Loving Beyond Boundaries

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by 4everDifferent, Apr 7, 2015.

  1. "Julius Gaius Lucius!" The centurion bellowed out from behind his wooden table. His voice was a tad bit raspy from all the yelling he had to do to be heard over the clamor of all the men who awaited their name.

    Julius pushed through the crowd of fellow soldiers until he stood before the centurion and his two towering Praetorian guards. Standing in his leather armor accented by red cloth and brass, Julius saluted the centurion and reported, "Yes sir."

    The centurion looked up from his ledger before reaching for his quill and a parchment, "Rome has need of you outside of her mighty walls," the words made Julius' heart swell with pride. He had always wanted to serve Rome on the front of her ever expanding borders. The thought of bringing even more honor to his father's name had also been a driving force behind his service, "Take this parchment and report to the barracks in the morning. You leave first thing," Julius watched as the centurion rolled up the paper and seal it. Julius took it and saluted once again before he turned and left the office.

    Hurrying to his father's house, he practically blew through the doorway in excitement, "Father," he said as he emptied into the balcony. His parents were lounging on scarlet sofas, "I've been given my orders. I leave first thing in the morning."

    His mother looked, first at his father, and then at her son, "Julius," she smiled, "May the Gods watch over you and shower you with honor," he smiled as he leaned down and graced her cheek with a kiss.

    His father shifted and spoke, "I am sure the Gods will keep you safe," he smile faded slightly before growing once again, "Selphia," he called and a scantily clad woman emerged from the house and into the balcony, "Fetch the best of our wine and tell Delocles to prepare a feast. Tonight we dine for tomorrow my son leaves as a soldier of Rome."

    Eat, drink and be merry. That was exactly what transpired over the course of the night. Unfortunately, duty called for Julius to sleep and arise early in the morning. After saying goodbye to his family one last time, Julius headed toward the barracks where he approached a centurion and handed his paper to him. The deal was broken, the paper unraveled and after a few moments, he spoke, "Report to your centurion, Bracchus, you leave for Asia Minor within the hour."

    Julius saluted and grinned widely. The Roman borders had just begun to expand out east. They were going to send him to the lines just as he had hoped. Now they just had to make the journey through Greece and he would be one step closer to honor.
    Governor Marcus Brutus sat behind his table looking over papers. Cumae was a small city that the Sente had decided to leave him in charge of. It would not have been his first pick, but it was far from any trouble and he Greeks were the closest to proper Romans he would get unless he was able to work himself into the Senate. Such a goal was not out of reach for such a prestigious man as he. The only problem was that he was doing such a good job that the Senate was hard pressed to leave him there indefinitely. He would need a proper patron to help motivate the senate to let him leave and join their ranks.

    It had been just under a week since he had received word that General Bracchus would be lodging his men in Cumae on the way to the front in Asia Minor. Here was a man with great pull in the senate because of his military successes. Knowing his, Marcus had held back nothing in order to impress Bracchus and his centurions in hopes of winning his favor.

    A soft knock on the post of his room tore his gaze from the papers spread out in front of him. It was his beautiful wife, Lydia, "What does a proper Roman woman have to do to win the affections and attention of her husband but for a moment?"

    Marcus sighed and smiled slightly as he stood from behind his table, "I apologize, my love. With Bracchus' impending arrival, I didn't want us to miss the opportunity to potentially gain his favor," he moved and took her hand before leading her out of the room and back into the open foyer of their house. He watched only a moment as barely clothed servants and slaved moved about preparing the house for the party, "Has everything been prepared?"

    Leaning her head against his shoulder she grinned, "You know better than to worry when things have been placed in my hands," she patted his shoulder softly, "Everything has been taken care of. In fact, Calliope is seeing to the last of the preparations."

    Marcus sighed in relief. Calliope was his most proficient of house slaves. A beautiful woman born in servitude, she served in many facets and was trusted in his house as one who would ensure that things were done properly. Wether it was pride in her work or the fear of the rod, Marcus cared little so long as the job was done to his fullest expectations.
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  2. "To the left...no too far. More to right...wait...there. Perfect." The banner welcoming General Bracchus was carefully aligned over the threshold leading towards the main foyer of the house. Calliope turned around and took in the decor of the room. She was sure her mistress would be pleased. The household slaves had worked hard throughout the week to ensure it. It was everything she had asked for and Calliope even added a few extra details to ensure all was properly handled. As the head of the house slaves, it was her duty to ensure her masters were pleased in all the domestic matters of the home.

    Next Calliope went to check on the feast. The governor was adamant that an impression be made on the General. Callie tasted the soup, "add a dash of salt and it will be perfect." She sliced a portion of the meat, cooked to perfection. Everything was coming along according to mistress Lydia's commands. Finally, she checked on the various bedroom chambers and all was prepared. Calliope smiled, yes, her masters would be very pleased.

    Calliope was the most trusted and favored slave for a reason, she did her duties and did them well. To Callie, there was no sense in doing otherwise. If she didn't work hard to please her masters than she would be beaten. She hated being beaten. It was rare but the last time she did something to displease mistress Lydia, master Marcus slapped her so hard across the face he busted her lip open and Callie had a large bruise that didn't heal for quite a few days. It was imperative to not only please master Marcus but to especially please mistress Lydia.

    Being born into a life of slavery, Callie learned such lessons very early on and did whatever she could to avoid her master's rod. It wasn't necessarily pride or a love of her position, it was avoidance of pain and submission to one's destiny. She was born into slavery and so Callie expected to also die in it. At least this way, her life could be tolerable. She learned to cook and properly clean from her mother and from her father she learned to tend the gardens as well as entertain guests. Wine cups were never empty and stomachs were always full when Calliope served on her master's events. She learned that if he was pleased with her, then not only was she spared the rod but she would also reap of other benefits as well. It was what kept her going every day. It was why Callie had her own quarters and didn't share with any of the other slaves. It took years to earn and it was the smallest room in the house but it was her space.

    Many slaves strived for freedom but Callie knew better. Such a concept was far from her mind. She would never acquire the funds needed nor would her master ever grant her permission. Callie stopped praying to the gods long ago for such dreams. It was frivolous and a complete waste of her energies that were better spent elsewhere.

    When she was content with her work, Calliope found her masters in the foyer. She cautiously approached them, bowing low to the ground, raven hair covering her face, green eyes on the floor until she was acknowledged. "Master. Mistress Lydia. All the preparations for General Bracchus' arrival are set. Is there anything else I can do for you?"
  3. The sun was high in the sky when Cumae finally came into view. A sigh escaped a the lips of a few of the other soldiers as they marched on in step. Word had travelled fast that they would be lodging at Cumae for the night and the fact that they had arrived earlier than planned meant that they would be able to unwind a bit. Julius was glad for that. They marched out of Rome, boarded a ship across the Aegean and departed on the shores of Greece before they marched once again. To be able to lay down on, bed even in the barracks would be a gift from the gods.

