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August 76AD

The morning auction was over and those couple of customers who had ventured inside his warehouse had been satisfied. The sun was approaching it's zenith, so Spurius ordered the warehouse doors closed, the slaves fed and his guards to cycle through taking their prandium, so that it was never unattended. For himself he made a habit of leaving his workplace at this time and finding food in the marketplace, partly because it allowed him to clear his head and partly because there was some truly marvelous street food available. 

He carried with him a bag containing a fine clay bowl and cup, and walked his stilted gait towards the food stalls, pondering nothing more serious than whether he fancied duck with plums or clams with herbs and nuts. Hmm, maybe the latter. Alas but he'd left a few minutes later than usual and there was already a crowd growing at the more popular stalls.

Spurius disliked being jostled; his injurey meant that he was at greater risk of falling and he only used his staff on slaves, when needed. So he moved further along the row towards a smaller stall with only a few patrons. Usually that wasn't a good sign, but the smell of fish frying with spices drew him onwards, and he watched the proprietor fry sardines with herbs alongside slices of bread, seasoned with garum. The cheese was melted over the little fish and they were scooped up and dropped onto the bread. Someone left with three slices. Either he was an optimist or he'd eaten here before.

It would do.

@Atrice

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Cynane had a few hours off around midday today, and whenever she could, she would escape the palace and wander Rome instead. Of course she'd be back. She dreaded what might happen if she truly chose to escape and was then caught. On top of that, why would she try and escape? That would mean leave Claudia behind and she couldn't do that. She was needed there. But for now, she was on her own. She considered going to see Charis and Peregrinus, it had been awhile and hopefully they were both doing great still. Peregrinus was almost a year old now and she'd seen how big he was now. Pity that his father was a prick of a Roman, but of course, that wasn't Peregrinus' fault. It wasn't even Charis' fault. She inhaled a breath, thinking about it. Maybe she should find something to eat first.

At the market, she drifted towards the food stalls and thought she smelled something nice. She headed in the right direction although there was quite the crowd, and it was hard to avoid getting too close to people. She tried to make her way through though, that's until someone, who already bought their food, walked past her. He was limping and had a stick to help him, but unfortunately, it didn't help Cynane. She hadn't paid much attention to it and before she knew it, she tripped over the edge of it and fell onto the ground. What the fuck? Did he do that on purpose? 

"Fucking Romans..." She muttered under her breath as she stood and brushed the dust off her clothes. Some people around her had stopped to stare for a moment, at the  strangely tall woman with a very not-Roman hairstyle and outfit on her body. But she was staring at the man who tripped her, with that familiar fire in her eyes that had never ceased... wondering if he was going to apologize or what?

@Sarah

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The crowd was getting thicker, and Spurius was thinking only of making it back to the peace and quiet of his premises, when someone tried to brush past him in the throng. They'd have managed it too, if they hadn't caught his staff with a foot. Loosing the support, it was all that Spurius could do to not go sprawling himself; he caught his balance and winced as he pulled the damaged muscles in his leg, but he kept his feet, just. Unfortunately he didn't keep his lunch, and his sardines on toast scattered onto the dirty pavers of the Emporium Magnum, going straight under peoples' feet. This just proved why he avoided crowds where possible.

His poor mood was improved marginally by the fact that his 'attacker' had gone sprawling, and he might have simply walked off, but even as they picked themselves up he could see that it was a woman, and a barbarian, as emphasised by the mutter. "Preferably not in public." He drawled in response.

Barbarians he disliked, but he'd been brought up to give the fairer sex the care and deference they deserved, even if there wasn't much that was fair about this outlandishly dressed, over-tall woman. Spurius was tall for a Roman, but she was nearer his height than any woman he knew, and she looked like some sort of fighter; maybe a gladiatrix? Likely she could take care of herself. Still... "Are you hurt?" He asked, looking her up and down.

Some owners liked to dress their slaves in an eye-catching manner, so whether gladiatrix or something else, he assumed someone owned her. Someone who didn't keep her on a short leash, to judge by her expression. Still, no owner liked their slave coming back in worse condition than they left. Besides, someone had spent money on that outfit... they might have other coin to spend.

