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locutus-sum

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  1. Marcus closed his eyes and drained his cup. When he'd finished, he let out the breath he'd been holding, wiped his mouth on his sleeve and set the cup down. "Naturally, I will let you know of her situation. I understand; your concern for her is equal to mine." Horatia's attempt to placate him with flattery was feeble, but the intention took the edge off his mood nonetheless. Ordinarily, he would have expressed in return how much he enjoyed her company also, but this was one of the situations where affection had to be withheld, despite his wishes. She had crossed a line. Oh, but it shouldn't be like this! The wine, the stress, it all made him want to clutch his daughter to him and never let go. Although he was loathe to consciously admit it, part of him also knew that if he hugged her, he'd probably break down. He didn't want to be weeping inconsolably in front of the poor girl. As a father and a senator, he had an image to maintain, and besides, he couldn't let her see the monstrous self-loathing thrashing around in his stomach, not that he had anywhere near the introspective powers to realise that was what it was. And so he did what he usually did, pressed his lips into a thin line, gave a small cough, refilled his cup and resisted the urge to reach out to her. Perhaps it was time to make an exit, before he used up all his willpower. But he didn't want to leave, not now. He needed her. That was why he'd come. The silence was currently a heavy one, so Marcus allowed his gaze to soften a little, looking into his daughter's face to let her know he wouldn't pursue the matter anymore. @Sara
  2. There was no reason to lie or ignore the question. It wasn't an unusual thing, either. So she answered honestly, despite the pain. It had been a few years now, anyway. "Yes. Well, she had no more need for me. She's dead, you see. She'd only been married three months. She died giving birth to her first child. Stillbirth. Her father realised my status as a curiosity would likely make me more use to him as an entertainer than a body slave. I spoke at all his dinner parties. He lent me out to some friends, too. Well, he hosted one of the Imperial family - which, I'm no longer sure - and this guest decided he wanted me for Claudia's tutor." She hoped she'd managed to tell that story with her usual equanimity. Honestly, it didn't hurt as much as she thought it might. Maybe she really was moving on. "What about you? Did you serve someone else before consul Calpurnius?" @Chevi
  3. Marcus tried tipping the remainder of his wine down his throat, but it seemed to have closed up suddenly; rather than drowning his panic, he'd watered it. No, it couldn't be. Marcus Horatius Justinus was not the kind of man who was blinded to reality. That Livia had really been suffering and he'd failed to notice it was a possibility too horrible to contemplate. If it was true, he would be so horribly, disastrously wrong that everything would fall apart. He prided himself on knowing his daughters. He knew what they were thinking, how their minds worked, how they felt... or did he? Two options faced Marcus. If he was indeed right, and Livia was still the same old joyous girl, then questioning himself would be ultimately pointless. And if he was wrong... well, he'd already made his mistake. No point crucifying himself with self-doubt until he knew the worst. The reality of his mistake would destroy him, he knew that. And he was certain he wouldn't let it until it hit him in the face, an enemy no longer lurking in the dark woodland of denial but ready for the charge. If it was coming, it was coming whether he liked it or not. To spend all his effort scouring the treeline for its dark shape would be a waste of time; it would send him over the edge. And so he chose self-deception. "I don't like sarcasm; it's vulgar and it's impertinent," he said dryly with a sudden, devastating quietness. He refused to look at Horatia, merely reaching out to pour himself another glass of wine, filling it to the brim, daring Horatia to cross him again by protesting. "And as you say, I am sure she will not ignore me for long. She knows better than that." @Sara
  4. At the mention of the library, Antheia immediately brightened. "Sounds wonderful, Volusa, thank you." Well, things did sound pretty good here. She'd feared it would all be faceless anonymity, discomfort and being run off one's feet trying not to get on the wrong side of the Imperial family. A pretty easy-going mistress. Well, she'd have to see for herself, but Volusa's words were a comfort to her. There was a pause. Antheia's hands drifted down to her sack of belongings, carefully undoing the bindings and letting the piece of cloth fall open. She unconsciously moved her body round a fraction as if shielding the pile of possessions, as she had learnt to do. She'd packed the cithara-cleaning cloths, bags of herbs and odd rags in closely around the oil lamp, the one with the panther she'd always used to bring in for her mistress' cubicula in the evening, to cushion it on the long journey. Ever so carefully, she lifted it up and set it down on the small ledge next to her bed. And then she picked up in two fingers her most precious possession of all, that tiny, misty vial of cheap glass filled with lavender oil. Tenderly, almost ritualistically, she released the stopper and carefully tipped the vial a fraction so that two drops of the liquid formed at the rim and dropped down onto her pillow. She realised Volusa was still watching her. "It helps me sleep," she said to the girl by way of explanation, although there was a lot more to it than that. She'd tell Volusa at some point, probably, once they'd got to know each other better. @Sharpie
