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  1. (Letter dated late November 74 AD) Titus Sulpicius Rufus to his dearest friend Longinus, greetings . As promised, brother, here is the list you desire. Most Almost all of the work is Valeria’s, but I took the liberty of summarising it lest you end up with two full scrolls for each lady. Calpurnia Praetextata Sister to our good friend Aulus of the same name and by all accounts a very beautiful woman, although I have never seen her up close. I don’t think it gets any more prestigious than marrying a former Vestal, although fertility is naturally an unknown quantity in her case. Claudia Caesaris Second only to a Vestal is the imperial household. Again, I am not closely acquainted with this lady, but she is young and said to be very good-looking. I can ask my sister-in-law Cornelia for more information if it pleases you. Oriana Laecania It saddens me to inform once more I have no first-hand account of the beauty of this lady, but according to Valeria she throws some very nice parties. My dear wife tells me she is Equite but looking to move up and comes across as rather smart. Young widow, no children, plenty of money of her own so she won’t go after yours. Caecina Tusca I know it has been your lifelong dream to settle in that mucky shithole we know as Britannia, and to accompany you in your misery who better than the proconsul’s daughter? Think about it, you could have dinner with your father-in-law every night! Too bad it’s not a hereditary magistracy… right? Quinctilia Varia Widow, on the older side, but not too old to have a third child. Comes from a good family, too. Do you like redheads, Longinus? Sergia Auletia If the mother doesn’t cut it, maybe the daughter will - but don't go thinking about threesomes now! Valeria says she hasn’t been married before. Licinia Aureliana My sister-in-law’s niece, daughter of her sister. I haven’t actually seen her in years but she’s said to be very pretty. If you do not find anything to your liking on this list, Longinus, then I will once and for all be convinced that the Britons sacrificed the real you, cock and balls and all, and summoned your castrated lemur to take your place. I shall make sure the appropriate rites are observed and pray for your soul once a year or so. Farewell, my dearest friend and brother. @Sara
  2. Atrice

    Guarding You

    Late September, 74 AD after Road to danger and Consequences Everything was taken care of with the princess. Flavia Juliana had slaves ready to help Claudia and Cynane remained quiet, alert and resilient while Claudia was bathed and her blood-soaked dress removed. She didn't speak unless spoken to. She did not take her eyes off Claudia for one tiny instant. It was while Claudia was under her protection, that she could have been hurt… she could have been worse off than she was! She could have been violated or even killed, although the first would honestly have been worse for the princess than the latter. When you died, you died. Living through the aftermath of the other thing… was not something she wished upon the only Roman she truly cared about. Maybe even loved. Now Claudia had been bathed and dressed in clean clothes and she had been given a room of her own to stay in while they were here. Aia and Decimus were elsewhere, while Decimus was being patched up and had to rest. Cynane followed Claudia, she would not leave her alone right now. Like a shewolf, she would guard her young with her life. She watched how the last of the slaves left the room and finally she and Claudia were alone… to think and to talk, probably. They needed to, after this. Claudia would need it and Cynane would be there for her. But for now, Cynane remained standing near the doorway, so she could check anyone who might want to enter. And she waited for Claudia to say something. Just something. Anything. @Gothic
  3. The end of 74CE It was strange to be in the domus without the dominus there. It was not Tranquillus' natural state to be alone in the household. He would have followed his master like a shadow to his visit to a friend's house, except Titus had another job for him to do. This morning, Tranquillus had to accompany Sulpicia Flacca for a visit to a relative's home. She was too young to wander Rome unescorted, and guards or a female body slave alone were not good enough company for a girl of noble birth. So, believing that he could manage fully well without a body slave for his visit to Longinus, the head of the household ordered Tranquillus to escort his daughter instead. The tutor would not have been much help in an altercation, but he was tall and stern enough to look the part. The visit was shorter than expected, as the relative was not feeling too well. Tranquillus and the young mistress returned home by lunchtime, and since the dominus was still away, there was not much to do for the body slave. He sat and read, organized things, finished some errands that needed finishing, and felt somewhat awkward with the unexpected afternoon off. Tranquiulls liked to plan his days off ahead of time. How inconvenient. When Titus finally arrived home, with a new acquisition in tow, the look on his body slave's face was not unlike that of a household dog perking up for his master's return. @Liv @Ejder
  4. 13th of October, during the festival Fontinalia The Piscina Publica were public swimming grounds and luckily placed not very far from their home. And this was quite lucky on a day like today – it was, after all, Fontinalia and it was the day of celebration for Fons, the god of wells and springs. Septima Major was out with her sister, Minor, to celebrate the day. They’d spent the last few days on preparing a most beautiful garland out of flowers and grasses and leaves and now it was done and ready to be hung on a fountain near the Piscina Publica on this very day. Septima Major was excited – she loved festivals like these and could barely wait with going out. Maybe she spent a little too long getting ready. Septima Minor had been ready for a while, before Major finally decided she was done too. She wore a very pretty, bright green chiton with a yellow and red palla over it. Her hair had been done up on her head, with twirls and curls and a few yellow flowers and green leaves added to the style. It went very well with her pretty blue eyes. On her feet were simple slippers. They carried the garland together on their way to the fountain. She gave her sister a smile, after she’d waved to a few people she knew on the way – Septima knew many people and she liked to talk to people and make new friends, “Oh I hope someone else didn’t already decorate the fountain we decided on. It’s going to look so pretty, isn’t it?” Septima Major said with an excited tone, “I wonder if there’s going to be music too. And maybe someone set up a shop that sells food and drinks? We could stay a little while.” She suggested with a smile, “Oh, do you think anyone’ swimming in the pools today? That would be interesting.” @Chevi
