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May 74CE

Volusa entered her mistress' chamber on silent bare feet, placing the breakfast tray beside her bed before turning to lay out her under-tunic ready for when she wished to rise; Claudia would tell her what else she wanted to wear, but having at least an under-tunic ready was always a good start. She was beginning to get used to this new routine, although it wasn't the same every day. Well, why should it be? Especially on a nice day like today; Volusa actually wouldn't be at all surprised if her mistress preferred to dress and then take breakfast in the colonnade surrounding the garden.

That would be easy enough to arrange, of course - once Mistress Claudia was awake.

Volusa crossed to the shutters, opening them to let the sun in, thankful that it did not fall directly across her mistress' face, although the newly-admitted brightness caused the young lady to stir.

"Salve, Domina," Volusa said quietly, wanting to wake her but not startle her. "I've brought your breakfast."

Serving one person was far to be preferred to running around, ordered about by several people, all of whom though their orders should superceed everyone else's. It was far easier to please just one person!

 

@Gothic

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There were times when her mind was wide awake during the night time and she struggled to get to sleep. Her mind filled with excitement, possibilities, and promises of what the future might hold for her. Eventually, she drifted off to sleep and found a moment of rest. She was filled with hope for the future, there were many times when she would wonder whether she would live up to the glory of her mother, step-mother and grandmother. Claudia planned on doing so, and more, in honour of their memory. 

Claudia groaned to herself and tried to shield her eyes from the sunlight with her arm, brought it over her face and complained loudly. She blinked a few times, slowly adjusting her eyes to the sunlight peering into the room and yawned. "Salve Volusa," She greeted, stretched her arms above her head and yawned wide. She pushed aside the sheets and rose from her bed.

Volusa was still relatively new, and had not gotten used to the routine just yet. It would be up to the other slaves (and Claudia) to teach her. Claudia had chosen her from among the other slave's of the household. There was something about her eyes that Claudia trusted. 

"Thank you, I'll eat when I am more awake," She said, the loose chiton around her body and gestured for the other slaves to bring a tray of water so she could wash her face. "Were there any letters?"

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"Just one letter this morning, Domina," Volusa replied, and lay the scroll down on the breakfast tray within her mistress' reach before stepping back again, reaching for the rag to bathe her mistress' face.

"Did you sleep well, Domina?" she asked, feeling somewhat daring in posing the question, but aware that her new position allowed her some liberties, although she was still acclimatising to her mistress' personality, moods and temperament, and still a little unsure what she could, and could not, get away with. She was beginning to lose her shyness around her mistress, which might be a good thing... or a very bad thing indeed. Only time would tell.

Clothing... Volusa had thought the apple-green tunica, or maybe the amethyst one, but would wait until her mistress was, as she said, more awake, before suggesting either - if her mistress didn't have something else in mind and say so first. And of course there would be time spent in doing the mistress' hair and make-up before she went anywhere - Volusa had little talent in either area and was more than prepared to hold her mistress' mirror for her, or to do any other task set.

 

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Claudia blinked in confusion for a moment. Her hands dipped into the cool water, rose petals and scented water gave a fresh sensation as she watched her hands, then splashed her face with the cool water to help wake herself up and waited while Volusa used the cloth to bathe her face. Later she would bathe yet for now, she moved to a chair and sat down in front of it. Around her the other slaves began to move and prepare as their young Domina began to prepare for the day. 

"Not too badly, Volusa. Who is the letter from?" She asked, as she did so, her hand lifted the rolled up scroll and looked at the seal. Instantly Claudia recognised that it was from her friend and broke the seal, opened the letter and began to read it. It was nothing particularly exciting or of note. Volusa slept at the end of the bed. As her body slave, it was important for her primary slave to be kept close to her and attend her -- no matter whether it was day or night. Slowly she was getting used to Volusa always being there with her. She tore off a bite sized piece of bread, along with a small bit of cheese and ate it. Claudia was used to slaves constantly being around her. It was the norm in Roman society. No doubt Volusa would eat later or she had already eaten before Claudia had awakened. 

It could not be easy for someone -- despite the honour it would give Volusa. The elevation meant better food, easier work, and possibly the rivalry of some of the other slaves within the household. She desired to be kind to her. 

