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When you reached a certain age and had a certain amount of experiences in your life, you began dwelling on the past. When Lexus was in his 20’s, he mostly thought about when he’d get laid next and if there was a chance to get drunk. And he thought about survival, of course. Survival in the arena and where he lived and survival to be free. He thought about being free and finding his sister and returning to Germania. Well, now he was in his late 30’s, he still had not found his sister – had not seen her in over 20 years – and he had returned to Germania, yet it didn’t feel like he expected. So here he was, in Rome.

 At least he had a proper job now, working as a guard for a wealthy family with a quite beautiful mistress. He even had a chamber there, it was his new home now! Still though, when he had some time off, he tended to get drunk and mostly to try and forget all the things he didn’t want to think about, when he was alone. Today he had a rare day off, and after visiting his favorite tavern, he went for a walk. He might just be a little drunk now, but that was fine. He needed the walk.

 Somehow, his feet took him back to the place where he once spent most of his life. The ludii; the gladiator schools. There was an arena here, where you could watch the gladiators train, and it was a quite popular thing to do. Lexus climbed up the steps to take a seat and watch them train. Did he still know anyone there? More than ten years had gone, since he was freed. More than ten years since he fought upon the sands right there.

 It would seem that the drink he had today didn’t make him forget; it made him remember, now. His gaze turned distant, he didn’t really see them training, he was just lost in memories. Didn’t notice that someone else joined him and sat down quite close to him…

Edited by Atrice
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Gaia had probably gone to the wrong Ludus. She held a basket with a few treats for Aeneas, Corinthia's gladiator and hoped that he would like them. She could hear the gladiators train. Who could ignore the sound of the wooden swords clashing against each other? The grunts, the occasional cries of pain, and she could not help but fan herself. She had been less lustful of late, instead preferring friendly company and trying to keep Corinthia out of trouble. She peered in, a hand rested on the bars and she was followed by two of her household slaves. A few of the men made comments about her seeing up the gladiators -- she ignored them. Gaia began to feel uneasy standing near these men and instead turned to walk up the steps where a group of onlookers would watch the gladiators train. Slowly she exhaled in frustration, glanced at someone and could have sworn she recognised his face. 

Lexus? 

His son worked for her, a frequent visitor and she was incredibly happy to have him. Maybe it wasn't him though? A stranger stepped in between them, concealing him from view and she grumbled. Moved through the crowd, her hand reached out as though to gently rest on his shoulder to gain his attention. She stopped herself. What if it wasn't him? Gaia squeezed past a man, who politely moved to let her have a better look at the gladiators -- and at Lexus. She had taken him into her bed often enough to recognise her friend. 

"LEXUS!" She beamed, dropped the basket in the process and hugged him. Of course, randomly grabbing a man may not have been the wisest move. Especially if he did not recognise her or had been on guard in case the worst should occur. 

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He was still thinking about his gladiator days. There were times where he considered going back to being a gladiator… if he had nothing to do with his life, couldn’t he just go back to his old ways and survive until his body couldn’t take it anymore and he’d die in the arena as a proper Germanian warrior in battle. When he couldn’t fight where he was born, maybe he could here. But right now, he had a proper job and a beautiful mistress, so he could not just give that up, could he? No, he couldn’t. At least not yet…

 Alexius was so lost in his thoughts that he didn’t notice the beautiful and familiar woman who came right up to him or when someone else walked in between them. He appeared to be looking at the gladiators, but he was not really watching them.

 Suddenly though, he was torn out of his line of thoughts, as someone exclaimed his slave name and a pair of slender arms wrapped around his body. His first thought was to wrestle away, but then he looked down and saw her face. Alexius’ jaw might have dropped for a moment there and his eyes widened…

 “Gaia?” He asked, shifting to see her properly… it really was her! He’d barely seen anyone he used to know since he came back to Rome this time, but Gaia, he’d never forget her or her peaches. Or the first time she came to see him after a fight… this woman, she was not someone easily forgotten! He felt his heart beating with the surprise and the… thrill he felt, to see her again!

 “Fuck the gods, it really is you!” He exclaimed, wrapped his still strong arms around her too - and he just couldn’t help himself, doing what he did next – she was smaller than he, still light and delightful compared to Alexius, and he scooped her up to sit in his lap, still watching her pretty face, “You’ve barely changed, still  divine …” What else could he say?