@Atrice

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She gave him a look when he commented on her angry mutter. Preferably not in public? Did he take her words literally? He was more stupid than most, then. As if she'd ever do that in public with anyone and certainly not with a Roman, if she could help it. She'd had plenty of violations happen to her while she was a gladiatrix and she was glad, that it was over now that she served Claudia instead. Although of course, you had to stay alert when leaving the palace, you never knew what Rome had in store for you. Men like this one, for example. Sure he had a stick, but he didn't look very nice, despite apparently being somewhat disabled. She said nothing to his comment and then he asked if she was hurt.

"I don't think so." She simply replied. So he was not going to apologize. Well he was a man, so she couldn't blame him for being an idiot. It wasn't his fault he was born like that. But he was clearly a free Roman and now that they'd concluded that she was fine, she was of course still a slave and he was not, so she supposed he expected her to care for him for some reason, "I hope you are well too, Domine." She then said, just in case. She looked him over, he didn't look hurt. He hadn't fallen, at least. And the stick he had with him to begin with, so that wasn't her fault.

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Judging by her expression, the outlandish woman didn't have a sense of humour. A few of the crowd did, but after a few chuckles no one was really interested. Good, the last thing he needed was some twit egging her on. Still, he might have laughed himself if he'd known she expected him to apologise. She was the slave who'd nearly knocked him down, and yet offered him nothing more save a dirty look. Stupid barbarian.

At least until he asked after her welfare. She surprised him by returning the question. He return a nod. "Well enough." Which was a bit of a lie, but he'd live. Certainly he didn't think his old war injury was anything she could help with.

He could have said something snide about watching where she was going, but he just wanted to get back to his warehouse, rest his leg and send someone out to see if there was any other food to be had. He wasn't in the mood for conversation. Having determined that neither were injured apart from their pride, he turned to go. Which was when the injured muscles in his thigh, now also strained, decided to give out.

"Ungh." With an unseemly grunt, that step turned into a fall, the tall Roman going down on his left knee as his right leg buckled and slid out from under him, knuckles white as he gripped his staff to keep from landing on his bum or his back. He sucked in a ragged breath, teeth gritted and eyes scrunched shut as he waited for the pain to subside.

Mercury, god of both merchants and deceit, was not favouring him today.

@Atrice

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It didn't take long for people around them to continue on with their day. The event was over, the scene had played out and there was nothing interesting to see anymore. The man kept watching her though and at least he'd asked if she was hurt. Which she was not and then of course she returned the favor, as she should. Besides, it was only polite to do so, even if in her opinion, she had done nothing wrong. The man said he was well enough and then he turned to go. Cynane did too, but not before he suddenly made a sound and fell, only managing to not hit the ground because of his staff. No one else bothered to look at him now.

Cynane cast a glance to the sky, what on Earth were the gods up to today? Then she inhaled a breath and approached him.

"Maybe you do need a hand, Domine?" She asked, holding one out for him to help him up on two feet again. He didn't seem well at all and she hoped it was not her fault that he was suddenly worse. He already had a stick, meaning he already had issues with one of his legs, but she didn't want to be the one who'd made it worse. That wouldn't look good for her at all. So she better try and help him and prove she wasn't always a bitch.

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Somewhere in Pluto's domain there was a dead Briton on whose soul Spurius heaped yet another silent curse. His Gods-damned leg. He'd had dark moments where he'd wondered if it would have been better if he'd lost it entirely. He knew it wouldn't, but on the bad days when the pain was intense or the damaged muscles seized, or he thought of all the plans the injury had cut short, he wondered.

And here he had collapsed whilst that bloody Britonic slave was watching him. Well, the philosophers did say that pride went before a fall. He wished the Gods wouldn't be quite so literal.

Maybe you do need a hand, Domine?

She was looking at him, with her odd attire and barbarian blonde hair in it's outlandish style. He didn't want help, but perhaps she was right. He might need it. After all, he didn't want to be sitting on the pavers of the Emporium Magnum for ever either. "I..." He drew a breath and sighed, letting his irritation fade to resignation, and gathered what little dignity he had left. "Yes, please." He nodded. "If you would."

