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January, 77 AD

 Lucius knew the area well. This was where the infamous Gardens of Sullust were to be found and the hospitia he stayed in, was here too. He planned on settling down on the Quirinal Hill with his wife and the kids and a good amount of slaves too of course. They had a good home in Hispania and they were going to have that here too. A large enough domus for two busy parents and three growing children. Armenia would soon be ready to marry off and he hoped that he could find a future betrothed for her here in Rome. He was betrothed to his own first wife, when she was just 12 years old, after all.

 But he didn’t meet her until a few years later. And was it here, in the gardens, that they met? He could barely remember and he hadn’t been married to her for very long either. Then Leontia entered his life and she was a good wife to him. In the beginning it was hard, because she had not known she was to marry a brothel master like Lucius, but she learned to tolerate it and today, there was no issue with it. She even helped him and she had given him three living children. He couldn’t have wished for more in a wife.

 Yet she was far away and he was right here. There were plenty of other women in Rome though, and men, and Lucius was here to see if the city and its people would be useful to him once more. He'd grown, while he was gone. And not just in age, but also in coin. He'd bought a few honey cakes and brought them with him to the gardens. There weren’t a lot of flowers in the gardens at this time of the year, but it was always interesting to walk through them. There was a shrine here dedicated to Venus and he sat down on an old fallen stone pillar near it, not because he really had anything to say to the goddess, but more because he was curious who else might show up here. As he sat there, he unfolded the cloth he'd carried the honey cakes in. Just as he picked up the first piece to eat it, he heard footsteps on the path towards the shrine and looked up to see who was coming this way. He was intent on always keeping his eyes open and staying alert. You never knew whom you might meet and when they'd be useful to you, after all.

Edited by Atrice
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Iophon liked the Gardens of Sallust. Then again, he liked all of the city. The gardens made for a nice walk, even if it was not one of the fanciest areas in Rome, even in the winter when it was the time for citrus fruit, not flowers. Iophon, currently without and tourists to guide, strolled along the garden paths, breathing in the air that was a lot less stifling in the gardens than in more crowded parts of the city. His feet carried him to the quaint old temple of Venus Erycina. There, sitting on a fallen column of stone, he spotted a man, opening a parcel of something that smelled like honey cakes. Iophon smiled at the scene. Sometimes Rome was downright picturesque. 

"Don't forget to offer one of those to the goddess" he noted, stopping to smile at the stranger. Iophon was generally a friendly person. "She might smile upon you in return."

@Atrice

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Lucius sat with a piece of honey cake between his fingers, when a younger man appeared on the path, apparently also on his way to the old temple that Lucius too was admiring. Or, he wasn't admiring it. He was just waiting to see who would come and admire such a place. The younger man looked like the friendly and outgoing sort, an ordinary man of some kind. He didn't look like some high and mighty Senator and he didn't appear to be a slave. Just a man. But he stopped and offered Lucius a smile and suggested he should offer a cake to the goddess. 

He smiled back at the stranger, "Oh I think she already did, years ago. But thanks for the suggestion." He had a wife and living children, after all... and his wife had been good with and to him, she was his partner in crime now, literally... but the stranger did not know that yet, "But, perhaps you want one to offer to her instead? I have plenty." He said with a friendly tone, gesturing to the unfolded parcel with several pieces of honey cake on it.

@Chevi

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The man had a friendly smile, which Iophon shared.

"Oh I think she already did, years ago. But thanks for the suggestion."

"Oh but one smile from her is never enough" he noted with a chuckle. Could anyone ever get enough of Venus' blessings? He doubted it. He certainly was not tired yet.

"But, perhaps you want one to offer to her instead? I have plenty." 

"Now I definitely have to" Iophon grinned. He picked up a piece of honey cake, carefully placing it on his palm, and walked over to the small temple. It was round, with columns all around; an ancient form, from before more grand buildings were made in better places. There was a small altar inside, and a place for offerings. He placed the cake at the goddess' feet, whispering a prayer, before he returned, stepping out into the sunshine. Hopefully, Venus would bless him too. He picked up the conversation where he'd left off. "So, if not worship, what brings you out to the gardens?"

@Atrice

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The younger man chuckled and claimed that one smile from Venus was not enough. Wasn't it? Maybe if she was your goddess. Lucius ran the Domus Venus once, years ago, but that place had very little to do with the actual goddess. It was just a name, just a reference. It had more to do with gods like Eros, to be honest. But he didn't worship that one either. Lucius mostly worshipped coin and luxury. And anything that would get him what he wanted. But the other man here was different and Lucius offered him a cake to bring to the goddess. The other seemed happy to do it and picked up a piece and walked over to the temple. Lucius just gave him a smile and watched him leave and then he came back to talk more.

"People." Lucius replied simply, "You see, I lived in Rome, many years ago, and only recently came back. So now I'm looking to see, if Rome still has something to offer to me." He explained, "Have you been in Rome for long? Oh and please, have a seat... and a cake for yourself, if you'd like." He added with a friendly smile to the stranger. He appeared to be the happy-go-lucky type of guy and might indeed unknowingly have something to offer to Lucius, if he played his dice right. And he usually did. 

