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Shifts of Fortune [Closed] Read 11943 times

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Shifts of Fortune [Closed]
« Reply #60 on: September 29, 2013, 05:43:31 pm »
Theron was curious that the god was not named. Was Iason ashamed of it? If it had a priesthood, he suspected it must be one of the figures accepted within Sylvestre, not a part of the old faith. He didn’t know much about Iason when it came to matters of faith, though. Iason Karis had always been a loyal man, though, and Theron knew this was no joking matter. He was not saying this simply to avoid a forced marriage, his vows were sincere.

Theron sighed. He was disappointed, of course, but he did not have it in him to try and talk Iason out of it. He could respect an honest man of faith—there were so few of those,
“Very well, Iason. If you have decided to forsake such human pleasures, to forsake a legacy, then I will not stop you, but you are still coming with me to at least one more campaign,” Perthia. He’d need Iason there. “I will consider your needs to serve your god after that, and I’ll see that Tarpeia does not pester you.” Hopefully she had at least talked sense into Lucius.

He rejoined the 8th before the gates were reached.

The smell of delicious food made everyone’s spirits high. Casper rode up to Aemilia’s side,
“We’ll have to break formation to move the prisoner to a cell.”

She nodded,
“Let’s move back now.” And she bid Silanus farewell before riding back with Casper to where the prisoner was. She knew approximately when they’d break away from the moving line of soldiers. Music and sounds of revelry reached their ears as they passed under the gate, and Casper tilted his head up.

“I can’t hear the lions,”
he complained.

“I’m sure those are being saved for when we can actually view them.”


“I know,”
he sounded disappointed, still, as if he hoped to hear them roar, hoped to hear them be engaged in chasing down a feast, already.

Others joined the ranks, those legionnaires who had fought but been sent back here for whatever reason. They proceeded along the main streets, though at the turn of one, Casper made the motion to break from the lineup. The prisoner’s horse was moved along by Casper, and their horses forced those who gathered to greet the returning soldiers to make way for them. They went along a secondary street to the prisons, where Azata could be left safely behind without getting to enjoy the delights of the feast.


Beau

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Re: Shifts of Fortune [Closed]
« Reply #61 on: October 05, 2013, 02:17:17 am »
The eighth led them into the city.  Lucius remained on his horse near the gates as the parade progressed.  When he saw Theron he moved his horse to his side.  He fully expected that Theron would take credit, and he planned not to linger at his side, but he did want to ensure that all was well.

The soldiers checked their own mounts as Lucius’s white horse moved among them.  Lucius made the traditional salute to Theron and greeted him formally, “Periander.  I return to you the city and am pleased to see the laurels of victory bestowed to you.”

Two others had followed Lucius with their own horses, Tribune Cellar and Winston.   They had joined Lucius while he waited near the city gate.  Cellar spent her time gripping about how the girls were being used unfairly – where were the flower boys?  Lucius simply rolled his eyes and did his best to hold his tongue and ignore her.  His horse clopped along, and he raised his voice to drown out the criticism. “As I said, Welcome back Periander.  Are there no prisoners?”  He’d not seen any cages or men in shackles.  “I was hoping for a display with the lions.  Lady Flavius agreed to join me,” a meaningful pause, “and a few others for the festivities.  A box has been set aside for you at the arena.  Sundown.”

The music grew louder as they neared the city center.  Appropriate sacrifies would be made to the gods.  Theron would speak.  Everyone would eat. “I’m sure others desire your company.  Shall I find Cassandra and direct her to your side?”

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Shifts of Fortune [Closed]
« Reply #62 on: October 05, 2013, 05:46:41 am »
Lucius could have dispensed with the formality, but it was to be expected. Theron didn’t truly mind it, even if he found the words leaving Lucius’s lips a bit funny. Winston and the tribune that Theron didn’t like followed him, and he nodded to them in welcome as they moved with the legion. Neither were legionnaires. They didn’t understand this procession, not truly. The Tribune complained, and Winston let her, curiously enough. No interruptions to get his own voice heard.

No, Theron would deal with that later, no doubt, unless Aemilia’s letter had answered his questions for the time being. Lucius sounded disappointed about the prisoners,
“Oh, aren’t our own prisons full enough?” A quirk of a smile. There would be someone to throw to the lions. However, he wouldn’t lie to Lucius, “There is one prisoner, a Perthian spy. Might make for quite the spectacle. Pullus and Casper should be taking that one to a cell, but you are free to speak to the guards to arrange for his removal for the lions,” Theron noted. The mention of Tarpeia joining wasn’t unnoticed, but it would not be commented on. That meant Lucius had, indeed, been talking to her. That was progress. 

‘You could have invited one of the women she suggested.’
Perhaps her list had not been to Lucius’s standards, though. Something was amiss. “I will attend it,” he assured. He always did. “Do send Cassandra my way,” others would join soon enough, Casper and Pullus would return and find their own places. Theron would send for Iason and invite him to see the lions, as well as Pullus—she did like those creatures, and her mother would already be there. “Do as you will in regards to prisoners and lions. If there are not enough from the war, see to some of the prisoners sentenced to death or slavery and use them.”

But he pulled his horse from Lucius’s side. He had to go speak on this ‘hard won’ war. He had to foreshadow what was to come without worrying the people too much to distract them from the current celebrations. He had to be the hero.


~***~

And the two legionnaires had to see a spy locked up, a spy who was begging and pleading over the issue, trying to persuade them now with money that he was no such thing. They feigned being deaf and reached the prison easily enough. Casper dismounted,
“Stay with the prisoner,” he left his horse and walked into the prison itself, by the guards situated outside.

Aemilia did as directed.
“Please, your mother—your mother would be most upset if I were locked up.”

Aemilia didn’t answer. Silence was often better than speaking in these situations.


“I am not a spy. I have no qualms with Sylvestre.”
His words were met with nothing. “We want no war with Sylvestre!” Nothing. He'd shout his innocence to all who might pause to listen. The silence did so much work on its own. “We know of this country’s warmongering ways, I was only trying to protect Perthia!”

Aemilia hadn’t really thought much of him until then. She didn’t glance his way, lest she reveal she was now interested in what he had to say. It seemed he was a spy, of a sort. Perthia was wary of Sylvestre, as well they ought to be. Aemilia knew Theron would want to go to war with Perthia. It was the only way he’d maintain his power. War after war after endless war…there was no talking sense into him otherwise. Much as he might want to deny it, he was a soldier. What he knew of power came from victory on the field of battle. He had won the senate by force. He had won fortune by force.

Always, violence.


“We—we have reason to be worried, watching Theron storm across the world. That is all, I swear it!”


Casper returned.
“There’s a special place for him,” a smirk. Aemilia dismounted, not planning to follow. She’d stay with the horses, she just wanted to be down to hold the reigns, lead them away. By the time they got to where Theron was, there’d be no need to ride in. They could walk in without causing a disturbance.

Casper did the work of removing the bound man from the horse he was on, and Aemilia kept the horse steady as the man attempted his pathetic struggles. Soon enough, Casper got him down, and led him off, leaving Aemilia to guard the horses.


Beau

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Re: Shifts of Fortune [Closed]
« Reply #63 on: October 05, 2013, 06:39:53 pm »
Lucius took his cue and nodded to Theron, before wheeling his horse away from the procession.  Cassandra was waiting near the senate hall, watching as the men started to march past.  She was dressed in white and the servants tended to her, even though they were distracted by the procession.

