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Nymphias

So whistle while you work

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The day she liked best were the ones where she stayed at the domus working. When running errands, she was often frightened of the many sights and sounds, somehow getting lost, dealing with shop-keepers who thought her an idiot because she was young, dazed and lacking in language skills. Days at her master’s home weren’t the easiest because they were busy. How she felt every hour and day changed. Sometimes she’d be simply fine and other times, she’d be in complete despair, inconsolable. Her emotions changed like the weather at sea, it was unpredictable, especially to her.

Despite it all, she worked hard because she was determined to become a free woman. She did extra work where she could. Lucius, a Roman man, had told her to work long and hard and she’d see herself free. Nymphias feared she’d be old and barren by then. But Lucius’ words played on in her mind… just like his face. That played on too. She imagined herself and him. Together. Married. Children. Kissing. All of the things she had no experience in. But she thought about it anyways because her imagination was the only thing the Romans hadn’t completely taken from her. At least, not yet.

She’d been busy in the kitchens, running around like a madwoman, when she’d been told she was to see “the master” himself. Nymphias stared dumbly around her, panicking and thinking she was being punished. But she was ushered out and told where to go. While she headed to her destination, she played with her fingers and tried to keep her mind blank. Just in case her master could read her mind. She didn’t want him or anyone to think she was stupid. Taking in a deep breath, she told herself that Erea and Turi would be strong. But the moment she stepped into the room, she wasn’t strong. Her body was rigid and she moved quietly, the soft pit pats of her feet silently echoing.

“Domine,” she said in a polite greeting but like a frightened rabbit, her voice barely audible.

@Liv

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Being hunched over a bunch of letters was never particularly fun or comfortable, but even less so when the majority of said letters were thinly-disguised requests for loans, or outright beggary. Did they all think he'd single-handedly exhausted the gold mines in Dacia? Muttering a string of expletives under his breath, he rolled a few papyri together and fed them to the fireplace one passus to his left with an easy throw. Concentration had abandoned him already, and perseverance was starting to fail too. Only boredom remained, and it was taking over like an army of locusts. Fortunately, he'd foreseen this, and had sent for the new Briton slave so that he would have an excuse to interrupt the mind-numbing task. There were a few things he wanted to take up with her, too - bad habits needed to be expunged before they settled for good.

And there she was, stiff as a pilum and eyes like a little mouse scampering through an open field. The girl looked scared, but that didn't detract from her beauty, Titus allowed himself to note. Her golden hair was rather captivating, as were her big green eyes; such a combination of features was not a naturally common one in the heart of the empire. At any of the brothels, she would have fetched a hefty sum. As it was, it was magnanimity Titus felt towards her, rather than lust: her skin had taken on a healthier hue thanks to the strong Roman sun, her plain clothes were clean and in good condition, and she was still undeniably capable of self-grooming. A depressed slave was like a contagious illness: spreading their nasty humours all around and difficult to heal, not to mention a waste of good coin - but she had not lost the will to live and seemed to be adapting relatively well to her new life. 

"You came quickly. Good," he praised, eyeing her approvingly. "Oh, and for your reference from this moment on, you'll have to speak up," Titus added as he pointed to his scarred ear. Truthfully, the old injury had not affected his hearing on the right side that badly, but he didn't care much for whispering slaves, and he certainly did not care at all to read their lips. What would her reaction be if he told her the scar was the handiwork of one of her countrymen? Would she feel vindicated, or anxious that she would suffer punishment for the actions of another? Feeling lenient yet again, he decided to share the piece of information some other time.

"So. I've been told you're a quick learner. Your Latin's improving, and Betua's satisfied with your help in the kitchens." Getting a compliment out of the Gallic cook was no easy feat, as the old woman was infamously known within the household for being as harsh with her words to fellow slaves as she was gifted amongst pots and pans. He smiled a little. "Seems like you've been doing a good job. I want you to keep it up."

Then he stood up from the stool and walked over to her as the smile morphed into a frown, folding his arms across his chest as he stopped just under an arm's length from the slave. He could easily reach out and slap her across the cheek if he wanted to; her face was at just the perfect height to do it, too.

