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New Kid on the Block


Antheia
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All the other slaves had been milling about in chaos before, but now they seemed to be gravitating towards one corridor. For the first time, the invisible defensive barrier of non-recognition seemed to fall away from their eyes and they laid down their arms, marking the dinnertime armistice in the battle to keep the Imperial household running smoothly.

Not wanting to be left behind, Antheia swung her legs off her wooden crib and hurried to follow the flock.

While her mind was focused on working out what was going on, Antheia's already muddled recollections of the unfamiliar passages of the slave's quarters slipped away: rounding a corner, she clean forgot that this was where she had nearly been decapitated by a pole-arm when Volusa had brought her here earlier that day. The other slaves hung left by force of habit, and Antheia, seeing the gap in the crowd as an opportunity to get ahead in the queue, decided to hang right. If Fate was watching from above, she must have been splitting her sides at the cruel inevitably of her handiwork. Smack!

The pole-arm collided with her shoulder, knocking Antheia sideways into a ratty-looking slave who gave her an evil glare.

Muttering hasty apologies, Antheia spun to accost - or at least look at (she wasn't really one to reprimand) -  whoever was responsible for the rapidly swelling bruise on her arm.

The first thing she noticed about the woman was that she was tall, taller than a lot of men she knew. She didn't look Mediterranean, with blonde hair drawn up messily in braids on her head. Her expression was neutral, but her eyes were weapons in themselves, sharpened by being lined with kohl.

Antheia realised she was gawping.

@Atrice

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Cynane wasn’t the type of slave who followed the flock… she wasn’t a bird that would blindly follow everyone else, not like that anyway. With a proper leader, she’d follow. And here at the palace, Claudia was her leader. She would let Claudia tell her what to do, and no one else. Well maybe Caesar, but she still wasn’t too sure what to do there, because Claudia’s cousin was to be the next Caesar. Not that Cynane ever dealt a lot with him either. So she’d follow the lead of her mistress so far.

 And so she stood here, watching all the other birds on their way, while Cynane did what she did best… she stood guard. She noticed a few of Claudia’s slaves too and she knew there was a new tutor to her mistress too (in all other things but self-defense). She’d seen the woman from afar but they had not been formally introduced yet. Something that was a mistake, really. Everyone who were going to be alone with her mistress, ought to meet with Cynane first.

 Then suddenly, someone seemed to walk right into her and moments later, stopped and stared right up at her. Gawping at her, actually. Cynane recognized her. But there was a bruise her arm swelling now, did Cynane cause that? She barely noticed what went on just before!

 “Are you alright?” She asked then, not wanting to seem too hard on someone new. All slaves had their own baggage. She’d find out soon enough if she could trust the woman.

@locutus-sum

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Antheia hastily shut her half-open mouth and gave a laugh which cracked and petered out.

"Oh, it's just a bruise."

The pulses of pain coming from her shoulder suggested there was nothing 'just' about this bruise - glancing at it, she could see the blood seeping under the top layer of her skin like a spot of undiluted wine creeping outwards on a sheet of papyrus - but it was, after all, just a bruise. No bones broken.

"Don't… don't worry about it."

She got the horrible feeling the woman was faintly amused, so she inhaled, re-established her usually unshakeable mask of equilibrium with its painted-on polite smile and thought of something to say.

"I didn't know you practised your…" she flapped a hand limply in the general direction of the pole-arm, "fighty… routines here. I, uh, I'm new here. As you know. Because you haven't seen me around before. Obviously. I'm, uh, Antheia. The Domina's new tutor."

Now she was just rambling. What was up with her?

@Atrice

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The older woman laughed, in a nervous way, or so Cynane thought… and then she said it was just a bruise on her shoulder, but it didn’t look like it. The woman continued saying Cynane should not worry about it and then continued rambling about Cynane’s presence and her own.

