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Shifts of Fortune [Closed] Read 12352 times

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Shifts of Fortune [Closed]
« Reply #120 on: January 19, 2014, 08:08:40 pm »
Lucius, too, opted for lighter attire. Aemilia had expected it, nodded as he mentioned drills. Of course it would be drills. ‘It must be useful.’ For one such as Lucius to insist on their importance, she did give them a second thought.

If only barbarians fought that way. At least with Perthia she could expect military-trained men. Whether or not that was a good thing was to be determined. It would be predictable, at least.

Like the patterns. Aemilia noted the variations from the drills at the Academy, and did notice it was an improvement. It created a shorter window of time for a reaction, and the new moves did not have a ‘set’ reaction to them. Even so, Aemilia found the pattern easy to create, as if it were a dance, and Lucius led well, giving just enough hint for her to respond in kind.

He was smiling, too.
‘So you really do enjoy this.’

Aemilia didn’t share it immediately. Where Lucius blocked the world out with his focus, Aemilia was quite aware of the spectators. She heard the sound of whispers, but could not make it out. She did not strain to do so, knowing that would be certain death. She had no reason to be concerned, or so she told herself. Tarpeia already knew where she was. If she were going to do something, it would already be done.

Even so, this was not the field of battle, and her mind was distracted with the idea this was not where she ought to be, in multiple opinions. Theron had his reasons.

Her mind lost track of the pattern despite how easily her body followed it. The moment of confusion about ‘where’ she was had its consequences when the mind attempted to reengage control of the situation. The blade slashed open her shield arm, the sudden pain banishing all thoughts to the back of her mind and clearing it up again. There was a quick shift in her posture and stance, shield adjusting to be held in a more useful position as she’d been using the sword to parry more than the shield. A quick smile alighted upon her face to give the reassurance she was just fine.


Beau

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Re: Shifts of Fortune [Closed]
« Reply #121 on: January 19, 2014, 08:39:41 pm »
Lucius wasn’t watching her face, or he might have seen the distraction.  In battle he would watch the eye, but doing drills he focused instead on the metal. His goal wasn’t to harm, so there was less force behind the cut than otherwise.  Still, he couldn’t react fast enough to stop the injury. 

It wasn’t the first time such a thing had happened.  Lucius wasn’t shocked or unprepared for the sight of blood. He had, however, never marred a woman’s flesh in such a way.   He moved his blade up and then down, tracking Aemilia’s sword and pointing it to the ground.  His gaze would aim to capture hers and signal the drill was over.  No point in being harmed himself if her reaction was off.

“Hold,” he said.  Using words to break the pattern.  Shield on one hand and blade in the other, he surrendered his sword by placing the tip in the earth before he could grip her arm.  He was quiet for moment examining the cut.  It wasn’t as deep as he feared – although he quickly vanquished the word from his thoughts.

One of the watching servants came rushing forward.  Lucius looked up at the sound of hurrying feet and frowned when he noticed more of an audience than usual.  Josiah had a basket with linens and a wash.  Traditionally if Lucius or his sparring partner were injured, Josiah would dress the wound.

Lucius stopped the man.  “I’ll do it.”  He took off his shield and set it aside.  “We’re done for today.”

The servant looked confused, but then did as asked and left the basket at Lucius’s feet. 

Lucius selected what he wanted before saying, “You’d best let me clean and cover it.”  He shook his head.  “You’re mother will be most displeased.”

Thought of Tarpeia reminded him that he’d lured Aemilia here with a veiled threat.  “I still haven’t decided what to do about…things.”   

He twirled the gauze in his palm and considered how much to say for a moment.  “Valeria is convinced that Theron will have me killed for my insubordination.”  A glance to the slice on her arm.  “Now he has more reason.”  With a sigh he moved to bandage it.  “Perhaps he was right keeping us apart.  A trainer shouldn’t mar their pupil.” 

He took the emotion out of his words with a lecture.  "You need to keep your shield arm up."

« Last Edit: January 19, 2014, 08:44:05 pm by Beau »

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Shifts of Fortune [Closed]
« Reply #122 on: January 19, 2014, 09:10:02 pm »
Lucius seemed to think the injury important enough to look at. Aemilia sighed. ‘Fragile.’ Yes, Lucius’s general opinion, she had to remember that. He’d likely be horrified if he knew the wounds she’d taken at the Academy.

She held, though. Aemilia copied him, placing her own sword to the ground. She shifted the shield off the other before he took it in his hands. Her eyes darted to the hurrying servants.
‘Different.’ Not in the way that they came when someone was injured, but in the way they were so comfortable with being seen.

The linen was left. Lucius opted to treat it himself. Aemilia wouldn’t question his expertise. It was only a cut, even she could treat it. The swords did not seem terribly dirty, either. She didn’t fear that it would worsen.
“My mother likes to find things to be displeased over, Antonius. I am quite used to it.” Tarpeia’s frustration over this did not worry her. Training came with risks, Aemilia knew this.

She did not ask anything on his decisions. He spoke on about Valeria instead and what the Tribune thought. Lucius had reason to be worried. Aemilia was not sure if Theron would go so far as to kill Lucius, though. Lucius still held a lot of sway. Her mind tried to analyze how Theron would even go about it—he’d have to destroy Lucius’s reputation first, and that would become a bloody game.

Despite the seriousness of it, and his words about her shield arm, she laughed. She kept her arm steady, but still laughed,
“My apologies,” she said, “I should not laugh.” It was his idea that this was marring. It was his idea that the student should not get injured. Aemilia had learned quite a bit from mistakes that resulted in wounds. “I will remember to keep my shield arm up.” No excuses. There were distractions on the field as bothersome as these had been.

Well, maybe not. Even so, she needed to get used to it. She did not close her eyes to the area around despite what other instructors had told her time and time again.
“Theron has seen me in a state worse than this. He would be upset, but that is only if I tell him.” And Aemilia knew she would be in trouble if she told him. She wanted to avoid that, at least until she could argue with his reasoning and make him see her way. “Do you truly think Valeria is correct?”   