Cassandra looked up as Lucius approached on his horse.   Her neck craned to see him better.  “Well?” she asked.  They’d spoken a few times in Theron’s absence.  Lucius knew she was insecure in her position.  He also knew that her feelings for Theron faded, whispers in his ear before he made clear his willingness to be friend, but nothing more.  Cassandra could be dutiful to the end.  She would play her part even if the man before her had sun in his hair which cast a god-like halo.  Her hands remained at her sides, although they balled into fists. “What did he say?”

Lucius remained on his horse.  He didn’t want to get too close, eager to avoid being pawed.  “You should proceed to the city center.  There is a place on the dais for you to stand and show your support.  Sylvestre is unified and will remain so.”

Cassandra offered a nod, and Lucius took that as acceptance.  He prepared to ride off, but paused as Cassandra said his name, “Lucius?” 

The eloquent profile turned but the look silenced her.  She gave a second nod, and Lucius kicked his horse and decided to ride to the prison, rather than stand with Theron and Cassandra.  He was honest and knew he was angry with them both.  Now was not the time to show it.

The white horse clomped through the streets, the horse’s hoofs echoing on the stone.  He was dressed in uniform and the horse pranced under his skilled hand.  The pace slowed as the prison came into view, the only activity being two horses at the gate.  Lucius checked the horse with a pull on the reins.  “Easy Kato,” he said softly, although the words were more for his rapidly beating heart as he saw Aemilia.  She was safe, but he felt a sense of relief seeing her there. The emotion disturbed him, considering that she’d been in his thoughts far too much this last week.

The horse walked slowly forward.  Pace deliberate.  Goal not in doubt.  “Pullus,” Lucius said.  Using her first name would be unwise, even though he’d said it silently first.  He swung down from the horse and simply looked at her for a moment before he voiced the obvious question.  “I heard there was a captured spy.  Theron suggested sending him to the lions along with a few others.  Do you concur?”

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Shifts of Fortune [Closed]
« Reply #64 on: October 05, 2013, 07:09:26 pm »
Aemilia heard the horse long before she saw the rider. There was hardly any activity out here, after all. Everyone went to go see the procession, see Theron. Aemilia looked to rider and horse as they did come into sight, an increase in her own heart rate that she insisted was the anxiety that followed self-doubt in the presence of a superior. She was still in the legionnaire’s attire, still attending to legion business, and Lucius was decked out in his uniform as well. The modifications to it made his rank clear.

Formalities in place,
“General Antonius,” she returned. He dismounted, spoke about the prisoner. “I concur. The prisoner is named Azata Madriyu.” Considering there was only one new prisoner brought today, it would be pretty easy to figure out who that was regardless. She wasn’t sure why she was being asked, though. Casper was the one in charge of this.

Casper didn’t take it as much of a slight as he heard Aemilia’s words upon exiting,
“Good to see you in health, General,” he greeted, “Put the prisoner on display,” a wicked grin, “It should get a nice reaction from the Perthian ambassadors,” and he was looking forward to any and all signs of obvious aggression. Even if Winston could spin this to show Sylvestre as the antagonizers, Theron’s words would win out in the end.

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Re: Shifts of Fortune [Closed]
« Reply #65 on: October 05, 2013, 10:28:19 pm »
Of course Casper would choose that moment to appear and ruin everything.  There was a wry smile on Lucius’s face, and a shake of his head.  “How does Theron manage it?”  Luck of the gods. He would of course get his war.  Lucius wanted conflict to, but it bothered him how easy it seemed to be. 

Extending a hand to Casper he offered the traditional salute.  “Glad to see you,” and he was, although he always considered Casper one of ‘Iason’s men’ which meant he didn’t consider him a true friend.  Still, he admired the fighter all the same.  He would enjoy hearing about the final battle, but he chose not to ask.

The name of the spy sparked a memory.  “You’re mother will not be pleased,” Lucius said to Ameilia with a frown.  “I know how she loves her jewelry.  Perhaps she will show us some of the pieces she bartered with the traitor this evening.  You are both invited to sit with us at the festivities tonight in the arena at sundown.” 

Lucius raised a hand and pointed towards the prison gate.  “Please take me to our spy.  I would like to see what the fuss is all about  - gage for myself if there could be too much drama in a public display.”  The last thing he needed was shouted secrets.  Prisoners often wanted to air dirty laundry.  Murders had little to claim, but spies, they might have a thing or two to say.  He would not win favor with his family for muddying the reputation of Lady Flavius.  Then Lucius seemed to remember himself and his new place, his voice unemotional and expression innocent. “Unless of course Theron expects you? In which case I will see to the lion feast alone.”

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Shifts of Fortune [Closed]
« Reply #66 on: October 05, 2013, 10:51:43 pm »
The feelings were mutual. Casper himself felt more like a man under Iason than Lucius, and he was all too aware of the divide that existed. Still, he had all the respect in the world for the man who seemed able to make the world tremble with his steps. The salute was returned, a shrug. No one knew how Theron managed it. It was part of his charm. He was fortune’s favorite.

Aemilia didn’t voice her annoyance with being reminded that her mother wasn’t going to be happy.
‘So what will make her happy?’ No, her mother would be upset about this spy. She’d be happy to know who the captor had been, though. “I am certain she will wear something pretty from some foreign land,” Aemilia answered him, no comment about attendance. She expected Theron would invite her to that more officially, particularly if Tarpeia had been invited.

Besides, he knew she liked the lions. The senseless brutality, not so much, but she loved the creatures.
“We could always cut his tongue out,” Casper suggested, then gave direction to Aemilia. “Tie our horses up, Pullus, and come along to see the prisoner, too,” he said, before turning his attention back to Lucius. He answered his question about Theron for her in his own roundabout way, “She’s eating with the 11th now.” Aemilia was finally an official member of a legion. His legion, not the 8th, much to Theron’s chagrin. He did wonder if it would bother Antonius at all that she'd chosen one of Iason's legions. “Theron won’t notice if we’re gone a little longer.”

The horses were tied with easy knots. Aemilia wasn’t concerned that they were going to run away or be stolen. 


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Re: Shifts of Fortune [Closed]
« Reply #67 on: October 11, 2013, 08:03:03 am »
Lucius handed off the reins of his horse to Aemilia.  She was the junior of the party and a woman, tying a horse something he knew she could handle and had been commanded to do in any case by Casper.  He didn’t look at her or think about the menial labor.  It simply was the way of things.  Lucius laced his fingers behind his back, walking forward and falling into step with Casper.  Aemilia could follow in due time.

They talked as they walked, the way military men will.  A few comments about the enemy.  A few gloating words on strategy.  Lucius didn’t let Casper lead, but rather kept his step in time with the other, talking and nodding in all the right places.  Casper knew enough to mind his tongue and not ask Lucius about the senate.

The guards they passed all stood up straighter.  Lucius took his helmet off as they entered the shadowy building, but the color of the plume was evident.  His face was clearly recognizable and several of the men called out personal greetings, and received a nod in return.  He went to the prisoner of war first.  The murders he’d already chosen.  Four in total.  All seemed able bodied and would make good sport.  As he said to Casper he wanted to judge the relative guilt of the spy – the more guilty the more dangerous.

“Azata Madriyu,” Lucius said as they came in sight of the cell.  “Fancy meeting you here.”

The man spit.  Not a good thing to do if you wanted to win favor.  But, perhaps he already knew that his fate was sealed and there was little Lucius could, or would do about it.

“Is that all you have to say for yourself?” Lucius said, glancing down disdainfully at the dribble of spit on the ground.  “Surely there are more words? Or are you planning to protect Perthia to the death?  You do know that Theron intends to end you.  Sundown.  If you have anything to barter, now would be the time.”


