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A little discomfort in a good cause


Teutus Quinctilius Varus
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July 76

Teutus' business was going well and he needed to expand because there were certain things he just couldn't do on his own. He had made arrangements with Alexius for his services regarding the security side of it but he needed a clerk for himself (or would do soon), a body slave and a general runner/messenger. The latter two were more urgent than the former; Teutus was more than capable of keeping his own books and records, at least for now.

He also needed someone who could act as an agent, but he would rather not look in the slave markets for someone to fill that role - though if he found someone who could, he wouldn't turn it down.

He had to steel himself to enter the slave market; he had himself been a slave and although he was never in any danger of being sold, it had left him with a sour taste in his mouth when it came to actually buying slaves, though it was something he would have to get used to.

"Good morning," he said as a guard or auctioneer or someone otherwise connected with the trade came up to him. "I don't suppose the boss is around?"

 

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The Emporium Magnum was busy; positively seething with humanity, but that was something of a given. Wares of almost every kind were traded here, including slaves. There was an auction going on at the moment in fact, a comely young man in nothing but a loin cloth currently on the block, the auctioneer calling out to the crowd who had gathered to bid, detailing the man's skills before calling for a first offer. Nearby were the slaves waiting to be auctioned next, watched over by their handlers. Behind them were several other groups of slaves, each with their own warders, presumably each representing different traders.

The nearest handler, a freedman himself to judge by his attire, turned from his collection of what looked like farm labourers when Teutus addressed him and looked him up and down. Apparently deciding that this was a potential customer, the handler cracked a smile, showing two missing teeth. "Mornin'. The boss is over there. Him with the stick." He gestured in the direction of a nearby building, some sort of warehouse, where a tall man with mousy brown hair stood out front, close enough to hear the auction results, far enough away not to get caught up in the scrum. The large staff he carried, curved at the top like an overgrown shepherd's crook, caught the eye, and the white toga he wore marked him as distinct from the slaves and their handlers, even if it was in an older style.

The young man on the block was sold to the highest bidder, and the gap-toothed handler's attention left Teutus as he returned to his work, singling out a labourer to go up onto the block next. Like the last he was almost naked, and like the last he looked to be in good condition.

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"Thank you," Teutus replied, although the man had already turned away to deal with getting the next slave onto the block.

He made his way through the onlookers to the man indicated, who seemed to be in charge of things, at least going by how he was dressed. Teutus straightened his pallium (there was little point in wearing a toga, but he did want to distinguish himself from the market traders and slaves who populated this area of Rome).

"Good morning," he said again. "I understand you're the one to speak to about purchasing slaves. I have some basic requirements - perhaps we could talk somewhere?"

 

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The man with the staff was watching the auction, but he shifted his gaze to Teutus as the young man approached, noting his attire. Close up he had a long, slightly equine face and deep-set hazel eyes. His expression quickly shifted to a practiced smile as Teutus addressed him. "And a good morning to you." He replied with a generous nod. "I am indeed, Spurius Antius, slave trader; 'Claudus' to most. Please, come with me." He turned away, leaning on the staff and walking with a distinct limp into the building behind him, the reason for the cognomen immediately obvious.

Past the men guarding the doors the building turned out to be a kind of warehouse, though in many ways it had more in common with a stables, including the straw that lay thickly on the ground in each of the pens. Except the pens didn't hold horses. But the straw was fresh, there was no smell of urine or faeces, and every slave wore at least a simple wool tunica, if they'd not arrived with better. Larger pens housed gangs of labourers or foreign slaves whilst smaller ones held a few of the more valuable slaves in each, often Roman-born and with some skill to offer. A couple of slaves were sweeping the stone floors of the main area, and one was serving food to those in the pens. All was orderly and quiet. Spurius didn't tolerate less.

He led the younger man past some of the pens and into an office at one end, offering Teutus a seat whilst he assumed another, leaning his staff against the wall. A moment later a slave appeared and silently placed a tray with a few fruited cakes and a small flagon of watered wine on the little table between them, before slipping out without a word. Spurius himself poured the wine into two cups and set one before Teutus, cradling the other himself. "Please, tell me how I can help you."

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Despite his personal discomfort in such a place, which he knew was more about himself and his own recent past than anything else, Teutus observed everything quietly and with a keen eye. Everything look clean and in good order, the slaves not on the auction block were decently clothed and well-fed - this was a very well run establishment, which boded well for the quality of the slaves it sold. In fact, he knew it did - he knew one of the slave who'd come through here; Charis' description of the slave trader had meant that Teutus had no trouble at all in recognising the man.

