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Helios

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Was it that surprising that he was a freed slave, born in Germania? Apparently it was, judging by her reaction to everything he had told her so far. She replied slowly, but seemed in awe, as if he was something or someone to look up to. Said he was what every slave hoped for and wondered for how long he’d been a slave. He gave her a smile, kind of enjoying that. If he could give her some hope, everything was not lost - and of course he never minded talking about himself and his life so far, “I don’t mind talking about it. I was a slave for… hmm… most of my life? I was a child when they took me and my sister… and all grown when I was freed. I think… maybe I lived 20 years a slave? I’m not good with numbers. Never had to be. But the ludus was passed on to a new owner and I dared to ask him about freedom… and he decided to free me. And now here I am.” He explained, it had been a while since he had to deal with numbers – he learned it as a lanista only – but he thought it had to be correct. Calculating was not his strong side.

He’d tried telling her to not be afraid of him and she apologized and excused her behavior with her being a new slave and she’d been told to be careful. He felt almost sad for her, when she spoke of her fears of getting re-sold and how she’d been burned before and she was a new slave. Pity he couldn’t help her, he thought. He couldn’t help her escape, because if an escaped slave was caught, it would be worse for her.

“You don’t seem naïve to me. Just… cautious, I guess. Which you should be! But right now, you can relax.” Alexius said and smiled again, trying to cheer her up and then he had an idea, “Are you in a hurry to get back? Else I’ll buy you a drink. Would you like that? I think there’s a tavern not far from here…” He said thoughtfully, but also hopefully, because honestly, all this talking made him thirsty and maybe it really would make her relax more too. He’d hate for any woman to feel intimidated by him.

@Sara

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Charis listened intently to his story, eyeing him discretely every now and again. She felt her heart hurt when he relayed he'd been a child - that surely made it worse, right? Being ripped from a family's arms as a boy? It was painful enough to be forced here as a young woman, she couldn't imagine the upset of having to endure it as a girl. When he had finished, she offered a slight smile but kept looking ahead; "Then I be old lady when I free...I only twenty now, so...a whole other life to live here if I follow you..." Before she corrected herself with a little sigh, "Not that master should free me...I have done nothing to deserve it and he good to his slaves...so I fine as I am." 'Good' might be a strong word for 'not being as bad as expected when he forced her into bed against her will'. Not that she had any free will anymore, of course. 

As she stopped and he listened, she couldn't help but feel awkward. The streets were quieter around here so she felt less on edge in one sense - that passers-by weren't watching her, but she knew this was the route the other slaves sometimes took from her domus and God forbid Tertius should chance upon her now...

"Relax..." She repeated warily. She hadn't relaxed since she'd come here those months ago. Even in places where Roman's took their rest she found no peace; the baths were too busy and too lewd for her, her pallet was lumpy to sleep on and now even the garden wasn't safe at the domus. That, perhaps, had been her one place of respite but Antonia had taken a fondness to it with her inquisitive questions and she saw the way, fleetingly, Tertius' watched her work. She did, however, turn her face to him at his question and she blinked. If she wasn't still reeling from seeing Helios and on edge given her surroundings, she would have laughed; "A drink?" She frowned. 

Oh to be free and be able to come and go as one could please! She shook her head softly and resumed their walking, "I cannot...I have errands and domine wouldn't like it..." She sighed, figuring out how to be coy and careful about what she said next. She'd learnt her lesson from saying too much, even to trustworthy seeming men, but she felt as if she owed him a little explanation; "I went for drink with friend...that what argument was about with Helios. He told domine that and what I had said after too much wine and..." She bit at her lip, "I was angry with him, because domine was not pleased." She cast her eyes back up to him fleetingly, "So if domine finds out I went out drinking again I don't think he be pleased...you understand?"

