[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/weNARkZ.jpg]] Sergius didn’t once take an eye off Deet. He wanted to ensure that she was safe and although it was just them at this moment, they were out in the middle of no where and he didn’t doubt for a minute that any of that could change in an instant and it did. He climbed down from his horse and moved towards her in an instant, drawing his sword in case there was a fight. He was exhausted from their escape but he would find the energy if he truly needed to. The blade at Deet’s throat certainly didn’t help his haste and frustration.
He moved to Deet’s side and looked up at the men before her, almost standing in front of Deet protectively. [b “We are recently escaped slaves. We have quite a few men and women.”] Genjin was at his side fairly quickly after that and he glanced towards him when they were instructed to follow and they didn’t hesitate to do so, after all, they were the reason they had come out here in the first place.
Deet found him as they travelled towards the camp and he noticed how the woman pressed against him in comfort. He enjoyed the feel of her close to him but he knew that he couldn’t get used to the feeling. It wouldn’t be right to do so, especially since she had fled from him earlier.
The camp was impressive and full of escaped slaves, soldiers in their own right and he had a serious amount of respect for them all. When they finally reached their tent, the four were left alone and he turned to Deet. [b “We’ll be safe here. I’ll teach you to protect yourself.”]
[right [pic https://i.imgur.com/ebnmiO6.jpg]] Laeila didn’t completely understand why Genjin was so willing to protect her, especially when he knew how much trouble she could cause for them, simply by being with them. She still planned on leaving at the first chance she got. Her lips parted to speak, wishing to thank him for trying to keep her safe but she noticed that commotion in the background and she looked up to see that the crowd she had been travelling with had been greeted by the soldiers they had been hoping to find.
She followed Genjin towards the crowd and nodded to show that she understood that she should hold her tongue and not draw too much attention to herself. They could easily cast her out simply for being a Roman. She shouldn’t be here and she just knew that someone would realise who she was and try to get rid of her sooner rather than later.
They were brought to a tent and she sighed when they were left alone, glad that no one had said anything to her. She lowered herself next to the fire, not realising how cold she had become until now. [b “I’m not sure that will be an easy task.”]
Deet looked to the commotion some way off and dug through her satchel, double checking what she had brought with her. Her head was a mess of thoughts and the scattered fragments smashed and flew in different directions. At the forefront of such thoughts, however, was Sergius as she glanced over to him. Deet was not the most observant, she never had been when her mind was so loosely strung together. Apparently she was not aware of men approaching from behind her, a thin mountain trail as she felt a blade at her throat. She must have looked a sight as she glanced up at them, her braid falling from it's confines and streaked in the blood of a Roman guard.
[i "Whom do you travel with?"] A man barked, he was not Roman, she knew that. She swallowed thickly and glanced to the small cluster of former slaves as she got to her feet when the man drew back his blade. Deet didn't dare say a word because even though there was only three men, she could tell by their scars that they had seen many fights. And given the fact they stood before her, they had won. Deet took a step back from them, out of reach because she didn't trust strangers.
[i "Escaped slaves?"] He questioned the woman and rolled his eyes when she just stared at him like a frightened rabbit.
Aremenius looked to the others. They weren't the first group they had come across the past few months.
[i "Follow us."] He gruffed.
[i "Our camp is through the pass. We'll take your horses for battles to come."] Deet looked to the others and seemed hesitant to follow but it seemed the gladiators were more confident and she was swept along with them. Eventually the thin trail opened up into a sheltered canyon, almost. It was bustling with war tents and others. Deet didn't like this as she searched out the only friendly face she could in that moment, pressing against Sergius. She had heard rumours of Spartacus' army in the mountains but she didn't expect this.
Little by little their own group was settled into spare tents and eventually Aremenius paused and eyed a tent, looking to the four remaining.
[i "Here. You'll all fight, women too."] He grumbled and waved a dismissive hand as he waved them in. Deet eyed the tent and the small fire that flickered outside the tent.
Genjin looked to Laelia and sighed out a little. This was going to be more difficult than he thought but she was just as much a slave as any other amongst them.
[b "The woman is under my protection, if anyone has an issue then they can answer to me."] He muttered and gave a deliberate glare before turning to Laelia, his eyes softening apologetically. He knew this was hard for her and he couldn't make it any easier because she would be running for the rest of her life now.
[b "Then let him come try to take his trophy."] Honestly, Genjin would have relished taking the man's life for disrespecting Laelia in such a way as he shifted to sit down but paused when he caught a glimpse of Deet at sword point. He stood straight and eyed the man, stepping up and grasping his own blade.
[b "So the legend is true, Spartacus' army reigns strong in the mountains."] He muttered when Deet was out of the line of fire and eyed the men.
