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Ione glided over silently to the chest and knelt down to lift the lid. Only when Armenius spoke again did she blink and then she hurriedly pushed herself up and shook her head. "No, no sorry I forgot domine, let me fetch you some watered wine..." And yet again she backed from the room, running to the kitchens where the soup was starting to be prepared. She clattered around trying to find a pitcher for the cook sighed and pushed her out the way in frustration, handing her a jug and a cup. She hurried back to Lucius' room as quickly as she could. 

When she returned her cheeks were flushed and she set down the cup before pouring it and then handing it to him, eyes lowered. "It's plain and unwatered." She offered, and then she moved back to the chest. She paused for a moment, running her fingers softly over the fine fabric of the tunica. 

 

 

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She knew how to please him and keep him satisfied, didn't she? The very moment he uttered something he wanted, she was on her way to fetch it. She knew better than to upset him, especially when he was feeling like this. That, at least, pleased him. He kind of wanted to wash and get dressed for himself, but couldn't pull himself together to do it. This was very bad. He hoped it wouldn't continue like this. His wife hadn't come. He had no one here to run his business for him. Lucius cursed by himself and then Ione returned with flushed cheeks and something to drink. 

"Good." Lucius simply replied and took the cup, while Ione moved over to find clean clothes. He downed a tiny bit of the wine and let it settle, to see how his stomach would react. He could feel it turning, but knew he had to force himself to drink more. Maybe it was stupid trying to get up. But he had to. He couldn't let the Elysium run itself or it would end up the way he found it when he came back.

Once Ione had picked something for him to wear, he waved her over, "Help me wash." He ordered. It was best he didn't get the house slaves too involved in this. The less they knew, the better. Lucius reached to pull the dirty tunica over his head and tossed it to the floor.

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Ione finally settled on a fine green tunica which she pulled from the chest and then as Lucius ordered her, she nodded and placed it next to him on the bed whilst she dipped one of the cloths in the warm water, ringing it out before moving to stand over  him. He looked pale and well...ill. Ione was not convinced he should be up and getting dressed but she wasn't about to say that. 

Instead, she placed the cloth on his skin and started wiping at his arms and his chest silently, concentrating on her work carefully, methodically. She worked slowly to be thorough and only when she reached the back of his neck did she finally feel confident enough to speak. "Are you sure you do not wish me to fetch a medicus, domine?"

 

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He sat as still as when one of his house slaves washed him and had him done with the strigil afterwards. He ignored the way she looked at him and just let her do her work, which she did very well by the way. He wondered if her clients let her wash them too, or if it was something she used to do before she came to the brothel. But then she suddenly spoke and broke him from his thoughts. 

"I'll be fine." Lucius just replied, almost a little harshly, but the question annoyed him. As if she was suggesting he couldn't get well on his own or that his age was getting to him or something. He was only a couple more years than 50 and no old man yet.

"I just need to... feel better, right? And I'm sure you'll do all you can to make sure of that?" He continued, "I can't be sick for too long." 

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She grimaced at his snappishness and continued to wash him down, grateful he probably couldn't see her face as she moved to wash over his back. "Apologies, domine." But then he was speaking again and she frowned. Was he...putting this on her? What if he didn't get well again and blamed her? She swallowed the leaden weight in her throat and nodded dumbly before she moved to kneel down in front of him to wash his midriff and his chest, working methodically with concentration on her face. But worry was clearly there too. 

"You said yesterday domine, that nobody could know." She swallowed and glanced up at him for just the briefest of moments, "Will you...go to the Elysium today? I can...fetch things to bring them here if you would rather work from your home?" She offered, trying to be helpful. 

 

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She looked very focused, when she came to his front side again, washing his chest. He wondered if she found it pleasing at all, or if her work made her immune to looking at people as attractive. She just did as told though, like she should. In this case too. Then she began wondering if he'd come to the brothel today or if she should fetch something for him.

He considered it, since he didn't quite feel like leaving his home right now. It might be easier and surely safe enough to let her walk back on her own now it was daytime. On the other hand, what if she ran away? 

