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Aeterna Roma RPG

A morning escape


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Davus had dropped his master's toga and several tunics at the fullonica, and while he was supposed to head back, he'd managed to avoid getting told that directly, which was enough justification in his mind to be able to head down the hill to the Forum, for a short while at least. If accosted, he could always come up with a reason for being there; the cook always needed something from the market and there were plenty of reasons for a house slave being out of the house.

He stopped at a hot food stall for a snack, only to realise that the previous customer had left their change behind.

"Excuse me!" He called, trying to be heard above the noises of the crowds.

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  • Sharpie changed the title to A morning escape

She'd been up early to visit the Aedes Vesta. Now that she was in Rome and it was apparently her father's plan that they should find a husband for her, she thought she better make a sacrifice and a prayer to Vesta. Sosia loved her family and wanted to do well by them, so she had brought flowers and a most sincere prayer to Vesta. She wore a pale yellow and simple dress today and was accompanied by her body slave. She had a litter too, which brought her here, although they had been told to wait for her elsewhere. Now that she was here at the Forum, she might as well explore a little anyway. She had only been here a few times before and never without any of her family members. Now she was almost all alone. 

It wasn't quite time to dine at home yet, but she had been up early and she was already feeling a little hungry. There was a food stall and she decided to buy a warm piece of bread with some olive and cheese filling on top. She took a bite - it was good! And with that on her mind were all thoughts of money and change gone and she left the food stall. Only to have someone yell at her moments later.

Sosia turned around to see a nice looking slave there and she tilted her head, "Were you calling out for me?" She asked softly, curiously, not blaming him for anything, just wondering.

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"Yes - Domina," Davus replied, adding the honorific as he noted her clothing, which looked expensive and very much not the sort of clothing a slave would wear. This was obviously a well-to-do lady, even if she was young and unmarried. "You, uh, forgot your change."

He held it out to her. There was no need not to attempt to give the few coins back, at any rate, though she probably didn't need them judging by the way she'd walked off without checking she'd taken her change. "You want to be a bit more careful with your money, Domina," he added.

 

@Atrice

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She was certainly far from a slave, even though at the villa and farm, she played with them when she was a child and she always befriended them. Her brother was 20 years older than her, so there was no playtime between the two of them. He'd been a man when she was born. But everyone in the countryside seemed to enjoy spending time with her, and she with them! And this slave here, he was so kind to hand back her change from the food-stall, which she had apparently forgotten.

"Oh, thanks! I forgot about that completely!" She said with a little laugh and took the coins back and placed them in her purse. The slave told her to be careful with her money.

"You're right, of course you are. I just... forgot to think about it? I'm not so used to spending them." She chuckled again and looked him over, he was at the same food-stall too, after all, "Are you hungry? I can buy something for you too. For your kindness." 

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Of course she'd forgotten her money, it wasn't as though she counted every as the way Davus did. She probably spent money like water on things she didn't really need, just for the sake of it, for something to do. He handed the coins over, and suddenly registered what she'd said.

"I - if you're sure you don't mind?" he said. Well, it would mean he could keep his own coins for more important things. Like saving up for his freedom.

"I'll have one of the flatbreads, if you're sure, Domina." They had cheese and onion on them and looked delicious, especially as hungry as Davus was.

 

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Sosia wasn't very used to spending money at all. It just wasn't needed in the countryside where she rarely went to town. Sure she went to the market sometimes, but that was because she liked it there. The life and all that. She enjoyed watching people go about their daily business, she'd just sit somewhere and watch them, or she'd pretend she was one of them. Because she had no need to buy any of those things herself. But everyone else did. And she found it interesting to learn about. 

See, this slave here, he clearly needed something too. Most likely food, since they were at a food stall. She'd handed her flatbread to her body slave while they talked and she offered to buy the kind stranger something to eat, "I don't mind at all." She replied, as he seemed surprised, but then he agreed and said he'd have a flatbread too.

"Pick whatever you like." She said and waited patiently and paid for whatever he chose - and this time she did take the change and placed it into her purse once more.