He reached out his left hand to her.

@Atrice

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There was a pause, while he looked up at her, while she stood there with her hand stretched out to help him. No one else did, after all, and he clearly wasn't well. She did still fully believe it was his own fault, because he didn't look where he was going and then he caused her to trip over his staff, and now he was in pain too. But she was the only one who paid attention to him, so that's just how it would be. After an awkward moment, where she almost pulled her hand back, he sighed and agreed to be helped.

With a strong hand and arm she pulled him up and was quick to step closer to help him adjust the staff.

"Maybe you should sit down." She glanced around to try and spot a bench or perhaps some steps he could sit upon. He didn't look old or sickly besides the staff, but who knew, right? She had to do something... "Or are you on your way somewhere, Domine? I can lead the way. Clear it for you." Gods knew she could only be better at it than him, because he surely did not know how to weave through a crowd. And Cynane could look fierce when she wanted to, enough to make people step out of her way. And all she needed now was for this man to be gone, so she could go back and find something to eat. She could feel that her stomach might rumble soon.

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She reached out, then hesitated for a moment. Would she just leave him there? Then she grabbed his hand and hauled him to his feet. The hand that pulled his feet was strong and calloused, with strength in that arm. He levered himself up with his staff and his good leg, his own strength good enough except for that injured leg. After a moment of uncertainty he was standing and balanced, and she was suddenly close, almost awkwardly so as she helped him adjust his grip on his staff. "Thank you." He said, meeting her blue eyes. Too damn tall.

Maybe you should sit down.

Good advice, but a bad location. There wasn't anywhere really convenient and he wanted to get away from the crowds that risked further injury. Settling the cloth bag over his shoulder more securely, there came the obvious clink of shattered pottery, and the slaver muttered a curse. Yes, he had somewhere else to be. Anywhere else for preference, but right now he could go back to his premises.

"My warehouse." He gestured with his staff to one of the many buildings ringing the Emporium Magnum. The most successful merchants had premises right on the square itself. "If you would." The outsized barbarian would should be enough to scare anyone out of the way. "I'll use your shoulder." His left hand settled onto her shoulder, his grip firm, the muscles of his forearm well defined.

He was limping badly because of his injured right leg, but between her and his staff, he would make it.

@Atrice

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He thanked her. Wasn't that impressive? A Roman, who knew these words and was even aware that you could use them when speaking to a slave. She almost laughed at the words, but didn't, kept her thoughts to herself instead. He was strange, this one. But she'd help him out, since he clearly had no slaves of his own around here and he needed help. She wasn't an unkind person. She just... didn't care all that much about other people here, because they didn't care about her. She'd learned to fend for herself from a young age, quite literally had done so in Rome and she was always alert.

She helped him adjust the staff and then she suggested he sat down or she helped him get somewhere he needed to be. He mentioned his warehouse and would have her come. Then of course he returned to being an ordinary Roman man when he simply said he'd use her shoulder for support, and did it. Without asking. He just assumed she'd be fine with it and wouldn't argue. She sighed.

"Very well, if you must." She agreed, since he'd already settled on doing so, and awkwardly close together they moved on in the direction of his warehouse. It wasn't often she was this close to another person. She usually kept her distance to anyone but Claudia, and then of course the dark-skinned woman she met. But this man had his strong hand on her shoulder. It was weird to walk like that, she she increased the awkwardness and moved her hand around his back to support him.

"Do you have a name, Domine?" She asked, just to try and escape the awkward silence. Might as well talk.

@Sarah

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He snorted in a kind of sour amusement at her words. Was she so mouthy with her master? "I must, unless you want to be picking me up again." He confirmed quietly. It didn't happen too often these days because he was careful, but when his leg muscles went into spasm like this he knew he'd be severely limited until he'd stretched them out, had a hot bath and possibly a massage. So she'd just have to put up with him.

