Any day could be her last and it could very well have been the last day walking in the markets, smelling baked goods being sold and seeing all the things Rome had to offer. She didn’t have the time to enjoy the world around her, as captivating as it might have been. She had a job to do and had to do it well.
Her coin purse clinked as she walked, safely tucked where no one could reach it, and a basket hung against her bent arm, not yet full. Her eyes followed all the items and things laid out at stalls. One shopkeeper was busy talking to another man, both engrossed in a conversation deeper than Aculia’s insecurity.
Colourful, well-made dresses and jewellery were laid out for all to see. Aculia’s hands gently caressed one of the dresses. She’d never truly dressed in anything pretty before, having lived on a farm and been a huntress, and then later a homeless woman in putrid rags. Clothing had been about practicality, not beauty. While the man was distracted, Aculia contemplating shoving the dress into her basket and briskly walking away. But it was much too large, instead her eyes settled on a shimmering necklace, which she quickly picked up and shoved somewhere that no one would see it. She had money but it was for another purpose.
She turned her body to continue, expression blank, and immediately, her eyes linked with someone else’s. She stood there stunned. Slowly, she took the necklace out of its hiding space and put it back. She opened her mouth and then closed it. Shit, she thought.
“I put it back,” she said calmly. This would reflect poorly on her master and in turn, make him angry with her. “Just don’t tell him about it.” By him, she meant her master. She feared him more than anything else.
Note: What Aculia is wearing
Aculia hopped into gear, walking swiftly like a startled rodent and placed the plate down in front of her master before hiding her hands behind her back. Standing tall, she said nothing as she hid the cut on her thumb in case he thought her incompetent or unable to do a job. She liked to think of herself as more than capable, not weak and powerless as others might have thought she was as a voiceless slave, but being underneath her master’s roof made her second guess her abilities and her worth as a person, no differently than being abandoned more than once had done the same.
She was taken aback when he asked if she’d eaten or drank but did not show her surprise, instead her features were neutral. She’d expected the worst. Yelling, a brutal beating or death but instead she read his words as concern for her well-being. When she was first his slave, she had been terrified for her life but as he did not kill her, keeping her alive and well-sheltered, she believed him somehow generous. She was disgusted, at first, at her own feelings because how could anyone with any bit of self-dignity feel warmly towards someone like Marcus Barbatius.
“No, domine,” she said honestly, voice lifeless and avoiding eye contact. “I wanted to be able to do whatever you asked of me without interruption.” She placed her basic needs aside in case she had to attend to his. What would have happened if she was in the middle of a meal and he needed her? “I won’t pass out, domine. I will eat later tonight when all your needs are met.” She’d been hungry and without food before when living without shelter, this paled in comparison. To her, she now lived in a palace with regular feasts. “Would you like some wine?”
Trying to teach Germanus a new word was like trying to drill a hole in marble with a fat, blunt thumb. And he spoke so loudly too, which only irritated Aculia and wave him off. He was a lost cause. But a woman could only cook quietly in a small kitchen for so long. She enjoyed any chance she got when out of the house and buying supplies in the markets. Remaining inside only made her feel more alienated from the world, unable to see Rome’s liveliness, and seeing only her master, tending to whatever needs he had, only made her see him most hours of the day and, thus, somehow see the human, not the monster.
Though she thought of escaping at times, it was better than freezing on streets and eating discarded foods from the dirty pathways just to live another day. She justified why she put up with it all. And just like most days, she was “confined” to the kitchen, chopping away at some tomatoes when, in her clouded thoughts, she hadn’t been paying attention and cut her thumb. The blood began to pool and she sucked at it before quickly finishing the small meal she’d prepared.
Setting the knife down and taking the plate, her thumb stinging all the while, she became nauseous as she softly tip-toed throughout the home to where her master was. He had worked a long day and was likely hungry, she hadn’t eaten yet. She wanted to make herself available. She had been in his service for a year, while she was subservient, which had never been in her nature before, she still found herself testing boundaries. If he became angry that she dared think of him before herself, at least, she knew.
