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Feed me all night long!


Beauty
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October 74AD

The day was hot, the heat bore down on him as he practised out on the tracks. But as the chariot moved, he felt the air around him move, stroking the pellets of sweat that formed against his brow and arms that held tightly to the reigns. A good charioteer had to keep “up-to-date”, especially if they wished to be better than their teammates or rivals. For a man who seemingly loved the spotlight, nodding at the spectators, he chose to bring the horses back to the stables himself without troubling the slaves. After pushing the chariot back in its proper place, he tossed the slaves who’d done the hard work some coinage to buy themselves something at the shops nearby on their next break.

It was hard not to feel pity for them when he’d once been in their position before. His time as a slave had been less than favourable but that was to be expected, he had been someone else’s property. But that was a long time ago and if you asked Bassus, it didn’t matter anymore. Dwelling in the past never helped anyone and the present was a constant battle.

When the charioteer sought for some shade, he caught sight of a girl, her skin fresh and devoid of age, so unlike his own. A cloth now in hand, he was busy wiping away the sweat that formed on his face and neck. He lips turned upwards into a smile as he approached her, nodding at her in greeting.

“Couldn’t help yourself watching the men train, could you?“ he said playfully. While first impressions were everything, youths tended to err on the side of humour. But perhaps it was the bit of “dad” that still left in him that made him make that remark. “Sorry that was rude. Bassus. Safinia, isn’t it? The new girl who sweet talked her way into a position involving lots of food.” He then lowered his voice. “Just between us, you’d be willing to sneak a weary man something during breaks?”

@Liv

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The hot autumn day found Safinia carrying a hefty bunch of leeks under one of her arms, headed to the kitchens. Leek and ham puls was on the menu that day, and she needed to get started on slicing the veggies while the cook portioned the ham. Wisely, she stuck to walking in the shade, and had just stopped to wipe the sweat off her brow when a man approached her and interrupted her simple task.

She knew him to be one of the stables' most competent charioteers, but his name escaped her at the moment. Balbus? Gallus? Not Menelaus, this one wasn't as good-looking. But soon her memory was refreshed, and what was more, Bassus knew her name. Why? Had the boss told everyone about her, a mere cook's assistant, joining the Whites? 

"Yes, that's my name," Safinia nodded blankly. She didn't know about sweet-talking, though; she'd asked for a job and received it, and if pity for her situation was involved, it had only helped achieve the end result. "But I wasn't watching. I'm working." She motioned at the leeks with her head, cocking it a bit to the side. What use would it have been to her to watch the men train? She was not a gambler, and watching would not have helped predict how much food they would want, because they always acted like they were starving anyway, and wanted second and thirds.

Uh-oh. Was this one of those tricky questions with a hidden meaning? Even if she did not always (okay, almost never) understand them, Safinia had learnt to recognise them thanks to frequent exposure. A database query drawing on previous experiences put the odds of a double-entendre at 50%, since this Bassus was an unknown quantity. If she managed to observe more of his interactions and establish an empirical model, the probability could go up or down. She decided to go with the more literal option: that the man meant food.

"What, something like dates?"

Cook would be angry. They didn't like anyone messing with the pantry even if it was just snacks, and Safinia thought she was entirely too new at this job to risk getting the sack, especially for a stranger of a charioteer. She put her free hand on her hip and stared at the man.

"Why should I?"

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She wasn’t watching, she was working. So she was one of those serious types, entirely missing his light, playful jest. He contemplated jokingly telling her to “lighten up” but knew that exact wording would not bode well. For one, it could be taken the wrong way entirely, like he was some overly entitled man. After all, women were told that all the time by overly entitled men who seemed to think them objects of their own satisfaction. And if you asked Bassus, he hated most men. He was aware before but never really thought deeply about it until became a slave. Before then, he’d heard tales from his wife which made his blood sour.