Surprisingly, he felt a strong hand on his back as they walked along slowly, oddly close for two who barely knew each other. Wisps of her thick, blonde hair blew in his face and he caught the scent of her, realising it had been a long time since he'd been this close to a woman. But that was by choice. Still, a shame it was one so outlandish.

His feelings regarding foreigners were complex. On the one hand, as a boy he'd been raised to become a trader, to work with those in distant lands for his, and hopefully mutual, benefit. On the other hand he'd then spent years fighting various foreigners in the legions, culminating in his injury and the end of that career. Sometimes the curiosity of the younger man overcame the bitterness of the elder.

"Spurius Antius, called Claudus." He told her, wondering how good her Latin was. She spoke it well enough despite the accent, and the reason for the cognomen was obvious. "And yourself?" She'd presumably been given a name. She might even have been allowed to keep her own, if it wasn't too hard to pronounce.

@Atrice

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She was often able to speak rather freely with her mistress, but mostly when they were alone. When there were others around, Cynane was naturally more formal, to not give away their relationship, whatever it was. They were, to anyone else, merely mistress and slave. But alone, they had a deeper connection than that. So she was not mouthy with Claudia, she was friendly. This man was not her master or mistress though, he was a Roman who caused her to fall over in the market, which was humiliating, and here she was, helping him anyway. Was that not kindness? Something Romans didn't know a lot about. She didn't answer his comment or his snort and they walked in silence close to each other. She had no issue with it, other than that she was too close to a Roman, but no, she did not wish to pick him up again. So she better support him. 

She asked for a name and he gave it. Yes, his third name was obvious enough, she would need no explanation. 

"I am known as Cynane, domine." She replied simply, always using the given name with the Romans. Half of them couldn't pronounce or understand Cinnia anyway. That was for friends only. Meanwhile, she had half a mind of wondering out loud if Spurius Antius Claudus often tripped strangers, but kept from it. She wondered how far they were going to walk, but it would take the time it took, that was just that.

@Sarah

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"Cynane." He repeated. Well enough. "And whom is your master?" The thought that she might be freed didn't even cross his mind. Not dressed like that. She'd either leave, or try to fit in better, if someone so tall and pale would ever fit in.

Against Cynane's fears, they didn't go too far. Spurius directed them towards the other side of the square, and a wooden building with large doors; a warehouse. A man at the doors saw them coming and swung one of the pair open for them with a quiet dominos. Inside was clean and spacious, with various cells and pens such as one might have for animals, even floored with fresh straw. But the animals within them walked on two legs. Still, there was no stink, of sour bodies or human waste, and each slave wore at least a woolen tunica and a cloak that would double as a blanket. Smaller pens held what were presumably more valuable slaves, and these had pallets to sleep on. 

The eyes of several men, presumably employees, turned to them as they entered.

"Numerius." Spurius called, and a younger man stepped forward. "Go get two servings of food from the stalls. Something with meat in it." He handed the man a couple of coins, before directing himself and Cynane onwards, apparently either not thinking or not caring to transfer the burden of himself to one of his own people and let her get on with her day.

At the other end of the building were a couple of offices and what looked, at a glance through the door, as though it might serve as a small infirmary. Spurius led them into one of the offices, the one with the finer furniture. "That chair there." He directed.

@Atrice

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“My mistress is Claudia Caesaris.” Cynane replied when he asked, because there was no reason not to mention it to him. Now he knew what kind of a slave was helping him through the streets of Rome. One who worked for a princess in the Imperial palace. Maybe being kind to her would be to his own benefit, should she tell Claudia about this incident.

 Soon they came to his warehouse and the doors were opened. They came inside what appeared to be a warehouse for storing slaves. Cynane looked at them, they seemed to be well-fed and even wore clothes, but she still felt sorry for them. How many of these were captives from wars and battles, like herself? She’d never been in a place like this though. When Longinus brought her to Rome with the rest of his slaves, it had already been decided that he’d try and sell her to a ludus as a gladiatrix. And the idea was successful.

 She said nothing, ignoring the looks of the men as they walked by. Spurius asked a servant (or slave?) of his to go and get him two servings of food. Either he was very hungry, or he was expecting guests. She did not dare to assume it was for her. Soon they reached offices in the building and they entered one. She helped him over to the chair he wanted to sit in. Gently she helped him sit down.

