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Your Wish Is My Command... Unfortunately


Mania Victoria
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Mania was bored out of her mind. Today, it was her turn to mind the family business on the Emporium Magnum, and she was once again relegated to working as a simple clerk. Both her brothers - even Primus - had to take on that responsibility on a regular base, too, but she still felt it was beneath her. She much preferred negotiations or finalising lucrative trade deals with other businessowners, but those were a domain mainly reserved for her older brother. She was, however, the best salesperson out of all three of the family's children. Primus often attempted to sell merchandise in an arrogant, almost careless way, Cassius was much too shy to hook the customer in, but Mania was eloquent and persuasive, and given she was a woman herself, the rich men of Rome undoubtedly trusted her when it came to purchasing fineries for their wives or lovers. Or both.

Nevertheless, manning the store was an incredibly boring task for the day. Sometimes, she felt as if her father purposefully only scheduled her on days where there wasn't too much going on. Primus got the holidays, the days of the ludi, the days leading up to and of festivals and other such important events, but Mania only ever got... well, normal days. The clientele on such days mostly consisted of Equites or Senators who preferred to shop when not as many prying eyes were present in the store. Imperials usually sent their slaves or had their orders delivered by couriers if they purchased from their shop. Even though Mania's shifts often attracted the wealthier customers, Primus was often able to surpass her in terms of the amount of money he brought in simply because of how many customers there were in the store on his days, and that, of course, fueled Mania with even more rage towards him. He had no business skills to speak of and more often than not won the fiscal race only by sheer dumb luck.

She would, however, have to reschedule resenting her brother to her free time, as a potential customer had just found their way into the store. "Hello and welcome to our humble store! How may I help you today? We've just put a lovely amethyst ring up for sale, and a marvelous headpiece decorated with pearls straight from the Empire's shores! If you're looking for a safe bet, I'd suggest some gold bracelets; those never go out of style!" she said to him, in a voice as sweet as ever, accompanied by a smile. She wasn't sure if he had the funds to be able to afford... well, really any of the things she had just offered him, judging purely by his looks, but if years in the family business had taught her anything it was to never judge a book by it's cover. He might as well be an Imperial in disguise or some foreign noble.

@Chevi

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Lucius wandered through the Emporium, looking for inspiration. He could have sent a slave, honestly, but he preferred to shop for gifts himself when his mother was involved. And gifting was always awkward without inspiration. He did not have any plans to buy anything specific; he just walked around, waiting for something that stood out. The brothers were planning on paying their mother a visit soon, and Lucius did not like to shop up empty-handed. Since Gaius was the designated busybody of the family, he volunteered to get the shopping done.

The jewelry store looked promising. Lucius was not very well versed in jewelry, given that he had no wife or lover, and neither did Gaius (as far as he knew). Luckily, there was a young woman standing behind the counter. She looked like she knew what she was doing, and greeted him with a smile as he entered.

"Hello and welcome to our humble store! How may I help you today? We've just put a lovely amethyst ring up for sale, and a marvelous headpiece decorated with pearls straight from the Empire's shores! If you're looking for a safe bet, I'd suggest some gold bracelets; those never go out of style!" 

The store was definitely not humble. Lucius returned the smile, glancing around.

"I am not sure what I am looking for, to be honest" he admitted. "I would like to buy a gift for my mother... and maybe my sister. I would appreciate the help."

@David

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"Oh, if it's for family members," she said, thinking aloud, "I'd suggest something simpler, like silver or bronze." That would, by the looks of it, also be more in his price range. "Unless it's of, course, a special occasion. A birthday, perhaps? A wedding or the birth of a child?" She was hoping the answer would be the latter - that way, she could sneakily sell him an amulet for the child, too. "Silver and sapphire work great together, in my opinion," she continued, leading him over to a vitrine with various silver accessories on display. "These are all one-of-a-kind, of course, so your relatives are sure to be the envy of the arena anytime they attend the ludi! Even the gladiators will be jealous of the looks they'll garner!" She was slightly disappointed he wasn't looking to buy anything for a lover - she had a great technique of buttering up customers who were, by selling them some Egyptian gold bracelets (whether the gold was actually Egyptian was irrelevant; they had no way of knowing) with the promise it'd make their beloved feel like Cleopatra and make her see them as her own personal Caesar. The male ego was easy to stroke, so that usually did the trick. She slightly doubted he was looking for anything for his sister either way; that was one of the most common, if not the most common codeword for lover I don't want anyone to know about. "We also have some merchandise with engraved gemstones, if you'd really like for the jewels to attract attention!" Adding value to the items through engraving some of them was, in Mania's opinion, the only way in which her younger brother made himself useful in the store.