“Dates would be nice actually,” said Bassus pleasantly. She was much too young to be this serious but life had a funny way of making people grow up all too fast. He didn’t know this girl’s story to judge. “I hear they are good for, you know…” His eyes motioned downwards playfully and opened widely, hinting at restroom business. His son had appreciated such jokes, being quite young when he’d been alive.

Perhaps out of friendly habit, he slapped her arm gently and offered a soft smile. “I’m only joking,” said Bassus before whispering quickly: “Not really.” While his expression had previously been warm and welcoming, it changed to become more grave than it had been just to purposely throw her off for the hell of it. “But it’s good you’re asking why. You should always ask why, especially with all the people about. It gets hectic here.” He pointed his finger around. Whatever their intentions, be it food or something else entirely, they would probably think they could fool her because she was young and new. Somehow he doubted it’d work with this one yet it didn’t stop him from feeling protective somehow. “Anyone mess with you, you let me know. I’ll sort them out.”

He wouldn’t resort to violence, that wasn’t his way. Just a simple, stern, and tremendously awkward talk from one man to another.

@Liv

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So Bassus was simply after preferential treatment in matters of food. From a logical point of view it made sense to attend to his request, for a well-fed charioteer should perform better. However, Safinia was not sure just how high up the food chain Bassus was: he looked twice her age and so his career could very well be on its last legs. She would have to confer with others before committing to such a deal.

She followed his gaze downwards with her own, not instinctively comprehending what he was hinting at but having a good idea thanks to a decade of living surrounded by, and a part of, the hoi polloi. Like so many men, it seemed this one fancied himself a comic. Safinia knitted her brows and stared at him unblinkingly; fortunately he saw fit to clarify he was only joking... or was he? This encounter was getting stranger by the second, even down to the friendly patting of her arm.

"I always ask why," she nodded, still unsure of where this was leading. How did it go from food to a promise of protection? Had a horse trampled on Bassus' head one time too many? It was difficult for her to follow the shift in topics, but he was not being unkind. 

Her expression relaxed into one of marginal interest but her hand was still firmly planted on her hip. "Why should anyone mess with me?" she asked, shaking her head slightly. Safinia was only an inconsequential cook's assistant, and a very new one at that.  Nobody had any reason to quarrel with her. Yet. "And why do you know my name?"

@Beauty

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“Because people are people,” he said simply in answer to her first question. Most people liked to cause excitement or trouble where it wasn’t needed or picked and preyed on people they thought were “easy” targets, whether they were or weren’t. Even amongst communities or works such as the White Team, rivalries and butting heads happened. It was unavoidable. Bassus himself usually steered clear of that sort of thing, remaining rather neutral unless he had to intervene. Though, he sometimes felt competitive against the other charioteers. But that was different, you had to be or else risked being one of the charioteers playing catch up.

“And I have eyes and ears, I use them,” said Bassus to her second question. “Do you think I wouldn’t notice a fresh-faced girl? I can spot a pin in a haystack.”

With the way she spoke and behaved, he couldn’t tell if she was afraid and her fear came out differently than others, she was hiding nervousness, or was something else entirely. But she was new. She likely, he assumed, had no one to talk to, let alone be friends with. And no matter who difficult people were, Bassus tried and remained fair.

He then pointed to what she held. “Leeks, delicious,” said, trying to continue conversation as he set the cloth he’d been using to hang snugly on his shoulder. “Why don’t I lend you a hand with that?” A simple, nice gesture of trying to offer friendship.

@Liv

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Safinia blinked in perplexity, big blue eyes trained on the charioteer. She had expected a patronising lecture on being an unmarried young woman in a male-dominated setting and the dangers that came with it (her wedding ring was gone months before she joined the Whites, traded for much more necessary coin). The simple, nonchalant statement on human nature came as a surprise, and yet it was completely truthful. There was no rhyme or reason to so much of human behaviour, and that was what made it so hard to figure out to her.

