Face ClaimEddie Redmayne
Didia's instincts had been right. She lay down on the ground to fumble around in the hole revealed by moving the chunk of stone, as if she knew precisely what she was looking for and where to find it. And as she lifted the bag out, the seams gave way and it spilled coins, bright shining gold coins, into the grass at his feet.
A half dozen or so of those could buy Rufus. The bagful could probably buy half the slave market.
"Well. Now what?"
It wasn't as though they had a good explanation for having come into such riches so fast - especially Rufus, but presumably Didia.
"I don't suppose you can say you won it betting on the chariot races?"
"I can't be guaranteed to get evenings regularly," Rufus pointed out, although surely Didia would be aware of that even if she didn't know the precise nature of Rufus' job in the house that meant he was to be available to be called at any hour of the day or night. "Even a few minutes a week will be better than nothing, and you're intelligent - it shouldn't be any problem for you once you know the basics. Like I said, you can practise when you're out and about, anyway - there's writing all over the place from graffiti to temple inscriptions."
The garden looked a sad sort of place now, overgrown and with weeds making themselves known, winding around columns and creeping to poke up between flagstones.
"The hypocaust? Nobody would look there," he added, realising what she meant and hurrying over to help. The pallium he was wearing was in the way and so he pulled it off, more comfortable in just his tunic if physical exertion were to be needed.
"Any time we get to meet - Latin's an easy enough language once you get the hang of it," Rufus said and followed her. "I could teach you the basics now - or go over them, anyway. If you want."
He'd taught Azarion enough in their one conversation for the boy to write his own name, and it must be easier for someone who could talk and sound things out. He followed her out to the sadly-overgrown garden.
"Dominus doesn't even have to know, if we just do it when we meet." It wasn't as though they often had the chance to spend time together, though, not like this. A few minutes at a time was about all that Rufus could realistically hope for. "I'm sure I could get one evening every week or so, if you wanted something more regular."
It would be a crying shame if they couldn't, though perhaps she could find someone else to teach her, someone whose time was less constrained than Rufus.
There was something electric that sparked in Rufus as Didia kept her hand to his face for a moment too long, stroking his jawline with her thumb before she remembered who they were and where they were.
"Depends what you find to read," Rufus pointed out. "Of course there are plenty of boring things out there, but there's a lot that isn't, too. And if you can read, you'll know what you're putting your mark to without having to trust that you're being told the truth. And Latin's an easy enough language to learn, anyway. You can talk it well enough, reading it isn't much harder, not really." He shrugged. "It's practise, more than anything, once you've been told what the letters are and how they sound, and you don't need me or anyone else for that bit. There's enough writing all over the walls in Rome that you can practise reading when you're doing your deliveries, if you don't mind reading some truly dirty graffiti."
Maybe he could set up as a grammaticus once he was freed? Though somehow the idea of teaching kids didn't seem as appealing as teaching Didia Nonia - and he'd stumbled into teaching that other kid, Azarion, more by luck than anything. He couldn't help wondering where he'd landed up, and hoped it was somewhere good.
"It'd make up for me making you drop your lunch," he added after a moment.
"Ah - apologies," Rufus said, and gently tugged at her wrist until he'd pulled her hand free, before tapping her palm against his cheek, suggestive of a slap. "There, I am properly chastised for discomfiting you, Lady," he said.
He took a breath. "I could teach you, if you wanted to learn," he offered quietly. "I mean, I'm not a proper grammaticus or anything, but I wouldn't tell anyone, and you might find it useful later?"
There were all sorts of reasons for people to know their letters, after all, it didn't matter what station in life they held. At least he hadn't blurted the question out anywhere that others might have overheard it, so there was that.
"I can read," Rufus said, a little surprised that Didia couldn't - surely the grammaticus was cheap enough even for a plebeian? Although fewer girls went to school than boys, and maybe Didia's father hadn't wanted his daughter to go, or hadn't had enough money for her as well as her brothers to be educated?