"However," Titus started in a steely tone, "I've also been told about your little escapades. I don't know if your sense of direction is really that terrible that you get lost all the time, or if you think you can make a fool out of everyone in this house and make a run for it. For your sake, I sincerely hope it's the former." Intimidation was a powerful and versatile tool, one  he'd diligently honed over the years. It worked on foreign chieftains as well as trained Roman soldiers, and would probably make the pretty slave's heart leap right out of her mouth. It was paramount that his point got across to her.

"I don't think I need to tell you it shan't happen again, do I?" He raised an eyebrow as if expecting a reply, but quickly carried on without waiting for one. "Because if it does, you'll be sticking to the kitchens for a very long time. No more errands outside. Have I made myself clear?" Titus cocked his head to the side, this time actually wanting a response.

With that out of the way, he relaxed his posture and let his shoulders droop a little. "Now that we've got an understanding, I'd like to know what you make of your new life. How are the others treating you? Has anyone been mean?"

Maybe he shouldn't be letting her off the hook so easily; many masters certainly wouldn't. But tugging at Titus' heartstrings, however unconsciously, was the fact that the girl was only a couple of years older than his own daughter, still navigating the space between child and woman with uncertainty... and first-hand experience told him a little rebellion was to be expected.

@Beauty

 

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He pointed to his ear and Nymphias eyed it curiously, even if she’d seen it before. She’d often wondered how exactly he got hurt there, her mind often wandered to dramatic scenarios but realised now that he was dear in one ear.  In that moment, she felt sorry for him. At first, she was trembling, her body rigid with fear but the moment his compliments arrived, Nymphias calmed down a little. Left over remnants of anxiousness had her sweating. She nodded with a straight-face, trying to hide that she felt pleased that he praised not only her work in the kitchens but the fact that her Latin was improving.

“Little escapades”? Her heart began to race. What could he have possibly meant by that? But then he explained and she frowned, fearful that he was going to toss her out for sale. But wasn’t going to happen. She shook her head fervently at his first question and then nodded her head at his last. He had made himself very clear. She could have explained that Rome was much bigger than what she was used to with all its roads and buildings looking all too similar but instead of excuses, she’d learn.

“I am liking my new life, domine,” she said loudly so he could hear, giving him the answer she believed he wanted to hear. It wasn’t completely a lie though. After all, where her youthful and awkward infatuations was concerned, she was enjoying herself well enough that it kept her distracted from her general unhappiness. “No one is mean to me and everyone in Rome treat me so well. I am very grateful to domine, family and to Rome. Rome very nice place, not like Britannia.”

Most of her troubles lay outside the home, simply because some people took her for an idiot. She was new to Rome, not very fluent in its tongue, doe-eyed, young and small so it was to be expected.

“I want to know better Roman—I mean, Latin,” said Nymphias honestly. “I want to know more things so I serve family better.”

@Liv

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It was amusing to watch his slave's expression go from anxious to self-satisfied to fearful to relieved, though Titus kept his own carefully blank. The girl seemed to have understood what was expected of her and was smart enough not to try and explain away her detours with futile excuses, leaving him with a positive impression. She'd even raised her voice as he'd asked, needing no further prompting. If she stayed respectful and obedient, her life in the household had all the potential to be a tranquil one.

"That's good to know. You don't have to lie, though," he said with a chuckle, unfolding his arms and letting them hang at his sides. He thought Rome was indeed a very nice place and not at all like dreary Britannia with its lunatic priests and pesky weather, but no matter how magnificent the eternal city would appear to a new slave, it wasn't 'home' yet, and 'home' was best.  That was why Romans and barbarians alike fought so fiercely in the name of 'home'. "We both know which place you like best... But I hope you'll change your mind in time. This is a city like no other." Not even Alexandria could compare.

The Briton's reasoning was sound and added to Titus' opinion of her. And this particular problem had an easy resolution: practice, practice, practice. "That can certainly be arranged." Titus tapped his chin lightly in fake contemplation; an idea had come into his mind almost as soon as the slave had finished speaking.

A sly smile tugged at his lips. "Starting tomorrow, you'll be minding Valeriana in the afternoon. I'll tell Betua about it so she knows you won't be in the kitchens as much." What better than to learn the language from a young child? Simple words, simple grammar, and kids that age were brutally honest when it came to pointing out mistakes. Plus, the young Briton would get to learn some Roman habits and traditions alongside his youngest daughter, not to mention the quirks of his little family. "I take it you have some experience with children?" Surely she'd cared for younger siblings or nieces and nephews before... probably.

