Jump to content

All wrapped up


Recommended Posts

End of January, 77 AD

Calpurnia was at the Emporium, shopping for fabric. It was her new favorite pastime, and Aulus was gracious enough to sponsor it. The marketplace gathered all the treasures and luxuries of the empire, anything money could possibly buy - including fabrics of all colors and materials, for the pleasure of those who could afford it. And those who had the eye for their possibilities. Calpurnia definitely had. She knew that as a former Vestal people still expected some level of modesty from her... but she didn't much care. Besides, the secret of good dresses was not in the price of the fabric, or its rarity. It was in the hues, and the quality of the weaving. Something that was cheap could still be exquisite when tailored right. And had just the right color. Which is why she tended to spend several hours shopping around, blissfully immersed in the world of texture and color. For today, she was wearing a sky-blue stola and a darker blue palla that complimented it just right, with gold and silver jewelry.

The merchant knew her well. The moment she appeared, he had his best new wares on display, with several of his slaves running around, unfolding bolts and lengths of fabric, until the space in front of the shop was a maze of fluttering fabrics in all colors of the rainbow. Egyptian cotton, Hispanian linen, iridescent silk from beyond the empire. Calpurnia stood in the middle of the whirlwind of fabrics, listening politely to the merchant's sales pitch, touching the fabrics, enjoying the show.

That is, until the sound of running was heard over the commotion of the market, and someone barreled straight into the fabrics, pulling some along.

After that, it was a whole lot of colorful chaos.

@Atrice

  • Like 1
  • Haha 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

It had been a day like any other at the market and Alexius was just there, looking at people and enjoying a cup of wine from a stall. Not the worst wine, but not the best either. Just wine. And just people-watching. He liked doing that. And he always found something to do, while he was here. Like spotting a young boy, perhaps a few years younger than his own son, stealing a purse from a lovely woman's belt. Alexius rolled his eyes, emptied the cup and stood. Approached the boy with certain steps and the boy did see him. Within the blink of an eye, the boy began sprinting away and Alexius followed him through the crowds. People yelled, but Alexius had to catch him. Damn that the boy was younger and more agile than himself! Alexius was strong and had plenty of stamina, but you couldn't claim he was small and agile. 

He simply followed though, that's right until he wasn't sure where the boy went and he thought he saw him and moved again... only to barrel straight into a pile of fabrics, which caused him to stumble and fall over. Fuck! He sat there and looked around, this was not what he thought was going to happen!

Alexius looked up, to see the less than pleased merchant staring at him and an attractive mature woman in blue next to him. He offered them both a sheepish smile, as he attempted to peel the layers of fabric off him so that he could stand, "Apologies, I really am very sorry about this! I hope they're not ruined!" He said to the merchant. The boy was definitely long gone and never to be caught now, and Alexius had something new to do. Find out how to get out of this mess again.

@Chevi

  • Haha 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Someone barreled straight into the fabrics stretched out in front of the shop, pulling several lengths to the ground in a table. The servants yelled as fabric was yanked out of their hands. A stretch of light green silk fell over Calpurnia's head, veiling her from the struggle that was happening; it took her a moment to disentangle herself, and see a man emerging from the puddle of colors.

"Apologies, I really am very sorry about this! I hope they're not ruined!"

It was an amusing sight. Calpurnia found herself chuckling, despite the distressed noises the merchant was making. As far as netting men in the street went, this one was not a bad catch. When he stood, he proved to be quite tall, taller than Calpurnia, even. It was rare, in Rome; she was used to many of the men and almost all women constantly looking up at her.

"Were you in a hurry for a reason, or do you just enjoy plunging into quality fabric?" Calpurnia smirked at him. "Not that I would fault you for that."

@Atrice

  • Haha 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Alexius gave the blonde a brief look, as she chuckled, but he imagined then that it might indeed be an amusing sight - a large man like him, covered in layers of silk and other expensive fabrics of all colors. Maybe she was right to chuckle, but Alexius did not as he stood and the merchant seemed furious. Gods he really did hope they were not ruined, for he'd rather not like to pay for all of these expensive fabrics! He didn't have the coin! Maybe he could work it off, somehow? Although the nice looking blonde lady was probably a customer here and not the merchant's wife, she looked too finely dressed for that. But she asked why he'd done what he just did and he looked at her. She was near his own height. It was so rare he met any tall women in Rome that she was quite spectacular in his eyes. Gods, imagine those long legs wrapped around him and her eyes closed in ecstasy... 