"To Gaius Rufidius Crispus, from his good friend Julius Junius Marcellus, greetings," he read, tilting the scroll towards the light to see better. "It's a letter," he added unnecessarily, looking up, feeling a little creeped out at reading the personal correspondence of a presumably long-dead man. "Surely you can read?" he asked, giving voice to his thought of a moment before.
@Sara (sorry for the delay!)
"Sir, I'm sorry." Rufus very nearly shrugged, and caught himself; a man like this would not appreciate such a gesture. "The Forum's always busy, sir, and I didn't see her until after it had happened."
Pickpockets were skilled; it would have been a very small motion indeed, and nobody was going to draw attention to what they'd just done by running away from the scene of the crime. They would walk, exactly as everybody else was - the Forum was always bustling and full of people. Pickpockets tended not to loiter anywhere, either. They walked around, looking just like any innocent shopper, until they found a target.
Anyway, it could only have been a few sesterces tat had been lifted - Aglaea had said as much at the time, in fact. If a Senator was worried about the loss of a few sesterces... He didn't look hard up enough to worry about a paltry sum like that, although it would have meant far more to Rufus and presumably to Aglaea.
The other man fixed Rufus with the sort of glare that communicated Rufus was worth less than nothing and was being spoken to just because there was no other choice.
How in the world was Rufus supposed to be able to answer the man's questions without getting Aglaea in trouble?
"She'd sat down for a moment, sir, and we had a chat. Then she went to get the purse out to check the change, and it wasn't there. That's all I know, sir."
Hopefully that would be the end of it, but Rufus had a sinking feeling that it wouldn't be.
Rufus was getting used to being left to kick his heels while waiting for his master to finish whatever business he was conducting. He was not used to being accosted by large irate-looking men who seemed to be of a similar social status to his master, and who addressed him by name.
Well, that was marginally worse than the 'Hey, you!' that he would generally expect from people who weren't his master.
"Sir?" he said, trying to think whether this man had ever called at his master's house, and what he might want.
He had not expected the name 'Aglaea' to enter the conversation. Nor could he begin to imagine what sort of business the other might need him for.
"What sort of business, sir?" He hoped that whatever it was, he was not going to be in trouble for talking to the man
Topics I Participated In
May, 75 AD
After discovering that his money had been stolen under Aglaea's inattentive eye, Secundus had been looking for a way to find the culprit. Secundus happily seized on her mention of a male slave, Rufus, that she had spoken with shortly before she noticed the purse missing. Now, Secundus had elected to investigate the matter personally. Although they were due back in Tibur soon, he could not let this matter rest. No one could steal from the Varus family without some action being taken. It did not take long to arrange the meeting. Rufus served a master who moved in much the same circles as Secundus, and finding him lingering while his master attended to some business was easy enough. Spotting him across the way, Secundus strode purposefully towards the man. The physical description did not quite due the hair justice, he thought with some amusement.
"Are you Rufus? You spoke to one of my slaves, by the name of Aglaea. I have urgent business which requires your assistance."
Two weeks after Morning Rounds, Late July 75AD
Didia stifled a yawn and glanced round in the early morning light. Dawn had come and gone only a few moments ago and the Aventine was still sleeping which...for the Hill, was a mercy. Even up at the top surrounded by the domi of the rich and notable, the Hill still held on its rougher edge, judging by some of the fabulous and explicit graffiti drawings scattered around.
She sent word to Rufus to meet her at the corner of a bakers and a yellow-walled domus and she hoped he'd find it. She clasped two sweet buns in her hand, pilfered from the baker (now very aged) that still left them to cool! The aroma brought back so many memories it was surreal; carefree days when her parents were working and she could wander to and fro as she pleased. She'd had to beg and barter to get this morning off, and she only had until sundown when she'd need to go and help prepare orders for tomorrow in the warehouse districts. Maybe she could convince Rufus to come and lend a hand; the man was a sweetheart, she supposed he'd do it regardless.
