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July 76, the Circus Neronianus*

It was still summer in Rome, still hot, and yet with the advent of a new Caesar, there was a new air of excitement and anticipation even in the heat that pervaded Rome. It was cooler outside the boundary of the city - not a lot cooler, but enough.

Racing was something that everyone had an opinion on and interest in, no matter the season or who wore the purple. Most races took place in the Circus Maximus, that vast stretch of racetrack in whose shadow the Whites' stable lay, but there were other venues in Rome for racing to take place, and one of those was the new Circus outside the boundaries of the city, across the Tiber. It was a venue for less prestigious races, and therefore the perfect place to introduce a new charioteer to the business of actually being a charioteer.

Marcus had made sure that Azarion had had the opportunity to drive around this smaller track so that its shorter length and tight turns would be more familiar during his first race. And now the chariots were lined up at the end of the Circus; behind the carceres, the starting gate. When the signal was given, the gate would allow all the chariots to move forward at the same time, aiming them deliberately to the right-hand side of the spina that ran down the centre of the circus. Marcus would watch this first race of Azarion's future career from near the starting gate, where he could see right down the circus on both sides of the spina, although not the curve at the far end. He had Varica stationed on the spina itself to cover that - being able to hear of any occurrences there would help with the final assessment of the day. Seven laps would tell whether Marcus was right, or wrong, in his assessment of the boy.

 

@Chevi ( @Járnviðr and @Atrice if you want to include Menelaus and Caeso as either spectators or participants)

 

*Two things: the Circus Neronianus was begun by Caligula (and finished by Claudius in our own timeline, there's no need to think it couldn't have been finished by AeRo's own Claudius); I have referred to it by the name it has in our world because I don't know what it would otherwise be known as. The thread is set in the Transtiberim even though this circus is technically not in that area simply because it is on the other side of the river and only just outside Rome itself. See the map here

Edited by Sharpie
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Caeso was ready along with his teammates for the game of the day. Not that he was pleased. He preferred the larger Circus instead of this, but it would have to do for the day. The horses were being set up in front of the chariots and while his teammates were relaxing before the race, Caeso could not relax. He had to check everything twice. Had to watch over the chariots, to be honest! Since he himself would sometimes do things to the other teams, he knew he had to watch it too. But all of the chariots for the Green team seemed just fine.

 What about the others though? There was still time until the race would begin and in a proper distance he walked behind all the chariots being pulled up and lined up. He spied one of the chariots of the Whites not being watched and carefully moved closer. He had a small knife by his belt and hoped to get the chance to maybe cut a piece of rope or string somewhere. Caeso was just about to do it, when he heard people coming and quickly removed the blade from the rope. He felt it touch the rope but didn’t know if it did any damage. Well he’d know by the time the race began, he thought and continued to walk around the chariot and then back towards those belonging to his own team. He checked them all again. All seemed well.

 Someone yelled for the charioteers to get ready and Caeso jumped up into his own chariot where he picked up the reins. Only two horses were allowed for this race. Only two! As if he was just starting out, but one of the others had a stomach ache this morning and Caeso had been forced to take his place. If the Greens lost, it wouldn’t be his fault at least!

@Chevi @Sharpie @Járnviðr

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It was hot. But it was a little less hot on the far side of the Tiber. And there were races being held at the Circus Neronianus. Tiberius decided that was a good excuse to get out of the palace for a day and cross the river. Perhaps his name sake would provide some relief from the heat.

Of course, no Imperial travelled alone. One wouldn't think of attending without a retinue of slaves, a canopy, some cool refreshments and a couple of Praetorian Guards. His little party set up in the appropriate place in the Circus, afforded to Imperials and their guests. The racing wasn't of any deep interest, though it was entertaining enough. But it was a distraction and with all the chaos of the transition, Tiberius felt the need to focus on something else for a short while. So he sat in the shade eating cold grapes and watched the teams set up.

@Chevi @Sharpie @Járnviðr @Atrice

OOC: I hope you don't mind more spectators.

