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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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Lucius sipped his drink and studied the man as much as he was being studied himself. His interest was piqued as the man talked, moreso than he'd anticipated and he sat up a little straighter - the folds of his pallium falling ever so slightly over his shoulder. He arched a brow, a deep chuckle leaving his lips. "Ah, now there's a thought." But what did this man have that Atratinus could possibly want?

"What do you have that a man like me would want though?" She nibbled at his lip, "If I want a vase or a shave or a slave I'll just buy it." He shrugged. He'd lost some money after his fathers political failings, but not enough that he was broke. "And I'm not about to resort to lowly thievery from some random pleb on the street." He tutted, arching a  brow, "What sort of man do you take me for?" He smirked and set down his cup. 

"But colour me intrigued, I'll play." He affirmed with a nod, rolling the dice between his thumb and forefinger. "What are you playing for?" 

 

TAG: @Atrice

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Marcus noticed how the other man sat straighter as he spoke – had he interested the fancy Senator after all? Managed to get under his skin? Else he would, if he won this. And he would, somehow. He would, one way or the other. The Senator chuckled and seemed to like Marcus’ idea indeed, but wondered what Marcus had to offer him. He said he could buy anything he wanted and wouldn’t steal something.

 “I could offer a free and luxurious shave and pampering, if that’s what you want. Or what’s worth even more… I could owe you a favor. I have skills far beyond your knowledge.” Marcus added with a small smile, that one was always useful and would most likely somehow benefit himself too. Or he’d make it benefit him. Marcus was like that. If he wanted something, he’d do his utmost to make sure he got it. And there were not a great many things he wanted in life, so it was rather easy too. The Senator would then know what Marcus would play for.

 “That… has to remain a secret so far. But I can reveal that what I want, is valuable. It’s something you have and need to have and something I find… fascinating.” Marcus explained, “So… a game?”

@Sara

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Lucius wasn't stupid. This odd man probably had as much worth as one of his little fingers, but that was the thing - his value wasn't confirmed and a favour owed was always a benefit - especially to somebody like him, on the fringes of respectable society; ostracised from his class by the failings of his family. No, this man could be useful - and if he wasn't, Lucius could discard him as he had so many people over the years. He nodded slowly but added with a sly smile. "A game, I'll agree." He flipped the dice and caught it in the palm of his hand before continuing, "Although answer me this - how much use is a favour from you? You're an important man?" He couldn't see how that could be true, but it was worth asking. 

He placed the dice on the table and flicked it over to his company. "Do you want to play this or something else?" He had no idea what to make of the mans statement over what he wanted but he couldn't really give a fig. If it came down to it, and Lucius lost the game, he'd just claim the pleb was a cheat and involve the Vigiles if the man didn't back down. That was the way the world worked; you got what you took and threw away the rest. It was really a fools errand to play fairly. 

"Your name, friend? I don't believe you've shared it." 

 

TAG: @Atrice

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Of course the fancy Senator was still not quite trusting Marcus. And maybe he should not trust him at all, but he didn’t know Marcus, so who was he to judge so fast? Right, he was a Senator! Marcus dealt with them in his shop and they all thought they were better than the rest. So of course this man would also judge Marcus right away, just because they were obviously not the same class. Well it didn’t matter. This would be a game on Saturnalia and Marcus would gain something no matter who won. He preferred to win though.

 Finally the Senator agreed to the game, but wondered how he could use a favor from Marcus, “Not very important, no. But it would be useful, I believe. Or it could be, at least. You don’t know yet what favors I can offer, after all. And you will not know until you have won.” Marcus replied, saying much and saying nothing at all. It was another skill of his. The Senator placed the dice on the table and wondered what to play… and what Marcus’ name was.

 “You have not shared yours either. You may call me Gaius.” He always used his brother’s name instead of his own. He took his brother’s life anyway, so the name was his to use, right? He’d taken it. If the Senator won, he might share his real name. If not, it was better the Senator did not know his name at all.

 “We can play this game, if you’d like. Tali is another option, if we have any pieces. I’ll let you decide.” Marcus said, although he wanted to get it started soon, or he feared he would be bored and move on. Too much talk, too little progress and action.