"What about you?"

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Volusa set the basin aside as her mistress rose to take her seat on a chair, and moved the breakfast tray so Claudia could reach it. It was in such details that good service lay, after all. Claudia had looked at the seal before Volusa could answer her question.

Serving this mistress was easier and more pleasant than Volusa had at first feared it might be; it had been a step into the unknown for her, and her experiences of the free were not always the most pleasant - but then, there was a great deal of difference between being someone's own personal slave, and being a general skivvy. Entering Claudia's service had meant entering her protection, even if Claudia herself had not altogether realised that.

"I slept well, thank you, Domina," she replied quietly. The question would have taken her by surprise when she had first stepped into this role, but her mistress was thoughtful and interested in Volusa's life in a way that had been disconcerting to begin with, but that had warmed Volusa to her over the months.

"It looks like a lovely day, Domina. Do you have any plans for today?"

 

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Claudia nodded, smiled and was happy that her slave had slept well. She was gradually learning her place in the world and what subtle things meant, slowly but surely, she was learning everything she would need to in order to survive in Rome. She was determined to not only survive but thrive. 

What did her day involve?

"A relatively quiet day. I will be visiting a few temples and the orphanages that the Augusta has given patronage to, visiting my Mater's mausoleum, and in the late afternoon, I think I will have some relaxation in the garden." She answered. Like both Lucilla and Drusilla, she liked to keep active with her activities and involved with what was happening. Cynane would possibly like to help train her more. Thus far, any bruises had not been mentioned by Volusa although it was rare for her to find her body marked like when she first started. It was expected for Volusa to accompany Claudia everywhere she went. They would be constant companions who would travel with each other all the time. Claudia was pleased with Volusa, and had no complaints. It would take a considerable amount of time for her to truly warm up and trust her. 

She sipped some of the fruit juice and kept eating. She broke the seal and opened the letter, it was from one of the noblewomen who wished to gain her favour and her connections. Claudia knew from a young age that she was a pawn in a wider game, and she was unwilling to beat to anyone else's drum. 

"I will bathe," She said, she kept eating and let Volusa know so she could tell the slaves to ensure the bath was heated and prepared. The palace had private baths in the main quarters, a blessing to bathe in peace. 

@Sharpie

 

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Volusa nodded quietly. The amethyst gown then - it was an expensive colour, and the very subtle purple would serve as a reminder that its wearer was one of the Imperial family. The apple green would be pretty; it suited her mistress' complexion, but if she were visiting temples and other places under the Augusta's patronage, that subtle hint of purple would serve her better.

Of course, the final say lay with Claudia, and Volusa was not going to interrupt her breakfast with talk of clothes and Jupiter knew what else.

"Yes, Domina," she said, and stepped aside to pass the mistress' requirements on - her own days of stoking fires and preparing baths and towels were behind her; she would accompany her mistress to offer her services with oil and strigil.

It would perhaps surprise her mistress just how tightly delineated chores were, she thought, returning to her place.

"I was thinking, perhaps your amethyst gown, Domina," she ventured, once she was certain she would not be interrupting too much.

 

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She stood and walked towards the baths with Volusa followed behind her with the necessary items in her arms. Claudia lifted her arms and took the chiton in her hands, her fingertips untied the straps and allowed the gown to fall to the floor. Only to be scooped up by one of the household slaves that tended to the more menial tasks that lifted it up from the floor. Completely nude, her body was pale and well proportioned. She slowly stepped into the water and began to sat in it. Her eyes closed in happiness at the warmth and felt the liquid flow over her body.

Her arms rested on the surface of the water and she thought more of the choice Volusa had made. Amethyst. It would suit her, and it was not a cheap fabric by any means. 

 Claudia waited to untie her hair. Other slaves walked around her and began to prepare the rest of the baths. "Amethyst sounds perfect, Volusa. I think I will wear that one, and now to decide how to dress my hair and jewelry." She added, she enjoyed being able to decorate her body and it was a way for women to express themselves. Yet she did not wish to solely be considered for her appearance, and wealth. Daphne, the cosmetics slave and Aula, her hair slave both entered the room with their tools. They began to prepare their instruments and listen to what the conversation would be. 

