She came over to Thessala when the other woman asked her to. Rana had been here a good long while now, she’d learned a lot and she would of course still train together with Thessala. She knew she was improving and she knew there was a promise of her performing in the upcoming games, in honor of one of the major Roman gods… so she also knew that Thessala naming her a little frog wouldn’t do much good for her. Just because it meant that in their language. Rana was something completely different in the North, but of course, it wasn’t even the first name she ever had.
Thessala said she would need a new name and said she wanted to talk to her about that. And about how she could be famous.
“What you do mean? I no witch, like you…” But she did consider it, what she would be. She didn’t want to be like Thessala – there couldn’t be two of those anyway, then none of them would benefit. But she was fast, she could last a long time and she was good at cheating and stealing, so maybe they could come up with something with that.
She brushed the thought away for now and looked at Thessala again, “What do you want show me?”
Rana had quickly improved her skills as a gladiatrix, since she first met Thessala. That first day she hadn’t understood it all, but she had learned and she had trained hard. And after a good while of training, many weeks, she didn’t know for how long, she’d finally been allowed to fight in some of the smaller arenas and the small fights set up in the ludus itself, for special guests and patrons. Now there were going to be big games though and she was excited. Rana enjoyed the attention she got in the fights she’d fought so far. It was like a shower of appreciation… and how could you not enjoy that?
They’d been training again and everyone had fought hard. Rana had been lifting logs to improve her muscles and she’d naturally been training with a partner too. Thessala some of the time, but not only her. They also let her fight some of the newer male gladiators and boy were they intent on proving they could beat a woman. Only that wasn’t always the case and she couldn’t help but laugh every time she got them down on their back and they had to give the signal to end the fight, because they’d obviously lost.
It had just happened again; the new guy definitely needed to build some muscle and some stamina to keep up with her! She’d thrown him on his back and he gave the signal. She was aware that Thessala was watching her and when she stood again, brushing her hands, she looked up and gave Thessala a smile. The other woman waved at her and asked Rana to come with her.
“Alright.” She said and approached the experienced gladriatrix, wondering why she suddenly wanted Rana to come with her. She gave her a look though, “But you know I no like, that you name me little frog. If it get out, that my name, crowd will think me little frog. And they no like me.” She pointed out, she understood some of the mechanics behind the fights now and how she had to work on her reputation.
Thessala seemed surprised to hear Rana’s tale about her brothers wife, but besides that, she didn’t comment on it much. It wasn’t very easy to impress Thessala, was it? It wasn’t very easy to do anything with her, it seemed. This might be rough. Then the other asked if she ever saw a gladiator fight, but she hadn’t. She’d only seen fighting pits and she guessed that wasn’t the same at all.
The other woman said she’d have to go see it next time there was a real fight, so she could see how it was both about bloodshed and entertainment. Rana nodded.
“Sounds like I must see. But how? I slave, not allowed if not fight? Or am I?” She wondered, because how else would she see a fight? Either she’d accompany the others to go and see a fight or she’d go on her own, but she was a new slave here and would she be let out if she was that new? She doubted it.
She gave Thessala a look, wondering if this was just a wild, but good guess… or if Thessala actually suspected this. She’d grinned though, so it might just be a wild guess, that Rana had lovers and she had to pretend and act so no one would know what was really going on. She decided to let Thessala in on this ‘secret’, although it was of no matter in this new life, she supposed.
“I did.” She said and smiled, leaned closer. She still sometimes missed her first real lover, Gerta, but at the same time, it was what caused her to become a slave... so she didn’t feel too bad about talking about it, “Brothers wife. He not know. He only know when I tell him, when he sell me as slave.” She explained, “For other reasons. Not because wife.”
She’d also asked Thessala if there were other women around here, and Thessala said there were more of them and also in the other ludii. Then she wondered if Rana ever saw a fight before. She shook her head, “Not real gladiator fight. I seen pits, men fight like dogs.” Although men were not dogs and shouldn’t be treated so… even if some of those men sometimes seemed to be more beasts than men. But they were meant to be like that, they were treated to act like that. She had heard that gladiator fights weren’t quite like that.
She wondered why Thessala chuckled at her words, but was glad to hear that at least Rana had made her meaning clear to the other woman. But then Thessala pointed out she wasn’t the first to come up with such an idea. Rana probably knew that, or at least wasn’t surprised to hear it, but the way Thessala said it, sounded a bit mean to her. Why did she keep doing that? Why couldn’t Thessala just be nice? They were so few women in this ludus, it seemed, so why not work together rather than being rude?
She said nothing to it, but let the other woman continue. She said it could be planned, to a point, but they could not decide who would win. And if they found out it was planned, they wouldn’t be happy.
