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Early September, 75 AD

Alexius had been talking to people. Well, he always talked to people and met people and had good times with people, but he was on a mission now. A certain and very important job, because a friend of his had been attacked and he had to do something about it. Didia must have been so afraid, he thought, when that sick fucker cut her and she had to go to Theo for help and then asked Alexius to help her look for the guy. And of course he'd help her! She was his neighbor and friend and he hated to see anyone he liked, harmed. It actually felt good, for once, to know you did something that really mattered to someone. And now, that’s exactly what he did.

Galla, one of his lovers, suggested he went to the lower classes and the alleys and brothels to look for the attacker. And so he went to the first on his mind, the lovely Lucilla, who lived up on the top floor of the insula, because she knew people like that. But she said she doubted any guys like that went to the Venus. She had not heard about any men with knives cutting up anyone for fun there. But maybe at Elysium? People with sick tendencies tended to go there, she said. That brothel-owner felt no remorse and all he thought about was earning coin. The whores there got beaten up and worse and nobody cared. He'd gone out, asked around and some days later, he knew that Elysium had to be the place to go to.

So that’s where he went. If Didia’s attacker ever went to a brothel, that would be the place! He felt weird though, approaching the place. Alexius had never once paid for sex, not directly anyway. Paying to meet a gladiatrix because she fought well, and said gladiatrix then deciding she liked him enough to have him, that was different in his eyes. And now he stood in front of the Elysium, a poorly kept building, matching its inhabitants, he guessed. Poor girls and guys. But he wasn’t here for sex, at least. He was here for information.

Alexius entered the house, coming into the bar-like room on the ground level, where men (and some women) met whores who’d let them do just about anything. He felt… almost dirty, walking in here. He didn't like the idea of owning other people and then selling them to the highest bidder for one night or one release only. Some of them could be used many times in  the same night. It was disgusting. As a gladiator, he'd been prostituted too. He knew what it was like. It was not always a fun business and especially not in a place like this. He inhaled a breath and ran a hand through his hair while his eyes adjusted to the light.  

@Echo

Edited by Atrice
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  • Atrice changed the title to Spoke Just Like a Baroness

It had been some time since her last visit with Marcus Barbatius, but one time had been enough for him to have firmly reiterated her place in the world for her. The thought of his vitriol as she had explained that she might not have convinced her client that she'd cut herself made her shudder, and every night since she'd found her head jerking to watch the door when someone came in. She could keep her mouth shut. The thought of what he might do to her if he found out she'd told anyone... her blood ran cold. 

Tonight, she was on drink duty until she was chosen by a client, and she found her eyes darting to the door as the bell rang, signifying a customer had entered. But she breathed a sigh of relief when she saw it was not Marcus but a large, attractive man who seemed a bit uncomfortable. She hoisted her amphora of wine and a cup and approached the man. "Welcome to the Elysium," she said with a flirtatious smile, finding it easy to access a flirtatious side while looking at him. "A cup of wine while you choose, dominus?"

@Atrice

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He didn’t know if he was uncomfortable, it was just a place he’d never visited before and he disliked the idea of it. When you had a past as a slave yourself and even a past that included being sold to the highest bidder, without anyone asking what you wanted… you knew how it was like. Sure he’d not been abused as much as he heard some of the prostitutes in here were, but it hadn’t been amazing every time either. And just the thought of not having a choice or a say in the matter. Your body belonged to anyone who’d pay for it. Alexius thought it disgusting.

But as disgusting as that was, as disgusting was it that lovely Didia had been attacked and cut by some sick maniac… who might just visit a place like the Elysium too. So here he was, looking around at the sparsely clothed girls and boys and the filthy men in here, wanting them. They were just sitting and some were walking around, trying to decide who they were in the mood for tonight. Alexius had to approach someone too, but not for sex. For information.

He hadn’t gotten anywhere yet, when a young and dark-haired beauty approached him with a smile, welcoming him and offering him wine. Well that part, he could say yes to. Alexius was fond of wine. Perhaps a little more than he should be.

“Thank you… and yes, wine sounds nice.” Alexius replied to her. She came over fast, didn’t she? Were they instructed to just approach anyone who entered, or else? Poor girl.

“Perhaps you’ll have a cup with me?” He suggested with a friendly smile, since she was the first to approach her, she would be the first he questioned.