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In a different section of the Circus sat a very different man, whose face told of time in the sun and his body time in the army. He sat in the sun now, eating figs and watching the preparations below, particularly interested in the horses. They were beautiful animals, and the closest he'd been to them was when he'd served in the legions. Now they served as a distraction, a break and a rest.

He sat alone; the two slaves he'd come with were outside with his litter. There was no way that Spurius could walk the distance across the Tiber with his injured leg. But for now he sat quietly, his staff beside him, enjoying a little quiet time, but keeping an eye out for those whom he knew, just in case.

Watching the men below work, he wondered vaguely what it would be like to own a horse. It didn't look more comfortable than a litter, but it did look more regal. Not that he had anywhere to put one.

@Chevi @Sharpie @Járnviðr @Atrice

OOC: I don't know whether Theodorus might join Spurius to watch?

Edited by Sarah
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Azarion felt his heart in his throat as he checked his chariot over one last time. The gear was important, as he had learned, even if his instincts told him the horses were more important. He patted the nose of both of them, making soothing noises. He had been working with the pair of mares for months now, learning to drive the charior and then learning to race, practicing in the Circus Maximus. Today was not yet the time to actually participate in a race there, but Marcus had finally given him permission to join a smaller event. The Circus Neronianus would see if he could succeed as a charioteer at all.

The reins still bothered him. He had learned how to wrap them around his body well, and how to cut them if he fell and got dragged, but practice was very different from the real thing, and Azarion did not much enjoy being confined. If it had been up to him, he would have raced on horseback, not a chariot at all.

The sign was given to get ready, and there was excitement in the air. His horses stomped their feet, and Azarion held some tension in the reins, making sure they would start at a moment's notice, but not jump too early. He took a sideways glance at the other charioteers. Some of them were yelling, bantering, or teasing each other. Obviously, he could not participate in that, so he just flipped off the nearest Blue that got too cute. His eyes were on the tacks, shorter an narrower than the other Circus. He had practiced here too. He could do this.

The race started with a loud blast of the horn, and the raising of the starting gate. And they were off.

@Sharpie @Atrice @Sarah @Járnviðr

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Theodorus did not frequent the games; it had been this job for a while now to fix up the gladiators afterwards, and he did not take much enjoyment in watching them getting broken down again. On the few occasions when he had time off, he preferred other pastimes. He was fairly new to the races, only visiting the Circus Maximus on occasion. Today, however, he found himself on the cooler, more open side of the Tiber, seeking some relief and some entertainment. The Circus Neronianus was smaller, less frequented, but it was still a busy place for celebration these days, and he had never been there before.

The race was just starting off when the medicus wandered in, seeking a place to sit among the less prestigious spectators (he could spot Tiberius from a distance, in the middle of his entourage). He finally found an open space, next to a man who had the distinct look of a veteran.

"Excuse me. May I sit?" he asked politely, ready to seek elsewhere if he was turned away.

@Atrice @Sharpie @Járnviðr @Sarah

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The charioteers were making their final preparations when a late comer to the Circus made his way through the moderately full stands and paused at the space beside Spurius. Excuse me. May I sit?

The slaver glanced up at him, noting an age similar to his own and a complexion that suggested he'd also spent time in the sun. A citizen by his attire, but no Senatore. A peer. Spurius gave the man a faint smile. "By all means." He gestured to the empty stone steps beside him. There was plenty of space and he was in an amiable mood.

Below them the horn sounded and the charioteers snapped their reins on the horses' backs, causing them to leap ahead and tear down the length of the track at high speed. Magical things really, their movement was almost like a cat's and their grace quite something to behold. It was almost a shame about the contraptions pulled behind them, yet there was a certain marvel in those too, that man had tamed these beasts and ordered them to his purpose.

"Marvelous, aren't they?" He observed to his new companion. "Fig?" He offered the punnet of fresh fruit.

@Chevi@Atrice@Sharpie@Járnviðr

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The races were always incredibly popular, but due to the heat and the location of today's event, there were not as many spectators as might be expected - which was one reason that Marcus had chosen today to be Azarion's debut.

