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  #1  
Old Nov 9th, 2023, 10:53 AM
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Session 2 - Discoveries

At the well
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Ignaea
On the wide rim of a low fountain sits a young woman, plucking her lyre. The pewter plate by her side bears witness of the favour people are showing her this morning. And indeed, a small crowd of idlers is following her song intently.

It is a song with an ironic tone, about a farmer and his oxen.

A farmer goes beside his plough,
And carves his field with deep furrough,
The sturdy oxen pulls with might,
Thus making farmer's labour light.

My oxen, my oxen, who helps like you do?
I love you dearly, I could eat you.

It may be she has sung it before, it may be that she has been singing it for a while now. However it is, those around her with wits and little self-restraint are joining her in the chorus, which is indeed easy on the ear. When she sees a rich woman enter the plaza, her eyes glint at the prospect of more coin but when she sees that the lady is wearing a tiny lilac flower, she quickly looks away and starts her final verse.


The oxen's old, the ploughing shallow,
Until one year the field lies fallow,
The farmer's son bids it: relax,
And leads the animal to the axe.

My oxen, my oxen, who has helped like you?
I loved you dearly, I shall eat you.

Some of the onlookers laugh, some drop another as in the pewter plate but realising the entertainment is over, they all go about their business with a lighter heart; some humming or whistling the melody of the song. Pretending not to look at anyone staying behind, the young woman busies herself cleaning the strings of her lyre.
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Old Nov 9th, 2023, 02:50 PM
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A short time earlier
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Levian Osmanthus

Morning dew brushes Levian's fingers as he plucks a lilac flower. Lyre music drifts into the alley where he and Dianthe stand, singing to him that Ignaea yet lives. Good news already, for slain agents cannot say who slew them. He raises his hand, beginning to place the flower on Dianthe's clothes, then hesitates and hands her the flower instead. When he speaks, it is with the nervous urgency of a parent reminding a child what they must know before facing a challenge alone.

"You must wear this, for this is how she will know you"

He paces to the other side of the alley, and peers around the corner, making certain they weren't followed. Is he always so nervous while making his rounds? Or is he forgetting that Dianthe is, like himself, an Eagle capable of looking out for herself? Whatever the cause, the effect is that he is absent the composure he projected to the others yesterday.

"You must say to her 'Where can we meetWhere have I Tell me what you've learnedheard this song Regarding something we talked about previouslybefore, girl with the lyre' "

He hesitates, unsure of whether to remind Dianthe of what she already knows, but decides to do it anyway.

"Whatever she says to you in return I need repeated to me exactly. And pay attention to what song she sings as you walk away. "

Levian wonders if taking such precautions for this meet was a mistake. He could have just met her himself. But with the eyes of the Sinistram upon this mission, is any precaution too much? True or not, Levian now has no choice but to wait as the work is carried out.
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Old Nov 12th, 2023, 12:21 PM
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Dianthe the Hetéra
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Dianthe the Hetéra
Dianthe listens to Levian, her slender fingers twisting the tiny stalk of the lilac flower this way and that, making it dance in front of her. Her eyelids are half-closed and she slightly tilts her head to the side, as if her mind were far away. In truth, she pays close attention to the veteran’s words. Still, she enjoys the signs of nervousness clearly written on his face and body. Her fellow Eagle cannot be allowed to think of her as a hound, fully trained and always ready to please her master. She wants to remind him that she resembles a cat more than she does a dog - sly and independent, with a mind of her own. She hears that cats are considered sacred in Alexandria and the other cities of the EgyptPtolemaic kingdom. Truly, she can think of no other animal more deserving of worship than a cat.

Without offering any assurances that she has memorized his instructions, she playfully steps away from the alley hiding them, her feet following the sweet sound of the lyre. There is a ruddiness on her cheeks that makes her appear younger than she really is, and the errant strand of hair that dangles playfully in front of her left eye suggests that the young woman prepared herself in a hurry. Anyone watching her would assume that she is a patrician’s daughter who has secretly evaded her chaperone to meet for a few moments with a young admirer. No doubt her father’s slaves are looking for her at this very moment.

The young woman looks around her in the manner of a singing bird that has escaped its cage for the first time. The dusty streets, the cracked fountain, even the vulgar graffiti on the high walls of the nearby insulae appear magical in her eyes. She halts near Ignaea, holding the flower next to her breast, which rises and falls rapidly with each breath. She appears to be listening to the song with a feeling that can almost be described as rapture. In reality, her dreamy eyes study the player of the lyre.

