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Early winter, 77 AD

It felt like a lifetime since he last had paid Longinus a visit, but surely it could not have been more than a few weeks - or months. Not much had changed as far as Titus could tell, the decoration still as exotic as always and the slaves just on the verge of slacking off.

Well, one thing was markedly different.

He watched in morbid interest as the dog scratched its ear with a paw the size of a toddler's head, somehow not ripping it to shreds as it did. The thing was humongous, really. He had done the right thing by passing it on to Longinus; a creature this big would definitely have a voracious (ergo expensive) appetite. The puppy of a few seasons ago was no more, in its place a one-headed Cerberus who was now deeply engrossed in nibbling at its own tail, presumably to scratch an itch.

It wasn't even that old - a year or less by now if he recalled correctly. Was it even finished growing? A child could ride it like a horse. Titus had a blissfully brief vision of his youngest wreaking havoc in his domus with such a dog as her mount, and again told himself he had absolutely done the right thing. Whatever damage it caused would probably go unnoticed amidst all of his friend's dubious ornaments.

A rustling noise coming from the right caught his attention, and he peeled his eyes from the dog only to find himself with the empire's cheekiest body slave. "Well met, Attis. Tell me, who is in charge of this four-legged giant?" Please let it be you went unsaid, although the expectant smirk on Titus' face betrayed his thoughts rather eloquently.

@Sharpie (and @Saraand @Cheviif any of your people want to join in at some point)

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"Celsus, sir," Attis replied, though the expression on the senator's face said as plain as daylight he hoped it was Attis.

And it was Attis, a lot of the time, but by no means exclusively - someone had to look after it when Attis was elsewhere or otherwise occupied, and why not the big hulking Dacian, who seemed to have an affinity with the big wrinkly dog. Though maybe not enough of an affinity to actually teach him any tricks.

When Licky finally noticed the newcomer, he barked joyfully, heading towards him with the obvious intention of giving him a very enthusiastic greeting.

It couldn't happen to a better person, in Attis' opinion!

 

@Liv

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'Celsus' - wasn't that the wooden Dacian he had traded Longinus for Florus? Not an unreasonable choice: a brute of a man for a brute of a dog. "Hmm," was Titus' disappointed response. "They are certainly a good match in terms of size." Whether the same could be said of their respective tempers remained to be seen.

As if it had somehow understood it was the topic of conversation, the dog sprung into motion with surprising agility. Its intentions, albeit friendly, were not those of a sharp mind - yet another point of similarity with its caretaker. With only a few seconds before impact, Titus weighed his options. Kicking the dog would be ill-advised in more ways than one. Taking cover behind Attis would probably be extremely ineffectual as the dog was more than capable of toppling them both. Distracting it would have been nice, but he had no bone or stick to throw in the opposite direction.

That left withstanding the crash.

Even with mind and body ready, the dog's enthusiastic tackle-greeting nearly knocked the wind out of Titus. A useful experience if any enemies of Rome ever considered using elephants again. He managed to somehow bat the monster's paws away before it succeeded in hugging him and directed it towards Attis, hoping it would choose a new target. The dog barked again and sat on its haunches, apparently expecting something as it looked up at the slave.

"Is it always this energetic?" Truth be told it had not done much yet, but the little it had had been intense. "What's it called, by the way?" Something like Polyphemus would suit it.

@Sharpie

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The dog's response to Sulpicius Rufus was all that Attis could have hoped for - as was the Senator's response to the dog. The only thing that could have improved it was if the senator had been knocked onto his arse, but Attis would take what he could, and ruffled the dog's ears as it sat and looked up at him - it didn't even have all that far to look, not really, not for a dog.

"My master calls him Ragum, I call him Licky - you can see why," he said, wondering what on earth had possessed Sulpicius Rufus to buy such a large dog in the first place. He could guess why he'd gifted the animal to Longinus, though.

"Does my master know you're here?" he asked, ignoring it as Licky lifted a hind paw to scratch himself.

 

@Liv (And @Sara and @Chevi if you want to join these two idiots!)

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For once he found himself in agreement with Attis; 'Licky' was very apt indeed. Ragum too, given how the dog's jowls wrinkled and crinkled and creased and folded like some discarded piece of fabric, but Titus' brand of rather limited creativity was much more in tune with the cheeky body slave's own. "Both suit him," he acknowledged with a nod, watching as Ragum-Licky again used an enormous paw to relieve an itch.

