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April, 77AD

Hilda tilted her head to the side, squinting up into the sun and the hill in front of her. She'd been told this was where their chief rested his head. Why the chief needed such an ostentatious home was beyond her. She'd been in Rome a handful of days and yet she had been surprised almost every hour. She'd still not found Wulfric, as it turned out 'the subura' was a very vast place with too many people in it to count. She'd countenanced going back to Varus and demanding his specific address, but she'd scrapped the idea. Even the vaguely helpful instructions of 'he works at this warehouse' hadn't led her to her brother, and so she did what she knew - she walked to the most important part of the settlement (city) and decided to seek help there. 

She was under no illusions that their chief, their Emperor, would know where Wulfric was but she did have a thought that perhaps he'd loan her assistance to find him. She was the granddaughter of the chief of the Chatti. She was a princess, in almost all respects, and she was to be respected. Smoothing down her long-sleeved shift and the sleeveless dress that lay on-top and then adjusting her belt and the gleaming broach at her shoulder she huffed in annoyance. People were avoiding her eyes and she tried to will her features into something friendlier. It didn't seem to work as people continued to scurry past her; men in pristine white drapery, women with their heads covered and hair twirled up, and small people in shabby looking clothes rushing with their arms laden. Nobody wanted to help. She huffed again and placed her hands on her hips. 

"How do I see the Emperor?" She called out, to nobody in particular.

 

TAG: Open!

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Up here on the Palatine hill was where the highest of Roman society moved, and it was well regulated. Especially this close to the Palace. As Hilda huffed indignantly and called out into the general confusion, one of the Palatine Guards who'd been watching the clearly foreign woman nudged him compatriot and chuckled, wagging his eyebrows in a 'watch this' kind of way.

"You don't." He called back to her, grinning. "Only the Patricians see the Emperor. The highest of Roman society." Which she plainly was not. "So why don't you just run back to your little mud hut, where you belong?"

Ignorant foreigners who thought that the Emperor of all Rome was like some two-bit chieftain in a smokey hall in the middle of nowhere. At least Rome was bringing civilisation to them.

@Sara

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Hilda was a woman very easily riled. Everybody knew that and knew to keep a wide berth when her jaw set in that particular way or when she rolled her shoulders back. The Palatine guard was clearly not au fait with her moods though and as she took a stride forward, smirk on her face, he shot a quick glance to his colleague, momentarily confused why she wasn't leaving. 

"I am the highest of my society." She shot back in accented Latin, "My free society. You have heard of Germania?" She quirked a brow, smirk still tugging on her lips as the man recovered and squared up to her, "I think you Romans tried to visit us once. Why don't you ask your Varus how that went." She grinned openly now in amusement. The irony of her mother bedding an ancestor of the biggest fool in Rome's history was not lost on her. But she knew she'd get nowhere with taunts and smirks. She cleared her throat and took a half-pace back from the guard. "I'm here as an envoy. From the Chatti. You'll turn away an envoy from a neighbouring land?" She tilted her head to the side. "Really?" 

 

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The Palatine guard stood his ground as the angry barbarian woman stormed up to him as though she were as good as any Roman woman. She was certainly fiestier, and he wondered if she had the same energy in the sheets.

"Which one?" The guard asked, grinning. "Germania inferior or Germania superior?" He asked, naming the two small regions the Romans had conquered. "Ooooh, you're from the other side of the Rhine." Magna Germania was the much larger region, never conquered. Still, the name the woman mentioned was known; the Varian Disaster was well described in the history books. A fragment of doubt started to seep into his mind.

I'm here as an envoy. From the Chatti.

The guard looked at her, then around the square, then back to the fierce woman in front of him. "Then where's your entourage, envoy?" He asked, thinking she could hardly be that important, if she'd come alone. "Did you walk all this way, alone, in the snow?"

@Sara

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She was on to something now, she could feel it in her bones and her feline smirk and the way she tossed her long, neat braid over her shoulder suggested as much. Roman fools, and they called Hilda and her people the Barbarians. Her people would never offer such indignity to visitors…unless they were Roman, of course.

“No, I didn’t, but I didn’t think I needed my entourage for a meeting.” She scoffed and quirked her eyebrow, placing her hand on the curve between her waist and her hip, fingers drumming an impatient rhythm against the flat of her stomach. “What is your name?” She jerked her head at the least helpful of the pair of them, “So I know who to name specifically when my message doesn’t get through? You are strong enough in your convictions that I shouldn’t see your Emperor, yes? So give me your name because if you’re not doing anything wrong, you have no reason to fear a complaint…no?”

 

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The Palatine Guard wasn't about to be cowed by this little nobody from the barbarian lands. She might be big where she was from, but here she was nobody much at all. He smirked when she demanded his name, absolutely certain that he was doing his job of protecting Caesar from the general rabble correctly. "Publius Caecius Camerinus. Don't forget it."

His companion, who'd been watching the exchange silently, nudged Camerinus with his elbow then leaned over and whispered something in his ear. The guard who'd been giving Hilda a hard time gave his companion a dubius look, but the quieter fellow just nodded slightly. Camerinus sighed in a very put-upon manner, before turning his attention back to Hilda.

