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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!"

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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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Didia screamed as he reached for her, and swung out wildly with the knife she was gripping, forgetting every single lesson Alexius had given her about keeping cool and calm and collected and in control. "I'm not going to run from you." she spat and pointed the knife at him, glaring and trying to act confident although her heart was hammering agonisingly against her chest in fear. 

"YOU ran away last time!" It was him...it was him, and they just needed Alexius or Theo or even the hulking stupid vigile to come down and get him and it would be over. "Stay where you are!" She called to him and kept her knife out - millimetres away from his own as she heard Aia call for her. "You're PATHETIC and you're going to fucking DIE do you hear me? Do you have any idea how many people are looking for you?" 

 

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His knife tonight was not just a razor or a small blade you could hide in a purse. It was a real knife, sharpened well like he did with all of his knives. And he had it pointed at the woman now, the woman who suddenly began to scream names. Marcus thanked her for the help with the names and reached out for her. That's when she screamed. What was wrong with her? Right, most people didn't like that he cut them. Now she swung wildly with the knife and Marcus had to jump to the side, while she said she would not run. It was impossible to cut her with the way she was swinging the knife! He growled. Meanwhile he heard someone call another name, her name? Maybe it was one of those she called for? Good it was not not a male voice he heard at least! Although he thought he could take Artemon, but he had no idea who Theo was. As long as it wasn't that beast of a man, Alexius.

She continued talking. About how he'd run last time and Marcus wrinkled his nose, "You were disgusting me." He hissed at her. She continued talking about how he was pathetic and people looked for him. Meanwhile he was trying to get a hold of her arm and he ducked away from her knife again and finally caught her wrist with his free hand, yanking it away from him and tried to twist it at the same time. He had to make her drop the knife. And the crap escaping her mouth too.

"I know..." He replied, "Why do you think I'm here?" He continued, hoping he'd succeed in catching her and holding her close, but she was being annoying, like last time. She said he was going to die. Not before her though! 

@Sara @Chevi

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She screamed louder as he finally grabbed hold of her wrist, yanking her close successfully. That didn't stop her scrambling, trying to twist the knife close to him even as he twisted her arm to try and make her drop it. She was very aware of the knife in his other hand but as long as she could just continue to squirm...as long as she could just stall for time as Aia or Alexius or somebody drew near she'd be fine. 

She tried stamping down on his foot. "We know everything about you!" She yelled and tried to stamp down again harder, all the while wriggling out of his grasp, "So just GIVE UPyou're a fucking IDIOT," she screamed again, somehow even louder this time; "HELP ME!" And then twisted her body to avoid the knife, "You're a fucking idiot, who went after RICH PEOPLE you fucking MORON." 

 

tag: @Atrice @Chevi

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Didia was screaming. Aia ran faster, crossing the courtyard and bursting into the alley.

"HELP ME! You're a fucking idiot, who went after RICH PEOPLE you fucking MORON.

Didia was struggling with an attacker. A man. Aia saw the flash of a knife. The girl was putting up one hell of a fight, but she was smaller. Aia's memory cleared up in a flash: a man. Cutting women. Didia. This was the man that girl at the baths had been talking about.

Oh, no you don't.

"LET HER GO!" Aia yelled, lunging towards them. She still only had the bucket to fight with, but she was not new to brawling. If she could hold her own against Britons, she could take on this disgusting weasel of a man. As Didia twisted to the side, Aia swung the bucket, aiming for his head.

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Posted (edited)

Why did she have to be so loud? This was a bad idea. It was a very bad idea. He'd get caught and then he'd be executed because they didn't get that he couldn't help himself! He liked hurting people and he liked seeing the blood and he just couldn't stop. And since it was not legal to just go and do those things, he had to do them in the night or to defenseless people. That's just how it was. But by Hades he would not die for this, he would live! But Didia screamed, squirmed and tried stomping at his foot. Too much was going on. 

He barely paid attention to what she said while they struggled and then there was another woman present, suddenly! The other woman was swinging something heavy at him and the bucket did hit him on the side of his head, causing him to stumble and fall over away from Didia. He blinked, it took him a moment to realize what just happened. And he wasn't holding Didia anymore. And the other woman was here now. Aia, was that her name? What kind of a name was that? Marcus luckily still had the knife in his hand and stood as he backed away, holding it up in front of him.

"Fuck you both!" Marcus growled at them, he was not going to turn his back on them. Instead he took a good look at their faces to remember them, along with the names... "I will cut your throats if you tell about this!" 

