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Late September, 76 AD

It was late September and fall was definitely coming upon Rome now. The weather wasn’t too cold yet, but it was not summer either. Pinaria pulled her palla closer around her and looked over her shoulder after her servant, Gaia Lucia. The woman was actually a freedwoman, but she and Pinaria had not yet parted ways and she wasn’t sure she wanted to. At the same time, she was not sure if it was actually love between her and Lucia, but they cared for each other. Deeply. And Gaia Lucia came with her everywhere.

 Soon it would be dark and they needed to head home from the temple. Lucia suggested a shortcut through an alley between a few streets, said she knew it. Lucia said it wasn’t entirely safe though, so they should hurry. Pinaria nodded and followed the former slave. But Lucia hurried a little too much and suddenly she was too far away. It had become darker as they walked and suddenly, Pinaria did not feel safe at all. She tried to call for Lucia, who had disappeared around a corner. Pinaria stopped for a moment to call for her servant again.

 That’s when she heard it, in the silence behind her. Footsteps coming in her direction. She looked over her shoulder to see a hooded figure some way behind her, “Hello? I don’t mean to bother you… I’ll be on my way…” She said and moved on, but the person kept following her. Suddenly he was right behind her and held a blade to her throat. Pinaria froze and squeezed her eyes shut. She thought about her son. This was not happening, was it? It was...

 “Please, don’t hurt me… I have a son…” She said, and yet she felt the man pull her closer, “What do you want? I don’t have any money. I gave them all to the temple. You can have my necklace…” She suggested to the stranger behind her, “I don’t care about such things…” He whispered back to her and she felt the blade cut into her throat and stinging pain of it. He’d cut the side of her throat. It wasn't deep, but enough to make her bleed. She felt his other hand move up. He touched the wound and got her blood on his fingers.

 “Wha… what do… you want?” She stuttered, afraid, but she heard nothing but his breathing as he touched the wound again and smeared the blood between his thumb and his other fingers. Suddenly she heard her name and she dared to look up. It was Gaia Lucia! Lucia came back for her! The man behind her saw it too. He let go of her, but not before he also cut her arm through her palla as he pulled back. Then he quickly ran away in the other direction. Pinaria ran towards her servant and fell into her embrace. She felt her heart pounding in her chest. Together the two women made the rest of the way out into the more open street again. Now, however, it was entirely dark. And there was still a bit of a way to get home. 

"I'll run for help!" Gaia Lucia promised Pinaria and tired as she was from the sudden incident, she didn't argue before it was too late. Suddenly she was alone again! What if that maniac came back? What in the name of Hades did he want? With a sigh she dared to take her eyes off the street for a moment, as she leaned against a nearby wall and moved the palla away from her arm to inspect the bleeding wound.

Edited by Atrice
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He wasn't often out late, not being much of a social butterfly, but there had been a particularly good play on at the theatre, and Spurius had learned to appreciate thespianism well executed. He didn't indulge many vices, even though he could now afford them - to the point where it was occasionally commented on, but he did partake of a little high culture. He might be a Plebian but he was a successful businessman, which meant he was reasonably well off.

However, the play had ended and home was now his objective. It was too far for him to walk with his bad leg, so Romulus and Remus - Romano-germanic identical twins of significant proportions - were carrying him home in his litter. Compared to those of the wealthiest his was fairly lightweight and far from elaborate, but it was one of the few luxuries that he indulged in, even if circumstances made it more of a necessity.

There were various sounds in the evening's twilight, as the twins took a shortcut through one of the less properous - and less well lit - streets; the clanking of pottery being washed, a loud conversation, the laughter of children. And somewhere up ahead running feet. None of which seemed unusual until the litter drew abreast of a figure huddled against one of the walls of the buildings that lined the street, and even in the fading light, dark stains were visible on what was surely a woman's clothing.

"Stop." He told the twins, peering across the street at the figure. From what he could see she looked well dressed, and that was surely blood. "Are you hurt?" The man's voice called out across the street. Possibly a foolish question but there were many traps for the unwary on the meaner streets of Rome.