  5. Early May, 74AD - the day after the events of 'A Dacian fable' Dawn had brought with it a new day, one of more subdued excitement and a return to everyday discipline, though spirits naturally still ran high in the camp. After a wet night of drinking and celebration, the morning sun was oddly unwelcome by many, but the soldiers powered through hangovers and soon the camp was bustling with noise and life. Titus had not drunk to the same excess as most of his men, having learnt his lesson long ago, and so he left his tent and trod through the drying mud unbothered to get a proper look at some of their new captives. He had passable information of who was who in that ragtag tribe, but wanted to get a feeling for himself on who might yet cause trouble and who would go down quicker. Inside one of the smaller tents were a couple of higher-profile prisoners, and Titus immediately focused on a tall, well-built man, still dirty from the fighting. They'd had been given a little water to drink, but not anywhere near enough for a measly clean-up. His right arm looked to be in very bad shape, and the pain must have been agonising; should it regain some function, it would still probably never be strong enough to hold sword, spear or shield again. The warrior in Titus could sympathise - to many a man, death would have been preferable to such an injury. The more pragmatic side of him saw it for the good fortune it was for the Roman side: one less fighter to worry about, as he would not be able to take up arms against the Eagles now or in the future, nor train their youths to do it for him. And this one, with his uncowed gaze, would have been very capable of doing just that. Even now, though he was was restrained by tight ropes sturdily wound round his wrists, ankles and neck, the Dacian managed to affect a smug, prideful air not unlike that of his tribeswoman Titus had dealt with the previous day. Perhaps they were related, although he had no knowledge of this one sporting such fine gold on him, or even a particularly ornate weapon. But the man before him would crack sooner or later, like that wench would if she had not already. Exactly how that would happen was yet to be seen, but Titus wasn't overly concerned; if he did not find the chink in the armour himself, someone else or Saturn as the lord of time would. With a frown on his face Titus studied the other man for a few moments, appraising him as he would a ware. Those instants were enough to form a first opinion, but he would allow the Dacian a chance to make his own case. "What shall I do with you, with your arm like that?" @Jane
  6. Liv

    Apple of discord

    October 74AD Work in the Whites' kitchens was menial and repetitive, but Safinia found herself quite satisfied with it. Her tasks were simple and her orders clear, her social interactions were few and mostly revolved around cook and the other assistants, and the pay was enough to buy bread every day. If she had been cut from a different cloth, Safinia might even have whistled a merry tune as she stumbled comically into the kitchen, her thin arms straining to carry an enormous wicker basket filled to the brim with onions. She caught sight of a human figure moving stealthily in the shadows of the dimly-lit room. Non-cooking personnel were not normally allowed into the kitchens and pantry, so this person could only be an intruder. But there were better foodstuffs to steal than apples and pears, which were what the thief seemed to be headed toward. Safinia ignored the train of thought of the thief's possible motives and preferences and put the basket down on a sturdy oak table with a loud'thud'. The noise would definitely alert the other person to her presence, if her footsteps hadn't already. Grabbing a rolling pin conveniently left on the table, Safinia went in the intruder's direction. On a personal level, she could not care less if some measly apples were taken; professionally, cook would have her flayed and tanned if it came to light that she'd spotted a food thief and done nothing. "Hey!" She shouted at the figure, gripping the rolling pin tightly and keeping it on her side at waist level. "What do you think you're doing?" @Chevi
  7. After Theo and Justinia’s last encounter, she wondered if he would ever come back. Days and months had gone by and she hadn’t seen him. Part of her was worried that something happened to him—the other part of her was nervous that he wasn’t coming back because she was too much trouble. Men came and went (literally), and without any sign of Theo, she wondered if he skipped town. She wouldn’t blame him; the situation they got into was scary. It wasn’t like him to not be in contact with her over a long period of time. Maybe he moved on, and she would’ve understood. Justinia wasn’t the new prostitute at the Venus anymore, and she had time to observe. It wasn’t a terrible place, but her once-cheerful optimism was long gone. She wasn’t as naive. Men did many things to her, some of which were unspeakable, and it made her grow up even more. Things were easier when she finally came to terms with her situation that she wasn’t going to get out of it anytime soon. But as Saturnalia started, she was able to leave the Venus. She just wanted answers. Justinia wanted to see if Theo was still at the Ludus. Maybe he hadn’t left, maybe he was working on the things he said he would. But high hopes were a thing of the past for the woman. Still, she wanted to know. Justinia finally got to the Ludus and she entered. It seemed as if it was pretty Barron, with a lot of people celebrating Saturnalia with their families, friends, or at a popina. Exploring a little more lead here to see someone still working despite nobody being there. She knew who the Greek man was. “Hello Theo,” she said, confirming that he hadn’t skipped town or died. A genuine smile popped up on her face. @Chevi
