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  #61  
Old Mar 8th, 2024, 11:09 AM
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Taking down the fence
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Vibius Ignius Phrynnis

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Abactemus

The people standing around start to shuffle their feet, looking at eachother. Just a moment ago they had been so eager for a good bit of gossip but to be addressed with such a personal confession is not at all what they had had in mind. A cat fight, oh yes, or if needs be a shouting match but now they are simply embarrassed. One after the other they turn away from the fighting couple. Let the two of them sort it out inside their own domus indeed and they, the townspeople of Rome and guardians of good morals, would be sure to be on the lookout for signs such as blackened eyes. Gossip is so much more satisfying if you can draw your own conclusions after all.

Abactemus, still struggling against Levian's strong grip but with an ironic smile on his face seems ready to make another snide remark when he suddenly hears the magic word. Silver! In the blink of an eye, he is all business. Unbothered by his prone position in another man's arms he asks the only question that now matters to him: How much? He motions for Levian to move through the gate. He didn't care to be seen as drunken, soiled husband but not everyone should associate his face with dark dealings. Besides, all those people outside are too much distraction.

Those people, having lost interest in one spectacle, now turn to another arena. Yes, the young boy mimicking a bird was right; the girl had sung beautifully. They look at the cithara master disapprovingly, a man they don't recognise and whose name means nothing to them. After all, they are never invited to the entertainments of the patricians. One woman standing at the back, determined to get the most out of this scene, tentatively starts to boo Vibius. Hearing she is alone her voice falters and she is about to give up when first one, then another joins her. Then Fidelis asks them to chant songbird and, well, why not. Songbird! Fly Free! Fly High!

All I asked was for you to keep your promise but you have no heart. Ignaea can't let Levian go into the house without saying it one last time but then she turns expectantly towards the master. With all the people suddenly enthousiastic about her song wouldn't she have a chance? And this youth who is encouraging them, wouldn't he be more worthy of her affection then the man with the flower?

And Vibius? Flustered and gasping he stands looking at Gaius. Nobody talked back to him like that. Ever. Even if he makes fun of a senator the laughs he gets from the audience would shame his victim to silence. Stammering from rage he addresses Gaius You? You? An old master? Yet you can find no better insult than to call me a goose? Me? Vibius Ignius Phrynnis? A more sought after or higher paid cithara master then me you will not find on either side of the Alps. I don't know why I am even wasting my time talking to you. Talking about himself seems to bring back his self-confidence. And I should teach this, this ... girl? Why, I bet you didn't even hear her third string was flat!

Then the boy says something that strokes his ego. A great master. Yes, here is someone who knows what he is talking about. He condescends to giving the boy the slightest nod of the head. Sestia? Oh, yes, worked with them a few times. Pleasant people. You're lucky youg man.

The fans, who had been uncertain what to do now take their cue from the master. In opposition to the chant started by Fidelis they now scan in chorus Vibius Ignius Phrynnis! Vibius, Vibius, you know how to tune your strings!


 

Situation
Situation aspects: A Curious Crowd; Everyone knows I'm a citizen[Abactemus]; Iron Grip[Levian]; A drunkard's words are hollow words[Dianthe]; Listeners in front of the gate[Levian]; A disgusted crowd[Gaius]

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) taken out of the conflict
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][ ][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)1
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  #62  
Old Mar 9th, 2024, 01:45 AM
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Dianthe the Hetaira
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Dianthe the Hetaira
It is only a few steps that separate Dianthe from the entrance to her domus, but when finally inside she feels as tired as Pheidippides must have been after running all the way from Marathon to the city of Athens to bring his fellow citizens the good news of the Persian army’s defeat. Still, she tries very hard to hide her exhaustion. Greeted by a small army of servants, all of them looking at their mistress worriedly, she tries to reassure them with a calming gesture. The domus of a hetaira is often a place where passions run high, but a commotion such as the one they have just witnessed is unprecedented and all of them fear that the domus’ high walls may not be enough to keep it outside.