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Gaia beamed up at him happily, forgetting her basket of goodies that were being picked up by her slaves and held him. Her arm casually draped around his neck and burst into giggles when she was placed on his lap. A place she had been many times before. Her cheeks were flushed with a coral pink shade, the Gods had been most kind to her and she was blessed with similar looks. And from Lexus' appearance, the years had also been kind to him.

"Yes! It is me!" She exclaimed, in an attempt to conceal her giggles and sat casually with him. Who knew that such a simple day would bring an old friend back to her? "It is good to see you, and yes, and the infamous Lexus still retains his charms," She playfully teased him, poked his cheek and briefly glanced in the direction of the gladiators in their mock combat. Did he miss it? It was difficult to tell at times with him. It was good to see him, and there were many blessings to be had. She pulled him close in a hug. 

It also reminded her how long it had been since she had a man in her arms -- or between her legs. 

"Have you been well? Where have you been? Gods! I have missed you!" She asked rapidly, practically dying to tell him the good news. That his son and wife both worked for her. Forgetting that perhaps there was a reason why they hadn't seen each other. And perhaps, their passionate history was not something Alexius would wish to bring up to someone else. 

@Atrice

 

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Below on the sands the gladiators trained, men - and the occasional woman - from across the Empire, mostly captives, a very few free, but not free to dally or be distracted when in training. One amongst them stood out; outlandishly tall, pale beneath his freckles and rangy, with blue tattoos marking the bare skin of his chest and upper arms, visible where his armour didn't cover them.

Aeneas had blocked out the sounds of those who were idly watching the sparring, at least until a familiar voice called out an unfamilar name. He resisted the urge to turn and look, but even so his partner took advantage of the momentary lapse of concentration to press the attack.

Blocking with his scutum, Aeneas took a wide step to bring his gladius round towards his opponent's exposed flank, and at the same time bring that section of the stands into view. Gaia's visits were infrequent but always welcome, his mistress's youthful mother a far more kind and pleasant presence than Corinthia herself, even as he was learning the young woman behind the haughty mask.

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Who would have thought this would happen – that he’d sit here and Gaia would show up and suddenly wrap her arms around him? Seeing a familiar face made him happy and seeing that it was Gaia made him even happier. It was easy with her, she did not demand things of him, nor did he demand anything of her, ever, but they just got along so easily and more easily than a noblewoman should have gotten along with him when he was a gladiator. And she was right here, still stunning looking and who knew what else was still the same about her…

 She allowed him to pull her delicate figure into his lap and she blushed so sweetly when he complimented her and she giggled at his words. Then she said it was good to see him too, teasing him and he couldn’t help but smile.

 “If my charms ever fail, that’ll be the day I ought to stop surviving.” Lexus replied to her, but the tone was joyful, what else could it be, with her right here? And oh it would be so easy to just pick up where they left off, literally… picking her up, taking her to some private corner and enjoy her stunning body the way the gods meant for it to be enjoyed. But she hugged him and asked how he had been, stating that she had missed him.

 “It seems I’ve missed you too, more than I knew.” He replied, “I’ve been alright. I’m alive and I’m here, right? That’s better than the opposite.” Not that he was entirely happy with his life, but he did the best he could with what the gods had given him for now. Briefly he looked at the gladiators, noticing that one of them seemed to lose focus suddenly, he must have been distracted… just like Gaia distracted him right now; “What about you? Have you been well?” He asked, imagining she’d found a new husband, for how could such a woman go unmarried?

@Gothic @Sarah

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Gaia was sure that Lexus' charms were one of the primary reasons why he was still alive. It was always pleasant to have a friend that despite the years they had not seen each other. That they could go back to their friendship as though nothing had changed. Gaia could not forget the intimate encounters the pair had together, the were several and were incredibly pleasant. The perfect way to pass the time. She laughed a little at his comment about missing her, did he think of her throughout these long years since they had spent time together? 

"Oh? You fell asleep every night wondering about me?" She asked, she didn't think that he would. Lexus had always had many who found him attractive; who wouldn't? She had come to check on Aeneas and see if he was going okay. "I'm well, I am here to visit Aeneas, he is one of the gladiators in training here and do you remember Corinthia? She is grown up now." Gaia answered with a smile, Corinthia was still quite the handful when it came to her moods and temperament. Getting Aeneas seemed to pacify her for moments in time. Although soon her daughter would need to be married in order to give her protection -- and she hoped that she would settle down before then. 

