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Even slaves who were bodyguards needed time off sometimes – or, they didn’t need it, according to the people who enslaved them, but they were lucky to get time off. Cynane definitely needed it. Not that she disliked her mistress, no… Claudia was sweet and kind towards Cynane and it was still so much better than all the years Cynane spent as a gladiatrix. Although the male slaves and especially the praetorians, the royal guard, still gave her strange looks for being a woman in breeches carrying weapons… at least she felt respected where she was today.

 And when she was given a bit of coin for her work, she kept it for the few times she had a chance to leave the palace behind her. Today was such a day. Not that a day off meant this woman wearing a dress – no way! She wore her grey breeches and a long blue/grey tunica and a belt with her purse attached. She supposed it was a kind of dress, but it still stopped above the knees and she didn’t care. It felt right to her. Her hair was done as always, with braids and twirls collected on top and on the backside of her head, so that her long hair still flowed down her back, but it wasn’t in the way of her eyes or face.

 Cynane found her favorite place to eat. She hadn’t known this place as a gladiatrix, but another slave had recommended it and she quite liked it. The owner was a bountiful woman, who was a former gladiatrix too – and who chose to open this place once she was freed. They served good food and drink here and there was always something to look upon.

 She found a seat and a barmaid showed up to find out what Cynane wanted. A good serving of the stew of the day and some ale. Yes, they actually served ale in here – it wasn’t quite similar or quite as good as what Cynane grew up on with her own tribe in Britannia, but it was still good and barley grew well in the heat in this part of the world. Once her drink had been served in a large mug, she leaned back in her seat. She had chosen a bench and a table near a wall, so that she could lean against the wall behind her. Cynane took a good gulp of the drink and looked around – and then up as the barmaid appeared with a bowl of stew for Cynane.

 The stew never made it to her table though. Some annoying ass of a man decided to grab the barmaid from behind, hoping to pull her to his lap, and caught by surprise, the barmaid dropped the bowl of food, which landed on the ground and shattered. There was stew and shards on the floor and the male ass was surprised too and forgot to hold onto her. She stepped away quickly and Cynane couldn’t help it and stood, glaring at the man, “Who the fuck do you think you are? You leave her alone and buy me another round of stew!” Cynane demanded.

 It was a good thing she wasn’t allowed to leave the palace with a weapon on her body, but that didn’t mean she was helpless - and if you couldn't tell by her appearance, the way she held herself or the way she spoke, you had a problem. And by the gods she wouldn’t mind a proper fight for once!

 Sadly though, the man was plenty intimidated by a woman in breeches giving him orders, so he stood and quickly left the place – without buying another round of stew. Well fuck… Cynane inhaled a breath and looked around; everyone looked at her though… “What are you all looking at? Mind your own business!” She said and sat down and downed the rest of her mug in one gulp.

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Sure, it was no appropriate for him to go to a taberna.

There was a risk of being robbed in a place like this, and it was somewhere he would have frequented in his youth among close friends when they wanted to run a little wild. Now? Many of his friends had grown up, passed into the next life, and he had an urge to reminisce about his past. A quick look around the room when he entered told him everything he needed to know. There was a good chance he was the most wealthy person in the room. There were many foreigners, plebs, proles, and other people who could be referred to being infamous. Perhaps there was something in the air that led him down this path? He wore a tunica with a toga. Certainly not the official kind. Yet the cut of the fabric and the quality of it demonstrated that he was a man of wealth. His freedman and his body slave followed him into the room, and neither of them looked happy about it. 

Lucius smiled, and the sad sods seemed to be more focused on their sad drink of horse piss when a barbaric woman began to shout. His smile widened to a grin and he turned to tap the his freedman on the chest. "Oh look, Percius, it would seem that we have our entertainment for the evening." He murmured under his breath before he turned back. Lucius walked to an empty table with three stools, it was almost as though he was destined to be here -- right at this very moment. Had he indulged in opium or some strong alcohol? No. So why was he suddenly feeling good spirits filling him? 

He sat down in the seat that was directly across from the scene unfolding. It was better than going to the arena or to the games. He grinned wide, his eyes bright at the sight of the bold, barbarian woman who wore trousers for Gods sakes! He could not help himself. Body slave and freedman resigned themselves to the catch they could become involved in a brawl or something tonight. 

