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  #46  
Old Feb 14th, 2024, 05:38 PM
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Dianthe the Hetéra
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Dianthe the Hetéra
The metal shines in Fidelis’ palm, immediately drawing the hetéra’s attention to it. A token, no larger than a denarius, but made of humble copper instead of silver, old but kept in pristine condition. Jupiter’s messenger and stalwart companion, his head held proudly, his wings outstretched, looks back at Dianthe from the metal token, his message abundantly clear.

A fellow Eagle!

It is with some difficulty that the hetéra hides her surprise, though thankfully the laborers seem more interested in the mud-stained coins than the look on her face. She offers a silent thanks to whatever god is watching over her, but then the gratitude in her heart is replaced by doubt. Is the young man’s appearance an unexpected stroke of luck or has the Sinistram lost faith in her and her companions?

The thought twists uncomfortably inside her head like a poisonous snake. Has she been found wanting? If so, Aristarchus’ future is in jeopardy. Without his father’s respected family name and Roman citizenship, most doors will remain closed to him. Even as a foreigner and a woman, Dianthe has made a good life for herself in Rome, but it is not the life she dreamt about and it’s certainly not the life she wants for her son.

Stopping herself from glancing behind her back at the young slave, she instead looks at the man offering to become her escort. The greed and ruthlessness in his eyes make her shiver, but she hides all signs of discomfort behind the stern expression of a Roman matron.

She simply nods, ostensibly agreeing to be escorted home by the ruffian. "But not before I make certain that my orders have been carried out without fail." Not giving the man time to object or try to stop her, she turns around and heads towards the place where Levian is fighting against the Nubian, walking as swiftly as possible, while still keeping up appearances. She feels his foul breath uncomfortably close to her, his presence as distasteful as that of a leech. Thankfully, the bridge is still full of people. There will be those in the crowd who will object to a respectable Roman woman being molested in broad daylight by lowlifes and the thug must realize it.

Now that she is so close to the river, Dianthe feels her sandals stick to the mud, as if the wet earth is trying to get them off her feet, but she pays no attention to this uncomfortable sensation. There are worse things than grime and filthy puddles in Rome and she fears that in this case she is responsible for at least one of the ills plaguing the city. Not that she is as defenseless as she seems. She hopes the Sinistram will realize this too.

She sees that Abactemus is still unconscious and under the power of Levian who is talking to the young man. It appears that the youth was able to fish Jorunn out of the river. Dianthe doubts that the Gaul will be happy with how things turned out. Slitting the throat of the hetéra’s brutish escort might cheer him up a little, but Dianthe is determined to deal with the man on her own - and without loss of life, if possible.

The three laborers emerge from the sewer, the stench of offal from the cloaca the only thing accompanying them. There is no sign of the Nubian. Dianthe quickly assumes a look of angry disappointment, so fierce that the three men are quick to lower their heads to avoid it.

"I don’t see my slave among you. It seems that I will have to turn to more capable individuals to have him punished as he deserves. Still, you may keep your coins if you do something else for me."

The hetéra watches as three pairs of eyes turn towards her, looking at her with renewed hope. She smiles inwardly. She has the perfect task for them.

"This man has disrespected me with his lecherous looks and ugly thoughts", she announces sternly, refusing to grace her escort with a glance, while pointing at him accusingly. The man gasps in surprise, as if just having been slapped. "Throw him to the river so that the Tiber may wash his filthy thoughts off. Now!", she adds imperiously, expecting the men she has paid to comply without question.



 


 
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  #47  
Old Feb 15th, 2024, 10:47 AM
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Under the bridge
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Aemilian Bridge


The bridge, serene and stately above their heads --- if one ignored the constant rattling of wooden wheels over the flagstones --- usually shades a quiet, desolated riverbank. But these last few minutes, it has been a coming and going of people. Where the embankement looked pristine before, the treacherous hole now gapes that was nearly fatal to jorunn. Tracks of soil trail fan out from the entrance to the sewer. Feet desperately looking for purchase have ploughed deep furrows in the soft bank, uprooting several bushes. The only thing that never changed is the dead drop. It is still closed like before.

Near a chestnut shrub, a touslehaired youth lies panting from exertion with jorunn a little closer to the water, busy disentangling his hand from the netting. He takes a dagger in his free hand and deftly cuts the loops that kept his left hand trapped. He is just getting to his feet, murder in his eyes at the memory of the kick the Nubian had planted in his side, when Levian comes walking up to him. Where? he grunts but then he notices the youths returning from the sewer and a nasty grin splits his face. There he answers himself, satisfied, and before Levian can say more, he dashes off, roughly pushing the three young men aside and runs to the sewer, surprisingly soundless for the speed he develops. Then the darkness of the sewer swallows him and after a while it becomes clear he must have found the trail of his quarry. At least, nobody returns.

The three men, embarrased to return empty handed and flustered by the shove they received from jorunn are somewhat surprised to see their patron, whom they had left on the street, now near the river in the company of a street tough they recognise from earlier. The sneak must have been after the lady and her money without lifting a hand to help them catch the Nubian. As soon as it is formed, this conclusion is confirmed by Dianthe's words. Without further ado, they lift the tough, who can't defend himself against three men at once, and throw him into the river. He immediately goes under, then comes up again, yelling in fear. Again, his head disappears. When next it comes up, there is no more yell, just coughing and spluttering as he tries to spit out water and suck in air before he is pulled under again. Then they see him no more.