@Atrice

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She looked up when she heard the footsteps, immediately afraid that it was the attacker returning to do more. Why didn't he... do anything else? Was he just out to hurt and eventually kill her, but didn't get the chance to finish his plan? Why her? Had she done something to someone, offended someone? She couldn't recall that she had. Why would someone want to hurt her then? At last the footsteps were close enough and she realized she'd been still as if she was paralyzed, when she heard them. But now a litter came into view, carried by two strong slaves, and she relaxed her posture a little bit again. Then suddenly the litter stopped, close to her. Fuck, was this it? Maybe this was whoever had been out to get her. She could not imagine someone would hurt her just to hurt her, if there wasn't a reason. He must have been hired by someone...

A man looked out from the litter then and asked if she was hurt.

"Yes." She merely answered, "My... servant has run for help." She added, but didn't want to yell too much more, in case the attacker heard her. Gods! She felt how her heart was still pounding at the thought of it. Her mind began searching for answers again... if there were any to find...

@Sarah

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There was a faint sigh. "Down." The man's voice commanded, and the litter was lowered to the ground. It sounded like the woman was in shock. Why send her servant away, and stay sitting there? It was the only explanation.

Unfolding his rangy form from the littler, Spurius grasped his staff and stood up, crossing the short distance to where the woman sat huddled. Yes, that was blood, he could smell it as well as see it in the twilight. "Let me see." He said, firmly but more gently than when he patched up mild injuries on those whom he traded. He thought it was her arm and her throat, yet clearly neither were deep, else she wouldn't still be speaking, or possibly even conscious.

Kneeling down slowly with the aid of his staff, Spurius set the aid aside and pulled at the edge of his woolen toga. Grasping the fabric in strong hands, he tore a strip from the bottom of it, folding it into a soft pad. "Hold this against your neck." He commanded, already tearing another strip.

It had to be shock, he told himself. That or she bore pain very well. Or it was a trap.

@Atrice

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She heard him give a command to his slaves and soon after, the man left the litter and stood. He had a staff he leaned on, he wouldn’t be much help if her attacker returned. Hopefully the attacker would not, but you never knew. If it happened once… she shivered by the thought of it all, felt her lips tremble, but she would not sob in front of a stranger! She bit her cheek. Meanwhile the stranger asked to see and he knelt down.

 Pinaria was grateful that he just looked, he didn’t touch her, she didn’t think she could stand that right now. The palla was ruined now. A cut through it and blood. She didn’t know how much her throat was bleeding… she said nothing as the man began tearing his toga apart and folded it, handing it to her.

 “Is it… is it bad?” She asked with a trembling voice and looked up, trying hard to be strong, while she blinked away a tear. She barely noticed it though, as her mind was elsewhere, “What… what if… he comes back?”

@Sarah

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 "You're not dying." He assured her gruffly, channeling the old medicus of his legion as she asked how bad the injury was. But the tremble in her voice as she asked and the pale gaze that looked up at him begged for reassurance, even as she was clearly trying to be brave in the face of what had happened. "You'll be alright." He added, a little more gently. "I'm going to bandage your arm." It wasn't a question, and with deft fingers he wound the second strip of toga cloth a few times about her arm, firmly but not painfully, and tied it off.

What… what if… he comes back?

Spurius finished his work and sat back slightly. "You won't be here." He told her simply. "You're going to get into my litter, and we'll take you home." He said, with the firmness of a Roman man, accustomed to being obeyed. It never occured to him that might be a scary prospect, only that it was the most efficient way to remove this woman from danger and get her the care she needed.