“I good at… pretending. I can do it, so they not notice.” She said, but was a little bit annoyed with Thessala, so looked over her shoulder to where everyone else were having their meals. Maybe it wouldn’t be such a good idea to plan it with Thessala, if she was going to keep on being so unfriendly towards Rana, “Is more women gladiatrix here? Or only you and me?”
It was a bit of a relief to be told that she wasn't ready to go to the arena yet, so she wouldn't go. Rana would like to be better, so she wouldn't die there. And she would improve, so she would live, because that's what she wanted. So she had to look at Thessala and learn. Luckily it wasn't hard to look at Thessala, who was actually a stunning looking woman, if you had time to think about it. You didn't when you fought her. But now... things were more relaxed, Rana could appreciate her.
She wondered though if she would also fight Thessala there, and then Thessala explained more about gladiatrices and how women only fought women. And she spoke of a good show again and how you had to be interesting. Rana gave it some thought. A show and being interesting... she could do that. Right now her hair had been put into a simple braid, but she knew she could look very pretty and impressive... and fierce. And she could learn how to fight. Then all she needed was the show. And she could do that, couldn't she? And if she was to fight Thessala... she smiled to herself, as she had an idea.
"Show can... planned. Be planned. Like theatre." She said, but didn't know if Thessala understood her meaning, "If we fight... we plan show. It better. We know plan, people watching not know plan. But more interesting, if planned, for them. You... understand?" She looked at Thessala. What she wanted was to decide beforehand what to do, so that they could put on a very good show. She had seen little plays in markets, people acting and everyone watching were having fun, even though they knew it was just a planned show. But if she and Thessala planned something, everyone would not know, but it could be more interesting. And if it was more interesting, people would like seeing it. And that was the idea, right?
Rana tried to stay positive concerning her new life. She'd always tried that. She started over every day and every day was different. She tried to not look too far into the future, because no one knew it and tomorrow, her life could have changed again. She grew up in a small village in Germania, moved to a different one, fell in love, ran away, was sold as a slave, traveled and now she was here. It was impossible to know the future! If anyone had told her she would end up in a ludus in Rome, she would have laughed. Yet here she was.
And now she was not even alone. Thessala joined her, also with a bowl of whatever kind of stew this was. She even sat down on the stairs next to Rana.
"Maybe not yet." Rana said with a small smile, "When I ready. When I live and no die in arena." She said to Thessala, looking at her as something suddenly came to her mind... if she went into the arena with Thessala, what would happen there? "I fight you there too?" She wouldn't last a second if they sent her in there tomorrow and especially not with Thessala.
Thessala was a beautiful and deadly tutor, Rana thought, when the other smirked as Rana said she’d kill anyone trying to attack her. Of course she could not know if that was what she would indeed do, it all depended on the situation and honestly she had never been robbed. Rana however was sometimes the one robbing others, although she did not do it openly. It was more a pickpocket thing or something with cheating. Right now though, she had to fight and Rana came at Thessala with her wooden sword and didn’t know if she was doing well. The other woman blocked Rana’s attack and then said Rana should put her weight into it… so she’d try that and hopefully learn some useful skills. At the same time she was careful to also watch Thessala’s movements, to pick up on them too.
She was tired when the day’s training was finally done and the wooden swords went back into their box. She could really use a bath now, but didn’t know if they would get to do that until the morning. Many of the other gladiators knew each other and sat down to chat, but Rana just inhaled a deep breath and picked up her evening meal and sat down on a step facing the training area of the ludus. So this was her life now. Hard, but interesting. She just hoped she’d be able to learn something before they threw her into the arena… she didn’t want to die yet. And all she knew about gladiators and fighting was that they were there to live or die.
Quietly she looked around, wondering where Thessala went, she probably had some good friends here too… she seemed so fierce, she must be quite the legend here, Rana thought to herself and then saw the other woman coming her way. Was this good or bad?
Rana had indeed learned in her last few years as a slave, that a slave ought to follow rules and orders. On top of that, everything she knew about fighting was that the men would always train and learn certain moves before they went into battle. So that they would swing the sword the right way, but she had never really paid attention before. Maybe she should have. Thessala here was certainly not teaching her much.
She said thought that she was trying to teach Rana something, but Rana had to attack her first. Maybe she also didn’t want to get too hurt or bruised and she felt Thessala could do that to her! She seemed so fierce. Thessala then set up an idea for what Rana could imagine when trying to attack her. What would she do if someone tried to rob her?
“I try kill.” She suggested, although she had never been robbed before. So how would she know? It would seem she would have to submit though and do as told, even if she didn’t think it seemed helpful. Because it was obvious Thessala wouldn’t let her decide what would happen.
She sighed. And then Rana did it. She came at Thessala with the wooden sword and tried swinging the sword from one side to the other, aiming at Thessala’s throat!