[b "Best not to be impolite."] He muttered to Laelia as they were lead towards the camp and he kept her close, not daring to let her stray away from her. They needed rest, all of them were shaken and none more so than Laelia who had seen her family home crumble to ashes. He eyed the tent and then looked to Laelia with a small shrug before settling by the fire and rinsing his face with some water.He eyed the others for a second, he knew his sister wasn't happy with everything going o but they were here now, what more could they do?
[b "I'll teach you to fight."] He murmured to Laelia, he didn't like the idea of them going to battle but if it was what needed then so be it. He wouldn't disagree with the very people who gave them food and shelter for now, with any luck they would keep the women as safe as possible. Then again, this was not an ordinary battle. This was against Rome and they needed all the strength they could muster.
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/weNARkZ.jpg]] Sergius instantly regret the way that he had gotten close to Deet the moment she climbed off the horse and chose to walk. Whether it was because of what he had done, or whether it was simply coincidental, she didn’t really know but he would not pursue her if it was not what she wanted. For now he decided to keep his distance from her, not wanting to push her away completely. His horse slowed almost to a halt as he observed Deet moved towards the rest of those who had escaped with them, seemingly in uproar about the fact that Genjin had decided to bring Laeila with them but he would not question him as his friend.
However, he was surprised when Deet seemed to come to his defence, knowing how she felt about the woman and Genjin’s affections for her. They just needed to trust that he knew what he was doing and that was exactly what Deet was suggesting. He was conflicted about the matter himself. On one hand, she was a Roman and the Roman’s had not been kind to them at all, but on the other hand, Laeila had not done anything to any of them. In fact, he was sure that on occasion she might have saved the lives of some of the men by convincing her father not to let some of the injured men fight. That didn’t mean that he felt like he owed anything to her though.
Genjin came to defend himself and his Roman now and he listened on much like the others, seemingly being successful in the defuse of what could have been a fight amongst brothers. They needed to stand together now more than ever and they couldn’t afford to fall out.
[right [pic https://i.imgur.com/ebnmiO6.jpg]] Laeila hadn’t so much as stepped foot outside of the walls of her home without her father or the guards he assigned to her, so to be out here alone with an array of gladiators, some of whom clearly didn’t want her here, she felt nervous. She would understand the rejection and the reservations as they hurled their concerns towards Deet. She couldn’t exactly see what he did. She didn’t see herself as a slave but as he spoke, she could understand why he would reach such a judgement about her and it seemed to make some of the gladiators retreat.
She was planning to talk to Genjin about leaving and going somewhere else she he didn’t have to worry about the other gladiators but she couldn’t do that tonight when she was feeling so shaken and tired. It would be a conversation for some tomorrow. [b “My Gods are the same but that doesn’t mean that I am not seen as his property by Roman law. He paid my dowry and I am expected to become his wife in every sense of the word.”]
Deet would be lying if she claimed there wasn’t any feelings for Sergius lingering within her somewhere, but she was a lost souls at that moment. All she had ever known was enslavement, after the morning she had been flayed within an inch of her life, she had been shaped into compliance. Sergius was brave, he was strong, did he not deserve a woman like him? She swallowed slightly when she heard his words and felt his lips brush by her ear. When they slowed, Deet wiggled her way off the horse, landing on her feet. She unhitched her satchel from it and slung the leather pouch over her shoulder to lessen the weight it would bear on her fingers.
Deet glanced to Sergius with a small nod,
[b “I’ll do better Walking.”] She assured as she saw a puddle of their comrades gathered by the rocky face of the mountain, amidst the trees for shelter. She wandered along and eyed them over. There were less than she remembered, somehow. She supposed the others had fallen. A momentary flash of sadness passed over her face but it was gone so quickly, it could have been missed. One man got to his feet, weary.
[i “Your brother was more worried about getting his Roman toy out of the walls than standing with his brothers.”] Murmurs of agreement broke out and Deet glanced around.
[b “I do not trust Romans, nor am I a friend to them. But Genjin believes her to be as much a slave to her parents as we were.”] Deet said to them. She wasn’t lying, she didn’t particularly like a Roman woman travelling with them but she trusted Genjin.
[i “Your family forgets what Romans did to us.”]
[b “ I forget nothing and I have the scars to prove it, Brutus.”] Deet muttered and looked over when Laelia and Genjin approached. She sighed out and moved to sit in the shade, at a distance because her head was a mess. She trusted her brother, but she understood the concerns of the others.
Genjin kept a firm hold of her. He knew there was going to be trouble and that she was shaken by what had happened but he didn’t expect his sister to be coming to his defence on the matter either as they approached. He helped Laelia down and watched Deet leave before eyeing the others.
[b “Laelia was beaten, forced to marry a man far beyond her years where she would be imprisoned. If any here believe that isn’t slavery or cruelty then speak now.”] Genjin remarked.
[b “The Romans took us from our homes, what makes you think they treat their own any better?”] He said with a dismissive hand as people began to look sheepish and only nodded. Brutus grumbled and Genjin cast him a look before looking back to Laelia. She didn’t look hurt so far.
