Face ClaimAlex Wyndham
Teutus nodded; he would certainly return and hash out the finer details when he actually needed the men, which he didn't at the moment. And from everything he had seen, he would prefer to hire from Spurius than one of the other slave-dealers; he could see the conditions that Spurius' slaves were kept in - the man had a good reputation for a reason, after all. He would probably come back, maybe even as soon as tomorrow, to see about getting a body-slave for his mother (the girl who had been doing the other woman's hair looked promising - but that was something he could think about later).
With the addition of a clerk and a runner (or two!) Teutus would be able to concentrate on expanding his business without getting weighed down by the everyday banalities or having to drop something to take a message of his own somewhere. Well, that should please his father to no end!
Arranging payment, once they'd agreed on the total to be paid, was straightforward enough, though Teutus couldn't help the feeling of relief that bubbled up once the arrangements were made and his mother was firmly his, and safe.
"I thank you for your time, and I hope you likewise have a good afternoon," he said with a smile, returning the polite incline of the head.
"Yes, for now - though I may need to hire some labourers at some point in the future, on a semi-regular basis - I have goods that come upriver from Ostia that need unloading, but we can talk about that later." He was trying not to be too impatient; he hadn't seen or spoken with his mother in eight years or more, and needed to talk with her. At the same time, he needed to build some sort of working relationship with Claudus; their respective warehouses were not very far apart and it would make more sense to hire work gangs when he needed them than to have to house and feed men when there was no work for them, or only a little work for them.
He flipped open his own wax tablet and did some quick arithmetic. "I make the total for all four..." He named the price.
"It's strange, though you're never exactly alone in Rome. There's always someone to bump into on the landing or yell at for being too loud upstairs - though I haven't got any problem with the upstairs people."
He wasn't going to boast of the freedom he had now, that he'd never truly had before - she'd once had the same and it had been taken away. He couldn't rub her face in that.
"I've got responsibilities as well, you know - I can't just pack everything up and head for Hispania or wherever. I think being out of the house has helped." He found he didn't want to leave Rome entirely and go somewhere completely different and thought that the slight distance between him and his father that even just living in an insular further down the hill had provided was helping. He wasn't sure it would help patch their relationship up, but they hadn't really had much of a relationship before so why would that change now?
"And how are you getting on with the others in the house now?" he asked, wondering if her relationship with the master had changed her friendship with the other slaves.
Teutus considered the question. "It's a bit more expensive than linen - it's made from a plant that grows in Egypt, but it's easier to make then linen. So... I don't think it's very expensive, but you won't see the poorer people wearing cotton tunics. Rich people and maybe even some of their slaves. The more important slaves, anyway, like maybe the secretary belonging to a senator. It's very good in summer when it's hot - the only thing that is as good is very fine linen, which is just as expensive."
He looked at his brother in consideration. "If you know anyone in Rome who can sew, you can have some as a gift. I don't think you're likely to find our summers very easy if you're used to the weather in the north. It does get very hot here in summer."
So hot that all those who could generally left the city to bake while they spent the hottest months in their country villas.
Sending iron north was something Teutus was not sure of; a lot of iron came from the northern provinces in the first place and it would surely be idiotic to transport it all the way from Britannia or Gallia to Rome only to send it back north to Germania. But glassware came from south of Rome and would easily be sent north without a doubling back in its journey.
"Do you know about ivory?" he asked, opening the door but pausing in the doorway.
Teutus couldn't help the startled laugh that bubbled up at Alexius' words. "I'll say they do, just take a look at my life if you want any more proof of it." He shrugged. "My father had some sort of relationship with one of his slaves when he was younger, which led to me being born, as a slave. Then he married but all he got from that was a girl before his wife died. Then he gets a crush on Charis and she has a boy... Is it any wonder I'm messed up, too?" He shrugged under the slave's ministrations.
