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'I'm a *What*??'

Postby Aldus Marius on Wed Nov 05, 2003 2:42 am

The three ate their breakfast in silence. Each man, Marius knew, had serious matters on his mind. For Draco, that would be his frater Tarquinius likely winding up on one side of a nasty war; for Curio, the all-too-likelihood that his kinsman would be an agitator on the other side.

And for himself, just now, it would be Piscinus' commission.

He was the first to break the silence, by placing the scroll on the table and clearing his throat. "Amici," he said softly, "I was just given this set of orders outside the taverna, shortly before you two showed up. Apparently the Legions are not quite done with me yet." He paused; he did not look or sound happy about it. Then he asked, "My memory of military things is not as complete as it might have been. This commission has a bad smell to it, but I can't put my finger on why. Remind me, brethren...what exactly is a frumentarius? I swear I don't recall, only that the word has bad associations for me and that the men who wore it didn't like to talk about what they were doing..."


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Postby Curio Agelastus on Thu Dec 11, 2003 12:24 am

Curio also felt uneasy about Marius' commission; although he would do anything he could to aid Marius, he feared that if they delayed their journey too much then they would find only the corpses of his brother and Draco's frater.
He replied cautiously, "Mi Mari, who gave you this commission? If you feel uneasy, then it may be that you should listen to your instincts. I know little about the military. I did fight in a campaign far north, against a few tribes north and east of the Helvetii a couple of years back - you remember when I disappeared for a while, mi Draco? - but I fought as an auxiliary. The tribes that were attacking were going directly southeast, into the path of one of the eastern tribes from which I can claim descent. So of course, being the altruistic fool I am... I went north. Of course, I disappeared after that one battle, having never been one for the army. Those few men who noticed me there proably assumed me to be among the fallen. But that gave me little knowledge of the ways the Roman army works, so I cannot answer your question about the military."

After this re-telling of his one experience of a battle, Curio reflected sombrely, "My relatives, and my gods-damned conscience, seem determined to prevent me from living in Roma - every time I seem to be settling back into the routine, one of the several hundred tribes that i'm related to getsinto trouble."
Curio sank back into contemplation of what lay ahead, his fingers tightening on his staff.
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Postby Gaius Equitius Cato on Sun Jun 06, 2004 2:26 am

Cato stumbled into the taberna, his purple-striped toga in disarray. "You, there, girl! Wine here! NOW!" Following him, glancing around nervously, was a scribe, carrying tablet and stylus. Slumping onto a stool close to the grubby trio, he let out a sigh and dropped his head onto his hands.
"Ye Gods, what am I going to do?" he muttered. Looking over at the three men at the`neighboring table, he cleared his throat. Twisting his iron ring nervously, he began to speak, but each time abruptly closing his mouth without completing the first word. With a thud, the serving-girl dropped an earthenware jug and two cups in front of him; jumping, he grabbed a cup and poured a large`draught, spilling much on the table. Drinking deeply, he tossed a single silver coin at the girl, waving her away. With a grimace at the coarseness of the drink, he held out a cup to the scribe. "Here, Kallistos. Drink up."
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Re: 'I'm a *What*??'

Postby Gnaeus Dionysius Draco on Sun Jun 06, 2004 11:46 am

(HE'S BACK, after months of absence ;))

Marius Peregrinus wrote:He was the first to break the silence, by placing the scroll on the table and clearing his throat. "Amici," he said softly, "I was just given this set of orders outside the taverna, shortly before you two showed up. Apparently the Legions are not quite done with me yet." He paused; he did not look or sound happy about it. Then he asked, "My memory of military things is not as complete as it might have been. This commission has a bad smell to it, but I can't put my finger on why. Remind me, brethren...what exactly is a frumentarius? I swear I don't recall, only that the word has bad associations for me and that the men who wore it didn't like to talk about what they were doing..."


"I'm sorry," Draco said, "I have no idea what you're talking about. I just hope that your commission won't delay us for all too long. I suppose we should be going soon then."
There was a deliberateness in his own voice that pleased him and helped wiping away the last traces of uncertainty about this whole journey.

He then listened to Curio's remarks, story and questions. Draco wasn't really surprised to learn about Curio's past. At least it helped explaining why he was always so proud of that quarterstaff he carried with him.

Curio wrote:"My relatives, and my gods-damned conscience, seem determined to prevent me from living in Roma - every time I seem to be settling back into the routine, one of the several hundred tribes that i'm related to gets into trouble."


