Rome
An Owl In A Thornbush

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We're On A Mission From Caesar

Outside in the street, Pompey and his family are now even more ready to go, with Himself mounted on horseback and his family -- including a couple of kids, so I was obviously wrong about Pompey's being heirless -- secreted in a curtained litter. They sneak out like thieves in the night. But of course it's all militarily correct night-thief-sneaking.

At home, Julii Cooper takes a look out the peephole in her front gate and pronounces, "Here's a mercy: instead of living out of our lives in shame and disgrace, we are to be raped and beaten and torn limb from limb by a raving mob." A good party hostess always makes the best of unexpected complications. The first thump of a battering ram reports through the room. Julii Cooper offers to let her two guests stay the night, and Servilia gratefully accepts.

Durio supervises a group of soldiers as they load gold bricks into chests underground by torchlight. He bumps into one aging soldier, who drops the bag of coins he's carrying, and gives the man a dirty look as the soldier stoops to try to quickly scoop them back into the ruptured sack. I just said "ruptured sack."

Outside, in the Forum, it's first light as another younger, burlier soldier climbs onto the driver's seat of an oxcart next to Durio, who prods the oxen to start walking while the soldier steers. But the steering is not to Durio's liking; he protests that the Appian Gate is the other way. "We're not going to the Appian Gate," the soldier growls. He puts a conspiratorial arm around Durio's shoulders, but the deceptively friendly gesture is merely preparatory to sticking his short sword between a couple of Durio's limbs. Durio then gets dumped onto the paving stones of the empty Forum, twitching his last. There's really no such thing as a safe neighborhood in this town, is there?

While leading horses through a thicket, Pullo's begun tutoring Vorenus in woman-pleasing: "Of course, your best bet for pleasing a woman is the warm, beating heart of an enemy. I mean, women'll say they don't like it, but they do. Makes them wet as October." I have to admit I've never tried that. I'll have to make my wife Trash some enemies for our anniversary. For his part, Vorenus doesn't really want to cut out his own heart, so Pullo suggests talking to Niobe like she's a skittish horse. Also, "Tell her she's beautiful all the time...even when she's not." And Pullo's got one more tip: "When you couple with her, there's a spot, just above her cunny, like a little button. Now, attend to that button and she will open up like a flower." Vorenus, scowling fiercely, demands, "How do you know this of her?" Hee! Pullo suddenly realizes his life hangs in the balance. "All women have them," he says defensively. "Ask anyone!" He gestures to the cavalrymen following behind, none of whom, frankly, look like they'd know a clitoris if it stole their horses. But rather than pursuing further embarrassment, Vorenus nods tightly and walks on.

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Rome

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