[b “You will need to learn how to defend yourself.”] He said to her,
[b “You don’t have to go to battles or wars, but if I should fall in battle then you should know how to wield a blade. Just in case.”] He said to her as he looked around. He had no idea where Spartacus’ camp was. But he knew they would be safe amongst the trees for now, and out of the hot sun that baked the earth.
[b “I am sorry about your home.”] He murmured as he let the horse rest, taking off the heavy gear and sighing somewhat as he set it aside, glancing to her. He was sorry that it was her home that was laid siege to but she surely must have understood why the slaves wanted it burned down. He didn’t know if her parents survived, he didn’t know if her husband had even survived.
[b “Where I am from, you’re not married until the morning after the wedding, our God’s only recognise a consummated marriage. Are your gods the same?”] He asked her.
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/weNARkZ.jpg]] Sergius was more than relieved when he heard the woman claim that the blood was not her own but he could tell by the look in her eye that she had clearly had to hurt someone to get away and knowing Deet’s kind nature, that wouldn’t have been something that she found easy. Unfortunately, now wasn’t exactly the time to ask her about it because the house was burning in the near distance and they needed to get out of there as soon as possible.
[b “He’s still inside…”] He said as he looked back to the house and then to Deet nodding in agreement. [b “Neither will I. He will be here soon, have faith.”] He said as he climbed up onto her horse with her and wrapped his arms around her waist, mostly to comfort her than anything else and they both remained silent as they waited. It was as though he was holding his breath, unable to breath freely until his saw him finally running towards them and then he released, a deep exhale that told of his relief.
He looked to Deet and grabbed hold of the reigns, urging the horse to burst forward, rising away from the flames that were now riding high. [b “We are free now.”] He said into her ear and brushed it every so gently with his lips. Maybe now they would be free to explore their feelings for each other, if she even had any for him.
[right [pic https://i.imgur.com/ebnmiO6.jpg]] Laeila might have blushed and been flattered by Genjin’s compliment if she wasn’t completely overwhelmed with what was happening. She could smell the smoke and as she looked around she could see her mother and father fighting to get to them. If she was going to run, she had to do it now. She could see the flames now and she was distracted from them for only a minute as Genjin fought off one of her husband’s guards.
[b “I trust you.”] You said without even thinking about it. It was clear that she did trust him and it surprised her a little to realise that she trusted this gladiator more than she trusted anyone else in her life. She was pulled away from the crowd then, trying to get through the smoke that was beginning to thicken and offered them a little bit of a shield from her parents.
[i “Where is she?! Where is he taking her?”] The screech of her mother’s voice found her and she started to move faster. She knew that going with them would put them all in danger but Genjin didn’t seem willing to leave her behind. When they were finally out in the freshness of the afternoon she could feel the eyes of those remaining on her and Genjin helped her onto the horse.
She would be lying if she said she wasn’t shaken by the events. [b “I ... I don’t know.”]
Deet looked to the house as she saw the glowing embers begin to light the house, the fire was set and she was frozen in place as she waited for Sergius and her brother, praying that they hadn’t fallen. She looked to Sergius when he emerged and stared at him before eyeing her dress.
[b “It’s not mine.”] She said quietly, still somewhat shocked. She looked to the house and then Sergius.
[b “Where is Genjin?”] She asked him as her horse shifted, nervous of the flames.
Deet looked over Sergius, he didn’t look hurt and she was grateful for that small blessing.
[b “I won’t leave without Genjin.”] She said to him and offered him a hand up to her horse. She knew she couldn’t go back in there, she wouldn’t last two minutes and she didn’t want Sergius to go back in there either. Her brother was a fool! He was risking his life for this woman, this Roman woman. The house was steadily being consumed by flames and Deet felt hopeless as she watched the fire lick at walls and tapestries. They wouldn’t have long before the fire drew attention.
Deet looked relieved when Genjin came crashing through one of the doors and she eyed the Roman woman before looking to Genjin.
[b “We need to go.”] She said to him, sharply because she was not pleased he had almost died defending this roman! But he was alive, she hadn’t lost her brother at least. She looked to Sergius as she handed him the reins, not familiar with riding at all and wasn’t sure she could control the horse beneath her with much precision.
Genjin started at the man and he could see the smoke rising.
[b “She is not your wife by choice, a woman such as her would put your beloved Venus goddess to shame.”] He hissed out. He eyed the guard that dared come too close and cut him down easily and glared back to the man. The fool didn’t stand aside and the embers licking at the walls of the villa glinted in Genjin’s eyes as he looked to Laelia. He didn’t wish to kill anymore in front of her, so he didn’t. He carefully guided her around the man and lashed out at the back of the man’s knee, causing him to collapse and he eyed the stone cobblestone staircase that lead to their escape.
Flames licked the rims of the passageway and he drew in a deep breath.