"Now now! Fair Bellona!" He exclaimed, clapped his hands and smiled at her. "Or is it Morrigan?" 

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Just as the man causing problems left, another entered to take his place, it seemed. But this was no ordinary pleb; no, the man entering had his own private entourage with him and was clearly of high rank here in Rome. What was he doing here? But Cynane didn’t think too much about it, she simply sat down and drank her ale, hoping it would quiet down now and that the barmaid would be nice enough to bring her another round of stew.

 And although she told everyone to mind their own business, the nobleman who just entered had other ideas. He had sat down by his own table along with his followers, who were clearly not as well off as he, and now he had a wide grin on his face and clapped at her. She glared at him. So what if he had a handsome smile. He was just another Roman and she just sent one crawling away from her, just by putting him in his place. And the night had just begun.

 How amusing though, that he was entirely new here. Bellona? Now that would be the owner of this tavern, also a former gladiatrix, but Cynane was no freedwoman and she did not own the place. She also wasn’t a goddess of war! The Roman also called her Morrigan then; did he think her a goddess or something? Hardly! Cynane inhaled a breath.

 “I’m sorry, Dominus, but I am not worthy of such names.” She replied, “I don’t see what's amusing you. I’d be more pleased if you’d get me another bowl of stew, since the shit who owes me left without paying.” Alright, so maybe her language could have been better and she didn’t act so well-mannered, but she had some time off and was not in the palace, where she had to be formal and polite. As long as the princess’ name and reputation wasn’t hurt, Cynane considered herself pretty free to speak for the moment.

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Lucius laughed at her response. Then his eyes widened when she asked for a bowl of stew from him, and laughed again. He clapped his hands in amusement, laughed out loud at the cheek and he had to give her credit. It was a way to get free stew. He beckoned her to approach with his hand, he kept going and patted his knee for her to sit on. He did not think that she would want to sit on his lap. No harm in trying to see whether she would or not though? Lucius could not tell where she was from and assumed she was one of the British or Celtic peoples now in Rome. Conquest and money always went hand in hand. 

"Perhaps the War-Maiden of Stew would be more suitable?" He asked, insisted again with a smack to his thigh for her to join them in a meal. "Come, sit with me, and I assure on my honour as a Roman that you will receive plenty of glorious stew!" Lucius exclaimed loudly, however, many of the people had already gone back to their drinks and conversations. The entertainment briefly forgotten. Without the thrill of an audience, he had to accept the fact most of his interaction would be with Cynane herself. Not that was a bad thing. 

Pericus, his freedman, had already gone and fetched some wine, ale, and other nibbles to indulge in. They were placed on the table, and he did not seem surprised by Lucius' antics. It was not entirely strange. The body slave who attended Lucius was naturally silent and said nothing either way. It was not his place to speak unless he was spoken to. 

Without a word his hand reached out and took the cup of wine, took a mouthful and watched Cynane to see if she would or how else she would behave. 

"Bellona, Morrigan? Or possibly Epona if you enjoy a ride?" He winked at her, and expectantly waited for a slap. 

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Posted (edited)

If looks could kill, the Roman would be burning from the fire she felt glowing behind her eyes right now. He laughed at her when she suggested he bought a bowl of stew for her, and then he had the audacity to pat his knee, as if she’d come and sit on it. As if! She lost her stew because another man just tried the same with the barmaid and there was no way she would bend to this man’s will. She guarded a princess of Rome, she was no simple slave anymore and she was certainly not a simple or easy woman!

Then he suggested another name for her, mocking her and saying that if she came to sit with him, she’d get her stew. Cynane thought she’d rather go hungry for weeks than submit to this outrageous man. He seemed very amused by his own words though, but in case he couldn’t tell by looking at her… she was fuming within.

“And why would I sit with a man who taunts me so? Do you think I’m stupid?” She more or less growled. Honestly though, she’d not be surprised if he thought that. In Rome, women ought to be nice and delicate creatures that would easily bend to their man’s will. Well Cynane did not grow up in Rome and she was not and would never be a fragile Roman lady.