  5. Antheia smiled widely. "To be perfectly honest," she said, casting her eyes quickly around the garden then leaning towards Felix (not that there was much room left on the bench by his large frame to get any closer), "if I'd learnt philosophy from a book, I'd probably feel the same. But it's not about winning arguments against fictional characters. Aristo taught me that. It's about making people think about how they live their lives. Not that I felt I did a whole lot of that performing as a novelty at dinner parties," she said darkly but without any kind of resentment (she buried that deep). The genuinely impressed face (as far as she could tell - but he seemed a genuine sort of fellow) Felix made as she mentioned her musical exploits gave Antheia a strangely conflicted feeling. "Well, I wouldn't say I'm a musician, as such, I'm an amateur really, I just used to play sometimes for my old mistress at dinner." One of the things she hated most was receiving praise when it was not due, despite the fact she rarely received it when it was either. "Yes, I think… she grew to think of me as a friend." She pushed away the swell of memories and put on a smile, but she avoided Felix's eyes nonetheless, in case a hint of her sadness gave itself away. @Chevi
  6. "Tranquillus… thank you. That would probably be a good idea," she said breathlessly, feeling rather stupid. When he laid a hand on her shoulder, she had at first flinched, but now she was glad of its supportive presence as he lead her slowly along the street, making sure she didn't trip again on the pavement edge. There'd surely be someone patrolling this stretch: the close buildings of the Subura made it a particular fire and crime risk. Sure enough, leaning boredly against a tavern wall bearing the scrawled slogan 'Aulus sucks, where are our thermae?' in angry letters was a helmeted figure swinging a bucket in his right hand and holding a wine cup in the other. Antheia nudged Tranquillus and pointed him out. @Chevi
  7. "Sounds you have a lot to teach her, whether it's philosophy or not." Perhaps, but whether she wanted to be taught was a different matter. The mistress was quick-witted, an actually quite interesting intellectual sparring partner, but a marble statue would have been easier to shift from its position. "There's a lot she... could be taught, yes," Antheia said after a while, trusting he was quick enough to pick up her meaning. Felix didn't seem at all fazed by her inquiry into his literacy, answering candidly. "I'm not exactly a scholar, though. Greek or otherwise." She smiled. "No, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy reading. What do you like? Poetry? Oratory? Philosophy?" She paused, looking at her lap and then at his face for encouragement before deciding whether to confess this or not. She smiled slightly bashfully. "As for me, I'm not just a philosopha. I wouldn't say I'm any good at it, not really, but I... well, I can find my way around a cithara, and I used to play Sappho for my old Domina." @Chevi
  8. "I see," nodded Antheia, making a concious effort not a place a protective hand on the coin purse she kept round her neck under her chiton. She'd definitely be keeping as much of her savings as possible there until she'd sussed out the other girls and their trustworthiness. When Volusa asked if the place was to her liking, Antheia answered truthfully: "Yes, thanks. It's lovely." Some privacy, a comfortable pallet, a room away from the Mistress' constant gaze. "If you have any questions, I'll do my best to answer them." She had about a thousand, but most things were best worked out for oneself. Nevertheless, she decided to give it a go anyway with her most pressing question. "What am I actually... well, supposed to do all day? Wait here until she wants to discuss philosophy or literature?" Being a body slave and entertainer had been very different to this role. @Sharpie
  9. "Oh, I... well, everybody seems to be going that way for food." The crowd had already disappeared out of sight, and Antheia realised she was lost again. Cynane seemed happy enough to direct her, so she fell into step with her, glancing curiously at her now and then. "So," began Antheia, "how... how is it, working for... Claudia? Is she..." she paused, not wishing to be too obvious, but she did want to know what to expect when meeting the mistress. Eventually she settled with the word, "nice?", allowing Cynane to infer what she liked. She wasn't exactly sure Cynane was the person to ask for an honest opinion on the domina - that was more likely from Volusa - but Claudia was really the only think she seemed to have in common with the woman striding along beside her. @Atrice
