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76 CE 

Late July

 

In the seemingly endless din of parties and street traffic that ruled the eternal city it appeared as though Fortuna would grant one night in the dog days of the year that one could manage to hear their own thoughts. There didn't seem to be any apparent reason for this sudden cease in the overall commotion; perhaps everyone had just grown tired of the whole thing. It wasn't as if it would last, of course, but as the lone guardsman loosened up with a mug of mead he couldn't help but wonder about the nature of the nobleman's note. Longinus had asked him to meet at this tavern through a slave, but it hardly seemed to Decimus that there were any reason for him to want to hang out in a tavern laden with Rome's lower orders. Even though they were old friends he couldn't help but wonder what would make spending a night with him seem more appealing than hearing about the latest gossip that was passed around the dinner tables of Rome's wealthiest circles. 

The light outside of the tavern had grown scarcer and scarcer in the hour since he'd arrived, and with the darkness came the warmth of the newly lit candles that would help carry on the regular patron's habits till they'd had their fill. Decimus was no great thinker, and he'd never claim to be, but in the back of his mind he'd always wondered how fulfilling a life of luxury could be. He wouldn't say that money was useless, and he certainly hoped to end his life with more of it than he'd started with, but the thought of enduring conversations about fashion, laws, and land-use seemed mind-bogglingly dull to him. Maybe it was something one only truly came to enjoy when they had wealth. Either way, he was sure that he would hear Longinus's views on the subject tonight. It was either that or they'd talk about Britannia. He certainly couldn't blame the man for talking about it either. Britannia was probably the most excitement that either of them would see in their lives, save for if the drums of war truly started beating again.

Becoming Praetorian had left little room for the thought of ever visiting the front in any long term capacity. The new Augustus didn't seem all that interested in beginning a new campaign, but that observation only came from the limited time he'd spent in the man's presence. Perhaps Longinus would know something that he did not. Either way, he was perfectly content to wait for the man at the small booth he'd snagged for the night. 

 

@Sara

Edited by Sains
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He brushed his mother off with a roll of the eyes as he ducked out of the house, her words following him as the door slammed shat; "A pleb Lucius! Really!" he grinned to himself. He really shouldn't have told her, but the chance to see her eyes boggle was too good to miss. He departed the domus solo to reach the appointed place; no need for Attis, it was just a poppina and in any case he was trying to be a little conspicuous. Whilst he'd invited his one time Primus Pilus for a drink, he didn't exactly want the whole of Rome chattering about it. He'd dressed in a simple, probably fairly unfashionable tunic and pallium in a green he never particularly cared for. 

He had an excellent circle of close friends of his own rank; Titus, Aulus, Publius and even men younger than him like Marcus Silanus but all were either occupied with their happy little families or other pastimes. He wanted somebody to talk to that wouldn't chatter on about their sons or newest political ambitions, neither of which he had, and so racking his brain, he'd settled on Decimus. He was a good man, and decent and since that day they'd run into one another at the Thermae, he'd made a mental note to seek him out. Decimus was a different sort of man to his Senatorial friends, and most pressingly, he didn't think the man would mind the 'old stories' of Britannia which his other friends seemed to tease him mercilessly about bringing up; they didn't understand, they'd been there only a year or two - Longinus had spent almost half his life on the island's shores. Besides, if his history tutor had taught him anything it was that it was always good to have a Praetorian on one's side.

As he bounded into the Poppina he blinked into the dim light, trying to spot the man. When he did, a wide beaming grin lit up his face and he moved to embrace Decimus in the usual way, clapping his back as he pulled away with; "Centurion." And an inclination of his head. "I'm not keeping you from any pressing business at the Castra, I hope?" 

 

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Posted (edited)

Decimus recognized Longinus from the moment he stepped through the door with all of the vim and vigor he'd been known for in Britannia. It was refreshing to see that his old friend hadn't lost his spirits being bottled up in Rome all this time. 

"Salve, Sir." he said with a familiar grin. "They can do without me for a day, and besides, how could I let you suffer through another day with the upper crust? I trust civilian life is as boring as ever?" 

