Author's Note: So, I recently realized that I had gone far too long without my strong, bloody violence and graphic adult content and rediscovered my love of Spartacus. This is my first foray into the fandom, so please let me know what you think is working, what isn't working, etc. This thing does feature and OC; let me know if you think she's too Mary Sue-ish. I try my best to give you breadcrumbs to fully fleshed characters, but if it isn't working, let me know. Please review and please be gentle!
The sun was bright—too bright—beaming down on her as she stood in the crowded, dusty market place. The heat was stifling and it was an effort to keep breathing, each breath bringing hot air that she could have sworn was scorching her lungs. Dust and grime were caked on her body, though her clothes were still relatively clean, the result of the slave traders forcing her out of her gear and into a dress so that she would be more presentable when taken to market. Her sturdy, thick-soled sandals had been replaced with cheap, thin-soled ones that were held on with the thinnest of strings.
A tall, brutish man—the trader that she had been given to—paced in front of the line where she stood, threatening punishment if they misbehaved. After having seen all the things she had, however, his speech was of no consequence.
"If you so much as breathe in a way that I find unpleasing, I will flay you alive and make your skin into a fine belt. Am I understood?"
"Yes, sir," the group of them murmured, none of them daring to raise their heads. This was apparently exactly what the trader wanted; he lead them onto the wooden stage without any further threatening or swearing.
She stood there, feeling the eyes on her, and she wondered if this was what it was like to the meat hanging in the storehouses. Clenching her teeth and balling her hands into fists, she tried to push the feeling to the back of her mind, telling herself that it didn't matter what some Roman thought of her. It wasn't true, of course—if she weren't bought, she knew that she would end up being sold for an embarrassingly low price to a whorehouse—but it was a comforting thought nonetheless.
Despite her gut telling her otherwise, she stopped staring at the wooden planking of the stage and raised her head to look out into the crowd. There must have been hundreds of people gathered in the market to watch. The only ones that she worried about were the well-dressed men that were eyeing them; they were the men who had come to make purchases.
"100 denari for the lot of them," one of the men says. He's talking about the group of men up for auction at the moment. The crowd gasps, telling her that this is a considerable sum of money to have paid for them, but the man does it without hesitation. They're sold immediately, and then it's her group up for bid.
One by one, they're sold, until she's the only one left standing on the stage. She knows why they won't buy her: her skin is too fair, and so now burnt, and she reminds them all a bit too much of themselves—in looks, anyway. Disappointment and disgust burn in the pit of her stomach, but she keeps her head held high, an action that she will more than likely pay for later.
"What is this, Marcus? She goes unsold?"
The voice is familiar—that of the man who had spent 100 denari on people that probably weren't worth it. Her escort—her master, though to think of him that way made her feel nauseous—stopped and turned to face the man.
"So it would seem, Batiatus. Interested in making an offer?"
The man—Batiatus—inspected her, touching her hair and skin and looking at her teeth before speaking again. "How much would she go for at the whorehouse?"
"30 denari," Marcus answers.
"30? That's unlikely, friend. Not with skin like that. I'll give you ten."
And with that, she was sent to a new house, a new master, in a place too far from home. She was the only woman amongst the group of men, though she didn't hear the catcalls she had expected, perhaps because they too were bought slaves. Maybe they held their tongues out of fear of Batiatus. Why they did so, she had no idea, but she was grateful for the silence.
That silence did not continue when they arrived at Batiatus's home—his ludus. She had heard of such places before, places where slaves trained to fight each other to death in an arena for the pleasure of the spectators, but she had always believed them to be myths. After all, who could be so barbaric? When she took a life, it wasn't for sport or on a whim, but out of necessity in times of war.
"You will serve in the house," Batiatus told her, as the walked through the gates and into a dusty courtyard filled with nearly naked men fighting on another with wooden practice swords and shields. He gestured to the men behind him. "These will go to training for the arena."
She nodded silently, not trusting herself to speak. Now she was hearing the catcalls that she hadn't gotten earlier; she felt the heat rising in her cheeks, but she was certain that she was too sunburned for anyone but herself to notice. Though she said nothing, she did not bow her head to stare at her feet, either. Instead, she kept her head up and stared around at the men who were calling at her, studying their faces and committing them to memory. There were only a few that weren't calling after her, and she would be sure to remember those, too.
"Doctore, new men for you," Batiatus said to the tall, dark-skinned man who approached them.
"A woman, Dominus?"
"You think me mad? No, she will be in the house."
As Batiatus led her into the house, she made sure to pay attention to each passage and corridor that she walked; she tried to remember where each gate was located, but it would take her several trips before she could remember it all. It was just too much new information that she was trying to force into her mind, and it wouldn't all stay.