  10. "Ah, I see." She bent forward confidentially, "what I didn't tell them is I hadn't really had any experience of philosophy before I came to Italia. I learnt it all from Aristo - he was a bona fide philosopher from the school of Anthens - while he was serving as my old mistress' tutor. But I count as Greek, and I sound Greek, and that seems to be enough for them." She watched his face eagerly, trying to pin down all the expressions that registered there as they came. Her next question was one which she hoped wouldn't cause offence. He was clearly smart, but as a simple body slave, one never knew whether or not he'd had the training in literacy. "Can you... can you read?" she decided to ask anyway, waiting anxiously for a response. @Chevi
  11. "Do you mind if I ask... are you Greek?" Antheia couldn't help a small, pleased chuckle. "Oh, didn't the accent give it away? Well, I am pleased. Aristo - an old friend of mine - was always correction my Latin intonation, so I'm glad to see I've made some progress. Yes, I suppose I am Greek. I spent my early years there, anyway, and grew up with the language. My formative years I spent in Rome - I was enslaved in the sacking of Athens, you see. I suppose I think of those people as my real family." Antheia wasn't quite sure why she was telling this man all of this when she was usually so reluctant. A pause. She looked sideways at him shyly, trying to figure him out. "Why do you ask?" @Chevi
  12. "They also didn't tell him he should pay more attention to the woman who saved him." Aha, he wasn't dim at all! She had the feeling many people got that impression, but she knew better. She had seen in him a kindred spirit. His mind was clearly just as quick to the mark as hers. And something about the implications of his continuation of the analogy made her feel strangely flattered. If she was to be Ariadne, then she was someone who deserved to be paid attention to. Though his tone was light and friendly, perhaps it was indeed an acknowledgement of his reciprocated respect. "Dominus is a good man, and he does good things. But his days are definitely longer now that he's consul." Again, Felix's words were simple as could be, but revealed a certain intelligence. So concise, straight-talking. Good. There were too many obfuscators and yarn-spinners in this city. This man was not one of them. She would have preferred him to continue talking about himself, but then again, she reminded herself, she would have answered in a similar fashion. "How is life as an imperial tutor?" How was it indeed? "I... enjoy a lot of privileges I didn't get before," she started cautiously, racking her brains for something suitable to say. "And I've gelled quite well with the rest of Claudia's girls. I enjoy discussing philosophy with her, getting a perspective so..." - she was careful to rid her voice entirely of bitterness, one of Antheia's main skills - "different to my own." @Chevi
  13. "Have you lived here long? Or are you just very talented at navigation?" Antheia allowed herself to laugh for once, a low, dignified sound, but a genuine one all the same. "Oh, no, I've been here under a month. I understand, I really do. This place is a maze if you don't know it well. I've been spending a lot of time just finding my way around. Plus," she grinned, "what they didn't tell Theseus was that if you stick to the left wall, it's lead you out eventually." Squinting against the sudden light as they emerged from the service passageways, Antheia ducked into the peristyle to make herself as inconspicuous as possible (a quality that any slave would do well to pick up to please their masters), reaching behind her to grip the rough fingers of her companion and lead him into the currently empty hortulus. At this time of day, one marble bench in particular, the one in front of the fresco of the Danaids, was covered with comfortable shade. The low voices of people talking in the nearby offices and the gentle trickle of the ornamental fountain bearing the head of Livia Augusta were the only sounds. Antheia let Felix seat himself first, perching herself on the small area of seat left. "So. How's life being the consul's body slave, then?" @Chevi
  14. Something about his earnest thanks appealed to Antheia. Was this a man not used to any special treatment? She was aware she lived a life probably a lot more comfortable than his, but she too had had her fair share of trauma. She'd only been ten when they'd sacked Athens. "Well, the way I see it, it's the job of any decent person to help out another now and then," she smiled weakly. This was true - she was a generous soul, on the whole - but something about Felix made her quite enjoy helping him, the way he shifted from foot to foot holding the empty glass. "Now, would you like me to show you the way out? There's quite a lovely garden near to Augustus' receiving room; we can wait for your dominus there, if you'd like," she offered earnestly. Despite being a singularly insular person, other people intrigued Antheia, this man particularly so. @Chevi