@Sara

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"Gaius what?" He studied his company. "There must be a thousand men named Gaius just in the Forum this evening." He remarked with annoyance, "What good is an unknown favour from an unknown Gaius?" He scoffed. Honestly, why was he wasting his time on this odd little man? He really should be doing something much more worthwhile, but as always, the great and the good were at parties this evening that he was so conveniently not invited to. The the thought made him seethe and he gulped down another sip of wine. 

"And it's Atratinus. Lucius Sempronius Atratinus." He offered after some mulling over his irritation, before waving his hand. "Let's play this - I'm not a child or a solider waiting for a battle." Tali wasn't a game of skill, nor really of luck. If he was going to lose money then he'd rather do it via a game he actually thought worthy. He flicked the dice further over to  his company and gestured his head. "Beginners go first, Gaius." 

 

TAG: @Atrice

I suggest we sort of just...make up how it was played!

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Apparently the high and mighty Senator was displeased that Marcus didn't give a full name. What did he expect? That everyone in Rome were oh so good and honest and just went around sharing their name with strangers? It was a private matter, the name, was it not? At least whether you'd share it. But the Senator was clearly annoyed, because anyone could be named Gaius and Marcus arched a brow at the reaction. All because of a name? While the stranger drank his wine with irritation, Marcus wondered if he should just leave and find someone else, but then the Senator shared his name, "An honor to meet you I'm sure, Senator." He even had a fancy name of his own. Definitely a high and mighty Senator. Marcus' dislike for the man somehow grew because of the scene.

"If you win and thus gain the favor, I will tell you the rest, because then you will need to know. Until then, I don't see any need for it." Marcus said, while placing the pieces on the board correctly and then picked up the dice and threw it. He wasn't a beginner, but he had no habit of gambling. He'd just tried it before. Once the dice was cast, he took a few moments to consider what to do and then moved the first piece and looked up at Atratinu, now staying silent. It was his turn.

@Sara

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"You're an odd man Gaius." He offered with a devilish smirk, watching as the man considered his move. He had no need of this and could have wafted away to find a more suitable pastime for the evening, one more befitting of his rank, but there was something intriguing about his opponent. Intriguing and unnerving in equal measures. 

When it was his turn, Atratinus loaded the dice in his palm and threw it. He studied the board and grew silent for a few moments. So many opportunities, squashed by the dice. He sighed and dutifully moved his piece. He flicked the dice back to Gaius after he did so, taking up his cup of wine. "And why, may I ask, are you in the Forum this evening? No slaves to celebrate with on Saturnalia? Or your family driving you mad so you must seek out your pleasures elsewhere?" 

 

TAG: @Atrice

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Marcus arched a brow when Atratinus called him an odd man. He'd heard that before, it wasn't new, but it also was not very polite to say that. Especially to someone you just met. Atratinus did not strike him as someone very nice or polite at all. But they would play this game and the outcome would no doubt be interesting and no matter what, Marcus would win - even if he lost. He didn't reply to Atratinus comment though and the game began. He arched a brow again when Atratinus moved a piece, but this was just the start of the game and much could happen. Marcus picked up the dice and threw it, while Atratinus wanted to know why Marcus was here.

"I don't celebrate with my slaves. And I have no family." Marcus simply replied. Saturnalia was not really celebrated in his house; there was no way he would switch places with his slaves and there was no way they were getting the night off on a night like this... "I went out to find entertainment... and here I am." He said, a strange smile crossing his face, before he focused on the board again and moved a piece close to his first one. 

"Your turn. I expect you came for entertainment too." He then said, it would seem Atratinus wanted conversation and Marcus could provide.

@Sara

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"You don't let your slaves celebrate or you don't celebrate with them?" He could understand the latter - he had no desire to see his slaves drunk on his own wine and giddy with the prospect of a few nights off, but he didn't prevent them from actually partaking in the festival. That would be cruel, and ill-advised. 

Atratinus was about to remark that there were more interesting things for entertainment than a bored Senator playing dice, but stayed his tongue. You never knew with plebeians and he supposed it would be unkind to suggest he find more interesting hobbies; girls, the races or some such, when this man may not be able to afford such vices. Continuing with the game, he flipped the dice and studied the board, gauging where to move his piece. We wasn't an expert in this game but he wasn't a beginner either and took his time when he considered his options. 

"I came to celebrate the festival," He remarked dryly, and smirked. "And there's only so much entertainment at offer at home." Finally he moved a piece and sat back satisfied, making no move to pass the dice over to his company. "But that is the problem with being a man of wealth - everything becomes a little dull and boring when you could do anything you wanted." He shrugged, "What do you do for fun then?" He snatched up his cup of wine and took a sip, "Enlighten me." 

