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Two barbarians don't make a horde


Jason
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It was the month the Romans called October, which mean that the city was cooler than it had been, though it was far from being winter - not that Rome had winters like those Jason remembered from his childhood, that forced his people to move for better pasture and when the steppe was covered in snow that meant they were confined far more to the camp.

He was in the garden today, the small garden near his master's quarters. Close enough to be to hand if he was needed, far enough away that he could feel he wasn't on a leash, or at least that the leash wasn't as short and tight as usual. Today, he was repairing a belt. Technically, he didn't have to, but it was something he wanted to do, and it was a skill he had, one among many. He'd had so many skills and things taken away he was not about to hand this to someone else to do when he could do it himself.

He looked up after a moment to find that he wasn't alone any more. He had been joined by his master's sister's bodyguard, a tall blonde slave called Cynane, who he hadn't really spoken to very much. He wasn't sure if she was sizing him up or merely watching out of curiosity, and offered a smile.

"Good afternoon."

 

@Atrice

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Cynane needed a breath of fresh air. While Decimus wasn't the worst praetorian to be around, it wasn't always him she ran into. And many of the others still enjoyed that they were free, paid citizens of Rome, protecting the imperials, while Cynane was nothing but a slave, ordered to do so. She couldn't go home when she wanted to. This was her home. And they enjoyed trying to make her lose her temper over it. She'd been here almost four years now though, she'd gotten used to it and by now, it was like dropping water on a leaf. It fell right off and soaked into the ground instead. But that didn't mean she enjoyed it either. She after another round of irritating words tossed at her, she needed fresh air, and where better to find that, but outside in one of the palace gardens.

When she stepped out however, she noticed she was not alone. Another slave was here, a few years younger than she, but of course she knew who he was. He'd been here a few years now. Although her mistress didn't spend a huge amount of time with her brother, she did follow Claudia almost anywhere, so of course she knew who the slave was. The body slave of Tiberius, his name was Jason. She hadn't spoken with him a lot, they rarely crossed paths, but here they both were. He was busy though, with a belt in his hands, it would appear that he was mending it. She didn't yet know what to think of him, but at least she knew he was not Roman and he was a slave like her. So he had that going for him. He looked up and saw her and then chose to greet her.

"Good afternoon." She replied. He even smiled at her and she kind of liked his smile. It seemed genuine, to her. She didn't know if she was bothering him though, so she didn't move further yet, "I hope you don't mind me being here." 

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"I hope you don't mind me being here." 

Her Latin was as accented as his own, although in a different way. "Not at all. Would you like to sit down?"

He made a space for her on the bench where he was sitting, clearing his tools to make room.

"You're the princess' bodyguard, aren't you? Cynane?"

She wasn't the princess' body slave - he'd seen her around several times and knew her as Volusa, a quiet girl who'd always been a Palace slave, unlike himself. And apparently unlike Cynane, who was very striking in her masculine tunic and braccae, with her hair in braids. It wasn't the same style as the clothes he'd worn himself as a warrior but it wasn't precisely Roman, either - even female slaves generally wore long tunics down to their ankles, maybe with some sort of over-tunic, or a shawl tied round the hips or something. Her braided hairstyle was very reminiscent of the way he'd worn his own hair when he'd still been free. He wondered if the braids had the same significance among her people as they did among his, or if she just found it convenient.

 

@Atrice

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He might have been here a while, but that didn't mean she knew him. She dealt mostly with Claudia and Claudia's slaves and anyone Claudia spent a lot of time with. And although she knew her mistress loved her brother, that didn't mean she spent an awful lot of time with him. But this might be the day she'd get to know Jason here, find out what he was all about. If he was worth befriending. She hoped he was, it wouldn't be all bad to have more friends in the palace. So when he said he didn't mind her presence and even invited her to sit, she nodded.

"Thank you." She said and went to sit down by his side. He knew who she was, of course he did. Who didn't know Claudia's Briton bodyguard, with her braids and her masculine clothes, so different from most other women at the palace. And she was only able to wear this, because she was Claudia's bodyguard. That certainly wasn't always a bad thing either.

"I am indeed. And you're Jason, body slave to Tiberius." She concluded, looking at him. Now they'd introduced each other to each other, they could move on... "Is he a kind master to you?" She wondered curiously, unafraid to speak openly about such things. Cynane wasn't sure what to think about Tiberius yet. He didn't seem like the worst Roman in the world. And yet he was oh so privileged... and male. That spoke against him. But perhaps Jason could enlighten her.

