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September, 76 AD

She could barely believe it when it happened – but suddenly she saw Eucleia’s tail disappear out the front door to the domus and the dog was gone. Her father and her brother were not at home. It was just Sosia and the slaves. What should she do? She had to find her dog! She could not imagine not having Eucleia, she’d had the dog for four years already and she loved her. And how on Earth did she get out? Who left the door slightly open?

 With a heavy sigh, Sosia opened the front door on her own and looked out into the late afternoon, “Eucleia?!” She yelled, but the dog did not come. She looked over her shoulder and then she wrapped her palla around her and went out. And closed the door behind her. She still stood just on the front door step to the street. She hadn’t said anything to anyone. It was kind of embarrassing, that her dog had run away and no one but her cared so much about Eucleia. They would not go looking for her.

 Where could she have gone to? She stopped an old lady walking by, asking if she’d seen the dog and she thought she’d seen a blonde dog running around a nearby corner in a certain direction. Sosia thanked the lady and began walking, occasionally calling out for the dog that did not show up. She kept asking people if they’d seen Eucleia and a lot of people had noticed the beautiful and well-groomed dog running around. Finally she spotted the fur walking down a narrow alley behind some houses. Sosia followed Eucleia. This time the dog turned its head when she called. It was indeed her dog!

 She finally managed to put a leash around the dog’s neck and then turned around. But where did she come from? She didn't recognize any buildings. Now she could really use Davus to help her figure it out. Or even Tiberius. But none of them were here and the sun was setting.

She was lost. In Rome.

Edited by Atrice
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Titus' shift was only just beginning as the sun dipped closer to the horizon. It was going to be a long night. He'd already broken up a fight between two drunks convinced that the other had stolen coins (they were on the floor, under the table), and helped a lost child - for which he'd sent his partner Armenus back to the barracks to watch over the kid until his parents arrived. Ostensibly the vigiles were always supposed to patrol in pairs, but he was not going to brook a whining kid tailing them all night, nor was he about to cut his shift short before it even began by escorting him to the barracks. The lazy shit Armenus, however, was more than happy to call time early and head back, leaving Titus alone. 

He was bone tired - there had been a fire yesterday evening that had needed tending to until well after dawn, and his body ached like nobody's business. He rolled the muscles of his shoulders and cricked his neck to the side to try and work out some of the tension as he rounded a corner. At sunset the city seemed to come alive with citizens and slaves hurrying home for cena or after work, and he had to duck and weave through people intent on barging into him (either through ignorance or purposefully, once they caught sight of his uniform). He muttered expletives under his breath as he did and drew to a stop to let a cart pass - eyes scanning the crowds for anything untoward. He caught sight of her almost immediately - a pretty young woman with eyes as wide as plates, glancing around the buildings. Lost. He'd seen it a hundred times. 

"Salve." he called over, almost bored by having to do this. "You lost?" 

 

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The sun was setting and soon everything would be dark - and she was out here, in Rome, without a slave or a guard. She only had Eucleia and while she hoped the dog would defend her, should anyone attack her... she was still a bit worried. Her father had told her to be careful, especially after that day she met Davus. He said the slave she'd named her friend, could easily have attacked her and done bad things to her and no one could come to her aid, because she told Helia to stay behind. Thank goodness the slave had followed her anyway, her father had said. And now she was out on her own again. Even more than last time. Eucleia grew tired of waiting for Sosia to move, so the dog sat down next to her and waited like a good dog would.

Eucleia stood when a man approached them, greeting her and asking if she was lost. She blushed, it was so embarrassing! Hopefully he was nice! 

"Yes... yes, I am." She said with a small sigh and downcast eyes. Then she dared to look up at him. He was very nice looking, clean clothes and all. But after her father's speech that day, she had to be more careful. He told her to not just trust a stranger, even if that's what she preferred to do, "Why do you ask?" She then said, although she felt it sounded fake. It wasn't what she wanted to say or what she needed. She wasn't like that. 

