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Charis

Daggers After Dark

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Early June, 74AD - Castrum Cohortes Vigiles

The sun had fallen by the time Charis had emerged from the baths and blinking into the dusk she had to frown to remember the way to her domus. She often had no time in the day for her own personal attendance, but early evening whilst the other slaves were required to serve at dinner, she found solace and peace in the baths. Even if she still wasn't used to the brazen immodesty she found in them. Pulling damp, braided hair over her shoulder she set off on the walk back. It wasn't long, it should only take twenty or so minutes and she enjoyed the opportunity to think in peace. 

She had been walking for some ten minutes when she heard footsteps behind her. The streets in this part of the city were largely deserted at this time; most slaves attending to their masters and most masters harassing their slaves. Cautiously, she stopped and glanced over her shoulder to see a man - significantly larger than the diminutive Charis, stood a little way off watching her. Swallowing, she remembered what others had said about the robberies in Rome. She was turning her head back to quickly leave when she felt a shove come out of nowhere and her face hit the side of a building to her right. 

Blinking, more in shock than in pain, she quickly righted herself and stared up at two men towering over her. "Money. Now." Was all they said, gruffly in an accent that was about as Roman as her own. "I...I don't have any money." she managed, and clutched her hand to her cheek, relieved there was no blood but it was tender under her fingers. "Liar," One of them spat and continued in a language she couldn't understand - talking between them. 

She felt as if her heart might jump out of her throat and she quickly blinked, looking for an escape route. Noticing this, the older looking one quickly took hold of her face and pushed her back to the wall. "Money. Gold." He repeated, evidently irritated by her lack of cooperation. She stuttered as she spoke, feeling sick; "I a slave...no money..." But her fingers dropped to her thigh and felt the thin leather strap and the small, blunt blade tucked within. It had been a habit, in Britannia, to carry one of the knives her father and brothers made - it was practical for eating and for self defence. Here, she knew she shouldn't but somehow she felt better with it - her little secret and one she was terrified she'd have to use. 

Quickly - as they conversed and pressed her hard against the wall, her fingers skirted under her tunic to retrieve it. 

 

TAG: @Chevi

Edited by Sara
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Thessala enjoyed certain freedoms as one of the star gladiators of the Ludus Magnus, and occasionally, she liked to push them. There were not many things slaves were allowed to do in Rome, even famous ones like herself, but she enjoyed feeling out the limits and boundaries of her status, and nudging them just a little bit further. For one, she was never allowed to spend the night at the feasts that she was invited to as a curiosity, but that did not mean she had to be home early. So, the only reason she was heading back to the Ludus from one of the rich houses on the Esquilinus was that she got bored.

It was just getting dark, but Thessala was not the kind of woman who got scared of her own shadow. She hummed to herself as she walked down narrow streets along the back walls of rich houses, wondering if she should stop and buy food at a popina, or go straight to bed. She was not drunk, but not sober either; the wine at the party had been horribly watered down for her taste. She asked for a cup of unmixed wine, and people laughed and clabbed and called her a true barbarian woman, but didn't bring her any. Assholes.

She noticed the voices at first, but did not pay much attention. It was dark, but not too late for men to be out maybe going to a tavern or heading home from one. The female voice was not unusual either; she could have been a prostitute for all Thessala cared. And yet as she walked past the side street, she glanced in their direction anyway... and paused.

Two men were towering over a small woman, one of the pressing her against the wall, and not in a fun way. At least she did not look like she was having fun, or even wanted to be in that particular situation. Thessala pressed her lips together. She did not have any weapons, and this was none of her business. Fighting other women in the arena was one thing... fighting two large men in an alley was another. She was not that dumb, even with her ego.

But again... she was bored.

"Hey!"

@Sara

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Charis blinked in shock at another voice, a way off, called out. It was enough to startle the men but as they glanced down the alley and her own eyes followed their gazes, she was...disappointed to see a woman. The two men grinned to one another and shared a laugh at this poor newcomers expense although their grip on the young Charis didn't slacken. Still struggling to unsheathe the little knife, one of the men noticed her fiddling and glanced down with an amused look. "You don't have money but you give us...that?" Charis glanced down and realised what it must have looked like. If her cheek wasn't throbbing in pain she would have blushed. 

Instead, she finally wrestled free the small knife and quickly moved it up to the throat of one of the men as they distractedly looked at the newcomer. "H...help, please..." She called out to the shadowy figure of the other woman. The man whose throat she now had at the end of the knife blinked in shock at the weak voice but decisively held blade and muttered something to his friend. 

The force of the second blow knocked her balance and almost immediately disarmed her, the knife clattering to her feet as she blinked, feeling the pain unfurl across her already injured cheek from the punch. She choked back bile that filled her mouth. She tried to reach the knife but was held firmly as one of the men swooped down to pick it up, holding it between the two women. "Now where shall I start? You..." He moved the blade to Charis' cheek, "Or you?" He swung it back to the newcomer. 

 

TAG: @Chevi

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 "H...help, please..." 