The boy evidently cared for the horses, that much was obvious just from watching him with them in the stables. He still had that slightly wild air about him that bespoke his barbarian origins - not that Marcus could fault him for that, not with his own background, though he was as Roman now as anyone.

He grinned as Azarion gave an overly-cocky Blue charioteer the finger. He'd hold his own with them even if he couldn't speak.

And then the horn sounded, the gates lifted and the race had begun. Seven thundering laps of the track,, each lap marked by a bronze egg to enable the spectators to see how many laps had been run.

He didn't mind if Azarion didn't win today's race; he only hoped that he didn't end up in a shipwreck - they were almost inevitable, and Azarion was completely inexperienced. Still, everyone had to start somewhere, and this would be a good test of his skills and training.

 

@Atrice @Sarah @Chevi

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"By all means."

Theo was glad that he found a seat, just as the race was starting. He would have hated to wander around in the increasingly excited crowd. The man he sat next to looked friendly, and there was a sense of common ground between them, although he could not quite tell why.

"Marvelous, aren't they? Fig?" 

"The horses, or the chariots?" Theo smirked, picking a fig. Or it might have been the charioteers. People went to the races for many different reasons. He had not brought snacks, so he was grateful for a bite, and maybe some conversation. "Thank you. Do you have a favorite team?"

@Sarah

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Menelaus had thought often of retirement, recently. The wisdom of it. The necessity of it. There were many differences between Menelaus and the emperor, but foremost in his mind today was that the old Caesar had exercised great prudence in making way for the new Caesar. When his master had asked him whether he wished to retire, Menelaus had dodged the question. Despite his advancing age, Menelaus still loved racing. He worried that he might die the way so many did, ignominiously, at the wheel of their own chariot. He no longer feared the outcome the way he had years ago, nor could he scoff with unearned confidence at the prospect, the way he might have at the start of his career.

None of these thoughts took purchase in his mind today, though. The excitement of the spectators and his opponents was infectious. Menelaus particularly eyed Azarion as they lined up at the carceres; the boy seemed uninterested in the more boorish behavior of the other charioteers. Menelaus noted that with a hint of pride- there was no reason for him to take credit for the boy's success, and he would not, if asked, but there was a kind of vicarious joy at seeing the up-and-coming star of the races using the same strategy he once had. Avoiding the distractions of other racers had earned him numerous victories. This boy would go far, Menelaus thought approvingly.

If he were to retire...well, Menelaus would need to see Azarion earn a victory today, before making any such decision. The boy did seem to have a fighting spirit, even at rest- he gave one of the Blues the finger. He just hoped that Azarion’s injuries today would be minor- and that he might make a fine showing despite any setbacks. Menelaus reminded himself that, no matter what his future plans might be, he certainly had not retired yet. He shook off thoughts of his potential successor and focused on the race. When the horn sounded out over the circus, Menelaus flattered himself that, despite his momentary distraction, he was keeping up with the hale and hearty youngsters.

@Atrice, @Chevi, @Sarah, @Sharpie

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Spurius gave a faint, amused smile when his unexpected companion asked what exactly he was referring to. "The horses." He clarified. "Though the chariots are impressive." He admitted. Certainly the charioteers on the circus were handling them with skill, especially given the speed, and they watched them round one end of the track. It was quite exciting, though he didn't feel the fervour that some of the less reserved members of the audience were expressing.

Helping himself to another of the fresh fruit, he set the punnet between them where they could be shared. "I don't really follow the racing." He admitted, when asked if he had a favourite. "The lad driving the whites seems to be doing quite well; I heard someone say he's new." He pointed. The young man was indeed doing well, at least at the moment. But they had more circuits to complete yet and there were more experienced charioteers present.

"Do you follow a particular team?" He asked, curious. Perhaps his new friend could tell him more about the racing, if he was a fan. "Spurius Antius." He introduced himself. "Though I'm called Claudus by many." He added. The cognomen meant 'the lame', and might explain the staff lying next to him, shaped like an overgrown shepherd's crook.

