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The animal fights had just been concluded, with plenty of dead animals and even a few of the gladiators fighting the animals. Marcus had come without slaves and of course he had been fascinated and now watched equally fascinated as it was all dragged out, leaving behind a trail of blood on the sands before it was covered with fresh sand. Then the editor of the games stood up and spoke of what gladiators were to come.


It would seem there would both be male and female gladiators and even a few deserters given a chance of redemption. Redemption! Hopefully they would die. If someone needed redemption, they usually were not deserving of it. 


Marcus looked up when a seller passed by his step on the seats and got himself a cup of ale and a stick with spiced pork to eat. Then he looked down at the games again, watching the first fighters enter the arena and he looked forwards to seeing it all happen. He didn't have any favorites, he just wanted to see how they did it and he wanted to see them die. Hopefully with a lot of blood. He smiled by the thought, but the smile faded quickly when someone tried to reach a better spot on the row behind him and by accident pushed to his back... making him spill the ale and drop the meatstick! 


"Watch where you're going!" Marcus yelled after the person, taking note of their appearance (just in case he wanted to seek them out later) and then looked to see if the ale had been spilled on anyone, while he also picked up the stick and attempted to brush off any dirt from the meat.

Edited by Atrice

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Aelia hadn't wanted to come to the games. It was not so much that she didn't enjoy them but rather she was never given a chance to enjoy them. As a plebeian woman, her choice of seating was limited. As a nefas plebeian woman her choices were even slimmer. She would be forced into the rows with the other actresses and the outright prostitutes. These rows were always swarmed about with drunk, lecherous men, swirling about like carrion crows. With drink and blood running freely, something in the natural make-up of men made them more lustful; less able to keep rein on their emotions.

With their recent performances having drawn quite large crowds, and with a hectic schedule of rehearsals, public and private shows, she was exhausted. Then there were all the publicity events Proculus had contracted for her to attend. Shows and parties for investors in the Whites. What she wanted was a lie in. Several of them. Preferably ones that lasted entire days. 

This is what she had told Cleander as he had badgered her over and over to come to the games with him and his friends today. Come on, you could use cheering up, have some fun, it's all courtesy of the State - things along those lines. When those didn't work he tried the usually more fertile ground of asking whether she had grown tired of watching muscular males slogging it out. "There are opportunities to meet them, you know? Well, the ones who survive anyway. Makes them super keen on life, if you know what I mean," he had giggled. Aelia knew he would never give her any peace so she gave in.

She wore her long, blonde hair loose, letting it cascade down over her shoulders like a flaxen, silky waterfall. A light pink chiton and a light matching linen wrap against the cold. Up here on the highest tiers of seating the breeze could be as stiff as that at the top of a ship's mast. 

She wasn't drinking. She felt she needed to keep her wits about her in places like this. She could not even count the times she had been propositioned that afternoon. If she had a sestercius for each time... He companions, however, had been drinking and hitting it heavily. They cheered, whooped and groaned in equal measure at the comings and goings far down below on the arena sand. How they could find the animal killings appealing she didn't know. At least two professionals sparring against one another had a degree of honor. A lion versus a terrified petty thief with a wooden stick? That was just cruel yet the people hereabouts whooped and hollered in the same way they did at Grumio and Dromon's clowning. 

She was thinking along these lines when she felt a cold wetness hit her bare shoulder where her wrap had slipped down. A knee knocked her in the back and jogged her forwards. She whirled round, looking petulant. "Well, excuse me, why bloody don't you!"

@Atrice

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He had so far not paid a lot of attention to those sitting around him here. Marcus was here to watch what was on the sands, he was not here to make friends or lovers, although it often seemed like that's what half of the others were busy doing. There were certainly more than a few who already were ignoring completely what happened in the arena, and instead they were quite focused on each other. But the Empire was giving this, Caesar was, and there was no reason why it should not be watched and admired for the carnage that it was. 