[b “Trust me.”] He grunted to Laelia as he clasped her hands and surged forwards, arms wrapping around her as he tried to hold his breath and keep the smoke from invading his lungs. He broke free of the chaos and stared around, cries and screams could be heard as others raced to see what fate had in store for them. Many had already departed and he prayed Deet was amongst them, somewhere. He laid eyes on Sergius and Deet finally amidst the carnage.
[b “Go, now.”] He said to them as he helped Laelia onto the horse if she needed it. He knew the longer they spent here, the more chances they had of Rome’s forced coming down upon them. He got up the horse he had reined in a panic and wrapped an arm around Laelia’s waist as he took the reins and spurred the beast on.
[b “Are you alright?”] He asked as they broke free of the city boundaries and he finally slowed, breathing hard as he let his breath fall on Laelia’s skin, looking towards the mountains and he prayed everyone he held dear had made it into the mountains valiant shadow.
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/weNARkZ.jpg]] The wedding arrived much sooner than Sergius anticipated but he was able to secure enough time to ready the rest of the gladiators and slaves. The service would offer a good distraction and the guards would mostly surround the Great Hall where it took place, leaving the gates completely unguarded. That was a mistake that they would regret making later when the slaves were running from these walls with their new found freedom. All they needed to wait for now was the signal to indicate that it was time to fight and that signal would come from Genjin.
Each gladiator had their own role in this plan and when he heard the cry it was time that he executed his role. While Genjin was to focus on getting Laeila out of there, it was his goal to cut down as many of the Romans as he possibly could and so he fought through the crowds of bystanders, killing any man who tried to stand in his way or fight. He could see the guards coming thick and fast now, mostly towards Genjin since it must have looked like he was attempting to kidnap the Roman daughter.
He cursed and glanced around the room. There were four other gladiators in here, fighting through the observers. [b “Guards! Towards the alter!”] He shouted and the other gladiators instantly changed course, blocking them in their path to Genjin and Laeila, giving Sergius enough time to run up behind them, slicing the neck of one and using the same sword to thrust it into the gut of another.
[b “We have to go now!”] He said, his heart in his chest as the smoke started to rise. [b “The fire has started Genjin, we have to go.”] With that he turned and ran out of the hall with the rest of the gladiators, knowing he would follow shortly. When they arrived at their meeting point he saw Deet upon a horse and he was instantly relieved although, he felt sickened once he saw the blood that stained her dress. [b “Are you hurt?”]
[right [pic https://i.imgur.com/ebnmiO6.jpg]] Laeila had no idea that their plan of escape was moving to this day, had she known she might have warned them against it since her future husband had brought guards of his own and there would be more men to fight. She nodded towards the woman and watched as she left the room, remaining in silence for the rest of the time the servant girls got her ready.
She was dressed in a beautiful white gown, embellished by pretty jewels which complimented that jewels placed in her hair. She mostly wore it done, with a few sections braided and adorned by the glittering jewellery her mother had insisted she wore. [I “It’s time.”] One of the girls held out her hand to her and led her down to the Great Hall, this look of sympathy giving to her. Laeila felt ashamed to receive sympathy from a woman who had no freedom.
As she was guided down the aisle by her father, she felt this sickening feeling in her stomach with every step she took towards her husband. She didn’t want this, but it was too late and she would not be able to defy her parents. Standing next to the old man, she kept her eyes trained on the man conducting the ceremony until it was over. He was pronouncing them man and wife and indicating that they should seal the marriage with a kiss when she heard the cry. Her husband turned around in shock and shouted for his guards to start fighting but he did not seen Genjin nearing Laeila and taking hold of her wrist until he already had her in his grip.
It was clear now that they intended to escape and she had somehow become a part of that plan. She looked to Genjin. [b “I can’t…”] She knew that if she went with them, her new husband would not stop coming after them until she was found.
[I “You dare touch my wife!”]
Deet watched the woman before her and raised an eyebrow. She didn’t dare give away the plan was set to strike into action in a few hours. The woman seemed genuine and she glanced to a couple of the servant girls and then to the woman before her. With the mark upon her cheek, it was difficult to see her as cruel or cold like her parents but Deet was guarded.
[b “You will be gone from here tonight.”] Deet said to the woman knowingly. She took the small moment to refix her braid and watched the servant girls go to work making her look beautiful for her wedding. She rinsed the cloth and kept herself busy, on edge for the impending event. If she had any control over the situation she would call it off, beg for them not to do this. She looked over when she was summoned to the main hall to witness the marriage and she eyed the man Laelia was betrothed to and looked shocked but said nothing.
Deet was anxious, she could barely stand still and she looked to the archway that lead down the steps, catching a glimpse of Genjin and her eyes pleaded with him to rethink everything but it was too late. She held her breath and she had utterly zoned out of the ceremony itself, swallowing hard and ducking behind a marble pillar as she heard Genjin’s cry for battle. She pressed against the cold marble and closed her eyes tightly. This was not her world, her world was gentle and peaceful. She snapped her eyes open as she felt hands on her and recognised the guard from the other night.
