Life, thought Dawn, was freaking unfair! She’d had sex precisely once and she was pregnant (about three months gone as it happened) and that was even after her fiancé had taken his ‘thingy’ out before he’d ‘arrived’. Maybe he hadn’t been quick enough and did some of it inside her but that was still so totally unfair; she’d not even been in charge of her body when it had happened. This was all Princess Roshan’s fault, the girl seemed to fall on her back and open her legs at the drop of a toga! Bitch!
Sighing, Dawn placed her hand on her belly, whosever fault it was she knew she’d love the child. After all it was Varro’s and she’d loved him in her own strange little way, plus she’d promised to name her first born for him. Which was fine if it was a boy, Dawn wondered if there was a female version of the name.
After exploding a little, Cordelia had calmed down and been supportive hugging Dawn while she cried as the thought of impending parenthood hit home. Now there was a thought, Dawn sat up on the couch where she’d lain in self-pity; Cordelia had had sex loads of time with Ehsan, why wasn’t she pregnant?
Shrugging, Dawn got to her feet; whatever the reason, Cordelia wasn’t pregnant and she was starting to train the girls today and Dawn’d promised to help. Pausing in her walk towards the yard were Cordy and the girls where, another troubling thought came to Dawn’s mind. The girls seemed to eat an awful lot, hopefully this would settle down once they recovered from their privations at the hands of the slave merchant. There was more than met the eye to owning slaves, it wasn’t all just sitting back and being fed peeled grapes.
“Well,” Dawn took a deep breath, “lets get on with this business they call show.”0=0=0=0
“My name is Cordelia, that’s Coach to you losers!” Cordelia walked along the line of nervous would-be cheerleaders as they stood trembling in the middle of the yard. “You may all belong to Domina Aurora, BUT!” Cordelia had got to the end of the line and then turned to face the girls, they all jumped at the sound of her voice, “It’s me that you have to worry about, and it’s me that you need to please. When I say jump, all I want to hear from you is ‘How high coach?’ Understand?”
The girls mumbled something about understanding.
“I can’t hear you!” Cordelia explained.
“We understand, coach,” the girls replied in a ragged chorus.
“Louder! Sound off like you’ve got a pair!” Cordelia had heard the phrase in a film once and thought it might be appropriate here.
“WE UNDERSTAND COACH!!!” Yelled the girls, still a little raggedly but it seemed to satisfy Cordy for now.
“Better,” Cordelia went and stood facing the middle of the line, she took a breath. “While you’re with me,” she explained, “you will not be beaten; neither will you be expected to play the whore. You will be well fed and clothed, if you perform well you will even be given a little money as a reward.” Cordelia speared each girl with a look as cold as ice, “Don’t think that just because I won’t beat you that you can do what you like,” Cordelia appeared to be looking into the very soul of each girl, “Annoy me and you’ll be wishing you were in Hades, understand?”
“WE UNDERSTAND COACH!!!” The girl’s yelled back.
“Good,” Cordelia smiled and nodded her head, “now lets get on with some work…we’ll start with some Star-Jumps.”
Cordelia demonstrated a Star-Jump.
“Good,” She said once she saw that the girls had got the idea of what they were supposed to do, “now keep doing that until I tell you to stop, GO!”
Seeing Dawn standing over by the door to the small stable, she walked over to her and smiled.
“What do you think?” Cordelia asked.
“I don’t know,” Dawn shrugged, “having like zero experience with cheerleading I’ll have to bow to your expertise.”
“Oh, I think they’ll be okay,” Cordelia glanced over to where the girls were still doing their exercise.
“So what do you want me to do?” Dawn noticed that one or two of the girls were starting to flag; that would soon change once they were fully fit.
“In a day or so I’ll probably need you to help me teach them to count and keep time,” Cordelia went on, “until then…”
“Until then,” Dawn interrupted, “I’ll concentrate of the household accounts,” she gestured to the girls, “We better start making some money soon they’re eating us out of house and home!”
“Yeah well,” Cordelia replied defensively, they were her girls and she was already sounding a little protective, “I should have them ready to do a basic show in two or three weeks, you better drum up some customers.”
“And you better look out for your girls,” Dawn nodded to where the girls lay or sat panting on the cobblestones.
“What the Hades is going on!?” Cordelia turned and stormed over to the exhausted girls, “Did I tell you to stop? Get back on your feet this instant!”
