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It felt good, with the wine. He did want to drink it. He wanted to drink it and stop thinking about himself and what had happened. He wanted to not think about Salacia. And he mentioned to his companion how he wasn't anything but a freedman and that's really all he could brag about - which wasn't really anything at all. The woman seemed to pity him and he sighed, everyone pitied him, always. Manius pitied himself too and that was more than enough. He knew who he had to blame, but no one else truly understood. They just felt sorry for him but it changed nothing. 

Of course the woman asked into his status of freedman then and he gave her a look.

"I don't think he died happy. But it was after he freed me. I couldn't stop it." He failed there too, like so many other times. Like now... "It's a long story. I never asked for it, didn't want it. I was his most loyal servant. And it was a case of either punishing me for loving another man's slave or setting us both free to become man and wife. He chose the latter, for the sake of alliances and loyalty." Little good did it do any of them in the long run. It was such a long time ago though and it was strange to think about it. And about how Cyprianus had been disliked by so many people in Rome at the end, but if it wasn't for him, Manius would never have married Salacia and stayed with her for 15 years of his life. And now it was over. Manius drank some more.

@Chevi

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"I don't think he died happy. But it was after he freed me. I couldn't stop it."

Thessala quirked an eyebrow. Not many slaves tried to resist being freed. She liked the ludus, but even she would have preferred having the choice of freedom. And here this man was, admitting that he did not want to be freed. There might be more things wrong with him, Thessala realized, than a mere dead wife. Wine. More wine.

"It's a long story. I never asked for it, didn't want it. I was his most loyal servant. And it was a case of either punishing me for loving another man's slave or setting us both free to become man and wife. He chose the latter, for the sake of alliances and loyalty."

"Alliances and loyalty. That's sweet." Thessala smirked. How romantic. "So... you laid some girl and you got freed? Gods, maybe I should try that." The matrons she had been visiting were clearly not doing the trick. "And you have not been working ever since?"

@Atrice

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He noticed how she quirked an eyebrow, but most people did and they'd do more than raise a brow if they knew the full story. If they knew he was born and raised in Rome, as one of the common people... one of the plebians. And then chose slavery. And didn't want to be freed. If they knew. But this woman here, she did not know, yet she was curious. And he gave her a bit of the story about how he was freed and why it happened and she smirked at his story about alliances and loyalty. He glared at her though when she suggested Salacia had just been a good lay and you'd be free over that.

"She was more than just some girl I laid." He said to her, his tone dark. And she didn't think he had been working after he was freed. Why? That made no sense.

"I have been working. I worked for my master and I've worked at the slave market for over ten years now. But they took the job after the earthquake. There wasn't as much to do anymore. I have been working. And my wife was more than just some girl." He pointed out again, feeling quite upset over that. As if she was just someone he picked out and slept with as a way to be freed! He hadn't wanted freedom. And he loved her! More than the gladiatrix could imagine. Three times in his life, Venus had given him someone to love. And three times in his life, Fortuna did not think he was worth it and tore it from him again.

@Chevi

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"She was more than just some girl I laid." 

Ooh, maybe there was still some fight left in the man, after all. He must have loved the woman, to take offense at that. Too bad. Thessala's chances at freedom would have been a lot better if she could lay some woman well and get freed for it. Oh well.

"I have been working. I worked for my master and I've worked at the slave market for over ten years now. But they took the job after the earthquake. There wasn't as much to do anymore. I have been working. And my wife was more than just some girl." 

The earthquake lost him a wife, and a job. Not much of a job, in Thessala's opinion, since the slave markets were a shit place, and for a former slave to work there, well... that was just wrong. Not that people could always pick and choose how they made money. Thessala wrinkled her nose and drank. At least she still had something to do, once the arena was opened again. "Keep drinking. It's the only thing that'll work."

