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Long time no see


Jason
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March 77AD

 

It was three months since Jason's master had moved to the villa situated within the Gardens of Sallust. Three months since Jason had really had much contact with any of the Palace slaves. It was a bit of a strange feeling, coming back to a place that had been home... Well, no, not 'home' per se, but more... familiar territory, the place where he'd lived, spent his daily life...

Tiberius had come to visit his sister, who had stayed in the Domus Augustorum (probably, Jason suspected, because she knew that Tiberius and his friend, being young men, needed their own space. Not that Titus Augustus didn't, but the sprawling Palatine complex was rather bigger than the Villa of Sallust, and that wasn't exactly small). The Palatine complex easily rivalled any of the villages Jason had ever visited before his capture.

He wondered if he could make his way to the stables; it had been a little while since he had been there, and he suspected it would be some time before Tiberius needed him. The corridors and courtyards of the Palatine were familiar to him, but he hadn't got far before he saw a familiar blond woman, and changed his plans. The horses would keep, it was equally long since he'd really been able to chat with the woman he had exchanged blood with, his blood sister.

"Cinnia!"

 

@Atrice

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In January, months ago already, Cynane experienced some grand changes in her life and her daily routine. First of all, Tiberius decided to move out of the palace and of course he took his body slave with him. Tirañes could no longer easily be found in the palace, but instead he lived in the villa in the Gardens of Sullust. And it was in those gardens, that she often met with her best friend Charis. But there had been changes there too. Suddenly her friend, after only a few years in Rome, was free and married and her child was free too. She claimed things didn't have to change between them, but how could they not? When one was a slave and the other was not. When one had been a slave in Rome for almost 15 years, almost half of her life, while the other had not experienced it for that long. She should be happy for her friend. And she was, a part of her was. But another still felt strange about it. 

So life was what it was, kind of lonely sometimes. Of course she had Claudia, whom she always appreciated, and there was also Volusa, although she seemed almost too concerned sometimes. Cynane went back to spending most of her time just working, doing what she had to do, and then going to the baths and so on, when she had free time for it. But there really wasn't much to life. Today she stood guard outside Claudia's chambers, as her mistress had a visit from her brother, but she didn't know if Tiberius brought his body slave with him too. Yet then suddenly, she heard a familiar voice call out for her, using her real name.

"Tirañes!" She said with smile, "It's been too long! How have you been?" 

@Sharpie

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"It's been a while, hasn't it?" Jason said. "I've been... busy. How about you?"

Busy was an understatement, really - between helping a disparate random collection of (mostly) citizens catch a killer, teaching Tiberius how to work with horses in the Sarmatian fashion (and working with one of the most incredibly beautiful and intelligent horses he'd ever met). It was still beyond astonishing that he was able to ride Ignis himself, even, if he wanted to when Tiberius didn't need him. Not that he'd had much opportunity to do so, really, as a large amount of his limited free time had been spent with the ragtag bunch of citizens who were trying to catch a killer. They had succeeded, eventually, more by luck than anything and the bastard was now safely incarcerated in the Tullianum, somewhere in a hole in the ground. He could rot there, for all Jason cared, though part of him was looking forward to seeing him torn apart by wild animals or something, maybe at the Cerealia celebrations next month.

"I think my master and your mistress are going to be a while, shall we find somewhere to talk? Unless you think Claudia might need you?" There was a courtyard garden nearby, where they could talk in relative privacy and yet still be within call if needed - even Tiberius' usual quiet summons would be heard there.

 

@Atrice

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She wanted to embrace him, but that wouldn't be proper in the middle of a hallway in the palace. Not even between two slaves. They both served members of the Imperial family and whatever they did, fell back on their mistress and master. But she was happy to see him, which her smile probably also showed. He explained that he'd been busy and wondered how she had been.

"Nothing out of the ordinary happening here." She said, trying not to sound too bored, but it didn't feel like she was going anywhere. At least Jason had a new place to live now. Cynane was just still here, in the palace, serving Claudia and nothing ever happened there. And considering the rest of her life, that was kind of in ruins too. So it was good to see a friendly face like Jason's. He suggested they found somewhere to talk. Somewhere more private, she assumed.

"If she's going to need me, she can just send someone to find me." Cynane said, "Let's find a place. Perhaps not too far away though." She suggested and gestured for him to begin walking, "I'm looking forwards to finding out what's kept you so busy, other than your master of course."  

@Sharpie

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Cinnia's bland statement made Jason smile - slaves weren't supposed to make things difficult for their owners, though there were plenty who did, in subtle ways nobody could quite complain about.

