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Late April, 74AD

Charis breathed heavily as she sat on the floor, taking in the shade and the minimal breeze offered. She'd been warned that the heat of the city was only going to get worse, and this was actually rather a mild time of year. For a woman, however, who was used to the cold climes of her homeland in Britannia* it was already intolerable. The sheer amount of people here likewise didn't help. It seemed that whenever she was able to actually leave the domus, the streets got a little bit busier and the atmosphere more insufferable. 

Already in a poor mood after being disturbed in her sleep by the chattering of some of the other slaves, this morning's tasks had not helped. Whilst she was used to walking, Rhoda's instruction to head for the market (when she could very well have gone herself) irritated the slight Briton beyond measure. Fortunately for both of them, however, Charis had an uncanny ability to be ruthlessly efficient. Having collected the wares that were needed, she had lugged them back to the Quirinal Hill with time to spare. Oblivious to the fact that as a slave, she should never have time to spare unless instructed that she could take some time off, she assumed she was not expected back for a little while.

Feeling as if she was melting, she had taken respite under a small tree between houses. Her own household was, perhaps, a ten or so minute walk from here and she felt suitably out of their watchful eye enough to enjoy a few moments to cool down and catch her breath. Few that passed her paid any attention and a couple of boys - slaves she assumed, judging by their clothing - had also taken a few moments in the shade. She wondered for a half-moment if they were Briton and struggling with the heat as much as her, when something else caught her attention and she glanced up. 

 

TAG: @Gothic

Let me know if you need a little more for Gaius to go off of! 

*The Parisi, Charis' tribe, are from modern day Yorkshire so enjoyed northern climes! 

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Gaius sighed to himself. As he aged, the weather would often impact his mood and how he felt. When it was hot? He would complain. When it was cold? He would be complain. However, there were many from the more Northern lands who did not seem to do as well in this climate. Pavo, his trusty and faithful slave followed with his Dominus' nick nacks. Gaius grinned, his walking stick in hand and rested on it while he turned to face Pavo.

"Come, come, Pavo. It is a beautiful day, is it not? The sky is bright, we are in good heatlh, and we are on an adventure!" Gaius exclaimed. Pavo gave a good humoured smile and sighed. He remembered overhearing that years ago Gaius had been strict and firm within the household. It was absolutely different from the man he saw now. Gaius was excited by the possibility of meeting somebody to talk to. Anybody new who he could meet, and perhaps encourage to give him some of their time to hear about their lives and their adventures. Everyone's life had meaning. Everyone's life had a purpose. 

He saw a small and pale woman rest under the shade near two trees. Gaius frowned, and gestured to Pavo to increase his pace. "Water jug, Pavo!" He exclaimed, while the slave wrestled to not drop any of the items held, and then handed him the jug of water. Gaius held it on his hand and limped over, held the jug out to Charis. 

"Water?" Gaius invited, a kind and gentle look in his eyes. 

@Sara

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Charis blinked at the man stood in front of her. The heat had made her mind muddled and it took her a few moments before she realised what she must have looked like. She quickly sprung to her feet and offered a smile. She glanced cautiously over him and the man with flushed cheeks standing behind, who she assumed from his dress was a slave like herself. Which presumably would make this man a citizen. She had been warned not to try and imitate conversation with those who were free but...he had started this interaction, surely? She had just been sat, minding her business, trying desperately to cool down. 

Nonetheless, she kept her eyes respectfully down but took the offered water. "Thank you, sir." She said in accented Latin. Her linguistic ability had greatly improved over the last few weeks, thanks in part to Teutus' lessons, but largely down to just being surrounded by native speakers who had no patience for her own language. 

The water felt like nectar to her and she drank heavily. How on earth it was supposed to get hotter than this, and how she was supposed to carry out her duties in such conditions she had no idea. Finishing, she offered back the jug with a smile of gratitude. She did, however, fan her face with her spare hand - willing the flush from her cheeks to disappear. "I not used to heat," She offered by way of an explanation, "You very kind to offer help, sir." Feeling awkward, as she didn't know what to do, she shrugged her shoulders. "Do not let me delay you sir, you have important things do I am sure." More important than a melting Briton, she mused.

 

TAG: @Gothic

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British? Or somewhere Northern?