"Please, my friend, unhand my honored guest", Dianthe asks Levian and smiles sweetly at Abactemus, her countenance much different than that of the furious wife who had to collect her drunken husband from a place of ill repute.

She softly claps her hand and her servants immediately remember their duties, some of them disappearing into other rooms and some bringing watered wine for their mistress’ guests to refresh themselves.

"My dear Abactemus, why don’t we discuss business in the peristylium? It’s lovely this time of the day. Please make yourself comfortable there until I have a chance to make myself presentable."

Turning towards her servants, Dianthe discreetly points at Abactemus.

"Bring this man a basin filled with water to wash himself, as well as clean clothes, new sandals and something to eat. Have the she means the Nubians, the strongest of her slavesAfricani see to his every need. My good friend is to be treated as if he were a member of the family."

As soon as Abactemus is escorted to the back of the domus, the hetaira’s smile instantly disappears.

"We have been careless, Levian, and we have paid for it. Do you think that actions are needed to keep the news of what took place before the walls of my very domus from spreading? Most of my neighbors resent my presence here, so this latest occurrence is only going to add fuel to the fire."

She purses her lips in annoyance and nervously walks back and forth, thinking.

"Fidelis has been sent by the gods and I have no doubts about him being discreet about this, but I worry about my son’s tutor, Gaius Erucius Taurillus. He may be old, but his eyes are sharp, just like his mind and tongue. His family name was respected once and if he were to perceive the she means the Sinistramstrong left hand that controls our actions, his words may carry much weight in certain circles."

Dianthe stops walking and sighs deeply, her visage as pale as the wax masks that cover the unmoving faces of dead patricians.

"And Ignaeathat girl…", she sighs anew, holding her forehead with her hand. "What god or lesser deity, usually of the underworlddaemon took hold of her? Could she not have been patient a little longer?"

Suddenly, she startles and raises her head to look at the veteran. There is fear in her eyes. She approaches Levian and takes his large, scarred hands in hers.

"Don’t punish her, Levian, I beg you. Remember, you gave her to me. Let me deal with her as I think best. She won’t harass you any longer, I promise. She made a mistake, it’s true, but she deserves a second chance."

Don’t we all?



 


 
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  #63  
Old Mar 12th, 2024, 04:55 AM
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Levian
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Levian Osmanthus
Levian is fuming by the time he dumps Abactemus on the floor at Dianthe's request. His glare is cold and hard as he stares into Abactemus. When the servants leave the room to carry out her requests, he turns his back and speaks to the pathetic man with unnerving calm in his voice.

"Dangerous eyes have fallen upon Austerus, and through your connection, upon you. Pray they find no reason to let their gaze linger on your affairs."

With that, he walks away. Dianthe's offer of silver will land the killing blow Levian is certain, but letting the man know about the alternative can't hurt he thinks. The servants return, and Abactemus is escorted from his presence, just as he leaves himself.

Levian listens carefully to Dianthe's concerns before answering her.

"News cannot be kept from spreading. It can only be added to. If your neighbors are determined to hear ill of you, then they shall hear of this. The cost to prevent that would be greater than our masters tolerate." He rests his hand at his hip. Not on his sword, but close enough to draw the eye to the weapon nonetheless.

Overall, Levian isn't too worried about the ruckus. Of course, it will inconvenience Dianthe's living situation, but that is of little concern to Levian. As he sees it, that was an inevitable consequence of her choosing to conduct business from her home. What could concern Levian is risk of exposure for the Sinistram. It is for this reason that he finds Dianthe's worry about the tutor worthy of further consideration.

"The tutor is a problem. If he knows your household, he knows Abactemus is not your drunken husband. And if he is as smart as you suggest, he will know that more is afoot than simple skullduggery." Levian's fingers drum along the thick leather of his belt as he thinks "I doubt he will guess the truth, but even his looking into the matter is dangerous. Can he be won over with threats, silver, or appeals to loyalty? You know him, you say, so what is his weakness?"