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Re: Shifts of Fortune [Closed]
« Reply #123 on: January 22, 2014, 02:56:15 am »
She smiled and laughed. Lucius didn’t see the humor in the situation, but he didn’t glower or glare.  He focused on the cut, taking the time to be gentle as he wrapped the linen around her arm.

“I would never have thought so, until,” Lucius paused.  He wasn’t sure how truthfully he should answer the question. He tied the ends of the linen and completed the bandage. “I made the mistake of looking at you a certain way.  Men have been known to kill for less.”

Lucius didn’t appear worried though as he lifted a hand and reached for the knife that was placed in her hair.  The gesture dislodged the pin and Aemilia’s hair fell forward to frame her face.  Lucius didn’t comment.  He turned and started to stow the weapons.  “Theron needs my legions if the Perthia campaign is to be successful.  I’m not inclined to give them to him.  Taking them will be…difficult.”

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Shifts of Fortune [Closed]
« Reply #124 on: January 22, 2014, 07:08:40 pm »
Lucius was gentle for a soldier. The reason for that was quickly illuminated. Her mother did not lie well, in Aemilia’s humble opinion, but she also understood the bias familiarity created. She knew her mother.

‘He means to gain from you.’


It all clicked into place. Here was Lucius promising harm to Theron. Here was his confession. Further words were not needed. Tarpeia was frightened, and she had reason to be. She had picked the side opposed to Antonius, but not opposed to Theron.
“Ah.” Neutral. Non-committal, non-encouraging. To say anything else would be to lie or tell the truth, and neither options were good.

Now she understood why Theron kept them apart. He always had good instincts. Even now.
“He will kill you, should you do that.” Aemilia’s voice held no doubt, but no condemnation either. Simple fact. “Without an office, they are not your legions to command,” as she looked at the facts, she busied herself with pinning her hair back up now that her arm was taken care of. She didn’t need a mirror, she’d done this so many times before, “Winston will side with Theron. Some of your own will defect.” No matter how much Lucius thought he had command over them, he had earned that command through Theron. There would be plenty of men who would defect for that reason alone. There would be others who would see that what Lucius was doing was illegal. “Even if you had an office, Theron is dictator.” No one stood above that. His command was law. “You will inspire a civil war, Antonius.”

It would end badly. Not that civil wars ever ended well.
“Are you prepared for that?” It was a serious question. She did wonder if Lucius considered the options. He had considered enough to realize Theron would, indeed, kill him for these actions.

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Re: Shifts of Fortune [Closed]
« Reply #125 on: January 23, 2014, 12:56:32 am »

Lucius had considered the possibilities and tradeoffs most of the night.  He didn’t need Aemilia reminding him that his options were limited.

He could shrug it off, but he’d come this far with dialogue, he’d at least answer the last question.  “No.”  Lucius was not the strategist. Theron constantly reminds me that he acted first, and thought later.  He’d already spent more time thinking than he thought possible and the dark circles under his eyes proved it.  “I am not prepared.  It is not what I want.”  He wanted what used to be.  A flash of anger surged through him.  Like a trapped animal he vented the frustration by slamming the door of the equipment shed.

Then he almost laughed.  “But maybe death is better than politics.  Or marriage.”

He’d been a fatalist most of his life.  Ambitious but confident that what would be would be.  “War is what I have lived for.”  Theron knew it, and was being foolish, but he couldn’t change the man.  Glory ran in the family.

“Now you know my morning routine.  I am always outside in the garden at this hour.” Why fight it.  Let her put the information to good use when Perinder sent her.

Maybe you’ll be kind and kiss me goodbye.  He could only consider that stray thought a by product of his twisted sense of humor.  But he didn’t smile.

“You should go.”

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Shifts of Fortune [Closed]
« Reply #126 on: January 23, 2014, 02:16:58 am »
At least he understood. Had Aemilia known his threat to Tarpeia, she never would have questioned Lucius’s understanding of what he was doing. Theron was not a man crossed.

The door slammed.

Lucius was not, either. He laughed, but Aemilia didn’t share his humor. She couldn’t find much funny in it, not viewing either as horrible. Just the necessities of life.
‘You men and your wars.’ They saw nothing else. Not Theron. Not Lucius. Glory on the battlefield was what they wanted. It was, in truth, how Theron kept his power. It was the beginning of Tarpeia’s saying. A history of wars. A history of enemies.

Aemilia shut her eyes for a moment, thinking, as Lucius shifted subjects. It could give one whiplash how he went from discussing the matter of Theron to a casual note about his routine. When they opened, she spoke calmly,
“I shall take that as an invitation, Antonius,” she informed him. He could contradict her, of course. Even she considered it was a bad idea.

‘But such is normal.’
Lucius’s thoughts and her own. The key was not acting on it, and Aemilia had done well so far. She had hidden it, and could continue to do so.

Now she just had to figure out how to keep Theron from going to war with Perthia too soon. Buy time. Perhaps then sense could be talked into both of them.
“You are right, though. My mother is waiting.” Though Tarpeia would likely be surprised with how soon Aemilia was back.

Of course, there had been little conversation, simply sparring cut short by a frivolous wound. Aemilia did not consider asking about what Lucius planned to do with Tarpeia. It was already clear he was not prepared to answer that, much as he was not prepared to deal with the Theron situation. She inclined her head to him and turned to leave, taking the path back towards his home to leave through the front door.


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Re: Shifts of Fortune [Closed]
« Reply #127 on: January 31, 2014, 01:34:35 am »
He let her go.  Lucius didn’t watch as Aemilia went out the steps and into the house.  He might have admired her lack of fear at being seen if he’d noted the route, but his thoughts were elsewhere.

She’d be back.

He’d be ready.

How long he stood in the garden staring into space he couldn’t be sure.   One of the servants approached with word that Lady Valeria had come to call.   Lucius looked down at his attire and considered a moment, before deciding he should change first.  There was blood on his hand, and he couldn’t quite remember how it got there.

