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September, 75AD

Evening in Rome. She wasn’t even sure what she was doing out this late, honestly she ought to head home to the palace – but Claudia was probably already sleeping and Volusa lay there too somewhere and the praetorians guarded her door. Cynane wasn’t in a hurry yet. She’d been visiting a bath house and was taking a long way back to the palace. The sun went down as she walked and people came out in the streets. Some had finished the day’s work, others were just beginning.

In an open square where a few streets met, a stage had been set up and actors were getting ready to perform some kind of play. Benches had been set up in front of it and Cynane stopped, curious. It was rare she got to see these things. Some wealthy senators squeezed their way past her and sat down on the front rows and Cynane took a seat in one of the back rows, by the end of a bench so she could easily get up and walk away.

The play began. A fisherman’s wife was waiting for her husband to come home from the sea, but he didn’t come and what was a lonely woman to do then, when higher ranked men wanted her attention? Cynane rolled her eyes, well, that woman was to kick their crotch and tell them to go find someone else, she thought to herself. But people around her were amused and she thought she better be on her way. That’s when a man came to her side, pushing his way in to set next to her by the end of the bench. He was larger than her. Much larger.

Cynane stared at the stage, lifting her chin as she did it, “Well well, a barbarian woman!” The man said, looking at her. She was dressed in her preferred clothes, breeches and a thigh-long tunica, not very feminine at all. The most feminine was probably her long braid down the back. Meanwhile the man... was clearly drunk, “I never had a barbarian before… not one who actually looks like one…” He said with a grin and placed a hand on her thigh. Cynane inhaled a breath, glaring at him, “Get your hand off me!” She bit back, pushing at his hand with hers, but he didn’t stop there. Instead he caught her wrist and held it tight… “Uh she talks! And fights!” He laughed and stood, “I like it…” He said while attempting to drag Cynane with him. Fuck! She tried to jerk her hand away from his, thinking she could probably easily use some kind of attack to get him away, but the square was crowded and she was, after all, just a slave.  

@Sara

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Sosia liked to keep herself busy. If she didn't, her moods ebbed into the morose and with a husband absent for the Gods knew how long, and a staff that she tried to keep a respectful distance from, she had to fill her days to stave off the loneliness. The theatre was one such way to distract herself, and as she settled in her seat she tried to relax. Her body slave was with her, but stood at the back of the crowds given the limited seating and Sosia felt uncomfortable without her calming presence. They were more like sisters than domina and slave; given Loreia had been with her since Carthage and knew the intimate details of exactly how she came to be a pleb in the city. She'd kept her secret, and for that Sosia was eternally grateful. In return - her slave had freedoms most would dream of, including the opportunity to socialise with friends in such places. Still, Sosia missed her and being alone and subject to lascivious stares from drunken patrons of the street performance was uncomfortable. 

Finding it increasingly hard to relax, she relinquished her seat and moved to stand to try and find Loreia. But as she brushed through the crowds something else caught her eye. A man was trying to tug a woman away from the seat she was sat in, and by force it seemed. Sosia felt nerves settle in the pit of her stomach. She shouldn't get involved, it wasn't her business. But something gnawed at her. What if that was her - all those years ago? She would have wanted somebody to intervene. She hesitated for a moment more, praying somebody else would do something so she wouldn't have to. 

Nobody did. With a deep sigh, she wrapped her arms around her waist and tucked one into the fine palla she was wearing so the man wouldn't see the trembling of her hands. She strode over and with a beaming smile she glanced at the woman, blonde, beautiful but barbarian and then at the man. "Can..." She started in a weak voice before she coughed and tried again, "Can my slave help you sir?" The man blinked at the blonde and then back at Sosia. She had married into an equite family and thus had adopted their fashions and dress. Her stola was made of fine fabric in a light pink, with a deeper shade on her palla. The gold of her wedding ring glinted on her finger as she stood there, trying to remain cool, calm and confident. 

the man guffawed and released his grip on the blonde. "My mistake, my lady." He smirked and then grinned, revealing a mess of missing teeth. Sosia struggled to hide her revulsion. "I must have gotten your woman confused with another." He side stepped out of the row, leaving a gap next to the blonde. Hurriedly, Sosia sat down and bit at her lip, unsure if she should say anything to the woman. Knowing her luck, she'd probably be annoyed that she'd intervened at all. 