He struggled to pick those sorts of accents and generally was better at ones in Africa or the middle east. Gaius waited patiently while she drank her fill, clearly she needed it and smiled gently. Later, it would direct her to the various fountains around the city to show there were places she could get water from. He reached out his hand to take the jug back, still leaning on his walking stick and rested it against the surface of the cane. Pavo reached out and took the jug from his Dominus. He had heard that many of the fair skinned northerners did not handle the heat very well. While others loved the warmer climates and never wished to return to their cold homeland. 

"It is alright. Are you feeling better? There are fountains that you may drink from around the city," He explained, slowly and gestured with his hand around the place. Gaius would need Pavo to explain the exact locations. Gaius also did not wish to take up her time, especially since there were Owners who were not as patient as he was and decided to offer. It could not hurt!

"It is no trouble, I do not wish to keep you either. I am writing a story of everyone in the Empire," Gaius exclaimed brightly. It was highly unlikely that this would ever happen yet ambition drove men to be better than themselves. "Would you be willing to share your tale?" 

@Sara

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Charis couldn't help the blush that coloured her cheeks. Stupid girl! She chided herself. She hated feeling out of her depth, but this city with its packed, weaving streets and mass of people had thrown her completely out of sorts. She had no idea there was water freely available, nor that it was pure enough to drink. "Better, thank you Sir." She repeated in accented, hesitant Latin. It had improved but she was still conscious of her accent and the way she stumbled over words and grammar.

Frowning, and brushing stray deposits of dust from her light tunica, she concentrated on his words. "Story of Empire?" She repeated slowly, but not wanting to sound like a fool when she understood him perfectly but was just confused by the idea of documenting life itself, added with a brief smile; "Sound inter-esting, Sir." She was proud of picking up that word. 

Cautiously, she glanced up at him with surprise on her face. He wanted to know about her? Bashfully, she dropped her eyes back to his middle and tucked an errant strand of hair behind her ear. "My story not inter-esting, Sir." She shrugged thin shoulders. She had learned that from Rhoda and the others; people were enslaved justly or unjustly, it was the way of the world. Her life was no more remarkable than the others she had ventured to Rome with, or hundreds, thousands of others that now filled its streets. Still, not wanting to seem rude and really in no hurry to get back to her domus, she shrugged again. "But happy to speak to you, Sir. What...you want to know?"

 

TAG: @Gothic

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Again, Gaius was patient while she answered him. He did not try to pressure her to speak faster nor to explain herself. He smiled kindly and shook his head in disagreement when she said that her story was not interesting. He absolutely disagreed! Everyone had something valuable to say. Even a fool could tell you something you did not know already. Gaius doubted that Charis was a fool, though. 

Still he smiled. "I would love to know your tale because everyone has a story that needs to be heard," He explained, but he also did not wish to pry into details that she was not comfortable with. While he wanted to hear her tale in her fascinatingly foreign accent and learn more about how she came to Rome. What happened? What was she like before? What were her memories? Still, he had tact. 

"Anything you wish to tell me, and please, tell me if you are feeling uncomfortable," He assured her, despite the excitement he felt and grinned. All good storytellers needed to have a good prompt to get them rolling, and he wanted something interesting. The past was often painful for people and the future could be troubling. Quintus hoped he would not offend her. "What do you dream about? Or um, what is your favourite food?" Gaius asked, hoped that either of them would give her a possible answer that would make sense. 

@Sara

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Charis was almost positive no Roman citizen would think her story was to be heard. Family members slaughtered, being taken away, wrongly accused, from a husband who lay bleeding out, losing a child, being forced to stand with a sign around her neck - tired and hungry - like cattle in the market. All of these things she thought were so unjust, were so utterly unremarkable to her new citizens. With a sigh, she nodded as if affirming she would be happy to speak to him, although she already felt despondent. 

"Dream?" She frowned and blinked up to meet his eye. Realising it may have seemed like she didn't understand the word - which she did - she offered a fleeting smile. "My dreams sad, not good story." She affirmed with a little laugh but dropped her eyes back his middle, remembering herself. 

Not wanting to linger on her sadness, she narrowed her eyes in thought. "Food...back home, in Britannia," She clarified, "The neighbour was very good cook...which I not." She grinned. It was still hilarious to her that the slaver had sold her as a cook when Charis barely knew how to make a porridge. "She made us stew which warmed you from head to feet." She tapped ran a hand down her throat, over her chest to settle on her middle as if mimicking the actions. "Which we need when it was winter and so cold.She grinned, remembering with fondness the nights she had spent curled up next to her parents and then later her husband, wrapped in thick furs. "Did not taste the best but..." She shrugged, "My favourite because of how it feeled." She shook her head, correcting herself. "Felt."

