Jump to content
Aeterna Roma RPG

Any Way the Wind Blows


Recommended Posts

January, 76 AD, the day after Everything I Wanted

He’d told his son from Germania that he could come back for a proper meal and a talk. Why on Earth did he do that, again? Wulfric’s arrival was sudden and unexpected and he wasn’t at all sure what to do with it. Tertius didn’t return to his work right after Wulfric had left, but instead sat thinking, for quite a while. Drank a sip of wine or two, tried to comprehend it all. Finally though, he returned to his chores, only to be interrupted by Hector, standing by the entrance to the tablinum. Tertius put down the papers and looked at his personal slave, wondering what he wanted.

 “I thought I would tell you, that your guest lingered. He spoke to Charis in the garden.” Hector explained and Tertius arched a brow. Why would Wulfric speak to Charis? Why would Charis speak to Wulfric? Was there something they both kept hidden from him? Did they know each other, one foreigner and another? Hector knew Tertius probably had questions and added, “I couldn’t hear what they talked about.” Hector said and Tertius nodded again. So Hector only knew they talked. Tertius should not draw conclusions, it was a bad habit of his. He’d find out about it all tomorrow. And maybe he should invite Charis to share the meal with them. The mother of his newest son and then Wulfric. He wondered if he could convince Teutus to come, but his oldest son seemed so… distant, lately, he couldn’t figure him out. But Tertius made sure to inform Teutus there would be a dinner with a guest the following evening and Teutus was more than welcome to attend. He would not pressure his son. He hadn’t told Teutus that Wulfric was his brother either, because it appeared that Teutus was already disliking Peregrinus. What would he feel if he learned that he had another brother, without Tertius being present? Tertius, Hector and possibly Charis were the only ones who knew and it had to stay that way until he chose otherwise.

 The following evening happened sooner than he would have thought - but everything had been arranged. Some good, traditional Roman dishes to be served and the best wine. Tertius waited in the atrium for their guest and for Charis to show up too, if she could make Peregrinus relax a little. He’d been in quite the mood all day.

 At long last a slave entered the atrium followed by Wulfric, dressed as finely as yesterday. A handsome young man, Tertius caught himself thinking. Pity he too was born out of wedlock and in a faraway country. But he could not focus on all that. He had to find out what Wulfric wanted, because he still seriously doubted his newfound son came all this way just to meet him.

 Wulfric gave him a polite nod when he entered, “Father… I am glad you invite me.” He said in a friendly tone and Tertius glanced around. Thankfully the only other person he could see nearby was Hector. So he stepped a little closer to the younger man, his son.

 “Well, I am glad that you chose to attend, Wulfric.” Tertius said, “I would prefer if you did not announce our relationship out loud like that.” He paused, looking at Wulfric, making sure that comment was understood, before he continued, “We are to be joined tonight by my slave Charis, whom you met yesterday, and possibly my other son, Teutus. Now please, come with me. The triclinium is this way.” And together they silently moved through the domus to the dining arena, where cups, wine and plates were already ready for them.

@Sara @Sharpie

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Peregrinus had been fussing all day. The nurse in the domus next door had told her it happened to all babies approaching their first six months, but it didn't make the tears, lack of feeding, screaming and lack of sleep any better. She felt wrung out and exhausted and the last thing she wanted to do was spend an evening on edge with her dominus, and his two sons. If Teutus turned up that was, who could really tell with him these days. Things had been more awkward than ever since...that night with Alexius. She blinked the memory from her thoughts. 

Jocasta and Eirene were minding Peregrinus tonight - armed with his rattle, a small bowl of expressed milk and prayers that he slept through. If he didn't - then she supposed at least maybe she'd get out of dinner. 

She padded from her room, dressed in the plain tunica she wore to work in. She wasn't sure in what capacity she'd been invited this evening - Hector had been incredibly vague and unhelpful, and she hadn't seen Tertius since to ask and clarify. As a guest she might have worn the expensive chiton she had, as a slave she should be wearing the tunica. She settled on the latter; better to irritate Tertius by not making an effort than irritating him by being presumptuous. She had at least washed her hair with the fancy lemon balm they had at the baths and tamed it into a thick braid. 

She made her way to the triclinium and offered a small, wary smile to Wulfirc and Tertius in turn as she entered before standing awkwardly in front of the central table. "Domine, sir." Should she...sit? She glanced at the spare couch but presumed that was for Teutus. Probably safer to stand, and wait to be directed. 

 

TAG: @Sharpie @Atrice

Edited by Sara
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wulfric couldn’t say he hadn’t been a bit anxious about this evening. Yesterday was a short meeting with his actual father – tonight would be an actual dinner, spent together for more than a few moments, eating, drinking. So many things could go wrong, although honestly… what could go wrong? Wulfric had told Tertius yesterday, that all he wished was to meet his family, and that was still what he wanted. That Tertius seemed to not believe it, that was something else. Surely though, it would all be fine. He would get to know his father. See if they had anything else but their appearance in common.

