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A Twist in Time.

Discussion in 'Mixed-genre & Uncategorized' started by MJK2431, Feb 13, 2018.

Tags:
  1. MJK2431

    MJK2431 ✿❀❁

    He explained to her about the various rooms, the female deflecting from her worrying about social scenarios to try and absorb as much of the information as possible. She felt over-whelmed at the options he provided her, eyes widening as she swallowed back the lump forming in her throat. He seemed to notice her discomfort, the man slowing down and simplifying things for her. Despite the long list of rooms and their different uses, it seemed to Valerie like the bathes were sequential in terms of how they were to be utilized. Meaning, that all she had to do was simply go from one place to the next and more than likely she would be fine.

    She repeated this to herself over and over, returning to speak to him once more when he made mention of the 'assistants' present in the baths. "I'll ask for help from them, only if I really need it. It will also be done with respect that they deserve, even if it might seem strange to others. I won't make a scene of my treatment towards the unpaid servants your society keeps, but I refuse to treat them as lesser or other." Her mind was made up on that matter at least, her opinions and thoughts on the matter clear enough in comparison to her confusion over the bathes.

    He went on, reassuring her of her position in this world, one of status and comfort. Nobilitas....I need to keep remembering that. I'm not just a simple scientist anymore. I need to start acting more...refined. Her thoughts chastised her internally, the girl nodding her head slowly to what he had said. "Honesty is the best policy they say. I'll just stick to some simplified and sugar-coated truths. That will be easier than lying through my teeth." They were soon heading off, the baths a short distance away. However, the rising heat of the day made the female warmer than she liked, dust from the road sticking to the dots of perspiration on her forehead as they arrived at the building. Valerie wiped at the sweat with the back of her hand, the girl noticing her inner hesitance to enter. However, she had little choice in the matter, forcing a smile in Kaeso's direction which looked more grim than pleasant. She entered inside, following behind a pair of woman similar in age to her which were gossiping away. One of them, a tall fair-skinned woman with black hair, gave her a small smile over her shoulder before throwing a coy expression Kaeso's way as she disappeared around the corner of the women's section.

    Valerie gulped quietly, trying to follow them at a distance so as to not appear lost as they walked down a short corridor. They soon entered into a larger room though, one with small indents in the walls where some other bathers items were already stored. The pair who Valerie had followed stopped by two empty hollows, the raven-haired female contiually looking in Valerie's direction as they began unchanging with little inhibition. Valerie tried not to stare as she watched what they did, mimicking to her best effort in removing the toga while covering herself with her towel. She struggled with the pin on her toga though, getting flustered as she struggled to undo it in time to keep up with the other two. "Need help?" The voice was friendly and right behind her, Valerie turning with flaming cheeks to see the girl who had smiled before standing right beside her already wrapped in a towel. "Um, yes..." She mumbled out, sounding far more fragile than she would have liked. The girl approached, easily unclipping the piece holding the toga closed and handing Valerie a towel from nearby.

    "I heard along the grapevine about your memory loss. I figured you wouldn't remember me and your lack of a normal cheery greeting means the rumors are true. Needless to say your look of a lost lamb only makes it more obvious. My name's Octavia, I live near to you...we used to play frequently in your garden before you, ah...disappeared. Are you here to get ready for tonight? " Valerie tried to breathe, wanting to cool down her red cheeks as she gave the girl a grateful smile. "Y-yes, I, ah..." She grit her teeth, remembering what Kaeso had said. You're Nobilitas. Act like it. Valerie set her shoulders, standing up straighter as she responded better. "I mean yes. A bit of a party to let everyone know I'm back." Her smile now was more genuine, causing one to reflect on Octavia's face. "Well we're all awfully excited about it! Hey, Cassia?" The other girl who she had been with nodded her head, placing her folded toga inside it's hollow. Octavia turned back to Valerie, looping her arms through Valerie's while the girl floundered to try and keep her towel in place. "Even if you don't remember everything, we'll be here to help! You might not remember me, but my mother would be horrified if I didn't try and help you settle back in!"

    ***********************************************************************************************************************​
    It didn't take long for Valerie to settle, finding it easier to cope with the strange routines of the baths with the other two girls to help. While the first warm room was enjoyable, what Valerie truly looked forward to was the curls of steam coming from what Kaeso had said would be the hottest room of the bathes. When the three entered, Valerie had to stop herself from plunging straight into the warm waters which promised to help her remove the dirt that had been accumulating since arriving. A new development though made her stop, the sight of a girl with skin like fertile earth standing in the far corner, head tilted down to look at her toes. While the sight made Valerie pause, the other two quickly shed their towel and entered into the sunken pool of heated water. Their openess was something Valerie was still becoming accustomed too, and after a short moment in which she waited for when no one was looking, she too joined them.