@Chevi

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The horses were definitely more magnificent than the chariots - but in the end, Romans knew how to make a spectacle, and it needed all three ingredients. Chariot, horses, driver - and actually, also the circus and the crowd. All of them together made the queen of all entertainments. Granted, the gladiator games have been increasingly popular as well, and sometimes just as bloody, but the finesse of charioteers was a sight to behold even for those who did not enjoy bloodshed.

"I don't really follow the racing. The lad driving the whites seems to be doing quite well; I heard someone say he's new. Do you follow a particular team?"

"Not really." Theo admitted "I work at a ludus, but I only even follow those games out of professional courtesy. Thank you..." he added, taking another fig. He realized he did not know the man's name.

"Spurius Antius. Though I'm called Claudus by many." 

"Quintus Flavius Theodorus. Most people call me Theo." he replied with a friendly smile, glancing at the cane next to him. "Injury?"

@Sarah

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At long last the race began. Caeso felt as if he'd been waiting forever and he wasn't particularly excited about this race, with only two horses to control. Maybe the others were right, maybe he was a little bit arrogant, but was it his fault that his skills were the best in his team? Just because he actually considered what he was doing, before he did it. Just because he'd calculated it all before the race even began, so he knew what to do in every situation that might arise. He would not be taken by surprise and see himself and his chariot fall when they reached the other end of the track and turned around the sharp corner. He knew better than that. He was here to win.

And with such a speech, spoken quietly to himself inside his head, he was more than ready for the race to begin. He briefly watched the other charioteers getting ready, yelling at each other, but what was the point in that? Of course he took note of those closest to him and who were most a danger. Especially Menelaus of the Whites was a rival to him, but he had raced against him before and he was not afraid. Why should he be?

The horn sounded over the circus and then it began. With a focused gaze, Caeso set his horses into motion, careful to not let them sprint too fast to begin with, or they'd run tired and then the risk of failing would increase. He did not hurry to get to the front of the lineup at the start. He'd get there eventually. He let others from his team in front of him, aware that they knew what he was doing too and they knew why he held back. It didn't take long for those in front to reach the end of the spine and he saw one of the Reds fail that one. One of the horses got too close to one of the Blue's and for some reason, it got spooked. Caeso smirked. So far, it was going well.

@Chevi, @Sarah, @Sharpie @Járnviðr

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The part of racing that was the most difficult to handle was being tied up in the goddamn reins. Azarion hated that part; it made him feel trapped, and he had seen enough accidents at the circus to know what it would end like if he did not cut himself free in time. But all of that was pushed out of his mind when the race started. Once the horses were moving, being tied to them with his whole body gave Azarion a sense of control. If he could not ride them, at least he could feel movement and tension through the reins along his arms, and he could put his weight into steering them just right.

Some of the chariots shot out the gates at top speed, but Azarion held back a little. He was not the only one. Glancing to the side he saw Menelaus holding a steady pace, and one of the Greens as well. The ones up at the front, riding at breakneck speed, were going to either tire the horses out or make mistakes, and Azarion had no intention being in the middle of that mess. It did not take long: at the first turn, one of the Reds already spooked a horse. The chariot tilted to the side and collided with the spine. Azarion had time to go around them, but it did take him closer to the Green riding along him. Once they cleared the turn, he snapped the reins, hoping to put in some distance between them.

@Sarah @Sharpie @Járnviðr @Atrice

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The man worked at a ludus? That was interesting. The gladiator games were another popular sport, in some ways more popular, they appealed to a very wide audience. Though apparently his new friend was no more a fan of those than of these; they were pleasant passing entertainment. Spurius felt the same way himself.

"Indeed, the games are a good excuse for a day out." But not more in his eyes, though he was well aware that others followed their favoured gladiators very closely. "And a business opportunity. I sell slaves to the ludii on occasion." He revealed. Sometimes a particularly stellar single specimen, sometimes groups of barbarians for the more bloody shows, though that seemed like a waste of useful muscle. "I trust you'll forgive me, but you don't have the look of a lanister about you." He observed, curious as to what role the man played at the ludus.

