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February 75CE

Although the main hall of the Basilica was thronged with people, Sestia fancied that her angry, stopping footfalls could be heard clattering over the general din. Her freedwoman, Brysias, struggled to keep pace with her mistress, terrified of falling behind. Her steward, one of her late husband's favoured slaves, now freed under the terms of his will, likewise was huffing and puffing in a way dangerous for a man of his size, especially one already burdened with a heavy wooden case full of papers. Sestia, however, was not aware of their struggles, but was instead almost wholly focused on her own anger. On reaching the entrance portico she found her litter and its bearers were not present. Presumably some busy-body member of the vigiles had threatened to fine them for loitering in a public thoroughfare and the lazy swine had used it as an excuse to hot foot it to the nearest fish-sauce-and-sausage cantina, thinking someone would be sent to find them when necessary. This only fanned the flames of her righteous (or, rather, self-perceived righteous) indignation. Positively stomping her foot like a little madame, she curtly ordered Brysias to go find the litter and the bearers and, once she had given then a suitable tongue lashing, have them return to pick her up. Her wheezing freedman would keep Sestia company whilst she waited.

The wait, however, also afforded her an opportunity to relive in her mind the reason for her anger. She had attended the Basilica this morning to meet with her lawyer, a grey haired equite who specialised in all matters of probate law and, as her regularly reminded her, had done so for many more years than she - his client - had been alive. Sestia's late husband had been a wealthy man. As expected of all senators he had the majority of his wealth tied up in lands across the Empire. There was then an elaborate network of investments run under the straw-man fronting of a number of freedmen which allowed her husband, like many of his peers, to dabble in business affairs without losing prestige and courting scandal. The sum total of his estate was left to his sons with Sestia with she, along with several others, including her father, as executors of the same. The process of transferring legal titles into the relevant names of new parties, making various sales to release funds, etc had taken years. Until recently she had been forced to undertake this business vicariously from Carthage but, now back in Rome, she had determined to take a leading role in it and that meant grabbing the bull by the horns. 

Her lawyer had offered, of course, to come to visit her in the comfort of her own home. He would have preferred that - he could bill her for the travel as well as the time! Sestia, however, was determined to show that she was not some shrinking wall-flower and had decided to see the man in his own territory which, in this case, was one of the myriad legal offices which speckled the Basilica like bird droppings on a public statue. Visibly irritated to be troubled in his "inner sanctum", her lawyer had made her grudgingly welcome by shifting several piles of scrolls off a dusty, wonky bench (it was clear he did not entertain in his offices regularly) and then - with all the dry lack of tact habitual to men of a certain age and station - began to lecture Sestia not only on the intricacies of probate and conveyancing law but also as to her duties as a woman and a mother. The result of the hour long, one sided conversation was that she, apparently, should sit at home and he would tell her what would be done when the time was right, whenever that may be but, reading between the lines, not for a long time. 

The somewhat pressing need to ensure a steady flow of income but transferring legal ownership in several Aventine insulae did not bother him. She worried that he may perhaps be in some sort of shady double dealing with several of the freedmen of her late husband who stood as the public face of his interests - their name on the title deeds but behind the scenes were meant to pass money back to the family. This all worked well when her husband was alive but, now with him in the Underworld, the majority of men seemed to believe it was not only easy but fitting to try and cheat their master's widow and children for their own gain. So much for loyalty. 

So, her Roman and Punic blood seething despite the cool of the Basilica, she rested against a pillar and frowned at the world in general.

@The Young Pope

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