    "So, Valoria, what colour are you wearing tonight?" Cassia asked after dunking her head underwater, red hair straightening and sticking to her skull. Octavia followed suite, Valerie doing the same so she had time to think. She had mostly let the other two talk, okay with just sitting and listening. It seemed however that they had now turned their attention to her. Her voice was confident as she responded, saying simply "A dark green. I bought some new items yesterday specially for tonight." She caste a glance at the other nubian-looking female in her peripheral vision, who had not changed her stance since they had entered. Her answer made the two girls glance at each other in a knowing way. "What is it?" She asked, the pair giggling to each other. "Come on, tell me!" Valerie urged them. Octavia was the one to speak first, but not to her. "Hey, you! Get two more of you and then fetch some oils and stigils!" The girl from the corner, who Valerie assumed to be a slave, left wordlessly and without looking up from the ground. Cassia rolled her eyes, saying "They're getting useless, none offered any of us massages yet or oil application." Octavia nodded her head in agreement, not yet answering Valerie's inquiry as to the importance of the colour she was wearing. Valerie felt like grinding her teeth, suddenly nervous as to the implications of the fabric the merchant had chosen for her. "You were saying?" She urged them politely, Octavia floating on the surface and tilting her head back into the water before answering. "Oh nothing....it's just that that is Magnus' favourite colour." Cassia gave Valerie a sly wink, ducking under and popping up again while Valerie's head spun. She was thirsting for answers but the two seemed to be toying with her and stretching out the time taken to satiate her need for answers.

    "Um...whose favourite colour?" She said patiently, trying not to let her worry seep into her voice. Octavia straightened, water flowing down her shoulders. "Oh right...your memory loss..." the girls broke off into another fit of giggles as Valerie's heart rate quickened. The pair eventually calmed again, the slave girl returning with two more females who were both carrying familiar coloured glass bottles and strange looking tools. "He's someone that you knew from before." Cassia said casually, shrugging her shoulders as they made their way back towards the stairs and climbed out again. Valerie followed after them, hungry for more information. There was more to this man than that simple answer and the wicked smile playing across Octavia's lips told her as much. The three wrapped their towels around them again, Valerie following as they sat down on nearby benches where steam was accumulating. The bathe 'assistants' approached, Valerie flinching away coyly at first while she watched the two new slaves begin pouring oil on Cassia and Octavia's skin. She tried to pry more information, asking in what she hoped was a non-chalant way, "Was he a friend, like you?" She allowed the nubian girl who had first been here to do the same to her with the oil, trying not to make a face at the strange feeling of the viscous fluid being rubbed into her skin. There was more giggles before she was given an answer, Octavia closing her eyes and sitting back in a relaxed pose as she answered. "Let's just say there was some unusual gossip as to his intentions towards you just before you left...gossip which will make his most certain appearance at your house tonight very interesting." The tone of her voice made Valerie's skin crawl, but Octavia's unspecific explanation told her that digging for more would be a fruitless effort. Clearly the two girl's were enjoying her lack of knowledge and Valerie refused to give them anymore satisfaction by begging for information. "Guess we'll just have to see how tonight plays out then..." She said casually, closing her eyes and trying to stop herself from grinning as she felt the two bristle slightly beside her when she didn't try and get them to talk more.

    Looks like 'friends' around here aren't always the kind that one would expect. I'll need to keep my guard up and keep playing the games they wish to set out. The small victory she had won felt good, but Valerie knew she would need to keep on her toes if the small experience was any indicator as to how the party would be.

    *****************************************************************************************************************

    Valerie exited the baths feeling refreshed. The treatments of oils that had been applied to her skin and semi-damp hair as well as the massage that Kaeso had suggested left her feeling strange but definitely improved compared to earlier. She was eager to speak to him, not only about her win in terms of how the girls had tried to toy with her but also in terms of the information she had learned about this 'Magnus'. He appeared to be waiting for her already, the sight of his damp hair making her think back to the first time he had used her shower back at her apartment. The memory was a fond one, helping the girl form a happy expression as she approached him. "Hello again, it would appear I survived. I also have some news to share..." she waited until they were walking back towards the villa before getting too detailed, the girl always keeping her voice low but giving him all the details she could about what the other females had shared with her. When she was done they were almost back, Valerie stopping under the tree they had talked under the day before. "What do you think?" She asked him, the warm breeze playing cooly across her still slightly-wet skin and hair and making the scented oils on them both waft around them.
    [CENTER][/CENTER]
     
