chuckled. How utterly ludicrous the law was in this respect, he thought again, that a man can't even bet his own money without breaking some statute somewhere. "Why?" He queried and arched a brow, studying the other man as intently as the look he himself was receiving, "Fancy a game?" 

 

TAG: @Atrice

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Marcus could be kind and polite when it suited him and so far, this man was a Senator he didn't know well and who might be interesting tonight, one way or another. The Senator here was clearly not among the less arrogant ones and the way he just implied that Marcus might be among the lowest in society didn't sit well with him. Not that he showed that in any way. He explained his trade and the other apologized and claimed he meant no offense. Of course he did. Marcus didn't trust him just yet. Maybe he never would. And a Senator's blood was as crimson as that of a whore. 

Marcus began chatting about gambling and noticed how the other sat up straighter, because Marcus was studying him. The Senator said he liked to gamble sometimes, when in the right mood and he didn't want to break laws. Oh how good he was. In Rome? As far as Marcus understood the people of Rome, laws were there to be broken or people tried to find loopholes or short-cuts around them. And Marcus was here to let them know that they should do no such things. The vigiles weren't very good at it anyway. Or the Urban Cohorts. Always too slow. Marcus knew all about that too... else he would not still be here, walking around freely in Rome. He returned to the present when the Senator wondered why Marcus asked about the gambling.

"I don't really gamble myself... not like this anyway. But that would depend on the stakes, of course. What they are. I don't care about money or fame or luxury. If we are to gamble, how about this..." Marcus trailed off while the idea formed in his head, "The winner gets to take something they want. No matter what it is. Either take it the other, or from someone else. What do you think? Will you play this game with me?" He tilted his head, much like a bird or a lizard, while still watching the Senator closely.

@Sara

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