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October, 74 AD

He had promised to come and spar with Thessala. And while there were some promises he sometimes had problems with keeping – like promising to be true to a wife, once – there were others he could definitely keep. Now of course he wasn’t married to Oriana, but he still knew she’d be very hurt if he betrayed her trust. They had a proper talk about it recently and at least now she was prepared though, wasn’t she? Although of course he’d do what he could to not hurt her. He wanted to make her happy, for as long as he could. But he also needed to do what made him feel good.

And fighting always made him feel good. At least fighting wasn’t being unfaithful, right? He’d enjoyed fighting ever since he learned it and now it had been a long while since he’d had a fight with another gladiator. Alright, so this one was female and so what? It wouldn’t be a first, for him. And she’d proved that she could fight very well, he’d seen her in the arena. It was rare that gladiatrixes actually got to kill one another, they were just there to entertain, but that didn’t mean they didn’t put in a lot of effort in their fights. Thessala certainly did.

He hadn't dressed up today so much, as he knew he'd probably work up a sweat. Hopefully at least! He wore his short breeches and a dark brown tunica and some of his armor too, although not the full set, as it was too heavy and warm for this. He didn't own any gladiator armor anymore, after all, and that was usually made for fights like these. As he entered the ludus, it was kind of a strange feeling, but he shook it off. He couldn’t use such feelings for anything right now. He’d sent word to the lanista that he’d come and spar with Thessala for a fee. After he’d had a chat with the doctore – and given him a little bribe, so that he could take Thessala out for a drink after – Alexius went looking for Thessala. She was training with another gladiatrix and he smiled, leaning against the wall for a moment, watching her. That woman, she really was impressive, and not just her looks and her moves, but her entire expression.

When the training match was finished and Thessala would turn his way, he waved at her with a playful grin, “Thessala! I hope you’re not too tired yet.”

 @Chevi

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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?"

@Atrice

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She probably hadn’t even seen him come in, but that gave him a good chance at taking a closer look at her. He recognized her style and movements easily, although she wasn’t dressed up as she usually was in the arena. And actually this was better. He could see her moves more easily and her body too. The long braid suited her well also, although she did of course look magnificent in the arena. But today there was no show… only training.

Thessala gave him a grin and came closer to him, joking about how she should have dressed up for him. He laughed back, “There’s no need, you being you is plenty.” He replied, and although it was said in a playful tone, he meant it. Thessala then wondered if he brought any weapons. Alexius shook his head.

“No, I don’t have wooden swords lying around.” Well except for his rudis, but that one wasn’t used for fighting, “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.” Alexius asked and pushed from the wall. She wasn’t as petite as Oriana or many other women he’d been with in the past. Still though, when they stood close, he was still taller than she. Not that it made her less impressive, he thought.

@Chevi

 

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 “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?"

@Atrice

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He smiled when she claimed he had no idea, when he said that her being her was plenty for him, "Oh really?" He said jokingly back and then they'd arrived at where the training weapons were kept. Alexius had dressed down for this trip today and he hadn't brought his own weapons, since he didn't have training weapons lying around like that. He'd have to borrow from the ludus, but they should have plenty. He explained how he used to fight, but that he could fight with anything. Thessala seemed surprised to hear how he used to fight and he laughed when she said she thought he'd be something lighter. No way would he ever be 'something light' in a battle! 

"It's hard to find me out of my element if you place a sword in my hand." He said, smiling, it was impossible to not have a good time with Thessala and by now he'd decided he didn't care if there were double entendre to his words. She could handle it. So could he. And he was just here to train, after all. 

He picked up the short gladiaus and the shield, that should be plenty for today, if it was just wooden swords. He could handle a few bruises.

"I guess we shall. Perhaps a bit out of the way from the others?" He suggested, glancing at the other gladiators, who'd seen that Thessala had a special guest today. They didn't know him, of course. He doubted any of the gladiators here today would know his face. Maybe his former name, but they'd not seen him fight.

@Chevi

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"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."

@Atrice

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He’d been a gladiator for more than ten years of his life. And sure, now it was more than ten years ago since he was freed, but Alexius hadn’t changed that much. Maybe he was a little bit more thoughtful now and maybe he was a little bit more… caring, than what he used to be, at least with the right persons, but much of it was still the same. And he did still enjoy what he enjoyed back then; wine, fights and pleasure. And two out of three in one day or night was the best.

Today with Thessala, he planned on the first two things. He suggested to get away from the others to train and Thessala showed the way to a smaller courtyard that they could have alone. Alexius set the shield down and took a look around while he weighed the sword in both hands when they came, this was rather nice and private. He liked that.

Thessala seemed ready to fight though and he chuckled at her words.

“Forgive me if I’m a bit rusty, I don’t get to spar with another person every day.” Alexius reminded her and looked at her with the two swords in her hands, “Weapons really do suit you.” He said with a smile, while picking up the shield with his left hand and holding the sword with the right. Nowadays he rarely used a shield, but he’d not forgotten it. He assumed she wanted him to start, with what she said about him showing her.Alexius might be tall and long-legged though. Thessala would have the advantage of being smaller and more agile - and younger.

So Alexius approached her, the shield protecting his body and when he was close enough, he lowered the shield as he lounged forwards to strike his wooden sword towards her right side and he pushed against her with the shield too. The moment he struck her, he lounged a long step backwards behind the shield again.

@Chevi

Edited by Atrice
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“Forgive me if I’m a bit rusty, I don’t get to spar with another person every day. Weapons really do suit you.” 