She didn’t say a word, she just lingered by the door and waited until he noticed her hovering with a vacant look on her face, holding some food for him to eat. A peace offering that said she was more useful to him alive.
If she was shaking, it was barely visible as she stood rigid and tall. Her eyes were staring forwards, practically past the two male customers and her master. She held onto the jug of mug tightly, so tight that her knuckles were white and the muscles of her hands were growing tired. She did not dare look anywhere specific or say anything. Any little cough, sniffle or movement would annoy her master. Annoying her master meant the possibility of death. The men in the room had no idea what those hands were capable of, what she’d seen him do. As the the blade rested against one of the men’s neck, both men were oblivious as to what those hands had seen.
She was zoning in and out, her attention was mystified and the world hazy. The mention of dogs made her snap into the real world, everything suddenly becoming material. She’d once dealt with dogs when hunting and had seen deer die by her arrows but seeing people die was different. The idea did come into her head of trying to get a quick word with one of the men for help but that was out of the question as intervention could go awry and be of more danger to her.
And so there she stood near to the door, glazed eyes staring unnervingly with a lost look in them. So quiet, so still, she was practically invisible.
@Liv @Sara @Atrice (cameo as per requested by Atrice!)
20 | Spring 55 | Cook | Slave | Bisexual | Wanted | Elizabeth Olsen
Aculia is of the more serious-minded variety, not really one for jokes or playfulness. But that isn’t to say she is beyond jokes or fooling around altogether, simply that she won’t usually seek it out. She tries not to show her emotions or thoughts to others, it’s uncertain as to whether this is for self-preservation or shame. Either way, she doesn’t like looking weak and more often than not refuses help from others, preferring to take matters into her own hands. To have some semblance of control. On the outside, she is calm, collected, timid, and obedient. When one gets to know her, she’s insecure and emotionally vulnerable but surprisingly insightful and different than she might otherwise appear. Beyond the horrors of her life, she has an interest in theatre, interesting conversations, and has a preference for athletics, such as hunting.
She’s slow to open up but willing to make friends with others. In her master’s domus, she’s silent, barely says a word unless told to or, when in the presence of a fellow slave, is certain that her master is not able to hear them talk. When she’s not around her master, her fear shows itself as “nonchalance”. It’s not that her life doesn’t bother her, it does, it just comes out in her not wanting to show her pain to others. A lot of her feelings are repressed. When around her master, her fear might come out more, though she will hide it when clients are present. When there are troubles in the domus, if she can, Aculia is one of the first to fix the problem. Some things are outside her control, which she doesn’t like because she is unconfident in herself.
Her predicament has left her distrusting of others, suffering from nightmares, confusion among other things. Strangely enough, she has developed positive feelings for her master. Not romantic. It’s a defence mechanism. It is perhaps this reason why she’s so complacent, submissive and takes on her inferior role well, justifying her own inability for running away sooner. Her master, Marcus Barbatus, takes her to his bed but she convinces herself that this is the best she deserves, owing to her insecurities. At least she’s useful to someone.
She constantly questions herself, her obedience, and her willingness to keep silent about her master’s treatment. Somehow she feels just as responsible for their deaths, saying and doing nothing while people die. Deep down, she doesn’t know if she can keep living the way she has been or to continue being her master’s lap dog, all to save her own skin because he scares her that much.
Looking at her, right off the bat, she will noticeably have a “thousand-yard stare” or an emotionless face, one that withholds what she’s thinking or feeling. Standing at five foot five, she has long, cascading golden-brown hair, big green eyes, a rounded head, and distinct cheeks and thin lips. Slim and well-toned, evident of someone who is healthy, she tends to wear natural colours or reds, which compliment her hair and eyes, and her clothes cover her body entirely, particularly scars that have been inflicted on her from slavery. Her movements are mouse-like, small, delicate and nervous.