Draco smiled.
"That's not that hard. However, if it is indeed Fate, don't complain too soon. If a meteor wipes Roma from the face of the earth tomorrow - may the gods forbid it - lady Fortuna saves you with her designs. Any situation can always turn out favourable for the unfavoured."
He wanted to say more, but suddenly his attention was caught by another visitor in the taberna, one he hadn't seen before but seemed to be paying close attention to the three men. Draco moved closer to his travelling companions.
"Do any of you know that man over there?" he whispered.
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Postby Gaius Equitius Cato on Sun Jun 06, 2004 1:55 pm

"Now, Kallistos, go down to the harbor at Ostia. See Posthumus and wait for the grain ship news. Come back here as soon as you hear the reports. GO!"

Cato watched as the young scribe darted out the door, his sandals clapping on the cobbled road outside the taverna. "May Mercury put his wings on your heels, boy" he muttered.

He glanced over again at Curio, Marius and Draco. Standing, he adjusted the folds of his toga, as if to hide the purple stripe. Realizing it was useless, he sighed and walked over to the men's table. Waving at the serving-girl again, he called out, "A jug of whatever you have that wouldn't kill Cerberus for these men..." as he threw another silver coin at her. "And then keep everyone away from this table until I leave. Do you understand? Or should I have you beaten to remember it?"

Turning to the men, he laughed bitterly. "Herakles knows the stuff they serve here would make Bacchus give up drinking. Now gentlemen, my name is Gaius Equitius Cato. Yes, that Cato. If a Tribune had spoken to you the way he dared speak to me, you'd have tried to strike him too. Sacrosanct or not. Idiots, all of them. Senile, blind old men trying to buy the favors of a mob they wouldn't let clean their vomitoria.... HA! senex, indeed. I wouldn't ordinarily associate with men of your...*cough*... well, anyway, I..." Realizing that he was babbling, he threw back another cup. "Gentlemen, I may be in a position to help you, if you can help me. What have you heard about the delay in the grain shipments from Sicily?"
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Postby Curio Agelastus on Mon Jun 07, 2004 12:14 am

At Draco's question, Curio whispered back "I have absolutely NO idea. What was that you were saying about Fortuna, Draco?"

On hearing Cato's remarks on the quality of the wine, Curio gave a sadistic smirk and beckoned the innkeeper over. "Gaius Equitius Cato, meet my good friend Servius Cornelius Cato..."
"By the way, the only famous Cato I know was a Stoic and seemed to have a Caesar-complex. Sorry to disappoint you."
The smirk widened into a grin, and Curio winked to show he wasn't serious.
"Although I should warn you that here we don't stand for people treating serving girls like that, even if you can do that in your fancy domus; it took me many years to teach Draco how to act less aristocratic while in the slums with his old friend Curio. Isn't that right, Draco?"
Curio's expression hardened as Cato continued his diatribe against the masses, but he replied civilly enough, "I have heard many things of grain shipments from Sicily - you will have to give us more details if you require an informative answer."
To friends as old as the two who sat beside him, the slight coldness in Curio's voice was clear.
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Postby Gaius Equitius Cato on Mon Jun 07, 2004 4:11 am

"Hmph," replied Cato, settling back. "I'm not surprised you don't know what's happening in the real world if you're spending your time in a place like this." He looked at the innkeeper. "Are you a real Cornelia or was your father a freed slave? Oh, never mind. Just bring us another jug of whatever."

He turned back to the trio of men at the table.

"Oh you may think it's clever to try to turn tables and promote the 'glories' of the masses, but when all is said and done..." He pointed at Draco. "And you, a patrician...may the Gods close their ears. Listen. I need assistance dealing with a matter here in the City. If you can help me, not only will I pay you well, but I have not a small amount of influence in several provinces. I have...hmmm...personal dealings with quite a few of our provincial governors. This is not for the squeamish, and you're likely to get your tunics dirty, so if you have a problem with a little rough handling, I'll look elsewhere. But the rewards to the three of you could be quite generous." He glanced at Marius' scroll on the table between them. "I may even be able to do something about that...trust me, your life as a frumentarius would be little to your liking. But if the army thinks you have the skills, then I think you may be very useful."

Cato pulled a scroll out from a fold in his tunic.

"One of my clients, Claudius Quintilius, is running for the Curule Aedileship in the upcoming elections. You have heard about the elections, I trust? That upstart New Man Aelius Rutilius is running against him. This is a letter I've intercepted from Rutilius to one of the Censors in which he alleges certain...indiscretions in my dealings with the shipmasters running grain in from Sicily. Not that there's any truth to these ridiculous charges, of course. No-one in my family has ever dealt with such scum. But naturally, this would affect Quintilius' position; just because the mob pays more for their bread if the shipments are a little *cough* delayed, they'll influence the election and I'll lose a very valuable client. This must not happen. I represent a certain segment in the Senate whose interests lie in getting Quintilius into the aedileship. They are hesitant to take the steps necessary to make sure Rutilius cannot create a scandal. Necessary and unfortunate steps."

Cato threw back another cup.

"I, however, am not so hesitant."
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Sed Marius.