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"He is..." Jason rubbed at his neck where the inked falcon flew. "He's very... thoughtful. I mean, he thinks a lot. He's not hasty like some people." He didn't fly into a temper at the least little thing and lash out at the nearest slave to him, as some people had. Jason had had hits and slaps enough for three lifetimes before he'd come here, or it felt like it.

He took up his tools again, to skive the edges of the leather - he'd basically made a new belt because the leather of the old one was so worn, yet the metalwork had been perfectly sound. Whoever had made the previous belt had used horribly inferior leather for it, in Jason's opinion.

"How long have you been with Claudia - if you don't mind me asking," he said after a moment. It was nice to talk, but if she would rather not, silence was nice, too.

 

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At first Jason seemed careful about what to say, as if unsure of how to say it. He just confirmed the prince was a kind master. But then he shared some thoughts on the prince, as if to elaborate. He said Tiberius was thoughtful and considerate it seemed and that made her smile a little. She didn't know Claudia's brother so well, but it was interesting to hear that they were a little bit alike after all. Well they were twins... and twins were something special. But even alike, like that?

"That's good... I think?" She said, unsure if Jason thought it a good thing or if it was just a fact he shared about the prince. Then Jason began working on the belt again, while Cynane just sat and the other slave asked how long she'd been with Claudia for.

"I don't mind you asking... it's been four years now, I think. How about you and Tiberius? I don't recall exactly when you arrived. It's not like they care to announce it, when there's someone new added to the flock of imperial slaves." She added and stretched out her legs in front of her a bit. It was nice to sit and relax. And talk about something else but those oh so mighty praetorians.

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"Oh, it's good," he said in confirmation, and  noticed her smile. It made her look a lot less fierce, which was probably why he hadn't seen her smile before. Wasn't she here mostly to look fierce? He shrugged. "I've been here about three years now, but I've been a slave for eight years."

Eight years... half a lifetime  since he'd seen any of his closer family. He wasn't going to think about that, and he had found Azarion, so he wasn't quite as alone here in Rome as he had been six months ago.

"How long have you been here?" he asked. He felt an affinity with this woman he'd barely met - hadn't she been made a prisoner of the Romans in a similar way to him, even if she came from a very different part of the world.

 

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Jason was nice, easily answering the questions she asked him. He wasn't intimidated by her, was he? It didn't seem so, but you could never be too sure. She tried to be nice to her fellow slaves, but she didn't always know if they appreciated it or what they thought. But Jason did still seem genuine enough for her. Eight years. That was a long time. Not as long as she, but still quite a long time.

"I've been in Rome for more than a decade... 13 years I think? 14 since I was captured." She explained. There was something about Jason, he seemed to want to talk to her, and he did seem open to tell her things... but she wasn't very good at conversation with people she didn't trust. And she didn't trust many people at all. She had to try though.

"You weren't born a slave either, then. What were you born to be?" She asked, curious about his past and how he ended up in Rome. He was younger than her, but he wasn't a child either. He might have been one, when he was enslaved... but that still meant he knew and remembered a life where he was not a slave. Sure, other slaves did that, but so many tried to forget about that. She sometimes felt quite alone when she insisted on not forgetting.

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"No, I wasn't." He set the leatherwork aside and rested the heel of his foot on the edge of the bench to clasp his hands around his knee. "I was a warrior among my people, and a son of the chief." He paused for a moment, judging the time of day and position of the sun in the sky before indicating a specific direction. "My people live a long way to the north and east of here, out in the vast plains beyond the edge of the empire. We're riders and nomads, and there were raids into Roman territory so they demanded hostages. I was one of them, living there for a year or so until one of the other tribes encroached too far into Roman territory and killed some of the other hostages and sold the rest of us as slaves. I don't know why they didn't kill me along with the others."

He hated Rome and everything about it - it was too loud, too dirty, too many people, too closed in... Tiberius was about the only Roman he could tolerate, and that was more to do with the sort of person he was. He had a shrewd idea that Tiberius would not have done to Azarion what the bastards did.

 

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He was very willing to talk and seemed to settle to tell her the story. Cynane was quiet, just listened and nodded at the right times. So he'd been a warrior too, and highly ranked. Like her. She thought she'd heard about his kind of people before. At first it didn't sound too bad, being a hostage but being able to live almost at home was surely not the worst? But she was surprised when he continued the story.

