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Aurelia awoke with a start. Her bed was shaking, threatening to throw her to the floor. She looked around, bewildered, and noticed the whole room was shaking with items to falling off the tables. Cracks appearing along the walls, running through several of the frescos, causing the painted plaster to peel off and crumble. From outside she could hear the frightened screams from the slaves and crash of falling stone. Her slave Tulia leaped into the bed covering her master’s body in an attempt to shield her from any falling debris. The shaking continued for another twenty terrifying seconds before there was silence. There had been earth tremors here before but never this strong and never for this long. The Gods must be in a serious brawl down in the underworld.

The two women exchanged worried looks then ran outside to assess what had happened. Most of the slaves were standing in the central part of the garden, huddled together in fear. The place was in disarray. Part of northern wall had collapsed inward, taking most of the peristyle with it. The roof of the mess hall had caved in and the water to the fountains had stopped flowing. The main building had several large cracks running up the wall and it didn’t seem to sit level anymore. Together with Zarathiri they did a head count, relieved to find everyone alive and accounted for, the worst thing being a twisted ankle and a few others with cuts and bruises.

She put everyone to work right away clearing debris. She realized that, given the damage here, the rest of the city was most likely in the same situation and soon the demand for stone masons and carpenters would be in high demand. She sent two slaves into the city to acquire needed tradesmen, giving them each fifty denarii for advance payments. With the kitchen out of commission the morning’s breakfast consisted of cheese and the remains of yesterday’s bread, which they were able to salvage from the pantry.

By noon the cleanup was progressing nicely when the slaves Aurelia had dispatched to the city had returned with a carpenter and stone mason in tow. Zarathiri was more than capable of leading the repairs so Aurelia decided to continue with other business. A wealthy family in Baiae had requested the brothel’s services for a celebration. They had a particularly good wine harvest this year and wanted to pay tribute to Bacchus for their bounty with a discrete yet sordid Bacchanalia. To make their festival an event to remember they asked for at least twenty girls be sent to their villa at end of the month. Since she was close to Baiae she would pay them a visit to discuss logistics and price.

Aurelia had one of her guards prepare the wagon and horses for her to visit the villa of Octavia Marsarius. The guard drove the horses while Aurelia and Tulia lounged in the wagon. The trip had taken a good half hour, the last ten minutes of which were spent riding past the estate’s vineyards. Some of the best wine in the empire came from this vineyard.

They were greeted at the door by one of the house slaves. Aurelia and Tulia were taken into the villa while the guard stayed with the wagon which he pulled over to the stables so the horses could be watered and fed. They were led through the atrium, into a vast garden and to the villa’s private bath. They followed the slave to the back room of the bath, into the caldarium, where they were presented to the Lady of the house, Octavia Marsarius.

Reclined on a cushioned table was a statuesque woman getting a message from two slaves. She waved off the slaves after recognizing Aurelia then stood to embrace her. Octavia was a beautiful middle aged woman, slim where she needed to be with breasts that were still firm in spite of having two children.

“Good to see you my dear,” said Octavia, “How is your father?”

“He’s good,” Aurelia answered, “He’s in Herculaneum taking care of some business.”

“How is business? I heard much of its success is because of you.”

“I do my part,” Aurelia answered modestly. “Speaking of which, what are you needs for your celebration of Bacchus?”

Octavia smiled wickedly. “I need your best, at least a dozen girls, preferably Greeks, they have a better understanding of the requirements of the celebration. It will be on 9th of September.”

“You seem incredibly open to this orgy,” Aurelia said.

“Absolutely! You think this is just for my pathetic, shriveled dick husband? No, no, no. This celebration is an open opportunity for me to get the fucking of my life. Once we women succumb to the frenzy Bacchus it’s a free for all.” She said with a wink. “You’re welcome to come and enjoy the festivities.”

Aurelia contemplated a moment, “I think I can fit that into my schedule.”

“Excellent,” Octavia said smiling. “Now, let’s go for a swim.”

Aurelia dropped her gown in caldarium, followed Octavia out to the pool and jumped in, gasping from the shock of the cold water. They swam around for a bit, the whole time Octavia watched admiringly at illegal bahis Aurelia’s sleek naked body. The way she glided through the water was so sensual. Octavia exited the pool and her slave began to dry her off, with another slave rubbing fresh oil over her body.