"Tell your mistress to buy you more fake bandits" Thessala grinned, watching Alexius closely as he took up his shield and sword, and got into a fighting stance. "None will be as pretty as me though."

She waited for Alexius to make the first move. It didn't take long. They were both people who enjoyed fighting (him so much that he came back to the Ludus to spar with a woman). Alexius pushed forward, striking at her with his sword and lounging at her with his shield at the same time. Thessala deflected the sword with one of hers, and danced out of the way of the shield, spinning around his shield side, hoping to find an opening with a sword thrust before he could turn towards her again.

@Atrice

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He smiled at her comment about having his mistress buy him more fake bandits, “Maybe I should.” He replied, “No one I fought were as pretty as you.” Alexius added. Maybe it wasn’t entirely true, he had fought handsome gladiators before and he’d also sparred with Achillia back in the day, but that was a very long time ago and you couldn’t really compare Thessala to Achilla, he thought. Except they were both gladiatrixes, dark-haired beauties with stormy eyes… gods…

And they knew how to fight well! So maybe they did have a few things in common…

She wanted him to make the first move, so he did… and Thessala responded with deflecting his sword with one of hers and then spun around to his shield side. She was clearly looking for an opening, but running on reflex and experience, he lowered the shield quickly to that side and jumped out of the way, hiding behind the shield and waiting for her to come at him again.

It was just as much fun as he’d hoped it would be!

@Chevi

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He might not have been fighting in the arena for a while, but Alexius' reflexes were still remarkable. Thessala did not find an opening before the shield was once again turned towards him, the man taking a cautious stance as he kept his attention on her. Not having anything to shield herself with - the literal double edged fate of a dimachaera - Thessala kept on dancing, hoping to tire the murmillo out, taking advantage of her lighter weaponry. She moved left and right in an unpredictable rhythm, and grinned at Alexius over the edge of his shield. She was not going to put on a full show just yet, she hoped to figure out how easy he was to fight first. She quickened her steps, bolting to the right, to the left, and then to the left again, lunging for his sword side this time, hoping to make him parry one of her blades, while she hit him with the other...

@Atrice

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He had indeed not been fighting in the arena or a long while, but he made an effort out of staying in shape and staying fit. And it was apparently a good thing, especially when you fought someone young and skilled like Thessala here! Alexius fought well too though, he remembered how to use the shield and the gladius and the shield could easily be a weapon too, when you pushed it against the opponent while also hiding behind it. Thessala seemed surprised, but still also managed to evade his attacks on her.

She grinned and seemed to enjoy herself too. Suddenly she bolted from side to side and he could barely keep up and she did manage to touch his side before he jumped back from the wooden sword.

“You’re good.” Alexius said to her with a smile while the dance of wooden swords and the shield continued. It was great to spar with Thessala, he could feel that he was working up a sweat, but it didn’t matter – it was fun, that’s what mattered. He almost forgot that not both of them were free; he almost forgot that they couldn’t just be a couple of friends, sparring. It didn’t matter to him that he fought a woman. He knew that gladiatrixes could be just as skilled as their male counterparts could and Thessala here was. She was trained well and she was wild and she was a sight to behold – she was great!

The friendly spar continued for a good while – he had no idea for how long – but eventually, they were both worn out and had managed to give each other at least a bruise or two here and there. Silently and halfway out of breath, he managed to signal her to stop and he placed the shield on the ground and relaxed in his sword hand.

“That was… so much better than I’d hoped.” Alexius said and grinned, “We should do it more often.”

@Chevi

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“You’re good.”

"I know" Thessala grinned, continuing her dance. It was good to spar with a man. Gladiatrixes were trained just like gladiators were, but they did not usually get to fight a bigger, stronger opponent in the arena; they strictly fought other women. Thessala cherished the opportunities when she could try her skills against a veteral gladiator. She did not want to just be 'good, for a woman.'

They sparred for a long time, both gaining several bruises, but no blood or broken bones. In the end, Thessala was pleasantly exhausted, her long hair sticking to her forehead, and her tunic clinging to her body in some places. It would have been hard to call who won the fight, but that had not been the point anyway. Alexius signaled the end of the session.

“That was… so much better than I’d hoped. We should do it more often.”

"That would be grand" she grinned back, wiping some sweat and sand from her face "I've always thought they should let us fight men more often..."

@Atrice

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Gods he admired her confidence, when he told her he thought she was good – and she just said that ‘she knew’. Of course she did, but still, not everyone liked to brag. Thessala should be proud of it though, he might be bigger than her, but she was very skilled and put up a very good fight. It was impossible to say, by the end, if there was an actual winner and he had no idea for how long they fought. Now though, he was all exhausted and thought that drink might be the next step and a very good one too.

He told her how good he thought it had been and how he’d like to do it more often. Thessala seemed happy with that idea, apparently a bit displeased that she didn’t get to fight men so often.

“Yeah… you're definitely a match for most men. Maybe that's why they won't let you?" He said with a grin, "I’d spar with a gladiatrix sometimes, back in the old days. But maybe they let us do it, because we were more than just friends?” He added with a wink, but then pushed Achillia from his mind again. It was more than a decade ago and Thessala was right now.

“I’ll come and spar with you again then. I’m sure it can be arranged. Now however… I think a bit of cleaning is in order, before we go out for a drink.” He hadn’t even told her that bit, had he? But he had arranged it with the lanista that he could take her out afterwards, for a fee of course. He hoped she wanted to.

@Chevi

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