Face ClaimAnthony Higgins
"Yay, I'm on holiday." Attis's voice was flat, but there was a grin on his face, should his master turn to look. Longinus was on holiday, Attis was a slave and unlikely to get much of a holiday at all, though he might get an entire afternoon off if Longinus was feeling particularly jealous, or lethargic.
An hour? Finding a decent place to hole up for their stay, plus a couple of slaves, was going to take more than an hour - Attis didn't think that hours here were much different in length to hours in Rome, but he could stretch a point. And at least they had a meeting place now.
"I'll see what I can do, Domine," he said cheerfully and went to see what he could do.
What he could do, in the end, took half as long again as he'd been given, but secured a nice house with a garden, a half-decent kitchen that was supplied with its own pots and pans, with a fountain a mere few yards up the street. The slaves included an older woman that the hiring agent said was a decent cook (though Attis hadn't taken him at his word but had asked the other slaves; hiring agents couldn't ever be trusted!), a man for the heavy lifting and general work and a teenage boy for other housework and running errands.
Attis had moved them into the house and gone to find his master but not before ducking his head in the aforementioned fountain.
Attis didn't know why he'd thought Longinus might have been here before, but there they were, he hadn't. And after suggesting they might leave their baggage here, Longinus had picked his bag up and left some coins on the table to cover their food and drink before heading back out into the sunlight again. Attis hastily shouldered his own bag and followed - not a moment too soon, as he intercepted the glance Longinus threw over his shoulder.
At least that was a smile on his master's face, where there hadn't been a smile in far too long.
"It seems so, Domine," he said, settling his own bag more comfortably on his shoulder as he prepared to follow his master to the central area of this ancient city. He could only hope that it would be easier to find his way around Athens that it was to find his way around Rome, once he was cut loose to find them somewhere to stay.
Attis wanted to say that he did it because he wanted to, not because he had to or because it was expected of him, but knew that wasn't, strictly speaking, quite true. He sighed.
"You're right, and I wish you weren't, but you are, which makes you a lot wiser than me," he said.
He wished there was something they could do, but of course they were only slaves and that meant they were limited in what they could offer.
"Maybe I should practise more with that," Attis said. "The sweeping people off their feet, I mean." He wouldn't, though, not really. He enjoyed sex - who didn't? - but Metella was the only woman he wanted to be with, and what he got up to with Vitus was nobody's business. As to what he and Longinus did together, well, it was every master's prerogative to make use of their slaves however they chose to, and Attis wouldn't breathe a word of what happened in Longinus' bed beyond letting people think it was precisely what any master would do with any male slave they owned who took their fancy.
"I don't have any idea how to get him past this, you know. I don't mind if he wants me for a distraction, I just don't think I'm a very good one. Wrong shape and body parts and all, even if he does like that on occasion." Metella already knew at least some of what transpired in Longinus' bed between their master and Attis, after all.
"Me, domine? The only other Senator I've been unfortunate enough to work for recently is the one you know about." But he had spoken to Tranquillus about things other than his infatuation with Florus, and received some advice of his own, that backed up some of his own experiences with Longinus - not that Longinus would likely recall that Attis had negotiated lodgings before. Just not a nice house for as long as his master was going to spend in Greece.
There was nothing of any real value in Attis' belongings - he kept his valuables on him and his most precious possessions he'd entrusted to Metella. He still had misgivings about leaving the rest of his things anywhere, even if they were technically Longinus' belongings. He would only be encumbered by the bags if he insisted on taking them with them - he was pretty sure Longinus would ensure that Attis got both if Attis refused to leave them here.
"Yes, domine," he said. He'd have to figure out which was the best area of the city and see if he could find somewhere suitable. Jupiter knew how long any of that would take, especially with a language barrier to deal with, too. "Anywhere in particular in their Forum?" he asked, thinking that it was probably at least as crowded as the Forum Romanum back home.
