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Don't Have a Heart Attack


Atrice
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Late September, 74 AD
set after Road to Danger and Consequenses

They had survived and they had returned home to the palace… safely, all of them. Decimus’ arm and shoulder had been taken care of, Claudia was unharmed although quite shook of course and she would need time to recover, mentally. It was a huge ordeal to be attacked by bandits in the countryside, get yourself involved in a fight with them and have a knife to your throat the way she had. And then have the leader of the gang killed by Cynane with a well thrown knife to his throat! That was a huge ordeal for a princess, she knew that. And she would be as gentle and understanding as Claudia needed her to be. She would be whatever Claudia needed her to be, to be honest.

Cynane was fine though. She found that she had actually felt alive during the fight, she had done something she knew how to do and she had come out more or less unharmed and she had painted herself with the blood of her enemy to show her victory and gain some of his power. The blood was long gone now though and Cynane appeared as fine and clean as always.

It was about a week ago it happened now and things were still a little bit tense around Claudia’s quarters. Her slaves at the palace had only heard the stories and not many of them knew the full story about what happened. Cynane had seen the looks Volusa gave her, but they’d had little time to talk. Now, as so many other times before, Cynane found herself standing outside of Claudia’s quarters, guarding her princess and those she had around her. She stood there, quietly, ready and alert as always. If anything happened to her mistress again, gods, she would kill again!

The scene went through her mind again and again these days and she was once more alert as ever, however also lost in the thoughts and the memories. Throwing that knife... seeing Claudia stand, soaked in blood. It felt kind of immoral, but gods she'd been beautiful even then! She was startled then, by the sound of Volusa suddenly coming out from Claudia's chambers and she instantly turned around, facing the younger woman.

@Sharpie

Edited by Atrice
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There was something indefinably... different... about her mistress after her return home the previous week. Claudia had not been wearing the same dress that she had set out in and had been somewhat quieter and more subdued, though Volusa had not really been able to get much out of her at all without crossing boundaries she could not cross, as a slave. She was leaving her mistress' rooms, minding her own business, having completely forgotten that Cynane would be standing outside, and gave a small scream as the older woman whipped around, a fierce look on her face and practically pinned her against the wall.

"I... I..." she swallowed against the arm across her throat, that was pressing lightly but threateningly.

 

@Atrice

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Cynane was just surprised and startled, that's all. She didn't mean to attack Volusa, but perhaps she had been a little bit distracted. She felt a strange bond with her mistress and didn't know if any of the other slaves did... maybe she even felt a tad bit too much for Claudia, considering she was a slave, but she couldn't help but adore the young orphaned princess, who'd gone through so much and still she was such a kind and warm person. Cynane was more strict with herself and only kind and warm towards those she cared about. Volusa was her friend though, or something along those lines and she instantly stepped back from the surprised younger slave.

"Sorry." Cynane said, "I didn't mean to do that... to you. Are you alright?" She then asked, looking over Volusa. She had even given a small scream. She really didn't mean to startle Volusa like that. She hoped the other slave wouldn't be afraid of her now.

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"I'm fine," Volusa said, regaining her breath and trying to calm her racing heart. "You startled me..." She bent to gather the dirty laundry that she had dropped. Once she had bundled it together and straightened, she looked at Cynane, puzzled and a little wary.

"Are you alright, though? You've never... before..."

Cynane had been watchful, before, but had never been so on edge that someone coming out of Claudia's rooms would spark that sort of reaction, not as far as Volusa was aware.

"Do you want to talk about it?" she offered, calmer, balancing the bundle on her hip and looking for somewhere a little more private where they could have a conversation while Cynane could still keep an eye on the princess' door.

 

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Cynane was pleased hearing that Volusa was fine, although also still a bit worried. It wasn’t right of her to do that to Volusa, who had done nothing to her. The other woman said Cynane startled her and Cynane let out a little laugh, “Well you startled me too.” She said, hoping it didn’t sound like she was blaming Volusa, because she wasn’t.

 Meanwhile Volusa gathered the laundry and asked if Cynane was alright and wanted to know if she wanted to talk. To talk?

 “I’m fine.” Cynane said, but was she? She’d been attacked tons of times before, in the arena, she’d been fighting a lot in her life and that little fight out there, it wasn’t a big deal. Besides that she was trying to save a princess of course and should have guarded her better in the first place. But she did save the princess, at least.

 “I don’t know if there’s anything to talk about…” She continued, she wasn’t really used to speaking about her emotions with others. She had slowly opened up to Charis a bit, but even Charis was only getting bits and pieces. Few really knew her… no one did, really. Was it even safe?

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"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to," Volusa said, her heartbeat slowing to normal now that she was not going to be strangled or disembowelled or anything. She fussed with the bundle for another moment, and frowned up at the taller woman. "You don't sound fine," she said eventually. "And I've never known you to be so... jumpy. Especially towards people coming out of the mistress' rooms."

She caught her lower lip between her teeth for a moment, debating whether to say the next thing or not. She was not generally one to gossip, especially about her mistress, but Cynane had been with her that day, and Claudia obviously trusted her. Anyway, the Briton was remarkably close-lipped and Volusa was relatively sure that anything she said would not go further.

"Are you sure there's nothing to talk about? Because the mistress has been... on edge, a bit, since that day, and now this..." She shrugged. "You know I don't gossip. I wouldn't be the mistress' body slave if I did. You don't have to tell me, but if you wanted to... I won't tell. And - we're friends, and you need a friend, I think."