Pretty and with a voice sweet enough to win the sympathy of passers-by, but not so much as to stir true passion in their hearts or to make her truly memorable. She appears to be devoted to Apollo and the Muses but in truth, her eyes miss little that is going on. I am sure she could describe me perfectly even after a full cycle of the moon. Levian has chosen well.

As the song comes to an end and the small crowd around the young woman disperses, Dianthe reluctantly approaches.

"What beautiful music!", she offers in admiration. "And so familiar. Where have I heard this song before, girl with the lyre?"

She slowly brings the flower close to her nose, supposedly to enjoy its scent and smiles sweetly. She knows that Levian’s eyes are on her. It is as it should be.



 


 
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Old Nov 17th, 2023, 07:47 PM
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jorunn will hang back, and watch the crowd. hes seeing if anyones paying attention to dianthe or anybody looks suspicious

Dice caa juno watching the crowd:
4df+1 (0, 0, 1, -1)+1 Total = 1
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Old Nov 19th, 2023, 08:44 AM
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At the well
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Ignaea

Ignaea turns to face Dianthe, letting her lyre sink onto her knees. Her eyes, just a moment ago looking so far away, now take on a radiance as she pretends to notice Dianthe for the first time, taking in every detail of body, face and dress. She is nearly, but not quite, able to keep the shock out of her face as she sees the beauty of this companion of the man with the flowers. When she speaks, there is a coldness of voice underneath her warm words.

"Thank you, lady with the flower. The streets have been my school and have taught me a hard lesson; play well or your plate shall remain empty at the end of the day." The plate, cleaned of all but a few copper pieces before Ignaea started attending to her strings, seems to stare blindly, unblinkingly and, somehow, accusingly.

"I hardly think you can have not much to tellheard the song before, lady with the flower," she says after a short pause, "I have only sung it once before, in a village not far meet in a house to the westto the west of here but there was she made sure nobody else is thereno audience there."

Seeing a gang of workmen enter the plaza, hauling heavy loads, she picks up her lyre again and starts playing a song with a good pace for them to heave to. While the rhythm is upbeat, the text is not, telling of a man breaking his back doing hard labor while dreaming of the sweetheart he hasn't seen in five years. The foreman, in passing, drops a few pieces in the plate, grateful to rest his arm from the rhythmic whipping, at least while his gang is making their way across the plaza.

Ignaea gives Dianthe a final look before she turns her radiant smile to the foreman, thanking him with her eyes for the copper pieces.

As Dianthe walks away, the chorus is again repeated, the words mixed with the grunts of the hauling workmen.

Hauling rocks out here on the work gang,
Hauling rocks and breaking my bones,
Hauling rocks out here on the work gang,
While the lady gives us some tones.

 

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Old Nov 20th, 2023, 04:49 PM
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Dianthe the Hetéra
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Dianthe the Hetéra
The hetéra doesn't need to see Ignaea’s face to know what is in her heart. She can hear the envy in her voice like a knife being twisted in a wound. She knows it is her own hand that holds this particular knife. A part of her feels sorry for the girl. Another part, however, experiences pleasure when another woman regards her as a threat. It is a base feeling, she knows, but one she cherishes nonetheless.

Silently, Dianthe listens to the young singer and player of the lyre. She smiles absent-mindedly, looking around her as if searching for someone. Her eyes do not find what they seek and she starts walking away, not even bothering to thank Ignea for her time, either with words or with coins.

The girl’s attention is caught by the foreman of a group of workers, who proves more generous than the dreamy-eyed patrician woman. Dianthe hears the sound the few copper coinsasses make as they are dropped on the girl’s plate and immediately stops. She takes out a shiny silver denarius and instead of tossing it to her, she carefully places it on Ignaea’s palm before tightly closing her fingers around it.

"So that you won't go she means ‘in love’hungry", she says and allows her hand to rest on the younger woman’s, if only for a moment. Not waiting to see whether a response is forthcoming or not, she swiftly moves towards the alley, resisting the temptation of glancing behind her a last time.

Once reunited with Levian, who is waiting for her report as anxiously as a maiden looking forward to seeing her intended for the first time, Dianthe remains silent for a few moments, playing with the flower in her hand.

"You have done well to employ her as your eyes and ears, the giant with one hundred eyes tasked by Hera to serve as Io’s watchmanmy dear Argus Panoptes", she says mockingly, before repeating Ignaea’s information word for word, finishing her account with the sarcastic piece Ignaea chose to sing as Dianthe left.

Looking around for Jorunn, the hetéra almost casually makes a last remark.

