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Aeterna Roma RPG

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July, 76AD
A Taberna
1 on the Via Ardeatina, halfway between Ardea and Rome

Well - at least it wasn't a caupona, but the taberna they'd been forced to spend the night at wasn't exactly a palace either. Gaius and Lucius - her two eldest full brothers - seemed to think it was perfectly adequate, but then again they'd both only recently returned from the legions so any half-decent shack would probably look decent compared to the garrison in Thracia for Gaius, and Gaul for Lucius where they'd spent long, torturous years as tribunes. 

The small group - Gaius, Lucius, Ovinia and the three slaves they had between them had been visiting their paternal Aunt at her country estate for a week, forced to do so by their father who chose of course not to go himself, citing his work when in reality his three eldest children knew he couldn't stand the woman. She understood why; Ovinia Antonilla was cold and miserly who lived in a damp villa with sour looking slaves and the three siblings had spent a week being lambasted for their lack of a marriage (her), and lack of progress up the cursus (Gaius and Lucius). When it had come time to leave, Ovinia kissed her Aunt's cheeks and sent a silent prayer of gratitude to the Gods for allowing her to escape and promising a sacrifice on her return when they made it back. 

That prayer, however, had obviously incensed rather than amused the Gods (or maybe it did both) because 10 miles outside of Ardrea, with another fifteen to go, the wheel on the carpentum snapped clean in half. The men had debated for a good long while; they could send one of the slaves back to the house to fetch another carriage but their Aunt was unlikely to stand for it and would insist they came back until it could get repaired. None of them willing to accept another second of her hospitality, the three patrician's and their retinue had instead chosen to walk to the nearest taberna and check-in for a night until they could find a carpenter. So here they were, as the sun was setting and the cool air of the night settled (mercifully) about them. Ovinia didn't like it much here, but at least she wasn't at her Aunt's. Anything but that

They'd booked two rooms; one for the men and another for her where two of the slaves would stand watch outside all night. Whilst not as rough as a caupona and open largely only to equite and senatorial travellers, the taberna was nonetheless a risky place for a young, unmarried patrician girl so she begrudgingly accepted her door-men. Or she would, when it was time to retire. For now though she was content to explore the grounds of the place as her brothers ate and drank in the adjoining bar. She had no stomach for anymore rich meats or cheeses which seemed to her to be the only thing on the menu and so had slipped outside for some air, citing women's problems as a reason for her to go alone. Her brothers didn't argue - she'd only be a short distance away, and they knew from experience Ovinia could scream bloody loud if she wanted. The night was cool and her slaves were  back inside and so she was enjoying the peace, sat on one of the little benches that overlooked a poorly-tended pond, when she heard footsteps behind her. 

 

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1 Wikipedia tells me that a taberna wasn't just an eatery, but also was a pseudo-inn for genteel travellers.

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Sosia had enjoyed the trip so far, although she was still not quite sure how she’d spend her time, once they reached Rome. She’d only been there a few times and while they did have gardens, it wasn’t at all like the countryside villa or the farm, where she also enjoyed spending her time. At least she was allowed to have kittens there, her father had told her, and her Greek dog Eucleia was with her too of course. Her father had followed her this far and they had each their room in the taberna. He was now inside somewhere, while Sosia would take Eucleia for one last walk before the night.

 It was nice enough here, despite being so close to Rome. There were still trees and fields and she saw a few pretty birds on the walk. Now they had to go back though, the sun had set and she knew her father would worry if she didn’t show up soon. She’d gone out without any slaves or guards, after all, because she had Eucleia. Sure the dog wasn’t very large, but it was cute and it was her best friend. And it would protect her if they were attacked, she was sure of it.

 Upon returning back to the taberna, they approached the pond, mostly because Eucleia could smell it and probably wanted to take a closer look. She had to keep the dog from jumping in, because honestly, she wasn’t sure they tended to the pond every day.

 But Eucleia suddenly turned in another direction and led Sosia straight up to another young woman, sitting there all alone on a bench. Eucleia pulled on the leash and Sosia allowed her to, following the dog up to the bench… “Salve… apologies for asking, but... is everything alright?” She asked softly, wondering why someone would sit out here alone in the dark.