 

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He was larger than her, but that did not really speak in his favor – she’d taken down bigger guys before. The issue was different here though. They were in a crowd and he was very likely very free and she was a slave. She shouldn’t fight him off. She’d make a scene and that would reflect badly on the princess. Of course it would also look bad if the princess’ bodyguard was raped by a drunk plebian in the street. And she had to think fast, find out what to do, while the man continued to try and drag her away and Cynane struggled to stay in her seat. No one in the nearby seats did anything and Cynane thought she’d have a better chance fighting him off when they were alone. So she chose to not to anything.

He had her standing now and when she thought they’d leave, a shorter, dark-skinned woman approached them with a beaming smile. She looked at Cynane first, then at the man, while she found her voice and then said something about her slave. Was she… intervening? As if Cynane was her slave? Cynane tried to not look too surprised and the man blinked, looking back and forwards and then he let Cynane go. He apologized and then left them alone.

Cynane sat down again and the other woman sat next to her, suddenly looking much more nervous than she had a few moments ago. This was a bit awkward. They didn’t know each other, but the stranger just helped Cynane and she didn’t know her. Why did she do it? Did she hope to gain something? Did she expect a reward now, from Cynane’s real owner? So many questions… but she supposed this was not the right moment to ask them…

“Thank you… domina.” She said to the woman, looking at her. She looked younger than Cynane, had very fair skin and seemed rather wealthy, in fact… “I don’t know why you did what you did. But thank you.”

@Sara

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Sosia let out a breath as the woman spoke first, so she didn't need to. She glanced to her side, at the blonde and let a gentle smile fill her face. "Y-you're welcome." She nodded and then lowered her voice as the performance began with drums and a group of giggling women on the stage. She had to shake off the feeling of discomfort of being called domina. It had been happening now for years but it didn't get any easier and she felt words stick in her throat. She nonetheless beamed a big smile at the woman and inclined her head. 

"I saw it, from over there," She gestured towards the front, "And...you didn't look happy and he looked...well, awful." She chuckled to herself and barely suppressed a shudder at his image. She only hoped he wasn't lurking anywhere around, waiting for them. Back in a past life she had known men like that - even as a 'pleb' in Carthage the handsy fools had been too much for her to cope with. "I was worried I was intruding on something, but as long as you're alright?" She glanced across at the other woman. All blonde hair and ice blue eyes - so exotic! She'd seen nobody quite like her in Africa, and whilst blondes were more common in Rome - it was still rare enough for Sosia and she was a little enthralled. She inclined her head at the other woman with her smile still on her face, "I'm Sosia." She glanced at the stage to see the action and then back at the woman; "But...if you'd rather watch the performance than talk to a stranger I understand." She laughed a little.

 

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It was very kind of the younger woman to help her – she honestly had not expected anyone to even lift a finger or an eyebrow for her, no one here ever did. There were some precious few people that she liked and would trust, but they weren’t here. And they couldn’t get her out of a situation that could be turned out very grim no matter what. Either Cynane had managed to escape the guy, but she’d probably have to beat him in the process. Or the man turned out to be stronger than her after all and she’d have been violated. No matter what, it wouldn’t have been good. But then this woman showed up, saving her and the disgusting stranger too.

The other woman seemed surprised when Cynane spoke, thanking her and she stumbled over her words, lowering her voice too, forcing Cynane to lean a little closer, because it seemed the woman would say more. Then the other smiled beautifully and said she saw it from afar and that Cynane had looked unhappy and the man awful.

“He was… and it would have ended a lot worse, if you hadn’t shown up.” Cynane replied, while the other looked at her, almost examined her. Oh… she looked at the woman, beautiful, well-dressed and even with jewelry. A fine woman of a higher rank. Would she now have Cynane instead? Not that she thought she’d mind, the thought of the woman claiming payment for her deed like that. But Cynane wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case. This was Rome and what a slave thought mattered little. She looked at her hands in her lap, unsure what to think now.

Then the woman said she hoped Cynane was alright, “I’m fine, thanks.” She said, worried about what would come next. The stranger seemed nice though. In fact she didn't even seem like the type who would demand a random slave to pleasure her, but Cynane would not be surprised. Some people acted one way in public and differently in private. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad though. It definitely wouldn't be as bad as it would have been with the man.