“Set out some breakfast,” Lucius commanded.  The household would know soon enough about his intensions with Valeria.  The rings would be recognized.  The gold band was intricate in design and had been worn by his mother.  “I’ll only be a moment.”

And so it was that the morning passed relatively peacefully.   Valeria didn’t seem to notice Lucius’s distraction.  Somehow he managed to nod and smile in all the right places as she discussed wedding plans.   Only later would he consider it odd that she didn’t pester him about his plans for the senate, Theron or if he’d take a position other than Magistrate.  Valeria took her leave and Lucius chewed on the hint that she represent the family after their marriage.   Wrestling his own grief, he seriously considered the possibility while the lion cub played with the untied strings of his sandles.

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Shifts of Fortune [Closed]
« Reply #128 on: February 05, 2014, 02:27:48 pm »
Theron ignored Tarpeia’s attempts to summon him. Instead, he made plans elsewhere that morning, and worked to have his other mornings busy, as well. It was not difficult. Perthia was annoyed, and he could see to it that they remained so while acting ‘pleasant’. It was interesting work, if only because it was unusual to be free of Antonius in it.

He knew it couldn’t last, though. He had told Iason that he would speak to Lucius, and he meant it.
‘Promote him.’ There was only one position that was considered a promotion. Theron considered it a lie. In name only was it a promotion. It would not last without his presence. Did Iason consider that, and the trappings of the title Deputy?

No matter.

It didn’t matter if Iason saw it or not. It mattered if Lucius did, and he kept his expression neutral as he approached Lucius’s home sometime after he’d heard the Tribune left. He was allowed entrance and led to the lobby as another servant went to fetch Antonius. The Spartan nature of it all only caused Theron to sigh. Something in the simplicity seemed to bother him now, where before it didn’t. It revealed that they were not on the same page, and perhaps never had been.


~***~

Tarpeia was not blind, and more than that, she was agitated that morning. Theron refused to see her, no reason given. Aemilia returned earlier than she expected, but it did not please her to see the wound, wrapped though it was. She removed herself from where she’d been sitting to take Aemilia’s arm before she could escape sight.
“And how did you get this?”

“Sparring, mother.”
It wasn’t the first time. She removed her arm from Tarpeia’s grip.

“Sparring?”
High voice. “Theron has told you not to! Directly, told you not to! He is dangerous. He hurt you.”

“That was my mistake,”
Aemilia corrected. “I was not paying close attention.” That didn’t sound like Aemilia. Her mother looked doubtful. “I am fine, mom. It is just a scratch, really.” A bit more than that. Still, nothing worth fretting over.

Tarpeia huffed,
“Well then. Has he decided anything?”

Aemilia blinked. Right, she’d told her mother that much.
“No.”

Such a frustrated sound! Her mother looked like she might rip her own hair out. It was enough to bring Quintus in. He tended to hide during these events. Tarpeia moved right to him and he grudgingly opened his arms for her. Aemilia watched in bemusement, canting her head to one side as her mother seemed to try and compose herself from whatever emotions and worries.
“So, you will be seeing him again, and play along right into his trap?”

Aemilia couldn’t help the smile, inappropriate it as it was,
“I am not sure what trap you see here. If he meant to kill me, he could have done so.” Aemilia did know, of course. Tarpeia had other fears now.

“This is all over you going to see Antonius?”
Aemilia nodded. Quintus, too, shook his head. “Tarpeia, you are—”

“Don’t you even start,”
she snapped, “You don’t know the half of it. Neither of you do.”

“And you won’t tell us?”


Tarpeia straightened. There was a look in her eyes that told Quintus he’d regret asking.
“Antonius would see Theron dead, but more than that, he wants to fuck her.” Blunt language to get her point across, as she pointed to Aemilia.

Aemilia couldn’t help it. She covered her mouth, but it did little to stifle her laughter. Once upon a time, she wouldn’t have believed it. She believed Lucius disliked her, perhaps hated her. She understood a bit better that lust had little to do with liking someone, but it still amused her that such was the reason her mother was most upset.
‘You would have sold me out to Theron or others if they were interested, mother, and you are upset over this.’ No, it was just hilarious hearing it from her lips.

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Re: Shifts of Fortune [Closed]
« Reply #129 on: February 07, 2014, 01:03:22 am »
Lucius hadn’t expected to see Perinder at his door, but he kept his surprise at bay.  His expression was as neutral as he could make it as the man was lead into the sitting area.  Lucius stood, as respect demanded.  He snatched the lion cub off the ground and handed her to the servant who departed once the guest was settled.   The lion didn’t want to leave.  She mewed and tried to paw her way over the servant’s shoulder, but was carried out all the same.

More scratches to tend to.

Lucius wondered if Perinder had come to scold him over the sparring session and its outcome but it soon became clear that he had something else in mind.   Neither man sat comfortably during the discussion.   Lucius didn’t pace, but he was obviously restless all the same.

“Let me get this straight.”  To say he was shocked by the propose would be an understatement.  “You want to appoint me as Deputy?”

That meant the war with Perthia was still planned.   His wedding to Tribune Cellar would likely be delayed.  It kept power in the family, at least for now. 

“I’m not sure what to say,” was the honest truth.  Although the position was more figurehead than anything else, most would consider it an honor to be Theron’s voice as well as his ear.  Lucius silently tried to convince himself to take it that way.  He’d dug himself into a rather deep hole on impulse.  Struggled with the reality of being cast aside.  He didn’t think this was an olive branch, but he was inclined to pretend.

It meant he would keep command of several legions, something he might  use as a bargaining chip.   Aemilia’s warning had planted seeds.

Iason’s idea.