She slowly eased herself off of Lexus' lap and extended her hand in a joking attempt to help him to rise to his seat. "Come, do you want to meet him? He is from Britannia and is quite lovely," She said, he was lovely. Although to Gaia, a vast majority of people were lovely and needed compassion. Gaia walked down the stairs to stand close and called to Aeneas. 

"Aeneas! Come, meet my friend!" 

@Sarah @Atrice

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He chuckled when she wondered if he fell asleep, thinking about her, “Maybe not every night, but I can’t say you haven’t been on my mind sometimes. Even if you ought to be elsewhere than just on my mind.” He added with a small smile, and then he had wondered how she was doing. Gaia was of course doing as well as she also looked, and said she was here to visit a gladiator. Of course she was. That wouldn’t be a first… that’s how Gaia met Alexius, after all. Then she added that her daughter was all grown up now. 

“Oh, yes… she must be a stunning woman, if she has inherited just a little of your attractiveness.” Alexius replied, not knowing how her daughter was like. When he thought of a woman, and a young woman especially, all he could imagine was her body and her beauty. Then Gaia slid off his lap, giving him her hand and he followed, as she wanted him to meet her gladiator friend – or whatever he was. Alexius would not be surprised if this Aenaes was more than just a friend.

 Of course he would like to meet the gladiator, even if it was strange, now that he was no longer among them. It had been almost 14 years since he was freed, yet it was still such a long part of his life he was enslaved, that Alexius would never entirely forget. This moment though, Gaia was closer to his mind than his past life, and that was a good thing at least.

@Gothic @Sarah

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Gaia wondered for a moment whether or not Aeneas heard her. It would have been difficult to hear her over the noise of the gladiators. She hoped to keep Alexius' balls on his body and was thus determined to keep him far away from Corinthia. Not that she wished to warn him at the moment about her. Right now her focus was on introducing him to Aeneas! Strangely, Aeneas was the only person who seemed to be able to tolerate Corinthia during one of her, 'moods'. 

"Oh she is, someday, she will be married soon," She answered with a wide smile. Perhaps a husband and children will settle her daughter? With her hand in his she walked down the steps, chuckled and shook her head in amusement. Who would have thought that she would be where she is now? She made a mental note to write to Caesar or to the Augusta to see about finding her a suitable husband. Part of the reason why Gaia (and Corinthia) had slipped through the cracks was her dim-witted nature. None suspected her. 

"Can you imagine me as a doting grandmother?" Gaia asked, while signs of age had appeared. She was still quite attractive, and if the Gods willed it. There was a chance of more children. Yet.. for all her amorous adventures. None came. No pregnancy followed Corinthia's difficult birth. There was a chance that her daughter would be her only child. 

"Aeneas!" She called out again. The noise of the training yard was still considerable. 

@Atrice @Sarah

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Posted (edited)

Focusing on the sparring he was involved in - the back and forth, give and take, defend and attack - mindful of his opponent’s willingness to take advantage of any opportunity. It wasn’t until the doctore who oversaw the sparring paused the bout that Aeneas heard his name being called. He glanced in the man’s direction and gained a slight nod of permission, so Aeneas bowed to his opponent and returned his weapon and shield to the rack with all due care, before he approached the stands where the familiar form of Gaia stood next to a man he did not know.

 

“Domina.” He said politely, with a bow of acknowledgement, blue gaze moving from her to her unknown companion and back again. He breathed deeply, his muscles gleaming with the sweat of exertion, though he was no titan in build. Long and lean, he was a man of endurance rather than strength, and the armour he wore was minimal in order to show off his exotic white skin and blue tattoos.

@Atrice@Gothic

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Gaia spoke of how her daughter was indeed beautiful and would be married soon. They still stood here down by the training area of the ludus, watching the gladiators and waiting for the one she wanted to talk to. Meanwhile she joked about being a grandmother and Alexius had to laugh at that thought, “That is hard to imagine. You will be the most striking grandmother Rome has ever seen.” Alexius replied to her, and then she’d called out for this Aenaes once more.

