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Astrius

Cheap for the Cheap

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Astrius' last owner didn't like him. The only reason he could think of was that he threw up on him after a night of drinking, but that was only once. He had an owner he threw up on three times before he put Astrius back on the market. He had so many owners by now that he lost track. Certainly it was in the 60s or 70s, right? He couldn't tell. Through a lot of them, he was either too drunk or too high to pay attention. Back on the market he'd go. It was almost like home for him. He'd been there so frequently, after all! 

The older slave had his head up on the bars. He was smiling, watching the slave owners walk by. They looked at him in disgust, and all he could do was laugh when they did that. Oh, what a sight! Little did they know he could easily have his real father, Vulcan, strike them down with his mighty flame! They'd really regret looking at him like that again. Or maybe they wouldn't, because they'd be dead! 

The man then saw a normal looking person in the market. Someone not a noble's messenger boy. His eyebrow raised. "Hello! Astrius greets you!" He said. If only he could sneak a bottle into the cage, then the real fun would begin. "Astrius thinks you don't belong here. So, do you belong here?" 

@Chevi

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Theo was too poor to buy himself a slave. Then again, he didn't really need one. He could dress himself, food was mostly provided at the Ludus for him, and he could keep his small living space clean himself. Sure, it would have been nice to have a slave that acted as a secretary or even an apprentice, someone with wits and a keen mind, to help with his everyday work and keep his tools and medications in order. He would have even considered purchasing Justinia from the brothel, if he didn't know that she was way, way out of his current price range. Sadly.

Walking across the market, the sight of slaves for sale made him think of such topics. He was dragged out of his musing, however, by one of them calling out to him.

"Hello! Astrius greets you! Astrius thinks you don't belong here. So, do you belong here?" 

Theo blinked, turning to look at the man. Slaves did not usually yell at potential buyers, especially not in this kind of familiar tone. The man looked somewhat older than Theo, but it was hard to tell.

"Shut up, you!" the man responsible for the sales slammed a stick at the bars, clearly already frustrated with the man "You think anyone will buy you when you talk like that?"

Theo tilted his head, looking at the man. He was clearly not one of the usual fare of quiet and modest slaves.

"I'm not really looking to buy..."

@Sydney

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When the man slammed the bars, Astrius just let out a big laugh. He'd been through this so many times that he always found it funny when slave owners yelled at him. Of course someone would give in to buy his cheap price! They just never knew what they were getting themselves into. "With prices being so low for Astrius, yes he thinks so!" He snickered. A crazy slave was better than no slave, at least that's what he came to realize. He kept being bought even though his antics were less desired by most slave owners. 

The walking man actually answered him! It was certainly a surprise, very rarely did someone answer his calls. He said he was not looking to buy, and Astrius waved his arm. "That is what they all say! Astrius knows very well. But surely the man would not have answered if he was not interested!" Astrius smiled, his rotten teeth showing through the bars.  

"Astrius is the cheapest in the market, he is! Not pretty, not smart, not literate. But very cheap!" He wasn't selling himself short, it was just the truth. He didn't care either. He was just here for a good time! 

@Chevi

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 "With prices being so low for Astrius, yes he thinks so!" 

The slave was clearly not right in the head. He talked back to the frustrated merchant like it was no big deal, and he seemed cheerfully comfortable with the fact that he was being sold for a low price. Slaves sold cheap did not usually have much good to look forward to.

"That is what they all say! Astrius knows very well. But surely the man would not have answered if he was not interested!" 

The had to admit that the whole exchange was kind of fascinating. The last thing Theo needed was a crazy slave, but this one seemed intend on catching his attention.

"Astrius is the cheapest in the market, he is! Not pretty, not smart, not literate. But very cheap!"

Theo, against his better judgment, snorted with laughter. "Well, at least he is definitely honest" he noted, both to Astrius and to the merchant. The latter just rolled his eyes "He is a pain in the arse, if you ask me. One more scene like that and I am sending him to Laurion." Theo arched an eyebrow. The mines were the last resort of merchant, and the place where slaves went to die. "What's wrong with him?"

@Sydney

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Astrius was usually pretty good at drawing people's attention--for better or for worse. It was attention nonetheless. To him, anyone that saw him was a blessing from Vulcan. One day he'd watch them all burn. Astrius would see them face the wrath of Vulcan. He knew his true father would protect him from anything and curse anyone who snickered at his child. 