With the other being appointed Magistrate, the line of thought was now obvious.   Lucius chose not to mention his suspicion.  If Theron wanted to claim it his own, then so be it.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2014, 01:06:52 am by Beau »

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Shifts of Fortune [Closed]
« Reply #130 on: September 18, 2014, 03:38:55 am »
The cogs were turning in the head of his once-loyal nephew. Theron offered him words, “Say you accept,” Theron told Lucius as he seemed to struggle with what he ought to do. ‘What other choice do you have?’ He would not say that, of course. Lucius knew what ground he stood on. He was a soldier, but more than that, he had always been intuitive. Even if he saw this for the trappings it held, he might also see it for the benefits it could bring.

“Say you accept and we’ll have this announced to the senate soon,”
Theron offered. Iason's position also needed to be made known to the senate, as well.

~***~

Tarpeia did not find Aemilia’s amusement acceptable at all.
“What is so funny, rabbit?”

An interesting question, but the answer did not matter. Aemilia was not sure if she doubted her. Lucius had confessed to looking at her in a way that Theron disapproved of. A touch lingered on her chin. Her mind was still full with the belief that Antonius did not like her much, despite all of that.
‘Lust and like.’ Two very different things that did not go hand-in-hand. “Why would you care, mother?” Aemilia returned, “Would it not benefit you if Antonius were in lust with me? I am surprised you are not telling me to whore myself to him.”

Tarpeia’s shock was as priceless as it was forced.
“How dare—”

“Don’t play modest,”
Aemilia interrupted. “Why do you care?”

Tarpeia closed her mouth. A fierce scowl crossed her features, before she answered,
“Because Theron is going to do away with Antonius and I do not want you on the wrong side.”

‘And Lucius thinks that may be because of me.’
She remembered. Lucius had not asked her to intervene on his behalf. He had decided nothing on Tarpeia, either. “I will not be on the wrong side,” she assured her mother, “I believe you are underestimating Lucius’s importance to Theron, however. Theron will not remove Lucius unless Lucius does something as foolish as Pompillius. He may be ruled by his passions, but one of those is love of Theron.” At least, Aemilia hoped so. The anger he had displayed earlier suggested he still cared for Theron. How could he be so angry at Theron if he did not? “Now, if that is all you have to share, I have studies to tend to.”

Tarpeia did not stop Aemilia, but she was not done. She let Aemilia walk out, and when Quintus spoke, she sharply turned her head. Quintus sighed, and he exited.

Moments later, Tarpeia has Sophos bring her a man known as Macon, a freedman she had worked with before.
“Destroy Lucius Antonius.” She told him on entry. No playing around.

Macon allowed a questioning smile to bubble to his lips, before he laughed at the direction.
“Without harming Periander or your kin?” A nod. “Might take me a bit…some creativity and inspiration will be rather difficult to come by….”

Tarpeia all but threw the money at him. She had used him in smear campaigns before, and would use him now to weaken and destroy Antonius. She knew that Theron would figure out it was her eventually, but this was what Theron got for ignoring her summons. She had to take action into her own hands, before Antonius destroyed them all.

Macon took up the coins, gave a mocking bow, and soon departed Tarpeia’s home.

« Last Edit: September 18, 2014, 03:40:26 am by Krystal Itzume »

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Re: Shifts of Fortune [Closed]
« Reply #131 on: May 10, 2015, 03:54:17 am »
Lucius sat in a chair by the fire.  A goblet nestled in his hand, but he didn’t drink the wine his servant provided.  The house staff didn’t know, or come to ask what he required.  They wisely kept their distance as the hour grew late and the sky dark.  Their master had been silent since returning from the reading of Perinder’s will.  Rumors were spoken in the kitchen instead.

Had he known that his uncle had chosen another heir?  Lucius certainly had grown distant from the older man.  Publicly he’d been promoted to Deputy, but the whispers of another favorite had followed him for almost a year.

Had he known that others plotted Perinder’s demise?  Lucius had privately opposed the war, even though he’d done his duty to his ruler.  Could he have fueled the fires of the rabble?  Could his motives have been discovered?

Did he help kill Perinder?  Certainly now there seemed less cause, but maybe the preemptive strike failed?  Lucius stood to gain much if circumstances had not changed.  What would become of him now?

Master seemed tired, irritable.  For a week he’d been faced with the senate and a trial of sorts.  People were dead.  Such had never to troubled him before, but the haunted look in his eyes today could not be discounted.

That Lucius might be grieving did not occur to them.  He’d been quiet and sullen for too long for depression to be noted by staff.  He’d not lifted a sword since Perinder’s death.  That seemed the most noteworthy, along with the lion he chose to ignore. So, while the staff gossiped in the kitchen, Lucius sat alone by the fire.  His fiancée was dead.  His mentor was dead.  His reputation was on the brink, and he wondered if he really cared.  The flames were pretty, like a certain woman’s hair.  But the colors moved out of reach and failed to warm.  His lips twisted over the irony of that – how what he’d wanted most would only hurt him.

He shivered.

And waited for her to come.


(I don't like Katy Perry, but for some reason I have Dark Horses playing, and this popped out of my blank imagination).
« Last Edit: May 10, 2015, 03:55:56 am by Beau »

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Shifts of Fortune [Closed]
« Reply #132 on: May 10, 2015, 09:09:36 pm »
There had been a lot of clean-up to do, with the death of Theron Audra Periander. Aemilia and Iason had returned with some troops, but they weren’t necessary. The public were heard as a mob. Among the deceased that were innocent were Valeria Celer and Winston Demos. The latter was a further knife to Aemilia’s own heart, but the worst of it all had been the will.

Aemilia hadn’t known.

Looking upon Theron’s corpse, and knowing how much went unspoken and unacknowledged was an agony that could only be endured in silence.

With Theron dead, there had been more immediate things to worry about—namely ascension, government, and war. Aemilia had pushed herself up into the position of Magistrate, and she had Iason share in the burden as the other Magistrate. Theron had already offered the position to Iason before his death, since it was a position Lucius chose to resign from.

Yet, she had considered him.

