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Seeing the invisible


Chevi
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Mid-September, 74CE

Aia had seen the shop before on few of her visits to the Emporium Magnum. At first she did not may much attention to it... but now she found herself circling back to it. Fortune-tellers did not interest her much, but from people chatting around the Emporium it was not hard to find out this place was a bit more than that: it was also home to an - allegedly - very experienced matchmaker. Or so some people claimed. Aia suspected that the rumors might have been started by the matchmaker herself.

The thought first occurred to her as a sort of a joke, a continuation of her recent conversation with Decimus about finding a suitable wife. The man needed some serious help in that department, and also deserved someone decent... and from a decent family. Which, honestly, Aia had no experience with.

As she approached the shop, however, her amusement was mixed with other feelings as well. Marriage had never occurred to her as something she herself would go through, for many reasons... She was more than happy to help a friend with it, though. And yet... she found herself part intrigued, and part looking forward to talking to a woman who was... much more well versed in marital matters. Or just... women's matters.

Aia walked into the shop a little sheepishly, looking around to see if she was disturbing a consultation. 

"Hello?... Um. Salve."

@Sydney

 

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Priscilla enjoyed helping people find some sort of comfort. That’s what her job was based around. She would tell some what the not-yet-known love of their life was like, how their job prospects would be, and the health of a family member. She liked to think that she was right most of the time, but she could be wrong. The day had gone by quickly—she was busy, and this time of year was the perfect weather for possibly meeting the love of one’s life or to have children. 

She was organizing her shelf when she heard someone behind her. Priscilla turned, a smile on her face. She saw the red hair that wasn’t very common in Rome. She believed it was a symbol of passion, ambition, and troublemaking. Nonetheless, it was a sight for sore eyes. 

“Ah, Salve,” she said, making her way to the table in the middle of the room. Her walls aligned with knick knacks, dice, and animal bones. She had a symbol from all of the gods, blessings that she hoped helped her predictions. 

She sat in the chair, opening her hand and inviting her guest to sit as well. “Your name, dear? And what can I help you with?” 

@Chevi

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The woman looked elegant, sophisticated. And also observant. Aia caught the glance that she looked her over with, and wondered what she saw. A scrawny redhead with short hair in the middle of Rome, slowly getting used to the feminine way of life, she often wondered what image people had in their minds about her. At least the woman seemed friendly. Her shop was littered with symbols of various gods, and also tools of the fortune-teller's trade. Aia hoped that was not all she was good at.

“Ah, Salve. Your name, dear? And what can I help you with?” 

Aia stepped forward and took a seat at the table. It was too late to back out of this now.

"I'm Aia. I... heard of your shop from people around the Emporium. They say you... help with matchmaking?"

@Sydney

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Priscilla was someone who enjoyed the company of others. Though she seemed like that weird half-blind lady down the block, she was always kind to those who visited the shop—as long as they had the coin. Buying wine, trinkets, and time wasn’t something that she offered for free. She also would raise the prices for someone of higher status, but nobody had to know that. 

“Aia, what a beautiful name. You are different from the Romans. Red hair, pale. You come from a different land.” It was obvious that she was different, but Priscilla needed to make sure she had Aia on her side. She always needed the customer to trust her just enough. 
  
“But yes, that is me. They call me Priscilla the Wise.” She was dead serious on the outside. But it was always a little prank when she told people that. Most people didn’t call her that, though those that did she appreciated. She figured those were the ones most gullible as well. “I do matchmaking and fortune telling. I can help with your love life, your career, your family, anything you need. For a price, of course,” she said with a smile. She sounded sweet, though she was serious about her coin. 

@Chevi

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“Aia, what a beautiful name. You are different from the Romans. Red hair, pale. You come from a different land.” 

"Thank you. I'm from Gaul." Aia chuckled at the compliment. The woman was good, noting things like that. It was an easy guess, and did not make her anyone magical, but it sounded like she knew things. Some clients must have fallen for that. But Aia was not here to test her fortune-telling skills.
  
“But yes, that is me. They call me Priscilla the Wise.”

Do they, though?...

“I do matchmaking and fortune telling. I can help with your love life, your career, your family, anything you need. For a price, of course,”

Of course.

"Well, it's not me" Aia noted, folding her hands in her lap "I have a friend who needs help. With the... matchmaking."

Or at least it would be funny if he got some.

@Sydney

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Priscilla was interested in the young lady's past, her being from Gaul and all. It was a far away land, with Rome being a new world in a sense. She wondered if the girl traveled to the empire on her own or was forcefully taken. Either way, the journey must have been hard. That was a question for another day, though. She listened to the woman who spoke about her friend needing a match. Priscilla shook her head. 