When Aurelia got out of the water Octavia took the jar of warm scented oil from the slave and came up behind Aurelia, pouring some of the oil onto her shoulders. She handed the jar off then gently messaged the oil into Aurelia’s wet skin. Octavia ran her oiled hands down Aurelia’s back, around her hips and up her stomach, stopping only briefly at her tits. Octavia moved her hands up, cupping Aurelia’s tits and caressing her hard nipples, eliciting an involuntary moan.

Aurelia turned around, now facing Octavia, grabbed ass and pulled her close, their hips and breasts now in full contact. Without hesitation Aurelia kissed Octavia, deeply, leaving the two women locked in a passionate embrace. Aurelia guided the older woman to one of the benches in the garden while still maintaining their kiss. She pulled away from Octavia sitting her down on the bench. Octavia spread her legs wide resting one foot on the bench while Aurelia knelt before her. As soon as Aurelia’s tongue came into contact with the older woman’s pussy she grabbed Aurelia’s head pulling her tight against her clit. Aurelia sucked vigorously at the Octavia’s clit while flicking her tongue through her slit. Octavia was in a frenzy, thrusting her pussy against Aurelia’s eager mouth.

After a few minutes of spanking the woman’s clit with her tongue Aurelia reached underneath with her hand, just barely able to reach Octavia’s oiled pucker, and gently caressed it with her middle finger. This was too much for her as she was swept away by the torrents of her orgasm. She cried out in a series of grunts bucking her hips against Aurelia’s face. Aurelia wrapped her free arm around Octavia’s raised leg trying to keep her mouth planted on the woman’s cunt. She was cumming so hard the whole earth seemed to shake…

“Wait,” Aurelia thought to herself. “The earth is shaking.”

She pulled away from Octavia who had collapsed back on the bench, still panting, then she too, noticed the shaking. This was much more sever then the one that had hit this morning. The two women, and their slaves, huddled together amidst falling debris from the buildings around them, then slowly moved to the center of the garden hoping to avoid injury or losing their balance.

The shaking continued as they heard a loud crash. They looked over to see the roof of the bath collapse into a cloud of dust.

“We need to get out of here,” Aurelia said fearfully. “Where are our clothes?”

“They are in the bath house,” Octavia answered regretfully.

She sent her slave to house to fetch them some garments. Tulia follow Octavia’s slave to help and the two stumbled off out of the garden towards the house, dodging the rubble amidst the tumult.

Then Silence. The shaking suddenly stopped, leaving and deep quiet. This was occasionally broken by the continued collapse of buildings around the area.

As Aurelia and Octavia waited they became aware of a low rumble off in the distance, like a waterfall or thunder that never stopped. Then the sky went dark. It wasn’t just the sun going be behind clouds but as if the sun was covered by the hand of Jupiter. The walked over to side of garden to see what was going on, what they saw sent a chill through them.

Something was rising from Mt. Vesuvius. They didn’t even know how to describe it. It looked like a gigantic tree or mushroom had grown from the tip of the mountain and ascended high into the sky, high enough to blot out the sun. They were a ways off and were safe but still felt a sense of impending doom.

They unease was broken by a crash of stone followed by a scream. They ran into the house seeing Octavia’s slave on her knees crying and screaming. As they approached Aurelia’s blood went cold. Lying under a pile of debris, from roof that had just collapsed, was Tulia’s broken body. Her unmoving arm was all that was visible, with a rolled up tunic still clutched in her hand.

“NOOOO!” screamed Aurelia as she rushed forward trying to remove the beams that had crushed her slave, but they were too heavy.

“Tulia!” she yelled hoping for any response, but there was nothing.

“Tulia,” she whisper this time as grasped her unmoving hand and sobbed uncontrollably.

Moments later her guard came running and immediately began lifting the beams out of the way. He strained at the weight but was able to make progress. After enough had been cleared he began moving tiles out the way then suddenly stopped, having uncovered Tulia. He looked back at Aurelia solemnly shaking his head sadly. Aurelia burst into tears again and rushed forward to see her cherished slave and companion, but the guard stopped her before she could lay eyes on the shattered and blood body.