 

TAG: @Atrice

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Alexius noticed her pretty smile and then she halfway joked about how she’d be old if she was freed after so many years. But then she did not think that she would be freed, and besides, she was fine. Was she? Alexius looked at her, “You’re lucky if you have a good master. But if he’s really good, he will free you one day. I always wanted to be freed. And one day… I was. It can happen.” Alexius said, wanting to give her a little bit of hope, because for some reason, he didn’t think she was really fine and he couldn’t imagine how you could just accept you life like that. He’d met slaves before who did, slaves who did not strive for freedom, but that thought was foreign to Alexius. He might be free now, but when he was a slave, it’s what he always hoped to be.

When she named herself naïve, he naturally didn’t think it was the case, but told her to relax. And then he had the perfect idea for relaxing! A drink! But she said she couldn’t do that and continued walking while explaining. Her dominus would not like her getting a drink and last time she did it, she had met that Helios. And then she explained what had happened. What the fuck? One slave telling on another? And then her master was not pleased. Gods! Maybe he needed to go and find this Helios afterwards, tell him a word or two about this whole ordeal!

He sighed deeply, frustrated, “I understand. But what the fuck was he thinking? Telling on you? Fuck him! Gods…” He ran a hand through his hair as a part of him actually now wanted to turn around and walk back and beat the crap out of Helios. Telling on a sweet girl like this one, so that her master would not be pleased and gods knew what her master did to her, just because she had something to drink. The more he thought about it, the more upset it made him.

“I wouldn’t want to do anything that would put you in a bad light with your master! It’s not like I’ve forgotten what it’s like, being owned by someone. But…” He inhaled a deep breath, trying to calm himself, but damn, he could not get over this, now that he knew the truth, “If I meet that Helios again, I swear, he won’t get away with it! And what did you do to him, to earn such treatment? I can’t imagine you… being mean to someone like that. Correct me if I’m wrong! And who in the name of Hades is he to put another slave in misery?”

@Sara

Edited by Atrice
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Charis' eyes widened at his reaction, she had not expected anybody to really...care. "Yes...fuck him..." She repeated with a little smile but reached out a hand to his forearm in an attempt to calm him down after he had ran a hand through his hair. "Though I should not have done what I did...said what I said..." She added reluctantly. She wasn't sure if she believed herself - she shouldn't have said what she said because it had resulted in...well...she didn't much want to think about it...but did she feel bad because she shouldn't have spoken badly about Tertius for his sake? Not really, if she was honest. 

She withdrew her hand quickly and wrapped it around her waist as he seemed to become more riled. Gods Charis! If it's not enough to fight in the street with Helios... but as he suggested he'd confront Helios, she quickly interrupted; "No! No you mustn't..." She shook her head, evidently panicked. It wasn't that she wanted to let the blonde get away with his misdeed but that she was in no position to fight a war of spite right now...

"He...just wanted money I think." She admitted with a little shrug, "He want freedom and need money so..." She sighed and tugged a loose strand of hair from her face, glancing about. Fortunately few people passed along these streets and they were almost empty compared to the business of before. Carefully and slowly, enunciating her words she spoke; "Please do not do anything to him...he go back to domine and it gets even worse." She blinked, "Not that it bad I-I just don't want punish again." She winced. Good one Charis, nicely saved...! "Please?" She glanced up at him with wide blue eyes, hopeful. "Let just go back to domus...it not far."

 

TAG: @Atrice

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Alexius had always had a bit of a temper and if he let it get away with him… well, he could end up pretty upset and maybe that’s why he became such a good gladiator and functioned so well as a bodyguard. Because no one dare mess with anyone Alexius cared for and no one dare mess with Alexius. Or else he’d mess them up and gods how he would love to mess up Helios right now. That fucking whore. Literally! Charis agreed on his words, but then touched his arm and tried to say that she also should not have done and said what she did…

“No matter what, I don’t think that gave him any right to ruin your life. To get you punished.” Alexius said, still upset, but kind of liking how she touched him to try and calm him down. Then she pulled her hand back though and said he shouldn’t confront Helios. She shook her head, said he had just wanted money to gain his freedom and then almost begged Alexius to not do anything to Helios, out of fear that he might tell her master. Alexius looked at her… gods she was lovely, how could you ignore those blue eyes looking at you like that?

