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May 74CE

Corinthia remembered the place she had nearly been assassinated at. The culprit had been seized, interrogated and finally had a brutal end to their lives. Yet the original source? She still did not know who it had been. There were many people who would have been only too happy to end her life if it suited them. Either to cause conflict for Caesar, revenge for her father, or a range of other petty issues. She did not hide. Her kohl-rimmed eyes scanned the crowd, her long neck upright and chin raised in defiance. 

Let them hate her... let them try again... the Gods protected her and allowed her to live for a purpose. 

However, she had not come alone this time. Her faithful body slave, Nadia, came with her silently and held her items in her hands. Aeneas, the British slave who had been trained as a gladiator also flanked her and followed her. Despite how much she raved, ranted at and occasionally hurled things at him. She felt safer with his tall, pale presence that followed her. Her chiton was stark white and only highlighted her olive skin, the jewelry she wore was gold, expensive and demonstrated that she was a woman of wealth. One of her 'friends' had told her that many people found their lovers at the Circus Maximus. While the idea of having a lover irritated her. She needed to marry, and to marry well. It had been some time since she had heard from Lucius Junius Silanus, and wondered if their travels to Greece was merely in jest. 

A part of her wished that it was true. 

She used a small hand fan made out of vibrantly coloured peacock feathers, long and expensive, and gazed at the crowd. Her hand had rings with semi-precious stones on them, as she casually fanned herself and was able to hide her disgusted look every so often. Finally, she found the right place to sit and finally she took her seat beside a small group of young men. Some her age, others younger, and mostly they were all from good families. 

Listening to their conversation she began to understand why so many people drank excessive amounts of wine. 

 

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She didn't really want to be here. 

Seia had enjoyed the races, once, and still loved horses - riding them, and caring for them, and her N'aschi had helped her create some of the finest stock in Rome. But the city was difficult for her, these days. She didn't trust or like people much. Old memories bit often and hard, and she preferred the company of her new family to the backstabbing citizens of Rome. It was Alaric who had urged her to go out into the city, enjoy herself, find some friends, because he was a good man who wanted his wife to have happiness outside of him. She saw the sense in it, and had agreed, but now that she was here found herself feeling rather reluctant about the whole thing. How was she supposed to make friends? And what was the point, the next time things went south for her most of them would sit back and enjoy the free entertainment. She had friends, Seia grumbled to herself. Just because there were less than five of them didn't necessarily mean that she needed more, since the ones she had were quality. 

Still, she settled down next to a young lady who seemed bound and determined to let the world see how wealthy she was, and inwardly rolled her eyes. She hadn't had the heart to tell Alaric that she wasn't going to make friends, even though she was pretty sure it would be true, but she had agreed to go out and try to enjoy herself. What did it matter if she was seated next to a peacock? She was here for the horses. Still, she had basic manners, and decided to greet her companion with polite small talk. Hopefully in a minute they could go back to just ignoring each other. "Salve, Domina. Do you have any favorites for this race?" 

There, that should be inoffensive enough. She hoped so, anyway, because looking at the pale-skinned slave with this woman was making her heart sting a little. She wondered if Alaric had been that white when he'd first come to the city...she couldn't look at any of these foreigners without seeing some part of him in them, these days. 

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She had watched the woman approach her. Her dark eyes did not miss much and slowly, she fanned herself and glanced towards her when she heard Seia's voice. Corinthia had been in the social circle for some time now yet she did not recognise this woman. There was something familiar about her. Perhaps during her childhood or her youth she saw her sometime? It was hard to tell. Her gaze moved down to observe Seia's clothing. It was not grand and nor was it shabby either.

Still, she was here with a purpose and was determined to see it through to the end. 

"Salve, I do not." Corinthia answered tersely. Slowly but surely, she was beginning to learn that a bit of sugar would assist her in getting what she wanted and aided in hiding her nature from others. It seemed her mother taught her something at least. She smiled, lowered the peacock feathered fan and looked towards Seia. 

"I do not believe we have been introduced to each other. I am Claudia Corinthia," She answered, her chin raised a little at the mention of her name. It was the connection to her father that was the most important. Her slave mother had used her beauty. "And who, may I ask, are you?" Corinthia asked. Deep down she did not particularly care. However, she had the nagging feeling that she had seen her before and wanted to know from here. 

@Renna

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Posted (edited)

Seia's annoyance grew at the woman's tone. She'd chosen the most innocuous question she could think of; so why, then, was she being answered so tersely? She hadn't missed the once-over of her clothing either. Classless, to make it so obvious. As Seia took her seat, she adjusted her clothing and flicked a long, golden chain and fine pendant out from under her palla so it rested on top. Titus' gift to her was not one she tended to flaunt, but it seemed she was in the company of one who thought highly of such things. Here you go, princess. I have money. I can play.