 He hadn’t hoped to meet Charis today. Meeting her had certainly been interesting yesterday and he had enjoyed it, because she felt more like someone from home. Even if she was from Britannia and not Germania, she was still a foreigner and used to a different life than here in Rome. His little brother had been very sweet too. He thought it was almost a pity the boy had to grow up here in Rome, like Aglaea’s child too.

 But he was here now. A slave led him inside the domus, where he was met by Tertius, very soon instructing him to not announce openly that Tertius was his father. That wasn’t a good start. Wulfric had hoped they could be friends, but Tertius seemed very busy with showing that he was the one who held the high ground here. He was surprised to hear that Charis would join them. She was a slave, after all. Weren’t slaves more or less worth nothing here? Of course, she had given Tertius a son. Maybe that’s why. And his brother Teutus might show up too! He recalled Charis’ words about Teutus and would not forget them. He had to be careful with his older brother.

 Charis showed up, pretty, but not dressed up. Her hair was in a braid and she smiled at them both, seeming uncertain of what to do. Wulfric noticed how his father smiled back at her, “Charis, I’m glad you could come, I hope Peregrinus wasn’t too troublesome? You’re already familiar with Wulfric and your… relation, I assume.” Tertius said, indirectly letting them both know he knew they’d talked, “Teutus may join us too. Charis, will you tell the others that we’re ready for the meal? And afterwards, please sit with us and eat too.” Tertius nodded to the couch on his right hand side, that’s where he would have Charis sit.

 Wulfric sat down on the edge of a couch too, leaving a space between him and his father. If Teutus came, he’d be next to Tertius. After all, he held Tertius’ name. Wulfric did not. Wulfric just watched the interaction between Charis and Tertius with interest and waited with saying anything, until Charis was back and had sat down too, “I am surprise seeing Charis here. But glad too. How is my b… Peregrinus doing?” Wulfric said with a smile to her, not sure if Tertius wanted him to refer to Peregrinus as his brother or not. So he corrected himself. Hoping that was not a mistake. Aglaea and Charis were both right. Tertius was indeed not easy to read or understand.

@Sara @Sharpie(just jump in whenever you can)

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Teutus wasn't sure how he felt about the invitation (read: order) he'd received to a dinner at his father's. He had never really felt comfortable in his father's house, though as a slave he'd had to just get on with it, and as a son... Well, as a son, he'd moved out when he could, despite his father's apparent preference that he stay. He didn't get on with his father, no matter how much Tertius seemed to wish he did; Tertius always held things too close to his chest for Teutus' liking, never seeming to want to admit his thoughts or feelings on any subject whatsoever, and yet expecting Teutus to simply figure them out and be happy with whatever decision Tertius made about anything.

Teutus had just had to accept all of that for most of his life - such was the lot of a slave, after all - but now he didn't have to and Tertius couldn't see that his lack of openness was causing issues. If anything, he seemed (at least to Teutus) to think that it was Teutus' fault that things weren't perfect and sunshine and roses.

He wondered when he'd got so cynical about everything, and came to the conclusion that he'd always been that way.

He was admitted to the house and noted the slave's somewhat guarded expression as he was shown to the triclinium. Of course he couldn't ask what was wrong, or what was going on, so it was with a great deal of caution that he entered the room, feeling as if he was entering the Minotaur's lair or about to face down the Hydra or something.

His father was present, of course, and Charis (had Tertius freed Charis, then, if she was to join them for the meal?). And someone Teutus did not recognise but who seemed somehow familiar, although dressed in barbarian clothes. It was only looking between the stranger and his father that he realised why he seemed familiar; he had the same dark hair and blue eyes as Tertius, and his stomach clenched.

His father really couldn't keep his prick to himself, ever, could he!

He would rather face down the Minotaur or the Hydra than this - he would never accept another invitation to dinner again. At least the heroes in the stories had a warning of what they would face, and help (divine or otherwise) to do so.

 

@Sara @Atrice

Edited by Sharpie
  • Like 1
  • Haha 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Charis nodded mutely at Tertius as he asked if she knew Wulfric and his connection. Balls. So Hector had been up to his tricks as usual. She managed to keep her face impassive although internally she seethed. She nodded politely as Tertius bid her to start the dinner. She padded away to the kitchens where Rhoda was standing, looking sheepish amongst the piles and piles of food that had been prepared. "He ready then?" Charis nodded silently again, but must have looked anxious as Rhoda placed a hand on her forearm and gave it an encouraging squeeze. She didn't have time to dwell though, and moved back through the house - coming back to the triclinium. She glanced at the seat on the couch that Tertius had designated for her and sat down swiftly. She'd only ever eaten here during Saturnalia, it felt...odd. 

