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Re: On the Perseverence of Mountain Goats

Postby Gnaeus Dionysius Draco on Wed Jul 21, 2004 11:43 am

Marcus Scribonius Curio wrote: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."


"Don't worry about me."

Draco had slipped into a calmer mood, and didn't blame his friends for thinking of him as just a feeble aristocrat being unable to fight. There was a thing or two they might be surprised to see, but the time had not yet come to tell them about that.

Marcus Scribonius Curio wrote: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.


Draco looked at Marius and frowned. They had already wasted too much time here.
"Let's go to Ostia. We should leave."
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Attention to Detail

Postby Aldus Marius on Sat Jul 24, 2004 10:45 pm

"One thing, commilitones," Mari cautioned. "I am as anxious to be away as anyone here. But as my drill sergeant said, it's all in the details--and," he gestured toward the Senator's moneybag, which still sat on the table in all its obscene display, "we are forgetting this one rather large detail. What do we do with the money?? --We have opted not to do the work; it hardly seems honest, then, to keep the pay. So this must be disposed of somehow. If we weren't dealing with a man with the morals of a play-actor, I'd be inclined to simply return it to him, saying he'd forgotten something.

"But the direct approach is out with this one, I can tell. Perhaps my minions can deal with his. --Quid? --You didn't know I had minions...? --Bene, neither did I, until my patron foisted them upon me day before yesterday. A whole grand houseful of 'em, waiting for the Master to get back from Baiae, and just needing something to do. He left me this note--" and Marius showed it to them, a tiny thing that would have been better placed on a wax tablet than on the smooth scrap of Fannian it occupied, "--says I can do anything I like with them as long as I don't ride Peregrinus in the living-room. Surely I can get someone at the domus to make an anonymous delivery, en'? And my patronus is a Consular; that should help the Senator decide to keep it anonymous.

"Or," his eyes twinkled, "we could do it another way that I was thinking. But for that, you'd better spend the time while I'm away getting yourselves mounted. Because, if I do it the Spaniard way..." (and here he chuckled), "...I will indeed get to ride Peregrinus, rather recklessly too, and I may suddenly find myself needing to leave the City at a gallop, and when I come flying through the Porta Flaminia you two need to be able to immediately fall in.

"Why, if we pull this off, I shall even reward you with a bit of information: You will know who you're travelling with, under whose protection, and in what capacity...since I seem to be so full of surprises today."

He smiled to himself. By now the Wanderer's whole being was suffused with a fierce joy; he was never more like his namesake bird of prey than at moments like this, and it was becoming very clear that Marius on the road and Marius sulking around Rome were two very different things.

"So: Shall I proceed with one or the other of my harebrained plans...or has either of you a good idea as to how to get this rich-man's vomit back to its rightful owner?" The look in his eye said he wasn't too particular what they did, as long as they did it soon, well, and dramatically, and then left Rome to carry on without them...
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Attention to Detail, Part Two

Postby Aldus Marius on Wed Aug 04, 2004 12:45 am

Marius, excited as he was to be almost free of this place, had to come up for air eventually. When he next took a look around him, he found his number of companions to have been reduced: Curio was nowhere to be seen.

He raised a hairy eyebrow at Draco the Younger (the Marii were justly famed for the thickness of their eyebrows), muttered "Huh...?", and, upon being informed that Curio had just stormed outside after exchanging words with the bartender, mused "What was that all about?" and decided that Outside was where he needed to be, too...

"Come, mi Draco. Let's go watch him cool down...if he can. I obviously missed something while I was being Clever. I'd rather not do it again."

So saying, he picked up the remnants of breakfast and stepped out into the morning.
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Postby Curio Agelastus on Thu Aug 12, 2004 12:31 am

Curio, visibly trying to restrain his rage, half-glared and half-smiled in an attempt at reassurance at the others as they left the taverna.
"Right, remember we'll be unable to take a ship from Ostia to Britannia. I have, however, heard of a brave Greek who sails between Massilia and Britannia. So first we must reach Massilia."
Curio was aware that his actions had been discourteous to say the least, and would have looked contrite had his face not been knitted together in a frown.
"I apologise for my behaviour here today. Perhaps when I have my thoughts under control I will explain to you what just occurred." That said, Curio leaped on his horse and waited for the others to mount up themselves, eager to leave the streets of Roma behind him.
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Another detail...

Postby Aldus Marius on Thu Aug 12, 2004 3:06 am

*** Marius summarizes his Taverna comments to Curio re: the need to get rid of the money-pouch: his idea about using a go-between; his other half-thought involving his horse, something Spanish, and an emergency exit; and the promise to say a bit more about himself if they made a successful escape from the City. Then... ***

"...But who's going to Ostia? I've been thinking we were going by land; 's why I dragged the Porta Flaminia into this...