 His second reply fell more into line with her projections. News and gossip travelled fast, even more so in an almost self-contained miniature society like the White faction. Maybe Bassus had assumed the role of friendly neighbourhood spinster, knower and spreader of all important and less important information. "So you eavesdrop a lot?" She would have to be careful with this one, if he was as eagle-eyed as he claimed to be. Safinia broke eye contact and bit her lower lip in reflection; if she got caught, it would not be good. Not at all. Perhaps she should stick to the women's quarter for the time being or until another woman proclaimed herself similarly sharp-eyed. 

As Bassus pointed to the leeks under her arm her gaze naturally followed the gesture, and Safinia dropped her free hand from her waist, feeling more at ease with the man's talk. Food was a good subject to discuss. It was safe and predictable, and everybody had an interest in it; if they didn't, they were ill. "They're very fresh. Brought in from the market just an hour ago," she supplied. Another (harmless) piece for Bassus the Stable Crier.

And then he had to go back to knocking Safinia off kilter a bit. Some people were kindhearted enough to want to help others without expecting anything in return, like Paula had been. Others appeared to do so but had future gains in mind. Which category did the charioteer fit into?

"You may if you want to," Safinia shrugged, making the leeks bob up and down."That would be very nice of you," she added in a deliberate, artificial afterthought. People liked to see their good deeds recognised. "But I don't have anything of value to give you in return." That was clear to see just from looking at her: her stained clothes were plain in form and decoration and very well-worn, and the only adornments she bore were white strips of fabric braided into her dark hair to represent and support her employers. She was not a person worth blackmailing.

@Beauty

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When she asked him if he “eavesdropped a lot”, he answered her with a quick “you bet”. He didn’t go out of his way to gather information on other people but he heard and saw enough, perhaps from being in close proximity to others but also simply because he was a fairly observant person. He liked to be aware of his surroundings and know the people he was around.

He reached forward to take the leeks but his movements were deliberately slow in case she changed her mind. He didn’t have to offer help but he did so anyways in what he believed was a peace-offering or an offer of friendship. There were some who did kind deeds to get something in return, sometimes what they wanted was not coming from a pure place. But in Bassus’ case, he tended to want nothing. While he had surely wanted many things in the past, he couldn’t think of anything that he wanted in the physical world as of recent. He was content with just breathing and so he let out a laugh.

“I’m not helping you to get something out of you,” he said honestly, quite amused. “But that makes two of us because I have nothing of value that you or anyone could possibly want, which makes us a very pathetic pair.” He offered her a playful wink. He had very few items from the past few years, including his earlier life in Judea, and now in Rome, he tended to spend very little of the money he made. Not only because he was saving money but because he didn’t have people to spend money on anymore.

“Were you always working in kitchens, Safinia?” he said curiously. She seemed serious, very serious, in which case, she probably took her job very seriously and so work seemed like a good thing to bring up.

@Liv

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A common person would have firmly denied any accusations of eavesdropping; Bassus not only confirmed them but even sounded a little proud of himself. It threw Safinia’s algorithm out of whack for a moment, and unsure of how to react, she simply looked at him impassively. What was appropriate to say in return? Thank him for letting her know? Click her tongue in disapproval? After a couple of seconds of indecision, she settled for another one-armed shrug. “You do what’s best for you.”

Bassus extended his arms to help her carry the leeks and Safinia carefully transferred half the load to him, nodding when she was content that he was holding them securely enough. “Those will be today’s lunch, so don’t drop them unless you want to eat bits of horse muck.” They’d be scrubbed clean and soaked in water and vinegar before going into the pot, but it never hurt to be careful. If even one batch of food turned bad, it could spell doom for the whole faction. Racers couldn’t race if they were too busy keeping their bowels from falling out of their bodies.

With another nod, Safinia motioned for Bassus to follow her and set course for the kitchen again.