Levian pauses before offering the next option, unsure how Dianthe will feel about it as a foreigner. But his own loyalty compels him to speak

"Of course... we must not forget that the hand that guides us is a righteous hand, and our actions serve a greater good. Could he be called to silence with the simple truth that what he observed was in the humble and secretive service of the Republic?"

Conversation then turns to Ignaea. Levian has little to say on the matter of her misbehavior. Thinking about the tutor has taken the edge off his anger. Instead, he takes the moment to gloat.

"By all means, she is yours. What a pity that she came to be yours just as she stopped being useful. You've spared me having to deal with her any further. She was a good watcher while it lasted, and now I am free of my obligation to her, and need not find a way to make some master teach her."

Levian smiles. He is a man of his word, and always keeps his promises to those few of his spies who serve him long enough. But he does not frown upon an opportunity to get something for nothing, as so often happens when a spy cannot fulfil their service.

OOC Actions
In the first part of my post, I'm threatening Abactemus, I'd like to create an advantage against him. Maybe something like Aware of the Stick, to signify that he knows what the alternative is if he and Dianthe don't reach an arrangement we're happy with.

I think threatening someone is normally Mars, but I could also see Juno or Pluto since I'm threatening kinda subtly. So adjust by +/- 1 if you think one of those is better applicable to what I wrote.

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




 


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  #64  
Old Mar 12th, 2024, 08:37 AM
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Fidelis looks taken aback at Vibius' criticism of Ignaea. "If her playing were perfect, Vibius Phrynnis, she would hardly need a teacher! Her music is inspiring, but under you it shall become inspired!"

Winning the conceited and stubborn Vibius over seems like a lost cause at this point, but the boy looks over to Gaius, hoping at least that the sage noticed his clever use of words. Then his eyes shift to where Dianthe and Levian are disappearing through the gate. He clears his throat and says in a low voice intended only for the scholar, "Gauis Taurillus, were you on your way out? I should like to present myself to you when I am more presentable." With a sheepish grimace, he gestures to his own disheveled and bruised appearance.

"I am sure Dianthe would allow you to sit for a while." With one final backward glance and a smile of encouragement at Ignaea, he hurries after his fellow Eagles.



 


 
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  #65  
Old Mar 15th, 2024, 01:39 AM
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Gaius Taurillus
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Gaius Taurillus

Hearing the crowd begin to boo and jeer at Vibius was the sweetest music the old man had heard in a great while. While the cithara master suffered the slings and arrows of an unappreciative crowd, Dianthe, Levian, Fidelis, and the drunkard quickly worked their way through the crowd and toward the woman’s front door. Vibius, apparently unfamiliar with such negative feedback, could only stutter angrily at the older man.

”You? You? An old master? Yet you can find no better insult than to call me a goose? Me? Vibius Ignius Phrynnis? A more sought after or higher paid cithara master than me you will not find on either side of the Alps. I don’t know why I am even wasting my time talking to you.”

”Nor I,” Gaius replied indifferently, his interest in engaging with the shrill peacock of a man waning now that he had served his purpose as a distraction for the others. ”Though I must surmise that Sulla has grown quite deaf in his old age if he finds solace in the shrill honking of a goose such as yourself. As for your being the highest paid cithara master in all the land, it certainly would not be the first time a stateman has frittered his money away. Good day”

As Gaius retreated from the musician and his quartet of misguided fans, there was a trickle of apprehension running up his spine. That was unwise, old man. Sulla is both powerful and dangerous. If word ever reached him-

”If word ever reaches Sulla and the rest of those fools in the senate,” he muttered irritably, ”they can damn well march down and complain in person.” It was possible that Vibius was truthful in how puffed up his reputation among the upper-crust was, and if that were the case Self-compelling the aspect Problem With Authority in order to regain a Fate point.his squabbling with the musician might lead to repercussions among the same folk who oft employed him Still, at the end of the day, it just felt good to put the snobbish fellow in his place.

Walking stick in hand, Gaius returned to the front door he had left only a short time ago and gave it a resounding knock.