If she was wrong about that, well, she was wrong. Offering wouldn't hurt anyone, anyway, and it might do the other woman some good to talk.

 

@Atrice

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Cynane was fine, wasn’t she? She thought she was. Just because it was out in the open, didn’t mean the fight was any different than what she had tried before… right? But Volusa said she didn’t sound like she was fine and pointed out a few things she’d noticed. Cynane was jumpy now? She supposed Volusa was right, but she’d just been distracted, that’s all. The younger woman seemed intent on the idea that Cynane ought to talk to someone, her of course, and she mentioned how Claudia too had been on edge and promised she’d not gossip.

Then she said they were friends and Cynane needed a friend. Volusa really thought that? Well it was hard denying someone talking to her like that. So if Volusa insisted, Cynane supposed it couldn’t hurt any to just talk a little.

“I guess you’re right.” Cynane then finally said, although she was not very good at this. It was rare she had anyone she could confide in; she had Charis, but she had not seen her friend after the incident outside of Rome yet. But she could try talking to Volusa, “But… I don’t know what to talk about. Have anyone told you about what happened?” She kind of assumed they knew, the personal slaves, but maybe they didn’t. Volusa just said Claudia had been on edge, that’s all.

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Volusa shook her head. "You all went out for a ride, and came back hours later, with the mistress wearing a different dress - one that I've never seen before! - and she's been very quiet ever since, as if something awful happened. And it's not like I can ask her why, is it?"

She hadn't seemed hurt, but if anyone had tried to hurt her, Volusa would hunt them down and gut them with a sharp knife. No. A blunt one, it would hurt more.

"And you were with her, so you muse know - and you haven't exactly been yourself, either." She indicated her own neck. "I've never known you to be jumpy like that. So something happened, and I want to know so I can help."

 

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She honestly didn't know how to begin talking about... stuff. Cynane was used to being the strong one and the one to fend for herself. She was not used to talk about her emotions to anyone or at least she was only used to talking to very few people about them. Volusa was young, but sweet... but what difference did it really do, talking about something? Cynane didn't know. She was not very used to it. And while she thought quietly, Volusa told Cynane what she knew about that day and how she could not ask Claudia what had happened. Then she went on about how Cynane must know and she too had not been quite herself. And she wanted to help...

 "Help? I don't know... if talking will help." Cynane said, "But since you don't know..." She could at least tell Volusa about what happened, so she wouldn't come to the wrong conclusions or something. She motioned for Volusa to come, to walk at least a little bit away from the doorway, so they could talk more privately.

 "It is true that something awful happened, as you put it. Or something awful could have happened, it almost did." Claudia was almost hurt. Decimus injured. Aia bruised. Cynane... made sure it didn't get worse... that’s why she at least told herself it could have been worse than it was. It wasn’t as awful as it could have been. That was her opinion. Others might not agree with her, but that’s the way she saw it.

 "We went for a ride, as you sid, outside of Rome, and Clau... our mistress was in a good mood." She reminded herself to not talk about Claudia as she did, when the two were alone for Claudia's lessons in fighting, "But then a disabled man stood in our way and talked about a child that had fallen into the water. Of course that wasn’t the case. Before we knew it, we’d been attacked and our princess was too far away from me, because they pulled her off her horse. She put up a good fight, but then the leader of the gang had her. And wanted us to surrender. I tried telling him what would happen if he hurt her. But he wouldn’t listen and he was on top of her, with a knife to her throat…” Cynane inhaled a deep breath, “I did the only thing I felt was right – I let go of my weapon.” She smiled slightly at the thought, “But I did it by throwing it precisely into his throat.”

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Volusa listened quietly. She could picture it, it was the sort of thing that could happen anywhere to anyone, though in the city people generally didn't ambush folks in quite that way. 

She blinked at the last statement. Claudia, maybe on the ground with a knife at her throat - and Cynane threw her weapon at him as though it were a spear.

No wonder Claudia was so quiet. And Volusa was aware that the gladiatorial games were often scripted. Perhaps it was the first time Cynane had actually killed someone she wasn't expecting to?

"That... Sounds terrifying," she said, and dropped her bundle of washing a second time, to have her hands free so that she could offer the older woman a hug because she didn't know what else she could do.

 

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Cynane knew how rough a situation it had been. They could all have been killed - Claudia too! She hadn't known anything but that, when she threw the knife. She had to save Claudia and not because she was her slave-bodyguard who might be executed if Claudia died in her watch... no, because she cared and she could not let anything happen to the princess she'd come to like so much. Claudia was her mistress, but also her friend and Cynane would be there for her, no matter what. She'd kill for her. She'd rather not die for her though, because then she could not protect her.

Volusa was quiet while Cynane talked and seemed surprised when Cynane told about how she threw the knife. Cynane still felt good about that part though. It had felt good. Volusa however, said it sounded terrifying and dropped her bundle of washing and extended her hands to Cynane. She wasn't sure what Volusa wanted though, Cynane wasn't the type to go around and hug just anyone and she never did it with Volusa before. Cynane had a hard shell.

"I suppose... when you look at it like that... I guess it was?" Cynane said, "But we're safe and alive now. Claudia is safe and alive. That is what matters." 

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