The man kept asking for her name and continued mocking her. Gods would he just shut up already?! She lifted her chin a bit, as she tended to do, when she felt someone tried appearing as her superior. She was not this man’s slave and she wouldn’t be either, “It’s Cynane.” She said, unsure of why. She should go before she did something stupid. If it got out that the princess’ bodyguard had gone out and gotten herself in a mess with a free Roman nobleman and even hurt him (she was already imagining what she’d do to him)… if that got out, if she did something stupid… she would be Claudia’s bodyguard no longer. She was sure of that. And she didn't want to lose her good position. So for now, she did nothing.

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Ooooh that look. 

He continued to look up at her with that mocking smile, his dark eyes were lit up by the sight of her frustration and it was like poking a bear. Not that he could resist teasing her. He opened his mouth, pretended to be shocked and looked around. His hand was placed on his chest, then exhaled sharply and then slowly the smile returned. "Oh, oh, I would not dare to call you stupid. Nor taunt you, you might end up putting me into some stew." He answered, admittedly, this was going a little too far. Still, it was a form of entertainment. Free, too. Who said he could not be a man of the people? 

Cynane. That named sounded quite familiar. "Cynane, Cynane," He mused, thought for a moment and raised his finger when the name suddenly came to him. Sister of Alexander the Great? "Ah!" Lucius exclaimed, pointed his finger and smiled. Again, he gestured with his hand for her to approach him, and patted his thigh for her to sit on his lap again. 

"Come, come, Cynane," He teased. "I promise to be polite and give you that stew you would clearly kill a man for. It must be delicious, no?" Lucius asked, insisted on her approach him again and perfectly understood what could happen. This stew had to be worthwhile. After tonight there was no chance he would ever look at a bowel of stew the same way ever again. 

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Gods was he for real? That smile on his face, oh she would love to break his nose and wipe it off said face. How would he look like with that handsome nose broken and swollen and bloody… it would suit him so much better. He then claimed he didn’t think she was stupid, nor did he taunt her. But that’s what he was doing? Was he dim or something? She decided she would not reward him with an answer or he’d just reply in a worse way and there you’d have it…

She admitted her name to him though, and he said it, tasted her name on his tongue for a few moments and then he wanted her to come again. Patted his thigh again. Promised politeness and stew. Well really she could just go back to the palace and find a meal and it would be better than spending more time with him. There was no reason at all why she should stay here and tolerate this treatment!

“Not delicious enough for me to spend one more moment here.” She finally said and stood, downed the rest of her cup of wine and walked over to him, but of course she did not sit, “I don’t know who you are or why you find me so amusing. Perhaps someone along the way forgot to teach you how to treat a woman. At least lesser men than you know.” Cynane said to his face, “Enjoy your wine. I’m done with mine.” And then she turned on her heel to leave the tavern before she actually would break his nose. Wouldn't that be a pretty sight?

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His hand half-covered his face in jest, as though shocked about her words and their supposed impact they were currently having on him. Lucius gasped, his hand moved to his chest and slowly he stood. The stool pushed back as he did so. Sometime Lucius would seek out more information on who she was and where she was from. Clearly he had no idea who owned her, nor what her history was. Didn't most barbarians have tall, proud, angry women? "Well, I am shocked. Lovely Amazon! Are you always so angry? Mocking my glorious virtus!" He exclaimed. Normally, he would not have tolerated his virtus, or virtue to be questioned by anybody and would have beaten the individual senseless. 

Lucius did not wish to lose the evening entertainment. 

He reached out and took her wrist, his grip tight and pulled her as hard as he could towards him so their chests bounced against each other. Lucius' freedman and slave behind him watched closely. It was one thing for the Dominus to have his fun, it was another thing for him to get hurt in a taberna brawl over nothing, and then having to explain what had occurred. "Cynane," He murmured softly, teasingly and then released her wrist to allow her to move once more. 

"Come, I will behave, on my virtus….. and you can have that stew of yours." He added, then pondered whether the second part was a good thing to say or not. 

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She let out a sarcastic laugh when he spoke of how his so-called glorious virtus had been mocked. As if it was that glorious with his behavior! And as if he had any in the first place… but she didn’t respond to him, she wasn’t stupid, instead she’d turned to leave and be done with this. She could find food at the palace. She’d be better off there than here. She hadn’t gone out to start a brawl but had the feeling that if she stayed much longer… it wouldn’t go so well. Not that she would mind a proper fight, but she was also concerned for her mistress’ reputation. For now she was. 