@Echo

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Deia had been trained well, it was true. She had always been expected to be ready to greet a guest when the other girls were tied up, ready to be chosen and used and then ready to return to the floor of the brothel to repeat the process over and over again until the sun came up. She thought it seemed reasonable to assume that this man was here for what everyone else was here for, so she was the first to greet him even though that might expose her to being chosen. He seemed nice, though, better than most customers. He thanked her and accepted her offer, and she gestured to a table and chair for him to sit as she poured the wine delicately. 

His next request was unexpected, and yet expected at the same time; she had greeted him, perhaps he had taken an interest. Some men liked to talk before going to a private room, and she supposed he must be one of those types. "Certainly, dominus," she said, going away for a moment to get another cup for herself, and to pull another chair to his table. "Perhaps I can help you find what you want. What are you looking for this evening?" She leaned her elbows on the table, fixing him with her eyes. 

@Atrice

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It was kind of incredible really, that he had spent so much of his life in Rome, his free life too… but never once had he entered a brothel before. He never liked the idea of it and even now a part of him felt sickened by the very idea of being here. At least he wasn’t here for sex. He wasn’t here to pay one of these girls to do whatever he asked of them, or allowed him to do whatever he pleased to them. Of course he could give them a good time, give them control for once, but he’d still be paying for it and where was the fun in that? It wouldn’t be real. Alexius preferred the real deal.

Not that the girl who approached him wasn’t pretty, no, she was quite tempting, but he was not going to pay to have sex with her. He would have a chat with her though and he accepted the idea of some wine. She gestured to a table and a chair and Alexius sat down while she poured for him. The way she moved, it was like watching someone perform a play. She had to do this. She had no choice. And every movement had probably been instructed before. She was pretty, but her actions were not tempting to him. Not when he knew it was all pretense.

He’d suggested she drank with him and she agreed and went to fetch a cup for herself. She sat down with him and wondered what he wanted.

“First, I want you to not call me dominus? Call me…” He was about to tell her that he was Alexius, but if Didia’s attacker came here and someone found out he’d been asking questions, that would not be a smart move, “Lucius.” He said to her and sipped his drink.

“I am not looking for anything specifically… or I am, but not the way you think. I need…” How did he put it so it wouldn’t sound like he wanted sex, but still needed her time? He was looking for information, after all, “I need someone to talk to. Maybe you…? What’s your name?”

@Echo

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Deia listened to his requests, curious about what exactly this man wanted. He didn't want to be called dominus - he must be a freedman, then, or a lower citizen, to not want to be called that. Deia had been taught years ago that it was proper to call every man dominus, no matter what social class he was in, but some men preferred to be called by their names - like Lucius here, it seemed. "Very well, Lucius," she said with a grin. 

He went on to explain that he wasn't looking for what she thought he was, that he was looking for someone to talk to. Ah, so he was one of those. Men occasionally came here who were lonely, probably unmarried, without anyone to keep them company. She could handle that - in fact, it was a bit of a relief that she wouldn't have to perform much. "I can talk to you," she said, sipping her wine. "My name is Deianira, Lucius. What would you like to talk about?"

@Atrice

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The sweet young woman agreed to call him Lucius. It was odd, honestly, that he'd had this name for more than a decade but he barely ever used it. If he had to sign documents or something like that, of course he'd use his full name, but Lucius was not his name. It was so far from the name he grew up with and it was also a very common Roman name. And while he felt more at home here than anywhere else, apparently, he was not Roman. Alexius just fit him better in so many ways, but today, he'd be Lucius. He could only hope that he wouldn't run into anyone he knew who'd call him by his most used name. Instead he focused on his current companion, trying to explain to her that what he wanted most was to talk. He hoped her master wouldn't be upset, but maybe if he paid her for it, they could pretend it was something else than what it was? As long as her master got his coin, Alexius suspected the man would be pleased enough.

She said she could talk to him and introduced herself as Deianira. What a beautiful name, he thought. It sounded Greek. He felt he'd heard it before in some story and that it was something tragic, but he couldn't remember it. Not that he had to, that wasn't what he was here for. Of course she would know what he wanted to talk about. It didn't matter what she thought about him right now, that he was a lonely husband or something, although why would he ever be lonely? He was Alexius, after all... but not in here. Here he was Lucius.

"It's something quite... delicate. I don't know if it's smart to talk about it out here." Alexius said and downed some of his wine, "Do you have somewhere private, where we can go? I only wish to talk, but I will pay you for your time, so your master won't be upset with you. If that's alright with you?" 

@Echo

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