"I might make offerings at the tombs of my ancestors, too." 

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The pool was a sunken one, not quite large enough to swim in (one would have to go to the public baths for that) but quite large enough, and a luxury for anyone in Rome. Of course, this was Caesar's house, if anyone was going to have their own bath-house, it would be Caesar's family.

Volusa knelt beside the pool to attend her mistress in whatever way she wished.

"Is there any particular piece of jewellery you wish to wear, Domina?" she asked, thinking. He mistress had several very nice things - all of them worth more than Volusa herself, of course. Her mistress wouldn't need to weight herself down with everything, but some simple things - a tiara, earrings, a necklace, perhaps a bangle or something. Understated elegance, which Volusa herself cultivated (although in a different way, from necessity and sheer difference in social standing).

"You will need a veil, of course, Domina," she added. A deeper purple would complement her gown, of course, but would draw perhaps a little too much attention. She thought that there might be an apple-green one that would go well with the pale purple of the amethyst gown; too much of one colour could be a bit overpowering, and her mistress did not need that.

 

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Claudia was content in her nudity. Especially around Volusa and reached up to untie her hair, then gestured for her body slave to begin to either wash her hair or her upper body. Her hands lifted and cupped the warm water in her hands, moved them along the length of her arms to clean them and relax in the water. She thought more about Volusa's question, and the not so subtle reminder that she would require a veil. Given Volusa's station within the household, it allowed her to speak more freely than it otherwise might and she pondered the question.

Volusa would be able to speak more freely than others might have. 

"My matching set," She said, then paused to think of a way to further narrow it down, "Either the turquoise set or perhaps something a little darker. Yes, a veil would be good, something to both show my status and yet not boast about it either," She pondered, smiled to herself and then looked to Volusa. "Do you have any ideas?" Claudia asked, Volusa would have received training from the other slaves. Claudia's tastes were still relatively simple although it was becoming increasingly clear. She was a girl no longer but a woman instead. 

Her body slave would be required to know a great deal about how the household worked, what items Claudia owned and any skills that Claudia's slaves had. Her cosmetics would be minimal as she preferred while her hairstyle was often more ornate, her hair would be curled with irons and decorated with jewelry. 

@Sharpie

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It was a warm day in May in Rome, and Claudia's hair would dry relatively fast - and would be easier to style when damp, too, so Volusa reached for a dipper to begin to pour water over it to wash it, careful not to get any water where it wasn't wanted.

"I was thinking, Domina, perhaps the plain gold set would go better with your amethyst gown," she said. "And either a complementary colour, or a contrasting colour for the veil - you have a pretty apple green one that would go with it, if you felt that a darker purple one would be too... obviously Imperial."

It would not be the same colour as, say, the Augustus' toga picta, of course, but any shade of purple darker than the pretty pale amethyst would certainly call that to mind, and Volusa wasn't certain of her mistress' mind on that score. The apple one would be pretty, and not too heavy for what promised to be a very warm day indeed.

"May I ask a question, Domina?"

 

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Claudia sat still while Volusa tended to her hair and again closed her eyes, enjoyed the sensations and let out a happy sigh. Volusa was gentle with her movements and was considerate. 

She paused to ponder both of those options and mentally imagined them both of them on her. Either option would have been fashionable, she was silent and thought more about either option. Both options would be more than suitable and appropriate. She imagined herself wearing both options. Once the question diverted away from her thoughts and since they were becoming closer, it was not unexpected. Considering she would be going to her mother's grave, something modest would be most appropriate and she may need to change her clothing depending on the situation. 

"You may, Volusa." She answered, turned to look at her body slave and waited for the question. 

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It might be a change of subject, but there had been a pause before Volusa had asked leave to speak.

"Do you know when - if! - you will be going to the countryside for the summer, Domina?"

It was the promised warmth of the day that had made her ask; Volusa was well aware that the richest citizens left the city for their country villas during the very hottest months of the year, and her position as Claudia' body-slave meant that she would accompany her mistress. She was still getting used to everything her position meant, but this would be the third summer she had spent away from the heat of midsummer in Rome, enjoying the cool breezes of... wherever Claudia spent the summer. Her geography was not (for very good reasons!) her strong suit, of course, so she had no real idea precisely where that might be.