    Coming to a stop just outside of Cumae, General Bracchus pulled off ahead but not before calling a handful of men to go with him. Even though he was new to this particular unit, Julius had been so named. The young soldier assumed it to be because of his lineage but he wasn't going to complain.

    The streets of Cumae were a buzz with people. A mixture of Roman, greek and other foreigners flooded the streets only parting as the general and his entourage moved through them. Bracchus turned his nose up to them, however, Julius did not. He soaked in the opportunity to see the greek culture having been raised within the walls of the world's greatest city. Not that Roman culture bored him, but he was one who wished to see the world. It was part of the excitement for joining the army.

    The group moved through the streets until they poured out in a large plaza that led them straight to the governor's house. Governor Marcus Brutus. Julius had heard rumors of the man who had turned Cumae into a bustling little town. He had also heard rumors about the Governor's daughters. He had a pair of twins, of which it was said that they even rivaled the beauty of Venus. Such a boast was bold to say the least. A woman scorned, even a goddes, was a woman that did not so easily forgive the trespasser.

    The gates to the large estate swung open as Bracchus led the way to the front door.
    Calliope stood before him in all her beauty and Marcus grinned at her report. She was beautiful and quite the business woman. She might of made a fine a Roman had she been born one. Born of her stalk made her leap able of little more than managing an estate.

    Lydia spoke first though as her husband was lost in his moment of thought, "No, Calliope, ensure that the others are ready to attend to our guests when they arrive. I'll see no errors on anyone's part or it'll be your back that bares the rod," she spoke softly but Calliope knew that Lydia meant what she said. Error was not acceptable especially when guests of such importance would be visiting, "Now run along," she spoke with a soft, kind smile, "No mistakes."

    Once she was gone, Marcus spoke quietly to his wife, "Do you not think it wise to be kinder to the slaves? I mean, especially Calliope with all the good fortune she's brought us."

    She looked at him with furrowed brows, "If she were a roman I might consider such a thing, but she's a barbarian and as such, does not deserve such kindness until shd has finally learned what it means to be Roman and achieved such status."

    Marcus was just about to rebuttal when another slave approached them with a bow. Marcus gestured for the man to speak and speak he did, "General Bracchus awaits you in the Atrium."

    Looking at his wife, Marcus grinned, "Well then, shall we keep our guest waiting?" Lydia smiled before she composed herself, "Do see that the twins join us. It is imperative that the general meet us all."
    Marcus showed Bracchus all his accomplishments and gains as the men toured the house. As they finished, they poured into the living room where Marcus took a seat on his scarlet couch. His wife, ever so faithful, perched beside him. Bracchus, on the other hand, being a man of war, chose to find comfort in a wooden chair. As for his men, Julius included, the only relaxation they recorded at the moment was the wall they were permitted to lean against.

    Julius took the moment to scan all that Marcus had in sight. He was a wealthy man and lived up to his reputation as far as the young soldier could tell. Julius had grown up in such an environment so to see it again was no shock. He had enjoyed its comforts but had chosen the honor of soldiery over the guile of politics.

    It wasn't long after they had all fallen into comfort that two beautiful women entered the room. Every pair of eyes from the visiting soldiers blinked unsure of wether they saw two women or the same woman twice. The twins of Brutus had graced them with their presence.

    Marcus took the time to introduce his daughters both of which wore low cut clothing and high slits to expose their slender legs. Their blonde hair, a gift from their father Julius presumed, rested in the same arrangement upon their shoulders, "Ah, General Bracchus," he smile with such pride over the natural beauty of his girls, "Might I introduce to you Aelia and Liviana, my daughters."

    Bracchus most likely replied, being the proper fespectful Roman he was but Julius didn't hear it. His eyes rested on Aelia or was it Liviana. Whichever she was, her beautiful blue eyes locked with his and for a moment, he had forgotten who he was of what he was.

    "Now that we have all arrived," Lydia spoke as the kind hostess she was, "Let's drink and eat," her smile faded ever so slightly before she called out once more, "Calliope, fetch the best of our wind and present it to our guest."

    "My men too," Bracchus spoke and the men looked toward their command in shock.

    "Yes," Lydia hesitated, not quite wishing to entertain such a thought as giving soldiers her best wine, "your men too."
    #3 4everDifferent, Apr 9, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 9, 2015
  4. As mistress Lydia spoke to her, Calliope nodded, dismissing herself from their presence as ordered. As she turned the corner and she was no longer within their range of hearing, Calliope cursed her mistress under her breath. "I do all the work and if there are any errors I am to bare the rod?! Oh, to be born a Roman instead of a slave! What I would do to that woman and her hypocritical smile. No mistakes" Callie said, mimicking the voice of mistress Lydia.

    Reaching the end of the hall, Calliope was informed by the other slaves that General Bracchus had arrived. She needed to continue the preparations. It was imperative that the General be impressed. "Felix!" she called to one of the other slaves, "Please inform Master Marcus that General Bracchus is here and is waiting for him in the atrium...Gaius! Take Marcellus and Otho and escort the General to the Atrium to greet our master. Paulina, Septima and Tatiana, follow me. We need to complete this banquet before the master strikes a rod against our bare backs."

    Everyone moved as Callie had instructed. Calliope kept the entire house in order. If it weren't for her, the General's home would be in shambles but her efforts were never appreciated or thanked. It was expected and nothing less was allowed. She was a slave. It was her place and she could do nothing else or she would bare the marks on her body for her disobedience.

    The rest of the slaves prepared the evening for the much anticipated arrival of the General. The food was prepared, the house neat and decorated. Callie had out done herself. Of course mistress Lydia would take all the credit for the work and any errors would be blamed on Callie but such was the life of a slave.

    When Calliope heard the voice of mistress Lydia once more, she sighed deeply and did as she was told. She grabbed a tray and set a few glasses upon it. Slowly and carefully, she poured their best wine into each glass to the designated point, then took the tray of wine glasses into the living room where all were gathered. She kept her gaze low, remembering what her father had once taught her. Never look a Roman in the eyes. They will look at it as an act of disrespect. You are a slave and are lesser than they. Do not bring the rod upon yourself.