"Come to think of it, if the first thing you thought of was Ostia, chances are that's the first thing Cato'll think of too. We might take the Via Flaminia instead. It'll get us to Massilia, and it'll be the unexpected thing. If it takes a bit longer, just think of all the time we'll save sitting in rich men's dungeons..."
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Postby Curio Agelastus on Sat Aug 14, 2004 11:59 pm

Curio forced himself to think on the problems that Marius pointed out, and in so doing, exorcised the rage from his mind. He pondered for a while as the trio travelled through the city, and then spoke up. "On the matter of our destination, I agree entirely - Ostia is the first place that Cato will look." Curio glanced towards the silent Draco. "Gnae? What say you?"

"On the matter of the gold, I think I just came up with an interesting idea. Draco, you have a friend who was recently elected Quaestor, correct? No doubt he would have the contacts to bring about a distribution of free bread to the Capite Censi of Roma. Perhaps you could tell him to distribute the grain in the name of Gaius Equitius Cato?" Curio's acute sense of humour almost had him doubled over with laughter mentally, but he was able to restrain himself as he explained, "This will infuriate the Consulars and other top men in the Senate, who will be well aware that the distribution did not come from Cato. It will make a point to Cato. And finally, the money will be put to a good cause and we won't need to feel guilty about not returning it."
A twinkle in his eye, Curio looked at Marius and Draco; "Does that solve the problem?"
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Postby Gnaeus Dionysius Draco on Sun Aug 15, 2004 1:06 pm

Marcus Scribonius Curio wrote:Curio forced himself to think on the problems that Marius pointed out, and in so doing, exorcised the rage from his mind. He pondered for a while as the trio travelled through the city, and then spoke up. "On the matter of our destination, I agree entirely - Ostia is the first place that Cato will look." Curio glanced towards the silent Draco. "Gnae? What say you?"


"That we should leave as soon as possible. I don't mean to irritate you both or get into another argument, but we should leave now."
Draco began walking to make his travelling companions follow him. The whole disturbance with this Cato and the subsequent discussions had irritated him a bit, because he hadn't come all prepared and empty-minded out of his bed to this bawdy place to discuss every little topic.

Marcus Scribonius Curio wrote:"On the matter of the gold, I think I just came up with an interesting idea. Draco, you have a friend who was recently elected Quaestor, correct? No doubt he would have the contacts to bring about a distribution of free bread to the Capite Censi of Roma. Perhaps you could tell him to distribute the grain in the name of Gaius Equitius Cato?" Curio's acute sense of humour almost had him doubled over with laughter mentally, but he was able to restrain himself as he explained, "This will infuriate the Consulars and other top men in the Senate, who will be well aware that the distribution did not come from Cato. It will make a point to Cato. And finally, the money will be put to a good cause and we won't need to feel guilty about not returning it."
A twinkle in his eye, Curio looked at Marius and Draco; "Does that solve the problem?"


Draco grinned as they walked.
"Yeah. That's not a bad idea. However, this Cato may be clever enough to spin it to his own advantage. The memory of the masses are short-lived. While it will no doubt infuriate Cato to see what we've done with his money, and put a frown on the face of the Senate, the common folk won't know that we did it it - I don't need them to know it was us, but imagine that they would start liking Cato."
He paused for a while as a few carts and people passed the travelers.
"Still, that's not our problem. And I wasn't really planning to keep that money anyway. I'm rich enough to keep you two guys and myself fed for an entire year, so... That quaestor I know lives just outside Rome. We might pass his villa on our way to Massilia, and he might also lend us a good cart and a span, since we're not going to Ostia then."
He remained silent for another few moments, ponderously looking at the blue morning sky and absently noting the mounting noise of the street life in Rome, hearing only the scraping of his sandals on the street stones.
"The only thing I would really ask, is that we make haste."

(oh and btw is "capita censi"... "capite censi" is an invention by the OP's Latin Slaughterhouse)
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Outta Here

Postby Aldus Marius on Tue Aug 17, 2004 2:10 am

"Yes, yes, yes, mi Draco; let us go, go, go!!"

Marius approached Peregrinus and the dogs as he spoke, extended greetings to all of them, and thanked them for watching everyone's belongings. He seldom felt more vulnerable than when he was packed for a journey; everything he owned, except a few costly or non-portable treasures he'd left with friends, was on that horse's back, and if he were to lose any of it, he would lose it all. So it didn't do to leave Pere' parked outside any fixed location in the City for too long.

