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Crime scene investigations


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February 77AD (Right after Falling Apart)

Blood still glimmered on the cobblestones in the light of the torches when Lucius got to the scene, but it was darkening fast. Even wrapped in a senatorial outfit, the body could have lied there for hours until a carriage bumped into it... but someone had seen a man running away from the scene, and the victim was found. Someone alerted the vigiles. Lucius, nearby just starting his evening patrol, hurried to the scene with the others. The news were spreading faster than a flame. A senator had been killed.

Shit.

Stabbed, no doubt. Dead as a doornail, no hope of a rescue. The vigiles formed a perimeter around the body, but Lucius managed to convince the centurion to wait before bundling it away from the prying eyes of the plebes. The man had been stabbed, in the street. Not robbed, not beaten. Maybe, just maybe... but why a man? Why a senator?

Lucius sent one of the other recruits hurrying to the insula, for Alexius and Theodorus. Another one for Jason. The centurion was losing his patience fast, but dealing with the death of a senator made him cautious enough that he was willing to listen. That won some time, but not much of it. Lucius swore under his breath, standing by the body. he wasn't even sure what he was waiting for... but he wanted the others to see it too.

@Sharpie @Atrice

 

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Jason was going to have numerous questions to answer later on, once he returned to his master's side, but for now it was enough that he'd been sent for by Lucius Vipsanius Roscius (apparently his master knew the name), though why his body slave had been sent for and Vipsanius Roscius hadn't come himself to see Tiberius was only one of the questions Jason would have to answer later on.

He wrapped his cloak around him against the chill of the February evening and followed the vigilis' messenger into the darkening streets of Rome.

The only connection he had to Vipsanius Roscius was the fact that Azarion had needed an interpreter and - no. No; Vipsanius Roscius had initially come looking for him because he'd been the one to help Ovinia Camilla. Of course they wouldn't ask his master to loan him out if it was just about Azarion. Romans didn't bother themselves about their slaves like that, after all.

At least this time he wasn't worried that he was somehow in trouble with the vigiles himself, which was some small mercy.

Something must have happened, though - something bad, and the messenger was being tight-lipped, though that was probably only because he knew Jason was a slave.

He was brought to a side street, rather than the insula of before, or even the local vigiles' station house, and it was only the forbidding look on the face of the unfamiliar man with Vipsanius Roscius that prevented him from asking what had happened.

That, and the ominously still figure at their feet.

 

@Atrice @Chevi

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Alexius was not doing anything special by the time the recruit of the vigiles reached the insula. He was at home with Lexus, debating whether they should go out or just stay at home, while Alexius was of course leaning towards going out. But there would be none of that, apparently. Someone came knocking, someone unexpected and wearing vigiles garb. At first he was surprised and worried, but then the young man mentioned Lucius' name and Alexius relaxed. The man said he also needed to fetch someone called Theodorus and Alexius led the way up the stairs towards Theo's place. The recruit didn't tell them much, but Alexius suspected the worst. Night had fallen and Lucius had asked that both Alexius and Theo came. Someone must have been attacked. Maybe even murdered, or something worse... 

They didn't speak much on the way, as it seemed they were in a hurry. 

Then they were there. They came to a stop. Torches were lit, vigiles were about, keeping bystanders away from what appeared to be a crime scene. And it was. Alexius saw the white robes before he noticed Lucius. Fuck. A Senator? At least that meant it wasn't a woman this time, but still... the robes weren't moving. There was blood. The man was dead. Double fuck! 

It was unusual, definitely! That it was a man who might have been attacked, and the fact that he was dead. And Lucius must suspect the attacker they were looking for, had done this one in too. Else he wouldn't have called for them. Alexius noticed the young man called Jason too. But he stopped and stood still, waiting for Lucius to speak and possibly give them instructions. He was the brains around here, after all.