    Carefully, Callie entered the room and approached each person with a glass of wine. Her master first of course, then Mistress Lydia, then the General and the master's annoying twins, and finally the General's men that had accompanied him. She was cautious ensuring nothing spilled and maintaining her stature. Never bold but never too meek. All things she learned in her life of slavery, all things she learned to avoid that damn rod that one day she hoped, the gods would allow her to return the favor on Marcus and Lydia. Oh but to dream.
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  5. The conversation was dull and there were not enough drops in Julius' cup to drown it out. He had turned on politics and left rome for the sake of honor mostly, but he had also grown tired of the manipulation that always accompanied politics. The Senate was the worst of it and from the sound of it, Governor Marcus had hopes of taking a seat amongst gem. Immediately, Julius had lost some respect for the man though he hid it well. That was a perk of being the son of a general turned politician. Hiding one's true feelings and motives was essential to save face in such a life. Giving away too much or too little could result in losing your position or, in more severe cases, one's own life.

    It was difficult for Julius to pull his eyes from one of Marcus' daughters. however, it seemed that such a feet was also difficult for her. He often caught her blues eyes gazing at him as often as she most likely caught his eyes looking upon her. He had learned through the conversation he easily overheard that she was Liviana. A beautiful name for such a beautiful woman, had he met her just a few years ago,vhe probably would have welcomed the idea of politics to share a bed with her and call her wife. Everything was perfect, from the blonde hair that crowned her head to the way her lips curled when she smiled.

    "Stare for too long and the Governor might have you flogged," the words were spoken in a hushed tone and it tore Julius from his childlike moment. He looked at Tiberis in confusion but when he saw the older soldier's face he almost blushed, "She is beautiful for sure, Julius, but you must remember, you're a soldier and she is the daughter of a governor. There can not be love between the two of you."

    Julius sighed. He knew these things. They had been ingrained in him all his life. Of course, if Tiberis really knew him, he would have not said such a thing. Julius was from good stock. Carrying his father's name could get him almost anything if he wished to throw that about. However, such a task was shameful. Julius would get everything he would have in life by his own strength. He would not be carried by his father's legacy.

    With a bit more control, Julius finally tore his eyes from Liviana and scanned the room. There were many faces he had not noticed in his trance. Most of those faces came and went. They were slaves so such a thing was expected and more than not went unnoticed. Among those faces was hat of a woman. She didn't avert her eyes from the Romans as much as the others and seemed to stand taller than the others. Her eyes darted about as much if not more than his as if she was watching and ensuring everything was as it should be. Others seemed to look at her for reassurance and she gave it subtly. She had to have been over all of this. She had done quite the job for General Bracchus seemed quite pleased.
    The reception went far longer than Marcus could have anticipated and still Bracchus had not made a commitment. What more did the general want? Shifting on his couch to be more comfortable, Marcus took a sip from his cup and spoke, "Forgive me, General Bracchus, but have you come to a decision? We seek your patronage so that I might finally rid myself of this post and provide all of Rome with what has made this town so successful."

    Bracchus leaned back as a sigh escaped his lips, "Everything you've told me, Governor, is pleasing," Marcus smiled, "but I've not seen a respect for our soldiers."

    Marcus' smile faded as interjected, "I beg to differ, Bracchus, I've nothing but respect for the men who risk their lives to keep barbarians from ruining our civilized culture."

    Bracchus' brow furrowed, "In all the time we have been here, you've not offered a seat to my men. Drink was given them after my prodding and your wife has done nothing but look upon them with disdain."

    Lydia pulled back in shock and Marcus' jaw clenched. How dare the general. He wanted nothing more than to reach across and strike the man but they needed his patronage more than anything at the moment. He had known Lydia's displeasure of the military but never had he considered that it was so strong.

    Bracchus stood and pulled his helmet under his arm, "Thak you for your hospitality, Governor. I will provide you with an answer tomorrow."

    With that, Bracchus and his soldiers left. Marcus was furious and Lydia knew not wether to voice her opinion or cower in fear. Her husband, though an excellent politician, had been known to be hot tempered. Turning on his wife, he lifted his hand as if to strike her but paused when Aelia touched his shoulder, "Father."

    It was enough to reign him in, "In Jupiter's name you'd better hope that Bracchus extends his patronage. You couldn't keep it together for one night?"

    A sudden crash sounded and Lydia let out the breath she had held. Someone else would experience the wrath of Marcus. Marcus turned and caught sight of the culprit. One of the slaves, a woman, had dropped a jug and spilled the remaining wine. Stomping over to her, he took her by the hair and jerked her to the ground before dragging her to the center of the room, "Find me Calliope!" He yelled. She had been told that she would bare the marks should anything go wrong. In his mood, both women would do so.
  6. Liviana and her sister were women of great beauty and they were well aware of this fact and often used it to their advantage. Tonight would be no different. Their father had summoned them to appear before General Bracchus whom their father was working diligently to impress. The twins dressed in the finest of linens, low cut and with high slits to better accentuate their long legs. Their golden locks fell loosely across their backs and they bore the most expensive jewelry they owned.

    Together the twins could bring a room to a complete halt and they intended to the same tonight. They walked into the living room where all were gathered and smiled, bending down to greet their parents before respectfully bowing before the General and his men. Immediately Liviana's blue eyes fell upon those of a handsome soldier leaning against the wall, whose eyes also locked on hers.

    Her stomach fluttered at his gaze, he suddenly made her a bit anxious and nervous but in a good way. The gods had graced him with stunning looks and Liviana could not keep her eyes away from him as the night progressed. She did everything she could to listen to the conversation between her father and the general but her eyes kept drifting back to the soldier who must also feel the same of her.

    She would smile to him shyly, attempting to hide her interest but not very well. She even crossed her legs a certain way so the slit in her dress would rise higher and he could see more of her. After some time, the reception was brought to a close but General Bracchus would still not commit to their cause.

    As he left, Liviana took one last look at the soldier before returning her attention to the present. Her father was angry and his gaze was turned on their mother. "Aelia, do something, quickly," she whispered to her twin. She knew what their father intended to do and luckily Aelia stopped him before he could strike their mother. Just then, a loud crash was heard in the hall and Liviana sighed in relief. At least it was a slave that would take the brunt of their father's anger and not them. "Come Aelia, let Calliope deal with our father's wrath. It is her duty anyway."
    The night was moving perfectly, the house was perfect, all the slaves were in order, nothing could go wrong. Calliope was beginning the clean up process. The General seemed pleased from what she could see but she left the living room before he did to begin to wind the night down. She was assisting some of the other slaves in taking down the decorations when she heard the one sound she did not want to hear that night, the clash of a wine jug. Callie's eyes squinted shut as she whispered a soft "No" to herself.

    She had done everything right, EVERYTHING. The night was perfect! She had done nothing wrong. She could hear her master yelling out her name and the slave could do nothing but sigh deeply. "Oh great god Apollo, heal the wounds I am about to receive..."