The Wanderer placed Curli-Su within her sling, then mounted up seemingly all in one flowing movement...one of the few things he did with any grace. Bonnie pranced; Meinard simply cocked his head and waited--these trips were arduous enough for a dog with kinda-short legs, without his wasting a lot of energy in self-expression. Nonetheless, he, too, was happy to be on his way. He only awaited the word...

Once the party was in motion, Mari turned to his friend Curio.

"I like your plan about the money a great deal," he affirmed. "It gets it out of our hands, there's a payback in it for Cato, and at the same time as it pleases the People it will provoke the Senate into teaching him a lesson. He did seem awfully worried about that grain shipment, nonne...? If he worries, so do the Plebs. It will seem to them that they have miraculously gotten their grain ration from Gaius Equitius. He will encourage them to believe it; and why not? --'S no skin off our backs. Indeed, this may make it impossible for him to be mad at us; or to whom will he owe his sharp rise in the popular esteem?"

His face grew solemn, then mock-tragic. "Ahh, well...I shall regret not being able to tell people how I dashed on my valiant buckskin through the narrow streets of the Mother City! How I rode right up to a Great Man's house, right up to the back wall of his garden, and with my sturdy sling "Mañana" hurled that sack of tainted wealth right into his piscina!! And then bolted for the Flaminian Gate, arrow-swift 'til we reached the Alps!!

"Of course," and his voice became gently teasing, "if I had charged off like that, I'd've clean left poor Draco in my dust. Or have you got a horse hiding somewhere in this burg that I haven't seen yet? I'm sure I can get you one from a certain petrified stable-boy..."
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Postby Curio Agelastus on Tue Sep 07, 2004 12:31 am

The trio trotted down a narrow road, not wide enough for two horses abreast. Curio's face remained set as he gazed not foward, but to the left, at the Mare Tyrrhenium. They had left the Via Flaminia some time before, and were now making their way up the western coast. They had met with no trouble thus far, so Marius had clearly been correct in predicting that Equitius Cato would look to Ostia first, and would not consider that the three friends would allow such a delay as to take the land route to Massilia and only sail from there. Seeing a building up ahead and hearing raucous cries, Curio's face relaxed slightly. They would not have to sleep on the ground tonight.

Their horses stabled, they spoke to the innkeeper and obtained lodging for the night. Taking a seat at a quiet table in the corner, Curio spoke hesitantly. "Amici, I think perhaps it is time to tell you what happened that morning back in Roma."
As he said this, someone approached the table, and their shadow loomed over Curio's face. He looked up, and, without any surprise showing in his expression, said blandly, "Oh. You again."
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Meanwhile, back in the barn...

Postby Aldus Marius on Sun Sep 19, 2004 11:39 pm

Marius was not present to witness this. After their long and stressful morning and then a pleasant, but still lengthy ride, he had really been looking forward to sleeping under the stars for the first time in many days.

So when they came to a halt, he rolled his eyes and groaned. "Yet another taverna, amici...? --I'd thought we'd had our fill of these places back in 'Mater. I didn't come all this way to have a roof over my head, or to worry about acting like an acceptable guest.

"Na, if it's all the same to you, I think I'll just spend the night with Pere' in the stables. Nobody living minds dogs on straw. Come get me if you need me; I'll be several paces behind the Petrified Stable-Boy..." and he grinned before trudging off in the indicated direction, Pere's saddle slung over his shoulder...
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Postby Gnaeus Dionysius Draco on Fri Sep 24, 2004 3:51 pm

Draco had spent most of the trip thinking and wandering in his own self, as if the regular pace of the horses and the green landscape, with every now and then a hint at the sea, were in fact merely metaphors for his own inner journey. That wasn't exactly a new, relevating thought, but then again, Draco knew, there was nothing in this world that no enlightened spirit hadn't come across before.

Passing through Etruria did little to him. Tusci who still clung to this land as if it somehow possessed something magical, as if their ancestors were still wandering the ancient swamps and groves, were erring. In contrast to these ghostly ancestors, Draco was not a superstitious man. Frequently other Etruscans who met him then looked at him with a certain peevishness or arrogance, as if he had somehow allowed himself to become a Roman by merely using the gift of common sense. If that was a Roman thing, so be it, fuck you Etruria.

The secret he carried with him on this journey was, until now, surprisingly light to bear in the light of the events regarding Cato. Concentrating on trying to understand his fellow travellers was another thing which kept him from worrying too much. Marius was sometimes hard to understand because of his strange dialect. Curio on the other hand was hard to get at: was his being a warrior merely a pose, as Draco had sometimes assumed, or was this pose a cover for something else? Who could tell? In any case, Draco didn't ask.