Smiling at Cordelia’s fierce tone, Dawn walked slowly back to the house where she sat down at her desk and started to go through the accounts. Things weren’t quite as bad as she’d implied, but they needed to start making money soon they also needed to start thinking about getting up to Pompeii; after all she had a sister to rescue.0=0=0=0The House of Sextus, Pompeii, almost at the same time.
Standing in the reception hall of the, villa, Buffy looked around herself, it certainly looked like a nice house. It was clean and airy and there were excellent murals on the walls while the floor was decorated with a very fine mosaic depicting a hunting scene. Over to one side of the hall stood two slave girls dressed in simple off-white dresses, they too looked clean and well fed, obviously the Domina and Dominus took good care of their property. At the sound of footsteps on the mosaic, Buffy turned to see a woman in her late thirties sail into the hall.
Guessing this must be the lady of the house, Buffy noted her expensive but simple blue dress, her dark hair piled up on her head in the Greek style and the minimum of cosmetics on her face. This was indeed the Domina of the household, Lady Ammonia Sextus. Behind her walked a middle aged man in a slave tunic, this was probably the Domina’s steward.
“Fidelia!” Ammonia cried happily as she altered course in mid stride.
“Hey! Ammonia!” Faith stepped forward and exchanged air-kisses with the Lady Ammonia, “How’s it goin’?”
“Well enough my dear,” Ammonia replied with a smile as her eyes fell on the teenage boy standing next to Faith, “Is this Marius the Younger?” Faith smiled like the proud mother she was, as Ammonia added, “Hasn’t he grown?”
“Greetings, Lady Ammonia,” Marius bowed his head to the woman, “it must be some years since we last met, so yes, I have grown.”
Marius was about thirteen and very grown up for his age; he was well spoken, polite and had been expensively educated. In fact he was almost everything his mother was not, however despite this, or perhaps because of it, mother and son were very close…but not in an ‘icky’ way.
“Oh and such a gentleman,” Ammonia smiled at the boy, “now why don’t you run along and find Nausius or Erotica,” Ammonia referred to her own teenage children; she caught the sharp look Fidelia gave her at the mention of Erotica’s name, “hmmm, maybe not Erotica but I’m sure Nausius is out in the garden somewhere.”
“Mother?” Marius looked at his parent for permission to leave.
“Yeah go on, find Nausius and talk poetry with him,” Fidelia nodded towards the rear of the house; Fidelia wasn’t a prude, but she didn’t want her son mixing with Erotica Sextus, the girl had quite the wrong sort of reputation.
“Ah!” Ammonia’s eyes now fell on Buffy, “this must be your gladiatrix girl,” Ammonia walked up to Buffy and subjected her to close scrutiny, “she’s nothing like I expected, in fact she’s rather pretty,” Ammonia hesitated as she searched for the right words, “in a sort of wild, barbarian way…”
“What did ya expect?” Fidelia frowned slightly at Ammonia’s words, she liked Buffitrix and didn’t like to hear her being disrespected.
“Well,” Ammonia glanced over her shoulder at Fidelia, “when you said ‘gladiatrix’ I was expecting someone more…” Ammonia searched for the right words again, “…shall we say, more muscle bound, bigger and with scars and such.” Ammonia gestured at Buffy, “Your girl here looks…well, dress her up in a nice gown with a little make-up and some jewellery and you could take her anywhere.”
“Hey,” Fidelia warned, “remember she’s not my
“Oh, yes of course,” Ammonia nodded before turning to her steward, “Lurcio, have our guest’s things taken to her room, then leave us.”
“Of course, Domina,” Lurcio gestured to the two slave girls who moved forward and took the sacks containing Buffy’s clothes, armour and weapons, both girls staggered under the weight of Buffy’s gear.
“Come through to the atrium,” Ammonia led the way into the courtyard in the middle of the house, “sit,” Ammonia invited Fidelia to take a seat on a couch as she poured her a glass of wine; Buffy wasn’t invited to sit down or offered a glass of wine, instead she stood quietly to one side with her hands clasped in front of her and her head slightly bowed.
The two women spent nearly an hour talking, discussing Buffy’s ‘situation’ and what was to be done with her. Eventually, Lady Fidelia climbed back to her feet; she took the ring that controlled the obedience spell (which had been put on Buffy’s slave collar by the late, Marcus Licinius Crassus, may he rot in Hades) from around her neck where it had hung from a gold chain.