"I cannot do that, dear. I will only be able to do the match of someone presently in my shop. How am I supposed to know a person who I cannot speak and talk to face to face?" It was rare that she had someone play a prank on their friends by setting them up with a date, though a lot tried. She always denied the request, joke or not. She couldn't be responsible for someone who wasn't present and speaking to her.

"You can either bring your friend here or I can help you with your life and matchmaking, if you please. It is kind that you are helping a friend, but I cannot help with that."

@Chevi

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The woman listened politely, but did not jump on the opportunity to make herself useful.

"I cannot do that, dear. I will only be able to do the match of someone presently in my shop. How am I supposed to know a person who I cannot speak and talk to face to face?" 

Fat chance of that.

Aia sighed. It was a lot less fun this way.

"You can either bring your friend here or I can help you with your life and matchmaking, if you please. It is kind that you are helping a friend, but I cannot help with that."

Aia folded her arms, thinking about her options. Sure, she could try to talk Decimus into coming with her, but that was just going to look awfully suspicious, and she doubted he would agree to do it anyway. Maybe the woman just needed a little nudge to be more helpful?

"Yes, well, I don't really think he'd agree to come see you." she sighed "He is... a little hesitant about the marriage issue. But he deserves a good wife, trust me."

@Sydney

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Priscilla was somewhat of an expert on relationships despite only being in one with her late husband. But she heard it all from others; what they were looking for, what they wanted in a partner, and what they wanted with themselves. She often had people come in to confirm their suspicions with crushes, though sometimes they walked out disappointed. 

The red-haired lady was pushing her towards the man, but Priscilla looked unamused. She was known for being blunt, after all. Her face looked annoyed, but she smiled after Aia spoke. “And what about you dear? You are looking for a wife for this man, why are you not considering yourself?” 

The line was almost to speak back to her, as someone who was looking for help for someone else rarely wanted to bring up their own love life. Now, why was she so interested in this man’s future lover? Priscilla answered her own question, but she’d still try to press the girl in a comforting way. 

@Chevi

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“And what about you dear? You are looking for a wife for this man, why are you not considering yourself?” 

Aia laughed in surprise from the question, her laughter escaping as a snort before she clamped a hand over her mouth. It was not exactly behavior befitting a Roman woman, and while she was not here to make a match for herself, she wanted to at least not seem like she was making fun of Priscilla.

But, gods, the question was funny.

"Did you hear the part when I said he deserves a good wife?" she chuckled, shaking her head "I'm not exactly Roman matron material. And not a very fortuitous match either... I'm sure he can do better. With some help, from someone as wise as you."

@Sydney

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Priscilla raised her eyebrow when she heard the girl talking. She was really trying to not talk about herself, but that’s was Priscilla’s job. She was only here to read the person in front of her, no one else and no exceptions. The girl laughed too and flattered her, which wasn’t going to help. 

She leaned towards her in her chair, getting a good read on Aia. “And why aren’t you matron material, dear? It seems you tend to not talk about yourself. Is that correct?” When she finished speaking, she got out a cup, a basket of spices, and a jug of wine. 

She poured the wine into the cup and threw a handful of spices into the dark liquid. She pushed it over to the lady. “This will not taste good, but drink it until there is only a small amount left.” 

@Chevi

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Aia was beginning to feel like she was being judged. Or... observed. She had been hoping to talk about someone else, but the matron in front of her seemed a lot more interested in her than Decimus.

“And why aren’t you matron material, dear? It seems you tend to not talk about yourself. Is that correct?” 

Aia folded her arms.

"That is correct."

It would have been hard to explain the truth. The fact that she could not talk about her past because it was all a big secret. Including how and why she befriended the praetorian.

“This will not taste good, but drink it until there is only a small amount left.”

Well... that was an unexpected turn. She took the cup, looking into it, smelling the spices.

"What is this supposed to do? Make me talk more about myself?"

@Sydney

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Priscilla was more than interested in learning about the lady, especially after she admitted she didn't want to talk about herself. Well, she'd be in for a surprise. That was her specialty, and maybe the red-haired woman would learn more about herself here than she knew already. 

She shook her head and laughed when Aia suggested that it would make her talk about herself. "No, of course not. But I will read your cup after you are finished drinking it. You might learn things about who you are as a person though you might not. And maybe that boy of yours will also be in your reading." She smirked. She wondered if the last line would convince her. 

Priscilla could already see things about her that she was holding back. They were obvious insecurities, but she would do whatever she could to help her and maybe her friend as well. 

@Chevi

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Aia knew better than to take drinks from strangers without asking first. Even if the stranger was a decent-looking Roman matron. No one wanted to get involved with that kinda matchmaking.

