“Maybe I should. What say you? Undress her?”
Thessala appreciated a fellow professional who knew how to work a crowd as well as a sword. The spectators' vote sounded unanimous. Of course, they were here for a different kind of show; lighter, more exciting, less bloody. She flashed a grin at the crowd. Of course they wanted to see her naked. They always wanted to see everyone naked. This was Rome, after all.
“So that’s what we’ll do…”
"Oh, I don't know" Thessala tossed her head, braids flying as Alexius put his shield down and they circled each other. She raised one of her swords to the crowd. "What say you? Undress him instead and bend him to my will?"
They also seemed to like that idea. This was going to be a win-win situation.
@Atrice @Sharpie @Sara @Liv
Oblivious to the conversation going on above them, Thessala let out a shriek of victory as she managed to slash Alexius' arm. There was not enough force between the attack to cause serious injury; the big swings were, after all, mostly for show tonight. Still she drew first blood, and she was not going to let Alexius live that down.
“I’ll make you regret that.”
"Come and get me old man" Thessala taunted him with a grin. She held her blade to her mouth, making a show of licking the blood. People liked the drama. Alxius hunkered down and lunged at her shield first; like a tortoise, he was safely covered until the last moment. Thessala backed away, trying to keep distance. The shield went up, not to the side; that was surprising enough to win a few split seconds. The strike hit, tearing into the wide leather belt at Thessala's waist. She raised her voice with a grin to make a public joke: "Trying to undress me, huh?"
@Atrice @Sharpie @Liv @Sara
“I just came out of it for you, it seems.”
Thessala grinned. It was a compliment, even if he had not known who his opponent would be. She hadn't either. But this was promising to be way more fun than expected. They had sparred before, she knew some of his techniques, although she had never fought him in armor.
The fight began, amidst he cries of the spectators and the murmur of people still placing bets. She wondered which one of them they were betting on more. Maybe she'd find out after the fact.
Alexius brought up the shield to deflect her attack; Thessala bounced back, and he was already after her, ducking to avoid her swords and slashing at her arm from the side. Thessala danced back and ducked, bringing up her swords; the gladius hit them with a ringing sound that filled the arena with excited cries. Thessala hissed, sticking her tongue out at Alexius as if she was a gorgon, although it was hard to keep up the game face when she wanted to laugh at him at the same time. This was too much fun. She lunged again, this time jumping up at the last moment to slash at him from above.
@Liv @Sharpie @Atrice @Sara
There was a lot of murmur above the arena; it was to be expected, people were placing bets, evaluating the gladiators. Once the fight started, the murmurs would unify into cheers and cries and gasps. Thessala lived for that.
“Thessala… You look stunning.”
She turned her attention back to her opponent, and she finally recognized him the flickering light. She grinned again, this time in a more genuine way.
"Look who came out of retirement" she said, suddenly happy this was not a life-or-death fight. "Don't worry, I'll make sure you don't throw your back out in this."
The crowd sounded both excited and restless. It was time to start this. Thessala raised her swords and let out a shriek, sometimes she usually did to scare the daylights out of her opponents. If she looked friendly for a moment, she was now back to her usual insane-Greek-witch persona. She lunged for Alexius, slashing at him in great wide arcs, knowing the flash of the blades would look great in the firelight.
Thessala did not really have any say in what events she would be participating in, but the lanista knew she could make everyone's life a living hell if she was forced into something she did not want to do. Luckily for everyone's peace of mind, this event sounded intriguing. Expensive, exclusive, and exotic. She was sure the ludus got pretty coin for it, but that was not really what got her attention. At first, she thought it would be one of those fights where people wanted some women wrestling in the background of an orgy... but they actually had an arena.
And she was fighting a man.
Sometimes the gods did smile.
When Thessala entered the arena, she first saw the armor of her opponent in the bright, dancing light of many torches. It was not late in the evening yet, but the sun had already set. The arena was decorated with flowers and colorful banners (some of them depicting some suggestive scenes), and smelled heavily like wine already. She was sure high bets were being made. Rome liked its novelties, and a gladiatrix fighting a man was just the thing everyone would have an opinion about.
Thessala had an opinion too. She was going run that murmillo into the ground.
The gladiatrix grinned widely, flashing her twin swords as she walked slowly into the arena. Her eyes were painted dark, and her hair was decorated with the beads and charms and feathers that made her look like a Thessalian witch even in the daylight. Which was funny, because she was not Thessalian at all.
Oh, the irony.
