“Oh, I will be,” Hector promised Tertius, half-swooning because of his master’s show of concern. Tertius could drop a pin and it would give Hector the breath of life. The slave then vanished back into the domus with the kind of bravery that only a narcissist could have. Underneath his bare feet, he could feel the ground quivering still, as if Terra Mater had a change of mind after a morning quickie and decided to prolong her waves of pleasure. Inside the domus was quiet and devoid of the other slaves that were usually scuttling around like vermin. As Hector headed towards the kitchens for a cloth and water, he paused to peer into Tertius’s room, just the way it had been left. In all the earlier mayhem, Hector hadn’t noticed his tunic had been thrown aside on the other side of the floor, and seeing a wine cup that had set aside the night prior, he took a quick sip and then pressed onwards. The kitchens were dark, plates and vases had jostled from the surfaces and crashed into the floor, creating little shards that poked into his feet when he first entered.
On his return, Hector bounded up to Tertius’s side with a happy smile like a puppy looking for its pat on the head and a high-pitched ‘good boy’. “Here you are,” Hector said to Charis in one of the most insincerely friendly voices while thrusting both the cloth and the nearest water he could find in her general direction.
“Would you like to know the state of the interior, domine?” he asked, turning to Tertius in a way that seemed like he was giving the man his full attention but with the subtle body language that almost communicated a ‘you two aren’t a part of the conversation’ to the other two, especially Charis.
@Atrice @Sharpie @Sara
Hector’s eyebrows rose. The ceiling in Charis’s chamber had partly come down. Why didn’t it try harder? The fleeting thought was overwhelmed by a feeling of sympathy where he could recognise that Charis was visibly shaken. He still hated her, but his hatred had its limits. Although from the sounds of it, it might not have been the case for Jocasta and Eirene. They saw it, implying they were passive. So, had they left Charis out of natural fear or had that been on purpose? “They’re fine,” Hector answered dismissively, having caught sight of Jocasta somewhere in his headcount, but Charis’s concern for them seemed nonsensical, if it were the case they simply ‘saw’ but did nothing – unless she truly was that stupid and Hector was always happy to believe that.
He watched with a wrinkled nose in disgust as she pulled back the makeshift bandaging on her arm and felt sick from the sight. “What do you think you are doing?” Hector gasped. “Do you want the bleeding to stop or not?” Pressing a hand to his face, he shook his head. Was it a headache coming in or was it the aftermath of the earthquake? He had to bite back a hefty portion of the cattiness that he reserved for Charis when it was just the two of them. “We need to get that cleaned up before you get sick from it.” Before it started to look even grosser. “I can get something,” he said, though from the tone it sounded like he was asking for Tertius’s permission first.
@Atrice @Sharpie @Sara
Hector had remained in close proximity to Tertius, keeping his master in sight, even after his daughter had scrambled past towards one of the female servants and instead of following her, he seemed to be searching for something – or someone – Charis. Gross. It was a bitch-slap to his smugness just seconds earlier. ‘She’s fine’, he wanted to remark through gritted teeth – whether ‘fine’ meant she was under a pile of rubble or not. Still, he lingered behind him and found the chance to unleash his annoyance on a stray innocent fellow slave passer-by that was trying to go to safety. “Are you hard of hearing?” Hector said in a high-pitched voice. “Go fucking outside!”
As Tertius re-emerged in view, Hector follow and as he stepped out, he was able to make out Teutus and Charis, the latter of whom gained a pair of accusatory eyes in her direction. Just to make a point of pomposity, he repeated Tertius’s question: “Is everyone here?” like two-second delayed translation. It was also to further stamp in a point on his master’s governance. Already tall, Hector began to count heads – all of whom belonged to others who probably wanted to see him made into a tagenitai with blonde coiffed hair – while combing a hand through his hair in an effort to make himself marginally presentable.
Hector sighed. No one was shrieking in inexplicable misery, so it was likely no one (important) had died. “The gods clearly favour you, domine,” Hector smiled, though he felt as if he had just walked off a rocky boat at sea – not that he even knew what that was like. In all the disorder, Tertius was well, his family were well, as was – as much as it pained him to count her – the mother of his currently unborn child, though he purposely excluded her as he spoke again. “All your offspring are untouched. That is a definite sign of good fortune.” From behind his master who had his daughter in his arms, he affectionately brushed a bit of dust from his back as if he were tasked with polishing a shrine.