  2. Zul'Zae'ju'Jin

    Zul'Zae'ju'Jin the Hugger Troll

    Kaeso smiled, he had little doubts at all that the slaves within the baths would find the utmost pleasantness from her along with a calming patience. He had experienced that for himself in her care. He knew how a Centurion could be found by those unused to army life and its structure of daily routines and hardships. Equally, she was in that same positoon now dealing with the difference of social classes and the owneship of others. He respected she was disapproving of the practice but she seemed to understand it wasn't something that was going to change in his lifetime much less the next generation and that no two masters were the same.

    "That, I think, they can manage, my Lady," he knew she would prefer her name but he was tenchically a rank below her and he had to be heard to be paying her due respect of her class when not in private. Neither of them needed the fiasco of him being reprimanded by some other upper class snob. He didn't think Valerie was ready just yet for affirming her own battle ground when it came to telling others off. At least not until she had more time to acclimatise. It certainly helped that she had a good grasp of Latin whereas his English was more than abyssmal in the little time he had begun learning it with the few words she had taught him.

    He nodded, he had caught many a ranker trying to pull a fast one over him only to be caught out by the simplest snag that had unravelled all of their exaggerated tales. No, if you were going to lie, then it was best to lie as little as possible. The dust clung to them both and he knew he had grown a little to used to a British climate over the much hotter Italian one. It felt hotter than even Misenum in summer than he remembered and found himself looking forward to a good steam and a good soak. He, however, was also nervous. The baths were also notoriously the best place for learning the gossip of the city and it was also often a place for business transactions to be concluded and settled upon. Therefore, there would be a number that he might know or recognise or those who would look to share in gossip and in turn, receive it.

    They reached the Baths, a large one that catered for both sexes and was decorated in the stonework with plenty of fish carvings. He caught her smile towards him and he felt more than what he saw her hesitancy. he gave her what he hoped was a reasuring smile knowing that outside of the gossips, there wasn't much else to the practice other than following each room as they came. He looked forward and saw the woman in front before she and her companion had turned the bend and he could only incline his head in response to her smile. He knew there had been little hiding what she was thinking but he was too stressed about other things to fully react to it, which was a little unlike him. It was here that his presence next to Valerie's parted and he hoped she would be all right once they met back together at the end of their stay here.

    He soon followed suit with other men who had come for their daily bath, or sometimes weekly in terms of how many times a week they could afford it. It wasn't too expensive and rather than faffing with two accounts, he had paid both his and Valerie's on her account. He doubted neither her or Aquila would want him stinking through a dinner party. That just would not do. He had his clothing stored and he soon settled for the first room, allowing the heat of the room to steam out the gunk and grease in his skin. He lost himself to his own thoughts for quite some time, sat on one of many benches in the room, his palms pressing against the stone. It was some time before a presence disturbed his thoughts and he lifted his head as a man of a much thinner build than to himself looked down at him.

    "Would you mind if I joined you?" The man's voice was smooth and one that carried an air of grace than kaeso had long lost even if he ever had it in the first place. The man was unknown to him, the face too groomed and well looked after to belong in the Legions. Or at least, if the man had... it had been in the equestrian or higher ranks where they rarely got their feet wet in the dirt.

    "Knock yourself out," he replied, knowing there was plenty of space around for the man to have sat but as with all things, a need for socialising often won over a need to stay away from those beneath you. Kaeso would make no qualms about who or what he was. He knew he had a soldier's look about him so he wasn't going to pretend to be anything other than what he was. The man offered a smile that didn't quite reach all the way and inclined his head. The hawk nose only added to the bird-like gesture and Kaeso had a hard time keeping his amusement to himself.

    "I couldn't help noticing the woman you were with when you entered. From what all the gossip mills I've run into, she's the returned daughter of good old Corvinus. Is that true?"

    "Yes, the Lady is such," he replied, wondering what this man was getting at as he straightened his frame, "Recently returned from the shores of Britannia."

    "That sounds a little like firsthand information, if you don't mind me saying...?" The man peered at him with a fishing look that Kaeso disliked but couldn't deny since he knew he and Valerie weren't exactly free from a certain man in the future. It was all very fucked up.

