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Aeterna Roma RPG

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March, 76AD

Horatia arched a brow at the slave stood before her. The girl was young, but sour-tempered and usually Horatia would have limited patience for such moods in her home, but for once she shared the girls surliness. "Did you see which one it was?" The domina asked the girl, who promptly replied with "The red-head one, domina. I don't know his name. The one who hangs around our quarters." Horatia rose her fingers to pinch the bridge of her nose in irritation and then promptly waved her hand, dismissing the girl who went back to her task.

That her husband was Consul was a wonderful thing that filled Horatia Justina with immense pride. Yet like any step up in the world, it came with its downsides. A small army of lictors was her current irritation - especially a particular read-headed one who trampled in Gods only knew what on the bottom of his sandals every single time he entered the Domus. The surly slave was, for the second time that day, scrubbing muck off the mosaic and Horatia made a mental note to in a very 'Horatia' way, scold the man when he next appeared trailing her husband. 

"Gaius, when Marius arrives will you show him up?" The attendant slave in the atrium nodded silently and with a deep breath to cleanse herself of her annoyance, Horatia swept through her home until she reached the backstairs that led to her private study. It was a novelty still for her, to have her own space apart from her bedroom, and that it was on the rarely-used second floor of the domus made it even more of an escape and a solace for the introverted matron. Set set herself behind her desk, fingers splayed on the fine wood as she looked over the papers that littered its surface. Her life had become busier since Aulus' confirmation in January but she was in no mood to plan another party, or dedication. Her motivation to host another of her book clubs was also waning. Never one for the spotlight, now her family had been thrust into it, she found herself craving the solitude of her scrolls and her solace ever more. 

But needs must, and that was one of the reasons her guest was joining her today. Her body slave, Callista, stood in the corner of the room as the sound of sandalled feet on the stairs stirred her from her reverie. Gaius ducked his head through the door and with lowered gaze, solemnly announced; "The gladiator, Marius, is here domina." in a tone that would have made Horatia laugh had she been with her friends. As it was, she stood and smoothed out the folds of her stool as the great giant of a man entered the room. Her smile was warm but her eyes were cautious, studying him with intensity. "Marius, thank you for coming. She gestured to a simple wooden seat set across the desk from her. Sit, won't you." 

 

TAG: @Knight

 

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"I'm a fucking warri- gladiator, not a bodyguard."
"Marius. You've been killing folk for 6 years. It's a cushy job. Fuck the kitchen slaves, make sure no one touches the domina, get your freedom and fuck off."

He had everything packed, but he was literally just property, so his possessions weren't exactly expansive. A little statue of Belatucadros, his patron god, a Gallic longsword, his lorica hamata, a few worn blue tunics, and an amphora of wine from Messina. He'd only been in the Iudus Magnus a few weeks, and he was being moved again. Owyn had been itinerant for most of his time in Italia, fighting bouts up and down the great cities of the Roman Empire, and earning a reputation as utterly without show, or style, but ruthlessly good at just murdering people. Packing away his belongings, his closest friend Hamilcar and he had been chatting. Hamilcar was a Phoenician brute, olive skinned and ferocious, but he was smaller than Owyn by a good few inches. They'd bonded over a few months of sparring, and Owyn had broken his arm the year before - no hard feelings. In their trade, you forgave and forgot. He was a friend, and many nights had been wiled away sparring, competing, and gambling. Hamilcar was faster, but Owyn could run for longer.

Still. All good things must come to an end. Their dominus's attendants came to escort 'Marius' up to the big house on the hill, and Owyn turned to his old comrade.
"Remember our pact?" He asked, crooking an eyebrow.
"Of course. Come buy my freedom when she sets you free. Calpurnius Marius? Calpurnius Africanus? We could open up a Iudus together."
They grinned, and touched foreheads to one another. There was that old pain that the Briton had grown accustomed to. Losing a part of you. Here was a friend who had shared much hardship with him - and though they would see each other soon, it would not be the same ever again.

The trip up to the big house was quiet, and the gladiator got a few looks and curious glances. A champion, but not a legend. Some said he could've taken any of the most famed fighters, but most agreed that such a spectacle would not be nearly so satisfying as the finest bouts of the last few years. He just wasn't...showy. He was handsome, strong, and tall - but he just killed people.

A red-headed idiot greeted them at the door, and Marius briefly loomed over him. A quick look, and it was evident that this one might be an issue for keeping the domina safe. Still, he followed the slave up, and was shown into his new charge's room.

She was exactly what he had expected in terms of her presence. Perfect, Roman, elegance made manifest. A symbol of all thar Rome held up as pious and virtuous. He'd not expected the red hair, but he knew that it wasn't unheard of amongst his captors. There was no lust in Owyn's gaze - he was eyeing her with the same look a tradesman overlooked a task.
For his part, Owyn had shaved, and his bright blonde hair was shorn in the legionary style. His best blue tunic stretched across his shoulders, and he wore the caligae of the legions. Show in, he bowed from the waist. "Domina." He intoned, with practised formality. Offered a seat, he took one, and slowly tried to ease his shoulders. He was a giant amongst them, but he kept his head down, and avoided her gaze. He was a slave. He could never forget that. He didn't know this woman. When he had been first enslaved, he'd taken liberties with Roman women whom he thought were kind and good - smiling, joking, nodding. Then they had ordered him beaten, and he still couldn't sleep on his left side.

He waited for her to speak. If they broke his right shoulder again, he would have to sleep on his front.

