✥THE ROMAN ARMY:
We are to meet this band of mysterious travelers tonight at a meeting held by Manius. The leader of these travelers, Dante De Luca, will be answering questions and giving us accurate information on the individuals who live on the coast of Fortuna as they will be the first that we will possibly meet. Afterwards, return to your rooms at the inn and rest for the night. There will surely be more news from the travelers, yet if you have the chance to talk to them individually, do so.

@deathlyhall0ws @irtis @down-but-not-out @sgeorgas

"Now tell us," I started, a few of my men including Amus and Numerius standing by as we'd finally come into contact with these travelers. They were a gangly bunch, yet only two of them had even bothered to show up at all. Their leader, the infamous Dante De Luca, had claimed that their female cohort was out and about town 'mesmerizing' the masses. I doubted that, however I had come to personally address them as to why they'd left us behind so soon. 

"The ocean."

That's all he said, his wide eyes blank and ridden with no emotion what so ever.

"What about the ocean?!"

"Well you see," Dante said, scratching at his forehead and at the matted locks of hair around his ears,"We had to simply stop in our tracks. I can remember it like it was yesterday actually..."

"What happened?"

"The waters started to rise around our ankles and soon we were wading through the low lands just to save ourselves," Ermino said,"It would have been a shame to have drowned because of you people."

"You people? Do you know who we are?!" Amus roared, his nostrils flaring up as he was obviously angered by Ermino's dismissal of Roman authority. I expected them to act this way none the less for they slightly had a right to, yet it wouldn't be tolerated for long. I sighed, smiling to myself.

"Believe me, I understand. I'd hate to drown for anyone," I said,"But I'm glad that the tides caught you so that we could all catch up with one another. This was one of our many concerns due to the delays and miscommunication."

"All is forgiven," Dante started,"Besides, what would be the point of holding onto any of that if we are to progress?! Come, let's get out of this place as soon as the tide goes down!"

I smiled, reaching my hand out to him to seal this sudden agreement. The sooner we left the greater reaches of Rome, the better.

-

After Ermino and Dante left, I headed out farther to the coast on my own to find the waters crashing along the rocky shore, seeping into the sand and clotting up around my toes as the silt flooded into my sandals. I took them off, holding them in my left hand by their straps as I descended down into the shallow end of the waters. My mind was flooded with memories of Crete and the many summers I spent as a teenager by the coast where the fishermen and Greek elite came in for work and vacationing. It was a different time then, a simpler time. I feel as if things changed for the best however as the life I have now would definitely not be allotted to me in my past living conditions. 

I thought of my father, my mother, my siblings, and how I hadn't come into remote contact with them ever since I joined the Roman Army. The ocean crashing against the shore reminded me of that separtism, my eyes transfixed on the azure horizon as it seemed never ending and bizzare. There was something out there, something calling me to my doom possibly, yet I was silently reaching out for it in my mind as I resided in that moment. I felt myself becoming cold in that moment, my heart beat slowing down as I became one with the world and with myself in my thoughts. However, that tranquility was broken with a soft touch to my arm. 

It woke me up, my eyes thrown ajar as I turned to see what it was, moreso who it was.

"Cassia?"

She stood there next to me, a crown of lilac colored flowers poised in her brunette hair. I smiled at her, placing my arm around her waist and pulling her next to me.

"What are you doing out here by yourself?"

"I was walking along the beach," she said,"I just so happened to see you."

"And you decided to surprise me, eh?"

"You seemed pretty englued on whatever you were looking at, I would have startled you anyhow... yet can a proud man like you become so startled?"

I chuckled, turning away from her to look at the horizon.

"I sort of wandered out here, I guess. Something was pulling me."

She nodded,"Me too."

"I spoke with the travelers, they say we can leave out in a few days."

She looked down to the ground, her eyes glued to the ground for a second before looking back up at me.

"Is it that soon?"

"Are you having doubts again?"

"No, no, not at all...It's just so surreal."

