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Monday, 29th March, 2004, 10:45 PM #131
Alea Iacta VII: Lux et Veritas, First Chapter: Paperwork
A few days after the Triumph, Lucretius receives the following report:
Report on the Incident at the Triumph of the most noble L. Mamercus Aemilianus Cimbrus Britannicus on the Ides of Maius, in the consulship of L. Mamercus Aemilianus Cimbrus Britannicus and G. Servilius Procopius:
by G. Atilius Faunus, Second Centurion of the First Cohort of the Vigiles.
Relevant sections (it's a very long document)
....As the Triumphal Chariot approached the mid-point of the
Circus Maximus, the section of the parade containing the XXXVII important
Celtic prisoners was turning the corner at the end of the Circus in
preparation for rounding the Palatine Hill and then proceeding northwards
through the Forum Romanum. At this point, some commotion began to occur.
The first noted incident was movement and arming of weapons by Auxiliary
Engineer of the VIth Legion G. Tacitus Llyr, who was on board one of the
floats directly behind the group of prisoners. It is my judgement that
this movement should not be interpreted against him, as he shortly
thereafter demonstrated extreme courage in attacking the escaping
prisoners, but his potentially hostile action, particularly given his
previous criminal rccord [ See Report on Armed Theft at the Temple of
Mercury, IV days before the Ides of Maius, VIIth Watchhouse, Via Sacra],
should be noted.
The prisoners then seemed to stop marching in the parade and begin
fleeing southwards and westwards; several witnesses claim to have seen
their chains falling off them. The aforementioned Auxiliary G. Tacitus
Llyr moved forward to engage them in combat, as did other nearby standing
guards; meanwhile, the Triumphal Chariot halted, and protective forces
moved in around it. The Praetorians claimed to have special protective
forces guarding Cimbrus, although I couldn't see any of them, but I'm sure
the gods were looking out for him.
Many of the prisoners appeared to escape fairly readily into the
crowds (three of my men claim that they disappeared practically within
arms' reach, but I fear that they had begun imbibing before the triumphal
banquet, and they have been duly flogged for their incompetence.) In
total, XIV of the prisoners escaped into the crowded streets of Rome; V of
these were later apprehended on the island park in the middle of the
Tiber, where the Praetorians had suggested we place guards; particular credit here goes to the British smith Heilyn, who despite his highly suspicious record [See previous Report on Armed Theft and Assault on Religious Officials] valiantly both spotted the escaped prisoners and prevented their flight. XII of the prisoners, including all the captured Druids, were killed in combat during the triumph, most particularly by the aforementioned G. Tacitus Llyr; the remaining XI as well as the V recaptured Celts were executed immediately after the triumph's end, as per standard procedure. Those that were recaptured claimed to have no knowledge of their rescuers and went so far as to bite their own tongues out rather than respond to gentle questioning.
The remaining IX escaped Celtic prisoners include a large, red-bearded man who gave his name only as Tarbh Kiannort, which according to our native informants means Chieftain of the Bulls. He should be regarded as extremely dangerous, having previously tried to break out of the prison camp and throttled three vigiles into unconsciousness with his bare hands. Most of the others seemed to be fighters, although two of the women had fought in the battle yet were not captured with weapons larger than the long, sharp Celtic daggers. Units should be informed to expect that the five women will prove to be equally deadly combatants and should not be shown mercy. All vigiles are currently on the lookout for suspiciously behaving Celts, but given the large foreign-born population in the city, both slave and free, a detailed search will be difficult without good evidence of their likely hideouts. However, given the extra patrols at the gates, it is my belief that it is most likely that the prisoners remain in Rome and have not successfully fled the city.
The most mysterious incident during this attack involved the supposed aerial assault. Various of the extra guards which the Praetorian Lucretius had hired began, during the combat, pointing up at the air and shouting something; surprising meteorological conditions then began to occur, which is after all not unusual in Maius. A large number of witnesses claim that they saw a female figure appear hovering in the air and then fall dead to the ground; while two elderly women without visible wounds were found dead in the Circus Maximus after the incident, it seems probable that their deaths were due to natural excitement given all the chaos. Certainly, this is the official account of the vigiles, as there is no need to spread panic among the populace by confirming dubious accounts of hags plummeting onto the triumphal chariot, particularly as the most-noble Cimbrus remained unharmed.
