I was to teach a slave.
Marcus, a gladiator in my father’s ludus, was compelled to my presence to learn of Rome’s gods, her legends. When first he came, fear consumed me - fear of this silent, resentful slave who burned with his anger.
Time, though, changes much. Marcus softened and I grew unafraid. As we became closer, I grew more than merely unafraid – I grew to love him. Never did I think we would be separated.
I was wrong.
Pressing my hand to my stomach, I stared at the door through which my father had exited. I was to teach a slave. I. My father’s useless youngest daughter. He must have run mad. Almost sixty years he had, and at such an age surely a man turned to insanity. This had to be a jest. Soon my father would return, take the slave from my chamber and laugh at the look on my face. Surely that was all this was.
My father did not return.
Rubbing my arm, I took breath and turned. The slave yet stood in the middle of my chamber, his eyes ahead and his posture still.
I forced myself to take a step toward him, and then another, and then I stood before him. By the gods, he was tall, and bigger, so much bigger. His hands, they could crush me, the muscles of his arm screaming of his strength. He could rush at me, he was trained for such, and I would be broken before any could stop him.
Why would my father do this to me?
My voice, when it came, betrayed my fear. “I—I am Lucia. I shall be teaching you. Do you…” I swallowed and tried again. “Do you know much of our legends?”
My fingers shook as I tucked an errant curl behind my ear. “Yes. Well. If you do not know, we should start with Saturn. He was once ruler of the gods and their father. He—” Taking a breath that shook, I gestured. “Will you come to my desk?”
A flicker of expression, quickly gone. He complied with my request, the clink of the chains he bore loud in the silence of my chamber. Once he reached position, he stood with gaze ever forward and waited.
Hesitant, I moved also to the desk and slid in to my chair. I fussed with the scrolls under the pretence of finding the right one, though I could quote the story and pantheon by heart.
These lessons would bear disaster. I knew it already.