“You don’t want to see her illegal bahis siteleri like this!” he advised, restraining her.

She relented and stepped back, taking a long shuddering breath and finally adorning the garment that her slave had sacrifice her life for.

“I must return to the school,” she informed him, her heart heavy with emotion. “Please… see that she is cleaned up and bring her to the school as soon as you can.”

She turned to leave only to be confronted by Octavia who begged her to stay fearing for her safety in traveling alone and with the Gods wreaking havoc. Aurelia insisted on leaving, afraid that the school would be damaged even more and knowing that she needed something to focus on in order to dull the pain in her soul from Tulia’s sudden death. Octavia gave her one of her faster horses and she rode out. By now the blackness growing out of Vesuvius was immense, filling the whole sky, giving the day a perpetual feel of twilight.

“Fuck you!” she shouted it at. “You took my slave.” Tears were streaming down her cheeks as kicked the horse onward at a steady gallop.

By the time she arrived back at the school Zarathiri had cleanup from the second round of damage well under way. She related what had happened in Baiae eliciting condolences from Zarathiri and the rest of the staff. They did what they could to console her but the wound on her heart was just too raw. She did what she could to help trying not to think about Tulia, but failing and often succumbing to a fit of sobs as she was overwhelmed by grief.

She retired to her bed early, exhausted from the cleanup and her anguish. As soon as she laid down her thoughts immediately turned to Tulia and she burst into tears again, crying into her bed until she fell into a fitful sleep.

She awoke early the next morning feeling like her head had been wrung out. There was still a distant rumble from Vesuvius but different than before, she was almost afraid to see what it looked like now. She braced herself for the worst and went outside. The giant black column seemed thicker and the mushroom shaped head appeared to be raining blackness all around it. She watched it for some time until something strange started to happen. The column seemed to be falling now, washing over the sides of the mountain. She looked on, horrified, as enormous black clouds engulfed mountain and countryside. The clouds swept over the coastal towns and spread over the bay, crawling over the water as if it were death itself. She knew she should run but could only stare in horror as the cloud swept over Neapolis. A small protrusion of land shielded Puteoli and Baiae, which were both unscathed but, she did feel a rush of hot air and chocking dust filled the air. By the time the cloud hit Misenum it had mostly petered out.

It had become even darker now as everything was plunged into midnight. She had to get back to Neapolis to see her father, but was jolted by the realization that he had been in Herculaneum and a sense of dread surged insider her. She did her best to suppress her panic and immediately dispatched a slave on horseback to ride to the city and bring her word of her father. As others awoke they emerged from their rooms to another world. By now Puteoli was completely covered in a fine gray powder. The air was filled with thick choking dust and the sea was covered in blackness. Most unnerving was the absolute silence; no wind, no birds, no insects, nothing.

She crossed the courtyard and banged on the door where Exudius and guards were still sleeping. After a few moments he exited, a look bewilderment furrowed his brow as he looked around.

“What the fuck?” he muttered to himself.

“We need to leave for Neapolis right now,” she demanded.

“I’ll get the horses.”

Minutes later they were riding down the road towards Neapolis. Aurelia has torn up one of her silk dresses to cover their mouths with and keep out the choking dust. The closer they came to Neapolis the thicker and deeper the dust became. The heat was becoming unbearable with glowing cinders wafting in the air. The horses began to struggle as the debris of pumice and glowing hot stones obstructed their footing. The road became more crowded as they passed throngs of people heading the opposite direction, fleeing Neapolis. They looked like apparitions ascending from underworld, completely covered in gray dust. This was accompanied by choruses of weeping and wailing for lost family members, either those who had died or were simply lost somewhere.

The horses moved at a snail’s pace in the deepening gloom. They lit a lamp but its light was unable to penetrate more than a few feet through the large clumps of ash falling like snow. When they finally arrived they had no sense of time, only the crushing darkness. They estimated a two to three hour journey, but that was a guess. As they meandered through the empty streets of Neapolis they passed mounds every once in a while. They checked one, finding the canlı bahis siteleri body of a young girl, her skin scorched and blackened. They moved on.