Astonished by what they have just done the three young men go rigid and look at eachother; they have become murderers! They look at Dianthe. The woman must have bewitched them! After a delay of a few heartbeats one of them breathes Goddes of witchcraftHekate another Witch who turned Odysseus' men into swineCirce. Then they turn on their heels and flee the scene of their crime.
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  #48  
Old Feb 15th, 2024, 11:25 PM
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Fidelis Cursor
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A mud encrusted, scratched and bruised Fidelis unfolds painfully into a standing position beside the willow shrub. He picks up the silver coins from Levian and pockets them, smiling at the warrior. But before he can respond, Dianthe appears and gives her command, and another man is dumped by three assailants into the river behind him. He looks at his rescue pole, but before he can decide what to do, the fellow disappears below the surface, and the culprits flee.

Frozen in shock at witnessing a murder, he looks open-mouthed at Dianthe. "Um. Well. I...assume that was necessary?" He laughs nervously and turns his grimy face to Levian. Then, seeing that the three are alone for now, he fishes about in a small pouch on his belt and holds out his token to the man, displaying his status as an Eagle.

"My name is Fidelis, s..slave of the Gens Sestia." He puffs up a little. "And natural philosopher. I know who you both are. I have been sent to represent the interests of the golds, and to help with your mission. My predecessor apparently became obsessed with horses and is no longer on duty." He looks down at his muddy, bloody self.

"How I am going to explain this when I get home, I do not know."

The boy's gaze returns to Dianthe. "If I am out too long, the family will start to wonder where I am. Where does the investigation stand?"





 


 
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Old Feb 16th, 2024, 05:07 PM
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Dianthe the Hetéra
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Dianthe the Hetéra
Even as the laborers accuse her of the death of the man they threw into the river, Dianthe refuses to even grace them with a look. Her back remains turned to them the whole time, her eyes hard, staring at the river. The hetéra’s clenched fists are well hidden beneath her palla and she does all she can to appear cold and resolute, untouched by the tragedy of a man drowning in front of her eyes.

Inwardly she trembles.

I never intended for him to be killed!, she tries to persuade herself. I just thought…

She knows well that she isn’t telling the truth. What did she expect? That the man would swim against the current and safely reach the opposite bank of the Tiber? Though most people of Rome live like rats, they don’t share the rodents’ ability to swim, sinking like stones in any body of water deeper than a grown man is tall. Finding bodies floating face down in the river is such a common occurrence that no resident of this great city will look twice at the man’s bloated corpse. After checking it for valuables, that is.

The laborers continue to compare her with Hecate and Circe. Even without seeing them, Dianthe can easily picture them - the pointing fingers, the signs to ward off evil, the look of hatred, fear and revulsion in their eyes. Perhaps, this was also the way Odysseus’ companions were looking at Circe when first meeting her, she muses. Perhaps, she was forced to turn them into swines simply to protect herself from their malice.

The young man’s words bring Dianthe back to reality. She realizes that her eyes are full of unshed tears and pretends that there is something in her eye. Her frown never leaves her face, even as she responds to the youth. Fidelis, slave of the Gens Sestia, she repeats silently, memorizing the names of the Eagle and that of the noble family he serves.

"Shed no tears over the fate of such a man", she replies, hoping that her words ring confident and true. "He would have done much worse to me or any other person incapable of defending themselves, if he thought he would win a few ases by doing so. In all likelihood, I have saved many lives by taking just one."

The hetéra hopes that she is speaking the truth and that she judged the man correctly. She also hopes that a wife and children won’t be waiting for him to return home this very evening, probably in some tiny room just beneath the leaky roof of an insula. She promises that she will find and take care of all the needs of any innocents she might have condemned along with the thug.

Her expression softens as she sees Fidelis worry about having stained his tunic with mud and blood.

"This is no place to discuss matters of importance. Let us head to my domus on the Caelian. There, you will have every opportunity of cleaning yourself up."

Glancing at the still unconscious Abactemus, she exchanges silent looks with Levian.

"We had better pretend that Abactemus is my husband who passed out after drinking too much wine. You are trusted men of his household, assisting me to bring him back home."

She knows that the sight will attract ironic comments and hearty laughter, but no one is likely to be suspicious of them. Rome is filled with drunken husbands and overbearing wives. All she has to do is play her role believably.

She knows she can do it without difficulty. What she doesn’t know is whether a day will come when Dianthe will be allowed to be herself. And if it does, will she still be able to recognize the true Dianthe from the hetéra and her many roles?



 


 
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Old Feb 20th, 2024, 10:44 PM
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Levian
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Levian Osmanthus
Levian's shock at learning of Fidelis' status as an Eagle is not well concealed. Once again, he has to applaud the cleverness of the Sinistram. Already, he had been considering that the young resourceful slave would make a good spy. He is impressed that the Senate's resources have allowed them to discover this talent, hidden in the form of a young slave boy.

Levian offers Fidelis no apology for the insult of the coins he tossed. He simply remarks "We can always use more eyes and hands."

He notices the murder, and sneers a cruel smile at Dianthe "You came to this bridge with a soldier and an assassin, yet it is you who leaves a body behind." He stands up, heaving Abactemus up with him "Who would have guessed?"

"I have no doubt you can sell such a ruse. It's not ideal... better not to be seen at all. We will be remembered enough that news of our actions will reach the ears of any who know the right questions to ask. Still, it's better than staying here any longer. Lead the way."




As the trio makes their way away from the bridge, Levian spares another moment to consider Fidelis' arrival. It had only been a day prior that Aspacanah had failed to arrive for one of their meetups, gone out of contact. How quickly, he muses, an Eagle is replaced. Those chosen few selected to serve the Senate behind closed doors... he would have thought them harder to choose, and harder to substitute one for another. Another in this position might turn their mind to thoughts of whether they will one day be replaced themselves, but such an idea does not trouble Levian, for he knows it shall not be so.