  15. SERVIUS GABINIUS SALAX "It's obviously a corruption of Sagax" @Gothic or @Anna 29 | 9th June 47CE | Equite | Love Elegist | Pansexual | Original | James Callis Personality Gabinius is a simple man. He says what he wants, and very occasionally, he actually gets it. Most of the time he spends either making his presence known around town or sitting in his study, perfecting the perfect tone and volume of voice with which to recite his poetry through the doors of his latest target's villa. In truth, he is not a bad poet - for all his objectionability, there might genuinely be a spark of genius inside him, if you peer closely enough and from the right angle. The real problem, however, is his total lack of experience in the subject he is writing about in his love elegy. This is an issue he is determined to rectify. Appearance It is not immediately apparent to the far-off observer why the light bounces off Gabinius' hair in much the same way it bounces off olive oil spilled from a cargo ship into the sea, until said observer comes within a range of twenty feet, at which distance the pungent aroma of the carefully chosen blend of scented lotions he uses to achieve such an effect assaults the nostrils. Despite not quite being the Adonis he thinks himself to be, Gabinius is... tolerably attractive, enough so that his charm, with which he drips more obviously that he does with rose water, produces a noticeable effect. Unfortunately, this effect is a tad overblown, which in the past had alienated potential lovers almost as much as his personality. Gabinius speaks with an affected suavete at all times (on ne sait jamais!), and when he does, his eyebrows furrow with such startling earnestness that he seems quite convincing. There's no hidden agenda with Gabinius, and even perfect strangers can usually read him as well as the huge letters adorning the pediment of the Temple to Jupiter. This, strangely, is his most attractive quality. What woman wouldn't enjoy the feeling of having him wrapped round her little finger? Family Father: Publius Gabinius Salax Mother: Deceased Siblings: None Spouse: None Children: None Extended family: None Other: History Most of Gabinius' childhood was... well, boring. When you're young, the only son of one of the only non-peasant families in the miserable middle of darkest Mantua, and raring to go and live your life, there's only so much fun you can get out of harassing peasants. It was tempting to take up a political career just to get away from the wretched place, but it was hard to believe the combination of his humble origins and his natural lack of intelligence would exactly endear him to the ruling class. Gabinius didn't want to spend his days listening to stuffy old men drone at each other for hours on end, anyway. All there was for it was to wait for his old dad to pop his clogs - though the stupid old codger didn't seem to want to get round to that any time soon - so he could get his inheritance and slip free of the familial yoke. Until then, he spent his time trying to get it on with the local farm girls, not that many of them were an attractive prospect. Despite, or perhaps because of, Gabinius' tendency to send envoys running back and forth to them with his latest elegy about their ox-eyedness or their general shapeliness, he never had any success with any of them, apart from one slave-boy, whom he dubbed Adonis, from his father's household who probably knew he'd be whipped if he didn't comply. Last year, at the age of 28, Gabinius finally drank in the beautiful sight of the flames eating up the funeral pyre and turned his gaze instead to the bright lights of Athens. Here, he spend a year making a general nuisance of himself and participating in all the wildest rituals on offer, sampling the mind-bending delights of no less than twenty different sets of mysteries. Somehow or other, he managed to convince himself he'd learnt the secret of life, the gods and creation. What it was, he wasn't quite sure, but he felt sure he knew it, and it did lend him a seductive air of mystery, he supposed. That was never a bad thing. After ingesting his fill of strange concoctions in the cellars of temples, Gabinius headed for what had always been his real destination, ready to take on life: Rome. Here, the women, or young men, if he felt so inclined, might have refined enough tastes to realise that actually he, Gabinius, was a pretty decent poet, and that, despite his lack of any experience whatsoever in affairs of the heart apart from being repeatedly and soul-crushingly repulsed, he would make a pretty good lover, probably. His mother had always told him he was a handsome boy, and besides he had a LOT of passion to give. Yes, he'd take Rome by storm. locutus-sum | GMT | locutus-sum#9606
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