But that wasn't what was going on right now and he steadied himself to answer her question, "I was trying to catch a boy, whom I saw steal a purse from someone." He said and looked in the direction he thought the boy went, "He's lost in the crowd now. And the woman will never see her purse again." Alexius added with a sigh and looked at the merchant, "What do I owe you?" At least he was honest and didn't try to escape, that had to mean something, right? He stole another glance at the lady while waiting for an answer.

@Chevi

  • Haha 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The merchant was ready to have a fit about the fabrics, but the servants were quickly gathering them now, and nothing seemed torn or damaged. Maybe a little dusty. The man at least looked sheepish about having run straight into them.

"I was trying to catch a boy, whom I saw steal a purse from someone. He's lost in the crowd now. And the woman will never see her purse again." 

That made sense. Calpurnia glanced around, but the thief was probably long gone by now. She instinctively checked for her own purse. It was still there.

"What do I owe you?" 

The merchant gave him a glare, obviously making calculations in his head. Calpurnia knew it was going to be a high number.

"I was going to buy them anyway. None of them are damaged" she waved a hand. "It would be unfair to tax you for trying to help someone else."

@Atrice

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Alexius felt a bit foolish and didn't know what to do - should he help the servants and slaves pick up the fabrics? But they were already so busy and he didn't want to make matters worse. He wasn't made for that sort of work, after all, he was too large for it. He'd probably be all kinds of clumsy attempting to fold those sheets of fabric. So instead he explained why he did what he did, and then he asked the merchant what he owed.

The merchant glared at him and Alexius was just about ready to say he could work it off somehow, because there was no way he'd be able to pay in cash anyway. He could be a guard or carry materials or something like that. When you already had two jobs, what was one more added to that number? But the lovely lady, whose certain gaze and majestic figure was getting under his skin, said she would buy them all anyway and that none were damaged. Alexius arched a brow, surprised. She must be wealthy! 

"Thank you. You're more than kind... you must let me know how I can repay your kindness." Alexius said elegantly to her, glancing at her features again. She was very finely dressed too, really. And her height was striking. It reminded him of Achillia, the gladiatrix he loved half a lifetime ago. She'd been more or less the same height, hadn't she? There was nothing about this woman that wasn't admirable, so far at last.

@Chevi

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The merchant was giving Calpurnia a puzzled look, but he did not dare argue. Instead, he personally checked to make sure the fabric really wasn't damaged. He dusted them here and there. "Are you sure, domina? You really don't have to..."

Calpurnia waved a hand and opened her purse. "Fold them up. A little dust won't make them any less expensive." The tall man was giving her a strange look, too. She didn't mind. Since freeing Eppitacus, she was used to having the reputation of being a tad too forgiving.

"Thank you. You're more than kind... you must let me know how I can repay your kindness." 

"You don't need to" Calpurnia waved a hand, paying the merchant. "But if you insist, you can help me carry all this home..." The servant girl was clearly not going to manage all of it alone.

@Atrice

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The lady indeed didn't have to buy the fabrics that Alexius just caused to meet the dirt, but she did, despite the merchant also seeming puzzled. Yet she smiled, opened her purse and asked that the sheets of fabric were folded. Alexius had naturally thanked her for her kindness and wondered how could repay her. She was attractive, no doubt about that. But in such a different way than young girls were. Not that he minded. Why should he? She was very friendly towards him and he'd never mind that. 

She said he didn't need to repay her, but then suggested he carried the fabrics home.

Alexius smiled, "If that is what I can do for you, then I do insist." He said and moved to the servants, who were folding up the fabrics. He held out his arms so they could stack it and they began doing so. He looked at the lady, "Do you live far away?" Not that he couldn't carry it far, but it would be nice to know.

@Chevi

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The man agreed to help her carry the fabrics home. Her companion dutifully dropped a few paces behind as they set out, but Calpurnia did not expect the man to do the same. Since the fates have brought them together in such an amusing way, she was hoping to have a conversation with him.

"Do you live far away?"