"No, of course not. But I will read your cup after you are finished drinking it. You might learn things about who you are as a person though you might not. And maybe that boy of yours will also be in your reading."

Boy of yours.

Aia chuckled and shook her head. The woman was marching down the wrong path fast, but oh well. Just because she thought she knew things didn't make them true. She sniffed the drink again, but she could only smell a few simple spices. She took a sip. Reading a cup was not a thing she was familiar with, but then again people from around the empire brought in new ways of divination almost every day. Aia emptied the cup, except for the dregs at the bottom, and handed it back. It wasn't bad wine, but wasn't really good either.

"Very well then. Tell me who I am."

See if you got it right. 

@Sydney

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Priscilla was wanting to help whoever she can, and most people came with an open mind and a good attitude. It seemed to be the opposite for the young lady in front of her, which she felt a little disappointed. She really was only trying to help and Aia seem very unconvinced. Well, hopefully the reading will change her attitude. 

She took the cup from her and got out her precious small, glass bowl. Priscilla added a small drop of water in it and empties the contents into the glass bowl to get a better reading. For a span of two minutes, she was silent. Priscilla was completely focused on the alignment of the spices in the bowl, what floated and what didn’t. Finally, she nodded and looked up at Aia. 

“You have went through many hardships in your life, haven’t you? It tells me that you have always had a hard time finding your place in society; you may be still trying to find your identity and how you fit.” Priscilla looked at her, very serious and really trying to help Aia. She waited for a response before she moved on. 

@Chevi

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Priscilla studied the spices intently. Aia waited, curious to see what she would come up with. She believed in the higher misteries of the gods as much as any other person in Gallia, but that did not mean that the gods bothered to send signs and knowledge to every person that claimed so. 

“You have went through many hardships in your life, haven’t you? It tells me that you have always had a hard time finding your place in society; you may be still trying to find your identity and how you fit.” 

Aia smirked. It could have been a lucky guess, for all the vagueness. She was here, alone, red-haired and from Gaul in the middle of Rome, looking for a wife for a male acquaintance. Not fitting in was written all over her, one did not need to read any spices to know that. Still, she nodded, allowing Priscilla to continue her explorations. 

"Rome offers precious few places for a woman to fit." And more chances for men fitting into her, but she bit that comment back. Soldier humor was probably not welcome at the matchmaker's parlor. 

@Sydney

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Priscilla wanted to be right, her intentions were good and she cared. She didn’t get all of them right, of course, but she claimed only to help people with their fortune, their love life, and their future. She never guaranteed anything, she made sure of that. 

She nodded at Aia and looked back, turning the cup at different points. “Hm,” she said when she noticed some of the spices placed differently in the cup. She was puzzled. 

“You have a lot of repressed emotions. There is this front that you want everyone to see, but there’s a different side of you that very little see. Maybe you have not realized those emotions yet, either. But you will.”

@Chevi

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Priscilla examined the cup closely, with a look on her face that showed intense focus and also experience in reading signs from... whatever she was reading signs from. Aia was still not entirely convinced about the whole thing, but she could at least tell that the lady meant well. She truly hoped to help. That was often a lot more important than how accurate someone's predictions were.

“You have a lot of repressed emotions. There is this front that you want everyone to see, but there’s a different side of you that very little see. Maybe you have not realized those emotions yet, either. But you will.”

Aia arched an eyebrow. She was not wrong on the front part - Aia had to hide a lot of herself to live the life of a Roman woman - but the comment about the emotions baffled her.

"How will I know, if I don't even know that I have them?"

@Sydney

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Priscilla looked up from the cup when Aia had a question. How would she know when she doesn't know about them? That was a good question. In Priscilla's life, things always had a way of working themselves out, even if they were unexpected. She believed that she was an expert at life by now, being her age, and that things would more often happen unexpectedly. 

She nodded. "I can see that you have that concern. Sometimes events in one's life can change a person drastically. We usually think about that in a negative way--trauma, death, war--but when I look into your cup, I see a good change. An event will happen that will change your emotions for the better. Whether that event is good or bad, I am not sure. But it will bring out the best in you, there is no doubt."

@Chevi

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Aia was quiet for a while after Priscilla's words. She knew a lot of people like her had a lot of practice in saying exactly what the customer wanted to hear... but damn, it almost worked. Did she have buried emotions somewhere? How would she even know? And what kind of a good change should she be expecting?...

"So... I guess you won't give me any suggestions for suitable brides, huh." she smirked finally "Maybe I'll have to work on bringing the man himself here after all. Maybe you can tell him he has hidden emotions too."

@Sydney

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