@Sara

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Go figure she was lost. She looked about as sure of herself as the average child that he ran across, left out on the streets by its parents. The sigh would have been sweet, had it not also been accompanied by those downcast eyes. She didn't look like a child - she was quite something to look at, actually, so the sad, wary way she held herself was curious. Most well-dressed young women had enough confidence to knock him for six, this one seemed utterly bewildered. He didn't know yet if it was irritating, pitiful or amusing. 

"Because that's my job." He retorted with a wry smile tugging on the corners of his lips. He held a thumb to himself, indicating the 'uniform' they donned - a cheap, itchy tunic striped with the colour of the vigiles, and a cloak fastened over his throat (utterly impractical for fires, which is why he only wore it when it was cold). He wore a leather belt with an assortment of tools attached, including the baton that doubled up as a firestick when necessary. "Where do you live?" He asked, still not moving closer to her. The wary act didn't seem much of an act, rather genuine embarrassment, or maybe fear, and he wasn't going to startle her into doing something stupid. 

 

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Sosia was most definitely not a child and she'd be happy to tell the stranger that, but he hadn't asked. And she wasn't a child. She was just still very new to Rome and now a little bit afraid because she was out on her own after dark. She wasn't of the lower classes, who were still roaming here, she was meant to be at home now. If only Eucleia hadn't run away. She gave the dog a look, which it probably didn't notice, since it was watching the man who approached them. She tried to sound brave, wondering why he was speaking to her and he just said it was his job. He pointed at himself and his clothes, and she knew that meant something, but she'd never met one of these vigiles before. She hoped that it was his job to help people. Then he asked where she lived.

"I'm not... I mean... I live on the Quirinal Hill. Are we still close to it? I haven't been out walking on my own before. I don't recognize anything." She said with another small sigh, "I need to figure out where I came from..." She said, mostly to herself, looking up and down the street, the alley they came from was still behind her. Was the man going to help her though? Oh she hoped he was and that he would be nice. But what if he wasn't? What if he was a bad man, the kind of man her father warned her about? And how would she ever find out if he was kind and could take her home, if she didn't give him a chance? She had to give him a chance. It was the only way. Else she'd be lost all night. 

"Will you help me find my home?" She then asked, looking up at him with hopeful eyes.

@Sara

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Titus watched the woman with a neutral face. She was talking, it seemed mostly to herself, and on the edge of asking him for  help. He was growing impatient but the Quirinal was close by, and dropping her back at home wouldn't be a long ordeal. Hopefully. If only she asked. And then she did, with those big brown eyes full of hope. She really was quite beautiful - although judging by her clothes, far out of reach of somebody like him. Besides, he was fond of more worldly sorts than this one seemed to be. 

With an impish smile he nodded. "Of course, domina. What's nearby your house? Bakeries? Shops that you recall?" He jerked his head and whistled so the dog would follow him (which it did, miraculously) as he trudged back through the alley she'd emerged from. "What's your name?" 

 

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He had a very cute smile, very charming, she thought. He smiled before he asked what was near her house and she tried to remember, but she usually went in a litter when she went somewhere, she didn't walk on her own and so it wasn't important for her to know what was nearby. She didn't really go shopping, although a bakery sounded nice. Maybe there was one nearby, she recalled the scent of newly baked bread in the morning hours. 

"Maybe there is a bakery nearby. But I don't often walk out like this. I went to the Porticus Liviae recently, but that's not nearby." She mused, recalling the last time she was out on her own without a slave nearby, but that had been a very different experience. And Davus had been so sweet with her! But the man next to her was still talking, and he even whistled and Eucleia followed him. Well, if Eucleia liked him, she would trust its judgment. 

"I'm Horatia Sosia. And who are you?" She asked, following them both since she still held Eucleia's leash and hopefully, the stranger would not be a stranger for much longer. And he'd take her home.

@Sara

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Titus fought - successfully - the urge to groan. Were all well-bred women this clueless? Did they really not have any sense of the city or their place in it? He kept his lips pressed in a thin line and stared straight ahead down the alley as they walked, so as not to visibly roll his eyes. She was sweet, but Gods above was she frustrating. 