 “I’m Cynane… her bodyguard.” Cynane said simply, because there was nothing more to add. So far, no one but she and Claudia knew that she’d been secretly teaching the princess how to fight, but no one could know either. At least she did not think anyone knew. But this was her new tutor? Was she worthy of Claudia’s presence? Time would tell. She seemed nice enough, even if she also seemed a bit… bewildered, for some reason?

 “I wasn’t really practicing, I was just standing here. In the way, it would seem. Where were you heading, Antheia?” She asked, maybe she could direct the new slave in some direction. She looked at Antheia’s shoulder again. It really didn’t look good. Maybe she should direct her towards the medicus.

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"Oh, I... well, everybody seems to be going that way for food." The crowd had already disappeared out of sight, and Antheia realised she was lost again.

Cynane seemed happy enough to direct her, so she fell into step with her, glancing curiously at her now and then.

"So," began Antheia, "how... how is it, working for... Claudia? Is she..." she paused, not wishing to be too obvious, but she did want to know what to expect when meeting the mistress. Eventually she settled with the word, "nice?", allowing Cynane to infer what she liked. She wasn't exactly sure Cynane was the person to ask for an honest opinion on the domina - that was more likely from Volusa - but Claudia was really the only think she seemed to have in common with the woman striding along beside her.

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Antheia seemed happy enough to follow Cynane, although when the other mentioned she was going for food, she wondered if she should be going that way too. Cynane thought the medicus ought to check out Antheia’s shoulder, after all. Just in case. It would look bad if Antheia was hurt before even meeting Claudia, and by Cynane! She couldn’t have that on her hands. So they’d have to get it looked at.

“Oh, yes, it’s that time of the day. There’ll be enough for later though. This is the palace, there’s always food.” She explained in a friendly tone and Antheia asked how it was like working for Claudia. Whether she was nice or what.

“She is… very nice.” Cynane said with a smile, “I don’t have a lot of previous owners to compare her with, of course… I came from a ludus and then here. But, I think we’re lucky to be with her. She’s young, but intelligent and open-minded. And she treats us well.” Was she praising Claudia a little too much? She couldn’t help it. Her emotions concerning the young princess were special, as Claudia was both her mistress but also a young woman she needed to protect. And wanted to.

“Where were you before coming here?” She then asked the new slave, wanting to know what her background was, to know her better too.

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It was a loaded question, and Antheia had expected a loaded answer. But as she listened to Cynane's reply, the subtext she was getting was not what she had expected. She permitted herself to throw a curious glance sideways - well, sideways and upwards - at the woman striding along next to her, but quickly snatched her gaze away again - Antheia did not like to be easily readable, and besides, she wasn't sure how much of the subtext Cynane had actually intended to communicate.

Something about the posture of the woman had changed too, and she could almost feel a sort of tension rippling through her when time their arms brushed briefly every time they took a step. There was a sense of loyalty in her so fierce that Antheia could sense it through the air, like a blast of heat from an open furnace door. She got the feeling that Cynane's bad books were a very, very uncomfortable place to be. Some kind of dormant survival instinct inside her hoped to the gods that she found Claudia as easy to like as Cynane seemed to.

"Where were you before coming here?"

Antheia's mind dwelt so long on this train of thought that it took her a moment to process Cynane's question.

"Um, I was... an entertainer actually," she offered cautiously. "A dinner-party philosopha."

She tried to look at the floor, but Cynane's gaze was upon her, and she was slowing down. Clearly she didn't think dinner was where they should be going.

Antheia bowed her head and looked at her upper arm, and she could see why. Even the folds of light fabric couldn't hide the fact that a sizeable glob of semi-congealed blood was making its way slowly across her purple skin and down to her elbow.