On tips from G. Tacitus Llyr, a squadron of vigiles went to search a deserted villa on the Aventine Hill, but found no present inhabitants, although evidence of recent fires.
Vigiles have also been instructed to be particularly on the lookout for a tall, thin red headed man, wiry in build, going by the name Sycorax, but such a man was not noted during the Triumphal incident.
More trustworthy Celtic speakers would aid in the further investigation. Our reports also indicate that an abnormally large number of Celtic-origin slaves, around LXXXV according to our latest account, have been registered as running away from their rightful owners within the past month, with a particular spike around the time of the Triumph. Attempts are being made to keep tabs on current Celtic slaves, but given the approximate population of 15,000 slaves of Gallic, Britannian, or Germanic origin within the city of Rome currently, such a task is difficult.
Assistance from the Praetorians is always welcomed, of course.
-- G. Atilius Faunus
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Monday, 29th March, 2004, 10:54 PM #132
Alea Iacta VII: Lux et Veritas, Second Chapter: Dreams
That night, we all dream, but only a few of us dream memorably:
Wena: You fall asleep in the relatively quiet garden of Licinia Luculla’s house, glad to be seeing the stars again as you drift off. You dream. You are in a library, searching through scrolls. You know the answer to all your questions lies within one of these shelves, but you cannot find it. The scrolls are up to your ankles....your knees. You call for assistance, but no one seems to hear you.
Suddenly, you hear a voice. “Would this be what you are looking for, foolish vates?” A shadowed figure stands at the end of the long corridor of shelves. You cannot see his face, but wings seem to grow out of both sides of his head. He tosses a silver-cased scroll towards you, and you catch it for a second, before realizing that it is attached to a thin black chain. He pulls on the chain, and you grab on to the scroll to hold on to it. Slowly, inexorably, he pulls you and the scroll towards him, down the long corridor.
You wake up.
Cornelia: Despite the earlier excitements, you manage finally to fall asleep. You dream: You are swimming in the ocean. The water is warm and crystal-clear, and you feel utterly relaxed, even though you are alone. Through the waves you glimpse a chest with gold pieces, and maybe some silver amphorae. A dolphin jumps in the air near you; thankfully, it is not bouncing a human head.
You see the shore, only a hundred feet or so off, and you see your friends standing on it. Metellus and Lucretius and Nanna Alma are waving at you and shouting, but you cannot hear them. The current is drifting you out farther and farther. You can barely see the figures on the shore. You look out towards the horizon, and see another land in the distance, with waving palm trees. You wave back at your friends, and then begin swimming onwards.
Meloch: After all the earlier excitements, you have finally managed to curl up with Shast and get to sleep, despite Shast’s faint verbal and mental mumblings – “ooh, right there. Scratch me right there, on the back of the neck. Yessss....” You dream: You are in the brothel on Cyprus, juggling for the gentlemen customers. The master, a fat Cyprian named Isarchus, beckons you over. “You’ve driven up business and been very entertaining, little pygmy. If you keep this up, I might free you at the end of the month as a reward.” You lower your head and thank him, remembering to keep the tone of respect and gratitude in your voice. In your head, you think to Shast, “It’s about time. I make more money for that pig than any of his girls.”
Shast asks hesitantly, “When you go, will you take me?” It’s the first note of anything but brash self-confidence you’ve ever gotten from the monkey. You reassure him that you will stay together – after all, the pygmy-and-monkey act will probably pay your way back to North Africa.
It is two months later, and Isarchus has not mentioned anything about your freedom. Finally, on Shast’s nagging, you go up to him and ask obsequiously, “Master – you said that you would free me, if business continued to go well.”
Isarchus smiles insincerely at you. “Ah yes, but then three of the girls gave birth last month, and I’ve been paying for the babes’ upkeep, because you know what a kind man I am. I’m afraid the ledgers just won’t allow for it at the moment. Maybe next year.”
You feel chains settle again on your wrists and ankles, and from above, someone begins pulling on your wrists. “Juggle, little pygmy,” Isarchus sneers. “Dance for the crowd!” Helplessly, you feel yourself moving, performing the routine for one more night of many.
You wake up, with a bitter taste in your mouth. In real life, three months later Isarchus traded you to a slave dealer in exchange for a buxom blonde girl from Scythia.