"Theo then." He repeated with a smile. And named after the last emperor. Either a previous Imperial slave now free, or a naturalised peregrinus. He'd put money on the latter, the man was too well spoken.

But Spurius's smile turned rather more bitter when Theo asked about the staff. "Mmph." He grunted in agreement, giving a curt nod. "Old war wound." He revealed. "I was stabbed in the leg by a barbarian in Britannia." Which was the simple truth.

@Chevi

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"Indeed, the games are a good excuse for a day out... And a business opportunity. I sell slaves to the ludii on occasion."

Theo blinked, managing not to wince at the announcement. He was not particularly fond of slave merchants. Not that they had many direct interactions, other than that one time he bought Astrius, but he worked with many gladiators who had been sold to the ludus for various reasons, and knew most of them did not want to be there. Theo tried not to look at his new acquaintance with different eyes.

"I trust you'll forgive me, but you don't have the look of a lanister about you." 

"I'm a medicus" Theo revealed. It was probably not a big surprise then when he asked about Spurius' injury.

"Old war wound. I was stabbed in the leg by a barbarian in Britannia." 

Theo tilted his head, glancing at the leg again. He had seen many injuries like that in the past decades.

"You served in the legions then?" he ventured. "Me too. Germania."

@Sarah

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Marcus could tell from the horses' behaviour even as they moved away from him down the length of the track that Azarion was holding his pair of horses back and not letting them have their heads and go all-out just yet. He nodded, deeply satisfied; whatever he had been or done in his life before, the boy knew horses in the way that Marcus did, in a way that was in the bones. If he was not Parthian, he was something very like it indeed.

Whatever the outcome of today, he was going to have another conversation with the boy - one-sided as such conversations might be, he had a face that was as easy to read as a scroll. Mostly it merely read contempt, especially when he was asked a question that he thought revealed your stupidity more than most, but occasionally it read something else. Sheer amazement when Marcus had promoted him to trainee charioteer. That was an expression he wasn't going to forget in a hurry; the memory of it still made him smile.

His smile grew broader as Azarion nimbly steered around an opposing chariot that had tried to take the turn at the far end too sharply and hit the spina. He couldn't see the outcome of that, but would get a proper report later from Varica - he hoped! He'd ask the kid himself if he thought he stood a chance at understanding the nuances of his gestures.

He might ask anyway; even those drivers who didn't labour under such a handicap used their hands to illustrate positions and manoeuvres, after all.

 

@Chevi @Járnviðr @Sarah @Atrice

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I'm a medicus.

Ah, so the man dealt with injuries every day, especially if he worked at a ludus. Perhaps that explained the slight pause, the blink, when Spurius had revealed his own profession. It might have been nothing, but the trader was accustomed to watching for small cues, and perhaps this man was all too aware of the fate of many of those sold to be gladiators. Compassion had a time, a place and a form, and the best form for slaves in his mind was detached consistency. For free men it was something different.

But it explained the man's interest in his staff. He seemed unsurprised when Spurius told him the reason, and it turned out that he'd served as well. "Britannia." Spurius revealed. "Two stints, till I took a sword in the leg."  More's the pity. "It cost me my mobility, my betrothal and my equite's ring." Something he'd never gotten over, nor forgiven the barbarians who'd derailed his life. "But our legion's medicus said it should have cost me my life, so I guess I should be grateful." He said with a kind of bitter humour. "Gods keep the man." He added more seriously. More than he owed his life to that cantankerous old fellow.

Probably quite a few owed their lives to the man sitting next to him. Reaching next to him, Spurius lifted the small pitcher full of watered wine that he'd brought. "Do you have a cup?"

@Chevi

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Jason had accompanied his master across the river to a smaller circus than the massive structure below the Palatine. He wasn't interested in races the way the Romans organised them; seven laps around a marked-out track in a purpose-built circus. He was interested in them because of the horses, though he would by far have preferred to see races run pitting horses and riders against one another instead of teams of horses drawing a chariot behind them. Still, he was out of the palace and getting to watch something that involved horses, so he couldn't complain too much, even to himself within his own thoughts.