    "I should think so. I was the one that got her safely back home," Marcellus put succinctly and honestly.

    "Good, good..." the man eched, looking away for a moment before he looked back at the soldier next to him. "Forgive me, I had to be sure of who you were and who she was... People have this little irritating habit of talking far too much. Before you even have the time to realise it, a truth runs to a filthy nag of lies."

    Kaeso peered at him suspiciously, his guard rising as he wondered as to the identity of the man sitting next to him, "I.... What are you getting at?" he asked bluntly and perhaps a little too bluntly he realised as he gauged the reactive expression.

    "I come with regards to the Palace, Centurion," the man nodded and kaeso realised he must have be with the Imperial staff, one of many to aid in Claudius' dealings as Emperor. Question was whether this man was a Freedman or a true Roman but in either case he was outranked regardless of the fact that a Freedman was a social rank beneath his own.

    "I see the administrative office wastes little time,"
    "Indeed not... It is regrettable you were unable to return with the whole family. We will have a more formal meeting regarding the situation, Centurion. His excellency is most concerned and curious as to the whole thing. The clerk mentioned Corvinus wrote a letter?"
    "Yes sir. In his own hand, and he gave me his signet ring as further authority to his wishes,"
    "Good, we shall need to see it. Good man, we'll send a summons shortly."

    The man rose and after a moment's hesitation gave Kaeso a pat on the shoulder. Before Kaeso could speak, the man had left in a small flurry of towel and the Centurion sighed, rubbing his face before he finished up with his steam and soaked in the baths for a good while before eventually following through with a massage that helped allieve a lot of the stress he had been building up over the last few months. The man's hands had left nothing out, kneading skin and removing any tight knot he could find. Refreshed, he soon got back into his clothes and awaited Valerie outside.

    He thought heavily to the likelyhood of an Imperial summons and what that was likely to entail from him and perhaps from Valerie too. It was another situation in which she was going to be placed into the proverbial deep end. He shuddered slightly as a droplet of water ran down the middle of his neck and down his back and the movement caused him to catch sight of his friend and charge. He inclined his head towards her as was expected but the smile on his features was in the least genuine. He was glad to see she had made it out and she looked to be in one collective piece. Not melting to the floor with tears at least, he mused. He hated it when women cried, he always didn't know what to do when they did and it was just awkward.

    "Oh? You're not the only one, it would appear," he nodded with a slight but albeit guarded smile. He was not looking forward to having to respond to the summons. No doubt Aquila would go about in one hell of a frenzy that not only ensured that Valerie was looking her best but quite possibly him too as a new representative of their house. It was all very daunting in prospects.

    He let Valerie share infomation first as they walked back to the villa and he did so with his usual field and capacity for patient listening. By the time she was done, they were under a tree and he realised it it was the same one they had talked beneath before. He took a moment of silence and shifted the strap of his tunic on his shoulder slightly as he collected his thoughts on the matter. It was certainly troubling and given their ulterior motive in being here, it presented more questions.

    "Not sure I like it," he answered eventually, growing distracted by the scents in the air. "I don't know how it works for your time," he began quietly, loud enough for her to hear but quiet enough still to make it difficult for anyone nearby to understand, "but a family will often wed their daughter or son for what merit their other house gets them. Wealth, social standing, reputation, all that. Love has very little place in the whole affair. Take the Houses of Caesar and Antony. Octavian Augustus married his sister to Mark Antony to show their houses had made peace, despite the fact it was all a farce." Kaeso wasn't sure how much of the ways of Romans Valerie understood so he had felt he had needed to explain what this Magnus could be after.

    "If he's after the wealth of the family name, it's something you'll have to be wary about. Women are second in the marriage... all matters of the House would shift to him. He'd get the say where the money goes, you'd only get so far as dictating what you can wear and you'd maybe get an expense for womanly things. Aquila would properly answer that question better than I... I'm just a simple soldier," he replied.

    "I would advise you keep your eyes and ears open and don't get wrapped up by any silken promises. If this Magnus is good with his tongue, e very well may try to spin a yarn. Those in politics know who to manipulate, quite often without you even realising they're doing it." He was sincere, he didn't want her to get hurt by other people's schemes and plots. Her 'return' was creating a stir and they were both in a drink if the exact truth was known. He didn't care that the greasy bastard who had sent them back to his time in the first place had a record of his so-called heroic deeds. For all he knew, they had been forged just to get him to be more compliant or agreeable. Even heroes could fall to exile, slavery or worse, death.