"Quite close. Just up the Aventine. You won't have to carry it far." she replied with a smile as they walked. "What do I call you?"

@Atrice

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Alexius watched the servant, or personal slave, or whatever the companion to the fine lady was, drop a bit behind and it seemed like Alexius should walk with the lady. So he did, carefully clutching and carrying the layers of fabrics in his arms. He wondered how far away she lived and it wasn't far. The Aventine. So quite the lady, most likely a Patrician, probably married to a fancy Senator. How come he had not met or seen her before? 

She asked his name and he gave her a smile, "Alexius." He answered, "Actually Lucius Antonius Alexius, but most just call me Alexius. It's what fits best." It's what he was used to. Going from being Lexus to being Lucius was too far, he thought. Alexius suited him much better.

"And what do I call you, then?" He added with a smile to her, naturally curious to find out who she was. And if she had a husband. He assumed she did, probably that and a few kids at home too. Maybe almost grown, like his own son. But one question at the time.

@Chevi

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Alexius. Actually Lucius Antonius Alexius, but most just call me Alexius. It's what fits best."

A freedman, most likely. Or a veteran. He had the look of someone who had lived an adventurous life, for sure. But he did not seem like a brute at all, despite his height and build. Calpurnia felt comfortable with them walking side by side, although their sheer looks got them more than a few lingering glances as they progressed.

"And what do I call you, then?"

"Calpurnia Praetextata" she replied. He could put together the rest. She shared a name with last year's consul, anyway, although it was less likely people would also remember her as one of the Vestals. Some would. "So what do you do, Alexius, when you are not chasing after thieves?"

@Atrice

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

He glanced at her after he shared his name, but there was no sign of recognition on her face. Which could be a good thing, of course, although sometimes it was not a bad thing that people knew about him or at least heard his name before. But he was always more than ready to make new friends and Calpurnia, as her name was, might be a new one. Her name was indeed fancy, even more than he thought. Related to last year's consul? Not that Alexius kept up with politics all that well, he never really had to, he just rolled with it, he was just here... but you'd be living under a rock if you didn't know about the Consuls. And he knew about this one especially because he'd been at those games the Domus Venus held. 

"Calpurnia... may I call you that? It is an honor to know your name... since I can already say it's been nice meeting you, after what you've done for me." Alexius said in a friendly tone with a smile to her and then of course, she asked what he did.

"I work as a guard at a warehouse, and sometimes also as a bodyguard. It's what I do best." He explained, while his mind was still on her name and her family... he never heard about the Consul's sister before, but it must be a relative. And her name didn't give away if she had a husband and kids... "What about you, what do you do, when you're not shopping for new fabrics?" 

@Chevi

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Calpurnia... may I call you that? It is an honor to know your name... since I can already say it's been nice meeting you, after what you've done for me."

"Nice to meet you too, Alexius, however unusual the circumstances" Calpurnia replied. The man had manners, that was clear. Many patricians of her standing assumed that the people of Rome were somehow lesser than them, but Calpurnia did not subscribe to that mentality.

"I work as a guard at a warehouse, and sometimes also as a bodyguard. It's what I do best."

That made sense. The man was built like a guard. Everyone had their talents...

"What about you, what do you do, when you're not shopping for new fabrics?" 

So, he didn't know. He might have recognized the consul's name, but not her own. Still it was fun, him asking what she did, as if Roman matrons generally had... jobs. Calpurnia glanced his way, not wanting to miss his reaction to her reply.

"Well, until last year, I was a Vestal."

@Atrice

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Of course he had manners, why should he not have manners? He'd served so many people until now, high and low, and he'd been through a lot. He knew how to speak to slaves, to plebians... he knew how to speak to Patricians too, of course he did. He'd known a lot of people in his life and learned a lot. Alexius couldn't write or read very well. But he knew people.

He explained what he did for a living and then carefully asked more about her life. No matter what she did, surely she didn't spend her life at home staring out a window, doing nothing. And she didn't strike him as a lady who cared too much about fancy dresses, even if she was well-dressed. No, she had more between her ears than clothes and jewelry, didn't she? 

She did! But not what he expected. 

A Vestal?!

They were almost... divine women, walking among people in Rome. They could free slaves. They were treated with respect everywhere. But Alexius had never really known one. Until now. It made him look her over again. What did you say to a Vestal?  

