Chapter 3 :: Rome
Published: 13-09-04 - Last update: 13-09-04
Comments: Bonne lecture ! Laissez moi des reviews s'il vous plait !
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Our voyage at sea didn’t take as long as it though it would be, although it was much too long when I found out I got seasick. When we made port again I would have kissed the ground if I hadn’t been attached in the middle of a slave line. Once again we were taken to the slave markets to be sold, but this time individually. While waiting for my turn I looked around, noticing the different kind of people watching and buying, guessing what each person did for a living, guessing what kind of slave they were looking for, …
I was so caught up by everything I saw that I didn’t notice the man watching me. Contrary to my companions I was the only one looking around and so I was making myself very conspicuous. Finally it was turn. The guards took me by the arms and led me to the small stage where they stayed behind me to prevent any escape attempt. The auctioneer began telling the crowd about me when the man who had been watching me stepped on the stage. The guards began moving forward when he took a medallion out of his tunic and showed it to them. I didn’t know what it meant but I was surprised by the sudden respect the auctioneer, guards and the crowd showed him. With a nod he returned his medallion in his tunic and approached me. I was afraid of what he would do but instead he addressed me in Latin, asking questions that, after an ungentle nudge from one of the guards, I answered. They were simple questions and I answered the best I could and I sensed that the man was impressed by how many question I could answer. Finally he remained silent, a small smile of satisfaction on his lips. He turned to auctioneer and deposited a pouch on his small table. The auctioneer was startled and seemed to consider his decision before finally reluctantly nodding to the guards. One of them handed my chain to the man who took it, turned around and left the stage. Not given much of a choice I followed my new owner.
We left the slave markets and entered the town itself. I hadn’t had the opportunity to see much of Massilia before I left it, so I tried to see as much as I could, before I was taken who knows where. When I saw a fountain I was reminded of the long hours that had gone by since the last time I had drank any water. My new owner seemed to sense my need because he stopped at the fountain where he took a bowl, filled it with water and held it for me to drink. Although my throat was no longer dry I was still thirsty and although I didn’t dare say anything I kept looking hopefully at the fountain. The man refilled the bowl and again held it for me to drink. He refilled it a third time after which I felt much better. The man was turning around to leave the fountain when I sought his eyes and looked straight at him. “Thank you for your kindness” I said. He seemed surprised by my words but nodded and started walking.
I expected to be taken to the home of a person of some importance since the people in the market had treated this man with respect, however I was surprised when the man entered a building that looked like a temple. It occurred to me then that this man was perhaps a priest. As we entered the first room of the building I knew I had guessed correctly, this was a Temple, although I couldn’t say to whom it was dedicated. The man didn’t stop in the first room and continued towards the second room where a couple of guards stopped him but let him through when he showed his medallion. Inside the second room was a man seated at a desk who stood up when he saw the priest. He bowed and greeted the priest who nodded in return.
- Greetings Lavalius, here’s a new one. See to her will you ?
- Of course my Lord. Did you have a specific task for her in mind ?
- Indeed I have, send her to the apprentice barracks for standard training.
- Certainly my Lord.
The priest gave the man Lavalius my chain after which he left the room.
The clerk looked me over then dropped my chain on the floor and returned to his desk where he took a clay slate out.
- All right girl, what’s your name ?
My name ? This was the first time in months that somebody asked me my name. So much had happened in those few months that my mind needed a few seconds to drag that word meaning myself out of my memory. A few seconds during which the clerk became slightly impatient.
- Come on girl, I haven’t got all day !
- Sara !
As I nearly cried my name out, I felt a small tear form itself on the edge of my left eye. Sara ! My name was Sara. I had a name again. I was somebody again and not just a nameless slave in a group of nameless slaves. I was myself again. Up until then I had never stood still at how much I had bonded myself to that name, how much of me had been shaped by that name, how much I had missed being whole again.
- Sara huh ? S-a-r-a ? Alright then, how old are you and where do you come from ?
- I can count nearly 19 summers, sir. I come from Gaul, sir, I was shipped to this place from the port town of Massilia, sir.
- Can you be more precise than that ? The name of your village or town ?
- I didn’t live in a village sir, nor was there any large settlement near my home.
- Ah well…
Having noted everything he took the slate, he picked my chain up and led me deeper in the Temple.
- Right then, hear me out young Sara. By the kindness of the Priest who bought you, you have been given a chance to improve yourself so that you can beter serve this Temple. It is enterily possible that if you do very well in your lessons you will be given a place in the ranks of the acolytes of this Temple, which means you also get your freedom. It has happened before, it is uncommon true, but it is not unheard of. So be obient and learn well, and you will be free again.