Father: Cudius, born 34CE (Biological father), Damos, born 30CE (adoptive)
Mother: Abruna, born 36CE (Biological mother), Peccia, born 35CE (adoptive)
Siblings: Talos, born 50CE, Tasco, born 48CE (adoptive brothers)
Extended family: N/A
Other: Her Master, Marcus Barbatus and fellow slaves
Much of Aculia’s earlier life before slavery is a blur to her, she remembers bits and pieces but never the whole thing. The stress of her current life has caused her memory and thoughts to become clouded. Aculia was born and raised in Gaul for much of her early life and it was fairly unremarkable. Her father was a renowned warrior and her mother had only one child as far as she knows. During her very early years of life as a toddler, her parents did not dote on her. However, her parents later abandoned her when she was only five years old, leaving her then raised by others within her tribe. Aculia never really knew her parents but had vague memories of the pair, though she is uncertain of whether any of this is because of what she had been told by others or how much of it is actually what she has remembered.
Being taken in by another family did not give her an identity crisis in childhood as she was close to her adoptive brothers and seemed to find love at last, though her abandonmet by her biological parents may have fed into her future insecurities. Her new father was a highly appreciated man and well-liked by his tribe, being a farmer and hunter who provided much of the food. As she grew, she learned to hunt, farm, care for animals, and cook. Cooking was a skill that she would later use in her master’s household. But Aculia’s true skills lay in hunting and farming, being wild and in the natural world.
Tasco, her elder adoptive brother, looked after her as if she was his blood sister and Talos and Aculia were inseparable, two peas in a pod. In the past and as a child, she was cheeky, mischievous, a bit of a spider monkey who climbed trees, and was prone to getting into trouble, a little impish but since slavery, her personality has gone an entire detour, which is to be expected. She was happy to have a home and a family that loved her. This remained until the time she was twelve years old in 67. Her adoptive parents died that year by illness, leaving behind the two boys and their adopted girl, Aculia. The farm was later taken by competitors in 68 who took advantage of their youth. They claimed they were going to help out, only to take control of the money earned and the farm.
Tasco left to make more money elsewhere and apparently send home, only to never return home. This ultimately left Aculia and Talos alone in their teenaged years. With no skills and practically still children, the two took to begging and eating leftover scraps thrown to the floor to survive. Her brother Talos started gambling but was losing more money than he was gaining. Depressed and full of hate for himself, Talos began drinking heavily and focusing on what pleasures he could get than what was practical. In a moment of vulnerability and not exactly in the right state of mind, Talos sold his adoptive sister and friend, Aculia, for money by 73CE. Aculia was heartbroken, destroyed and was then shipped off to Rome.
Much of the journey, she does not remember but the fact she was abandoned hit her hard and only brought back feelings she had felt as a young five and six year old. The treatment she had endured as a new slave was less than ideal. She became a slave to many Roman senatores and wealthy figures throughout 73CE, each abandoning her for a number of reasons. Some lost money, others had wives that didn’t like Aculia, or Aculia didn’t fit in for whatever reason. It did hurt her self-esteem when she was sold yet again. After all, she’d been abandoned by family twice (three times, if one counted her eldest brother Tasco).
In early 74, Aculia was bought cheap by Marcus Barbatus and she’d expected the outcome to be the same as her past masters, tossed and thrown to the next buyer. Upon first joining the household, she was introduced to how her life would be from Manus. Aculia hadn’t believed it at first but erred on the side of caution, she soon found out. Months passed and she didn’t seem to be abandoned and so Aculia grew “comfortable” in her surroundings. But her master’s darker side seemed to show and Aculia became more muted than she was in the past. But her master’s home gave her shelter and food and in that way, he was benevolent. It was better than being on the streets, begging, or being abandoned many times over.
For the past year, she has worked for the barber as a cook in his household and eventually found herself being called to his bed, which she does not like but doesn’t show. She has also seen the death of, at least, two slaves, which has rendered her even more silent than she’d already been. As of recent, she is unsure of how much of her current life she’s willing to put up with but has since made no move to try and escape. But the future is full of possibilities.
Beauty | GMIT+ | #4454