Krystal Itzume

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Re: Shifts of Fortune [Closed]
« Reply #68 on: October 12, 2013, 11:54:15 pm »
Aemilia was left to deal with the horses. She didn’t mind, took her time making sure they would all be tied up in a way they couldn’t escape on their own. Perhaps it would be better to linger, but the job was a quick one. Simple. Casper had instructed her to follow along, and she’d not disobey the command. She did like Casper, after all.

Nerinder would have been another story, but then, Nerinder wouldn’t trust her with his horse ever again.

The voices of other guards calling out to Lucius led the way to where the two paused, and Aemilia hung back as Lucius finished his statement about bartering. Azata still saw her in the shadows, but his attention did not linger. Lucius was more interesting, more dangerous, than she.

He would protect Perthia to the death, but was dying the best way? Dying meant Theron got what he wanted, meant he got his war, meant violence against his people. Before him stood that dog of war, though, the infamous Lucius Antonius.
“You weren’t there,” an odd comment. If Lucius had been there, of course, Azata would have been killed on the field.

He couldn’t explain the words that seemed to possess his tongue and spill forward,
“You will create your undoing with my death, Lucius Decimus Antonius.” Aemilia arched an eyebrow. She wasn't even aware Azata knew Lucius's full name, but she could sense the personal note here, the plea not for Sylvestre's sake, not for Perthia's, but a personal appeal. “Consider it. Consider how bad conflict with Perthia will be, for you.” Not Sylvestre, no Azata feared in his bones that Sylvestre would triumph if the war drums were beat. No, it would be Lucius’s undoing, not Sylvestre’s.

Of course, Casper only thought the man talking about the future war. That he was warning Lucius personally did not connect—Lucius was, in part, Sylvestre. He was the army, the military force. It was ‘wise’ to warn a leader such as him.


Beau

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Re: Shifts of Fortune [Closed]
« Reply #69 on: October 15, 2013, 01:44:19 am »
Lucius listened to the spy speak – he had no doubt that was his role, and suspected it even prior to this.  His eyes narrowed at the use of his full name.  Names had power.  They could bend others to their will if used in the right way and at the right time.   

At Azata’s warning Lucius almost said, ‘Leave us,’ intrigued by the veiled threat and wishing to hear more of what was behind it.  He stopped himself just in time.  It wouldn’t do to show weakness or fear (even if veiled in curiosity) before the other two with him.

Lucius put his hands behind his back.  He frowned.  “When did you become a profit?”  His tone was disdainful.  And yet his head cocked to the side inviting an answer.  “I know my fate, and my place, which is more than I can say for you.”  Azata should count his blessings that he’d had a few more days to consider his sins.  There gods might be different by war always had winners and losers.

He lifted a shoulder.  “What other spies are among us?”  Not that he expected much from the other.  “Share with me their names and I will spare you from the lions.”

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Shifts of Fortune [Closed]
« Reply #70 on: October 15, 2013, 01:56:21 am »
A prophet, Azata was not, though he still felt strongly about his words. Intuition, a hunch, something in the way Theron “won”—it didn’t matter, in the end. He wouldn’t be listened to here, though the clear curiosity of Lucius did tempt him to give some answer. Were he a prophet, perhaps his words would have had weight. “Do you?” Was all Azata could ask to Lucius’s statement, as he wondered if Lucius had considered his fate in isolation, or if he had considered it with consideration for those around him, all the ambitious fools in Sylvestre, and all those who waited in the shadows.

Azata would not claim to know Lucius’s fate, nor his own. The Gods could always intervene, his gods, or Sylvestre’s gods. Perhaps even the “old” ones, as some fanatics had termed them—as if their gods were any older or more right than those presently followed.

An offer was made, and Azata gave an answer,
“Tarpeia Flavius, of course.”

"Ha!"
Casper let out a short laugh, stifled it just as quickly as it came with a glance to Aemilia. Aemilia rolled her eyes at the accusation, but didn’t speak to defend her mother.

Of course he’d go to Tarpeia. It was too predictable to be funny.
'Why don’t you say Winston? Theron would reward you,' she didn't speak aloud. Best not to give such ideas.
« Last Edit: October 15, 2013, 02:15:43 am by Krystal Itzume »

Beau

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Re: Shifts of Fortune [Closed]
« Reply #71 on: October 20, 2013, 04:24:31 am »
Casper laughed.  Antonius did not.

“Hum,” the general muttered, as though tasting the thought and perhaps seriously considering the accusation.  In the silence that followed he expected other names might be put forward, but at first the declaration seemed solitary.

“Of course?” Antonius prompted.  “If the answer is so obvious it is of little use to me.” 

Casper scoffed, “But surely –“ he stopped short.  The  look on Antonius’s face indicated he might indeed be taking the accusation seriously.  Casper offered a hasty glance at Aemilia.  Antonius did not do the same

“Accusing family is not wise.” He warned the merchant.  “Do you have any other names, or are you so lowly you know no one else?”

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Shifts of Fortune [Closed]
« Reply #72 on: October 20, 2013, 05:22:18 am »
Aemilia was not concerned by the accusation, even when Casper cast her a second look. Worried. No, she remained quiet and listened to the conversation, not adding her own thoughts to the mix.

“Periander keeps none but family close, and you do not seem to be one that sees the obvious,”
Azata noted. Casper sucked in a breath. It was not good to insult Lucius, “Who else would one go to in looking for a spy?” Theron learned after incidents with Spurius Balba and Pompilius. There was no denying that in his inner circle, it was difficult to find people who were not kin in some way. Distant or through marriage, most were still related to Periander.

Any others he knew he would not give up. They would not serve the purpose of fracturing Periander’s network quite like Tarpeia.
“She may not be close to Theron, but she does get information from one who is,” the implication was apparent.

Aemilia still did not address him, did not defend herself. There was no reason to, presently.

“There are others,” Azata said. There were the obvious ambassadors who’s job it was to report back to Perthia. There were servants. There were senators. There were likely those that Azata knew naught of. “It is clear that if I say their names, however, it will not matter and only serve Theron's warmongering ways.” A sneer. At least right now he could be branded a liar for calling out Tarpeia, and so his words of others might not hold much weight.

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Re: Shifts of Fortune [Closed]
« Reply #73 on: October 29, 2013, 02:28:00 pm »
A blond eyebrow lifted. Nothing more showed his surprise at the implication that Aemilia might be a source of information.  Knowingly, or unknowingly.  The possibility existed.  Lucius couldn’t help but follow the spy’s glance towards the girl.  It offered another excuse to look at her, but the glance was more speculative than admiring.
He didn’t speak.  No ‘I see’ to encourage the accusations further.  So far the jeweler had succeed only in irritating him with the hints that he knew less about what was going on than he should.

It wasn’t the first time someone had said that he needed to watch his back, or…if he took it further…implied that he could craft a different destiny.  Lucius, however, wasn’t a politician.  He was a warrior.   He lusted for blood and glory, not power.   Up until a week ago he’d seen the alliance with Perinder as mutually beneficial.   He was reluctant to admit that change was possible, or coming.

“Thank you for your words today, Azata.”  Lucius made a decision to let the man live, at least temporarily.  “I will not feed you to the lions this evening.  But do not think clemency is at hand.  I’m sure that Tarpeia will have other ideas of how best to handle your…presence…here.”

Lucius turned away from the man in the cell and spoke to Casper.   “Go on to the parade.”  A glance at Aemilia, “Take her with you.”  And with that he strode deeper into the prison to spend a few hours out of the sun, dealing with the details of life and death.