    The realisation of her news made him forget his own titbit that he needed to tell her.
     
  3. MJK2431

    MJK2431 ✿❀❁

    Kaeso seemed to muse over the information she had shared with him, remaining level-headed as he always was before eventually imparting his own feelings and thoughts on what she had told him. He took much a similar stance to the one she had taken towards the news, dubious as ever about the true intentions of the man that the ‘friends’ she had met spoke about. With his explanation on the reason for marriages within his time, her demeanor shrivelled up. While she had been excited before, proud of her victory in a game of politics and words, the enlightenment he brought only managed to worry her. “No. That’s not how it works in my time, at least with most people. We marry for the purpose of wanting to spend the rest of our lives with someone we care about….arranged marriages were…I mean will be…. frowned upon by most of my civilisation.

    She ran her fingers through her drying hair, getting caught in the tangles and knots forming there. Becoming second to a man who had dominion over not only her things but her actual being sounded like a nightmare to her. Having known the privilege of being a ‘free’ woman in her own time somehow made the probable situation far worse in her mind. One she would avoid at all costs. “I don’t intend to talk to Aquila about it. I don’t need her words worming their way into my head. Besides, she seems to be at the heart of any talk that goes on around here. Everyone seems to know everyone else’s business and even if there is nothing to gossip about, then truths get twisted until there is something to talk about. Information and secrets seem to be a highly valuable currency in your time. What is your news, though? You said at the baths that you also had information to share?

    Aquila appeared on the porch outside the villa a short distance away, hands on her hips as the old woman scanned the road and paths leading from it in search of her mistress. Valoria had been gone at the baths far longer than she expected and the hour for the gathering was growing near in terms of how long it would take to prepare the girl visually. She eventually spotted the pair under the same tree as the previous day, the woman groaning softly to herself. This centurion is going to make things around here interesting. Whether or not his presence will cause a ruckus tonight will be the Gods choice. “Valoria! We need to get started!” She shouted in their direction interrupting whatever explanation Kaeso had begun to give on his own news. When Valerie turned towards her, the woman waved her hands in a gesture indicating she should hurry back to the villa.

    Back under the tree Valerie moaned at hearing her shout, visibly clenching her jaw and raking her hands over her scalp again. “This woman is like a rash on my side….tell me later, okay? If I keep her waiting she might just have a fit.” Valerie gave him one last smile, then turned and jogged back to the house. Upon her arrival Aquila tutted loudly, plucking at a damp strand of Valerie’s hair and saying, “You’ve been gone a while, look at your hair! Good thing I have some skill in detangling nests such as the one those slaves down at the baths have created in your curls! Hurry inside, we have much to do.” Valerie did as she was told, feeling a growing sense of dread at the upcoming event.

    ************************************************************************************

    Later that evening, when the sun had begun to set, Markus was kept busy setting up wooden tables covered with embroidered cloth, putting out trays of food, and scattering lounging sets and cushions in small parts of the atrium and courtyard. Flowers were hung in wreaths, scented oils were burned from small lamps and small candles were sent floating into the central water feature of the courtyard. By the time he was done, Aquila was finishing up with Valerie’s appearance.

    It had taken many hours of brushing, fussing about with the folds of the tunic and application of what Valerie assumed was the roman equivalent of makeup. Kohl had been drawn along her eyes and perfumed oils placed onto every inch of skin exposed in the tunic. What had taken up most of the time was her hair, which Aquila had braided at the top to create a crown before carefully adding oils to her hair to accentuate the curls. After that she had carefully placed a small silver headpiece on Valerie’s head, one which was fixed to the braid using small metal clips and which was embedded with green stones much like those on the necklace she wore. Rings were placed on her fingers and the earrings she had purchased attached to her ears. Once complete, Aquila was giddy with excitement at seeing the final product. “You look fit to walk the halls of the palace my dear.” Valerie stood, surveying herself in the aged mirror.

    She looked…different. As if she belonged in this era. It was as like she had stepped off the pages of a history book showing old roman murals, the female’s posture going from slumped to suddenly straighter and more confident. I look like I fit in. That will make tonight easier. She was finished at the perfect moment, with the sound of voices outside the house indicating the arrival of guests at any minute. Aquila gave Valerie one last beaming smile, like a proud mother hen, before darting out to get the tray of wine ready.