He pulled his tabula out; he had been trained over his life as a secretary to make notes on everything to back his memory up, especially when going into unfamiliar or uncomfortable situations.

"I have recently started my own business," he began as a preface before opening the wax tablet. "I need a runner, preferably one who already knows Rome. And I need a body slave. I will probably need a clerk at some point in the future, although I can do that for myself at the moment."

 

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The slaver noted the way that his visitor observed the insides of the warehouse, which was perfectly normal behaviour. Not everyone got to see inside, but Spurius ran the place in such a way that he had nothing to hide and much to flaunt. Caring for one's wares paid off, both in higher quality and in reputation.

He also made a point of giving the younger man his undivided attention. His own tabula might well be required later for notes and calculations, but for now he simply listened, comparing the list of requirements against the current selection of stock in his memory. "I can offer you selections of all three." He said after a moment. "Might I ask your name, and your new business? I always keep an eye out for new suppliers." Who knew whether Spurius and Teutus might do business in the other direction in future?

"For a runner who knows Rome I have a man of twenty-two years who grew up here." He was a handsome fellow. Too handsome for his older previous owner but possibly not for the man's young wife. "Or I have a boy of ten, also Roman born, quick on his feet and easy to teach." A little forlorn since he'd been sold away from his mother, but that was the life of a slave.

In a way it was almost a shame that he didn't have Tacita any more. She'd been an excellent messenger. He'd originally bought her to help Corva keep his house, and she and Linus had doted on the girl, but only Linus could read and Corva had difficultly once they'd gone beyond yes/no questions. Really her potential hadn't been fully realised in his household. She'd serve the Consul very well and give Spurius an in there too.

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"My name is Teutus Quinctilius Varus," Teutus replied; the praenomen would no doubt sound an odd one amongst all the Gaii, Marci, Titi and others (Romans and their unimaginative limited list of praenomina!). "I run an import business - although I don't deal in slaves. I prefer to leave that trade to the experts." He would certainly keep Claudus in mind if anyone needed someone in Rome who did deal in slaves, though.

He tapped his stylus on the tablet quietly, thinking. "I'll take the boy - do you think the older one would do as a body slave, though? Or even as a general house slave - which reminds me. I do need a woman to keep the house in order, too."

He could probably use a male steward, but would prefer a woman's touch, and would rather not surround himself entirely with male slaves.

 

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"It's a pleasure to meet you." Spurius replied, noting the unusual praenomen. Together with the lack of toga he suspected the man was a Freedman. Interesting, but his coin was as good as anyone's and clearly he was not without means if he had come to Spurius to purchase multiple slaves. He did note that the man didn't state what he was importing exactly, and considered that there might be something not entirely above board there. Perhaps it meant the man was more about the ships and the warehouses, and imported whatever seemed most profitable. Best perhaps not to know, or maybe he would learn in time. Right now his mind turned to business.

The boy, an interesting choice. Now Spurius's tabula appeared. "Very good." He made a note, whilst considering the question regarding the older fellow. "Quite possibly, depending on your preference. A body slave is such a personal choice." Especially when some wanted more from them than simply dressing and styling their hair. "But he is not experienced in that area, and would require training, but I'm sure he could learn. I can show him to you." He offered. "I do have a younger woman, a teenage boy and an older man, all of whom are experienced as body slaves. The woman does hair and make up as well, if you'd like a gift for your wife?" He suggested. Ultimately it was up to Teutus, and Spurius was more than happy to discuss in more detail any who caught the man's fancy. He was simply throwing suggestions out there to see what caught the man's interest. When he knew him better, he would be able to offer more a tailored selection. 

"You mentioned a clerk. I do have an older man who used to be a children's tutor. Literate and numerate, quiet and obedient, and would benefit from some quieter work." Rather than wrangling children. It could be hard to find new owners for old slaves, many didn't want to be responsible for their care, but that was often overlooking their skills. "My own clerk has the same background." He revealed. What he didn't tell people was that the children Linus had tutored had been himself, his brother and sister. "But you did say you didn't need one right now." He allowed, to avoid seeming pushy, whilst still hopeful of making the sale.

