"I don't really like the games. Murmillos, I suppose - anything except retiarii, anyway. Giving someone a net is not a fair fight, especially if it's a fight to the death."
Do you prefer the city or the country?
Volusa was still getting used to telling others to fetch whatever it was the mistress wanted - yes, there were times she went herself, but not when it came to bathing and having something to eat!
She returned the mistress' other palla to its home and fetched a gown for when she had finished bathing - something light and comfortable that she could relax in - and busied herself carefully removing all the jewellery that Claudia was wearing, returning it to its box.
It had been a long day, but a far more interesting one than when Claudia remained in the palace all day, though it wasn't over yet for Volusa, not by a long way. She took the tray of food that was brought in, setting it within reach and pouring a goblet of wine for her, stepping back silently when done, unsure whether she was dismissed or not.
"They would like that, I think," Volusa replied, just as quietly, very aware that her opinion had not been asked for, and yet her mistress might want a response to her musings.
"What sort of peaceful and quiet are you thinking of, Domina?" she asked, suddenly aware that she hadn't asked permission to ask the question, beguiled by her mistress' smile.
Volusa stepped lightly into the litter as ordered, still unused to this. She quickly twitched her mistress' gown straight and set the bag she was carrying on her lap, holding it so that it would not fall, or be in Claudia's way. She tried to take up as little room as possible, aware of the yawning gulf between her mistress and herself, in terms of social ranking.
She felt a little guilty at giving the bearers extra weight to carry, but it wasn't as though she was very heavy - and nor did she have a choice, once ordered. Even with the extra weight, it was a smooth ride; Volusa guessed that the bearers would e threatened with the lash (even if not by Claudia) if the ride were anything but smooth for any of the Imperial family.
"It is nice to be out, Domina," she said in agreement. "It can get very stuffy to be indoors all the time."
Volusa slipped the strap of the bag containing her mistress' other palla, and the various other bits and pieces she might want over her head, and whispered a direction to one of the younger girls, to tell the litter-bearers that the mistress was going to the Temple of Vesta first. It wasn't far, straight down the hill, but it would take longer because they couldn't go straight down the hill, not without tipping Claudia out, and nobody wanted that to happen.
"I'm sure it won't take long, Domina, and as Cynane says, it is still early. Besides, nobody would dare to get the way of a member of the Imperial family," Volusa said, and slipped into her own position, behind and to the right of her mistress, ready to respond to any order or command she might be given.
She rather liked visiting the Vestals, they were all kind, if rather aloof sometimes - and they had far more freedom than any other woman in Rome. Even the Augusta.
Volusa always liked making new friends - it was so much easier to work with someone if you were friends with them, especially when you worked closely with them. She'd always been a little nervous of the other woman, but couldn't say whether it was from her height, her general demeanour, or the fact she was British and there was some sort of 'otherness' about her. But it was very nice to find that they had things in common, and could be friends.
"I hope we might be able to go somewhere soon," she said, though she wasn't sure how easy it would be to persuade Claudia to let them have an afternoon, just a few hours, to themselves.
"I'll call you, if she asks for you," she said, and gave Cynane another smile before she returned to their mistress' rooms to begin the day properly.
"I would like that," Volusa said. It would be nice to be able to leave the palace, even just for an afternoon, perhaps to go shopping (well, looking at things; she didn't have much money to actually buy anything) or maybe they could go to the baths - anyone could go to the baths, if they could pay the tiny entrance fee. Had Cynane ever gone to the baths? It was possible, of course, however unlikely, that she had gone while still a gladiatrix, but Volusa had a vague idea that the gladiators weren't allowed out of the ludus for any reason. Did ludi even have bath-houses?
She couldn't help acknowledging just how little she actually knew, of anything, really.
She turned her head as Cynane asked whether the mistress were awake yet, listening. "I think... if she isn't, she will be very soon. I should go to her, I think."
She wouldn't want the mistress to wonder where she was, not if she was gong to ask for a whole afternoon out at some point. Only good slaves could expect a reward of any sort, after all.
She turned back to the taller woman. "I... I'm glad I got to talk to you, Cynane," she said. "I've liked getting to know you."
You don't need a husband to have a friend, though - or to have someone to laugh with... The words were spoken with a smile that made Cynane look much prettier and indefinably younger in a way that had very little to do with age and everything to do with not looking severe and grim. Volusa wondered how much that habitual look had to do with her past and how much was deliberately cultivated as part of her bodyguard persona.
"I do, but not very often," she replied. It was the curse of being a body slave, that she was expected to be with her mistress nearly all the time. She returned the offer with a smile of her own. "I would.. I would like that, very much, Cynane. I would like to be friends with you."
For one thing, it would make it much more pleasant if she were friends with the other person who spent similar amounts of time with the mistress. Volusa thought that life would be much easier if she could trust the woman assigned to be the mistress' bodyguard. Claudia might trust her, but Volusa had kept a little bit of cynical mistrust, as she always did around people who she didn't know and hadn't learned to trust yet. And that had melted away during this conversation, and she knew that she'd step between Cynane and any overseer's lash without a thought if she needed to - she had the scar to prove she would do that for those she considered her friends.
Volusa nodded. It made perfect sense, of course Cynane would want someone who'd listen to her and not treat her as though she were inferior. She had enough of that as it was right now. "I'd like the same, I think - someone with a business I could help with, even, where I could be useful."
Useful with more than just running the house, anyway - though running her own home would be nicer than being property in someone else's.
She smiled, a little of her habitual shyness reasserting itself. "I'd like someone who could be a friend as well as a husband, I think, someone I could talk with, laugh with."
There was a brief pause. Of course Cynane wouldn't want to be hidden away, kept silent - that wouldn't suit her at all. "This isn't... this isn't Greece or... or somewhere, where women can't go out without a man," she added. "I mean, there are places where women can't socialise with men, even, but even the mistress goes to dinner parties and the theatre and places."