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Late March, 75 AD

"... we will see each other in two weeks, like usual…"

 That’s what Charis had said, last time they met. Back when Charis had revealed she was pregnant and she was going to take some herbs that could remove the child. She weas certain she’d be fine, even though Cynane had been quite worried about her friend. And after two weeks of waiting impatiently, Cynane had gone to look for Charis at their usual spot in the gardens. She had also gone to that spot near the house where Charis lived, to wait for her there. But there was no Charis. A week later, she did the same. And a week later. Many weeks passed and there was no sign of her friend and Cynane naturally feared the worst. She asked around at the markets, where she knew Charis usually came, but no one had seen her. She was just… gone.

 It wasn’t right! Fucking Roman! If only he had not touched Charis, she wouldn’t have gotten pregnant and she would not have taken those herbs… and removed  the child and... it went wrong, didn’t it? Charis didn’t survive. Pretty and sweet and fun and caring Charis was gone. Charis, maybe the only person in Rome she dared to reveal herself to. Because of her stupid prick of an owner!

 A month had passed since she last saw her friend in late February. She had been out, looking for Charis again. And now she ended up here, near the domus where Charis lived. She stood for a long time, watching the house from the nearby spot where they sometimes met and sometimes said their goodbyes. She stared at the house and wished her gaze could set it on fire. She was of course sad that Charis died, but Cynane had learned to change emotions of sadness into those of anger and hatred – it was easier to be angry than sad. And it was really a miracle that the house did not burn down while Cynane looked at it from a distance. She wanted to scream. She wanted to tell Charis’ owner a thing or two about how she felt. No, wait, she’d rather show him. That would be more interesting!

 Finally she walked up to the house and around to find the slave entrance to the place. And there she knocked on the door. A woman, who must be Rhoda, according to Charis’ description of the woman, opened up and gave Cynane a strange look… “Yes? Who are you?”

 “I’m a friend of Charis’. I want to see her.” If she was dead, she could not see her of course. But at least then she would know the truth instead of just assuming. She needed to hear someone say it; Charis is dead. That would make it easier, right? Rhoda got a puzzled, but also somewhat sad look on her face and she glanced over her shoulder, then back at Cynane, “You can’t see her. No one can.” She explained and Cynane sighed deeply.

 “So it is true then. She’s… dead.” Cynane said, the words came easily although they were heavy. She fought the urge to cry in front of a stranger. She would not cry, not here, not in front of this woman… not in public… “She lives.” Rhoda then said, almost in a whisper, and Cynane looked up again, “But you better leave. She’s not coming to see you or anyone anytime soon. It’s best you don’t hope for it.” The older woman added, but that didn’t help.

 “I see. But I will hope. She would do the same for me. Tell her that I’ll be waiting.” Cynane replied to the woman.

 “I can’t tell her, I’m not allowed to see her either. Now go!” Rhoda insisted and closed the door. Cynane glared at that door. So Charis was alive - but not allowed out. Was she locked up somewhere? Chained to a wall? Cynane had tried that as a gladiatrix… it wasn’t amusing. At least she lived, though. Cynane finally left with heavy steps and came out in front of the house again, angry and upset, to walk back to the gardens where she could be alone. Meanwhile she let it all build up inside of her again – all the anger. Fucking Romans! She was walking so determinedly, that she didn’t care about what happened and unintentionally (or was it?) her shoulder bumped hard into that of a younger and well-dressed man on his way towards the front entrance to the house.

@Sharpie

Edited by Atrice
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Teutus was returning home from the baths, still adjusting to the unaccustomed folds of the pallium he had on over his tunic and minding his own business when someone barrelled into him, shouldering him aside. He stopped. The woman - it was a woman! - looked foreign, with her blond hair in a simple hairstyle and an almost mannish tunic and braccae. She was scowling, a thunderous expression on her face.

"Watch where you're going," Teutus said mildly. He did not appreciate being bumped into by foreign women - especially ones he did not recognise, who were glaring at his father's house as if they hoped to set it on fire simply with the heat of their gaze. What his father's house had done to rouse this stranger's wrath, Teutus had no idea.