 

TAG: @Atrice

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Atratinus was very curious, was he not? Marcus gave him a look while the other looked at the board to figure out which piece to move. Then he decided to be honest, because… why not? He had nothing to lose here, as far as he was concerned, “It’s not celebrated in my house. I doubt they’d find any reason to celebrate anyway.” Maybe they did something while he was away from the house, but the doors were locked and they had instructions to not leave the house anyway. They might run away. Especially Aculia, he didn’t really trust her. Maybe he should get rid of her and find someone new. If he didn’t get anywhere with Atratinus tonight, at least Aculia was there when he got home.

The other said he just came here to celebrate the festival and his home did not offer much entertainment, apparently. Then he had to share how wealthy he was and how awful that apparently was, when you could do whatever you pleased. So he could do what he wanted, he was wealthy, and still he had it in him to complain about that? How pompous. Marcus wrinkled his nose by the thought. And Atratinus would know what he did for fun.

Marcus was about to comment on how curious Atratinus was, but stopped himself, so he would not offend the high and mighty Senator… he took a few moments to look at the game and then said, “What I do for fun is so far my business. Maybe I’ll enlighten you… if I win this game.” He said and moved the chosen piece to his own favor. He wondered if Atratinus saw that.

@Sara

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Atratinus scoffed and and arched a brow; "Do your slaves not complain? Even the cruellest of masters observe the Gods and their rites. Unless this particular master has no care for the Gods?" He arched a brow at the man. He didn't really have much patience for heathens. He knew Rome as a melting pot of all sorts of religions and races, but that didn't mean Atratinus accepted them. They should adhere to Roman values; and respect of the Gods was one of them. He bit back the annoyance at conversing with a foreigner and swallowed it. He'd humour him, for now. 

But his patience was wearing incredibly thin. He shot a glower at the man and groaned audibly; "You're an odd fellow, Gaius." He considered for a movement, "And also bloody dull. You don't offer much by way of conversation. Won't tell me what you do, won't tell me your full name, won't tell me what you do for fun. One might think you have something to hide." He leant back in his chair and ground his teeth, tensing his jaw. "So lets play a new game, shall we?" He smirked, "Let's play, 'what is Gaius hiding'. Shall I guess first?"

 

TAG: @Atrice

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Atratinus wondered if Marcus' slaves didn't complain and spoke of cruel masters and rites and wondered if Marcus had no care for the gods. He gave him a look, "I'm not like most masters. And my slaves do not complain. They are trained well." He replied, at least he was honest, right? Explaining that he wasn't like most others. And they were trained well - they knew not to disobey him, because they knew what could happen, if they did. It was barely a year ago since he last killed one of his slaves; Germanus didn't last long. He didn't really consider himself a heathen though, just... he was just different and he knew that. He was aware that most other Romans did not treat their slaves the same way Marcus did. But he had a good reason to treat them the way he did, at least. He had a few secrets he preferred no one knew about and the slaves knew, so... he had to keep control of them.

Atratinus continued to call him odd, because he didn't tell Atratinus anything he wanted to know. Well it wasn't his business. And as he said, he would tell if he won the game... if not, well, there might be other consequences. Atratinus was displeased though and now suddenly thought Marcus had something to hide. He watched the other man lean back, suggesting another game. Well, they could play that game. The stakes would be the same, more or less. If Marcus won, he would do something. If he lost, he would definitely do something and that might be far worse than if he won. But sure.

Marcus smiled his odd, almost dangerous, smile, "And what happens if you do guess it? I could reward you." With a blade to your throat... 

@Sara

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Atratinus smirked. He knew just what 'they are trained well' meant in practice, or at least guessed that he did. He had no such need to be cruel, or at least very rarely exercised cruelty. He didn't enjoy it, it always left a sour taste in his mouth but when duty called for him to issue corporal punishment to his slaves, he did it nonetheless. 

The man's smile that he returned was unnerving, made him shift in his seat but he didn't lose the scowl. He only liked games he knew he could win, and he felt oddly ill at ease with the man now sat across from him. Flexing his fingers on his thighs, concealed under the table, he scoffed. "What do you think I want, by way of a reward?" He rose a brow and studied the other man, "Do you think you have anything at all that I would value?" Perhaps a go on one of his slaves, but Atratinus could just pay for better at the Venus, if he so chose. 