She glanced discretely at Wulfric as he posed his question and smiled softly, answering in her accented Latin; "He's well thank you sir, although he is growing so does not sleep as much as he used to and...has been fussing lately." She didn't have time to add much more as they were interrupted by the arrival of Teutus and her stomach clenched in misery. She had mercifully not seen him since that night with Alexius, the month prior. If she couldn't see him then she could pretend that he wasn't there, pretend that it hadn't happened, but now he was within her eyeline she felt a wave of worry wash over her. She swallowed the lump in her throat and kept her eyes down. An invited guest she might be, but she was still a slave, dining in the company of her masters and guests. 

 

TAG: @Atrice @Sharpie

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

So Charis definitely knew about Tertius and Wulfric. It was no surprise to him, that she knew. She wasn’t stupid, after all, he even managed to teach her how to read and write. And Wulfric had spoken privately with her and with Peregrinus present too, so Tertius did not assume that Charis did not know about it all. She knew. And now she disappeared a few moments to inform the other slaves, that they could start bringing in the food. Then she returned to Wulfric and Tertius and sat down. Wulfric began talking, seeming surprised, but also glad to see Charis? Why? And then he asked into how Peregrinus was doing.

 Wulfric enjoyed her soft smile and even her not-perfect Latin, although of course it was better than his! She explained that his brother was wine, but he didn’t sleep much and had been fussing lately. Wulfric nodded, “Did you try what I tell you? Let him sleep next to you.” Wulfric suggested, paying no attention to what Tertius might think about discussing such feminine things in the triclinium. Then, before Charis could answer, another entered the party… Wulfric’s older brother, Teutus. He gave Wulfric a look and seemed surprised.

 Tertius thought it was about time he made an interruption, “Teutus, I’m glad you could come. Please, take a seat too.” He told his son, nodding to the seat next to Tertius, rather than furthest away, which was where Wulfric would sit now. He might be the guest here, but he had also made that claim to be Tertius son (which he could not deny, even Teutus seemed to have guessed already, with how he was staring at Wulfric)… and Teutus already held that place, plus he would be the older brother. He should be next to Tertius.

 “As I made sure you knew, we have a visitor tonight. This is Wulfric. He’s come a long way to meet all of us.” And claimed that’s all he wanted, but Tertius still had his doubts.

 “Teutus, I am glad meet you. I… did not know I had a…” He trailed off, glancing at Tertius, who had just instructed him to not tell everyone about the relation. Tertius made it clear that he wanted to be the one who told people. Meanwhile Tertius wasn’t sure how to continue. Wulfric kept speaking out of turn or speaking too soon and seemed uncontrollable to Tertius. He didn’t like that very much. Not at all. Tertius looked to Charis, kind of hoping she could save the situation. Maybe that's another reason why he invited her. To balance it all.

@Sara @Sharpie

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Another brother," Teutus filled in, speaking flatly. In any other situation, he would be intrigued by the barbarian who looked so much like Tertius, and considerably more friendly. It wasn't his fault, it wasn't, it couldn't be - how could anyone be responsible for the circumstances of their birth, after all?

He couldn't retrieve this situation of his father's making - the fact that this Wulfric even existed, and the bow-string tight tension in the room could both equally be laid at Tertius' feet, though he'd never accept responsibility for any of it.

He wanted to apologise but didn't know if he could find the words, or if Wulfric would even understand them if he could work out what to say, and quietly slipped into his place. It was not lost on him that he finally had a place next to Tertius, though it would only be here, for this meal, and he would never have that place when it came to wider society. Not that this Wulfric would, either, being what he was - but then, he probably wouldn't need it or know what do with it if it was offered to him.

"I am sorry that you've ended up in the middle of..." he glanced around the small gathering and shrugged. It wasn't Wulfric's fault, and he would try to be nice to him, despite everything - and he didn't think he'd be able to eat anything.

 

@Sara @Atrice

  • Like 1
  • Haha 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Charis felt her heart rate quicken as Tertius began his introduction and then trailed off. She already felt like sticking hairpins in her eyes would be more fun than this and yet...she couldn't leave. It was actually torture, but torture - Tertius style. She glanced up between the three men - their likeness even more pronounced now they were gathered together in one place. She wondered, fleetingly, if Peregrinus would take after his father so strongly as well. Gods she hoped not. 

Her eyes flitted to Tertius who seemed to be looking at her imploringly as Teutus apologised to Wulfric. A little late for an apology, this was a mess through and through. Three bastard sons by three different women and not a bit of fatherly love between them. What did Tertius want her to do? She bit her lip and swallowed. "Middle of the family." She said, with a wary voice. She wasn't used to speaking out of turn any more but Teutus seemed reluctant to finish his though and Tertius seemed unable to. She offered Wulfric a warning smile and exhaled, "Dominus has a big family." She inclined her head at Tertius. "But I'm sure we are all glad you're here." They obviously weren't at all, but what else was there to say? 

Fortunately, she didn't have to say any more as her fellow slaves came into the silent room, serving dinner with curious glances at the group of stunned, awkward guests. 