 At last one of the gladiators, one with fair skin and blue tattoos, finished with his partner and went to put away the wooden sword and shield, before approaching Gaia and Alexius. He spoke politely to her and bowed his head; acted the way a slave should act towards a Domina. Alexius had never been good at that behavior and was glad he was no longer a slave. He had not yet been introduced to the gladiator though, so he did not speak to him yet. Simply looked at him, his features, his scars, his handsomeness despite the hard work while training.

@Sarah @Gothic

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Gaia turned to Lexus and stuck her tongue out playfully at him when he said she was the most striking grandmother Rome had ever seen. He was an incredible charmer, there was no denying that. She smiled at Aeneas, he was still pale and the tattoo markings stood out. A sign of his heritage and origins. She had a nagging feeling that Lexus would be eyeing up Aeneas, some things never changed and she would have been the Gods had struck Lexus if he did not flirt with everyone attractive that he saw. When she spoke, her tone was soft and reassuring, not wishing to speak quickly to ensure that Aeneas understood her yet tried to balance it with not sounding condescending. 

"Aeneas, this is Lexus, a former champion of the arena and freed gladiator," She both introduced and explained what who the man with her was. "Aeneas is the gladiator in training who is owned by Corinthia." Gaia added, her daughter remained fascinated by him and Gaia could not quite work out why she was so obsessed with the pale-eyed Aeneas. There was one benefit to Aeneas being here. He was not bound by her mood swings nor her capricious nature. 

@Sarah @Atrice

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a former champion of the arena and freed gladiator

Gaia certainly knew how to get his attention. Those barbaric blue eyes turned to Lexus and gave the man a long, thoughtful look. A former slave and gladiator, now a freedman. Gaia herself was apparently a freed slave, but she'd not been a gladiator. Lexus had, and now he was free. And he was still here. Was he Roman born, or had he simply seen the Roman way of life as preferable to what he had left behind? Aeneas studied the man, but if he was being eyed up in turn, he didn't seem to notice.

"Dominos Lexus." He acknowledged the man, blue eyes glancing at Gaia before returning to him. "Domina Corinthia say I must 'train', 'learn'; I do." He said carefully. His grammar still left a lot to be desired but Gaia at least would notice the constant improvement. "You were champion? You win many arena fights?" He asked, clarifying, obviously curious, and he'd learned that Gaia was the kind to permit such. "I not have big fight yet, only small. Still training." Though he viewed the prospect with both anticipation and trepidation. That way could lie both freedom, or death.

@Gothic@Atrice

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Alexius had no tattoos – he hadn’t been old enough when he was captured, to have gained any and while some people had them among the Germans, it was far from everyone. This gladiator must have been captured to become a slave at an older age, he thought to himself. Gaia introduced the two men and Alexius couldn’t help but smile, when she called him a former champion of the arena. It was true, he’d won his fame and glory and eventually his freedom. He had survived. The current gladiator was called Aeneas and was apparently owned by her daughter. 

 The gladiator looked at Alexius, former gladiator and slave, now dressed in Roman garb and today there was no armor on his body, as he had a day off from his job as Oriana’s bodyguard with benefits. If you tried to forget about his height, he imagined he looked quite the Roman now, although within, he didn’t feel like one. He didn’t feel like any nationality, really. But the gladiator spoke, in a somewhat broken Latin still, but Alexius could easily understand him. For a moment he'd focus on Aeneas instead of Gaia - her, he could always come back to, it seemed. She was the closest thing to something constant in his life and for that, he was grateful. That at least Gaia was here.

“Yes, I was. And I won many fights.” Alexius replied with a smile, he couldn’t help but be a bit proud of that part, “I wanted to survive to experience freedom. And I did.” He added, hoping to spark some hope in the gladiator. It was possible to win freedom eventually, if you only kept fighting hard for it. If you kept surviving, “The training is hard, but necessary. Were you a warrior before too?” He wondered, glancing at the interesting tattoos again. He’d seen such before; slaves from Britannia and Gaul would often bear them and since this was clearly a somewhat new arrival in Rome, he might have been a warrior before he came here. Alexius had wanted to be one as a child; and he ended up becoming a warrior, just not as he’d expected.

@Gothic @Sarah

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Gaia turned from one to the other.