They had not truly spoken to each other since her return to Sylvestre. They acted in harmony during the storm, but now the calm of the storm’s eye had arrived, and Aemilia knew where she was expected. Rumors swirled, mostly by Tarpeia, but the people were listening to the writing on the wall.
‘If it were advisable I might have you exiled, mother.’ Aemilia thought as she walked to the home of Lucius Antonius, her blue eyes noting another bit of terrible graffiti.

‘You are not making anything easier for me.’


The knock was answered by a servant,
“Lady Periander,” she was greeted immediately by the name she’d taken, “You can—”

“I’ll wait here,”
she interrupted, removing the hood from her head and letting her black hair spill down her back, “Please let Antonius know that I am here.” She did not want to make herself comfortable. It had never been appropriate, but it seemed even less so that day.

She had brought no weapons, and for all intents and purposes, come in peace.

She didn’t know if it would end that way.


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Re: Shifts of Fortune [Closed]
« Reply #133 on: May 12, 2015, 05:33:26 am »
Lucius knew he should be considering his future rather than staring blindly into the flickering flames.  But, thinking took energy.  It wasn’t his strong suit, and frankly he was tired which made his brain as slow as the alcohol lulled it.  He sniffed the goblet and the aroma of the wine filled his lungs.  Eyelids heavy he let them close finding peace in the dark.  It would be good to rest.

He’d not wanted the role he’d been sworn to do.  Lucius he had always been a soldier, and while that included commanding men he found he disliked debate and consensus.  He preferred to act.  To move.  He’d done far too much sitting in the last year.  Theron knew it even before he did – that government was not for him.  And yet he disliked how the choice had been taken from him.  The situation was personal and pinpointed, although Lucius suspected that plans were in motion that not even Perinder intended. 

Not that any of it matters now.

He heard voices in the hall, but he didn’t rise.  Ameilia had taken, or been gifted much.  Why wouldn’t she take the liberty of welcome?  So, he sat and waited for her to march into the room and take his life with the rest.  Neat and tidy.  His eyes fell on the fruit bowl on the fireplace mantle.  He could rise and gather the dagger hidden there, but standing seemed like too much effort.  And he already knew that he wouldn’t kill her in self defense.  Maybe a fit of passion, but not in a preemptive strike.

In the hall his lion had no such inhibitions.  Pulcha was larger than when she’d last seen the woman who smelled like wood and grapes.  Her paws were still oversized, but the cub moved with more grace than before, taking her time to survey and pad closer, searching for outstretched fingers to brush that worrisome spot behind her ears.

The servant went and found Lucius.  He inched closer, and whispered in his master’s ear.  Lucius drummed his fingers on the arm rest of the chair before setting aside the goblet and rising to stand.  He brushed a hand through his shoulder length hair, and looked down at the front of his tunic.  Vanity died hard, but there was no telltale stain to indicate how much he had drunk this evening.  He didn’t stagger and his speech wasn’t slurred, but there was no light in his eye either as he went to the threshold.

“Good evening.”  He refused to use the new title, there was a pause to indicate the absence.  “To what do I owe the honor?”

« Last Edit: May 12, 2015, 06:06:56 am by Beau »

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Shifts of Fortune [Closed]
« Reply #134 on: May 12, 2015, 06:28:08 pm »
The lion cub was the first of the Antonius family to truly greet her, and Aemilia tried to resist the urge to reach out to her when she came padding up. Those beautiful eyes and innocent look, however, caused Aemilia to reconsider. She gave in, reached out, and stroked the soft fur on the top of Pulcha’s head once, then reached again and began to scratch behind that one ear the way the lion always seemed to appreciate.

When Antonius came into the room, Aemilia drew her hand back and shifted her gaze up.
‘Drunk.’ It was in those icy eyes of his. There might not be the obvious signs, but then, Aemilia wouldn’t be here if that was all she ever noticed. Besides that, the scent of wine permeated the room when he entered it, when he spoke.

He mocked her in the greeting.
‘To think….’ A thousand thoughts trailed after of love and of the hero he had been, creating the lump of disappointment and disgust in her throat. She did not clear it, but waited a few seconds for it to dissipate. “We have not really spoken since Theron’s death,” Aemilia answered him, “I came to see you.”

There were other motives, of course. She was never without a few of those things in her dealings.
“We both lost someone…important,” how he was important was different. Whether or not he was looked upon fondly was likely up for debate by Lucius, but there was no denying he was important, “And more besides,” he had lost his fiancé, and she had lost her teacher, in the hatred of the plebs. “So I wanted to see you, to make sure you were all right.”

Evidently, he was not all right. That meant her second motive might be to find out what he wanted to peacefully leave Sylvestre, dignity intact, rather than what he wanted to enter service again.


Beau

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Re: Shifts of Fortune [Closed]
« Reply #135 on: May 13, 2015, 01:26:28 am »
His first glance was to the lion and he offered her a snap of his fingers which she ignored. Lucius glanced between the two with a knowing gaze.

Females are fickle.

He judged the lion, much as he saw the judgement in Ameilia’s eyes.  He straightened under her words, noting too the pause in her disclosure.

He spread his arms, in an indication that he was fine and whole.  “I made it home safely from the senate meeting, Ameilia.”  A smirk.  “I don’t need to tread that way again, so all is well.”  Her mother can spread whatever rumors she wished, he really didn’t care anymore, and would not dare to ask for her to intercede with the witch on his behalf – much as he’d never asked for her support with Theron.

Was he supposed to ask ‘and how are you?’  Clearly she didn’t need his assistance.  She had everything she wanted and all he’d been warned about.  Such surprised him little but ate at him all the same.  Was it only wounded pride? 

He let his gaze rake over her before he let his hands fall to his sides.  “So now you’ve seen me.”

Lucius missed how the cub looked longingly after his departing figure and then followed when he ignored her and left the archway to return to the main room.  He called back over his shoulder.  “If you want to speak with me you’ll need to share a drink.  I’m too tired to spar in the hallway.”  And so he went to his chair and sat down.

