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Snark and Snarkability


Beauty
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Nymphias sometimes felt like a stranger even in her masters’ domus, she did not speak with most of the other slaves. But she kept her head down and did her work as well as she could. Serving her master’s elder daughter now awarded her more freedom and less stresses, she sometimes talked to the girl but felt obvious differences in their class. But Nymphias watched the other girl, imitating her Roman way of behaving. Surely, that was a good idea?

But in hopes of gaining freedom, in her own silly way, she took to fashioning her hair to appear more Roman and had been experimenting with make-up to make herself more likeable. Clio, her friend, had worn kohl around her eyes the day they met and Nymphias thought it looked beautiful on the older woman. In her room, the girl fumbled with the product, caking it around her eyes hurriedly, smiling widely while humming.

Her hands were shaky, talentless, and unaccustomed to running make-up along her face in any way, least of all kohl, she had never had use for it. Looking into the mirror, she was stunned to see that she looked nothing like Clio and instead like someone had punched both her eyes a million times until it was blackened. In panic, Nymphias searched the room for water to wash her face but there was, of course, nothing. She tried wiping it off with a cloth but the cloth was dirtied and it just spread. Getting up, she decided to rush somewhere, before anyone saw her, to wash her face.

She raced out of the room, practically crying but fighting from wiping her tears, and then down the hall. Turning the corner, she collided into someone. She didn’t see who it was yet, instead choosing to cover her face with her arms.

“Don’t look at me!” she cried loudly, believing she had collided with a fellow slave. “I’m hideous.”

@Sharpie

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"Oof!" Attis' had been minding his own business, taking a moment to himself to get some air, and hadn't been doing anything, so when someone ran solidly into him it took him aback. He reached out to steady the other person, who seemed extremely upset for some reason. 

"I'm sure you're not," he said briskly once he parsed her words. "What's happened?"

He had to take a look at her. She had her hands over her face, but he recognised her as the British slave who looked after Sulpicius Rufus' children. "It's Nymphias, isn't it? What's wrong?"

 

@Beauty

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His voice was recognisable, it was the slave of the domine with the difficult name. She covered her face with her arms still, convinced that it would stay stained for the rest of her life. Would water even clean it off? She should have educated herself first, she thought. She didn’t dare move yet. If she slowly lowered her hand, he would see the horror that was her face and the answer to his “what’s wrong” would become abundantly clear. Helios wouldn’t love her looking like this, there was no point in being alive if she wasn’t beautiful. Compared to other women, she felt rather flat-chested. Perhaps if she was stuck looking like this, she could make herself somehow bigger for Helios as compensation for the loss of a pretty face. She had to consider seeing a physician sooner rather than later about that or pray to the Roman gods really hard to restore her former beauty.

“What’s wrong is that I look like…,” said Nymphias, practically choking on her words. She wanted to say “you”. Was he not the slave with the scar on his forehead? Yet for men, scars and discolouration upgraded one’s attractiveness, Attis probably gave off a rugged manly vibe to the women in his life, which made him desirable, but as a woman, she was destined to be discarded if her skin wasn’t smooth or the same colour. “Life is hard if you are an ugly girl! Now I am ugly! Even my own sister won’t recognise me! No one will!” She lowered her arms, waiting for him to confirm what she already knew: That she, Nymphias, was a monster, the sort that haunted the dreams of children late at night. “And domine will send me to the Elysium.” She hadn’t, for a second, thought of what she was unleashing onto Attis.

@Sharpie

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"Ugly?" Attis had seen her around and she was hardly 'ugly'. She had blond hair - unusual in Rome where blond-haired people were generally German or British (although his master's other friend, the senator Aulus Praetextatus, had blond hair and nobody could accuse him of being anything other than a pure-blooded Roman). Nymphias was one of the prettiest girls in Rome - certainly in this house.

She lowered her hands and Attis had to bite the inside of his cheek. She was too distressed to be able to understand his immediate reaction being a desire to laugh. "Is that... is that kohl?"

She had rimmed her eyes heavily with it, looking like some sort of exotic animal, and her upset had made her cry, which had cause it to run. "It'll come off, look."

He took the sleeve of his tunic and lifted the edge of it to her mouth. "Spit!"

 

@Beauty

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“Ugly?” Nymphias nodded. Wasn’t she thought? Looking at him as her hands were down, he looked like he was about to laugh. She wasn’t sure but it looked like it. She knew when someone was biting their cheek, she had done it before during happier days. She felt suddenly self-conscious and if she hadn’t already been preoccupied with her life spiralling downwards, she would have bursted into tears. When he showed her his sleeve, she merely stared at it dumb-founded. That was his sleeve. Had she not been in love with Helios, already certain that she wanted ten children with the man, she would have fallen in love with Attis just that moment for his kind gesture.

She was shocked by his compassion but also felt a little queasy. She blinked. “Spit?” she said stupidly, staring at the sleeve. She held her stomach. “Ew, no!” She cried out loudly, it seemed unclean. Not that she was one to judge, considering a good many things, including the fact that she had just covered her face with kohl. “I’ll just… do this…” She began wiping her face with the back of her hands, it somehow seemed cleaner, but only spread the kohl to her hands instead. “Oh.” Oh was right. While she had not a mean bone in her body, in her frustration, she frowned and thought of the only thing she could think of, to resort to her inner child. “You were laughing at me because I look like I fell into latrine or a barbarian Briton! If domine sees me like this and then sees you, you will be in big trouble. He will think we are plotting to take over Rome.”

@Sharpie

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"Not at all. It'll come off, but you'll need water. Or spit, and I'm sure you'd rather use yours than mine." Attis spoke bracingly rather than brusquely, mostly because he thought Nymphias would respond better to a matter of fact tone of voice. "It's only a tunic, it'll dry quick enough, and it's not like I'm supposed to be serving the master's guests or anything, he's put me in the kitchens."

He offered it again. "I was only laughing because you were reacting as if it was the end of the world and it's really not that bad at all. Just a bit of water and a rag and you'll be as pretty as ever."

 

@Beauty

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Attis in the kitchens? She was not all envious. She had been there in the beginning and it had been horrible. Betua was terrifying, one did not cross Betua and survive to tell the tale. Nymphias was about to snort but managed to hold in it, keeping her face as plain as she possibly could, lest he start accusing her the way she did him.

“I have a premonition,” said Nymphias, straightening her back and trying to sound smarter. Now, this was very Zia or domina-like, she figured. He’d take her seriously now, even with the kohl on her face. Still, what she meant to say was proposition. “You walk me to where there is water but then I hide behind you. That way, if someone comes, I hide my face. And if they ask why I am hiding behind your back, you can just tell them that they’re probably just drunk if they are seeing four legs.” If it was the domine, forget it. But it sounded like a clever plan in her head and there was no way they could muck it up. “And in return, I will tell you all the secrets of the kitchens. That way you can leave this domus in one piece. This domus is a very, very dangerous place.” She didn’t mean it seriously, only that she was only slightly referencing Betua.

@Sharpie

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"Come on, then - you don't need to hide behind me, that'll just look more obvious than if you didn't."

The fountain wasn't too far away, thankfully, though it was in full view of the master's study. 

"You just need to splash your face a bit, it'll come off easily," Attis said, and splashed his own face - it was too hot in the kitchen. Vulcan knew how Betua could stand it!

 

@Beauty (when you're back!)

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