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How was he supposed to trust the words of a barbarian wench who up until a few seconds ago was alternating between insulting him and attacking him? Parenthood might just about be the only thing they had in common, but that would not make Titus let his guard down. Just because she looked at him with surprise in her tear-streaked face now did not mean she would go back on her affirmation later. Since she thought him capable of harming her child, she might eventually decide to return the favour - and if she were daft enough to try in the wake of the turmoil, crucifixion would be a merciful punishment compared to what he would inflict on her. "Good," Titus stated with finality. He didn't need to tell her to remember that.

Again completely unfazed by the heavy mood, Valeriana giggled, then nodded with a knowing look. "Me too, when I was little! Then I got a tummy ache." She looked up at Titus for confirmation, who couldn't help but give her a small amused smile. "When you were little, pip? Are you grown up now?" The little girl nodded again, her fine blonde locks bobbing up and down. "Well, grown-ups need to help with packing. Have you put your toys away?" This time she shook her head with a "Nuh-uh", and realising she'd been had, let go of her father's legs and sped off towards the house, probably to collect her precious playthings before a zealous slave hid them too well.

Turning his attention back to Zia, Titus nodded stiffly as he looked down on the woman, giving her silent permission to go get cleaned up. She would probably not get any sleep that night - might even keep other slaves awake with her sobbing, he reckoned -, but resting her body would be wise given the month-long journey ahead of them. He raised his voice to call for a nearby slave with an 'Oi!' and seconds later a woman trotted up to them, her round face glistening with sweat. "Find this one a bucket and a cloth and a vacant cot. She may have some bread and cheese too." Unsure of what sustenance the Dacian had been provided in camp, Titus thought it better to have her reasonably fed for a meal or two; the last thing he needed was for her to pass out from hunger and delay the journey in its early stages.

The moon-faced slave muttered the customary 'yes, domine' and motioned for Zia to follow her into the house. Titus watched the two women walk away and disappear into the building, a pensive look on his face. Had it been the right thing to do, to keep this Dacian cunt and her man and a few of their wretched kin alive? Only time would tell, and if it had been the wrong call... They were all slaves now, and slaves were property.

Property was easy to dispose of if needed.



Thanks for this emotional rollercoaster of a thread!

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