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Nymphias

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Rome was a very large, bustling, colourful and crowded city. A stark difference to what Nymphias was used to back at home. It lacked the fresh smell of damp grass, the cool winds, or Britannia’s familiar grey skies. Some days were simpler to face than others, it all depended on the little things. If she slept well, if someone was kind to her, or if she saw something that sparked happiness in her heart. Though the sun glared down, the loud noises and masses caused her some nervousness. Her eyes were alert, fluttering from one direction to another, and clutching her bag tightly in case of thieves. A fellow slave had told her not to be distracted when talking in the hordes of people.

The markets made her uneasy. For one, the crowds were too much for a girl who was now overly sensitive and also, one met and saw all kinds of people when venturing. From the nice-smelling bedeckled ladies, who Nymphias could only dream of wearing anything similar, to the soiled beggars lurking in the shadows, pulling at the heartstrings of only those who cared enough to look at them. Nymphias dared to look. Despite how detached from life she looked, she managed to buy some some bread without a moment’s hesitance, breaking some of it to give to an old blind woman and man.

The old woman was thankful, blessing her. However, upon experiencing kindness, the man, covered in soot and who knew what else, came at her with his toothless grimace, mumbling, crying and pointing to his mouth. As a slave, she had only so much to give.

“I’m sorry,” she tried to explain, lump at the back of her throat, but the old man didn’t seem to understand her through her thick accent. Neither did he seem to hear her for she spoke so quietly. He only became worse as she tried to move away. In a panic, she stepped away from him like a stunned animal and was rendered speechless, unable to decide on what to do. To help to quiet him or to run away like the coward she felt she’d become.  

@The Young Pope

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It wasn't every day that Lucius had the day off from work, but every opportunity meant that precious time ought not to be wasted. Making a small excursion to the Emporium Magnum entailed having a get-together with one of the numerous amounts of secretive Christians such as himself, or making the effort to actually save a slave in order to ensure their wellbeing. A Roman Praetor by profession, he came to despise the institution of slavery or the fact that one had to keep one's true faith a secret, otherwise risking social expulsion and loss of influence in society if it were to come out. These annoyances had to accepted for now, and it was equally important for one's head to remain calm. However it wasn't saving a slave or meeting with another follower of Christ that compelled him to visit the market today; on the contrary it was the ordinary notion of shopping that brought him to this location to begin with. Wearing a characteristic toga praetexta, he was accompanied by the usual two magisterial bodyguards or lictors, each carrying a rod made of bundled wood which signified his authority and power.

The senator wouldn't usually determine in advance what he was looking for, unless it was something specific of course but he preferred to visit his usual auctioneer Paulus due to the reputation of quality as well as rarity, though it wasn't entire possible to find something quite useful strolling among the stalls selling diverse good originating from across the Empire and beyond its borders. However he didn't expect the day to go as smoothly or quietly; according to experience, he always had the lucky circumstance to stumble upon someone new he'd never met before. Lucius always told himself that it was up to the Lord himself to determine the outcome in the end. It seemed to be the case once more when a special occasion caught his undivided attention; He'd noticed how this slave or freed woman offered bread to poor old beggars, which was a risk at certain times depending on how desperate they were, and one of them seemed to really want some more bread. She then tried to tell him that it wouldn't be enough based on her facial expressions and hesitance to say it out liud.

Am I to save a lady in distress? Lucius told himself, deciding to make a move for it with the lictors behind him also noticing that the situation could turn messier by every second went by if someone didn't try to solve it. "My good sir, kindly take this for you and your wife. I reckon this will cover the expenses for a few good meals and wine." The young senator firmly placed a pouch of coins into the old man's palms, patting him on his back whilst getting soot on the fingers; it didn't mind Lucius that much to get his hands all dirty as it was to be expected, though he would need to find a fountain to get rid of such smudge. The old man's face shone up immediately in joy and attempted to fall down on his knees to kiss Lucius' sandals, but he helped the man back up on his feet to explain that it wasn't necessary. The old woman before leaving the scene with her husband, left a kiss on the senator's cheeks and told him how much of a goodhearted samaritan he truly was. With slightly rosed cheeks out of that farewell, Lucius turned his attention to the pretty little woman in front of him.

