Zia's shoulders slumped a little as he agreed to her terms, partly in relief and partly out of defeat. For all her intelligence she had never foreseen (or at least not contemplated seriously) that there would come a time where she willingly made a deal with a Roman. she had always hoped they'd win, disrupting the Roman's occupation to the point they withdrew. And if they didn't succeed? She always thought she'd have the strength to end her own life before allowing herself to be forced into this position. What she had not factored into her planning, of course, was that deeply primal urge of motherhood. Her little Luto had never been threatened before and she'd never have to consider how it would make her feel. She felt humiliated, that it had impacted her quite so much, but Diegis would understand. Luto was his heir, and whether this Roman understood it or not, their people would consider him their leader years after she, her husband and even the Roman himself was dead and buried. He needed to be preserved, at all costs.
Eyeing him, she scoffed and folded her arms over her chest defensively. "You know what you will do with me already." She shook her head as she spoke in accented, but good Latin, "You play games with captives to make yourself feel important, that is not the sign of a powerful man." She added with revulsion.
But a thought entered her mind and she tipped her head to the side, studying him. "You have my submission - you'll have my husband's but it means nothing if you keep us here." She shrugged her shoulders and tapped her fingers against her folded arms, "What point is there in getting the submission of captives? If you want my," She hesitated before adding, "My husband's people to stop then you need to put him back with his people." She swallowed and added, "And I want to see my son. To ensure his welfare." She didn't trust this tosser as far as she could throw him and as much as the thought made bile rise in her throat, her son could already be dead and cold. If the tables had been turned, and she had been stood there so imperiously, this one's children would already be in the afterlife and she'd not have hesitated even a moment.
Zia had to concentrate on his words. The blood humming in her veins and the furious beating of her heart almost drowned him out. Submission. It was an almost alien word to her. She'd been born into the lap of luxury (by Dacian standards at least) and her father had encouraged and indulged her intrigues and schemes. The first years of her marriage had been difficult and fraught with fiery tempers, but come the last few years her husband never asked for her submission. And now she had to give it, to a man that had dragged her son away as if he were a child's doll.
Her mind fleetingly went back to the knife. She could, perhaps, reach it before he stopped her. She supposed even a small incision into her throat would do the trick, or one quick thrust through her chest. The idea that she could use it against him was expunged; to take her own life was honourable, to die nailed to a cross choking and suffocating was not. But then what of Diegis? What of Luto, if he had not already been dispatched? The latter was the only thing that made her hesitate.
It had been several minutes of quiet contemplation when she finally spoke again. This time, she spoke in Latin; surely a positive sign for him. "Yes." She said with a lump in her throat which she could barely swallow, but reached down a hand to push herself up on wobbly legs. When she was at her full height she swayed, almost as if drunk, as if the raw emotion in her was making her quiver. "If Luto lives, you have my submission and you will have my husbands." Diegis would listen to reason. There would be opportunities, ways to make them pay. But what would be the point if his heir was dead and buried? Her mind worked over all the possible outcomes of this, and settled on that submission was the only option should he agree to her terms. "You keep him safe and," She shrugged her shoulders and sighed with a slump, "You have the Ratacenses. You agree?" She eyed him, fury mixed with complete and utter desolation. But beneath it, there was a fire. She would find a way out of this, for everybody.
That Zia managed to hold herself together until the last moment was a testament to her strength of character and viciously stubborn personality. It was only when her little Luto was being guided out of the tent and she had heard his cry for his mother that something in her snapped. The humiliation of being manhandled herself by this Roman brute was easy to bare, being looked down upon less so, but her son being abused ignited something primal in her, as it would for mothers the world over. She instinctively moved to rush out of the tent, and even as her path was blocked she tried to push him out of the way with all the force her frame could provide. "L-Luto!" She hit him square in the arm, and may well have caught his face as she tried to shove him out the way to reach her son whose crying could be heard drifting into the sounds of the camp.