« Last Edit: May 13, 2015, 01:27:53 am by Beau »

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Re: Shifts of Fortune [Closed]
« Reply #136 on: May 14, 2015, 07:36:51 pm »
Lucius wanted to be informal again, it seemed. Aemilia watched his exaggerated gestures and words without cracking a smile at them. He showed no inclination towards the senate or its activities, feigned wellness, and all but dismissed her after he gave her one hard, look over.

It might have been a dismissal if he hadn’t invited her in for drinks, after turning and walking away. Aemilia knew she could have said that she had, in fact, seen him and had no reason to stay, but they both knew it was a lie. 

 Besides, the lion was following him.
‘One drink.’ Aemilia would not indulge in more, but she knew she wouldn’t get anywhere if she outright refused a drink. So, she followed after Lucius and Pulcha, “I didn’t come to spar, don’t worry. I’m unarmed,” she informed him, bland tone, like the many walls and furnishings here. Lucius had never been the extravagant sort, but that day she wished he had been. She could look over all the decorations to avoid focus on the uncomfortable situation.

At least there were furnishings, though, if she wanted to sit. She wasn’t sure if it would be wiser to stand, though. 


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Re: Shifts of Fortune [Closed]
« Reply #137 on: May 16, 2015, 06:25:03 am »
The procession to the livingroom was like a parade.  The master of ceremonies took his seat, followed by the animal act that bounded across the marble tile and skidded to a stop at his feet.  Then the star of the show, followed by a bright entourage of hurrying fans.  Lucius didn’t have a large staff, but all seemed to suddenly be present offering refreshment, to take her cloak, and all other means of comfort.  One knelt at her feet to remove sandals as though she would be staying awhile.

A tray of fruit was set on the table.  A pitcher of wine was brought. Dancers moving in uniform choreography. Lucius’s glass was refilled but he didn’t take another sip.  His hand absently scratched the lion’s head that rested on his lap.  Pulcha poked his leg with a paw to encourage the contact and rolled her face against his stomach.  The feel of fur was familiar and comforting, but he didn’t smile.

“Worry is not a word I associate with you,” his only comment to the fact that she wasn’t armed.  There were many ways to wound.  His eyes likely said as much as he watched her warily.

One servant poked the logs on the fire.  They rolled and sparks flew into the air; the wood settled with a loud thump.

Lucius’s voice was deceptively soft, “Leave us,” he commanded.  As fast as they’d come, the dancers exited stage right.

“Has the rumor that Valeria was pregnant, and that the child was not mine reached your ears?”  He smirked and sat back in the chair.  “That one is my favorite.”  How anyone could tell or even suppose such a thing was surprising but he’d heard the whisper repeated twice.  If the first part was true then so was the second.  He’d not taken any liberties.  He doubted that Valeria would dare to find pleasure elsewhere, but how well did he really know her?  Tarpeia disliked them both enough to breathe scandal where she saw fit.

The lion mewed and tried to crawl further into his lap as though sensing he needed someone to hug.  Lucius whispered something to her and she moved away to curl up on the floor.  Head on her forepaws she watched him.
 
“Will you go to live in Theron’s house?”  Lucius closed his eyes for a moment.  Long lashes brushed dark circles. The wine loosened his tongue. “I ask only because such would mean that Cassandra will come and cry on my shoulder and I’m honestly not in the mood right now to listen to her whine about you.”

« Last Edit: May 16, 2015, 06:30:23 am by Beau »

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Shifts of Fortune [Closed]
« Reply #138 on: May 16, 2015, 10:09:40 pm »
Aemilia’s hands went to her cloak to indicate silently she did not wish to give it away. Her eyes had been on that servant before she noticed someone had bent, and she nearly kicked out when she felt the hand attempt to get her to step out of her shoes, “No, please,” she managed some courtesy, but there was a snap in her tone.

She wouldn’t be made comfortable,
“Thank you,” she said when the servant rose, “Just wine,” though fruit was also brought out. She wondered when the staff had even begun to prepare the sliced foods. It certainly couldn’t have been prepared for Lucius, when the whim would strike him.

A cup was brought to her as she moved across the floor to sit, and before she let it be filled, her finger ran along the inside of it, the rim.
‘No poison then.’ And the pitcher was the same that had refilled Lucius’s glass, so she let it be filled. Funny how all the actions came naturally, without a thought—there wasn’t a real fear of poison, but the need to check was now constant. Theron had not been half as diligent.

The sparks settled. The staff left. Aemilia didn’t sip the wine but set it aside, knowing she wouldn’t touch it until Lucius drank of his first.
“All I hear is pregnancy talk,” Aemilia had heard that rumor. Perhaps she’d heard it first. She didn’t know all the ones her mother started, but she knew all the ones her mother repeated. “My mother isn’t so concerned with that one, so much as the rumors that Cassandra is pregnant with your child.”

Everyone was talking about babies.
“Can’t say that one is my favorite,” a better day, she might find humor in these things. “I do intend to live there. Cassandra knows this already,” unless she was living in denial. Cassandra had been given what was owed her, and she knew the way to her family’s home. “If Cassandra’s whining bothers you, refuse her,” though neither option would help the rumors, she suspected, “Or, there are other options. You are in a prime position to become a governor elsewhere.”

It was one option for him, one of many, and so she laid it out casually to see his reaction. Many would jump at the chance. It was an easy way to gain an income doing nothing, since most governors overtaxed the people they supposedly served and protected.
“I doubt Cassandra would follow you all the way south.”

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Re: Shifts of Fortune [Closed]
« Reply #139 on: May 17, 2015, 12:15:34 am »
I’m not in the mood to whine about you either.  I’d rather sit and wallow and feel sorry for myself.

He knew that to be true as well; guard down.  Pride resurrected itself to have him pause and not take another drink even though he reached for the glass.  She took his cue on the rumors, repeating more of the same.

“There had to be some explanation for why Theron chose you.  Jealousy and revenge.”  He had to wonder though if the last wasn’t Cassandra’s own doing.  She’d never been shy about her preference even though Lucius had been firm about lines he would not cross.  “I was many things to my Uncle, but stud was not one of them.”  He rubbed his jaw and sighed.  “Pity. Theron longed to be a father.”