"The secret is, domine, not to let people think that your master's too rich," Attis replied, tearing off another chunk of bread. "I mean, you want to be rich enough that we don't end up in a hovel, but you're definitely not a senator or anything like one, at least not to the landlord."
He wasn't sure where they'd meet back up but figured that once he'd got the place (wherever it was) the forum - agora - would be a good place to hang around, at least to start with.
"Or you could come with me," he added thoughtfully, speaking around the mouthful before swallowing. It'd keep his master out of trouble and they'd both be able to keep track of one another, though Attis found that he was looking forward to having an hour or two to himself during their stay here. He mentally ran down the list of requirements - somewhere with its own equipped kitchen, room for two or three other slaves, that wasn't so huge they'd rattle around like a pair of dice in a gambler's dice-cup... Having Longinus come along might cramp his style but it'd be better than letting his master find another popina and crawl into an amphora or two of wine.
Not that he seemed particularly apt to do that right now - he seemed to be in a better mood than he had for at least the last few weeks.
"Pardon me for saying so, but that's not saying very much," Attis said, wincing at the memory of that Saturnalia.
A couple of decent middle-of-the-road slaves, then. It would be nice to have some time to enjoy himself while they were here; he hadn't expected that he'd be allowed much time to himself, though he'd hoped he might have an afternoon or two.
"I'll see what I can get," he said, ignoring the wagging finger in favour of tearing off another piece of bread. He pushed the rest of the loaf across to his master.
"I don't know how you're not hungry after the ride up from Piraeus, domine," he said neutrally. He'd suspect that the heat was getting to him except Longinus had gone round the twist years ago. Not that he was ever going to say that; even Longinus wouldn't stand for it and would probably whip the flesh from Attis' back personally.
"Do you want me to start looking for somewhere to stay this afternoon?" Or would they find a room somewhere and set up lodgings tomorrow?
"I don't know, domine, I'm just trying to help," Attis said, and couldn't help rolling his eyes. "Being a slave isn't exactly a bundle of laughs, you know." He shrugged; Longinus was a good master, on the whole. He'd never punished Attis just because he wanted to and the one time he had punished him, he'd just sent his slave to his friend's house. Even Sulpicius Rufus wasn't bad, although he and Attis would never be exactly friends.
"I'd suggest inviting them for dinner, but I can't cook. Do you want me to see about hiring a couple of slaves for the time we're here, domine?"
"How many of your friends out here even know you were supposed to be getting married again, domine?" Attis enquired, speaking more gently than he was accustomed to, but seeing the warning signs of the return of his master's recent bitterness and anger. "You probably don't even need an excuse at all."
He'd run interference for his master if he needed to, of course - though that would be a sight easier to do if he had Felix and Tranquillus to help out, but of course they were back in Rome with their own masters. He couldn't help wondering if Tranquillus had managed to lose his virginity to Florus yet, or if that particular activity was going to see them both combust from sheer embarrassment.
He helped himself to some bread and olives once given permission, although it didn't look as if Longinus was going to do much more than nibble at anything.
"If the women get too nosy, you're still in mourning for my mistress," he suggested. Calling her by her name when Longinus was in this mood would be to skirt indiscretion too closely, even for Attis. Even if the people around them couldn't speak Latin - and there was no guarantee of that in this city, not when Latin was the language of business anywhere west of here.
"You don't have to have any sort of party at all," he added, dipping a piece of bread into the olive oil thoughtfully provided along with everything else on the table.
"I could see about finding somewhere that's nice and cosy and too small for anything bigger than oh, about four people to get drunk in, domine," Attis offered, privately wondering whether Longinus even knew that many people out here to invite to anything. Anyway, who said anything about 'we'? Hosting a party was left to the free people, which Attis wasn't, and Longinus knew enough about social gatherings to be aware of that.
It was flattering, though, in its own way, that his master didn't always equate him with the furniture.