Rather, he thinks, that this is another way in which the wisdom of the Sinistram can make him more effective in his own work. In a quiet moment as the Eagles walk down a side alley, Levian makes room to address Dianthe once more.

"Take her. I will find another."


 



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  #51  
Old Feb 23rd, 2024, 11:52 AM
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In front of the domus
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Vibius Ignius Phrynnis

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Abactemus

Though Abactemus is not heavy, climbing the stone stairs with a dead weight on his shoulders is a bit of a strain, but soon they reach the street level and they face other problems. The gossip hungry idlers filling Rome's street pounce on everything slightly out of the ordinary and this little procession is making their day. From the corner of their eyes, Dianthe, Levian and Fidelis can see these loafers elbowing each other and making comments behind their hands about the group.

While Dianthe pulls the face of a matron who is dismayed and angry with her drunk husband, Levian portrays distaste at his master's lack of discipline and Fidelis seems to pity his master. The ruse works. He's going to get it at home, says one commentator. Come drown your sorrows with us tonight! suggests another, himself no image of sobriety despite the early hour.

Hastily they continue on their way. They can feel the stares glued on their backs; some good-for-nothings are even bold enough to follow them for a while, but they quickly think better of that when they receive a dark stare from Levian. Still, it would take only one, just one of them to have ever sold something to Abactemus...

When they are near to Dianthe's domus, they just see the gates close behind Gaius Taurillus, who has finished with Aristarchus for the day. They now become aware of a strange irregular sound. Between the usual shuffling and clacking of feet on the pavement, cleaner here than in some other parts of the city, there is one tread that has a knocking sound as from a loose heel. There, that's him! The one carrying that drunk fellow!

At that moment, Abactemus stirs. He looks left and right in bewilderment, trying to remember what happened to him. When he grasps what is said about him, he protests loudly: I am not drunk, I have been knocked down! Abducted in broad daylight! Let me go! I am a Roman Citizen!

Ignaea, because the loose heel was indeed hers, is dragged in front of Levian by an immaculately dressed man, his perfectly curled hair peeking out from under a jaunty cap, carrying a cithara. Don't you know who I am? he asks haughtily, addressing nobody in particular. The tone of his question makes it clear that in his world, there is no room for people who do not know his name.

Vibius! Vibius! V.I.P! Vibius Ignius Phrynnis! The four following him are too old to be called children but too young to be called youngsters. They are well-dressed and look to be from good families. They must have given their tutors the slip to be near the cithara master they adore. With an imperious gesture, Vibius silences his followers. Why did you tell this goose I would be her teacher? Do you think I have time for that? I, sir, let you know that I am the most sought after cithara master in Rome! I perform every day and every night! Only those who can't get jobs teach!

Man with the flower! she nearly spits the words in his face, This is how you ...? She turns around to face the people who have stopped to watch from a safe distance. Everything he asked I did for him. Everything! And this is how I am repaid! She turns back to Levian, Should I tell them? eh? Should I tell them?


 


Situation
Situation aspects: A Curious Crowd; Everyone knows I'm a citizen[Abactemus]

Opponents:

Abactemus

High Aspect: Fence
Trouble: I would sell my mother for the right price.

Pluto: +4
Mercury, Juno: +3

Stunts:
Slanderer: When I insult someone in front of others, I get weapon:2 (attack with Pluto)

[ ][ ][ ] (no consequences)
Objective in scene: Does not want to enter Dianthe's domus.


Vibius Ignius Phrynnis
High Aspect: Cithara master
Trouble: I am a prima donna.

Jupiter: +4
Juno, Mercury: +3

stunts:
The world revolves around me: When someone else is attacked, I attract the attack to myself with a strum on my cithara.
Put a spell on you, baby: When I play a flashy song, I can spend a fate point to make it affect everyone (attack with Jupiter).
I'm above your judgement: Once per session in a non-physical conflict, I can spend a fate point to clear out my stress boxes.

[ ][ ][ ]
minor consequence: ()
minor consequence: ()
Objective in scene: makes these wretches understand he is not to be trifled with.

Ignaea
Minerva: +2
Objective in scene: revenge


Four screaming fans
(2 with Mars +1, 2 with Jupiter +1)

As a mob: Mars +2, Jupiter +2.
[ ] ; [ ] ; [ ] ; [ ]
Objective in scene: whatever Vibius does works for us

Game master fate points: 4

Last edited by Dworin; Feb 23rd, 2024 at 11:54 AM.
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Old Feb 24th, 2024, 07:10 AM
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Gaius Taurillus
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Gaius Taurillus



Gaius Taurillus closed the wooden door behind him and took a moment to breathe in the warm Mediterranean atmosphere. If he closed his eyes and imagined, he could almost taste the salty air coming off the Tyrrhenian Sea. I could be away on a boat, adrift like a piece of flotsam, away from this open sewer of a city. It was nice to dream, nice to imagine a world where he was beholden to none but himself and whatever he chose to do on that particular day. He could practically see the cerulean waters, even from almost forty kilometers; in his mind’s eye, they were but a stone’s throw from him.

