Rana did not seem as impressed with the name as Thessala was with herself for thinking of it. Maybe she didn't know the stories behind it? She tried not to look disappointed at the little frog's reaction. What did she care if she liked the name or not? She could live or die in the arena for all Thessala cared.
"I no daughter of sea. I not even... seen sea. But I guess it makes sense. You really think it good name?"
"Take it or leave it" Thessala shrugged "It's a name people would recognize as someone who always changes. Someone hard to pin down, and constantly surprising the enemy. Someone that can't be held down by a man."
Damn right it was a good name.
"Use it, or find your own, doesn't really matter to me."
Finally, something they agreed on. Rana might not have been used to the arena yet, but she did know how people worked. It would have been hard not to, being surrounded by male gladiators and their followers.
“You right about that. Some women too.”
Some women, too. Thessala could understand that, she never made much of a distinction between male and female lovers. Females were usually more fun, just for being less of a risk to her life as a gladiatrix.
Rana did not look so sure about the sudden name idea, but Thessala didn't care. She had it, and she was going to share it.
"Protea. Goddess, seductress, shapeshifter" she grinned at Rana "She's the daughter of the sea. Any opponent of hers has to be able to hold on to her in her many forms..."
"It's hard to find me out of my element if you place a sword in my hand."
Thessala rolled her eyes at the innuendo. For someone who had been freed at the cost of blood, sweat, and hard work to become a free citizen, the man sure still had the cocky attitude of a veteran gladiator. Maybe some things never wore off.
"I guess we shall. Perhaps a bit out of the way from the others?"
Thessala nodded and led the way to one of the smaller courtyards of the ludus. Sometimes this was used to mend weapons and armor, and also it was one of the places where the gladiatrices could train away from the crowd and stares of the male fighters. At this time of the day, it was empty. Thessala walked in, rolling her shoulders and turning around to face Alexius, her two swords in hand.
"Alright, murmillo. Show me how it's done."
Rana seemed extremely pleased with herself, and her newfound idea. Surprise was a hard skill to pull off: You could only do one trick once, maybe twice before your opponents caught on, and the audience started getting bored. But for now, it was a start. The girl needed some confidence. And needed to be less smug about catching Thessala off guard with a kiss.
“I no plan kiss all of them. Just… surprise. But sure, if they good looking, I may kiss. You really think I should do that?”
"Not all of them, no. Just the pretty ones." Thessala grinned. The crowds would eat that up. "It looks good in the arena. Nothing gets men more hot and bothered than some sex mixed into their slaughter."
She would just have to make sure she kept them on their toes. Constantly ready with the next surprise, constantly changing...
Thessala's eyes lit up.
"I think I just thought of a good name for you."
“There’s no need, you being you is plenty.”
"You have no idea." Thessala grinned as she walked with him to where the training weapons were kept. They wouldn't just let her fight an outside with real blades, even if he was a former gladiator. And he didn't look like he'd brought a wooden weapon of his own.
“No, I don’t have wooden swords lying around. So yes, I do need weapons. What would you prefer? I fought as a murmillo back in the day, but today I guess anything will do.”
"Murmillo, huh" she looked him over again, and then turned back to the weapons to select the appropriate sword and shield "I have been wondering about that. I would have pegged you as something lighter, like a secutor. Oh well. Murmillo it is. Wouldn't want you to be out of your element here." she added with a grin, as she handed him the equipment "Shall we?"
"I no think gladiators bring money to arena. Come closer."
Thessala had to admit, she was curious. She had seen Rana fight various opponents in training, and she did have an innate creativity to surprise them with unexpected moves. It was not something as easily translated into a name as 'witch', but it was something that had the potential to set her aside from the crowd. More so than pickpocketing. Thessala smirked as she decided to play along, and stepped closer.
Rana reached out to hold her neck, and pulled her into a kiss. Thessala had to admit she did not expect that. She made a surprised sound as their lips connected, but didn't pull away. She was not one to give up a good kiss... and she was curious to see if this would be a good one.
You know, this is not gonna get you off the hook for...
Thessala let her guard down, just for a moment. The next thing she knew, she was slammed up against the wall, but not in a fun way. She huffed, smelling mortar and paint. And she couldn't help but let out a surprised little laugh.
"You see what I mean?"
"Yeah. I see what you mean." Thessala admitted, pushing herself away from the wall if she was allowed "Kiss every opponent like that, and the crowds will fucking love you."
Rana was not liking any of this one bit. Neither was Thessala. She just wanted to show her the arena, and maybe help her prepare and train a bit. It was unlikely that they would be paired off in the games anyway, so for Thessala, this all qualified as being nice. But it was only making Rana more agitated.
“I know what I good at. Cheating, stealing, I think fast. You not always know what I do next.”
"Well, you got that right..." Thessala sighed. At least now Rana was getting somewhere, even if she did not realize it.
“Come, I need try something.”
Thessala arched an eyebrow, and then slowly walked up to Rana. She had to admit she was curious what was going to happen next.
"You plan on stealing your opponents money?..."
Part of being a gladiatrix was fighting well... but only part. Thessala took time to hone her skills and train with various opponents. Being a dimachaera, her fighting style with the two swords was flashy and swift, and wearing almost no armor required her to be quick on her feet if she wanted to avoid serious injury. They mostly had her training with other gladiatrices... but today, once she finished practicing her fighting, there was a special treat in store for her.
“Thessala! I hope you’re not too tired yet.”
Thessala turned to see Alexius at the side of the courtyard, and grinned at him, walking closer.
"I was wondering if you'd show up... if I'd known, I would have dressed up for you." She was wearing a simple undyed tunic and sandals; none of the usual trappings of transforming into a witch for the arena. It was very different to see her like this, with her hair in a simple braid and no paint on her face, but the grin was at least the same. "Did you bring your own weapons or do you need some?"
Thessala was at a loss of how to get Rana to understand what she was playing with. She had never really been the caring, friendly kind; most of what she could do was 'tough love' at best, and even that was not really working out the few times she tried it. Rana had potential, and she deserved to survive her first game, but she seemed hell bent on resisting help.
"I am not know yet! You knew everything when you fought first? You knew from start?"
There she went again, making a fuss. Thessala sighed.
"Tell me, how you find out? I never done this before!"
"You have!" she responded with a scoff "I have seen you fight. Smaller fights, sure, but that doesn't mean you don't have some experience. What you need now is get your head on straight, Rana, or you won't get a second chance at making an impression." What did she not understand about this, really? Did she need someone to cuddle her into understanding? "And no, I wasn't born a damn witch either. I just paid attention to what I was good at, and what I was good at was being mysterious and disturbing."
Rana was slowly beginning to understand the scope and the weight of the games. Thessala knew from experience that it was impossible to imagine being in the arena until one actually was.
“I will figure out story. Or maybe it come when I fight. I use what I am good at in fight and show. I impress… I hope.”
"Oh no" Thessala raised a finger at Rana. Did the girl have a death wish or something? "You don't hope. You don't get to hope. You go into the arena half-assed and you won't have time to come up with your story." she folded her arms again "Who are you, Rana? Why should people yell your name, and not your opponent's? Come on. Impress me."