The merchant mentioned the Laurion and Astrius could only laugh. "Merchant wants to send Astrius to the Laurion. Astrius would love to go to the Laurion. That way they couldn't blame Astrius when fires burn!" When Astrius watched small fires break out, he was always so thrilled. Vulcan was sending his blessing to bad people. 

When the man asked what was wrong with Astrius, he arched both of his eyebrows. "Astrius can hear you. There is nothing wrong with Astrius. It's what's wrong with everyone else! Astrius promises, unbelonging man, that he is not a bad person nor is he wrong! Astrius just enjoy's people's company, that is all." Another smile broke out on his face. He was the least bit charming. 

@Chevi

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"Merchant wants to send Astrius to the Laurion. Astrius would love to go to the Laurion. That way they couldn't blame Astrius when fires burn!" 

Theo blinked in surprise, and the merchant uttered a string of curses, slamming his staff on the bars again. The slave did not seem bothered by it at all. His mind was clearly in an unusual state (and so were his teeth), and he either did not know what Laurion was, or did not care. Either way, it seemed like he was grouped under damaged goods, as far as the merchant was concerned. 

"Astrius can hear you. There is nothing wrong with Astrius. It's what's wrong with everyone else! Astrius promises, unbelonging man, that he is not a bad person nor is he wrong! Astrius just enjoy's people's company, that is all." 

To be fair, thought Theo, speaking of oneself in the third person in itself did not constitute a serious illness. He had been honest so far (or lying for no reason whatsoever), and seemed friendly enough. Somewhere in the back of his mind Theo felt like it would be a waste to send the man to the mines. He took a step closer, inspecting him with more attention this time.

"Are you the fool of one of the gods?"

@Sydney

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The second time the merchant banged on the bars, Astrius clapped for him. Oh, the bars couldn't touch him but he kept banging it anyways! They thought that Astrius was stupid, but he wasn't the one making loud noises on a cage for no reason. It had no effect on him, so why did the merchant keep doing it? It was funny! 

Astrius loved pushing people's buttons. It was always fun to see how angry they could get before they beat the shit out of him. That's when he knew they got to them. That's probably also why nobody wanted to buy him. He wasn't a good, obediant slave like most people were in the market. No, he was the exact opposite! But people liked cheap, and some people liked spontaneity. He was their man for the job! 

His next question made Astrius' eyebrow raise. "A fool of one of the Gods?" He said, repeating what the man said. His words were suddently serious. "Astrius is no fool for anyone. Astrius is blessed." He said, his eyes going serious and his face no longer showing any signs of smiling. 

@Chevi

 

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For all his medical training and his affection for Greek philosophy, Theo was ultimately a religious man. It would have been foolish to deny the existence of the gods in such a huge world filled with wonders. Some gods had strange ways, especially if they came from the East or from Egypt. Some demanded different things from their followers; when he served on the Eastern frontier, Theo became familiar with various cults and mysteries, some of which had followers that... seemed more than a little strange (not to mention the ones that straight up castrated themselves). It was not outside the realm of possibility that this slave was not insane, simply a follower of some strange unknown deity.

"A fool of one of the Gods? Astrius is no fool for anyone. Astrius is blessed." 

Close enough.

"Blessed indeed" Theo smirked, looking at the man. He was not young anymore by any means, but he was still full of life. "I'll rephrase the question, then: What god do you follow?"

@Sydney

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Astrius could never tell when someone was genuinely interested in him or mocking him. Even if he could tell the difference, he didn’t think he’d care. At least they were talking and amusing him. It was better than having a one-sided conversation with the merchant, that was for sure. 

He raised his eyebrows when the man asked what god he followed. Ah, now that was the golden ticket question. Astrius smirked. “Vulcan is the one true god, if that’s what the man is asking Astrius. Astrius is here to carry out His will.” His time of voice seemed intense, almost passionate, when talking about Vulcan. It was truly the only thing he took seriously. Well, he took drinking seriously too, but he didn’t think that counted. 

@Chevi

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There were worse afflictions among mortals than devotion to a god. The gods were mysterious and often fickle and easy to offend, but with their chosen favorites, they could also be endlessly generous. Which was hard to tell sometimes, given that this devoted person was locked in a bargain cage on a slave market... but the Fates did not always measure their yarns in a straight line.

“Vulcan is the one true god, if that’s what the man is asking Astrius. Astrius is here to carry out His will.”

Theo tilted his head, musing over the answer. Vulcan was not one of the more popular gods, unless among people whose work and life was directly related to his mercy. But this man seemed dead serious about his answer, and his devotion to his chosen deity.