The populous would grow bored with the rumors soon enough.  Lucius almost asked if she was with child as well, since there seemed to be something in the water, but his sense of humor failed him.  He didn’t want to hear her say yes.

“South.” He snorted his opinion.  “Is that what I should do?  Run away?”  He flicked his glance in her direction. She didn’t seem distressed by the idea of him fleeing.  His jaw clenched and his grip tightened on the glass.   

“Would that make it all go away?”

Impossible.  Although what the ‘it’ was probably differed in each of their opinions. He knew it clearly, where as she still insisted on calling him Antonius.

“We’re family.  I should at least stay long enough to see you settled in your new home.  Or attend the wedding – whichever is first.”


Krystal Itzume

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Re: Shifts of Fortune [Closed]
« Reply #140 on: May 17, 2015, 12:51:11 am »
Lucius said the reason why Theron chose her, clear as day. He longed to be a father, and Aemilia was young enough, malleable enough, and attentive enough to be a daughter to him. It had worked for the both of them, since her father had died when she was young, and he never had children.

Aemilia couldn’t echo Lucius’s sentiments. A rival to the throne would have to be killed, as Cosimo reminded and Tarpeia would insist. Cosimo should have been her husband, but things had changed. He remained married to his wife, but insisted he’d divorce her in a heartbeat. Aemilia put him off.

She did not want him.

He was also not advantageous to marry any longer. If anything, one of Winston’s children would be the most advantageous match to suggest harmony.

Antonius understood what going south would be, and so Aemilia discarded that option.
“It would make it all go away, though,” in time. He’d be forgotten, and allowed to live in peace as Sylvestre moved on, the general in retirement, getting fat off his crops and rich off his people. Everything wrong he’d done would be forgotten in peace. “You may stay in Sylvestre longer if that is your desire. I’ll be moving in three weeks, but you may remain after," no comment on weddings. "I do not wish to run you off. We’re family,” she echoed his words, “I want what is best for you.” It was a line, of course, and the tilt of her lips in a smile gave away that she knew it too well. She couldn't say it to him with a straight face, regardless of the tension.

It wasn’t necessarily a lie. What was best for him just might not be what he wanted.

What was best for most was rarely what they wanted.


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Re: Shifts of Fortune [Closed]
« Reply #141 on: May 17, 2015, 06:53:44 am »
He wasn’t sure what he expected, but a vapid smile wasn’t it. His stomach twisted. Lucius found he could no longer look at her, and chose to stare into the goblet instead.  “You’re not drinking,” his first comment as he processed what she said.  He took a sip to prove that he could do what she could not.

Three weeks seemed like a long time, but maybe Cassandra had insisted.  Or maybe she’d be traveling back to Perthia with Iason to finish what was started?  It was hard to remember the rest of the world scenario when so much had happened in the city the last few days.

“Gracious of you,” he said of her offer to ‘allow him to stay’.  Arrogance would be her downfall, just like pride would be his.

His eyes flickered back to the fire.  “What’s best for me.”  He repeated the words and let them flow over his lips like he was tasting them for the first time.  “Do you know what that is?”  Now he turned and let his gaze rest on her with her cloak still on and sandals tied.  He was worth only a few moment of her time, and that was filled with meaningless platitudes.  An edge entered his voice, “Theron was always free with his opinions and advice.  Perhaps you will favor me with the same given your wealth of experience.  What is best for me?”


Krystal Itzume

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Re: Shifts of Fortune [Closed]
« Reply #142 on: May 17, 2015, 07:25:04 am »
Aemilia could say that drinking slipped her mind until he mentioned it, but it’d be a lie. She was waiting for him, and when he drank, she took up her cup, and took a sip. Then, she set it aside again. Slow drinking was the only way to go about drinking. It kept the head clear.

“Theron is dead.”

The three words were simple when spoken, but held a deeper meaning. Theron had done many things Aemilia would always admire, but he had gotten himself killed. She would not be like Theron in everything. Rather than say that, she said,
“I do not have his years of experience, nor do I have his years of knowing you. Still, I’ll play the game of imagining,” she said, and took the cup again, took another sip from it, and set it aside, “If I had Theron’s mindset, I would work to renew the war effort with Perthia and send you into the fray leading the troops. That is what would be best for you.” He’d return in glory or die a hero.

“The only war on my agenda, however, is with the remnants of the traitors. That is not long enough to be the best thing for you,” she leaned forward, crossing her arms over her knees. She looked at him, through him. “War is where you thrive, and it is what you do best. Here you sulk and decay. Without war, I do not know what is best for you,” she flicked her gaze to his face. “And I do not desire war, Lucius Decimus Antonius. I desire peace.”

Unlike Theron, who had planned to use war to maintain his position as dictator.

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Re: Shifts of Fortune [Closed]
« Reply #143 on: May 17, 2015, 06:15:13 pm »
I’m not sulking, although his lips twitched under the thought.  The smile did not emerge, however. He wasn’t ready to move through the mood, but he could appreciate a spade being called a spade.

He felt her gaze on him and turned his face to hers on the word desire. Could she really know what that was?  Could she feel it with every fiber of her being so that sweat formed on her brow and her muscles shook? He shook his head.

“Peace.” A sigh.  “I opposed the war with Perthia.” Perhaps she’d forgotten the backbone he’d showed that day?  She saw him as a one note song.  “I agree that renewing that conflict is not right.  Men should not fight only to kill or for the glory of it.  Life is precious.” 

And time was short.  He stood and went to the fireplace, her face ever etched in his brain. “You have a hungry machine at your feet.  Men, who do not know how to be farmers, and land that is scarce besides.  You cannot say to the world ‘today our purpose has changed’ and expect laurels to be dropped at your feet.”  She didn’t have the credibility.  She was a woman.  He knew many who would not see her as ‘Mother Sylvestre’.

