Face ClaimAnthony Higgins
"Cats are friendlier. And softer, at least bodily. And they worship them in Egypt, or they used to." Attis grew disparaging. "Mind you, they worship a lot of weird stuff in Egypt, or they used to. What do people in Britannia worship?"
He obliged Metella and showed her his arm. There was a nice raw scrape along the outside of his forearm where the mosaic tiles had caught him - half-assed artisans couldn't be bothered laying everything flat when they'd done the work in the first place.
"The master is a big kid, really, I think. He likes playing soldiers and doesn't like old people spending all morning nattering about nothing, which is why he prefers the legions to the Senate." He shrugged. "Mostly he likes life to be simple, and it hasn't been that for quite a while for him."
Attis for his part had just glanced down at his arm and sucked in a breath as he realised just how much it stung; it had been scraped raw by the mosaic tiles. He splashed it with water from the fountain, which didn't particularly lessen the stinging.
"I can understand the desire for a cat, but why a snake?" He wasn't sure whether or not the master would let her have a cat, but if it was proposed in the right way, he probably would. Cassia, though, would likely scream the house down if they tried to introduce a snake. Which might be a good reason to try.
The puppy finished nosing at the nymph's feet and obliged Attis by cocking his leg as requested.
"Good boy. Don't think the master likes this thing particularly - don't you think she looks constipated or something?" Surely the master could afford better statues than this one.
"Noted. Don't quote you on something I didn't understand the half of," Attis aid with a grin. "And I was angling for the master to get me an elephant or something. Not a gods-damn battle dog. Are you filling Cassia's head with stories of your barbarian queens, then? They're not Roman, I don't think it's an employment option for a well brought-up Roman girl. Especially a patrician girl."
He shrugged as the dog snuffled around the statue of the grumpy nymph. "Go on, Licky, that's the one you want to pee on."
"Or Licky," Attis said in agreement, finally able to put the dog down. "Yeah. I've seen fully grown dogs smaller than he is now. I hope the master doesn't mind having the entire house rearranged every time he wags his tail. The dog, I mean. And blergh." He wasted no time in crossing to the fountain and ducking his head under the water.
He emerged a moment later scrubbing at his face and running his fingers through his soaking hair, which had drooped over the scar on his forehead.
"What on earth possessed him to decide a dog that size would be a good addition to his domus, rather than sending him out to the villa, anyway? Though he'd make a good pony for Cassia."
"Me? Why me?" Attis asked, accepting her help to get up.from the floor, which was not an easy manoeuvre to accomplish when constrained by an armful of wriggly wrinkly puppy. "I caught him, you can show him the best flowerbeds to dig up and which statues he can piss against. That grumpy-looking nymph would be a good start."
He managed to free one hand enough to wipe his face off. The very first thing he was going to do once he could put the dog down was to wash the slobber off in the fountain.
"I think he should've been named Fugitivus," he added, waiting for Metella to open the garden door.
Attis obliged, throwing his arms around the puppy, which obliged him by wagging its tail so hard its entire back end seemed to be wagging. It was a very wriggly armful of dog that he ended up with - and he was probably showing far more of his person to the world at large than he habitually did because his tunic had ridden up somewhat.
He looked up at Metella who was in fits of laughter. "We have to get a collar for this thing if he wants to run off every time the door's opened," he said, trying to keep hold of the dog and stop it from thoroughly washing his face for him.
"Oh, cock! No, you don't!"
The dog had noticed the open door, and gone running towards it. Attis threw himself full length on the floor, trying to grab the animal somewhere and prevent it running out into the street.
Why he was so concerned with keeping the creature in the house was a question for the ages. Or the gods. Meanwhile, Attis was left sprawling across the mosaic floor of the atrium, with a grazed arm that was going to sting like crazy when he noticed it, getting licked half to death.
"Considering chances are pretty damn high I'll be with him the next time he goes anywhere, that doesn't make sense," Attis replied. "Anyway, you're high enough in the pecking order that you can get someone else to watch the thing. Just suggest Cassia wants to go to the baths or something."
Why Sulpicius Rufus thought Longinus would like a pet dog, particularly one whose skin seemed several sizes too big and hung off it like an oversized tunic, was something Attis couldn't begin to understand.
"What're you going to bet?" Attis shot back, promptly, patting his own calf to see if he could encourage the puppy to him.
It was just like their master, ignoring everything except what was in front of its nose.
At least it had moved a bit closer to the passage through to the garden by now, probably more by luck than anything. They would be lucky if it didn't divert through the tablinum. Attis couldn't help a momentary grin at the thought that, if it did, and if it did something unspeakable on the tablinum floor, Longinus would only have himself to blame.
Or Sulpicius Rufus. On second thoughts, it was all entirely Sulpicius Rufus' fault.
"To answer your first question, I have no idea why we're watching it. Though I suppose it needs more supervision than Cassia," Attis said with a one-shouldered shrug before peeling himself away from his column. "C'mon, doggy, Aunty Metella will get a biscuit for you if you come this way."
The dog ignored him, flopping onto its behind and lifting a leg to scratch its ear.
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Spring 76 CE
The concept of pet dogs was a new one for Metella. She had had dogs around before, back in the village, and even in Rome sometimes, but they were usually dogs for hunting, or for guarding, or strays. This one... well, this one was here to stay. It was dominus' dog, a tiny bundle of blinking eyes and wrinkles, hence the name.
"I am still not sure what the purpose of an inside dog is supposed to be." she admitted to Attis as they watched the pup sniff around the atrium. He moved with a waddle, and seemed interested in everything. "I mean, it is adorable, but it's gonna leak everywhere. And why are we watching it again?..."
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."
Late April 75AD
Attis had been busy with various things - not all of them had been chores summarily handed to him, either. Despite what Titus Sulpicius Rufus might have thought of him as a person (if he thought of him as a person at all, which was debatable!), Attis was no shirker. It was a nice day and he found himself in the garden of the house, with two honey-cakes that had scorched at the edges enough that Betua was not about to allow them to be offered to the master. Attis had been there and had been able to rescue them, so with a chipped plate in one hand and a beaker of water in the other, he found himself looking for somewhere to take a few minutes in the shade.
He found a corner where he could keep an eye on the garden entrance of the tablinum, enjoy the shade, and not get sneaked up on by the Dacian woman (who had, strangely enough, at least warned him that she was going to be tattling on him to the master!)
The gardener was out here today, doing - something that Attis couldn't see, and he waited until the other was a bit closer before getting his attention.
"Hey! It's Florus, isn't it?"
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.
Other Characters by this Player
- 348 posts
- Player: Sharpie
- Face Claim: Sam Hazeldine
- Location: Roma