"Should we sit somewhere and eat? There must be benches around here..." She kind of just took for granted that now they both had something to eat, well of course they'd eat it together. She often ate with the slaves at home. They were her friends. Why shouldn't this one be a friend too?

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"That one, please," Davus said, indicating the flatbread that had caught his eye. "I -" he added, once he'd received his food and registered what the lady had said. He swallowed the protest; being commandeered by this young lady would give him a reasonable excuse for returning late, if it turned out that he needed the excuse.

"I don't know about benches, I usually find a step out of the way to sit down if I need to," he said, trying not to show his frank astonishment that a lady (who must be a patrician, judging by her clothes and manner) fully expected to sit and eat, and have him join her - it was surely obvious that he was a slave; the tag on his slave collar wasn't hidden by his tunic. Was it?

"If you don't mind, that it, Domina," he added, though she was the one who'd suggested it, so she probably didn't mind too much. Though, she might object to sitting on a step anywhere, even if it was out of the way.

"Are you new to the city, Domina?"

 

@Atrice

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The stranger slave got his flatbread too, almost similar to her own and it look equally as good. He seemed surprised when she wondered where to sit and eat, but he didn't protest or say he'd rather be elsewhere, so she assumed this was what he wanted too. He explained that he'd find a step to sit upon, if she didn't mind that. She smiled at him, how sweet and kind he was!

"A step sounds very good too. I don't mind." She said, maybe that was normal in Rome, to just sit down on a step to some temple or important building, and just enjoy spending time there with someone. Just watching the life. She expected he'd lead the way, he probably knew a good place to be at. Meanwhile she took the flatbread back from her own slave, noting the slave had taken a bite, but didn't mention it. Of course she could eat too! She turned her attention to the local slave, who had a question for her. 

"Kind of? I have been in Rome before, but never for an extended stay. I am here to stay now though. Is it that obvious?" She asked, blushing a bit. She must seem foolish and naïve to the other slave, forgetting her money and not knowing where to sit in the Forum. 

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Posted (edited)

Of course they were in the Forum Romanum, with Davus' master sequestered somewhere within the Curia Julia (probably). The Temple of Venus Genetrix was close enough to where they were standing that the lady wouldn't feel he was dragging her halfway across Rome for no reason, and while it was perhaps a little too close to the Curia for Davus' comfort, it was set at an angle to it and he was sure they could find space on the steps where they could be out of the way of petitioners entering or leaving the temple, and out of the direct view of Senators leaving the Curia when it reached kicking-out time.

He made sure the lady was seated comfortably before taking a seat himself one step below her - he didn't know her, he didn't want to run the risk of having her throw a very aristocratic (and entirely reasonable) fit because he'd put himself on her level.

"Not obvious at all, Domina," he hastened to assure her. "It must be more obvious that I'm not a native Roman, though." His accent must give that away, if nothing else about him did. He carefully tore his flatbread in half, passing half to her own slave, who hadn't been given anything.

 

@Atrice

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They easily seemed to find some steps to sit upon, the steps to one of the many temples in the Forum. She looked up at it before sitting, it was beautiful and she wondered what it was for. It wasn't like they didn't have temples in and near Capua, which she had lived close to before... but Rome was just something else. And she'd lived in the countryside, not in the city, so she wasn't used to seeing these huge structures up close on a daily basis. Well she'd have to get used to that now, wouldn't she? Maybe the kind slave would help her.

He claimed it wasn't obvious that she was new to the city, see, he was very kind! She knew it must be very obvious, because she knew nothing and not even where to sit down to eat a quickly bought meal. He waited politely for her to sit first and then he sat too, but a step below her. Weren't they eating together? But if he wanted to sit there and that made him most comfortable, that was fine. Her own slave sat next to her, but still with a little space between them.

The slave said he wasn't a native Roman and she tilted her head, looking at him, "I suppose it is, now you mention it. But there are many people in Rome, who are not natives here. I do not find it so strange." She explained, "But where are you from then? If you don't mind me asking. Oh, and what may I call you? I am Horatia Sosia." 

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"My name is Davus, Domina," he told her, swallowing a mouthful of food. "And I'm from Alexandria, originally - in Aegyptus." Though she was a patrician lady, she ought to be more aware of where Alexandria was than the average woman. She might even have been there, after all; didn't upper class women travel wherever they pleased (or where their fathers and husbands pleased to take them, probably, which wouldn't be the same sort of thing at all!)

