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Azarion
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Late October, 75AD (Immediately after Sunset)

Azarion ran across the stables towards the offices that belonged to the Whites. Some people saw him run, and a stable boy even said something, but he pushed past him. He was only vaguely aware that his hands and knees were stained with blood. The way he was running, doubtful that anyone could tell if it was his or someone else's.

He did not wait at Marcus' door, although normally it was the rule to do so. Instead, he burst right in, and once again, he was painfully aware that he could not just yell, blurting out the things he wanted to convey.

Safinia is dead.

Safinia has been killed.

Instead, he made hurried motions to the man, pointing at the door. He would have to show him. 

@Sharpie

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"What in..." Marcus looked up from the discussion he was having. He could not remember ever having someone burst into his office in such a way. 

He took in the boy's appearance - of course it was the mute boy (Azarion?) which meant that of course his natural question would go unanswered. 

His state did not go unnoticed; Marcus was a man who prided himself that he noticed details, and the kid seemed covered in blood. Or, not completely covered, but his tunic and hands were smeared in blood. 

"I beg you will excuse me, it appears that there is something urgent that requires my attention," he said to his visitor. "I shall call on you tomorrow to continue this conversation, if that will be acceptable to you?"

"Of course," the visitor said, rising smoothly. 

He'd probably lost the man's sponsorship, but that couldn't be helped. 

A waiting slave came to show him out and Marcus turned to give Azarion's agitated signs his full attention.

"Come with you? This had better be important!"

@Chevi

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Of course Marcus was not alone. Under normal circumstances Azarion would have never barged in on him like this. But this was not normal. Nothing would ever be normal again. And he did not have the words to tell him - although he was not sure if he would, eve if he had his tongue.

Marcus looked agitated, and with good reason. Azarion made more hurrying moriton at him and he followed, which was good, because the young charioteer was not sure what he would have done if he didn't. He hurried along, trusting Marcus to keep up, and trying to swallow the tears burning him up inside. 

As they walked through the courtyard to the back door, Azarion paused. He motioned at the doors, trying to signal Marcus to have them closed. If... if whoever killed Safinia belonged to the Circus, they might still be inside the buildings, hoping to go unnoticed. Doors. Closed. He waited for Marcus to understand before he headed to the one that led to the back. Where Safinia was.

@Sharpie

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Marcus frowned. Oh, the signs were clear enough, but he wished that the boy could explain why it was so vital that the doors be shut, especially when half the people who had business to do with the faction or on its behalf passed through these doors. He shrugged, doubtless it would become clear - and he hoped that the boy knew if Marcus had interrupted a meeting with a client and closed people out of the stableyard for no good reason, it would be taken out of the boy's skin with a good whipping.

"Close the doors," he said to the nearest men, and saw a stablehand loitering. "You will come with us."

Ahura Mazda! If he needed to send to the aediles, or to fetch anyone, he was not going to rely on a mute to relay a message.

"All right, this had better be important," he told the boy, who seemed to be on the verge of tears, most uncharacteristically.

 

@Chevi

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Marcus did not like any of this, but he listened. Azarion would have noted the implied trust any other day, but right now, he barely cared at all. A stablehand joined them as they walked out to the back, to the crates and amphorae.

"All right, this had better be important," 

Oh, it was. As they neared a place Azarion motioned to the stable boy to stay back, and led Marcus around a pile of crates. Whoever had... killed Safinia, they were looking for a place away from prying eyes. Bastard.

Azarion stood aside. Safinia was still there, pool of blood darkening. She had not moved. He felt a heavy thing in his chest. She would never move again.

@Sharpie

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It turned out to be extremely important, in fact... Marcus recognised the girl, though it took a moment to remember her name. Safinia. She was lying on the ground in a pool of blood - probably her own; her throat had been cut.

No wonder Azarion had interrupted him - the boy looked shaken, which was only to be expected if he'd been the one to find her.

Well. He bent over the girl; she was definitely deceased - living the life he had, Marcus was no stranger to what death, especially violent death, looked like. She would, no doubt, wish for a burial in the Roman way, and it was Marcus' duty to provide that for her according to custom. He straightened up and called her name three times, to recall her spirit to her body if it was anywhere near here.