Salve, Dianthe. Might I have a moment of your time? I would like to discuss your son’s lessons.” Among a great many other things, he thought to himself.

 
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Old Mar 16th, 2024, 08:20 PM
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Levian
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Levian Osmanthus
At the tutor's knock, Levian shares a sidelong glance with Dianthe.

"Perhaps we should speak to him together. Just in case."

 


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Old Mar 17th, 2024, 09:00 AM
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Dianthe the Hetaira
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Dianthe the Hetaira
Taurillus’ words reach the hetaira sooner than she would have liked and demand her attention.

So many things demand her attention at the moment: Abactemus and the silver she has promised him. Ignaea, who, in her attempt to reach the sun, is in danger of plummeting to her death. The rumors that are no doubt already circulating about the hetaira and the men she associates herself with. The incident at the Aemilian Bridge and young Fidelis’ accusing look. The lies she keeps on telling, desperate to hide the truth of her life and the choices she has been forced to make.

She doesn’t want to deal with any of it right now. She wants to chase all these men away from her domus and bolt the door behind them. She wants to find a secluded room and start crying, just like she did when she first learnt of her husband’s duplicity. She wants to submit herself to fate and men’s will as any respectable woman should.

Instead, she turns to regard the aged tutor with a smile on her lips. It is the same smile that Helen of Sparta no doubt used to welcome her husband, Menelaus, when he entered their bridechamber - sweet, radiant and fake.

"Of course, honored magister. There is nothing I value more than my son’s well being and your learned opinion."

The lie effortlessly wraps itself around the truth, strangling it, corrupting it.

"This is Levian Osmanthus, a close and trusted friend of the family", the hetaira introduces the veteran. Another lie, though this one Dianthe would have liked to be true. "You may speak before him freely. There is no man in Rome more reliable than dear Levian."

Out of the corner of her eye she spies Fidelis. The youth stands somewhat apart, his head lowered respectfully, his ears keener than that of a fox.

"Forgive me for a single moment", she says and her smile widens. With barely a sound, she gracefully glides over the floor to the servant and gently places her delicate hand on his shoulder.

"I saw the way that you looked at the girl with the lyre, my young friend", Dianthe says, nodding with understanding at the passion of those who are still in their tender years. "I know that you care for her. Will you help me soothe her pain? Grant her a future perhaps?" Her gaze grows in intensity and the smile vanishes. "Will you lie for such a cause?"

Waiting for a few moments to give Fidelis the chance to refuse, the hetaira continues in a calm and precise manner.

"Run back outside and catch up with Ignaea - that is the girl’s name - before Phrynnis or his admirers decide to resolve their differences with violence instead of words. Tell her that your master might be able to secure a worthy tutor for her, one who will recognize her worth and see her for what she is. Ask her to visit the Forum romanum tomorrow at midday. Someone will be waiting for her next to the Umbilicus urbis Romae. She will know him when she sees him."

She waits for the nod that signifies that Fidelis has understood her instructions. She has no doubt that the bright young man is up to the task. Before he departs, she reaches out and takes hold of his hand.

"Do not mention my or Levian’s name. It will only poison the girl’s happiness."

The smile returns, urging Fidelis to bring Dianthe’s plan to fruition. There is no better agent for this mission than this eager and clever young man.

The hetaira returns to Levian and Taurillus, surrounded by an aura of tranquility and authority, having used the time away from their sharp gazes to repair the armor she is usually wearing. It is one of fine silk, precious dyes and golden thread, every bit as effective as the armor Vulcan crafted for Achilles.

"So, good magister, what do you want to talk to me about?", she asks innocently as if nothing unusual has happened. She knows she can’t easily fool the cunning tutor, but by the gods if he wants to approach the truth, he will have to work hard for it.



 


 
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Old Mar 18th, 2024, 06:50 AM
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Gaius Taurillus
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Gaius Taurillus

The old man’s eyes flicked from Dianthe to Levian, then back to the woman – just in time to catch her gaze dart across the room to the slave boy Fidelis, before returning to his aged and bearded countenance. ”Forgive me for a single moment,” she begged him, and quickly excused herself.