As the gates opened and the first race began, he found himself leaning forward. Their were two chariots for each of the teams and one of the drivers for the Whites looked familiar. He couldn't be, though; the person he looked like was dead and had been for nearly a decade. It must be a trick of the light or something - and yet he avoided the Reds' near-collision with the turning-post with consummate skill that made Jason's heart ache with longing.

Of course all those who were allowed to race had to be skilful or they would risk collisions and who knew what - there was going to be some risk anyway, just because of the nature of chariot racing. But that driver looked as if he would be a similar age to Jason's dead cousin, and the resemblance was remarkable. It was hard to be certain, of course, with the distance and the speed, and yet if it was Azarion...!

He had no idea how he could find out whether it was him or not, and found himself clenching his fists, urging the youngster on, whether it was his cousin or just someone of a similar age and appearance.

 

@Sarah @Chevi @Járnviðr @Atrice

Edited by Sharpie
Wrong team's shipwreck
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The chariot races were pleasant entertainment, and rather more sophisticated than most of the gladiatorial games. Rather more interesting to the young Imperial however were the people who watched them. The fellow with the proprietary air around the white teams seemed particularly interested in the younger-looking charioteer. Perhaps it was his first race and the owner was concerned about the horses, or his possible winnings, or the charioteer. Truly talented charioteers were like truly talented gladiators, celebrities that rose up from ignominity. The elder of the white charioteers was presumably more experienced.

There were a pair of middle aged fellows who had the look about them of erstwhile soldiers, sitting in the sun and talking, who caught his eye for a moment. One of them had a staff, which often meant an injury. The other looked a little too tanned to be of full Roman stock. Beyond them were what looked like a Patrician family, and further back a group of young Plebian men. And numerous slaves with their masters; a full transect of Roman society.

Most were treating the race much as he was, a mild entertainment and an excuse to get away from the heat of the heart of Rome. A few were clearly betting on the outcome, but the one who's interest surprised Tiberius most was his body slave, Jason.

Jason was the perfect slave. Quiet, obedient, unobtrusive, simply part of the furniture as the best slaves were. Unsurprising since his Uncle Jullus had picked him out, making a gift of him when Tiberius turned sixteen. Jullus had the kind of clear expectations and attention to detail that he imagined his mother - Jullus's twin sister - had had. But as such he didn't really know more than he needed to about Jason. His accent marked him as foreign born, and his colouring confirmed that his ancestry wasn't Roman. He had a talent for leatherwork, repairing a few items without being asked, but beyond that Tiberius hadn't had reason to learn more.

Now he learned that Jason was very interested in the chariot racing. The young Imperial said nothing, rather watched his slave's behaviour with interest. Did he have money on the outcome? Tiberius had certainly given him a few coins over the years. Did he just enjoy the sport? Perhaps he even knew someone down there. Or the chariots caught his imagination. Perhaps he would ask him later; for now Tiberius let him enjoy the moment.

@Sharpie@Chevi@Járnviðr@Atrice

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It was not all that surprising to meet a fellow veteran of the legions at the Circus. There were enough of them in the city to go around. But it did create a connection of shared experiences, as they recognized each other.

"Britannia. Two stints, till I took a sword in the leg. It cost me my mobility, my betrothal and my equite's ring. But our legion's medicus said it should have cost me my life, so I guess I should be grateful. Gods keep the man." 

It had to be quite the serious injury. It left the man limping, and cost him a lot in life. Theo nodded. An injury like that could have easily killed any man. The gods must have had other plans for Spurius. "Your medicus was probably right." The weapons of the Britons, from what he knew, could do serious damage.

"Do you have a cup?"

"Alas, I don't" Theo sighed. He had not come prepared. "I have lost my equite's ring as well. Got some land in Pannonia that turned out to be... mostly rocks and swamp. So, I returned to my profession, and came to the City." he smiled a little. "In the end, I'm not complaining either."

 @Sarah

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Spurius didn't doubt that his medicus had been right. Which was perhaps something he should spend more time thinking about. He'd rather be alive than dead, and presumably the Gods had something in mind for him, but for a long time he largely seemed to be marking time. If there was a purpose for him beyond existing and doing business, he hadn't found it yet.