"Not always. This is actually my first time working in the kitchens only. Before, I did a little bit of everything," she shrugged. The indifference with which she spoke of current and past tasks was real, but contrary to her nature, Safinia thought it best to clarify what she meant by ‘everything’; Bassus came across as the type whose mind was prone to wandering in the cloaca maxima too often. "Mended clothes, spun wool, cooked, kept house. The ordinary womanly and wifely duties.” In this way, her previous occupation was only obliquely referred to, and Safinia hoped to keep it that way. She had wanted a clean break when she had joined the Whites, and she did not fancy being drowned in requests to fix this and that or assist the seamstresses.

Now that he had enquired about what she did before, Bassus probably expected to be asked the same in return. Safinia wasn’t invested in his answer, but small talk was an art and she a struggling student who needed to practise. “Have you always been a charioteer, Bassus?”

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Holding the leeks, he followed after her and headed towards the kitchen. He remembered when he would return home in Judea, sweat embalmed on his body from his land’s heat and the sweltering kitchen’s heat sticking to his clothes. “Everything” could have meant anything, it was fairly vague but then she went on to elaborate and he nodded his head in what could only be read as genuine interest before she turned the tables on him.

“No,” he said amiably enough. “You could say I did a bit of everything as well.”

He’d been well-off in his “past life”. He’d been many things as a slave, from an object used against his will to an accountant. He admired her work ethic and the skills she’d developed throughout her young life. But he supposed she didn’t want to hear about that, that he had been a slave once, though it was likely obvious with hints here and there if one squinted hard enough. From the scars beneath his close to, perhaps, his name. It wasn’t that he hid the fact that he was a slave, he just never mentioned it.

“My family owned an orchard,” he said matter-of-factly. He turned to look at the young girl, a smile still on his face. “They were scribes too and so I worked under important people. But life has a funny way of shifting our journeys. And so here I am and you are stuck with me.” He nudged her playfully. “At least, until you decide to get rid of me, that is. Earth you are, and to earth you will return. Have you ever heard that before?”

@Liv

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She still was not interested in what had transpired in the charioteer's life, but since he was trailing after her and there was nothing else to do, Safinia resolved to listen to his story. All his grinning was a bit bemusing, but maybe he just was one of those people who enjoyed smiling for no particular reason or simply to celebrate the fact that they were alive. So he came from a family of farmer scribes? That was original, yet not completely idiotic since they could make money by writing letters when whatever they planted wasn't bearing fruit. "Important people? Like Caesar?" It didn't occur to her pleb self that plenty of people all over the empire could be considered important without having to go quite as high as the Imperial family.

Safinia keenly considered the quote Bassus had shared, racking her brains as she walked in an attempt to figure out if she had heard it before. It had sounded unfamiliar, and her memory wasn't helping to change that impression. In the end, she simply shook her head no. "Never. Where is it from?"

As they entered the kitchen goosebumps appeared all over Safinia's arms. The cool building whose walls were darkened by smoke was a welcome change from the glaring sun outside, much hotter than any autumn day had the right to be. She dumped the leeks unceremoniously on a big table and glanced behind her, suggesting that Bassus do the same. Now she would have to fill a basin with water so the leeks could soak. As she picked up the big earthenware container, she wondered if Bassus would continue to follow her to the fountain right round the corner. If so, then she truly was stuck with him.

@Beauty

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“Yes, like Caesar,” he said sarcastically, looking down at her and trying to fight back a laugh. For all her seriousness, there was some strange innocence to those words. At least, the way she said it. He’d met important government officials of Judea, certainly not the Caesar himself. Scribes played a very important role in his country, a similar way that senatores did in Rome. But Bassus did not long for his old life, he simply went where life took him. There was no point wanting anything.

“A very important text written by important Jews or their god, depending on who you talk to,” he simply explained to the young woman, soon entering into the kitchen. The coolness of it certainly took away every bit of heat that had been prickling against his skin and making him feel more like a roasted boar than a human.