"Did you know that the girl is in love with you?"



 


 
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Last edited by Elanir; Nov 20th, 2023 at 04:50 PM.
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Old Nov 20th, 2023, 09:49 PM
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Levian
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Levian Osmanthus
By the time Dianthe returns, Levian has remembered himself and he is waiting out of sight in the alleyway. There is no point, he remembers, in sending another if he intends to make himself visible for the duration of the meet anyway. He attends Dianthe's report with interest, though his eyes are focused away from her, his mind laying out the area to find the place Ignaea is speaking of.

Dianthe's last remark pulls Levian out of his focus. He considers it for a moment, trying to search the woman's face for a sign of her intentions, but he is not her match in this respect and finds there only what she wishes to show him.

"And her sandals are ill-fitting" he replies, seemingly changing the topic. "One of the straps has been strained, and now the left heel hangs loose. She makes do walking, but it will slow her down if she needs to run. Why, Dianthe, have you not reported this to me as well?"

He offers a cold smile, before answering his own rhetorical question. "Because you are no cobbler, and you were not looking for broken shoes. A hundred things are true of Ignaea. Her mother's home is too cold. Her fingers hurt when she plays certain notes. She envies those who've known true hardship." Levian rolls his eyes.

"None of them are relevant but three: She is useful, she is one of many, and for the moment she is obedient. If you go looking for more, you will find it, only to have no use to make of it."

Satisfied that he has dismissed Dianthe's... accusation... he resumes business. "You've been helpful." he offers by way of crude thanks "This shouldn't take long. Hopefully it will not have been a waste of time."




It does not take Levian long to find the place where Ignaea is waiting for him. Despite his flippant response to his companion, Dianthe's observation has made him worry that Ignaea's value as an asset may soon decline. On the off chance that she is infatuated with him, he makes certain to be even more cold and aloof than normal.

He enters, looking around in silence to confirm that the place is indeed empty before gazing out a window and demanding "Well? Out with it."

 



Last edited by squirmonkey; Nov 20th, 2023 at 09:53 PM.
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Old Nov 26th, 2023, 10:31 AM
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In the safe house
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Ignaea

Ignaea sits ready for Levian in the house, her chest still heaving as she had to walk briskly to reach here first. She sits with her left foot crossed over her right knee, rubbing an ankle that seems to be painful. "And are you the charming man with the flowers? You must have given away your charm together with the flowers."

She wants Levian to look at her but he must have had a foreboding and is stubbornly looking out of a window. As if there is anything more to see than the neighbour's wall. "The whole afternoon I have posted near this butcher of yours. The lousiest place ever; I barely made ten aeses there, despite singing like a nightingale. And what have I seen? People entering the butcher shop to do what? to buy meat! Yes, there were two little children. They bought meat! A lot of it; enough for an entire orphanage! They brought it to a big villa. Senator Caecilius lives there, it seems. They went in and never came out again. Meanwhile, I had to spend more for my own food than I earned, my shoes are falling apart and walking hurts my ankles."

She has to stop for breath, which she draws into her lungs deeply and audibly. Without realising it, she had stood up and taken a step towards the window but now she sits back down on her stool. "Sorry," she continues in a more nearly conversational tone, "it was a very frustrating afternoon and since nothing came up that seems of any interest, I am not hoping for much coin from you." It had crossed her mind for an instant to fling the silver denarius in his face but her pride had held her back. She refuses to act the jealous hag for a man who never promised her anything. Well, he had promised her one thing.

"The teacher, though, Levian," she adds softly, "when? I will need to add charm to my music as the charm of my youth fades." She plucks a sad note on her lyre as she says this.


 

Last edited by Dworin; Dec 1st, 2023 at 10:52 AM. Reason: fieldset title
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Old Nov 26th, 2023, 12:28 PM
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Dianthe the Hetéra
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Dianthe the Hetéra
Dianthe doesn't take part in the secret meeting at the abandoned house. She stays outside, proposing to make sure that Levian and his “asset” aren’t disturbed. Her eyes scout the shadowy alley, but it is her ears that interest her the most. Standing next to the window, perfectly still and unseen by the ones inside, she tries to overhear the conversation. She has no qualms about doing what she knows is wrong. She and Levian are partners now and it is the Eagles’ business they are discussing - or so she tells herself.

The veteran is brief and his words resemble whispers, barely audible even to the hetéra’s trained ear, and yet despite their softness there is a harshness at their core that makes Dianthe flinch.