    Valerie looked at her reflection once more, steeling herself for whatever might lay ahead, before leaving to find Kaeso waiting outside. He looked more refined than she had ever seen him thus far, standing squarely with the stance of a soldier who had fought many battles and won. He looked ready for another battle now, a fact that only made Valerie feel more at ease. “You look good. Are you ready? I’m nervous, but I feel like this is going to be fine.” She said in a whisper, the jewelry she wore creating a soft metallic jingling sound as she moved and catching the dull light. It announced her presence before he would even see her, the female moving from behind him to his side.

    The first to arrive was the family of Octavia and Cassia, many more individuals she did not know flooding in like an unstoppable wave behind them. Valerie put her game face on: a neutral expression with the slightest, welcoming smile. She greeted each person in turn, taking the time to learn their names and commit it to memory, since she would not have the guise of her memory loss to fall back on if she met them in future. It helped to have many people arriving at once, it kept at bay any conversations she could have until everyone had finished arriving and allowed her time to settle down her nerves. The start of the evening seemed to be going off without a hitch, but good things don’t last forever.

    A short time later, with most people having seemed to arrive, Valerie was soon pounced upon from the moment she left the threshold of the villa. Octavia’s voice sounded behind where she stood, Valerie busy taking a goblet of wine off from one of the tables. “Oh my, clearly your servant’s ability for the application of the cultus far exceeds mine. You look breathtaking!” Valerie forced a smile before spinning, taking a sip of wine before answering the girl. To her surprise, this time the wine was not diluted with water. “Thank you for the compliment, you look magnificent yourself –“ She was interrupted by the sound of a horses hooves beating against the dirt outside, the sound catching the attention of most of the guests who all turned their heads towards the villa’s entrance. The horses could be heard skidding to a halt as their hooves slid along the gravel, men’s grunts audible as they dismounted. Shortly after that, two people appeared: A rather round man leading at the front and a tall, athletically built but slightly lithe looking male a few centimeters shorter than Kaeso. The younger was dressed in a crisp white tunic with a red toga draped over his one shoulder in the style of a toga praetexta. Both men had an air of superiority about them, chins held high and similar in appearance except for the ones obviously thicker girth around his middle. The older of the two was clearly the father of the younger, the pair sharing tanned skinned, dark brown hair and yellow-green eyes.

    Markus, who had been standing beside Kaeso and was about to offer him wine, bristled as he caught sight of their arrival. The trio sauntered in, bringing a cheer from some of the guests who rose to greet them before Valerie could even approach. Valerie quietly excused herself to welcome the newcomers. Octavia let her go, only giving a polite nod while a knowing smile spread across her face. On her way towards the men she heard shouts of congratulations, most of the men who had risen to greet the two giving the younger sharp pats on his shoulder or his back in some show of camaraderie. She caught the end of one of the man's ecstatic exclamations, his voice apparent above the mumble of the guests surrounding them. "- Fortuna is smiling on you this year Calamis! First your acquisition of the trade deal from Egypt and now your son being promoted to praetor's apprentice!" As Valerie approached the men dissipated slightly, allowing her to show the clearly revered men the respect she owed them as guests.

    "Good evening, welcome to my home." Valerie said politely, giving a small curtsy and incline of her head when the masses had parted to allow her through. Many of the guests in the background whispered among themselves excitedly, the air inside the courtyard suddenly electric.
     
  4. Zul'Zae'ju'Jin

    Zul'Zae'ju'Jin the Hugger Troll

    He read easily how she took to what he had told her and wished he could take it all back within the instant. She, for a moment in the least, looked less of herself than before and he disliked it immensely. However he knew he would do worse with keeping the truth from her. Valerie was his friend and one he had come to care for deeply. He did not wish her to be hurt and that meant she would have to be aware of the world she was in and the dangers that came with it. Kaeso, not for the first time since their arrival to his time period, wished he could send her back.

    Kaeso nodded in reaction to the news that people in her time did indeed marry for love than wealth or climbing a social ladder. He admired it entirely. How freeing that must have been to be able to conduct the matters of the heart with so deep a choice? It was something rare in his time either through luck or happenstance. Love in his time was something to be earned and gained through time though love at first sight was not unheard of. He did not envy her position, a position she should never have come to bear.

    Valerie spoke again and he listened attentively to her words as though she were a Legate or the Camp Prefect. He nodded, he could agree with her decision whole heartedly. Slaves and the common folk had wagging tongues that wouldn't know the meaning of secret infomation. A person who could keep a secret to the death was a rare breed. So absorbed was he by all that she had been saying and with what she had alluded to with this 'Magnus' fellow, he found himself caught off guard by her prompt.