Lucretius: You curl up in your thin bunk at the barracks, trying, as usual, to ignore Macrinus’s snores. A good man, but sometimes you want to kill him in his sleep. Slowly, you drift off yourself, and dream: It is a festival day, and you and your elephant Sapientia have been assigned to patrol the streets and keep the masses orderly. There is a large crowd on the Vicus Tuscus, trying to push their way forward towards the free feast in the Forum. It is an increasingly angry mob, shoving and pushing, with some people using their work tools to try and threaten their way to the head of the line.
You wheel Sapientia and head forward, raising your voice and trying to reassure the people that there will be food enough for all, if they are only patient. A young boy tries to dart underneath Sapientia’s legs, just as an angry man with a butcher’s spit stabs her right foot, and she stumbles leftwards. The boy’s legs are crushed, and maybe some of his ribs. His mother screams, “I thought you were here to protect us.” You awake, shuddering, knowing that even if your bunkmates understood your fears, you would never be able to discuss it with them.
You lie awake again, trembling, for some time. Your third bunkmate, Centurion Lakros, who was off on night shift, comes stumbling through the curtained doorway. He looks at you and says, “In the months ahead, be wary and watchful. But do not fear the truth. For though we may play tricks, we always seek the source of wisdom.” For a second, you think his eyes shine grey.
In the morning, you wake again, and ask Lacrinus about his strange words of last night. He denies them, and tells you that after his shift he stayed out drinking till nearly dawn.
Last edited by Orichalcum; Monday, 29th March, 2004 at 11:07 PM. Reason: Repeated
Saturday, 3rd April, 2004, 06:01 PM #133
Novice (Lvl 1)
I have been meaning to ask you.. How do you deal with destructive magic/psi in your campaign?
I know already you have authorized magic & psionic to some degree, but I am curious about "heavy-handed" magic such as Call Lightning, Flame Strike and the like. Did you write it off entirely or do you restrict those of your players who could have potentially access to it? (such as by making certain spells castable only under certain circumstances for instance)
I am in the middle of preparing an historical campaign myself (though one set in Ancient Egypt) and I find myself going over spell lists over and over. On one hand, given the era I have chosen, I am tempted to use alternate classes such as those described in the Testament setting of Green Ronin. On the other, using the "standard" PHB classes would make things easier. Since you seem to be using the second method, I would appreciate your thoughts on the matter.
Saturday, 3rd April, 2004, 10:35 PM #134
So, there are a couple of different answers. The first is that "destructive" or "flashy" magic is more normally used by the "barbarians" of the world like the Celts, North Africans, and Parthians. So Aeduana flung around Call Lightnings and Ice Storms and so forth like nobody's business. The Parthians are known for their elite military corps of Magi (the original magi), who fling flame at their enemies.Originally Posted by Mortepierre
But in downtown Rome, the magic is generally much more what Marcus would call "witchery," subtle things like curses, invisibility, and so forth. Neither of the two witches in the Triumph had any mass damage spells, just lots of invisibilities and Flies. Also, the average educated Roman believes that magic exists, just that it's kinda skanky and easily defeated by Roman logistics, efficiency, and more powerful Roman deities.
Of course, this wilful denial of powerful magic has allowed a number of people like Cornelia's mother to get away with a large amount of magic. But again, while she's in Rome, Cornelia's mother doesn't cast Fireballs, even if she knows them. Suggestion does the trick much more often...
I largely trust my players to use magic appropriately in appropriate settings. Meloch, for instance, has of this date cast Fireball once, in a dark cave, with only enemies and fellow PCs around. He knows the rules. If the PCs are willing to work with the setting, you can do a lot. Of course, this also means that I feel obliged to provide occasional settings (like isolated ruins, etc...) where the PCs can let loose with their full range of abilities.
Last edited by Orichalcum; Saturday, 3rd April, 2004 at 10:36 PM.
Saturday, 3rd April, 2004, 11:51 PM #135
Alea Iacta VII: Lux et Veritas Post 3: Trial by Error
A few days after the Triumph, Metellus Major, Metellus' father, summons Metellus into his study, austerely furnished with military decorations and busts of the more famous Metelli ancestors. Metellus prays desperately that this conversation isn't going to be about the rumors about him and Hadriana, and some household god hears his call.