    Callie walked over to her master slowly, seeing him hold poor Alba by her hair. Alba was crying, pleading with their master. Callie knew such things wouldn't work. Rome cared nothing for its slaves. There would be no mercy tonight, at least not for Callie anyway. Still, she would do her best. Callie stepped before her master, head bowed, "Master. I apologize for the mistake of your slave. But please, you have said that I am to bare the rod should something go wrong. Please...let Alba go."
  7. Marcus was furious. The failure of the night was the spark that set the kindle ablaze. Someone was going to experience his wrath and the woman who would stood before him. Calliope approached him humbly as she knew best but nothing would abate his fury. She reminded him ofhis promise and did so in a submissive tone but it only served to anger him all the more. How dare she tell him what he said or what he should do!

    Before Calliope could react, not that she would, Marcus slapped her across the face with all his might. The band of his gold ring bit shallowly into her cheek causing her to bleed ever so slightly as she crashed to the floor from the blow. As badly as she wished to hold her injury, she knew better than to move until her master had finished. Looking at the floor, she heard the boom of her master's voice, "Do not tell me what I should do. Do not offer to me an alternative to what I wish or have said to do!"

    Marcus looked toward one of his guards and barked an order, "Hold her head up to watch what her failure has wrought!"

    Calliope's heart sank for she knew what was to transpire. The guard, Stephanus, gripped her hair tightly and yanked her head up so that her eyes were fixed on Marcus, "You may be the favored for all that you've done, but you do not escape punishment nor do you determine who is punished!"

    That wasn't her intent, really. It was to save Alba from Marcus' wrath. He had a temper and he was going to demonstrate it tonight. Turning his attention to Alba, Marcus pulled her up, by her hair, to her feet. The girl was weeping and it only served to frustrate him all the more. Without hesitation, he balled up his fist and threw it into her midsection just under the ribs. The air was knocked from her lungs and she wheezed in agony to pull air in. Only then did he drop her to he ground. It wasn't over though. Marcus drew the rod that was tucked in his belt and without mercy rained blow after blow down on his property.

    As blood speckled the floor of the house, Calliope tried to tear her gaze from the assault but Stephanus' firm grip held her in place. Only when she no longer cried did Marcus stop. His chest heaved from the energy spent. Turning his gaze on Calliope, she tried to shrink from the anger inside. He stopped toward her and grabbed the back of her neck pulling a cry from her lips. Dragging her over to Alba, he forced her down to the bleeding woman.

    Calliope had always tried to be strong, to not cry, but Alba was so damaged by the assault that she could no longer help it. Tears slid down her cheek as she looked upon the bloodied face of her friend. The wheezing from her breathing was the only sign she was alive.

    "Think twice, Calliope, you are nothing!" Marcus signaled for his guards and they moved gripping her by her arms and quickly turning her from him before setting her on her feet, "Take it off," he barked. Calliope's shaky hands moved to her shoulders where she pushed the material aside. Her dress fell loosely to her feet, "Hold her," Marcus told his men who quickly grabbed her arms to hold her up, "Nothing," he reminded her before he rose the rod and struck her back hard.

    Calliope took five strikes. Her back was riddled with bruises and a rib was probably cracked if not broken. After being forced to pick up her own dress and put it back on, she and Alba were taken to the infirmary to recover. Calliope was expected to be back to work the next day. Alba was given a week to recover enough to work or she would be sold. It would be Calliope's job to care for Alba, do heir chores and also keep up with all the task that Alba was responsible for.
  8. The infirmary smelled like the inside of a blacksmith's shop, like raw iron and earth from the amount of blood dripping from both Alba and Calliope but mostly Alba. Callie was laid on her stomach on one of the beds, a nurse tending to the cuts and bruises on her bare back while another worked to bandage her ribs before the damage became permanent. She winced and whimpered as her wounds were tended to, all the while praying to Apollo to bring a swift healing.

    She turned her head to face Alba and instantly wished to turn it away. Marcus had done a number on poor Alba. The girl was disfigured from the swollenness, bruises and the dried up blood. Callie reached a hand carefully over to her, wincing from the effort it placed on her rib cage but Alba did not respond. Her eyes were shut, or at least they appeared to be shut, it was hard to tell with the swell and blood on her face. Tears streamed down the face of the beaten slave. This was her fault. If she had not tried to defend Alba than perhaps the girl would not have faced such a cruel beating.

    Callie returned her arm to her side and turned her face away from Alba as she shed tears into the pillow beneath her. She spent the night in the infirmary where nurses ensured she was stable for work the following morning. Marcellus, one of the male slaves, had been sent to inform Calliope that she was expected back to her duties in the morning and that she was to take on the duties for Alba as well. Callie could only nod her head.

    Many thoughts crossed Callie's mind that night. She thought of killing both her masters in their sleep but she wouldn't make it out the door before the guards brutally killed her. She thought of running away but she didn't know where to. Her parents passed a few years before. It was just Callie now, Callie and the other slaves whom she thought of as her only family. The final thought of the night was becoming a free slave. It was the thought that replayed the most often. Callie had given up on the concept but she refused to be beaten like this again. A free woman...now...how would she acquire her freedom?

    The following morning Calliope rose with the assistance of the nurses. They helped dress her and ensured her bandages were tight enough. The rest was left for Callie to do. It was difficult to walk straight with the shooting pain coming from her side but she did her best. Her back was terribly sore and the fabric of her dress rubbed against the bruises making her wince every once in a while but she pressed forward. There was much work to be done. She took one last look over at Alba and proceeded out and into the main house to begin her day, as if nothing had happened the day before.
  9. Marcus was angry for the remainder of the night, but the effort spent on beating the two slaves was enough to keep him from beating anyone else. When he was that angry was the only time his wife ever feared sharing space with him for no one questioned the bruises on the wife of a great man either. Lucky for her and her girls, Calliope and Alba had been there. Such s beating would have been excruciating and to be honest, she would be surprised if young Alba would live and recover before she was sold. A slave in that condition was no good to an estate such as theirs.

    Lydia arose early the next day and headed straight for the temple. She prayed that her husband's anger would be abated and at their daughters would be spared a spectacle like last night outside the arena. When she returned, everyone was awake and moving about. Calliope had even returned for her tasks.

    Lydia watched her favored slave for a few moments. The woman moved almost as though she had never been beaten thought the bruises, the winces and the occasional slow move proved otherwise. It was good that she showed not weakness. It would help stave off another violent outrage if Marcus saw that his slaves were still hard working despite their injuries. Satisfied, she moved to the patio where she expected to find her husband.

