Face ClaimAnthony Higgins
Attis stepped back. "Don't forget I spend my life chasing after Metella who was shipped over from Britannia." And has the red hair and sassy grin to prove it.
Bloody Romans! Why did they have to make things so damn hard for everyone and their pet squirrel? "I'm only trying to help, I can't think of everything. Try offering a sacrifice to Venus? Artemis, or whatever her name is out here."
Movement from within the house caught his eye. "Have you had breakfast yet, domine?"
It really wouldn't surprise him if he hadn't, Longinus was not known among his slaves for his regular mealtimes, after all.
"Well, why not a girl of plebeian descent, then? There are enough plebeian senators, aren't there? Or if that would scandalise your ancestors too much, what about an equite?"
There must surely be someone of the right sort of family and age in Rome. If not, Longinus had better start looking among the rich people elsewhere in the empire. Not Britannia, though. Nothing came out of those gods-forsaken islands except mists and barbarians.
Attis smirked over his master's head at the thought of Longinus taking a barbarian bride to the altar.
Perhaps not, though. She'd be as likely to eat the flammeum as wear it.
"Um. If a woman isn't married by the time she's twenty, isn't she considered unmarriageable, domine?" Attis enquired. Not that he knew anything about it, of course.
There surely weren't that few suitable women in Rome tat his master couldn't find someone! Sestia (or whatever her name was!) would have been ideal, but that had run into a stone wall and stopped dead.
"I don't see why Claudia Caesaris would be out of your reach, though - you're a patrician and all." Though perhaps his career path wouldn't help with that. What did Attis know! Vitus would surely be better at talking through the various merits of the eligible daughters of the Senatorial class. Attis was just good for playing the fool. And massages. Can't forget the massages!
"I didn't mean the Dacians." Attis rather thought his master would like to keep his manhood intact and he wouldn't bet on Longinus managing that if he put it anywhere near the ice queen Sulpicius Rufus had among his house slaves. He was also positive his master's long-dead ancestors would have rather more to say if the line died out completely than if Longinus did what he could to ensure he had a son.
"I don't suppose you remember who was on this list, domine," he added, moving down his master's back. Massaging was so much easier in the baths, when his master wasn't dressed and when Attis had oil to hand.
"Acid tongued?" Attis couldn't help it if his eyebrows tried to meet his hairline, and at least his master wasn't looking at him at the moment. "I might be gifted in sarcasm, but I wouldn't dare try anything more than that, and I'd hope any son of mine had the same good sense. And if not Metella, then you could try one of your friends' slavegirls, or even a pleb - you don't have to marry someone of your own class, do you? If the girl's a citizen."
Half the Senate were plebeians, Attis was sure of it. There weren't enough of the old patrician families left in Rome to fill a soldier's tent.
He wasn't about to say as much, but he could see the humour in his situation with Metella. Most girls would be the ones trying to persuade the man into marriage, and here he was with the complete opposite issue. The gods must surely be laughing at him for it.
"If you're that desperate, you could do that if Metella gets pregnant?" he suggested lightly. "Otherwise, we're back to thinking who has a suitable daughter of marriageable age - or who will be of marriageable age soon. And it couldn't hurt to think of someone you could adopt. Just in case you need some sort of backup plan."
But they didn't have to think of things like that right now.
"Suppose none of the gods round here are worth bothering, to ask for their help?" he added, shifting his attention to his master's other side.
"You know more history than I do, domine," Attis said, finding a particularly tight spot in his master's neck. "It'd be a surer way of doing than finding a woman and hoping she'll have a son who'll survive to grow up."
But what did he know? He had no intention of fathering any children yet, on Metella or anyone else - the only women he had any chance of actually sleeping with were slaves and that meant their children would be slaves too. He didn't particularly want that.
"Maybe you've been away too long if you can't think of anyone who'd give a younger son a chance to be adopted into the Cassii-Longini. Or can't come up with the name of any women you might want to marry, who's not going to do some moonlight flit." He worked at the knot. "I thought you'd come here to have a break from thinking about all that, though?"
Attis got up and went to stand behind his master to give his shoulders and neck a massage - or as much of one as he could.
"I know I don't know everything about it all," he said after a moment. "But you could adopt, and pass it on that way, couldn't you? It's been done before."
He thought it had, anyway, there were all sorts of stories and things about people adopting, or being adopted, into other families and for all sorts of reasons.
It would mean he wouldn't have to think about marrying again, too. Attis didn't think his master could deal with that subject with any equanimity right now, not after the mess with Sestia. Or whatever her name was.
"I don't see why not," Attis replied. "What is it about being a legate that you like so much, anyway? I mean, Britannia is just cold, grey and wet so it can't be that."
He thought his master could be good at being a Praetor, but if he didn't want to, that was different.
"Would you really be happy at being only a legate for years, domine?" He thought his master was perfectly clever enough to do whatever he wanted, and thought that if he went on as he seemed to be going to, he'd get to a point in the future where he might wish he'd sought a Praetorship now.
Attis scuffed the dirt in front of him with the toe of his sandal. "You don't have to get stuck at legate though, do you? I mean..."
His master was good at the legate thing, and soldiering made him happy, but if he wanted more than that, surely he could get it? He had friends who could put in a good word for him with the Emperor, and surely the Emperor himself wanted good people to be praetors and consuls and aediles and everything else.
This second sort of sadness seemed somehow more profound than before, and Attis was at a loss as to what he could do to help. Being only a slave and all, probably nothing of any substance.
Topics I Participated In
Granted, Rome was not as cold as the wastes of Britannia, but Attis had still wrapped his warmest cloak - his only cloak, were the truth known! - around himself as he took full advantage of the afternoon off his master had granted him, and headed out of the house, wandering wherever he took a fancy. He could count on the fingers of one hand the number of times he'd had the opportunity to do that, and still have three fingers left over.
Today, apparently, his feet wanted to explore the Forum Boarium, so he headed down the hill, past the packed insulae on the lower slopes of the Aventine, passing the Circus Maximus (no races today, apparently, or he might have gone in and watched the carnage of the chariots) and crossed the Aqua Appia to the traders, hawkers and general crowds of humanity in the Forum Boarium.
He stopped to buy something to eat from a hot food stall, and let his attention be captured by a group of street performers in their gaudy costumes and painted masks, purporting to tell the story of Alexander the Great, or somebody - he missed the introduction over the sounds of the crowd.
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...
Annis groaned as she woke up, her wounds a dull ache. Her head pounded - had she been struck in the head during the battle? The memories of the battle were fleeting, scattered around her mind like a flock of birds. She remembered the emotions though - adrenaline-charged fury, coupled with the effect her woad paint had on her, and then the fear as she realized how badly outnumbered they were. Her flight through the trees, her eventual capture. Where did that leave her? Oh yes. In a cell in the very outpost she and her resistance group had tried to overthrow. She sighed. It was only a matter of time before this happened, captured, perhaps to be killed. Come what may, she wouldn't go quietly. Her warrior spirit wouldn't allow it.
Eventually, her head stopped hurting so bad, and she tried to sit up to gauge her surroundings. It was a small cell, dingy lighting, somewhere without windows. She couldn't sit up very well, though - she had a cut across her stomach that thankfully hadn't spilled her insides, but was still not comfortable. Plus, her arms and hands were covered with injuries as well, and therefore couldn't support much weight. She lay back down, until a moment later, she heard a door opening. Who was this, now? She tried to keep her face neutral. Andrasta protect her.
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
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