When they reached an auberge, he laughed awkwardly.
"Heh. Three strange Romans, who aren't Romans, going from Rome to places that aren't their homes either."
No one responded, as Curio and Marius had gotten into a conversation on where to spend the night.
"I'll be content to spend the night in a bed, however I'm not very happy to visit this type of inns. Whether you like it or not, Curio, we'll have to share a room. Should the innkeeper have malicious plans on his mind, we'll be better protected."

Curio spoke hesitantly. "Amici, I think perhaps it is time to tell you what happened that morning back in Roma."


"Ah, well. Speak, friend."
But then their conversation was interrupted by the presence of another person.
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Postby Curio Agelastus on Sat Sep 25, 2004 9:31 pm

Curio did not object to Draco's suggestion; he was concerned about safety as well. What worried him was Marius' insistence on sleeping away from the inn. However, he was also well aware that trying to argue would be a pointless task. Instead he voiced his concerns, shyly suggesting, "You take care of yourself, mi Mari. I have every respect for your military skills, but Gaius Marius himself could have been killed in his sleep. Had the Horatii been sleeping at that momentous time, then Roma would no longer exist. So be alert, amice."

They went their separate ways, and just as Curio was about to tell Draco of the events in the Taverna that morning some days previously, a man walked up to their table.
"Oh. You again."
"Yes. Me again."
"For what reason are you here?"
The short, plain-looking, un-noticeable man, dressed in a poor-quality toga, acted as if he had worn a toga all his life. "To pursue some business."
Curio replied, keeping the expression from his voice, "Business in a little fishing town? Your business interests are most widespread."
The man replied, "Indeed." He then turned round and left the room.

Turning round to face Draco again, Curio said defensively,
"I don't know who he is either. All I know is that he's been dogging my footsteps ever since I went to sort out that mess in the north of Britannia. When I finally confronted him about it, I expected things to come to blows. Instead he simply said he was on business. He claims the same excuse in every town."
A worried frown coming on Curio's face, he continued, "But someone who was actually to keep an eye on me would be more subtle - instead, he almost displays himself to me. I think he's not been hired to keep an eye on me and to hide that fact, but to flaunt that fact, to make sure I'm aware that someone's watching me. I only wish I knew who had hired him."
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Un-Petrified Stable-boys

Postby Aldus Marius on Sun Sep 26, 2004 11:49 pm

Marius, meanwhile, had run into difficulties.

The unloading and stabling of Pere' had gone smoothly enough; his rider had wondered briefly at the absence of staff, then rationalized that the stablehand(s) must simply be busy elsewhere. Marius groomed his horse, then the dogs got some of the leftover barbeque he'd brought along, and Marius himself polished off the rest. By this time Peregrinus had cooled off and could be watered and fed; the Wanderer did this between swigs from his canteen, which he had somehow managed to fill with cream soda before he'd left town! So far, so good; and while Mari knew better than anyone about the need to stay on one's toes in a strange place, he couldn't help but think Curio's worries were baseless. In retrospect, he would later tell himself, that must've been the fatigue talking...

Once everyone's needs had been seen to (and Pere' was munching sweet green hay out of a net-bag), Marius and the canine contingent found places in the large, clean stall to bed down for the night. The straw was fresh, soft, and piled high; the taverna itself might be a little decrepit, but the horse facilities were first-rate! That's it, thought the veteran; there must be stablehands about, and good ones, too. Looking in on Draco's and Curio's mounts, he saw they had received almost as decent care as he'd given Pere' himself. Thus reassured (or, some might say, lulled), Marius returned to his chosen hollow in the straw, threw the Wolf-cloak over himself, curled up puppy-dog-wise and let the tension of the last few days leach out of him. In under ten minutes he was asleep.

But not for long. The missing stable-boy returned from his dinner-break in the cucina. As a routine matter, he walked up and down the aisle of the barn with an oil-lamp in hand, noting departures and arrivals and the new horse left by an Imperial postman who had swapped it for a fresh one from the inn. At one stall he checked his stride, then resumed; occasionally a rider would insist on sleeping with his horse, and the horses who merited this special treatment were generally either very good or very bad...

He checked again; backed up. That was NOT a man curled up on the straw; it was a large wolf!! This impression was only confirmed when an equally-large growl emanated from right around that spot; the growl was actually Meinard, but the young man's eyes were so riveted on the deathly threat he saw to his livestock that the small dogs escaped his notice.

Creeping as quietly as he could to a certain wall of the barn, he reached for a wooden peg and seized the cudgel that was hanging there by a leather thong. He could not hope to kill a wolf with such a thing, but he could make its life pretty miserable until it wised up and fled the stables. Tiptoeing back to Pere's stall, he hung the lamp on a peg and slipped in. By now both dogs were barking up a storm. Still Marius slept...