    "Marcus?" She spoke softly as she caught sight of her husband. He turned and smiled making her sigh in relief, "Is everything ready?"

    Marcus nodded, "Calliope will be accompanying us, all with. Few of the others as we make our way to the market," his face softened and a hint of regret passed over his eyes before vanishing, "Buy her something nice as an apology for last night. I let the events of the night dictate my actions. Do not tell her it is from me, though. I don't need them thinking me weak."

    Lydia moved to his side and softly placed her hand on his arm, "Such a gesture is everything but weak, my love," she kissed his cheek and pulled away from him, "I'll have the girls prepare to leave as well. It would be nice to be out and about with the whole family," after Marcus nodded his head in agreement, Kydia left the room to find her daughters.
    Julius arose before the sun. Most of the men with him did though they didn't have to unless they were assigned a duty. Fortunately for him, duty was the reason for his awakening. His assignment was to accompany Bracchus into the market to secure supplies for the men.

    Dressed in his armor, he awaited outside Bracchus' room for the general. His mind could not help but wonder to the night before. The banquet that the governor had thrown rivaled some he had seen back home and yet, Bracchus turned down patronage for the sake of his men. This was a man worth lol losing into the maw of death itself. He was the kind of man Julius hoped to be one day.

    His mind didn't stoop there, however. His mind travelled to the mental image of Liviana that had been burned, pleasurably, into his mind. The stolen glances they shared with one another, the shy smile, the attempt of hiding her interest, all of these were things the soldier had taken note of the night before. He had even not failed at noticing her legs. Liviana had nice, long legs and he would not soon forget them.

    The door to the room opened and out stepped Bracchus tearing Julius from his memories, "Julius, Brutus, let's go," with proper salutes, both guards left to accompany the general and the food wagon to the market.
  10. Calliope resumed her duties with a high head but a heavy heart. Her thoughts often drifted to Alba. The girl was so young and Callie had been training her but there was no way she could have seen this coming, no way for her to have prevented it. Alba's wounds were so severe, Calliope was unsure if she would ever recover or if she would ever see her again. Still, the slave did her best not to let her failure produce more of a beating. She could not show weakness or her master would beat "strength" into her.

    Calliope moved slowly throughout the house, wincing every time she exerted more energy than her body would allow for. She almost wanted to cry every time she bent down to pick something off the floor, the pain was excruciating. Some how she managed her chores and was working to complete Alba's. Her back was throbbing at that point and the pain in her side was almost unbearable. All she had to do was hurry, then she could escape to her bedroom and quietly sob and rest her wounds. Just finish her chores...just finish her chores.
    Liviana and Aelia were awakened by servants to help prepare them for their day. The twins sat up in their bed, stretching wide at the same time and smiling lightly towards one another. Last night was difficult, seeing their father so angry over General Bracchus but the twins were able to at least breath easy knowing the slaves took the brunt of his anger and not their mother or them. Liviana almost felt sorry for Calliope. She was such a helpful slave and very productive, clearly her parents favored her but if the choice was them or Calliope, then they would always choose Calliope.

    They were in the process of getting dressed when their mother entered the bedroom. Liviana looked to her slightly worried. "Hello Mother...is father?" Their mother nodded with a smile, assuring the twins that their father was fine. Liviana sighed in relief. Good. Their father was a loving and caring man to them but his anger was a force neither wanted to experience.

    Their mother informed them that they would all be accompanying their father and the General out to the market. It was difficult for Liviana to hide her excitement. Perhaps she would see that handsome soldier today? Aelia looked to her sister, noticing the change in her demeanor and raised an eyebrow curiously but she knew better than to question her sister while their mother was in the room with them. She would ask her later.

    Liviana proceeded to their closet and found a beautiful dress to wear that accentuated all her best features. It was long and slender, with high slits for her long legs and low cut, exposing the top of her breasts. Perfect. Combined with expensive jewelery, she would definitely grab his attention.

    When they were ready, the three women stepped out and made their way towards their father. As they turned the corner, they noticed Calliope leaning against the wall slightly, using it as support to grab some items off the floor. The poor slave was having a difficult time but none bent to help her.

    "Calliope!" Liviana called to the slave. Calliope stood quickly, Liviana noticing the gritting of her teeth from the pain.
    The slave bowed to her, "Yes Mistress Liviana. How can I assist you?"
    "Mother says that you are to join us to the market with father and the general. Hurry. You do not want to keep father waiting."

    Calliope nodded and watched as the three women continued on their way. When they were far enough, Calliope let out a deep sigh, holding her side from the pain. She was almost done with her chores, almost ready to rest and now she had to leave to the market? Did her master mean to continue to torment her?

    Marcellus was coming down the hall then and noticed Calliope, moving towards her to see if she needed aide. Calliope thanked Marcellus and instructed him on how to complete Alba's chores while she went to the market with master. Although she knew she didn't have an option with going to the market, she also knew her chores needed to be completed as well. There were no excuses to their master. Everything needed to get done.

    When Marcellus was well versed with what needed to be done, Calliope walked over to where everyone was gathered, staying to the back as all slaves were expected to do.
  11. The market was busy as expected. All trade passed through it but lucky for them, most people gave Roman soldiers a wide girth to walk. Julius took in the sights of the market as he walked noting all the men who seemed to be up to no good and those who were as honest as they could be in such a cutthroat profession as wheeling and dealing. They had made it to the fountain where they awaited Marcus and his family.

    Julius looked out into the crowd and caught sight of something, rather, someone pleasant. She moved with grace and when she didn't disappear behind the heads of taller men, he saw her beauty. How easy it was, after one day, to determine which of the sisters was Liviana and which was Aelia. Her eyes darted about the crowd with a faint smile that teased the corners of his lips as, he hoped, her mind milled over the memories of their distant introduction of sorts.

    Finally the crowds separated enough for Marcus to stand before Bracchus as humble as ever. Julius' eyes took in his entourage which included his wife and daughters and a slave woman. His eyes lingered on her for a moment longer when he registered the pain that flashed across her face for even the slightest of moments. She had been beaten for something. However, the time his eyes spent on her paled in comparison with how lo they lingered on Liviana.

    Now that she was closer to him, she looked all the more stunning. He took note of every curve accented by the clothing she chose to wear, the split of her breasts accented by the light of the morning sun. She was truly a woman of beauty and more than anything, he had wished he would have chosen politics over soldiery.

    "Good morning, General," Marcus' words tore him from his day dream, "I am glad you allowed us the opportunity to feed your men," Bracchus bowed ever so slightly and listened, "I hope you have considered this matter in our favor, but you should only tell us after your men are fed."