And he would have been doing that all day, happily enjoying his food and drinks and watching blood spilled in the arena, if someone had not rudely walked into his back and made him spill everything and then moved on, before Marcus could stop them. Meawhile it would also seem that the incident did indeed go on beyond Marcus himself, as the ale he spilled accidentically landed on the shoulder of a lady in front of him. 


She whirled around and gave him a look, now speaking down to him, as if he was to blame! But the fucker who walked into him was long gone too.


"I do apologize, but it was not my fault. I was knocked over too." He explained and showed his dirty meatstick, "The culprit hurried away though." He added with a huff, feeling a little upset over this spectacle. Had he been another man, he might have tried to sweet-talk her or ask if she was alright and all that, but he was not such a man. And now that he took a closer look at her, she had long and loose hair and the way she dressed... well it certainly did not make her appear any wealthier than he was, so what right did she have to speak to him like that anyway?


"All I want is to watch the games. Is that too much to ask?" He said to the woman, hoping she would just let it go, for all their sakes.

@Lauren

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Aelia still looked a little put out. She was going to go into full ‘fish-wife’ mode and start a scene when she made an effort to stop herself. The reality was that she was not angry at this man. She was just tired and more than a little stressed out by her constant worry about the crowd and a sense of boredom at not being as drunkenly engaged with the day as her friends were. The frustration she felt was with herself and not with this man. For the Gods’ sake, accidents happened, especially up here in the wind-swept upper bleachers when they were as crammed as they were. It was probably more of a miracle that she had not been completely dowsed in spilled drink or fish sauce or the grease of cooked meats.

 

So, there was that in play in her decision to calm down but also a sense of unease. The man had an intent and piercing look. He was clearly here alone. Might he be one of those aficionados of the Games who were almost obsessively attracted to the spectacles for their blood and excitement? He seemed perfectly happy to have an argument and looked like he would have no squeamishness in going easy on a female. Besides, she knew how these things went down. People loved to have a go at the actress. If he wanted to he could probably whip up the drunken louts hereabouts to have her sent packing hastily after being pelted with bits of food and told, in no uncertain terms, all manner of brutal things that ought to happen to a louche, easy-virtue performer. She was very aware that Cleander and his friends, usually on whom she could rely for muscle in such situations, was so drunk as to be more of a liability than a help.

 

So she simmered down. She brushed her bare shoulder and reset her hair to cover it. She tried a smile which normally worked on most men.

 

Well, no harm done, was there? These things happen. Should have been grateful it wasn’t worse. I won’t let it spoil my fun,” she said with that smile.

 

Then, worrying in case this man was still so pumped up that he might try and start an ant-actress riot for her “audacity” (it had, alas, happened before), she tried to be friendly.

 

I hope you are enjoying the day?”

@Atrice

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Apparently it was indeed too much to ask, that he just wanted to watch the games and enjoy them. He had even kind of apologized to the woman and for something that was not even his fault! But the woman still looked a little displeased or whatever it was that she felt. She was watching him, with her pretty and long blonde hair hanging down her back and over her shoulders, as if she was some kind of divinity, but he was certain she was not. Marcus was however fine with just watching the games for now, but she didn't let it go. Instead she gave him this sugar-sweet smile and said that there was no harm done, things happened and she would not let it spoil her fun.


"Indeed these things happen. Even when they should not." It wasn't his fault that his ale was spilled and that there was dirt on his lunch! Still she kept on speaking to him, saying that she hoped he was enjoying the day.


"I have been enjoying it so far, yes, although it has barely begun." He said with a little smile, since he looked forwards to seeing what skills the gladiators would show off today... he doubted she was here to watch blood spilled, she didn't look like that kind of woman, so why was she here? To sell her own goods... probably. That was a likely reason for her being here. Marcus didn't know if he'd be a buyer though, but maybe. If she would let him actually have a little bit of fun.  


For now though, he was going to enjoy the spectacle on the sands, "Are you enjoying the day too?" He asked, it was a bit strange speaking to her, as she sat right in front of him and she would have to turn to look at him. Then she couldn't watch the games, after all. He wondered what she would prefer most. 