@Atrice

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There was definitely fight left in him, for the woman he'd loved 15 years of his life. For the woman he married and stayed with for such a long time. She did not deserve people talking ill of her, she would never hurt anyone. His former master had once said he'd kill her, if Manius kept seeing her and he'd feared for her life, for it wasn't her fault that he liked her and returned to her. It was his fault only. Luckily, it never came to that. Instead of killing her, she'd been freed along with Manius. Such a long time ago now. It seemed another life now.

He explained to his companion that he'd been working and what he did. He didn't really care for her opinion, few understood his outlook on life anyway. It might be wrong for a former slave to work at the slave market - or it might be right, as a kind of self-punishment for all the times he took life for granted. Besides, he had worked there before, before his first wife was taken from him. Not that he would mistreat the slaves or anything, like some of the guards. He was there to make sure they were safe and that they stayed there, until someone came to buy them. His companion didn't say anything, but he saw how she wrinkled her nose. Then she told him to keep on drinking and Manius did as told. 

"Is your plan to just sit here and drink all night?" He asked, after emptying his cup once more.

@Chevi

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"Is your plan to just sit here and drink all night?" 

"I think it is an exel... ec... excellent plan" Thessala noted with all the dignity she could muster "If I get blind drunk... maybe I'll forget?... And if not, maybe someone will try to put his hands on me. A fight. Would be nice." she noted with a sage nod. She looked around, daring the crowd of the popina to come and try. At least she could break some bones and work out some of the anger. On people who actually deserved to be hurt.

"What is your plan?"

@Atrice

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He had asked if her plan was to just sit here and drink all night, and the woman said it was an excellent plan - clearly already very drunk, if you were to judge by her ability to speak. She suggested that she might forget if she got very drunk and then added she hoped someone would put their hands on her, so she could have a fight. Manius looked at her, he almost considered doing it, just so she'd mess him up and then he would forget, at least for a short while. It might help them both, really. She got drunk and got her fight, Manius got beaten until he passed out... it's not like he had anything better to do tomorrow than get better on top of that. Gods, what kind of a man was he? Seriously considering getting beaten up! Then she asked what his plan was.

"The same, I guess. At least with the drinking, if you keep on filling this." He nodded to his empty cup and felt his heart beat a little faster when he spoke again, "And a fight would do me good too. It wouldn't be hard to provoke someone." He added, looking around in the tavern. Drunk people were easily provoked. And Manius was especially good at it, with his sense of what was right and what was wrong to do.

@Chevi

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"The same, I guess. At least with the drinking, if you keep on filling this."

She was getting drunk, and he was getting drunk. Thessala had reached the sort of generous drunkenness where she did not mind sharing her drinks. She refilled both cups, not bothering to say a toast anymore. The sooner they got the job done the better.

"And a fight would do me good too. It wouldn't be hard to provoke someone." 

Thessala gave the man a wide drunken grin. "Now I'm starting to like you" she noted, glancing around too. There were plenty of people in the popina this time of the night. "Do you see anyone who'd deserve a punch in the face? I mean... really deserve it."

@Atrice

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It was funny that he knew how to fight and could probably defend himself quite well against the other patrons in here, but that was not why he wanted to fight. He didn’t always fight back. He didn’t always do what he was able to do – instead he would allow them to win. If he was drunk enough, it wouldn’t hurt until tomorrow. His companion got the message and refilled his cup. Manius mentioned how easy it might be to provoke someone.

She grinned at him and glanced around, wondering who really deserved a punch in the face around here. I do, he thought. But she wouldn’t understand. Instead he looked around too.

“That guy over there.” He nodded towards another corner, “See how he grabs the barmaid every time she passes him. And she tries to avoid him.” He said, watching the scene unfold. The man pulled the girl onto his lap and she squirmed herself off from him, although he tried to hold on. Why were so many men like that? Manius disliked that kind. They reminded him of his wife’s old master, who would force her crying into his bed just because he could. And he ran a brothel and still he took advantage of her! Salacia had been so delicate, too delicate for Rome, really. He felt an anger well up inside by the thought, “He’ll be trouble later anyway.”