”Oh, trouble not, my dear, we have time enough to discuss matters. All the time in the world.” And a bit louder, to catch the attention of the learned slave who stood meekly in the corner of the room. It is good to see you again, young man, though I would have expected you to be back home tending to your master’s estate, or perhaps in study with your own magister? Well, perhaps after you and Dianthe have settled whatever business you need discuss, we might catch up. I am eager to hear if you have been practicing your declensions.

His knobby fingers gripped the walking stick while he surveyed the woman’s home again, though now it was as if he was seeing it for the first time. What did he really know of the lady? She was the mother of his student, yes, but beyond that they had only spoken casually, like a baker exchanging pleasantries about the weather with a customer. People had secrets, of this he knew for a certainty – yet what secret could bind a housewife, a slave, and a spymaster?

He turned to face Levian, who was standing rigidly in the same spot. ”Such a lovely day for a walk – and with music, no less! A man my age is lucky enough to have one, but two in the same afternoon! A rare treat indeed. Ah, but I am not as young as I once was.” He ambled slowly over to a comfortable looking chair and took a seat, his eyes turned back once more to Levian.

”In truth, I had just taken my leave of the good lady’s domicile, but hearing the commotion and seeing you all in some manner of distress… well, what kind of a friend would I be if I’d not at least tried to intervene. It is curious, though. I had no idea you all knew each other.” He reclined back in the chair. The unknown member of the group, the husband, presumably? I didn’t read that Dianthe introduced himwas nearby, and Gaius did not speak any further on the matter of the curious relationship he had unintentionally discovered. He closed his eyes and waited while sitting in the woman’s chair, the walking stick laid across his legs and in between the wooden arms of the chair, appearing almost to lock him in place. He had nowhere special to be, and all the time in the world.

 
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Last edited by Noquarter19; Mar 18th, 2024 at 06:55 AM.
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Old Mar 18th, 2024, 09:45 AM
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Conscious of his still-grimy appearance, Fidelis stammers a bit at being asked to go and see Ignaea again. "Lie?" But then he remembers his station, and that everyone here has common purpose. He concludes that finding Ignaea a teacher is a front for something, though he does not know what. "I think we understand each other. It will be done."

On the way out he passes Gaius who asks about his grammatical studies. "Yes, Gaius Taurillus. I will be happy to show you." He smiles awkwardly. "After I have bath."

The young man makes his way back out on to the street. The musicians and their admirers are still gathered, but they all seem to fade into the background of one person. Ignaea! His thoughts turned the name over and over, its polish growing with every iteration. It had connotations of ignorance, unconsciousness, or indifference. Why would her parents name their child such? He wondered if she was raised in neglect. Fidelis murmurs, "What must she have suffered, and overcome."

Then he remembers that he has a task. "Ah. Yes." He approaches Ignaea with downcast gaze. When he reaches her side, he delivers Dianthe's message, loudly enough for Vibius to hear. "Ignaea, my...my master is as impressed with your talent as I, and wishes you to meet a potential mentor. If you will, visit the Umbilicus urbis Romae tomorrow at midday. The person you are looking for will be obvious. That is all the information I have." He steals a quick glance at her face then turns to give Vibius a pointed stare before looking back toward the ground and awaiting an answer.



 


 
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Old Mar 18th, 2024, 11:09 AM
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On the street
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The scene on the street has changed completely. Or rather, it is the atmosphere that has changed. The people clustering in front of Dianthe's gate now all remember their daily chores, some with eagerness to get them done but most with reluctance to get moving, yet nobody's attention is occupied with the temporary diversion any longer.

The great man himself stands stamping his foot in a most theatrical way. Full of effect but careful not to hurt himself or soil the hem of his robe with splashing dirt. He is just turning to his disciples to tell them to follow him. Come, we are expected in the senator's house. Let a leisurely walk give us a good appetite as his lunches are always most exquisite. Though I hope his cook goes easy on the ginger. It affects my voice most dreadfully.