@Beauty

 

 

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He was right, Rome was like no other. But Nymphias hadn’t really seen anything like it before. She was used to the much simpler, smaller settlements of Britannia. Rome was very large in comparison with greater buildings and strange ways of living. Everything was a lot more green in Britannia, it was why it was so wet and windy all the time. Could she ever come to prefer Rome to her home? As it stood now, she didn’t think so.

Nymphias beamed, believing the chance to work with her master’s youngest child was an honour. It meant she was working her way up, or so she believed. She wanted to become a free woman, free to do whatever she pleased and, perhaps, if lucky, find her siblings and mother, if they were still alive.

“Lots of experience,” she said confidently. She was the youngest of four and not yet a mother but she’d spent a good amount of time with children. When her sister was with child, Nymphias had been excited about being an aunt and helping to take care of something so small and helpless. She’d never have her own children as long as she was slave, she believed, but would take care of Valeriana like a mother bear. “I like children so I help mothers and women in Britannia. When baby cry, I know how to stop crying. When baby wants to play, I can play too. When baby needs new cloths, I sew new ones for them to wear. I very good at sewing. I am very grateful for minding, I will do my best.”

@Liv

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His slave seemed elated at her new task, which was certainly a plus. Whether that was due to genuine fondness for children or to some misguided mental sandcastle remained to be seen, but Titus reckoned he'd find out within the next few weeks if she didn't screw it up. However, he needed to lay down some ground rules before she got too excited.

"Good. I like your enthusiasm. You're going to need all of it, Valeriana's got a lot of energy." Understatement of the year, Titus. "Please try to keep her away from your domina's cosmetics, will you?" The bloody things were far too expensive for a three-year-old to be getting her hands, mouth, nose, basically her whole face, on them. "There's two things you need to keep in mind, though." Titus held up two fingers to make sure the girl was following. "First: you're not allowed to take her out of the house. I don't trust you not to get lost." If she was indeed just getting lost and not going on reconnaissance missions whilst planning an escape... Not to mention the oddballs or criminals they could come across with ideas of theft, kidnapping or worse. The dangers were simply too great.

"Second: dim Brittonig. Dim ond Lladin1." Titus was no longer as fluent as he'd once been, but he still managed a simple phrase like that. Even if Nymphias spoke another dialect, she should be able to understand him just fine and realise how serious he was about it. There would be no room for misunderstandings - the gods knew his daughter had no need to learn yet another pig language, thank you very much. "Don't worry about how well or badly you speak it, she's got other people to learn from. But don't let me catch you speaking to Valeriana in any other language than Latin, all right?" Verbalising an eventual punishment was hardly worth it; the slave would have already learned it was implied if orders were not correctly followed.

Now that the Briton knew exactly what not to do, Titus allowed himself to relax a little and indulge his curiosity; he knew practically nothing of Nymphias but her name, origin, and that she was a relatively fresh catch - part of the reason why she had been so cheap, as his secretary had gleefully informed him. "Were you learning from a midwife?" Those would have been skills worth developing, even in Rome. "Or just looking after your siblings?"

_________

- 'No Brittonic. Only Latin.' in Welsh

@Beauty

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It took her a while to understand what “energy” was before it kicked in. How difficult could it be to take care of a young child? But she nodded her head and then nodded her head once again as he began laying down rules. She was on the same boat as him, she didn’t quite trust herself not to get lost outside the home but wanted to learn the streets and back roads of Rome like the back of her hand, especially because everyone and everything was so unfamiliar.

Her eyes widened as he spoke in her language, it felt almost surreal to hear her own language spoken to her after months of non-stop Latin. She’d heard one Roman speak to her in her language, though her master’s grasp of the language was a little more polished, perhaps due to his time in Britannia as a man of the military, and she was impressed but didn’t voice it.