"Are you alright, my lady? I hope this experience doesn't frighten you from offering merciful kindness to those who're truly in need of it, some of them clearly desperate unfortunately. I suppose one needs to just appear determined, resolute enough to make them understand to back off, and raising one's voice too." He smiled as he couldn't help himself gazing at such an incredibly delightful beautiful creation that was standing before him; Golden hair which paired well with that silky smooth skin of hers, if she happened to wear extra fine clothes then she could truly captivate any man who had the dignity enough to notice her beyond those eyes that seen a bit of weeping recently by the looks of it. 

@Beauty

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The moment she heard his voice, she turned her head to see who it was and immediately she knew that he was someone of very high importance. Her eyes hopped from the tall, towering men that accompanied the richly dressed man to the coin bag that he placed in the old man’s hand. It was more than generous and to say that the action had shocked her was an understatement. Throughout the interaction between the man and the beggars, she was silent but reasoned that he was likely a compassionate man, considering he had allowed the old woman to kiss him on his cheek and touched the old man without complaint. Others, she thought, would not take kindly to such touchy-feely thankfulness.

Her body was tense, it was not something she could control. The crowds, the noise, the bodyguards, if that’s what they were, everything, caused her body to seek out threats where there were none. She caught most of his words save the more difficult ones but she made out enough of what he said to understand and nodded intensely to show that she was listening. He was right, she had appear in a manner that would have them not take advantage of her kindness.

“I am not my lady,” she said honestly but nervously, smiling in return. That should have been reserved for someone far more worthy than herself, nor was she even worthy enough for a man of his standing, whoever he was, to be talking to her as kindly as he was.

“But thank you, I will be… deter…mined,” she said, trying to say the word exactly the way he had. Her brows furrowed in thought. “So that next time, they won’t frighten me. I will raise one’s voice.” She then reached into her bag and searched through it, taking out a piece of clothing and handing it to the man for him to take. “For you, domine. Your fingers are dirty. It is my blame. My fault.”

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It must've been quite a bit for her to handle, as the senator could notice the tense stance she exhibited after almost being manhandled by the old man who actually didn't mean any harm, though his cry for help turned to the extreme and the rest unfolded itself right before Lucius' eyes. Luckily he was there in the right moment and time to end that situation peacefully without further complications. As this woman began to speak, she didn't only indicate that she was more than likely a slave, but also the fact that her accent enabled him to pinpoint her origins to Britannia. It wasn't the first time he heard that distintive thickness of such an accent, being far too familiar with it thanks to his newly acquired gladiatorial champion Ambrosius who hailed from that island to begin with. Lucius couldn't help but think of her as cute when she attempted to properly announce those Latin words, oh how much this reminded him of the weekly Britonnian lessons interacting with the celtic teacher of his, and then practising it on foreign clientele who hailed from that island...un times indeed.

"Kindly my dear lady, there's no need to apologise for something that was clearly out of your reach to manage. You only did what everyone else should consider performing for creating a better society. I don't need your cloth either, it's perfectly alright." He smiled towards her, as one of his lictors returned with a borrowed bucket, filled with fresh water and suitable for rinsing off the smudge from the hands and fingers. "Ah excellent; lictors do have their uses after all." Lucius humourously commented, grinding his hands towards each other, making sure that every bit of dirt vanished from the palms and between the fingers. He thanked thereafter the lictor for his initiative and before the latter returned with the bucket, handed him a few coins making sure that the original owner received fair compensation. "I believe it would be appropriate to make an actual introduction, wouldn't you agree?" He said turning the attention towards her, and before he spoke again thought to himself that a fool in the making was about to be revealed.

"My name is Lucius Furius Pontius Thracius, Senator and Praetor...Ehm, Lucius ok only, no call me Domine. Pleasure you meet too." Lucius initially greeted using the beginner's knowledge in Britonnic that was coated all over with that Roman accent of his despite attempts to wash it all the way, right before gently taking her hand and giving it a sweet kiss of delight. His cheeks received some reddish-pink coloration as a result of that semi-successful, semi-botched attempt at that language and even then, one would wonder if that was the same dialect that he was being taught in.