The stranger then introduced herself as Sosia and then almost excused herself, which made Cynane look at her again, “I am Cynane. And I… owe you. And I am not in a position to tell you to leave.” Cynane said and glanced at the stage briefly. It turned more and more weird, the play, “The performance is a bit strange. I admit I don’t always understand the stories.”

@Sara

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Sosia frowned a little as the woman retorted that she was fine. Something in her tone or the way she sat, staring down at her hands, made Sosia uncomfortable. Had she...done something wrong? By intervening? She was naturally a quiet person - although given her elevated station now had been growing more comfortable socialising and making small talk - but in this situation it all fell away and she withdrew into herself. She hated feeling as if she'd done something wrong, and she let the silence settle for a heartbeat after she'd introduced herself and made pleasantries. It was firmly in the other woman's court should she wish to talk. Of course, had Sosia known what the blonde was thinking she would have been mortified. Thank the Gods mind reading was not real. 

When her companion did speak, Sosia glanced sideways at her and hurriedly added; "Oh but I don't want you to feel as if you have to speak to me." Although whether her words were drowned out by the jeers and cheers of the crowd and the band, or heard by her companion, remained to be seen. 

But relief washed through her as the blonde spoke and Sosia offered a beaming smile, shaking her head; "Oh me neither. The stories never make sense anyway." She frowned and adjusted her palla over her curls, "They expect the audience to be too drunk to notice I think, but I come quite a lot and it's always just as confusing as the last one." She realised she'd made an opening for the question; 'well if you find them odd, why do you come at all?' and she quickly clarified before her company had time to ask it; "But it gives me something to do, and even in Carthage we never had anything quite like this, not with so many people." She added with a little smile before turning her face to the stage again. 

"Do you...do you like the theatre?" 

 

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Cynane owed Sosia something, surely, for what she did. It occurred to her for a moment that this could just be a case of one woman helping out another, but if she had learned anything in Rome it was that everyone expected something. And especially from a slave. You didn’t do something good for a slave and expected the slave to not repay the kindness somehow. Maybe Claudia would reward Sosia for her help? If that’s what Sosia wanted… although now she said she didn’t want Cynane to feel she had to talk to Sosia. But she did. It was an awkward situation, honestly.

Sosia suggested Cynane would rather watch the performance, but she admitted she thought it strange and didn’t quite understand the stories. Sosia smiled back again, saying she sometimes felt the same and spoke of drunken audience and how she watched it a lot anyway. Sosia liked to talk, it seemed, because Cynane had yet to come up with a reply to that, before the other woman went on about having something to do and then Carthage that didn’t have something like this.

Did she like the theatre? “I think I might enjoy something… better.” She had seen better performances at the palace, but even those often turned more… vulgar, later in the evening. And the actors and actresses were always also prostitutes. Not really something she enjoyed at all.

“I’m not quite sure why I sat down here. Do you…” She trailed off, feeling she could not just leave Sosia here, after what she did, but she also didn’t know how to ask her if she should follow Cynane… “Do you want to move away from here?”

@Sara

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Sosia grinned a warm, genuine smile and managed a little laugh. "Yes, yes I think I'd enjoy something better too. This...is not the finest theatre Rome has to offer." She liked the grand performances, with the proper actors but they were expensive to see and whilst she had married in to wealth, her frugality from years as a slave was still ever present in her mind. She blinked at the woman as she almost seemed to make her excused to leave. She felt her chest sink. She had been looking for company for most of her days here - something to distract her, keep her from her loneliness and fear. Even for a casual chat for all of five minutes. Her beaming smile shrunk to a polite little curve of her lips as she presumed the blonde was about to make her excuses. But then she didn't, and Sosia blinked. 

"Do I want to...move away?" She glanced around. Others were so intently focused on the rapidly undressing woman on the stage Sosia was sure they weren't paying the conversation any heed at all. She swallowed. What if this was a ruse? She saved a damsel in distress but what if it was all a set up? Sosia weighed the risk of that versus actual human conversation and before she could stop herself nodded fervently. "Yes, yes let's leave here." She moved to stand and quickly walk up the aisle to the back of the rows of seats, wrapping her palla tighter around herself and waiting to see if Cynane would join her. She didn't see Loreia but the woman was probably enjoying her own few hours of fun whilst Sosia was watching the performance. 