"Oh, this is going to be fun" she said in her native Thracian, laughing as she rolled her shoulders. "Ready to tempt the gods?"
@Atrice @Sara @Sharpie @Liv
"You're sweet. I never knew you could be like this. I kind of wish..."
"That I hadn't been an arrogant idiot when you were alive?" Thessala smirked, wrapping her arms around her. In her everyday life, romance and affection had not played a very big part. Pleasure, sure. But this was something that made her feel a lot more vulnerable.
"It doesn't matter. Wishes don't matter. I won't forget you either. I don't know what's going to happen now, but... it's all so strange. What do you want to do now?"
"Use the time we have left?" she turned her head to kiss Rana again. The urge to kiss here, and the urge to talk more, were equally overwhelming. "How do you want to be remembered?"
Rana was not going to stay. Not forever, clearly, but maybe not even for long. She touched Thessala's cheek and the gladiatrix sighed.
“I thought I’d come here tonight for something else, but I just want to be near you. As much as I can.”
"I'd like that" she nodded. Holding Rana's hand gently, she pulled her down to sit on the bed next to her. Tangible and yet not all there. Thessala wrapped her arms around her. If she had been still alive, maybe she would have never been this openly affectionate. Too late. "I will remember you, Rana. Even when you are gone. I can promise you that much."
"Maybe? It is confusing. I am here, but... I sense I may not stay?"
She wouldn't. She was dead. Thessala had a moment of weakness when she saw Rana again, and got to say things she could not say before. But she was not naive enough to think that Rana would just stay around forever as if she was alive. Still, she reached out. She'd take all the time they had.
"Can you feel my touch? I can feel yours."
"I can" she nodded with a small smile. It was a faint touch, like before, not a living person's warmth, but it was there. Thessala held Rana's hand, and pulled her to sit on the bed. Could spirits sit? She hoped. She wanted to feel closer to her.
"I don't want to not be here."
"You can stay as long as you want" Thessala said quietly. It wouldn't be forever, but she would keep her company while it lasted.
"Thessala... I am here."
It was hard to tell if she imagined the words of heard them. Reality and dream seemed to blend together. Thessala thought that maybe once the rush of the fight ebbed away her brain would right itself... but Rana was there again, looking almost tangible. She sat up an looked at her. She'd never thought she'd get to look at her again.
"I can see you." she said quietly, reaching a hand out to her. "Are you here to say goodbye?"
Footsteps echoed down the hallway; some guards were approaching to escort her back to the ludus. Thessala didn't know whether they could see Rana too. There were so many things she did not know about spirits. Rana melted into the shadows.
"I don't want to go either. But... I haven't gone yet. Wait for me tonight."
She did. She was taken to the medicos who checked on her injuries and let her go with some salve for her bruises and a few bandages. She had gotten off the fight easy, all things considered. She wondered where Rana had gone as she walked back to her small room in the back of the ludus. Was she drinking more blood in the arena? Everything seemed quiet, even with the dull roar of the games in the distance. Thessala took off her fighting clothes and washed off the paint and the blood, before she fell into bed. The whole thing felt like a dream. Maybe she was still dreaming...
June 30th, 76 AD
Alexius life had not been going according to the plan lately. Not that he ever really had a plan, but lately, things had just taken a wrong turn. Not that it was all entirely bad, not that he was bored or didn’t have any lovers or anything like that, but he’d been feeling strange. He couldn't really explain it. All he could hope was that tonight might help. It was now about half a year ago, that he went to talk to Thessala, or rather, let it all out in a good spar with her, that he found out about the event. Thessala had heard rumors that the gang who ran the Domus Venus were considering to put up a day and night of entertainment. A private night, an exclusive night and it wouldn’t just be the kind of entertainment that the Venus was famous for. No, it would be all sorts of things. Including gladiatorial games. It was going to be a big event!
That was the first time he heard about it, back when Thessala told him what she'd heard. Then a month or so, he was invited to talk to them. It came out of the blue and he didn’t know what they wanted, it wasn’t like he wanted to be a bouncer at the Venus! Brothels were not really his thing, not at all, in fact. He always felt so bad for the women and men and boys and girls working there, forced to sleep with anyone instead of being able to choose, like he did. But the Venus didn’t want him to become a bouncer or a guard, no… they wanted to see him fight in an arena. And wondered if he’d fight a woman. Because they had managed to get a deal with a ludus about one of their most fierce and famous gladiatrices. With that, they gained his interest and then they also offered plenty of coin for his efforts.