And he wanted a house slave, a woman. Spurius tapped his stylus against his lips thoughtfully, going through his mental catalogue and trying to gauge whether Teutus' preference for a woman meant that he was more likely to want a female house slave as a lover or more of a mother figure. Or some other reason. "I do have a woman who's just come in, previously served a family of Equites and a Senatore family before that. She is middle aged, but very experienced and she spins and weaves as well." Spurius was half inclined to take her to his Domus to replace Tacita in gradually taking over from Corva, but thought he might make a quite sale here. "Or there is a younger woman, about twenty, from a relatively wealthy plebian household. She's quite attractive." He added, watching his customer's face for any reaction.

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It seemed Teutus was going to go home with quite the collection of slaves today. Well, possibly. It wasn't as if he didn't have the coin, though - his venture was becoming quietly profitable, which was the main reason he needed to expand his household.

"I think an older woman would be best. As for the other male slave, I don't mind training a slave to my requirements, though they are not many - but perhaps I should take a look at him before I decide one way or the other." And an ex-tutor for a clerk was something that Teutus had not considered, but it made perfect sense - he would also be more likely to know Greek, even if he wasn't of Greek descent as so many tutors were. To bring in a clerk at this early stage would be beneficial, though, he would be able to learn the system before it got too big. "I think I will take a look at your ex-tutor, too."

Claudus was likely to make a tidy profit today, which Teutus didn't mind in the least. If his wares were all that they seemed to be from this simple discussion, which remained to be seen.

 

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When Spurius knew a customer well, he could generally find them exactly what they wanted, or tell them when he'd found the right slave. He had a good working relationship with Titania at the Domus Venus, as every so often a young slave with the right looks and temperament would come through. In fact he'd considered sending the older of the two runners her way. When he didn't know a customer well - yet - he found it best to lay the options out in front of them.

Interesting that the young man was particularly keen on seeing whether the older of the two runners might suit for a body slave. "It certainly might be useful to have a second runner as well." He observed. "Let me show them to you." Setting his glass aside, Spurius gripped his staff and rose to his feet with it's aid, before leading Teutus back into the warehouse proper.

Their first stop was one of the larger pens, well floored with straw, housing an array of men who looked to be labourers of various types. They all looked up as the two arrived at the cell door, then looked down as a slave should in the face of their social superiors. Spurius called two by name, singling them out by pointing his staff, and the two came forward. The young was the boy, eyes downcast, stance slack, dark hair hanging over his eyes. He looked well enough, but radiated an aura of sadness. The older was the promised young man, tall, fit and well muscled from physical work, and even with is gaze downcast his features were chiselled and fine. His head had been shaved some time in the recent past, likely to sell his hair, but it didn't detract from his looks. "Both are accustomed to work and would benefit from being kept busy." Especially the younger as it would give him less time to mope. He would grow accustomed to his lot. "I do not doubt they can learn what you need them to."

Ironically, if the boy didn't sell today, Spurius intended to let him stay the night in a smaller pen with the women. Once the customers had gone of course.

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"Options are always good," Teutus agreed, closing his wax writing tablet and standing to follow Claudus back out into the warehouse.

The first pen contained the two prospective runners. The young boy, sad-faced and dark-haired, unexpectedly reminded Teutus of himself at a similar age and he let out a silent sigh; sentimentality had no place in this. He could certainly find work enough for both of them, even if he had a clerk as well - whoever he had to look after his apartment would probably appreciate some help there, or with shopping or whatever.

"What are your names?" he asked, despite Spurius calling them both by name a moment ago.

"Jennus, sir," said the older of the two, speaking quietly.

"Amandus, sir." The boy was quieter, less certain, more nervous.

That was what he had expected, anyway - the older was more sure of his place, more sure of his skills and experience, and the younger was far less certain of anything including those around him. A lot of that had to do with age, of course, but Teutus could put a fair amount of it down to sheer uncertainty about the future and where they would end up.

"What skills and experience do you have?" Teutus continued, trying to ignore the nagging thought that if things had turned out even a little differently, it could have been him in the pen answering these same questions for another.

Again, the older one took the lead. "I can run messages and errands, sir, and do whatever chores are required in your house. If you need anything else, I can learn, sir."

Teutus stepped back, satisfied. "I'll take both."

 

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Spurius inclined his head when Teutus confirmed that he'd take both the boys offered as runners. "Certainly." Pulling a set of keys from somewhere in his toga he unlocked the gate and gestured for the pair to step through. The eyes of the guards followed them but the general assumption seemed to be that they would behave themselves.

