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Aeterna Roma RPG

A day for Neptune


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She scoffed and rolled her eyes, adjusting the arms that were crossed over her chest. "If it's any consolation, I didn't know you were going to be there." Why he'd need consolation, or she felt the need to apologise she wasn't completely sure...but she supposed that spending your evening watching your brother try and court somebody was unlikely to be a favourite pastime of young Roman men like Lucius.

She watched the interaction Lucius had with the boy with fondness in her eyes and a small smile tugging on her lips. She'd always liked children: they were easy conversationalists - unburdened and forthright. The boy nodded at his question, eyes darting between the apple and Lucius before flicking to her. His eyes were wide and his jaw gaping. She arched a brow and was about to say some sort of comforting words before he high-tailed it out of there, likely in search of melons, but at a pace so fast Ovinia thought he was trying to escape. She blinked and frowned. was she really so off putting that a young boy ran in fear from her? 

"Is there something on my face?" She asked self-consciously. "Usually kids love me." Patrician kids, that was. The girls always played with the jewellery and the boys treated her like a princess, as if their parents had instructed them that well brought up young women were to be revered. 

 

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The kid looked shy in the presence of someone like Ovinia, and scurried away as fast as he could, no doubt motivated by the promise of pastries. Lucius chuckled, unpacking his bag. Ovinia looked a little disappointed.

"Is there something on my face?"

"Yeah. Your upbringing."

"Usually kids love me."

"Senators' kids?" Lucius smirked "I think this one was used to seeing noble ladies at Neptunalia. You could sit down before he comes back, and look less out of place?" He offered a pastry again, looking around, wondering if the kid would return with news of success.

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She gave him a look at his witty retort; halfway between a fake grin and an eye-roll and let out a little huff of annoyance. 

"What other sort of kids would I interact with?" She said as she moved to take a seat, not giving him the satisfaction of her acknowledging his sage advice. She sat as far away from him on his blanket as was feasibly possible, curling herself into a corner, picking bits of grass off of the weave. "We had a slave give birth once, her baby liked me too." Until her Papa had sold the woman and her child for reasons a teenaged Ovinia didn't care to know. "It's not one-sided though," She offered by way of conversation, still not accepting the pastry he held aloft for her. "I like them too, it's disappointing I only have one nephew and no nieces." 

She picked more grass from the blanket, "Your sister has some, doesn't she? I remember...one of you saying, at dinner." 

She wasn't putting on a front, she genuinely did like children and craved having some of her own. That it was a very...matronly, virtuous thing to aspire to was only coincidental. 

 

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"What other sort of kids would I interact with?"

She finally took a seat, even though she sat as far from him as it was possible with limited space. She did not look more comfortable, but at least she did not stand around obviously judging everyone. Lucius smiled at her encouragingly. She probably did not have much experience with children who were not from the family.

"We had a slave give birth once, her baby liked me too... It's not one-sided though. I like them too, it's disappointing I only have one nephew and no nieces. Your sister has some, doesn't she? I remember...one of you saying, at dinner." 

"She does, but she lives quite far away so we don't see them a lot" Lucius shrugged. He was a little disappointed, he liked his sister and liked kids too. It was good to know that Ovinia was not someone who was scared of children. "Kids are very entertaining. Sometimes more so than adults." he added, grinning as the boy returned. He stopped a few paces away. "Found some honey melons?" The boy nodded. "The lady over there by the elm tree has some." "Over there?" "Yes. The man by the fountain also has some, but those are not as good." He added, in a sudden moment of honesty. Lucius laughed. "Good lad. Thank you. Here, take some pastries, you've earned them."

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Ovinia looked as uncomfortable as she felt as she sat demurely on the blanket, picking blades of grass off of the material and her dress as she listened to him. "You could always go back to the countryside," She offered with a shrug, "If you loathe the city that much and miss her." It would conveniently also get him out of his career predicament, or what she recalled of it anyway. 