“Rome bigger than my city,” she said honestly. “My city small… I know lots of people at my city and I help lots of wives with babies because...” She assumed a wife and a midwife was the same thing, her hands swayed awkwardly and her brows furrowed as she tried to explain her past life. She felt like she was being tested and considering the man was giving his youngest child to her, she believed his concern justified. If she had children of her own, she would have done the same. “I like to help people, not for learning but to be nice person and for happy society. I did not look after siblings because… I am youngest child like domine’s Valeriana. I learned from doing same as mothers.”   

@Liv

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All the nodding was starting to raise the question of how much Nymphias actually understood of what was being said to her. She may be a quick study all right, but Titus couldn't help but shake the impression that his words were mostly going in one ear and out the other. Using her language had caught her attention well enough, going by how round and wide her eyes became, like a cat zeroing in on its prey; but that was a one-time thing as far as he was concerned. It could be that she was too ashamed to admit to ignorance, some people were proud in little ways like that. "By the way, if I say a word you don't understand, ask." Titus didn't care for misunderstandings that could be avoided by simply speaking up rather than assuming.

Her efforts to communicate were notable, though. She seemed like she had a clear picture of what she wanted to say, but poor vocabulary kept her from doing so. Titus very nearly started to laugh at the slave's obvious statement about the size of Rome, but he managed to turn it into an awkward smile in time. He very much doubted she came from a 'city'; knowing her country, a village was more like it, and one likely to be a mound of rubble at that very moment. 

"Oh, you're the youngest too? That makes three of us." Who would have thought he'd have something in common with his new Briton slave?  The gods' sense of humour was truly inscrutable. "So you helped the women in your village take care of their children. That's nice." No midwifery skills to put to service, then. A small disappointment, but not one worth dwelling on. "Did you have many siblings? Big family?" His use of the past tense was deliberate; not to be cruel, but to further drive home that that was then and this was now.

@Beauty

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Sometimes her master and his wife appeared so much older than her, mainly it was because they were married and had a child almost Nymphias’ own age. The two must have been around her sister’s age when they had their eldest child and daughter. She tried to imagine her domine as a much younger man, her own age or much younger than that, as a small child, with older siblings and somehow it was too hard to imagine. Nymphias sometimes wondered with all the stresses her young body and mind was taking since the start of slavery, if she’d even live to her masters’ age.

Nymphias nodded again proudly, she enjoyed helping people. She didn’t know why but it made her feel a lot happier with life when others were happy too and she was eager to share this enthusiasm for charity.

“I had big family once but now are smaller,” she said, some sadness tickling her tone. “I think maybe it is only me now.” She couldn’t be certain, she had hope there was more of her family left, perhaps in Rome. But somehow it was doubtful. She was told Rome was a big place and the chances were slim. She tried to hold hope that if they were not in Rome, they were somewhere in the world and not dead. “I had four sib-siblings. Two brothers and one sister. We were close family, very happy too.”

@Liv

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Talking about her family seemed to be a bittersweet affair for Nymphias. Titus was not familiar with the hows, whens and wheres of her captivity - and had no need or desire to -, but the sudden sorrow in his slave's tone told him the topic was one close to the girl's heart.

How was he supposed to respond? He couldn't join her in commiseration over the loss of her family: stories like hers came into being everyday across the empire, ordered into will by citizens much like himself. He had done the exact same thing in Dacia, picking off who would stay and who would go merely on a whim; his words had probably split several families like the Briton's, but he had not cared for that: the most important thing had been to split the troublemakers and scatter them to the four winds, so their connection to their land and tribesmen would be lost in time. These people had been underdeveloped barbarians, and now they were slaves, subjugated to the power of Rome and her illustrious sons and daughters and knowing better than to question the authority of her rule ever again.

On the other hand, he had a family of his own, and the gods could be fickle in their favours. Peace and quiet could quickly and easily be replaced by unrest and violence, as the civil war had proven a decade ago, and he had feared for his family's safety then just as much as any present-day recalcitrant Briton warrior would - should- at the sight of eagle standards.

"May the gods keep them alive and healthy like you," Titus said in a sober tone, and that was all the compromise he could muster. Saying platitudes about an eventual reunion with her relatives would only put preposterous ideas in Nymphias' head, but neither was he so malicious nor invested in their fates that he wished death upon them just to spite her.