@Sara

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Ovinia blinked at a rustling in the stones at her feet and made a sound of exclamation as a dog appeared, shortly followed by the sounds of a woman's voice. Whipping her head around to see a girl, a woman, of around her age she felt herself visibly relax and inclined her head. She dropped her hand to the dog, fingers instinctively working through its fluffy white and golden fur. Adorable. 

"I'm fine, salve," She chuckled as she grinned at the dog, "Who is this?" She glanced up to the woman and gestured with her head at the dog. He looked well fed and was on a lead and combining that with where they were and how her company was dressed, it was quite clear that this woman wasn't some pleb that worked in the kitchens. "I just needed some air and some space, my brothers can get raucous without adult company." She chuckled again, although it was more amusing that her brothers were most definitely all adults now which baffled her. 

"Ovinia Camilla," She gestured to herself by way of introduction and then resumed her look back at the dog. 

 

TAG: @Atrice

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Sosia was happy to see the other young woman greet and pet Eucleia - because if the dog wouldn't let someone pet it, then she knew they were bad news. But the girl seemed nice enough and Eucleia even wagged her tail and looked up at Sosia, as if she just wanted to let Sosia know that this was a nice person and Sosia hopefully thought they were nice too. Then the other answered her question, saying she was fine and then of course she'd know about the dog.

"Her name is Eucleia, she's so cute, isn't she?" She asked with a grin and the other explained why she was out here. So she was here with her brothers. She also introduced herself and Sosia nodded as she crouched down to hold Eucleia's leash closer to the neck and also pet the dog, "I'm Horatia Sosia. I imagine your brothers are maybe enjoying themselves with my father." She said with a grin, "I hope you don't mind if I join you? I was just taking Eucleia for one last walk before the night, but I'm not in any rush to go back in there." Sure you could have a slave walk the dog, but she preferred to take care of the dog on her own. It was her dog, after all. And Eucleia was more used to Sosia than anyone else doing it. Besides, it gave her a chance to breathe some fresh air too.

@Sara

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Ovinia grinned and scratched the dog behind her ears, repeating her name; "Eucleia," her grin broadened, "She is, I'm jealous." She was never allowed a dog and the horrible one they had as a guard dog nearly  took off her fingers a few years ago when she tried to give it a stroke. She shook her head and gestured at the bench next to her, letting the coolness of the evening wash over her. 

"Not at all, any company is good company." ...somewhere like here. She was a sociable person, she liked to be liked and she liked conversation but especially after a week with her dreadful, dreary Aunt and an afternoon stuck here, she was craving some normalcy and some chatter. The girl's name didn't escape her either; Horatia - related to a Horatius, which signalled importance even if the girl's sweet mannerisms didn't bely it. 

"Are you travelling just with your father?" She asked as she surveyed the pond and the dog, returning to drop her hand through her fur. "Coming or going from Rome?" She grinned.

 

TAG: @Atrice

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She smiled widely when Ovinia agreed that Eucleia was a cute dog, she was so proud of her furry friend and happy to hear someone else thought her cute too. Ovinia even said she was jealous, which then made Sosia feel a little bad for her. She clearly didn't have any pets. Think, to not have pets! Her father had promised her kittens once they were settled here in Rome and she really wanted those too. And Eucleia was used to other animals, so she was certain the dog wouldn't mind cats here either. 

She offered to join Ovinia and was invited to do so. Sosia sat down next to her on the cold bench and patted her lap, so that Eucleia came to sit near her. She would pet it on the head and behind the ears and Ovinia wanted to know more about Sosia. She too resumed to stroking the dog. Eucleia must be in Elysium, Sosia thought to herself. 

"Yes, it is just me and my father. My mother isn't so fond of Rome and my brother is busy elsewhere. And that's where we're going, Rome. What about you?" Ovinia seemed very kind and she hoped this might be the start of a friendship. Especially if Ovinia lived in Rome too, then she could tell her father she'd already made a friend. Maybe she wasn't off to a bad start in the giant city.