He inhaled a breath, “Well when you put it that way… I would certainly not want to cause you to gain any punishment from your master. Why would anyone want a charming girl like you punished?” He asked, “But…” He paused, “Helios better wish he never runs into me again. And if he ever does anything to you again… will you promise to come find me? And I’ll tell him a thing or two about how slaves should treat each other.”

@Sara

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Charis almost mumbled that she didn't know why anybody would want to punish her, but decided against it. She vaguely had a notion of why Tertius had - in his strange, confusing way - but even that didn't make a great deal of sense to her. She supposed had she been raised as a slave, or even a freedwoman around slavery, she might have understood this world better but she hadn't been. Slavery had of course existed in Britannia, but in their little hamlet she had never come across it, and here and now she found the customs and the punishments and the rules overwhelming. Better to not say it though...although she half wondered if he'd understand...was it just as confusing for him at first? 

She continued to look at him, almost suspiciously as he spoke of retribution but was at least relieved he agreed not to act right now. She'd rather he not act at all, but didn't want to push her luck. With a frown, she nodded but added; "Where do I find you?" 

Her knowledge of Rome's geography was poor at best; she knew her way from the main markets and a few of the baths to her domus and that was about it. She'd tried to learn the names of the hills but had failed miserably at pronouncing them, much to little Antonia's amusement as she overheard Charis practice them whilst working in the gardens. She could still remember every stream, almost every hill in her head on the way from her home to Petuar back in Britannia but she supposed they had been ingrained over a lifetime, she had only been in Rome a handful of months. As they walked, and keen to change the subject from Helios (lest this sweet but seemingly easily irritable man become riled again), her own thoughts prompted a question; "Can I ask something sir?" She shook her head, "Alexius...sorry." How quickly she had been conditioned to say; sir, domine, domina...! "Why you not go home? To Germania, after freed?" It was a fair enough question she thought. If she ever found herself free (although her hope was rapidly fading) she would run all the way home, across those hundreds of miles, to get back to where she thought she belonged.

 

TAG: @Atrice

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He could understand why Charis didn’t want him to go and find Helios right now and beat him up, although he sure did want to. It had been too long since he beat up anyone anyway. But he wouldn’t, because she asked him not to, and he didn’t want to go and lose his temper again. Yet he asked her to come and find him if Helios ever did do more to her, somehow, and Charis looked up at him with her pretty eyes and wondered where she’d find him.

 “At the Aventine, the domus of the Ordivani Laencani. I serve there as the young mistress’ bodyguard.” And so much more, but he better not say that to a stranger. Not that he thought Charis would do like Helios had done, and go and tell someone who would ruin everything for both Alexius and Oriana… but it was also unimportant, in this matter. She would just need to know how she could find Alexius, if she ever thought she needed his help for anything. Or if she’d ever need anything else from him, he thought to himself. She was very pretty.

 Silence fell for a little while as they were walking, until Charis suddenly wondered if she could ask him something. He nodded and she continued, wondering why he didn’t go home.

 “I did go back, to Germania.” Alexius replied, but the cheer of his tone from before fell a bit, “But it had been too long. I was a child when they took me… the village was gone and besides that, they thought I’d become too Roman. It wasn’t what I’d hoped it would be… it wasn’t home anymore. So I came back here.” He said with a small sigh, “It’s probably not the story you hoped to hear, but that’s how it is. I had these great dreams, for what I’d do when I gained my freedom. But no matter what, when you’ve been a slave… things won’t be as they were.” Well that wasn’t a very cheerful story, but it was indeed the truth. And he was trying to move and settle down, although by now, it was hard.

@Sara

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Charis tried her best to commit his address to memory, repeating; "Ori...Ordivani Lae-nc-ani" out loud as if trying to memorise it. She didn't trust anybody in Rome, not anymore, after what had happened, but who knew when a crisis might hit and she'd need to call on strangers? More peculiar things had happened to her than needing the help of an unknown man, after all... 