"Get one of the house slaves to escort you there. Julius can do it. And come straight back with him too. Ask Marius at the Elysium to help you find my scroll and papers for today. " Then the two slaves could watch each other. Oh one more thing... "Don't tell him why I'm not coming in today." 

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Ione nodded furiously and tried to memorise her instructions. Go to the Elysium with Julius, fetch the papers and the scroll and come straight back...not telling anybody where her dominus was if they asked. Her lips parted at that though and she gave him a curious look as her hands stilled on their task on his shoulder. Ione was no good without instructions - she had been told what to do her whole life; by her father, and then the slaver, her first dominus, her second, Lucius and her clients. She needed parameters to act. Otherwise she was lost. It was maddening but it was her. 

"But...but what do I say when they ask domine? Do I just say you are..." She frowned, trying to think of an excuse. "Resting and working from your home? Is that fine?" She moved her hands from his skin and wrung them, frowning at him. 

 

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She nodded, but appeared thoughtful. What was now the issue? Sometimes he swore she was a bit on the slow side or something, but he said nothing until she did. She wanted to know what to say if people did ask where Lucius was and why he wasn't at the brothel today. She came with a few suggestions and he nodded.

"That's fine, yes. I had a late night out last night and needed to rest. And want to work from home." Lucius added, that was fine enough. She wrung the cloth in front of him and he looked at her, "Anything else that's not been made clear enough?" He asked, though the irritation clearly came through his voice. Why should he have to explain everything in every little detail to her? Could she really not think for herself?

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She smiled a little, pleased that he agreed with her suggestions but his evident irritation made her wince. She shook her head. "No domine, no, everything is clear. I...I'll b back soon." And with that, she placed the cloth down next to him and backed away out of the room, eyes lowered.

And then she hurried to find Julius who was visibly irritated at having  to walk a prostitute  back to her brothel and did so with muttered glares of protest and heavy sighs as  he escorted her out of the domus. It wasn't a hugely long walk but still by the time they found their way back there she was flushed and a little breathless. It took some time to rouse Marius from his drunken slumber and set him to gather all the various supplies that her dominus required. Mercifully, most of the girls and boys were either asleep or at the baths after their work and so she only had a few sleepy questions to answer before they were back on their way to the domus. 

They made it back within an hour but she was panting as they stumbled back through the slave entrance - her arms laden with his papers. Julius loaded her up with more and chivvied her to find Armenius. She frowned, padding quietly through the house - calling out tentatively as she came to his bedroom door; "Dominus...?" 

 

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She smiled, which was pretty but not necessary right now. Especially with all her question. At least she was on her way soon enough and Lucius put on the clean tunica she found for him and considered getting up. But the moment he stood he got dizzy, so he went back into the bed. He downed a bit more wine and fell back onto the pillow to rest. His stomach was at least not so bad anymore, but he got stings of pain and thought he might need to use the latrine soon. Yes, that's what he needed. Lucius left the bed to go there and had only just returned to said bed when Ione appeared. So soon? Or had it been longer, but he just didn't realize...?

"I am here. You can leave the things in my tablinum." Lucius called back to her and sighed. He felt tired after the little trip to the private latrine at the house. There was a public place nearby too, but he preferred to not leave the house when he felt like this. Once Ione returned once more, he gave her a look, "I hope they didn't ask too many questions? Did Marius say anything?" Marius was the head guard and often his henchman and helping hand when he needed it at the brothel. That's what he'd be today. He better not come to Lucius' home.

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Ione padded quietly into her dominus' room and listened to his instructions and then nodded - quickly moving to the tablinum to leave the papers and tablets on his desk before hurrying back, slipping off the heavy outdoor sandals she was allowed to wear. She was still flushed and breathless as she drew to a stop in front of him. 

