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Posted (edited)

February 77 AD
The night following Falling Apart and Crime scene investigations

It was far from the first time he’d killed someone. And it had felt so good when it happened, the feeling of the knife penetrating the flesh, the way the man had doubled over, forcing the knife deeper, all the way to the handle. The way the blood had run over Marcus’ fingers. The way the other man died, the way Marcus touched the wound and the warm blood. Until he realized he needed to flee. The man wore white robes; the man was a Senator of Rome. It was not good. But Marcus was sure it could not be traced back to him…

 Or was he? Somehow, what happened tonight made him think to everything else that had happened, since he attacked that girl at Saturnalia. She’d been so afraid. Her blood had been so red and warm. He’d almost wanted to fuck her after he cut her, but then he didn’t, because he thought he killed her. But he didn’t. She lived and she was with a guy named Alexius, who also knew the Egyptian who came to his shop, who knew a mute boy. A mute boy that Marcus thought he'd met sometime. He couldn’t be sure it was the same, but maybe. It seemed like a puzzle, almost impossible to solve, but he knew he had the right pieces. He just had to finish it. If all of this really was connected… it was very bad for him. He knew how they treated murderers. They’d often end up in the arena against some beast of a gladiator and Marcus wouldn’t win such a fight. And he had no death-wish. All he wanted was to do what he’d always done.

 The next morning he woke up in his bed. He hadn’t changed, he’d been thinking about the murder until he fell asleep. Then he yelled for Manus to come and help clean him, and his female slave could get him a fresh set of clothes. There was blood on his tunica from yesterday. He told Manus to burn it. Once he’d cleaned up and wore clean clothes, he went down to open the shop as usual. Pretending like nothing happened last night. But then people began coming into the shop to be shaved or have a haircut. And there was gossip. About the important Senator that was murdered in the street last night. And the Vigiles were looking for the murderer. Many people were looking for said murderer. Marcus worried more and more. So much that he felt distracted.

 He closed the shop early, locked the chest with blades and once darkness fell, he put his cloak back on. And went out into the night. Towards the Esquiline Hill. He had to solve the puzzle. And he had to attempt removing the people he thought might know too much. He could start with Alexius. Or Artemon, whom he had already shaved once. Artemon might be easiest. Not that he had not killed bigger men before, but why take a risk when you could be safe?

 He hid in a dark doorway near the insula, watching the area. Marcus didn’t know if he’d kill them tonight, a murder two nights in a row might not be the best idea. But he needed to see them and needed to think about what he'd do. Then he might at least threaten them. Hurt them. Silence them. Something. And so he waited.

Edited by Atrice
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Didia grumbled as she lugged the bucket for the water down the many, many steps to the ground level. Why it was always her that had to fetch the water despite being ostensibly the smallest of the Noni family, she didn't know but she begrudgingly did it day in and day out. At least this time she had company and she smirked to Aia as she met her on the landing. She liked the woman, she provided some culture and amusement in what was generally a very male-dominated block. That wasn't to say she didn't like her other neighbours - since the prostitute had been unceremoniously kicked out for late rent - she could only count two or three that she didn't know, but there was something perpetually friendly about Aia. The quick wit also helped.

"Decimus left you alone to fend for yourself tonight?" She grinned as she moved down another set of stairs that led to the ground floor and the pump in the middle of the building. "How cruel, making you do all the heavy lifting. But 'least he has an excuse. My family are just lazy shites." Or injured or infirm. She chastised herself and made a mental promise to kiss her father on the forehead in apology when she made it back upstairs. "How's the new apartment?" 

 

TAG: @Chevi (@Atrice)

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Aia and Decimus were settling nicely into the new apartment, but that didn't mean he could be there all the time. He still spent nights at the Castra more often than not when he was on duty. Aia didn't mind. She enjoyed time spent with Decimus - and in-between, she was making friends around the insula. Friends like Didia, who was always nice to chat with. They met on the landing of the stairs and walked down together for water, like many other times.

"Decimus left you alone to fend for yourself tonight?"

"Yep. Guard duty on the Palatine" Aia smiled.

"How cruel, making you do all the heavy lifting. But 'least he has an excuse. My family are just lazy shites. How's the new apartment?"