Mania was, however, unsure if the man she was talking to could even afford anything from the silver selection. I am not sure what I am looking for, he had said. Any self-respecting, well-situated Roman, in her opinion, knew their way around jewelry. After all, how could one show off one's wealth to others if not through jewelry? The domus was mostly reserved only for the family and explicitly speaking about one's wealth could quickly become tacky and annoying. The wish of the masses to brag through their riches and affluence was what had made her ancestors, relatively unknown but talented Noric goldsmiths, filthy rich once they made their way to the city of Rome. She was not yet entirely certain if he was a Patrician or a Plebeian, but if he was a Patrician, he was certainly rahter out of place in his social strata.

@Chevi

Edited by David
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Was she a little bit disappointed that he was shopping for family, not for a wife or a lover? Maybe, but she was sensible enough not to show it.

"Oh, if it's for family members... I'd suggest something simpler, like silver or bronze. Unless it's of, course, a special occasion. A birthday, perhaps? A wedding or the birth of a child?" 

"No occasion. Unless a family visit counts as one" Lucius shook his head. Visiting their mother at the estate was technically rare enough to qualify as a special occasion. Not to mention visiting Vipsania, whom he had not seen for a long time.

"Silver and sapphire work great together, in my opinion. These are all one-of-a-kind, of course, so your relatives are sure to be the envy of the arena anytime they attend the ludi! Even the gladiators will be jealous of the looks they'll garner!"

She was a little bit too enthusiastic about this. It made Lucius chuckle. He tried to imagine his mother at the games, cheering for gladiators and showing off sparkling jewels. It felt soo... impossible. 

"We also have some merchandise with engraved gemstones, if you'd really like for the jewels to attract attention!"

"I... don't think attention is what my mother is going for." he smirked, admiring the - actually very fine - jewelry. "I am sorry for not having someone more interesting to gift for."

@David

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Posted (edited)

"Ah, if they're deserving of gifts as fine as jewellery, they must be at least somewhat special, no?" Mania replied, despite the fact she already had to choke back several yawns during this exchange. Watching a mosaicist put together all the mosaics in whichever villa was being built closest to here would've probably been more thrilling and exciting to Mania than anything this man had said so far or anything he could possibly say. His mother - who, according to him, wasn't going for attention - seemed to be just as much of a bore as her son. The apple seldom falls far from the tree, they say.

"If she's the more humble type," she continued her sales pitch, "a nice bronze and onyx bracelet may be a good choice." She showed him a bronze bracelets which had a pear-cut onyx embedded between two snake heads. "This bracelet is, as you can guess by the snake head details, made in the Egyptian style - it's the most popular style at the moment!" She nodded towards the bracelet she herself was wearing on her right arm, which resembled a snake slithering around it. "But if you'd like even more subtlety, a ring may be a better choice," and was probably also more likely to actually be affordable for him, she thought. Why did her father insist on keeping the shop in the Emporium Magnum?! If the shop were to relocate to one of the richer neighbourhoods, she wouldn't have to spend so much time buttering up every man who entered the store. Better still, of course, would be if the family's jewellery business went made-to-order only, but then, Mania likely wouldn't have any type of foothold in the business anymore. "Silver and carnelian, perhaps?" Hopefully, this combination was boring enough for his mother.

@Chevi

Edited by David
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"Ah, if they're deserving of gifts as fine as jewellery, they must be at least somewhat special, no?" 

Lucius loved his mother and sister, therefore they were both special. He was just less and less sure by the minute that he should be expressing such feelings through jewelry. Jewelry was... confusing. "Right."

"If she's the more humble type, a nice bronze and onyx bracelet may be a good choice. This bracelet is, as you can guess by the snake head details, made in the Egyptian style - it's the most popular style at the moment!" 

The bracelets were exquisitely done, but Lucius was not sure about buying something with snakes for his mother. She didn't like snakes much.

"But if you'd like even more subtlety, a ring may be a better choice... Silver and carnelian, perhaps?" 

Lucius leaned over, expecting the rings and bracelets put on display. He hummed, considering his options.

"So... let's see. On a scale somewhere this and this" he waved a hand over the pieces, with a smirk playing on his lips "how bored are you with me right now?"

@David

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