"No, you don't have to answer that one, it wasn't a serious question." And if Charis hadn't told Alexius the whole story, well, he'd be bound to put the pieces together somehow. Anyone could add two and two when things were plain enough.
"At least with Rome, there are a lot of people here from all over the place, it's not as if you're the only person here who was born outside the Empire. Though that probably doesn't help much."
Teutus had heard of that but still found it a strange concept - but then, what else could you expect of barbarians!
"So, what sort of things would your people find valuable - I remember you mentioned iron, I think, and glass?" He had little idea what else German barbarians might consider to be useful, that they could obtain from Rome and its empire.
"I am still importing things like olive oil, which is the amphorae there," he said, as he led his brother into the warehouse. "And cotton over there - I don't want them close by each other because of the risk of fire, even though we are right by the river. You do know about cotton? It's a cloth from Egypt, finer and smoother than linen - though even Egyptian linen is very fine."
The smaller and more valuable wares were deeper in the warehouse, through a locked door to which Teutus had the key.
"I'm sorry," Teutus told him. It was probably a common story among gladiators and others, but that didn't mean he couldn't feel sympathetic for someone who'd been caught up in that. And he knew a little of that neither one thing nor the other feeling, though not as it pertained to the actual people you belonged to; Teutus was as Roman as any free citizen, after all, speaking Latin with the fluency and accent of his Roman father. He couldn't imagine what it must have been like to return home to find things had changed so much that Alexius didn't fit with his own people any more.
"And you haven't thought about going anywhere else in the Empire?" he asked out of curiosity, nodding as a slave with an oil bottle and strigil approached them.
"You passed it," Teutus said, with a smile. "It's on the first floor of the same insula where Alexius lives, one of those bigger apartments." His father hadn't been altogether happy that Teutus was moving into a place as common as an insula, but they had managed to compromise; Teutus hadn't needed a whole domus just for himself and would have been content with a one or two-room flat somewhere. A three-room flat in a decent insula in a good part of the city had left Tertius hopefully feeling not completely ignored and pushed out, and Teutus was settled in a place that did not feel ridiculously over-sized for just himself. Though he would probably move again if things went well; he was going to need a slave or two and a three-room flat would be on the small size for more than three people.
"I'm glade you can get out more," he told her. He couldn't help wondering if his father was allowing her some of the small freedoms that he'd allowed Teutus, simply because she was the mother of his son. Who knew what went on in Tertius' head!
Teutus glanced over the women in the cell, and felt his heart skip a beat as he saw the oldest of the women - she wasn't even that old, not really, just reaching middle age, perhaps.
But he knew her - how could he not? He might not have seen her since he was a teen, but he would still recognise his own mother. He clasped his tabula tightly, so tightly his knuckles showed white, as he tried to push down his bubbling emotions. If the trader realised how much he wanted this woman, he would surely put her price up.
"I know her - I knew her years ago. I'll take her," he said, doing his best to keep his voice even and the excitement off his face.
Or maybe he wouldn't; despite his trade, Claudus seemed as humane as anyone Teutus had met, and far more so than a good number of other slave traders and dealers.
How had his mother ended up here? What had happened to her since they'd last seen one another? He had a million questions and could not ask even one of them, not here and not now. In a very short while, once they were outside, he'd ask all of them and more.
"You don't have to," Teutus said. "Though... thank you. I appreciate the offer, truly."
He was vaguely glad that his father didn't often buy slaves; it meant that there were fewer slaves who had that next-to-no chance of freedom. He couldn't tell Charis he'd tried to persuade his father, twice, to free her and been shut down for it.
"Do you know where to find me, if you need to?" he asked as they began walking again, the thought only just occurring to him though he'd said she was welcome to find him if she needed. If she did get out of the house and wasn't expected to return immediately, of course - he'd had some flexibility himself, thanks to his neither one thing nor another position within the household, but he didn't know if she had the same.