Risking another quick glance up at him, trying to read his reaction she asked tentatively, "Is that sort of story you want, Sir?"

 

TAG: @Gothic

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Gaius frowned and blushed a little. Perhaps dreams had not been such a wise choice. Many prisoners of war or even soldiers would suffer from a range of nightmares or other horrors while they were sleeping. Epiales and Phobetor were both elusive, constantly tormenting mortals while they slept and had a moment of rest. Perhaps the ritual of the Lemuria had not worked in the household of her Dominus? He gave her an apologetic smile, and made a mental note not to ask slaves that sort of question in the future. 

Food! Now that was a good topic. His tastes in food had changed and varied. As he aged, he slowly began to lose his tolerance and preference for richly spiced foods and instead preferred the milder ones. Garum, like many Romans, remained a sure favourite and naturally was added to everything. Food connected people, places, and cultures all together. She seemed to be happy, the memories of home and the visual explanations made him mentally imagine sitting in the cold land. Eating a hot stew that warmed someone from the inside out. Gaius gave an involuntary shiver. He had never liked the cold, and fortunately he had spent most of his time in the warmer climates. Gaius wondered what she didn't like about the taste. It sounded like the sensation gave her the feeling of home. 

Home. No matter who they were. It was a vital concept. 

"The feeling of home is important," He echoed. "It is, I would like to hear more about the different kinds of food you ate. What didn't you like about the flavour, the," He paused, hoped that she would understand the word and continued on, "the taste, are there any other foods that you enjoy? Or places to go and eat?" 

@Sara

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Charis frowned, confused. Why on earth did this man place so much interest in what she liked to eat? Self-consciously, she wound an arm round her middle. She had always been small but the months on the journey to Rome had made her frailer. Was he...trying to insult her? Call her skinny? Still - not wanting to offend a citizen, and one that had offered actual conversation rather than barked orders (even if his choice of conversation topic was strange to her), she tried to summon her words. 

"It taste...bitter...it the vegetables in it, not always good." If the meat was poor, that also didn't help - but she didn't think her Latin vocabulary stretched enough to explain the concept of gristle to him. "We ate oat and honey, mead we drank...though very strong." Immin must have had a stomach of stone to stand it, she often thought with an affectionate smile. "Here..." She shrugged her shoulders, "Domine give good food. But don't like lora.The nasty wine that was handed to the slaves often burned her throat and made her wince. The leftovers from any meal that Tertius and Antonia ate was her preferred source of food, but it was too embarrassing to share. 

"I no go to eat out." She shook her head, "I only come to Rome one month ago." It felt like a lifetime ago, "Before that on long journey from Britannia, home...so...I need to find good place here." The city, from her meagre looks at it, was like nothing she'd seen before, even down to the vendors flaunting their food. "You know where I should go, sir?" 

 

TAG: @Gothic

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He frowned a little when he saw her drape her arm around her waist protectively. Perhaps he had asked too much of her too soon? Still, she answered his question and he made a mental note to be better about this sort of thing. Gaius nodded slowly in understanding, and had to admit that he liked the idea of eating oats and honey. His sweet tooth having developed as he got older, the rigid man of his youth had lessened, and he was happy that the Dominus was giving adequate food. There were some who enjoyed having extra coin by only giving their slaves the bare essentials. Yet... people needed sustenance in order to work. Gaius had never tasted the lora, and imagined his children would not be happy to watch him try to taste it. 

Gaius eyes widened. Only a month? Her grasp on Latin was excellent. Many tribes and peoples had contact with Rome who were able to speak and understand the language. It amazed him. He smiled, there were many smaller stalls and the like. "It depends on what kind of food you enjoy. If you like quick food, I recommend the Cibus autem lupi or," He cleared his throat, and moistened it with some of the water given to him by the ever faithful Pavo. 

"They have a meal that is popular with children. A happy meal? Or something. I don't know. My grandchildren won't stop talking about it. Sometimes," He said, grinned and gestured on the table with his hand. A sign of whatever it was, was small in size. "Sometimes they get given wooden swords, horses, sometimes gladiators, too....."

@Sara

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