@Atrice

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So far, Antheia wasn't all that bad. She seemed a little nervous, but maybe that's because she was new at the palace? Cynane didn't know if the other woman had heard about her before. Maybe she had and that's why she was nervous? Which was amusing to Cynane, because if you didn't plan on hurting Claudia or anyone else Cynane cared about, you were fine. If you did, however... she was determined to fight to live to save those she loved. She didn't die in the battle in Britannia. Like Hel she'd die by a Roman's hand now, or anyone else's! 

She'd ask Antheia what she did before and she spoke of being an entertainer. Dinner-party philosopha. Cynane blinked.

"I see. And what does a... dinner-party philosopha do? Apologies, I don't attend a lot of dinner-parties." Except for when she stood guard there for Claudia, and then she stood guard, she wasn't part of the entertainment and it wasn't for her anyway. 

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Ah, this conversation again. Another explanation of her repeated humiliation at the hands of Roman men. She looked down at her toes for a moment then adopted her usual detached smile.

I was a curiosity. You’ll know how the Romans like to bring in Greeks to amuse them at dinner parties, providing them with suitably intellectual entertainment with philosophical discourse when they get bored of dancing girls. I was… a novel fusion of the two ideas,” she said delicately, with a quick, dry laugh and a glance at Cynane. “I’d give them an idea, like at a symposium, you know, and they’d… debate it with me.” Well, debate was one word for it. She’d sit on the steps in the gardens all day, moving spot gradually as the shade shifted across the peristyle, treading every alley of thought again and again to make sure her arguments were as watertight as possible. The problem was that there was no point reinforcing a bucket if said bucket was just going to get upended anyway. Antheia learned very quickly that the raucous laughter that would erupt every time she said something insightful (‘oh, very good!’ ‘where did you get your hands on such a delight, Gaius?’ ‘clever thing, isn’t she?’ ‘my my, whatever next?’) would very quickly dissipate if she started making things too hard for them.

She realised she’d been zoning out and quickly pulled herself back to reality. “It was… fine, really,” she said with a dismissive smile. "And they didn't ever want anything more from me than philosophy."

As they approached the medicus’ room, something started nagging at Antheia.

This medicus, he’s not… well, you know some Greek doctors can be… well, quacks.”

@Atrice

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Cynane had never heard about a dinner-party philosopha before, so of course she was curious about what that was. Antheia didn’t seem proud of it, as she looked down to the floor for a moment, before explaining. Apparently she was just there to amuse the Romans at dinners with ideas that would be up for debate. Why would anyone hire a slave to do that? Why wouldn’t they just… do it themselves? They weren’t smart enough. Of course they were not. Cynane should not be surprised. The Romans preferred to have slaves do everything for them, even that.

 She rolled her eyes, “That sounds like an odd idea.” Cynane commented and Antheia said it had been fine and they never wanted anything else from her but the philosophy, “Well at least that’s something. At least they spared you from entertaining them otherwise.” She’d not been spared, at least not as a gladiatrix. With Claudia it was different. Much better. She preferred this.

 They were coming closer to the medicus’ room and now Antheia got nervous about it. Cynane looked at her with a smalls mile, “He’s Roman, don’t worry. And he works at the palace. I doubt the Imperial family would want an unprofessional to treat their slaves. He’s fine.” She explained and led the way into the room, where the medicus – a slave too – sat by a table cleaning some instruments.

 “Chiron… this is Antheia. I… hurt her by accident. Will you take a look at her?” She said to the slave sitting there and then she stood back towards the door, to let the medicus treat the new patient.

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“At least they spared you from entertaining them otherwise.”

Ah. Yes, many were less fortunate than herself in that respect, and Antheia got the feeling that Cynane was one of them. She snatched a glance at her companion, but her face was neutral, save perhaps for a certain heightened intensity behind those kohl-rimmed eyes. Dignity was something that a lot of slaves worked extra hard to preserve, perhaps to show they still had some, despite the constant violation of it by their masters. Antheia could understand; her whole regulated demeanour was a result of her life of servitude.