As the boy came back, Ovinia turned a dazzling smile on for him, grinning and trying to engage him. But it was pointless, the lad's attention was resolutely fixed on Lucius and the pastries in front of him - he didn't spare Ovinia a second glance and as the moment passed, her smile dropped into a frown. The boy hurriedly grabbed a fistful of pastries and then sprinted away, ducking a pail of water that was thrown in his direction from some teenagers. Ovinia scoffed and wrinkled her nose. 

"So you had been planning on spending the afternoon...what? Lounging here and bribing children?" Her lips pursed as she tried to keep the amusement from her voice. "Is this all the festival has to offer?" 

 

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"You could always go back to the countryside. If you loathe the city that much and miss her."

Ovinia was clearly not having any fun. Lucius could only do so much to change that. If she was determined to be a sourpuss about Neptunalia, then she was welcome to find her litter and go back home.

"So you had been planning on spending the afternoon...what? Lounging here and bribing children? Is this all the festival has to offer?" 

"Didn't you hear?" Lucius quirked an eyebrow at her, before getting up "They also have honey melons."

He was going to go get some. He stood and walked around the bush towards the elm tree... and straight into the next dose of fresh water being thrown from a pail. It soaked through his tunic, and the kids ran away squealing when they saw that they had managed to hit an adult. Lucius turned back to Ovinia, grinning and dripping.

"You were saying?"

@Sara

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Ovinia snorted - most unladylike - and rolled her eyes, "Ah yes - the melons make this an event worth attending, of course, how foolish of me to think otherwise." Her parents had often chided her that sarcasm wasn't becoming on a woman, and certainly not a woman of her standing, but Lucius prickled her skin and she couldn't help it. She gave him an exasperated look as he nimbly darted to go and get the fruit as she sat, looking like an utter grump, on the edge of his blanket. 

She saw it happen almost in slow-motion and called out to him to duck just as the water collided with his body. She took a breath, waiting to see how he'd react as the kids squealed and sprinted back to their hiding hole. She winced and waited, but as he turned around and she saw the grin on his face she let out a nervous breath, a smile splitting her face finally

"I was saying that this is a silly festival, and you're not disproving that." She grinned broader and laughed properly as rivulets of water splashed onto the grass from his tunic. She wrinkled her nose again, although in amusement rather than displeasure this time, and backed away to the farthest corner of his blanket - back to their hastily-constructed lean-to. "Don't you even think about coming and sitting down whilst you're soaked through." 

 

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 "Ah yes - the melons make this an event worth attending, of course, how foolish of me to think otherwise."

Sarcasm. It was most unladylike. Lucius liked it. Sometimes, when Ovinia was really out of her element, she resorted to sarcasm. Ironically, she sounded a lot more interesting when she did.

The smile was also a welcome change. The water wasn't, but one never really survived Neptunalia without it. It was part of the fun.

"I was saying that this is a silly festival, and you're not disproving that. Don't you even think about coming and sitting down whilst you're soaked through."

"Silly is not always bad." Lucius pointed out philosophically, before he walked away. Soon he returned with a honey melon. His tunic was still soaked through as he plopped down in the grass, as close to her as he could without soaking the cloak too, and rummaged around in his bag for a knife. "So, what festivals do you like, then?"

@Sara

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She chuckled and shook her head, "I suppose...and I also suppose I shouldn't really be saying a God's festival is silly...She winced and cast her eyes up to the sky, mouthing 'sorry' to Neptune, if he was listening. 

Ovinia averted her eyes from his from back to his face as he finally plopped down next to her. It wasn't as if she hadn't seen a male torso before - she'd been to the games and seen the slaves and her family in various states of undress, and Lucius wasn't even undressed but the water was making his tunic hang in a certain way, and he was the brother of somebody she was trying to court so she had better not be caught staring. 

As he rummaged he managed to land droplets of water on her arm, which she recoiled with an annoyed huff. "Matralia is usually fun, and you men aren't allowed to come, so that's a positive. Although several young men see it as a sort of hunting ground, I think, for young, eligible women." She chuckled - thinking back to Marcus Silanus last month and his wide-eyed appreciation of the women streaming out of the Temple to Mater Matuta. "And Saturnalia of course. Although I guess those are bland choices to you, and you're about to tell me all about how I'm missing out on some true gems of festivals?" 