"You must have been valuable enough for them. And it was your own people... who enslaved you and sold you back to the Romans?" She asked, "That's just..." She trailed off, unsure of what words to pick. Messed up, that's what it was. Fucked up, even. She'd heard about such things happening too, but still, it was treachery in her opinion. The Romans were bad enough, there was no reason to be worse than them.

"I'm sorry that it happened to you." She then said with a small sigh. Did the Romans ever stop to consider how many lives they ruined, one way or the other? Families torn apart for their pleasure.

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"Oh - no, it wasn't my people, I wasn't clear enough," Jason said. "The Romans did it, in retaliation for one of the other tribes crossing the river into Roman territory." He shrugged. "I was the son of a chief - or rather, a son of a chief, I suppose that made me valuable enough to keep, though whether anyone knows where I am now is in the lap of the gods."

If he had any consolation in the whole business, it was that as the body slave of an imperial prince, they could hardly do any worse to him now. The worst thing had been knowing that Azarion was dead, the second worst was knowing that his family thought he was dead, though he was fairly sure the rest of his family was still alive, living the old ways free on the steppe.

"Tiberius is about the only decent Roman I've met," he said. "It's hard hating a whole people when you get to know them a bit." Maybe the lower class Romans were nicer, but he was pretty sheltered here in the Palace and hadn't met any. All the upper class Romans he'd come across treated him as if he was literal furniture that moved to do things when they told him to.

 

@Atrice

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Jason's explanation to her misunderstanding didn't help much. The Romans had killed and sold some of their hostages, because of another tribe crossing into the Roman territory. So it wasn't even his tribe who did it, and still the hostages were killed? Fucking Romans. But Jason went on, explaining his own position and how that made him valuable back then. Cynane hadn't been a nobody either. She wasn't exactly a princess, but her relations made her higher ranked than some of the other women. Not that it mattered to the Romans.

"My cousin became the queen of our people... before she betrayed us all. But that was after I was captured." In her eyes, Eppitacus had also kind of betrayed her, by not sending anyone to help out her party at the battle. The story was that the Britons were successful. Just not all of them. Just not Cynane. Jason tore her from her thoughts by saying that Tiberius was the only decent Roman he met. Cynane let out a little laugh.

"Maybe it runs in the family... Claudia is also one of the few decent Romans I know." She was more than decent in Cynane's eyes, but that wasn't what this was about, "A part of me hopes she'll never marry, because I don't know what they'll do with me, if she does. But I know it's inevitable. At least I imagine you get to stay with Tiberius no matter what he does." She added. She didn't know what they'd do. Would she stay as Claudia's bodyguard? Would she be passed on to someone else, like you'd do with a dog or a horse? If she was lucky, she'd be freed. Or maybe she'd just be sold. As long as they didn't send her back to the arena.

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"It#s the not knowing that's the worst, isn't it?" Jason hated the not knowing, the uncertainty. It must be worse for Cynane because she had the not knowing when, as well.

"You were taken in battle, then?" He hadn't really heard of any other people whose women fought alongside the men - it happened in Sarmatia, of course, partly because they fought on hoseback and women could be just as good as good on horseback, armed with a bow. They could be fierce on foot, too, but it was rare that a woman could hold her own against a man when they were both armed with a sword and shield.

"Our women fight with us, too, but we're archers, on horseback - Sarmatians ride almost as soon as we can walk."

That was one of the things he missed - galloping across the expanse of the plains, a good horse under him and his hair flying free in the wind. It was almost a physical ache, how much he missed that.

 

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She nodded at his words, it was definitely not amusing to not know your future - and at the same time, you were unable to plan it, because you didn't own your own body or your own life. She was over 30 years old now and she didn't own herself. All she had was her thoughts and her hopes. Jason asked if she was taken in battle and explained that his people's women fought too, although they were archers. She looked at him, that sounded very interesting.

"That sounds incredible... it sounds almost like the legendary Amazons?" She asked, she'd heard about those, of course she had. And how could she not admire such legendary female warriors? Any woman who dared to fight would be admired by her.