[i “I will take great pleasure in this.”] He sneered as he aimed his blade in a swing and Deet ducked, heard the metal clang against the marble as she grabbed a few servant girls.
[b “The gates are unlocked. Take horses and ride fast and hard to the mountains, stop for no one.”] She said to them and pushed them towards the stables. She looked around and all she could see was blood and death, gladiators and servants and nobles mixed the same on the ground and she snatched a small dagger from a table of grand food, very afraid for her life. She made her way down the stone steps to grab her supplies, almost tripping as the guard followed her.
[i “I do not believe you will see tomorrow morning, little one.”] He hissed and Deet darted into her chamber, gathering the herbs and panicking a little. The man grasped her from behind and Deet turned and plunged the dagger straight into the man’s neck, backing off immediately. Her white dress bore splatters of blood and she paled as she stuffed away her supplies and attached them to herself. She looked to the stable boy who had saddled up every single horse and she nodded to him as she took up a black steeds reins and waited, her heart in her mouth.
Genjin was listening closely in the stairwell. He was itching to put an end to all of this. No more servants dying or gladiators being forced to kill one another for roman pleasure. He wanted to make sure most of the Romans’ were in the same room and he glanced through the shadows to see his sister. He knew that look and he looked to Sergius and the others. Sergius’ words from earlier rang true in his head but he wasn’t about to leave Laelia behind. He could hold on no further as he let out a yell and stormed out into the chaos. At first it seemed everyone was confused and a few even laughed like it was part of some show.
A few guards however rushed in and the fight was on. His main goal was to get towards Laelia and get her out of here. She looked beautiful, despite the situation and he kicked a guard back and looked to Laelia as he fought his way over to her, valiantly. The air was filled with the clangs of metal and the sounds of battle, something Genjin was used to by now. He looked to Laelia,
[b “There are horses ready and waiting. Go.”] He urged her and took hold of her wrist, not usually so bold with a woman, especially one who had enraptured him in such a way.
[b “Come. My brothers will burn this place soon and I would not see you consumed by the flames.”] He remarked as he shoved some guards back. He looked to the man who dared to buy Laelia’s hand and stood tall, deliberately between the man and Laelia. Genjin knew he could easily slaughter this man in combat, the man was fat and old and powerless. He narrowed his eyes and glared at him. He wanted the excuse because a woman such as Laelia was a gift from the Gods, not a prize cow to be ought and auctioned off to whoever was richest.
[b “Burn this place!”] He yelled above the noise and ruckus of the impending battle.
[b “Burn it as a beacon for those who dare take slaves, who dare harm others.”] He looked to Laelia and then back to her ‘husband’.
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/weNARkZ.jpg]] Regardless of the fact that Deet did not consider herself to be a fighter, there were many different kinds in his mind. Right now, she was showing a lot of fight by refusing to run. By staying and offering to help heal those who might fall with the injured was brave and it brought a smile to his face momentarily. He thought that he might become brave enough to say something to her then, something of his admiration of her but he kept quiet and it was a good thing too because there were two guards demanding her to help with the Roman daughter. That no doubt meant that the woman had been harmed in some way because she was not a woman that would be requested otherwise.
He then turned to Genjn who seemed set on arguing that the woman was indeed one of them. He could see his reasoning as he spoke and he supposed that he would not be happy to stand by and let a woman he cared about be married off to a man so that he could use her to breed his next generation. It was so abundantly clear by the way he spoke that Genjin did care about this woman and it forced a sigh from him.
[b “Brother, you must be careful. Guard your heart. Even if you were to save her and free her from this man, there is not guarantee she was fall for you in the way that you have so clearly fell for her.”] He said as he placed a hand on his shoulder, sighing a little when he mentioned his sister. Of course he had noticed, nothing escaped him. [b “I will protect her with my life, even if you do not fall Genjin. You know that.”]
With that their plan was set into motion and he spent some time ensuring that the gladiators and house servants alike were made aware of the plan, all too keen to escape this godforsaken place and burn it to the ground in protest.
[right [pic https://i.imgur.com/ebnmiO6.jpg]] The Domina came into her room as she was getting ready, a smile plastered upon her face as she approached but when she looked upon her face it fell and she scowled, turning to one of the girls in the room. [I “Tell the guards to fetch Deet to see if we can do something about this horrific mark. My daughter must look beautiful for her husband do you understand?”] She sighed and looked back to Laeila and shook her head. [I “You must learn to hold your tongue, he had dominion over you now and you must obey him like a good wife does.”] She ran her hand through her hair and kissed her forehead. [I “I wish you well with you preparations. I will see to the room décor and make sure that everything is perfect.”]