  8. Mid December, 74AD Longinus enjoyed the walk up the Esquiline Hill, perversely finding the ache in his legs satisfying. But he lingered now, outside the domus for Titus to join him before he was admitted. A request for a meeting had been sent a little over a week ago and he was bringing his closest friend for moral support (and because he suspected the opportunity to speak to a Praetor was decently tempting for Titus). He'd had absolutely no luck in engaging Tertius' elder brother, Secundus about the matter of his niece (his letters going unanswered and the offer of wine and a meeting refused). In frustration, he'd complained to his mother where he'd been promptly been informed that the oldest Varus was rumoured to be of unsound mind and that should Longinus wish to make any inroads, it would be better to speak to Tertius. And thus he'd found himself standing outside the domus, enjoying the last few dregs of warmth from the December sun. Seeing Titus approach he grinned and offered a dramatic roll of the eyes, "What a good first impression we're to make - late." He snorted and inclined his head to the slave who promptly swung open the door to admit them. Their presence was announced and Longinus couldn't help but glance around as he waited for the older man to join them. The domus was suspiciously quiet, or quieter than Titus' whose home was filled with the chatter of children and hurried feet of slaves running after them. He'd understood the Senator was widowed, much like himself, and had a young daughter of similar age to Cassia (his mother really was the font of all knowledge) and supposed the two men had more in common (at least superficially) than he'd anticipated. As Tertius approached, he cracked a broad grin in greeting; "Salve Senator Varus," He moved to clasp the other mans arm. "Thank you again for agreeing to meet me." TAG: @Atrice @Liv (& @Sharpie if you want Attis or Teutus to join!) Charis is also in the domus and may/will join the thread if/when invited over by Tertius. She's currently working in the garden, dressed up in the fancy chiton Tertius had picked out for her and looking eerily identical to her sister Nymphias...just more petite and brunette.
  9. 18th of December, 74 AD It was about time. It was the second night of Saturnalia, the 18th of December, and it was for this night that Tertius had planned the feast for the slaves of the household - and also freeing his son from slavery, of course. Tomorrow Teutus would no longer be a slave. And it was perfect to use Saturnalia for this ceremony and celebration, because this was when tables were turned for slaves anyway. During this week of Saturnalia, gambling was permitted and it was also common for the masters to provide a table service for their slaves. Someone had to cook it though and it hadn't been Tertius. But no one would be required to serve him tonight. He would pour his own wine and break his own bread. The triclinium of the house was not big enough for all his slaves, so tables had also been set up in the the peristyle - luckily the weather had been good enough for it. Tertius had invited a few friends and then of course all of his slaves would attend the feast. He hoped that Longinus and Rufus would come, as it would be good to have some fellow Senators present too. They had not sent word, but that didn't mean they would not show up. Antonia had been dressed up nicely for the occassion and everyone had been told to wear their finest clothes. He even had Jocasta make a new set of clothes for Teutus, for formal occassions. A chamber had been made ready for Teutus to move into, starting on this night if he wanted to. His own chamber with his own bed, his own table and chair and his own clothes. It would be a new life, but Tertius trusted his son could manage it. Tomorrow, he would be Teutus Quinctilius Varus instead of just Teutus. Finally. Now he was waiting in the hall just inside the front doors, hoping to see his slaves in their finest clothes. It was however also Saturnalia and that was the time of year where masters would often switch places with the slaves. He usually did a little thing with Hector at Saturnalia, but this year he considered to do it with Charis instead. What would it be like, if she was his mistress? That could be a very interesting... game. But he had not decided yet and before everything else, the ceremony of freeing Teutus would happen. So far, Tertius stood alone in the hall, but soon someone would join him here. A table had been set up earlier, with drinks for everyone, before all the slaves and Antonia went to get dressed for the feast. While he waited, he sipped a cup of wine casually. @Sara @Joaquin @Sharpie
  10. Mid-December, 74AD Longinus cast a disapproving glance to Titus and muttered; "Here? Really?" It was not that Longinus was a snob, and the middle-class suburbs were nothing overtly offensive, but the man was trying all he could to get out of this particular activity. He wasn't even overly attached to his beard, or his hair (both of which had been dutifully trimmed a month or so ago), but he was reluctant to admit that his friends or mother were right. The man was stubborn to a fault. Glancing at his friend again, he ran a hand over his beard for the (probably) the final time and sighed. "The things I do for women, eh?" He chuckled and moved to enter, but not before hesitating. "This bloke's supposed to be good, isn't he? I mean, he's not going to cut open my throat, is he?" He arched a brow at his friend, but with an amused glimmer in his eye, "I can't have survived the battlefields of Britannia to die bleeding in a barbers chair..." He snorted in amusement but with a heavy sigh, swung the door and blinked into the dim light of the man's shop. He'd not routinely employed the services of a barber for the past few months, and much as he enjoyed the company of his body slave, he didn't trust Attis as far as he could throw him when it came to razors near his throat. He coughed, to alert the man of his presence and rolled his eyes at Titus. TAG: @Liv & @Atrice