"Alexandria has a lot of people from different places, too, though it's not like Rome," he added, thoughtfully. It was older - or rather, it felt older, part of a land that was much, much older than this cooler, greener country.

 

@Atrice

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She nodded when he told her his name, "Davus of Aegyptus. How interesting!" She exclaimed happily and took another bite out of her flatbread too. It was nice to just sit here and eat in the lovely sunshine, in this beautiful spot in Rome. There were so many people here at the Forum, she thought. Sosia was not really used to that, not this amount of people anyway. Whenever she went to Rome before, she'd be carefully escorted about with her family and she didn't go out on her own. But things were changing apparently and she'd been allowed that trip to the Vesta temple. Now she thought about it, there was no mention of her finding a bite to eat here. But why not?

Davus spoke up again, about how Alexandria was like and she listened with interest, "I've never been to any other countries or provinces, it sounds so exciting. Tell me more about Alexandria, Davus. If you don't mind, of course." It just occurred to her that he was a slave and this was Rome, so he might not be here willingly. He might miss Alexandria and Aegyptus. Just like she already missed the villa and the open fields. 

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Davus of Aegyptus... it made him sound like a free person, though technically it should be 'of Alexandria' if anything. Or, these days, 'of Rome' although anyone who was of Rome had a proper nomen and cognomen, being a citizen which Davus wasn't.

Still, it was nice of her. "It's a lot like Rome in some ways," he said, in answer to her question. "There are a lot of people there from all different places - Greeks and Jews and Egyptians like me, all sorts of people. It's on the sea, though, and has two harbours of its own, with the Pharos that you can see from nearly anywhere in the city - it isn't all hills like Rome is."

He was probably making a complete hash of describing it in a neat orderly fashion, but it had been so long since he'd been there, and there was very little chance he'd ever return. Even thinking about it was making him homesick and he had to swallow before he could have another mouthful of the flatbread she had bought him.

 

@Atrice

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He might be a slave, but right now they were sharing a meal that she paid for... and they were sitting down, almost as if they weren't so far apart in rank, so why should she not just pretend that he was free. Pretend that he was just a person she met. He told her more about Alexandria. That was a lot like Rome, because there were people from different places. But it had proper harbors, unlike Rome. And lighthouses that everyone could see. 

"That sounds so... interesting. And so far away. Is it much warmer down there? I heard it is. And Rome is quite warm too." She mused and looked at him. He was being so friendly. Hopefully he wasn't in a hurry to go somewhere. It felt nice, talking to him.

That's when it occurred to her that she hadn't really talked to any men for a very long time, besides her father and her brother. They barely let her talk to the male slaves at home, just because she'd been friendly with them when she was younger. And here she sat, away from home, talking to a male slave and nobody knew besides her body slave. Suddenly it felt a little bit forbidden. Which made it even more exciting. She wondered for how long she could keep him.

"I hope I'm not keeping you from your task, Davus. It's nice talking to you." But he was probably on an errand sent by his master. Unless he had time off. Slaves had that too, if they were good. And surely Davus was.

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"Much warmer," Davus said, and shrugged. "At least, much warmer in winter and about the same in summer, though there's nearly always a breeze at least that makes it feel cooler." Probably because it was by the sea and Rome wasn't.

He was in no hurry to go anywhere; it was nice sitting and talking like this. He wondered if she scolded her own slaves for not hurrying home when they'd had errands that took them out of the house.

"No, Domina, you're not." Well, strictly speaking, she wasn't - he'd already dropped the laundry at the fuller's and ought to be heading home. He'd probably only be set to sweeping everything the Dacian woman hadn't, or scrubbing the floors or something. It could wait, anyway - though he was likely to get a scolding if he was out for much longer.

He'd had worse.

"Are you out shopping or something, Domina?" he asked, as if they were friends of the same status, which it seemed she was pretending they were, as much as possible.