@Sara

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Poor girl, stuck on a trip just with her father. She loved her own, of course, but his company was tiresome 1 on 1 after an evening let alone an extended trip somewhere. She arched a brow and nodded, "Rome. We were visiting my Aunt out of the city but are heading home." Thank all the gods in there infinite wisdom and mercy for that. 

She smiled down at the dog and continued to pet her before casting a glance sideways at her company; "Where is your domus in Rome? So I know where to come and annoy your dog with cuddles." It didn't occur to her that Sosia might never have been to the city, or only infrequently visited. She grew up within Rome's walls besides brief spells visiting the villa and during the Civil War. It's what made the thought of spending any protracted period of time in the countryside so...dull. 

 

TAG: @Atrice

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She was happy to hear Ovinia was also going to Rome. Her father would be so pleased when he heard she'd already made a friend. Or, she hoped she had. She hoped they would be friends, because Ovinia seemed nice and Sosia knew next to no one in Rome. She nodded to Ovinia's explanation about her aunt and then the other wanted to know where Sosia lived. She looked at Eucleia, who seemed very close to resting her head on Sosia's thigh, as she stood there almost between them, being petted by both. 

"I can't remember what the area is called. Rome is so huge. I'm not so... familiar with Rome. I haven't lived there since I was a child." She'd been on visits, but never for very long and never long enough to really get to know the city. She was a girl and her parents usually didn't let her out of their sight. She supposed her father was brave tonight for letting her walk the dog alone in a strange place like this, but on the other hand, she hadn't met anyone other than Ovinia. And that was safe. 

"You live there I guess? In Rome? Maybe we could meet again, once we're both settled... if you want to, of course." Sosia didn't think she'd mind and doubted her father would mind either. Maybe Ovinia even knew someone in need of a wife. Didn't she say she had brothers? Maybe they were as friendly as she was.

@Sara

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Ovinia's eyes darted up in surprise. A provincial! How quaint! She didn't realise that such a thought was at best unkind and at worst offensive, to her it seemed so...sweet and...sad that a young woman like this one had been forced to endure a childhood and adolescence in the dullness of the countryside.

She nodded quickly, hand still lazily stroking the dog beneath her. "I do. All my life, besides during the Civil War years ago," And she didn't much remember that being a child at the time, "And trips to the villa and such." She had been blessed; Rome really was the centre of the earth and she had got to marvel in its delights for nineteen years now. nodding just as quickly at Sosia's suggestion she offered a lazy grin; "I'd like that. I'm always on the hunt for new friends," Single, young friends as most of her own from girlhood were thoroughly wedded and bedded and had a gaggle of children between them. "Is your social calendar all full up already? There's a few gatherings I know going on, if not..." 

 

 

TAG: @Atrice

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Ovinia appeared surprised to hear that Sosia wasn't very familiar with Rome and more or less just saw it as a huge place with too many people. Crowded. That's what she mostly remembered. But she tried to stay positive, she looked forwards to getting familiar with the city and hopefully settling down there. With a husband. That's what her parents wanted for her. And she'd gain friends. Maybe Ovinia would be one? She said she'd lived in Rome all of her life, besides during the Civil War. Sosia chuckled, "That's when we left Rome too... and while some of my relatives returned to stay in Rome, my father chose to settle down near Capua. But not in Capua." She added, just to make sure Ovinia understood that she wasn't a city girl at all. 

She smiled happily when Ovinia said she'd like to meet Sosia again once in Rome, as she was on the hunt for new friends. Well Sosia thought she'd be happy to befriend Ovinia, since she seemed like a very sweet girl. Sosia chuckled again when Ovinia asked into her social calendar.

"I don't think I have anything planned. I don't know, of course... my father and brother may have set up a few things. But I'm sure we'll be able to find time to meet." She said and smiled as the dog finally decided to rest her head in Sosia's lap, "It seems I'm going to stay here a while." She said, "Do you have a favorite place in Rome? Somewhere I must see once I'm there?" 