"That's... different." Alexius first said with a little laugh, feeling almost embarrassed because she'd made him speechless, "I..." He trailed off, but that was no way to treat a lady! "I'm sorry, I don't think I've ever met a woman like you before. Not that it's a bad thing, it's just... a surprise?" All he knew was that he should not go near or touch a Vestal while they were serving. They were meant to be pure and even Alexius would not threaten Rome's safety by touching one. He didn't consider himself the smartest of men, but he wasn't stupid either.

@Chevi

  • Haha 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

She could watch the change happening in his face, real time. It was amusing. Calpurnia had left the Vestals a while ago, but so far, she had mostly mingled with people who knew her and her family well. No one was surprised to find out she was one of those Vestals who left the temple when their time was done. But Alexius was. He moved in different circles, apparently. He was quite stunned.

"That's... different. I... I'm sorry, I don't think I've ever met a woman like you before. Not that it's a bad thing, it's just... a surprise?" 

"I can tell" Calpurnia laughed. "Don't worry, I don't expect people to know. We look very different out of those veils. And I have left the temple quite a few months ago. Hence, the new clothes." She nodded at the fabrics.

@Atrice

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

She laughed at his surprise, but it was a kind laugh. More laughing with him than at him, he thought. And then she explained she didn't expect him to know anyway and she'd left the Vestals months ago. So now she needed new clothes. 

"That makes sense then. I hope you'll enjoy at least some of these." He said with a grin, sure that she had not planned to buy all of this, but only did it out of kindness towards him. And she really was kind. What a pity to keep such a kind and attractive woman veiled up in a temple for so long... 

"How is life treating you now, then? Are you adjusting to your new status?" It must almost be like being a slave, he thought. There were rules the Vestals had to obey, he knew that. He never had much to do with them, but he knew they were all women and supposed to be pure and all. Hence why he never had much to do with them. And now she was free... to do whatever she pleased? He hoped so, for her sake. 

@Chevi

  • Haha 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

"That makes sense then. I hope you'll enjoy at least some of these." 

The man was nothing if not polite. And charming, in a way that was different from most of the senators Calpurnia had dealt with. She believed that he was not just saying things to impress anyone.

"How is life treating you now, then? Are you adjusting to your new status?" 

... or avoiding obvious questions out of politeness. It amused her.

"I have fewer responsibilites and more free time, for sure." she admitted with a smile. "At least until the caesar gets around to finding me a husband... which might be a while."

@Atrice

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Why should he be avoiding any questions? When did he ever do that anyway? Sure there were people he met, where he had to attempt behaving a bit better than usually, but people usually quickly found out what was behind his façade, if he had one, so they knew him anyway. Calpurnia here might be no different. And she seemed happy to tell him things, like how she had more free time now. And might enjoy fewer responsibilities. 

Then she mentioned a possible husband...

"Caesar himself is going to find a husband for you? That's quite... something." Alexius said with a grin, but then he thought of her. She was not as young as women usually were, when they married. She might not even have children. If she married, it would have something to do with status and alliances. Probably not love and it wouldn't even be for the sake of producing an heir for the husband. Which made him feel a bit sorry for her.

"Are you looking forwards to it though? Having a husband?" Do you want to get married, was what he was really asking. But he wrapped it up, so she hopefully wouldn't be offended by it.

@Chevi

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Caesar himself is going to find a husband for you?"

"He is supposed to. As pontifex maximus. Although I don't think I am high on his list of priorities." Calpurnia chuckled. It wasn't an offense. The caesar was a busy man, and she was going to be kept waiting until her marriage could be an advantage to him, or her family.

"That's quite... something. Are you looking forwards to it though? Having a husband?" 

Calpurnia smiled at the question. Many would have just assumed she was. Or not asked anyway.

"I don't know, I never had one before" she grinned at Alexius. "I assume there are some upsides to it... but no, honestly, I am fine either way."

@Atrice

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Alexius gave her a smile when she said that the caesar was supposed to find her a husband, but she was not high on his list. Of course, the current caesar was a quite young man and he probably had better and more amusing things to do than finding a husband for a woman like Calpurnia. Pity though... "You should be though. You've done much for Rome." Alexius said. Not that he knew exactly what the Vestals did, but he knew they were very important to Rome and that without them, the city might crumble. Or so they said. They kept the flame, the heart of Rome, alive. He stopped himself however before he said, that if he were caesar, she'd be his top priority. She deserved it though. He was honest about that.