The girl, Ignaea, the hetéra reminds herself, silently speaking the name to give it the value it deserves, responds with a torrent of words and emotions. The passion in them is so strong it resembles a flood and threatens to carry Dianthe away. She remembers the pride she experienced at overshadowing the younger woman and her heart grows unusually heavy. Guilt, she realizes as she allows herself to experience this rather unfamiliar sensation to the full. Despite her success in Rome and the multitude of her admirers from all ways of life, Dianthe knows that had things been different she might have been in Ignaea’s sandals, ill-fitting, with a strained strap, and the left heel hanging loose, as Levian has so coldly remarked. It is a wonder that a man as intelligent as he believes that the state of the heart is of similar importance to the state of footwear. Perhaps he does so because the alternative is just too painful.

Dianthe’s enemies, the respectable wives of the men who court her, accuse the hetéra of being calculating and supercilious, and they are right about that, but her heart has not yet turned to stone. She decides right there and then that she will help the girl find the thing that she is looking for, whether Levian agrees or not. This delicate flower has been crushed between the turning gears of Rome’s “mikanissmo” long enough. Dianthe will offer her a way out - if she wants it.

With lowered head, Dianthe silently walks away from the window. She doesn't want to overhear her fellow Eagle’s reply. She knows it is not the answer that Ignaea is waiting for. She fears that she will hate Levian if she listens to the actual words that he uses. Besides, she has already made up her mind and no further words can change it.

It is a matter of principle for her.



 


 
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Old Nov 27th, 2023, 10:38 PM
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jorunn will also listen, but igneas passioned words make no inroads on his hardened heart. her loyalty is slipping he thinks to himself i must advise levian to find another watcher, lest she do something stupid. i might even get to dispose of her the thought quirks his mouth, and he'll wait for levian
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Old Nov 29th, 2023, 04:02 AM
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Levian
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Levian Osmanthus
Ignaea's report is not what Levian had hoped to hear. There was nothing there he hadn't already known. But most reports were this way, in spycraft. Most of the time, nothing relevant is happening at all. So while he'd hoped for more, he's not upset to hear nothing.

What he is upset to hear is Ignaea's attitude. There comes a phase with all Levian's assets where they begin to question why they are working for him, rather than someone who pays better. The answer is always the same. They cannot bear to accept that if they leave him, they give up on the dream for which they've wished. Even when they fear Levian will not uphold his end of the bargain (and most fear that, at some point), they cling to the hope that they can still have what no other will offer them. Though Levian knows he intends to Ignaea's wish, in due time, Ignaea has no way of knowing that for certain. Levian must now, therefore, wield her hope against her for the sake of the Republic.

"And what shall I tell him?" Levian answers her, louder than the soft voice with which she asked after her reward, but not shouting. "That I have for him a student whose impatience demands a reward for every bit of work? That I wish to recommend to him one who loses her composure when a day is difficult? That he shall have a pupil who plays for the coin it can earn her more than for the love of the craft?"

He lets that last question sink in, before changing his manner completely. The cold and aloof tone is gone, the accusations absent now from his voice. "We are speaking of a master, whose work does honor to legends. Your music will carry you to heights you can hardly dream of. And you will look back on days like today when you wished for coin to fix your sandals and laugh at how distant they seem. But you must be patient, and hardworking, for this is no less than your master shall demand."

He places a pittance of coin on the wooden table. Not enough for a day's work, but enough to soften the sting of being told no. "Thank you for this report." he intones, repeating the words he always offers his agents after they deliver news good or ill. It does Levian no good to let Ignaea know her information has helped him very little, though she seems to suspect it already.

He moves to the door to report this lack of news to his allies, and to prepare to plan their next move.

 


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Old Dec 1st, 2023, 10:51 AM
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In the safe house
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Ignaea

When Ignaea has made her request, she looks at Levian imploringly. She hadn't hoped to be introduced to a great master today or this week but she had hoped for a kinder reply.

She shrinks when she listens to Levian's cruel response and his sarcastic questions. She shrinks on her stool but she also notices something stirring in her; a feeling of rebellion. Had she not posted all afternoon for him? Had she not given him a faithful report? What is wrong with asking for a reward for that? And what composure does he want of her? Her ill-fitting sandal drops on the floor and she feels the blood drain from her face. The force with which she holds back her emotions makes her tremble slightly.

Then Levian is silent and she mulls his last question. One can play for coin, she thinks, on the street, as diversion in a rich man's house, in the theatre. One can have students who pay for lessons. It's always music for money; there is nothing else.