"My slaves do come with a garantee." The slaver spoke as he locked the gate again. "Whilst I am certain that they will not disappoint, if they do not suit your needs you may return them within a month, in the same or better condition, and I will return their purchase price." Of course, he didn't accept slaves back in worse condition, except at greatly reduced price; which discouraged a new owner damaging them through either accident or temper. But he had a reputation to maintain and his guarantee was part of it.

The slave trader made his way on to one of the smaller pens. This had only a few in it, and they had cots to sleep on as well as straw on the floor; the more valuable slaves. One of them was an older man with grey hair and a slight stoop which suggested that his back might be starting to give him trouble, and Spurius pointed him out. He glanced up for a moment with a shrewd gaze, before lowering his eyes again. "Olipor here has tutored the children of Patricians, but finds it a little hard to wrangle energetic youngsters now. His mind is as sharp as ever, and he's very reasonably priced for one of his skills." He named a figure which obviously took into account both the man's literate, numerate and language skills, and his age. It was certainly less than one would expect to pay for a younger tutor, more than for a clerk with only basic skills.

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Teutus noted that quick assessing glance, and approved of it. "You have been a tutor in a patrician family, I take it you speak Greek?"

"Málista, kýrie."

He also noted the slight stoop - he would benefit from a proper desk and chair, but that would be no great expense, especially as any clerk would need those anyway. "I don't have children for you to tutor, but I do have a business that requires neat methodical record-keeping and organisation. I daresay that is well within your capabilities."

And having a Greek-speaking clerk would be equally beneficial when dealing with Phoenician traders and others from the eastern part of the Empire. The price named was a fair one for someone of his age and with his skills, too.

"I will take him, likewise, thank you."

* Μάλιστα κύριε - Yes, sir

 

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Spurius was pleased to note that he hadn't lost his touch. And whilst the older runner wasn't the one he thought the young man would want for a body slave, he had never the less selected someone to fill that role, which meant money in the trader's purse. The old tutor would go to a good purpose too, and hopefully an easy enough future. Far too many people saw only age and potential liability, and missed the wealth of experience and skill. Whilst Spurius avoided acquiring the sick, unless they simply looked exhausted, he would consider an older slave on the same merits as the rest.

"Certainly." A slight bow, again the keys were produced, and Olipor ushered through the open gate. It was a very old fashioned name for a slave - 'Aulus's boy' - and suggested some previous owner had been very traditional. "And you wanted a house slave."

Another of the smaller, slightly more comfortable pens housed a group of women. One was young, had braided her own hair and was in the process of braiding another's; chances were she was the body slave trained as an ornatrix that Spurius had mentioned. The one she was working on was little more than a girl. Another was in her mid-twenties but looked like she'd already had a hard life; she was sitting in the corner staring at nothing in particular. Watching over all of them with a kind of maternal benevolence was a middle-aged woman, tall and slim, whose dark, wavy hair was beginning to salt with grey, and had already been coifed. She wore a long, woolen tunica of fine weave, and as the group looked up at their master and his customer, her deep-set grey eyes widened. She stared for a moment, before Spurius's stern glance in her direction reminded her to lower her eyes.

If he wasn't about to sell her there would be punishment for being so insolent as to stare at a customer. But for the sake of the sale he moved on. "These are some of the finest female slaves available at the moment, and this is the one whom I think will serve your preferences in a house slave. She's experienced in the role and kept quite large households." Indeed, if this young man was still setting himself up in the world, it might be something of a downward step for her. But that was of no interest. "She's known as Varinia."

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It was boring in the slave warehouse, but she was acutely aware that it could be far worse. Tedium was pleasant enough, in this stall with three other women. They had cots, they had food, they had clothing and blankets. It was all that they needed and nothing more. Sometimes one or other of them was let out to sweep or clean or cook or serve the food. Except for the girl who could do hair; their master was clearly trying to keep her hands soft. So she wiled away her time practicing her skills on the other women, including Varinia, who also learned what she could from the ornatrix. She had no illusions about her own skills in that area, but everything helped and she hoped to be purchased for another household soon. Preferably a good household.

The trader had another customer, they could hear him talking to the man, walking him down the line of pens. It had happened so many times that she only listened with half an ear, until they came to stand in front of the gate that closed their pen. She glanced up, with the others, for that moment that was allowed, first at Spurius and then at his customer, and she stared.

Teutus. Varinia felt herself tremble. It had been eight years but she would know her son if it had been a thousand. Good Gods it was Teutus! She had to swallow a sound in her throat, fight the urge to call out to him, when he realised that the slaver was glaring at her, and she lowered her gaze. But surely he had seen her!