She pushed and pushed until she realised the futility of her endeavour and slunk back, kicking anything she could find on the floor of the tent in abject frustration and misery as she ignored his jibe. "He's my son!" She choked in Dacian, tears pricking her eyes, "He's a boy! Do you not have children? Are you that monstrous?" She spat at him in Dacian as her eyes flitted over his tent. She wanted to make him hurt, to make him suffer as she was suffering. Her eyes caught on the eating knife that lay discarded on his desk and she stowed that piece of information for later.
Shaking her head and desperately trying to keep from crying she sunk to her knees on the floor. Diegis would never forgive her, she knew that. She didn't know if she could forgive herself and shook her head, muttering under her breath in Dacian: "If you touch one hair on his head I will..." She'd what? Stab him and end up nailed on a cross somewhere, choking to death? Curse him? She'd what? She didn't know and fell silent. Spending a few moments, silently collecting herself, she finally turned hazel eyes up at him with a look of such hatred it was as if she was trying to make him explode from her anger; "What do you want from me?"
She listened to him, a little relieved that he kept going in Latin. Luto hadn't been taught it and so just stared blankly at the man, his big brown eyes reverting to the helmet every now and again like a magpie with some shiny trinket. But she understood him, and she wasn't impressed. She'd seen Diegis and her father before him make similar threats. She'd seen women cower in the years before Rome's expansion as their brats were taken off of them. She'd even had one of her own slaves blubber and cry and ask for news of her son, who had died a few months before and nobody had bothered to tell her. This little act, she knew, had real consequences for her son but she was not cowed and broken, crying hysterically. She faced him with a straight back and that mask women of rank so often wore; cold, stern and haughty.
Shrugging at his threats, as if she was utterly unfazed by them (and only the slight tightening of her grip on Lutos hand said otherwise), she countered in Dacian; "I'm flattered you think a woman has such influence!" She scoffed and shook her head. Of course she did, but that was largely due to the novel nature of her relationship.
It was always sensible to rely on the 'poor, simple woman' trope with men who liked to assert their authority she'd found. This was a prime opportunity and she sighed, her hand resuming its gentle stroking of Luto's brunette curls, "I suggest you speak with my husband," She narrowed her eyes on him a little - well, she wasn't going to pretend to be completely simple, "I presume you know who he is, why else would you bring us here?" She gestured around the tent, "I'm just his wife, and this is just his son. If you want peace I suggest you take it up with him." Diegis was a strong man, and a frighteningly effective leader. She doubted he'd cow to peace unless forced and the slight bubble of anxiety in her chest grew - who knew what would force his hand?
Zia only eyed him with a mixture of displeasure and apathy. Was he trying to be menacing? As he retreated back to his desk she shifted on her feet and let a hand move to run through Luto's dark curls both in a gesture of genuine maternal affection and to prompt him to stop looking at that bloody helmet. She listened to him but kept her face perfectly still, with zero reaction. She spoke Latin well enough; one couldn't really escape it anymore in Dacia and she'd found it useful. That wasn't to say she was prepared to speak it to him though and at the end of his question she just gave him a quizzical look and a shrug, as if she hadn't understood the question.
But she couldn't keep the hint of concern that crossed her face at his second question. It belied that she did understand him and she looked down at the top of her sons hair before flicking hazel eyes back up to the man.
She spoke in Dacian, refusing to use their language unless forced. "My son is four," She ran a hand through his hair again and the little boy giggled. "Would you club him to death? Cut his throat? Crucify him?" She arched a brow in challenge at the man and knelt down so she was her sons height. She pinched his cheeks, prompting another giggle from him. "Luto, this man wants to hurt you." She glanced back at Titus and with a roll of her eyes, switched to Latin if only to prevent her boy from understanding, "Would you like to tell him how he's going to die?"