Laeila watched her walk away and soon enough Deet was walking into the room and she offered her a faint smile. [b “I apologise for my mother having wasting your time. I know there is not much to be done. I’m sure the girls here will do well and concealing the mark.”] She said as she let out a sigh as two girls started to work on her hair. [b “Thank you.”] She said as she took the cloth and pressed it to her cheek. She cleared her throat then and braved informing those in the room that she was aware of their plan of escape.
[b “I will be gone from here tonight. You should take advantage of my absence and take whatever clothing you might need to disguise the women.”]
Deet watched the events and eyed them both. This sounded like madness to her!
[b “I might not be able to fight but I am not running and leaving anyone behind.”] She said as she looked between them.
[b “I am a healer. I will stay, and I will heal.”] She muttered and placed her things down as she glanced to the stone stairway that lead up into the villa. She exhaled a little shakily.
[b “Leave the Roman woman to me. But by the Gods, I do not agree with this nor do I think it is safe.”] She said and looked to her brother accusingly because he risked everything right that moment.
She looked to Sergius, as if she wanted to say something but she thought better of it, closing her mouth for a moment.
[b “Do not get yourselves killed.”] She murmured and started out the doorway only to be cut off by a pair of guards.
[i “Domina has requested your aid with her daughter. Move.”] One said and Deet looked confused for a moment before nodding and letting one guard give her a shove in the direction. She sighed out and looked around the villa.
[b “Lady Laelia.”] She said as she entered and eyed the mark on her cheek. She understood why she’d been summoned.
[b “I cannot heal a mark. Cold water should take any swelling from the sight of injury.”] Deet didn’t need to ask where it had come from, a man most likely. The braid in her hair was falling out of place but she didn’t seem to think anything of it. She dipped a cloth in cold water and handed it to Laelia.
[b “Press it to the site.”] She explained and she could see why her brother was so enchanted with the women. She glanced over to the other servants, recognising them well enough to know they were in on the plan. Roman women were so pretty with their pale skin and golden hair, fair complexions to match. Deet was dark haired and dark eyed, tanned from her time in the sun and she certainly didn’t wear fine things. A plain white dress that hid away her figure was as best she ever got.
Genjin watched Deet and rolled his eyes but paused when the guards came to fetch her.
[b “She is one of us, bound by different chains. And she will be under my protection and my responsibility.”] Genjin remarked as he looked to the men. He hoped they would trust his decision.
[b “If being forced to marry a man twice your age and have him slobber all over you for the rest of your life isn’t enslavement and cruel then I’m not sure what is. But by the Gods will, we will be free this night.”] He said and looked to Sergius as the men dispersed.
[b “My sister trusts in you, Sergius. Do not think it hasn’t been noticed. If I should fall tonight, then get her to safety.”] He said to his friend. Most of them had grown up here and the only family they had ever truly known was each other and they relied on one another. He knew his sister, he knew how the two looked at one another with stolen glances. He did not press the matter and only nodded to him.
[b “The slave girl, Portia, has the keys to the armoury, she passed them onto young Banesroth. He will secure us weapons and then we take the villa and make our escape.”] He uttered. Weeks of planning had gone into this escape and if the Gods wanted to take him this day then at least he would go out fighting for freedom.
Night closed in slowly and the tension was thick in the air, Deet had been requested to stay for the wedding, much to her displeasure but she had at least secured a large leather pouch of herbs and bandages to take with her to the mountains. Banesroth has crept around and given what weapons he could to those who awaited. Some men had taken care of the guards, cutting their throats soundlessly as they waited beneath the villa on the cold damp stone steps, listening to what was going on above.
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/weNARkZ.jpg]] His heart broke for the woman before him. He couldn’t imagine what it must have felt like to lose all sense of selfie. He had been lucky in the respect that the fighting helped him keep that identity regardless of the fact that he has to do it for sport rather than for honour. His lips parted to speak when she signalled for him to leave but Genjin’s entrance made him stay, knowing that it would be him he wanted to speak to about moving up the plan.
Sergius was surprised at his next words and he rose an eyebrow in intrigue. [b “A wedding? So soon?”] It as not uncommon for weddings to take place so quickly, especially in a household of money because the expense did not act as a barrier but it seemed the motivation for the haste in marriage might have had a purpose on this occasion. He wouldn’t be surprised if the old man had paid the Dominus a significant amount of money in the form of a dowry to take Laeila’s hand. He was a greedy man after all.
He could understand Deet’s interjections and he knew why she was worried. Many of the slaves here would feel the same as her, not having any fighting experience but many of them would also grab at the chance to own a weapon and use it on the family and guards who had kept them in chains all these years. [b “No one is asking you to fight Deet. You don’t have to fight, you just have to run.”] He then turned to Genjin.
[b “There is no harm in moving the plan to tonight but I would beseech you to leave the Roman daughter. Having her with us will cause a world of trouble, not just because it we come across Romans, they will assume we have kidnapped her, but because a lot of the slaves here will not accept having her in our company. She is not one of us Genjin.”]