Tentatively, she glanced back at the blonde, Cynane, "Do you...do you want to drink something?" She gestured her head at a wine shop in the back of the little square they were in and she couldn't help the hopeful glint that entered her eye. 

 

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She felt oddly awkward with Sosia, although she probably shouldn’t be. It was just strange, that she had intervened to help Cynane get rid of the other guy and now the two women sat here together instead. She felt she had to talk to her and expected Sosia wanted Cynane to show her gratitude somehow. So far they just talked though, about the theatre and Sosia agreed she’d enjoy something better too. Then Cynane mused about why on Earth she sat here anyway and wondered if Sosia wanted to leave. Sosia seemed surprised by the question and Cynane feared Sosia thought she’d just asked her to move away from Cynane, but then Sosia seemed to understand that the idea was to leave.

She watched the other woman stand, wrapping the palla tighter around her and Cynane stood too, following. She didn’t have a palla to wrap around her. Did she even need it? Not right now anyway, it wasn’t that cold yet. Once the two women met again, away from the rows of people watching the performance, Sosia asked if Cynane wanted to drink.

“Sure… if you want to.” She said with a smile, it was nice of Sosia to ask her, but really she didn’t have to. Cynane ought to return to the palace, but she still felt she owed Sosia something. At least she was being nice. Cynane didn’t know what else to say. She rarely talked to people she didn’t know like this – random chic chat wasn’t something she performed often. Usually she came across as much more… independent. Why didn’t she feel like it right now?

@Sara

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Sosia's grin widened as Cynane herself offered a smile and agreed. The hopeful glint in her eyes was replaced with enthusiasm and she gestured her head at the wine shop with seats spilling over the pavement. "Good! Good." Good because it was far too early to return to the house. If she did she'd only spend the evening rattling around, trying to find something to occupy her time with before having a little too much wine and falling into bed alone. It was such a routine now that anything to stave it off was welcome, even a slightly awkward conversation with a stranger. 

She quickened her pace a little and drew to the shop. Slaves darted around, serving patrons and lugging jugs and amphorae of wine on their hips. She slunk into a spare seat and gestured for Cynane to take the one next to her. It was busy, but not heaving and seemed to be serving a mix of clientele - enough that she didn't feel out of place in her fine stola and palla. She dropped the latter from her hair to reveal the buoyant tight curls of her natural hair. Her earrings jangled as she tossed some over her shoulder and she tried to catch the eye of one of the slaves. Silence settled between the two women as she did, until Sosia finally managed to order some drinks and then turned back to Cynane with an embarrassed smile. "I...know this is a little odd," She said with a warm chuckle and tucked a curl behind her ear, "But I figured my litter could drop you at your home so you don't have to walk, in case that man is still lurking around, and...I need to kill some time  before my slave will join me so...wine seemed sensible." She smiled softly. "Where is it you live?" It was a more polite way of asking 'who owns you?'.

 

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Sosia grinned beautifully when Cynane smiled at her and was glad that Cynane agreed to the drink. Together they went to the little nearby shop, which was busy because of the many people in the little square with the set up theatre. Sosia sat down and wanted Cynane to sit next to her, so she did. It wasn’t often she followed another free Roman’s orders so easily, but her continued awkward feeling around Sosia made her do it.

 She watched as Sosia dropped the palla from her hair – it was dark and thick and curly and quite unusual even in Rome, Cynane thought. In Britannia, you’d never see such hair. The other woman wore pretty earrings too and looked very well off to Cynane. Her husband must be at least somewhat wealthy, she deemed. So what did she want with Cynane? Why? Silence settled between them, maybe for a little too long, before Sosia spoke up, suggesting her litter could drop off Cynane at some point, so she would not have to walk and meet strange men. Then she wondered where Cynane lived.

 “It does feel a little odd, I must admit that.” Cynane said then, inhaling a breath she hadn’t known she needed, “I live at the palace…” She explained, not ready to say more yet. She was looking at Sosia, curious about her too, “You should be careful in the evenings too though. Especially when you’re wearing such fine items. I don’t suppose it’s often your husband lets you go out so late.”

@Sara

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Sosia blinked and must have looked startled. "The palace?" She frowned quizzically, "The imperial palace? Or...another sort?" It was not beyond the realm of possibility that there was a brothel or popina out there, somewhere in Rome, with a play-on-words or a name of 'the palace'. Surely that was far more likely than Sosia stumbling across an imperial slave? She swallowed and dug her nails into her thighs under the table - out of view of Cynane. 