 Before she got very far though, her wrist was grasped from behind and she was jerked back against the outrageous piece of dirt. Her chest collided with his and for a moment she lost her breath while she glared at him with icy blue eyes; they were nearly the same height and he probably wasn’t used to that in a woman either. Just as he clearly wasn’t used to someone like Cynane. Now she might be a slave, but she was not this man's slave and she did not have to submit to him. And she was not going to. As soon as he released her wrist though and while he was still talking with his soft voice (as if she’d fall for that now)… her hand lifted and a loud SMACK was heard, as her palm collided with his cheek, leaving a bright red bruise there when she removed her hand. Did she have his attention now?! Well she certainly had everyone else’s.

 “Gods!” Cynane exclaimed, “Keep your so-called virtus to yourself.” She snapped at him, ignoring everyone who might stare in their direction now, “You don’t know how to behave.” Cynane took a step back, “Now if you were the kind of man who’d apologize for your behavior…” She paused, as if she remembered something, “Oh wait… such a man does not exist!” Every muscle in her body was ready to move though – if he touched her again, she could not foresee the consequences. And she bet he might just do that... he was clearly a senator and used to things going his way. This was not going the way he wanted, so what would he do?

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He knew she could have hit him much harder. 

Yet it was hard enough. 

That did not distract from the fact that she had dared to strike him, and in public too. Lucius reached his hand out to his seated men to prevent them from standing to their feet. Lucius could feel the burn on his cheek and did not lift his hand to soothe it either. Cynane could look him directly in the eye. Rare for a woman. The Senator stepped closer to her, so they were now standing close to each other -- their noses close to touching. Lucius' eyes focused on hers. Dark abyss to cold ice. He fearlessly looked at her and had a nagging feeling she wished to provoke him. Slowly a smirk that widened to a mocking grin appeared on his lips. Normally he would need to hire a courtesan or spend time in the company of a prostitute for such, rough treatment. 

"Well, well, well," He drawled, his voice close to a purr and his gaze remained locked with hers. "Is this how you treat all the men in your life? Dear Amazon," He added, things may not go the way he thought and this, well, this was one of the more exciting things to happen on his outings. 

"Or am I special to you?"

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Cynane expected something would happen. He’d call for help, he’d strike her back and people would send word out to get the urban cohorts here to remove her. And she might either be punished by the senator himself or she would simply be sent back to the arena. The first sounded most likely though, for she must have angered the man, but she did not step down. She’d made her move and she was not going to pretend she was sorry – for she wasn’t. 

They were making a scene in the otherwise nice tavern and even the owner had shown up to see how it was going. She knew Cynane and would interfere if it went too far. But the senator didn’t strike her back or yell at her. Instead he came closer to her and she inhaled a breath. They were touching now, he was that close… and then he grinned again, taunting her again, wondering if he was special.

 “I think you are special to you.” Cynane said in a low voice. They were so close and it would be so easy to just raise her knee and kick him right in the balls, but that would be a call for the urban cohorts and she wouldn’t make it. Instead she fought the urge and decided to try and be sensible instead. She was better than this, after all, “I could return the question to you; is this how you treat all your women?” She paused, “Why are you doing this? What do you want?” Not that she could promise he’d get it, but she wanted to know, now.

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She was not wrong. 

He was absolutely special to him

This was not really what he wanted to hear from her. Lucius had expected another strike to the face to match the other one that had been well deserved. He wondered what had caused her restraint. He still held onto her wrist yet his grip loosened a little, permitted her to leave if she pulled or wanted it. He raised an eyebrow at the next set of questions and waited until she had finished. To be fair, they were all entirely valid questions and not that he entirely knew what he would be doing. "All women? Certainly not respectable ones," He answered truthfully. His wife or any woman of his own status or higher was treated with the utmost respect. Always. Yet women who were lower than him? They certainly did not receive the same amount of respect. 

Now, what did he want? Hell, why was he doing this? Clearly she would wish to be left alone to do barbarian things and eat that stew,  beat up men, and otherwise draw attention to herself. Either way. This had already been quite the colourful evening. 

"What I said. I wish to give you stew and perhaps, if you are willing, you could spend some time with me." He said, near innocently. 