"But I'll leave you to decide what happens if I win," He waved an errant hand and then leant forward, jaw in his palm - propped up on the table - and cast his dark gaze over the other man. "I think you are a dangerous man Gaius. I think you're hiding something that you've done. More than just petty thievery...something worse," it was just a guess - but the man was unsettling enough to make it believable. "Am I getting close?"

 

TAG: @Atrice

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He noticed how Atratinus smirked, when Marcus spoke of his well-trained slaves. Most Romans knew that well-trained slaves were slaves that behaved the way their master wanted them to. And that’s how it was like in Marcus’ household. They knew better than to turn on him or disobey him or anything close to that. They knew what sometimes happened to slaves who did. It was a pity with Germanus, if he’d not been so feisty, he could have been good. Alas, he had proved to be less than useful and now Marcus needed another to replace him.

 How interesting it would be to turn an arrogant Roman like Atratinus into a slave. He smiled to himself by the thought, while Atratinus was only interested in learning what Marcus had to hide. Maybe that would be Atratinus’ reward for guessing it, if he did. He’d come to Marcus’ home. And never leave. If Marcus won, and Atratinus did not guess, Marcus would show him. Really this was a win-win situation for him. Marcus was not afraid.

 Atratinus shifted in his seat and wondered what Marcus would reward him with, “Sometimes I like to show instead of telling. If you win, I’ll give you something very valuable.” His life. Instead of dying, he’d live. As a slave to Marcus. It was so far out, this idea… so far out and interesting! Marcus sat quietly while Atratinus leant forwards, watching him, thinking he was dangerous and that he was hiding something he’d done. And it was worse than thievery. Well it was considered to be worse anyway. But really, how could killing slaves be wrong? They were his? Of course, what happened back in Gaul was… different. He returned to the present when Atratinus would know if he was getting close.

 “I don’t know what you’re imagining that could be worse than thievery, so I don’t know if you are. What do you think? Do you think… you’re getting close?” Marcus asked and picked up a playing piece from the board between them, playing with it between the fingers of his one hand. His fingers were tingling. He needed to do something with them.

@Sara

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Atratinus felt irritation hum in his blood, hot and heavy. It made his heart beat against his ribs, made his nostrils flare and it took all of his meagre self-restraint not to reach out and throttle the man sat across from him. "Lots of things are worse than thievery; rape and murder to name a few." his voice was stern and his tone cold. He rarely got so riled but there was something about this man, this pleb and the way he spoke to him - as if Atratinus was an idiot, or a child, that got under his skin and made him seethe. 

He couldn't take it much longer and he stood - the edges of his toga catching on the board and knocking a few of their placed pieces to the ground. He ground his teeth until his jaw tensed as he stared down at the man with cold, dark eyes. "I'm sick of this, and of you. I've no patience for plebs speaking in riddles who think they own the world just because it's Saturnalia." Did this man not realise that Atratinus could crush him into a pulp, shatter his dreams, merely by virtue of his class? Pathetic, wretched little man. 

He leant in closer now, a sneer on his face and the guise of respectability and placidity gone; "I'll leave you to your game, pleb, but here..." He tossed down a few coins, glinting on the table, "For your time."

 

TAG: @Atrice

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Marcus had always been very interested in watching people. It was a way to tell how they felt about something… so that you could predict what they’d do next and you’d be one step ahead, if you just paid attention. And he did. He saw how his opponent here was suddenly irritated. He also heard it, when Atratinus spoke with a stern and cold voice. He spoke of rape and murder being worse than thievery.

 “True…” Marcus said and looked ever so surprised, when Atratinus suddenly stood, quite abruptly, before stating how he was sick of Marcus and the riddles. He had no patience for plebs? Really? Marcus lifted his chin. He knew of course, from the start, that Atratinus considered himself more important than anyone else here. And now he even said it. And why was he a better man than Marcus? No Senators were better than plebs. Marcus knew. He’d seen them, he’d talked to them. It was sometimes amazing what men would tell their barber while his blade was on their throat. But they felt so relaxed in his grasp. When they should not. His fingers still played with the playing piece from the board. Faster now. The upset mood was contagious. And at the same time, amusing that the Senator would loose his temper over something as simple as a guessing game. Just because he could not figure it out.