 

TAG: @Atrice @Sharpie

  • Haha 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Teutus spoke in a very… not angry or defensive tone, but he wasn’t cheerful or happy either. Were none of his Roman family members glad to see him here? He came to meet them, to expand his own family, to find out what they were all about. But his father was difficult to figure out, Secundus was strange and hostile too and Teutus acted as if Wulfric was simply unwelcome. He felt his heart sink a bit. At least Peregrinus had liked him, but he was barely a toddler, so did it even count?

 But he nodded at Teutus’ words, “Yes, another brother.” He replied, trying to still sound friendly, although he felt the cheer had evaporated. Teutus began talking then, apologizing for something, but he trailed off and he didn’t notice Tertius looking at Charis, who finished Teutus’ sentence. Was that what he would say? Wulfric was not sure. Her voice was guarded too now. And she went on about the big family and how glad they all were that he was here. Something he did not exactly feel right now. Why would they lie to him?

 “Yes, big family. And interesting.” Wulfric added, uncertain of what else to say and then other slaves appeared with something they could eat and drink. Wine was poured, plates and bowls were places on the table and then a large basket with bread to dip in various sauces. Tertius picked up his wine and looked at them all.

 “Let us drink then… to big families?” He suggested and sipped his own drink. Wulfric did too, probably drinking a slightly larger gulp, thinking that maybe wine would help them all relax. Tertius leaned a bit back on his couch, picking up a piece of bread and dipping it into a savory grape-based sauce… “So, Wulfric… tell us a bit more about yourself. You told me you were a guard at home, but here you work at the market? How come?” Tertius asked with interest while Wulfric was still staring at all the food, wondering what to pick.

 “It was… easy work to get. And I find out, in Rome you need coin if you want anything. I think there enough guard and soldier people in Rome. And I am not Roman trained, so I probably do things wrong.” He explained with a grin, hoping they’d believe what he told them. He was curious about Teutus though and looked at him again. He knew very little about Roman society and what people like Teutus did, so he thought he would find out, “What do you do, Teutus? You are judge like Tertius?” Wulfric was unaware that his question made Tertius forget to chew his food for a moment there... so far, in Tertius eyes, Wulfric was not doing very well at all. 

@Sara @Sharpie

Edited by Atrice
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

"I'm sure this isn't ow you expected your Roman family to be," Teutus said to Wulfric. He didn't know the precise reasons the other had for coming to Rome, but it must have been a bit of a shock to find that his father was the sort of man that Tertius Quinctilius Varus was - inscrutable, changeable, a man who kept things very close to his chest and then couldn't understand it when those around him didn't react in precisely the way he wanted them to.

"Me? No - that's a political thing. I run an import business. It's very small at the moment, but I'm hoping to be able to expand it over the coming months and years," he continued, in answer to Wulfric's question. If talking about that, admitting that, made Tertius in any way uncomfortable, well, that was his own fault for setting this whole evening up and letting Teutus walk in unprepared to find yet another brother here, and a freeborn one at that (even if he was a barbarian!).

 

@Sara @Atrice (Sorry for posting out of order!!)

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Charis glanced at her dominus for the briefest of moments as he proposed a toast and offered a wan smile. 'Big, horribly messed up, awkward as shit' families would probably be a more apt description. Nonetheless she raised her glass and then took a big gulp of wine, following the lead of Wulfric who seemed to have the same idea. 

She coughed on her wine as Wulfric asked his awkward question. Even she knew that Teutus' inability to have a political career was a sore point and that he mentioned it made Charis feel even more sorry for the stranger. How horrible this must have been for him, to be thrust into the lions den so much. She wondered briefly if the young Germanian had harboured dreams of what his father would be like. What a disappointment Tertius must be in comparison. 

She said nothing until Teutus was finished and then - sensing the silence was lingering and wanting to fill it, asked Wulfric; "Do you enjoy your work, in the markets, sir?" Never let it be said that she didn't try to make things less awkward for everybody. 

 

TAG: @Atrice @Sharpie

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Tertius was surprised at how this was going. Not at all what he expected, that was for certain! Wulfric might be his son, he could not deny that, but he was not a Varus, that much was obvious. He listened quietly while the younger men spoke and Teutus opened his mouth, mentioning that Wulfric had not expected his Roman family to be like this. Wulfric felt a bit embarrassed by those words, because they were kind of true, but he didn’t want to seem like he disliked any of them. He didn’t. They were just so different from what he was used to.

 “I did not expect much. I come here to find out. To learn. About family.” Wulfric simply explained and then Tertius had asked more into Wulfric’s job at the market. He explained more about it and then naturally went on asking what his brother did for a living. Teutus spoke of an import business, that he hoped would grow. Wulfric nodded, thoughtfully. He was curious to hear what Teutus would import and from where, because he had some ideas. He didn’t notice how Tertius forgot to chew or how Charis coughed on her wine when he’d asked what Teutus did. He was talking with Teutus, after all. So that’s where his attention was.