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Cynane almost held her breath while she waited for his response. Because why was he doing this to her? Why was he mocking her and teasing her and seeming to want that reaction from her, yet when she gave it, he did nothing… he only continued to taunt her. She tried to be the civilized one, although she had just proven that she was not, when she slapped him so hard that the red mark was still visible on his cheek. He then said he did not treat respectable women like this; and of course she knew this. She was a slave and slaves were not respectable women. They were nothing. They were just things; toys, even. That’s what he thought she was now, wasn’t it?

 She said nothing to it, but kept meeting his gaze and then he said he wanted to buy her the stew and spend time with her. Now he was almost being nice, wasn’t he? Almost… although he had yet to do the one thing that might make her less hostile towards him. Although with his reaction to her slap, she wondered…

 “I might be willing.” She said and dare to continue with her certain demand, “If… and only if you apologize for your behavior so far and you tell me who you are. And I will still not sit on your lap. And I will do nothing with you, if you do not apologize.”

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Lucius wanted to do many things. None of those things included apologising to the amazon. One thing was for sure, she was certainly bold to dare ask that of him and strangely, it only intrigued him more. His name could either bring out compliance over fear or it could bring out her fire. He was a son of one of Rome's ancient families, admittedly not with the same power they once had and had declined. Yet.. they were still noble. 

"Might be?" He asked. She did not give him a definite no. There was some level of risk when it came to revealing his identity and an apology? Perhaps there was a way he could evade it somehow. While he was interested in spending more time with the Amazon called Cynane. The two men who had accompanied him watched to ensure their Master's safety and wondered how this would go down for him. 

"An apology? Dear Amazon, why would I apologise to you for offering you some of that delicious stew?" He asked, his eyes lit up and gestured to the chair beside him. "Very well, you are not a petite little thing. No sitting on my lap," He said, a slow sigh that followed and then added, "There is always a chance you could lift me up and carry me off" Lucius teased, caught himself on and cleared his throat. He was in the strange of drunkeness when men became bold and did not consider threats as easily as they otherwise did. 

Lucius should stop, however, he could not help himself. 

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She must be stupid… for even thinking this man would respect her in any way. Cynane was a woman, she was a slave and she was out here on her own. Still though, he had not yet treated her nicely, she even slapped him and he seemed to behave a little better after, but still not quite enough. Cynane was then stupid enough for thinking she could make him apologize. It was on her though. Why on Earth would she consider he’d do that? He didn’t do any of the things she asked. Instead he didn’t want to give her an apology and he also didn’t tell her his name.

 Still though, he would have her come and sit with him and he’d not have her sit on his lap. As if that was a reward and apology in itself.

 “I probably could.” Cynane replied to his last comment, “But I’ll do nothing with you. You don’t even pay attention.” She said she’d sit with him only if he apologized, “I will however apologize, for having disturbed your fun tonight. I should get home to my mistress.” She gave him a short nod and turned away again, this time moving faster than before, so he had no chance of catching her wrist. Gods he upset her like no man had upset her in a long while! As she entered the cool night air in Rome, she hoped he had not followed her.

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Lucius did not want to apologise to her. It was unbecoming of him.

Wine tended to bring out a more fun loving side to him that came out when he was in the company of others. "Me? How could I not any attention," He pretended to gasp, his hand reached out to take her wrist but this time she was too time for him. Lucius had to know more about the amazon. Who owned her? He was absolutely itching to know who the Mistress was. He jogged to keep up with he before she reached the door and managed to block her exit. Even though there was a chance that physically she could lift him up, and found his thoughts about it to be mixed. Erotic, perhaps. 

"Wait! Cynane," Lucius said, reached out and gestured back to where they had been seated in moments past. Now what should he say? Shit....

"I," He paused, tightened his lips and finally smiled. The smell of alcohol of his lips and reached out to her again with his hand to try to encourage her. Lucius had always been interested in a variety of people, Cynane, the Amazon was absolutely one of them. "I promise that I will behave this time and refrain from teasing you." Lucius added, then shrugged. Hopefully that would be enough to pacify her. 

"And I have to say, who is this Mistress that you quickly run back to?" He asked, dark eyes twinkled and again had to fight to urge to tease her. 