Postby Aldus Marius on Wed Jun 09, 2004 2:11 am

Marius the Wanderer, wanting only to be away, did not welcome this new intrusion on his affairs. His eyes narrowed; to his friends it must have seemed that he was gathering himself to leap at the newcomer, if for no other reason than that he was an unwelcome presence. (Anyone not already at table with Marius would have been an unwelcome presence.)

And then the raggedy, wine-swilling Magistrate insulted the Tribunes of the People, even boasting that he had broken Roman Discipline badly enough to strike one. And then he insulted the People themselves. And then--oh, wait, that was before--he had insulted the taverna, its staff, and its product. He'd flashed his money around. He'd taken the liberty of reading Marius' scroll, which had not been meant for any other eyes than Marius' own, and which he'd only shown to his friends because they were friends. And as the last insult, this purple-striped drunkard wanted to enlist the help of a Marius--a Marius!!--against the ambitions of an "upstart New Man"!!

Oh, no. Lucius Marius Peregrinus was not going to like this new fellow at all...

Marius rose from his chair, slowly. He was visibly shaking, and the look in his eyes (even the blind one) left no room for anyone to ascribe his tremor to old age, exhaustion or fear. His breakfast companions may well have had thoughts about clearing the room; at the least, they would have been wise to move out of swords'-reach. But Marius did not draw his sword, nor upend the table, nor vault over it to confront this man who would surely have not gone within a 50-mile radius of him if he'd only known how deeply he reminded the old veteran of...

...SULLA.

Instead, and barely containing the bile rising in his throat, he addressed the Patrician filth:

"Sir: What is served in this Taverna is a greater variety of drink than anywhere else in the City, and from more places. You dishonor it by spilling it all over the floor, and abusing the ones who have brought it to you. Why, they even have my Cream Soda, and I will drink nothing else--certainly not whatever that is that you have flung onto my table with such contempt. They also have the only Barbecued Beef Brisket you are going to find south of Hither Spain, from whence I hail. This is a new establishment, and I am new to it, and I will not have it spoilt for me by a man with the manners of one who sells dancing-girls.

"I ate your grain shipment this morning for breakfast. My physician said I needed more fiber in my diet, so I ate it. The whole thing. You will not be getting it back with any help from me.

"It seems we Untouchables of the Taverna have better manners than you:" --and here he made a very swift move with the scroll that, had it been done with the gladius at his side, would have resulted in the ratty Patrician's decapitation; Marius settled for backing him up against the nearest pillar and, still holding the scroll to his throat, completed the thought: "...at least we understand that private correspondence stays private, and do not go reading things upside-down and backwards on peoples' desks.

"Now, Don Whoever-you-are: Explain to me convincingly why a bunch of just-plain-Romans, whom you have just insulted in every way including political allegiance and parentage, should desire to help you...? We were just on our way to our own fun, you see, and you're not going to peel us away from it with mere money. Equitius is not a name I like. The man you remind me of is not one I can possibly like either. And before you throw that bit around about 'upstart New Men' again, know that I am a Marius, the son of a Marius, and a direct-line descendent of a certain Highly-Upstart New Man. AND PROUD OF IT!!"

This last he rasped with bared fangs making him look every bit as feral as he was; and when he removed the pressure of the scroll, those around him wondered whether they had actually seen him begin the Wolf-change....
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Postby Gaius Equitius Cato on Wed Jun 09, 2004 7:01 am

Cato reached up slowly and placed his hand on the scroll in Marius' hand.

"Well, well, well. We finally see some of the spirit we had been told of. Very nicely done, New Man. Now sit down, please, and let us enjoy some of this Cream Soda of which you speak so highly, and get down to business."

He turned to the innkeeper. "And perhaps a bit of that brisket might be in order, yes? And wipe that smile off your face, Cornelius," and tossed another silver coin at the grinning barman.

"You may think little of me, and so be it. I likewise think little of your gang. But we must, in all things, consider what is most beneficial to everyone here, yes? Let me put it this way. My request is simple, easily accomplished, and will, I promise, be of the greatest possible utility in allowing you and your friends the freedom to pursue your private "quest". If you think that your being a versipellis is going to frighten me, I'd ask you to sit through a single session of the Senate. Shape-shifting is the very least of the horrors that occur in that place."

Stepping around Marius, Cato shrugged. "And if you really think that I represent what is worst of my class, you would not believe what I have heard issuing from much more august mouths than my own. We Equitii may not be Gracchi (the Gods forbid), but please... You may use tales of the evil Patricians to frighten little children into obedience, but I am not a little child."

Cato turned and pointed at Marius.