“Here,” Fidelia handed the ring and chain to Ammonia, “look after it will ya?”
“I’ll guard it with my life,” Ammonia took the ring and slipped the chain around her neck; she did in fact mean to guard it with her life, she knew what would happen if someone with ill-intent got their hands on it.
“Hey, Trix,” Fidelia turned and clasped Buffy by the shoulders, “you be a good girl an’ do what Lady Ammonia tells ya, okay?”
“Yes Domina,” Buffy had found she couldn’t call Fidelia either by her Roman name or her up time name, until she was properly free she could only think of her as ‘Domina’.
Hugging Buffy to her matronly bosom, Fidelia managed to hide the fact that her eyes had gone misty; she sniffed and surreptitiously wiped her eyes before releasing Buffy.
“Look after y’self,” Fidelia ordered, “I’ll be down every so often to check on ya an’ Eos will be moving down from the villa in a day or two to keep you company.”
“Thank-you, Domina,” Buffy replied, she was relieved to hear that Eos, her best friend, would be near by.
After calling in Marius, Fidelia said her goodbyes and left Buffy in the care of the Lady Ammonia. When everyone had gone, Ammonia stood in front of Buffy and looked down at her frowning slightly.
“Fidelia tells me you prefer to be called ‘Trix’, is that so?” Ammonia asked, Buffy nodded her head, “Good,” the woman gave a genuine smile, “then Trix you shall be…now about that collar,” Ammonia sighed as she turned away from Buffy and studied one of the flowering bushes that decorated the courtyard. “I believe, Lady Fidelia has freed you, but until we can take that nasty collar off you’re going to have to act like a slave, understand?”
“Yes, Domina,” Buffy replied.
“She also told me I shouldn’t use this ring,” Ammonia touched the ring that hung from the chain around her neck, “but…” Hesitating for a moment, Ammonia reached up and took the ring from around her neck before placing it on her finger. “I hope I only have to do this once,” she turned to look Buffy directly in the eye, “While you wear that collar you will be my, loyal, obedient slave.” Ammonia thought for a moment before adding, “You will do as you are told by the members of my immediate family and you will obey Lurcio’s orders as if they come straight from me, understand?”
“Yes, Domina,” Buffy replied as if in a dream; the orders she’d been given weren’t that odious; however the power of the spell meant that had Ammonia ordered her to kill everyone in her household, Buffy would have obeyed her without thought or question secure in the knowledge that she was doing mistress’ bidding.
“There,” Ammonia removed the ring from her finger and put it back around her neck, “now that wasn’t so bad was it?” Ammonia paused before turning and yelling towards the door, “LURCIO!”
A moment or two later the slave reappeared.
“You yelled, Domina?” he asked in sonorous tones.
“I did indeed,” Ammonia replied, she gestured to Buffy, “this is Trix, my very own gladiatrix. When she’s not training, fighting or doing little jobs for me she can help Scrubba in the kitchen.”
“Of course, Domina,” Lurcio looked Buffy up and down before rolling his eyes.
“Now take her to her room,” Ammonia told Lurcio before turning to Buffy, “you’ll have to sleep upstairs with the rest of the slaves but I think you’ll be comfortable enough, now,” she turned to look back at Lurcio, “what are you waiting for you lazy good for nothing? Get along with you!”0=0=0=0
Standing in the middle of her new room, Buffy looked around and gave a sort of half laugh. The room was about eight feet by ten, big enough for five or six slaves, but she had it all to herself. The walls had been freshly whitewashed and the floorboards recently scrubbed. There was a little bed with blankets and real linen sheets; there was also a chest of three drawers under the window (the window had no glass in it, but it had shutters) and there were a lot of pegs on the wall to hang her dresses and gear from.
Walking over to where the sacks with her belongings had been left, she started to unpack. Lady Ammonia appeared nice enough and that Lurcio guy seemed alright too. Wondering what the rest of the family and their slaves would be like, she started to hang up her clothes. This, she decided, was a much nicer room than her cell at the Batiatus Gladiator School had been. For a start it was above ground, in fact if she climbed up on top of the chest of drawers she’d be able to see out the window. But the very best thing about the room was that the bolt that secured the door was on the inside.
“Yeah,” Buffy looked around her room once more, “I think I could be happy here.”The End.This is the end of Book Four in the Back in the SPQR series. The final book, Book Five, OMNES UNA MANET NOX, will be posted shortly.