"I was taken in battle... in a battle where my people actually won. But we were split up in smaller parties, attacking the Romans from different angles and well... my party was not victorious. And no one came to our aid." So that's why she was here, now he knew that much. She'd been too young to lead an army or even part of an army back then, it was her first battle, after all. And her last as a free woman. But that was a long time ago... "I began learning how to fight at a young age. Not all women with the Brigantes fight. But some do. I always enjoyed it. At least I get to use my skills here." 

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"If I've heard right, I think the Amazons might have been my people or something - or at least, they came from the same place my people do. Stories and legends about people do change if they come from far enough away and you've never been there, after all."

He gave her a sympathetic look. "It might not feel like much, being stuck here, but your people did win the battle. And that isn't easy, not against soldiers like the Romans. But you've won fights since - I heard about what happened, with the brigands that time."

Caught out by a group prepared to fight, and when they had to protect the princess - he wasn't sure exactly what had happened, but Cynane had killed one of them, and the princess had come back not even hurt. It did feel a little strange to think that a member of the people he hated had been unhurt and to be happy about it, but well. Life was strange and people were just... people, at the end of the day. It wasn't the princess who'd decided to invade Sarmatia or Britannia, after all - and the Romans hadn't even invaded Sarmatia.

"What - if you don't mind me asking - what was your name back home? I'm Tiranês, really."

 

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She smiled again when he said that the legends of the Amazons may have begun with his people. Of course such tales came from truth somewhere and why not from a people that was not conquered by Rome? Because to Romans, such people must indeed be legendary! Although, as far as she knew, wasn't the thing with the Amazons a Greek thing? Anyway, it was nice to hear Jason's point of view on that story. As he continued speaking about fighting and winning the battle, despite Cynane not being part of the winners... and he mentioned how she'd fought off the bandits for the princess... it dawned on her that she was currently speaking to a man, who was not trying to make himself seem better and more superior than her. He was not trying to charm her either. They were having an actual, nice conversation! 

"They did try to keep it quiet, that story... but gossip spreads. That was a fight I'll not forget anytime soon." She confessed. Claudia had come out unharmed indeed and Cynane too, more or less. It was Decimus and Aia who took the hardest blows. Cynane had almost enjoyed it, using her skills for once. While she was a bodyguard, it was rare she actually had to fight to protect the princess. But she was there if she needed to fight.

Jason asked kindly for her actual name and shared his own, "Tiranês." She spoke slowly, trying to pronounce it as he had, "I was known as Cinnia, at home. You're welcome to use it, if you like." She said, deciding that Jason - or Tiranês - was of the rare breed of the male population, that was actually worth her while, "Will you tell me more about your people? It sounds interesting, with all the riding and the archery. We had archers too, but most fought with other weapons. And by foot." 

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"Cinnia," he said, doing his best to pronounce it as she had, though he thought he had an easier time with her name than she had with his; there were sounds in Sarmatian that just didn't exist in Latin. Even a reasonable approximation would be more than he'd had in nearly a decade.

"My homeland is the steppe. Ah." He'd resorted to the Sarmatian word because Latin didn't have the right vocabulary for this. "It's a... vast grassland plain. My people live in the western part of it, nearest the Romans and the Dacians - we trade with the Parthians to the south, too. It's good country for horses and cattle and other livestock, but the northern parts get very cold in winter, with a lot of snow, so we... we move with the seasons, further north in summer and further south in winter. We live in round tents, yurts, that we take with us. And we can all ride almost as soon as we can walk. We use bows for hunting - deer, mostly, though my first kill was a wolf one winter. I was helping to protect the herds." He indicated the wolf tattoo on his arm.

"We use short bows because we shoot from horseback - I don't know if you've ever seen the sort of bow I mean. The Parthians use them, too, and some other people." He sketched the shape of a recurve bow on the bench between them. "Weren't the Amazons supposed to be famous archers? That's another thing that points to the original Amazons being Sarmatian, or something like it."

 

@Atrice

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Cinnia was very similar to Cynane and not that hard to pronounce. Jason's actual name was more special, not what she was used to, but it wasn't a bad name. And much less Roman sounding than Jason was. She would try to remember it and use it, although not near any of the Romans in the palace, because they might not like it. She settled as he began talking, she did enjoy hearing stories and this was so foreign to her, that it almost sounded like a legend in itself. She closed her eyes, trying to imagine it all. Vast grassland plains, named a word she didn't recognize. There was snow, they moved around with the seasons, lived in round tents and used bows for hunting. When he said his first kill was a wolf, she opened her eyes, impressed. If this was more than eight years ago, he could not have been very old when he had his kill. And it was even a wolf. And here he was in Rome, serving as a body slave, when he could be out there, hunting with his bow. She looked at the tattoo while he continued talking.