 

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Lucius managed to find his knife, and got down to carving up the honey melon. It was not going to be his best work yet, but it was going to be nice crescents of sweet fruit, and he was satisfied with that. Ovinia recoiled from the water still dripping from him, but he didn't mind.

"Matralia is usually fun, and you men aren't allowed to come, so that's a positive. Although several young men see it as a sort of hunting ground, I think, for young, eligible women." 

Well, that made sense. And really, who could blame them? Matchmaking in Rome was a wild game, and often more serious than the ludi.

"And Saturnalia of course. Although I guess those are bland choices to you, and you're about to tell me all about how I'm missing out on some true gems of festivals?" 

"I actually like Saturnalia a lot." he smirked, handing a slice of honey melon to her. "I get to cook for the slaves, and they get to mock me for it. Win win. I also enjoy the gambling. Do you?"

@Sara

 

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She smiled and accepted the melon with no protestations this time, although she twirled it in her fingers rather than eating it immediately. "I bet you think you're a wonderful cook, but in reality you're not." She grinned and finally nibbled on the edge. Melon wasn't her favourite, but it was hot and it was there so why not?

She gave him a deadpan look at his question and then rolled her eyes dramatically. "No. I don't enjoy bets." As you well know"And up until I met you I'm not sure I'd ever placed one." Betting on singing was a fools errand but she had enjoyed it...upon much reflection. Not that he was going to get the satisfaction of knowing that. "You know, I was meaning to ask if you'd told anybody about...that," She cast him a sidelong glance, "I got chatting to a boy...man at Matralia and he mentioned something about hearing me sing. I wondered if you'd been spreading salacious gossip like a good Roman matron." 

 

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 "I bet you think you're a wonderful cook, but in reality you're not." 

"Exactly what the slaves tell me. But I might learn yet." Lucius grinned, biting into another slice of melon. The conversation turned to Saturnalia.

"No. I don't enjoy bets. And up until I met you I'm not sure I'd ever placed one."

"It was more of a dare..." Lucius muttered. He knew she had not let go of that one yet.

"You know, I was meaning to ask if you'd told anybody about...that. I got chatting to a boy...man at Matralia and he mentioned something about hearing me sing. I wondered if you'd been spreading salacious gossip like a good Roman matron." 

Lucius looked up, with genuine surprise that soon turned into clearly mock hurt.

"Me? Never! There were other people there to do it for me..." he paused, then shook his head "In all seriousness, I didn't. My brother would murder me in my sleep. Or even worse, you would"

@Sara

 

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She was surprised by his reaction, and blinked as he snapped his head up. She was still deeply embarrassed about what she'd done; she wasn't some slave or pleb or worse, actress, that sang on demand for the masses and that she'd been convinced to do so by this man (so easily!) was shaming. But as she thought before, a strange, small part of her had found it exhilarating. 

"None of the other people knew who I was..." She rolled her eyes but then as his expression grew more serious, she relaxed slightly and even managed a weak chuckle. "Then perhaps your brother and I are meant to be; similar hobbies and all that, murdering Lucius Vipsanius Roscius..." She really hadn't got a sense of what she had in common with her prospective spouse at that awkward dinner, but supposed there would be time for that later if both parties agreed to another meeting. 

"And I wouldn't do it in your sleep," She commented lightly as if discussing the weather as she swallowed a small bite of melon, "I'd do it in public." 

 

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"None of the other people knew who I was... Then perhaps your brother and I are meant to be; similar hobbies and all that, murdering Lucius Vipsanius Roscius..."

Lucius felt a sour taste in his mouth. Something had spoiled the melon, clearly. He rolled his eyes at her idea of an ideal match, although he had to admit, hate was a powerful force in bringing people together.

"And I wouldn't do it in your sleep. I'd do it in public." 

Lucius' eyebrows rose up, and he tilted his head to look at her over the slice of melon.