    Men immediately began to fill the wagon as Marcus dropped a bag of coins on the moneychanger's table.

    Julius stared forward hoping to not be caught stealing a glance of Liviana. One glance her way, and something caught his eye. Something wasn't right. Julius' eyes widened as he saw a man pull something that reflected the sun. Breaking rank, he drew his blade with a shout, "Govenor!"

    The attack was swift but due to his warning, Marcus moved just enough to be cut by the thrusted blade. Julius' men broke rank as soon as others from the crowd fell upon them when the attack failed. There had to be four, maybe five of them. Seth charged toward the would be assassin. With his free arm, he pushed the governor away just as the man swung again. The blade bit into Julius' forearm pulling a painful grunt from him. Squaring off against the man, he could see the murderous intent in his eyes. Their blades clashed as Julius looked for an opening. Because of the ill-training of his opponent, it came swiftly. Swinging his blade high, it cut deep into the man's throat. Julius watched as he fell to the ground choking on his own blood. Looking around, he watched as the others quickly died at the end of the blade of general or his companion.

    As the dust settled, Marcus cradled his side and looked upon Julius, "You saved my life," he looked at the general who spoke next.

    "We will meet you at your villa in a few hours to discuss my terms of patronage."

    "Let me take this man," his hand clasped against Julius' shoulder, "Calliope can tend to his wound. It's my way of thanking him for saving me."

    The general agreed and Julius was led back to the Villa where he was sent to be cared for by Calliope.
  12. The ride to the market was torture for Calliope. Every bump on the road exasperating her pain. The slave girl held her side but it was no use. More annoying however was the constant chatter and giggles from the twins. The two girls had some secret and they couldn't stop chuckling about it. Calliope simply closed her eyes, trying to drown out their incessant cackling and attempting desperately not to concentrate on her pain.

    The market was alive and bustling when their carriage arrived. Calliope found herself longing to walk through it, to shop and spend as her heart desired but her master had brought her with a purpose and lavishing her with gifts was not it. She caught sight of the twins again as she was looking around the market. Liviana in particular was scanning the crowd looking for something...or someone. Calliope's eyes followed Liviana's until the smile on the girl's lips told the slave exactly whom she was searching for. Calliope turned slightly to be able to roll her eyes without being noticed. Of course. She was smitten for one of the general's soldiers and he apparently returned the sentiment.

    Turning to roll her eyes however proved to be very painful for Callie. The movement, although satisfying, pained her when she returned to her normal position beside her masters. She prayed silently for healing again. She hated being in such pain especially when she was supposed to be one of the strongest slaves in the house.

    The exchange between her master and the General was dull but Calliope did her best to pay attention. She didn't wish to be caught off guard should her master need anything from her.

    It was sudden when it happened. She heard the soldier yell, commotion, blood. The situation moved quickly yet at the same time appeared to move slowly. In the assault, the slave was pushed towards the ground by the crowd causing Calliope to yell out from the sharp and sudden pain. Mistress Lydia was attempting to shield her daughters, ushering them away to the carriage as quickly as possible. No one noticed the girl in pain on the floor.

    Calliope did her best to get back to her feet on her own as she watched in awe as the soldiers killed the assailants and successfully defended her master. She held her side from the pain knowing she had hurt herself again and would need to head back to the infirmary when they arrived home. Callie couldn't concentrate on her wounds for too long however before she heard her name on her master's lips. Before she could attend to herself, she first needed to attend to the soldier that saved her master's life. She nodded her head and together with the soldier was brought back to the mansion.

    There were no nurses in the infirmary at the moment. They were all called to assist the master and his daughters, none of which were actually injured but the girls were bordering hysteria and master insisted they be attended to. Calliope instructed the soldier where to sit and proceeded to the other side of the room. Alba was still struggling but she wasn't a sight the soldier should see. Calliope stood before her friend, gave her a quick kiss a top her head and closed the curtain around her, hiding her from his view.

    She held her side again, wincing from the pain but continued to where the needles and thread were. She needed to attend to the soldier before she was beaten for not attending to the man that saved her master's life. She grabbed what she needed in a small tray and brought them to the man, setting them beside him.

    She grabbed his forearm gently, inspecting the wound. "It's deep but not life threatening," she said, grabbing a cloth soaked in water and cleaning the dried blood. "You were very brave sir. You saved my master's life."

    She reached for the needle, grunting from the pain it put on her side but doing her best to shake it off and continue, stitching the wound to the best of her ability.
  13. Shock over the events that had unfolded were threatening to surface. He had never killed a man having been stationed on the Homefront for so long. Now he had taken a life to protect another and even though he knew he should not have felt remorse, he couldn't help but feel the gravity of such a situation. He had killed someone's son, brother, husband or father.

    Calliope's words snapped him from his thoughts and he let go of the breath hd had been unknowingly holding, "It was nothin," he returned. Truly it was. He was a roman soldier and such was his responsibility. It was then he witnessed her flinch. His brow narrowed and he spoke, "We're you injured during the assault?"

    Seth immediately knew his words were false. As she leaned over his arm to stitch him, he could see the long bruises down her back. She had done something that cost her a beating and a severe one from the looks of it. Yet she was given the responsibility of caring for his injury. She must have been someone the Governor trusted to be given such a task not long after a beating.

    Seth tilted his head and questioned, "May I ask what your crime was?" It was a personal question, but he was a roman and she was a slave. Such a thing was not uncommon. She would have to answer it if she knew the rules.
  14. The soldier's question caught Calliope off guard. She wasn't accustomed to someone asking about her or her condition. "No, I was not injured in the assault. The commotion threw me to the ground but that was all." She continued to stitch the wound on his arm when he questioned her further. He knew she was not injured in the assault but she was embarrassed to have to tell the truth regarding her undeserved beating.

    He was Roman and she was a slave and Calliope was well aware of the fact that if a Roman asked a slave a question, a slave was required to answer. Although she was pleasantly surprised that he didn't demand it, he asked for it. How odd. Callie sighed deeply and looked up at the soldier, "I was charged with the task of ensuring all went well last night when the General came to meet my master. I was in charge of the food, the decor, the wine, everything was going well. I'm not entirely sure what happened exactly, only master was not pleased when the General left. That was when another slave, Alba," Calliope looked over her shoulder towards the drawn curtains, "dropped a jug of wine."

    The slave girl quickly returned her gaze towards the soldier's wounds; she didn't wish for another beating for taking longer than she should. "If anything should have gone wrong that night, I was the one to pay for it. When Alba dropped the jug, I was brought forth to receive my punishment. That was my crime soldier...something went wrong."