He copied the way Safinia placed the leeks down. He’d cooked for himself before, he wasn’t a novice when it came to cooking but he certainly was not as skilled as someone who was a cook or their assistant. Bassus waited for her to continue her work as he looked around. Kitchens where he was from was set very differently but being rather adaptable, Bassus learned quickly to accept it.

“You must be quite the lucky young woman working in the shade all day,” he said, folding his arms. His hands now smelt of leeks. “While I’m sure you are fully capable on handling yourself…” Young people liked hearing that sort of thing. “Anything you’d like to know about this place? Or who to avoid when the races get really rowdy?” It was always good to give a head’s up or see if one of the newest members of the White Team was missing something that they otherwise wanted to know.

@Liv

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"It's cool now, but it gets really hot when we actually start cooking." With few windows and only a few tubes to draw out smoke and heat, the building was like a reverse greenhouse. On a hot summer day right before a meal would be served, it was like being inside a brazier, but Safinia had not experienced that yet since she had only joined the Whites in autumn. In winter, if only a few fires were going, it could be bitterly cold.

Huh. Safinia never would have thought that an unimposing figure such as Bassus would have friends in high places and be rubbing his skinny shoulders with the elite of Rome. His explanation about the quote from earlier piqued her curiosity - she knew next to nothing about Jews, only that they had a reputation for being troublemakers. "They only have one god?" she asked with a slight hint of interest. He had said 'their god', not 'one of their gods'. "He must be very busy all the time if he has to do the work of all gods. What an odd people," she commented offhandedly as she exited the kitchen, holding the basin awkwardly in front of her. She'd seen some of the assistants carry them on their heads in a fantastic display of balance, but Safinia wasn't at that level yet, and she wasn't going to start practising with an object that big. 

Unsure if the charioteer was following her, Safinia raised her voice in case he was trailing behind by a few feet. "Do you know a lot about Jews, Bassus?"

The distance to the fountain was covered in a matter of seconds. Safinia shoved the basin under one of the spouts and waited for it to fill with water. At least there were no thirsty horses to share the water supply with, not for the moment. A quick glance to the side told her Bassus had come with, possibly delighted to have an excuse to keep listening to the sound of his own voice. Sweeping an errant lock of her from her forehead with the back of her head, Safinia thought about his offer. It couldn't hurt to know who to steer clear of.

She looked up at him, squinting because of the sun. "Have you been here long? Do people come and go all the time or is it steady employment? Who are the sorest losers?" The questions were fired off one after another like arrows with nary a pause for air between them.

@Beauty

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Another Jew might have become offended but Bassus was quite patient at times, likening her comment to unfamiliarity if anything. Admittedly, he struggled with his own fate from time to time. On one hand, he believed nothing else but on the other, it was hard to believe in a god that took your loved ones from you. It was hard to devote to something, anything, these days except for survival. Bassus merely laughed, his lips spreading into a smile. “You can say that,” he commented as he followed her to the fountain in a leisurely pace. The sun bore down and like a curious cat, he watched as she moved the basin.

“Long enough to know who are worth my time,” he said, leaning up against something and folding his arms. He liked to think he was perceptive of other people, though some were easier to read than others. Safinia was not so simple. In a way, she was almost distant but Bassus did not take it to heart. “I would say employment is steady so long as you do your part, stay out of trouble and don’t die.” Death was more likely for a charioteer. However, death could come to anyone and at any time. But he wasn’t being serious. “As for sorest losers, I would say everyone is a sore loser in Rome.”

The fact that the general population of Rome read and enjoyed the works of Landicus only reinforced this idea in Bassus. There was something comforting about the sun’s warmth, it reminded him of home. But home was a long way away and he was likely to never return. His Jewish practices to be spent alone. “So you asked me if I knew a lot about Jews,” he asked, more out of curiosity. He often didn’t go out of his way to mention his background, even if, perhaps, it was obvious enough looking at him that he wasn’t at all Roman. “How would you feel if I told you I was one? Would that change your impression?”   