"And whether you like it or not, New Man, we still rule this Republic. Now, will you talk business or will you only threaten?"
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Postby Curio Agelastus on Thu Jun 10, 2004 12:35 am

As Marius leapt up, Curio, about to berate the "Gentleman" sat down again to watch the drama. As Marius' actions became more and more threatening, Curio slowly stood once more in the hopes of ending the scene before it got too messy. As Cato and Marius argued over the merits of their respective classes, a grin of amusement could be seen on Curio's face, but as Cato pointed out that the aristocracy still ruled the Republic, Curio stepped forward.

"Genetlemen, stop. You've made your hostility to each other quite clear. Let me make one point clear myself. Marius, you may not like the aristocratic class, but they are the ones who rule Roma currently, and as such the ones who govern the continuation of your home - to damage them is to damage the Eternal City. Equally, Cato, to come in here and insult all of us is not only the height of bad manners but also a really foolish way to attempt to gain assistance for your task. And if it helps, let me tell you more about each of us: Draco is the scion of a noble house, who should thus have your respect. Marius is a highly-talented Military Man, whose sword-arm has upheld the honour of Roma on many occasions. And I? Suffice it to say that I'm a Romanised barbarian of no importance." With a sardonic grin Curio thus tried to keep the peace.

"Now then, mi Mari - I suggest we discuss this man's proposal - however much you may despise him, we should at least hear him out; if it assists out passage to Britannia it could prove useful."
Turning to Cato, Curio pointed out, "Know this, aristocrat. If it goes against my sensitive sense of honour, then you can count me out straight away. I am fairly confident I understand what you mean, but I'd like to hear you spell it out. Then the three of us can discuss its merits."
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Postby Gnaeus Dionysius Draco on Thu Jun 10, 2004 10:26 am

Draco had sat mute through the whole discussion, feeling more embarassed than anything else, embarrassed because somehow this Cato damaged the reputation of the aristocracy once more in the eyes of the plebes, embarrassed because of Marius's hostility to the aristocracy, the class to which Draco himself belonged and also embarrassed because actually, with all this talk about Roma... Draco was not even part of this whole 'Roman' aristocracy. The fact that he held Roman citizenship didn't change this one bit.

Finally, after Curio had spoken, he found it suitable to interject something himself.
"I can only add to Curio's speech that whatever it is you'd like us to do, it should not slow us down on our way."
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A Soldier's Observations

Postby Aldus Marius on Fri Jun 11, 2004 1:18 am

Marius, being possessed of that Roman Discipline which the ratty Patrician lacked, was done being visibly angry with the man as soon as he had made his show of force. It had been as the sally of troops from a fortress, no more, a thing meant to gauge the enemy's strength while demonstrating one's own. For all its ferocity, there was little actual passion about it. What the Senator's words had stirred within Marius went far deeper than simple anger, an emotion of the moment. Gaius Equitius Cato was only the latest manifestation of something the veteran had been dealing with for years...

So perhaps it surprised some of those present when, at Curio's suggestion, he sat lightly on the edge of the table, once more composed, and agreed to hear the man out, at least. He could be an elemental, a force of nature when he needed to be; he could also be a fount of humor, or the soul of wisdom. His friends knew this; it was one reason they were his friends, always curious to know what robe he'd don next. Soldier, shaman, falconer, adventurer of many kinds...perhaps this was his true shapeshifting power, that he could become whatever his community needed him to be, while remaining utterly himself.

And he had his loyalties. He did not understand Cato's talk of the two men's advocacy of their respective classes; Marius had not said a single thing about class, only about the right of everyone in the room to be treated with dignity and common courtesy if a fellow wanted favors out of them. He believed Cato that there were horrors in the Senate. Lowly Centurion that he'd been, the leech Sulla had found time to introduce him to some of them. Why bother...? Only Sulla knew. But it would be a long time before Marius volunteered himself for more of the same.

But as to those loyalties...

"Mi Curio," he began, "I imagine our togatus here believes he's seen it all when it comes to things that can happen and who rules what. May I suggest that he--and you, Curio, who should know better!--might be appalled at how rapidly the Rule of the Senate fades once one is outside the City gates. The farmers in Rome's fields cannot count on it; and if I should deposit either of you a mere two days' march from Rome in any direction, I do not believe that you could tell the difference between that spot and Further Spain. Speak not to me of the Rule of Rome, for I have spent most of my life outside it, and the Legions are another Law all to themselves.

"I agree, amici, that we should hear the Senator's proposal. I agree that there are atrocities done in the Senate. And I believe we are about to be invited to take part in one of them. My bones tell me that this man wants us to rough up or do away with this Rutilius chap. I believe that would not sit too well with my sensitive sense of honor. He sounds like an intelligent man, a courageous one, one who will not put up with any bull. A man after my own heart, in other words; and by my own lights, Rome needs many more of him than it does of Gaius Equitius Cato. And we are to cut him down or silence his allies because he wants...some incredibly minor office that has no impact on anything forty paces beyond the walls...? --A waste, amici, and I will not partake of it.