@Chevi @Sharpie

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Theo blinked owlishly as he followed along, carrying his bag. He had gone to bed early after a long day of work, and then he was almost immediately roused by someone knocking. A message from Lucius, the man who had assembled them before to talk about a potential murderer... someone attacking women, and men, multiple times around the city. From what he had gathered, hurring alongside Alexius, there had to have been another attack.

And a victim.

Theo frowned as he noted the body on the ground. A senator. Well, that was going to go over great with the people of Rome...

"I'm a medicus. May I?" he glanced between the centurion, who seemed like the highest ranking person on scene, and Lucius, the person who'd summoned them for a reason. They both nodded, although the centurion's was more of a shrug. Theo crouched down at the edge of the pool of blood. The man was dead, clearly. And recently so. Theo was not trying to save him; he was looking for clues.

@Sharpie @Atrice

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Jason arrived first, and Alexius and Theo came soon after. Lucius sighed a sigh of relief as they appeared. He suddenly felt less alone with his suspicions, and the whole mess. Theo immediately went in for a closer look.

"They say someone saw the attacker run away from the scene. He... seems to fit the description." he told Alexius and Jason, lowering his voice. The centurion went back to survey the scene, but Lucius had no doubt he wanted to listen in. "The whole thing is off, though. It's a senator... don't know his name. But it's going to get bad from here, fast." Lucius glanced towards the people craning their necks nearby. "Maybe someone else heard or saw something?"

@Sharpie @Atrice

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Two others appeared. Jason recognised them, despite the flickering torchlight and the nearly-gone daylight. The big man who'd come to the Palatine with Lucius to fetch him, that day, and the medicus they called Theodorus, who had immediately stooped to examine the body.

It was all wrong, the man they wanted attacked women; he'd only gone for Azarion because he'd been cornered and his only way out was past Azarion - Jason had been in that alley, more than once. It was a dead end, the only other exit being the back door of the stables.

This was a man, a Senator. Tiberius was going to go spare over it, Jason was certain of that much - and it surely wouldn't be long afterwards that he learned who else had had a run-in with the monster.

"This is all wrong," he said, voicing his thoughts. "Was he between the attacker and the way out - that's why he went for Azarion, after all." Azarion hadn't been cut like Ovinia had, either - had this man been cut other than just the wound that killed him?

"Was it the same man who did the others, though?" Tall dark-haired men in green knee-length cloaks weren't exactly a rarity in Rome, after all!

@Chevi @Atrice

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Theo inspected the body carefully in the light of the torches. With all the blood and the soaked toga, it was hard to see anything for certain. He carefully moved the head, looking at the stab wound in the neck, and then pulled at the clothes to see a stab wound on the body. The blood around was congealing; whenever someone fetched the vigiles and saw the attacker flee, the kill had to have been fresh.

"I don't see any... scratches or bruises." he noted, glancing up. "This wasn't a brawl or a struggle. Either of these wounds would have killed him... I am guessing he was stabbed in the stomach first, and then the neck. Maybe he cried out?" Theo looked up at the others. "It could be worth asking around."

@Sharpie @Atrice

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While Alexius stood still, doing nothing to begin with, Theo hurried to take a closer look at the body. Alexius wondered if he should too. He was no medicus, but with his past as a gladiator, he did know a thing or two about fights and wounds you'd gain from those. Lucius explained what he knew, wondering if someone saw something around here. Jason didn't seem to know what to think, other than that it was wrong. Well of course it was wrong, that's why they were looking for the attacker! If it was the same, of course. 

Theo said there had not been a real struggle and suggested how it had all happened. He also wanted to ask around.

Alexius looked at Jason, "Could it be, like with your cousin... that he surprised the man? Maybe someone else was... attacked, and this one saw it?" Alexius suggested and looked around. If someone else was attacked, then there was a chance they might find that person. And they had to know something. He looked around again, then at Theo... "Are there any other signs of people here? In the dirt maybe?" 

@Sharpie@Chevi

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Well, at least now they were getting somewhere. Theo was making observations, which were not quite enough, but it was a start. Alexius and Jason looked equally hesitant.