"No dominus," She answered as she tried to catch her breath. Ione was not fit. Slim, skinny even, but not fit - she didn't have time for the palaestra and rarely walked far given her job required most of her time be spent in bed...She moved a hand to cover her fluttering heart as its rhythm settled. "No they didn't ask too many questions - a couple of the girls asked where you were and where I was going and no," She shook her head and then gave an obvious grimace. "He said he would see you tomorrow but..." She cleared her throat and flicked those big doe eyes up to him, "He seemed excited to have the day to run things himself." 

 

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He leaned back against the couches behind him, while Ione left to place his things at the tablinum. All that work lost, just because he didn't feel too good. He really needed Leontia to come to his side soon, he needed her help. Sure he trusted his men at the brothel too, but she knew him and knew how he preferred things were done. He inhaled a breath and then Ione returned and he would know how it went at the brothel.

Apparently well enough. He noted how she seemed out of breath and even held a hand to her chest. Had she rushed so much? And she was clearly way too passive in bed with the clients, if a little movement like what she'd done today left her like this. But he paid attention and especially to what she said to his right hand man at the brothel. More actually, what he had apparently said to her.

"Excited? I hope he doesn't hope this will be a regular thing." Lucius replied, annoyed again. He leaned his head back again with a heavy sigh, "Do you think whatever it was you told the kitchen to make for me, is ready?" He'd already forgotten what she told him earlier. But he trusted she knew.

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Ione grimaced and bit her lip, wondering what to say. She decided - for once in her life - to be bold. "He...he sometimes acts like it. At night. After you have gone home, domine. He...orders us around." And had even been known to slap those who got in his way. Always on the chest or the backside though. Bruises there were easier to explain, after all, even with the new clientele Armenius had brought into the brothel. 

But she was soon darting out again with a nod to see the cook sweating as he ladled food into a bowl. "There you are!" He snapped and pushed it forward to her on a tray. Ione hurriedly added a spoon and then carefully, so as not to drop it, padded back to Armenius' room. Her arms were shaking and she took careful steps with it before she finally laid it on a small table. "Chicken broth." she smiled triumphantly at him. "My mothers recipe." 

 

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He might be sick and this might be bad for business, but at least it got Ione to tell him some truths he didn't know about. About Marius at the brothel. He was a rough guy but he did what he was told, when Lucius was around. And he did trust him to handle the place when Lucius wasn't there. But when Lucius said he hoped Marius shouldn't hope he was sick often, Ione said he would act like it. And he ordered the girls around. Lucius arched a brow, displeased, yet a moment later he sent her off to the kitchens. Gods, to think he had to worry about something like Marius attempting to run the brothel, on a day like this. His mood was certainly not improving.

Finally Ione returned again and set down a tray. He could smell the broth and his stomach turned. He wasn't sure if he could eat anyway, but he probably should.

"I'll let it cool a bit." Lucius informed her. She seemed so pleased with herself, when all she did was carry out orders. Well, it didn't take much to please her, did it? It was harder to please Lucius. Especially now. And yet he wanted to learn more.

"Tell me, what does Marius order you to do? Does he overrule my orders?" He asked, because he had to know. Gods he didn't want to lose such a good henchman, but if Marius acted as if he owned the place... that was not good.

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Ione nodded as he said he'd eat the food later, and stood back from the table, folding her arms across her waist as he posed his question. She fidgeted though - wringing her hands and shifting from foot to foot. She didn't like telling tales, although now her dominus expected it of her given she had to give him reports on all the men that graced her cell at the Elysium. Still, this sat unnaturally to her. Marius was powerful in his own way. 

"He...does things differently." She said quietly, "Sometimes he does not let the men pick us but just makes us go with them so the girls on the top floor end up with good patrons and we..." With the lowest of the low. She wrinkled her nose at the memory. "I...don't think the patrons mind but...I..." She knew it wasn't what her dominus intended when he decided who could live on the lower floors. "And..." She hesitated awkwardly, still wringing her hands. "He's hit some of the girls once or twice...not hard, and not on the face." Herself included. She watched Lucius' reaction carefully. He'd never hit them. 