    "I, uh... Well, I too.." he was cut off as Aquila's voice broke and interupted their talk. He could curse the woman and his look of irritation at the discourse couldn't have been more plain. He was unused to being talked over much less by a slave but as things stood, in the city he was counted as a civilian and his rank meant little. It was one reason ebhind so many brawls caused ebtween Legionaries and civilians as rankers forgot themselves when a legion returned to the city.

    Flushing his irritation from view, he glanced towards Aquila and then looked back to Valerie with a sigh that spoke of a wish that they had more time. "I shall do so," he promised and watched her move towards the house with a sinking feeling in his gut. Knowing the Imperial staff, he wouldn't be surprised if the summons came the very next day. The Centurion looked at the tree for a moment and patted the trunk, covering with its rough bark before he moved off himself. By virtue of being the noblewoman's saviour, he too had to look decent for tonight and he was less than well versed on how to look just that. The simple tunic, even though it was finely made and decorated, would befit his station well enough but he knew it would not stop the looks of disapproval.

    He had spent most of what time he had to himself in the room afforded to him, sat perched upon the cot lost in thought as he went over the meeting again and again in his mind. His mind ran through potentials, his hand absently running up and down over his forearm, his skin catching lightly over old scars. When it came to getting changed, he felt stupid and wished he didn't have to attend but neither did he want to leave Valerie alone with the political wolves. He may not have much experience with high class dinner parties but he would be expected nonetheless and he would have to just manage all the same.

    The tunic felt strange to one so used to living with a bare minimum in life and he took great care in putting it on not wishing to damage something that cost more than half his monthly wage. He felt hooribly naked. He found a spot for himself typically out of the way of the house staff and for their guests too and stood at ease. People would know his station so he saw little to no need to hide the fact. Who else was to retrieve a prisoner of war from a band of savage natives? For a moment he was allowed to keep his own thoughts before a jingling sound caught his attention before it was coupled with light treads. He turned his head and smiled as Valerie joined him. He could not help but look her over and appreciate how pretty she looked. She might not be of the time but she wore it well.

    "You look beautiful," he nodded in returned whisper glad for it. The hyenas would come soon and only she would know the same feeling of the predicament it presented. "I find myself wishing I was back at Camulodundum against the natives..." he muttered back before he nodded, "But I'll survive." he was glad she was gaming for it, at least by words. Kaeso, meanwhile, was already vowing to drink as little as it was socially acceptable to get away with. Wits were needed just as much now as they were for a real battle of sword and shield.

    People soon arrived and he recognised none of them, assuming them all to be from Corvinus' social circles and those of the returned daughter. He felt ever more like a fish out of water or rather that he had been yet again thrown into the deep end with the sharks. Exept he was likely to be safer with the sharks than with most of these people who plotted and schemed their way through the political ladders. He longed for the simple life of his Centurion days which in retrospect hadn't been all that long ago. He felt Markus approach him by the elbow and turned towards him before he noticed a distinct change in the man's demeanor. There was no mistaking a level of negativity or quiet aggression about the man and Kaeso turned his head, the wine forgotten, to view the two newcomers to the party.

    He studied both men and found himself on the same level with markus' clear anxiety about the pair. Both were preened, clearly caring a great deal about their appearance and the impression upon others that it gave. There was nothing left to ruin about their hair, clothes or the way in which they held themselves. Kaeso gave a low snort hiding it with a large sip from what was left of his wine in his goblet. He was too accustomed to having to deal with such preenings shits that it left a nasty taste in his mouth.

    "Ah! Thank you, my good lady. This week has certainly been miraculous, my lady Valeria both for my son as they say and more importantly with your fortituous return! You look beautiful, my dear. Radiant even! Doesn't she look so, son?" The man had barely given the younger man the time to answer but the younger jumped in easily with clear agreement. Kaeso disliked the look in which the male was giving Valerie, it was barely concealed where most might have missed it but he could see it clear as day.

    "You must tell us all about your experiences, my lady. It's very good to have you return and bring life back into your home," Calamis continued steadily.

    Kaeso glanced at Markus before gently nudging the man at the elbow and he spoke quietly just so that Markus would hear. He didn't doubt Markus wasn't already like to do so but he felt they were both on the same page, "Keep an eye on them two," he said, presenting his goblet ready to be filled in a fake pretext of getting Markus to fill it so that others would simply assume he was demanding a refill.
     