As the sun set, Lucius went to the arena.  He changed from his parade uniform to more simple, and festive dress.  He wore the classic style of the day, with clean white linen and tapered sandels.  He also had a woman clinging to one arm as he walked up the stone steps.  He’d debated about the invitation, but in the end decided that he would indeed bring one of the eligible women that Tarpeia selected to the lion fest.   Lady Alana arrived at his home, brought by one of his servants and seemed social enough.  She was indeed pretty with long dark hair and deep blue eyes. And yet, something about her demure attitude left him with the impression that he had more slave than companion with him. She spoke when spoken to.  She sat when Lucius pointed out the arena seat beside him.  Lucius sighed, part of his pleasure in the event dampened by appearances.  It was going to be a long night.

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Shifts of Fortune [Closed]
« Reply #74 on: October 29, 2013, 04:42:33 pm »
Aemilia would not fault Lucius if he considered the accusation. It was smart to do so, for indeed, it was usually those close to a person that betrayed them. Certainly, she hadn’t knowingly betrayed Theron, and did not think she’d told her mother anything critical—she was pretty certain she knew her mother’s ways quite well by now. The woman was a coward and a hedonist, not exactly the best mix.

Azata might have been relieved, were it not for the smile he saw grace Aemilia’s lips. He knew that smile, too well.
“Don’t leave me in here,” the words came out quietly.

Tarpeia would see to his end. Aemilia was almost positive he would not survive to dawn.

The smile was gone by the time Lucius began giving dismissal orders. Casper and Aemilia left, and Casper asked the inevitable when they were out.
“Do you think your mother is a spy?”

“Of course,”
Aemilia almost laughed at the query. Casper blinked; he was not as familiar with the family dynamic as Theron was so her reaction surprised him. Little more was spoken on the topic. They caught the end of Theron’s speech before the feasts began. Aemilia remained with Casper, and did indeed eat with the 11th. Eventually, Tarpeia came for her, invited her to join Theron near the end. There was the formal invitation to the lions when Aemilia sat at his right, the place usually reserved for Lucius, and a question of what happened with the prisoner—he was surprised to see Lucius did not return, indeed, did not take that seat.

A wry smile twisted his lips, but his eyes showed none of the joy that usually accompanied the expression.
“Tarpeia?”

The accusation rang heavy in her own ears. The woman huffed,
“I know better than to trade secrets with a foreign merchant, uncle.” Familial terms. Guilty as sin. She reached across, touched Theron’s arm, “Nothing important. Did I not bring you information?”

“And who else have you had dealings with regarding Perthia?”
Theron did know who he was dealing with. Tarpeia played all sides, she had tried to disguise her alliance with Spurius Balba as a trap for Balba, but that was not completely true. She just wanted to be sure she was on the victor’s side in the end.

Tarpeia removed her hand,
“No one else, not about—”

“Tarpeia.”


Hand closed, fell back into her lap. A pout. She looked away and down. Theron’s smile vanished.
“We shall speak in the morning.” He let it drop there.

Tarpeia quietly plotted how best to put an end to Azata while he wasted away in prison. It wouldn’t be too difficult, but she couldn’t use poison. Poison made it too obviously her. She’d pay off a slave brought by one of the Perthian ambassadors to assassinate him.

Soon enough, though, they left for the lions. They arrived before Lucius,
“Sit here, Aemilia,” Aemilia arched an eyebrow. Again, the right chair, as Cassandra would have the left. Theron laughed at her hesitation, “Lucius does not seem to be coming.” They both knew Lucius wouldn’t miss the lions.

Aemilia took the seat offered. Tarpeia sat diagonally behind, and soon Lucius joined. A hand on Aemilia’s shoulder kept her from leaving the seat.
“Ah, Lady Alana,” Theron smiled politely at the woman. Half-approving. Not even he could deny the resemblance to Aemilia—the dark hair, the blue eyes—their demeanor was different, though. She acted like a proper woman, quiet and demure. “It is a pleasure to see you here,” his words were to both Lucius and Alana, and he did give a nod to Lucius, hid what disapproval there was. It was only in the resemblance, and he should not let that bother him. Let Lucius find someone who looked like Aemilia. It would keep Lucius away from her.

Tarpeia also smiled, pleased one of her choices was here with Lucius—a good, proper woman, someone who would only add to Lucius’s dignity and honor, for she would never act in any questionable way. She knew her place well, she’d been groomed for it.

« Last Edit: October 29, 2013, 10:54:30 pm by Krystal Itzume »

Beau

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Re: Shifts of Fortune [Closed]
« Reply #75 on: October 30, 2013, 10:45:27 pm »
He’d been prepared for Theron’s petty games.  They were, after all, more alike than not.  Lucius let none of the hurt for the slight show on his face as he looked at his supreme commander and the seating arrangements.  He’d been prepared to meet the man half way, open his mind to marriage he didn’t want, but clearly this was about more than Aemilia.  Theron had not come to his home to brief him about the final battle. He wasn’t even offered a hello.

Seeing the tableau he quietly congratulated himself for not giving into finer feelings earlier in the prison.  He’d left a guard at Azata’s cell.  His food would be tasted for poison.  Tomorrow they would speak again.  He’d already been too much the fool.  He’d hate to think that a war with Perthia was nothing more than a plot for his own demise, but Azata’s words of the afternoon had planted seeds which were starting to take root.  Aemilia clearly had an agenda of her own, willing to bend to Perinder's will like a puppet.  He wouldn't underestimate her a second time.

Lucius placed a hand on Lady Alana’s shoulder, unconsciously mimicking Theron’s own gesture to the woman beside him.  Truth was Lucius simply liked to touch things.  Right now he wanted to know what was real.  As he sat he leaned forward towards her and offered a quiet description of the events.  Alana had never been to see the lions before.  Lucius did his best to prepare her for what was to come, but he suspected she might not like what she saw.

“A lion can only remain hungry for so long,” he said, minimizing the cruelty.  “And then, what was once a docile and beautiful animal will act as nature intended.”

Lucius was a bit of a lion himself.  He was proud enough not to share his discomfort with the current shift in roles.  He was angry enough not to question.  But there might be a time when he too would act as nature intended, and somehow he didn’t think the gods planned for him to retire quietly and raise a family.  If Theron thought so then he was the fool, not Lucius.

The first event of the gala was a gladiator exhibition.  The reigning champion and a condemned slave bloodied the arena.  Lady Alana buried her face in Lucius’s shoulder, unwilling to watch the final killing blow. Lucius glanced towards Aemilia suspecting he’d see no such reaction, offering a small chagrined shake of his head over the frailty of women.  He wrapped his free arm around Alana and offered a reassuring squeeze.  “It’s over now.” He said in an uncharacteristically gentle voice, before he set her away from him.  He wasn’t completely insensitive.  He could understand that some had never seen this side of life and failed to understand how it only made you appreciate what you had even more.

“I need to go down to the arena floor.  I told Arkemed that I would do the honors of releasing the lions.” In the meantime another pair of gladiators were allowed in the arena, walking out to a trumpet fanfare.  “If you are still uncomfortable after you see the lions, I will take you home.”

Alana looked at her clasped hands in her lap.  She nodded quietly, and Lucius touched her hair before standing and walking out of the box.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2013, 10:52:21 pm by Beau »

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Shifts of Fortune [Closed]
« Reply #76 on: October 30, 2013, 11:47:37 pm »
Quiet words explained the event to come, and Aemilia’s attention left Lucius and the woman he came with, returning to the scenes before her. It did not take long for those scenes to become violent, and she watched without much reaction. The gladiator battles did not interest her much. Theron occasionally invested in a gladiator who fought well to become one of his slaves, his guards. Aemilia did not consider such people to be trustworthy enough. Their loyalty was bought, and what was bought could always be sold.

A lesson well-learned from her mother. Aemilia thought she felt the look from Lucius, glanced his way to catch the shake of his head. Aemilia simply shrugged—she couldn’t agree with the implication, didn’t participate in the stereotype quite the way Alana did. Alana looked like a frail relic of an older time to her.