"But Mater always said that if anyone was as bad as everyone else said they were, I should give them the chance to prove it to me directly. I have been stung a number of times following this rule, but I still hold it to be good advice.

"So, Senator...is that what you were going to propose, or did you have something else in mind...? You do not strike me as a subtle man, but I am willing to be surprised."
Last edited by Aldus Marius on Fri Jul 02, 2004 3:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Curio Agelastus on Wed Jun 16, 2004 11:54 pm

Curio took the opportunity to interject: "Mi Mari, I am aware that the rule of the Senate becomes subordinate to the rule of the Sword once outside the city gates. Remember, I have travelled from Britannia and isles around it that most people don't even believe existed to furthest Sarmatia where the name of Roma is as the name of Troy here. I am well aware of the limited power of the Senate. But it is your duty as one of the swords of Roma to uphold that power, and the power of the Senate. I'm not suggesting that you go against your conscience, merely that you give this man a chance."

Curio was interrupted by Cornelius Cato, who came over with another tray of drinks: "Here you go, sirs. Soda for Marius, fine Sicilian wine for Draco, that un-godly Sarmatian drink that you seem so fond of for you Curio, and as for you Gaius Equitius: I've found a special drink from Britannia that you might like to try. On the house."
The grin on Cornelius' face was matched only by the twinkle in Curio's eye. Curio stated bluntly:
"So, Patrician; spell out what you would have us do."
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Postby Gaius Equitius Cato on Thu Jun 17, 2004 7:11 am

(OOC: sorry: I was caught with a cold and overwhelmed with work...grrrr)

Cato settled himself across from the three men, taking great care to arrange his toga.

"I hear you speak of 'roughing up' and 'doing away'; this, gentlemen, is the difference between your class and mine; yes, even you," here he gestured at Draco, "who seem content to abandon the place the Gods have given you for the company of...others.

"Oh yes, perhaps some distance from the City the rule of Rome may falter, and become run under by the malicious acts of bandits and scoundrels, but hear me well: Rome is eternal; Rome is the fountain of every grace and power on earth; those who now make mockery of her glory will hang from a tree soon. This, I can guarantee, without the benefit of a grotesque Sybil muttering in her cave or the cackling of a thousand sacred geese on the Capitoline Hill or even the blood of a hundred oxen splashed across the altar of Iuppiter Optimus Maximus.

"Now then. Do you not think that even men for whom you have such ill-regard as myself, and those I represent, are capable of more...interesting ways of seeing our will done? To murder one man is to create a martyr; to bring into disrepute an entire cabal is a much more worthy and satisfying endeavor. Rutilius, in penning this piece of trash," Cato brandished the scroll under their skeptical gazes, "even he knows that the most devastating weapon is rumour and slander. Oh no; I have a much more potent solution to this distasteful episode than the dispatch of a single low-born New Man struggling to gain a foothold on the cursus honorum."

Cato stood, and drew himself to his full, imposing height. "Rome will not allow it, this discord and disruption of the way things ought to be."

There was a sound of scuffling at the door of the taverna, and Cato's scribe burst into sight. Hurrying to his master, he bent over and whispered urgently in Cato's ear. Cato flinched, and stood abruptly. "Go to the house at once, Kallistos."

He drew from within his toga a leather pouch, which clinked softly. Opening its drawstring, he showed the three the top layer of what was unmistakably gold coin, the mint of Delos. "Do what you need to do, but be at the gate of my house on the Palatine in three days, exactly at the ninth hour. It is past the Temple of the Divine Twins, turn left at the hovel inhabited by that miserable Municius Scaevola --- you will see the gate guarded by two African eunuchs. Pass through the line of clients with their willow-branches of supplication and use the pass-word "Sulla Felix erat" ; bring with you a band of no less than ten men in whom you can put your trust to obey you without question. You will need to arm them and procure at least three horses as well. Go to Posthumus at the Ostia docks, and show him this" here Cato placed a signet ring on the table. "He will give you a large crate. Bring it with you. You will need my ring to gain entrance to the innermost court of my villa. If I am not there immediately, wait for me. I will not leave you waiting long."

He looked at Marius. "Bring with you these orders", pointing at Marius' scroll, "and be prepared to be free of them, if you desire. I leave you now. If you decide not to take part in this endeavor, you may spend this on wine or cream soda, brisket or mutton, bouza from Egypt, slave girls or boys, however you see fit. But be warned; if you do so, you will not find peace in a single square foot of land that Rome calls her own. This I swear on the lares of the Equitii."