...until the servant landed a solid blow on the back of his neck ("Heia!! Halali!!! --OUT, ya mis'rable beast!!"), and all hell broke loose.

Eyes wide, Marius leapt up with a great thunderous snarl that must've had any nearby priests recalculating the auspices. Meinard, already barking, sprang forward to defend his master. Curli-Su, the least experienced in combat, kept on barking. The horse Peregrinus knew exactly what was going on and spun around while rearing, in the way certain Spanish horses do. Teeth bared, hooves flashing, he became suddenly the meanest thing the stablehand ever saw. Unless it was the two sets of fangs that grabbed him from the straw (for by now Curli had figured things out); or the man's face under the Wolf's mask, fangs flashing in the lamplight--

--The lamplight! The groom had been so startled by Pere's maneuver that he'd knocked down the lamp! So of course it landed in the straw, and might well have burned down the barn if Marius hadn't spotted it and launched himself at it, extinguishing the little flame with one big belly-flop.

The stablehand still wasn't quite sure of what he'd seen, and with the horse's hooves about to crown him he didn't want to stand there trying to figure it out. Plenty of time for that later! For now, there were still two vicious dogs--one vicious horse--and some...thing, not quite wolf, not quite man, but who cared??--it did not belong in his stable!! He dropped and rolled out from under Peregrinus' forefeet, and when Marius stumbled out after him to read him the Acta Diurna, fell to with the club in earnest, swinging blindly in the dark but hitting more than he missed, and being repeatedly bitten in turn by the dogs of the Wanderer.

Marius stumbled, yelling and cursing, towards the door. The stablehand was right behind him, then the dogs, and finally the horse, who had forsaken his stall for the pleasures of melee combat like in the good old days. Marius got a good flogging; the servant got small-dog impressions right up to his calves; but he didn't stop whaling away at the strange bipedal "wolf" until Peregrinus sank his teeth into the young man's shoulder, hauled him up off his feet, and flung him back down the aisle. (This, incidentally, freed the groom of the two dogs.)

Marius burst into the courtyard in a rout, hands over his head and the front of his tunic burnt right through. He got about halfway across when he noticed he'd lost his escort. His dogs came running out to greet him, but he could still hear Pere' raising pandemonium inside. Gathering his wits, he put his fingers to his teeth and whistled--FWEET!!--and the commotion ceased. Yes, there were advantages to riding a retired Cavalry mount...not the least of which was the ability to call him off any Stable-boys who refused to stay Petrified.

A long silence later, Pere' resettled himself in his stall. The dogs, panting, still milled around their master's feet. The stable-boy finally emerged. Mari had to keep the dogs from nailing him again. Then, hoping to defuse the situation, he grinned and wisecracked, "Son, if'n y'all had a No-Pets policy, why didn't y'all jes' say so?!?"

At last the younger man saw that Marius was just as human as himself; maybe more so, as the veteran had nearly gotten himself brained for choosing the wrong color pajamas. "Oohh, bugger it--I'm gonna lose my job over this, ain't I?"

"Not if I can help it," said Marius; "I've never seen travellers' horses so well seen to, or so well-defended! I hope there's more than one of you here, for I intend to give you and your establishment the strongest recommendation. I am a Bard, you see, and travel constantly; and I will make sure that anyone who goes by this stretch of road on horseback spends the night here if possible. I'll put in a good word to your manager, too, of course. And, uh..."

The stablehand was gawking in earnest this time. "But...but...the fire!"

"It didn't spread. No harm done."

"But...your tunic!"

"I have a spare in my pack, if you'll let me back in to go get it."

"But...your dogs...?"

Marius saw what he was getting at. "As I'd been about to say, I've got other things in my kit that'll be good for those bites; I am a Healer, too..."

They negotiated in this fashion, and at the end of it neither man had any reason to fear a lawsuit. They returned to the barn, where Marius put Pere' in a different stall, the horse having made it very clear that he wasn't going to allow the stablehand into the one Marius' stuff was in. Once transferred, he was quite amenable. Then Mari could go for his first-aid kit and treat the other man's wounds; and just because the youth believed the treatments could be effective, they were so.

At last Mari changed into his spare tunic--the well-cared-for one with the Equestrian stripe; it was all he had now until he could buy another travelling one. The stable-boy blanched. Bard, Healer, Knight of the Romans--who WAS this man?

And so it was that Marius the Wanderer returned to his companions: with the rumpled look of a brawler inside the clothing of a man of means, which he covered up as best he could (but not very well) with a Wolf-cloak.