"Here, use mine." Spurius filled the small, clay vessel from the jug and offered it to Theodorus, then simply swigged from the jug himself. The medicus was easy company and Spurius was happy to share as he listened to Theo's story. So the man had achieved Equite status, but only momentarily, the land not being worth the effort he had made for it. In some ways it felt odd, to hear Theo's experience, the opposite side to his own story of never having achieved the ring in the first place.

"Being a new Equite's probably more responsibility than value anyway." He said quietly. Those descended from the traditional families guarded certain privileges jealously from those who achieved the rank themselves. "Better to be doing what you're good at." Assuming that Theo wanted to, but he said he was content.

"I wasn't going to join the legions." He admitted. "My father's a trader in goods and finery, mostly to Achaea and Aegyptus. But the unrest down that way back then meant there wasn't enough profit to keep training both sons. I'm the younger." He explained. So obviously his father had focused on his heir, and Spurius had done what many younger sons with no obvious path in life did. "I guess I also went back to my earlier profession." He added with an amused snort. Except he was trading slaves instead of fine linen, gold and lapis jewellery. But that was simply due to the fact that slaves had been readily available when he was discharged from the legions, not from any particular desire to treat people as property. He was good at his work, but not particularly passionate about it.

There was a crash on the course below, common in these races but Spurius winced slightly. There was a lot of potential for injury here.

@Chevi

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The Reds' driver (one of them; which, Marcus couldn't see from here) came within a hairsbreadth of colliding with the spina as he made his turn, and Marcus watched the inexperienced young Azarion steer his horses around it - it would have been a nasty shipwreck had he not avoided the other chariot.

He was nodding in satisfaction as the first racers reached the turn nearest him, with Azarion half a length behind them - enough to be able to catch up by the end of the race if he could hold his nerve.

He glanced up into the stands; there was someone in the Imperial box - probably not the Emperor (they would surely have heard about that if the Emperor was here!) but likely one of his relatives. Yes; he could see a young man, avidly taking in the action on the dirt track as the last chariots rounded this end of the spina, completing the first lap.

 

@Sarah @Chevi @Járnviðr @Atrice

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"Being a new Equite's probably more responsibility than value anyway. Better to be doing what you're good at." 

"I'll drink to that." Theo accepted the cup and drank. It was nice to share a drink with someone while watching the entertainment; especially with someone who shared his experience as a veteran, even if they had gone in different directions after.

"I wasn't going to join the legions. My father's a trader in goods and finery, mostly to Achaea and Aegyptus. But the unrest down that way back then meant there wasn't enough profit to keep training both sons. I'm the younger... I guess I also went back to my earlier profession." 

Theo was still not sure how he felt about the other man trading in slaves. It was something that didn't really bother many people, but Theo had a soft spot.

"I joined the legions to learn more about healing. Ironic, in a way" Theo noted, wincing at someone crashed on the course below. He turned to look, his expert eyes already scanning for possible injuries. People ran in, dragging driver and leading horses so safety before the other chariots completed the lap. "Well that leg is definitely broken..."

@Sarah

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Spurius grunted in comradely agreement, and both men drank. It was funny how perspectives changed with time, and age. Both had aimed to become Equites, and through different mechanisms both had turned, or turned back, to doing what they did well. Certainly Spurius found he could lead a perfectly comfortable, if somewhat empty, life without such ambitions.

"And did you?" Spurius asked, interested that Theodorus had joined the legions as a learning experience. "You'd have got plenty of experience in certain types of healing, I'd imagine." Cutting and crushing wounds mostly. Maybe some venereal diseases.

They watched the crash below and Spurius sucked a breath in through his teeth as Theo declared the man's leg broken. "I hope they've got a medicus on standby." He said, glancing at his companion. He knew well how an injury like that could end one's career, and wouldn't wish it on anyone. Everyone knew that chariot racing was dangerous of course, but there were plenty ready to pursue glory by participating. Much like the gladiators that Theo tended to.

@Chevi

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