  5. MJK2431

    MJK2431 ✿❀❁

    Valerie approached cautiously, although hid well her clear worry over what the fuss was about with the arrival of these two men in particular. Upon hearing the congratulations and remarks thrown their way however, it became clear to her why the party had suddenly picked up with incessant chattering and whispers. This must be the male that Octavia had spoken of earlier, there were no other men close enough to her age to elicit such excitement. Besides, it was well past the time the party would start and so Valerie assumed that they would be the last to arrive. Clearly they are the kind who like to make a grand entrance... she thought sarcastically, squelching the need to roll her eyes as she responded to the older of the two.

    The look that the younger of the two men gave did not go completely unnoticed by her, Valerie well aware if his eyes raking over her entire body from head to toe. It was the same sort of look farmer might give when appraising livestock, she realized. She did not feel like a farmer though, more like a prized piece of cattle. Gulping quietly she tried not to let her facade slip, forcing herself to unclasp her hands which were being held tightly in front of her.

    "I thank you for the compliment...ah...sir. I'm fully aware of the gossip flying around town of my memory loss and so I see no need to try and pretend that I am well acquainted with who you are. Would you be so kind as to introduce yourself to me once more?" Once he had proceeded to introduce himself, Magnus stepped forward and gave a deep bow before his father could steal his own introduction from him. Upon rising he took Valerie's hand, inclining his head towards her before saying "Good evening, Lady Valoria Corvinus. I am Magnus. We were close friends before your unfortunate departure....very close, I might even say. My father has made a good point though, we are eager to hear of your experiences. Maybe even to meet the ah, soldier that brought you back home." The way he phrased the term for Kaeso made it seem as if the word was difficult for him to say, Magnus' eyes not leaving her face as he spoke. He flashed her a dashing smile, showing off peculiarly white and straight teeth - a definite sign of his privileged upbringing.

    In the background, Markus all too eagerly nodded his head. Without taking his eyes off of the trio he responded, the seething tone of his words making apparent his distrust of the men. "I was planning on it already, sir. They're wolf in sheep's clothing and the Valoria's memory loss makes her as vulnerable as a lamb. My watch will not waver as far as I can help it." The presentation of the goblet caused the male slave to momentarily cast his gaze away, filling up Kaeso's glass before he went off to continue with his duties of catering and keeping goblets full.

    Back at the threshold where Valerie stood under inspection of the two men, Magnus roughly grabbed onto Markus' upper arm as he passed. In a flat, displeased voice which almost seemed reprimanding, he questioned Markus' attentiveness. "Your Domina's goblet is empty, slave." Valerie stiffened at his treatment of the man who had been nothing but kind to her, a reprimand of her own to be aimed at the aloof male sitting on the tip of her tongue. She knew she could say nothing though, not without getting unwanted attention at least. Markus kept his gaze to the ground but his jaw clenched, Valerie producing her cup so that he would not have to step far. Once it was filled, the purple-hued liquid swirling out the jug and pooling in the cup, she nodded her head gratefully. "Thank you very much, Markus." She hoped Markus would leave swiftly to be saved from any further reprimanding and he did, quickly swiveling on the balls of his feet and disappearing to another group nearby once she had given her gratitude.

    Once that was complete Magnus and Calamis turned their full attention back on her, Markus as quickly forgotten as a squished bug. "Drink up! Relax! And tell us all about your time in Britannia. Details are everything when it comes to a good story and everyone I know is dying to ind out what it is you went through. I want to be the first to know!" Magnus indicated to a nearby couch and cushion collection which had been set up in the corner, placing a hand on the small of Valerie's back as he gently nudged her in that direction.

    Valerie's heart began to beat faster her mind racing as she tried to grasp at details that didn't exist. Just remain calm. Only I was there. Whatever untruths I have to tell can be pointed out by no one except Kaeso....Kaeso! He can help! Valerie seated herself first, Magnus plonking himself down on the seat closest to hers as she looked up and caught Kaeso's attention to indicate he should join them.

    While he neared Magnus glanced at her still full cup, saying with a teasing tone, "Something wrong? You still haven't touched your wine. Perhaps your servants have done a poor job of acquiring a good enough cultivar, I could always make a complaint and-" Valerie interjected, shaking her head and insisting he not do a thing by saying, "Oh! No! The wine is great, I have just been so distracted by conversation is all." She made a point of this by taking a large sip, still being careful to not let wine spill anywhere. The liquid was strong tasting and pungent, much stronger than the more refined wines she was used to in her time. However, she would proceed to drink it if it kept any negative attention from being drawn to Aquila or Markus.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2019

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