"Avete amici," he mumbled (for his many bruises were beginning to swell), "Seems there's something living that does mind dogs on straw... Have I missed anything?"
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Postby Gnaeus Dionysius Draco on Mon Oct 25, 2004 1:58 pm

Marcus Scribonius Curio wrote:"I don't know who he is either. All I know is that he's been dogging my footsteps ever since I went to sort out that mess in the north of Britannia. When I finally confronted him about it, I expected things to come to blows. Instead he simply said he was on business. He claims the same excuse in every town."


Draco had to laugh.
"Could this not just be coincidence? I mean... How many people live in Rome? Yet, on the market place, I run into three to four people whom I do not know all the time, as if they are always there when I'm there, which is a big coincidence since there are hundreds of thousands of people living in Rome. Granted, all happen to be beautiful girls, but still... There might be other people whom you encounter often but whom you simply don't notice?"

Marcus Scribonius Curio wrote:A worried frown coming on Curio's face, he continued, "But someone who was actually to keep an eye on me would be more subtle - instead, he almost displays himself to me. I think he's not been hired to keep an eye on me and to hide that fact, but to flaunt that fact, to make sure I'm aware that someone's watching me. I only wish I knew who had hired him."


"I'm not denying it couldn't be. But judging from the fashion in which that man talked with you, I wouldn't exactly say he's evil. Perhaps he thinks you are following him."
Draco yawned. He noticed the shadows creeping up the walls as the night grew darker and the lights grew more scarce.
"Amice, I don't know about you but I'm going to bed. Bonam noctem."

Sleep was swift and dreamless. He noticed little of the ruckus in the stables, and therefore, was rather fresh and well-tempered that morning, an exceptional occasion. As if to celebrate this, he greeted everyone downstairs with a fond good morning.

Marius wrote:"Avete amici," he mumbled (for his many bruises were beginning to swell), "Seems there's something living that does mind dogs on straw... Have I missed anything?"


Draco first frowned and then scratched his cheek.
"Not much. Curio has met a fan of his last night, but that's all. I slept well. I didn't get robbed, beaten or raped by the fat lady at the bar - or at least not as far as I can tell. So, I've had a pretty good night. But something is telling me the same doesn't ring true for you?"
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Postby Curio Agelastus on Tue Oct 26, 2004 1:34 am

After Draco had gone to bed, Curio stayed up for a little longer, nursing a few drinks, thinking wistfully of the drink made by a tribe that he called family, a tribe that lives far to the north and east of the Roman Empire.

He knew that another night approached in which he would not sleep. Walking to his room, he pulled a small scroll from his pouch, and read it - for the thousandth time his eyes filled with tears. Shaking his head, he carefully put the scroll back in his pack, and walked, back through the main room of the inn, where a few patrons still gazed into their drinks, out into the fresh night air.

His cape flowing in the slight breeze, fist around his quarterstaff, he walked into the night, both comforted and concerned by the shadows that surrounded him. There was no particular direction to his wanderings; he had forgotten the warning he had given earlier to Marius.

He did not realise how long he had been wandering until he realised he was able to see a little way into the distance again.
Muttering to himself "Well, I'll be well-rested for today's travel.", Curio made his way back to the taverna, fortunately managing to find his way back there. Walking with a slightly weary gait into the taverna, he noticed a dissheveled Marius and a jovial Draco talking.
"Salvete amici. How are you this morning? Mi Mari, are you perhaps not as used to sleeping on the stable floor as you thought?"
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Grrr...

Postby Aldus Marius on Fri Oct 29, 2004 1:41 am

If there was one thing Marius hated, it was an early riser. Even worse were the chirpy ones...

> "I've had a pretty good night. But something is telling me the
> same doesn't ring true for you?"


...and the ones who, even in jest, wanted to rub it in...


> "How are you this morning? Mi Mari, are you perhaps not as
> used to sleeping on the stable floor as you thought?"


Add this to a sleepless night, a second-degree burn on his frontside, the itchiness of the dressing and wool tunic that covered it, and the awful, creeping realization that one of his beloved dogs was missing, and Marius was clearly not in the mood for breakfast-with-banter.

He shot both companions a sharp and discomfiting glare.

"I would have appreciated your curiosity last night, when all the ruction took place. This morning, it is distinctly unwelcome. I have lived with this on my own for twelve hours of night, and I shall continue to do so until further notice.

"Oddly, I don't mind sharing with you the thing that troubles me most: I realized, upon waking this morning, that Bonnie was not in the barn with the rest of us; she did not complete this leg of the trip. Of course I want to backtrack, and of course I'm willing to dismantle the Empire if need be until I find her. Of course we are on a mission, and of course I can do no such thing. Let one of you jest about that if he can."