“How will you hold this Peace, Aemilia?  Iason will return to his god.  Winton is without words. And I…”  His voice cracked.  His hand reached for the fruit bowl on the mantle, thinking to take the dagger and offer it with a dramatic toss on the table, in accompaniment to his thought. I will be a victim of the only war you wish to fight.

But, he took an apple instead, and weighed it heavily in his hand.  He sniffed the skin and inhaled over the words that wished to pour out. He wanted to hear her answer.

« Last Edit: May 17, 2015, 06:17:40 pm by Beau »

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Shifts of Fortune [Closed]
« Reply #144 on: May 22, 2015, 02:39:32 am »
Aemilia had not forgotten what Lucius chose. Of course, she did not vocalize dissent against Theron then. She had known, selfishly, that what Theron was doing was in her interest. He thought nothing of the soldiers who needed land. “There is land to the north that can still be settled,” the remnants of barbarians to be cleared away. Aemilia didn’t know how far north they could go, until they reached anything that resembled civilization, but that was the plan for now.

Expand north. Keep the soldiers busy in something not quite war, in something that was no real threat to Sylvestre.
“I understand this process will be long.” How long, she didn’t know, but she was prepared to grit her teeth and see it through. There were no other options. Funny, she didn’t feel trapped, despite that realization. Perhaps that would come later.

He took an apple, and seemed to be waiting.
“I’ll hold the peace as best I can. I cannot now predict in depth how. Much will have to be played by ear.” She would have some legitimacy after leading the war effort against the traitors. She’d send soldiers to the north, to settle the land. She’d likely send Casper up with them to govern that area, and keep Hyperion near.

‘Since you do not wish to help.’
It was in the way he trailed off, or that was how Aemilia read it. He was hiding his intentions, his own wants, and not at all suggesting he could be of any use to her.

So Aemilia would have to assume, he didn’t wish to be of any use.
“Iason will be near, and there’s always room for the voice of the pious. Hyperion shall likely officially take his spot,” Aemilia wouldn’t keep Iason from his god, but she would not let him remove himself from civilization. “Winston’s sons will have his voice in time,” and she’d bend them to her. Winston had bent before Periander. His sons were lesser men than him. “You, though....”

Aemilia rose. Everything about her had told Lucius she was not here to waste time,
“What would you be to Sylvestre’s peace?” He had started to include himself in the list of people who were not going to be of any use to her. That meant he should have had a purpose, as Winston and Iason would have had. 

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Re: Shifts of Fortune [Closed]
« Reply #145 on: May 22, 2015, 07:23:00 am »
He did not bite the apple.  The fruit of knowledge would not serve him now.  He listened as she spoke of her plans and did not agree or disagree although he was tempted.  His opinion was not asked in any case.

North.  A simple thing, like she could point and make it so.  She thought nothing of displacing others for the greater good.  The barbarians no more than a passing threat to be brushed aside like dust on a mantle.  Again, the arrogance.

“Hyperion,” a scoff and an eye roll.  Iason was unlikely to approve of his replacement, and might stay on those grounds alone.

Her stance was regal as she drifted towards him, a queen surrendering her throne in favor of facing the peasantry.  The cloak billowed about her; her hair gleamed in the light.  Lucius held his ground and her gaze.  She didn’t accuse him as a traitor, or laude him as a hero.  Instead she asked what he was – like she hadn’t just reminded him about the mask he wore.

“I am war, as you’ve seen fit to dub me with all nine syllables of my name.”  A frown.  That statement could be taken as threat.  She’d once assumed he’d start a civil war given the opportunity although he’d denied such intent.  But that’s not why he held the words close.  He’d been hurt by what she said then and now. 

“I am war. And I am not what you want.”

« Last Edit: May 22, 2015, 11:42:16 pm by Beau »

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Shifts of Fortune [Closed]
« Reply #146 on: May 22, 2015, 02:00:55 pm »
There was no time to defend Hyperion against the scoff and the eye roll, and she had little care to. Hyperion could do that on his own. What mattered was what Antonius thought he could do, and it seemed in his sulking he was going to let any opinion bother him.

Aemilia had never realized just how self-conscious the man was. It took another piece out of the hero she’d worshipped, and filled another part that had once loved him with naught but negativity.
“Very well then,” Aemilia would accept whatever beliefs he wanted to hold about himself. She didn’t have the time to build up the broken man, or rather, she didn't have the passion of hot emotions. She had exhausted those days before, and would have never seen Antonius under their influence. It wouldn't be wise to do so, as the scene playing out before her informed.

He would not be what she wanted. She’d take the warning from him. So many others had tried to tell her as much, and only now was she starting to believe it.
“Try to stay low, Antonius. If you start a war I won’t be kind.” That had been a mistake Theron consistently made, and it left him with too many enemies on the senate. “I’m sure that I will see you around,” but that would be all. He’d have no place in her circle. He would stay here, only because he didn’t want to run away.

Aemilia turned to leave on that note. 


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Re: Shifts of Fortune [Closed]
« Reply #147 on: May 22, 2015, 11:16:54 pm »
He’d laid his heart at her feet, and she’d stepped forward and squashed it.   He had half a mind to grab her – force her to see what was before her – but remained stoic in defeat, eyes and face blank.   His fingers formed into a fist as his brain fought with his swirling emotions.  Indeed they had lost someone important.  Today he lost another.

Just last night, had he dreamed about her?  Standing in his garden and laughing in the sun.  He’d not held a sword this week but his subconscious still clung to moments when he felt whole. 

It was hard to swallow and speak. “Kindness is not a word I associate with you.”  Had she used any here, the outcome would be different.  A whispered word or a simple ‘no.’ He doubted she knew the power of love. Theron taught her after all.

Theron the great manipulator.  King of threats and empty promises.  Master user. 

She would see him?  Really?

“Blind fool.”  But the words were soft and perhaps meant more for him than her.  He turned, rather than watch her go.  He’d make no promises.  And he doubted he would take her advice.