She liked seeing other people make friends and be happy. Always, even if it came at her own expense and practically beamed at the sight of them together. Slowly, the realisation began to set in that they were all brought together, here and now, all because of the Roman war machine that brought foreigners inside.

She did not answer for Aeneas, it would be rude of her to do so, and waited to see what he would say about it. Instead she entertained herself by the surroundings and watched the other gladiators as they did battle. Behind them, some of the people were placing bets on how long it would take for each of the gladiators to die or who would or would not be able to handle the training. She did not like it much, and returned her focus back to Aeneas and Lexus. 

@Atrice @Sarah

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For the moment Lexus had Aeneas's undivided attention, and he soaked up the man's words, his confirmation that he fought, and survived, to win his freedom. If Lexus was looking to inspire hope in the gladiator, he succeeded. The pale-skinned man nodded slowly, thoughtfully. "You must fight well." He said with a sudden smirk. Good for him. Perhaps one day Aeneas might do the same. The training was hard, but not impossible. No doubt the determination that Lexus spoke of helped.

Was he a warrior before he was captured? Obviously not enough of one. "All men warriors," and some of the women, "but I not war-band." He tried to explain. He wasn't one of the chieftain's close fighters; in many ways he had been more crucial to their battles. "I smith." He said. "I made sword for warrior." And without good weapons they wouldn't stand much of a chance. "Also pot, knife, saw. All things iron." Then on impulse he pointed to the burn scar on his right forearm. "I marked by fire." And he'd made the blood-and-iron pact, that gave him master over metal and even the ability to ward off the baen sidhe.

Gaia had turned to watch the other gladiators as they talked, an odd expression crossing her features for a moment before she turned back. He was the slave here, yet he didn't want her to feel left out of the conversation. "You not from Rome either, Domina?" He asked, pretty sure that he knew the answer, given her exotic, dark looks and what the other household slaves had told him.

@Atrice@Gothic

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Alexius smiled when Aeneas said he must fight well, “I suppose. And I still fight. Now it is my own choice though.” He explained to the gladiator. He had some confidence in his skills as a fighter and bodyguard still; he still knew how to survive and how to defend himself and others. When he’d asked if Aeneas was a warrior before, the other first said all men were warriors but he’d actually been a smith.

Alexius nodded, “That’s a very good trade too. Must make you good at choosing the right weapons now.” He said and thought that a smith must be able to tell the difference between a well-made weapon and a bad one. So he could pick the good ones and live; instead of picking a sword that would break in no time.

Gaia was still by his side too though, and she just stood there, looking pretty as ever. That she’d aged a bit didn’t matter much to Alexius, she was still lovely and he bet that it was in every way he could imagine. And his imagination worked well. When Aeneas asked his question though, he thought how he didn’t actually know much about Gaia – she probably knew more about him than what he knew about her. So he went quiet to hear what she’d say.

@Gothic @Sarah

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Gaia listened to them speak. Happily lifted a dried peach to occasionally munch on it. Aeneas brought her back into the conversation when she was asked whether she was from Rome or not. She let out a snorted giggle. "No, Aeneas, I am from Greece originally. I," She paused, tried to think of the most respectable way to say it. "I was brought to Rome as a captive during the Greek wars. I caught the eyes of a member of the Imperial family who gave me to her son, we married, and I was freed," She answered, practically imagined Corinthia raging that she had mentioned it in public. Her former husband had died many years ago. Gaia was not one to lie, there were many who shunned her and still, she had wealth and her daughter had connections. However, distant. 

It was not often that she talked about her life before they met. "I have been married after that and there were a few betrothals," She said, her gaze moved from one man to the other and gave an awkward giggle. "Unfortunately, none of them occurred because there always seemed to be, um, accidents or they would be sent somewhere." She answered with a blush, she had her suspicions about the person who was responsible for it and it was part of why she kept herself out of the marriage market. But there would come a time when Corinthia would need to marry. 

She did not wish to keep the conversation on herself, and began to fiddle with her fingertips. Gaia had to force herself to remember who she was and primarily, where she was. "It would seem that we are all foreigners brought to Rome. Perhaps, we should have a drink?" She suggested, sure, it was strange but it would break the ice. 