And then the moment passed, and he opened his eyes and stared indifferently toward the horizon. Ahead, the wrought iron bars of the villa’s front gate stretched up toward the heavens, and it reminded him somehow of being imprisoned. It was the early afternoon, and the sun was hot on his skin, the flesh beneath his robes beginning to itch and sweat. He had just finished a lesson with the son of Dianthe, a patrician woman who had commissioned his services a short time ago. Her son was a young man by the name of Aristarchus, and it was good that Gaius was a patient man, but better that he was well compensated. The boy was something of a complainer – a common failing of many of these wealthy sons, though not severe enough to drive him away from the profession. I’ve come close several times, but for some reason I keep getting up in the morning to teach. My father always said I was too stubborn for my own good..* Getting the boy to engage with the material was hit or miss, and today was mostly hit – except for sums. Using an abacus was of some help, but trying to get him to visualize the problems in his head was like trying to draw blood from a stone. There was only so much that Gaius could do; by the same token, his distress was self-imposed. I could be clear of conscience if I were to lower my standards, to strip away the very soul of my work. Many magisters did not care that their pupils learned, but only that they could recite back what was told to them. They didn’t want students, they wanted parrots. Gaius did not. Rome was full enough of parrots.

Outside the gate, he spotted the normal throng of everyday passers-by. He gripped the knobby oak branch that served as his walking stick and walked slowly toward the gate. His stomach rumbled; it would be time for cena soon. He opened the gate and listened to the squeak of the metal hinges. Ahead, a group of people were looking in his general direction, one of whom appeared to be asleep or drunk, or perhaps he had died, and his friends were taking him for a last walk before burial. It occurred to him then that several of the faces were familiar to him, and he was about to call out in greeting when several others hurried toward the quartet. One figure was holding a musical instrument and the arm of a woman, and they were followed by a group of youngsters.

”Why did you tell this goose I would be her teacher? Do you think I have time for that? I, sir, let you know that I am the most sought after cithara master in Rome! I perform every day and every night! Only those who can’t get jobs teach!”

Arrogant ass, Gaius thought acidly. Every damned musician in this city has an inflated opinion of themselves, much like those in the Senate. The bard had a woman by the arm, and she was looking from her captor to one of the men carrying the drunk – only as Gaius watched, the man seemed to be roused back to consciousness and began looking around in astonishment. ”I am not drunk, I have been knocked down! Abducted in broad daylight! Let me go! I am a Roman Citizen!”

Curiouser and curiouser, Gaius thought. He had forgotten about the cerulean waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea, about what he would dine on for cena, and about abaci and the simple-minded students who used them. Right now, his focus was on the growing storm a short distance away. Much like Aristarchus had struggled in vain to work out the sum of nine and seven, Gaius now struggled to make sense of the strange situation before him. A patrician mother, a learned slave, and a legionnaire turned spymaster – what could such a trio possibly have in common? And why would they kidnap a man in broad daylight? He had shut the gate, but upon recognizing Dianthe, he slowly pushed the iron bars open again before walking tentatively in the direction of the growing conflict. There was a growing suspicion in his mind, a recollection from a few evenings’ past. He had been called upon in the dark of night by, of all people, a Roman senator. I should have turned him away, he had thought later, had thought more than once – but he hadn’t. And deep in his heart, he knew he had made the right decision.

Three days ago, he had been recruited into an organization known as the Eagle Eyes. Assurances of future answers were made to him, but much like Aristarchus’ sums, assurance could not be touched. You will be called upon soon, he’d been told, but since then it had been quiet. There had been talk of other members of this mysterious organization, but he was given no specific names. Looking now, the certainty in his heart began to grow. I do not believe in coincidence.

Gaius cleared his throat. ”Forgive my interruption, Vibius. I am Magister Gaius Erucius Taurillus, and I could not help but overhear your… distasteful views regarding teaching. Most unfortunate. I was actually of a mind to attend one of your performances, but, seeing how you conduct yourself – belittling others, manhandling a woman who is not even your slave…” He turned his gaze on the four youngsters who were following the musician. You lot should be home, finishing your lessons or setting down for cena. Away with you!” He turned back to the musician. ”No man is above god, not even those who play the cithara. You would do well to remember that, young man, before you find yourself reduced to playing in some winesink.” He paused, as if considering something, and his features softened. ”But perhaps this was just a misunderstanding, perhaps you meant that you could not teach this young woman ‘today’! I’m sure that’s what you meant. And to show you bear this young woman no hard feelings, perhaps a song to lighten the mood and clear the air! Come, my brothers and sisters,” he said, gesturing to the curious crowd of onlookers, ”come join me as the young minstrel Vibius fills the air with heavenly notes!”

And behind him, the gate to Dianthe’s villa swings open meaningfully.

 
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Last edited by Noquarter19; Feb 25th, 2024 at 06:10 AM. Reason: Added attack roll, corrected spelling for Vibius
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Old Feb 24th, 2024, 03:04 PM
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Levian
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Levian Osmanthus
Levian is tense for the entire walk through the streets of Rome. Being out in the open like this, exposed, it's not in his nature and it makes him uncomfortable. Dianthe's ruse will work, he's certain. But not all are susceptible to such ruses. Even a few people disbelieving as they pass could mean trouble in the coming days.

But soon trouble in the coming days is the least of Levian's concerns, for Ignaea returns, and she has brought a crowd with her. Suddenly, shouting and accusations fill the quiet midday air outside the estate for which they are headed. And to make matters far worse, the shouting has roused Abactemus, who now protests his abduction for all to hear. Levian's mind darkens. He regrets not having asked Jorunn to remove Ignaea from the city much sooner. Indeed, it is only the Senate's admonition not to leave a trail of bodies that stills Levian's blade in this moment.

First, he answers the accusations leveled at him by the Cithara master.

"Why, master Vibius! Of course I know of you, it is a great honor to stand in your illustrious presence. But, this girl, I cannot say I have seen her be- Ah!" he interrupts himself, as though suddenly remembering something "A thousand apologies, good master Vibius, I fear I know what has happened. Two days ago I encountered this... vagabond... begging in the streets with her lyre. Forgive me the failings of my heart, but I took pity on the wretched creature."