 

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He noticed how uncertain she seemed, how she shifted and he was about to order her to sit down, because that might calm her, but then she began speaking. Lucius was not happy with what he heard. The girls on the top floor with the good patrons? So they paid less than they could? Or paid higher sums for worse service? That was not what he had in mind with the brothel. And there was more. His eyes widened briefly at her revelation, but then he came to his senses.

"He's hit some of the girls? Why? Did they misbehave?" Because that would be about the only reason why a master in the brothel would hit or beat the girls. Else that was for the clients to do, not anything else. Why bruise or hurt a girl so she looked worse than what she had to? That was not good business. Lucius would have to watch Marius more closely. He couldn't say what he heard, because if Marius suspected Ione had ratted him out, he might mistreat her and she was being a very good slave to him. Why let that go to waste?

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Ione grimaced again. It felt...wrong to be telling on Marius like this. What if he found out? What if he made things worse for her? She could well imagine that her dominus was more likely to believe him than her. She was nothing, after all. 

Swallowing and steeling her reserve she spoke quietly with a little almost apathetic shrug. "He says we do but...it's things like not sweeping the cells but we can't always because it's busy...or taking a rest between clients to clean ourselves." She wrinkled her nose. No man wanted a used whore...or the new clients the dominus was trying to bring in didn't in any case. "I...think he likes to do it." She admitted more quietly with another little shrug. "To show us he is powerful. Compared to us at least...that's why he sometimes has us for free. He's not...powerful compared to you though, domine." Hence why he was far more reserved when Armenius was around.

 

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He really couldn't stay at home today, could he? With Marius out and about in the brothel. And that man, he acted so well when Lucius was there. He was a good second! But apparently when Lucius was gone, Marius thought it was his place and treated it as such. Which he should not. He should keep on following the orders and directives that Lucius had given and decided upon. 

"He's not." Lucius repeated when she was done talking, "I thought I could trust him!" He added more angrily, but grimaced as a bolt of pain went through his stomach. Still though, he shifted to try and sit up again, "And what a surprise it is, to find that I can trust a slave more than him." He said, looking at her, "I think... I'm ready to eat now." Lucius had to get better, now. There was no way he could stay in bed.

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Ione jumped, skittering to the side as he spoke angrily. She hated when men rose their voices and she wound her arms around her slim waist. She swallowed and felt his eyes on her. "You can trust me, domine." She affirmed. Because what did she have to gain from lying? It wasn't as if he was going to hoist her out of the brothel and into a life of luxury if she did. 

Ione was glad when he found a distraction. Food. Eating. That was better. She nodded and moved hurriedly  to pick up the food, and then gently knelt in front of him to hold it. She could have fetched a table for him but it seemed as natural as anything to serve him. She did in every other way, after all. He really should see a medicus though, she maintained but she wasn't going to raise that...right now. 

 

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She promised he could trust her and he nodded. Well at least he had someone he could trust, then. Even if that someone was just a slave and a whore even. It was better than having a second that didn't carry out the orders given. Ione went to get the bowl of food and she knelt in front of him, holding it up towards him. Lucius swung his legs over the side of the bed and reached for the spoon. It wasn't so warm anymore and it didn't taste too bad. And Ione was lovely to look at, kneeling before him. If he wasn't feeling so bad. But he was.

As he took the third spoonful and downed that one, he had to put the spoon down. He felt a rumble through his stomach. It did not like the food.

Lucius cursed as he tried to move up to lie down again and he felt warm all over, sweating. Fuck, was he going to retch again? In front of her? 

"Do you have any... other ideas... for me? Not soup." Lucius asked as he curled up on the bed. It hurt and in the back of his mind, he couldn't forget that Ione was here. It was so humiliating. She might see him differently now. He didn't know if that was good or bad.

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She watched him eat, herself silent, for a few moments with relief. Maybe he was on the mend? Maybe it had just been the bad food or wine at the man's house and it would pass? But then he dropped the spoon with a clatter back onto the plate underneath the bowl. She bit her lip as he moved to lie down again. She could see beads of sweat on his brow. She swallowed. 