I nodded in acknowledgement,"Yes, it most certainly is."

I adjusted the cloth belt holding my toga in place, smoothing back my hair which was becoming slightly moist with the winds bringing in wet air. 

"We should come back for a swim when you're more appropriately dressed," I said,"Swim all the way out to that rock out there."

I pointed out to a few jagged rocks protruding out of the ocean, turning to face Cassia completely. She smiled at me slightly, turning away and walking off. I raised a brow, assessing what she was actually doing. 

"Are you wanting me to chase you or something?"

"Haha, not at all!"

I found myself walking after her blindly, aimlessly as if she were a beacon in the night. I caught up with her slightly. She looked over to me as we walked along the sand, her wide eyes overshrowding her in otherworldly innocence.

"Now how has your plan been going with Amus?" 

“My plan? Well, it would seem my plan has begun in a successful manner. I did not doubt that it would. Surely you could show Amus any female creature, ghastly or not, and he would still willingly bed her.”

“Oh I’ve seen it happen..."

“Really?” she said, laughing at the thought of it none the less. That was Amus, such a leech.

“You act so surprised, Cassia...”

“I’m surprised that he would allow himself to be caught in such a situation. If you were so desperate to bed someone that bedded a gangly creature, would you not try to keep it a secret?”

“Amus has never been celebrated for his ability to hide the women he takes. I believe he does it on purpose. As if he is trying to make us, his fellow members of the Roman Army, jealous with the amount of women he manages. Yet he is always oblivious to the extra coins that go missing in the morning after some of the women leave.”

“And Servius wants such a man to aid you in your duties? Why he would cost the Roman Army millions. He probably already is, just to keep his bed warm at night.”

It was a horrible thought, yet it was true, yet those thoughts were absolved as Cassia and I walked along the beach, sounds of children and their mother clashing with that of the roaring waves. I felt like I was back in my old home, far away memories holding true in my heart and in my mind. Nostaliga was so perfect.
Eventually, the calling of the mother to her children turned to silence, and soon I found that Cassia had lead us to a stumble upon a portion of the beach that was absolutely vacant, and appeared to have been for a while. It was much more recluse, that was for sure. 
The beach was even more beautiful here. The sand appearing untouched, no sign of foot prints indented upon its surface, while exotic flowers and palms remained in their natural habitat, having not been picked. Behind the various greenery, stood a towering wall of rocks, one that had seemingly grown taller the further we walked. It was eventually the towering wall of rocks colliding with the ocean that ended the beach, not allowing the sand to continue past the large wall.

Cassia gasped at the sight of it, soon running out to where the rocks met the sand. I followed her surely of course, not wanting her to get out of my sight. She took a seat, looking outwards into the horizon. Eventually I took a seat next to her, lounging back on my elbows and legs outstretched before me.A silence lingered between the two of us, a tranquil silence as we both appeared mesmerized by the sights of our current location. Eventually the silence was broken as I needed to hear about what happened with Amus exactly. The more mental tabs I kept open, the better.

“So what happened with Amus?” I stretched out farther, resting my hands behind my head for leverage.

she looked over at me, eventually laying out on her side with her head propped up on my hand, as the other hand picked up piles of sand, straining them between her spindly fingers.

“Well as I told you before the banquet, I had the intention to execute my plan there. I noticed you talking to Servius so I approached the main table you were all sitting. In my opinion it would be the perfect time since you would seem oblivious to what I was doing, even if Amus had surrounded himself with a few women already. Eventually I managed to make eye contact with him, and then I wandered off to this recluse room. I thought it would take more, but surely he followed me. It literally took one look. He certainly is using something to think, and it most definitely is not his brain.” I smiled, sharing a quick chuckle with Manius.

“And…?”