 Charis then spoke up, wondering if Wulfric enjoyed his work at the markets. He nodded.

 “I do, actually. It is different from home, but good work. Sometimes hard. But I like it.” He explained and turned his attention back to Teutus, “What kind of import business you have? I mean, goods? We have many goods in Germania. Good things, they last long. We trade with Northern people, they have beautiful stone, amber. I hear it is popular here.” What he was trying to say was that it could be interesting to work with Teutus. A sort of family business. If his father would allow it. But Tertius said nothing, still kind of stunned at how the conversation was going. He picked up a piece of bread and forgot to dip it in anything as he ate it, deep in thought. Maybe this was a mistake. Maybe he should have just told Wulfric to leave his house yesterday, and never come back. But that was too late now.

@Sara @Sharpie

  • Haha 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Amber? Yes, that is very popular here - it's very expensive because it isn't easy to get hold of," Teutus said, and had a sudden flare of inspiration. Tertius could hardly prevent his sons from working together to bring such luxuries to Rome, and yet that knowledge would needle him. Oh, that would be such a perfect revenge for... so much. He continued, nonchalantly, "What sort of goods do you need in Germania?"

Let Tertius squirm at the way the conversation had turned. Much Teutus cared; he'd done enough squirming of his own, and Wulfirc had at least had some warning that he had a brother other than Charis' baby. Teutus had had no warning whatsoever to prepare him for the reality that he had a freeborn half-brother to contend with as well as Peregrinus.

 

@Sara @Atrice

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

If Tertius felt awkward, so did Charis. At least the other three here were free, even if only one of them was a citizen. They could converse about what they wished, and even with their very different life stations they were at least all men. They could talk about trade, and politics and business. She was only here, sat on a couch eating because her dominus had found her attractive enough to bed, and she'd had a child as a result. That was it. The thought left a sour taste in her mouth and she drank another glug of wine.

Had she been feeling more confident - or perhaps if Tertius wasn't here - she would have imparted some wisdom from her old life, back in Britannia, when she'd been responsible for the trade of their own goods. She knew how it worked, at least at home, she knew how to sell. She could have had some solid advice, but she knew her dominus wouldn't want to hear it, and she was beginning to think nor would Teutus. Much as it was a pleasure to be invited to dinner, she was feeling more and more that she was just here for decoration; 'see? see how refined we are - I've invited a slave to dinner' or 'look what pretty stock I have in my house'. She took another sip of wine and smiled politely, saying nothing. 

 

TAG: @Atrice @Sharpie

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

While Wulfric was enjoying meeting his half-brother, Tertius was less and less pleased with how this dinner was going. He merely wanted to meet Wulfric again, size him up, figure out what he wanted… and introduce him to Teutus, because he thought they ought to meet. They were siblings, after all. But besides that, he had not expected much. He had certainly not expected this! Suddenly Wulfric and Teutus were discussing the import business that Teutus was starting up and Wulfric seemed genuinely interested in it. Tertius continued to eat and down some more wine while the younger men talked.

 Wulfric paid attention to Teutus, speaking of how amber was popular and wondered what sort of goods they needed in Germania. To Wulfric, it sounded like Teutus might actually wish to work with Wulfric about all this. It was very interesting. His mother and his grandfather would surely be proud of him, once he returned to Germania with these news.

 “Luxury from Rome is popular.” Wulfric explained, “Things like… pottery. Metal. Oh, and… what is called…” Wulfric trailed off, searching for the word, but it was lost to him, “It like pottery, but it is clear. Like water, or air. But you use it.” He knew the word, this was irritating! He picked up the nice looking terracotta drinking cup that he had and tapped it, “It like this? But clear. It is not something we make.”

 “Glass.” Tertius intervened with an annoyed sigh, tired of listening to Wulfric trying to explain what glass was, “You don’t have glass? Or make your own metal?” Tertius honestly didn’t know that and it surprised him. Especially about the metal. He glanced at Charis, who just sat there now. It almost felt like they were both being left out now. It was not at all going according to his head.

 “We make metal. Iron. But yours, better.” Wulfric tried with a smile towards his father and then looked at Teutus, “Maybe I visit your business one day soon?”

@Sara @Sharpie

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Glass. Glass was expensive even within the Roman empire - the very best glass came from Syria and Egypt in the east, and Teutus could well believe it was prized in Germania.

He couldn't help glancing at his father over the rim of his winecup. He looked irritated. Good. That was his own fault for orchestrating this little get-together of his two adult sons without warning them of the other's existence - and that he thought Wulfric knew about him where he hadn't the faintest notion of Wulfric's existence at all before today...

Tertius played things so close to his chest that he couldn't see how much it hurt those around him, who should be equally aware of things. Or did he still see Teutus as merely a slave, rather than a son? Would he allow Peregrinus to know more, once he was old enough to take on a man's role? Did Teutus' relationship matter so little to Tertius that he would only ever share as much with him as he would tell his slave secretary?

