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Things that go bump


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Stepping into the Iseum always felt like leaving behind the mortal world and entering a new realm. The imposing columns, the air thick with incense and smoke, the regal-looking statue of the mother goddess. White-clad priestesses in flowing garments chanted their worship, some in more or less fluent Greek, some in the language of old, while devout Romans and foreigners alike offered their prayers. Outside the temple grounds, busy city life carried on as usual, but the vivacious chatter of merchants, customers, bath-goers and passersby became a murmur in the background when one passed under the arch.

Clio kneeled a respectful distance from the marble Isis and bowed her head in prayer. She didn't dare raise her voice above a whisper; it didn't feel right in such a holy place when she was but a simple slave. Her devotion to the goddess was long-standing, but a product of habit and local costume from her early years rather than a deliberate choice. Egyptian lore and deities had become a part of the Hellenistic way of life many, many generations ago, even before Alexander's time, and they were worshiped in equal circumstances.

She prayed for good health for all in the household, and the continued success of her masters' business. That the Great Isis might give her mistress the son she so longed for. That Clio herself might continue to serve well and be treated well in return. That that rotten son of a merchant might suffer with leper and pus until all flee from him, and his limbs and his member turn putrid and fall off, and that maggots and flies might devour him alive. (Isis the Merciful may forgive the sins of men, but Clio does not, for she is only human, not a goddess.) 

Now that she was done with prayer, Clio had no excuse to linger and delay her return to the ludus. She stood up and began to make her way out of the temple, dropping a lonely as into a bowl a bald novice was holding as she walked past. It was all she could spare, but it was willingly given, so the goddess and her priestesses should be pleased.

She had barely taken two steps outside the precincts of the temple when another person bumped into her, making them both stumble. "My apologies!" Clio said quickly, gaze immediately diverted towards the ground. Being a slave meant the blame was hers by default, even if in this particular situation it was not so. "Please forgive me, I was distracted and did not watch my step." 

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