Well, that was that. She did need help. A more rational woman than Thessala would have run for the guards - the Castra was not far - or yelled for help. As things stood, Thessala stalked closer, sizing up the two men, resting one hand on her hip. The small woman had some fight left in her because she pulled a knife, and earned a punch for it. Great.

"Now why did you have to go and give them a knife?" she sighed, rolling her eyes. The man holding the blade looked very pleased. We are doomed.

 "Now where shall I start? You... Or you?"

"Oh, sweetheart, you should definitely start with me." Thessala purred, slowly walking closer, and shifting to the side to put the men between her and the other woman, diving their attention. "It seems to me that you don't know who I am. Do you."

Watching Thessala take on her persona was a sight to behold. Sure, she had her day-to-day attitude and charm, but when she was in the arena, all of that got amplified into someone completely different: the Thessaly Witch. It was a shift of posture, and tilt of the head, a look that bordered on the Evil Eye. The men were not afraid yet, but they definitely surprised. 

"Um... who are you?"

"I am the queen of the arena, you ignorant dumbfuck" she responded in her own native language, hissing the words. It sounded a lot more menacing in Thracian. 

@Sara

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Charis choked at the sight of the knife in somebody else hands. And here she had thought these sort of torments wouldn't happen to her now she had arrived in Rome. How naive she was. Blinking at the other woman who prowled closer, she only grit her jaw. She hadn't intended to give them a knife. The feeling of the blade on her cheek made a shiver run the length of her spine. She was embarrassed that she was relieved when they swung it round to the self-assured your woman who inched closer. 

Charis herself just frowned. The attitude - the swagger and confidence, this woman was evidently something special. But then a woman alone, this late at night? A prostitute maybe? Charis didn't see the irony that she, herself, was a woman alone after dark. She flinched at the harsh words in a language she didn't understand, feeling on edge. 

The two men just looked between themselves, laughing nervously - evidently perturbed at the graceful woman's tirade. Charis, feeling one of their hands loosen its grip, took the opportunity and brought her knee hard up into the groin of the man holding her. "Bitch!" He managed to grumble but as his hands fell away from her she tried to move out the way but collided with Thessala, standing next to her now. "I..." She was about to apologise, but was interrupted by one of the thieves moving quickly over to them, slashing the knife in the gladiatrix's direction. 

TAG: @Chevi

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There was something to be said about the ambiance of the arena: The spectators, the decorations, the ritual of it all. Something that worked on a stage was not going to work the same way in a dark alley without all the trappings. Still, Thessala did her best. She was not going to scare two men away, especially if they did not know who she was, but maybe she could confuse them just enough to create a distraction.

The other woman was smart enough to take it. She kneed one man hard in the groin and slipped free, scrambling to get away and almost knocking Thessala over in the process. "Watch it!" she snapped, at the same time shifting so that the smaller woman was halfway behind her by the time the man that was not cradling his groin decided to lunge for her with the knife.

In the end, there was not much of a difference between trying to not die in the arena, and trying to not die in an alley.

Thessala dodged the slash aimed at her chest, ducking under the man's arm and coming up behind him. She locked her arms around his shoulder and elbow in a way that kept him from reaching around and stabbing at her. Breaking a man's arm would have taken considerable strength, but Thessala still caused a fair amount of pain just by putting her own weight into the move.

"That was a dumb fucking idea!" she hissed into the man's ear, right before she bit into it.

@Sara

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Charis blinked in shock as the other woman snapped and moved to lean heavily against the wall behind her, clutching at her cheek and wincing at the blood on her freshly split lip. A sensible woman, or at least one in full possession of her senses, would have run back to her domus - it was only ten or so minutes from here - or even the castra. As it was, whether through shock or some benign belief that she could help she stayed where she was, behind the brunette woman. 

But as the man slashed at her, and the slight brunette dodged it and came up behind him, Charis choked in shock, backing away further down the alley. She moved a hand to cover her mouth as the newcomer bit into the mans ear. His scream echoed around the small alley and between that and the groans of pain from the man still clutching his groin, Charis sensed an opportunity. "Leave him!" She called loudly to the other woman and moved tentatively as if trying to pull her away, but seeing the knife still clutched in his hand, stopped where he was. "Leave him, let's go!" She said louder, imploringly. 

But he was still clutching at the knife, no matter how much main he was in with his ear and arm, and realising he could well run them down if they tried to flee, Charis quickly - before she could think - stepped forward and tried to wrestle it free from his hands. A struggle ensued. 

 

TAG: @Chevi

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Thessala was holding on to the man, realizing they were in a bit of a bind: If she let go, he's go after her, but if she held on, she could not get into a better position to actually knock him out or do serious damage, unless she wanted to chew her way through his neck. Also, it was a matter of time before he figured out that he could back her into a wall and shake her off. The ear-biting bought some of that time, by the sheer anger and terror it inflicted on the man.

The small woman, to her credit, was not running away. Instead, she was yelling.

 "Leave him! Leave him, let's go!" 

That was not how this was going to work, sweetheart. If Thessala let go, the brawl would renew.