Alana’s reaction seemed to earn some amused glances, and some sympathetic ones, from those who were fortunate enough to join Theron. Tarpeia clicked her tongue, whispered to Theron,
“Poor girl isn’t cut out for this.”

In his heart, Theron knew Alana would never be anything Lucius wanted. How such a woman ended up on Tarpeia’s list was a mystery to him, except that Alana was everything a Sylvestrian man was told to want.
“She will become accustom to it.” Cassandra had flinched the first few times as well, but her place was at his side. It would be inappropriate if he were here and she was absent. Modesty would be called into question.

Of course, Tarpeia’s husband wasn’t here. Sometimes, Theron did wonder how he was related to her—supposed that like Aemilia, Tarpeia had taken too many of her father’s lessons to heart. Neither of them would ever be quiet, docile women. Not at heart.


‘Even though, now….’
Aemilia simply observed. It seemed easy for her to observe and go along with a plan, but only when it suited her own agenda. Everyone had an agenda, this Theron knew. It was why he kept Tarpeia around. Her only agenda was personal gain and safety, and so she was easily to bring back into line when she strayed.

Aemilia wanted more than that, but she’d never been dishonest about that. Ambition would bring her to do things she didn’t care to do, like this marriage, but he believed her ambition was as well-intentioned as his own. They both wanted to better Sylvestre…to protect it from those hungry lions, the nobles of the senate who would tear Sylvestre apart. It meant sacrifice.

Alana was left on her own soon enough. Lucius had an honor to attend to, releasing the lines.
“Careful you do not get eaten,” Theron called back to him as he left, before shaking his head at Lucius’s obsession.

“Does he still not have his own lions?”


“I do not think so,”
he answered Tarpeia. “They are not docile animals. Even he knows that.” Despite what he tried to say to Alana. “I do not think even those in Dria have tamed them, despite rumors I hear of carriages pulled by lions.” The gladiators waged their war below, but Theron motioned for wine, which Tarpeia happily accepted from a servant’s hand. Theron, too, accepted drink, and it was offered to the others.

Aemilia accepted none.
“Oh, Alana, do have some,” Tarpeia encouraged the other woman, picking her to bother over Aemilia, “It is quite good.” But of course, a decent woman wouldn’t drink out in public like this. “Tell me, how has Lucius been to you?” She wanted to know, while Lucius was away.

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Re: Shifts of Fortune [Closed]
« Reply #77 on: November 01, 2013, 11:42:57 pm »
“He’s nice.” Lady Alana said to the question posed about Lucius.  She missed the curious glance that she received from one member of the audience.  Apparently ‘nice’ wasn’t a word often attributed to her escort.

Lady Alana turned back to the spectacle in the arena, but fidgeted in her chair.  As the suggestion that she should have a glass of wine she shook her head.  She wet her lips, however, “Some water, perhaps?”

One of the servants took pity on her and scurried off to fill a tray of more appropriate beverages.

Lucius took his time walking on to the arena floor.  The clank of steel, metal blade on shield, informed him that the gladiators continued to fight and thus he needn’t hurry.  Two men greeted him in the tunnels.  They walked together towards the lion cages.  One was Arkemed.  He briefed Lucius once again about how to rotate the pulleys and levers to release the beasts when the time came.  Lucius nodded in all the right places.  When the ringmaster left, Lucius turned to the other man.

“So, Nerinder,” Lucius said.  “I assume there is something to report?”

The sergeant nodded.  “Azata’s family was found in Sylvestre.”

Lucius stroked his chin.  “Dare I ask where?”

There was a pause, clearly Nerinder was trying to guess Lucius’s mind.  It would be easy to implicate any one of his enemies with a simple word.  He’d seen recently the dealings over land with Cosimo.  He suspected there was little love lost between the two.  “I’m not sure of the details.”

More silence. Lucius suspected that if he probed about the truth that Tarpeia might have a bit of explain to do.  Lucius opened his mouth to speak and then closed it again.  Another deep breath.  “They were found on the street I presume.  Near the Perthia border.”

“That would be logical.”  Nerinder had time to say no more.  The cries from the arena made it impossible in any case.

Lucius left him there to walk forward, past the flaming torches and onto the platform.  He offered a congratulatory handshake to the victor, unrepulsed by how his hand was now slick with blood.   The man was escorted off, and Lucius waved to the crowd.  His voice carried well into the stands, long trained to be heard in battle.  His speech was brief, if you could even call it that.  He congratulated Perinder on another victory and moved to introduce the next act with the lions before stepping to the sidelines to pull the chains.

Four men walked into the arena.  They stopped in the center, and their armed escort hustled away to the sidelines.

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Shifts of Fortune [Closed]
« Reply #78 on: November 02, 2013, 12:09:18 am »
Aemilia had to quiet a snicker at Alana’s word choice. Lucius was much too stern to be nice. Theron shot her a glare that could hardly be called that, apparently amused himself. ‘Nice’ was not in his vocabulary when he spoke of Lucius.

Tarpeia didn’t question it, but touched Theron’s shoulder to make him get rid of the smile on his lips.
‘Hush, you.’ Her look said. Maybe that was hopeful. Maybe that meant Lucius did like her, if he was showing a ‘nice’ side.

Water was brought for Alana, offered to Aemilia, but again she denied it.
“Aren’t you thirsty, rabbit?”

“No,”
she answered. She wasn’t all that thirsty.

“Hm.” Tarpeia didn’t dwell on it, for there was a cry, and she realized she’d missed the end of the fight. She pouted. The gladiator she wanted to win, had lost. Well, at least she hadn’t gambled on this round.

Lucius took to the center, the four prisoners charged to die by the lion brought out as the man quickly addressed the crowd, congratulated Theron who stood at the proper time to be recognized. The eyes of the crowd were used to seeing the chair besides him absent when Lucius was before him. This time, however, those who hadn’t noticed before were able to recognize that it was not empty. The girl associated with Tarpeia, with bringing down Balba, was sitting there.

Girl was no longer appropriate, though, as Lucius had noticed.

There would be murmurs later, questions, of the odd positioning of Lucius in the ring for the condemned, and Aemilia at Theron’s side.

But for now, they were distracted by the lions and the poor, mortal men. Aemilia leaned forward in her own seat and Theron laughed.
“Why is it you do not have one yet?” Tarpeia had asked after Lucius, it seemed appropriate to ask after Aemilia.

“Flavius.”
Which one was irrelevant, neither Tarpeia nor Quintus would let her have a lion, and Theron didn’t think it ‘appropriate’ for her to leave her home until married. Irksome standards. “Oh!” Eyes widened.

One of the fighters had apparently pilfered a sword. 


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Re: Shifts of Fortune [Closed]
« Reply #79 on: November 02, 2013, 04:43:13 pm »
Neinder made his way towards the arena seats.  Perinder and Antonius would have wine, and he fancied some.   He entered the box and saw the obviously empty chair next to Lady Alana. ‘That girl’ as he tended to a call her in his mind was sitting in Lucius’s seat next to Theron.  His look, as he marched forward transformed in to a sneer. 

Although he didn’t say it, it was clear he was thinking that Aemilia had been brazen in her attempt to be near Perinder.

Since a seat was empty, Nerinder took it.  The lions were now loose below.  One had already taken a prize, the screams evident before the mauled body fell silent.  Alana was obviously uncomfortable.  Nerinder offered a supportive, “Buck up, Beautiful,” before he snatched a glass of wine from the servant’s tray.