@Chevi

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“That guy over there. See how he grabs the barmaid every time she passes him. And she tries to avoid him.”

Thessala turned to look at the scene unfolding across the room. The maid clearly did not want any of the grabbing or the attention, but that did not stop the man. It never did. Thessala tilted her head; even drunk, she had her fighting instincts. She felt like sauntering over to the man and beating him bloody, but her last vestiges of common sense told her she could get whipped or crucified for attacking a free man in a popina like that.

“He’ll be trouble later anyway.”

"Oh he will." she grinned, emptying her glass "Be a darling, go over and tell him I want to fuck him out in the alley. Tell him I usually charge, but he's just too darn handsome."

@Atrice

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Manius didn't quite get that behavior. He'd never been like that. He also never saw his father behave like that. Of course Manius had his flaws too, but they were deeper and not so... obvious to others. He should never ever gamble again. Something bad happened when he did. And he should stop taking the good things in his life for granted or else the gods would tear it from him. But those were his flaws. That man over there, grabbing the barmaid who didn't want his attention, he was as flawed as many other men in Rome. He deserved a punch in the face. Thessala looked at him too and agreed that the guy would be trouble anyway.

He looked at her as she grinned and downed her drink, before asking him to go and talk to the man. Manius arched a brow, he should probably not be surprised by her language by now, but he didn't often encounter women talking like that. Was it really fair, to do that to the man though? He would be trouble, however. He was grabbing a girl who didn't want it. But what was his companion going to do? Just beat him up? What about Manius? Well, he wouldn't find out unless he did something and he did want to do something. He had to.

"Alright." Manius then agreed and downed his drink too, feeling the warmness of the liquid spread in his body. Then he stood, walked over to the guy.

"Hey... she doesn't want you." He said to the man, nodding to the barmaid and then he leaned closer, speaking in a lower voice, "But... my friend over there... she does. Out in the alley. She won't even charge you for it." Manius pulled back and saw the guy look towards Thessala. Then he went back to sit with Thessala, "You go first... I'll come when he's followed you."  

@Chevi

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To his credit, the man got up and walked over to the troublemaker, no doubt delivering Thessala's message. He looked over, and she gave him what she hoped was a seductive smile. She was not good at seducing assholes. It seemed to have worked. Even better, he did not seem to recognize her from the arena. Little darling did not know what was coming for him.

"You go first... I'll come when he's followed you." 

Thessala nodded, finishing her drink one last time and getting up to walk to the door. She was a bit wobbly on her feet, a comfortable buzz of alcohol working through her veins. She also felt the rush of an upcoming fight. She glanced over her shoulder before she walked out. Not like she had a doubt that he'd follow.

Out in the alley, Thessala leaned back against the nearby wall. It smelled like piss and vomit out there, standard fare for alleys behind popinas. She was grateful for the support of the wall. She didn't have to wait long; the man was already rounding the corner, grinning at her in the faint light of the torches by the door.

"Hello there darlin. You want some of this?" he asked as he sauntered towards her, grabbing himself in a suggestive manner. Thessala grinned back.

"Oh, darling, I think I might take all of it."

They clearly understood that sentence very differently. He moved forward, reaching out to her, and she let him get close - close enough to raise her knee. The drink, however, was not her side; she overbalanced, and instead of kneeing him in the groin, the hit landed on his stomach. He still doubled over, swearing. Oh well.

@Atrice

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Was this what it felt like, to be a pimp? Although he was very well aware that it was all just pretense to lure the man outside, he almost felt dirty, as he sat down next to his companion. The man was so easily tempted that it could have been real. Or maybe the man was just horny enough to go with anyone who wanted him – and who would say no to a good looking partner like the woman he’d been drinking with? He didn’t even know her name.