"Son, your military tribunate is over, with distinction, " Metellus Major notes. "It is time for you to consider which political office you will run for in the December elections. There are three logical possibilities at your age. You could become a judge for the year, deciding murder, theft, and extortion cases: this position has a great deal of honor, but less opportunity for making money to help you down the line. Remember, in order to enter the Senate at 30 you need one million sesterces, and we can only provide you with about three or four hundred thousand, depending on how my investments do.
The second possibility is as an inspector of houses and buildings. This position gives you the freedom to enter into any building and Rome and check to make sure that it is appropriately constructed and that there is no illegal contraband inside. It is less interesting, but there is a reasonably good potential for gaining funds on the side.
The third potential office is as a commissioner of the mint and treasury. You would be able to choose the designs for coins for the year, possibly even honoring our family on a few, and supervise the flow of money in and out of the treasury. Obviously, this can be highly remunerative, but it does not present many possibilities for gaining fame and reputation.
To give you a better sense of which position you might want, I have arranged for you to spend a day observing officials in each of the current positions and assisting them in their duties. Tomorrow, you will go see a trial for illegal prophesying at the court of G. Rutilius Creticus. Because of the nature of the trial, it will be closed to all but the witnesses, the lawyers, the defendant's patrons, the judge, and yourself."
Metellus Minor nods and asks his father if Metellus Major has any preference in which office he speaks, but is brusquely told to make up his own mind and dismissed. He tells Marcus and Llyr the news, and they insist on escorting him at least as far as the doors of the Temple of Castor, where the trial is taking place, given the recent run of assassination attempts. Meanwhile, everyone else spends much time in the library.
OOG Note: For the trial sequence, I gave everyone except Metellus' player a character as witness or lawyer, with a strict one-hour time limit on the scene. Metellus' player was somewhat surprised, and everyone else had much fun playing their one-shot characters.
Sunday, 4th April, 2004, 09:13 AM #136
Novice (Lvl 1)
Thanks for the input and valuable advice!Originally Posted by Orichalcum
I am still keeping my fingers crossed, hoping to see the full stats of your players someday
Monday, 5th April, 2004, 04:32 AM #137
Novice (Lvl 1)
Ack! I should have been paying more attention to the fact that I was approaching the end... now whatever shall I do while I await the next installment?
Great story, definitely makes me want to go browse through my old Mythic Rome book.
. . . . . . . -- Eric
Monday, 5th April, 2004, 08:31 PM #138
Alea Iacta VII: Lux et Veritas Chapter 4: Prosecution's Opening Statement
The next morning, Metellus enters the Temple of Castor (and Pollux), one of the many small temples in the Forum which frequently do double duty as courthouses. Looking around, he recognizes the judge, G. Rutilius Creticus, a heavily perfumed young Roman nobleman a few years older than him, who used to try and steal his wax tablet back in the days of learning Vergil. He also notices a fat, sweating merchant seated on a marble bench; he apparently brought his own cushion. The two advocates stand before the judge; the prosecutor, a narrow-shouldered man with mousy brown hair, seems younger even than Metellus. Metellus vaguely recognizes the defense advocate, the famous L. Verrius Glaucus, dressed in a toga of the finest Egyptian linen, with gold buckles on his leather sandals. Glaucus is said to have lost less than five cases in his long years of lawyering.
Glancing around, Metellus notices a number of oddly dressed men and women, whom he assumes to be witnesses, some Praetorian Guards, and, most surprisingly, Mamerca Aemilia, the Emperor's sister and her son, Memmius Rufus, who are sitting composedly on a bench a few rows behind the merchant. A middle-aged man in a long Greek tunic and an elegantly trimmed long white beard sits next to Rufus and periodically whispers into his ear. Metellus goes up to approach the judge. "Ave, Rutilius!"
"Ave, Metellus Minor. Your father said you'd be coming by today. Here, let me talk to you for a minute," Rutilius says as he draws Metellus away from the lawyers, dropping his voice slightly. "Look, I've been doing this for six months already; mostly, it's more boring than a list of the Emperor's military victories. I have to be present, but why don't you concentrate on this one? You can tell me what you think I should judge at the end of the trial, and unless it seems totally unreasonable, that's what it will be. Meanwhile, I can work on writing my new poem to my girlfriend Cynthia..."