Cynane’s reassurances as to the doctor’s qualifications were a comfort, even if there was something slightly unnerving about the man as he looked up from where he’d been scrubbing half-heartedly at a pair of tweezers as they entered. The room was dark and stuffy, lit by a single oil lamp. Simple box shelves had been fixed to the walls, and on them he’d lined up slightly wonky glass bottles filled with all sorts of liquids. The counter in front of him was covered in a fine layer of flakes of dried herbs.

As Cynane introduced Antheia, Chiron simply nodded.

“Wondered how long before I’d see you in here again, Cynane, with some poor sod you’ve maimed.”

With a groan that made Antheia wince, the medicus heaved himself to his feet.

“Bloody joints. They’re killing me. And the tremors are at it again. May the gods pity any bastard who has to come under my knife.” He looked incisively at Antheia. “Well, come on, then, let’s have a look!”

Antheia obligingly stuck out her arm. Chiron poked at the wound, letting out a grunt of amusement. "Heh. Drop of vinegar and a dressing, should sort it."

As he moved closer, she could smell his reeking breath. Trying her best not to look disgusted, she turned her head towards the door and searched for reassurance from Cynane with her eyes.

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Cynane did notice how the other woman glanced at her, after she commented that Antheia had not been entertaining the men with anything but words. Cynane's was a different story and one of the reasons she dislied most Romans that she didn't know. And some that she did know. But they didn't talk more of it, as they arrived at the medicus' chamber and the man looked up at Cynane with a poor comment.

"It wasn't on purpose. And it's not like it's something I do every day." She imagined that Chiron hurt more people than her, despite that he should be treating them. But he knew what he was doing, of course he did. It was more when he thought someone needed something cured, when really they didn't and didn't ask for it. That was the issue. She stayed by the door though, not keen on going further in. He was a fine medicus and he'd helped her too, but he wasn't her favorite person at the palace either.

He complained a little and then looked at Antheia's shoulder and when he came close, Antheia looked towards Cynane.

"It'll be better soon." She promised the new slave with a little smile, because Antheia did not look like she was having fun. Well maybe she'd keep her eyes more open in the future and not run into Cynane's routines instead. Not that she felt good about hurting her. But really, she didn't see that it was her fault, not much anyway.

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"It will be better soon, you're right," replied Chiron with a smirk. "Shouldn't hurt a bit in a while, so long as you don't go rolling in dirt and getting it all gangrenous. Nah, shouldn't hurt at all."

Antheia felt a sudden stinging in her arm.

"Bet that did, though, heh heh."

Chiron flicked the leftover droplets of vinegar off the bottle's neck and set it down.

She could see Cynane's reassurances as to Chiron's medical expertise were true. She could, however, have done with some reassuring about his manner with patients. The wound really did hurt, but the fact there was an ex-gladiatrix standing watching made her feel that complaining would not have reflected well.

She and Cynane had a lot in common - taken prisoner in a foreign land and shipped back to Rome as slaves, torn from their families, made to sacrifice their dignity for the entertainment of Roman men - but really, she got the impression that Cynane's experience had been a lot worse than her own. There was something magnificent about her that made Antheia's breath stop a little, and it wasn't just her imposing physique.

"Alright, love, you're all patched up. And you," he said, smirking at Cynane, "I don't want to see you or another of your little accidents in here for at least a week, OK?"

@Atrice

 

 

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Most men were bastards. Sure Chiron was good at his job and he knew what he was doing, for the most part, but he was still a man and even a male slave thought himself better than the women. Especially this one. His jokes fell flat in front of Cynane, she wasn’t impressed and Antheia looked to Cynane instead of the medicus, as he treated her arm. She couldn’t help but wonder in which way Antheia looked at her. As if she admired Cynane, despite the fact that they just met. Maybe they would be friends. Antheia didn’t even flinch when the medicus worked, she let him do his work and then she was done. Cynane could not help but approve of that.