"Spacious" Aia grinned as they walked up to the fountain "You should have seen the walls before we painted them over though... oh, damn." Aia frowned and made an exasperated face, looking at her bucket. "This one leaks. I should just throw it out, I keep grabbing it on instinct... Gonna go get the other one." She left the bucket by the fountain and turned, heading back up the stairs. "Go ahead. I'll only be a minute!"

@Atrice @Sara

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A boy came running into the doorway where Marcus stood and had his hiding place. Marcus glared at him and the boy widened his eyes and ran inside. Marcus pulled the cloak further down around his face, keeping it in shadow. And then he looked out to the street again. Not much happened, people did not seem so keen on walking out in the street now that darkness had fallen. Of course that had to do with the Senator who was murdered in a street last night. Everyone were frightened. Marcus was perhaps a little bit proud that it was all his fault, even if he didn't want to get caught for it. They should just leave it all alone. He wouldn't be caught.

Nothing happened though and he grew bored. Hiding in the darkness, he moved closer to the other side of the street and looked into the small, dark courtyard. And something was happening there. He crouched down behind some wooden crates in a corner. Two women came out from the building, both carrying water buckets. He thought he'd seen one of them before. And he wouldn't be surprised if he had, he'd cut and hurt many people in Rome, mostly women. These seemed to live in the same insula as Artemon and his muscular friend Alexius. Maybe he could threaten one of them and make her tell the other men to leave him alone. Problem was, there were two women. In a more quiet area of Rome, he could maybe take on both of them, but not right here. Luckily for him, suddenly one of the women turned around and left. And the other woman stayed and continued to carry her water bucket to the water pump. He had hurt her before, hadn't he? Wasn't she the disgusting one who threw up? He wrinkled his nose. Disgusting.

But she was alone and he could use her. Marcus looked around and saw a broken clay cup... he picked it up and dropped it, making it shatter. Making a sound... hoping to make her wonder what made the sound so she could come closer to him. He wouldn't attack her out in the open. He wasn't stupid.

@Sara (and @Chevi)

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Didia nodded as Aia darted back to fetch the other bucket as she trudged further towards the pump. She wasn't afraid, even tonight as the crowds thinned out and the streets grew quieter. She'd run into Alexius' that morning and knew what likely kept people off of the streets...the poor Senator, dead, wrapped up in his toga. All the power and the money in the world didn't matter when a knife plunged into your belly. She sent an offering for his soul that morning but beyond that, tried to keep it out of her thoughts. Besides, what were the chances of running into him again? Almost nothing. 

It was why when the pot smashed, she glanced over with a frown. "Hello?" She called out. The little side-street that led to the insula was deserted and she cleared her throat, intending to ignore it (probably just one of her neighbours accidentally smashing a lamp upstairs), when she heard another noise. She drew out the knife at her belt and kept it concealed in her palm. She only had a few lessons with Alexis but they were enough to make her feel far more confident, and far more proficient  than she felt before the attack. 

She took a few paces towards the origin of the noise but didn't go any further. "Who's there?" 

 

TAG: @Atrice ( @Chevi)

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Suddenly he wasn't sure if this was a good idea. But it was too late, he made it known that he was here. Marcus fished the blade from his belt, he had one in a sheath this time, not just a simple razor-blade, but something larger. Something more dangerous to anyone else but him. He wrapped his hand around the handle when he heard her voice. Yes, he had definitely hurt her before. He knew her voice. He was still crouching behind the crates in the darkness and the woman stepped a bit closer, asking who was there. Marcus stayed silent. Either she'd go away and then he would make a run for it, or the silence would make her come closer and then he could make a move. He felt his knuckles turn white the way he wrapped his hand around the knife. So tightly. So that his fingers wouldn't tingle, the way his body did now, because she was right there and he'd cut her before and made her bleed and he could do it again. But this time it served a higher purpose. This time it was not just for his pleasure. This time it was for his own safety he'd do it. He would use her as a hostage, to keep the rest of them off his back. If she lived here, she must know Artemon and Alexius. So she could tell them what he'd tell her. If only she'd come closer.