@Beauty

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She tried to concentrate and pick up his words, she was about to respond until one of the man’s men returned with a bucket filled with water. Putting her cloth away, she was momentarily stunned and watched in amazement as he dipped his fingers into the water. The man had a bucket summoned to clean his dirtied fingers, had men following him like a god, and appeared to be of high importance with the way he was clothed. Nymphias felt far beneath him.

What he said next caught her off guard, he wasn’t speaking in Latin anymore. For a moment it was gibberish, only because the language he was speaking hadn’t registered in her mind. His accent was thick and she recognised those words. She had her own language and dialect but had travelled far enough within her country with a family that wasn’t even hers to, at least, understand and know the other dialects to some degree. His attempt did make her relax and smile, it certainly made him stand out from other Roman men. But then came the kiss to her hand. It surprised her, her cheeks grew warm and turned noticeably red, simply because it was like something out of one of her daydreams.

“No,” she said in reply with a laugh, then speaking very slowly so he could understand. “Pleasure to meet you. But you speak well. If I am to call you Lucius, you must call be Nymphias. Not my lady. I’m not important.” Because that was the name given to her. Her old name was discarded with her old life.

She then returned to the Latin language: “You talk my language very good. Have you visit my country? Where you learning to speak like that?”

@The Young Pope

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It seemed that both of their cheeks grew warm as one attempted to do good impression towards the other, though Lucius appreciated the fact that she had the guts enough to correct his attempt at speaking her language, knowing that slaves such as herself were otherwise trained and conformed to not speak out against those belonging to privileged classes, especially their masters. It occurred naturally as he began to move away the scene and compel Nymphias to follow him, even if he didn't issue an order to do so. She started to intrigue the senator well enough, not minding much to make use of his free time to get to know her better personally. "You flatter me so, but I thank thee for your kind words...Nymphias. It's one of my destinations of desire that I've promised myself to visit, though Fortuna hasn't favored me with any time to do so yet. No, I've recently undertaken private lessons with a Celtic woman from Gaul, Aia. She knows a good deal about languages since she learned them through travelling on the road with her father selling supplies to Roman legionaries."

"May I return the question and ask who taught you to speak our language?" He figured that it would've been a better formulated question rather than outright asking about whom she might belong to as a slave, enabling it to appear like a neutral inquiry as well. The way she spoke appealed to Lucius, such eloquence were only befitting to someone with high intelligence, and she happened to belong to that category of individuals who were clearly underestimated despite their potential for achieving greater accomplishments than one would've anticipated. 

@Beauty

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She followed after him, she hadn’t realised she had done it. It was one of those subconscious actions. She listened intently so that she could catch all of what he said and stared up, expression concentrated. There were many sights and sounds but she kept her attention on Lucius talking. Listening to him, she decided he was someone she looked up to. Kind, intelligent, important, and hoping to travel. She wanted to be the same.

“I teach myself,” she said. At least, it was the case in the beginning until she became someone’s property and her learning there quickened, mainly by being immersed in the language when working within the household. Nymphias mimicked what she heard and even saw. “I learn by sounds and hearing...” A hand pointed to her ear to emphasise. “I learn cooking, cleaning and sewing the same at home. Maybe Aia can teach me speak better Roman and I make her dress so she do it.” Whoever Aia was, she sounded intriguing. Nymphias trusted any companion of Lucius had to be and Aia’s backstory sounded quite impressive, likely holding many tales of adventure that would captivate Nymphias’ attention.

“And if you go Britannia, take me with you,” she said, grinning foolishly. It was just fanciful thinking and a playful jest. But she did miss home a lot. “But I cannot go. My place is here and no family at home. My… domine Titus Sculpius Rufus and family need me too.” Escape wasn’t an option for her, she’d heard horror stories and her capture was bad enough. She couldn’t go through that or anything similar again. She felt embarrassed by her status but it was clear what she was anyways. “Maybe Fortuna hasn’t favoured me too.”