Topics I Participated In
Teutus' business was going well and he needed to expand because there were certain things he just couldn't do on his own. He had made arrangements with Alexius for his services regarding the security side of it but he needed a clerk for himself (or would do soon), a body slave and a general runner/messenger. The latter two were more urgent than the former; Teutus was more than capable of keeping his own books and records, at least for now.
He also needed someone who could act as an agent, but he would rather not look in the slave markets for someone to fill that role - though if he found someone who could, he wouldn't turn it down.
He had to steel himself to enter the slave market; he had himself been a slave and although he was never in any danger of being sold, it had left him with a sour taste in his mouth when it came to actually buying slaves, though it was something he would have to get used to.
"Good morning," he said as a guard or auctioneer or someone otherwise connected with the trade came up to him. "I don't suppose the boss is around?"
Teutus had found and secured the use of a warehouse near the river's edge, located between the Aventine and where the river swept around Regio XIII, after passing Tiber Island, the Probus Bridge and the remains of the bridge defended in antiquity by Horatius. It was a good-sized warehouse, easily acessible from the river, with its own wharf, and easily secured (though Teutus would ensure that he had a couple of trustworthy guards on the site at all times - he was not going to have a guard or two there only when there was something valuable on the premises, and give that fact away). There were other warehouses nearby and he neither knew nor cared what was stored in any of them, save only that their presence would help disguise his own goods should anyone come looking with less than honest intentions.
He was on the site today to ensure that the latest shipment was stored properly, dressed as befit his station as the owner of the business in tunic and pallium and with a commanding presence (if he didn't particularly feel commanding he could at least look it, and followed his father's example as far as appearances went).
Some of his goods would be sold directly, some via auction (he knew a good auctioneer who would get decent prices and not charge exhorbitantly for his services). All in all, trade was good, and he could present his father with a good report of his dealings.
He turned as his clerk murmured, "Domine, there's someone to see you..."
There was indeed. "How can I help you?"
While Sergia (and Secundus) didn't live in Rome, that didn't stop her visiting her uncle and cousins for some rather extended stays - Tertius' house was big enough to house his family several times over, with a staff to match, as befit a Senator and Praetor.
One member of that staff (and incidentally of the family too, though not officially being a slave, the son of the Senator and a slave woman) was Teutus, the said Senator's secretary. This afternoon, the Senator was out somewhere that didn't require his secretary to attend him, and his young daughter was visiting a neighbour she was friends with, which left Teutus alone to finish copying out some correspondence for the Senator, a task that didn't take him very long once people stopped interrupting him.
Once that was done, with the letters left neatly on the desk in the tablinum for Tertius to sign when he returned, Teutus found a seat in the garden to enjoy a moment in the sun. He hadn't been there long when he became aware that his cousin Sergia was there, and scrambled to his feet.
"I beg your pardon, Domina," he said.
Well, their earlier conversation had gone less than swimmingly, thanks to Charis' presence - not that Teutus blamed her. If he'd known she was there, he wouldn't have turned up there himself, at least not until she'd left to return home.
He sighed to himself; he really needed to get a slave so that he didn't have to do all the wandering around Rome himself. Even if he had a slave, though, he'd most likely have to make this trip himself, this was not the sort of conversation or discussion he felt he could trust to a slave, not this early on in proceedings. Anyway, they lived in the same insula, and he wasn't damn lazy enough that he couldn't climb a few stairs from his apartment (several rooms on the first floor, and far too big for just him - but his father had insisted!) to Alexius', two floor above.
So it was just a few minutes later that he found himself knocking on Alexius' door, hoping that he wasn't disturbing anything untoward this time.
Immediately after Just One Night
"Charis! Charis, please wait - please!"
