Jump to content

Innocent inquiry


Recommended Posts

Early March 77AD

A bright, sunny day brought the early promise of spring to the city of Rome. The air was getting warmer, green was returning to the gardens, and everyone seemed a little more cheerful. Even the horses were happier about going outside.

Azarion had taken Borena out of the stables for a trot around the race tracks. They lingered, outside the stables, close to the gates that opened to the street. Azarion had stopped to struggle with his hair. He had been growing it out ever since he became a charioteer; a small sign of connection to his former homeland. But now his dark hair had reached the length where it was not long enough to be tied back properly, but not short enough to not get into his eyes. So, he stopped, with a leather tie between his lips, trying to figure out how to braid it back and out of his face. Borena made some whinnying noises, poking his elbow with her nose impatiently. Azarion gave her a glare. Not helping.

@Liv

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

Melia approached the compound with steady steps, ignoring the frantic galloping of her heart threatening to leap out of her chest. How would she be received, if at all? They might refuse to see her, or send her away immediately. But the chariot factions attracted people from all corners of the empire, enslaved or free - and amongst them might be her brother. Would she know Izem if she saw him, or him her?

A young man with a horse in tow came into view. They seemed approachable - more than a giant of a guard, in any case. Melia stuck a hand into a leather bag the size of a large apple; it reemerged seconds with a small fistful of symphytum root in it. Good for people and good for horses. Good for explaining what she was doing there too.

The horse whinnied, seemingly unhappy that its two-legged companion did not give it his full attention. She took it as an opportunity to get closer, producing a quick smile despite herself as she realised what the young man was trying to do. How many times had she and her sister braided each other's hair? Perhaps he had nobody to teach him how.

Her feet stopped a few feet in front of the pair, where the horse could see her and she could see it. The last thing she wanted was for it to be spooked and kick about. "Are you in need of assistance?"

@Chevi

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Azarion made an exasperated sound as he failed to braid his own hair. Borena whinnied, and he rolled his eyes, and he only noticed the girl when she was already standing in front of him. Great job, Azarion. People are just walking in and out of the stables now. He blinked, looking up and looking her over. What on earth was she doing here?...

"Are you in need of assistance?"

He looked at her, and then realized he still had his hands in his hair. He looked up, and then at Borena, then back at her. Was she... offering to braid his hair? Or did she mean something else? She was holding something in her hand.

Azarion let go of his hair for the time being, tangled locks falling into his eyes, and gestured at her hand with a quizzical look. Unfortunately, the leather tie was still in dangling from his mouth. Assistance how?

@Liv

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

It seemed to Melia she had caught the young man unawares, going by the way his gaze shifted from her to the horse to her again. He did not look particularly alarmed or hostile, though, which she took as a good sign. Yet he did not immediately question her presence - perhaps he did not speak Latin, although he seemed to understand it.

Even without words he made a good point: braiding hair was even harder with one's hands full. "Oh, this..." Melia put the herbs back into the pouch with slow movements so both human and horse could see she wasn't hiding anything nefarious in it. "It's medicine." She did not elaborate further, figuring that if the information was of interest to the young man he would pick up on it. Either way, it couldn't hurt to act friendly towards him; he could be Melia's in to the faction, whatever his actual role was.

"I meant with your hair," she gestured at his untamed forelock. Overall it did seem long enough that it would get in his way, bobbing before his eyes like a patchy curtain. "Are you looking to braid it? Or tie it?" With the piece of leather in his mouth he could do either.

@Chevi

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Oh, this... It's medicine." 

Azarion's eyes followed as the tucked the herbs away from her hand to a pouch. She was a healer then. Or someone who dealt in herbs. She wouldn't be the first one Azarion had met. She didn't seem to be in a hurry, though, so she wasn't one of those healers sometimes summoned to the stables for emergencies.

"I meant with your hair. Are you looking to braid it? Or tie it?" 

Azarion still looked at her with the dangling from his mouth, like a surprised cat. He then finally gestured, twisting his fingers to imitate braiding. Borena, being the impatient kind, snorted, and nuzzled his cheek with her nose. Azarion patter her, turning back to the girl. 

@Liv

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The way the young man's gaze stayed trained on her had Melia wondering if he was not entirely convinced by her explanation. Did he suspect her of being some criminal? Denying it would only make him more sceptical, and he hadn't quite accused her of anything yet. She resolved to ignore the look, but not without first admitting to herself there was something funny about the whole image with the tie hanging from his mouth - almost like a child caught red-handed doing something they were not supposed to. 

The tentative smile that had begun to form on her lips faded into a startled expression as the horse snorted, possibly demanding attention as it touched its nose to its caretaker's face. Was it upset or just impatient? Melia knew too little about horses to tell.

"I can do it for you, if you'd like," Melia offered, realising a moment later that he probably wouldn't learn much from somebody else braiding his hair. "Or I could show you how I usually braid mine and you could try it on yours?", she pointed at the messy bun on her head that was very much not a braid but just as practical as one.

@Chevi

  • Haha 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Borena's behavior seemed to startle the girl. Azarion chuckled, patting the horse. The lady really was the jealous type.

"I can do it for you, if you'd like... Or I could show you how I usually braid mine and you could try it on yours?"

Azarion nodded at the offer. He needed to learn how to do it properly for himself, although he did give a questioning look at her current hairdo. He finally took the string out of his mouth. The girl had come here for something, obviously, and it was not to braid hair. Stepping closer to her, he tapped the slave tablet around his neck - his name was written on it, if she could read. He made a questioning gesture at her, and between her and the stables. What was she doing here in the first place?...

@Liv

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The horse seemed to calm down as soon as it got what it wanted, leaving Melia to wonder if the chuckle had been directed at it or at her and her ignorance of equine behaviours. Even if it turned out to be the latter it had not sounded unkind, so she opted to chuckle as well.

"You're quite right, this isn't a braid," she acknowledged with a strained smile. "But it's all I had time for  today." How was the young man to know she had been up until late helping a fishmonger's young wife bring her (very stubborn) first child into the world? But he was removing the tie from his mouth, ready to start... but apparently not without proper introductions.

Melia made out the letters without much difficulty, briefly wondering what sort of slave 'Azarion' was - perhaps a stable boy - and how he had ended up there. Seeing it as her own brain had posed the questions so quickly, it was only natural he would want to know the same about her. "I'm Considia Melia. Melia is fine." Maybe one day she would be brave enough to reclaim her birth name, but today was not that day; it wouldn't serve her purpose.

"I deal in herbs and medicines," she patted the pouch twice in quick succession, "and I am hoping to expand my customer base. Don't know if that is something that might interest your faction...?" Not 'your master' - as a slave Melia had had enough of those words, not letting her forget even for one second that she was nothing but property without agency. Employing them was seldom her first choice when talking to those still in servitude.

@Chevi

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

She read his name from the tablet slowly, but she did read it. She didn't ask why he was not speaking. It was not exactly unusual for a slave to be mute, though.

"I'm Considia Melia. Melia is fine."

Melia.

"I deal in herbs and medicines, and I am hoping to expand my customer base. Don't know if that is something that might interest your faction...?"

Ah. There it was. The pouch and the herbs. Azarion tilted his head, considering the question. He took Bornea's reins and tied her to a post, before nodding at a nearby table partly taken up by the stableboys' tools. Whether her services would be useful to the faction depended on what she was selling. And how good her herbs were. Azarion gestured at the table and her pouch. Let's see it then.

@Liv

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...