"Vulcan?" he nodded "Do you have experience with blacksmithing, then?"

@Sydney

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Vulcan was the one thing that Astrius did not joke about. He was seriously committed to doing the will of Vulcan. The whispersin his ears told him to do things on Vulcan's behalf, making him believe that it was actually the god speaking to him. Astrius did not doubt the voice. Why would he ever turn away the voice of a god in his head? That would not make sense! But nobody understood. Astrius was the only one that could even grasp his power. 

The man asked if he had experience with blacksmithing. Astrius laughed. "Dominus had experience with blacksmithing, Astrius only helped. No, Vulcan has a different plan for Astrius." He smiled and nodded. Blacksmithing was not something he could do, but he did like the sparks and the flames that came with the trade. He understood that blacksmithing was important and that it was his chosen god's trade. He respected the trade more than any other trade. 

@Chevi

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Atrius maintained his serious tone while still discussing his chosen god. Theo hoped that he would have a hidden talent of blacksmithing, something he could use to justify purchasing the less-then-ideal slave and explain at the Ludus why he picked this one of all the possible ones to be of assistance in his work.

"Dominus had experience with blacksmithing, Astrius only helped. No, Vulcan has a different plan for Astrius." 

No such luck. Theo sighed. He could have still walked away from trouble with a free conscience... well, almost free.

"Well, if I end up buying you, you'd have to make yourself useful. I work at the Ludus. You know what that is?"

@Sydney

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Astrius really didn't have any talents. Sure, he could lift heavier things than most people thought he could and he could do his job when he wanted to, but not many people would consider those talents. He was definitely talented in the amount he drank, but it wasn't like he could hold his alcohol well either. He couldn't tell what this man wanted from him. Astrius was practically nothing. Once he had been bought as a body slave for some strange old man, but he refused to do his job. He wondered if this man had the same intentions. He was too well kept to want a man like Astrius! 

The man talked about possible buying him. Would he have an owner once again? Oh, what a strange conversation this was! He also said he would need to make himself useful. Astrius had never been good at that before. He then mentioned the Ludus. Astrius rolled his eyes. "Astrius is no idiot," he said, sighing. He knew what a Ludus was. But why would the man want someone as dirty as Astrius to help in the Ludus? Of course there were many dirty people there. "Astrius can lift heavy things that the scrawny man can't! And Astrius can make fires to help with...something!" Astrius calling the man scrawny was definitely hypocritical of him. Astrius was a lot scrawnier than him, almost looking like he was on the brink of starvation. But it was the only thing that made him semi-useful. 

@Chevi

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 "Astrius is no idiot"

Debatable

"Astrius can lift heavy things that the scrawny man can't! And Astrius can make fires to help with...something!" 

Theo arched an amused eyebrow at being called scrawny. No one had ever accused him of being a veritable Herakles, but hey, the slave did not have much on him in strength either, not by the looks of him. And everyone could light a fire with little effort. Gods, this man really was useless, even if fascinating. And he would not last a week in the mines.

"Told you he was useless" grumbled the merchant, not putting his best foot forward in making this deal.

"He very well may be" Theo admitted, sending up a silent prayer to whichever god was trying to steer him in some unknown direction "But I think I'll buy him anyway."

@Sydney

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Posted (edited)

Astrius really didn't think he was an idiot. Maybe he spoke as such, and maybe he didn't get any sort of education, but...well, maybe he was an idiot. But when it only came to books. He wasn't the child of Athena, after all! Vulcan didn't care for smarts, which was definitely a good thing for Astrius. He was chosen, after all, so he couldn't be a complete idiot. At least, that's what Astrius thought. He was convincing after all, despite being seemingly insane. 

The merchant said he was useless. Astrius couldn't help but chuckle. Of course he was useless! He wouldn't be a bargain bin slave if he was beautiful or strong or talented. Astrius didn't believe that the merchant had any talents either. The real talent would be actually convincing someone to buy him. He just stood there barking orders and hitting Astrius' bars. 

This banter was fun, but he knew it would come to a close soon. Astrius would find the next fool and it would go on and on. The man spoke again, but Astrius couldn't believe it. His jaw dropped. He actually wanted to buy him? Why? He was useless! Oh, the man would be in for a treat! "Scrawny man wants to buy Astrius? Vulcan blesses thee!" He said, a large smile on his face. "Merchant is the one that is useless. If Astrius did not make a fool of himself, the man would not buy Astrius, no?" He said with a smirk. 