Levian shakes his head remorsefully "I left her a few coins and told her something like 'Keep playing, and I'm sure one day you will play alongside the great masters of the city.' You must understand, good master, that I meant it only as idle kindness to the destitute. I could not have imagined she would take it upon herself to accost you in such a manner. Truly, she is colder of heart than I could have guessed."

The awkward phrasing of that last sentence is no accident. "Cold" is one of the codewords he once used with Ignaea. It means danger. Levian suspects Ignaea is too far gone, lost in her anger and indignation, to look for the coded words. But if she notices that one, he hopes she will take it to understand the grave danger she has placed herself in with this foolish act of disobedience. If there is a chance that this simple change of phrasing will blunt some of her hostility, it is a chance worth taking, as it costs Levian little to attempt.

His attention then turns to Abactemus. Once behind the walls of Dianthe's estate, his objections will fall upon deaf ears. So for now, his priority is to ensure they reach that safety with Abactemus in tow.

Turning his back to the crowd, Levian folds his arms tightly across Abactemus's legs, clutching the mans knee tightly with one hand, and locking his arm in place with the other. He hopes to make it impossible for the man to escape his grasp. He speaks to Abactemus as he does

"Please Master, shame your good wife no further with your shouting. We will be home soon"

Then he pushes up the hill towards the gate. The end of this nightmare lies beyond its iron bars, he is certain.

OOC Actions
Okay I'm doing two things here.

The first thing is the Defend against Vibius. I'm thinking this one is Minerva, since it's sort of a "quick thinking" thing to come up with an explanation for Ignaea's nonsense that simultaneously tries to discredit her and play to VIP's arrogance. But also none of it's true, so I could see it being Pluto instead. If you think it is, feel free to subtract one from this result. I'm going to roll, and then see about spending points to modify:

Dice Defend with Minerva:
4df+2 (-1, -1, 1, 0)+2 Total = 1


Alas! Okay I'll spend one Fate Point to invoke Cold Hearted Bastard which I feel applies because the heart of this action is dragging Ignaea through the mud. That takes me to +3, and then I'll mark my 3 stress box to endure the attack.
---


Then, I'm Creating an advantage against Abactemus that will help me maintain my grip on him if he tries to get free. That one's Mars

Dice CAA with Mars:
4df+2 (-1, 1, 0, 0)+2 Total = 2


That should succeed, yeah?


 




Last edited by squirmonkey; Feb 24th, 2024 at 03:06 PM.
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Old Feb 26th, 2024, 12:30 PM
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Dianthe the Hetaira
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Dianthe the Hetaira
Rome’s calendar is full of inauspicious days, days that are considered unlucky and inappropriate for making any important decisions or resolving any public matters. On such days, Dianthe always makes sure that she doesn’t leave her domus or receive any visitors, but spends her time in leisure and contemplation, away from anything and anyone that could harm her.

This is definitely such a day and the hetaira wishes she has paid more attention to her instincts warning her about escorting Levian and Jorunn to the Aemilian bridge. Nothing but ill has come of it and there is no sign that the streak of bad luck will end anytime soon.

Dianthe isn’t concerned about the crowd of idle passersby and curious onlookers. She can make them see what she wants them to see. Neither is she particularly concerned with Ignaea’s thirst for revenge or Vibius Ignius Phrynnis’ show of indignation. Both have their weaknesses and she is confident that with some effort she can manipulate them like a potter shapes clay, though she wishes that the girl hadn’t acted so rashly.

What does concern her is the involvement of Aristarchos’ tutor, Gaius Erucius Taurillus. The man is intelligent, probably more intelligent than all others who enter the hetaira’s domus, and he has a propensity towards voicing his observations and misgivings with little concern for politeness or discretion. Even if he currently seems to support the three Eagles in their goal of resolving this situation as quickly as possible, Dianthe knows that the old patrician won’t rest until he finds out what this is all about. No matter how skillful she is, the hetaira doubts that she can fool a man with a mind as keen as Taurillus, not after what he has witnessed.

Still, there is little she can do but face one problem after the other. And the most pressing matter right now is Abactemus. He must be silenced or, more to the point, his words must fall on deaf ears.

"Oh, you cruel man, how you disrespect me in front of the good people of the city!", Dianthe cries out, her cheeks burning with anger and embarrassment. "What must our friends and neighbors think of me? A witch they’ll call me, an overbearing wife torturing her poor, innocent husband. Have you no shame? How can you tell such lies? Or is it Bacchus who is speaking through your wine-stained lips again?"

The hetaira covers her face with her palms, but not before the onlookers witness the tears flowing from them without restrain.

"My dear father warned me not to marry a man who spends more time in the tabernae of Rome than he does in his own officetablinum or the forum, but I was blinded by Cupid! I believed your promises, even as the wine erased them from your mind."

Dianthe’s sobs intensify and she almost collapses, the weight of her misfortune suddenly too great to bear. But then she suddenly turns her hands into fists and glares at Abactemus with burning eyes.

"You may have rights, husband, but so do I! I’ll divorce you right here and now and then you will have to return me the dowry you have spent drinking and whoring in places best left unnamed. Get inside and keep your mouth shut before you bring not only shame but also ruin upon yourself!"

Turning to Levian, the hetaira extends her arm and points to her domus.

"Do your duty, good servantservus, and shield your master from himself. Help him inside, for the wine won’t let him walk straight like a freeborn man should. I’ll be right behind you."

Still trembling with indignation, Dianthe walks swiftly towards her house, her head kept low, not daring to meet Taurillus’ gaze.