 

@Atrice

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Cynane would have kept on walking, if the man she bumped into hadn’t talked to her. But he did and she was half-surprised by his response – he told her to look where she was going, but he didn’t yell it at her and he didn’t show her his fist. No, he just said it to her, looking at her and Cynane stopped and inhaled a breath. She had to try and calm herself, but how could she, when her good friend was probably in distress and she could do nothing about it?

 “You could start with watching where you are going.” She replied and looked up at the domus behind him. Had he been on his way there? She looked him over, he seemed way too young to be Tertius, but who was he then? She didn’t know much about any other male inhabitants of the house, other than Hector, that Charis told her about and… Teutus, was that his name? Son of Tertius, born verna, now freed? Charis would ask him for money for the herbs… she clearly didn’t die, but Cynane wanted to know what happened and why she now couldn’t see Charis at all; why Charis couldn’t see anyone…

 “Are you Teutus?” She said after a short while after thinking about it. He’d been a slave most of his life, surely he didn’t care that she didn’t address him as domine, right? If he really was as nice as Charis said.

@Sharpie

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"Teutus Quinctilius Varus, yes," he said, though the tria nomina still sounded odd when applied to himself - he'd been a single-named slave for twenty years, having the three names of a Roman citizen was going to take some getting used to. "And who might you be?"

And more to the point, how did she know his name, when he was absolutely certain he had never set eyes on her - he would remember if he had, she was a striking woman to look at. "And why, may I ask, were you glaring at this particular house as if you wished to set it on fire just by looking at it?"

What this unknown woman could have against the house, or any of its inhabitants, Teutus could not even begin to guess at, unless his father had somehow done her wrong.

 

@Atrice

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Posted (edited)

The first thing he did was correct the name she called him - well of course he was a freedman now and he had every right to correct a mere slave, but she tried to not throw her anger at him. It wasn't he who had done Charis wrong, as far as she knew. It was his father. Although, Charis had said she needed money and she'd ask Teutus for help, so perhaps he gave her the money that made her able to buy the herbs to try and remove the child. Maybe Charis was not locked up, as Cynane feared? The herbs would have made her sick and if Teutus gave her the money for it... so that wasn't putting him in a very good place. There was a chance Charis was just very sick and that's why she couldn't see anyone. But Cynane didn't know. So no matter what, she believed Teutus had some information that she wanted. She had to try and be nice to him.

"I'm Cynane." She simply said, she didn't know if Charis ever told him about her. He went on, wondering why she looked at his house the way she did. She opened her mouth to spit it at him, but then she paused, maybe she should try and not tell him in very harsh words. He probably wouldn't help her if she did. Of course she could make him help her. She deemed that she could easily win over him in a fight, but she shouldn't. She should not drag him away from here. For her own sake, for Charis' sake and for Claudia's sake. Really it would just be a bad idea, even if that's what she wanted the most. So she had to attempt the being-nice thing.

"I came here to vist my friend... Charis. But I was sent away. The woman I met didn't tell me anything other than that I couldn't see Charis and no one could." She explained and inhaled a deep breath, briefly giving the house another glare, before she looked at Teutus again, "Do you know why?" 

@Sharpie

Edited by Atrice
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"Oh, Apollo!" It was a total damned mess, was what it all was, of course - no thanks to Tertius, who was about the only one who didn't have to live with the mess he created - he just stirred things and let everyone else live with the fallout! Teutus didn't think he knew a Cynane. but Charis was somewhat secretive about things - and that had contributed to this whole mess; he couldn't lay the entire thing at Tertius' feet, much as he might like to.

"If you're here, you probably know a fair amount already," he said. "Charis got pregnant, didn't want the baby and tried to get rid of it. That didn't work, she's been ill, and Tertius had forbidden anyone from speaking with her, or even seeing her, since. Apart from himself, that is."

If Tertius didn't want anyone to know, well, he hadn't forbidden Teutus from saying - he didn't think he'd forbidden Rhoda from saying, in actual fact, so why she'd been so cagey was anyone's guess. Anyone looking for Charis probably had some inkling what she'd attempted.

"As far as I know, she's recovered, but even I haven't seen her," he added.