"I...I have some bread as well domine, plain bread." She moved to set down the bowl and pick up the plate with two hunks of bread, holding it out to him. She knew what she wanted to say but it took a few more moments to work up the courage. "Please...may I fetch a medicus for you domine? I-if this gets worse..." She swallowed and flicked her eyes to him, anxiety clear in them. 

 

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Lucius did not notice how the spoon clattered, he just noticed how his stomach did not want anything like soup right now. Even if it was a mild soup, it was apparently too much. He was trying to ignore that one of his whores was following this whole incident, and tried to give her something to do. Something else to do but serve him soup. She spoke of plain bread and handed him one. But he couldn't bring himself to eat it now, since he felt his inside wanted to turn out. Gods, why this? 

Ione then wanted to fetch a medicus and he looked at her, "If it gets worse, you may." Lucius said, surprised that she wanted to do so much, but he couldn't comment on it now. Instead he left the bed and the bread on it to hurry to the latrine. He returned to the bedroom once he was done again and reached for something to drink, just a little sip. He inhaled a deep breath after. He felt tired now, he did not feel like working, "If I fall asleep... stay here and watch me. So you're here if I need you." He hated that he had to ask for that, for her to stay if he needed help, and he didn't use that word, but that's what he meant. And she should know.

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She gave him a pleading look but just nodded at his instruction. She wanted him to fetch one now, before it got worse. What if it would be too late? She remembered her mother - coughing and wheezing and burning with a fever. Within a week she was dead. She blinked watery eyes but didn't cry. And then he left the bread and pushed himself up hurriedly, pacing away to the latrine. Ione bit her lip and stayed where she was kneeling, staring at the bed. She moved the bread, setting it down on a plate at her side. By the time he came back, her knees were aching but she didn't move. 

She glanced up as he sipped the water. Good. He needed to drink more though..."Yes domine." She said, nodding. She'd curl up in the corner. She was still confused why he wanted her here not working rather than one of his house slaves. She didn't understand but didn't ask why. She knew better than to question him. She did give him a slightly more pleading look though; "You should try and drink more domine, it will make you feel better, quicker. I promise." 

 

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What time was it now? Afternoon? Lucius had no idea, because he had not left the house since he arrived yesterday with this aching stomach. And here he was with Ione, who watched him and waited patiently while he spent time at the latrine and then returned to the bed. He felt warm and tired and thought he might drift off, so before that, he asked Ione to stay here. She nodded when he spoke and then advised him to drink more.

"If you promise..." Lucius said and took the water and drank some more, before he moved to lie down and rest. Gods he felt so tired and that last trip to the latrine did help some. He could just sleep. And so he did. It's what his body needed. The house slaves probably came to check on him too, but would find Ione there and judge that he had the help he needed now, although they had no idea why he wanted to keep a simple whore in his room, when he wasn't sleeping with her. 

It was night, or at least dark, when he woke again. The house was quiet. The room was dark and he felt thirsty. He sat up and reached for the cup, but misjudged the distance in the darkness and the cup fell clattering to the floor. He cursed and sat more up, attempting to find it. Having completely forgotten he told Ione to stay.

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Ione woke to water splashing across her face, smothering her. For a brief moment she was back on her home island as a young girl, having stayed out too late and fallen asleep on one of the hard shingle beaches only  to be awoken by the incoming tide spraying her with its water. She spluttered, coughing and opened her eyes as a chill set into her bones at the sudden drenching. She pushed off the blanket - hastily sought after Armenius had fallen into a deep slumber and pushed herself to kneel, breathless and panicked for a moment. 

She heard him curse and thought he was cursing at her rather than his own clumsiness. "It's just Ione, domine, I'm sorry." She moved on wobbly legs - still trying to blink sleep and water from her eyes as she moved outside of the room to fetch an oil lamp burning just outside. She brought it in and it cast the room in a warm amber glow. It must be halfway to midnight by now and the domus was silent. She blinked at him. "H-how are you feeling domine?" She asked as she stood awkwardly in front of him clutching the lamp, her wet hair and faces leaving damp droplets of water on the floor. 

 

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