@Chevi

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Iophon was a naturally curious person. It made sense if someone visited the temple of Venus - who didn't love Venus? - but there were also probably many other reasons to come to the Gardens this time of the day. Like...

"People. You see, I lived in Rome, many years ago, and only recently came back. So now I'm looking to see, if Rome still has something to offer to me."

"Oh. Welcome back, then." Not entirely new to Rome, which lowered Iophon's chances of getting coin out of the man for his services. Still, interesting. There had to be a story there.

"Have you been in Rome for long? Oh and please, have a seat... and a cake for yourself, if you'd like." 

"Thank you" he did take a seat, and he did take a cake. They smelled good. "I'm Iophon, by the way. I have been in the city for two... no, almost three years now. How about you? Where did you go, before you came back?"

@Atrice

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Lucius deemed that the other man wasn't the smartest sort. The happy-go-lucky types rarely were. They lived their lives from moment to moment and rarely planned much. Like the other just proved, by going into the temple to offer a cake to Venus, although that probably wasn't why he came here. But Lucius let none of his thoughts shine through his façade, merely offered the other a cake and asked for how long he'd been in Rome.

The other easily answered and even shared his name. Just like that. 

"I came back very recently. I went to Hispania, but I'm thinking about returning for good now. Do you consider it a safe city, now? If I settle down here again, I'll also bring my wife and our children." Lucius said, the perfect Pater Familias, wasn't he? Thinking about his family like that, if the city was safe for them. Well it should be, for his children, but also not offer him too many troubles by returning. Oh, he forgot something, "The name is Lucius." Like half of the male population in Rome. It told Iophon absolutely nothing about himself. Which he preferred.

@Chevi

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Iophon took some bites of the honey cake, but he was definitely more interested now in the man he'd just met.

"I came back very recently. I went to Hispania, but I'm thinking about returning for good now. Do you consider it a safe city, now? If I settle down here again, I'll also bring my wife and our children... The name is Lucius."

"Safe? Where would be the fun in that?" Iophon grinned at his question. Rome had never been safe... not really. It was too colorful, too crowded, too busy for that. Iophon liked it that way. But then Lucius - not much there - mentioned his family, the young man nodded. "The... nice neighborhoods, are fairly safe. The vigiles and the urban cohorts keep them that way. I mean, there is always crime, but at least we are at peace, so people get to make their own individual mistakes..."

@Atrice

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Of course the part of the city where his children would live, should be safe, but he knew the rest of Rome would never be. Armenia would never leave the home on her own without a personal slave and at least a few guards and the same went for the rest. But he asked about the safety of Rome, of course, to learn just how unsafe it was. And Iophon picked it up as he expected. He joked about how safety wouldn't be fun. And then said the nice neighborhoods were fairly safe, but there was always crime besides that.

"It is good to know that the vigiles and the urban cohorts are still here." Lucius replied, "So you believe there is peace then? Last time I was here, I left because it wasn't peaceful. My wife was young and pregnant and I had to see her and the child to safety." He explained, "But now I know there's a new Caesar... isn't he rather young? I'd fear that his advisors would take advantage of that... but I don't know if you move in those circles. Although you appear like a guy who is able to move in many different kinds of circles..." Lucius said and took another bite of his own honey cake, while looking at Iophon to give him all of his attention. 

@Chevi

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Safety was a relative term in the city of Rome. It largely depended on one's social standing, among other things. Iophon himself moved pretty comfortably around the city, being a peregrinus - not a slave or a freedman, but also not one of the wealthy. He liked it that way.

"It is good to know that the vigiles and the urban cohorts are still here. So you believe there is peace then? Last time I was here, I left because it wasn't peaceful. My wife was young and pregnant and I had to see her and the child to safety."

"Yes. In that sense, there is peace." Iophon nodded. No rebellions or civil war in the past few years. Crime was still alive and well, for sure, but not to the extent that would make people flee from it.

"But now I know there's a new Caesar... isn't he rather young? I'd fear that his advisors would take advantage of that... but I don't know if you move in those circles. Although you appear like a guy who is able to move in many different kinds of circles..."

Iophon chuckled at the assumption, and shrugged. "You could say that. I'm a tour guide and a storyteller. It is my job to know the city, and I hear a lot... but I can't say I'm actually allowed into the patrician circles." He grinned. "People seem to like him, though. The caesar. And especially his younger brother, Tiberius. He seems to be paying attention to what the common people need. So, at least there is one good advisor up there..."

@Atrice

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Iophon seemed happy to share everything, and it made sense when he explained that he was a guide and storyteller. So of course he'd tell Lucius what he knew. He might even spread gossip, which could also be useful, should Lucius ever need that. And he thought he might indeed need that. Iophon said he knew a lot, but did not move among the Patricians. Then extended that people liked the new Caesar and also his younger brother, Tiberius. 

"You mean this Tiberius is an advisor to the Caesar himself? He does sound like he'd be a good advisor. I find that it is always good for anyone in charge here in Rome, to pay attention to the common people. They are Rome, after all." Lucius said, while thinking that this Tiberius would be a good place to start, should he want to weave his way into the higher society. And he did want that. But there was no need for Iophon to know that. Instead, he could tell Lucius more, "What about you? Do you like those in charge here?" 