@The Young Pope

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Listening to Nymphias reminded him of the fact that there were so many others like her, forced to become slaves against their will after being raided from their original homelands, just to be put to work in the privileged Roman household and making sure that everything ran as smoothly as possible. Ever since his conversion to the new faith that he wholdeheartedly adopted, Lucius pledged himself to try and improve the situation of less fortunate classes in society, through his occupation as Praetor. Even if his true desire would've been to aid everyone, the senator had to simply make the best out of a dire situation as the institution of slavery would most likely continue to exist even after his time on this world was up. "I don't have much to say, other than the fact that I feel sorry for your current situation and I wish that the circumstances were different. However it pleases me to hear that you're trying to keep your mood up despite the horrid experiences you must've gone through prior to your arrival. You're just one of the many with similar fates sadly."

"I'm sure I can put in a few good words for Aia to meet you some time, with the permission of your dominus Titus. I'm not too familiar with him and the household, though he seems to be of good reputation. How have you fared under his care, does he at least treat you alright?" Lucius was aware of the frivolous liberties that masters sometimes enforced upon their slaves, turning them into sexual objects just to sate their thirst for lust and other sick depravity their minds harboured for so long, that they couldn't contain themselves. He also thought about the slave's plea to take her back to Britannia if he he were to venture there, and the subtle desperation in her voice despite the grin clearly indicated this long desire to one day free herself from these chains. The senator stopped momentarily on the side by some stalls selling various freshly baked goods, the aroms filling the nearby air with the most pleasant of smells. "Never lose hope no matter what and work long and hard enough, you'll see yourself as a free woman once more and Britannia is still there waiting to welcome one of her lost daughters. I shall pray for your sake as well, that you'll be reunited with your family." Lucius instincetively took hold of her soft hands, warming them with his very own, before gently letting go of his. 

@Beauty

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The fact that he was apologetic for what had happened to her surprised her, seeing as most Romans did not seem to be sorry. Her expression darkened and her eyes wandered, observing the market. She had lost sleep, did not eat, and found it hard not to cry, all because of the terrors she’d seen. She had thought the capture of their mother and death of their brother would have been the end of it. But apparently her gods had other plans.

Her attention returned to Lucius when he mentioned Aia and then he asked his question. “Domine is a good man,” she said honestly because it seemed true. “He treats me well but demands respect.” But she still erred on the side of caution in case he saw reason to get rid of her and any other master was a gamble.

When Lucius stopped momentarily, Nymphias did too and stared up. His words were kind and inspiring. If there was one word to describe Lucius, it was “pure”. He felt genuinely compassionate and it made her eyes glisten. Holding her hands, her stomach did back-flips and she blushed once again. His hands were big and warm, this was the first time a man had held her hands outside of her musings. She lowered her eyes awkwardly. He had made a mistake, treating her kindly and kissing her hand before as he did. Sooner or later, she would be daydreaming, this time filled with ten Lucius Majors and Lucius Minors. Not that she understood Roman naming conventions very well.  

After a while, her hands slid away from his and she could barely look him in the face. She had to remind herself of her place and that her silly fancies didn’t belong in Rome.

“Thank you, domine, for praying for me,” she said, grateful. “I have hope I will become a free woman. But if my family come here to Rome, I have new name. Do you think they will find me?”

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Truth be told, Lucius couldn't help but feel affectionate towards her already due to her circumstance, and some sort of attraction grew within him. He too realised that his subconcious physical interactions were getting the better of him, and thus he had to think about restraining himself lest he'd like to send clearly wrong signals to this beautiful, pitiful slave whose mind was probably in the process of healing itself after going through so much unnecessary pain and suffering; he thought that it wouldn't be right of him to toy with her feelings, unless she really wanted to be share a mutual affection as well. Oh how he truly wished that she belonged to him instead of that Titus Sculpius Rufus, as he could've given her something else that didn't always remind her of having a status of a slave. Fantasies were also starting to fill the senator's head, containing alternative scenarios where Nymphia happened to be the perfect wife providing him multitude of heirs in a happy household, which he wanted to supress as well.