Cato turned to leave. As he passed the portal, he reached out to the door-post, feeling unaccountably dizzy. "I look to see you in three days", he mumbled, staggering out of sight.
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Postby Curio Agelastus on Tue Jun 22, 2004 8:48 pm

As Equitius Cato left the taverna, Curio mused, "So, we are not to kill a man, but to destroy his reputation; and one who I can only respect for breaking into a game normally reserved for the sons of players. I'm not enthusiastic about the idea, but I'm equally unenthusiastic about being pursued by groups of lackeys - admittedly he may have been bluffing, but we'd have to take into account the risk, and this venture as a whole is risky enough."
Curio stared hard at Draco and Marius, and stated forcefully,
"This decision cannot be made by one of us alone. I am of two minds, so I'll go with your decision in this case. Should we destroy an innocent man's reputation in order to ease our own passage to Britannia, or risk the wrath of a powerful aristocrat, even one as low as Equitius Cato. There could be a third option; is there a way to persuade Cato that we have done as he asked, but warn Rutilius to flee before Cato finds out we double-crossed him?"
A wry smile came over Curio's face as he commented,
"An unfortunate choice of password - that was tactless of Cato. Unless... Unless that password, with all the emotions it conjures up, was chosen for that very reason." The smile disappeared from Curio's face as he realised how similar to Cato he sounded.
"Listen to me - I thought I had left all this behind, and yet here I am still attempting to keep up with those far better-versed in such schemes than I could ever be."
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Oh, that reminds me...

Postby Aldus Marius on Fri Jun 25, 2004 1:24 am

Marius' aspect was uncommonly grim, even for Marius.

"Amici," he murmured, "if my failing memory serves, we were just on our way to Britannia this morning. We are packed, provisioned, and have loaded animals awaiting us just outside. And we've even told this Equitius chap that we will brook no delay in our departure for the Isle of the Mighty."

His voice rose a little. "Yet this man wishes us to appear at his domus three days hence. I'd call that a delay, wouldn't you?

"An unfortunate choice of password, indeed. With a patrician's education, one would not have to know me particularly to know that the last thing a Marius will do--right after leaping off the Tarpeian Rock and breaking himself into bloody, broken bits below--is say anything nice about a Sulla! 'Stercus Was a Lucky Man' indeed. Yet I have outlived him...and we will outlive this one, too, methinks.

"He despises us, you must have noticed this. As a workman he'd be useless; he refuses to dirty his fingers on the handles of his own tools. I'm surprised he didn't hand us the money with a bargeman's pole. And here's where we risk losing our moral advantage over this man: for, should we accept this assignment, we will have proven ourselves every bit as vile as he thinks us to be. All our talk of decency and respect, blown away into the aether at the first whiff of gold or convenience!

"Were we not ready to make our own way to Britannia just a few hours ago? Have we become so much less so since then, that we should need to kiss the crescent on a Senator's boots to ease our journey? He wants us to indicate our acceptance--only--in three days. Now, the way I read it, that gives us a two-day head start. We are seasoned travellers; we can be a long way from here in two days.

"I do not fear this man, nor his hirelings. He is soft, not a fighter and certainly not a professional soldier. Doubtless he knows this, and so will want to do his work through surrogates. Any thugs he can procure may be marginally more competent in melee; but they will still be City men, Romans of Rome, and it takes more than a crash-course on the Campus Martius to equip a fellow to meet the likes of us on anything like equal terms.

"It is possible we may encounter administrative hassles instead. That patrician greaserag seems to want to make a great deal out of my scroll. I tell you, amici: I trust the man who gave it to me far more than the one who wants to relieve me of it. Besides..." and his voice dropped down to a murmur again, his features assuming his familiar crooked grin, "...I remember now what a frumentarius is. We will have resources of our own, commilitones. The bearer of this commission is not one to be trifled with."

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Re: Oh, that reminds me...

Postby Gnaeus Dionysius Draco on Sat Jun 26, 2004 1:58 pm

Curio wrote:"This decision cannot be made by one of us alone. I am of two minds, so I'll go with your decision in this case. Should we destroy an innocent man's reputation in order to ease our own passage to Britannia, or risk the wrath of a powerful aristocrat, even one as low as Equitius Cato. There could be a third option; is there a way to persuade Cato that we have done as he asked, but warn Rutilius to flee before Cato finds out we double-crossed him?"
A wry smile came over Curio's face as he commented,
"An unfortunate choice of password - that was tactless of Cato. Unless... Unless that password, with all the emotions it conjures up, was chosen for that very reason." The smile disappeared from Curio's face as he realised how similar to Cato he sounded.


After having gone through an entire spectrum of emotions, both surprise, anger, interest and cold scheming, Draco began to laugh after Curio had spoken. Marius, however, was already speaking before Draco had the chance to say something.

Marius Peregrine wrote:"Amici," he murmured, "if my failing memory serves, we were just on our way to Britannia this morning. We are packed, provisioned, and have loaded animals awaiting us just outside. And we've even told this Equitius chap that we will brook no delay in our departure for the Isle of the Mighty."