"Yes?" a fiery-haired woman answered as they walked into a giant room with shallow pools in the center. Batiatus crossed the room to where the woman was lying draped over a cushioned chair in what appeared to be a most uncomfortable fashion and kissed her. "What is this?"
"Another for the house. With all the entertaining you have been doing recently, I thought you might like another."
Lucretia smiled broadly and stood to study her new acquisition. She did not appear to be overly impressed, though she wasn't disgusted, either.
"She is fair skinned for a slave. Wherever did she come from?"
"Rumor has it, she's one of the more northern Celtic tribes. The burns should heal within the week."
"I should hope so. Leave us, husband. I would have some time alone with her." Batiatus obliged his wife and left them alone. Without another word, Lucretia led her new slave into a room with yet another pool.
"Disrobe," Lucretia ordered. The slave hesitated, but eventually slipped her dress from off her shoulders, letting it puddle on the ground at her feet. Lucretia's eyes widened as she took in the sight of scars and bruises lacing up and down the younger woman's thighs. There were further marks on her arms and one lone scar running from her right shoulder to the opposite hip. It was a pale white scar that stood out against the whiter skin of her body.
"You are scarred."
"Yes, Domina. You will address me as Domina."
"Yes, Domina," she whispered, fighting the humiliation of calling another woman—one that she was certain she could best—her mistress.
"What is your name?" Lucretia asked quietly.
"They call me Aithne," she answered after a long pause.
"Aithne? What a strange name. Whatever does it mean?"
"For your hair, I imagine?" the lady of the house said, gesturing to the other woman's bright red hair.
"Well, you're filthy and you reek. I will not have slaves that reek serving in my house. Clean yourself up and I will see that you get a new dress. Then Naevia will show you to your duties."
"Yes, Domina." That was all that Aithne could bring herself to say. Others may have thanked their masters for clean clothes, but she couldn't bring herself to do so. Instead, she only agreed and set to the task of scrubbing the grime of several days from her skin and hair. Since her travels had started so many months ago
A young woman with caramel colored skin and dark hair brought her a clean dress and new sandals, which Aithne quickly stepped into after finishing her bath. She could tell by the look on the other woman's face that she was taken aback by her the scars on her body; at home, no one would have been surprised, not in the slightest.
"I am Naevia. I will be showing you to your duties. Mostly, you will attend the Domina—get her wine, draw her bath, fetch things for her. It is best not to speak unless you are spoken to first." Aithne didn't answer. "I see you should have no trouble with that, then. I will show you the villa."
And so for the next several hours, Aithne followed Naevia around the villa, learning where she would fetch food, how to draw a bath and what the Domina's preferences for. She learned how to dye a wig—knowledge she had never had need of before—and how to help someone into a dress. It was most instructive, mostly useless outside the walls of the ludus, and most tedious.
"The wine is kept below, in the holds at the base of the stairs," Naevia explained, guiding Aithne down the stairs, back to where the gladiators were beginning to retire for the night. It didn't stop the catcalls.
"Will it be like this every time we have to come down here?" Aithne asked.
"More often than not. If they're busy training, they pay us no notice. But they…they do not have female company very often, so they…" Naevia shrugged helplessly, at a loss for any way to put it delicately. Aithne just nodded, knowing exactly what she meant. There had been men where she came from as well.
"The ones that do not call…who are they?"
Naevia pointed to a tall, broad-shouldered man with cloth wrapped around his chest. "That is Crixus, the undefeated Gaul. The fair-haired one with the curls is Varros; he has a wife and son outside these walls. And the other, that's the bringer of rain. That's Spartacus."
"The bringer of rain?"
"We were in a drought; there had been no rain and so a sacrifice was made to the gods in the arena. Crixus and Spartacus against Theokoles, a man who had never been bested. Spartacus killed Theokoles, the heavens opened and rain fell."
Aithne studied the men who weren't studying them, only to realize that one of them was. Crixus was staring rather intently at them; no, not at them, she realized, but at Naevia.
"Crixus favors you," Aithne whispered to her companion. Immediately, Naevia's face paled.
"You mustn't speak of such things," Naevia snapped, though the desperate edge in her voice confirmed that not only was Aithne correct, but that Crixus's feelings were returned.
"It is our job to be seen and not heard, is it not?" Aithne answered lightly, though her tone told Naevia that she had nothing to fear.
Naevia smiled. "Come, let us get this wine back to Domina and then I'll show you to your bed. The hour is late."
But upon delivery of the wine, Lucretia had other plans for them. They followed her, Batiatus, and a younger, blonde woman—Illithyia, they called her—out onto the balcony. In the courtyard below, the newly purchased slaves were standing at attention, waiting for Batiatus's words. Above them, Illithyia seemed completely fascinated, particularly when offered the prospect of having a gladiator of her own. Aithne forced her gaze to remain steady when the men were ordered to remove their scant clothing and stood bare in the square.