"Do you know if they're still alive or dead? If some of them managed to survive, they would most likely been brought to Rome as well; I can't say for certain if you would ever stumble upon one another in this myriad, but rest assured that I'll provide as much aid as possible in seeing a potential reunification. May I ask first what your true name is?" Lucius found it quite demeaning and outright silly that the slaves had to be provided new names according to Roman standards, as if their original ones from their home territories weren't worth enough to be heard or spoken out loud. When it came to his household, he tried as much as possible to call his slaves by their native names rather than whatever hogwash of names the Roman slavers provided them to begin with, just in order to forge a closer connection and show that not all Romans were so thick in their heads and so full of themselves. "Also, care to have a bit of honey-cake snack with me somewhere else with fresh air, rather than continuing to breath in this stenchfilled crowd mania?"

Lucius decided to purchase traditional roman baked goods, browsing through the offers at hand by that stall they were standing beside. It wasn't his absolute favorite joint where he used to acquire such delicacies but this one seemed to be new in the market, and perhaps he would come to enjoy their selection as well. Requesting for some honeyed wine, the basket for carrying the baked goods was now filled to the brim. It brought him happy memories of when he first met the little boy Lexus, as honey-cake was also involved in the process of getting them to know each other. 

@Beauty

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He said he would provide help, she believed him. Some would call it blind faith, others naiveté but whatever the case, she took his word and trusted him. But, of course, she’d have to tell him about her family first. “Ardra,” she said, giving him her true name. A name she hadn’t said or heard in a while until then. “But please call me Nymphias, that my name now. Not Ardra. Call me Ardra only when you see me in Britannia and with my family.”

A part of it was fear, she’d heard of slaves getting into trouble for uttering their old names, let alone being called by them. Her mind did wander and wonder however, if her family were alive still. She wondered every night, it’s what kept her up and had her crying. She feared they had ended up like her eldest brother Calpornus, killed by the Romans. The man with her now, Lucius, seemed kind, similar to her master and his family. It made her realise that not all Romans were evil. Still, she felt as though she was betraying her people by thinking such a thing sometimes. The way she saw it, Romans and Britons were enemies. Nevertheless, when sitting, she’d tell him about her family. It was easier that way. Maybe he knew how to find them and where to look.

With the sweet smells coming from nearby, Nymphias’s stomach grumbled. Perhaps it was because he’d mentioned honey cakes but she had also been eating a lot less since her arrival to Rome. She managed to look at him now, beaming up and nodding excitedly. She watched him as he purchased honeyed wine and baked goods, momentarily forgetting that perhaps she shouldn’t be lingering by a senatore in such a familiar manner.

“I repay you later when I have money,” she said.

@The Young Pope

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"Thank you, but there's no need for any kind of repayment, everything's on me." Lucius said, compelling her to exit the market with him, as the destination he had in mind was his favorite hill overlooking a gorgeous scenery of the city and it wasn't too far out from the centre either, and usually there were little to no people at all whenever he paid a visit with a friend or two. Eventually the duo reached the bottom of it, but before reaching their final destination Lucius halted and looked at her. She was naturally scared for her own safety at the risk of saying her old name out loud, but Lucius wanted to make her feel less anxious and concerned whenever she happened to keep him company. It wasn't easy for her to be in a status of slavery the senator thought, as her life could suddenly take a sharp turn to either direction and her fate sealed forever meaning that every decision had to be made with extreme care. Hanging out with a senator on a whim wasn't perhaps part of the protocol either, especially if he was considered to be an enemy of her people and vice versa.  

"I understand why your old name ought to not be announced in public like this, but you need to understand that whenever you're with me I'll promise to grant my protection...that I swear upon my family's honor. Ardra...I'm not sure what it means unless you kindly tell me, but it certainly sounds more real and authentic compared to Nypmphia, which is based on Roman water spirits, unless you already knew that. So I'm going to call you Ardra, whether you like it or not, because I can't allow your honor and dignity to be degraded within my presence, which is the same principle I apply to my 500 slaves I possess in my household; each and everyone of them I cherish as real humans and not like animals living on a farm, all of them sharing the same hope of one day returning to their homeland and be reunited with their loved ones, as to which I'll do absolutely everything in my power to make it a reality."

With that said and hoping that those words would cling unto her mind, Lucius found a suitable spot on the top of the hill, namely a patch of grass. He layed a piece of cloth or blanket on the ground for Ardra to sit upon, instructing the Lictors beforehand to give them a bit of privacy at the very least. "I hope this view appeals to your senses, as I sometimes usually find myself here to collect my thoughts and rest under those trees over there."