Early May, 74CE
Zia grinned at her son, holding his hand firmly but letting his little legs wander as he took in the sights and the smells of the military camp. To a child, what had happened and where they were now was some great, drawn out adventure. To Luto's four year old mind there was nothing sinister in all the men in their red cloaks, nothing malevolent in the tent in which they were hurriedly stored in with all of the other women and children. His big brown eyes took it all in as if he were living one of the great tales of heroism his father and grandfathers had told him. Little Luto even went so far as to wave at a few of the passing legionaries as they were escorted through the maze of straight lines to, what she presumed, was the commander's tent. Her smile was in part for the energy of her son, but also for the thought he'd be sleeping in a tent like the rest of them during this very uncharacteristic May rain which drizzled down on them, soaking man and woman alike to the bone.
She'd not told anybody who she was since her arrival in this place, but presumed somebody else had spilled the beans. Probably Diegis, the idiot. She had considered it safer to be an anonymous woman and boy caught up in the chaos of the skirmish than one of its architects. That anonymity, clearly, was not to last. She'd not seen her husband since he was bundled away under a swathe of red cloaked men in stupid helmets, but she knew he'd seen his father and brothers fates. A small part of her ignited at the thought that it left him as the chief, a bigger part hoped he wouldn't prattle on about it too much. She'd heard rumours about what had happened to the chieftains of occupied provinces; paraded through the streets of Rome in chains. She hoped her husband had more sense than to prattle on about his family.
Finally drawing to the tent she cast a dismissive glance over it, her nose wrinkling in displeasure. This was where the great and the good of Rome lived? She was a little horrified. Shunted through the flaps, her hand still clasping her sons, she blinked into the dim light. It was barely dawn outside, and the candles that lit up the canvas made it smoky and hard to see. She didn't recognise the man sat in front of her, but then they all looked the same in their silly little outfits to her. Luto, however, unfettered grinned at him and pointed at the crested helmet set aside, beaming whilst he asked in Dacian; "Can I play with it?" Zia yanked back his arm as he moved to touch it and reminded herself to drill some sense into her boy at the next opportune moment.
She said nothing to the man and instead just arched a brow, waiting for his big speech.
26 | November 11th 49CE | Slave | General attendant/seamstress | Heterosexual | Wanted | Aurora Ruffino
Tough, prideful and ingenious are all words that come to mind when considering Zia. Her marriage was a partnership and whilst Diegis had brains himself, he was not above differing to his wife's opinion. A keen strategist and lover of games, Zia is continually thinking about her next move and what would bring her the most gain. Whilst not without warmth, her life thus far has moulded her into a woman where strategy and glory come first, and emotion second. She's not a naturally loving person, although her son is an exception, and sometimes struggles to bond with strangers. Being brought down several (hundred) rungs in the social ladder from future wife of a chieftain, to a slave, has been a shock for her but she still holds her head up high and bides her time. She's adapted fairly well to life in slavery, although a significant portion of that is an act designed to make her masters pity her, or feel more comfortable around her. She misses her husband dearly, and relishes the opportunity to see him (not least because it gives her time to plot and scheme). She finds the tasks she's given in Titus' house dull considering she used to occupy her time with political stratagems and hosting the great and the good. Her Latin has improved immeasurably in her time in Rome, but her accent often makes people believe she's without wits which mask her deeply intelligent, but often incredibly ruthless personality.
Standing at about five foot five, and with an athletic figure, Zia's appearance mimics her stern personality. She dresses simply, as befits a slave, but hasn't forgotten her roots and her standing and her countenance all speak to a proud woman. Her back is arrow straight and she only lightly averts her eyes if required to look away from her masters. She has long dark hair, tanned skin and light hazel eyes. Her life, as the daughter of a Dacian chieftain and wife to a future one kept her away from the majority of the hardships of her people but that is not to say she hasn't worked. Her hands aren't smooth like that of a Roman woman and she bares small scars across her arms and legs from childhood grazes and mishaps. Unlike a lot of slaves, she doesn't look like a girl anymore and her features - whilst attractive - are stern and mature. She's not a simpering sixteen year old (and forgets she ever was), and whilst she's not the most stunning of Titus' haul from Dacia, her confidence and pride make her stand out as a force not to be underestimated.