She leaned against the wall of the domus, ignoring the suspicious glances the porter cast her. She didn't look much like she belonged in this quarter with her simple tunica and hair loosely tied up with a linen strip. Still, they were going exploring so she didn't mind much. A voice startled her to her left and in her surprise, she dropped one of the buns loosely gripped in her left hand. "Shit! Shit!" She stepped back and grimaced up at Rufus, before trusting out the surviving bun in his direction. "Here...you take this one, even though you're late, tsk." She chuckled, showing she wasn't actually irritated but couldn't help a forlorn glance down at her bun, already being used for a feast for the ants on the cobbles.
Early July, 75AD
Didia was saving the best until last today, despite her brothers grumbles as he pushed the cart up the hill towards their final stop. By virtue of being seen upwards of thrice of a week by some of the slaves, Didia had made enough friends in the households of the great and the good but certain friendships endured more than others. Certain homes were nicer than others as well, and the house of Octavius Flavius Alexander was by far the nicest she had been in. Although, to be fair to the others, all she'd seen of any of them was the kitchen.
Finally at the slaves entrance, the cook bustled them in as usual and her brother set about the unenviable task of unloading great quantities of this and that, pre-ordered from her fathers business. Bunches of grapes were apparently in order in Octavius' house as poor Appius unloaded bunch after bunch, stomping through the kitchen and back to the cart. Didia helped where she could, with the lighter items, until the bulk of her work was done and she drew the cook over to make her mark on the scrap of papyrus (and it was a scrap, it cost an arm and a leg!) to prove the order had been completed without complaint. Poor Appius went on his way, back and forward whilst Didia gratefully accepted a cup of wine.
She enjoyed the company of the slaves here, they were more refined (ergo - Romanised) than some of the others on her rounds, and the cook always made sure she sat and had at least a cup of watered wine before she left. Appius was content just for a break from the walking and mostly spent his time sat on the cart in the shade outside, trying to snatch a few minutes sleep free of screaming nephews or arguing parents, whilst his sister chatted. As she talked to the cook, a familiar face ducked through the curtain and a wide grin stretched across her face. "Rufus!" her grin settled into a gentle smile, "I thought you'd miss me today, you're busy?" The cook shuffled off to tend to this or that - barking orders at the younger slave girls to stash the food away, and leaving Didia and her friend to catch up.
Since becoming a mother, Valeria was no longer a deep sleeper. There was always pattering of feet, small bodies climbing into bed next to her due to a nightmare or monsters in the shadows. Their nannies unable to convince the two children no such things existed. Only mother's comfort could sooth those fears. She wasn't quite sure what her sleep addled mind thought it was when she felt the bed shaking, but after patting the bed to see which child had came to join her she knew something was off. Sitting up, she gently woke her body slave up, about to speak when the biggest of the tremors hit. A scream of surprise leaving both of them as she locked eyes with the other woman's.
"The children!" They said at the same time, and she threw off her covers and ran out of the room just behind the other woman who was heading to wake up Minor. "Octavius! Earthquake!" She called out down the hallway, hoping her husband or his own slave, Rufus would hear her as she made her way to her daughter's room. The girl was just coming out with her nanny and she scooped her up, "Everyone needs to get outside, now!" She said to the gathering number of slaves around her as they all made their way to the stairs to exit the building. "Don't worry about any belongings, everything can be replaced!" She cried out at a few who was trying to save vases and busts from falling over.
What a perfect place for people-watching! After her afternoon spent in the temple, Aglaea had walked through the city to the Forum with a small meal she had picked up on the way and settled on a curb to watch the people go by. There were plenty of senators, obviously, but all kinds of other people, too. Slaves, merchants, equites, plebeians. Aglaea enjoyed her time observing the people of the empire. It reminded her of her home in Judea, especially the crush of the crowd and the variety of people.
After her meal, Aglaea turned to head home when she noticed her bag of coins was missing! She looked all around where she had been sitting, but it appeared it was well and truly lost. "Oh, no..." Livia would be furious.
Rufus did not often get time to himself, and very much appreciated it when he did. He had learned his way around, at least enough to recognise the Palatine from different angles to find his way home again, and was going to take advantage of a very rare afternoon off and spend a few hard-earned asses at the Thermae Mercuari, which were the nearest public baths that he knew of to his master's house.