She glanced down at her stola and then back to Cynane, her earrings jangling along with the bangles on her wrist as she laughed a little. "It's not that fine, not really...a lot is second hand." She admitted with no trace of guilt. She didn't understand women's needs for frivolous purchases. Who needed a brand new palla when there was a perfectly pretty one at a dressmakers stall, handed back by a widower? She frowned a little though at the woman's second point and swallowed, trying not o sound naive as she asked; "Do...most women not go out so late?" This life - married into an equite family - was still so new to her. She was conscious of making gaffes and errors, but was desperately trying not to. "He is...fairly relaxed," because he's not bloody in Rome, "And I get so...restless at home." So lonely, more like, but she wasn't about to bare her soul for all to see. 

"But you still haven't said what you do at the palace?" She said with a coy smile as she sipped the wine that had been set down at their table. 

 

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Sosia seemed very surprised when Cynane said she lived at the palace. She wondered if it was the imperial or another sort of palace and Cynane smiled, “Maybe I’ll keep you guessing. What do you think?” She said, relaxing a bit more now and then she had a piece of advice for Sosia, being out this late on her own and indirectly she kind of asked if Sosia had a husband.

 The exotic looking woman said that many of her things were second hand, but she still made all the things look very fine and expensive. Maybe wealthier and more free women could see that Sosia didn’t wear the latest fashion, but Cynane didn’t really care about fashion at all. She saw what Claudia wore, of course, but when she was with Claudia, what she wore had the least of her attention. Claudia had all of it. She was brought back to the present, when Sosia wondered if she should not go out so late and she said her husband was relaxed. So she had a husband. Good to know, Cynane thought to herself quietly.

 “Most women who… dress like you, wouldn’t go out this late without a guard.” She replied and Sosia then asked more into what Cynane did at her palace. Although she’d still not said which palace she worked at.

 “I’m a bodyguard.” She said, but then her small smile faded a little. Tonight she had not guarded herself well, had she? Sosia had to intervene. It was a little embarrassing for her and she fell silent again. Sosia must think she was very strange and unexciting to speak to.

@Sara

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"Oh." Sosia blinked, suddenly anxious. She had tried so hard to mimic the habits of those above her in station, but things still eluded her. This was just another example. As a slave, and even when pretending to be a pleb, she had thought nothing off late night trips out (besides the obvious caution that came with being a woman alone). But she supposed equite women had more to lose than a slave who'd already been abused and she inwardly cursed that she'd slipped up. "Oh well, I had better organise one for myself I've...I've not been in Rome long, I'm unused to some of the customs." She swallowed and tried to explain.

But as the blonde woman confirmed her job, Sosia managed a smile and let out a little laugh. "Or maybe I don't need a guard, If I have you as company!" She tucked a curl behind her ear and leant in a little, genuinely fascinated. "I've never met a female bodyguard before..." She said as she sipped her wine, "It's so interesting! How did you end up, doing what you do?" 

 

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Cynane was certain she'd act differently, if she was suddenly freed and elevated in ranks. But that was unlikely to happen, unless she married someone of a higher rank and right now, she could not imagine marrying anyone at all. Not that it was in the cards anyway. On the other hand, if she was freed, would she then just submit to the laws of Rome, the unspoken rules about what you did and how you were supposed to act as a woman? It wasn't something she did right now, after all. Anyway, she was a slave. It didn't matter at all. But she knew the rules, at least. Sosia seemed surprised to hear she should not be roaming the streets at night on her own. Then she said she had not been here for long, she she wasn't used to it all here. Then Sosia had wondered what it was that Cynane did and she revealed she was a bodyguard. That made the other woman laugh, saying she didn't need a guard when she had Cynane.

She couldn't help but smile then, as something crossed her mind, "Tonight I needed one though, it seems. Maybe if we stick together, we won't need anyone else..." She suggested, but it was just a strange and fleeting thought and the moment she said it out loud, she realized how stupid it sounded. Why would Sosia stick together with a slave? Besides, she had a husband. Sosia went on about how she had never met a female bodyguard and wondered how Cynane ended up there. Well that definitely stopped her foolish thoughts about her and Sosia...