Imperia already knew she wouldn't find a friend here, but her sarcastic thoughts were interrupted by the woman's name and she froze. An Imperial? Of all the places she could have sat for these races, she'd chosen to sit next to an Imperial? And a snobby one, at that; Seia had fond memories of some of the Imperial family from when she was newly wed, but had kept her distance from them after her first husband's imprisonment and execution. She didn't know the younger members at all, and even though she'd ultimately won, well...it was still awkward. Some people probably still had doubts. Cyprianus had far overstepped his bounds, yes, but even Seia couldn't deny that Titus had been staunchly anti-Imperial, even if she didn't think him capable of assassinating anybody and was certain that he hadn't. People who did not know him well could hardly be expected to be wholly convinced that he had been innocent, even if her bulldogged tenacity had ended up tearing a dictator down. She hated it, and had decided that avoiding those with a vested interest in such things was the wisest option, considering that she was a woman with a temper and a mouth. But here she was. Trapped. 

"....No, domina." Seia's answer was very slow, coming before she had time to think it through, and she realized that it might sound as if she had just refused Corinthia's request to know who she was. "I mean, no, we have never been introduced, otherwise I would have never been so forward. I had no idea." She rose from the seat she had just taken, smoothing her palla around her body. "I'm Seia Imperia, and I suppose you have probably heard of me. Please excuse my intrusion, and forgive me if I've caused any discomfort. I'll leave at once." 

@Gothic

Edited by Renna
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She saw the golden chain and wondered why the sudden display of wealth. The chain and pendant were both admittedly quite pretty. Perhaps she had been wealthy at one point?  What happened for her to lose that wealth? Wealth and power. Those were the only two ways for Corinthia to survive. The thought of falling from her position of wealth was unbearable. She would die. That dimwitted mother of hers would die. Everything she worked for would go down in ashes and dust. Corinthia did not comment on it. 

The name was certainly familiar. She remembered her mother speaking it when she was a child. Her mother, despite all odds, had friends who she would speak to and enjoy. Her eyebrows lifted in recognition of the name. Seia was Titus Imperios Acuelo Gurges' wife and had apparently married an Equite afterwards. Her long-fingered hand reached out and gently took Seia's arm, "Wait," She said, her eyes creased as she smiled, "You are mistaken on both counts. We have been introduced when I was a little girl and do stay. I believe you know my mother." Corinthia added, she overheard someone once say she inherited her mother's beauty and her father's malice. Something her mother had taken a great deal of time to conceal and encourage kindness. Why should she be kind when so many people would be happy to see her perish? All for their own gain? 

"Claudia Gaia," She added, just in case Seia did not see the family resemblance and waited to see what the reaction would be. When her mother's name was brought up among some of the noble girls of Rome, they would giggle in amusement and whisper about her mother's former slave status. 

@Renna

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She'd known this woman's mother? Seia took a moment trying to think, trying to place the face with someone familiar, but when Corinthia provided the name her eyes flew open in recognition. Gaia. This was Gaia's daughter?! 

"Claudia Gaia," she breathed. "Of course, I see it now. I'm surprised I didn't see it sooner. Look at how beautiful you are!" 

How many years had it been since she'd last seen the two of them? Gaia, Seia suspected, was never going to age, but Corinthia certainly had not been this proud young woman when they'd first been introduced. Seia sat again, feeling a little better about the situation. "Your mother," she told her companion, "was always very kind to me. Not a common thing in this city." For her especially, but she didn't add that little cynical note to the end of her statement. "Several of the Imperial family were, back in the day...I just haven't felt right coming close again, after everything. At first I was too much of a political target and didn't want to spread the damage, and after..." Seia shrugged one of her shoulders, a bit wistfully.  "It just hasn't seemed right, all things considered. Your family has been through enough and I supposed no one needed reminders."

Seia took Corinthia in again, then shook her head. "It has been too long. You're a lady now, as stunning as your mother. I let time go." She smiled then, just a little. "Can you tell me, please, is she doing well?"

@Gothic

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Corinthia smiled softly. She noted that the compliment was not given before her mother's name was mentioned. She had to wonder how truthful they were and it seemed that Seia was on good terms with her mother. She watched as Seia sat back down again and spoke about their relationship in the past. Corinthia thought more of the past and the greater events that started everything. Corinthia needed to learn more about what had taken place. "I don't see my mother wishing to shun you. It is not in her nature," She answered, and it was true. Gaia wanted to be friends with everyone and wanted nothing more than to be on good terms with people. Why they had not seen each other since? Corinthia had no idea. 

She gestured casually in response that it was okay. "All in the past now," Corinthia answered, slowly and surely she was learning how to fit in and blend in with people. "She is well, there have been a few marriage proposals that have fallen through," She answered, innocently enough and had found methods of removing these foul opportunists away from her mother. A wealthy widow could still gain a considerable amount of suitors who would appreciate the connections.

Not that marriage ever stopped Gaia from taking lovers of her own. However a few 'surprises' meant that her mother's behaviour was greatly reduced. 

"I know she would love to see you again. Perhaps you could visit the family villa outside Rome?" Corinthia suggested, clicked her fingertips sharply and soon had a goblet of wine placed in it. She sipped the wine and another was offered to Seia. "And tell me about yourself. You have had quite the adventure throughout the years." She said, her dark eyes studied Seia's face and waited to see if she would be willing to or not. 