 

@Atrice

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It was nice to hear Davus talking about Aegyptus, with his description it was easy to dream herself to the place. Although she had never really been there, it sounded nice. It was warm in the winter even, but then he mentioned the breeze... the breeze that was rarely here in Rome, because there were too many people and buildings and it was just warm. And warm in a different way than in the countryside near Capua, where she had spent most of her life. Warmth was different, it seemed. 

"It sounds nice." Sosia said with a small sigh and then carefully inquired that she'd like to know if he had to go and be somewhere, or what. But she wasn't keeping him from anything and that was very good to know. Maybe he'd keep her company even longer. She had so few male friends, because her parents were afraid it would lead to more. More what? She'd never done anything but share a kiss with a boy and what harm did a kiss do? She honestly couldn't see. Davus interrupted her thoughts with his own question.

"Oh... no, I'm not. I've visited the Aedes Vesta to pray and sacrifice to the goddess... and what a special place it is. So impressive. And different from the other temples." She said, there had just been something special about it and not just the way it was built, but there was a certain air inside. She didn't know if Davus knew about such things though, considering his rank. Not that it was his fault or she blamed him or looked down upon him, he was just different from her. Which made her wonder... "Do you keep our gods, Davus? Or your own?" 

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"I miss it," Davus admitted, before he quite realised that he'd said the words out loud. It wasn't the sort of thing he'd say to a free person, not usually, but then, he'd never really had this sort of conversation with a free person before. Well, there had been that conversation with Artemon, but that had been a conversation with a fellow Egyptian and wasn't quite the same.

He shifted as she asked what gods he worshipped; it probably wasn't a good idea to admit he was thinking more and more about the Jewish God and the recent sect that was gaining popularity. "There are all sorts of gods worshipped in Egypt," he said (which was only the truth). "I was down near the temple of Isis here in Rome recently - did you know she had a temple here?"

It wasn't a lie, prceisely, but wasn't the entire truth - he had been near the temple of Isis, which was where he'd met Artemon. He hadn't been in the area to join the worshippers there, though.

 

@Atrice

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She looked at him when he admitted that he missed his home. It must be hard sometimes, being a slave like him. Her own body slave, who sat a bit away, had been born as a slave and so had no homeland to miss. Of course Sosia would love to just free all of her slaves, but they were actually not hers to free, they belonged to her father. So she would have to live with them being slaves and they'd have to live with her being free. Still they could enjoy a day out together. The thought gave her an idea that she thought about, while she explained why she was here and then naturally asked into what gods Davus kept, since he wasn't born in Rome. 

The man shifted and then told about gods that were worshipped in Aegyptus and that there was a temple for the goddess Isis in Rome. 

"I did not know. But there are many things I don't know in Rome, I think. I haven't lived here for very long yet." She said and decided she'd go through with the idea she had just before. 

"Helia..." She said and her body slave looked at her, "Why don't you enjoy some free time here at the Forum, and once you're done, go wait by my litter. I think Davus could teach me much about Rome and I'm sure..." She trailed off, should she do this? She wanted to. He seemed nice and it felt safe, talking to him, "I'm sure I'm safe with him. If you don't mind, of course." She looked at Davus, hoping he'd agree to her idea. She wanted him to show her around and surely he'd not harm her. Surely her father would not disapprove, right? He seemed very gentle and sweet.

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"I've been here for..." he had to pause to think and work it out. "Ten years. Is it really that long?" It didn't seem like it - he'd lived in Rome as long as he'd lived in Alexandria, by his reckoning. And the five years in Corinth too - it did sound about right.

"I don't mind at all, thoug I don't know about teaching you about Rome, Lady - I'm not likely to know the bits you'd find most interesting." Gods help him if they went to the sort of places he was most familiar with from errands and the like. She'd be more interested in the sights and the gardens (which required payment to enter which meant that Davus had been there a grand total of once in his life, accompanying the mistress when she'd decided to treat the children - and they'd had a small entourage of which Davus was only one member).

"What sort of things would you like to know?" he asked. He might know something, at least, even if he didn't think it seemed impressive.