 


 
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Old Feb 26th, 2024, 05:58 PM
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That is her! The one I saw playing by the fountain!

As Ignae launches her tirade against Levian, the boy's eyes grow slightly unfocused in his mud-streaked face. A half smile creeps up the right side of his features. Her words do not register right away, so taken is he simply by the aggrieved tone in her lovely voice. Was she in need of help? What had Levian done to her? This Vibius man would not teach her? Did he not realize what a legacy she would be for his talent? If he was so talented, at that?

Her presence fuzzes out even the excitement he would normally have felt at seeing so obviously scholarly a man as Gaius Taurillus. But when that august personage speaks, Fidelis blinks and turns his attention to the man. He was challenging Vibius to play here? Yes! The man is as brilliant as he looks. If Vibius Phrynnis will play and then let the girl play, he will see, and will agree to instruct her.

Then Levian speaks, and the warrior's harsh and condescending upbraid punches through the light pink haze that had been clouding Fidelis' thoughts. He frowns and completely forgets his station.

"You're wrong!" Realizing his outburst was unseemly, he flushes beneath his coating of grime and blood. But he feels Ignae's eyes on him, and clears his throat, determining to see this through. In a more composed tone, he continues, "You're wrong. I have heard this girl play before, and rarely has any music captivated me more fully with its loveliness."

Fidelis turns to the young devotees of Vibius. "Yes, let us hear the Master play, whose every word you hang on!" He then turns his gaze one by one to each onlooker, continuing in a pleading tone. "But then let Vibius Ignius Phrynnis hear the stylings of this fair girl after, and then you will see! Then you will beg him to mentor her, that she may take his mantle when he is ready to pass it on."

He turns to Ignae and beams, before blushing and turning his eyes to the ground.





 


 
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Old Feb 29th, 2024, 05:16 AM
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Vibius Ignius Phrynnis

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Abactemus


Vibius turns to Gaius Taurillus. The anger on his face can not hide the pleasure he has at being at the centre of attention. He surreptitiously clears his throat, then tests his voice against the acoustics of the low wall around Dianthe's domus and the wall of the insula opposite. Shifting his position so that the echo from across the street enhances his voice, he beckons his followers. They form an audience, deftly blocking all exits --- the master does not like his audience to leave.

With the cithara hanging limply by his side, for, acoustics or not, he will not so far lower himself as to play in the street, he waits for everyone to hang on his lips and be silent. At least, a close enough semblance for him to ignore what displeases him. Then he intones in a truly resonant voice, as if reading a declamation:

Ah me! How purblind you are, you old-timer from the days of One of the titans, father of ZeusCronus! Did you not see that she was the one man-handling me? He stops to theatrically rub his wrist. I shall be afflicted by a soreness tonight. Nevertheless, for my followers it is better to be here with me than to be home with a grey-bearded tutor and I will clearly prove it to you. Those learning from Apollo himself, do not they learn from a young God? And can they do better than listen to his example?

Shall I be forced then to be a listener to your rebukes? Shall I not get any word in? I am no longer a schoolboy with his hand under a cane, to be bored with interminable tales of referring to Greek tragediesTelephus and Orestes, reading from the front and the back of the scrolls and not forgetting the scribbles in the margin. O, I know whose souls One of the judges in HadesAeacus has on his rack and what Iasonhero returns once again with that eternal golden fleece; I know it better than you know this domus where you have been dulling a young mind, no doubt; better than you know any other domus, including your own. O, I --- I have In Juvenal's time, this would have been an essay task for school boys. Since our game is set at around the time of this retirement, Vibius is implying that he actually wrote the advice.advised Sulla to retire from public life and spend his days listening to my Cithara and so, if you wish to hear me, get yourself an invitation to his halls if you think you're so important.


When the master is silent, Ignaea picks up her lyre and gives Levian a dark, cold stare before the starts strumming a few sad, minor cords. Her young voice, raw from emotion, makes a vulnerable and brittle impression in contrast with the reverberant sounds of Vibius.


If there is any pleasure in remembering past good deeds
for a girl, who believes she has done her duty,
and has not violated the sacred trust placed in her,
nor ever sought to deceive gods or him,
then many joys remain for you in your long life, Ignaea,
prepared from this thankless love.

For all things that a girl can say or for another do
these have been done and said by you,
and taken by his cold, ungrateful mind.
So why do you keep torturing yourself?
If even the gods look away, be firm
and just make an end to it.

It is difficult to suddenly put away a long love
It is difficult, but it must be done:
it is the one salvation, to be won by you.
Oh, to do this, whether you can or can not.

Oh gods, if you ever feel pity, or if ever
you have saved someone in the nick of time, even in death
Look upon pathetic me! And, if you find me worthy,
relieve me from the pestilence and ruin,
that chill my inner most self
and take away all happiness from my heart.

Now I do not seek, that he loves me in return
or, (that which is not possible), that he chooses to be chaste
I wish myself to be well, and to put down this foul disease
Oh Gods! grant me this in return for my piety.


As the last cord from her lyre dies away, a deep silence settles over the audience; the purity of her emotions had found a direct way into many hearts.


All the more grating now the voice of the scraggy man sounds, breaking the spell as he whines, Now will you put me down, you brute. and, over Levian's head to the audience, of which he now has full attention, Wine-stained lips? These? Indeed those looking at him can barely make out the lips in his pale face. Do I look like I am master of a villa like this? Me? A petty money lender, forever watching over my shoulder for fear some well-fed man thinks it easier to knock me down than to repay his loan? Oh, she knows these men, he continues, pointing at Dianthe as he does so, just as she knows their domus. Just look at her, can't you see her for what she is? She has no man, no master. She spends the night where she gets paid! His pale face gets a pinkish tone as he works himself up to this last statement.