He blinked; only then did his amici notice his eyes were wet. Humiliation, resentment and this newborn grief could not be stifled entirely, no. Marius was a proud and disciplined man, but also an emotional one; his Celtiberian ancestry warred constantly with his Roman one. It was the combination of the two that made for his versatility, his storytelling skill, and his affinity with animals, among other things. But sometimes there were awkward moments like this...and, sometimes, even a Bard needed to be told a story...

He reached for, and found, a measure of gentleness again before he addressed his friends.

"But tell me, Curio...you had a bit of a ruction yourself, back in 'Mater; have you 'settled' enough to share with your shield-brethren what that was all about...?"
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Postby Curio Agelastus on Sat Oct 30, 2004 3:18 am

Marius Peregrine wrote:[color=green]
"I would have appreciated your curiosity last night, when all the ruction took place. This morning, it is distinctly unwelcome. I have lived with this on my own for twelve hours of night, and I shall continue to do so until further notice.


Hardly in a good mood himself, Curio snapped, "I have been walking all night - in what way was I supposed to help?"

Marius Peregrine wrote:He blinked; only then did his amici notice his eyes were wet. Humiliation, resentment and this newborn grief could not be stifled entirely, no.


Curio softened, put his arm around Marius and gently drew him to a seat. Beckoning the innkeeper, Curio called for some water for Marius to drink.

Marius Peregrine wrote:"But tell me, Curio...you had a bit of a ruction yourself, back in 'Mater; have you 'settled' enough to share with your shield-brethren what that was all about...?"


"You really want to hear about that now?" Realising that Marius simply needed the subject changed, he said, "Very well then."
Curio's eyes lost their focus, and he faced neither Marius nor Draco, but the space between and above their heads.
"It started when my pater left his entire familia in Britannia, when I had seen seven summers. I have since heard that he left to find out just where he came from. Clearly he was not content in Britannia. Of his travels I know little. Suffice it to say that he entrusted the safety of his familia to his best friend, a man named Warrator. Warrator took his responsibility seriously, and raised me and my siblings well - as a father should."
A strange light appeared in Curio's eyes as he looked at Draco and Marius for the first time since beginning his story.
"For several years, we were happy. And then, the Romans came. Perhaps you remember, or perhaps it was just another foreign venture to you. Regardless, Warrator, brave, noble fool that he was, organised the local resistance, and led more than one hundred men in opposition to the Romans. He was cut down - he didn't stand a chance against the legions of Roma."
Curio paused a moment, allowing his two amici a chance to remember the imposition of Roman control on the inner parts of the forests of the south coast of Britannia.
"My mother, realising the way the wind was blowing, decided that our best chance of survival was to send me to Roma to be Romanised, in the naive hope that I would thus be able to protect Britannia from within Roma. Sending me with all the money that my father had left her, and with Hevydd - now known as Servius Cornelius Cato - coming along to keep an eye; he was ever eager to live a new way of life."

Tears falling unashamedly down his face, Curio looked at Draco bleakly, "And you know the rest of it. In order to learn the ways of Roma, most of the money my mother had given me went towards an education. Our tutor considered that this would be best achieved by exposure to a member of the Roman elite. Of course, his mind was much swayed by the silver that changed hands. And thus was how we met. You remember how foolish I seemed at the beginning? I'm sorry I never told you the truth of why I came to be studying with you, mi Draco. As you can see, wounds such as these rarely heal."

His eyes beginning to dry, Curio stared defiantly at his friends, "So that is the reason that I will not tolerate people talking ill of Warrator - he was a great man in every sense of the word, and to hear Cato drag his name up was more than I could take."

Curio's hand moved inside his cloak, and grasped something small.
Glaring, he said, "Shall I show you what Warrator gave me?" Opening up his clenched fist, Marius and Draco saw the symbol that they knew had been one of the driving forces of Curio's life: a small brooch, on which was painted a symbol that in other lands was known as a yinyang.
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'Send my regrets'

Postby Aldus Marius on Tue Dec 07, 2004 2:47 am

> "...And then, the Romans came. Perhaps you remember, or perhaps
> it was just another foreign venture to you. Regardless, Warrator, brave,
> noble fool that he was, organised the local resistance, and led more
> than one hundred men in opposition to the Romans. He was cut down..."


Curio's story left Marius feeling a little odd. Britannia had been "just another foreign venture" to him at the time; and now he had to ask himself why this was so. Was he himself not also the child of a conquered Province...? How had he not understood back then what he and his men were doing?