@Renna

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"Proposals have fallen through?" That truly did surprise her. "Your mother is such a loving person; she's exactly the kind of sweet beauty men want for a wife. That's a shame...I hope she finds a good match soon. She deserves to be happy." It made no sense. Gaia was a perfect wife, utterly charming and utterly sensual. A man would have nothing to complain about. 

Seia accepted the wine with quiet thanks, and considered both Corinthia's offer and her question. Seeing Gaia again, well, she did wish to. She missed her friend, and she knew exactly what to bring her as a peace offering in case there was any leftover ill-will. A gift of peaches and honey would probably smooth over any ruffled feelings Gaia might have harbored, but from the way her daughter was speaking, it seemed that perhaps there were none. That would be wonderful. She did have to wonder, however, exactly what Corinthia was asking her. Surely she knew the general idea of what happened? The older woman did not want to rehash her life story, partly because it was painful and partly because she had enough infamy at this point that launching into the great story of her bullfight with Cyprianus would probably bore a companion who likely knew it all already. "That's a very good suggestion," she answered at last, taking a sip of the gifted wine. "I think I will. I've missed her. As for me...." 

She shrugged. "I'm doing well. I was single for a few years after first being widowed, and threw all my energy into raising my daughter and finding justice for my first husband. Thanks to the gods, I received that. I remarried a good man, one of the few willing to help me when it looked as if I would have no money or standing left, and I'm very happy with him. I've given him another daughter, and more recently, a son." Her cheeks colored a little. "It's very busy, with three children of my own and one stepston still in the domus, but I like being busy. And I still have time for my horses." Seia nodded down to the track. "I had a Parthian friend, years ago, who gifted me a  mare. It's become a business for us. N'aschi and her descendents create some very fine horses, so I was rather interested to see if I could recognize any of mine in the race today." 

@Gothic

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Her mother was all of those things. Soft, gentle, loving and an utter fool. Happiness did not matter to Corinthia. What was important was to build alliances in order to protect herself (and her mother) from people who would wish to take advantage. She kept these thoughts under wraps and politely smiled in response, she shrugged in sincere surprise as to why none of them remained. Of course, it was difficult to marry someone when they had been killed.... 

Corinthia wondered how often Seia had been invited to any functions by society. Not that Corinthia considered her mother to be anyone of particular note, but still. It was a sign of the dangerous nature of Rome, any false move and it could mean that she could be in the same position Seia was in. Or worse. She was determined never to let it happen, no matter the cost. "Aw, that is good." She added, no doubt Gaia will flail around in excitement and be more than happy to know that Seia would be on her way to visit her. And then Corinthia would have to listen to how happy and how grateful her mother was. 

Corinthia was terrified of the thought of having children. The thought of something growing inside her, changing her body, and possibly holding the power of love over her was utterly terrifying. She wanted to always be the Mistress of herself. However, it was necessary. A Roman woman was dependent on the amount of children she brought into the society. Still, it did not make it a pleasant thought. The good man? Either he was an opportunist or a fool, however, the gamble he played won in the end. She wrinkled her nose at the mention of horses. The smell, the fact they were beasts, and she was more than a little scared of them. "Horses? That is..... not something I would expect," She answered, a strained smile as she tried her hardest to be polite. "Your horses are in the race today?" She asked, surely it would help to bring them in some level of coin.

@Renna

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Seia did not miss the wrinkled nose in response to her mention of horses, and stifled a laugh. "None that I entered myself, but I do believe that some we sold already may have made a future in the races. I was curious and wanted to see." The woman desperately wanted to tease her companion, but held herself back, for Gaia's sake. Seia had very little use for fussy, fainthearted women, but she supposed not many other girls grew up knowing anything about horses at all. "But I'm sorry to tell you, Domina, that there isn't much about me that people would expect. I assume you've never ridden one? A shame. If I may share a secret?" 

She leaned over, just slightly. "I think 'they' say that it isn't proper for women to ride, because once you do, and become good at it, once you can control an animal so much larger and stronger than you...men are absolutely flimsy in comparison." Seia settled back in her chair. "It makes it much more difficult for people to bully you, I'll say that much. Not to mention, it's fun." 

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Corinthia did not have time to answer that no she did not wish to hear. She was surprised when she found something of note in what Seia said. The beasts appeared to be unpredictable and she did not wish to admit it. The distaste come out of fear. The more frightened she would become the more skittish the horses would be. Seia raised a good point although she did have a counter.

"'They' also ride and train horses, and as for bullying? There are plenty of ways to deal with those sorts of people," She answered, and shrugged her shoulders in consideration. If Corinthia did not protect her mother and herself. Who would? Unfortunately, it led to her becoming the bully rather than solving the problem at any real length. There were other reasons why she did not like horses. The smell. "I do not like the stink of horse either. It turns my stomach." Corinthia continued, and again, her nose wrinkled in distaste. Surprisingly, it was one of the more honest answers she could have given. There were the smell of several different animals (or gross smells of dirty people) that would turn her stomach. 

@Renna

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