 


Situation
Situation aspects: A Curious Crowd; Everyone knows I'm a citizen[Abactemus]; Iron Grip[Levian]; A drunkard's words are hollow words[Dianthe]; All exits are blocked[Levian]

Opponents:

Abactemus

High Aspect: Fence
Trouble: I would sell my mother for the right price.

Pluto: +4
Mercury, Juno: +3

Stunts:
Slanderer: When I insult someone in front of others, I get weapon:2 (attack with Pluto)

[ ][ ] (no consequences)
Objective in scene: Does not want to enter Dianthe's domus.


Vibius Ignius Phrynnis
High Aspect: Cithara master
Trouble: I am a prima donna.

Jupiter: +4
Juno, Mercury: +3

stunts:
The world revolves around me: When someone else is attacked, I can pay a fate point to attract the attack to myself with a strum on my cithara.
Put a spell on you, baby: When I play a flashy song, I can spend a fate point to make it affect everyone (attack with Jupiter).
I'm above your judgement: Once per session in a non-physical conflict, I can spend a fate point to clear out my stress boxes.

[ ][ ][x]
minor consequence: ()
minor consequence: ()
Objective in scene: makes these wretches understand he is not to be trifled with.

Ignaea
Minerva: +2
Objective in scene: revenge
[ ]


Four screaming fans
(2 with Mars +1, 2 with Jupiter +1)

As a mob: Mars +2, Jupiter +2.
[ ] ; [ ] ; [ ] ; [ ]
Objective in scene: whatever Vibius does works for us

Game master fate points: (4) 3

Last edited by Dworin; Mar 1st, 2024 at 04:13 AM. Reason: all exits blocked settled after opposition by Levian/squirmonkey
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Old Mar 1st, 2024, 02:21 AM
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Gaius Taurillus
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The impertinence of the minstrel nearly causes Gaius to recoil physically, and for a moment he is forced to rethink his strategy. Rather than buckle under to the magister’s rebuke, the bard instead drew the crowd toward him before openly mocking the elder to the delight of the four youngsters who steadfastly refused to leave his side. Gaius I’m looking to Create an Aspect directed at the crowd, and I’d like to use Gaius’s Attention to Detail stunt to give myself a boost. At the moment, Gaius isn’t quite sure what is going on, why a group of seemingly unrelated people appear to be dragging an unwilling man into her home – but he's assessing the situation and realizing that the only way he’ll find an answer is if they’re able to make it home. In order to do that, however, they need this crowd to move, and the only way to do that is to get them to disperse. And how best to do that? By turning them against Vibius. So yeah, that’s my backdoor logic into making this fithesitated, his blue eyes looking from figure to figure, trying to puzzle out just what was going on here. The bard was a distraction – or, more accurately, both bards were. The real story was the strange quartet trying to get through the unyielding crowd. At some point here, the shouting man, the so-called drunk, was going to get enough attention directed to himself to bring about the attention of one of the Vigiles Urbani – and then there would be real problems.

Gaius walked toward the edge of the crowd, near to where Vibius had planted himself, the center of attention, the most special flower in a field of common grass. He put a hand over his heart, his tone growing somber.

”Woe to the Republic, for we have truly fallen into ruin as a society if we now place men such as this unto a pillar of reverence. You claim to be a learned man, yet you have learned nothing of decency! You claim to know the elderly Sulla with one breath, yet disparage a harmless old magister with the other. You mock an elder as though he were some feeble thing to be disregarded, and worse! Nay, do not try to curry favor from your would be audience by claiming to have been wounded, for your injury is a falsehood. I may be old, but my eyes are sharp, young man. Even from a distance I could see how your delicate fingers clutched at that young woman’s arm as you dragged her across the thoroughfare. What kind of a man are you, that you feel the need to lay a hand on a woman for the ‘crime’ of seeking out your tutelage? This is probably going to be another attack against Vibius, but I’m ultimately looking to create an advantage by Creating an Aspect – specifically making the Curious Crowd into a Disgusted Crowd . It feels more Careful than Flashy – he’s not trying to put on a play, he’s just trying to get people to recognize what a scumbag Vibius is. I will spend a fate point as well. (EDIT: re-reading a bit, getting the crowd to disperse seems like it would be working against what Fidelis was trying to do with Ignaea. So my new thought is that the crowd becomes disgusted, and that would make them immune to Vibius’s music and nullifying his Put a spell on you, baby stunt. So if I’m understanding it right, and if Juno is considered appropriate, it would be my roll +2 from Careful, +2 from his stunt for Analyzing the Situation, and +2 from invoking the aspect of Curious Crowd – does that all track? Good people of Rome, do not give this man another moment of your time He is not worth your valuable attention, for it is clear that he cares more about inflating his own ego than spreading the gift of music to the people of Rome. Well, I say, if his music is only for used to pander to his betters in the highest echelon of Roman politics, then we the good people of Rome would do well to find our comforts in that of a real musician, one who respects her art and lets it be free like a bird, not caged like some golden goose away from the rest of the world.”

 
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Last edited by Noquarter19; Mar 1st, 2024 at 10:43 PM.
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Old Mar 3rd, 2024, 11:31 AM
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Dianthe the Hetaira
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The truth hurts Dianthe like a slap across the face, leaving her cheeks red and her heart aching. She looks at Abactemus defiantly. She will get that man inside her domus and pry the truth out of his lips even if it costs her, even if it leaves her bloody and bruised.