"I think you're right. What I recall about the Amazons are that they are horseback-riding women and archers." She'd heard stories about them at banquets for the imperials, where she stood in the background as a guard. But that didn't mean she did not pay attention.

"It sounds so different, your homeland and your people. It must have been overwhelming to see Rome, with nothing but buildings and people everywhere, if you're used to vast plains and moving around." She said, "My people live in houses, we are not nomads. But the houses are nothing like this." She gestured to the buildings around them, "They are often round too, like your tents. Larger though, I imagine. And we have villages, but no large cities like here. That may have changed though. I've been here more than a decade, after all." She said with a small sigh and looked at him, "If you were free... would you return to your homeland?" 

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"I miss... I miss having a horizon," Jason admitted. Sometimes the longing for a horizon felt like a physical pain, though he was able to ignore it - had to. "Rome is just so... closed in on itself, with so many people living all on top of one another. I don't know how they can bear it." He could see the sky, at least, but couldn't get that full-circle horizon anywhere. He couldn't get a decent uninterrupted view to the horizon anywhere, even; there were houses and temples and baths and other buildings no matter what direction he looked in.

He tilted his head to one side, considering her words. "I... would. I don't know if I could fit back into that world, now, but it's home in a way Rome isn't, and my family is there. Most of them, anyway."

Would he go home, though? Especially now, after finding Azarion - he was the only family Azarion had here, the only other Sarmatian in Rome as far as he knew. He wasn't sure he could abandon his cousin like that, even if he was given the choice. Right now, though, it was a purely hypothetical thing and he was a slave and gong to wake up a slave tomorrow morning, and the day after and the day after that... and in the face of all that, it was easy to say that yes, he would go home again.

"Do you have friends or family here that you would have to leave if you were able to return home tomorrow?" he asked, wondering what her decision would be if she had a similar choice to make in such a situation.

 

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Cynane nodded at Jason’s comment on how Rome was like. There was no horizon, he was absolutely right. It had been difficult for her at first, but maybe in another way. She’d only been at the ludus, when she first came here. They didn’t let her out, too afraid she’d try and escape. Instead they would attempt to break her, but not too much, because she was soon popular in the arena as a gladiatrix. If she lost all her spirit, she might not be so interesting. That’s what some of the others had said back then anyway.

 Jason said he wanted to return to his homeland, if he was free but he wasn’t sure if he would fit in anymore. Even if that’s where his family was.

 “I think you may find it much changed. That’s what happens when Rome is present.” Cynane said bitterly and then he asked if she had anyone here she’d have to leave behind.

 “I have no family here. But I have gained friends since I came to Rome. I don’t know if anyone of my family are alive anymore. I haven’t seen or heard anything since I was captured. And a part of me want to go home, but I also know how much things have changed. I have a friend from Britannia, who came here only a few years ago. And it does sound different from what I remember.” She explained, “I’d like to leave Rome though. But you are right. I would hate leaving my friends behind. What about you? Do you have anyone here you care about?”

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"Rome hasn't crossed the frontier there at least - well, not that I've heard, anyway," Jason said. They wouldn't understand a culture of herders and nomads, he was sure they wouldn't, and he didn't think the wildness of the steppe would be good for any other way of life. It certainly wouldn't be a good sort of land for agriculture. Well, the sort of agriculture the Romans practised, anyway - it was all wrong for things like vines and olives, probably.

He would hate to see the vast wildness of it tamed the Roman way, and couldn't picture his people willingly taking to Roman ways.

"I'm glad you've got friends here, and I'm sorry about your family." He knew exactly what that felt like, and thought that her home was probably a lot different than his was, now. Why couldn't the Romans leave things well enough alone!

"I found my cousin a few months ago," he said. "I though he'd died, but he's here in Rome - he's a charioteer with the Whites."

He found the gods' sense of humour interesting; the first time he had seen his cousin in eight years was while he was taking part in his first ever race for the Whites - or at least, that's what he'd understood from everything he'd heard. Azarion had done well for himself, all things considered, though Jason wished neither of them had had to go through all the horrors of the previous eight years. Those years had been especially hard on Azarion, of course.