"This is all wrong. Was he between the attacker and the way out - that's why he went for Azarion, after all." 

"Could it be, like with your cousin... that he surprised the man? Maybe someone else was... attacked, and this one saw it?" 

"That is a possibility." Lucius nodded, thinking it over. It made more sense than the killer suddenly deciding to go after a larger, higher ranking man. "Which means... we might have a witness, not just a victim?"

"Are there any other signs of people here? In the dirt maybe?" 

Theo turned back to examine the site more, although the flickering light of the torches was not helping much.

"Was it the same man who did the others, though?" 

"No idea. It's either that... or we have two killers on the loose." Lucius frowned. "Let's not assume. Can you two ask around, maybe? Someone's bound to have heard or seen something. I'd ask too, but..." he gestured at his vigiles uniform. People were not equally talkative with that.

@Sharpie @Atrice

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"Stomach wounds don't kill, not right away," he said. He hoped they wouldn't ask him how he knew that. "My guess is, he was stabbed in the stomach to stop him fighting back, then killed by the wound to the neck."

And bruises took time to come up but he wasn't about to say that to a trained medicus who was a free man.

Ask around? Well, the corpse was fresh, and a senator's - if people were going to talk and remember accurately, now was as good a time as any. He glanced down at himself; he was wearing a nondescript tunic with two faded violet stripes sewn to it in mimicry (or mockery) of a senator's crisp white tunic and bright purple stripes. The joys of belonging to a member of the Imperial household... at least he had a plain cloak over the top and round his shoulders, and it was nearly dark.

"I don't supposed he's handily dropped another pot of that lemon-scented oil, has he?"

Azarion's sarcasm was rubbing off on him. Oh joy.

 

@Chevi @Atrice

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"Stomach wounds don't kill, not right away. My guess is, he was stabbed in the stomach to stop him fighting back, then killed by the wound to the neck."

Theo glanced up at the young man. He remembered meeting him at the insula, and him translating for the charioteer. He was not wrong about the wounds, although the stomach wound would have been a death sentence sooner or later too, judging by the amount of blood.

"I don't supposed he's handily dropped another pot of that lemon-scented oil, has he?"

Alright, so maybe the young man was a little too sarcastic.

"No." Theo frowned, looking back at the ground "But there seems to be... someone put a hand in the blood." he pointed to where the edge of the congealing pool was smeared.

@Sharpie @Atrice

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Alexius crouched down by the body too, just to see it. He'd seen enough bodies and dead people in his lifetime, he wasn't afraid. Of course he'd go and ask if they could find someone who saw something or a possible surviving victim of this crime, but he also wanted to see the wounds for himself. Just to see if he had anything to add. Theo said someone had put a hand in the blood and Alexius wrinkled his nose.

"That's it." Alexius said, "No one does that! Besides... the guy we're looking for. He has done that with others. Cut them, then touched." Disgusting and sick, that's what it was! He pulled back and stood again, "I'll go ask around. Should we walk together... or separately?" He looked at Jason, who wasn't exactly big and muscular like himself, which worried him. Sending Jason out on such a mission alone, with a killer who might still be close...

@Sharpie @Chevi

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Lucius frowned. He had a feeling they were dealing with the same man. The handprint in the blood... that made it likely. He nodded to Alexius.

"I'll stay here with Theodorus. We have to move the body soon. See if anyone knows who he is, and if anyone has seen anyone apart from the man... likely a woman, leaving." Maybe they would get lucky. Maybe someone had seen something. If not... there was bound to be a city-wide hunt for the killer, now that he had murdered a senator. Maybe this was the mistake that would take him down....

@Atrice @Sharpie

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Someone put a hand in the blood... Jason couldn't help the shudder. That made it very likely indeed that this was a victim of the same man. And he'd killed a senator - that was going to cause a furore. And another one when it came out that the man who'd done it had been doing much the same for over a year.

