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A hive of scum and villainy

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Early June 74; Emporium Magnum...


Being a slave, Rufus reflected, wasn't necessarily the worst fate in the world. He corrected himself: Being the slave of a rich Roman who had other slaves wasn't the worst fate in the world. Being the trusted slave of a rich Senator was definitely not the worst thing to be (He could think of many many better things to be, of course, but he could think of worse fates.)

Being the trusted slave of a rich senator had led Rufus to where he was now: in the Emporium Magnum, running an errand for his new master, hoping he'd remember the way home once he was done, and wouldn't get ripped off so badly he'd not get let out again.

There seemed to be some sort of argument going on nearby. He usually steered clear of things like that, but this one didn't sound like the usual row and he found himself drifting closer, curious. Rome was full of people, far more of them than he'd ever seen in one place before - he had no idea how much bigger than Paestum the city was, but it was some order of magnitude larger!

Whatever was going on was more than an argument; there was a burly guy picking a fight or something with someone about half his size - a kid smaller than Rufus, even. The kid didn't look like he'd done anything worse than simply be in the wrong place at the wrong time - there was nobody yelling that he was a thief or purse snatcher. If anything, the sentiment of the watching crowd seemed to be on the kid's size, though nobody was stepping in to help.

It was when the brute swung back, looking as if he aiming a punch at the kid, that Rufus stepped in. "Leave him alone and pick on someone your own size!"

Bloody stupid, he thought, as the man's fist connected with the side of his head, leaving him blinking. He wasn't quite sure he dared return the favour - a slave thumping a free man was bound to get in trouble, after all!



Edited by Sharpie

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