    She continued to stitch and bandage the wound until she was done, setting the materials to the side when she was satisfied with her work. "There. Keep it dry and try not to exasperate the wound, you wouldn't want it to fester. I'll assess in a week and redress it if needed."

    She took a few steps back to allow him to step off the table, keeping her head low as she was accustomed to doing. Her back was killing her but she still needed to check on the other slaves and ensure everything in the house was as it should be. "Do you need anything else soldier? I would like to check on the other slaves and ensure all is well for master."
  15. The way that the word soldier rolled off her tongue. It just deemed seem right coming from her. He knew she was making homage to exactly what she was in the social ladder. She was beneath him in every way but when she said soldier, he almost visibly winced. He would change that. Now.

    Flexing his hand, he could feel the painful muscle under the skin. The damage was done and it would take some time before he could hold his shield again. Such a thing would make him unable to take the frontlines. If he could not hold his spot on the line, he would not be able to ensure the defense of his fellow soldier. They would task him with remedial jobs until he healed. Not what he had in mind, but maybe when he healed he could get back on the line.

    Hoping off the table, he looked at her and nodded in appreciation, "It's Julius. You can call me Julius. It's hard for me to not appreciate someone who's patched me up even if it was required of you. If it helps, you can be official when your master is around. I'm sure neither of us would appreciate the glare he might send toward us."

    He sighed and shook his head, "I suppose there is nothing else I need. We both of tasks to return to. Thank you again."
    Marcus led Bracchus back into his villa and it wasn't long after the door shut that the general spoke, "Governor, it seems you have a problem," Marcus went to speak but Bracchus held his hand up, "You do not have sufficient manpower and such an attempt on your life, should it be successful, would ruin my investment in a future Senator."

    it took only a brief moment before Marcus grasped his words but a grin spread across his lips and he straightened up. Offering the general his hand, he spoke, "Thank you, Bracchus. I'll not-"

    "I'm going to invest in you. That also means I'm going to ensure that my investment is properly taken care of," Bracchus started, "I'll be leaving a detachment to care for you in my absence. The man who saved your life will stay to recover under your watchful eyes. I expect him compensated for his sacrifice and the time he will be missing on the line," Marcus nodded. He wanted to thank the man personally anyway, "One more thing, Governor. He's Julius Gaius Lucius, son of Senator Lucius."

    Marcus' heart stood still as he looked at his wife. Lydia gasped and placed her hand over her mouth, "We will ensure that he is well taken care of," turning his attention to his Aelia, he spoke, "Tend to Julius. Have Calliope send a servant to gather his things. Show him around the estate and take him to the guest's room."

    "He will be assigned for your watch, Marcus, be sure not to spoil him too much," Bracchus said before he left to give his orders.

    Marcus turned to his wife, "With the son of a Senator in our midst, that would help more than anything to launch us into the Senate. We must ensure that Julius be treated well and that when he returns home, he does so with nothing but honey to pour into his father's ear."
  16. Calliope cocked her head to the side, raising an eyebrow curiously towards the soldier. He gave her permission to call him by his first name although they didn't know each other and she was clearly a punished slave. She didn't know what to make of him, the man always seemed to pleasantly surprise her. "It was my pleasure...Julius. I'm Calliope." And with that the man left to attend to whatever other duties he needed to attend to.

    Callie watched him as he left, still taken a back by him. She didn't dwell on it however as the searing pain in her back and side had returned. She sighed, glad that he was gone as she lowered the top of her dress and began to retreat her bruises and re-bandaged her side.

    When she was done, she pulled Alba's curtain open and sat beside her. Callie spoke to her for some time, detailing the day as they would often do together and even telling her about the nice Roman soldier who demonstrated a bit of kindness to her. Callie could swear she saw Alba smile but the girl was so horribly beaten and swollen, it was difficult to tell. She kissed the top of her head and proceeded towards the other slaves to ensure all was well in the mansion.
    Aelia came rushing towards her bed quarters as the slaves had finished bandaging Liviana's barely visible wounds. Liviana looked to her sister with raised eyebrows but Aelia broke the silence first. "Leave. All of you. I need to speak to my sister alone." All the slaves departed and Liviana was even more curious than before, standing from her bed and walking over to her twin sister just as the last slave exited the room. "What is it Aelia? Why the secrecy?"

    Aelia was clearly excited as she spoke to her younger sister (by two minutes), "You will not believe what I have just learned. Remember the soldier you've been flirting with? He isn't just a mere soldier Liv...he is the son of a Senator."

    Liviana couldn't believe her ears, so there was hope for the two of them and father would not oppose, he would completely agree! The two girls held hands and squealed for joy, jumping up and down together from the excitement. "I am supposed to be the one to tend to him and give him the tour of the villa but I was thinking, perhaps you..."
    "YES! Yes I will. I will escort him," Liviana interjected before Aelia could finish her statement. Aelia smiled, "I'll go find Calliope and have her get the slaves to assist him with his belongings. Meet us downstairs."
    Calliope had just finished speaking with Marcellus when Aelia came rushing towards her. She stopped immediately and bowed towards the young girl, "Yes Mistress Aelia? What can I assist you with?"

    "Calliope. The Roman soldier that saved my father, Julius, will be staying with us for some time to protect my father. Get the slaves to assist in bringing his belongings in and get the guest room ready immediately."

    For a split second Calliope paused, she couldn't believe it. She was stunned for a moment. The soldier that had shown her kindness would be staying with them? Aelia became annoyed quickly with Calliope's hesitation. "NOW Calliope or would you rather my father asked you?" Callie shook her head immediately and nodded her head. "Of course Mistress Aelia. I will gather the slaves immediately and prepare the soldier's bed chambers myself."

    Aelia went about her business as Calliope spoke to Marcellus. "Gather Felix and Otho and meet the soldier to bring his belongings to the guest room. I will be upstairs ensuring that room is perfect for our new guest."

    As Calliope sent the slave to complete his orders she noticed Liviana coming down the steps. She was wearing a different dress than earlier, one that accentuated all her features perfectly. Callie simply shook her head and paid her no mind. She was well aware that Liviana was interested in Julius and with the man moving in, she should have expected the girl to practically throw herself at him. Callie simply nodded to her mistress and proceeded up the steps towards the guest room, moving slowly so as not to exasperate her bruises and went to work in the room ensuring the soldier...Julius would be comfortable.
  17. Julius was testing the stitches, something he was sure he shouldn't do, as he walked from the infirmary toward the Villa. General Bracchus and the others would be waiting for him and he was sure they would be eager to be heading back out. With how long they were gone, someone was soon to wonder exactly what had happened at the market. Besides, Bracchus had always been a man of schedule. Being off of it probably made the General grumpy. That thought brought a small grin and a light, airy chuckle from his barely parted lips.

