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It was a very early morning in the baths. The sun had barely risen, but Helenus was up already, taking care of himself before he needed to take care of so many others. He left the sleeping quarters of the slaves and walked through the dark corridors, not yet lit for the new day… up towards the actual thermae, where he thought he might take a swim before anyone else woke. The baths were often nice and quiet this early and he liked that. Of course some Romans would be up early and he didn’t expect it would be quiet for very long, but right now… it was. The nearest bath was the women’s section and it was entirely empty right now. He never ventured far into this area when the baths were open and people were flocking everywhere. Then Helenus would only walk to the end of the corridor from the slave quarters to peek into the area with all the shelves for clothing. Right now, that was empty too and on bare feet he walked in. There was so much space here, when the baths were empty. He made a sound just for fun, to hear the echo and smiled by the sound of it. When he reached the big swimming pool, the natatio, he stopped for a moment, looking at the still water in it. Then he slipped out of his simple tunica and into the water. It was a bit cold at this hour, the ovens were not at their full heat right now, but it was fine, this was how it usually was for Helenus. The slaves who worked here didn’t get into the water when everyone else were. They’d have to do it before. Helenus dived under the water for a moment and then swam a few times back and forth. Then he let his body float a bit, while he lay on his back, staring up into the decorated ceiling of the room. This was so nice. What a pity he’d have to stop soon. He stopped floating then and dived under the water again. Only to be startled when he came up to the surface and brushed water away from his eyelids. He wasn't alone anymore. And he was not in the men's section of the thermae... he blinked the water away, staring at the woman up there. @Gothic
Early June 74; Emporium Magnum... Being a slave, Rufus reflected, wasn't necessarily the worst fate in the world. He corrected himself: Being the slave of a rich Roman who had other slaves wasn't the worst fate in the world. Being the trusted slave of a rich Senator was definitely not the worst thing to be (He could think of many many better things to be, of course, but he could think of worse fates.) Being the trusted slave of a rich senator had led Rufus to where he was now: in the Emporium Magnum, running an errand for his new master, hoping he'd remember the way home once he was done, and wouldn't get ripped off so badly he'd not get let out again. There seemed to be some sort of argument going on nearby. He usually steered clear of things like that, but this one didn't sound like the usual row and he found himself drifting closer, curious. Rome was full of people, far more of them than he'd ever seen in one place before - he had no idea how much bigger than Paestum the city was, but it was some order of magnitude larger! Whatever was going on was more than an argument; there was a burly guy picking a fight or something with someone about half his size - a kid smaller than Rufus, even. The kid didn't look like he'd done anything worse than simply be in the wrong place at the wrong time - there was nobody yelling that he was a thief or purse snatcher. If anything, the sentiment of the watching crowd seemed to be on the kid's size, though nobody was stepping in to help. It was when the brute swung back, looking as if he aiming a punch at the kid, that Rufus stepped in. "Leave him alone and pick on someone your own size!" Bloody stupid, he thought, as the man's fist connected with the side of his head, leaving him blinking. He wasn't quite sure he dared return the favour - a slave thumping a free man was bound to get in trouble, after all! @Sarah