@Sara

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Posted (edited)

She was silently pleased at his respect. She'd learned you could never really be sure with British slaves; half were still wild, years after they came to Rome but others seemed to acclimatise well enough. What Aulus had seen in this one, enough to buy him off of his idiotic friend Longinus was - at that precise moment - beyond Horatia, but she'd ascertain it sooner rather than later. An as couldn't drop in this house without Horatia hearing about it. 

"It is Marius, isn't it?" She knew very well it was, but her voice was soft and pleasant. "And please tell me to speak slower, if you need. Latin is not easy, I understand, to pick up if it isn't your native language." She didn't know much at all about the man beyond his name, his profession and that he was British. This was partly what this meeting was about; to gauge him, unpick him at the seams and ferret out his secrets. 

"I don't know how much you know about why you've been brought here?" She didn't wait for a reply before she swiftly continued, "My husband thinks with his elevation to Consul that I, and our children, require some further protection. He has his lictors, I have my bodyslave." She gestured with a wry smile to the slim, silent Callista stood behind her. She trusted and valued her bodyslave with every fibre of her, but the girl would be as useless in an altercation as Horatia herself. "So...here you are." Her bright blue eyes studied his dipped face, gauging his reaction. 

"Will you tell me a little of yourself?" She continued, waving a hand, "Aulus insists on this arrangement but I do get a say on who I appoint and would rather know the man before I make such a decision." 

 

TAG: @Knight

Edited by Sara
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It's generally ill-advised to be a sarcastic prick to the people who can have you killed. It was always important to remember the simple truth, though - her people had come to his homeland, burned their homes, raped the women, and enslaved them. They had killed more of his people than any plague, any disaster. So, part of 'Marius' was always guarded against kindness, decency, and respect. There was always a reason. A soft voice often had a whispered command behind it. He avoided her gaze, picking a spot somewhere on the floor to stare at.

"Marius, domina, yes." He'd been named after some great Roman soldier, apparently. He didn't care. He supposed part of his six years as a slave had grown some attachment to the name, like a nickname you hated but got used to over time. But he could understand her just fine - while he spoke Latin in a harsh, plebeian accent, he had never found it difficult to grasp languages. Writing bemused him, but when a tongue flowed around you, you either jumped in or got swallowed up. "My Latin is passable, domina." He told her, confidently, unsure if that violated the golden rule of 'speak when spoken to - SMACK!'.

He'd been informed by a slave that he was to act as a bodyguard to his owner's wife. That was really all of it. He didn't care to know more. Roman politics were beyond him, and he didn't need to know. If anyone came within 5 feet of her with a weapon, he'd kill them. Truth be told, it was probably a good fit. Quick and brutal tended to be his style, and...well, if he was honest, he was resigned to his fate. They'd broken him a few years back, and he'd soon as climb into the sky with a ladder of rope than turn upon his masters. You couldn't win.

Still. He sat still, listening, attentive, glancing upwards from time to time. It was a strange thing. He'd heard mutterings that, long before, barbarians had broken the gates of Rome, and carried off their women. Now, a Roman woman commanded a Briton warrior with merely her voice and her position.
"I am Marius. I was...taken six years ago. I...I am..." What was he supposed to say? Before you came along, I was happy? I fucked beautiful women, I killed Romans, and I was free? "I have been fighting up and down Italia for six years. I've fought in 58 bouts, and won 45 of them. I defeated Carpophorus in Ravenna, and held Flamma the Syrian to a draw in Capua." He rattled it off, unsure what else to say. "I've been told to kill anyone who tries to hurt you."

Would that do?

@Sara

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A well shaped eyebrow quirked at his interjection but she said nothing. Her slaves were well behaved, obedient sorts by and large but that was not bred out of fear of punishment. For the most part she tried to be generous, kind. She had exacting standards but took no pleasure in corporal punishment, she could barely stomach the games let alone a whipping in her own home. She left that sort of thing to Aulus, when necessary. 

She sat still, watching him, listening as he answered her questions. The wind was blowing a gentle spring breeze through the Domus, catching the gauzy drapes of the window behind her and blowing at her auburn hair, but she still didn't move. "Then you will be very bored with me, I imagine, Marius." She said with a slight, wry smile and sighed, sinking back in her chair a little. "Nobody will try and kill me," She continued with a small shrug and a sigh of irritation, "And I'm afraid I'm no lover of the games so Carpophorus and Flamma are alien to me. I suspect my son will talk your ear off about them though." She chuckled a little. Titus, now fourteen, was obsessed with all things martial, including Gladiators. 

"I'm not sure how much you know of Roman politics," She eyed him, "So stop me if I'm repeating information you already know." She didn't sincerely mean that he should stop her, "My husband, in January, was elected as a Consul for this year. It's a very senior position, the most senior some may say, after the Emperor. He has..." She ground her teeth in irritation for a split second, her jaw working, "Deigned that our family needs more protection, so here you are, as you say." She waved a hand with a sigh. "I disagree that I need you," The trouble they had last year was well settled now and things were peaceful, "But I'm not one to refuse him and so...you won't find me dismissing you." 

She glanced at Callista who nodded and quietly slipped from the room to fetch some wine for her, and some cheaper lora for Marius. Now they were alone, Horatia considered him with the full measure of her gaze. "I run an efficient household Marius, I don't make room or abide people who slack off or try and break rules we have. Do you understand?" 

 

TAG: @Knight

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