Her mistress had not made a decision about which veil she wanted, either, and now Volusa thought she had distracted her from making that decision. She would simply get both of them out (or rather, get one of the other girls to get them out!) and let her mistress see them both and make her choice that way.

 

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Claudia paused and shrugged. She did not wish to deal with the heat that came with summer, and the social nor the political issues with the heat. It was difficult to stay cool in the extremely hot weather, unpleasant and sticky, and it was the perfect question for her to ask Drusilla when she next saw her. Technically, Claudia could go to one of the family villas in Northern Italy without permission, however, there was a strong chance that either she or her family members would be going up there. "I hope to," She answered then sighed and smiled, "anywhere would be better than Rome when the heat gets to be too much." 

She closed her eyes to relax for a moment and remembered that duty called. She had no desire to develop lazy habits. 

When her hair was now finished. "Is my hair done?" She asked, as another slave began to help to clean her body. Claudia was used to this sort of behaviour from the people around her. Born to wealth and privilege, she was used to being attended constantly and had briefly forgotten the issue with the veils. Before her skin resembled a wrinkled prune, she stood up and completely comfortable in her nudity. She waited for assistance and a towel to wrap around her body. Then she would need to have her body dried, oiled, and then she would need to dress for the day. 

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Volusa smiled, unseen behind her mistress. General skivvies did not generally accompany the master to his country house, not when he was as rich as Volusa's owner, and who could therefore stock two houses with a full complement of slaves. She was no longer a general skivvy, and would accompany her mistress wherever her mistress went.

She hoped to see something more of the Empire that Rome was purported to have; her summers had been as hot and boring as anything (though the house on the Palatine was a little fresher than the areas in the valleys between Rome's famed seven hill, it was akin to the freshness of a hot oven when compared to a kiln).

"Indeed, Domina," she replied, rinsing her mistress' hair off. "Yes, Domina," she added, setting the dipper down and rising to find a towel. Nudity was nothing shameful and she simply wrapped the towel around her mistress, stepping back to let another slave step forward to offer a massage and the usual routine of oil and strigil while Volusa turned to lay out the long tunic specified, and both of the two veils suggested. The mistress required very little in the way of cosmetics; she was young, with the fresh bloom of youth that no cosmetics could match.

The ornatrix was ready with the tools of her trade, ready to give the mistress a deceptively simple hairstyle that would at once suit her youth and her exalted position, as Volusa stood by, ready for whatever she might be required to do next.

 

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Claudia did not understand at this point the privilege she had to be able to leave the city to avoid the heat. Or how it was beneficial to her. It was something that was always assumed. They had always moved to escape the heat. At least, as long as she could remember. She felt the towel grab around her and patiently waited while her body was dried, she lay down and felt any tension leave her body as her body was massaged and oiled before a strigil was used. Once that was done, she sat up and dressed in the underlayers of clothing. She did not require a lot of cosmetics, yet ash was used to highlight her eyes and her lips were stained to highlight them. The ornatrix, Daphne, worked silently while Aula began to work on her hair. 

She was caught up in her thoughts while the pair worked. Once Daphne was done with the cosmetics she began to work on curling and pinning Claudia's hair with Aula. Claudia waited silently, there was no pinching nor burns from the irons and looked towards the tunica. 

"Volusa, bring me the tunica and the veils so I can compare them," She said, then glanced into the large, decorative and utterly expensive mirror to see the reflection. Her reflection briefly stared back at her before Claudia turned and smiled at Volusa. 

"How long?" She asked. 

"Not long, Domina," Aula answered.

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"Yes, Domina," Volusa said in reply to the order, smiling in response to her mistress' smile, and stepped away to fetch the gown, laying the two veils over her shoulder so that she could show them next to the dress in question, which she lay over both arms so as not to crush the fine (and expensive) cotton, its light purple an equally expensive colour, especially as evenly dyed as it was - it was not easy to dye something light-coloured so evenly.

She came to stand in front of the mistress, so that she would not need to turn her head, and held the dress up, laying first one veil, and then the other, over it so that Claudia could see each combination. "Which do you think, Domina?" she asked.

