"I was more thinking that I would probably get disarmed before I got the chance to do any damage. But I appreciate it."
"Stick them when they are distracted." Thessala noted sagely, then smirked, glancing at the door. Wonder if someone heard her giving such advice. "Theoretically."
"It's good that you enjoy being a gladiatrix, at least. One can hope. But it would take me years to save up enough to do it. Are you hoping to buy your freedom, then?"
"I do, although I am not sure what I'd do with it" she admitted with a shrug "Maybe stay at the ludus. Likely. But it's the principle, you know?... What would you do?"
"Is your plan to just sit here and drink all night?"
"I think it is an exel... ec... excellent plan" Thessala noted with all the dignity she could muster "If I get blind drunk... maybe I'll forget?... And if not, maybe someone will try to put his hands on me. A fight. Would be nice." she noted with a sage nod. She looked around, daring the crowd of the popina to come and try. At least she could break some bones and work out some of the anger. On people who actually deserved to be hurt.
"What is your plan?"
"She was more than just some girl I laid."
Ooh, maybe there was still some fight left in the man, after all. He must have loved the woman, to take offense at that. Too bad. Thessala's chances at freedom would have been a lot better if she could lay some woman well and get freed for it. Oh well.
"I have been working. I worked for my master and I've worked at the slave market for over ten years now. But they took the job after the earthquake. There wasn't as much to do anymore. I have been working. And my wife was more than just some girl."
The earthquake lost him a wife, and a job. Not much of a job, in Thessala's opinion, since the slave markets were a shit place, and for a former slave to work there, well... that was just wrong. Not that people could always pick and choose how they made money. Thessala wrinkled her nose and drank. At least she still had something to do, once the arena was opened again. "Keep drinking. It's the only thing that'll work."
"I don't think he died happy. But it was after he freed me. I couldn't stop it."
Thessala quirked an eyebrow. Not many slaves tried to resist being freed. She liked the ludus, but even she would have preferred having the choice of freedom. And here this man was, admitting that he did not want to be freed. There might be more things wrong with him, Thessala realized, than a mere dead wife. Wine. More wine.
"It's a long story. I never asked for it, didn't want it. I was his most loyal servant. And it was a case of either punishing me for loving another man's slave or setting us both free to become man and wife. He chose the latter, for the sake of alliances and loyalty."
"Alliances and loyalty. That's sweet." Thessala smirked. How romantic. "So... you laid some girl and you got freed? Gods, maybe I should try that." The matrons she had been visiting were clearly not doing the trick. "And you have not been working ever since?"
He did accept the wine. Good. Not that Thessala had qualms about getting drunk alone, but he looked like he needed to be at least as drunk as she was, and he had some catching up to do.
"I'm not really anything. I'm not a husband anymore. And I have no work. I'm a freedman, that's all I am."
"Man, you really got no one to kill" she noted, with a hint of pity. He was not as lucky with his work as she was. In some ways. But in others, he was at least free and she was still fucking owned by the ludus. "Freed, huh. How did that happen? Saved your coin? Did some favors? Made sure your dominus died happy?"
Oh, she was dead. She was so dead. She was d-e-a-d, crushed under a pile of rubble somewhere, and if he was very, very lucky, she was crushed into a pulp alone, and not in bed with some other guy. Men were sensitive about shit like that. This one needed to drink more and mope less.
"You want to share... with me?"
"Not if you're gonna be a pussy about it" Thessala scoffed, but she didn't take back the jug. He needed to get drunker. Maybe he would be more fun that way. Not that she was looking for entertainment. "How fun, huh. The two of us, drinking here. A gladiatrix walks into a popina and meets a..." she looked him up and down with the curiosity of a drunk person, and waved a hand in the air "... whatever the fuck you are."
"If it didn't matter, you wouldn't be right here right now."
Thessala lifted her eyes to glare at him again. He was not wrong, again. Just annoying. It did matter. Rana did matter. Maybe not to anyone else, really, not to the spectators or the owners, but she mattered to Thessala. Not that anyone cared about that, either.
"And I did love her. My wife. And now she's..."
"Dead?" Thessala did not usually rein in her words, even on a good day. And this was not a good day. But he was grieving for his wife, and at least they shared the pain. Misery and company, and all that. "Fuck." The wine arrived in a jug, and Thessala filled her cup, before nudging the jug towards the man.
"Did you love him?"
Thessala chuckled again, but there was no humor in it. People and assumptions. The question was wrong, but it was also annoyingly right. Did she?... Rana had been new to the ludus, a promising fighter, someone who would have grown into fame in the arena. She could have died in the sand, sure, but it would have been a death to be expected, a rare occasion of a gladiatrix falling in battle like the amazons of old. But dying from the roof falling on your head?...
Fuck he gods.
"Her. I think I did." she drank the rest of the wine and signaled for more, putting some coin on the table. "Doesn't matter now does it. And you?" she asked, looking at his cup and at his face. He was not happily drinking either.
"Of course you do."
Thessala shrugged. Some people knew who she was. Some people knew who she was very well; she had followers who cheered for her and invited her to their parties. Others barely knew her or not at all, because they cared not for the arena, or were more interested in the Circus. She could not fault this random man for not recognizing her for the witch gladiatrix she was on her work days.
"I heard about the ludii... not that I ever go there. Did you lose many?"
Thessala nodded. The gladiators and gladiatrices who had been locked in, they did not stand a chance. The lucky ones got away with serious injuries, some which would keep them from fighting again. Others... well.
"One hurt more than the others" she added, staring into her cup.
The man took the seat, and looked about as sad as his empty cup. Thessala refilled her own, hoping that the buzz would develop into full drunkenness before she could think better of it. It seemed like both of them had made some kind of a mistake. And they were going to drown the very thought if they succeeded.
"Where do you work, since you're going to kill people?"
"Where do you think?" she scoffed. What did he think, she was some kind of a crazy person, a body slave or something, about to go on a murder rampage? The thought amused her enough to smirk. "I fight in the arena for entertainment." If he'd already heard about some of the ludi taking damages in the quake, he'd put two and two together. He looked sober enough.