He forcibly relaxed his suddenly clenched jaw and nodded at the suggestion. "Yes, of course - we shall have to discuss this properly, I think. Trading glass and amber would be very profitable for all concerned, and of course my brother must be part of it."

@Sara @Atrice

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

He could of course just cut off this little dinner right now. Claim he had something else to attend to, but he hadn’t. and besides, it would be the shortest family dinner and he feared the slaves might gossip about the disaster if he ended it now. No, he had to sit it through, even if he didn’t like it now. He’d just wanted them to meet! And to figure out what Wulfric wanted, although he knew more about that now than before, at least. Wulfric did want a part in some kind of fortune. Only now he was going for Teutus rather than Tertius.

 Wulfric was watching his brother with interest. His father seemed annoyed when Wulfric failed finding the right word for glass, but how did he expect a man born and raised in Germania to speak perfect Latin? He was told that here in Rome, he was actually good at it for a foreigner. Why was his father annoyed then? Teutus seemed much more approachable, even if he too seemed a little tense after their father spoke up.

 Teutus easily relaxed though and agreed with Wulfric, that they should discuss it properly. He thought that the trade might be good for everyone involved and Wulfric nodded and offered him a genuine, friendly smile, “You are very kind, Teutus. I am glad that we meet.” He said to his brother and then glanced at his father and at Charis. They’d both fallen silent. Charis looked like she’d rather leave. Tertius he couldn’t figure out. Other than that he was annoyed.

 “I hope it is not wrong, that we will meet?” Wulfric then said to Tertius, “I think Teutus is right. That it will be profitable for all concerned. Maybe you also.” He said, hoping he’d not irritated his father too much. He didn’t understand why he had, though.

 “Of course it is not wrong. I’m glad you get along.” Tertius merely said, although honestly, he wasn’t sure he meant that. Of course they should get along. They were both his sons. He just didn’t trust Wulfric and his intentions. And for some reason, he wasn’t sure he could trust Teutus either. Would they go against him? Like Brutus on Julius Caesar? Gods forbid! Maybe it was best that Charis was not here after all, but how could he send her away when he'd already offered her a place next to him? 

@Sharpie @Sara

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Charis swallowed the lump in her throat. From any vantage point, besides maybe Wulfric's, this dinner was not going particularly well. Tertius seemed on edge and aggrieved every time his sons spoke and for her part, she knew there was no point in contributing; she wasn't supposed to, was she? And she didn't particularly want to inflame her dominus' mood anymore by getting along with either Wulfric or Teutus given that's what - at least to her - he seemed most troubled by, a friendship between the two young men.

But she'd been silent for the better half of a conversation now, awkwardly fiddling with her plain tunica and sipping her wine. She had to say something, and fortunately - thank the Gods - her son understood that, because his wails could be heard echoing as a flustered looking Jocasta stepped into the triclinium, Peregrinus bawling in her arms.  "My apologies domine, your son won't settle for me." She glanced at Charis hard. They'd never been friends, could have conceivably been enemies actually, and it made her deeply uncomfortable that she had Peregrinus. She itched to reach out to take him. "He is probably hungry, and needs to sleep." She shot a look at Jocasta as if to say; do you have know idea what you're doing? But before she could get up to retrieve him and make her excuses, Jocasta had stepped forward and deposited Peregrinus on Charis' lap. She rocked him, instinctively and then blinked up at the other slave who stood there triumphantly. Shit. She'd wanted to leave. And now here she was with a crying baby on her lap and his two brothers, the two brothers he'd disinherited, sat next to her. 

"Um..." She looked awkwardly at Peregrinus and then to Tertius...and then Wulfric and Teutus. "Would you like me to keep him here, domine? Or take him to bed?" 

 

TAG: @Sharpie @Atrice

Hope Peregrinus' entrance is okay!

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

At Jocasta's entrance with the screaming Peregrinus, Teutus closed his eyes, gripping his bronze winecup in a death grip tight enough for his knuckles to go white.

He looked towards Wulfric, an expression of apology on his face. It was not the visitor's fault, not in the least, but he was caught in the middle of this disaster of a dinner just as much as Teutus and Charis, like fish in Tertius' net.

"It isn't your fault," he said quietly to Wulfric, ignoring the baby as much as he could. "I wasn't told - I didn't even know you existed until now. My - he doesn't tell me anything. It's not your fault, and I am sorry you've come to Rome and found your family is like this." He could not bring himself to say 'my father', not when the man was also Wulfric's father, and the father of the baby who had supplanted him - supplanted both of them.

He set the cup down. There was no point in taking anything to eat, he thought he would choke on it if he tried.

 

@Atrice @Sara

  • Sad 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

There was a certain tension in the room that he couldn’t ignore. But he tried his best, because he thought Teutus seemed nice and it was nice of his father to invite him. Even if his father didn’t seem very happy right now. Charis didn’t either. His father had just said everything was fine and Wulfric was about to make a comment again, when wails echoed through the house and all the way into where they sat. Not long after, another female slave entered with Peregrinus in her arms. Poor thing must be missing his mother! And indeed, as soon as Peregrinus was in Charis’ lap, he relaxed at least a little bit. Wulfric wanted to offer to help, but wasn’t sure how any of the others would feel.