"Well now. I want to hear that story. Throw me to the lions?"

@Sara

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"Uh-uh," She said as she ate the melon, shaking her head, "I'd push you off the Tarp, I think. Nice and dramatic. But quick for you, I'm not an animal." She finally glanced his way and let her face sit in perfect neutrality - as if she was serious - just for a moment, before she chuckled and a feline grin spread on her lips. 

"So don't do anything else to irritate me, lest you find yourself on the edge of a cliff, Lucius Vipsanius Roscius." 

She finished the melon and set down the remnants on the grass next to his feet, letting out a deep sigh. Despite her awkwardness when she'd been dragged here, she had  to give him some credit (internally of course, not to his face) - this was...blissful. And relaxing. The sound of families chattering away and kids laughing was melodic and warmed her heart. She fluttered her eyelids shut, just for a moment, taking in the sounds and the feeling of the warmth of the sun on her face. Life would be so much simpler if she could enjoy things like this without worrying about her reputation, or whether she would be in trouble for not having a suitable chaperone. The thought of which pulled her out of her reverie and she cast her company a sidelong glance under her lashes.

 

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"Uh-uh. I'd push you off the Tarp, I think. Nice and dramatic. But quick for you, I'm not an animal." 

"Elegant and traditional." Lucius grinned back at her. "Requires some logistics, though."

She was enjoying this, in the end, even if in a strange way. Apparently, it took a lot for Ovinia Camilla to relax and start enjoying herself.

Was that something his brother should know about?

... probably not.

"So don't do anything else to irritate me, lest you find yourself on the edge of a cliff, Lucius Vipsanius Roscius." 

"Noted." he smiled, finishing his own slice of melon as she closed her eyes, with a relaxed expression. He looked at her, in the green shade of their little hut, looking peaceful with her eyes closed. She was not that annoying a person, after all. When she was quiet.

The next pail of water came through the bushes, this time, in a form of rain rather than a flood, and there was squealing from the other side of the greenery.

"Watch ou..."

@Sara

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Ovinia was distracted - Lucius Vipsanius Roscius seemed to have that effect on her - and she didn't see the water coming until his eyes widened and he called for her to watch out. She blinked, confused for a moment as what felt like rain dripped down on her bare arms before the droplets became a torrent and suddenly she was soaked. 

She spluttered, not sure what else to do, as goose bumps travelled up her arm. She sat stock-still for a moment, water dripping from her lashes, from her nose, from her arms...and then she blinked, standing up with a screech. Mercifully the way she had sat had shielded most of her bottom half from the water but her top half was drenched. She was fairly positive she looked like a drowned rat. 

She choked and glanced at Lucius, not knowing what else to say besides; "Do something!" 

 

TAG: @Chevi

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In Lucius' defense... it was funny.

He did stare, shocked, the moment it happened. If she had seen him get drenched in slow motion before, he now had the same experience. Except he tried to call out to her, even if too late. That was going to be an important moment to have on the record later on, when she was about to kick him over the edge of the Tarpeian Rock.

Because in the next moment, he did laugh.

"Do something!" 

"What am I supposed to do?" Lucius laughed, looking up at her, screeching like a drenched cat. Her stola clung to her... alright, yes, that was no way for a noblewoman to be. He stood up, aware that he did not look much better either. "... happy Neptunalia?" He picked up the cloak from the ground, dusting it off.

@Sara

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"Happy fucking Neptunalia..." She muttered, forgetting herself and letting the curse out as she snatched the cloak from him, wrapping herself up almost comically despite the heat. 

When she was suitably covered up, although water still dripped from her hair, splashing her feet as she stood, she glowered looking for the culprits. It was petty, and it was childish and she really she have just cut her losses and left but Ovinia was cursed with a duality of pride and competitiveness. She stole a glance at Lucius, her anger turning into dark humour as she smirked. "Did you bring a pail? I suggest you go and fill it up." 

Like almost everything she'd done with Lucius thus far, she'd regret this tomorrow.