@Chevi

Edited by Sydney
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The slave and the merchant looked equally surprised, but in different ways. It did not escape Theo's attention that the latter was looking at him in a whole new light... not unlike the way he looked at the fool.

Gods help me.

"Scrawny man wants to buy Astrius? Vulcan blesses thee! Merchant is the one that is useless. If Astrius did not make a fool of himself, the man would not buy Astrius, no?" 

"That is debatable" Theo noted for good measure, turning to the merchant to ask about the price. He had not been lying: the man was practically free. The mines probably did not pay much per person, especially with the shipping costs. Or maybe he was just too frustrated to haggle. In a few short moments and some papers later, Theodorus found himself a proud owner of a brand... um, slightly used... ehh, bargain price slave. The merchant all but dragged Astrius out of the cage to hand him over.

"He's your problem now!"

"Very well then" Theo sighed, steeling himself "Alright, Astrius, was it? My name is Quintus Flavius Theodorus, and it appears that I own you now. Let's try to prove this merchant wrong, shall we?"

@Sydney

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Why anybody would buy Astrius was beyond him. Even he knew that he was as cheap as dirt. But this unusual man was different...he didn't seem like the type of man to own a slave. So why did he want a slave? And Astrius, out of all the good slaves? He couldn't even read! If he wanted him to fight in as a gladiator, well, he'd have another thing coming. Those gladiators would snap him in half like it was nothing! Astrius was grateful, yes, but he was also skeptical. Nobody bought a bargain bin slave for no reason, right? 

Astrius was dragged out of the cage, stumbling and almost falling down. He gave a smile to the merchant, and then gave a smile to the man. He introduced himself to him. A name that matches with the unusual man. "Quintus Flavius Theodorus, Astrius has already proved that merchant wrong. Quintus Flavius Theodorus bought Astrius when the merchant thought it impossible!" Astrius snickered. 

His tone went serious, though it had a hint of curiousity. "And now what will Quintus Flavius Theodorus do with Astrius? Will he throw him in the pit? Will he let him make fires? Quintus Flavius Theodorus must have some plan for Astrius or else he would not have spent his coin." 

@Chevi

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The slave smiled as he stumbles out of the cage and into Theo's ownership. He was older than the medicus, and definitely scrawnier, but none of that took away from his cheerful mood. 

"Quintus Flavius Theodorus, Astrius has already proved that merchant wrong. Quintus Flavius Theodorus bought Astrius when the merchant thought it impossible!"

Theodorus was still wrapping his head around having just purchased a slave. It had been a rushed decision, partly based on pity amd largely on curiosity. There was still time to see who would be proven wrong in the end. 

"And now what will Quintus Flavius Theodorus do with Astrius? Will he throw him in the pit? Will he let him make fires? Quintus Flavius Theodorus must have some plan for Astrius or else he would not have spent his coin." 

"Theodorus is enough" Theo sighed, waving the rest of his name away "And no, I'm not going to throw you in a pit. Or... Make fires. Honestly, I just needed someone to help with my work. Keep my tools clean, wrap bandages, carry my bag when I see patients... Hold the patients down if needed. I assume you never worked with a medicus before? "

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Astrius has no idea what Theodorus did for a living. He obviously wasn’t a rich man—if he was, he certainly wouldn’t have bought Astrius. He couldn’t tell just by looking at him either. He wanted to make fires and lift heavy things. That’s what he was good at. But when he spoke and said his occupation, Astrius stopped dead in his tracks. 

“Quintus Flavius Theodorus is a medicus?” He said, igniting Theodorus’ first comment, in a surprising tone. After a moment of silence, the man threw himself into a fit of laugher. He was a loud laugher too, one that people might dart their eyes to in the street. 

“And...Quintus Flavius Theodorus wants...Astrius...to clean?” He said in between his laughter. “Astrius thinks that is funny! People always say how dirty Astrius is. But the man bought Astrius so he could clean? By Vulcan, that is the irony of it all!” He couldn’t stop laughing. 

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"Quintus Flavius Theodorus is a medicus?” 

Theo nodded, not sure what reaction to expect for that... But the one that he got was definitely not one he would have guessed. His new slave dissolved into fits of laughter so loud some people turned to look. 

And...Quintus Flavius Theodorus wants...Astrius...to clean? Astrius thinks that is funny! People always say how dirty Astrius is. But the man bought Astrius so he could clean? By Vulcan, that is the irony of it all!”

As embarrassing as the whole display was, Theo had to admit the man had a good point. He was not exactly a picture of cleanliness. The whole thing seemed a little foolish. 