Lucius noticed the sword about the same time the others did.  He didn’t have a similar weapon to engage the man and protect the predator.  The time of war was over, but this would teach him to always be prepared.  The lion was stabbed in the flank, but the move only seemed to enrage the animal.  It roared in pain and reared up, slashing with its powerful paws and slicing the throat of his assailant.

This close the action was particularly bloody.  Lucius was relatively immune to the spectacle.  He focused on the power and the grace of the cats, long ago immune to the sight and smell of blood.

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Re: Shifts of Fortune [Closed]
« Reply #80 on: November 02, 2013, 11:19:57 pm »
His footsteps couldn’t be muffled. Nerinder always had heavy steps, and Aemilia still recognized them. Even so, she couldn’t resist the glance back to make sure it was him, and caught the sneer on his face. He was still bitter over the horse incident, or so she imagined. No doubt, she’d given him other reasons to hate her, her current seat no doubt one of them.

Theron eyed Nerinder, but gave him a nod. The man had his position because he did what Lucius needed him to do, and that made him necessary to allow certain privileges to, but he would not call Nerinder friend any time soon.

Aemilia's greeting was only a smirk. Nerinder could bring out the worst in her, if she let him. He had knowledge of her others did not, perhaps more than most, knew Aemilia was more than the obedient girl Theron happened to favor. She turned back away quickly to observe the actions below, not speaking a word to him.
“Aww….” Her disappointment was clear as she saw the man with the sword taken down.

Theron inquired,
“I thought you liked the lions?”

“Yes,” she agreed, “But these battles always end the same way. The lions win, the men lose—it gets boring,” and so she didn’t care much for the rest of it, no matter how pretty or gloriously gory it might get. The condemned would die, as Theron wanted. There was no challenge to it.

Theron just shook his head. There was comfort in security,
“Don’t adopt that bad habit,” he spoke it quietly, without looking at her. She heard, though, and nodded. She wouldn’t adopt it as one of her strategies in life. That had been the death of Pompilius, who had not taken Theron’s single legion seriously at the start. She wondered if he had realized where he went wrong as he took his own life.

The last moments of Pompilius were never to be known.
“I won’t,” she reassured.

Tarpeia was also bored, but she at least had the distraction of Alana, and now Nerinder.
“Behave, Nerinder,” she chided, but with a smile. “Alana shall learn to take in these sights,” and then more to Alana, “There, it really isn’t so bad—the lion is just doing what is in its nature to do, and those men deserved their deaths.” She stated. “They were all criminals. It is good that can be useful to some creature when they are not useful to us.”

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Re: Shifts of Fortune [Closed]
« Reply #81 on: November 03, 2013, 03:59:04 am »

Alana blinked her eyes innocently.  "It seems so cruel."

Nerinder chuckled.  He threw his arm around her shoulders and offered a squeeze.  "Life is hard."

Arkemed rejoined Lucius as he hovered near the cages.  He brought with him a whip.  Together they would urge the lions away from their prize and back to their holding pens.  Fresh meat would be there.  The human flesh would be removed, lest the lions develop a taste for it.

Lucius didn’t mind the work.  It took him closer to the cats, but not close enough to touch.  Once the task was completed he gave the whip back to Arkemed with a nod.

“Don’t go yet,” the ring master said.

The two stepped aside to allow the horse drawn chariots to enter the arena.  Torches accompanied the parade, ready to light a circle for a race to commence. Lucius frowned over the delay.  He wasn’t prepared to drive a chariot if that was the need.  For such a thing he would have dressed differently and brought his own horses.

Arkemed waved for Lucius to follow as the last horse trotted through.  Together they returned to the tunnel that separated the seats for the arena.  A small cage was sitting on the ground.  Inside was a lion cub.  Arkemed opened the twisted metal and brought the eight week old cub into his arms.  “For you,” he said to Lucius.

Lucius didn’t hesitate.  His smile was like one of a small boy given a sweet treat.  The cat was small and easy to hold, not much larger than a house cat.

 “I am honored,” Lucius said.

They talked in whispers for a few more minutes.  Mundane items about care and feeding.  Payment would need to be exchanged, but that could be done in the morning.   Lucius still wore the delighted smile as he carried the cat back up to the box.  It didn’t dim as he walked in with his new pet.

Nerinder had made a nuisance of himself.  Lucius could tell from the expression of the women.  He had an arm around Alana which he removed a bit too slowly.  Lucius’s eyes held a flash of anger, but he didn’t speak.  His hands brushed the fur of the cat.   Nerinder stood and made a mock bow before taking his leave.

“I trust he wasn’t too annoying,” Lucius said.  He took the seat, still warm from its last occupant.  The cat purred and settled in his lap. One paw was held in Lucius’s hand like it wanted to play with the fingers.

The chariot’s raced on, but Lucius wasn’t watching.  The lion bounced in his lap like a new baby, and Lucius looked like a proud parent. Happiness washed years of worry from his face making him look much younger and almost care free. A conspiratorial grin was offered to Aemilia who sat beside him.  For a moment their differences were forgotten, exchanged with the commonality of the wonder for the lions. 

His voice was low as he asked, “Do you want to pet her?”
« Last Edit: November 03, 2013, 04:01:30 am by Beau »

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Shifts of Fortune [Closed]
« Reply #82 on: November 03, 2013, 04:21:42 am »
A new set of footsteps came shortly after the chariots were moved into the arena, the lions removed through the work of Lucius and another Aemilia didn’t know. This was, of course, Lucius, though he was later than he should have been. Nerinder must not have expected him to return, because he certainly didn’t remove himself from Alana’s side quick enough.

‘You’re in trouble.’
Aemilia had seen the flash of anger in Lucius’s eyes, but they didn’t linger there. He had a lion! Again, Theron had to place his hand on her shoulder to keep her from leaving, though this time the reason was wholly different. Theron wasn't so certain of that.

Tarpeia frowned,
“Lucius, you’re going to give her ideas!” Tarpeia moaned, as if Aemilia hadn’t had such ideas before. To Aemilia, “It would kill your birds.”

“I know,”
she sunk back into her chair as Lucius took his, near enough that if she reached over she could pet it. She didn’t do so immediately, though the chariots didn’t hold her attention. She kept looking over at the lion cub. 

Theron answered,
“Only as annoying as he usually is. He still hasn't learned any manners,” Theron was used to him. He suspected Lady Alana was not, and had been far more annoyed than anyone else. Unusual, considering Aemilia was usually the one most annoyed by Nerinder’s presence.
 
The chariots raced on. Aemilia kept glancing at the lion until Lucius must have noticed. She caught his words and a smile lit her lips.
“Yes.” Ignoring previous, implied instructions, she leaned over the arm of her chair to be closer to the lion and stroke her fur.

Theron did nothing this time, unwilling to pull her away. He just rolled his eyes. Decimus and Lions. He was pretty sure there was a connection there. He wondered briefly if they were both under the sign of the lion or not. He couldn’t quite recall when the lion reigned in the sky, decided it didn’t matter right then. He’d ask Cassandra later, she tended to like astrology. 


“Does she have a name yet?”
Aemilia didn’t think he’d be so quick to name her, but she couldn’t help but wonder if the pretty thing had been given one yet. She was already purring, too, clearly already liked Lucius.

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Re: Shifts of Fortune [Closed]
« Reply #83 on: November 03, 2013, 09:34:51 pm »
“Not everything needs to be tamed,” Lucius said.  He might have meant Nerinder.  He might have meant something else, although he did explain, “Nerinder has his uses.”

Lucius might have been nice to Alana before but he virtually ignored her now; that too she would likely need to get used to.  Lucius tended to be a linear thinker, most focused on what he was doing rather than considering options or the impact on others.  Such was a symptom of the pride and self-centered character, rewarded by years of glory.