 She wasn’t even his slave to order around, and yet, that’s exactly what he did. And as any dutiful slave, she took a step back after helping him, “Is there more you need help with?”

@Sarah

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Her mistress then, and it was a name that Spurius recognised. One of the Imperial family, twin to Tiberius, adopted brother of Titus Caesar. And she was, as he had assumed, a slave. Hopefully he wouldn't suffer for presuming to make use of Cynane's offered assistance, but he'd really had no choice, so was fairly sanguine about the possibility. That and he had faith in his ability to talk his way out of most situations.

She helped him over and he released her, settling into the chair with a sigh. "Thank you." Stretching his right leg out he reached down and grasped his toes, stretching the muscles in the back of his leg. These weren't the worst, but they were a good place to start. The spasm tended to spread from the damaged muscles on the inside of his thigh. After a moment he straightened up again.

Is there more you need help with?

"No." He shook his head. "But I appreciate your assistance." He said honestly. "I've ordered you some food, but you need not stay if you have business elsewhere. I can manage my leg from here. I am unfortunately accustomed to it." The injury was years old and this was just something that happened sometimes.

@Atrice

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He didn't comment on the name of her mistress and she didn't know how much he knew about the Imperial family, but she imagined he'd recognize at least part of the name. Caesaris was a name you didn't give to just anyone, after all. And she had a mistress, not a master. She was quite pleased with that too. Very few men managed to impress her and get into her good books and she still wasn't sure about Spurius here either - even if he did thank her, as he sat down in the chair. She stepped back while he stretched his leg and then she wondered if he needed more help.

He said he did not and that he did appreciate her help. Well that was at least something. Then he revealed that he did indeed order food for her too, but she could leave if she'd like to. Well she did miss out on a meal just before. 

"I could use a bit to eat." Cynane then said, but she'd not been invited to sit yet, so she didn't. Around Claudia she could be more relaxed, but she wasn't sure about Spurius. Around any other Roman she really couldn't relax. So she remained standing until told otherwise, even if this man wasn't even her master. Her behavior might reflect back on Claudia, after all. 

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She had been the cause of the problem, but she'd also been the solution. She might be a slave but he could still appreciate her help. He handled lots of slaves daily of course, but wasn't in the habit of ordering around other people's, he just hadn't had much choice. She'd been the only one to care that he'd falled in the first place. And since she was responsible it behooved her to help.

He changed the angle of his leg slightly and stretched it again, slowly forcing a slightly different set of muscles to at least relax somewhat. Over time he'd work out the worst of the cramp, and a hot bath at the end of the day would likely sort out the rest of it. He'd managed to avoid an episode for months; this was probably just bad luck. He didn't think he'd annoyed the Gods that much.

"Numerius won't be long." He'd best not be, but he didn't have a limp and a staff to contend with. Relaxing the stretch, Spurius lifted up the small bag that had hung from his arm; it clinked sadly. Reaching in he drew out a piece of fine, red Samien ware pottery, sadly only a shard. Two more pieces of what had once been a bowl followed and were set on a small side table. Oh well. "I wouldn't want to keep you from your duties." Pissing off Imperials was rarely a good career move. "Sit, if you want to." He gestured to a second chair nearby, not really caring if she did or not. He always felt tired and flat after an incident like this. It reminded him of how much he'd lost.

"How do you serve your mistress, Cynane?" He asked, eyeing the outlandish woman's leather armour. Was it all for show, some fancy of her mistress, or did she have the skills to go with it? People could be quite funny about their slaves, he'd seen it all.

@Atrice

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She watched him stretch his leg and wondered what had happened to it. An old injury from a battle maybe? Or he could just have fallen and had an accident, but people never bragged about those. Of course he had not bragged at all, so she didn't know. And she wasn't sure it was a good idea to ask, so she remained standing, alert and patient. He said his slave wouldn't be long and then he didn't want to keep Cynane from her duties. Yet he also invited her to sit. She took a seat, since he invited her, anything else would be rude. Even slaves from Britannia could have manners. 