"You don't know him, then?" he asked the patrician vigile, and sighed. "You do know this is likely to get my master involved, personally?"

If there was one thing Jason had learned about Tiberius over the years, it was that his master didn't like mysteries and unanswered questions, especially when there was no avoiding asking those questions.

"You think he might have been protecting someone?" he asked. "If there were two people here, why wouldn't the killer just flee? People like him don't want witnesses, after all."

He probably thought he'd killed Ovinia, that day, and of course it had been dark when he'd cut Azarion. He probably hadn't realised there had been enough light for Azarion to give even a basic description - or that he could; he must have realised Azarion couldn't talk and maybe he'd relied on that.

"Together is probably a good idea," he said. "They'll know the man who did this was on his own - at least, he was every other time."

 

@Chevi @Atrice

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Theo kept examining the body. The smear of blood on the ground was suspicious. It was not possible to make out footprints to guess if there had been anyone else. Hopefully, if they asked around, the others might find some information. Theo turned his attention to the man's hands, to see if he could find any more injuries, maybe from a struggle.

Instead, he found something else.

"You think he might have been protecting someone? If there were two people here, why wouldn't the killer just flee? People like him don't want witnesses, after all."

Theo hummed, pulling the folds of the toga aside. On the forearm of the senator, there was a scar. Cut by a blade, from the looks of it. Not fresh, by any means, but not very old either. 

@Sharpie @Atrice

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The medicus - Theo? - pulled the dead man's toga aside, enough to show his forearm, and Jason couldn't help leaning closer to see.

There was a scar there, not a brand new cut but one that had begun healing recently.

"Well. Looks like it was the same guy - but why would he go for a man? And a Senator, too - that's just asking for trouble. I mean, if it were me, I'd make sure to stick to people that don't have the money or influence, if I wanted to stay hidden."

If the two had had a previous run-in, perhaps the murderer had taken the opportunity to silence a witness who could identify him and testify to it in court. Not that Ovinia or Didia couldn't stand up in court, but they needed a male relative to be with them. A senator wouldn't; he'd be that relative for his sister or niece or whatever.

He looked up at Alexius. If they were going to start asking people around here, they really ought to start soon - it would be helpful to know everything there was about this incident, though. He was acutely aware of his lack of standing among everyone else present. It would be down to someone else to make the decision, really.

 

@Chevi @Atrice

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"Well. Looks like it was the same guy - but why would he go for a man? And a Senator, too - that's just asking for trouble. I mean, if it were me, I'd make sure to stick to people that don't have the money or influence, if I wanted to stay hidden."

Lucius stepped closer to inspect the scar too. Men could get scars from many things; the senator could have served in the legions and gotten injured. But if not, but if the scar really was from a more sinister attack, then... did he decide to take revenge, or did the killer come back to finish the job?

Jason was asking the right questions. The fact that the victim was a senator was... off.

Unless he was not the intended victim.

"He could have been protecting someone" Lucius noted. "Or... related to someone we know." He turned a little paler. Was this one of Ovinia's brothers? Or someone realted to Pinaria? Trying to take revenge into his own hands...? Please, gods, no.

@Sharpie @Atrice

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So Lucius and Theo would stay here. Lucius suggested the possible other victim was a woman, but none of them knew the man who was now dead, right here. Jason agreed the man might be protecting someone, and their attacker and killer did not want witnesess. Alexius gave him a small smile, when Jason agreed with his own thoughts, that they should walk together. Alexius didn't like Jason looking for clues on his own either. 

Theo kept examining the body and found another scar on the man's forearm. It could be anything really, but it wasn't old enough so that the man might have gained it in actual battle. He didn't look like he just came home from that. He wasn't that tanned. Alexius crouched down to see the scar up close too.

"If it's the same person causing this scar... it could explain why he was killed this time. Maybe he escaped our attacker before, and now he didn't get the chance..." Alexius suggested, he definitely thought it looked like a clean cut and fancy senators didn't get cut by accident like that.

