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Toss a coin to your ex-gladiator


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July 23, 77AD

It was Neptunalia, one of the old and half-forgotten festivals of Rome only the plebeians really celebrated anymore. The gates to the Via Appia were wide open, and in the stifling summer heat groups of people were heading out of the city, seeking the cool shade of the trees by the road, and the fountains along the aqueduct. Iophon, by his part, was hoping that the festivities would make people generous, or travelers inbound more inclined to listen to a story or two about the festival. So, he headed out to the Porta Capena too; he only stopped at a popina to pick up a jug of wine and some pastries for the day. Which was when he noticed the strange, quiet man, sulking in the middle of all this cheerfulness. Looking slightly out of place, he immediately aroused Iophon's curiosity. 

@Mobius

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Festivals tended to bring out all the joy and merriment within a person. No matter a person's lot in life, they could attend the celebrations and forget about their misery, problems, or whatever else they've got going on. For a short period of time, they could feel like somebody else or feel like the person they wish they were. That was the case for most people, but it wasn't the case for Amatus. Despite the revelry all around him, he looked as alone as he could have been, staring downtrodden at a cup filled with... he didn't even know. He'd mumbled to the attendant behind the counter to give him whatever was handy and that was what was given to him. He hadn't even bothered to take one sip. Amatus had his good days and bad days as everyone would, but even the good days weren't as good as they used to be from a physical perspective and the bad days, also from a physical perspective, were downright bad. It took a toll on him mentally. Some days he could handle it and other days he, well, he sat alone in a popina on a day of merriment looking the opposite of merry. It wasn't like he was completely capable of celebrating like the fully able-bodied people around him could anyways, which was part of the reason why he'd retreated to the popina. Sure, everyone else around him was annoyingly happy, but at least they were sitting around instead of joyfully moving about with their perfectly working limbs. They were easier to tolerate than the busy beavers building huts or dancing around or the gods knew what else.

In Amatus' defense, how could he be in a merry mood after limping past so many people having a good time in ways he could not? How could he feel hopeful when he was still adjusting to his new life, which posed its own challenges despite the atmosphere being understanding of his limitations? He was like a bug caught in a gossamer web, struggling against something out of his control. The bug had no joy and neither did he. Sighing, he finally decided to take a sip of the concoction he'd been staring at, not realizing somebody was staring at him. His nose almost immediately scrunched up. How... bitter. To be honest, it suited his mood.

 

@Chevi

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The man was sulking, alone, in the middle of a day of festivities. And no doubt drinking sub par wine. Iophon was curious now. It wasn't that there were no grumpy people in the great City of Rome (there were quite a few) - but it was always different when someone looked grumpy when they did not seem to have that general disposition. He decided to investigate.

"That is a way too serious look for a way too cheerful day" he noted, taking a seat next to him, uninvited. He waved at the popina's owner to bring out some wine. "Did something tarnish the spirit of Neptunalia for you, friend?"

@Mobius

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The hope of Amatus had been to escape it all. "It all" included people. But the popina was full of people one might say? None of those people were talking to him. The buzz of their conversations allowed him to further disassociate himself from everything. Even if the jovialness of the buzz was something of a nuisance. The others had their own things going on and those things didn't include him, allowing him to try to escape just like he wanted to. At least it had been that way, with everybody else ignoring the down in the dumps slave in favor of whoever they were with or whatever they were there for. But then somebody decided to not mind their own business.

"That is a way too serious look for a way too cheerful day." Somebody was trying to talk to Amatus. The person didn't stop there, though. They proceeded to sit down beside Amatus. Oh, gods, why? he groaned in his head as he slowly looked towards the person, not exactly appearing to be very amused by the sudden company. "Something did," he grumbled under his breath, looking back towards the wine he'd been nursing. Had he looked like he'd wanted company? Narrowing his eyes more out of confusion than suspicion, he looked back to the guy. "What does it matter to you?" Seriously, though... why did this random individual care? Especially enough to not only approach him and talk, but sit down with him... strange.

@Chevi

Edited by Mobius
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The man was in a foul mood, even the blind could see that.

"Well, that is too bad" Iophon noted. No one deserved to have a perfectly good festival ruined for them. A girl came up with some wine and cups, and Iophon filled them. "Festivals exist to let us all be merry for a little while. Neptunalia especially." Why would people work and struggle and toil, if not to sometimes reward themselves with festivities? "I care, because I like people. And I'm a storyteller, so I like stories. Want to tell me yours?"

@Mobius

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It was too bad. Of course Amatus would have preferred to enjoy the festival just like everyone around him. Of course he would have preferred to be in a good mood and have a great time. Unfortunately for him, the gods weren't always kind or had a twisted idea of kindness, as he was the perfect example of. Was there a way for him to enjoy the festival despite his setbacks? There were multiple ways for him to still enjoy it, but his bad mood over his circumstances killed any chance he might have had at finding a good time. He'd been perfectly content to sulk alone, but somebody he didn't even know had decided that being alone was bad for him. Oh, joy. Sighing, he looked towards the girl, relieved to see that she didn't plan on sticking around, too.

Amatus watched as the intruder filled the cups up. The man had more to say, but it wasn't any sort of news to Amatus. He was well-aware of the reason festivals existed. Picking up one of the cups, he took a long swig, nearly downing the entirety of its contents in one sitting. He refrained from doing so, though, and set the cup back down with roughly a quarter of its wine left. He finally gave the man his gaze again after that, though the dark orbs looked no more amused than they had before. His expression morphed into one that could have asked 'Do I look like I want to tell you my story?' After giving the guy that exact look for a few moments, he huffed and leaned back in his chair, reaching forward to draw his index finger along the rim of his cup. "You're not going to go away until I do, are you?" he grumbled, looking from the cup to Iophon.

Looking back down at the cup, Amatus tried to decide just how he wanted to tell the tale. He had no desire to tell it at all, but especially not to go all the way back to Belgica with it. Huffing again, he finally began,"I was a gladiator. Pretty damn good one, too. I met my match in a fight and my leg got messed up badly. Took a stab wound to the shoulder blade that struck some nerves or something and messed up my arm, too." Amatus paused to sigh, still looking at the cup. "I guess it's a miracle I can walk at all, but I can't walk without a limp now... and my dominant hand is pretty much useless now. Hurts more often than it doesn't, too..." Shaking his head, Amatus finally looked back to Iophon, finishing with,"There you have it. Forgive me if I'm not exactly happy when I've been reduced to a shadow of my former self." Wallow in it, why don't you, Amatus?

@Chevi

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Iophon cheerfully and completely ignored the warning look. In his experience, that usually worked.

"You're not going to go away until I do, are you?" 

"Not likely." he beamed innocently. And the story did come out.

"I was a gladiator. Pretty damn good one, too. I met my match in a fight and my leg got messed up badly. Took a stab wound to the shoulder blade that struck some nerves or something and messed up my arm, too. I guess it's a miracle I can walk at all, but I can't walk without a limp now... and my dominant hand is pretty much useless now. Hurts more often than it doesn't, too... There you have it. Forgive me if I'm not exactly happy when I've been reduced to a shadow of my former self." 

Well, that was a story. Not a very uncommon one, if not by the sheer fact that he was an injured gladiator who was still alive. Those injuries could have meant his death in the arena, easy. Iophon let out a low whistle.

"I can see why that would make your mood sour." he agreed, sipping his wine. "But I have to say, you must have been a formidable gladiator if this is just a shadow of that self. For a shadow, you still look pretty good. I'm just observing, not coming on to you. That's a different profession. But still. You're sitting here and everything." he smirked. "So what do you do now, instead of fighting?"

@Mobius

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