The amethyst and apple green was a pretty combination that would not work if the colours were darker than they were, and the amethyst and darker purple... Volusa thought it was a little too much purple, a little too obviously expensive and Imperial, but she could not deny that it would be a striking combination even so, if that were the effect Claudia wanted.

There was a pretty white veil, too, but that would be too many to choose from. Selecting from two was much easier, after all was said and done.

 

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Claudia watched as both of the veils were draped across her. Both were absolutely beautiful, elegant and expensive. She smiled as her gaze moved from one to the other in excitement at the choice offered before her, there was a pause and she laughed to herself. "The choice has not been made easier, Volusa!" She exclaimed with happiness, then gestured with her hand for Volusa to approach so she could feel the softness of the fabric with her fingertips.

Meanwhile, the other two slaves moved when their Domina did and finished up her hair, cosmetics and now all that remained was the veil, sandals and the jewelry. 

She felt the fabric of one and then the other. "I will go with the apple green one for the day time and the other one for night time," She said, that meant that the slaves would need to carry the items with them and ensure they stayed safe. The princess rose from her seat and waited for Volusa to drape it around her. 

"Bring out both sets of jewelry," She said, wanted to compare the items and then paused to think about what sandals would be suitable. Claudia waited and added, "and the sandals, too." 

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Volusa didn't think that the green palla would work if either it, or the gown it was going to be worn with, were much stronger in shade (well, perhaps if the palla were a stronger green, but certainly not if the gown were a deeper purple).

She could not hide a smile at her mistress' exclamation, but kept her eyes down. It probably made her look shyer than she really were, but a slave could not be too open with their emotions, even in response to their owner.

She draped the deeper purple one over her own shoulder, just to get it out of the way where it would not get creased or dirty, as she arranged the pretty apple-green one around her mistress. The purple one would fit into a shoulder bag; it would not be too awkward to carry - Volusa merely hoped that it would not get too crushed as she accompanied her mistress today.

Once the mistress' palla was arranged satisfactorily, Volusa lay the spare veil aside on the bed to deal with in a moment and went to fetch  Claudia's jewellery. One of the lower-ranked slaves would fetch her footwear; no slave other than Volusa could be allowed to touch the mistress' precious jewellery - it was worth more than any of them, after all.

"The turquoise set, or the gold, Domina?" she said, setting the casket down in front of the mistress, and extracting the two necklaces - they each had matching earrings, and the gold set also had bangles.

 

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She waited patiently while Volusa dressed her in the veil and once she was finished. She stretched upwards as the other two slaves continued to deal with her hair and cosmetics. The finishing touches were made and she looked at her reflection, smiled in approval and moved a stray curl to the side. She lifted each foot at a time when the slaves dressed her in soft lambskin sandals adorned with jewels, they were secured and she looked over at each of the necklaces. Her hand reached out and trailed over the surface of them in admiration. She needed to keep in mind what would be suitable for both of the different veils. Her gaze moved from one to the other. Finally she made her decision about what she would wear. 

"The gold set, Volusa." She answered, they may not be her most ornate pieces yet they were still beautiful. Claudia waited for the necklace to be draped around her neck. Her hand reached out to take the bangles to adorn her wrists and arms. Once her outfit was complete she took another look at her reflection in the mirror, admiring herself and smiled in satisfaction. In the background the other slaves continued to prepare the items and clean the room for when their Domina would return. 

"First we will be visiting the temples," She said and walked from the room with Volusa behind her. "Where is Cynane?" She asked, the female bodyguard was a common sight for her and would protect her in spaces where the praetorian guard could not follow her. Claudia looked around the entrance room to her quarters. She was nowhere to be seen. "She will also be attending me." 

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It was still early in the morning and nothing had happened during the night – as usual. Cynane had paid a visit to her Domina’s chambers before the young mistress woke and she found that she was not needed yet. So she retreated to the kitchens to break her fast with a bit of bread, olive oil and watered wine. It was fine enough and all she really needed. Just as she downed the last bit of wine, a house slave showed up and looked at her.