@Atrice

Edited by Sarah
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What a strange thing to say to a woman who had just been attacked, when she asked if the wound was bad... she was not dying? Well she knew that. But it still felt bad. It hurt like Hades had cut it and she feared infection, she didn't know where the man's knife had been after all. The stranger then added she'd be alright and began to bandage her arm. First she winced at his touch, but she felt she couldn't do much at all and allowed it to happen. At least he was trying to help her, right? That was something. But she worried that the attacker would return to finish his job, whatever it was. The stranger then said she wouldn't be here if the attacker came back, because he would take her home in his own litter. She glanced at it and at the man. He was very friendly, he was helping her, didn't really ask questions. But he was clearly not of her rank and what would people think... if they saw them together. She had no husband. She wasn't sure that would be good for her reputation. But she found a way out of that.

"What about my servant?" She then said, they had to wait for Gaia Lucia to return! What if she came back, and Pinaria wasn't here? And what if she came back, and Pinaria's attacker went for Lucia instead... "She will be back here, for me, with help. We should wait for her here. If you will wait with me?" 

@Sarah

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If he'd known she was concerned about apparent propriety when she'd just been stabbed, he might have laughed. But then it wasn't something that he generally had to think about, except in one specific area, which he solved with avoidance. But he had forgotten about the servant.

"Where did you send her?" He asked. "Surely she would have taken the most direct route? If we take the same, we should meet her on her way back." Which was vastly preferable, in his mind, to waiting around where Pinaria's attacker might come back. The twins might be of herculean build, but they weren't trained to fight. Spurius was an ex-legionnaire of course, but he'd not tried to fight since he'd injured his leg. He wasn't certain of their chances. Though he acknowledged that the simple presence of extra people should deter all but the most insane, or determined.

The litter was a simple affair, little more than a chair with a canopy slung between two poles; anything larger and he'd need four slaves to lift it, but it was perfect for his purposes. Pinaria could ride and he could walk, which wasn't the fastest but it would get them out of here. "You should see a medicus." He said gently, hoping to persuade her. Whilst he'd assured the woman that she wasn't dying, he'd prefer not to be the one to tell her that those cuts were going to scar. Hopefully not too badly, she seemed comely enough in the low light. Hopefully her husband wouldn't mind.

@Atrice

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When you were a highly ranked woman of the better society of Rome, but without a husband and father to your son, and looking for one... you had to think about your reputation. And now there were two things tonight that might come in the way. One that she'd been attacked and hurt and two, she was assisted by a friendly man, but he was of lower rank and had invited her into his litter. She was grateful for his assistance, but she could not risk her future for him, not even in a situation like this. So she tried to tell him they ought to be here and wait for her servant. Besides, what if Gaia Lucia came back here... and the attacker did too, and Pinaria was not here? 

The stranger wondered where she'd gone and assumed they would meet her on the way back. She thought it over and then he thought she should see a medicus.

"You are probably right." She said with a sigh, "I hope you do not think I am not grateful. It's just all... a bit much." She looked at him, he was only trying to be friendly after all, "Very well, if we take the most direct route to my home, I will borrow your litter." 

@Sarah

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It was a measure of the distance between their respective social standings, where the concern of each lay in the wake of the attack.

Then she admitted she was feeling a bit overwhelmed. He wasn't surprised. "Of course." He replied. "I don't think you're ungrateful." A bit stunned, possibly. "I don't mean to pressure you," lies, but his intention was noble enough "I am only concerned for your wellbeing." He would far rather that they were all not there, if her attacker would return. He was no coward, but he was eminently practical. Still, something had clearly scared the attacker off.

The litter wasn't the kind with a surface to lounge on and curtains that could be drawn, and he was planning to walk anyway, so from his very male point of view he could see no problem. "Here, let me help you." He offered her a strong hand to help her up, bracing himself with his other grip on his staff. It was easy to see that he favoured his right leg, but was otherwise both somewhat tall and reasonably strong. There was a scar on his forearm, straight and narrow as though from a blade, the mark white and old.