 Chrion made another smirking comment at Cynane, “I will be as careful as I always am. Thank you for helping Antheia.” She added, she could be civil. He’d never hurt her, after all. He was just… not someone she enjoyed spending time with either. But who did enjoy spending time with a man whose job was to treat everything from your coughs to your broken legs and unknown illnesses?

 She waited quietly then for Antheia to join her again, “I hope you’re alright. Are you hungry? Or do you want to retreat to our quarters?” She asked with a smile, once they were walking away from the medicus. Claudia’s slaves naturally either slept in Claudia’s chambers or close by, so they’d always be there if they were needed.

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“I hope you’re alright. Are you hungry? Or do you want to retreat to our quarters?”

"Oh yes, I'm fine now, thanks. It doesn't hurt... much," replied Antheia. She felt quite pleased as Cynane seemed to extent an invitation to spend more time with her. Fundamentally, she seemed like a kind person, despite scaring the living daylights out of Antheia. Honestly, she would have liked just to retreat to their quarters and chat, but her stomach was gurgling audibly. She needed some food.

"I'd quite like a bite to eat, if you don't mind," she said, heading off down the passage where the other slaves had gone, and where she was trying to head before being suddenly and painfully forced to make Cynane's acquaintance. Her companion seemed quite happy with this, falling into Antheia's own slower pace beside her.

"So, what's the food like here?" began Antheia cheerfully as they reached their destination, readjusting her chiton to partially disguise the bandages. "I hope the portions aren't too stingy, and that we do at least get some bread."

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Cynane gave a small smile, when Antheia said it didn't hurt... much. So it did hurt and it was her fault, well partly anyway. Antheia should also look at where she was going, that might save her from harm another time. But now she'd know what the other slave wanted to do, and she wanted to eat. They headed in the direction of the slave quarters and where they usually ate. Meanwhile Antheia asked what the food was like and she hoped they got some bread.

"It's not too bad, if you like Roman food. You get used to it. And yes, we do get bread." She said, "And if our mistress is here and there are leftovers from her meal, we usually get to eat that too. So it doesn't go to waste." She added, it was a very clever system and really, why not? It was usually better than what they fed the slaves, although she knew you ate better as a slave at the palace than some other places. When she was a gladiatrix, it hadn't been impressive at all. But it still wasn't like the food she remembered from her childhood and youth. Which brought her to another question.

"I hope it is not too personal, but... have you always been a slave?" That was always good to know. If you were born a slave, you often didn't miss the freedom as much as someone who'd been captured or forced into it some other way.

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Well, this place didn't sound too bad at all, actually. Volusa had shown her that the other slaves were friendly, that she was allowed time to herself, that Claudia was not a harsh mistress, and that the sleeping quarters were superior to anything she was used to. And on top of that, Cynane guaranteed the food was good, "if you like Roman food," which Antheia did; she wasn't sure from her tone quite how Cynane felt, though. She might remember the food from Britannia, or Germania, or wherever she was born. Antheia did too, but she'd long got used to eating Roman. And the prospect of getting to sample the kind of foods Claudia consumed was positively delightful. "So it doesn't go to waste." Yes, Antheia approved of that. She'd seen many sickening examples of Roman decadence in her time performing at dinner parties, and so the fact the elite at least set the example of using up leftovers was a favourable reflection of the imperial family's attitude.

"I hope it is not too personal, but... have you always been a slave?"

Well, it was a personal question, but among slaves that never seemed to matter. To tell one's story unflinchingly and proudly was almost a mark of honour for many. And so Antheia did.

"No. I was born in Greece as a free citizen. When I was about 10 and they sacked Athens, I was enslaved by the Roman forces and shipped over to Italy for sale. I didn't speak any Latin, since I was brought up in Greece."

Antheia smiled grimly and dismissively. She didn't need to mention her family, the violence, her fear, the voyage - that was all implied. Cynane herself would understand, as would any slave born free in a foreign land. And it was all so very long ago.