 

@Atrice

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Davus had been in Rome for a long time. Half of his life maybe? She was not sure how old he was, he seemed very youthful, but she got the idea that he was older than he looked. And wise too, it seemed. She felt sorry for him. Living here as a slave, so far away from where he was born and he clearly liked it more there. She didn't comment on his statement on how long he'd been here though, she didn't want to make him sad by doing so. Instead, it might be good to walk a little and he could tell her more about Rome... if he wanted to, which he did. Although he claimed it might not be interesting for her. But he asked what she'd like to know.

Her slavegirl Helia lingered and didn't really leave and Sosia held up a finger to Davus to tell him to wait a bit and then went over to her slave. Of course her slave was worried about this. Sosia going off with a slave and even a stranger to the family. There was a reason why her parents had barely let her meet any men after the incident with the stable boy years ago. But she was older now! She had to directly order Helia to leave, before she turned to Davus again with a relieved smile.

"There... now we're good. I don't know what I want to know, but I guess we'll find out. Do you have a favorite place in Rome, Davus?" She asked and carefully bounced down the steps from the temple and waited for him at the bottom of the stairs. 

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He swallowed the last bite of his lunch and stood up, wiping his fingers on his tunic as he joined her at the bottom of the steps, noting the dubious look her maid gave her as she left them alone together.

Well, that was unexpected - the girl didn't even know him or anything. She seemed awfully naive and Davus wasn't quite sure what to do. It would be easy to take advantage of her - it wasn't in his nature to do that but she didn't know that, did she!

"I think the bits of Rome I know aren't going to be very interesting to you," he said. Or suitable for someone of your status - but he couldn't really say that out loud. Her father would probably have some very choice words for him if he took her anywhere unsuitable, but really, where did high-class ladies like to go? Shopping might be a good bet, if they didn't go too far or stay too long - he did have to get back to his master's house at some point today, after all. "Have you been to the Porticus Liviae?"

It was fairly close, had lots of stalls and places for a young lady to browse through, and wouldn't leave him having to walk halfway across Rome to get back home.

 

@Atrice

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Sosia was certain she'd be safe with Davus. He'd been nothing but nice to her since they met - in fact his kindness was the reason they met, since he told her that she forgot her change when she bought something to eat. And he'd been nice since then too, so why should it not be safe? Helia seemed to think differently, but at the end, Sosia told her to simply leave and the girl did. Now she could relax. And she bounced down the steps to wait for Davus, asking for his favorite place in Rome.

She was disappointed he wouldn't show her such a place, he said she'd not find it interesting, but what if she did? But instead, he spoke of a place called the Porticus Liviae and she thought it over briefly.

"I think I've heard about it... but I've never been there? It's a nice place?" She asked, waiting for him to lead the way, since she knew nothing.

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"It is, Lady," he said, trying to hide his astonishment that a lady such as Horatia Sosia was not intimately familiar with the place. "You can go shopping there, or just go walking, and there's gardens in the middle if you prefer that," he said - he'd been more than once, with the mistress when she wanted to go shopping or whatever. It just seemed the sort of place that a nice well-brought up lady would like - and he wouldn't get in trouble for taking her there, hopefully.

Well. He was probably going to get in trouble for not going straight home, but there wasn't anything interesting waiting for him there, and he wasn't the only slave in the household by a long way. If anything needed doing right now, they had plenty of other slaves who could do it.

It wasn't too far away - they'd skirt the Subura to get there, but they wouldn't leave the main road and it was partway up the slope of the Esquiline, which was a perfectly genteel neighbourhood.

 

@Atrice

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Davus told her about the Porticus Liviae and it suddenly struck that she had heard about the place before. Only Ovinia had called it something slightly different and that's why she did not know of it. But Davus knew it too and now he'd show her! It was so exciting and surely a good place to go, proper for a woman like Sosia, if Ovinia knew of it too.

"I'd like to see that place. I think I may have heard about it before, actually. I met another girl on my way to Rome, and she mentioned it briefly. But she also spoke about all the other things Rome has to offer." She explained while they walked, "She seemed so surprised that I hadn't experienced it all already. Is it really such a bad thing?" She asked him, while walking and looking around her as they walked. Rome was such a big place. She didn't notice that her body slave had not abandoned her, but followed at a distance to watch over her mistress.

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