[right [pic https://i.imgur.com/ebnmiO6.jpg]] Laeila sat in the Great Hall awaiting the man who would claim her as his wife later that day. She could see some of the female servants cleaning the room and starting to add decor appropriate for a wedding. It made the woman feel sick to the stomach. She didn’t want this but she knew that she didn’t have much of a choice in the matter. No matter what Genjin had told her about running, she knew she wouldn’t get far out there on her own.
[i “There she is! My beautiful future wife.”] His voice cut through the silence and she rose to her feet out of respect and bowed her head in gesture. He grabbed hold of her cheeks and placed a rough kiss upon her lips, causing her face to contort in displeasure. [i “I wanted to see you briefly before we are to be wed. I have paid your father well to have you hand in marriage and I trust that you will serve me well as my wife. I expect that you bear sons for me and we will not waste any time in doing so. After the wedding tonight we will take a carriage back to my home and there we will consummate our marriage.”] He said with a sickening smile.
Laeila could hardly talk. Anyone who saw her now would have been able to see that she was unhappy about this situation. [b “I am not a whore, if you paid money for me, that is what you assume I am no?”] She should have held her tongue, the slap around her face was enough to prove that. She held her cheek where he had struck her and she looked to the floor to avoid his gaze.
[i “You are whatever I want you to be. My wife, my whore, mother to my children.”]
Luckily some of the servant girls surrounded her then. [i “Apologies sir, we must prepare the lady for her wedding.”]. The man nodded and the women whisked her away to her chambers where she remained quiet, tears threatening her eyes as the women started to bathe her.
Deet watched Sergius, her eyes soft. She wasn’t judging him for being hopeful, nor would she ever turn on them but she couldn’t bring herself to have the same faith he did. He really believed in this plan and she sighed out a little.
[b “I do not know who I am anymore, Sergius. I am a slave, my entire life has been this place.”] She said to him. She him over and gave a gentle smile, one of assurance before making to shoo him out of her Medicus chambers. She paused when Genjin came in and she raised an eyebrow at him.
[b “Have the flames not burnt your fingertips yet?”] She asked him and he seemed to ignore her scathing remark. Deet knew something was wrong. She watched him babble about making their move early, in the next short while and she shook her head.
[b “A Roman woman’s marriage is no reason to risk death.”] She said to him and took a drink of water, watching the men who had come a little closer.
[b “Although a marriage would give the guards a distraction.”] She said and glanced to Sergius, shrugging a little, indicating she still wasn’t behind this foolishness one hundred percent.
[b “What of the rest of us? We are not all gladiators.”] She reminded the others. She had barely wielded a weapon in her life and she doubted any of the servant girls had ever fought.
[b “I am a healer, I’m not a killer, Genjin.”] She pointed out and eyed her brother. She wouldn’t go against them in this but she was nervous. If this went wrong then they would all be crucified. Then again, it was better to die trying than die a slave.
Genjin eyed her as she left and sighed out a little. She really was remarkable to him and he sparred for a short time, glancing to his sister and Sergius. He glanced to servant girl who came skittering down the stairs.
[i “Your men should be wary. They may be needed this evening. The Dominus’ daughter is to be wed today.”] She said and bowed before gathering more wine and Genjin’s heart plummeted. If they didn’t act then Laelia would be far beyond their reach, this old man would take her from this house and he doubted he would ever trace her. They would need to act quickly.
He strode into the Medicus chambers and gazed at Deet and Sergius. A few other gladiators dared to listen in.
[b “We must make our move quickly. There is to be a wedding tonight.”] He explained what had happened and looked to his sister.
[b “No. But these Romans’ love a tribute of blood at these occasions, meaning someone will have to fight to the death and I won’t kill one of our own.”] He muttered and eyed them all. He glanced to Deet when she mentioned those who couldn’t fight.
[b “The stable boy has readied horses. When the gates are opened, mount a horse and head for the mountains. Those fighting will meet you there.”] He ignored the shocked look on Deet’s face and he doubted his sister would leave without him either way.
[b “When deed is done, we burn this place and ride hard towards the mountains.”] He explained.
He looked at the faces around them and he knew many of them wouldn’t survive against the guards but with any luck they would at least die free. He watched Deet start to pack some herbs and bandages away. She was right, she was a healer not a killer but he had to fight for her life, they all did.
[b “I will deal with getting the Roman woman out of here.”] He commented.
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/weNARkZ.jpg]] He couldn’t help but swallow hard at the simple action of having her hand cup his cheek. He had not felt a woman’s touch in a long time and to feel a hand so soft regardless of the hardships she had been through, it felt amazing, but he knew that it couldn’t mean anything. There was no way this woman could feel the same way about him. He was scared and battle-hardened, not exactly an easy man to love and he had accepted that a long time ago, not wanting to believe that there could ever be anything else to it.