She listened with kindness and patience to his story but felt her heart sink and she stayed quiet, thinking. "I...sorry." She admitted after some moments of further quiet. "Hard, it must have been hard." It must have been excruciating, she thought, but dared not to say. She wondered what it would be like for herself, stepping off of the boat or walking through the fields to where her home should be (where her family should be) to just find emptiness and people that didn't know her - it would be like losing everything all over again. The only comfort was, not that she recognised or appreciated it, that she was likely never to experience it. It was different for Alexius and the other men who could prove their worth and gain their freedom in the arena. What hope did one mediocre at best, slavegirl have of being free ever again? In ten or twenty years her looks (and her only real selling point) would start to fade, and who would free her? It really was fortunate that she didn't realise the hopelessness of her situation (at least not completely). 

She recognised the streets around them now, and her domus was only a few streets over. Drawing to a stop outside one (which was not her own), she glanced up at Alexius with a smile. "I live near here, it okay...you don't have to walk me all the way." She looked at him with meaning and wondered if he understood the implication of 'because my domine wouldn't like it'. With a genuine smile, however, she kept her eyes on him; "I did not mean to make you sad...with my question...it no way to say thank you for helping me with Helios, is it?" She laughed a little, genuinely. What kind of repayment was that?! "You a good man." She said after some pause, "And maybe you save me again, who knows." She shrugged with a little smile. 

 

TAG: @Atrice

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He nodded when she tried repeating the name he mentioned and he could tell just from that, that she was definitely new here. Sure he could hear it on the way she spoke, how she sometimes missed a word or a bit of the grammar. But she’d get the hang of it, “Ordivani Laencani. You need to kind of… pronounce it faster. My mistress’ name is Oriana Laecania and her father is Aulus.” He explained and then she’d suddenly asked why he didn’t go back to Germania, since he was freed. Well… that was a longer story, because he did go back and while it wasn’t a cheerful story, she asked and now she got to hear what he experienced. He fell silent afterwards and Charis did too for a little, before she said she was sorry to hear it and how it must have been hard.

“It was hard. Especially since here, in Rome, I’m a freedman. A former slave… not considered a true Roman. Yet in Germania, where I was born, I’m considered a Roman.” He shrugged, “But I fought and lived in the arena, so that I could be freed. And I have a good job at the moment. I’m respected where I am right now, at least.”

It wasn’t long after that, that Charis stopped by a street and smiled at him. She said she lived close by and he didn’t have to walk her all the way home now. He nodded, he understood, it wouldn’t look too good somehow, if he walked her all the way. But she also kept smiling and apologized for making him sad, because it wasn’t a good way to thank him for his help with Helios. She called him a good man and wondered if he might save her again. Alexius couldn’t help but smile at her sweet compliment, “There’s no need to repay me unless you really want to. And then I could come up with a few ideas…” He said with a wink and a charming grin, wondering if she understood what he meant by that. It was maybe kind of an invitation… because he couldn’t help himself near such a good looking woman as her. But she seemed a little bit wary, and he couldn’t blame her. So he tried to not be too playful with her, “I hope I won’t have to save you again though, for your sake. But I wouldn’t mind randomly meeting you again. As you said… who knows, right?”

@Sara

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Charis offered a little laugh to his banter and ducked her head to hide her blush. She was used to men flirting, but it felt different here, it felt wrong. Especially after what had happened and the vivid memories of that night soon wiped the little smile from her face and she swallowed, muttering; "You would have to ask domine, I don't think he be too happy..." Then again, she'd heard from other slaves that sometimes masters loaned out their slaves. Tertius, however, seemed far too protective for that. 

With a little sigh, she nodded; "Who knows." Quickly, she side stepped him and moved to leave, but not before looking over her shoulder with a small smile of genuine affection. "Maybe one day soon, I hope." She ducked her head in thanks and before he could interject, she hurriedly moved to return to the domus. 

Well...this first trip out of the house had certainly been a mixed bag...

 

TAG: @Atrice

And I'm done!

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