Now she nodded, finished her drink and walked outside. Manius could tell she was more drunk than he was, but out she went and Manius looked towards their… victim? It was dirty, wasn’t it? Even if it was somewhat justified. Did that man deserve a beating more than Manius did, honestly? Maybe they deserved it equally, but for each their own reasons…

When the man had left though, Manius stood and followed. He had just rounded the corner to the alley behind the popina, when the man reached out to her and then she kneed him… in his stomach? The man doubled over and swore and Manius watched. Was he really doing this?

He approached them while the stranger tried to get on his feet again, “What in Hades’ name are you doing to her?” He asked the man, trying to sound outraged and shocked, but the guy stood and faced Manius, “It was her, she’s crazy!” He said and turned to her again, “Bitch!” Manius felt he ought to do something, but his conscience was winning. Instead he just stood there, staring. This wasn’t right at all, was it? What the fuck was he doing?

Meanwhile the stranger was reaching to grab his female companion and this time, he was not trying to be gentle with her.

@Chevi

 

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“What in Hades’ name are you doing to her?”

Oh good, there was the guy from the popina. If he wanted to get his punches in, he'd have to get in line. Thessala regained her footing after the embarrassing kick, and so did the man, although still clutching his stomach. 

“It was her, she’s crazy! Bitch!” 

"You have no idea" Thessala grinned, licking her teeth. She'd been aching to punch someone ever since the earthquake, and this guy, he was really asking for it. He lunged for her, and she stepped out of the way, less elegantly than she'd have done sober, but still enough to slam an elbow between his ribs as he hurtled past her. She also aimed a kick at the back of his knee, making him stumble. "How's that for groping, hm?"

@Atrice

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Manius suddenly wasn’t sure what he’d do. It was her who wanted to beat someone up and honestly, Manius thought he might deserve it more than the man getting a beating now. From a woman. A slave, even. It would be very humiliating for the man and if anyone found out, if they were discovered, she’d be in trouble too. Why was it again that he agreed to this idea? Manius wasn’t like this. He did not beat up people for fun or because he felt like it. He had reasons. And he wasn’t drunk enough to continue doing stupid things.

Meanwhile his female companion and the man from the taverna kept fighting, although she was doing most of it and the other man was too drunk to get anything done to her.

“Maybe… that’s enough.” Manius suggested. What if the vigiles came? The urban cohorts? And he didn’t even know the woman’s name. But it was probably best to beat it.

He reached out for her shoulder, “I think we should go. I don’t want you to get in trouble.”

@Chevi

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It was so satisfying to hear the man grunt and yell, and feel his bone crunch as she hit him. Thessala rarely ever got to fight men, not in a real fight anyway, and she was going to make the most of this. She was drunk, and there was anger burning in her chest. Rana was dead, and shit like this idiot was still roaming the street like the gods liked them more than her. He lunged for Thessala and she staggered out of the way, punching him in the nose again.

“Maybe… that’s enough. I think we should go. I don’t want you to get in trouble.”

The other guy reached for his shoulder, but she smacked his hand away. "I'm... not done... kicking his ass yet!" she stated with a bit of a slur. She wanted blood.

@Atrice

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The gladiatrix seemed almost unable to stop fighting the other man, although it wasn't much of a fight, to be honest. She was doing most of the fighting and the man barely stood at chance against her. She was good. Manius would bet on her if he ever saw her in the arena... but he didn't go there all that often, he didn't like it much. Manius did like fighting, but he did it for the good and with a purpose and never to just... kick someone's ass like she did. Manius tried to get her to stop, but she smacked his hand away and said she wasn't done yet. Manius inhaled a breath, getting more worried every second.

"You have to be!" He tried, "Come on..." But she didn't seem to pay him much attention, she was far too busy with her fight. Well, that gave him a chance, he thought. If she couldn't be convinced, he could overpower her and take her away and keep her out of trouble. She was a slave, beating up a most likely free person and who knew what connections he had. And if the vigiles or the cohorts came...

Manius snuck up on her from behind and reached for her arm, took hold of her while she was focused on the other man. And then he jerked her towards himself, hoping to catch her and hold her steady so he could pull her away.

@Chevi

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