But she didn't, she kept moving. The crowds were slow and sluggish, the aftermath of the night before had made them so and they moved at a languid pace in a crowd that she found nightmarish given her pressing need to get out of here and certainly not be caught up to by Teutus Quinctilius Varus. It was all so fucked, that was her only real thought. The night with Alexius had been her one moment of glimpsed normality since the afternoon she'd eaten cakes and drank wine in the gardens with Cynane, well over a year and a bit ago now. That was all she had since she'd been forced to Rome; two snatched moments, one ruined by Helios, the other by Teutus. The thought made her feel sick it was so intolerable.
A cart was passing causing a blockage of people at one end of the street as they couldn't pass it. She came to a stop and glanced around, looking for another escape because despite her desire to hurry home, Teutus was taller and had a longer stride and would be up on her in no time. She saw an opening a few feet ahead. It was an alley that led to nowhere it seemed, but it was out of the crowds, and hopefully out of Teutus' eye line. She exhaled a breath and leant against the wall, swallowing raspy breaths heavily.
January, 76 AD, the day after Everything I Wanted
He’d told his son from Germania that he could come back for a proper meal and a talk. Why on Earth did he do that, again? Wulfric’s arrival was sudden and unexpected and he wasn’t at all sure what to do with it. Tertius didn’t return to his work right after Wulfric had left, but instead sat thinking, for quite a while. Drank a sip of wine or two, tried to comprehend it all. Finally though, he returned to his chores, only to be interrupted by Hector, standing by the entrance to the tablinum. Tertius put down the papers and looked at his personal slave, wondering what he wanted.
“I thought I would tell you, that your guest lingered. He spoke to Charis in the garden.” Hector explained and Tertius arched a brow. Why would Wulfric speak to Charis? Why would Charis speak to Wulfric? Was there something they both kept hidden from him? Did they know each other, one foreigner and another? Hector knew Tertius probably had questions and added, “I couldn’t hear what they talked about.” Hector said and Tertius nodded again. So Hector only knew they talked. Tertius should not draw conclusions, it was a bad habit of his. He’d find out about it all tomorrow. And maybe he should invite Charis to share the meal with them. The mother of his newest son and then Wulfric. He wondered if he could convince Teutus to come, but his oldest son seemed so… distant, lately, he couldn’t figure him out. But Tertius made sure to inform Teutus there would be a dinner with a guest the following evening and Teutus was more than welcome to attend. He would not pressure his son. He hadn’t told Teutus that Wulfric was his brother either, because it appeared that Teutus was already disliking Peregrinus. What would he feel if he learned that he had another brother, without Tertius being present? Tertius, Hector and possibly Charis were the only ones who knew and it had to stay that way until he chose otherwise.
The following evening happened sooner than he would have thought - but everything had been arranged. Some good, traditional Roman dishes to be served and the best wine. Tertius waited in the atrium for their guest and for Charis to show up too, if she could make Peregrinus relax a little. He’d been in quite the mood all day.
At long last a slave entered the atrium followed by Wulfric, dressed as finely as yesterday. A handsome young man, Tertius caught himself thinking. Pity he too was born out of wedlock and in a faraway country. But he could not focus on all that. He had to find out what Wulfric wanted, because he still seriously doubted his newfound son came all this way just to meet him.
Wulfric gave him a polite nod when he entered, “Father… I am glad you invite me.” He said in a friendly tone and Tertius glanced around. Thankfully the only other person he could see nearby was Hector. So he stepped a little closer to the younger man, his son.
“Well, I am glad that you chose to attend, Wulfric.” Tertius said, “I would prefer if you did not announce our relationship out loud like that.” He paused, looking at Wulfric, making sure that comment was understood, before he continued, “We are to be joined tonight by my slave Charis, whom you met yesterday, and possibly my other son, Teutus. Now please, come with me. The triclinium is this way.” And together they silently moved through the domus to the dining arena, where cups, wine and plates were already ready for them.