Alexius always felt like he was in need of coin. Good wine wasn’t entirely cheap, after all. And to always have food and wine in the home to offer guests, well, that was not cheap either. So he agreed to the deal. He’d fight as a gladiator again. Purely for entertainment, there would be no Caesar there to say one should live and one should die. They could draw blood, of course, and one would win and another would lose, but killing was not on the menu for the evening. You couldn't continue entertaining people if you were dead, after all...
It was now a year since the most recent earthquake and apparently that was the perfect occasion to celebrate. He hadn’t really fought in an arena since he was freed, but everyone knew he’d never forgotten about it and he had even at times considered returning, for real, and not just for one night only. That’s what this was though. Now, he could barely wait. He'd worked hard and exercised to return to his former strength - and here he was. Dressed and armored as he’d been in the past, as a Murmillo… walking through the tunnel underneath the seats, the tunnel that led to the private arena. The tunnel that led to the roar of the crowd and a proper fight against a proper opponent. He couldn't help but smile.
@Chevi @Sara @Sharpie @Liv
Fall had come to Rome, and with it, the Ludi Augustales. In honor of the divine emperor, grand events were organized, the arena was decorated and the rows of seats filled with people, from the most august imperials and the Vestal Virgins all the way up to the women and slaves in the top rows. Every gladiator in all the ludi who could fight was put into the schedule; the most famous ones as often as it was possible, provided they did not get seriously injured or killed along the way.
It was the first games since the earthquake Thessala was to participate in.
The other gladiatrix facing her in the arena was someone whose name she did not bother to learn. She rarely bothered to learn names since Rana. They were not the only duel in the arena; there were three other pairs scattered around the sands, for extra spectacle. Still, Thessala felt like she was being watched. Not by the thousands of people in the seats... maybe by the gods? She shook her head, the beads and amulets twisted into her hair tinkling. She raised her two swords, crossing the blades in front of her.
Might as well get on with it.
Thessala had a whole table to herself. Not that the popina was less busy than usual, far from it; but the last guy who came over and tried to start something with her got a glare and a hissed Thracian curse that made him retreat at double speed. Thessala did not look like her usual self - her costume destroyed in the earthquake, and her will to put on her witch persona drowned in the drinks she'd been having since that day - but the way she looked now, with her hair tangled and the circles under her eyes apparently looked even more threatening than an intentional performance.
Everyone could go fuck themselves. Even the gods.
Especially the gods.
The buried Rana. She was gone. So were others from the ludus, some she missed and some she did not care about except for the way the gods decided to do away with them. All of it was shit. Thessala drank like a barbarian, nursing her cup and nursing the pain she still had in her ribs.
Whoever came over to her table next better be very brave. Or very dumb.
Early May, 75CE
Apparently, the things that rich nobles got up to in Rome differed very little from what went on in Greece. To the girl's chagrin, one of Deia's first assignments as a slave and prostitute at the Elysium was to make an appearance at a low-level noble's home for a party, as eye-candy for those in attendance. Though Deia had to wonder why the noble hadn't sprung for a worker at the Domus Venus; they were apparently more sought after than her companions at the Elysium. The only conclusion was that he was either not as wealthy as he made out to be, or he was cheap but wanted to appear like he had the wealth to spare in order to get a prostitute to stand on a platform for a few hours, and then, perhaps, bed a few of the guests. Time would tell.
Also to her annoyance, Deia was responsible for walking to the house herself, accompanied by a couple of the musclemen who guarded the prostitutes at the brothel. She was new to Rome, so the way confused her a great deal, and she was nearly in tears from frustration by the time they got there. She couldn't even read or write her own home language, Greek, let alone Latin. She could speak it, but the locals here were not very friendly. But at last, they arrived and Deia was shown to the main room of the house, where she would be displayed. For the journey, she had worn modest enough clothing, but once she was at the house, it was time to wear what one would expect a prostitute to wear. She was shown to a back room after her tour so that she could change in peace. She thought she was alone, so she sat on the floor, rubbing a hand on her forehead to try to ground herself. This was her life. She had to keep up her appearances.
23 | May 15th, 51CE | Slave | Gladiatrix | Bisexual | Original | Eva Green
Thessala puts on the personality of a fierce, almost feral barbarian warrior, but on the inside, she is a performer through and through. She basks in attention, she likes to be noticed, seen, appreciated. She enjoys pleasing a crowd, and hyping up spectators for the games. Even though she was sold to the Ludus as a slave, and her life is in the hands of her owners, she fully embraces the thrill of the fight, and takes enjoyment in every match, combining the cruelty of swordplay with the erotic excitement that is expected of gladiatrices. Since she brings in a lot of attention (and money), she is allowed certain freedoms, even as a slave, that she takes full advantage of: she enjoys good food, good parties (that she gets invited to as a curiosity), and seducing both men and women.
