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A Peddler of Foxes


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February 21st, 77 CE

 

The stitched-together, wolf-fur pallium wrapped her in clumsy warmth. The garment was barely held together by a rusting pin she'd found on a road on the way to Roma. It was far too big for the petite woman, falling on her in great, heavy-looking folds. Her boots and hem shuffled through the wet slush of the balmy late winter, leaving a dragging trail. People stopped and stared as she paced in front of the Porticus Divorum, circling its grand fountain. Her hair was wild and tangled, with dead twigs and old, crumbling leaves wound about its strands. A scabbing scratch slashed one cheek, half-hidden by a smear of drying mud. Her voice was high and carrying as she called out, free hand raised with something red-furred and struggling.

It was a fox. A small, wiry red vixen, to be exact. Its eyes glared with indignance, and a small rope was bound around its spittle-lined jaws. Another length had been wrapped around its ankles to restrain it like a lamb, from which the woman held it aloft. Around her neck was another fox, lighter orange and frightened-looking. Tied in the same place as the animal waved about, it hung like a living necklace, wiggling on occasion. Some of those passing outside the Porticus couldn't help but stop and stare. Others hurried by, glancing back with concerned looks.

"Foxes, foxes, foxes for your menagerie!" the woman howled into the street. "Foxes for the garden, to chase away pests! Foxes for the house, to frighten away rats! Curiosities for the wealthy, to leash and lead in opulence! Pelts soft as silk, to keep warm in the high mountains! Flesh for fancy dinners, to keep your meal entertaining! Foxes, foxes, foxes for the menagerie!"

She'd been at this since the early morning. Other than taking a break to dip her hands into the fountain and drink, she hadn't stopped. One might wonder if the prefects were going to come out and tell her to take her hawking elsewhere.

 

@Chevi

Edited by Kah
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Thessala was generally used to being the most spectacular looking person in and outside of the arena. Unless she was spending a day lounging around the ludus, she always made sure to project her image of being a fierce, dangerous, mystical, and slightly feral Greek witch.

So, it was not every day that she encountered someone way more odd-looking than her.

But the tiny woman wrapped in furs, peddling two live foxes and wearing one of them as a necklace definitely had her beat.

Thessala stopped in her tracks at the sight, and stepped closer. The two of them standing face to face had to be an odd sight. Thessala was significantly taller than the other woman (and cleaner). She had her eyes lined and her long cascade of black hair twined with leather strips and shiny things, but hers was a carefully curated oddity. The little woman just seemed bat-shit crazy.

Thessala respected that.

"Those do not look domesticated." she noted, pointing a finger at the wriggling foxes.

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"Foxes, foxes, foxes for the dominus! The domina! The paterfamili - "

She stopped abruptly and looked up. Where there was nothing before in her way, there was now a tall woman. She was an Amazoian beauty, with her hair wrapped in trinkets and her eyes lined with kohl. The peddler's mouth hung open for a moment, but snapped shut as a finger was pointed at her wares. The woman shrugged and gave a happy grin.

"Is that not the way of most beasts?" she said, slowly spreading her arms wide with a dramatic flair. Her pallium swayed, giving the impression of an actor striking a pose. "Just look at the creatures they bring out for damnatio bestiae! The lion was not made to heel as the hound was, yet Rome still leashes them. The elephant was not meant to be ridden like a horse, yet Carthaginians saddle them. Even when we raise them ourselves in captivity, they still may turn wild and bear their fangs against us. Yet people still have them, and people endure!"

She made a wide sweep toward the passing crowd as she said this. A mother with a small child, startled, ushered her toddler away. The woman's grin only grew wider, and she brought the vixen to hold at her breast. It made a contentious sound as she bundled it up with the other fox in a furry fold.

"Now, are you interested in the vixen? The todd? Perhaps both, in case you want them to rear cubs?" She stood up a little straighter, and looked most assured.

 

@Chevi

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Thessala had to admit, the little woman had great salesmanship. Or showmanship? Either way, dirty and ragged as she was, she did not seem miserable at all, unlike many beggars on the streets of Rome. She had a bright grin.