@Liv

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It did not sound like Bassus knew a lot about Jews after all. Maybe he had just acted that way to come off as worldly and wise, but Safinia had called his bluff and he had grown quiet on the subject. Ah well, he had at least taught her something interesting - that they only worshipped one (supremely busy) god. She wondered briefly if there were other, stranger peoples with even more gods than them Romans. 

The basin filled with water at a slow but steady rate; it looked as leisurely as Bassus' drawl. She gave him a slightly disappointed look: that was it? For somebody who proclaimed they knew a lot, they were willing to share surprisingly little. "I do my part." Unlike a few other assistants, Safinia did not shirk her responsibilities. The deal was simple: perform these tasks and receive money. She wanted money, so she did them. As for staying out of trouble, well, it if she did it would be no thanks to the charioteer and his cryptic statements. And death... that was for the gods to decide, not mortals.

She brushed another sweaty lock of hair away and pushed the basin to the side, away from the water spout. There was enough water in it now, and as a natural consequence it had also become a lot heavier. Safinia's feeble attempt at lifting it distracted her from Bassus' question, her brain registering it only superficially. "Huh? Of course not." A thin layer of sweat formed on her forehead and her arms shook under the strain, but the basin barely budged. She let go of it.

An idea came to her. If she told Bassus what he wanted to her, maybe he would carry the thing for her - even if he didn't look that strong. Now, what was it he had asked? Right, what if he was Jewish. "I would think you're still the same person. Will you help me with this?" Safinia pointed at the basin, making the corners of her mouth curve upwards in what had to be the world's less spontaneous smile.

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Admittedly, some were strange or downright cruel if you worshipped different gods. There was much debate even within the Jewish community about what it meant to be a Jew and a number of other things that Bassus usually didn’t think mattered at the end of the day. He liked her casual outlook to his background, he was not always awarded that. But thankfully being a charioteer meant that people often looked at his career first and then him as a person, including the god he prayed to. Or rather, the god he tried to pray to.

He had led different lives. He had been a scribe, owned an orchard, lived life as a slave and was now a charioteer. He was a father and married, now widower and childless. In the end, none of it mattered. His life changed but his core was the same, so he believed.

He thought nothing of her suggestion for him to lift the basin and did so, first bending his legs and then heaving it upwards with a straightened back. He let out an old man’s grunt. “I am getting old, Safinia,” he said in passing. He would have a good number of years left in him still, he hoped, but there would come a time when he would return to the earth. He didn’t bank on dying soon, especially not in a race, but didn’t fear that day either. If he could avoid it, he would try.

“Lifting things this way is good for the back,” he said, holding the basin tightly. His fatherly instincts told him to educate her on something that she probably already knew. And imagine pulling a muscle as a charioteer, he couldn’t afford that. “To the kitchens?” It was probably where she wanted him to bring it anyways but asked anyways just in case and waited for her to lead the way. “So about little tidbits, think you could sneak something for me to nibble on in-between training?”

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"Even old men can be useful," Safinia retorted bluntly but without malice, as if she were stating a fact as undisputed as the sky being blue. Bassus was chatty, but amiable. Maybe she could gain his trust in the future and then rifle through his things when she had an opening. If he trusted her, he would not suspect her if some belonging of his went missing. 

She hummed in answer to his question, inwardly considering it a not-very-smart one. He had seen her pick the basin up in the kitchens, it followed that it should be returned there. Maybe he had hit his head one time too many while racing. Figuring Bassus was waiting for instructions - again an incomprehensible thing to do, since they had just come from the kitchens and the way was short -, she went in front of him, showing the way as he seemed to have intended. "Do you lift things when training, Bassus?" Even though he was no hulking Hercules like most gladiators, Safinia imagined he trained hard to keep in shape. After starting to work for the Whites she had discovered just how physically demanding racing was on charioteers, even if at first sight it looked like any man who managed to stand on two legs could do it.