"Titus Balventius Marcianus." He replied with a shrug, "I'm in the second cohort, fifth century of the vigiles.he glanced back at her, to see if that meant anything and slowed his pace down to let her catch-up, tempering his stride. "You know who the vigiles are?" 

 

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Sosia didn't know she was irritating to the man, he came to her to help her, after all, so surely that's what he wanted. To help her. And he had been nice so far, even if he seemed a bit tired maybe? Maybe once they came to her home, she could offer him a drink or something, for what he did for her. Assuming he would take her home and not somewhere else. At least now he too introduced himself and then he began talking, something that was halfway gibberish to her.

"I have heard of them before, I think? I think there were some in Capua too. But we lived in the countryside." She explained, "But I guess you can tell me all about it? If you want to. I'd love to learn more about Rome and how it all works." Really she would, so she would feel more relaxed here. It was a huge and interesting city, but also a bit confusing and sometimes, a bit frightening even. She didn't know how anyone could live here forever. 

@Sara

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Titus arched a brow and glanced back toward her. Country  girl...that made sense. His decade spent on the farm in Raetia had shown him plenty of girls like this Horatia Sosia, he was curious as to why he didn't think of it immediately. His master had a daughter...he supposed she'd have been around this one's age when he was manumitted. She had been full of shy, retiring smiles and wide eyed curiosity of her father's tales of Rome. It made a little sense that this one should be the same. He didn't envy her; Rome was a complex place and being new to it with little recourse to get out and explore as a patrician girl, undoubtedly meant it was overwhelming. 

"There is not much to say." He countered with a limp shrug, "We guard the city from fires and crime at night, sometimes during the day as well in the rougher regions." he sighed, "Thieves and fights and that sort of thing." And clearing up after murders and rapes and all other manner of Rome's ills, but she didn't need to hear about that. "And guiding lost people home. It happens more often than you'd think." He said with the faintest hint of a smile, trying to put her at ease. "We're mostly freedmen now, although there's still some slaves. No citizens are allowed to enlist." 

 

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To Sosia Rome was indeed very overwhelming. She wanted to explore it and know it, but at the same time, it frightened her a bit. Such a huge city, so many streets and alleys and so many people all the time. She wasn't used to that. She'd been here a few months now, but it wasn't nearly enough and she still missed the wide fields and the little stream near the villa. In Rome you'd find a fountain with many others the same place. It was hard to be alone here. At least she had her dog, still. That gave her some comfort. But she didn't know if she'd ever feel this was home, no matter how much she wanted it. 

Titus kindly explained more about the vigiles, who guarded the city and went to help when there was a fire. Thieves and fights. The rougher regions. She shuddered, she didn't want to encounter any of that. Then he seemed to try and make her feel better, by saying people often got lost here.

"Why is that? Why can't a citizen fight crime and fires too? Is it because it's so dangerous?" She wondered out loud, looking at him. He had a long name, he must be a freedman then. A former slave. That made her feel a little better about him, slaves were often so much easier to talk to. And they were often her friends, at least at the villa. Again, Rome was different. But she tried to be friendly with them here too.

@Sara

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He gave her a bemused look and suppressed a chuckle. Bless her. "Because citizens are important." He suggested, trying to beat around the bush as they walked. "Because freedmen and slaves are expendable, and yes, because it's dangerous." He'd lost count of the number of his colleagues they'd lost to fires or thieves in the night. He'd come close himself, and bore the scar curling up under his collarbone to prove it. 

"You're a citizen," He didn't frame it as a question, just an obvious observation. "But new to Rome? What brings you here?" It wasn't in his nature to make idle small talk, but the girl seemed nervous and overwhelmed and he still had some manners. 

 

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Sosia didn't know much about how a city worked and not really citizenship either. She knew some were Roman citizens and some were not, like slaves... and she knew that women and men didn't seem to matter equally in the greater scheme of things either. But why citizens could not become vigiles? That was beyond her. What if they really wanted to do that? So she asked, because that's how you learned things. Titus was happy to answer, he pointed out how important citizens were and slaves and freedmen were expendable. She looked up at him, feeling sorry about that. It shouldn't be like that. 