When she'd last seen her boy, still an adolescent, he'd been a slave in his father's house, under his grandfather's authority. But he was here! Apparently as a customer. And if he was a customer... that had to mean that he was free! She could have wept. Her boy was free at last. Had Tertius recognised him at last? What had happened, in those eight long years that she had been separated from her son, her beautiful baby. What had she missed?

She had a thousand questions, and could ask none of them.

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Teutus glanced over the women in the cell, and felt his heart skip a beat as he saw the oldest of the women - she wasn't even that old, not really, just reaching middle age, perhaps.

But he knew her - how could he not?  He might not have seen her since he was a teen, but he would still recognise his own mother. He clasped his tabula tightly, so tightly his knuckles showed white, as he tried to push down his bubbling emotions. If the trader realised how much he wanted this woman, he would surely put her price up.

"I know her - I knew her years ago. I'll take her," he said, doing his best to keep his voice even and the excitement off his face.

Or maybe he wouldn't; despite his trade, Claudus seemed as humane as anyone Teutus had met, and far more so than a good number of other slave traders and dealers.

How had his mother ended up here? What had happened to her since they'd last seen one another? He had a million questions and could not ask even one of them, not here and not now. In a very short while, once they were outside, he'd ask all of them and more.

 

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There was a pause as his customer viewed the suggested slave, and Spurius noticed the slight whitening of his knuckles where he gripped his tabula. As a good trader he had an eye for detail. Then there was the slave's response. A moment later Teutus gave the obvious explanation.

I know her - I knew her years ago.

The young man hadn't even asked the price. An unscrupulous trader might automatically increase it, knowing that his customer was keen to buy. But Spurius knew well that was a guaranteed way to earn an unwanted reputation. He played the long game, earning his place as a high-end slave trader and a hard-earned reputation as unusually trustworthy. So they knew each other. Perhaps even had been close, to judge by their reactions. That should mean a happy customer.

"Excellent. Then she'll already be accustomed to working for you." He said simply, making a final note on his tablet and quoting Teutus the same price he would have given anyway. He did a quick tally in the wax, with a merchant's grasp of that very specialised branch of mathematics.  "Will that be all?"

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I know her - I knew her years ago. I'll take her.

Her heart leapt. He was free then, and he had money. Teutus would buy her. Then they could leave and she could finally hold her boy again, even if he was a man grown now, and ask all the questions that had been held in her heart till it nearly burst.

She prayed silently that this really was true, not some dream from which she would suddenly wake. Perhaps the fates had turned once again. It would not be before time.

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"Yes, for now - though I may need to hire some labourers at some point in the future, on a semi-regular basis - I have goods that come upriver from Ostia that need unloading, but we can talk about that later." He was trying not to be too impatient; he hadn't seen or spoken with his mother in eight years or more, and needed to talk with her. At the same time, he needed to build some sort of working relationship with Claudus; their respective warehouses were not very far apart and it would make more sense to hire work gangs when he needed them than to have to house and feed men when there was no work for them, or only a little work for them.

He flipped open his own wax tablet and did some quick arithmetic. "I make the total for all four..." He named the price.

 

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"Certainly. I have two teams of labourers available for hire. The whole team or half, and they come with a handler." He gestured down the warehouse to where there were two big pens. One was currently empty but obviously in use, the other was occupied by several men of various ages, who looked fit, sun-worn and like they worked hard but were fed reasonably well. Spurius preferred to sell slaves outright as the teams required maintenance, but there was a huge demand for groups available for short-periods for exactly the purpose Teutus intended, and Freedman wanted paying so much more. They could talk specifics when Teutus had need of them.

It was interesting that the younger man was getting into importing goods from across the sea. It was the kind of work that Spurius's family was in, though they tended towards the land route into Achaea and Aegyptus. He'd thought to go into that kind of trade like his father, but when the uprisings happened that strangled trade, he was encouraged to enter the legions like his uncle, whilst his father focused on his older brother. It had seemed like sound advice until that fateful day in Britannia.

But that was the past. This was present. Still, he'd follow Teutus's business with interest. When the younger man read out his total Spurius silently turned his own wax tablet to show him; the same number was already scribed at the bottom. "We agree." Not surprising between two businessmen, and business arrangements for payment were fairly standard. "I trust that they will serve you well. If there's nothing more that I can do for you, may the Gods grant you a good afternoon." He inclined his head in a slight but polite bow.