@Beauty

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Nymphias was surprised by his kindness, it seemed never-ending and it was simply the thing she needed as of late. But she said nothing and then followed him, she couldn’t help but let her eyes wander as they walked, the vendors became more scarce and greenery began to come into view. With the way the sun shone, it looked picturesque. And then they halted, Nymphias turned to look up at Lucius as he spoke. Some of the words he used was difficult but she listened nonetheless. Protection? She didn’t know what to say to that so she nodded and, of course, blushed. She believed he would protect her just like how he said he would help her find her family too.

They came to the top of a hill and Lucius set down a piece of cloth for her to sit on as if she was someone important. Nymphias sat down and her eyes followed the bodyguards as they left the two alone. Her attention returned to Lucius the moment he spoke. She didn’t yet touch the wine or food, waiting until he said she could, even if her stomach was growling louder than any wolf could because the honey-cakes smelt divine.

“I like this view,” she admitted, pinching herself. She was before such beauty and in the company of the kindest, gentlest and handsomest man, who she was developing an embarrassing fancy for. She wondered what Turi, Erea and her mother would think of him, she knew they’d like him. “I have to pinch myself to know if real. I wish my family can see this.” But she didn’t even know if they could see still, let alone breathe and it made her a little sad. “I see why you come here for your thoughts. It’s very beautiful and I feel like I’m at home. Back in Britannia.” 

“And my name Ardra means noble,” she said. At least, that is what she thought. She began to pluck flowers next to her, carefully twisting them into a crown. “What your name Lucius mean? Do you have brothers and sisters? Are they hero like you?”

@The Young Pope

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"Well what are you waiting for? Try some already as I can see that they're too irresistible!" Lucius allowed her to pick as many cakes as she could manage at first, who happened to be among the sweetest women he'd ever layed his eyes upon and interacted with, both when it came to beauty and her eloquence in the way she conversed amongst other things. He couldn't have felt more than happier in this instant to be sharing this experience with someone else, and this relationship of theirs was blooming for sure; where it would eventually lead to, only they could find out in the end. "I heard that Britannia's quite lush and green due to the amount of rain it receives, so I do believe those words of yours if one were to compare this oasis with your island." He opened the lid of the wine bottle and started drinking from it without letting the lips touch the sides of the opening, making sure that it wouldn't spill all over his toga. It seemed that this particular wine had a slightly different texture and taste to it compared to his standard purchasement, but it didn't matter much as long it tasted good.

"You're quite the most noble of all the women I've met so far, that I can guarantee you." The senator noticed how she began to form a crown from the flowers she plucked from the ground, reminding himself of the female slaves back home in the garden where they were allowed to do so for their own benefit of fun, aside from preparing those flowery headsets for invited guests to wear during special occasions. This made her seen as more adorable and innocent than ever befire in his eyes, contributing to an aching heart of desire. "My name means light, someone who shines in the dark to provide guidance and comfort to those around. It's a rather common name around here, though from experience it seems that most of the men carrying that name contaminate everyone else with darkness, ironically enough." Lucius couldn't help but chuckle at such a thought, considering how quite a few of these names being positive-sounding theoretically speaking, didn't sometimes align with the person's actual termperament and personality. 

"Aye, have a little sister who lives outside Rome with her family...Furia Pontia Tullia she's called, which is a feminine version of my father's name. I suppose one could call her a hero, getting married first and earlier than myself whether she liked it or not, as all of us in society have a role to fulfill. My parents picked a suitable match for her at least, and she got to experience giving birth to plentiful of children. It still irks me somewhat, as to why dear father of mine never found someone before passing away; there was a time when I actually got close of being married, to a woman that I loved, whom I still love as a friend today. But our families never went through with the marriage despite the optimistic prospects, and here I am on the lookout for a woman who may have the pleasure or grief to share a life with me...I assume that you were also about to be married off, before your new life in Rome? Forgive me if I'm terribly mistaken."

He finally grabbed one honey-cake and his mouth was totally ready for a food-orgie to say the least, savouring every piece of such delightful treat that could bend the knees and break minds of even the most resiliently, hardminded individuals out there. "Delicious, is it not? Also, would you kindly teach me how to make a flower crown...I got to have some valuable skill to impress the women around here." He laughed. 

