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  1. It wasn't at all unusual for Longinus to have a friend, or friends, come to visit, even unexpectedly, and on this occasion as on others previously, Attis had taken Ragum out to the garden in an effort to keep the dog from knocking the visitor over with the force of his wagging tail. He was a friendly dog (and therefore probably a completely useless guard dog) but he was the size of a small pony by now. Attis looked at the thing and reconsidered; he wasn't that big - yet! The size of a small donkey? Large goat? He would have realised he wasn't alone much earlier except the dog had started barking from almost the moment the front door opened and the ostiarius admitted today's visitor, who turned out to be Sulpicius Rufus. He wasn't alone, and Attis couldn't help smiling as Tranquillus came out to see the garden and get deafened by the dog. And probably knocked over by him, too; Attis couldn't hold him. "He's friendly!" he said, as the dog finally escaped his grasp and ran to greet the newcomer with a furiously wagging tail and deep joyful barks. And a very wet tongue. @Chevi
  2. The Romans were used to seeing Greeks wearing masks. Antheia's, however, wasn't twisted into the tragic visage of some stock character; in fact, it was the picture of perfect neutrality. Beneath, she could be a vicious Medea, a grieving Persephone, a powerless Helen, or any other figure from myth. But one doesn't often try to look behind the mask, peer through the eyeholes into the actor's soul. The façade presented to them is all the audience sees. So it was with Antheia. Her soul was strictly off limits. There was only one person on this earth (at least, one person she knew the fate of, one person she knew she could go to) who wasn't deceived by this cunning guise. Antheia had left behind the gilt columns and clean air of the Domus Augustorum, at least for a few hours, and had descended to the Subura. Here, slaves were dirty and scowling, citizens forewent the ceremony of a toga in the street, and life seemed real. Here, among all the unrepressed humanity, was her old friend Aristo. As she hopped across the stones connecting the pavement on either side of the street, the anticipation filled Antheia's mind with glorious recollections. When she went through the door, there he'd be, shrivelled like a tree root in his old rocking chair, his hands dry and papery as the scrolls spilling out across his knees, scratching the few tufts of white beard he had left as he mumbled to himself in the beautiful language of Plato and Socrates, punctuated by the odd curse. She'd dash to help tidy up the scrolls, his hands swatting at her in protest to stop fussing as she pulled the blanket back up over his bony legs. After he settled down, he would read to her in Greek, the language of her mind, the language her mother sung to her in, his voice rasping over every 'chi' and 'kappa', lapsing into a wheezing fit every time he'd aspirate a vowel. She'd cry, then, and he'd smile a bit, but he'd keep on reading, because crying would be OK. And then before she left she'd bend over and squeeze his skeletal frame to her, and the fragile breath and papery skin would make her cry again, and he'd just shake his head and say something wise. As her eyes adjusted to the dim interior of the little house their master had given him when he was freed, Antheia felt the squirming in her stomach change suddenly. The physical feelings of excitement and panic were strikingly, horribly similar, and one melted into the other like scalding wax dripping into the wine cup of its inattentive owner. The first thing she saw was the rocking chair, fallen forward on the floor. The entirety of the woven backrest had come undone, and one of the front legs was missing. Underneath it lay a scroll, completely unrolled. It was a beautifully written thing, bearing the name of Aristotle in huge letters. And it was torn clean apart through the middle. Not a single piece of wooden furniture seemed to have survived the raid untouched. Sherds of glass and pottery were strewn over the floor along with their former contents, huge pools of watery wine, their edges creeping outwards as she watched, grapes trampled and burst by sandal-studs. The tiny strongbox which she knew Aristo kept under the bed was gone, too, and so, she quickly realised, was Aristo. The stubborn old fool would never leave the house, particularly not in a raid. She had a feeling he'd rather try and whack any thieving scamps to death with the end of a scroll than let them take his peculia, hard earned cash accumulated by hours of honourable service. As Antheia backed out into the street, she failed to notice the raised doorstep. A misplaced foot sent her tumbling over backwards. Thankfully, though, somebody caught her. Turning her eyes upwards, she saw a bronzed, bearded face and a pair of eyes wide with surprise. @Chevi enter Tranquillus!
  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
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