And yet... Hispania had come under Roman rule several generations ago. Marius had not been there for the fighting; neither had the oldest man he knew. Rome and the Romans were just a part of daily life there now; indeed, since certain of Caesar's decrees Mari's people had enjoyed the Citizenship themselves. The Province was garrisoned by just one Legion--downright pacific, for a region that took two hundred years to conquer.

So if Marius' doings in Britain had been disruptive to the local daily life, his tentmates would likely have said that they needed to be so, that keeping the natives off-balance and on their toes was the Legions’ job and a good way to 'subdue' them. No one in the Legions had ever stopped to talk to a Briton long enough to learn the customs, the ways of showing respect. There was a very good reason for this: any Roman who might have done so would likely have ended up with his own pilum sticking out of his chest, or burnt alive in a wicker cage. The circumstances did not foster much fellow-feeling. They were hard men in hard times, on both sides, and they got through it mostly by putting their heads down, doing what they had to do, and marching on...

And trying not to think about it afterwards.

But Marius, of course, had thought about it. For years. That was simply the sort of person he was; he had an introspective nature, a rare thing for a serving soldier, and it couldn't be helped. What had Britain been like, he wondered, before the coming of Rome? When the druids were rounded up and the chieftains were slain, what lifeway--what wisdom--was lost? Was the wisdom of Rome any compensation? Were there other ways to spread it? ...This was one reason he'd gone to live with the Picts; to get a different look at things, yes...but also as a form of penance.

Plainly his friend Curio's life had been greatly disrupted by the coming of the Legions. And the best answer anyone had come up with back then had been to bundle him off to Rome, to try and make a Roman out of him. This had kept him safe, to be certain, as did most of Rome's 'hostage arrangements'; but now Marius realized that it had not kept him whole...

But parts of Curio's story still puzzled him. He debated whether to ask his friend one thing or another; he worried about upsetting him again...but then he figured that, after being shared with as he had been just now, he'd better say something...

"I...recognise your symbol, amice; it is the same one that is on your dispatches...though I do not know what it means beyond 'Curio sent this'. But..." Marius cleared his throat. "...Mi Curio...amice...if you and...Hevydd, was it?...both knew Warrator, and both respected him; if you two came together to Rome after his death...then, if Hevydd mentions the man, quoting him, how is that an insult? The Gods know that, if I'd had an experience and there were only one other human being in town who had shared it with me, I'd be talking to that person about that thing all day. Okay, we both know I'm odd...but what, exactly, did Cato the Barkeep do wrong?"

His remaining dogs, as always, were resting under the table; and Curli-Su picked that moment to put her forepaws on his thigh and nuzzle his hand for attention...
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Up and away?

Postby Aldus Marius on Fri Jan 14, 2005 9:07 am

The agonizing silence that followed his query, on top of everything else that he had suffered last night and this morning, decided him on something. "I'm going to look for my dog," he said tensely, rising from his seat. "And I'm going to make progress towards Massilia. It is my hunch that Bonnie, not finding me near, will head for home; and home is Britannia. She knows the way; she has our scent, and she walked all the way down here except for the boat trip.

"For the next hour or so I shall be loading Pere' in the barn. Anyone who can be ready by then is welcome to accompany me. Anyone who is not can catch up with us later. I have had it with all this sitting around trying to figure out friends and strangers. Forward motion, I understand."
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Postby Curio Agelastus on Fri Jan 21, 2005 1:56 am

As Marius made to leave, Curio put an arm on his shoulder, and gently turned him round.
"Wait, mi Mari... Please wait."
The tears on Curio's face remained a stark contrast to his complete lack of expression. "I'm sorry, amice. I find it difficult to talk of this. But perhaps I should answer your questions. Put simply, we are very different people. You are surely aware that I deal with my problems alone; I am not the kind of person to talk, normally. You two are the first people I have spoken to about Warrator since I left Britannia apart from Cato - call him thus, it is his name now. I let Cato know shortly after our departure from Britannia that I did not desire his assistance in getting over the death of Warrator."
Curio took a deep breath, and admitted, "Perhaps I have dealt with it badly. But that is how I work in such cases - alone.
"As for what Cato did wrong - by mentioning Warrator, he brought it back to me. Understand? Illogical? Yes. Unfair? Yes. But he knows that is how I work. In return there are things I will not mention in front of him - he too suffered on the journey from his homeland. Perhaps I over-reacted, but he did break our unwritten deal."
Turning to the one who had thus far primarily watched as Curio and Marius spoke, Curio asked, "And you, Draco? Have you no words to say on the matter? Or perhaps Marius is right, and we should leave?"
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