Just when she takes a breath to make this argument, Levian continues talking. His tone is now different and eagerly she drinks in his words. Yes! Such a teacher is what she is longing for. A master who can make her proud to play music for her living, who can teach her to enthrall her audience. The knot in her stomach unties itself. The colour rushes back into her face. She will endure anything for such a chance.

As Levian continues to stand with his back towards her, now facing the door instead of the window, she answers him softly, her voice quavering from her emotion, from her need. "I work hard. I play on the street as long as there are people and when they're gone I practice my art till my fingers hurt. I have patience but it will be easier if I know for how long. When Levian, just tell me when."


 

Last edited by Dworin; Dec 1st, 2023 at 10:58 AM.
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Old Dec 4th, 2023, 10:21 PM
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Levian
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Levian Osmanthus
Levian has one foot already out the door when Ignaea's trembling voice reaches his ears. His grip tightens on the handle as she extolls her lacking virtues. When she is finished, there is a tense silence before Levian growls "I have just finished telling you..." stepping back inside and slamming the door "to be patient." He hurls that last word at her, and as she fumbles to catch it, he whirls and begins his tirade.

"Do you think every student of the cithara gets there by whispering reports to a man with flowers? Please. Most of them earn their place with their skill at music. Don't deceive yourself as to why you work with me. You want to cheat the system, bypass your inadequacies. That suits me just fine, but you're forgetting the cost."

Levian marches right up to Ignaea, pressing his face uncomfortably close to hers. "You exist to convenience me now. Your purpose is to provide value to me, enough that it will be worth my while to pull the strings needed to compel a master musician to accept you."

Levian spins away with a sneer over one shoulder. "Do you refuse to admit that? Does it wound your precious pride? Then by all means, let pride and passion deny you your destiny. Ask again, and I will give you the name and address of your future master today. You can go and beg his tutelage, and when you play for him and he finds you wanting, you will never hear from me again. You'll live out the rest of your days as you are now, wondering which man's pity will purchase your next meal. "

Levian faces Ignaea again. "But luckily for you another option still exists. I am so much a man of my word that I will forget the insult you've dealt me today. What I've promised you can still be yours. When, you ask? When you've made it worth my while, and not a second before."

Levian takes a moment to regain his composure "I hope" he says, putting on a charming smile "this will be the last time we need to have this conversation. After all, the more of my time you waste, the further I am pushed from feeling you've helped me as much as you still must."

 


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Old Dec 5th, 2023, 02:07 AM
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Dianthe the Hetéra
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Dianthe the Hetéra
While Dianthe waits for Levian to exit the building, her eyes observe the third member of their small group. Jorunn appears to be interested in the exchange between the veteran and the musician as well, though his face betrays neither curiosity nor any other kind of passion. The man is a mystery to the hetéra, more so than the former legionary.

The conquest of Gaul is so recent that the blood Gaius Iulius Caesar has shed still hasn’t dried. According to the accounts Dianthe has heard, the Gauls are fierce warriors, strong and courageous, having faced Rome’s legions with large, well-crafted swords of iron and little but paint decorating their naked chests. At the same time they are clearly barbarians, preferring the ridiculous pantsbraccae over a proper tunica and drinking their wine unwatered. a common Greek prejudice that “barbarians” were lesser than Greeks - or, in this case, RomansIn the hetéra’s mind it is no wonder that the Romans prevailed over them, exacting revenge for the sack of their city centuries ago. But will Rome be able to tame these fierce people as effectively as she has tamed others?

Taking a few steps towards Jorunn, Dianthe smiles at him. She doesn’t expect him to return the smile. She knows he won’t. But she does expect honesty from him. Perhaps not fully, it is too soon for that, but at least sufficient for trust to gradually grow between them.

"Rome is she means slavesfull of Gauls but I dare say none quite like you, Jorunn. What brings a free man to the city responsible for the death of thousands of his kinsmen? What makes such a man, proud and skillful, place himself willingly under the shadow of the eagle’s wing? What desire burns in your heart so fiercely that only Rome, the place that birthed Caesar, can satisfy it?"



 


 
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Old Dec 5th, 2023, 02:36 AM
Hotshot lasgun Hotshot lasgun is offline
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jorunn smiles coldly "theres always coin in killing, but the real coin is at the top. you get in, you get the man, and you get out." he cracks another rictus "tell me, have you heard of the reaper of souls? It is said he left a copper skull medallion at each killsite, and he never left any trace." his mouth quirks up at the corners "its fun at the top, but the fall is long, and onto spikes"

he turns, and eyes dianthe "alright, lets play a little game. how would you kill me?" he waits for her answer.
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