  11. The evening of About Time, Saturnalia 74AD Charis sipped at her cup of wine and padded gently into Tertius' cubiculum, the man himself following behind her. Over the course of the evening she'd had the offered wine and food and her merriment at feeling free, even for the shortest period of time possible, had put a smile across her face. Atop her head sat a braided wreath of flowers which she'd hidden away and then promptly brought out for her favourite friends in the house mid-way through dinner (one for Rhoda and Parnes, one for little Antonia and one for Teutus), and she'd offered one to Tertius for her own amusement. That he wanted her tonight was no surprise, she'd dressed up for the occasion of Teutus' manumission and the festival, but she hadn't failed to notice Hector's horror that he would not be spending this apparently coveted night of festivities with his master. Still, she had other things on her mind than Hector; Teutus' freedom and her sister paramount amongst them. Still, with the wine in her blood and the happiness of the evening on her, she entered his room with a smile for possibly...the first time since he'd started summoning her. Or, at least it was the first genuine smile. Turning to him she raised her fingers to the coronet of flowers and brushed over it. She didn't particularly want to extract it yet but the routine of these sorts of nights was familiar and mundane now. Gone was the immediacy of their earlier interactions and instead, much like an old married couple, they undressed themselves and proceeded with the act without the heady lust of their earlier encounters. Lifting off the wreath and setting it down on a side table with her wine, she eyed him (for tonight she could actually look at him without fear of reproach) and asked in a light voice, "Tonight was lovely, Tertius." She smiled and set about unpinning the plaits and twists in her hair, unbraiding them one by one as she took a seat near the only window. The wine had flushed her cheeks and warmed her skin and she could do with the winter breeze. Arching a brow at him as she continued to unbraid her hair she asked; "Did you enjoy tonight?" She wanted to ask exactly what this equal footing on Saturnalia entailed but decided to hold off, preferring to test the boundaries first. TAG: @Atrice
  12. Early May, 74CE Zia grinned at her son, holding his hand firmly but letting his little legs wander as he took in the sights and the smells of the military camp. To a child, what had happened and where they were now was some great, drawn out adventure. To Luto's four year old mind there was nothing sinister in all the men in their red cloaks, nothing malevolent in the tent in which they were hurriedly stored in with all of the other women and children. His big brown eyes took it all in as if he were living one of the great tales of heroism his father and grandfathers had told him. Little Luto even went so far as to wave at a few of the passing legionaries as they were escorted through the maze of straight lines to, what she presumed, was the commander's tent. Her smile was in part for the energy of her son, but also for the thought he'd be sleeping in a tent like the rest of them during this very uncharacteristic May rain which drizzled down on them, soaking man and woman alike to the bone. She'd not told anybody who she was since her arrival in this place, but presumed somebody else had spilled the beans. Probably Diegis, the idiot. She had considered it safer to be an anonymous woman and boy caught up in the chaos of the skirmish than one of its architects. That anonymity, clearly, was not to last. She'd not seen her husband since he was bundled away under a swathe of red cloaked men in stupid helmets, but she knew he'd seen his father and brothers fates. A small part of her ignited at the thought that it left him as the chief, a bigger part hoped he wouldn't prattle on about it too much. She'd heard rumours about what had happened to the chieftains of occupied provinces; paraded through the streets of Rome in chains. She hoped her husband had more sense than to prattle on about his family. Finally drawing to the tent she cast a dismissive glance over it, her nose wrinkling in displeasure. This was where the great and the good of Rome lived? She was a little horrified. Shunted through the flaps, her hand still clasping her sons, she blinked into the dim light. It was barely dawn outside, and the candles that lit up the canvas made it smoky and hard to see. She didn't recognise the man sat in front of her, but then they all looked the same in their silly little outfits to her. Luto, however, unfettered grinned at him and pointed at the crested helmet set aside, beaming whilst he asked in Dacian; "Can I play with it?" Zia yanked back his arm as he moved to touch it and reminded herself to drill some sense into her boy at the next opportune moment. She said nothing to the man and instead just arched a brow, waiting for his big speech. TAG: @Liv
  13. October, 74 AD. Clio fidgeted in her seat, casting nervous looks about her surroundings. In the early afternoon, the popina was far from at its busiest, but even from the relative safety of her corner table and stool, she didn't feel very comfortable being at this place alone. In front of her was a crude ceramic cup half-full with posca; at least while unaccompanied, she preferred to stay as sober as possible. Had the other slave received and understood her message? What if he could not - or did not want to - come, and Clio sat there all by herself for hours like a fool? It had been hard enough to negotiate these few hours of relative freedom, and it had involved lying to her domina - something the black-haired slave usually tried to avoid and for good reason. She had risked a lot to be here, and even now, alone with only her thoughts for company, Clio still wasn't quite sure why she had done it. It would have been so easy to cast everything aside as a fortuitous meeting and small talk, but no, she had to go and follow up on her parting words. Inhaling sharply through her nose, Clio tucked a lock of hair behind her ear and grabbed her cup to take another sip. Just as her glace swept through the entrance door, a familiar figure came through it, and she very nearly spilled her drink on the table. Why was her heart beating so fast all of a sudden?! @Atrice