@Sara

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Ovinia wrinkled her nose, "I of course mean no disrespect, but if your brother and father are anything like mine, their social engagements won't be ones you enjoy." She chuckled, "They'll be full of old men and conversations about grain, or upcoming weddings and such. I insist that your first foray onto the social scene isn't at one of those." She made a mental note to reach out to her friends to see if they had any upcoming parties she could invite sweet Sosia to. There were bound to be some. 

"I like Livia's Portico," She smiled, "It's less crowded than some of the gardens and you can get out of the heat. Or the Mausoleum of Augustus, again, to get out of the crowds. But there's really so much to see and do..." She considered for a moment, "Although it depends on what sort of things you enjoy. I take it you've been to a gladiatorial games or the races before?" Gods if she hadn't, Ovinia would really pity the girl...

 

TAG: @Atrice

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She listened with patience and interest, as Ovinia spoke of social events and how those her male family members had set up were probably not for her... or not interesting for her, that was. Ovinia said she insisted that it wasn't all that Sosia should experience and she smiled, happy to have a new friend who would help her in the social scene. Surely all of the gods knew she needed that. Maybe they put Ovinia in her path on purpose.

"I look forwards to see what you invite me to." She replied with a kind smile to her new friend. Then she continued about the places she liked, a place called Livia's Portico, that she had not seen. And the Maosoleum. Oh there were indeed so many places in Rome she didn't know. So much to see indeed! It was so exciting! Ovinia then wondered what she enjoyed and spoke of gladiatorial games and races. Sosia cast her eyes down to her dog at Ovinia's comment.

"I... I have not. My father did not think such events suitable for me. I mostly stayed by the villa. I'm sorry, I must sound like such a bore to you." She said and ran her fingers through Eucleia's fur. The dog's eyes seemed tired, as if it could fall asleep with its head in her lap. She sighed softly, "I hope that you'll help me change all that. I want to experience anything Rome has to offer. I'm sure I'll get used to it soon enough." At least she hoped she would. It was nothing like the countryside, where the air was fresh and dry and there were scents of flowers in the air. When it wasn't the time of year they'd prepare the fields for the next round of crops.

@Sara

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Ovinia blinked in surprise, her mouth falling open for just a brief moment. The poor girl! Growing up in the countryside was one thing...to many people it sounded wonderfully idyllic, but to not have experienced even the most basic entertainment that Rome had to offer? Ovinia sighed, shaking her head. Her own father was ruthlessly proper so she understood Sosia's situation, but thanked the Gods that he wasn't so strict that he didn't forbid her from the races or the ludi. 

"Not a bore," She laughed and nudged the woman next to her, "Sweet. And..." She tried to find the right word, "Unworldly...which is obviously a good thing, although plenty of people in Rome, I'm sure, will take advantage of that or try to at least...but you have me," She furnished Sosia with a grin. "And I'll show you all Rome has to offer, in a proper way of course." She giggled and stroked the dog's head. "We'll start with the games. Surely your papa will let you go if you're with a fellow Patrician?" 

 

TAG: @Atrice

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Sosia did notice how Ovinia's jaw dropped just briefly, before the other young woman collected herself and sighed. She said Sosia was not a bore, just sweet and unworldly. She couldn't help but feel a bit struck by that. Of course she grew up in the countryside and her parents had been very strict with her since she grew from girl to woman, but that didn't mean she was stupid and weird, did it? Ovinia kept talking though, about how people might try and take advantage of Sosia, but at least she had Ovinia. And she promised to show Sosia all that Rome had to offer. She wanted to take Sosia to a game. A gladiatorial game? It sounded so... both grim and fascinating at the same time, to Sosia. She had heard about the games. She just never went to one. 

"I'm sure he will." Sosia replied with a small sigh, when Ovinia finally allowed a long enough break for her to speak, "I'd love to go to the games. Is it really as wild, as they say?" She'd heard the slaves at the villa talk about them. She looked at Ovinia, hoping she could really trust her and that she would not try and take advantage of Sosia. She knew what she was doing! She wasn't a little girl anymore, she could handle herself. Right?

@Sara

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