"And you? You... don't seem to have grown up here," said Antheia, her eyes flicking up to her companion's braided hair and unusual clothing.

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By now, Cynane had been eating Roman food for over a decade. She did still remember things about food at home - the smell of a good stew or a bread straight out of the oven, or the little and simple biscuits they sometimes made by the fireplace. But it was nothing like the Roman food, which often had more spices and more complex flavors. Not that she knew much about those, but it tasted like more, sometimes. It wasn't bad. It just wasn't what she grew up with.

She was brought back to the present moment though, when Antheia answered her question regarding for how long she'd been a slave. Antheia shared she'd been born free in Greece, but was captured and enslaved by the Romans when she was 10 years old. There was a grim smile on her face, she clearly didn't have very good or fond memories of it. Which sounded much like anyone being captured and enslaved and sent to a foreign country without knowing the language. Cynane nodded at Antheia's return of the same question she'd been asked.

"My story is... not quite like yours, but then again, it is. I was 17 when I fought in a battle in Britannia, against the Romans. And the party I was with, we weren't the lucky ones... the Romans somehow managed to get the upper hand. And those who didn't die, were captured and enslaved... and I was brought here. I knew a little Latin, but not much." She explained and looked at Antheia. She'd been captured at a younger age, maybe she'd adapted better? Only one way to find out... "Do you wish to be free again... or have you given up on it?" 

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Antheia smiled sadly. She had decided long ago that wishing for such things was only destructive. She was a woman who had accepted her lot in life.

"Of course there's always a chance," she began levelly, "and I'd be crazy not to want my freedom. I wish, but... I don't hope." She swallowed. "And anyway, I wouldn't go back to Greece. I wouldn't know where to start."

They had entered the refectory now, elbow-to-elbow in the queue of other slaves watching portions of vegetable stew being drawn from dolia embedded in the counter and slopped into bowls in front of them and pushed into their hands. Antheia was surprised at the smell the mixture gave off - perhaps it was actually lightly seasoned! - and thought to herself how pleasing it was to feel the gentle heat of the food reaching her fingers through the bowl. The slice of bread that someone placed across the receptacle's rim was fairly hefty too.

As she reached the end of the counter, food in hand, and turned to wait for Cynane just behind her, Antheia plucked up the courage to ask, "Would... would you go back to Britannia, if ever...?"

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Antheia did strike her as being somewhat content with her position as a slave. Maybe not happy, but not upset or angry about it either. Not like what Cynane still felt inside sometimes. The other woman gave her a sad smile, when Cynane asked if she wished for freedom and then she said she didn't hope for it. She wanted it, but she didn't hope. And she wouldn't go back to Greece anyway. 

Meanwhile they appeared where all the slaves were queuing for the food and they got up in the line too. Antheia wondered about Cynane's thoughts about freedom.

"I don't know. I want to return to Britannia... I still miss it. But I fear it may have changed much, now that it's a Roman province." She explained. It was a bit sad, that Antheia would not hope for freedom, despite how she wanted it. If there was no hope, then was there anything left to fight for? Cynane needed the hope, she needed to cling to it, else she felt she'd lose herself.

"I still hope though. Without the hope, I'm not sure I'd have been alive now." She added. It was a heavy subject to talk about among other slaves, but that's just how it was. If she had not hoped for freedom, how would she have dealt with the humiliations when she was a gladiatrix? She wouldn't have dealt well. Maybe not at all.

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As they walked side by side to a long table, Antheia risked a long, interrogative look at her companion. One the one hand, Cynane seemed to acknowledge that the life she knew as a child was irretrievably lost, stolen from her by the Romans. Yet there was no acceptance, just a certain intensity in her eyes, as if she were still fighting a battle with those invaders inside her mind, holding up against the barrage of degradation with sheer willpower and hope. A glimpse of this and suddenly Antheia found herself awash with a sense of... was that guilt? She'd stepped out and held up her hands in surrender a long time ago. But she was only ten years old when it had happened. Perhaps she didn't have the strength to be angry. And some part of her admired Cynane because she did.