  14. Quietness had come after a bustling and busy morning for the household and finally, Valeria had tucked herself away from the distractions of a husband and children to focus on her writing. Comfortably beneath the streak of light reaching through the window, Valeria curled her legs under her sprawling gown and rested against her thighs was a wax tablet. She had turned the corner into her imagination space in an effort to find colourful ways of boasting about massaging one’s member while peering in at unsuspecting (and equally busy) couples from the perspective of a frail, lecherous old man. All the while, she presumed, her four-year old was in the next room. Stylus in hand, she jotted ideas, scratched them out a second or third time, paused to re-assess the meter or verse, before returning back to the drawing board. Her concentration wavered every now and again from a to-and-fro pitter-patter in the backdrop and immediately, her suspicions were that her four-year old was loose, free to run as wild as her little heart desired. Valeria peered her head outside the doorway of chamber to find one of the household’s newest acquisitions: Nymphias. She had made her face and name familiar to her after Titus had made her mind Valeriana. Despite their closeness in age and despite Titus’s ability to get responsibilities across, it was one thing when Sulpicia had her eye on her sister but the new slave, the conveniently lost one with the thick, bright locks was something else. “Did you ever think of putting a leash on her?” she asked, purposely gesturing out a long rope-like shape to have her words understood. @Beauty
  15. While Dacia had been a far and foreign frontier that inspired feelings of adventure and then home, Valeria had quickly welcomed back Rome, especially where it offered her the ability to further her career as a writer. Away, Landicus disappeared for a time and her own writing accumulated in notes and piles of poetry that many did not see or hear save perhaps Titus. Feeling a performative itch, Valeria had set up a reading of her poetry where she could spoil her inner theatre kid, full of different voices, dramatic speech, and wide gestures. Compared to the hypothetical numbers that she estimated for Landicus, the gathering for Valeria Flacca’s poetry was humble and predominately, if not all, women. She never felt competition between her two selves but in the light of putting more effort and thought towards her Valeria Flacca poems, she was still perceptive enough to feel that true art went underappreciated for anything sensational and provocative. For her reading, she had arranged a meeting which had been announced and set it at the park, situating out in the greenery and under a small and stony pavilion with supportive pillars. For the occasion, Valeria had chosen a colourful wig and equally eccentric makeup. After the crowd gathered, Valeria had dived in and after the recital had come to its conclusion, the gatherers dispersed, leaving a few lingerers whom Valeria shared a little small talk with. “Seems as if there are many poets here today. Do you write as well?” she said, turning to one a beautiful young girl, who seemed not much older than her eldest. @Chevi
  16. Early December, 74 AD I ask for so little. Just fear me. Love me. Do as I ask, and I shall be your slave. It had been a week since he met the almost-too-sweet Nymphias, who had been lost in the wrong part of Rome. She'd almost been assaulted, but Helios didn't want outsiders to steal jobs from his colleague, so he had stopped the assault... and somehow earned her trust in return. He had also earned a few kisses and her having a crush on him. In fact he had earned his own little and oblivious informant in her! She was quite young, but that was not a problem. Helios lost his own virtue when he was younger than she, and the same went for many of the other prostitutes of the Domus Venus. The problem, if there was one, more had to do with her ignorance. She was so pure, that he almost felt he was mean. But only almost. She was so sweet and pretty and useful, after all. That meant he had no problem with leading her on, seducing her, making her want to talk to him again and tell him all of the secrets she knew... but probably didn't even know were secrets. Now a week had gone since he met her and he promised to return to wait for her, near her house, at the spot where they said their odd goodbye. He had tried to not think too much about her. She was just a girl, even just a slave, like him. She meant nothing and she wasn't even his. And yet she was, kind of, with the way she let him kiss her and the way she seemed willing to do anytihng he wanted her to do. And he could be anything she wanted him to be, in return for that. If she wanted him to be a romantic boyfriend, so be it. As long as she would put her trust in him and tell him her secrets and give him her lips and maybe even her body... for by the gods he had not asked for that, but he wanted to kiss her again and he wanted to touch her. Helios wanted her. And not just for what was in her head. It was a curse! Still he did it; he returned to the right spot, just around noon, and leaned casually against a wall while waiting. Today he was dressed in a better tunica than last time and he'd visited the thermae this morning to get clean. He had combed his long and golden locks and put half of it up in a ponytail. Calvunus had seen him as he left the brothel and asked whom he was charming, but Helios just laughed and went on his way. No one had to know about this. Now he could only hope the girl would actually show up... @Beauty