Father: Brindis (chief of the Appuli tribe, middle Dacia) - alive.
Mother: Rescuturme (second wife of Brindis) - deceased.
Cotiso (half-brother by Brindis' first wife, future chief of the Appuli) - alive.
Mokson (half-brother by Brindis' first wife) - alive.
Cotys (full younger sister by Rescuturme, married to a prominent warrior of the Appuli) - alive.
Rholes (full younger brother by Rescuturme) - alive.
Dotos (half-brother by Brindis' third wife) - alive.
Spouse: Diegis (now a slave, youngest son of the chief of the Ratacenses tribe, eastern Dacia) - alive.
Luto (son, now a slave, 4 years old, residing in an equite house known to Titus) - alive.
Extended family: Numerous nieces and nephews by her siblings. Numerous cousins, including Tarbus (now a slave). Sisters in law by Diegis.
Titus Sulpicius Rufus
49CE: Zia is born, the first daughter to the chief of the Appuli tribe and his second wife. Her birth is celebrated, as it heralds a new opportunity for alliances with other tribes, through marriage.
52CE: Her younger sister, Cotys, is born.
56CE: Her younger brother Rholes is born, Zia's mother dies in childbirth. Brindis grieves deeply and rules out remarriage for the foreseeable future. Their tribe is largely kept out of the ongoing war between Rome and the various eastern tribes.
60CE: During the close of the war, Zia is sent with her younger siblings and with her cousins to safety to family with the Caucoenses.
63CE: Zia and her family return to Apulum. Her father, keen on establishing strong bonds in the face of consistent Roman aggression and military movements (even after the close of the war), procures an honourable match between his first born daughter and the youngest son of the Ratacenses tribe, Diegis. Only a couple of years older than her, Zia is nonetheless unimpressed, finding him brutish and macho and beneath her.
64CE: After the start of her first flux, to ensure she is ready, Zia and Diegis marry. To ensure her safety, her cousin Tarbus is married into the tribe through a cousin of Diegis and accompanies her to Surcea.
66CE: Zia miscarries their first child. The couple drift apart and Diegis has a son with a local woman, infuriating Zia who promptly has her exiled whilst Diegis is elsewhere in Dacia conducting discussions with eastern tribes on the future of their land.
68CE: The couple reconcile and Zia, having withdrawn to Cumidava in fury, returns home to Surcea. Diegis agrees to give his wife more say in their future, and his father respects her tenacity. Early wobbles in their marriage are largely forgotten going forward.
69CE: Her father remarries and has another son.
71CE: Zia gives birth to their only child, a son, named Luto for Diegis' grandfather. The birth is celebrated and Zia relaxes slightly, feeling more secure in her position. She begins to involve herself more and more with politics, and Diegis continues to encourage his wife's lightening fast mind. She begins to suggest that the Roman occupation of the east is more fragile than previous tribes gave credit for, and Diegis and his father begin tentative discussions on next steps and begin small skirmishes to disrupt supply lines and raid outposts.
73CE: Tarbus warns his cousin and her husband from provoking Roman aggression, but nonetheless supports their underhanded attempts to provoke instability (if only out of concern for his cousin).
74CE: Their years of intrigue catch up with them, and whilst hosting a feast for the leaders of several smaller tribes far from Surcea after a very successful raid on a Roman cohort, Rome's great and powerful swoop in. Many are killed and maimed including Diegis' father and oldest brother, leaving him the chief, in name only. Diegis, Tarbus, Zia and her son are captured for inciting and provoking discord in the territory. Given as spoils to the legate, the four are shipped to Rome. Zia is placed in the household of said legate apart from her husband, as surety for his good behaviour. Their son - much to her horror and fury - is enslaved and placed in the house of an equite known to their captors as surety for her good behaviour. She has no sense of where Tarbus is.
75CE: Having been in the house for several months, Zia has adapted well although she is forever plotting her next move and how to spin her newfound situation to her advantage.