He raised a fair point. High physical activity demanded more fuel, and given the tight fist with which cook ruled the kitchen and the pantry, Bassus probably felt he wasn't being fed enough. As they entered the kitchen again, she hurried to scoop the leeks off the table and into her arms again and with her chin motioned for Bassus to put the basin on the spot she had just vacated. "I think I could fix a few slices of ham every now and then. Or bread." Cheese would be harder to spirit away, not least because of the smelly track it left.

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Bassus trailed after her and whirled his head in Safinia’s direction. “Of course,” he said patiently, taking her comment as purely conversational, if not then curiosity. “It helps build upper body strength, which can come in useful. A good charioteer needs strength to control his horses.” But it wasn’t all about strength, a charioteer needed a strategy and courage, the latter for merely taking part in a brutal game.

Out of the sun’s hot beams, the cool air of the kitchens washed over him, but was now sweating, even if only by a little, from having been outside and carrying something as weighty as a basin of water. Just as she had indicated, he set it down and wiped his hands against his white attire, seeing as his palms had collected perspiration. He could have very well left by now but Bassus was always keep on getting to know those around him so he settled by a wall and folded his arms comfortably. The mention of ham drew a chuckle from him but realising she might not have understood why he found her words amusing, he thought to make it clear.

“I’m a Jew, Safinia,” he said, smile still spread across his face. As if she did not know that already. “The earlier books in our texts state that we must not consume certain animals and pigs are one of them.” He shrugged. Why certain animals was a question of the ages, even Bassus himself had asked as a child, only to be told by his parents that it was the way of things. Over the years as he grew, the Jewish diet became something of habit and cultural pride. He tried to follow the diet as specified in religious texts but it wasn’t always possible, especially when he had been a slave. “I suppose those who authored such writings or our god Himself have their reasons, which can be talked about from sunrise to sunset. But I think just a bit of bread will be just fine. Thank you.” 

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The moment Bassus stepped away from the basin after having set it on the table, Safinia let the leeks fall unceremoniously from her arms and into it, sending water splashing in all directions. Some of it landed on her, but the cool sensation was welcome after having baked in the sun whilst waiting for the basin to fill. The leeks would have to be scrubbed clean, but she liked to let them soak in water and vinegar first to kill any bugs that had unwittingly hitched a ride.

Now, to get the vinegar. Safinia picked up an amphora half her size and brought it over to the table, eyes widening as she heard Bassus chuckle. What was so funny about her offer, which had been made at his request? She frowned as she removed the stopper from the amphora and poured a healthy amount of vinegar into the basin, the pungent smell making her wrinkle her nose. It turned out that questioning Bassus would not be necessary, as he began to explain his circumstances.

So his earlier question about what if he had been a Jew hadn't been hypothetical. Safinia clicked her tongue; it infuriated her that people would not say what they meant or meant what they said the first time round. There would be so much fewer misunderstandings that way. "Huh, that's going to be a problem," she interjected as she stoppered the amphora again and went to put it back in its place. "Because we're having leek and ham puls today." Why anybody would willingly follow a religion that forbade them from sampling the best meat there was baffled her, but this one god of the Jews had already demonstrated he was an interesting character. Perhaps he had had a pig companion at some point that his followers had slaughtered and eaten, and to punish them he forbade them from eating pork. 

"So you can't eat it but you don't know why? That's odd," she commented, wiping her hands on her tunic. It defied logic. "Can you just shove the bits aside though? We can't make a special dinner just for you." Well, maybe very occasionally they could. Definitely not on a daily basis, though. "What other animals can't you eat?" If he said chicken and mutton, poor Bassus indeed, missing out on so much delicious fare.

@Beauty

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