His voice rose a little. "Yet this man wishes us to appear at his domus three days hence. I'd call that a delay, wouldn't you?


"Ita est," Draco confirmed.

Marius Peregrine wrote:"An unfortunate choice of password, indeed. With a patrician's education, one would not have to know me particularly to know that the last thing a Marius will do--right after leaping off the Tarpeian Rock and breaking himself into bloody, broken bits below--is say anything nice about a Sulla! 'Stercus Was a Lucky Man' indeed. Yet I have outlived him...and we will outlive this one, too, methinks.

"He despises us, you must have noticed this. As a workman he'd be useless; he refuses to dirty his fingers on the handles of his own tools. I'm surprised he didn't hand us the money with a bargeman's pole. And here's where we risk losing our moral advantage over this man: for, should we accept this assignment, we will have proven ourselves every bit as vile as he thinks us to be. All our talk of decency and respect, blown away into the aether at the first whiff of gold or convenience!

"Were we not ready to make our own way to Britannia just a few hours ago? Have we become so much less so since then, that we should need to kiss the crescent on a Senator's boots to ease our journey? He wants us to indicate our acceptance--only--in three days. Now, the way I read it, that gives us a two-day head start. We are seasoned travellers; we can be a long way from here in two days.


Uncommonly forcefully for his usual physical behaviour, Draco slammed his fist on the table.
"Let me tell you another little story. Years ago, my father just disappeared into thin air. No one knows where he went, why he went or what he went to do. One thing has grown more certain every day since his departure, however, and that is that whatever he did, he will probably never come back to tell it. As indifferent as I am to the little ploys and plots of impoverished aristocrats like that Cato, I could not bear the thought of working for someone of the same type of the people who had a hand in the disappearance of my father."
He paused for breath and took a sip from his wine.
"This Cato is a type of man that will always be out there. When my great-grandfather acquired Roman citizenship and started up his businesses, the Catones of that day were also busy protecting their own nepotist little businesses and seats of power. I dread the day these Catones may come to power. Just like their 'great example', they would gladly burn books, enslave Etruscan women and ban Greeks. Since I am affiliated to all three, this makes me their natural-born opponent. Therefore, I will not cooperate with this Cato. We should go to Britannia at once!"

Marius Peregrine wrote:"I do not fear this man, nor his hirelings. He is soft, not a fighter and certainly not a professional soldier. Doubtless he knows this, and so will want to do his work through surrogates. Any thugs he can procure may be marginally more competent in melee; but they will still be City men, Romans of Rome, and it takes more than a crash-course on the Campus Martius to equip a fellow to meet the likes of us on anything like equal terms.

"It is possible we may encounter administrative hassles instead. That patrician greaserag seems to want to make a great deal out of my scroll. I tell you, amici: I trust the man who gave it to me far more than the one who wants to relieve me of it. Besides..." and his voice dropped down to a murmur again, his features assuming his familiar crooked grin, "...I remember now what a frumentarius is. We will have resources of our own, commilitones. The bearer of this commission is not one to be trifled with."


"I do not fear any thugs either. My frater's life is at stake."
Gn. Dionysius Draco Invictus
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Postby Curio Agelastus on Sun Jun 27, 2004 12:31 am

Curio bowed his head in acquiscence, saying resignedly, "I had hoped to have at least one trip where I was not on the run from one man or another. As it is, I am only to have a small rest in Roma before having to watch every shadow once more. But you're right, Marius - to sell our honour for the sake of convenience would make us no better than Equitius Cato."

Curio took a deep breath, and then pointed out grimly, "However, mi Mari, unfortunately you're too optimistic in predicting that we will have a head-start on Cato. He will have men assigned to follow each of us, as well as watching all the exits out of Roma. He clearly chose us for a reason, and does not intend to let his tools get away."

Curio pessimistically continued, "And Draco, it is not his "little ploys and plots" that we face, but the long arm of someone who may prove to be more powerful than we suspect. Remember, however low-life he may be, he will likely have a more powerful benefactor, with far greater funds than Cato could muster from his own estates."

"Equally, you both underestimate the danger his "thugs" could represent. Bear in mind that neither of you is equipped to fight such a battle. Draco, the military training of a man of your standing will be of little worth against foes such as these. And Mari, shame me though it does to admit it, your experience as a man of the legions will also avail you but little against such men - your battleground is the clash of armies, the clarion call - desperate melee, but still honourable battle. These men fight in a way that I am more accustomed to; when the attacks - and there will be many - come, they will not be gentlemanly duels, but a club blow to the head, an arrow from behind a tree, a dagger inserted into your ribs while asleep at night."