 

@Atrice

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Cynane only knew the mess of this house through Charis – but it did indeed sound like quite a mess. At least Teutus here was a freedman now, although he was also still the bastard-born son of his father and former owner. Still though, he had to know something. And Cynane chose to try and ask him nicely, which seemed to work. First he exclaimed though and she arched a brow, before he said she must know something. She nodded at his information about Charis’ pregnancy and wanting to get rid of it. She had indeed ended up ill and now no one could see her or speak to her.

 “That’s… stupid.” Cynane said with a roll of her eyes, glaring at the house again. Fucking Tertius! She was ill and no one could see her? What kind of a treatment was that, to a woman who was pregnant and had fallen sick because of it. She survived but saw no one. Surely that wouldn’t do her much good at all! Gods! The fire built up inside her again and it was lucky for Teutus that he was such a nice guy. He really was! Charis had said he was, but it kind of surprised her to meet a man, born in Rome, who was like that. It was impossible to be angry with him.

 “Right.” Cynane said thoughtfully, when he explained Charis had recovered as far as he knew. She tried to calm herself while she tried to think of something to do. Anything. “I just… want to do something. Can’t you talk to your father about it all? Explain that she needs fresh air, or something. And ask what he hopes to gain by such a treatment. Surely it’s no good to keep a pregnant woman locked up like that.”

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"He wants her to back down and stop being stupid," Teutus informed Cynane. "He's not used to being crossed, and he's never listened to me before."

It had been a while, though, but Teutus knew that he got his own stubbornness from somewhere - he was very like his father, and had no expectation that he could possibly change Tertius' mind once it was made up, even if he was free now. Sons still had to defer to their fathers, after all, and Teutus had had twenty years' of slave habits ingrained into him when it came to interacting with his father (and any other citizen, for that matter). That was something it was not so easy to simply set aside.

"The two of them are as stubborn as one another," he added. He sighed. "There is no chance that you can see her today, but  if you come by next week, you will be able to have further news of her. Meanwhile, she is well, perhaps still a little weak, and the only person who can see her is one of the slaves, who takes her her food. Apart from Tertius, that is - and if you think that is unfair, it may be, but it is perfectly legal."

 

@Atrice

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Cynane couldn’t help Charis much from outside the domus and Teutus said that Tertius just wanted her to stop being stupid and stop crossing him. And also that Tertius never listened to him before.

 “You should try again. Your place has changed, maybe he’ll listen now.” Cynane suggested, assuming he would just accept the fact that Cynane knew a lot about him while he knew nothing about her. Anyway, she thought, you shouldn’t give up so easily on your friends. And Charis had said that Teutus liked her. If he really was her friend, why didn’t he want to try and help her? Why didn’t he do his utmost to try and make things better for her, instead of what he talked about now? Cynane would, if she could! He said Charis and Tertius were both stubborn and Cynane should come by next week, then she could have more news. She almost forgot listening, but then he mentioned food being brought to her. And that what was going on was legal, even if it was unfair.  

“I know. Unlike her, I have paid attention in all the years I’ve been enslaved here. Not that it makes it better.” She explained to him. He was right. Now she thought about it, Charis was indeed terribly stubborn and that might have lead to why she was locked up now. Cynane had tried to tell her to behave properly to make her life better here, but something must have gone wrong. And now she couldn’t see anyone. It pained her that those were Charis’ circumstances right now. She thought it over again. There must be a way. She knew there had to be a way to get to her. Think, Cynane! She knew exactly what to do in a fighting situation, so why could she not think fast the same way now?  

“Next week is… a long way away. There has to be something…” She trailed off, thinking... and then it hit her, the idea, “You said one of the other slaves brings food to her? Could she deliver a message, you think?”

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"Perhaps my place has changed. My father has not," Teutus said, folding his arms and frowning at this barbarian woman who seemed to know a lot about him and the family situation in this domus. How did she know so much - probably Charis had been gossipping. It was a known pastime for slaves to engage in, of course, but the slaves of a senator's household ought to be a little circumspect, at least.