Though he certainly knew how Longinus felt about spending his days in the city, away from the frontier, he couldn't help but hope that his friend wasn't too disgusted with his life out-of-armor. He had no trouble remembering how he'd felt when he'd first heard of his new assignment in the city and, even though it was one of the greatest honors a legionary could receive, he'd wondered if he could truly live with the idea of wandering the halls of the imperial palace until he withered away or retired to a life of farming the countryside. If it hadn't been for Aia, who knows if he would have stayed sane? While it was true that some men feared the prospect of life on the frontier, dangerous as it was, Decimus had lived for it. He'd lived and breathed it for the majority of his life, and when it finally came time to say goodbye to it he'd always felt that he could have done more with his time out there. Sure, there was the chance that the new Augustus would go off on a campaign of some sort and he might be lucky enough to tag along, but as it stood there seemed to be little chance that Decimus would ever lead that kind of life again. 

Perhaps Longinus felt the same fears? Surely not. A man with his reputation and experience could hope to command anywhere he wished so long as the position were open. Perhaps he was already planning to make a break for it as soon as the Emperor would let him. 

 

@Sara

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Longinus chuckled and moved nimbly to the seat opposite Decimus. He let out an audible groan and mimed hitting his head on the table, letting it rest there for a moment before he pulled it up and offered a grin and a chuckle. "Mind numbingly boring." He'd never would have been so candid with somebody of Decimus' rank back during his time in the legion, but now they were on different footing and Longinus was no longer his legate and bound in the same way to the classes and rules of their society. 

"I might even consider that wandering the halls of the palace minding our new Emperor is more interesting than my life at the moment," He chuckled and signalled for a drink as one of the slaves bounded over to take his order and scurried away again to fetch it. "Speaking of which," He asked with an arched brow, "How is our new Augustus?" He couldn't really make heads or tails of the boy...man that now had the most powerful and civilised Empire in his grasp. From a purely selfish point of view having the man on the throne as it were was probably to his advantage; he'd done well under Quintus but hadn't backed him as he should have during the Civil War, and he had a friend in the concillium with Aulus now Consul. 

 

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It was certainly better for the both of them that Longinus no longer held the authority that he once did. Conversations on the front had been far more grim and serious and, although it was certainly appropriate for the time, he'd always hoped there'd be a day when they could share a drink as equals in a place that wasn't sopping wet for most of the year. Though a divide between the two in terms of class was certainly present, it was far more muted than it had been out there. Longinus's assessment of life, while amusingly troublesome, was something that Decimus could sympathize with. A man in his position was privy to almost all aspects of Imperial life short of all the private tasks that slaves had the obligation to perform. Whether or not anyone truly enjoyed all of that pageantry was an interesting thought, though he knew it certainly beat begging in the streets. 

As the conversation shifted towards the new Caesar and his overall demeanor, Decimus was caught mid-gulp. After lowering his mug and wiping away a bit of the stuff that had stuck around on his lips, he leaned back into the booth which gave an odd creak at the strain and rubbed at the short hairs that made up his beard.

"What can one say? He's very... friendly." , he began, "Whether or not it's for show I can't say, but he certainly knows how to brighten a room. He even gives morning greetings to some of the guards when he wakes."  

A short pause would allow the Praetorian to finish the contents of his mug before waving it about as a signal to one of the tavern girls who'd hopefully come sooner rather than later. When he was sure they'd seen, he leaned in a bit closer to Longinus and spoke in a far lower tone of voice.

"For all that he's young. Damn young. He's never seen a battle, let alone a war. Things are all cake and honey now, but when the Parthians kick off again, or the Caledonians, or the Germans, I'm not sure how he'll fair. He can swing a sword well enough, but sometimes I think the only thing that's keeping the borders safe is the fact that our old leader still breathes."