"Is that not the way of most beasts? Just look at the creatures they bring out for damnatio bestiae! The lion was not made to heel as the hound was, yet Rome still leashes them. The elephant was not meant to be ridden like a horse, yet Carthaginians saddle them. Even when we raise them ourselves in captivity, they still may turn wild and bear their fangs against us. Yet people still have them, and people endure!"

She couldn't really ague with any of that. The foxes were having none of this, and Thessala felt a little sorry for them. The ludus menagerie was one thing, but no one really ever thought of fighting... foxes. They usually made appearances in the form of pelt, at best. They were mysterious, graceful little creatures.

"Now, are you interested in the vixen? The todd? Perhaps both, in case you want them to rear cubs?"

Thessala gave the woman a smirk.

"I am interested in the seller. But I do believe those creatures have suffered enough for one day, so I might be persuaded."

@Kah

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"Me, good woman?" The strange seller put one hand over her heart, eyes wide with surprise and lips pressed together. "I am hardly interesting. But I am open to persuasion."

She held out the vixen, who dangled limp as her eyes darted around. "These are not beasts for the arena, but they do look lovely in a garden, truly. They are clever creatures that have a sense of humour. They will snatch things from travelers and run cackling all the way home. As they are wild-caught, they will be shy but fiery, and need time and bribing with food. It is best they are kept in an outdoor space, for unfortunately, foxes do stink."

She made a face. "I found that out the hard way when I first kept one by my fire. But I digress! If you are not interested in them as pets, they are good for furs. An exotic sacrifice at a temple, to be sure. You could simply let them go, and see where they wander off to. They sometimes come into town and forage scraps thrown to the streets, so they might stay here. All roads lead to Roma, even for animals."

She waited for a response to her pitch. Or any response, really. Even if it was a simple, "You're mad," and the Amazon turning to walk away. The pedller had experienced a lot of that, in her time.

 

@Chevi

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"Me, good woman? I am hardly interesting. But I am open to persuasion."

Oh, she was. Thessala was a curious person, especially when it came to people who did not fit neatly into one of the brackets of Roman society. Those were her people. She lived an unconventional life too, and she liked it that way. And yes, maybe she did see the potential in live foxes for adding to her witch image.

"These are not beasts for the arena, but they do look lovely in a garden, truly. They are clever creatures that have a sense of humour. They will snatch things from travelers and run cackling all the way home. As they are wild-caught, they will be shy but fiery, and need time and bribing with food. It is best they are kept in an outdoor space, for unfortunately, foxes do stink."

Was she describing the animals, or herself?...

Thessala chuckled at the last comment. The vixen gave her a look that was nothing short of offended.

By the end of the speech, Thessala made up her mind. The lanista was probably going to have a right fit about this, but she didn't really care. All roads did lead to Rome, and she was more than curious to know how the little woman and her foxes ended up here.

"Alright then, come with me. I'll take your foxes, but first we are going to drink something." she nodded in the direction of the Amphitheater and the ludus. "I'm Thessala. What is your name?"

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A drink?

"A drink!" She smiled even wider now. "How lovely an offer! Yes, of course, good lady. All business is best discussed over a good drink. It is the way of senators and others who run things."

She wrapped the foxes in the excess of her pallium, holding them close to her heart. The direction the Amazon was nodding in was familiar. The peddler had tried to sell beasts in front of the Great Coliseum before, only to be laughed at or told to leave. Sometimes, the request wasn't made politely, and sometimes, someone lost a finger over it. (Because of her small and frantically-struggling animals, of course.)

"I'm Thessala. What is your name?" the Amazon asked. Bestia looked thoughtful, humming as her eyes went heavenward.

"A name...hm...well, to most, it's 'damn crazy woman' or 'dirt-bridled maniac'. I'm fine with either. But if we're going to do business - and business must be formal, as always - you may call me Bestia. Yours is the far prettier name, by any measure."

Bestia. Of course a wildling-looking thing like her would have a name that meant "beast", or in worse terms, "a brute". But who under the gods' merciful watch would name their child Bestia?

 

@Chevi

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"A drink! How lovely an offer! Yes, of course, good lady. All business is best discussed over a good drink. It is the way of senators and others who run things."

Thessala seriously doubted that this woman knew anything about how senators ran things, but in this case, she had to agree. Drinks were in order. With foxes bundled, the woman set out walking alongside her. Thessala asked for her name. It was as good a place to start as any.