@Atrice @Sharpie @Sara
If Tertius had not roused him, Hector would have died. He had been deep asleep, comfortably sinking into the bed, like a cat that had decided it loved the comfort and had become permanently affixed. With the shaking of his arm, his eyes peeled and blinked up open but the regular slow introduction into the morning had not quite happened. The most he understood of the situation was that one moment he was staring at Tertius’s beautiful backside and the next Tertius was clothed and out the door, all while everything seemed to be moving. Groggy, delirious, and confused, the slave haphazardly rushed to follow his master like a shadow but became tangled in bedding and everything went white as he found himself face first into the floor.
In the background, he could hear screaming in the distance and then it became clearer what was happening. But if there was anything far more terrifying than the threat of death at the hands of forces that seemed far beyond his humanity, it was that he did not even have the time for his morning preening. Oh gods, he thought. His creams. As he scrambled just a little behind Tertius like a duckling after its mother, he simply parroted whatever Tertius yelled while cupping his hands around his mouth, even if no one asked him to, and sounding annoyingly smug and self-important in the process. Now fully awake, any opportunity for pomposity would not be lost, not even for an earthquake. “Alright, everyone out! You all heard him, out! And into the peristyle with those dreadful curls of yours,” he added as one of the female slaves collided into him before continuing on.
He remained outside of Antonia’s room as Tertius entered, still barking “outside!” at people’s backs, occasionally so far as pressing his face up to them and giving a “where do you think you’re going? The peristyle is that way!”, and loudly clapping his hands in a ‘chop, chop, get with it’ manner. Despite his energy, his intent was to be at his master’s side wherever that would be.
@Atrice @Sharpie @Sara
Saturnalia had been enjoyable in the past for Hector, but it always presented itself as a bizarre experience. Not serving Tertius in the way that he always did was like asking a mother not to be a mother, there were moments where he would see his master do something as small as tip the wine vessel over his cup and almost want to reach out to do it for himself, as if there was an art to it. Even if the only artistry about it was that he was doing it for him. But instead, he tried to enjoy the festivities rather than grimacing at how he could have or would have.
This year was different than the last ones. First, there was Charis being the apple of his master’s eye – or one of them – and then there was Teutus. The whole situation with him was strange and admittedly awkward. Hector had yet to figure out how to address him, his transition from slave to a Varus by name and position didn’t exactly ‘compute’. Thus far, Teutus was the receiving end of a mixture of confused constipated but annoyed looks.
As Hector entered into the hall, his first instinct as always was the wine. As he took a cup for himself, he turned around and took another, handing it out for Jocasta like an unspoken treaty. As he had learned from his time with Helios, there was nothing more unionising than a mutual hatred. It was mostly out of convenience than anything that ran any deeper – as if Hector made friends.
His eyes caught Charis’s makeup and he felt himself almost choke on a gasp. “Oh. My. Hephaestus. She looks like a fish,” Hector mumbled through his teeth and under his breath, purposely out of his master’s range. He had spent literal days in preparation for the feast with his legion of ‘beauty products’. He wanted his skin to glow for the celebrations, even if inwardly he felt dark and bitterly. And yet Charis shoved her face into a dead flame pit and emerged with dark eyes and what looked like a horse’s ass at the back of her head yet had the gall to stand there and ‘flirt’ with his master.
Moving off from the drinks, he began to pass Teutus as more slaves arrived. “If it isn’t the man of the hour,” Hector greeting Teutus, sounding pleasant and even offering a smile, albeit one that was rather empty on any further inspection.
In a classic show of self-importance, Hector wrinkled his nose in light disgust; as predicted, the jest had gone over his head. Trying to break a genuine laugh from the slave, if that was ever the purpose, was like chipping away at a block of ice. As Attis proceeded to make introductions, Hector limply followed, and his interest mildly increased at ‘Felix’ with the perk of his ears before his attention fell away again, listlessly completing the round of names as it ended on the only woman of the group. She smirked in his direction and proceeded to greet him in Greek to which his brows pressured together in confusion. She couldn’t have been making a pass at him, could she? Why else would anyone smirk at him in such a way?
Hector let out a ‘tut’ sound. “So, you can all speak Greek, congratulations,” he observed dryly, deciding then was a good time as any to enjoy his wine like a cat at its milk bowl. That was until by a matter of bad coincidence, someone passing from behind jutted into him in all the crowdedness and mayhem of the midday eating. The slave looked like a mix between horrified and annoyed but then cleared his throat, brushed a hand through his hair, and proceeded to pretend as if nothing had happened.
“No, stay,” Hector barked at the one called Felix, catching his ‘I can leave’. Even if he decided to leave, then Hector would follow. “Just as…” – there came a constipated pause as Hector’s expression wrinkled with an attempt to run through the new names – “Rumpus said, we’re all friends. Have your meal here and listen to Attis and his jokes.” He took another sip of his Titan-sized wine.