Then he'd wondered if she was looking forwards to having a husband and she smiled, naturally unaware of what it might be like. But she didn't seem busy.

"I'm sure you are. You seem able to make your own way in life." Alexius said, "I was married once, but that's many years ago. Now... I go where life takes me." And with whom life brought to him. He glanced at Calpurnia. Maybe Fortuna was blessing him once more. And how could he do any better than a Vestal? It would be like being blessed by Rome itself. And Rome, in this case, was quite good looking.

@Chevi

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

"I'm sure you are. You seem able to make your own way in life." 

The mans poke to her with respect and a sort of admiration - but for the first time, Calpurnia could tell it was not aimed at her rank. Or former rank, as a Vestal. She was used to people being reverent around her, but that rarely had anything to do with her personal qualities.

"I was married once, but that's many years ago. Now... I go where life takes me."

"Oh... did she pass away?" He seemed like a man that many Roman women would want to keep as a husband. She decided it would be tactful to change the topic. "And where does it usually take you?" she asked with a smirk "Other than into bolts of fabric, that is?"

@Atrice

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

She probably should demand more respect, but honestly, Alexius had started low with her and the way they spoke from the beginning... well it just seemed natural to continue that way. Besides, even if she had been a Vestal before, she was also a woman and not born yesterday either. Just like he. She had some life experience behind her and she seemed quite content with her own situation. So why should he not admire a woman like her? And compliment her for it. 

He told her briefly how he'd been married once, but now he just moved on, went where life took him. Or with whom life brought to him. Not that he told her that, but she was curious, wondered what happened to his wife and where life took him. He chuckled at her mention of the fabric that he carried in his embrace. He more or less forgot her previous question about his wife and honestly, it wasn't that big of a deal to him now. He'd mostly mentioned it because they talked about her possible future marriage.

"Oh it takes me many places. Today, it took me to you." Alexius said, looking over at her with a smile, "And why should I complain, when life brings me to such an interesting and, if I may, beautiful woman." 

@Chevi

  • Haha 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Calpunia blinked, surprised that he would say that out loud. She was not used to... flirting?

"Well, that's a first" she noted with a chuckle, but felt that she blushed nonetheless. Alexius was lucky she was not technically a Vestal anymore,because she doubted that he would care one bit about that either. But it wasn't just the Vestal thing. Sure, men were put off from even looking at her funny by the threat of treason and execution... but even as a person, with the height and poise she had, Calpurnia tended to intimidate more people than how many she attracted. 

@Atrice

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Alexius was looking at her when she blinked, seeming surprised by his blunt words. But they were true and why should he not tell her what he thought of her? She had helped him, after that incident with all of the fabrics, she'd been nothing but nice to him and talking to her wasn't bad either. So he dared to say his opinion of her and she chuckled and blushed at his words. Alexius couldn't help but think it sweet. A woman at her age - probably near his own? - and she was blushing in broad daylight because he complimented her. It was very sweet. How could he not adore that?

Even if he pretended it was nothing and went on, "A first for what? Don't people ever compliment you? They should. You deserve it." Alexius added, still smiling, but his words were as honest as they came. Vestals were important in Rome. And a former Vestal had done her duty to the city and maybe more than anyone else, she deserved the admiration.

@Chevi

  • Haha 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Calpurnia smiled, a little at a loss of what to say. She had been in the Vestal house since she was nine years old, way before thoughts of men would ever occupy her mind. And then they never did. Calpurnia took her role very seriously, and had a lot to distract herself with. She knew men as intellectual partners, on the occasions she participated in official rites and events... not the other kind.

"Well, until recently, men saying things like that to me would have risked execution." she pointed out with a smirk. She glanced over at him. "Some still might, given that my brother takes family honor very seriously." Aulus really was not easily angered, and he had a soft spot for her, but even he had his limits. Or maybe she just liked poking fun at Alexius. "And... not many men say things like that, when they have to say them looking up." She added with a grin.

@Atrice

  • Haha 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...