@Atrice

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At least he was kind to her, had stopped to help her, although he had no reason to. No other people had stopped to help her, when she had leaned against the wall after Gaia Lucia ran for help... instead of staying with her. Was it wrong? It was, wasn't it? Leaving Pinaria Gaia to fend for herself, even if it was to just wait for her servant to return. But now this man was here to help her. He said he was concerned for her and then offered to help her up from the ground. She took his hand, although she now also noticed for the first time, that he had with him a staff that he supported himself with. Was he a former soldier or something? She'd seen it before. He didn't look very old, so that could not be his reason for the staff. 

"Thank you." She said as she pulled her hand back, now that she stood. She did notice the scar on the man's arm. He had to be a former soldier. But now she noticed that her legs felt a bit shaky, now she was standing again. She inhaled a breath, trying to be strong, trying to not cry. She was more than that. She had to focus on something else than herself.

"May I ask... your name?" So that she could thank him later, once she came home. She looked at the litter, much simpler than what she was used to, but at least useful. Gods how she just wanted to go home now. She hoped her brother wouldn't be upset with her, after what happened.

@Sarah

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Bracing himself, he gently pulled the injured woman to her feet and kept hold of her hand as she steadied herself. She looked shakey; shaken. Not surprising really, poor thing. At least as a soldier you knew the risk of injury; a well bred woman walking the streets of Rome wouldn not expect it. He waited, offering that silent support, as she drew a deep breath.

May I ask... your name?

"Spurius Antius." He replied simply, and for some reason held back with his usual cognomen. But then, he wasn't at work, and it tended to be used around his business dealings. "May I ask yours, Lady?" It seemed so odd to be having what sounded like a very civilised conversation in this situation, but here they were. He dealt with high class customers regularly, but never socially. He'd become something of a bitter recluse outside of work. And yet here they were. Something of the old Spurius, the young man he had been, was far more open to people. And something of the new Spurius saw the possibility of gratitude from her husband.

She seemed steadier after a few moments, and Spurius summoned the two slaves with the litter closer with a jerk of his head. They were born of a Germanic mother and a Roman father and bigger than most Romans; they certainly carried the simple sedan chair with ease. It was set carefully next to Pinaria. "If you'll sit, we'll get you home." He offered her his hand again to steady herself if she needed to.

@Atrice

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She was shaken, probably more than she liked to admit. It wasn't like she was some young girl born yesterday, she was a grown woman with a son and she had a husband once. She didn't want to just crumble, she couldn't, for her own sake and that of her son. She had to be brave. So she tried to focus on something else, like the man who was kind enough to help her. 

"Pinaria Gaia." She simply replied and not long after, the litter was brought closer. She looked at the slaves, they certainly looked strong enough. She should have had them with her, when she was attacked. Gods her arm was still hurting. Pinaria sat down and hugged herself with her uninjured arm.

"Thank you, for all your help, Spurius. I don't know what... I'd have done, if you hadn't come..." She sighed, now that she sat in a proper litter, it began to creep in on her again. What happened with the man who attacked her, and what happened after. She wasn't sure she could forgive Lucia for running for help and not taking Pinaria with her. It wasn't right. Lucia had always been so loyal to her. Spurius was more helpful than she was, now. 

@Sarah

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She was strong, not to crumple after being brutally attacked by someone. Probably still in shock as well, but he could see that she was holding herself steady. But even Spurius knew, from his own experience on the battlefield and that of others, that adrenaline and stubborness would only take you so far. Best they got her home as quickly as possible.

Pinaria Gaia. It wasn't a name that Spurius knew, so neither a customer nor hot on the gossips' lips. No doubt a respectable lady.

If he hadn't happened to come along, she probably would have sat there until either someone else came, or her servant came back with help. Interesting that it was servant, and not slave. Still, if someone else had come they could have been any kind of character, but oddly enough Spurius was the man of the hour. "You're welcome." He said simply, and gestured for the twins to lift the litter, which they did smoothly. "I'm glad I could help." He added, with a faint smile, meant to be reassuring. 

"Where are we taking you?" He asked simply, looking over at her, staff in hand, ready to set off. Hopefully it wouldn't be far for her, and he could continue on his way.

@Atrice

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