 Atratinus leaned down towards him and then even tossed coins onto the table. Marcus looked at them, that was the last drop! This would happen without the game then… so he stood, calmly, not picking up the coins. His hand curled around the playing piece. He looked straight at Atratinus. “I’m not some whore… Senator. I don’t need your coins for my time.” He said, “You’re tired of riddles? But you want to know what I’m hiding?” He then continued, “If you’re so curious, come with me. I’ll show you.” He smirked, “If you dare…”

 And with that, he walked away from the scene. Atratinus could follow or not, it was his choice now. He could only hope that the arrogant Senator was stupid enough to do it.

@Sara

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Atratinus scoffed, standing above the unsettling pleb with all the scorn of somebody his class who had been wronged, or at least presumed they had been. "I couldn't give a shit what you're hiding, Gaius." He offered with a smirk of derision. He'd wasted enough time on this one, and was likely to only waste more if he followed him. He was probably some pimp, or common thief, or a sword for hire. Atratinus had enemies, he knew that, but not enough or any so powerful that they'd choose to gut him in the backstreets of Rome, surely. 

With a perfunctory nod, he added; "Let us hope our paths never cross again, Gaius." And with a further inclination of his head, he swept away in a heap of his clothes. Everywhere was busy tonight, as was expected at Saturnalia - and the singing and dancing irritated him, getting on his already frayed nerves. He wanted somewhere quiet he could drink, somewhere where he wasn't likely to be  interrupted by irritating, odd little men like Gaius. He tensed his jaw again at the thought of him and exhaled sharply, baring into the shoulder of a slavegirl as he did; "Watch where you're going." He barked and she hurried off as he strode forward. There was a bar a few streets away he knew, hidden in the backstreets and too expensive for most of the riff-raf. He took a beeline there, down a dark alley to his right - the sounds of the city disappearing as he walked. 

 

TAG: @Atrice

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He was a pompous prick, Marcus thought to himself. The look in his eyes and on his face, the tone of his voice, the words that he used… he thought himself above Marcus in every possible way. Although Marcus was no slave! But Atratinus would have the last word tonight, stating that he hoped they’d never cross paths again and then he left, before Marcus could say more. Of course he did. People like him didn’t care about the lower classes. Senators were supposed to be there for the people and while some of them were good men (better than Marcus anyway), others seemed to think they were entitled to worship. Which they were not. Everyone had the same crimson blood within their body. Marcus knew.

 Atratinus had chosen to not follow Marcus, which was a disappointment. He looked after the man, wondering what to do. Was his desire so strong? He flexed his fingers, curled them into a fist, uncurled them and stretched them again a few times. He reached into the purse by his belt, slightly larger than what he usually wore, because then it could contain a larger blade. His fingers wrapped around the short handle. It felt so good there. It would feel even better, penetrating the skin of this man, producing the beautiful, crimson liquid that he was so fascinated by.

 Marcus followed the almighty Senator, hiding in the crowd behind him, until the man turned down a dark and deserted alley. Marcus liked dark and deserted alleys. He took the blade from the purse, holding it in his hand and then he followed Atratinus down the alley.

@Sara

Edited by Atrice
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Enraged as he was, Atratinus was not paying attention to his surroundings. He was born into the ruling class of the ruling empire in the world, why should he worry about his surroundings? People should move for him, make way for him and if anybody were to rob him...well, more fool them. Whilst he excelled at studious postings on the course of honour moreso than the military, he respected the need to keep himself physically fit and felt confident enough he could defend himself against any of the detritus that lurked in these backstreets, picking off slaves and other plebs. 

What he hadn't counted on was a certain odd pleb following him down one of the alleys with a blade in his hand. He didn't see the knife at first, but as he turned round at the sound of footfall and came face to face with Gaius his face distorted into one of anger. "Will you just fuck off please?!" he scoffed, shaking his head, "I don't give a shit about your secrets or your profession, just fuck off and leave me in peace, Gods above." He groaned and shook his head, but made no move to turn around - finding him unnerving enough before he even saw the knife. And then he saw it. A glint as it was moved slightly and Atratinus' eyes widened. He took a half-step back instinctively. 

"What do you think you'll do with that?" He queried, anxiety edging his voice but trying to project confidence. 

 

TAG: @Atrice

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