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Teutus nodded; he would certainly return and hash out the finer details when he actually needed the men, which he didn't at the moment. And from everything he had seen, he would prefer to hire from Spurius than one of the other slave-dealers; he could see the conditions that Spurius' slaves were kept in - the man had a good reputation for a reason, after all. He would probably come back, maybe even as soon as tomorrow, to see about getting a body-slave for his mother (the girl who had been doing the other woman's hair looked promising - but that was something he could think about later).

With the addition of a clerk and a runner (or two!) Teutus would be able to concentrate on expanding his business without getting weighed down by the everyday banalities or having to drop something to take a message of his own somewhere. Well, that should please his father to no end!

Arranging payment, once they'd agreed on the total to be paid, was straightforward enough, though Teutus couldn't help the feeling of relief that bubbled up once the arrangements were made and his mother was firmly his, and safe.

"I thank you for your time, and I hope you likewise have a good afternoon," he said with a smile, returning the polite incline of the head.

 

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Their business completed, Spurius showed Teutus and his new acquisitions to the warehouse's door, with assurances that he was pleased to serve at any time. The he returned to his previous post just outside, watching the rest of the auction, leaving his customer and his new possessions to the afternoon in the bright Roman sunlight.

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She hadn't been there very long - Spurius tended to move commodities on quickly, one way or another - but it still felt odd for a moment to be stepping from the organised warehouse that had been her most recent home, and out into the bustling chaos of the Emporium Magnum. The boy - Amandus - stayed close by her side, and she settled a hand on his shoulder, whilst Jennus and Olipor looked around them with more reserve. She supposed that they were a household now. All purchased by one man.

And that man was her son. She looked up at him - when had he grown so tall? - and a single tear trailed down her cheek. "Teutus. I feared I'd never see you again." She reached out to put her hands on his shoulders, then paused, because whilst she was still a slave he was now free.

Had he inherited the reserve of his father's family? He'd bought her, but would he want the affection of his now estranged mother?

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Teutus had to swallow a lump in his throat.

"Mother," he said, but the formal title tasted strange in his mouth and he had to try again. "Mama."

He had to look down at her to meet her eyes - when had that happened? She'd always been taller than him! It felt wrong for her to be a slave while he was free -they'd always been slaves together, and then she'd been sold. Well, now they could be free people together. Freed, anyway; it would have to wait until tomorrow, though - he needed to settle everyone in and by the time he'd done that, the courts and everything would be closed, though he'd probably take her to the Temple of Liberty. Even the priests wanted their lunches and a visit to the baths afterwards, though.

He was not going to make any of the same sort of promises his father had made him, though. If he made a promise to anyone, he was going to do his best to keep it, and would be upfront and honest if he could not. His mother's freedom was a priority with him the way his own freedom had not been for his father (and just knowing that still stung, somewhat, but he was used to that by now).

His gave his mother a private smile, and then turned to include the other three, quickly revising the roles he had initially planned for the boy and the young man - Amandus and Jennus. A quick introduction wouldn't hurt, he thought. "I am Teutus Quinctilius Varus, I run a business importing luxury goods. Olipor, you will be my clerk and Jennus, you will be my messenger, though you will help in the home if needed. Amandus, I am sure you will be very helpful if I need an errand running or anything else."

He would probably leave Amandus under his mother's care; the boy looked as if he would need that, and the company might help her, too.

"Now, before we head home to the Esquiline, I think we could use some food." He didn't care if that made him look sentimental; he wanted to start them off on the right foot, and these would be the more senior slaves were he to purchase more in the future, which he would - he needed a maid or body-slave for his mother at the very least.

 

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Mama.

Her heart did a little flip. He didn't reach for her as she'd longed for, even as she had stopped herself, but that word, calling her as he did when he was a child, and the little smile, were enough to buoy her for now. There would be time later, in privacy, for a more personal reunion. She told herself that he would surely not be withdrawn like his father became. So she composed herself. She'd waited so many years, what was an hour or two more? Her prayers had been answered; she was with her son again.

Food, yes, she supposed that was a good idea. They'd been fed well enough by the slave trader, though it was only what was necessary and nothing exciting. But when did a slave expect more? She'd heard that Amandus was purchased to be a runner, but Teutus spoke as though Jennus would serve in that role primarily. The boy was so young, younger than when she'd been sold away from Teutus; she would look after him as much as she could.

Accustomed to the lot of a slave, when Teutus said they would get food first she simply nodded, ready to move when he did. It didn't occur to her to do otherwise.

@Sharpie

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