 

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"Happy fucking Neptunalia..." 

Lucius snickered, handing her the cloak and she wrapped herself up. Probably for the better. It was fine for him to run around in a soaked tunic, but she was a noblewoman. He waited for her to start yelling or hitting him from bringing her along to this.

Instead, she smirked.

"Did you bring a pail? I suggest you go and fill it up." 

Lucius blinked.

Then grinned.

It was not hard to find a pail. The kids already knew they had gone too far. Lucius gave them a stern look and they abandoned some of their pails, which he picked up, sauntering over to the nearby fountain to fill both. Returning to Ovinia, he placed them on the ground, giving her a cautious look.

"So, is this going to be a gamble...?"

@Sara

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Ovinia matched Lucius' grin with one of her own, triumphant that he seemed to agree to her plan. The kids looked sheepish and stood stock still. It was only when Lucius placed the full pails of water down at her feet that they started to glance between themselves, as if considering making a run for it.

She kept her eyes trained on them, and as Lucius asked her a question, she responded with a hum and then - eyes narrowed in concentration - simply said; "No." Instead of elaborating, she swept down to pick up one of the pails which was heavier than anticipated, and in one swift movement, heaved it at one of the clumps of kids. The rest scattered almost immediately, shrieking at the cold water. 

"Aren't you going to follow them?" She said  breathlessly, grinning from ear to ear.

 

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Ovinia picked up one of the pails, and threw the water at the kids standing nearby. Lucius laughed a surprised laugh, watching them squeal and scatter, and the grin in Ovinia's face. He would not have guessed in a million years that she would do that. Or look like that.

"Aren't you going to follow them?"

Lucius laughed, picking up the other pail, and running a few steps. The kids were on to them now so they scattered and circled. He waited, trying to pick the right moment, until finally he managed to throw the water at some of them. More squealing followed, and they ran, mostly towards the fountain. Lucius backed up to Ovinia.

"I think they are bringing reinforcements..."

@Sara

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Ovinia's laugh echoed around the field as Lucius did as he was bidden and lengthened his stride to catch the kids with his own pail of water. She beamed at him, satisfied, flushed and still wiping droplets of water from her face. Thank goodness she didn't wear cosmetics, otherwise she was sure they'd be streaming down her face by now. 

"Then you'd better be a sturdy human shield." She said as she stepped in behind him, wrapping the cloak tighter around her body. "Isn't that what good, virtuous Roman men do? Protect their women?" She didn't mean the insinuation that she was his woman but it came out before she could stop it and she hastily continued before he'd notice, "I think we should head for cover. Tell me there's some sort of actual structure around here? Not just shacks made from twigs...?" She asked, as she backed up.

 

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Ovinia stepped up behind him, but it was kind of pointless. The children, as mischievous as they were, probably felt safer throwing water at a young man than at a noble lady.

"Then you'd better be a sturdy human shield. Isn't that what good, virtuous Roman men do? Protect their women?"

Their women.

It was only a fleeting moment, but Lucius blinked at her words, then quickly smirked as she stepped behind him.

"I think we should head for cover. Tell me there's some sort of actual structure around here? Not just shacks made from twigs...?" 

"The aquaeduct?" he suggested, pointing at the looming stone and brick structure nearby. "Or the baker's columbarium down the road if we can make it..."

@Sara

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"Aquaeduct..." She muttered and kept her eyes hawkishly on the children in front of them who were gathering their pails and laughing at the pair of patrician's slowly retreating to the stone structure behind them. "I'm not running though, so you had better distract them." 

As it turned out, Lucius didn't need to. Ovinia's gaze was so intensely focused on the group of youths filling their buckets in the fountain in front of them that she missed the sneaking pair that had gone round the side and now stood behind them. The first hint she had that they were there was the frigid water colliding with her back as they started throwing cupfuls of water at her. At least it wasn't a full pail this time. Small mercies. 

Nonetheless, she shrieked again at the sensation and reached out to grab Lucius' shoulder to turn him to face them in front of her and shield herself. 

 

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