Metellus is a little non-plussed at Rutilius' dereliction of duty, but agrees, and a stool is drawn up for him next to Rutilius' curule chair of office. The two advocates bow, and Rutilius whispers, "Gnaeus Tertius Publicola, the young prosecutor, has half an hour to make his case, including all witnesses' testimonies. Then Glaucus will make his case, and we'll decide after Glaucus' closing statement."
Publicola steps forward, trying to assume the classic oratorical pose, one foot forward, toga draped just so, right hand gesturing commandingly upwards to the sky. Sadly, he hasn't quite figured out how to manage the folds of his toga properly, and it tangles his arm momentarily.
"Honored judge..s, I bring before you today a grave charge, one of conspiracy against the Empire and the Imperial family itself. As all know, soothsaying within the boundaries of Rome itself is illegal. But even beyond that, seeking and obtaining a prophecy relating to the downfall of the Empire or the Imperial family is treason, punishable by being thrown from the Tarpeian Rock. I will today prove to you how this conniving, greedy wine merchant, L. Memmius Salonianus, was a repeated prophecy-hunter, and how a few weeks ago he went to the notorious soothsayer Perthinos the Sagacious and there received a dire prophecy concerning the Empire.
Did he, like a good citizen, promptly go and report this threat to the Praetorians? No. He complained about it, and gossiped to his neighbors, spreading fear and panic through the streets. L. Memmius Salonianus is the client of the most noble Memmius Rufus, the Emperor's own nephew, but he did not tell...as far as we know, at least...his patron about this prophecy. No, for whatever crude purposes he had in mind, he concealed it from those who had the right to know, and spread the information among the naive and fearful. My first witness will be Marcia Lusitanilla, Memmius Salonianus' neighbor."
Publicola gestures forward a thin, elderly Italian woman, wearing a carefully darned mantle to stand before the judges.
"You are Marcia Lusitanilla, neighbor of Memmius Salonianus?"
"Indeed I am. I'm a Centurion's widow, you know, respectable, not like some of the people in our neighborhood. My husband died serving Rome in Britannia, in the Ninth Legion. And just because I have to sell some livestock and rent rooms to get by doesn't mean I'm a peasant, no matter what that merchant says, let me..." the elderly woman expounds volubly.
"That's fine, Domina. We are all certain that you're highly respectable. Now, what was your first contact with the defendant on this matter?"
"Well, two weeks ago, Memmius Salonianus stopped by one morning and asked me for a perfectly white young female goat, just like he does every spring."
"Every spring? Why?"
"Well, he says that it's for a sacrifice to Fortune to ensure a good wine harvest, but you know as well as I do that Fortuna doesn't care about the color of the goat. I think, I've always thought, that it's for fortune-telling. You know how superstitious Memmius Salonianus is."
"Why don't you tell us more about that?"
"Oh, well, he's always terrified of all sorts of bad omens, and he has more good luck tokens hanging over his door than a pawnshop. That man looks up at the sky for omens every time he steps outdoors."
"Did you ever hear from the defendant about the goat again?"
"Oh yes. Two days later, he came back, and would you believe he complained about my goat? He said it wasn't pure enough. Pure enough for what, I asked, it was certainly pure enough for any legitimate religious purpose. And if he'd made it impure I didn't want to know about it, and it certainly wasn't my fault. And we argued back and forth, and finally he admitted he had gone to consult a soothsayer, Perthinus the Sagacious, and that Perthinus had told him not only that his wine harvest was doomed, but all of Rome, and that Nero was going to return from the dead, and that everyone’s houses were going to fall down, and that we should all start praying to strange gods to save us rather than the good old trio of Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva..." Marcia Lusitanilla's breath ran out at this point, somewhat thankfully for everyone else's ears.
"Had you ever heard of Perthinus the Sagacious before?"
"Of course. I never went to see him, naturally, I don't hold with that sort of thing, treason it is. But my cousin’s sister-in-law went to Perthinus for a prophecy ten years ago and was told all about the Gallic revolt which happened a few months later, and consequently made a fortune investing in Northern Italian smithies."
"So what did you do after you were told of this dread prophecy?"
"Well, it was probably just nonsense, but who knows? So I did tell the fishmonger that he might want to be careful and consider going south for the summer, and of course my nieces and nephews, and besides, it was only right that people in the neighborhood should know that Memmius Salonianus isn’t as upright an individual as everyone thinks, isn't it?"