"A name...hm...well, to most, it's 'damn crazy woman' or 'dirt-bridled maniac'. I'm fine with either. But if we're going to do business - and business must be formal, as always - you may call me Bestia. Yours is the far prettier name, by any measure."

"I know, I picked it that way." Thessala grinned. Her name was a reference to the terrifying witches of Thessaly, after all. And she doubted Bestia was the woman's birth name either. "But I do have dibs on 'damn crazy woman' around here too. Bestia... I like it. If you're not careful, the lanista's going to make you an offer." Realizing she'd made an assumption of being famous, she glanced over at the merry bundle of pelts. "I'm a gladiatrix."

@Kah

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"Oh! A gladiatrix!" Bestia perked up at the word. "How marvelous! I haven't ever been to a fight, sadly. But I have seen your kind coming in and out of the Coliseum. How fierce you look after the battle is won! The dirt and blood, the scratches and the wounds! Sometimes I wonder how you keep standing when it looks like you've been through the gods' teeth."

The fox around her neck made an angry sound and tried to kick. Bestia glanced down and muttered, "Shush, you," before looking back at Thessala.

"Your lanista?" Her frown was curious. "I doubt I would have anything to offer a lanista. I could try catching a wolf, but that'd be it. Well, try again, at least - the last time I did, I just about had my hand ripped off. As it turns out, he-wolves have as much a temper as their bitches. And they say bears are terrifying...."

Bestia rolled her eyes. "Have you been fighting long?" she asked.

 

@Chevi

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"Oh! A gladiatrix! How marvelous! I haven't ever been to a fight, sadly. But I have seen your kind coming in and out of the Coliseum. How fierce you look after the battle is won! The dirt and blood, the scratches and the wounds! Sometimes I wonder how you keep standing when it looks like you've been through the gods' teeth."

Thessala laughed at Bestia's excitement. People had lots of feelings about the games, and different opinions. It was nice to be appreciated, especially by someone hauling around two live foxes as jewelry. Thessala was sure that the little woman would hold her own in the arena as well, although she was probably not the kind willing to volunteer for such things.

"Your lanista? I doubt I would have anything to offer a lanista. I could try catching a wolf, but that'd be it. Well, try again, at least - the last time I did, I just about had my hand ripped off. As it turns out, he-wolves have as much a temper as their bitches. And they say bears are terrifying...."

Thessala's eyebrows rose.

"You fought a wolf?"

Maybe she was wrong.

"Have you been fighting long?" 

"I... a few years." she nodded. "I was a house slave before, but I am enjoying this much more." She was still a slave, but now she had admirers. "How about you, Bestia? How did you end up selling foxes in the middle of Rome? There has to be a story there..."

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"You fought a wolf?"

"'Fought' is a strong word," Bestia corrected her. "It was more 'kick and flail, then climb a tree'. I had to hit it in the snout with a rock and stun it before it got off me. Then I had to scramble up a cliff face and throw more rocks at it. When that didn't work, I climbed the cliff - a small cliff, mind you. I probably would've died if I had to climb something like you'd see in Greece."

She listened as Thessala explained her origins. It was a tale as old as time, or at least as old as Roma. But when asked about her origins, Bestia only laughed. "It's winter, and the plants I gather aren't in season yet," she said. "Animals are part of my trade, but not as much the plants. No, you have to make a harder sell in winter, when Ceres's daughter has fled and taken all the flowers and weeds with her. People love novelty, and what's more novel than a pair of wild foxes?"

She adjusted her grip to keep her quarry from wriggling free, an annoyed grunt coming from one of the beasts. "I could try for bigger things, but no country lass could afford a lion, much less a lion cub. Bigger things than a fox might try to eat me alive. So, until Prosperina brings me a greener bounty, I will try my luck with creatures of lesser fortune."

 

@Chevi

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Thessala listened to the story of the wolf, amused. Bestia might not have fought the creature, but she did live up to her chosen name. Even if she had to flee in the end, she had an adventure to tell about, and it was more interesting than many others'. Now, Thessala was even more curious to learn what had brought the little woman to Rome.