The villa was deserted. Within the courtyard there were several more mounds. Aurelia checked a few them, finding their burnt and blackened features unrecognizable. The villa itself was in shambles. The main house was completely destroyed, as were the stables and all the animals were dead. The baths were intact and as they inspected them discovered some remnants of habitation. There were a few water skins and a loaf of bread that was left. She was hopeful they survived that wave of death that passed over the city. Maybe some of those that were fleeing had passed her unaware on the road.

“There is nothing left here,” Exudius said in trepidation. “We should leave.”

Aurelia sighed despondently. It was deathly silent, except for that low rumble from the mountain. She had gotten so used to it she almost didn’t notice it anymore, but it was still there, low and menacing, like a growling beast.

“Let’s go back,” she agreed.

They returned to Puteoli and waited. The slave Aurelia had sent to Herculaneum had never returned. Having witnessed the devastation in Neapolis she feared she had sent him to his death. Day by day the darkness began to lift but landscape looked foreign and hostile. When they could see Mount Vesuvius again, the black column had disappeared. Whatever it had been, it was gone and it had wreaked its vengeance on Campania.

Aurelia decided it was now safe enough to send another slave to Herculaneum. He returned that evening with grim news, Herculaneum was gone. It was hard to tell because of the changes to the landscape but were Herculaneum should have been there was nothing. The whole area around Vesuvius looked like it had been dissolved into black mud. There were no farms, no trees, and no buildings for as far as he could see. Just vast smoldering hills.

Aurelia still had hope that her father had escaped and would appear any day. That hope faded as the days passed. Surely he would have at least sent a slave to inform her if he were alive.

After a week had passed the sky was blue again. The school had been patched back together as best it could, but much if it would have to be rebuilt once materials were available. With nothing more to do here Aurelia packed several wagons with the few supplies they had left and took her entourage back to Neapolis. They would have a lot of work to do there. When they arrived she was shocked to see men at her villa busily cleaning up and rebuilding. Her heart soared briefly as she assumed it was her father. That changed immediately when she saw her uncle, a pitifully jealous man who had burned though all of his money and constantly pestered her father for handouts. He had always been envious of her father’s success, and blamed him for his difficulties. He hated Grandfather for leaving the bulk of his fortune to Lucius. The last time she had seen him was when he had come groveling to father asking for money. Her father had helped him before but that last time foul words were exchanged and father had thrown him out.

He walked up to Aurelia with a smug look on his face.

“There you are. I had rather hoped Vulcan’s wrath had taken you too but that doesn’t matter.” He said to her coolly.

“What are you doing here?” she snapped back.

“Oh, you think this is yours?” he asked waving around at the villa. “Roman law is very clear in the matter of estate inheritance. Your father is presumed dead. I’ve sent scouts to every town and village to make sure and he is nowhere to be found. I am the next available male in the Petroniun family. Had your brother not disappeared it would have been his. But, now it’s mine.”

“We’ll see about that,” she shot back. “Do you know how many Senators owe me favors?”

Secundus smirked, “Well see. Tell me where the gold is and maybe I won’t have you banished.”

“Gold? What gold?

“The gold your father has been stashing away for years. The gold your father embezzled from the Emperor.”

She knew her father had several secret caches but he had never entrusted that information to her. Her brother had been privy to all that information while she only had tidbits from eavesdropping. She knew of one at the farm on the east slopes of Vesuvius but that was gone. There was another in this villa somewhere but she wasn’t sure of the location.

“It’s all gone,” she lied. “Father spent all of it trying to get his businesses profitable but never could.”

“Don’t toy with me,” he warned. “You are only useful to me if you can lead me to that gold.”

“I told you, it’s gone.”

“Have it your way.”

He nodded to his men and Aurelia heard Exodius and several of her guards cry out in pain. She whipped her head around to see them with swords in the guts. Tears welled up in her eyes as she cried out in horror. Secundus grabbed her from behind and whispered into her ear.

“That gold will be mine. As for you, the god’s disapprove of killing family, but a whore like you will make a great slave.

She was just about to release her full fury when he clubbed her on the back of the head and everything went black.

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