"Possibly she could. The likelihood of being able to deliver a reply is... not large." Rhoda had a soft spot for Charis, but all of Tertius' slaves had a healthy respect for their master, as Teutus knew only too well. "He has confiscated any writing materials she might have, and the slave who takes her food is not allowed to have any conversation with her."

Which didn't stop them from trying to let Charis know that they were sympathetic (to some degree) and that she ought to knuckle down and let Tertius win (to a greater degree; he was the master, after all, and Roman masters did not let their slaves best them!)

 

@Atrice Sorry it's such a late response!

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Teutus was folding his arms in front of her now, frowning... clearly not pleased with the way she spoke to him. Right. He was a freedman now and a Senator's son even and Cynane, she was still just a slave. If he wanted to, he could have bad things done to her. She imagined his father had connections and now that he was a freedman, those would be Teutus' connections too. Well, it didn't matter. Charis mattered. At least Cynane wasn't pregnant, but Charis was and she was worried. She'd paid attention to what Teutus said and when he mentioned someone bringing food to Charis, she thought that might be a way in. But Teutus didn't think so. He did not think it would be likely that a reply would come and said his father had confiscated all of Charis' writing materials. And she couldn't have conversations.

Cynane sighed, "So there's nothing anyone can do for her?" She said, but she hated just giving up that easily. Stupid, fucking Romans and their need to be superior to their slaves. Even slaves who didn't do anything to end up where they were, like Charis. She looked at Teutus, already displeased with the way Cynane spoke to him. But surely he should understand - he was a slave too, all his life even! And he was Charis' friend. She could try that route. She ought to.

"Have you tried at all, to improve her situation now? It sounds... terrible. I know it's legal but..." She trailed off, paused. She knew she might risk him getting more upset with her and refusing to say anything more, but she had to try. Not for her own sake, but Charis... "I thought you two were friends. But maybe that has changed too, now you're her superior?" 

@Sharpie

 

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Teutus was caught between two worlds when it came to Charis, as he had always known he would be should his manumission come to pass.

"A paterfamilias' word is law within his own household, for his children as much as his slaves," he pointed out - the woman looked like a gladiatrix rather than the sort of domestic slave Charis was. "She is... not herself, and takes very little interest in things now, and I doubt that anything I can say to her, or to my father, will change that. They are as stubborn as one another, but of course my father has the upper hand."

Rightly so - but the way he used his authority was not necessarily something Teutus agreed with. There was precious little he could do or say that would alter Tertius' approach, especially after all these years. He did not have that much influence over his father, after all. The only person who did was Antonia, and Teutus was not about to drag his sister, a child, into this particular mess. It would only upset her.

"I will let her know you came, though Mercury knows how." Or how he would get any message back to her - and gods dammit, he was not going to play message-boy between two female slaves!

 

@Atrice

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Posted (edited)

She knew what he told him was true; Cynane too had lived here for a long time and she knew many of the rules of the Roman society well. Especially after she came to live in the palace and work for Claudia, then she had to learn. She knew that the man of the family had the final word in everything in a household. It was unfair, but those were the rules. Teutus went on about Charis not being herself at the moment and he didn’t think he could change anything. He mentioned how stubborn they both were again.

“You could at least try.” Cynane said, not averting her eyes from his face. She knew she wasn’t behaving very well right now, but this man was also recently a slave and hopefully he would not come after her for it. All she did was try to look out for her friend. At least Charis was alive, but being locked off and not seeing anyone didn’t sound good. It didn’t take all of her worries about Charis away.

Teutus said he’d try to let Charis knew she’d been here and she supposed that was all he could do, by now. All he would do… “Thank you. I’ll come back next week to look for her.” She then explained. There was little more to do and say here, wasn’t there? She’d met Teutus, whom Charis had mentioned to her more than once… and she knew who he was now and that he wasn’t as strong as she had hoped. She had hoped he’d at least try and talk to his father, but her hopes had been let down. She waited for him to turn away, before she’d leave too. Pretending to be a good slave to someone who wasn’t Claudia… for once. For Charis’ sake.

And she would keep her promise. She'd come back once every week, as she'd done these past many weeks, to look for her friend and hopefully one day actually see her.

@Sharpie

((that's a wrap I think?))

Edited by Atrice
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