"I'm a slave... I didn't have much choice. When I first came here, I was a gladiatrix for many years. Then I was hand-picked to become a bodyguard at the palace. It's better than the arena though, at least." Much better, at the palace she wasn't prostituted while also having to fight and entertain in the daytime. At the palace, she was more free. And she guarded the kindest of them all, that was her opinion anyway.

@Sara

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"Men are awful," Sosia said with a conspiratorial grin, forgetting herself and all the niceties she had strived so hard to learn as she blurted it out, before she corrected herself with a little chuckle, "N-not all of them, but that man, with you, he was. And I think you're right," She nodded, "If we stick together nobody should bother us." It never occurred to her that this might be odd and not the done thing with equite ladies. She'd grown up a slave, around slaves and freedmen. Why would she take offence to socialising with one? It demonstrated just how far she still had to go, to blend in. 

She couldn't help the face that she pulled when her company mentioned the arena. She'd seen them, although of course on a much smaller scale, in Carthage. But she'd never been a fan of blood and never wished to watch a game. She remembered friends of hers, in her youth, being sold off for the same purpose as Cynane - exotic entertainment in the heart of the Empire. It made her feel sick. She tried to swallow such thoughts though as she looked on the woman, and attempted to school her face back into a neutral expression (although she wasn't particularly successful). 

"Well then...I'm glad it's better now." She nodded a bit and smiled, sipping her wine, "And you like Rome?" She arched a brow, "Your accent...you are not from here? Neither am I s-so there's no judgement, I promise." She smiled a little, "We must look a right pair..." And they did; one with dark skin and eyes, beautifully coiled hair and fancy clothes - the other pale skinned and paler eyes, wearing mens breeches! 

 

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Cynane couldn’t help but smile a bit, when Sosia stated that men were awful, but then went on to try and correct herself, as if all men weren’t. Cynane gave her a look after she was done talking, “Most men are awful and that’s the truth.” Cynane said, “At least, that’s my experience. I’m glad we agree… to some extent, anyway.” She added, unsure if Sosia really meant it, but she said and then tried to take it back. Maybe it was the truth that came out first and then she thought she ought to say the opposite, in case Cynane didn’t think men were awful. But she did.  

She then explained to Sosia how she became a bodyguard, told her briefly about the arena and about how things were better now. Sosia sipped her wine, saying she was happy for Cynane and wondered where she was from. She grinned at Sosia’s statement about the pair of them.

 “We’ll definitely be noticed.” She replied, “I was born and raised far from here… in Britannia. I don’t know if I like Rome… I like the friends I have here. And I like that they don’t force me to wear skirts. But I don’t belong here.” She added. It had been over a decade now, but Rome was still not a place she wanted to call home forever. Even if she might have to. Who knew if she’d ever be free?

@Sara

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"Britannia," Sosia frowned, "Is that...near Parthia?" Her knowledge of geography was about as good as one might expect from a woman who had lived her whole life as a slave in a small hamlet outside of Carthage. Which was to say, it was dreadful. "In the East? Or is it near Da-cia?" She asked, mispronouncing the name. 

"I'm from Carthage, Africa." She smiled at the woman. "So I understand not belonging. Everybody here is so..." She tried to find the right word, "So...perfect. Do you know what I mean?" She didn't really know what she meant herself. "I mean, they all know the rules and where to go and the city inside and out. I must get lost every time I leave our domus, and always seem to make a mistake..." She winced, a pink hue coming to her cheeks. 

"But...for what it's worth, I think you would look very nice in a skirt." She grinned and sipped her wine. She was so lonely, so desperate for friends or anybody she didn't really care or consider that she shouldn't be talking to Cynane, a slave with such familiarity. "What was your home like?" 

 

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She gave Sosia a look, when the other woman didn’t seem to know the whereabouts of Britannia. Not that Cynane could brag about knowing a lot about the world either, but she knew that Britannia was to the North and she travelled through Belgica and Gaul to get here. And that in one direction from Gaul you’d reach Germania and in the other direction was Hispania. It was definitely nowhere near Parthia or Dacia. She knew people from those lands had slightly darker skin than those from the areas near Britannia.

 “It is nowhere near those places. It is to the North.” She explained, not looking down upon Sosia for not knowing, although it was kind of strange that an educated, free woman in Rome didn’t know such things. Then Sosia explained where she was from and she knew about not belonging here in Rome. She explained what she thought of it. That the Romans wanted to do everything perfectly and there were many rules.