 “The young mistress is asking for you.” The young woman said and Cynane nodded and got up. She was dressed as usual, in her light blue tunica with light grey breeches, sandals that sat well on her feet, the brown leather armor, a belt for personal belongings and a sheath for a weapon, should she carry one. The hair was made up with braids on top of her head and down her back as usual – nothing out of the ordinary, “Your Domina is leaving the palace, by the way.” The other slave said on the way and Cynane made a short detour to pick up a gladius, attaching it to her sheath and then making it to Claudia’s rooms. She was not the only bodyguard, but she was the one closest to Claudia's person and she needed to be able to defend her properly. 

“Domina. Apologies for letting you wait.” Cynane said when she arrived, finding her young mistress all beautiful and ready for leaving. Volusa was with her too and Cynane gave her a silent, acknowledging nod.

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Volusa carefully put the unwanted jewellery away and returned, taking the simple cloth bag one of the other girls held out to her, that had the mistress' other pallia in, for later before following her out of the room.

Cynane joined them in the corridor and Volusa offered her a smile. The mistress would be taken to her destination in a litter or carrying chair, but naturally her attending slaves would walk. Volusa rather liked the excursions out of the palace, she didn't get to run errands outside as she had used to so that it was more of a treat to go out now - and she had only ever gone to the shops for some of the smaller things that the cooks needed - most things were delivered, because there were so many people who lived in the palace who needed feeding, the local markets and shops couldn't supply everything.

"Which temple do you wish to visit first, Domina?" she asked, aware that she was probably the only one who could ask the question - and someone needed to tell the litter-bearers where they were going.

 

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Claudia smiled at the presence of Cynane, her faithful female bodyguard and now they were prepared to continue on their departure to the temple. It was easier to go places without having the praetorian guard accompanying her inside, and she had no intention to insult the Gods nor their servants at their temples. Many would enjoy her patronage and support. Volusa was granted more freedom than many of the other slaves within her service when it came to asking her. While she would not necessarily be offering much in the way of coin and prayers, it was expected of her to show support and there were some matters she wished to ask about.

"We will be going to the Temple of Vesta first," She answered, there were times when she wondered what it would have been like for her to have been chosen to become a Vestal. There was always a chance that her uncle in her earliest years (or another contender) could have tried to remove any rivals by placing her there. Fortunately for her there was the benefit and potential downside of her marriage possibilities being more valuable.

"There are a few questions that I need to ask there, then off to the other temples, and it all depends on how the travel time goes with the streets," Claudia grumbled a little, since childhood she had been used to being gawked at inside the litter and any travel being slowed down. It would not be proper of her to be outside the Domus Augustorum after dark, and the roads could be worse during that time, even with her guards who would be clearing the road and ensuring ease of travel for her. However her concern was focused more on her reputation. 

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Volusa gave her one of her sweet smiles, in the way only she could smile… it was kind of discreet, but friendly none the less. Cynane smiled back, but said nothing to her, as she was here to serve Claudia. She had not yet had the chance to take Volusa out in the city, just the two of them, but one day… maybe today they could make the request to Claudia, since they were both here and both going to follow her out into the city.

Claudia smiled at her too and explained what they would be doing. Visiting temples and first to the temple of Vesta. Cynane kind of liked that place; it was only women there. On the other hand, she heard it could be a rather rough life and the punishments for not following the rules were harsh… incredibly harsh. Claudia grumbled a little with travelling on the streets.

“It is still early, Domina, so it may not be so difficult yet.” Cynane commented, “Are you all ready to go then? Domina?”

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Volusa slipped the strap of the bag containing her mistress' other palla, and the various other bits and pieces she might want over her head, and whispered a direction to one of the younger girls, to tell the litter-bearers that the mistress was going to the Temple of Vesta first. It wasn't far, straight down the hill, but it would take longer because they couldn't go straight down the hill, not without tipping Claudia out, and nobody wanted that to happen.

"I'm sure it won't take long, Domina, and as Cynane says, it is still early. Besides, nobody would dare to get the way of a member of the Imperial family," Volusa said, and slipped into her own position, behind and to the right of her mistress, ready to respond to any order or command she might be given.

She rather liked visiting the Vestals, they were all kind, if rather aloof sometimes - and they had far more freedom than any other woman in Rome. Even the Augusta.

 

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