After a suitable pause, he turned to the slaves who had accompanied him.

"You will return to the stables and send some men here with a litter," he said - there were several there, usually used for rescuing injured or dead drivers from the circus circuit. "Then I need someone to fetch one of the aediles, and - was she a member of a funeral guild?"

He suspected she was not, but would send for one anyway. They could prepare the body, and the funeral would take place soon, probably tomorrow - Safinia was not a high-ranking Roman senator, who would lie in state in his own atrium for a full seven days. She would get a proper cremation and stele, though, which was as much as anyone could expect.

 

@Chevi

 

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Azarion watched the look in Marcus' face change as he saw the body. He tried not to look at Safinia; if she was truly gone, he would want to remember her alive and annoying, not dead and bloody. He was till fighting back tears as Marcus called her name three times. There was no way she would wake up. It was a Roman custom. Something he could not do for her.

A few moment later Marcus was back to his usual practical self.

"You will return to the stables and send some men here with a litter,"

Azarion nodded. He could do that. They had litters for accdients, and he knew where to find them.

"Then I need someone to fetch one of the aediles, and - was she a member of a funeral guild?"

Azarion shrugged. How on earth would he know? He didn't even know what a funeral guild was. Romans had a guild for everything. He had less patience for dumb questions right about now, so he just tilted his head at Marcus. He'd better send someone for the aediles who could actually talk. He would have less success dragging one of them out like he had dragged Marcus.

@Sharpie

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Obviously both slaves were too much in shock to have actually listened to his instructions properly. He pulled his equestrian ring off - the symbol of his authority, it would mean that the person bearing it would be listened to as if it were Marcus speaking. Well, gesturing - he could see no other way of getting the help he wanted than to send the mute boy, with his ring, to fetch the litter and some men to carry it. The other slave would have to fetch the aedile - there was no way on the green earth that Azarion would be able to get near an aedile. Specific direct orders always worked better than a general 'oi, you! Slave!' after all.

"Azarion, you can go back to the stables and send some men with a litter - you'll probably have to come back with them to show them where to come. Linus, go to find an aedile - the Basilica Julia will probably be the best place to look. Bring him to see me - I will probably be back in the stables by the time you return."

 

@Chevi

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Marcus had enough sense to send the slave who could actually speak to the aedile. Azarion turned, hurrying back to the stables to find people with the litter. That was easy enough, all he had to do was point and make hurrying motions. Some had seem him leave with Marcus earlier so they suspected something serious was happening. It didn't take long for two of the stable boys to grab a litter and follow him out.

Azarion returned to Marcus. Shock was visible on the other two boys' faces as they saw Safinia's body. Azarion leaned down, carefully lifting her onto the litter. She was still limp. He folded her arms gently over her chest before he looked up at Marcus, motioning at her throat with a dark look in his eyes. She had been murdered. A murderer was on the loose.

@Sharpie

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Marcus nodded at his mute trainee's gestures; he had indeed noticed Safinia's throat. He had managed not to touch the body while conducting what examination he could - he had no wish to have to go through a ritual cleansing just because he had come into contact with a dead body (even that of one of his own faction). He would if it became necessary, but if he did not, so much the better.

He absolutely did not like the implications. She had been out here on presumably lawful business, and had been killed in what passed for daylight here under the shadow of the Circus Maximus. Anyone might have seen it happen, although apparently nobody had seen it. Or associated Safinia with the Whites and come to tell them.

No matter. He watched Azarion carefully pick her up and place her on the litter. She had not been very large in life, she had stood no chance at all against an attacker who had probably been much bigger and stronger than her.

Work would carry on as much as possible (the horses still had to be fed, watered and exercised, after all) but all business would be suspended until the funeral had taken place. And hopefully whatever aedile Linus managed to retrieve would not be some useless purple-striper but would actually be able to piece together what had happened.

He patted Azarion on the shoulder. "You've done well."

And so much for keeping ritually pure. Oh well. In for an as, in for an aureus... he might as well go the whole way, and closed her eyes (Romans took great stock in such things, even though the followers of his own faith did not).

 

@Chevi

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