@Chevi

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Iophon knew a lot of things... well, he heard a lot of things, rather. All his knowledge came from talking to people, so often it was hard to ascertain what was factual and what wasn't. Which didn't even matter much, in his line of work. It all spoke to the mood and tastes of the people of Rome, after all. True or not.

"You mean this Tiberius is an advisor to the Caesar himself? He does sound like he'd be a good advisor. I find that it is always good for anyone in charge here in Rome, to pay attention to the common people. They are Rome, after all." 

"Indeed" Iophon nodded. "If the caesar is clever enough, he will trust his brother's advice. That is at least one step closer to the people of Rome than most people get on the Palatine..."

"What about you? Do you like those in charge here?" 

"Me? I don't deal with them directly. I enjoy the games they put on, the festivals they sponsor... I like life in the city. But the common people are often more interesting. How about you? Are you looking to be a senator, or something equally prestigious?"

@Atrice

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Iophon even thought that the Caesar should trust his brother's advice. That did it for certain for Lucius - he would have to meet Tiberius and see if he could gain some influence there. If this Tiberius was more clever than the man in charge, he was someone to lean on, even if he was probably quite young. If he was the Caesar's brother, and Caesar Titus was young too, Tiberius must be too. But that didn't have to be a bad thing. Not for a man like Lucius. 

But he wanted more knowledge. Did Iophon have any opinion on the rulers of Rome? Of course he didn't deal with them directly, but he liked the festivals and life in the city. So they did something good for the common people, like Iophon... and Lucius, for that matter. Iophon thought the common people were more interesting than those higher up. And then he wondered what Lucius' ambitions were.

"I don't think I'll make it to the Senate. But I grew up here and I didn't have much back then. Now I have more. I know they say money can't buy you happiness, but it can buy you a better home and better tutors for your children - and better food and better clothes for your family. And that helps." Lucius explained... "Do you have a family, Iophon? Little kids with curly hair running around at home?" He smiled, actually he did not think Iophon was married, but sometimes people surprised you. And either way, it would get him to talk more.

@Chevi

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"I don't think I'll make it to the Senate. But I grew up here and I didn't have much back then. Now I have more. I know they say money can't buy you happiness, but it can buy you a better home and better tutors for your children - and better food and better clothes for your family. And that helps."

Social standing was one thing; in Rome, arguably the most important of things. But money was also an advantage, especially if one wanted to secure a good life for his family. Iophon nodded in agreement. It seemed like Lucius was a very practical sort of man. Iophon liked to spend time among the dreamers and revelers, but he did appreciate someone honest.

"Do you have a family, Iophon? Little kids with curly hair running around at home?" 

"Family, no. Not sure about the kids though" He grinned. Living freely as he did, one could never be sure. "I live with my twin brother, he is a handful enough, gods bless him. But no, no family of my own yet."

@Atrice

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Lucius did indeed not have much when he grew up, and now he had so much more. He'd long since been elevated in ranks, he was not just a petty Plebe, but something better. And he could afford something better too. But he did want more. Not a seat in the Senate, just... influence. And knowledge. Which often gained him influence. So after talking a little about himself, still not giving too much away, he asked into Iophon's family life. The other grinned and said he had no family, but there might be kids. Of course. He got around. He seemed the happy-go-lucky type of man. Not at all someone like Lucius. Iophon then spoke of his twin brother, who was plenty for him it seemed.

"Your twin brother is handful enough for you?" Lucius said with a grin, "That sounds busy. Well... I guess you don't have to have a family to keep you occupied. And working as a storyteller must mean you meet plenty of interesting people during the day anyway. And the nights, it sounds like." He chuckled, but then let the smile fade and turned more serious, "I think you're a kind of man I'd like to remember... should I ever need a storyteller for anything. Where in Rome can you usually be found?"

@Chevi

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"Your twin brother is handful enough for you? That sounds busy. Well... I guess you don't have to have a family to keep you occupied. And working as a storyteller must mean you meet plenty of interesting people during the day anyway. And the nights, it sounds like."

"Meeting interesting people is the best thing about Rome" Iophon agreed wholeheartedly. He enjoyed his work, random as it was, and he enjoyed keeping an eye on his brother, annoying as he was. He loved both. And he did have many connections now, both among the daytime and the nighttime crowds of Rome. He could tell that this man was interested in that.

"I think you're a kind of man I'd like to remember... should I ever need a storyteller for anything. Where in Rome can you usually be found?"

"Most of the time, I am around the statue of Vertumnus on the Forum." It was a prime spot for seeing things and meeting people. "Anywhere on the Forum, really. Otherwise, I live in an insula on the Esquiline with my brother." He explained a general area; a messenger or slave would be able to ask around and find the building. "I'm at your service, whenever you are in need ot guiding or entertainment." He added with a friendly smile, standing up. "I should go. It has been nice meeting you, Lucius. I hope you find what you are looking for in Rome."

@Atrice

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