"It's not fair though. You're still... people. Human. No one should be expendable." She argued, because that's what she thought anyway. Titus tried to continue though, wondering what brought her to Rome.

She sighed, "My father thinks it's about time I get married. And apparently, the option of finding a husband is greater here than in the countryside near Capua. I miss the country though. Have you ever been outside of Rome?" She asked, new to Rome as she was, someone living in Rome might as well have been here all their life. It wouldn't surprise her if there were people in Rome who never left. It was such a big city, after all!

@Sara

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He merely shrugged at her statement. He wasn't going to argue and suggest he was inhuman, but then again he had long ago learned that railing against injustice the second you want to, rarely achieves anything. He loathed the class system, but he was one man and knew he wasn't going to disrupt it by himself, much as he might like to. 

Marriage? He glanced across at her. She was beautiful, so at least in his estimation it wouldn't be hard to find a man. But he suspected - like with most things of their ilk, it wasn't as simple as that. "Got any contenders?" He asked, to be polite, because he realised early on that's what rich people liked - small talk. Her statement that she grew up out of Rome and had only just moved here, likewise, didn't surprise him. He felt for her - the city was probably an overwhelming nightmare after the serenity of the countryside. 

"Yes." He replied with a terse smile and a shrug and chose not to elaborate. Silence swelled between them for a moment and realising that - unlike with his colleagues - he couldn't be quite so sharp and short with a rich woman, he reluctantly gave in: "I wasn't born in the Empire. And then when I was first enslaved I worked a farm in Raetia, and then we were sold to a farm in Italia - a couple of days ride from Verona, but I've only ever worked and lived in the country." No point beating around the bush. "I only came to Rome a year or so ago. I know what it's like to be new in a city." 

 

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She noticed how he looked at her, when she said she was brought to Rome because she needed to get married. She couldn't marry a freedman though, her father would never allow that. She could hope to meet Tiberius again, of course. She'd like to marry him, if she could. But she shrugged at his question, "I don't really know, father has not introduced me to anyone yet. Not officially anyway." It was a chance meeting the day she met Tiberius, after all. Her father was probably busy looking though. 

Sosia wondered kindly if Titus had ever been outside of Rome, and he confirmed that. She looked at him, puzzled, wasn't he going to say more? But silence fell and she was on the verge of asking another question, when he chose to elaborate his answer. He was not from the Empire of Rome at all, and had been both in Raetia and then come to Italia. Verona was to the North, she knew that. She'd never been that far North, it was a long journey through Italia. Apparently Titus had only ever lived and worked in the countryside. So he was new to Rome too.

"What did you think, when you first saw it? Do you like it here?" Because she wasn't sure. She liked parts of Rome? She liked the beautiful temples and the gardens, but the constant myriad of people and getting lost... she didn't like that. And she missed the wild nature and the fields and the fresh air. And her kittens.

@Sara

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"I thought it was too big." He said with a wry smile and a shrug, "That no place needs to be this big and busy and with this many people." it had been overwhelming, truth be told and it had taken him more than a few days to find his feet. Fortunately he had, eventually, although his brother still struggled. 

"But I like it alright now. I have friends and a roof over my head and a good job." It's more than most people who started life like me, get. "You?" He returned, trying to sound conversational. 

 

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So Titus thought Rome was too big too, when he first came. She understood what he said completely, as so far, she kind of agreed with it. It was a beautiful city and interesting too, no doubt about that. But there were too many people who were too busy and it was too dangerous. And it smelled different than the countryside. Not as nice. She missed it, but she couldn't go back, because her father chose that she should be here. Titus continued, saying he liked Rome now.

"I think I feel what you felt, among other things. I hope I will come to like it, as you do. I do have the roof, of course. I suppose I need the other things you have. Friends and something to do." She said with a small sigh. All she had to do was meet men her father might like for her to marry. And she did want to find a good husband, but whom? And would he be nice to her? At least she had one friend, she had Ovinia. Tiberius might also be her friend. Oh, and Davus! But they weren't there all the time. At least she had Eucleia.

 @Sara

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