"If your slave friend at the door did his job he should," was the curt reply as he slowly reached out a hand to stroke the dog on its gigantic head, wary of any sudden movements that could startle the canine and have it chomp down on said hand. Titus' relationship with Longinus was informal enough that he would essentially let himself in without waiting for a slave to announce his presence to the unwitting host, and for all he knew Longinus was busy redecorating some room with even more eclectic accessories brought from some plundered British village the gods knew where.

The dark fur was surprisingly soft. Licky seemed to enjoy it as its foot-long tail started wagging from side to side in typical dog fashion. An amicable giant, then. "He's not a very good guard dog, is he? If this is how he greets strangers..." Not much of a thief deterrent apart from its size- what was this dog good for, then? Despite his doubts, Titus turned to Attis with a less impolite question. "Do you think he's done growing? If he gets any bigger you might have to build him a stall."

@Sharpie

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"Oh, he's a perfectly useless guard dog," Attis admitted cheerfully. "He'd knock any intruder down and lick them to death, though. But he does bark to let people know he's happy to see them - we'd all come in to find him making friends with the man who'd only come in to try his luck with the master's strongbox."

Longinus' slaves were no worse at their jobs than any of Sulpicius Rufus' were - probably better; that Dacian girl Zoe or Zia or whatever it was could hardly be lazier and less apt to do a stroke of work. He wondered if Rufus knew just how little she actually did around the house.

"Then he does - did anyone bother to offer you any refreshments at all, sir?" They should have, of course, especially as they should all know Titus Sulpicius Rufus was one of their master's inner circle and closest friends, along with the ex-consul. If they hadn't, Attis was going to give them an earful!

As for whether or not the dog had finished growing yet, he didn't have a clue, and shrugged. "I don't know when dogs stop growing, to tell the truth. He'll be able to pull a donkey-cart, easily, by the time he's full grown, and the kennel will be about the size of a small house."

He was just hoping that Licky would manage to destroy some of the less tasteful things Longinus had collected over the years, although he'd taken a peculiar liking to the moonfaced nymph in the garden, judging by the way he made a beeline for her every time he wanted to relieve himself.

 

@Liv ( @Sara @Chevi )

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"For once I find myself pleased that we are in agreement," Titus acknowledged with no mirth to match Attis' good spirits. As friendly as Ragum seemed to be, any burglar seeing a dog bigger than a goat running towards it might question their life decisions before a monster tongue viciously attacked them. "Does it bark at you at all?" he inquired none too innocently. "It sees you all the time, so probably not." Maybe one day Titus would come to visit Longinus and be greeted with news that his friend's body slave had succumbed to one too many of Licky's wet kisses.

He answered the question with a sound of assent before elaborating slightly, still stroking a content Ragum. "A girl fetched me some wine. You need to tell whoever's in charge of the amphorae that they need to switch things up a bit, I could swear it's the exact same vintage I had the last time I was here." It was not bad wine by any means, quite the opposite, but either somebody was extraordinarily fond of it or it just happened to be on rotation that day as Fortuna would have it.

Yet again Titus agreed with Attis, this time silently. He had never been round dogs this gargantuan to know when they were fully grown. "I could try to ask the man I got him from so you could have an idea... but it's more fun if you find out on your own, wouldn't you say?" he gave Attis a deceptively charming smile before Ragum caught his attention. The dog had presumably had enough of head pats and was now lying down on its back, paws half curled and tail wagging as it flashed them its belly like some unorthodox prostitute.

"Is he like this with everybody?" What a trusting dog. It was clearly leading a good life.

@Sharpie

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"Only when I've been out and he wants the world to know I was away for about, oh, five hundred  years and nobody's paid him any attention at all in that time," Attis replied. "He's never met anyone he didn't like, sir, but if anyone wants to do anything he doesn't want, they'd better know how to bribe him - not that that's awfully hard, in most cases." It also depended on what it was they were trying to get him to do, or not do, and how urgent it was that he do, or not do, the thing.

"Can I ask why you got him?" Why he'd been summarily passed to Longinus was more readily apparent, of course. He hadn't thought Sulpicius Rufus was particularly a dog person - possibly why the animal had been gifted to Longinus, in fact - especially when it came to dogs the size of a small elephant.

 

@Liv

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