"You haven't come out with a retinue, they're hardly likely to be impressed with just me," he added. He could see about hiring slaves, too - they'd need at least a cook, unless his master planned on eating out every single day. It'd give him someone to boss around, too, and he was somewhat cheered by the prospect. Though, knowing his master, they would eat out every day and Attis was all the household Longinus wanted to have around him.
"Some sort of unmarried men's get-together, perhaps, domine?" he said in reply to his master's question. There had to be some half-decent wine to be found around here, anyway.
Topics I Participated In
Mid July, 75AD, Port of Piraeus
Longinus disembarked the boat with a grumble. The crossing hadn't been bad but it had been irritatingly long. He hadn't been to Greece since he was a boy, and the ten day journey - down the coast of Italia and then through the mare nostrum into Greece had been mind-numbing. For a man that had too much energy at the best of times, being contained to a small boat was torturous. At least he didn't suffer from the sea sickness as Titus did. Small mercies.
Now they were in Greece, it...was not what he had imagined. Where were all the grand buildings and beauty that the writers wrote about? All he saw was a fleet of ships, warehouses and the pungent smell of fishing vessels that turned his stomach. He glanced at Attis, displeasure in his eyes. "This is a shithole. If it wasn't another ten days to get back, I'd suggest we get back on the boat." His mood had barely lifted in the few weeks he had been back from Formiae in Rome, and whilst he was no longer cocooned in the depression he had been, that depression had been replaced by bouts of anger and snappiness. Poor Attis.
This trip to Greece had supposed to be with his wife, before their child was born. Instead, it was with his faithful body slave. He liked Attis, a tremendous amount, but it wasn't comparable. His mother had nonetheless urged him to still go, suggesting that the fresh air and change of scenery would lift his spirits (and keep him out of her, and Cassia's hair). He looked around at the slaves unloading baggage and then back to Attis. "How far to Athens?" They'd need to get horses, and then find somewhere to stay. In typical Longinus fashion, he hadn't even considered renting a house, musing that he'd strike lucky once he was here. But if this was all that Greece had to offer, then perhaps he was mistaken.
Nymphias sometimes felt like a stranger even in her masters’ domus, she did not speak with most of the other slaves. But she kept her head down and did her work as well as she could. Serving her master’s elder daughter now awarded her more freedom and less stresses, she sometimes talked to the girl but felt obvious differences in their class. But Nymphias watched the other girl, imitating her Roman way of behaving. Surely, that was a good idea?
But in hopes of gaining freedom, in her own silly way, she took to fashioning her hair to appear more Roman and had been experimenting with make-up to make herself more likeable. Clio, her friend, had worn kohl around her eyes the day they met and Nymphias thought it looked beautiful on the older woman. In her room, the girl fumbled with the product, caking it around her eyes hurriedly, smiling widely while humming.
Her hands were shaky, talentless, and unaccustomed to running make-up along her face in any way, least of all kohl, she had never had use for it. Looking into the mirror, she was stunned to see that she looked nothing like Clio and instead like someone had punched both her eyes a million times until it was blackened. In panic, Nymphias searched the room for water to wash her face but there was, of course, nothing. She tried wiping it off with a cloth but the cloth was dirtied and it just spread. Getting up, she decided to rush somewhere, before anyone saw her, to wash her face.
She raced out of the room, practically crying but fighting from wiping her tears, and then down the hall. Turning the corner, she collided into someone. She didn’t see who it was yet, instead choosing to cover her face with her arms.
“Don’t look at me!” she cried loudly, believing she had collided with a fellow slave. “I’m hideous.”
Two freaking months.
Sure, Attis had been cheeky, and he had to deal with the consequences, but really, Longinus was pushing the boundaries of petty revenge here. Not that Metella would tell him that, lest she'd be sent away to some other domus too. But she could make hints. She did, with great frequency, until the whole marriage thing went to shit, at which point dominus up and left, and suddenly the house was fairly empty, with the young domina and Metella left to their own devices under the care of the staff.
The marriage thing was sad. Being left alone wasn't. Metella liked having the relative freedom of the dominus being away. It didn't last long, and things were bound to return to normal (ish) eventually. It would have been definitely more fun if Attis was around.