@Sarah @Atrice

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To be able to fight because he wanted to, not because he was told; now there was a dream. And presumably to go home afterwards, assuming one survived. It was something that he'd dreamed of achieving himself, when he'd first heard that a slave could gain their freedom in the arena. Once he'd given up hope of escaping of course. Lately however he'd found himself torn, by a girl on the verge of womanhood who wanted - demanded - a bodyguard. In that role he was less likely to get killed, he thought, but also less likely to ever see freedom. And he had to choose, he knew that. He couldn't follow both paths. Then again, even as a gladiator, would Corinthia ever set him free?

It was true that having been a smith gave him some insight into the quality of the weapons they were offered; he nodded in agreement. "Romans make good iron, not know why they have such tiny swords." He said with a smirk. In truth he had observed how frighteningly efficient the Legions were, at close range. It was an experience he hoped never to repeat. But it helped form his views on weapons, one one was a distrust of anything he hadn't seen in battle. The trident and net were showy, but they were also a great way to get yourself killed if you didn't know how to use them.

He'd gleaned hints of Gaia's story from the household slaves, but did not expect the full tale, let alone that her husband had been an Imperial. Perhaps that explained something of his mistress's attitude, caught between the two extremes of society. He decided that it would be best not to comment on the more personal revelation of her less than successful marital life. "Greece." He said instead. "Like Theodorus." He revealed. "Ludus Medicus." He added, as they probably didn't know who Theodorus was.

Even more surprising than her personal revelations was Gaia's suggestion. Perhaps it should not have been, he wasn't sure, but Aeneas was still working out the Roman social structure. Both Gaia and Lexus were now free, even though they had been slaves. He was a slave still. Perhaps he might hope that they saw him as one who might one day be freed? "I come, Domina. If doctore permits." He glanced over his shoulder, but the trainer was already focused on someone else.

@Gothic@Atrice

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Alexius chuckled when Aeneas commented on the tiny swords the Romans made. This was true! But at least as a gladiator, you had better and larger weapons at your disposal. And Alexius’ mistress would hand him any weapon he asked for, since she didn’t know much about fighting but wanted Alexius to look as impressive as he was.

He went quiet though, as Gaia told her story and Alexius listened with interest. He knew she’d been a slave but he didn’t know her entire story and it kind of made him admire her more. She was a freed slave too, after all, and she too had climbed society from being a lowly slave to now being a free woman with her own household and a good life. And she was still beautiful. Alexius smiled when she revealed how the betrothals never became more than that and he was honestly happy about that… since that meant she wasn’t bound to any man and could have whomever she wanted. Like Alexius, for example.

Aeneas commented on her story then and said that the ludus medicus was also from Greece. Next Gaia suddenly invited them out for a drink, since they were all foreigners to Rome and Aeneas would of course be happy to come.

“I’m sure Gaia can convince the doctore to allow you a break.” Alexius said with a grin, “I wouldn’t mind a drink. I never do and especially not in such good company.” They had lifted his spirits today and he was happy he met Gaia and perhaps made a friend among gladiators once more.

@Sarah @Gothic

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Gaia did not know what to say about the metal work concerning swords. She did know a potential dick joke when she heard it though. Instantly her cheeks flushed as she burst into giggles, her entire body rocked as she laughed and tried to cover her mouth as she kept giggling. One could make a joke like that and not expect her to find some humour in it. She nodded, she was from Greece yet had not met Theodorus yet and assumed that he had to come from Greece as well. Every so often she would return to her homeland yet it was not the same. Her family were long gone, and she was a woman of wealth rather than a peasant girl. 

She knew she should not take him out of training, it was important for him yet she had never been able to resist people. "Lexus, we both know you want nothing more than to drink and be one with the Gods," She said, nudged him with her elbow and lifted her chin to try to catch sight of the doctore. It did not take her long to discover which one was him. Gaia left the company of her friends to approach him, leaned against the bars and had to argue with the man for a moment. It was not unheard of for her to drop the connection that she had if it meant she got what she wanted (especially for somebody else).

Finally, she got the answer she wanted. Thanked the doctore with a ripe peach before she returned to her friends. 

"We can go for a drink but Aeneas you will need to return at midday," She said, gestured straight up with her finger to the sky. "When the sun is there. Now, does anyone know any good drinking places?" Gaia grinned, it had been a long time and Gaia knew she should be better than this. Going home would likely irritate Corinthia and would take too long. 

@Atrice @Sarah

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