 

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It was good at least, for Jason and his people, that the Romans had not crossed the frontier in that direction. Honestly Cynane didn't know either how far North in Britannia the Romans came, but those from the Northern parts were strong and robust people and Cynane had just been very unlucky at that battle. She was sure the rest would make a stand and keep the Romans at bay. Maybe seek some sort of compromise or treaty. She knew the Romans were powerful - she wasn't born yesterday, after all. But she still had the hope that her own people were smart too. 

Jason was kind, saying he was sorry about her family, "Thank you." She said. Well they might be alive and thriving for all she knew, but she didn't know anything. They probably didn't even know she'd been captured and brought here. Maybe she was presumed dead. There was no way to know and she would never know either, since she was stuck here. At least it seemed like she suddenly gained another friend. And in Rome, friends mattered as much as family to her. Jason was strangely nice to speak with. He made no attempt at overstepping any boundaries or anything, they were simply just talking, as friends would. He made no assumptions. He was just there, like she. Did he have any idea how admirable such behavior from a man was to her? 

He then revealed that he'd found a cousin of his not long ago, whom he thought dead, but he was alive. But... a charioteer.

"I hope he's good then... I know charioteers live dangerous lives. But I'm glad you found him, at least. Were you close, as free men?" She then wondered, because that would mean something too. Of course just having any sort of family in Rome was nice for a captured slave, but if they were close friends, even better.

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"I think he will be. He knows horses - all my people do - so he's not going to find that bit hard. I should think the hard part would be being in a chariot rather than on the back of the horse, though we have wagons and things back at home. It's not the same thing at all, though, and he was very young when we taken." Azarion wasn't even that old now, of course.

He had to consider her next question. "We were family, of course. But we're from different tribes - our mothers married chiefs from different tribes. Or rather, my mother was from his tribe, the Saii, originally, but it's a much smaller tribe than mine, and she married into my tribe, the Alani, because it's a much more powerful tribe, with different clans and chiefs." He thought she would understand about tribes and tribal alliances in a way that the Romans didn't. Jason had never heard that the Romans even had tribes properly except for voting or something, which was all wrong.

"We saw each other at various times growing up, but I can't say we were very close, simply because of how we lived and everything."

But that didn't matter, not really. They were family and that was a precious tie here - he suspected that he would have a strong connection with Azarion even if they weren't related by blood, just because they were both Sarmatian and had that shared history.

 

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Jason seemed happy about having found a relative in Rome and it sounded like his cousin might do well as a charioteer. She hoped that for both of them, both for the cousin who was enslaved, that he would live. And for Jason, so he wouldn't have to outlive another family member. He explained more about their relations from before, how they were from different tribes, but she nodded, as it did make sense with the tribes and the alliances. At the end, they had not been close, but they knew each other.

"Maybe you'll be closer here, than you would have been in your homelands." She said with a small smile, at least that was kind of a good thing, wasn't it? "I hope you'll have plenty of chances to talk then, now that you've found each other." Cynane said and fell silent a bit, as she remembered something. She thought about how she'd love to talk to anyone she was related to, but then, some people she didn't want to see.

"I kind of do have one relative here, now I think of it.. but I haven't met her here and I don't think I want to. She was my cousin and became the queen of my people. But then she chose to betray my people to the Romans and married one of them. I... don't think I consider her family anymore. Not really. We knew each other in a past life. That's all there is to it." Which was kind of sad, but she could never forgive Ysulda for what she did. Just like she had issues with forgiving Eppitacus for what he didn't do, even if it had been nice to see him again. But that was an entirely different story.

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"Maybe - and I hope so," Jason said, and tucked a strand of hair behind his ear. It was growing out a bit, not as long as it was when he'd been captured, but not as short as the Romans wore it.

He sucked in a breath as she said how her people had been betrayed by a relative - at least the Roxolani hadn't actively betrayed them to the Romans. Just broken a treaty and crossed a river that they shouldn't have, and set in motion a chain of events that had led to Jason and his cousin being here in this vast stone city with their people thinking they were dead.

He felt an affinity with this woman whose people were so removed from his own yet whose story was so similar to his. A warrior woman from a warrior people. She could also be a pattern for the stories of the Amazons, he thought.

"I am sorry for that, Cinnia of the Brigantes," he said, and a daring thought came into his head. He reached for the knife he had been using. "Do you swear the blood brotherhood, in your people?" he asked. It would probably be asking for trouble, but who cared.

 

@Atrice

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