"Thank you." She said when she'd sat down, "I'm not in a rush yet." She just said and he wondered how she served her mistress. Well that, at least, was easy to answer.

"I'm her personal bodyguard." Cynane replied simply, because that's how it was. And since she was a bodyguard, it was just easier to wear what she wore. How could she protect Claudia when wearing a long chiton or a skirt? No, breeches and a somewhat short tunica, it only met her thighs, was plenty. And then the leather armor, of course, but she didn't always wear that when she went out. 

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A woman as a bodyguard, an amazon. Perhaps it made sense to an Imperial. There were gladiatrices, but they were largely novelty. He wasn't certain what to make of this particular woman. His initial response had been disgust; she'd tripped him and her accent was irritatingly. The Britons were responsible for his injury, and early on he'd harboured a burning hatred for them. Time had cooled that fire to dull coals, though they could flare again given the right impetus.

But she hadn't given him that impetus; she'd helped him when his leg had cramped, even though she clearly hadn't really wanted to, even when he'd been terse from the pain. That had been unexpected, but he'd been grudgingly grateful. He'd traded in plenty of her countrymen, but never really known any of them. He hadn't wanted to. But despite himself his curiosity was piqued.

"You're from Britannia, aren't you? I recognise the accent." He ventured. She certainly had the look, pale skin and eyes, though the pale hair was unusual even there.

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Cynane knew there had been female bodyguards to the Imperial family before, she heard it through the grapewine at the palace. Someone named Achillia or something, once served perhaps the former and infamous Augusta? At least that's how she thought it was. It didn't matter much though. She belonged to Claudia and she'd protect her with her life, if she had to. She would however rather kill than be killed. Because if she died, how would she protect Claudia from what happened after her death? That's why she'd done what she did that day, when they were attacked in the countryside. She'd killed for her mistress and she'd do it again. 

For now though, she relaxed as much as she could in Spurius' office. She did feel a little tense. She still wasn't sure what to think of the man. After a pause, he asked where she was from and she nodded.

"I was indeed born and raised in Britannia, Dominus." She replied and looked him over, with his staff and all that, "I imagine you're familiar with the area." Maybe he fought there. Maybe he killed her people, or people from other tribes in Britannia. Charis' tribe. Annis, Florus... there were so many. And they lost so many to the Romans.

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He'd been right, she was from Britannia, and her question in return brought a bitter smirk to the man's long face. "I am." He replied. It was a logical conclusion. "More than I care to admit, at times. I was stations there whilst in the legions." He told her, watching the amazon-like woman with a kind of fatalistic curiosity, wondering how she'd respond. No doubt she was here because of the Roman legions.

Sighing, he stretched his leg out again, using a slightly different angle once more. The muscles were starting to settle down. "I nearly didn't come back. Took a sword in the leg, courtesy of one of your countrymen." And he'd hated her people for a long time for that injury, and all that it had cost him. Hated them until it became pure habit. He'd traded enough of them as slaves to get his revenge ten times over. But he'd never been cruel to them. He'd seen men who took their tempers out on their slaves, who stooped to torture for fun, and it disgusted him. And then there was the trader in him, courtesy of his father, who knew the cost of damaged goods.

No, he'd done the opposite. He treated them as livestock. The very best livestock. Like a prize bull his stock were kept comfortably, fed well, and sold to those who could make the best use of them. He'd practiced that restraint, refused to let the long seething anger rule him, even if keeping it bottled up inside had hollowed him out. And now, with one of those very people before him, as an individual rather than simply a number, when he reached for that comfortable anger he found, like a fire left banked and untended for too long, the last embers had smoldered away.

He just felt tired and bitter. "But he's long dead, and I'm not." That had to mean something, he kept telling himself. "And you're whole but a long way from home. So we all lost something."

@Atrice

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She was right when she thought he was familiar with Britannia. And not only because he recognized the accent – a slave trader might be able to do that without having been there. But Spurius here had been there. He’d been there with the legions and said he took a sword to his leg. She glanced at it again. So it was a battle injury. Well if that was all she got… a sword in the leg, but still able to walk freely. Instead if she was here. Uninjured, but also unfree.