@Lauren

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Aelia was always too paranoid for her own good. It was not necessarily her fault. The fact that she was always one step away from a possible disaster had bred in her a highly string defence mechanism, like it probably did for all females in this line of work. As she had thought only moments ago, it was not unknown for one or two bad words to whip up a frenzy of righteous indignation against the morally-defunct harlots – as people saw her type. Whilst some might have thought that there was no point crying over spilt ale, so to speak, she happened to think differently.

 

There was a growing rumble which became a steadily building roar from the crowd in the stands, rising live the swell of a great ocean wave, as a new pair of fighters entered the sands below. A gaudily painted man dressed as Charon had strutted onto the sand accompanied by some equally fantastically dressed assistants. The new fighters waited whilst this troupe elaborately and acrobatically danced their way on, walking over to the slowly groaning and partially mangled remnants of those unfortunates who had engaged in the beast fights and – shall we say – not come out of it very well. The people in the stands about her were now stood on their feet hooting and pumping their fists, they knew what was coming.

 

The wounded bestiaries lay on his back, his chest and stomach a torn mess from getting far too close to the bear he had been – until the last moment – expertly goading. Seeing the cortege approaching he lifted his head then slumped back, raising a shaking, blood encrusted hand in a plaintive gesture. The hooting from the stands got louder and louder. Charon got closer, he and his team clowning about and playing up to the stands. In his hands the figure playing Hades’ doorman was holding a thick, lead-headed mallet, which he was bouncing menacingly in his hand. He stood over the prostrate figure and looked to the crowd. The noise was like something from a cattle market, a deafening cacophony of wild, bestial screams. Charon did a little twirl and – smack – brought down the mallet on the injured man’s head. Any crack that would have carried up from it was lost in the sickeningly pleasured screams of the crowd. The fallen man was definitely dead now. Continuing his macabre, blood stained dance, Charon twirled away whilst his assistants sunk hooks into the corpse and started dragging it away, leaving a sickening, bloody trail on the sand in its wake.

 

The spectators around her were laughing. One handed his neighbour some coins with a sullen expression. “Told ya,” his friend said with a smirk, “bears don’t like Gauls, makes em fight better!” Whatever his sullen friend replied, Aelia did not hear what with all the hubbub. She shuddered slightly. When people were this blood drunk they could do almost anything.

 

She looked back at the man she was speaking with. He must surely have been caught up with all that but now was looking at her expectantly.

 

“Yes,” she stammered a little but then restored herself to her normal voice. “I prefer the professional bouts, though, there’s more skill in them, although I can’t say I recognise any of the names on the programme?”

@Atrice

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Silence fell for a bit, as it was impossible to talk anyway - over the roar of the crowd around them and Marcus' eyes were also fixed upon the sands below, watching the interesting scene playing out there. He almost wanted to tell everyone to be quiet, so that he could hear that crack of the skull, but of course he could not. He would just have to imagine it. And Marcus also yelled afterwards, while the body was being dragged out. Such shapes the blood made upon the sands, he thought. 


Someone near the woman he had spilled his ale upon, said something about bears not liking Gauls and some gambling seemed to have taken place. Marcus arched a brow, being from Gaul himself, he did not see how that was amusing and wondered if he should remember the man who said it and offer him a shave, if there came an opportune moment for it. It really was not fair to speak like that, and how did the man know anyway if bears disliked Gauls? Animals could not tell people apart, not like that anyway. That was one place where animals differed from slaves, or vice versa... 


The woman also shuddered and then she told Marcus she was indeed enjoying the day, although she stammered a little... she said she preferred the professional matches and Marcus arched a brow at her words.


"Then you must not be very experienced here." Marcus said, "There are some good names among those fighting... but also some unknowns, I think I heard one is a deserter or criminal or something? I hope they understand they're here to die." He added, "Hopefully they will not die fast though. That would be disappointing." Marcus then said and glanced to the men making the bets just before, then to the woman and he leaned down towards her, speaking in a lower voice, "Do you know those men?" 

@Lauren

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