@Sara @Chevi

Edited by Atrice
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The struggle was exhausting (she really should go to a palaestra and do some exercise) but then it was over as she heard a walloping great thud and the man stumbled. The bucket - which she only saw at the last moment - barely missed her own head and she jumped back, still managing to cling onto the knife in her hand although by now her arm was red raw with sprouting bruises from where he tried to wrestle it away.

She hurriedly drew to Aia's side, panting and adrenaline surging in her blood. "FUCK YOU TOO!" She screamed back and held the knife out in front of her, at chest height. "We're going to tell fucking everybody, you don't scare us. ALEXIUS! THEO!" She screamed for the two men in the insula. She would have screamed for Artemon too but she didn't want to add more chaos into the mix. "It's OVER." She said breathlessly, her voice booming as she lunged at him with the knife, unable to stop herself.

 

TAG: @Chevi @Atrice

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The bucket connected. The swing had not been strong enough to knock the man out, but he stumbled, and let Didia go. They both stepped back, out of range of his knife. Didia was properly pissed. So was Aia. So was the man.

"Fuck you both! I will cut your throats if you tell about this!" 

"I have fought Briton warriors you fuckwit!" Aia yelled back, brandishing the bucket. "Go ahead and try!"

"FUCK YOU TOO! We're going to tell fucking everybody, you don't scare us. ALEXIUS! THEO! It's OVER." 

This man was a killer. If what Aia had hear from the girl, and then from Theo and Alexius, many people had been hunting for him for months. And now he was here, thinking Didia was easy prey. Well, fuck that. Aia worked herself into a proper fury. He was not going to get away this time. Didia lunged at him with her knife. She was determined and pissed, but she was not a fighter. Aia moved alongside her. Strength in numbers.

@Sara @Atrice

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The side of his head was hurting, but he was not going to let them take him. On the other hand, he was also angry now. More than before and especially at them. But they had the upper hand. One had a knife and the other had the bucket and they'd already managed to knock him off once. Marcus cursed, threatening to cut their throats, but they were not afraid. Instead the one he cut before screamed at him and then the two male names again, before she was suddenly lunging at him.

Fuck! 

Marcus only just managed to back away from her knife, "It is not over!" Marcus hissed as he kept backing away from the women, holding his knife in front of him too, as he moved towards the place where he'd entered the courtyard. Apparently it was not just the vigiles out to get him, it was these women and the two men, Alexius and Theo too. It was bad. But at least he learned something.

He glanced quickly over his shoulder. Just a few more steps and then he could run away, hoping they would not follow him. His gaze returned to the women and that's when he thought he heard another sound behind them, fast footsteps more or less stomping down the stairs. He really had to get away now! 

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Oh it so was over. It was over and they had him. Didia didn't even care if he lunged out of the way of her knife, with Aia there she felt more secure, she felt more confident...which made her more reckless. She took another swipe at him as she heard the heavy booming footsteps clatter down the stairs. She hoped it was Alexius and that the ex-Gladiator would just barrel roll right into this fucking scum. 

But he was almost out and she couldn't let him get away before Alexius arrived. Deciding, not for the first time that day, to be utterly foolish, Didia charged at him, attempting to knock him over. If she could just keep him here...just for a few more moments. "Aia - grab him!" She screamed, scrambling to try and catch him. Leave it to the two petite women to try and catch a homicidal maniac!

 

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Aia and Didia charged at the man together. Aia felt like she was in battle again; she'd never been a soldier, but she had survived fights when the Britons attacked the camp. Those were armed barbarian warriors, however; this one was just a coward. He was trying to run away. They couldn't let him. More women would die, or be hurt, if he did. And he would come back to hunt them too. No way.

Didia lunged at the man, and Aia followed suit, trying to dig her nails into his arm and neck. Doing the most damage possible, while restraining him from running away. There was the sound of footsteps on the stairs behind them; others must have heard the screaming. Only a few more moments... 

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Fuck these women! Both of them! Until they were utterly broken and bleeding after he was done with them! But he feared for what would happen now and he had to get away. He kept backing towards the street, even as he heard someone come down the stairs behind the women. Didia then charged at him again, knife still in her hand and she told her friend Aia to also grab at Marcus. He tried to hurry backwards, but he stumbled and Didia knocked him over. He held onto her, dragging her down with him as he fell onto his back with a 'thump!' and the other woman came at him too, digging her nails into him.