"I did not buy you to clean, I bought you because nobody else was going to. You will just have to learn the rest. And you are right, you are not exactly clean, but it's not like it is your fault. A proper bath should sort that out. Let's go." he nodded, heading down the street to a nearby bath, only pausing to give thought to new considerations." Do you have lice? "

@Sydney

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Posted (edited)

Astrius couldn’t imagine doing anything clean. He had done almost every job but handling clean equipment. Sure, he cleaned houses, but never a job like the man had described. He didn’t know the first thing about helping a medicus. He assumed he would learn. That was if he would be able to pay attention long enough.

He came down from a fit of laughter when Theodorus spoke again. He said he bought him because nobody else is going to? What a strange reason. “Astrius would usually call any man who said that a liar, but Astrius does not think that Quintus Flavius Theodorus is lying. A strange reason to buy a slave...out of pity...” he said, questioning why. The man moved on to the next question as well as headed down the street. 

“Lice? Astrius probably has lice. Little buggers in the head. Always bothering Astrius.” 

@Chevi

Edited by Sydney
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The laughter was over, for now, and people moved on with their everyday errands. Theo was a little unnerved by the look Astrius was giving him, but he was not going to let himself be intimidated by the slave he had just bought.

“Astrius would usually call any man who said that a liar, but Astrius does not think that Quintus Flavius Theodorus is lying. A strange reason to buy a slave...out of pity...” 

Well, at least the man was good at reading people. That had to count as a skill, right?

“Lice? Astrius probably has lice. Little buggers in the head. Always bothering Astrius.” 

"Of course you do." Theo sighed "Alright, to the barber first then. You will have to have your hair and beard shaved, and then it's on to the bath."

At least these things were something he could deal with. As a medicus, he had potions for most everyday ailments and parasites...

@Sydney

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Posted (edited)

Astrius wanted to go to the man’s home and take a nap. He was tired from all the standing around in the cage and all the questions he was asked. He would rather sleep for a long time than bother with useless questions! Most slaves were so boring, but Astrius definitely wasn’t most slaves. 

Theodorus said that he should go to the barber and Astrius gasped. “Quintus Flavius Theodorus wants to get rid of Astrius’ beard? No, please, no!” He begged. “Astrius almost bit the hand off of the man that tried to cut his beard the last time. Have pity on me, Quintus Flavius Theodorus!” He yelled, almost in a panic. 

He could handle a haircut and a bath, but Astrius loves his beard. It wasn’t much, but it was his pride and joy! 

@Chevi

Edited by Sydney
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His suggestion of getting rid of parasites was met with an uncanny amount of wailing. Theo felt like he was losing some of his usual patience already. The man knew that it was between the medicus and the mines, and yet he did not seem very content with the luck of ending up with the former. The hair and the beard had to go, along with the lice and all other parasites.

“Quintus Flavius Theodorus wants to get rid of Astrius’ beard? No, please, no! Astrius almost bit the hand off of the man that tried to cut his beard the last time. Have pity on me, Quintus Flavius Theodorus!” 

Oh, good. He also bit people.

"Look, I can't take you home riddled with lice" Theo noted, more firmly this time "And I'd appreciate it if you didn't bite anyone. As I said, you will take a bath, and you will have your hair and beard cut. They will grow back. In fact, if you behave yourself, I will make you some of the potions that make your beard grow back better, and less... patchy." If Theo had been another kind of healer, he would have made a fortune from potions like that. As things stood, he knew the ones that helped, to a certain extent, although he was far from a miracle worker. Astrius did not need to know that. "Take it as a rite of passage to your new life."

@Sydney

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Astrius always adapted to change very well, but when it came to his beard...he really didn’t want to depart with it. It was his legacy, his pride (not that he had much pride), and his dignity. Without his beard, Astrius felt as if he was nothing. There was nothing to shield himself with.

Astrius panicked. “Listen, Quintus Flavius Theodorus, Astrius will take a bath. Astrius will shave his head. Astrius will scrub his body and beard until no more bugs bite him or his master. Astrius will not bite anyone. But please, may Quintus Flavius Theodorus and the Vulcan have pity of Astrius’ poor beard!” He loved his beard. He had been growing it out for years now. It was ugly and patchy, but Astrius adored it. 

“Astrius will be the best slave and be in the man’s debt if Quintus Flavius Theodorus lets him keep it.” He was so strung up on the beard, Astrius couldn’t think about anything else. 

@Chevi

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