  17. Valeria had purposely made it be known that she had a surprise in mind, offhandedly as if it were an afterthought, as if a surprise was as easy as a roll of the tongue. She rapped her fingers and had a devilish grin on her face, a look more appropriate for the wake of a devious murder plot rather than anything that might resemble normalcy or even innocence. But beyond ‘I have a surprise for you’, she had said very little else to her husband, not what time, whether it would be that day, or what the nature of what she had in store. If it left him anxious or shivering with anticipation, then she derived more pleasure from it. She often felt satiated by watching others squirm, whether it was Landicus’s foul written word or her own love of a little mischief. Something was clearly being planned, however, and even in the days ahead of her little slip of an announcement, she had to keep not only the preparations out of Titus’s attention but her children’s, although Sulpicia might’ve come to some level of conclusion, being that she was reaching the age to grow suspicious of any degree of ‘alone time’ between their father and mother. Of course, there was perhaps the occasional overhearing her mother’s burst of laughter and “you call that a penis?” through the walls when Titus wasn’t home. But if there was anyone that had a closest idea it was Vibia. After a back-and-forth, she arranged for the courtesan to arrive at their home in the evening and be met by a servant that was definitely not Nymphias until Valeria was able to join her. When the same servant had come into the chamber that Valeria had been in, reclining in candlelight with Titus, she leaned over to observe who it was and gave a quick “thank you, so-and-so” before they could stop, catch their breath, and open their mouth. At that moment, Valeria seemed to grow a sudden amount of energy as she drew up to her feet. “Are you ready for your present?” she asked with excitement carrying through her voice. @Liv and @Sara
  18. Mid December, 74AD Charis ran her fingers over the stems laid out in bundles on the stall. She was ostensibly at the market to collect cuttings for new winter flowers for the garden, but ever the resentful Briton slave, she dithered and dawdled on her errand. Having spent a good few minutes moving between (and often beneath, given her stature) the crowds she finally reached the stall and cast an impervious gaze over the wares. The stall holder had seen her frequent his stand, a female slave to tend the gardens was not especially common - and he always hated their interactions. "They're wilting." She arched a brow up at him and pointed to a collection of stems. "They just need watering, you can repot them once they die." Charis scoffed and shook her head, moving down the row of stems and running light fingers over each. She often found it amusing that she'd advocated for a job as a gardener when her skills with flowers, in particular, was desperately lacking. Medicinal herbs and food crops were her forte but she understood quite clearly that great bulks of ugly little herbs and turnip tops were not in vogue for the Roman elite and their beautiful domus'. But she was learning more about the beautiful roses, narcissi, oleanders and violets that she tended to. She also knew when merchants were lying to her. "Bloody thief," she muttered in her own language, finding it convenient to swear when nobody could understand her, "I will be back on Friday, and I need geranium cuttings." She stated, and the man simply rolled his eyes and nodded, "Geraniums, yeah, yeah. You and half of bloody Rome." She offered a glower, "My dominus is a Praetor, I think his order should come first." She didn't particularly like throwing rank, especially when it came to alluding who owned her, but she'd found over her nine months in Rome that apparently mentioning Tertius' present occupation produced some sort of reaction in plebs and slaves. As it did this one, and he nodded hurriedly and went to write down the order; "Your name, so I know on Friday?" She sighed, "Charis," The man seemed to be gesturing for more than that and she snapped, "Slave of Tertius Quinctilius Varus." Satisfied, he nodded and went to serve another dawdling slave. "You better bloody have them next time." She muttered again in Brittonic. Errand completed, but in absolutely no mood to return to the stifling house, she turned on her heel to walk the long way back to the Esquiline. She frowned, however, as she saw a man a little way off studying her. It wasn't unusual but there was something in his gaze that unnerved her. Noting he couldn't possibly be free, judging by his garments she chuckled and said in accented Latin as she moved to walk past him; "You shouldn't stare, it's rude." TAG: @Sarah
  19. Whenever he was given time for himself, Hector was never shy of being performative about it. Although he might not have openly screamed it from the hilltops, there was always a ‘notice me’ about him as he passed the other slaves in the domus by. At least in the past. With everything, he felt far too deflated to flounce about in self-importance. He had accepted Tertius’s word as law, but it didn’t necessarily cease his mourning. Instead, Hector simply left without his usual one-man parade. Before Charis, he might have needed a push to leave the home, he always happy to be more of a shadow than Tertius’s own shadow, but ultimately, he would not have thought anything of it but now, it pained him even more to do so. Even if Tertius was occupied elsewhere, he still felt like somehow Charis was sinking her talons into him. Hector usually tried to keep some degree of an exercise routine outside of tending to Tertius, which was arguably a set of exercises of its own, and that day, he took to walking through the streets of Rome in an effort to get his blood flowing. The fresh air, which was as fresh as the air of Rome could be, and the bright yellow Mediterannean sun provided some level of cleansing. In a way, he felt he understood the Greek adage ‘healthy in mind in a healthy body’. The soft breeze gently stayed his exasperation as he walked. Eventually, he found himself pausing where a cluster of people had gathered around, either leaning against columns or sitting back against white stone, to watch some performance by a small troupe in cheap coloured