While he was talking we had arrived before a building that could only be a smith’s forge judging from the build. We entered the building where the clerk called out a greeting and it was answered by a powerfully built man coming out from behind a curtain of steam. They exchanged a few pleasantries before the clerk asked for a slave collar for me. The smith went to a shelf and returned with a collar of bronze that he placed around my neck, closing it by applying his great strength to it. That done the clerk released me from my chain and my old collar.
- You’re not a stupid girl or you wouldn’t have been brought to me, so listen carefully. The slave collar you wear now has the brand of this Temple on it, marking you as our property. This collar grants you some privileges not given to other slaves, one of them is the lack of supervision. As long as you are on the grounds of the Temple, you are allowed to move around freely, the gards will warn you off the restricted areas. However remember that any attemp to escape immeadiately revokes all those privileges, and gets you a one-way ticket to the common slave pens and the lost of your chance to get free. Understood ?
- Yes, sir.
- Right. Jivus !
A young man came running out of a nearby building and presented himself before the clerk. The clerk ordered him to take me to the barracks, to assign me a pallet and to then be my guide for the next couple of days.
Jivus was a young man from a poor family in the hillsides of the city. He showed me around the Temple grounds and further explained the rules to me. He also explained that although we were training to become members of the Temple of Jupiter it sometimes happened that someone was sent to another Temple if they proved to be very good in a particular skill. By the time he had shown me around it was time for the evening meal and he took me the dining hall where I could eat all I could for the first time in months. As I fell on my pallet I wondered what this training was going to be like and smiled thinking I was going to study after all this summer.
The next morning I woke with the other novices and after a quick breakfast, I followed them to a room where an elderly priest was waiting. My guide went to him and told him I had just arrived the day before. He nodded and pointed me to a spot next to him. I sat down and listened as he began teaching us. The subjects were varied and went from religion, obviously, to politics, herbology and medicine, history and geography and many others. I was amazed how much they knew about their own world and sometimes I had to restrain myself not to laugh at some of their ideas. Despite having started after everybody else in the class I had no trouble catching up, only having to work hard in the subjects I knew nothing about.
I was surprised when the first afternoon my guide led me to a practice field. He explained that a good physical condition was important and that everyone in the Temple trained a couple of hours each day. When he inquired what physical activity I was good in all I could think of was the ballet lessons I had taken when I was a child. I had never been the type to like sport or physically demanding activities. When I answered I only knew how to dance he merely nodded and led to a room looking out on the field. Inside where a few people going through dance movements together but when we came in they stopped and an elderly lady asked us:
- Hello there ! How nice of you to stop by. Would you like to join us in our exercises ?
I hesitated. When my guide nudged me gently, I nodded and went to stand where she indicated. The group started moving again, slowly at first and I tried to learn their movements. The dance they were performing seemed simple but was deceptive and I had a hard time keeping up with them. Of course I was out of condition despite my two-week walk and missed a lot of the more subtler movement combinations. At the end of the session the old woman congratulated me for keeping up, acknowledging that it wasn’t an easy dance and that I did very well for a beginner. I smiled and thank her for the compliment. She asked me to demonstrate what else I could do, as soon as I was rested she assured me. When I felt rested I went to the middle of the room, trying to remember my lessons or even steps. Finally I cobbled something together from what I remembered and began dancing, losing myself for a while in the wonderful sensation that went through me. When I came to a halt I was surprised to hear applause and blushed with pleasure. The woman came forward and said they would be happy to accept me in their group.
Time passed by without my really noticing it. Before I knew it winter had arrived and I only noticed because I was given a warm cloak and an extra blanket. My life had become a routine again, lessons in the morning and dance practise in the afternoon, and although it wasn’t “home” I wasn’t unhappy. The people of the dance group were really nice to me, inviting me to some of their parties, and even taking me out into the city from time to time, nearly making me feel at home. They also showed me how my dance moves could be used as defensive or offensive weapons. I had to admit that when they demonstrated a mock battle for me, I was amazed how well the two opponents could attack and defend themselves using only the most basic dance movements we had been practising together. As I was watching it suddenly hit me that looking at them made me remember the movements of the eastern fighting styles like karate or kung-fu that I had seen in movies. Not being at all skilled with a sword or even a dagger, it occurred to me that learning to protect myself could never be a bad idea.
In the short time I had been in the Temple I had caught up with the other novices, learning in a few months time what most learned in a year. This caught the attention of the higher ranked priests who granted the novitiates. Speaking with my teachers they had decided to grant me my novitiate in the Temple of Jupiter, however when one of the teachers noticed what afternoon activities I practiced they reconsidered their decision. With the grades I had as well as my ease at learning new things, it would be a shame to leave me at the novice level. But unfortunately a slave becoming more than a novice was unheard of in the Temple of Jupiter. But not in other Temples. Not wanting to waste my potential, the Temple sent out a call to the other Temples and one replied it was willing to accept me. This is how I entered the Temple of Amor.
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