Eventually, that time came too. On a hot day at the end of Junius, when there was not much to be done in the house except sit in the gardens and eat some fruit, hoping that the evening would cool down the hot summer air...
Formiae, late June 75 AD
After close to three days on horseback, Titus would have been lying if he said he didn't fancy a nice long walk to stretch his legs, and maybe even a massage. Attis had kept pace surprisingly well and without much complaining, or perhaps he had complained but Titus was riding too far ahead to hear it. His shoddy hearing helped with that, too - blessings in disguise, such were the gods' mysterious ways.
The villa in Formiae was very nicely kept, and not a thing seemed to be out of its proper place - testament that the master did not live there full time, as its current state would have been impossible to maintain had that been the case. The slaves, on the other hand, seemed displeased that yet more visitors had come to disturb their existence with even more needs to be attended to.
Ignoring the doorkeeper's repeated excuses that his dominus was unavailable, Titus gave the man a look that could have made a legionary wet himself and brushed him aside to walk past, not bothering to wait for his friend's body slave to explain the situation to the doorkeeper. Attis could stay behind and elucidate the other slave or he could follow and help find his master quicker.
"Longinus!" he called out as he made his way to the atrium, ignoring the scandalised glances some slaves shot him. Good thing most villas had a very similar layout. "I'm here to return Attis to you, I can't stand him anymore!" And find out what in Jupiter's name has got into you.
It was not often that a household got a slave on loan as punishment. Slaves who angered their masters either got punished (whipped) by their master's to deal out swift justice, or got sold to be exchanged for someone less troublesome. In severe cases they got branded or sent to the mines. Longinus, Tranquillus concluded, must have some special kind of affection for his body slave, if the best punishment he could come up for him was to send him over to his friend's household.
And for a body slave, this Attis should have known better.
Tranquillus only knew that the body slave had been insolent with his master in some way. Secretly he wondered if Attis had been sent over to Rufus' household because Tranquillus was known for his impeccable behavior. Body slaves to learn from each other? Would not be a novel idea.
After allowing a few days for the new slave to get his bearings and learn the rules of the household (rules he made sure were clear from the beginning), it was time to address the underlying causes of this visit. Tranquillus appeared at the slave quarter early in the morning, well dressed and well groomed, ready for the first lesson.
"Attis?" he called out through the curtain in the doorway "You are expected out here in five minutes."
Attis had already decided that he was not going to wear his best tunics while here, if he could possibly help it. Especially if he was relegated to helping in the kitchens. There was no need to let them get grubby and stained with gods-knew-what in the course of his duties, though he would probably have to sacrifice at least one of the three tunics he'd brought with him (quite apart from the one he'd been wearing yesterday).
The other slaves seemed decent enough (unlike their owner) and Attis proved he was no stranger to hard work , which might help him get on the good side of the cook. She'd rapped his knuckles when he tried to sneak a bun that was cooling and he'd given her his most charming grin. He'd get there with her, in time.
He had a few minutes to himself and went to splash himself with water from the fountain, ignoring the tablinum where the master was working, straightening up to find that he was being watched, although not by the master.
April 75AD, evening, after what to do with you
The walk from Lucius Cassius Longinus' house in the Piscina Publica to the house of Titus Sulpicius Rufus on the Quirinal was a familiar one to Attis. Walking halfway across the city while burdened down with his few pathetic possessions and in the company of a hulking Dacian of few words, and not knowing when (or even if) he would ever make the return journey, was not something Attis would ever describe as 'fun' in any sense of the word whatsoever.
He spent the entire walk cursing himself for being so impulsive, for not stopping before he went too far, for wishing that he hadn't thoroughly spoilt Metella's day for her- in short, for completely screwing up and stepping so far over the line that even a master as lenient as Longinus couldn't turn a blind eye to his actions.