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He just wouldn’t go away, would he? He claimed to pay attention, but he didn’t and she jerked her hand away when he tried to take her wrist this time. Moments later she reached the door, but he’d literally picked up the pace to block her from leaving! Gods, he would do that? He asked her to wait again then and promised to behave and not tease her. He wasn’t going to let her leave until she came, was he? He was a Roman. He thought he was a gift from the gods to all women and if they wouldn’t come to him… he would apparently lower himself to gain attention and probably also affection.

There was mischief written in his eyes and she doubted she could trust his words about not teasing her again. But what could she do? She tried leaving more than once, but he wouldn’t let her. She would have to give in or she’d never get rid of him.

“Alright. But you must keep your promise.” Cynane said and seemed to relax a little more, now that she had made her decision, “And I am still not telling you anything until you have told me the one thing I’ve asked from you. What is your name?”

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Lucius did not necessarily want to keep his promise. Yet... he had to find out more about her. He raised his hands in a joking defeat, smiled and shrugged when she refused to tell him anything. A name was easy enough though. There were plenty of Luciuses in Rome. 

"Lucius, and now we know each other. Come, answer my questions and sit with my glorious companions once more," He said, gestured back to the two men he had come in with an open palm of invitation. The companions kept a watchful eye over their Dominus yet otherwise appeared to be quite bored with his antics. "Come Cynane, tell me, all about you... I suppose, I will answer a couple of your questions. Hm," He paused, thought for a moment with a jesting finger on his lip in would be thought. "Perhaps we could make some kind of a game of it?" Lucius suggested, and walked back towards his seat and sat down at the table again.

Eagerly he waved to the tavern wench to get them some more. 

"I will even go first and permit you to ask the first question."

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He finally gave in and gave her a name – although Lucius wasn’t much to go by, that could be anyone, really. Lucius was a very common name here, she knew that. The Romans enjoyed using the same names over and over and the sons and daughters would take their fathers name too, at least the first born, so there were many with the same name. But this Lucius here gave in, and so she followed him back to his table, where his companions – his slaves – were waiting. They seemed a bit bored, like they’d seen all this before. Why did he have them come, if all they did was sit here and wait for him to finish having his fun?

She sat down quietly and Lucius wanted to know about her and said he’d also let her ask questions. And he would let her go first. Cynane smiled a little, he thought he had her now, didn’t he? But didn’t he get by now, that she wasn’t your next door tavern wench?

“Very well, Lucius.” She said, looking at him, leaning forwards to rest her arms on the table while watching him closely, “Tell me, how does your wife feel about you going out for a night on the town, taunting other women on your way?”

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Again with the accusations! 

Lucius placed his hand on his chest in mock surprise and looked around with a fake shocked expression on his face. That was quite the accusation. When he was with his late wife, he still had his desires met elsewhere and made sure never to intrude on her space. As a Roman man, he was (unfairly) permitted to socially to do as he pleased. Lucius relaxed in his seat, lifted the cup of wine and sipped it.

"It would be difficult for her to do that as she is no longer among the living, Cynane. Do you always ask presumptuous questions to strangers you know little about?" He asked. Lucius had long accepted his late wife's passing as life, he missed her and cherished the time they had together. He knew she was gone. His task now was to teach his son to be a proper Roman with obligations to the Roman state, and to ensure the success of his family. And indulge himself with the finer things that he desired. Especially if it meant teasing an attractive looking Amazon.

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Lucius here was quite theatrical and Cynane learned by now to ignore his odd little reactions at her words and her actions. But she sat down on her own stool, leaned her arms on the table and decided to question him about his life. He must have a wife, she thought to herself. But Lucius was apparently not married. At least not to anyone alive. It surprised her to hear that his wife was seemingly dead, she did not see that one coming! It made her feel a bit embarrassed, to be honest… but on the other hand, how could she know?

In return, Lucius naturally asked if she always asked strangers presumptuous questions.

“I apologize. I am sorry to hear your wife is no longer among the living.” Just in case he had actually liked his wife. She knew most marriages for nobles in Rome had little to do with love and care and everything to do with alliances and friendships between men. The women had little say in the matter of whom they married. That Lucius didn’t have a wife at home made this all feel a little different though. Maybe that’s why he tried so hard to get Cynane to stay… although a man with his looks could get any woman here. So why her?

“And I guess I don’t ask such questions to everyone… but you are special, are you not, Lucius?” At least he seemed to like to think so.

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