Did the lion have a name?  Lucius thought a moment, slowly shifting gears to the practical.  He hadn’t thought on such things.  “No,” he replied to the question.  The lion purred and looked up at him adoringly.  She seemed to like how his shoulder length blond hair matched her own, offering a playful swat at the soft waves.  “Any ideas?”

Alana fidgeted and sneezed, drawing attention to herself.  She didn’t seem nearly as enamored with the cat, likely repulsed by what she’d seen below. 

She wasn’t watching the chariots, so Lucius dared to ask, “You don’t like the races?”

Alana shrugged delicately.  Her wide eyed look pled for sympathy.  The situation made Lucius sigh.  Another sneeze, and Lucius silently wished Nerinder hadn’t made such a hasty exit.

He didn’t want to part with the lion, but it was obvious he couldn’t ride in the same chariot as Alana with the animal.  He took a chance and passed the cat to Aemilia.  “Bring her to my house on the way home,” a pause.  “please.”  Chances were good that Theron would take the charge, which suited him fine.  He wanted to talk to Perinder.

Lucius rose before anyone could object.  He placed an arm around Alana, “I will take you home.”

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Re: Shifts of Fortune [Closed]
« Reply #84 on: November 03, 2013, 11:36:39 pm »
“I know he does,” Theron had other unsavory sorts, though few of those he allowed himself to be seen with in public. There was a need for those without manners, there was a need for those who could dirty their hands, but he still wanted Nerinder to be something he wasn’t. He was a soldier, a representative of the Republic, after all.

Aemilia considered the question,
“Too soon to know,” she answered. Besides, it should be Lucius that named it. The lion loved him already, and she managed to stifle the laugh that wanted to come at its swat. She leaned away as his attention shifted back to Alana, folded her hands nicely in her lap again. A quick look was passed to Theron, a smile. ‘There.’ As if to reassure him that was all the interaction she’d have with the lion.

At least, that day.

The fates conspired against that plan, though. The lion was deposited in her lap, her hands quickly making room for it.
“I will,” one hand already moved back to pet it. The other moved to her hair, planning to undo it from the updo. Down tumbled the black waves, curls. The lion could be entertained, and she entertained by it. She wasn’t concerned that it could easily swat her face instead. Tarpeia visibly winced. It wasn’t in good tastes; women only had their hair down in private or in mourning.

Theron let out a sigh, but nodded to Lucius. He would indeed accompany Aemilia to his residence, but Theron wasn’t daft enough to think Lucius wasn’t expecting that.
“Take care this evening,” he bid him farewell with that.

The evening wore on at the amphitheater. Aemilia paid it all little attention—all her attention went to the lion instead. She wished she had more toys, or room, to play with it in. As it was, she couldn’t have as much fun with it as she might have otherwise, couldn’t really let it roam the area. Disappointing, but there might be time in the future if she could persuade Lucius.

Eventually, things were wrapped up. Again, Theron was ceremoniously addressed in the closing, congratulated for his success.
“Tarpeia, would you see Cassandra home?” Theron asked when he rose from his seat.

“Of course,”
Tarpeia agreed.

“Good. I shall see you again in the morning, then.”
Her smile faltered. Theron paid her no more attention, “Come, Aemilia, we shall return Lucius’s ‘cat’ to him and then I shall see you home.”

Aemilia rose, holding the lion in her arms. She wanted to let it down to follow along, but she wasn’t so sure it would. It’d be bad to lose Lucius’s lion now. It was still full of energy and her smile widened a bit as it tried to get at a corkscrew of hair that moved when she did. Theron shook his head, but motioned her ahead. Tarpeia would take Cassandra back in her litter, roomy enough for two people easily—four, easily, actually. He was quick to pass on the word to some of his personal guard to escort them, before he and Aemilia entered his carriage. He gave the direction to head to Lucius’s home. Aemilia finally let the lion down within the confines of it, and Theron observed it examining the new location.
“Not like a house cat at all.” All the ones he’d seen hated carriages. “How do you like Alana?”

“She’s too frail for him,”
stated bluntly. “I don’t think she has the spine Cassandra does.” For Cassandra had developed into the perfect doll.

“She is young,”
he said.

“So am I,”
she reminded. She held her hand out for the lion to come back to. “She is a good senator’s wife, but she is not good for Antonius.”

Always Antonius with her. Theron counted that as good. Once he'd wondered why it was only Lucius she didn't speak of familiarly, but now he was fine with the distance.
“Is Lucius not a good senator?”

Aemilia laughed,
“He is, I’m sure,” she didn’t mean it like that, but she couldn't judge Lucius's character as a senator, either. Really, all she ever saw of him, or others in Periander's circle, was what Periander instructed. Lucius's role was expected given his reputation. Aemilia was not certain if it was his role, or if that was how he dealt with politics at times, “I mean, she is good for someone not as prominent, someone not destined to be…more.”

“More?”
Curious.

Aemilia looked up from the lion,
“He’s heir apparent, isn’t he?” It had always been clear to her that Lucius was the one who would step in if anything happened to Theron. If Lucius could learn to listen to advisors, he could make for a great replacement. “I mean, at least until Cassandra conceives—”

“Cassandra will not conceive,”
Theron interrupted. Something had changed in his tone. Aemilia straightened.

“Is something wrong with her?”
Aemilia spoke with concern.

Theron shook his head, but did not continue that line of conversation. It was not Cassandra that had the problem. He was the one the gods apparently decided to curse, the only male Periander left to hold the line. He’d had only sisters, and so there was no one to pass on the name Periander.

Indeed, Lucius was heir apparent, but hearing it now reminded Theron how long ago he’d decided that. Hearing it had also stirred another thought in him. Doubt. Had he chosen right? Lucius could be adopted in, and take the name—pass it on, certainly. That was important, that his line lived on, and yet he now wondered if that was what he should be most concerned with, if he ought to be so vain.
“Lucius seems obvious as heir apparent to you?”

“Yes,”
Aemilia nodded. “He is your general, your friend, your kin, and you were his mentor. It seems appropriate that he would ascend if you fell. He has the pull with the legions. The senate is afraid of him, and as I recall, that was how you gained power.” Bullying.

“Hm,”
it was a sound Aemilia knew too well. She waited, but Theron added nothing, only smiled as the carriage finally came to a stop. The door was opened and Aemilia picked the lion back up before it could dart out, accepting Theron’s help down.

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Re: Shifts of Fortune [Closed]
« Reply #85 on: November 06, 2013, 02:40:11 am »

Lucius could have sent a servant on to Lady Alana’s home but instead he grit his teeth and bore the silence of the ride in the chariot.  They were on display with the horses obviously his.  Lucius knew if he was seen again in public with this woman that there would be talk.  His reputation and hers at risk.  He’d have to think long and hard about whether he would allow that to happen.

There were no soft parting words.  Lucius reined the horses and walked her to her door under the scrutiny of her father and fellow senator.  Then he turned and left.

Theron and Aemilia were just arriving at his home when Lucius returned.  Now a servant did come to his aid, taking the reins of the horse and riding away in the chariot to put the items in storage.  Lucius was still dressed in his stadium attire.  There was some blood on the hem but he cut an elegant figure as he walked towards the pair. 

Lucius’s expression held no surprise.  He’d expected Theron to attend to his own precious pet. “Pullus.  Will you please put the lion in the garden for me?  I’d like a word with Theron.”