"I've got a sister and brother. You may meet them at some point when they come to visit." Provided the slave didn't do anything stupid that would have her gone from the household when his siblings came around... But she had kept a cool head so far and appeared to be docile enough to follow his instructions without trouble.

Titus clapped his hands once, putting a very definite end to the topic of her family. "Moving on. Now you know a little about us, and I know a little about you. Is there anything else you would like to ask about? Anything you've not quite understood yet?" 

Better to get all the basic questions out of the way at once, so she could focus fully on her duties.

@Beauty

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She was surprised that he would even bother to show some form of compassion towards her troubles. She admittedly expected most Romans, including those she served, to not care. After all, they were the ones who either condoned it or unwillingly participated. But at the same time, she was beginning to accept it as a part of life. Romans had power, everyone else didn’t, herself included. She offered a sad smile but didn’t say anything, perhaps out of shock and confusion.

And it was moments like this that made her unable to hate her master and his family. Thus far, they had been kind, if not a little difficult to understand. Not in terms of language but culture and mannerisms, and Nymphias had to squint very hard sometimes in order to try and understand them as people.

But in response to her master mentioning his siblings, she nodded her head eagerly. She wouldn’t be friends with her master’s sister and brother but she was curious about them. She wanted to see them, wondering if they were anything like their younger brother, but was especially curious about his sister. As a girl, Nymphias usually paid extra attention to other women, watching and learning off of them.

Nymphias opened her mouth and then closed it, trying to figure out how to explain her frame of mind. “I would like to ask about…,” she said, voice trailing. The slaves who’d been in the household longer than her, much longer, had helped her but there were still things she didn’t understand. “What are rules I need to know for avoiding being sold, in trouble...” And killed, she thought. As nice as the family appeared, there was no knowing what they’d do if she angered them. “And may I do extra work? I want to work hard so that family is happy with me.”

@Liv

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Perhaps Nymphias was curious about his siblings, Titus mused, given how enthusiastically she nodded after he mentioned them.  Did she maybe want to see what they looked like? It could also be projection, and the eagerness simply due to a mind filled with thoughts of her own kin. Still, if she wanted to sneak a peek when Quintus or Sulpicia stopped by, Titus wouldn't stop her; it was harmless enough, save for a possible deathmatch between Valeria and Sulpicia for the rights to a future blonde wig should his sister catch sight of the slave's locks.

As well as the conversation had been going - her question had actually surprised him in a positive way -, Titus had to purse his lips in displeasure as Nymphias' voice grew quieter and quieter. "For starters, you'd do well to remember what you're told. Speak up!" he chided, the flat tone coloured by a tinge of irritation. He'd give her one more chance to redeem herself before he introduced her to his command voice. If she was forgetful, well, that wasn't his problem - and if she was nervous due to some past mistreatment, that wasn't his problem either. It was on her to learn how to cope, much like Titus had learnt to cope with bloodied hands and boots and sword and dead, unblinking eyes staring up at clear blue skies. Survive and thrive, survive and thrive.

Convinced that Nymphias would do a better job of taking his words to heart from then on, he cleared his throat, ready to continue. Her promises of hard work meant nothing until she made good on them, and in a noticeable way. If declarations of will were enough to bring about results, half the world would be dead and the other half would be rich.

"That's the most important thing: do as your told. Request from the children are more important than whatever the other slaves tell you to do, within reason. Your domina's orders take precedence over theirs, and mine override anyone else's." Titus had now assumed a practical, matter-of-fact tone that left little room for ifs or buts; it was the same one he employed in the field while instructing tribunes and centurions, but he had hardly noticed that.

"Other than that, don't talk back. Don't steal. Don't lie. Don't gossip, especially with outsiders. If you break or ruin something, be upfront about it." It was a bit repetitive when so much of what he was saying was plain common sense for people of good character, but better safe than sorry. "And try to at least learn the way from this house to the Gardens of Sallust and back, unless you want to be indoors forever," he added with slight exasperation, pinching the bridge of his nose. Titus had nothing against letting well-behaved slaves roam about a little every now and then, but if they got into trouble, they'd better know how to get out of it without his having to intervene. "If you behave as expected, you shouldn't fear punishment."