"There's a courtyard close by, we'll hear if they call," he said, though Cinnia knew the layout of the Palatine complex as well as he did - all the villas, temples, libraries, offices, service quarters, stables... Well, perhaps not the stables; he wasn't sure if the princess rode or not, especially since that particular day.

The courtyard was the place where they had had their first proper conversation, and shed blood to bind them to one another as brother and sister.

Jason indicated the bench, letting Cinnia sit before settling down himself. "Tiberius is... I knew he was unusual, but didn't realise just how unusual... He's asked me to teach him to ride, in the Sarmatian fashion." There was that slow smile again. "Well, as much as possible - I don't think anyone can learn to ride properly if they haven't done it since they were small."

 

@Atrice

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Claudia knew that Cynane was a loyal slave - though loyal to her mistress mostly, unless she was ordered to do something else. And she was sure that while Tiberius was busy with Claudia, the two would not mind that she spoke a little with her brother. Even if they didn't know about that and shouldn't either. Jason and Cynane or Tirañes and Cinnia were just two slaves who happened to get along. Claudia knew that Cynane would be there the instant she was ordered to come. But there were also the praetorians watching over her mistress. It would be fine, that she left for a brief while.

Tirañes mentioned a courtyard nearby and she knew which one he meant. Not only because it was close by, but because this was where they first really talked and where they shared blood. It held meaning. She thought about it every time she walked by. So Cynane nodded and together they walked towards the courtyard. It didn't take long and she gave him a smile, when he offered she could sit first. As a slave and even a female slave, she was never allowed to sit first. Now she was curious however, to hear about what Tirañes had been doing. He explained that his master had asked him to teach him how to ride a horse. 

She smiled again at his words, "Maybe you should teach me your way as well. I can ride a horse. But I only learned as a young woman in Britannia and after I was captured, it was years before I did it again." Actually not until she came to belong to Claudia and had to accompany her, when she chose to ride... this was about Tirañes however... "How come he asked you to teach him?" 

@Sharpie

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"Everyone will end up using stirrups, it'll cause a stir," he said. "I don't understand why they don't use them - they know about us, and the Parthians." He caught sight of her face and shook his head, bemused at the blank look. "They don't even have a word for them, do they?" he said, realising he'd used the Sarmatian word. How to describe what stirrups were?

"There are different forms, but they all do basically the same thing. There's a strap fastened to the saddle at one end with a loop or metal plate at the other end, for your foot. The best ones have an adjustable strap. It means that a rider can stand up in the saddle if they need to."

He pulled his heel up onto the bench and clasped his hands around his knee. "I don't know how well you know Tiberius, but he's always curious, always wants to know things. So he asked me about where I come from, about my people, and almost as soon as I said about being nomads and horsemen, he took me to the stables. I thought he was just going to let me see the horses - I was more surprised than anyone when he said we were going for a ride."

 

@Atrice

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She couldn't help but smile, as Tirañes kept on talking about stirrups for horseback riding. He seemed so passionate about it all, describing it, explaining it. Cynane had never used them, not in Britannia and not here in Rome either. She had her strong thighs, as her mother would have said. She recalled her mother at home in Britannia, claiming women might make better riders than men, if only allowed. They weren't afraid of something between their legs being crushed, and women had to have strong thighs, for how else would they stand giving birth? Not that Cynane ever had that issue. But Tirañes was sweet, talking about something that clearly meant something. She let him talk. He said Tiberius was curious and wanted to know things and had asked into his story and his people.

How lucky he was, to have an owner that actually seemed to care about him. Who asked into his story, who took him for a ride when realizing he could. Her smile faded a little, she felt stuck, she never got anywhere in any direction, she was just here. For the rest of her life, most likely. And Tirañes was all she had.

"I'm glad to hear he favors you so. As he should. They don't all do this." She said, "So you've been busy riding and teaching your master how to do so. That's good. I'm happy for you." And she was. It wasn't that she envied him. She couldn't do what he was doing now. But she could do so much more than what she did. 

@Sharpie

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It was so easy to talk about things with Cinnia, though he noticed that her smile shrank as he continued talking. He could guess that cause of that, too - Tiberius had given him something he treasured, but Cinnia was in the same place, the same position, doing the same things, as always.

"I wish... I wish things were different, for you," he said. It had been eight years - more! - before anyone had asked him about his past, and done something like that. But Cinnia had been here longer without anything similar. "I would love to teach you - everyone should be able to ride."

Back home, of course, everyone could and it was unheard of for someone to not ride. Anyone who couldn't ride took up space in the wagons, which were much slower and more cumbersome than the free-ranging men and women on horseback. Those who couldn't ride were the very young, the very old or the infirm, and Cinnia was none of those.

"So... what have you been up to recently?" he asked, not wanting to rub her nose in his good fortune.

 

@Atrice

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