Domus of Gaius Ovinius Camillus
Her father had been tense all day, and now the hour was approaching he was perhaps even less charitable, if that were possible. She sat opposite from him in the garden, her sister-in-law Viria sat a few feet away watching the scene with evident unease. "I mean honestly, a freedman? For my only daughter?" The scoff he made after his rant had finished made her jump. "If you don't want him as a match, why set this up at all? Why not just decline?" she queried with obvious unease but a light voice, trying not to test his patience anymore than the situation already had. "Because Tertius is a friend, and a colleague, and I wouldn't dishonour him so by refusing outright to even meet the boy." Ovinia rolled her eyes, "So we will have this meeting, you will be warm and approachable but do not encourage him," he gave her a firm stare, his words hard, "and then when it's all said and done we shall say that we don't think it is a good match on personality grounds and be done with it." Her father huffed and took a deep sip of his wine, "And you can remain friends with Praetor Varus?" He nodded and continued to drink.
Well, this was a first. She'd been through a handful of these conversations, testing out potential matches and they had always ended in mutual disappointment when an agreement couldn't be reached or one side declined the idea. She'd never gone into one of these conversations knowing that there was absolutely no chance of a marriage at the other end of it and, had she been a more hospitable person, she would have felt a little sorry for this Teutus Quinctilius Varus.
She didn't know him at all, hadn't even heard of him until last week - not by name at least. She'd heard the gossip that the good Praetor had a litter of children via different slaves, although she'd been informed subsequently that it was just the two; a newborn son and this Teutus. What he was like, she didn't know, but having been informed he'd lived a good twenty something years of his life serving at the leisure of his own father, Ovinia wasn't hopeful. Not that she had any need or want to hope - the match wouldn't happen, even on the off chance she did enjoy his company, her father would see to that. But they had to put on a show of it, as if her Papa was seriously considering Teutus as a prospect and she looked every inch the young woman ready to receive a visit from a match. Wearing a white tunica and draped in a palla hemmed with deep blue and gold, she sat arrow straight on the marble bench in the garden. She'd perfumed her skin and the smell of the lemon mingled with the fragrance of the flowers around them. Her hair was neatly combed and whilst half was braided up behind her ears, the other half was left loose around her shoulders. The gold on her throat and wrists glinted in the sunlight.
As a slave appeared and nodded to her father, Ovinia stood but made no move to attend the atrium. Her father gave her a lingering look of warning and then moved to greet his guest - guests? - she realised she didn't even know if the other Praetor, Praetor Varus was attending as well. Smoothing out the fabric of her tunica she shot Viria a 'help me' look, which the other woman returned with a grin. Here goes nothing then.
Her father loomed back into view, accompanied by a tall young man. Dark hair, light eyes - unusual in this neck of the woods. Ovinia inclined her head politely. "My daughter, Ovinia. Ovinia, this is Teutus Quinctilius Varus, the man I told you of." and the man he had been ranting about all day. "A pleasure." She offered a breezy smile as her father spoke a little more; "Viria will keep watch over you - and nothing gets past my daughter-in-law," He shot Teutus a warning look this time. Which was laughable, really, as most things got past Viria - especially when she was distracted. "Enjoy your conversation." He said tightly and then strode off, leaving Ovinia and Teutus standing awkwardly in the garden.
TAG: @Sharpie @Atrice (if Tertius wants to attend!)
Longinus wasn't, by his nature, a nervous man but by the Gods he was skittish now. The meeting with Seconds and Tertius had been odd and disconcerting to say the least, but he'd persevered - sending his compliments to Secundus for a lovely afternoon and pressing his desire to meet the man's niece. He didn't know what to make of Sergia - he'd glanced her once or twice throughout the years at various functions but couldn't recall much beyond dark hair, blue eyes and a pretty face. If he'd spoken to her, he couldn't recall it and he hoped to the Gods he hadn't because the Longinus trying to court a young woman was likely to be different to the Longinus enjoying himself at a party. There was a significant chance he'd acted like an oaf back then, and winced as he paced the atrium.