 “Yes, I think I understand… everything has to be done the right way. The Roman way. And if you don’t do it that way, it’s wrong.” She added, it sounded like it was alright to say that Sosia, since she was not from here either. Africa she knew where was too – it was further south of Rome and it was very warm. She’d met many slaves from there. Their dark skin was fascinating to her, even today, when she’d lived many years in Rome and had become used to people from there. It was still beautiful though, the dark skin. Sosia was beautiful. And then Sosia caught her off guard while she was thinking, saying she’d look nice in a skirt.

 “Thanks.” She said, noting how the other woman had grinned and quickly sipped her wine after… “Maybe I would look nice. But I wouldn’t feel comfortable.” Cynane added, “My home… was very different from Rome. More cold and wet – more rain. But also more green. I miss the forests and the meadows and the cold streams.” And she had almost come to terms with the fact that she might never see it again. She sipped some more of her wine with that thought.

@Sara

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Oh. North. Well done Antia1you idiot. She didn't know much about the North besides some vague memory that there had been a conquest, or some sort of war. She also knew that its inhabitants were fierce and pale skinned, which would explain her company! She chose not to say anything further on it, deciding that she'd embarrass herself at best and at worst, out herself as a good for nothing simpleton at worst, if she continued to ask questions. She suspected most equite ladies, and even plebs, had a better grasp of geography than her which wasn't surprising given she'd lived as a slave in a villa, isolated from the world, in Africa, for most of her life.

"I meant it," She offered about the compliment she had given over Cynane in a dress, worrying that it had seemed like a joke. "Cold and wet?" She smiled a little, pleased that her company began to talk so she didn't have to ask the questions herself. It was as if the blonde was reading her mind! "I wouldn't like that I think. I woke up freezing this morning and it's only September in Rome." She laughed a little. "But the rest of it sounds...beautiful. I hope," She winced a little, "That you can get some peace here." It was a platitude, but well meant. People had to come to terms with their lives. In retrospect, Sosia herself half-wished she'd done just that rather than put on this facade. It certainly would have been simpler, and likely much less lonely. 

"Not that you can get much peace here I suppose," She added as a joke, "It's so busy...everybody rushing everywhere, all at once, but nobody to talk to, everybody seems so...wrapped up in their own little world." She sighed and sipped her drink, feeling the melancholy seep back in.

 

TAG: @Atrice

1 Sosia's real name (and slave name) is Antia.

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Sosia said she meant it, when she thought Cynane might look nice in a dress. She wore one a while ago, when that Lucius Metellus wanted to see her, but that was already a while ago and she’d moved on since then. She wore a dress for a man and did it do any good for her? Not really. Conversation went on though, she explained more about Britannia and of course Sosia, as any Roman, didn’t like the thought of a cold and wet climate.

 “It is very beautiful. All the green… I miss that in Rome.” She replied, giving a vague smile when Sosia hoped Cynane could find peace here. She had not found it yet. She didn’t know if she would, but it was nice of Sosia to hope for it. Sosia added that herself, that you could not get much peace in Rome, with it being so busy and everyone wrapped up in their own world. Sosia seemed unhappy with it too and Cynane looked at her, feeling a desire to cheer her up.

 “Well, it would seem that there’s at least two here, who are not a part of that. I should be busy I suppose, going home, but… now I’m here with you, not rushing anywhere and talking to you.” She said, even smiling a bit, “That’s not too bad, is it? Although what should we do, once our drinks are empty?”

@Sara

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Sosia's mood lifted as Cynane spoke. She had thought, for a long pause, that the woman might just pass her off, finish her drink and be on her way. It had happened time and time again. She found that everybody in Rome was so...insular. They already had their friends and didn't need another, especially not some oddball from Carthage with dark skin and a questionable accent. She swallowed the nerves that ate away at her. No. She was here - Cynane was talking to her and she was fine

"No! No, not bad at all." She smiled. Gods, she really was depressingly lonely. She wondered if the other woman could sense it, and that was why she was humouring her. 