 Tertius watched the whole scene with Jocasta and Charis and then suddenly, Jocasta was gone and Peregrinus was here. His son. All three of his sons in one room! It should be an event to remember, in a positive way, but he didn’t think it would be, for any involved. Charis wondered what she should do.

 “You should go and take care of him… he clearly needs your attention.” Tertius said, his attention fixed on Charis and Peregrinus now, “So… you can go. I’ll check in later, see if everything is fine?” Tertius then suggested to Charis, for now choosing to ignore the two grown sons, who did not need as much attention as a baby.

 Meanwhile Wulfric watched everyone’s reactions. Tertius’ surprise and the care he showed for his son and for Charis. The way Teutus gripped the winecup he had. Charis unsure about what to do. Teutus looked at him then and began speaking of how none of this was his fault and he apologized for the family Wulfric had come to find.

 Wulfric placed a hand on Teutus’ free hand, looking at him, “It is not your fault either… this family.” Wulfric said, “I will find you, soon. And we will talk. But now, not the time.” He promised Teutus, taking his hand back as he said it. And then he decided to actually do something, because for some reason, the others did not.

 He hadn’t heard Charis had been excused, but Wulfric stood and looked at them all, “It is time for me going.” He looked at Tertius, “Thank you for inviting me, father. And thank you for letting me meet brother. Brothers.” He added, looking at Charis with Peregrinus, “I am sure I will meet all you again.” Wulfric didn’t care if it was not the proper etiquette, but he knew when he’d overstayed his welcome and he wasn’t stupid enough to stick around where he wasn’t wanted, “Good night to you all.” He dipped his head briefly and then left. Just like that. He didn’t wait for Tertius to respond. On the way out, he found a slave and asked where he could find Teutus’ business for when he’d meet him again. And then he was gone.

@Sara @Sharpie

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Charis nodded at Tertius' sharp instruction, wondering briefly if he was annoyed by her inaction. What was she supposed to do! She felt frustration well up in her chest as it always did when he wasn't being amiable and back to being his inscrutable self. Her rocking was working for now though and his wails had quietened down to whimpers. She made a move to leave with a "Yes, domine." But before she could stand and hoist her son up, Wulfric stood. 

Wait, what?

He was gone. With a polite word and a smile, he'd stepped out of the room and out of the domus judging by the sound of the door close shut. it happened it seconds and Charis was left blinking, sat on the couch, looking after the empty space the German had been occupying moments before. "He...left." Obviously, but she'd never seen anybody do that here, at least not in Tertius' house or presence that it warranted comment. Finally dragging her eyes back to the two men left, she could sense some of the tension seeping into the room again. Teutus looked furious - cup now set down, and Tertius well...who knew what he was thinking. 

Quickly, she stood and moved Peregrinus to her chest, where he let out little cries against her neck - that sound was not helping the friction in the room. "I will leave you two, and put Peregrinus to bed." She said, hoping she could still escape but she was fully prepared to be told to stay for a debrief. She  took her chance though and turned to leave. 

 

TAG: @Sharpie @Atrice

Feel free to have Charis stay or leave! 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

And with a few quiet words, Wulfric simply got up and left. Teutus watched him go - for someone whose existence he had been unaware of only this morning, and who wasn't even Roman, he had seemed a nice enough man, one who thoroughly deserved to have found a better family in Rome than the disaster that was gens Quinctilia.

Teutus sat up from the formal reclining position, narrowly avoiding kicking his cup over.

"You - this is your fault, all of it," he told his father. "If you wanted to keep me in the dark about everything, you shouldn't have freed me. If you want me for your son, talk to me - I didn't even know he existed this morning and you expect me to walk in here and be fine with discovering I have another brother, you expect me to go along with whatever you have in mind without telling me what those things are. I can't read your mind, none of us can, so don't be all surprised and angry when we don't act the way you want us to. At least slaves expect to be kept in the dark, but you have said over and over that I'm your son. Yet you still treat me like a slave - oh, you've given me the money and means to start my business and I am grateful for it, but in everything else I'm expected to bend my head and not do anything you don't approve of, and just accept when I find I have yet another brother, a freeborn brother - if he wasn't a barbarian, you'd have your heir and screw the rest of us. And then you act all surprised when I am less than gracious towards him - I had no warning at all. How can I act the way you want me to when you keep me as much in the dark as if I were the meanest house slave, domine?"

Was it any wonder he'd moved out, that he'd started a business that meant he was expected to spend time away from Rome to build that business?

His father was about to disown him completely on the tail of that little speech and he was vaguely surprised to discover that he really didn't care, that he'd just stopped caring about things like that a while ago. He had no emotion at all on the topic, one way or another, and just felt numb, as if someone had put his emotions out the way he would put a lamp out at night.