The house was deserted - his mother and daughter at the villa in Formiae for the next few weeks, which suited him fine. No need to frighten the poor young woman off with his overzealous mother and miserable child. That did, unfortunately, leave Sergia in the company of only men so he'd extended the invitation to Secundus' wife Livia. But tales were told and deciding he'd rather not have to face the couple who spent most of the year oddly isolated in Tibur, he'd also invited Tertius. He liked the latter, more than he liked Secundus at any rate and was hoping the Praetor would be able to temper the moods of his guests.
Dinner was being prepared and the slaves hurried around the place, straightening a few of his odd collectibles here, and a vase of fresh flowers there. He fidgeted as he drew to a stop, tugging at the folds of his pallium and wishing he'd had a good long drink before this. How was it that facing down the Brigantes in Britannia hadn't made him sweat but the prospect of arranging a marriage did? He swallowed and waved a hand at a slave; "Wine." His throat felt as parched as a desert and he gulped it down as it was handed to him. He didn't have long to wait and stew further in his misery though, a slave entered the atrium with a guest trailing behind him.
TAG: @Járnviðr @Liv @Atrice (and @Sharpie and @Chevi if you want Attis or Mets to make an appearance at any point!)
Also figured we could jointly NPC Sergia? And come up with an excuse as to why her mother isn't at the dinner...
It was just about eight months since the birth of Tertius' son and Teutus was no nearer to being able to get out of this house permanently than he had been this time last year. He was closer to setting up his business, though, so perhaps he was nearer getting out than he felt. It didn't help his state of mind that he'd had to consciously avoid Charis, because where she was, her son was too.
Today, though, was a nice bright warm day and Teutus had gone to sit in the garden with his tabula and his thoughts, and found himself just enjoying the sun, thinking very little of any consequence.
By the time he realised he was no longer alone, and realised who the intruder was, it was too late to be elsewhere without it looking as if he was deliberately evading her, as he had done his best to since the day Tertius had taken Peregrinus up as a freeborn child.
December 18th, 75AD
Charis did not look as nice as she had when she had left the domus. The walk across the city with its riotous crowds for the second day of Saturnalia, only to be turned away at the door and directed to an insula not a fifteen minute walk from her starting point had left her flustered and tired. Still! She was out, and even with the jostling crowds she felt relaxed.
She had celebrated the first night of the festival in the domus as was traditional with a meal and that awkward role-swap, and she had tried to ignore the feelings of dread it had brought up. She had conceived her son - she was sure of it - exactly a year ago yesterday and she had spent the evening tense and worried that she'd be summoned in for a repeat, but it hadn't happened. Actually, in the past two months - since the midwife had assured her she had healed and was ready for...life (as she so delicately put it) Tertius hadn't called for her. Maybe he had lost interest, since she had his son? She could only hope (perhaps naively). But then again, they were getting on better and he was being kinder. Maybe things were looking up?
Regardless, the night had passed without incident but given it was a days-long festival she had managed to persuade her dominus to let her out for two of the subsequent evenings. The first was to visit 'Aia' and attend a show, the second would be spent with Cynane - two days from now. How or why Tertius was so generous, she didn't know, but she wasn't complaining. After a few sad goodbyes to her son - dozing in Rhoda's arms, she had left the domus and set off into the night - the first time she'd been out alone in months. She'd worn a plain and serviceable tunica but had done her hair in pretty braids with a few loose strands to frame her face. She felt almost entirely like her old safe - tired more easily, but otherwise returned to her figure and moods as before. She felt at peace. And she wanted to celebrate that feeling.
She finally drew to the exterior of the insula, breathless, with flushed cheeks. It had been over two hours since she had initially set off and her throat felt scratchy and dry from lack of drink, and a chill had seeped into her bones (even she could admit Rome got cold in the winter)! Trying to tidy herself up as she climbed up the stairs, her legs feeling like lead, until she finally drew to the door which she was informed, belonged to her friend. She knocked twice and stood back. She swore to the Gods that if he wasn't home after all of this effort...!
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