"Thank you, Marcia Lusitanilla, no further questions."
Monday, 12th April, 2004, 04:58 PM #139
Alea Iacta VII: Lux et Veritas Chp 5: Memmius Salonianus
Publicola next calls the defendant, Memmius Salonianus, up for questioning. "You are the wine merchant, Memmius Salonianus, and the client of Memmius Rufus?"
The plump, well-dressed, nervous merchant wrings his hands and mutters "Yes," as if he's not quite sure that's the correct answer.
"Did you go to Perthinus the Sagacious two weeks ago?"
"Yes," Salonianus whispers wretchedly.
"In search of a prophecy?"
"Yes...about my wine harvest..."
Publicola interrupts. "And what was the prophecy you received?"
"It was horrible!" Salonianus bursts out. "Perthinus said that my wine would turn to vinegar! And that the Emperor was like Nero! And that my cousin would kill me! "
"Did he say anything else about the Emperor, or the fate of Rome?"
"I can't really remember -it was all in some strange formal poetry, and then he collapsed. But he said something about horrible things happening to Rome, and something about the truth."
"Was anyone else there?"
"Just his slave, who was taking notes, and helped him after he fainted."
"And did you tell anyone about this prophecy?"
"Well, I went and complained to Marcia Lusitanilla, because that wasn't the kind of thing I had been looking for, and I thought maybe her goat was to blame."
"Did you think about telling the _vigiles_, or other authorities, about this danger to Rome?"
"Well..." Salonianus hedges. "It was a private matter, as I saw it. It didn't concern them whether or not I'd gotten a bad prophecy..."
"You do know, don't you, that prophesying is illegal in the city of Rome?"
"Well, yes, but...everyone does it. I mean, it's not really illegal if everyone gets their horoscope checked and so forth, is it?"
"In fact, it is. Last question - did you tell your patron, Memmius Rufus, about the prophecy?"
"Not until after the Praetorians came to arrest me. Then of course I did. He and his mother are my patrons - it's their responsibility to help me at times like this.
"Thank you. You may sit down. Perthinus the Sagacious, please?"
A wizened, flamboyantly dressed elderly Greek man approaches the front of the court. His patchwork, shiny robe stands in contrast to the clothes of everyone except perhaps the Emperor's sister.
"Are you the notorious soothsayer Perthinus the Sagacious?"
"Well, I don't know about notorious...I'm just a poor Greek man trying to make a living, honored sir."
"Do you make that living by claiming to prophesy the future?"
"I offer people advice based on ancient Greek wisdom learned from my ancestors, sir. It's not a crime to offer advice, is it? But I'm very sorry for any trouble I may have caused, yes I am, and I understand if you need to fine me, I'm sure I'll manage not to starve to death on the streets of Rome somehow..." Perthinus wheezes, glancing up calculatedly at the judge and Publicola, who does not seem sympathetic.
"Enough. We are not interested here in your crimes, numerous as they may be. Two weeks ago, did the wine merchant Memmius Salonianus, who is here in this court, come to visit you for 'advice'?"
"Yes, he did."
"Was that the first time he had come?"
"No, he comes every year around this time. He worries about his wine harvest."
"Are you an expert in wine-making?"
"What happened when Salonianus visited you? What did you say to him?"
"Well..." Perthinus fidgets. "I don't really remember. I gave him some advice and he left."
"What do you mean, you don't really remember? It was only two weeks ago!"
"It was a very hot day! And I had had bad fish the night before. I don't remember! He came in, and he paid, and things were sort of hot, and blurry, and then I woke up with Nikos, my slave, putting wet cloths on my face, and saying that Salonianus had left, but that he had already paid, so it was all right."
"So you claim not to remember a word of any prophecy you may have uttered?"
"No...it's all kind of a haze. But Nikos, my slave, takes notes on everything anyway."
"Did Nikos do anything strange in the last two weeks?"
"Well, the day after Salonianus's visit, he asked for his freedom, and offered a good price for it, and money for the future, so I freed him."
"Have you seen him since then?"
"Not until today."
"Did you free him formally in court?"
"No, just between the two of us."
"Thank you, no further questions."
Monday, 12th April, 2004, 05:07 PM #140
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