@Beauty

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Nymphias didn’t think of herself as noble. Noble was Turi who, as the second son, took up his father and brother’s place to try and provide for his sisters. Noble was Erea who was very much the pillar of the family. Noble was her mother who’d raised four children after her husband died.

“I like your name,” she said. There were many Lucius’ in Rome but, to Nymphias, there would only be one now.

She listened to him talk about his sister and marriage. The moment he mentioned a woman he’d gotten close to marrying, Nymphias tried to hide her displeasure and did so by taking a bite out of a honey-cake, which tasted rather sweet for sudden sourness. And then she took the wine and sipped it. Her lips touched the bottle where his lips had, it was the most explicit thing she’d ever experienced. She wanted to ask who this woman was, just so she could see her face-to-face and measure herself up against her.

“You are mistaken,” she said. She was just entering the age where marriage was a possibility, though some did marry younger, and had figured that anyone who wanted to marry her, had to get through her older siblings first. “My sister was married. My brother wasn’t. I thought maybe next year I marry like my sister but I’m here so I will become old and barren. When people ask me, if I am married… I will tell them I am married to Rome.”

She smiled, it was a joke. “Very simple to make flower helmet to impress woman,” she said, she plucked some more flowers and began twisting them together. “You twist like this.”

@The Young Pope

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Lucius chuckled at Ardra's small joke in an attempt to probably lighten up the mood of the rather unfortunate circumstances. "You may become old and barren as you say, but at least you should know that you're among those who'll age gracefully over time, as one can already see that today. Before reaching such a stage however, you'll probably already meet someone who'll be a good husband and father to your future children." The senator said so, hoping that it would lift her spirits up and not give up life too easily, whilst trying to simultaneously follow her instructions in creating a so-called 'flower helmet'; her warm hand mometarily touched his as she took some of his flowers to demonstrate, and it was among the sweetest of all touches that Lucius hadn't felt in a long while to be so genuine, even if it lasted for a second or two. At first it proved to be a struggling matter, trying to twist and bend those twigs without completely breaking them apart and making the petals fall off from the buds. Eventually, he seemed to have grasped the very nature of this procedure.

"Not bad eh?" Proudly he showed Ardra the little creation even if it wasn't as elegant or sophisticated like hers. "I think this calls for some wine after such hard work." Lucius joked, taking the bottle of wine and touched the opening with his lips where hers was previously at as well. As soon as he did so, he could sense that subtle yet identifiable taste of her lips; Oh how it made the senator's senses to be tingled in such a way, it literally tortured him inside as every drop of that honeyed-liquor passed through the mouth and down the throat of his. 

@Beauty

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She hoped she aged gracefully, she’d seen some people become withered prunes from the amount of distress that beat at them, chiselling away at their skin like a mason. She wanted to marry and become a mother. Just like her own and her elder sister. However, that dream seemed to have died a little since her entrance into Rome but oddly, it still remained all the same. There was a battle between despair and hope. She simply smiled, watching him try to do what she did, and she once again reached for another honey-cake, which she was becoming addicted to because of its sweet taste.

“It’s good for a beginner,” she admitted, placing her own crown on her head. “They tell me Rome was not built in day so it’s the same. You get better with practice just like you speaking my language.” And her speaking his. She turned from the senator and to the handsome view, her eyes twinkling with nostalgia and sadness. “Maybe if I have time, I come here to think just like you but I am slave so… I come in moderation.” She shifted in her position, perhaps to make herself more comfortable. “What do you think about up here when you come? You remind me of my brother, he’s so quiet like he thinking all the time. I sometimes wonder what he is thinking about and why. Maybe if I think more like him, I will survive Rome better.”

She had two brothers but only one was living. At least, that is what she prayed for, when she prayed at all. For all she knew, Turi might have been dead just like her oldest brother Calpornus, just like her father. With all the losses, her siblings took up the mantle, becoming more sensible while Nymphias helped out, though delving deeper into daydreaming to escape the horrors of life. With life seeming worse now, daydreaming felt useless, even if old habits died hard. 

@The Young Pope

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