@Sara ( @Chevi )

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Didia frowned into the silence and glanced back over her shoulder as if Aia would be coming out in any moment...but she forgot just how many stairs the poor girl had to climb to fetch the new bucket. Maybe one day one or both of them would be wealthy enough to have space on one of the lower floors...but that was highly doubtful and belonged in the realm of fantasy, frankly. 

"Hello?" She called out again and took a couple more paces closer into the darkness. She was still within shouting distance of the insulae but curiosity always got the better of her. This time, however, she was prepared and gripped the hilt of the small knife tighter in her hand. "If somebody is hiding you 'best come out. We have the urban cohorts patrolling the area!" She called out to nobody at all.

 

TAG: @Atrice ( @Chevi)

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At first she stood still and he did too, quiet as a mouse, trying to not even make a sound as he was breathing. But oh how he wanted to just come out, threaten her, pin her to the ground and cut that perfect throat of hers. Move the hair away so that he could see what he was doing. And then let her crumble to the ground, watch her face drown in her blood as it would spread around her, after he cut her. But he would have to not kill her. She had to be a living shield instead. Against anyone who knew anything about him, so that he could make them stay away.

She called out again and came closer. It wasn't far now. He could see the shimmer of the blade in her hand. So she was armed this time. But not as skilled with the blade as he was, he imagined. She told him to come out and threatened with the cohorts. 

"Cohorts..." He hissed from his dark spot near the wall and behind the wooden crates. Fucking urban cohorts. He'd slice their throats too.

"I won't come out unless you come closer." Marcus then said. Again he left her with hopefully one of two options. Or three, actually. She could stay put and call for help. That would distract her and he could come out and grasp her. If she left to find help, he could run away. If she came over to him, as he asked her to... well that would fulfill his plan. But he had no idea what she'd do. So he remained quiet and waited.

@Sara ( @Chevi )

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She visibly jumped as she heard somebody whisper what she thought sounded like 'cohorts'. The petrified part of her brain assured her it was just the wind whipping against some loose tarp or something but then a voice, deeper, much more obvious sounded. She inhaled a breath so deep it felt like her lungs would explode and gripped the hilt of the knife harder, tighter between her fingers. 

She knew that voice. She swore she did. She glanced around - panicked - and back to the insula. If she left then he'd flee. It might not be him of course, it might be some other random man who like to hide in dark places and threaten women but the voice...the voice pulled her back to a dark time, the sight of blood...her blood. She suppressed a retch. No. If it was him then she couldn't give him the opportunity to escape...but equally she couldn't face him on her own. Even with Alexius' lessons she knew she was no real threat to a potential assailant. Instead, Didia did all that she thought she could do and turned back towards the insula and called out as loud as she could; "AIA! ALEXIUS! THEO!" into the darkness.

 

TAG: @Atrice  (@Chevi)

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Why had he gone in here again? What had he hoped to gain? Knowledge, most likely. And blood. Always the blood. It made him do things, the blood did. Right now, it made him hide in the darkness after night had fallen, in a small courtyard by an insulae building and he was trying to lure the dark-haired woman he cut before, to him. So that he could use her. Cut her, threaten her... do things to her... make her tell the rest that either they would back off or they would die. Or she would die. Yes, she would die, that was best. A small smile played by his lips by the thought of killing her. 

He spoke now. Mentioned the fucking cohorts with disgust in his voice and then beckoned her to come closer. The woman stopped, startled by his words and he smirked again. Watched her glance around, going through her options no doubt. Then she turned, looking away from him for just a moment to shout out names. Aia, Alexius, Theo. Good to know, he thought while he used the moment to leave the darkness and out into the courtyard. He kept the hood over his head... "Thank you for the names..." Marcus said, his voice just above a whisper and more of a hiss, as usual. He reached for her with his free hand while holding the one with the actual knife towards her too, "Don't try to run." If she would, then he would run too. 

@Sara @Chevi

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Aia heard Didia screaming her name as she was heading down the stairs with the other bucket. That was... not good. She broke into a run, flying down the stairs two at a time, hitting a door with her fist on the way down. Hopefully the medicus'. He couldn't see Didia in the courtyard so she headed for the alley, brandishing the bucket for lack of a better weapon. "Didia?!"

@Sara @Atrice

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