"Kick him in the nuts!" Thessala growled, shifting her weight to throw the man off balance as much as she could, and biting into his neck. If the girl was going to stick around, she might as well make herself useful.

@Sara

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At the other woman's instruction, Charis blinked and watched in horror as the other woman bit into the mans neck. Who on earth was she?! She was still trying to wrestle the knife free from the other mans hands but he far outsized her and made it almost impossible. Without thinking, she brought her knee up as hard as she could in his groin and saw him cry out in pain (although whether that was from the neck, ear, arm or groin she couldn't tell...) and drop the knife. 

She rushed forward to pick it up and yelled to the woman; "Behind! Other one!" They were both stumbling about now, clutching at their privates (men are useless, she mused for a second). 

Realising that whilst she could confidently defend herself when practicing with her brothers in Britannia, actually using a knife was far beyond her skillset against two fully grown, angry men - even if they were both almost down and out. Instead, she hurriedly held it out for the other woman to take. "Get him out then lets go!" She hissed. They were both almost down now anyway, one or two well placed kicks and they'd be knocked out good and proper - and still clutching their balls, they were easy targets. 

 

TAG: @Chevi

 

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This fight was less than graceful, but then again, it did not have much of an audience. People rarely realized how much of gladiator fights - and especially gladiatrix fights - were merely for show. When fighting for her life, grace and entertainment was the last thing on Thessala's mind.

And grin shots always did the trick.

The man collapsed under her, and Thessala jumped off his back, landing on her feet. The woman had the knife, and she handed it over. She really was not confident about her own abilities, poor thing. Thessala hissed at the man on the ground, and unceremoniously kicked him in the head. The other one was on his hands and knees now, cursing, but another kick put him back down as well. Knife reclaimed and enemies down, it was an excellent time to flee. 

"Let's go!" she yelled, running out of the alley, trusting the other woman to follow. They had not committed murder, which was great, but there were two robbers laid out on the street, and someone needed to know about that. Thessala headed for the castrum, hoping she would find some of the vigiles there. It was their job to keep this city safe, after all. 

@Sara

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Charis watched with barely contained awe. She had seen women who fought - although her own tribe were less keen on female warriors than the Brigantes - but she hadn't seen such in Rome. Roman women seemed far more...delicate. At the other woman's instruction, however, she blinked and quickly followed her out of the alley in a run, managing to keep pace. Despite her small stature and size, a lifetime of hard work and having to walk miles upon miles to trade had given her probably a surprising degree of physical fitness. 

When they left the alley, she followed the taller woman to a building and as they drew to a stop, she leant heavily against the wall, breathing hard. She hadn't used her lungs much since coming here - planting and pruning flowers didn't really necessitate it - and she felt the burn in her chest now. Tentatively she reached fingers up to her face and felt the soreness of a bruise that would blossom across her cheekbone, and the metallic taste of blood in her mouth from her split lip. Domine wouldn't be happy, she thought with a little shudder of concern. 

Breathing hard still, she hadn't realised the scale of the building until she took a step back and glanced up. Hands on her hips, she turned to look over her shoulder, and satisfied the thieves had left she cast a cautious glance to the other woman. "What place is this?" She asked breathlessly, before shaking her head with a frown, "And thank you...for...all this." She looked sheepishly at the fierce woman. She half wondered if she was a Briton - she certainly had the ferocity. "I don't know what do if you not there." 

 

TAG: @Chevi

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"What place is this?"

"The headquarters of the vigiles" Thessala "They take care of thugs and criminals like that. Whenever they feel like being useful, anyway." she sighed. She was not as out of breath as the tiny woman - she could thank her training for that. And at least they were not being followed. But it was good to pause and get her bearings. 

"And thank you...for...all this. I don't know what do if you not there." 

"You would have been in deep shit that's what." Thessala smirked "It is not safe for someone like you to walk streets like that. But if you want to, we can go in there and let the vigiles know that they have two ball-less morons to pick up." she glanced at the building then back at Charis "My name is Thessala, by the way."

@Sara

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Charis blinked up at the building. Gods she hoped they didn't escort her home, or worse, summon Tertius or another slave from the household to fetch her. She'd not told her dominus she was going to the baths, he had been busy, and had asked another of the household slaves to inform him. But if he found out she'd been attacked when she wasn't even supposed to be out! She swallowed the lump in her throat.

Blinking at the other woman's brusqueness, she was about to retort that she could have handled the situation but decided not to. She dreaded to think what would have happened. Instead, she only muttered, "I was walking back from baths I...thought safe, have walked this way before." But usually in the light. 

At Thessala's question she hesitated, glancing at her, "Does Dominus have to know if we go in?" She asked, reticently. Gods she really didn't want him to, she'd just say she fell and hit her face...that was believable, right? No Charis you absolute idiot, its not believable...he's going to find out anyway, better it comes from you...Reluctantly, she changed her mind and nodded that they should go in and followed the taller woman. "I Charis...you fight so well..." She looked other woman over, "You bodyguard?" She assumed, like her friend Cynane, this woman was employed protecting some rich senators daughter...

 

TAG: @Chevi

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