Jason kept wondering why a Senator had died this time. Alexius agreed it was strange, but the killer was clearly a maniac, so maybe he didn't think so far. Or maybe he just didn't care. He'd attacked higher ranked women before too, after all. Which Lucius recalled too, as he turned pale suggesting the current body was related to another who had been attacked. But they really couldn't just keep on making assumptions.

"We better go see if we can find out more." Alexius said and looked at Jason, "Let's start this way." And he motioned for the younger slave to follow him in one direction, "We could start checking out nearby popinas and such. See if someone came in there, hiding or looking for help."

@Chevi @Sharpie

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"Be careful. We'll meet you back at the insula." Lucius told Alexius and Jason as they headed out to ask some questions. Theo finished examining the body; the centurion ran out of patients, and ordered the vigiles to bring a stretcher, and take the body away. Half the city was probably already talking about the murder anyway.

It was a few hours later that Lucius finished his patrol, and returned to Alexius' rooms at the insula. Theo was already there, and he hoped Alexius and Jason would return with something useful. Lucius carried some wine and some food. It had been a long night, and it was bound to get longer.

@Sharpie @Atrice

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Of course they'd be careful! But Alexius was also quite sure he could hold his own, should they actually encounter the attacker... but he somehow had a feeling that they wouldn't. It was already quite obvious that the man preferred to flee rather than fight, and he'd long since escaped this scene. The only reason why he'd come back was... well, he didn't know, to be honest. But the same reason as why he went back to the place where he murdered Azarion's friend, where Azarion met the attacker. So he did go back sometimes. Maybe someone should watch this spot. He'd have to suggest that to Lucius once they met again in his insula.

For now, he moved in direction of a more populated area, where there were tavernas and popinas and such. He paid attention to people they walked by, attempting to find any useful information. Some did mention 'murder' and 'senator' in the same sentence, so that's what the talk was on tonight. Gossip spread quickly in Rome, especially gossip like this. Quite juicy with a murder in the street and not just any murder, but the murder of a Senator of Rome. This would not be taken lightly. Gods, once this reached Ovinia's father, he'd never let her out again, would he? Fuck!

Right, back to business... they'd reached a taverna with plenty of people, "Let's try this one." Alexius said to Jason, who was trailing along. It was a pity Jason had to wear that tag around his neck, it made him seem like he was Alexius' slave or something. Very well-dressed for the slave of a mere guard though, but still... "Maybe you could find a seat, listen in on people's conversations? I'll see if I can find the barkeep and ask if he knows anything." 

@Chevi @Sharpie

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"Don't go intimidating him, now," Jason said with a wry grin, looking up at Alexius with a grin. The ex-gladiator still towered over him, but that was somewhat comforting in the light of all this. Jason had no intention of winding up as another corpse in Rome's streets - he wouldn't get anything like the solemn dignified funeral this senator would. He'd be lucky if Tiberius didn't post his name up as a fugitive and actually do even a half-hearted investigation into his disappearance.

Not that he was planning on disappearing. But then, this senator probably hadn't left home with the express intention of winding up with his throat cut in some back alley, either.

He sighed and rearranged his cloak to hide the slave-tag better; he probably shouldn't, but who knew how slaves would get treated around here - appearing like any plebeian citizen might lead to people being more open than they might otherwise be. He needn't outright say he was a free person and misrepresent himself but if they chose to assume...

Choosing to find a seat in a bar and let the gossip come to them wasn't how he'd prefer to do this, but it might work.

He found a seat where he and Alexius could catch one another's eye if either of them heard anything interesting, and tried not to sigh as he prepared to spend some of his precious coins on a drink.