masks. Since arriving partway through the ordeal, the nature of the story completely evaded him, but he lingered out of curiosity due to laughter being emitted by some of the passers-by. One of the performers swished along the line of people before stopping just before Hector out of happenstance. They made a comedic statement before scuttling off and breaking into song, but the context was still lost on the slave with the most he could give in reaction was a curve of his brows and a blink in disbelief. “What was that supposed to be?” he commented, receiving a sharp ‘shh!’ from a nearby middle-aged woman, who he recognised from the nearby markets. She had pressed a finger against her lips and looked ready to tackle him if he made another sound. His eyes lifted up to the opposite end of the crowds and met with the familiar face of Helios, who was either watching or passing by. While Hector still admittedly held a grudge for his advancements on Tertius, he no longer considered it remotely in the same league as with the Briton. Circling the crowds, Hector approached the other man. “What a surprise, seeing you here,” he uttered in greeting, giving what was a brief smile. @Atrice
  20. By the time, Gaia returned, the sky had turned dark and the street was illuminated by oil lamps. Stepping in from the quiet of the outside, which no longer had the rumbling of crickets of the summer and late autumn, Gaia already felt a wave of dread. It was strange that there had even been moments where she regarded him as a brother in the sense of the word as a sister should, like when they were younger, and he would join her on the floor with her wood horses. Over years, it soured. In one of the rooms, firelight was glowing, falling into the dark hall, and as she slowly stepped into the light to pass, a seated Titus came into view. Their eyes met and she entered the room to join him instead of hurrying away. “Your slave Barca, her entire face is swollen,” she informed him rather than giving a greeting and honestly it disgusted her to even speak. The fingers rested on her leather satchel had lifted to gesture lightly at her own face the extent of what he had done. “Her eyes wouldn’t open.” She didn’t elaborate on what she did to help her, only because Titus wasn’t likely to be interested of the things, that through trial and error or from Hippocrates, from physicians, midwives learned. And while she was certainly no replacement for a physician by any means, she’d seen enough from the aftermath of a birthing bed that she knew a pungent injury when she saw one. “She can’t work like that. For every slave that you indispose, there’s one less to make an earning.” If he couldn’t understand by sense, then perhaps by money. @Beauty
  21. With Publius ill, Valeria often visited her father’s in the mornings, giving him the company of his only living child and helping out her mother around the domus to alleviate the stress. His sickness, which was described by the physician as a ‘pneumonia’, seemed vile with a heavy phlegmatic cough and given his age, there was always a buried fear inside Valeria that one breath would be his last. When they had first arrived in Rome, Valeria had herded the children along with her but as time went on, it seemed better that only she went for a multitude of reasons, even if their presence did seem to brighten their grandfather’s days. After one such morning, Valeria returned home, seeking out a particular reclining seat accompanied with cushions that was brought out by the slaves into the gardens. Despite the fact the days had been growing colder, the Italian sun was warm against the skin. She was rather proud of ‘her’ garden, as she liked to call it, despite it being considered an ‘indulgence’ by some, in the summers, it would be lush and bursting with vivid flowering plants, including saffron and hyacinths, but now, the greenery had begun to fade into autumn. With a scroll that she had obtained the night prior at the launch of a novel by a writer who had gained a celebrity status, she settled down comfortably with a wine glass that was refilled frequently at her request. She had never heard of him, Pustula they called him apparently, but so far, it seemed so bad that it was good, which might have been the unintentional appeal. Intermittently through all the shuffling of the parchment, there were loud but short laughs. @Liv
  22. October, 74 AD He had promised to come and spar with Thessala. And while there were some promises he sometimes had problems with keeping – like promising to be true to a wife, once – there were others he could definitely keep. Now of course he wasn’t married to Oriana, but he still knew she’d be very hurt if he betrayed her trust. They had a proper talk about it recently and at least now she was prepared though, wasn’t she? Although of course he’d do what he could to not hurt her. He wanted to make her happy, for as long as he could. But he also needed to do what made him feel good. And fighting always made him feel good. At least fighting wasn’t being unfaithful, right? He’d enjoyed fighting ever since he learned it and now it had been a long while since he’d had a fight with another gladiator. Alright, so this one was female and so what? It wouldn’t be a first, for him. And she’d proved that she could fight very well, he’d seen her in the arena. It was rare that gladiatrixes actually got to kill one another, they were just there to entertain, but that didn’t mean they didn’t put in a lot of effort in their fights. Thessala certainly did. He hadn't dressed up today so much, as he knew he'd probably work up a sweat. Hopefully at least! He wore his short breeches and a dark brown tunica and some of his armor too, although not the full set, as it was too heavy and warm for this. He didn't own any gladiator armor anymore, after all, and that was usually made for fights like these. As he entered the ludus, it was kind of a strange feeling, but he shook it off. He couldn’t use such feelings for anything right now. He’d sent word to the lanista that he’d come and spar with Thessala for a fee. After he’d had a chat with the doctore – and given him a little bribe, so that he could take Thessala out for a drink after – Alexius went looking for Thessala. She was training with another gladiatrix and he smiled, leaning against the wall for a moment, watching her. That woman, she really was impressive, and not just her looks and her moves, but her entire expression. When the training match was finished and Thessala would turn his way, he waved at her with a playful grin, “Thessala! I hope you’re not too tired yet.” @Chevi