 Spurius added that the man who did it to him was long since dead and pointed out how they had all lost something.

 Cynane nodded, trying to keep a neutral expression, “I'm not sure if I am whole... Domine. Sometimes it feels like… some of us lost everything.” She lost her family, her friends, her people. She might never see it again. She lost everything except for her life. Only because Longinus made her believe she could live to be free. And had she tasted it yet, freedom? No, not since that battle. She hadn’t even come close. Maybe she’d be a slave in Rome until she was old and grey and eventually dead. Spurius was at least not a slave. But she said nothing more, fearing she’d say something wrong. She might already have offended him by that simple statement just before.

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I'm not sure if I am whole... Domine. Sometimes it feels like… some of us lost everything.

He looked at her, really looked at her, and for a moment his thoughts turned back in time, to the cool, damp and green lands, with their incessant rain and swamps that men just disappeared into. The wooden walkways that disappeared into the mists, the stone peaks that suddenly loomed out of them, the warriors that appeared as though born of them, with their long swords and long moustaches, their round shields and their round houses. The smell of smoke in the mist that heralded a settlement, the battle cries that heralded a war.

Not every barbarian with a sword had been a man. Some had been women, some had been mere boys. There had been women in the houses as well, and children. Not all had lived, and some of those who had had been enslaved. Not all of course, the Romans rarely denuded a land of it's inhabitants, unless there was too much opposition. But whatever Cynane had had there, would have been left behind when the Romans took her captive. Parents, siblings, perhaps a family of her own.

"I guess you did." He acknowledged. "Did you have a husband? Children?" He asked, exploring the idea of a Brittanic barbarian as a person.

@Atrice

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She tried not to meet his eyes after his statement. Briefly wondering when that food he mentioned earlier would arrive. They were just talking now and it was becoming more and more awkward for her. He kept saying things or asking her questions and of course she'd answer, but she hated lying and why should she anyway? So she told it to him how it was. He thought they'd lost something, kind of the same, but he didn't lose everything he had in his life before, like she did. He had his freedom. Sure he had an injury, but besides that, he was here in Rome, where he belonged, he clearly had a thriving business and he was free. Cynane had none of those things. And she wasn't a young girl anymore either. She felt his eyes upon her, but didn't look up at him. Then he asked more into her previous life. 

Cynane shook her head at his question, "I did not, I was quite young. It was just before my 18th winter." She replied. And she never did get a chance to have a husband. Not children either, it would seem. It wasn't like she had not been used when she was a gladiatrix, but she never fell pregnant like some of the others did. And if she did, she didn't notice and her belly never grew and no children came. By now, she wasn't sure that she could have them, but she didn't want it either. Not as a slave. Seeing Charis with Peregrinus was plenty, she was not having an easy time trying to raise her master's free son, while she was not free herself. Her thoughts drifted again.

@Sarah

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"Hmm." Was his only initial response, absorbing the information. "I had a betrothed." He said, staring off through the wall at something now years past. "I was... fond of her. But when I returned a cripple, her father refused me." He hadn't been able to walk, when he'd first returned. It had taken time and considerable stubbornness to get his leg strengthened to the point where he could walk as he did now. That same stubbornness had led to successes in some areas, and kept him stifled in others.

He came back from whatever past those hazel eyes had been watching, and glanced across at her. "I never wanted to be a solider."  He revealed. "My father is a trader, but the unrest to the south when I was younger meant there wasn't enough work for me. But then we all do what we have to do to survive. And the Patricians benefit." He added bitterly. Somehow those who declared the wars never seemed to suffer from them.

At that moment the guard from before appeared, carrying two simple clay bowls of a hot fish stew, rich with butter and flavoursome herbs. There were cockles and oysters, and big chunks of fish along with onions, chervil leaves and a drizzle of garum. Numerius set the bowls on the little table, receiving a nod from his employer, and withdrew.

"Help yourself." Said Spurius, putting actions to words as he picked up a bowl.

@Atrice

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