Curio leaned forward, staring intensely at both Draco and Marius, making it impossible for them to miss how the deep-set eyes and barbarian forehead made his grim countenance seem almost monstrous.
"Make no mistake, amici. We are fighting a war now that only I have any experience in waging, and the battleground will be the shadows."
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On the Perseverence of Mountain Goats

Postby Aldus Marius on Wed Jun 30, 2004 2:00 am

Marius listened to his amicus with a sinking heart. At last he could stand it no longer and dropped his head, blowing out air in seeming resignation. This journey had been going to be difficult before Equitius Cato stuck his finger in the pot and started stirring; now it looked to be both difficult and unpleasant. No more than Curio, Marius did not like the feeling of being watched, of being a hunted thing.

"Mi Curio," he sighed, "the longer I listen to you the closer I get to just...giving...up. But I can't, you know why...? --Because we've all made promises, amici. Your kin don't know we're coming, so they can't hold you to anything--but we still made promises to ourselves, and at least in my case to the Gods."

His head came up, and there was a fierce pride in his eyes. "Besides, amice: You are not the only shadow-warrior in the room. Before I was a soldier, I was a Spaniard; and though I am no longer a soldier, I still remain a Spaniard. I spent my childhood in the hills around Hispalis, chucked stones at gamebirds for my supper. My people made a nuisance of themselves when General Pompeius came to visit. Seems he'd had ideas about dislodging Quintus Sertorius--Sertorius, who taught us how to fight like a Legion, and learned from us how to live like a mountain goat and fight like a wild boar and descend on an enemy like an eagle. His Legions could do all this, when we got done with them. The only thing that ever beat a Spanish Legion was another Spanish Legion. And Spanish Legions are not to be found in Rome!

"Besides, you forget: I live in the wilderness; and I've spent some time recently with the Picts. I am no stranger to indirect methods of fighting. So if you know a thing or two, and I know things three and four, perhaps between the two of us we can get friend Draco where he's going..." and that grin returned to his face.

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Re: On the Perseverence of Mountain Goats

Postby Curio Agelastus on Wed Jul 21, 2004 1:24 am

Marius Peregrine wrote: "Mi Curio," he sighed, "the longer I listen to you the closer I get to just...giving...up. But I can't, you know why...? --Because we've all made promises, amici. Your kin don't know we're coming, so they can't hold you to anything--but we still made promises to ourselves, and at least in my case to the Gods."


"Mi Mari, I apologise if my words drain you of hope. They were not intended to do so, only to ensure that both of you are completely aware of the dangers. Most people misunderstand me when I get pessimistic - it's never indicative of a desire to give up, more of a desire to know what it is I'll be fighting against!" Curio grinned ferally, his hand clutching something inside his cloak.

Marius Peregrine wrote:His head came up, and there was a fierce pride in his eyes. "Besides, amice: You are not the only shadow-warrior in the room..."


Curio looked a little ashamed as he said contritely, "You're right, Mari, I had entirely forgotten your Hispanic origins."
Curio grinned at the silent Draco, saying light-heartedly, "Poor old Draco! If you wouldn't balk at being taught by one as low-born as us, perhaps we could teach you a little on the journey? Even if my fears about Equitius Cato prove unfounded, it would undoubtedly prove useful when we reach Britannia."
Curio, seeming far more confident than his 23 years, pointed out,
"However, if we are to leave, the sooner we do so the better, for two reasons: firstly, we will be in more of a position to deal with the troubles in Britannia if we get there in good time. Secondly, although Cato will obviously be aware of our actions as soon as we leave, we give him less time to react if we move swiftly."

Turning away from Marius and Draco, Curio shouted good-humouredly, "Servius Cornelius! Get your lazy Britannic arse out here!"
Cornelius Cato bustled over to the group and replied unpenitently with a grin on his face, "You come here in the morning not long after the sun has risen and you expect my undivided bloody attention? Being Romanised and all has gone to your head, lad, just like Warrator said; Diarmuid, it doesn't matter what you tell yourself about your new life in Rome, the fact remains you can't be of Roma and Britannia."

Unsure of exactly what had just happened, Draco and Marius were both nonetheless able to detect a distinct drop in the temperature of the conversation.
Curio replied between his teeth, "You - leave - Warrator - out of this!"
Cornelius Cato's shoulders dropped slightly, and he nodded. "Aye, I had no right to bring him into this. I'm sorry, lad. But you do need to accept what has happened. You can't let the past rule your life forever."
Curio, always a short man, nonetheless loomed over Cato now, enraged. "How dare you tell me what I do or do not need to do? It's nothing to do with you! You have no idea what it was like!"
Curio turned his back on Cato, and said, trying to keep the fury out of his voice, said to Marius and Draco, "I'll meet you outside."
Cato, a look not of anger but of sadness on his face, apologised for the disturbance and then retreated to the back rooms of the now-silent Taverna.
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