In the end though he didn’t much care if she stayed or went.  Perhaps she should see how fickle her mentor could be – all the better to guard against the cruelty of fate. “I would like to know what I have done to anger you so.” He might explain if asked the signs of displeasure he saw, but he figured he didn’t need to.  He might say that he felt owed an explaination after years of service, but Theron owed no one.  So he cut right to the point – his own curiosity and desire to make it right.  He loved the man before him and it was the personal rather than the political that burned. “Surely this is about more than the girl.”

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Shifts of Fortune [Closed]
« Reply #86 on: November 07, 2013, 09:40:48 pm »
Aemilia did not question the direction. She was not here to talk, after all. The lion had been given to her out of necessity. So, she answered simply, “Yes, Antonius,” and held the lion as she left the pair outside. She knew the way to the garden easily enough on her own.

Theron did not hold her back. There was no need for her to be witness to certain strains, and Lucius’s tone told him he was aware. So, Theron waited patiently for Lucius to cut to the point. He could at least count on the man not to beat around the bush.
“Your deduction abilities remain,” it wasn’t quite a compliment. It suggested something was lacking. “Aemilia makes up a part of it, but not the whole,” he confessed that easily, no more needing to be said on that matter in his mind. “From the beginning, Lucius, we had a plan.”

Domination of Sylvestre and steering it back to the right path, under their careful guidance.
“You have not been holding up your end very well.” He was fighting him on this marriage thing, not overtly but in the fact he’d avoided it. His need of being on top caused tensions with Iason, who Theron had wanted him to work with well. He had not wanted them in competition. “You are letting your own need for glory hinder you. You could be much more.”

Could he? Theron reconsidered even as he spoke it. Once, he had believed Lucius could be everything that he himself was, but now he doubted it. He loved him, but he was also disappointed in him, not so much angry.


“You have disappointed me,”
he confessed, and found the words truer than he wanted them to be. They hurt. They masked the jealousy he felt easily, for certainly that was also the reason he was removing Lucius from prominence, too. “You have put yourself first and that nearly lost us our war years ago.” They had split camps over the ridiculous tension between him and Iason. Balba could have destroyed them then. “And of the letters I received during this campaign, I saw no improvement, Lucius, in your relationships or in your pursuit of personal glory.” A sigh parted his lips. He shook his head as he said, “You will have a chance to correct yourself when I go to Perthia.”

No we.

Lucius would not be coming.

A mirror could have been held up and Theron wouldn't acknowledge that he, too, was chasing personal glory.


Beau

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Re: Shifts of Fortune [Closed]
« Reply #87 on: November 11, 2013, 03:24:48 pm »
Contrary to Theron’s current opinion Lucius had been well taught.  He was closer in blood than most and knew the family expectations and responsibilities.  It was the latter that he occasional balked at.  His self determination served him in battle but had little place in finer society – at least according to the man before him.
There was no smile.  No sarcasm.  The energy to laugh would have been too great.  The flash of hurt in his eyes was the only display of the disappointment he felt in the man before him.

Why do you fight?

Theron was no saint.  He imposed his will on others but there was risk as well as reward.  Now it seemed there would be neither.

“I’m sorry I have disappointed you Uncle.”  His tone was sincere.  This was more than duty forcing him to speak.  The future was mapped out before him and indeed he was sorry for the path Theron seemed intent upon.  “Thank you for speaking plainly.”

What could he say?  There seemed no point in defending himself.  The man before him thought he had all the cards.  But there were other decks and other wars to fight.

He would propose marriage to Tribune Cellar in the morning.  It seemed they were like minded on at least one thing.

Turning away, Lucius went into his own home.  He went into the garden where the lion had been set.  He paid little attention to Aemilia but went over to the animal and picked it up.  It purred and buried its face in his neck.  The crack in Lucius’s voice was the only betrayal to the extreme emotion he felt.  “He’s waiting for you.”

Krystal Itzume

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Re: Shifts of Fortune [Closed]
« Reply #88 on: November 11, 2013, 04:03:14 pm »
There was guilt in Theron as he witnessed Lucius’s reaction, calm though it was. He almost wanted Lucius to yell at him or fight, or scoff—pull at the Lucius Theron had once known, the Lucius that Theron had never questioned.

The quiet worried him, the gratitude struck him as queer, but he did not say as much.
‘I was wrong.’ And so he could only offer a comforting smile to the man he thought he knew. “Rest well, Lucius.” He let him go, and waited by his chariot for Aemilia’s return, counting down in his own head.


Aemilia knew she should have left once the lion was deposited, but did not. Whatever Lucius and Theron had to discuss, she’d imagined, was not for her ears. So, she waited. At the sound of those familiar steps she rose and moved aside from the lion, who she’d been playing with. Lucius picked up the beast.

His voice cracked.

Aemilia did not move immediately to depart. Her voice caught in her throat, the want to ask what was wrong at war with her need to leave, and the distance she tried to maintain.
“Lucius—” a slip, very incorrect, that shocked her from continuing the spoken thought. Her head quickly bowed, “Good night, Antonius,” she corrected. That was better. No, she shouldn’t act anything else. Without another word, she moved to exit his home and return to the one who was waiting.

Beau

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Re: Shifts of Fortune [Closed]
« Reply #89 on: November 28, 2013, 06:49:31 am »
Lucius didn’t notice Ameilia’s hesitation and likely would have scoffed at it if he had.  He didn’t hear her leave, his thoughts on other things. The lion protested as he squeezed the animal too tight.  The scratch she gave him reminded him of his folly.  He chose not to dwell on the hurt he felt, both emotional and physical.  He washed and dried the cut, as though that too would heal all the other wounds he imagined.  He went to bed and slept well.  The next day dawned as it should.

His first visit of the day was to Tribune Cellar.  Valeria, as he’d need to now call her, agreed to the marriage proposal.  She actually seemed to like the idea which made him a little nervous. 

“Theron will need to rethink some of his proposals,” she said, rubbing her hands together.  “There are a few laws that need to be changed.”

Lucius sat at her garden table and sipped tea.  His blue eyes were cool.  “Such as?”

“Well, allowing only one senator per family.  If both husband and wife wish to attend the senate they should be allowed.”  Such would increase the female voice in the senate.  “We could scale the voting, if that’s the real issue, but involving more of the community will only benefit the republic.”

“Hum,” Lucius said.  Such a proposal would benefit Aemilia as well.  He dismissed the thought, banishing her potential marriage to Cosimos to the back of his mind.  Her fate was not his to ponder.

Unless you can use it…

He was building  his own alliances.  And Aemilia was ambitious.  Perhaps too much so.   

Best to let that lie.

And yet, he couldn’t help thinking that they would make a formidable pair.  His single minded purpose and charisma.  Her insight and determination.

Which is why Theron wants the toy for himself.

It was nearly mid-day before he left Valeria and went back to the prison.  Lucius congratulated himself for the foresight that placed an extra guard on the spy’s cage.  The food had been poisoned and a slave was the victim, rather than the tradesman.

“You owe me your life it seems.” Lucius commented.  He leaned against a nearby wall, out of arms reach of the bars, but close enough that his lowered voice could be little more than a purr and still be heard.  He studied his finger nails, flexing his large hand like a claw. “Any idea who would like to kill you?”

Azata looked scared. “If I offer a name this time, will it buy me anything?”

Lucius shrugged.  Honestly he could promise nothing.  “I will personally question whomever you name.”  Blue eyes studied the prisoner through lowered lashes.  “Who knows.  By nightfall there may be more Perthian spies behind bars to keep you company.”

“Tarpeia.”

The silence stretched.  Lucius wet his lips.  “Well. It seems that dinner conversation will at least be moderately amusing this evening.”  He didn’t move quickly, his stride lazy as he pushed his leaning body away from the wall and walked towards the door.  With a snap of his fingers a half dozen guards marched into formation beside him.  “No point in going empty handed.”