 

@Atrice @Sara

  • Like 1
  • Sad 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Tertius was left a bit stunned by the way Wulfric suddenly left. Surely things were not going according to his head and the arrival of Peregrinus was a bit unfortunate, but that he should just leave like that… he had not expected that. Apparently Charis was surprised too, before she stated the obvious and since Tertius had already told her she could go, she excused herself too. Leaving Tertius alone with Teutus.

 Almost as soon as she was gone, Teutus sat up and began talking, blaming Tertius for this and that, mostly things he couldn’t control, but Teutus was apparently quite angry about a lot of things. Why didn’t he ever say this before? Did he expect Tertius could read his mind? Gods, why did Teutus keep all this from him for so long? Tertius asked for honesty and loyalty in his household. That’s all he ever asked for. Why was it so hard to give? If Teutus thought Tertius kept secrets, well Teutus did so too. Everyone did. Even Charis didn’t tell him everything, although at least she got better at it. She understood that to earn Tertius’ trust, you had to be trustworthy too.

 When Teutus was done, Tertius downed the cup of water he’d sat with in his hand… for a long time now it seemed. But he set it down and looked at his son. The son who did grow up with him, under his roof, the son he would have given everything, if he could. Yet Teutus didn't seem to understand that. All he felt was... anger.

 “Did it feel good, getting all that off your chest? I’m surprised you didn’t speak to me sooner. You know, I can’t read your mind either.” Tertius replied, feeling both surprised and upset at all that Teutus had to say.

 “Do you want to know when I learned about Wulfric? Yesterday. Before yesterday, I didn’t know I had another son. And I don’t trust him. He claims all he wants here is his family, but… I don’t trust that.” Tertius explained then, “Now then, it’s hard to tell you things when you’re not always around, son. I didn’t keep you in the dark about Wulfric because I didn’t want you to know. But you weren’t here. I don’t know when you are and when you’re out and about. So how could I tell you?” He paused, hoping that would sink in. Since Teutus was freed, he’d seemed very keen on being anywhere but in the house… and even more so after Peregrinus was born.

 “I don’t know what you want and expect from me. You don’t tell me either. Maybe it’s a family trait, hm? But be certain about this, I don’t owe Wulfric anything. He’s not my heir and he never will be. I had hoped you’d be, but the law is the law and though I judge people by it, I do not have the powers to change it. I’m sorry about that. What else do you want?” He inhaled a breath, finally done talking and curious to hear what Teutus expected to happen now. 

@Sharpie ( @Sara )

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

"I tried," Teutus said,recalling the conversation he'd had with his father when Tertius had told him his plans for Charis' baby. "But you don't trust anyone, at all. A word when I came into the house would have been enough - any slave could have brought me to you. Just a word and I could have been prepared for it."

He felt wrung out like an old dish-cloth. It didn't feel good at having vented like that, but it had been somewhat cathartic, at least.

"Do yourself and - Charis' son a favour. Don't make him promises that you won't keep, or won't be able to keep."

At least half of the anger and disappointment he'd felt in his life stemmed from having promise after promise forgotten, delayed or outright broken. It should be easier for his father to not make the same mistakes with his youngest son, who didn't have to wait until he was grown to be manumitted, and could therefore follow in Tertius' footsteps in a Senatorial career.

"And, I don't have secrets. I haven't got anything worth hiding, after all." He spread his hands in a gesture of helplessness, defeat. He just felt drained, all the energy he'd had a moment ago leached out of him to leave him feeling empty and exhausted.

 

@Atrice (and @Sara)

  • Sad 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Tertius inhaled another breath, when Teutus tried arguing his case for how he should have been told about Wulfric, “I didn’t even know if you’d show up.” Tertius pointed out and considered to also tell Teutus that he too didn’t seem to trust his father. If he did, he’d let Tertius know where he went and what plans he had for the day or for the year. But he didn’t. He kept things to himself. Like father like son?

 His son went on, saying Tertius should not promise Peregrinus things he wouldn’t be able to keep and then claimed he had no secrets. Tertius saw how he spread out his hands, as if he truly had nothing, but that wasn’t the case. Tertius knew that. So maybe he should tell Teutus what he thought about just a moment ago.

 “Then what is it you do all day? Where do you go? I don’t know anything. Maybe I don’t trust a lot of people, but people certainly don’t put a lot of trust in me either. You included. I am trying, Teutus. I am. Trying to be what I should always have been to you. But I can’t do much when you don’t trust me. Maybe if you did, you would have sent someone to inform me you were joining us tonight. And then I could have informed you about Wulfric. But none of that happened.” Tertius said and picked up his wine again, sipped it. His mouth and throat felt dry. Only after did he look at Teutus again, “So… what shall we do about all this? Since you seem so keen on telling me things suddenly, why don’t you tell me what you want me to do for you?”  

@Sharpie ( @Sara )

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...