 

@Sara

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Longinus arched a brow. Their previous Caesar had cultivated an excellent reputation, but Longinus had always thought that was in large part due to his age. He had the gravitas of a man that had genuinely experienced life and come out of the other side, relatively, unharmed. But he'd suffered to ge there. The new Caesar had inherited problems and issues and memories such as the Civil War, but hadn't been directly involved. It was going to mean he was a different type of leader, and a different type of man to get to grips with. 

Longinus nodded with a short sigh, sipping at his drink and letting his head roll back to the wall of the booth behind him. Decimus' words could, probably, be considered treasonous in other circumstances but this was a conversation between friends, and old legion-friends at that. They were discussing military matters, not the fitness of their new young Caesar to rule. Longinus knew it was a fine line though and kept his voice low and quiet as he spoke. 

"I fear the same," He admitted with a wince, "And I fear what will happen when the Gods call him home." He shook his head. Quintus had made such grand advances in the years he'd had the purple, the Empire was at peace and their borders were vast but history told the Romans that such things would not last forever. "Which is why I'm glad the new Caesar has his consilium. Aulus is a good man, and a better Consul. He'll guide him well - if needs be." And he was sure it would be needed. 

"But we've had young men take the purple before and it's not always ended poorly. Our glorious Augustus to start," He chuckled, "Then again...he had Livia who was quite obviously pulling the strings, and it doesn't seem our new Emperor is that keen to take a wife...?" 

 

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Decimus nodded thoughtfully at Longinus's mention of the consilium. It was definitely for the best that any ruler had a council of wise and established men to advise his decisions, but the obvious trouble would come if any of these men sought to use their own ambition to guide policy. Whether or not their new man had a mind for the political "game" that so often occupied the ruling classes of the city Decimus could hardly say for sure, but with honorable men at his side to show him the ropes he'd surely flourish. That is as long as those men remained honorable. 

"I suppose. But there are few in this world that have a sharp mind for politics, like Livia. Fewer still those who actually get to use it." 

The fact that the new chief didn't have a wife was certainly on the mind of many within the Empire's borders, and Decimus truly didn't know why he'd not been paired up with one by this point. Surely his father had presented a few of the most esteemed ladies in Rome for him to select at his leisure by now, but of course it was up to Titus himself as to whether or not he actually chose one of them. In his estimation the man had probably rejected all of the candidates as they'd come in. It was possible, of course, that he wished to choose for himself, but a young man was subject to all sorts of influences when it came time to make these decisions. And didn't he know it. In a way he thought himself lucky to not be in such a position. Nobody would judge his coupling with Aia in the same way that they would certainly judge Titus were he to make the decision to marry for love. Hell, he couldn't imagine that any emperor had married for love! 

"I've heard no mention of a wife being selected, but certainly he has to fulfill the need as much as any man. I try to keep out of that sort of thing."

Of course that was almost a lie. He enjoyed a bit of gossip as much as anyone, but he didn't make a habit of it. Prying into the personal lives of the Imperial family was a sure way to be cast out upon one's arse if they weren't careful, and he was happy enough to listen in on the whispers of servants whenever they spoke of anything remotely interesting. 

"I'm sure it will all come together, though." he commented, sighing in contentment as his cup was refilled with smooth amber ale. "He'll find a wife and then he'll just need to win himself a few battles."

 

@Sara

 

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Longinus snorted in amusement at Decimus' statement that he kept himself out of matters such as marriage. "You not his personal love-life adviser? Colour me surprised." He'd been spending too much time with Titus Sulpicius Rufus, so much so that his sarcasm had rubbed off on him. He was triply-pleased that his daughter was far too young for any  talk of marriage; he had enough to deal with, with his own woes on the marriage market. His look must have spoken as such as he took another deep drink. 

"As if it's that easy." He chuckled and shook his head, "I'm not sure how much I rate the new crop of legates they've got." Because in his mind, nothing would compare to the halcyon days of Britannia and his men. "I also don't know where he'd find said battles. I've heard things with Parthia are getting rough, and Judea of course...but both of them are likely to be harder foes than the sorry excuse of the British we were up against." 

He took another, contemplative sip and then sighed. "But I'm talking shop, and we should be catching-up." He chuckled, "How have you been?" 

 

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