"If you wish to ask Caesar whether he will grant you the honour of an audience, you can send a written request to his secretary."He said at last. "If you are deemed worthy, envoy, you'll be given a time to attend the palace." Which he considered extremely unlikely. "You can write, can't you?" Or if she was what she said, she could pay someone to do it for her.

@Sara

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Hilda noted the name (and mentally thought it was stupid, who needed that many names?) and gave both the men a smug smile as they conversed in whispered, hushed tones. It didn't stop her from swearing under her breath in her own language though as they clearly deliberated. 

Oh. A letter. She frowned and then glanced behind the two men - peering up as she stood on her tip-toes to see the gate. She could pay somebody  to write it for her, she could speak Latin fluently by virtue of the tribe she married into and their proximity to Romans over the Rhine, but she couldn't read or write. The prospect was also disheartening because she had absolutely no doubts any letter would be immediately tossed onto the burn pile without ever being opened. 

She gritted her teeth and shot both men a glare. "And that will happen quickly, will it? If I write a letter?" She glanced between the two men, "Because what I have to say can't wait." She emphasised the words with a slightly panicked expression as if she was dealing with a matter of life and death. She was digging herself into a very deep hole which wasn't great given all she wanted was the Chief...Emperor's resources to find a Prince of the Chatti, but she had very few options. She hadn't banked on being quite so disrespected by some pathetic little worms like the men in front of her. The great gates behind the men, however, started to creak and clunk open and Hilda rejoined to her tip toes to peer in.

 

TAG: @Sarah

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And that will happen quickly, will it? If I write a letter?

The smug grin on Camerinus's face strongly suggested that it wouldn't. But whatever his compatriot's discomfort, he was having fun and could do this all day. The angrier barbarian woman got the funnier she was. 

Because what I have to say can't wait.

"Oh, well, it must be important then." Said Camerinus with all the conviction of someone with a tame whale for sale. Behind him, other members of the Palatine Guard started to open the Palace gates for someone inside, but he was more intent on keeping Hilda out. "So, how many people should I say will die if you don't see the Emperor right now?" He grinned, oblivious to the fact that he could well be the first. Everyone's concern was an emergency in their eyes, and as far as he was concerned very few of them actually were. Caesar dealt with real emergencies, like civil uprisings, food scarcity and potential invasions. If this woman was the forward vanguard of an invading army, he reckoned they were pretty safe. 

The gates swung wide and a gaggle of people emerged, including another man in the Palatine uniform, and several dressed in the simple manner of high class slaves. In their midst was a slim figure in a toga with heavy purple borders. The two guards before Hilda glanced in their direction, before Camerinus yelled "Make way!" And began to move back, automatically grabbing Hilda by the arm as he did so to prevent her accosting what looked to be the Imperial prince and his retinue. 

@Sara

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"At least two." She snapped back, glancing pointedly at each of them in turn until the quieter one took an involuntary step back at the heat of her gaze. The other one seemed to take a moment to cotton on to her meaning before he glared and drew up taller; "Watch yourself woman..." But he was cut off by the gates creaking and then swinging open to an array of finely dressed people crowding out. Hilda blinked as they ordered her to make way and immediately shrugged off the hand that grasped her, stamping down hard on Camerinus' foot and deftly moving through a gap in the retinue to the opposite side  than the two guards. She gave them a smug smile for their trouble.

It was not difficult to spot the Chief, or who she presumed was their Emperor in the retinue - he was younger and dressed in brighter, whiter fabric. He didn't look like much to her - even her shitty late husband was a more imposing figure but if he was the Chief then she wasn't going to complain, at least she got to see him. Hurriedly, she began walking next to the retinue and called to the man in the middle, her voice softer than it had been with the guards and much more feminine. There was a time and a place for coyness and this seemed very much it. "Sir...sir do you have a moment? My people have sent me to you from across the Rhine and your guards would not allow me entry..." 

 

TAG: @Sarah

 

 

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The crowds pressed back as the Imperial entourage emerged from the gates, and with a deft twist and stamp of her foot, Hilda left Camerinus hopping and cursing. Surely the barbarian woman should be easy to spot, but she had disappeared into the throngs.

The retinue moved through the parting of the crowds, some people drifting closer whilst others gave them a wide berth, but always under the wary eyes of the prince's guards. As Hilda closed the distance and began to walk alongside she was given wary looks by both the slaves and the Palatines, but it wasn't until she called out to the young man in their midst that the nearest guard began to take a real interest, lowering the tip of his spear in her direction. Unlike Camerinus, who was happy to waste time and create annoyance to while away the boredom of gate duty, this fellow's expression suggested that he was all business.

"Move off!" He snapped at the barbarically dressed woman, and made as though to make his point with the point of his spear. 

"Stop." The word wasn't loud, but it carried and held a certain gravitas, the authority of someone who was accustomed to being obeyed. The retinue paused, and the slaves parted slightly to allow the man in the purple-edged tunic and snowy toga a better view, without actually making it easy for Hilda to get to him thanks to the spear in her way. He had dark hair and blue eyes, and was a few years younger than the woman herself. "From across the Rhine?" He echoed. That was beyond the Empire's borders, despite their best efforts. She didn't exactly have the trappings of a formal visitation, but Tiberius was quite prepared to see opportunities in unusual places. Sometimes he looked for them.  "You speak Latin very well then. Who are your people?" He asked. How far across the Rhine?

@Sara

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