    "I'm glad you're well enough to find something funny, Julius."

    Julius stopped and his smile vanished. His face lost almost all color as he stood before Bracchus. Fear took his heart before reason set in. What had tickled him had been entertained in the most private of theatres. Clearing his throat, he saluted, "I find a little humor makes the pain seem less of an issue, sir."

    Bracchus eyed him before nodding, "We all deal with it in our own way. You handled yourself very well today and as a result, Marcus has agreed to house you during your recovery. A wound like that will do no one any good. You will stay here, along with a handful of others, and watch over the Governor while you recover. Do you have any questions?'

    Julius was about to object when something- rather someone- caught his eye. Liviana would be here. Being stationed here meant spending time around her and with care perhaps spending time with her. Seth saluted again and shook his head indicating no questions. Bracchus dismissed him and headed back to the barracks with the promise that Julius' things would be delivered within the hour.

    Walking as straight as he could, Julius headed toward Liviana's general direction. Unbeknownst to him was that she knew that he was a Senator's son. To him, he was a soldier and she, the daughter of the Governor. He would not initiate any conversation unless it flowed naturally. It was unnatural for a soldier to address a noble. They weren't slaves, but when on duty, the were not equals.
  18. Liviana's heart fluttered and her breath caught as Julius began to walk towards her. She had been enamored with him since she first laid eyes upon him and to learn that he was also the son of a Senator, made her desire him all the more. The girl stood as upright as possible, flipping her blonde locks behind her to better show off the dress she wore that accentuated every piece of her. "Good day soldier," she said, with a slight bow of her head. "I don't believe we have been properly introduced. I am Liviana, the Governor's daughter."

    "I've been charged with the task of escorting you around our beautiful villa to help you become acquainted with your new home for the time you will be staying with us. I hope you find it is to your liking." She give him a small smile as her eyes lingered on his for a moment before she gestured for him to follow her.

    Liviana took Julius through each hall, careful to take her time and linger in certain areas that had the best natural lighting to give him a chance to look at her. She wanted him to take her all in, to desire her and want only her. She showed him the various rooms, kitchens, and slave quarters should he need anything. Finally showing him the bedrooms and making special emphasis on her own.

    The last stop on the tour was the guest room prepared just for him. "And here is your bedroom. I hope you enjoyed my guided tour of your new home. Should you require anything at all, please...come find me. I'll let you get acquainted with your new bedroom." She batted her eyes slightly and turned to walk away, swaying her hips purposely as she walked down the hall and turned the corner back towards her room.

    Meanwhile, inside the guest room was Calliope. It had taken her longer than anticipated to complete the bedroom. She had to continuously stop and take in a few deep breaths, the pain in her ribs was close to unbearable and the day was not done. She was reaching over the bed, arranging the sheets when she heard the door opening. She froze in place and prayed silently that her master was not at the door. She should've been done and to be caught inside the man's bed chambers...she shuttered to think what her master would have planned for her.
  19. Despite the frustration of not being on the field of battle with his brother's in arm and starting his own legacy, things were improving. Already had he been told he would be staying in the same villa as Livianna. What added to it was that she would be playing, not only his hostess, but his guide. His heart only beat wildly with each step as she gave him the tour of the villa. He took note of the path it would take to make it to her room. Also, he noticed how she lingered there beyond what was necessary. He saw the way she moved and how her hips swayed. He felt the subtle touches as they passed close together through the halls. The gods had blessed the Governor with a beautiful daughter and from the looks of it, she had eyes equally on him as his were on her.

    The last stop, and most disheartening was his room. She left him there to tend to her own things while he got himself situated inside. Pushing through the door, he was surprised to Calliope inside. he paused a moment and cleared his throat, "I didn't realize you were not finished. I can return if you'd like."

    He watched her as she struggled for a moment and compassion moved the soldier, "Here," he said as he moved from the door and let it close behind him. He moved to the other side of the bed and gripped the sheets, "Let me help."

    It was then he saw a fear in her eyes he had only when his father's slaves were threatened with a beating. He stopped and reached over with his good hand and gently placed it on hers, "No worries, if the Governor asks, the room was in order before I arrived. I do not wish for anyone to be harmed," he spoke into her eyes before straightening up and grabbing the sheet, "Whatever needs to be done, Calliope, I will aid you. You've suffered enough it seems."
  20. Calliope visibly sighed in relief, shoulders slumping softly at the realization that it was only Julius at the door and not any of her masters. Her body couldn't handle another beating, especially if she didn't properly tend to the man that saved her master's life. "No, no. I'm almost done," she said as she reached over the bed to finish arranging it. As she reached over, a sharp pain shot through her ribs, forcing Callie to stop once again and hold her side. She closed her eyes for a second, wincing from the pain. She had to continue however, she couldn't allow her weaknesses to show, especially around a guest. As nice as he was to her, he was still a Roman and she would be severely punished if she didn't do what was expected of her.

    Attempting to push past the pain, Calliope struggled to finish the bed. Surprisingly however, Julius approached her and offered to assist her. Her eyes darted quickly to his own in fear. Why was he helping her?! Her master would surely beat her within an inch of her life for this. She was going to tell him to stop, that it wasn't necessary but he placed a hand gently on her own. Calliope immediately tensed at his touch. The only time a Roman ever touched her, was to beat her but Julius was different. He insisted on helping her.

    For a moment, she didn't move. She wasn't sure if he was actually attempting to help her or if he had some ulterior motives to this kindness he demonstrated. She straightened up, holding her ribs as she did and grabbed the other end of the sheet. With Julius' help she managed to finally complete the room but she couldn't shake the idea that something was wrong or that he had another motive. Romans were not simply kind to slaves, why was he?

    Calliope brushed a hand through her black hair, moving her long locks to the side as she looked to him. She didn't know what to make of him. He was so different. She bowed slightly in his direction and started towards the door but before she opened it, she turned and asked, "Why did you help me?" It was daring of her to speak without being spoken to first but if he kept insisting that she not worry with him, then perhaps she could actually speak to him on some level, at least she hoped. "You don't know me. I'm a slave and you are a Roman soldier. Why would you protect me? Aid me?"

    She stared at him, full of confusion and apprehension. She had never had someone, who wasn't a slave, reach out and attempt to connect with her as he did. She was always treated as property but Julius treated her as if she was actually human. "I know my duties. I know what is expected of me, pain or not. I-" She stopped herself suddenly, remembering her position in the villa and that he could have her killed for the way she spoke to him. Calliope quickly lowered her eyes, "Forgive me. I should have never spoken to you as I did. I will receive whatever punishment you deem appropriate."