The bit about 'extra work' had him intrigued, though. Did she mean to sleep her way to the top of the domestic slave hierarchy? If that was what she was hinting at, the prospect was vaguely horrifying; the Briton was pretty enough to look at, but still too child-like in body and demeanour - not to mention practically his daughter's age! Not like that stopped a good deal of his peers, of course, but it stopped him. Apprehension was written all over Titus' face as he stared at her. Was her Latin actually good enough for double entendres, or was the meaning entirely innocent? Since he was no mind reader, he'd have to ask.

"What sort of 'extra work' did you have in mind...?"

@Beauty

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His “speak up!” made her jump out of her skin and stand up straighter, causing her heart to race. It wasn’t exactly his fault but generally, she feared men unless they proved to be harmless. Her stomach would twist, her eyes would dart and her motor skills was as firm as butter. Frightened as she might have been and though she did not see it yet, his reminding her to speak up was going to help her in the long run, not just in his home but outside on the streets of Rome where the people seemed as tame as animals.

She stared at him, trying to concentrate on just him so that she made no mistakes but working underneath him and his family, she went from feeling afraid to secure back and forth. But the more that was spoken by her master, the more she focused on his words, not her sudden alarmed state, even if it was annoyingly lingering in the background. Being indoors forever didn’t sound so bad, she thought, until she remembered she might become like a caged animal, restless and unhappy.

Was he asking her what she had in mind for work? Nymphias wasn’t aware that she had some power or choice over what she had in mind.

“What there is room for me to do,” she said, fighting the temptation to awkwardly play with her fingers. “But I can make clothes.” If he allowed it then at least her hands wouldn’t forget how to make things by sewing. “I am slave so I have a lot of time to do extra work. I don’t need a lot of sleep.” She didn’t sleep well to begin with. “And also, what is gossip mean?”

@Liv

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Oh. So it was just household tasks she meant. Tension he hadn't realised was there left his body, but he remained oblivious to how rigid Nymphias seemed to have become all of a sudden. "That's good. Clothes is good." Between three growing children and Valeria's occasional flights of fancy, sewing and altering clothes were time-consuming tasks for the household, and another pair of experienced hands would be welcome. "Are we talking about mending and adjusting them or can you actually make them from scratch?"

She seemed to have some awareness that her time should not be spent idly, which revealed more insight than some previous slaves of his had shown in a lifetime (which may have played a part in why they were 'previous'). But unless Valeriana completely flipped personalities overnight, Nymphias would soon discover that minding the 4-year-old would take up a very large chunk of her time and in all likelihood increase her need for sleep. It would be more fun to let the slave find out on her own, though, so Titus only smiled enigmatically.

"Gossip is..." He bit his lip in thought, making a conscious effort to pick out simple words. "It's when you tell things, usually bad things, about another person that may not be true. Like if you see a married woman with a man who is not her husband, and you tell someone about it thinking she has a lover, but in the end it was just the woman's brother." Like Porcus, essentially. Not that he expected Nymphias to know how to read in the first place, let alone be familiar with Landicus and his works.

"Did that example make sense to you?"

@Beauty

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Sewing was probably one of her strong points. That, and most feminine pursuits. Toss a weapon her way and she’d likely hurt herself with it. She couldn’t understand the women from some of the tribes within Britannia who fought with swords, it was much safer within the home. She began to believe it more after her capture but, at the same time, perhaps it would have been useful to know. If she’d been a fighter, she wouldn’t have become a slave in Rome in the first place. But it didn’t matter now. She was in Rome and there was no leaving.

From scratch? She didn’t have a clue what that meant but figured it meant the opposite of mending. “I can mend and make if I have the… sewing things,” she said, her mind working faster than her tongue. If left alone for a while, she could get a substantial amount done. In fact, the clothes she had on her when captured was of her own creation.

When he explained what “gossip” was, it made sense to her. Gossiping was something that she was met with daily from some slaves, whether from her master’s household or outside in the streets of Rome. Mostly outside where there was probably more to gossip about. She met such a thing back home in Britannia but Nymphias had never engaged in such things, merely listened. But then again, she was a little gullible and often more than not believed the gossip to be true.

“Yes,” she said with a nod. “I won’t gossip. I only speak what is true. But gossip and lying sounds like the same thing. But if someone do something bad, I see, do I tell domine? That is not gossiping?”   