It was crowded inside and that alone was enough to drive Hector away. While others were met with the beckoning smell of food, he immediately took notice to the characteristic airlessness of a packed room and suffocating body odour and just about covered his nasal passage with a hand while he made his way for wine. While he often made a complete show of how much he couldn’t spare his valuable time of preening or bathing under the warm sun with a bit of wine, he found that he secretly did enjoy being around other humans. If only because it provided him the wonderful pastime of wrinkling his nose or looking scandalised at minute but strange habits in the streets.
As he spun with what was a group’s serving of wine appropriated into one man’s giant cup, he was left with the torture of pressing against loud and red-faced strangers, who occasionally reared their ugly faces into view as he passed by, to find somewhere to plant his bottom and vegetate for the night.
“Oh, you,” he greeted Attis, the first face his eyes fell onto as he slid into the first free chair before he briefly observed the others, all slaves, and moved his gaze from face to face with an air of judgement and disinterest. It was evidently barely interested in what they were doing, they could have been planning an uprising for all he cared, until his shallow attention halted on one who had a triad of qualities that caught his attention: male, beautiful, and very beautiful. Hey, a slave could look. But it was after looking at that one slave that his head swept along the other slaves a second time as if to double-check what he was doing associating with the rest, as if it was unfathomable that people found company for reasons beyond looks.
“What’s going on? Is this some kind of a joke?” he asked, sounding almost as if he were making an accusation.
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It was far easier for Hector to talk about himself than it was about anyone else, namely because it was the primary thing he ever spoke about, except maybe after his master. “No, my master purchased me maybe four years ago,” Hector replied, realising how quickly the time had passed. He didn’t necessarily count if only because he had seamlessly adopted his life in the Varus household where he began to see more of a purpose and reason to be in service there. By comparison, the years prior to his acquisition had slogged on. “Before that I was owned by a Greek before, a slaver,” he added. It was a few moments before he realised that the question had followed shortly after his statement on his shares of fucking, to which he frowned. The idea of his previous master sitting on his list, albeit short compared to those with more freedom, was sickening. Far too old, far too dumb.
“No, no, all he ever made me do was put ginger on his lumpy toes and truthfully, I would have preferred to have kept it at that,” Hector stated very bluntly. “I saw what was on his feet, I didn’t want my mouth anywhere between his legs or his ass cheeks.” He tapped the table thoughtfully, glancing around before taking another drink of wine and enjoying the taste, though it wasn’t quite the same as what Tertius had in storage. He wasn’t a connoisseur of wines but rather he was spoiled. “Why the curiosity?”
“Ah” was what came out of Hector’s mouth about the acquisition of the Elysium. As a slave, his understanding of business was limited to his exposures and still not that deep. He had overheard negotiations pertaining to the selling and dealing of slaves, other slaves, until he was dealt and sold; he had listened to the concerns shared by his master’s son about finances; and now occasionally snooped the conversations of senators. Still, much of it, all of it was beyond his scope.
“He is,” Hector conceded and for a split second, he’d almost softened just a little at the admission in both how his words came out and his demeanour. Of course, he was uncomfortable with his own vulnerability, regardless of how brief it was, that he killed the moment by drawing up his wine again in a bit of a careless display before shoving it back down on the table. It was one thing to pretend like he didn’t care about what the other slaves thought, but it was much harder to pretend to not care about his master. “Anyway,” he interjected; it was a far better thing to derail any notion of the truth. “For starters, I’ve never had the time, the means, nor the interest to go to a brothel.” He didn’t mean it out of criticism or to be critical either, even if his natural voice and manner of speaking often sounded as if he were judging and scrutinising the universe.
“But I have had my share of fucks,” he added with a gesture of his hand. “If… if that’s what you’re wondering.” When it came to such things, Hector had the drive of a rabbit and likely would so long as his heart could keep up and not putter out with old age.
Right at ‘Charis’, Hector’s amiable ‘service face’ tensed, microscopically it had disintegrated into a scowl where his lips tightened. All had been well until he uttered ‘that name’. Despite all the annoyance rising once again through every fibre of his making, he gave his master a sycophantic smile followed by a quiet brown-nosing ‘of course’, even though the words tasted sour in his mouth, accompanied by an adoring nod. As he bowed and backed away to make his exit from the room, his first quiet steps quickened into a brisk walk that led him out into the gardens in search of the rat. As he entered, he stopped a few steps short of her, looked as if he were confused by the proximity, and then backed up and retracted those few steps.
“My master wants you, you elephentine turd,” he said through gritted teeth. “And try not to smell, he has company.”