Illithyia quickly chose the man who was the most well endowed without so much as a blush. Aithne said a silent prayer of gratitude for her burnt skin, which was hiding her blush for the second time that day. Though, after witnessing Illithyia's choice, it would seem that there was no further need of their services and they were sent to bed.
Despite the late hour, Aithne did not sleep; she lay on the pallet that passed for a bed with a thin, coarse blanket for warmth. Still, it was a welcome change from the unsanitary conditions that she had faced on the road as they were transported. The place was still too unfamiliar for her to go to sleep; she liked knowing every detail of the place she was living, and she didn't yet. So instead of sleeping, she lie in her bed and stared at the ceiling, pretending not to notice when Naevia slipped away or the chorus of moaning and groaning from the bedroom that Batiatus and his wife shared.
When the sun rose in the morning, she was already awake—out of the bed and arranging extravagant trays of fruit on a table for Lucretia's breakfast. After her meager breakfast—some kind of strange soup that did not appear fit for animal consumption, never mind human—it took all of her willpower and discipline not to sneak a grape, but she had heard horror stories of slaves losing their hands—or their lives—over such an act.
She spent the first few weeks in her new surroundings this way—sleeping very little and eating what felt like much less—and wondering when the gods were going to have mercy on her and strike her down. Her blessing never came and so she spent day after day in the same dreary routine.
This morning, Domina requested wine with breakfast, and so Aithne went to fetch it. Downstairs, the gladiators were already training in the courtyard, leaving her walk blessedly free of taunts and lewd remarks. She tiptoed through the house, trying her best not to disturb those who might still be abed; just as she neared the balcony where the pair were watching the morning training, she took pause at the conversation going on outside.
"Did you look at what you were purchasing, Quintus?" Lucretia was asking. "She is scarred under that long dress, and she isn't broken."
"What matter is it if she has scars? She can serve you well, can she not?" the lanista answered. "And Naevia is not broken."
"Naevia is the exception. I am simply trying to ensure that we do not have a slave that is going to try to step out of line. Though, she does not speak much, which I can say is a point in her favor."
"If things do not fare well with her, I shall see that she makes it to her original destination," Batiatus assured.
"Your wine, Domina," Aithne said, stepping through the curtains onto the balcony as though she had never stopped to listen.
Lucretia accepted the wine without thanks and drank deeply. "Illithyia will need tending this morning, and I've several women coming from Rome. See that they have everything they need. Do not be overbearing, but ensure that they enjoy themselves."
The assignment turned out to be surprisingly simple; the women—Licinia, Caecillia, and Aemilia—were all easily entertained with wine and talk amongst themselves, particularly once the gladiator men were brought in for their inspection. Illithyia and Lucretia spoke of the gladiators as gods, as men who would change the world, and the others were hanging on their every word. Aithne could practically see the fantasies already forming in their minds.
When Licinia lingered for a day after the others had left, Lucretia sent the slaves—and how the name stung on her tongue—away. Aithne took Naevia by the arm, eager to know what was going on, if only to have her suspicions confirmed.
"What is it that the Domina would discuss with her?" Aithne asked.
"I cannot be sure—"
"But if you were to guess, you would say…"
"I imagine that Licinia is arranging to spend some time with a certain gladiator. Did you see the way she was eyeing Spartacus?" Naevia answered quietly, her voice barely more than a whisper.
In fact, Aithne had noticed it. She had encountered blind men in the streets who probably would have noticed the way that she was undressing him with her eyes, or the way that she longingly ran her hands over his body. Aithne tried to take the unpleasant memories of hands on her own body in such a way and push them to the back of her mind, to a place where they couldn't harm her.
"I did. You imagine that she would try to have him?"
"For one night, at least."
Their suspicions were further confirmed by Lucretia later in the evening when she gave Aithne the first of the orders that truly caused her any pain. The humiliation of housework was one thing, being used as a whore was another.
"Aithne," Lucretia called from where she was lying in bed with her husband. "Have you lain with a man before."
"Yes, Domina," she answered quietly, her eyes fixed on the wall.
"Perhaps I should ask differently. Have you ever fucked a man before? I mean ridden him until his knees buckled and his toes curled?"
"Yes, Domina," she answered again, though this time she had to force the words past her lips. It didn't matter if she had been with a man or not. Lucretia had gotten the idea into her head that Aithne was going to bed Spartacus and there was no talking her out of it. Any attempt would only get her punished before she was forced into completing the task.
"See that Spartacus is still able to please a woman. Be sure that he has the stamina to please a proper Roman woman."
Aithne clenched her jaw and knew that the Domina could see the anger on her face, but she found that she did not care. Clutching her dress more tightly around herself, she walked with purpose from the room and headed for Spartacus's cell.