Antheia had always considered her placid acceptance a strength, which made her feelings about the Briton's mindset even more troubling. Eventually, however, she came to her senses. She would give up everything not to have to fight that battle. She had given up everything. But she suspected letting go of anger was a lot easier when you weren't being regularly forced to endanger your own life or to be raped by violent, wealthy strangers. The same suggestion was there in Cynane's own words. "Without the hope, I'm not sure I'd have been alive now."

Antheia faltered, trying to find the words to show Cynane she understood. But one glance at those kohl-rimmed eyes shining like scarabs across the table made her bow her head as she took the first warm, vaguely aromatic mouthful of soup.

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Cynane could not fail to notice how Antheia looked at her. Even though she said nothing, as they discussed surrender versus the hope for freedom, the other woman looked at her. Cynane was always alert. It was just part of who she was. Even in Britannia, she'd always been watchful and down here, she trusted her friends and no one else. She always had to look over her shoulder to make sure everything was safe. Both for herself and for her mistress. In fact she should finish eating so she could return to Claudia. Together with Antheia, she sat down and the other woman began to eat. Cynane did the same, but she couldn't shake it off her... the looks Antheia gave her.

Finally she put down her spoon, washed down the soup with watered, cheap wine and looked at Antheia.

"If there's something you want to say to me... do it. If we're going to work together..." And they were, since they served the same mistress, "You're going to have to learn to be honest with me. My job here is to protect our mistress. I need to know that I can trust you." She finally said. She didn't mean to be so harsh, but honestly, since when was communication a bad thing? And shouldn't a philosopher know that? 

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Antheia wasn't usually one to be affected by others' judgement, but something about Cynane made Antheia strangely desperate for her approval. The Briton's words hit her hard. Well, she had been staring, and for once, she hadn't done a very good job of hiding her thoughts.

After a moment of faltering, Antheia smiled apologetically, shook her head and said, "Yes. You're right. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to seem... untrustworthy in any way, I promise I have no malicious intentions of any sort. I'm sorry, I suppose I'm just... well, curious." She went slightly pink. "The way you see your world is so very different to mine, you see, and I've always found people... well, interesting." In reality it was a lot more complicated than that, but essentially she was telling the truth.

She raised her eyes timidly, unsure how Cynane would react.

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Antheia seemed surprised about Cynane's sudden honesty, but then she gave a smile and apologized. Said she didn't want to seem untrustworthy and she had no ill intentions. Apparently she was just curious about Cynane, because she saw the world differently and she thought people were interesting. Was that really just it? 

"You never met anyone before, who didn't look at the world the same way you do?" Cynane wondered, because she had certainly met many people, who did not agree with her outlook on life. But that just made her more stubborn about it. Made her want to keep her opinions hers even harder. She hoped she could trust Antheia and that these words she spoke were not just empty words. 

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"Of course I have," said Antheia, raising an eyebrow. "I've met plenty with whom I didn't see eye to eye, and plenty who simply have different experiences on life. You should be able to tell that from what I've told you about myself." As she stopped speaking, she lowered her eyes again. She hadn't meant to sound so forceful. She simply wanted to impress on Cynane that she wasn't some sheltered little soul who spent all day staring at the clouds and thinking about cosmology just because she wasn't some kind of tough warrior. Antheia surprised even herself with this reaction. It wasn't often her pride flared up - she didn't think she even had pride - but her whole character, her life, rested on the stone foundations of the strength she'd built up over the years.

Antheia breathed in, smiled lightly and met Cynane's gaze steadily, watching every line of the other woman's face to see how she'd respond to a more frank approach.

"I'm just... gathering my impressions of you, that's all, as you are doing for me."

@Atrice

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