@Liv

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Sewing tools were in order, then. Mending and altering was already very good, and even if the midwife skills had been a fluke, he might have got more than he'd paid for with the Briton slave. He'd leave it up to Valeria and the more senior slaves to evaluate if Nymphias was as good as she claimed, as his knowledge of the craft was limited to knowing it required needles and thread. But 'mending and making' was still ambiguous; she most likely did not know the expression he had used. "Can you make and fit clothes if you have fabric? Or do you just fix clothes that already exist?" If she was a capable seamstress and fulfilled all her duties to satisfaction and got along with everybody, she could eventually assume a comfortable position in the household.

Titus wanted to take her at her word, but somehow, Nymphias just didn't look that well-equipped to know what was true and what was not - and proof was in her comment about gossiping and lying being the same. As long as she did not go babbling to strangers or mindlessly repeating what was said to her, it should be sufficient... but he wasn't entirely convinced. He rubbed his chin in slight annoyance and attempted to explain the difference.

"Gossiping is telling things that may or may not be true. about somebody else. Lying is when you say things that you know not to be true. And if you see someone - anyone -doing something bad, you tell me or your domina at once. That is not gossiping," he explained, shaking his head in the last part for emphasis.

The more they spoke, the more Titus got the impression Nymphias meant well and was eager to please, but lacked a surprising deal of common sense. Her life in Britannia had probably been rather sheltered, which made sense since she was the youngest and a girl. However, it would be up to her to work things out on her own and learn to use her own judgment: he was not going to become a father figure to a slave, of all things. 

 

@Beauty

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“Both but I can make clothes,” she said with a nod, that much of what he said made sense. “I like to make clothes. I made clothes for family when I can.” But materials weren’t always simple to get, especially when times became hard for the family. But where there was feminine work to be had, there was Nymphias. She wasn’t quite clever like her sister, nor determined and strong like her brother but she was skilled in cooking, cleaning and sewing. And with all the work the family had to put towards building themselves up, Nymphias’ work took some stress off their shoulders.

Being the youngest, she’d expected her siblings to care for her, it was only natural for her to think it as the youngest of the family, and then later, when the time came, for a husband to do so. However, being in Rome, she was beginning to learn that she had to truly rely on what strengths she had and to build new strengths, whatever those were. Her family wasn’t there to guide or care for her, there was certainly no husband either. But slowly, she was learning. It would take time though. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day, she was told.

“I will tell you and domina,” she said, repeating what he’d said. She couldn’t exactly lying, she wasn’t great at it because it ate at her conscience. But being young, she was sometimes prone to being sneaky and lying to save face or to hide what she was doing. “I understand now, the difference. And I should tell other slaves not to gossip?” Would they even listen to a youthful-looking girl with a quiet voice?

@Liv

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Perfect, she could make clothes from scratch. The women of the house would definitely give Nymphias a field day or ten with requests for alterations or entirely new creations, and Titus would gladly leave them all to it; playing dress-up did not feature in his list of interests. 

He gave her a dismissive shrug before answering her question . "You can try, but I doubt they'll listen," he smirked, amused at how oblivious the girl seemed to be about her own position in the pecking order of the household. That was one way of making enemies amongst her fellow slaves, though Titus was happy to let them sort out conflicts themselves; if things escalated to the point where they had to involve him, it had better be important.

"Anything else you'd like to ask about?" There was probably a lot, but there would eventually be something that Nymphias would only learn by doing, not just being told.

@Beauty

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Nymphias’ mouth opened and then closed, she didn’t know what else to say or ask about. But she’d surely think of more when in her room or elsewhere within the home working. She felt she had a vague idea of what was expected of her, especially in the coming days, and Betua among others would surely help guide her in her duties within the household. She shook her head but then quickly spoke. “No, domine,” she said loudly because it was better to speak than not speak at all.

With that, he dismissed her and Nymphias left, feeling both uncertain but also excited. The new work sounded pleasant, certainly a good change than what she was accustomed to in the kitchens. She turned her back to the man, just a little self-conscious, and slowly moved towards the door, pushing it open and then leaving. Once out, she felt her nervousness disappear but there was self-doubt and shame. Would she be a good slave or somehow earn her freedom?

@Liv

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