Ignaea is sitting a little apart on the stone in front of the fountain, her knees pulled up. Her right hand loosely holds her lyre which hangs limply down past her knees, dangling mere centimeters above the stone. Her cheeks are flushed but dry, though her eyes stand full.

When she hears the words of Fidelis, she looks up, too dazed at first to understand their import but then a radiant smile breaks through on her face and she jumps to her feet. Suddenly, she is all eager young woman, all enthousiasm. Oh, yes! yes! her reply is full of gratitude but, young and artless as she is, it is clear that her gratititude is aimed beyond the messenger. Tell him I'll be there! I knew he isn't so cruel after all! Tell him I thank him!

In high spirits, she twirls once, twice on one foot, then picks up her lyre and strikes a happy chord. I better go and practice, she says to herself as she ails away in the opposite direction of the famous bard. It had been just a few moments but now Fidelis stands alone on the street.
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Old Mar 18th, 2024, 02:53 PM
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Fidelis grimaces slightly before shrugging and going back inside. He approaches Dianthe. "She will be there! Now I believe you mentioned there was a place I could get cleaned up?"



 


 
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Old Mar 23rd, 2024, 01:40 AM
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Gaius Taurillus
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Gaius Taurillus

When Fidelis returned from his dalliance with the singer outside, Gaius gave each of them a half smile. He raised his head and, when he could not immediately see or hear the lady’s husband, he returned his penetrating gaze to the curious trio.

”If I had known I would be performing in the theater, I would have brought a mask. I wonder though, was this afternoon’s performance a comedy… or a tragedy?” He looked first at Dianthe. ”I underestimated you, though it can hardly be helped. Of the few women in this city I have had the pleasure to meet, none of them are as quick on their feet as you seem to be. Your son is much the same – though I am sure you know that. A bit dim with his sums, but his oration is superb. But, I’m sure you’ve surmised that discussing Abactemus was just a pretense. I’m very interested in learning more about the curious relationship I seem to have stumbled upon. I do not put stock in the gods or fate, but it is… curious. I’ve had the opportunity to get to know each of you individually, but much like the three blind men describing the elephant, it seems that I was only “seeing” a small part.

I will not extend your discomfit overlong. I merely wish to share a brief story. My life took a most curious turn a few days past. A… benefactor of sorts called on me in the late evening, an unexpected meeting to be sure, especially during a monsoon. Very curious. At that meeting, I was… well-”


Gaius stood up. He stepped carefully toward the hearth and thrust the end of his walking stick into the ashes of a distant fire. The bottom of the stick turned black with soot, and the old man carefully traced two letters on the grey slate of the floor: O A. Eagle’s EyesOculi Aquilae He waited until each had the chance to see the letters, before scuffing them away with the sole of his sandal.

”We all serve this grand republic in our own little way. I wonder, do each of you also have a benefactor, hmm? Or is this
merely happenstance, that a housewife, a slave, and an ex-legionnaire should find common cause with one another? ”
His eyes flicked back toward the other room, mindful of the watchful eye of the husband or the son.

"What say you?" he said sharply, suddenly falling into the clipped, no-nonsense bark of a magister.

 
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  #73  
Old Mar 23rd, 2024, 05:15 AM
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Dianthe the Hetaira
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Dianthe the Hetaira
Fidelis’ news about Ignaea agreeing to visit the forum in the day to come are the only good news Dianthe is likely to receive today and relief softens the worry lines that mar the nearly flawless skin of her face.

"Your glad tidings lighten my heart, my friend. May the gods grant you happiness and a long life, for they seem to have given you everything else a man may wish for."