She lowers her head to compose herself, only to proudly raise it again a moment later. Her eyes are hard and reflect the ugliness of Abactemus’ face and soul.

"My father always said that what happens inside one’s household should stay there and he was right. But such dignity is unknown to you, husband, and I find myself forced to reveal a truth I am not proud of. So listen up, good people of Rome, for I will speak of things I never have before."

Turning her back to Abactemus in contempt, she addresses the curious citizens with enough time and resources to stand and gawk at what should be happening behind closed doors.

"All of you can see that I wasn’t born in this city", she admits as she reveals her face for all to see, a face that seems youthful and desirable, especially because of the fire in the woman’s eyes and upon her ruby lips. "And yet even as a girl I could hear Rome’s song, calling me to her embrace. Not even my dear parents’ tears were able to keep me from abandoning my father’s villa, along with the fields of olive trees, the vineyards and the herds of grazing sheep and goats. I turned my eyes towards Rome, my true mistress, and opened my heart to her."

The hetaira closes her eyes and inhales deeply. When she opens them again, she seems frail, possibly sick, as if the memory of what happened next still plagues her heart and mind.

"But the gods had other things in store for me, a girl from the eastern provinces, young and impressionable. I met this man right here, whose poison is worse than that of the lernean hydra. He proposed a bargain. He would marry me, so that I too could become a true daughter of Rome, and in return he would get a dowry large enough to satisfy even the most demanding patrician."

Turning around, Dianthe points an accusing finger at Abactemus.

"His clothes and manners are poor because the man is as base as the mud on the Tiber’s bank, but make no mistake. He has enough silver to lend it to those unfortunate enough to put their faith in him and spend it heedlessly at every single watering hole of this city."

The hetaira’s hand starts trembling and she lowers her head to hide the tears in her eyes.

"But he is still my husband and I owe it to the gods and the city’s founding fathers to honor and respect him."

Slowly approaching Abactemus, she tenderly places her arms around his struggling body.

"Come, husband, let us not make a spectacle of ourselves any longer. Let us seek the privacy of our home and solve our differences there."

"Stop protesting and I will make it worth your while", she whispers in his ear, softly enough for only him and Levian to hear. "All I want is the truth about the daggerpugio and the man who wielded it last. It doesn’t take a wise man to choose moneysilver over she means Levian and the nasty things he can do to himiron. Making the right decision shouldn’t be all that hard."



 


 
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Old Mar 4th, 2024, 01:44 PM
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If there is one thing that draws Fidelis more than a pretty face, it is the chance to impress a teacher. The youth turns to watch Gaius in action as the old scholar takes Vibius the Master apart and reassembles him as Vibius the Dog right before the very eyes of the crowd.

He takes a few slow steps toward Gaius as the man speaks, nodding at each point and murmuring along.

"Nothing of decency!"

"What kind of man indeed?"

"Music's got to fly!"

By the end of the learned sage's tirade, Fidelis is at his elbow, fairly quivering with eagerness to impress him. He cries, "All heed the words of Magister Gaius Erucius Taurillus!"

Fidelis turns to address the crowd, waving both arms to egg them into a chant. "Give us our songbird! Teach the girl!"

He grins hopefully at Gaius but just as quickly turns to stare pointedly at Vibius, continuing his chant. "Teach the songbird! Teach the songbird!"

Maybe it is the expression or stance of Vibius, but Fidelis feels in his bones that his approach is falling short. As panic starts to grip him that he will fail in front of the learned Gaius, he notes with wonder the same butterfly species from river bank flutter past his eyes. He says absently, "Beautful." Then he snaps his fingers, as inspiration strikes. He murmurs, "An appeal to vanity."

Now to impress Gaius by demonstrating a diversity of tactics, and to at the same time gain favor with the fair woman! Fidelis leans closer to Vibius and says just loud enough for his voice to carry above the crowd, "I do know of you, Master Vibius, for I serve the gens Sestia and your name is spoken with great praise in highborn circles. Only one cithara master alive could foster talent of such magnitude as this woman possesses. Vibius Ignius Phrynnis!"

He lets the volume of his voice rise further, contrasting the crowd's jeering with his own cry of "Vibius Phrynnis! Vibius Phrynnis!"



 


 
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Last edited by Yoshimi; Mar 5th, 2024 at 12:37 PM.
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Old Mar 6th, 2024, 02:01 AM
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Levian
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Levian Osmanthus
Levian has little patience for this singing and shouting and arguing. He certainly has no patience for Ignaea's pathetic begging. Whatever she may be feeling, he knows that he has been nothing but fair to her. She did not have the fortitude for the work He keeps alert, watching for an opportunity to continue moving himself and his quarry out of the situation.

The crowd's rapt attention on the singing makes it difficult to move past them without drawing undue attention. It is only after Dianthe's whisper to Abactemus that the moment comes. Fidelis' chanting makes the crowd move and shift along with him, enough movement for Levian to start moving. He and Abactemus slide between the assembled onlookers, as he tries to put civilian bodies between himself and Ignaea and Vibius. A few more moments, and he hopes to have disappeared entirely within the assembled crowd, free and clear to approach the gate.

OOC Actions
Okay, I'm spending a Fate Point to Confront the followers so they fail their CAA, and the aspect All Exits Are Blocked becomes Listeners in Front of the Gate as discussed.

Then I use that aspect and my free invoke on it to try to disappear into/past the listeners. I'm assuming this is an Overcome, since I don't think I'm attacking anybody. I'm using Pluto

Dice Overcome with Pluto + Free Invoke:
4df+3 (0, 1, -1, 0)+3 Total = 3


Sorry for the slow post! Things got unexpectedly weird this week.


 


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