 

@Atrice ( @Chevi )

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Jason was sweet, Alexius enjoyed the way he joked and he chuckled at Jason's comment, "I shall try not to." He replied and went on to find said barkeep, while Jason moved around to find a seat. Alexius kept half an eye on him, while he made his own way to the bar. It took a few moments before a broad, older man appeared and Alexius could have a word. The barkeep had heard about the murder and actually considered closing the taverna tonight because of it, but people kept coming in and seemed to want a place to sit down and talk about it. 

Alexius explained there might be a second victim of tonight and wondered if anyone had come in here, harmed. The barkeep knew nothing about that. Alexius sighed and went down to sit with Jason, "He didn't hear anything other than the murder." He told Jason and then had an idea, "I wonder if it is true about that possible other victim, who might have been cut tonight too..." He said it loudly enough so that nearby patrons would hear it too. He tried to not give away that they knew more than anyone else, but if the rumor spread that there was another victim, said victim might be easier to find? Or maybe someone knew and would tell them something...

"Did you hear anything?" He leaned closer to Jason, resting his arms on the table. Honestly being a detective like this wasn't easy! "Or do you have another idea on what to do?" 

@Sharpie ( @Chevi)

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"No, but you'd think people would have heard something about a man going around picking on innocent girls... cutting them for no reason," Jason added, leaning his forearms on the table and trying not to look as obvious and self-conscious as he felt. They could hardly go and speak to every single person in Rome on the tiny chance of finding the person, or people, they needed to speak to, who might or might not know something and who also might or might not feel able to talk to two perfect strangers about it.

It was a complete and utter mess, was what it all was. There must be some logical approach they could take, but Jason didn't know what it was - his master might be able to come up with something (his master was weirdly thoughtful and philosophical about things)... but he could hardly go and talk to his master about this whole mess.

 

@Atrice @Chevi

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Alexius looked at Jason, who copied his action by leaning on the table, resting his forearms there. He couldn't help but smile at it, because it must be quite the sight. Two handsome, although quite different, men at a table, doing the same thing. Like they were brothers, but they were not. They were here for a reason however and Jason seemed surprised that no one had heard anything. 

What to do, what to do... order some wine? No, he couldn't get drunk, not now. It wasn't the right time. They had to do this.

"Maybe we've got better luck at the next taverna?" Alexius then suggested and moved to get up, when a young man approached him, seeming a bit uncertain. Alexius stopped and gave him a look.

"I... I heard you're looking for the killer?" The man said and Alexius nodded, looking him over. There was a tag around his neck. He was a slave, "Please... come... I must show you something." He said, his voice a bit quiet, he seemed nervous. Alexius nodded again, "Of course." As long as it wasn't a trap. He motioned for Jason to come with him too. What was the other slave up to? 

He took them outside and led them down the dark street a few houses, until he opened the door to another, "Wait..." Alexius stopped the slave and looked at Jason, "Will you wait out here? If I'm not back very soon or if something sounds wrong, or if I don't call for you... run to Lucius and tell him where I went?" Just in case this was a trap. On the night a murder happened, Alexius for once did not dare to trust a stranger. It didn't seem wise to him that both of them went inside, in case something bad happened. He didn't want to put Jason into harms way at all. He'd be safer, waiting out here.

@Sharpie @Chevi

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It was getting late. Jason was about to suggest that they head home and try again in the morning (though only the gods knew if Tiberius would spare him for a second time, especially first thing in the morning!) when a young man of about his own age approached, looking somewhat wary.

"I... I heard you're looking for the killer?" He looked between them both before settling on speaking to Alexius. "Please... come... I must show you something."

Well, that was a result. Quite what it meant, though, Jason couldn't say, even as they got up to follow him out into the street again and down just a few doors.

"I'll give you the count of a hundred," he said. "If you don't come out or call me by then, I will go and get help." He gave the slave a warning look, and couldn't help wishing he had at least a dagger or something. The fact that nobody was supposed to be armed in the streets of Rome merely played into the hands of the less than scrupulous, of course - though nobody would let a slave have weapons, even if people could go armed in Rome.

 

@Atrice @Chevi

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