“And then he told me how it was a brave move for me to make such glances at him while you were so close. I told him I didn’t know what he was speaking of and then he began his pursuit, as I tried to tell him I couldn’t possibly turn my back on you. But he started rolling out the compliments, and spoke of how proud of a man you are and how you were probably yet to notice me or touch me in anyway because your pride got in the way. He then starts moving his lips on my neck. I honestly could not tell you what he was trying to do, it felt like what one would imagine a bird pecking at their skin to feel like. But perhaps he was trying to kiss my neck? Either way, it felt like something an unskilled little boy would attempt to do if he was placed in the same room as a prostitute without being told what he could do. It most certainly was not something a man should be doing, let alone a man who prides himself in the amount of women he has seduced throughout the years.”

“And?”

“Then I heard a scream. I wanted to see what had happened, but Amus tried to promise me everything was alright, and I should just ignore whatever it was. I did get up though, to check what was happening. I looked out and the banquet appeared to have fallen into the hands of Dis Pater (Roman Hades). Then I fled. I was at the door and then this man grabbed me. I couldn’t see his face, or the face of the man. But I heard him and another man. I knew they would kill me if I stayed there, then I somehow managed to free the dagger I carry that belongs to my father. I thought it would be useful to bring, since you had said something about the banquet possibly souring him. I managed to stab the man who was holding me. I don’t know how, but by some luck Venus, or another god or goddess must have been on my side. Then I ran back to help Lucius pack, without seeing Amus again. But I guess everything must had worked because he sent me a letter.”

“And what does this letter say?” I asked.

“He wants me to meet him in his room at the inn tonight, apparently there are matters we must discuss.”

“How subtle. Are you going?”

“That would make things all too easy for him, plus I would rather be here. I don’t think I can stand another moment with him. I certainly hope this plan works.”

“Me too.”

I nodded, the silence returning sans the beach noises filling my ears, which lulled me into a slight reverie. I closed my eyes, my mind going elsewhere until I heard Cassia rustling about. I awoke to find her nude, wading into the water and far away from me at that point.

“What are you doing?” 

“I’m going for a swim, didn’t you want to go for one earlier?” 

“You know I clearly said, ‘We should come back for a swim when you're more appropriately dressed,’” he replied with a chuckle.

“I find that I am currently dressed appropriately to go for a swim. Why waste this opportunity to swim though? We have the beach to ourselves…” 

I smiled, deciding to follow through with the plan that I'd previously devised. She was so tempting. tempting to the point where I had to follow. I waded into the water as she swam slightly ahead of me. 

“I have always loved Rome, but these sights are something you would never see there. If I had the chance to live in a place like this until my last day, I would die a perfectly happy woman.”

Up ahead a few rocks protruded from the ocean, ones I recognized.

“To the rocks?” Cassia asked pointing ahead to the rocks, soon ducking under the water and swimming forth, her nude body nearly translucent against the azure waves. My instincts took over as I remembered having swimming competitions in my youth with children of my village, and soon I was swimming with much ferocity through the waves that were crashing against my sun kissed skin, catching up with Cassia only to grasp her body into my grip. She laughed happily, caught up into the moment none the less. She seemed determined herself to 'win' the race that was being waged between us, yet of course I had to thwart that. Superiority was key if she was going to respect me for a long time...

“Are proud men always victorious?”

“I’m afraid so.”

She reached out from me, climbing onto a rock that seemed slightly bent, looking out to me with her wide eyes as I still floated in the water.

“Definitely better than having to meet with Amus,”

“I’m sure he will find other company for the night.”

“I don’t doubt that…”

She nodded, soon reaching out to rest her hand on my upper arm.

“I’ve been thinking a lot lately. Not the sort of thinking that will have me crawling back to a brothel to feel that sort of comfort I keep thinking I will feel. I’ve been thinking about what this whole expedition will bring me and things like that. I don’t know if we will find my father, and I don’t know if I will even survive this expedition. But if I do, and if I return to Rome then I know I don’t want to go back to that lifestyle I was living before. I’d rather continue what I’m doing now…if I’m not too much of nuisance to you…”

(MORE SOON!)
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