For all the show and the flamboyance, however, Thessala is not a shallow person, neither is she cruel. She kills if she has to, because it is part of the games, but to her, it is performance rather than savagery. She is capable of forming true friendship with the few people she deems truly worthy, and once she has befriended someone, she can be fiercely loyal and selfless with them. She is easy to entertain, and capable of taking a joke as much as she is ready to give one. If one finds a way through her facade to the private person, she can be genuinely caring.
Thessala is not muscular, but tall and wiry, due to constant exercise. She has black hair that she intentionally wears long (down to her waist), and blue eyes that she likes to highlight with kohl. She is fair-skinned like most Thracians, and while she left her homeland too young to be tattooed in their old tradition, she has some new tattoos, done in blue ink, that she's had made since she moved into the Ludus. They form geometric patterns and concentric circles around her arms and legs. She also sports quite a few scars from her fights, due to the fact that she does not use a shield, and rarely wears more armor than necessary. She has a signature, proud smirk and a loud, somewhat raspy voice to go with it, which she makes good use of when she punctuates her fights with shrill cries to intimidate her opponents. Her movements are fluid and graceful (the fact that she is ambidextrous adding to her balance), and she is flexible enough to add some acrobatic elements to her performances. In the arena she prefers practical clothes and leather armor that allow her a lot of movement; outside the arena she enjoys the finer things like colorful dresses and scandalously short tunics that show off her tattoos. She generally carries herself with dignity and a touch of flamboyance. She is easy to pick out in a crowd.
Extended family: None
Other: Owned by the Ludus Magnus
51CE - A little girl is born into a dirt poor Thracian family. She has several older siblings, and on the edge of starvation no one really believes the baby will live to see her first year. They name her Saba. Saba defies the odds, surviving her first years, although she is just as malnourished as the rest of her older (and, eventually, younger) siblings. She is nonetheless a fierce, lively child, a bit too wild for her struggling parents to handle.
56CE - The family, in crippling debt and with no funds left to survive, decides to sell one of the smaller (therefore less useful) children into slavery. Saba is deemed least likely to grow up into a decent woman, but she fetches a good price for being fairly pretty and young enough to be teachable. The family struggles with the decision, but the girl is excited to see places beyond the dirt of their farm. She is purchased by a slave merchant who takes her to Delos, and sells her to another merchant who is procuring household slaves for a wealthy Roman family.
57-70CE - Saba is a household slave in a villa just outside of Rome. She is taught Latin, household chores, and her domina has plans of having her trained as a cosmetic slave. Saba, however, is still more than a little wild - louder, bolder, more curious than a slave is expected to be. The first time one of the stable boys tries to grope her, she bites him in the face. This causes a bit of a scandal in the household, but things take an unexpected turn shortly after: when Saba is 16 years old, robbers creep into the house at night, and she fights them off with weapons improvised from the kitchens. Her domina, grateful for her help and loyalty, decides to let her behavior slide, and Saba becomes a body slave and unofficial bodyguard to the lady.
70CE - The old domina passes away, and her son inherits her slaves. Falling on hard times, he decides to rent Saba out to the Ludus, where she can turn her skills into a profession. The girl takes to fighting like a fish to water, and soon becomes a favorite among (male) spectators. She takes on the name Thessala, as a reference to the fearsome witches of Thessaly. Since she is ambidextrous, she usually fights with two swords, adding flashy stunts to her fighting style. She enjoys the attention, and brings in decent money.
71CE - Thessala's owner's financials keep sinking, and eventually they are forced to sell the girl permanently to the Ludus Magnus (driving a hard bargain for a high price, given that she is becoming a crowd favorite). Thessala does not mind at all. She enjoys the attention, she enjoys the thrill and the appreciation, and enjoys being seen for the first time in her life. She hones her fighting skills, but spends even more time honing her skills in pleasing a crowd. Given her popularity, she gains a certain amount of freedom among the Ludus slaves, and hypes up interest in Rome with her surprise appearances outside the arena (and her alleged romantic conquests).
74CE - Present time. Thessala is still a gladiatrix, one of the most notorious at the Ludus Magnus. He is setting money aside, hoping to eventually be given her freedom, but she is in no hurry to put her weapons down anytime soon.
Chevi | CENTRAL EUROPE | Discord