He hissed and cursed as it happened and tried to aim his knife at one or both of them. He felt it hit flesh somewhere, but they were all entangled and he was unable to focus on anything else but struggling to get away. He didn't know whom he managed to cut and he couldn't even take pleasure from it either. The women were small, but they weren't weak. And especially not together. He didn't hear as a fourth person joined them, not until it was too late.

"Didia! Aia!" Said Alexius' voice somewhere outside of the knot of people on the ground, "Is it him? Hold him!" Alexius yelled and looked around for something to use. The bucket had been carrying lay on the ground. It had rope going through the middle to hold. Alexius stomped on it to free the piece of rope, planning to use it to tie the man with. Then he returned to them, hoping they still held on well and were finally catching the attacker. If it was the right one. It better be! 

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She tumbled down onto the ground and let out a groan of pain as she landed on him. Aia was somehow tangled with her, all of them in a heap of bones and anger and knives - hers was still in her hand but barely and pointing more towards her friend than this maniac. She heard her friend hiss, as did the man, and she glanced down but in the dark she couldn't see what the wetness now on her own skin was. She could guess though, and fought a wave of nausea. "A-Are you okay?!" She choked to Aia, trying desperately to concentrate and not let go. 

And then their saviour came barrelling towards them. She felt relief wash over her like a wave. Alexius. 

"It's him!" Didia choked, now - thanks to Barbatius' shifting - barely holding on to his legs. She decided to do what she could and led herself down on his feet with all of her weight so he couldn't crawl away. "HURRY UP," she yelled at Alexius, "Aia's hurt!" but she wasn't done speaking as she glanced back up breathlessly to the man's face. She was panting and exhausted and her knife had now been dislodged on the ground but she managed a smirk in his direction. "Now it's fucking over." 

 

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They all went down together, Didia's weight knocking the man over. Aia landed on him on one side; unfortunately, the side of the hand that was holding the knife. She felt the blade bite into her thigh and hissed. "MotherFUCKER!" She dug her elbow into the man's upped arm, twisting enough to dislodge his grip on the knife.

"Didia! Aia! Is it him? Hold him!"

Oh, thank god. Alexius. The moment he had a hold on the man, Aia rolled off him and scrambled to her feet. She felt blood dripping down her leg, ad soaking her dress. But the red she saw was mostly from anger. She kicked out at the man on the ground repeatedly, even though it did not help her balance. "You. Done. Fucked. UP!" She huffed. The pain was finally hitting her, after the initial shock. "Didia? Are you alright?"

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Posted (edited)

Marcus Barbatius should never have come here tonight. He should have turned back before it was too late. But he'd killed someone last night and he had to find out how to stop people from telling what they knew. Instead of doing that, he'd ended up in a struggle on the ground and the women had him. And then that beast of a man Alexius appeared. Fuck! Marcus squirmed more than before, couldn't help but smirk when the woman called Aia cursed, because it would seem he cut her. But then he felt her elbow and although he tried, the knife fell from his hand. Fuck again! 

Alexius broke the water bucket in order to get the rope and then he was back. Alexius forced Didia off of the attacker and with a knee on the man's chest he kept him down. The man was taller than he expected, but skinnier than Alexius. He didn't have both the muscle and the weight Alexius had. He grabbed hold of the man's arms, the man yelling as Alexius forced them together, "Stop! You might as well give up!" Alexius said as the man continued to squirm and struggle and then finally, he had tied the man's hands by the wrists. Aia rolled off him and began kicking the attacker. Alexius could finally take a good look at him. He'd never seen the man before. Alexius moved away and the man scrambled, tried getting to his feet and Alexius was there in an instant, with an arm around the man's throat, "You're not getting away now!" Gods if he just jerked his arm a little harder, it would be over for the man. But he deserved more pain than that.

He tried to focus on the women, all while keeping the attacker in place. The man tried to kick at Alexius' legs. It got tiresome! He had to focus on Didia and Aia and getting help! So Alexius swirled the man around to face him. Stared him right in the eye for a moment. And then he punched the man's head just the right way, in order to knock him out. It seemed to work. He let the man crumble onto the ground and placed a foot on him, just in case. 

"I heard someone yell... what happened? Are you hurt?" He asked both of them. It was evening and he couldn't make out many colors. Someone had to get the vigiles here. Lucius! But he didn't like the women going alone, "Go and get Theo!" 

@Sara @Chevi

Edited by Atrice
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