"I...I don't mind," She responded with a blink. "Everybody always says there's so much going on in Rome, always something to do...but I think that's just for the men." She chuckled and sipped her drink, "After they've drank they can go and visit the..." She wrinkled her nose, "Ladies of the night or go to a party or something. It's not quite the same for us, is it?" She pondered the question and then swallowed her reply. She was going to suggest that her new friend visit her home, but that would be far too forward for a new acquaintance wouldn't it? Instead, she shook her head and smiled. "I suggest, once our drinks are empty..." She tilted her head to the side and studied the blonde with a mischievous smile on her face, "...we get another one? And...perhaps one more after that?" 

 

TAG: @Atrice

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Sosia agreed that it was not too bad, that none of them were too busy rushing through life in Rome right now. They were sitting and talking and now Sosia was smiling again. She really was pretty when she smiled. The other woman went on about how everyone said there was always something to do in Rome, but it was mostly for the men. And men could drink and go to brothels or parties and the like. Cynane wasn’t sure what to say, she was a slave and had very little choice about what to do in the evening and night. Mostly she was at the palace. She was only out now because she’d been to a bath house to exercise and clean up and then took the long way back to the palace… and then ended up here.

 Sosia was still talking though, after having considered Cynane’s question about what to do next. She suggested they got more drinks and Cynane let out a little laugh, she had not expected that answer to her question.

 “If that’s what you want. I don’t mind spending more time with you.” She replied, still a grin on her face, ignoring the thought of what might happen if she came home drunk and unable to work tomorrow. She might face punishment. But when had she last had a proper night on the town? Not since her gladiatrix days and not even then, it was like this… maybe it was worth it.

 Cynane lifted her cup to drink again, but only found a few drops left, “Mine’s already empty it seems.” She looked around for the working slaves at this street-bar, “Hey… a re-fill… please?” She held up her cup and the young male slave came rushing to them with a jar of wine. He was so young. Many of the slaves were. Many of them worked hard towards an early death. Cynane fished out two coins from her purse, “One for the drinks. And one for you, keep it secret and safe.”

@Sara

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Sosia grinned a warm and infectious smile. "Good!" She beamed. When was the last time somebody had voluntarily sought out her company? Months ago, surely? Her slaves didn't count and for a brief moment she wondered if Cynane was doing it to be polite. Even if she shouldn't legally be, Sosia was her social superior in Rome. She cautioned the other woman with a hand on her hand, "You don't have to though, if you'd rather not...I'm not ordering you to stay." She wanted to be sure. 

Yet the other woman raised her cup for a refill and Sosia removed her hand, snaking it back to her lap and then inclined her head at her own cup - sat mostly dry on the table. "And one for me please." Not that Cynane would know, but she had the same realisation about the slave. So young. Ha she been born here? To a mother in shackles like her own? Or had he been shipped halfway across the sea like she suspected her own family had, by now, been? She hurriedly took a deep sip of the replenished cup to drown out that thought. When she had swallowed, she leant to get a coin from her own purse and set it down on the table for the boy to pick up later. "You shouldn't have to pay, I'm cajoling you into this!" She chuckled, "I don't remember the last time I enjoyed a drink out..." She frowned trying to recall, "Probably before I left for Rome..." Which was so long ago now. Or it felt like it at least. "All the ladies don't want to socialise with new money like my family you see..." 

 

TAG: @Atrice

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Sosia’s warm smile was worth it – Cynane would stay and have a drink or many more, like she’d never done before. She was being a terrible slave right now. But just one night of having fun, it could not hurt anyone, right? She hoped Claudia would understand. Sosia said Cynane did not have to stay if she didn’t want to, but she just gave the other woman a smile, “I want to stay.” Cynane informed her and then she’d called a slave over to refill their cups. Sosia asked for a drink too of course, while Cynane gave the young man a coin for himself. She had plenty and she had never dared to discuss buying her freedom with Claudia. She didn’t know if her young mistress would allow it. Hopefully one day, she would just free Cynane. One day…

 Sosia brought her back to the present, saying Cynane did not have to pay and then went on about how she never enjoyed herself like this, not since she came to Rome. Cynane looked at her, felt a bit sorry for Sosia.

 “That’s their problem, not yours. You’re good company.” She said with a smile, “I don’t remember when I last enjoyed a night like this either. You don’t get a lot of those when you work as a slave in the palace.” She sighed, but then shook her head, “Let’s make the most of it then. A toast to a joyful night?” She said and raised her cup, hoping Sosia would join her.

@Sara

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