The hetaira doesn’t mention the fact that Fidelis isn’t free. He isn’t even considered a man in the eyes of Roman law, but the property of his master. Does the youth dream of a life as a freedman, Dianthe wonders. Does he wish to find a good, gentle wife and start a family? She realizes that there is little she actually knows about Fidelis, other than the fact that he seems to enjoy his master’s favor and be remarkable enough to have caught the attention of the Sinistram. She decides to get to know him better and perhaps help him in some way like she intends to help Ignaea. Though Levian would disagree, laws are nothing but the will of the strong enforced upon the weak. A citizen can be sold as a slave and a slave can be freed or even become incredibly wealthy, just like a dishonored mother with no husband can become a figure of influence in the greatest city the world has ever known.

"I have promised you a chance to refresh yourself and I intend to keep that promise. I will have the servants prepare a bath and will bring you clean clothes of the finest wool and aromatic oils imported from Egypt."

She looks at Fidelis and pictures herself slowly applying oil to his youthful skin. A strong heat rises in her, but she suppresses it. She knows it is her body’s way of making her mind forget the events of the day. She knows she will regret it, if she foolishly gives in to desire.

"I will ask Kallimache to assist you", she says and she immediately feels miserable and liberated at the same time.

She is ready to do so when Gaius Erucius Taurillus’ words make her pause. The man goes beyond metaphors about masks and theatrical performances this time, placing the tip of his walking stick in the extinguished brazier and using it to write letters on the otherwise spotless floor of her home.

O.A. Oculi aquilae?

Could it be that the magister too is an Eagle or is she merely seeing things she wants to see?

"What I say or do not say, honored magister, is not as important as what truly is. You claim to serve the republic, but what do you know about the bird that is its symbol? three, the same number as the leaders of the Eagles, the SinistramHow many eyes does it have? the left/sinisterWhat wing does it favor? What is its favorite nourishment - she wants to know Gaius’ allegiancebright gold, humble copper or the heady scent of laurel leaves? Answer me correctly and I will speak of all you wish to hear."



 


 
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  #74  
Old Mar 23rd, 2024, 12:54 PM
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Levian
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Levian Osmanthus
Levian, skeptic that he is, does not perceive (or chooses not to look for) the meaning in Gaius' scribbled letters. But even he is not blind to the question buried within Dianthe's questions:

"What do you know?"

It is a dangerous question. One that suggests the tutor knows too much to be simple coincidence. That he has seen the thread that ties the wing together, and has found cause to question it. A small voice inside of him hopes the man will provide satisfactory answers. A stronger voice cautions Levian that he will not. It would be too strange a coincidence, the Sinistram having planted an Eagle within Dianthe's home, and not having told her? Certainly it would raise questions about the heteira's loyalty to learn that that were true.

Heeding that voice of caution, Levian maintains his ruse of being a guard, and repositions himself. This time, to cover the exits, in case it proves imprudent to allow the magister to leave the domicile when he chooses.

 


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Old Mar 26th, 2024, 10:44 AM
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Abactemus returns
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Abactemus

While Dianthe and Levian are questioning Gaius in the porticoed gardenperistylium a door to the servant quarters opens and one of the Africani appears, leading Abactemus.

Though Abactemus is bathed and obviously is wearing clean garments, he manages to look as scruffy as ever. The only difference is that his hair is now hanging in unsightly wet strands about his head. Can't polish a Greek for...sphuras a servant can't refrain from saying. Other servants look rather shocked at this breach of decorum but the object of the remark, Abactemus, gives no indication of even having heard it. He is, in fact, casting glances all around the domus, nodding once in a while when he has figured out how he would shift certain goods, to where and for what price.

The Africanus places his large hand on the back of Abactemus' head and pushes down hard, forcing him to look at his own sandals---or rather, his borrowed sandals---as he shoves the man into his mistress' presence. You said you would make it worth my while but you didn't state your offer, so now I make my proposal, Abactemus squeaks, his voice made even more unpleasant than usual by his uncomfortable position. I tell you all I know and you give me that Venus over there. He points at a priceless statue of the Goddess Aphrodite; not a local copy but a remnant from the glory of Athens. and, of course, a guarantee that I can leave from here unmolested.


 

Last edited by Dworin; Mar 26th, 2024 at 10:45 AM.
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