  23. Atrice

    The Bodyguards

    The whole strange ritual of Lupercalia was over – at least for the noble lady Cynane was serving. And she wasn’t just any noble lady, she was the princess. She was however also a young woman who was very much ready to be married soon, so she had to be present for an event like this. And Cynane was always near her, making sure her mistress wasn’t actually harmed and just enjoyed herself instead. By now though, they had retreated, as there was a private party for high-ranking nobles and of course Claudia was going to attend. And so Cynane was too. As always at such events, she had retreated to rest against a wall, not interrupting the party with her presence, she was just there, watching her mistress from afar. They had arrived early though, and she watched as more and more people entered – some carrying marks from the bloody strips of goatskin. Proof that they too had attended the ritual and the fun afterwards. If you could call that fun – it was strange fun. On the other hand, not stranger than so many other ancient rituals, both here and in Britannia. A slave offered Cynane a drink and she gladly took it and looked up as another group was entering the party. A tall and beautiful noble lady had appeared, with a guard in tow too it seemed. The guard was soon left to fend for himself, not following her around and Cynane tilted her head, watching him. He seemed so out of place here, for some reason. He was definitely no ordinary guard, she decided, but she didn’t know him yet and Cynane was always careful with strangers – especially when they were men. If he looked her way though, she’d raise her cup to him and have a sip, acknowledging his presence. @Sarah
  24. Inside, the halls had been filled with laughter and chatter. Valeria had seemed to navigate the party company with ease from the beginning, happily moving from one familiar to another with her wide smile and excited hand gestures, sharing familial updates to those who asked and wild stories wherever she could squeeze them. But despite her comfort, she was still a homebody and preferred the time alone with her pen than in the company of others but like a sponge, she sucked in inspirations whenever someone sighed while wilfully imparting gossip or it appeared in an acquaintance’s tick or appearance that morphed them into a character of interest for Landicus. Deeper into the night, the empty space around the seating arrangement above decorative meal-courses with feathers, flowers, and ornaments saw the ebb and flow of musicians, dancers, acrobats, and prancing comedian actors and Valeria, in her deep red wig and heavy kohl, gave a loud cackle at almost every single joke without fail. Aside from the music, the sprinkled innuendos at the otherwise tame party seemed to be one of the few moments where she hadn’t gone inattentive while glazing past the different faces, who seemed more focused on making a presentation of themselves rather than genuinely enjoying their time, in the chamber. After the food, people began to cordon off and disperse into their small social groups peppered around the domus. Outside, a few voices belonged to some of the partiers standing in the white pillars which circled the gardens and alternated between shadow and moonlight. “You’re one of the musicians, aren’t you,” Valeria said with a kind smile and a glass of wine in hand. The girl with young with a pretty little face. With artists of any kind, Valeria often felt warmed up to them, perhaps a bias by the possibility of a similar spirit. Of course, there was always the difference between playing for payment and playing in one’s own home. “You did a marvellous job tonight. I hope they’re paying you handsomely.” @Sara
  25. July, 74 AD It was another day in Marcus Barbatius’ life, meaning another day of work. He had a few patrons coming in to see him today, they had already made it known they wanted his services on this day, but there were also a few open spots and especially before noon. Senators always came later in the day, when they were tired from their supposedly hard work and needed a proper shave and a scented lotion rubbed into their cheeks and oils onto their bodies. His condo was in the first floor of the building and just beneath his condo, was the workshop. He slept with the key to the chest around his neck and now a slave turned up to help him get dressed. A tunica and a simple toga, that he wouldn’t mind getting some hair onto along with some of the scented oils and lotions. The slave silently helped Marcus put on the sandals, helping with the straps that went around his leg and then he had some early breakfast served. A bit of cold, watered wine and bread. Apparently they were out of honey and didn’t have much olive oil, but his kitchen slave had managed to purchase some butter and that at least was something. The mornings were silent in his home. Slaves rarely spoke, out of fear they’d say something wrong to displease their master. Nobody wanted to displease him. Silently he went to the workshop in the street level, which had been cleaned with a broom and a brush and some wet cloth. There was an actual chair there and a few stools and a working table. Shelves of course, with beautiful bottles and jars with lotions and oils. There was a heavy scent in the room because of all that and Marcus opened the door and opened the shutters to the window to the shop to let it be known, that it was open for business. The slave he’d chosen to help him out today stood in the corner of the room, waiting to be asked to work and Marcus removed the key from his neck to open the chest. He picked one of the razors and decided to start the day with sharpening some of the tools while waiting for potential clients.
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