He also thoroughly damned his master's apparent squeamishness - he would much rather have faced the direct punishment of the lash than this drawn-out whatever this was going to be. Lucius Cassius Longinus was bloody inventive when he chose to be, and damned vindictive with it.
Attis' silent castigations lasted right up until they reached the slaves' entrance to the house of Titus Sulpicius Rufus, his home for... however long.
April, 75AD - early evening after Bagging Bunnies
Longinus drummed his fingers against the desk, completely unbothered by the mounds of paperwork that cluttered it. Vitus had tried to appease his mood by only delegating easier, more interesting, tasks for his attention today but he still found he had absolutely no motivation. He had half a mind to take a walk, and just perhaps his feet would land him outside the door of one Sestia Vaticana, but he knew it was not worth it. Her sons would be home by this time, and he'd just end up more frustrated for lack of an honest conversation, let alone anything more, by the time he left. So instead, he sat and waited, surely Attis and Metella couldn't be home much later than this?
It was as if on cue that one of the Dacian's he'd employed timidly ducked their head into the tablinum and informed him that both were home. Inclining his head he only asserted; "I want to see them both, in here. Now." And the little Dacian squirrelled away to procure his body slave and the nurse. He sighed and ran his hand over his jaw. The day had started with so much promise and yet by mid-morning his mood had completely soured, thanks entirely to the foolishness of his own body slave.
He trusted Attis more than most of his friends, he certainly trusted the younger man with his life. He indulged the odd witticism or eye roll here, a barbed comment there, and only asked that he be broadly respectful - or at least not cross that very clear line between being amusing and overtly disrespectful. And yet he'd done it, quite clearly, that morning. Longinus felt himself bristle; he'd given Attis more than anybody; his own room, relative freedom to do what he pleased with his time when Longinus didn't require him, decent money and the opportunity to have a woman and it seemed to count for absolutely nothing. If Attis couldn't find the line between humour and disrespect, then Longinus would have to show him that line.
As he heard footsteps he sprang to his feet and moved round so he was leaning against the edge of the table in front of it. As he saw Metella he smiled, genuinely, and arched a brow; "Good day?" He made no move to acknowledge Attis at all. He wanted to see if the man would realise, and own up to his mistakes before Longinus was forced to point them out.
TAG: @Sharpie @Chevi
April 28, 75CE
"ATTIS! Do be so kind and drag your fine behind out of bed! We are going hunting!"
Metella's cheerful sing-song voice echoed through the slave quarters, earning a few snickers from the servants who were already up and going about their early morning business. The red-haired nurse stood in the door of Attis' room, a large basket filled with flowers resting on one of her round hips. A bright wreath of cornflowers, dandelions, and other assorted wildflowers rested on her head, and she was wearing the bright green dress she usually saved for festival days. Like today.
"Happy Floralia!" she grinned, pushing the door open to peer into the room, not really caring what state of undress or consciousness Attis was currently in. She had seen it all before. She took a wreath of violets and daisies and tossed it in his direction "Make yourself pretty. Hop hop!"
(Jan 75 AD)
Attis was not entirely sure how he had got the afternoon to himself, and nor did he care - what mattered was that he had got the afternoon to himself. What mattered more was that he'd also been given two sestertii to spend and told to go and have fun.
He had wandered around for a bit and found himself in a popina off the Via Lata, which served posca (totally crap but marginally better than lora) and food (greasy but not bad, on the whole). The only free seats were at a large table to one side and he'd debated eating his food at the counter before deciding that he spent far too much of his life on his feet. If someone else wanted to sit down too, well, the table was big enough. There was someone there already, a redhead of a similar age to Attis himself.
"Mind if I join you?"
"Help yourself, it's a big enough table, and there's nowhere else that's free."
Attis didn't need telling twice and sat down. "Rome the eternal city - keeping everyone eternally on their feet," he said with a grin. "It's nice to sit down for once."
@Liv @Joaquin @Chevi
Other Characters by this Player
- 293 posts
- Player: Sharpie
- Face Claim: Sam Hazeldine
- Location: Roma