He knew what to do and how bathing worked, in the Roman fashion, not because he had ever been a customer but because he had attended his master there. It would be nice to be a patron for once, and there was nothing at all that forbade a slave from making use of the baths so long as they did not bring their masters into disrepute. Rufus had no intention of that, of course.
He paid his entrance fee and stripped off in the apodyterium, folding his clothing neatly to leave in a cubbyhole there before joining the other patrons. By the time he came to have a massage, he was as relaxed as he'd ever been, and couldn't help smiling at the waiting slave.
(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
To Charis, from your friend Rufus, greetings!
I trust this finds you well. I have some good news to report: I have found your sister Ardra. She is known as Nymphias and is a slave in the household of Titus Sulpius Rufus, a senator. I have no news yet of your mother or brother, but your sister wishes you well and hopes that you will both be able to meet very soon.
I will keep looking for your mother and brother and hope that I will be able to send you news of them soon.
The above missive was sent scratched into the wax of a cheap plain wooden wax writing tablet, in script on one leaf and capitals on the other.
She hadn’t gotten any sleep, crying silently to herself for much of the night, but that was simply because she wondered where her sister, her sister’s child, Turi and Immin were. If they were all even still alive. They had to be. Her gods wouldn’t have allowed such cruelty, not after the tragedy that the family had faced what felt like eons ago.
But just like every day, she was able to find at least some strength to get up and get to work. She rushed about, doing whatever was needed of her until the time came when she was asked to head to the markets to pick some things up for the kitchens. Nervous about doing a good job, Nymphias had counted the coins with her multiple times. She hadn’t been careful enough to not filter through them out in the open where any thief could have seen. A naïve part of her was too focused on the quality of her work. She had heard horror stories of slaves doing terrible work, only to be re-sold to cruel masters or worse.
The markets seemed like somewhere she often found herself in lately, running errands. Where there were pretty jewels, she looked upon them with wonder and imagined herself wearing some. Where she saw slaves, what happiness or courage she had became fragile. But she had to stay concentrated.
She came to a stall and pointed to some fruits. “Two of those, please,” she said carefully and then the price was named. Nymphias dug into her coin purse, shifting through the coins. Just like before when she had been counting almost obsessively, she was counting all over again. She looked up at the shopkeeper, offering the man a small smile and a “one moment, please” before dramatically returning to counting. She still had yet to get a hang of Roman currency. Whether she had the correct amount or not, her heart raced and her eyes began to tear up pathetically.
Sometimes, she needed a little help and someone to tell her what to do. It was better to look like a fool in front of everyone and get the job done then never. She looked up to the first person nearby that she laid eyes on.
“Excuse me, I need help,” she said shyly.
Charis was grinning from ear to ear. She supposed if anybody stopped to watch her, she must have looked like a madwoman, but she didn't care. It was the first time she'd seen rain since she arrived in Rome and despite the cities inhabitants largely muttering about how rain in July was ridiculous and appalling, it was like a nectar for her. It reminded her of home. It had thinned now to a light drizzle but the clouds were still that ominous, deep shade of grey and the puddles on the street splashed at her ankles as she walked through the market.
She wasn't looking for anything in particular, she already had her little bag of items that Rhoda had instructed her to buy after her daytime visit to the baths (now, it seems, a ritual) and so she just browsed. She couldn't afford anything that was offered, not even a honey cake as she had frittered away her peculium on trivial things, but it was relaxing to her to be about in the damp drizzle just looking. The weather had also afforded her a bit of peace as the market seemed far less busy than usual.
She drew to a stop at a stall and glanced at the wares. There was an array of trinkets spread out; children's dolls carved out of wood and useless baubles. She wondered if Antonia would be interested in the former, although she supposed her domina was now of an age where she'd find such things childish. She'd be a woman before Tertius blinked. Still, she picked up one of the dolls with an inquisitive eye, "How much?"
Other Characters by this Player
- 293 posts
- Player: Sharpie
- Face Claim: Sam Hazeldine
- Location: Roma