He shook his head. [b “I’m not going anywhere. Many men have tried and failed to kill me and I can assure you that no man or woman shall ever be flayed within this walls again.”] He was confident that this would work, he had to be because this was truly their last chance at gaining any kind of freedom and he would be damned if they had to stay here a day longer than they had to.
[b “Deet, please try to hold out some hope for this. When we walk out of here we will go to the mountains and you can be whoever you want to be out there.”]
[right [pic https://i.imgur.com/ebnmiO6.jpg]] As she listened to Genjin speak, she understood what he was saying about her parents, probably more so that he might have expected her to. Both of them were equally as cruel regardless of their different approaches. However, what they had in common was that they seemed to like the violence. The blood and the pain crossing across the face of another seemed to offer them for more gratification than she would have liked to imagine.
It wasn’t as though she wanted her parents to suffer but if a slave or group of decided that they wanted vengeance, she would not be able to stop it.
[i “Laeila!”] Her father’s voice boomed and she turned back to Genjin.
[b “I must go. Your plan will remain a secret with me.”] She hesitated for a moment but had to retreat from him when her father called her name once more. [b “Sorry, I was watching the gladiator fight.”]
[I “No matter, your husband wishes to meet with you. He doesn’t want to delay your marriage. I believe he wishes to take your hand today.”]
Deet looked to him and sighed. She did find it quite amazing that he could still find hope in this nightmare.
[b "It's my job to be worried, is it not?"] She quipped back to him and sighed when he tucked some hair behind her ear. Such a motion would be a heavy punishment but it seemed the guards were distracted. She reached up and cupped his face.
[b "I hope, for everyone's sake, that you're right."] She said to him before lowering her hands and chewing her lip.
[b "Just..."] She thought for a moment. [b "Please don't die."] She said to him, draining some water and looking to Sergius. If he died, she knew she wouldn't be able to bear watching his body being carted from this place to be sold, she couldn't bear to wash his dead body. The thought of him or Genjin dying, it made her stomach turn and she hated to think of either of them being treated like that.
[b "And don't be punished. To see you or Genjin flayed..."] Perhaps it was because she knew the pain of being flayed within an inch of her life or maybe it was the thought of just seeing them in pain, but she felt it would be too much.
[b "I mean... Just be careful."] She clarified to him with a soft sigh.
Genjin watched her and he seemed relieved when she finally figured out whos side she was on. he nodded to her and watched the training grounds for a while. He didn't know what would happen to her parents. Many men, many women and servants in general had been treated so cruelly by them. He could not deny them their vengeance.
[b "Men have lost brothers, they have lost family and freinds by your parents hand, Laelia. I cannot deny them their vengeance, if they desire it."] He said to her and yes, that may mean her parents suffered. He knew it would be difficult because regardless of their cruelty, they were still her parents.
[b "Me and my sister will not take vengeance on your parents. My sister is too gentle, too broken down, I do not believe her anger would be transferred to such rage. And I will not harm your parents if you do not wish it. We just want away from this place."] He said to her.
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/weNARkZ.jpg]] It was frustrating to hear her have so little hope but it wasn’t as though he could force it upon her. She had been punished just like many of the other slaves here. Some took that experience and used it to fuel their hate and passion to leave and others had their hope crushed. He sighed and followed her into the chambers so that she could see to his wound. They could speak more privately in here anyway and he had an excuse to be in there.
[b “Are you worried about me?”] He asked with a little bit of humour lacing his tone as he looked her over. [b “I know what might happen to me if we are caught but it’s not like we are just going into this without thinking it through, we have ever single detail planned and thought out.”] Her next words had occurred to him before. Did any of them truly know how to be free?
[b “We live, we love and we do as we please.”] He took the water from her thankfully and gulped it down, not realise how thirsty he had been until now. He was obviously disgruntled by her news and he frown deeply. [b “He is capable of more evil that I realised.”] He sighed heavily and shook his head and placed the empty cup down. He stopped for a moment, looking at her before tucking a piece of hair behind her ear. [b “There will be no more dead. This ends now.”]
[right [pic https://i.imgur.com/ebnmiO6.jpg]] Laeila looked shocked and shook her head. [b “No! I do not sympathise with the guards.”] She has simply asked the question out of interest, wondering what the plan was exactly. She listened to him then, feeling guilty and slightly responsible for the pain caused to many of those who lived within the walls but could not claim that their freedom. She wished that she could do something to help but she did not have any power within these walls.
[b “I didn’t mean to cause offence and I am sorry for everything you, your friends and your family have been through.”] She said stepped closer to him, only to stop herself just as fast. [b “I will not stand with the guards. I will not tell anyone of what you have said to me today but I cannot come with you. I am still a Roman and while you might speak to me with kindness and treat me with the same kindness you would a friend, but the other gladiators and slaves alike will not act the same way. They will not accept me.”] Laeila sighed and then looked out at the training grounds before glancing back to Genjin.
[b “What will become of my parents?”]
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