"It's winter, and the plants I gather aren't in season yet. Animals are part of my trade, but not as much the plants. No, you have to make a harder sell in winter, when Ceres's daughter has fled and taken all the flowers and weeds with her. People love novelty, and what's more novel than a pair of wild foxes?"

"Indeed." Thessala chuckled. A pair of foxes would not hold someone over for the whole winter. But it made sense, that someone dealing in herbs and plants would need to sell something else when those were scarce.

"I could try for bigger things, but no country lass could afford a lion, much less a lion cub. Bigger things than a fox might try to eat me alive. So, until Prosperina brings me a greener bounty, I will try my luck with creatures of lesser fortune."

Thessala was absolutely sure that Bestia would fight a lion if she had the chance.

"So... you deal in animals, and also herbs?" she summarized, keeping an eye on the wiggling foxes. "Where do you come from?"

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"Far away," Bestia said. "Very far away. Somewhere in the countryside that no one in the Urbs would know. If you wanted me to be more specific, you'd have to throw a stone at a map of all the woods, and hope you'd hit where I sprang from."

Her tone was on the cheeky side, but it was the kind of wording that could be sarcastic or literal. Her hair was braided with bits of the forest, and the dirt on her hands and under her nails fitted a forager. Foxes lived in many a glade, though one could find them in the meadows as well.

"I suppose I could deal in other things as well," Bestia said, "but Roma has...what, three major brothels? Four? And several independents who probably make a name for themselves. I'm not good at that kind of work, anyway, and people object to how rarely I bathe."

That had to be sarcasm, but Bestia looked nothing but serious. There was a bit of a foxy stink to her, she'd admit. Some of it definitely came from her catch scent-marking all over her in a rage.

 

@Chevi

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"Far away. Very far away. Somewhere in the countryside that no one in the Urbs would know. If you wanted me to be more specific, you'd have to throw a stone at a map of all the woods, and hope you'd hit where I sprang from."

Thessala chuckled. And she had thought her own small Thracian village had been a meager birthplace to hail from... Bestia did look the part. The part of a half-feral woman who had come straight in from the forests beyond the mountains. Probably without stopping. To bathe. If she wasn't too cynical, Thessala would have half believed that she was some kind of a forest deity. Not quite a dainty nymph. 

"I suppose I could deal in other things as well. but Roma has...what, three major brothels? Four? And several independents who probably make a name for themselves. I'm not good at that kind of work, anyway, and people object to how rarely I bathe."

"Are you sure you're not a faun?" Thessala ventured with a grin. She looked the part. "I hear you, I was never really attracted to that life either... although now I sometimes go with wealthy patrons. If they catch my fancy. The arena, though... that is what I do best. Never fought any animals, though. Unless you count some of the gladiators."

@Kah

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The faun comment Bestia answered with a sly smile. The rest to she responded with, "No animals? Really? I should've guessed by the lack of claw marks. But gladiators count. Man is an animal too, though one the gods found amusing enough that they gave him fire and a penchant for argument."

A mischievous smirk crossed her face. She dared lean in a little closer to Thessala, as if about to speak conspiracy. "So," she asked, "who's your favourite catch so far? Anyone juicy, or are you the kind not to kiss and tell?" Bestia's giggle was impish, and the foxes perked their ears up, wondering for a moment if one of their kind was about.

"I promise I won't say a word. Even if I did, no one would believe me! The vigiles have told me such."

 

@Chevi

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 "No animals? Really? I should've guessed by the lack of claw marks. But gladiators count. Man is an animal too, though one the gods found amusing enough that they gave him fire and a penchant for argument."

"You are way too eloquent for a forest creature." Thessala noted, quirking an eyebrow. The woman was an enigma. She liked that. Most people weren't, even if they tried to be. Even if they tried to spice up their lives with a gladiatrix.

"So. who's your favourite catch so far? Anyone juicy, or are you the kind not to kiss and tell? I promise I won't say a word. Even if I did, no one would believe me! The vigiles have told me such."

Thessala returned the conspiratory tone and mischievous look.

"First off, the vigiles are morons. Second, I'd tell you, but I honestly don't remember their names..." Only one, but she had not been a patron. Thessala looked away, walking along untilt hey made it to the gates of the ludus. "Alright, first, let's find a cage for those foxes. There bound to be some around the back..."

@Kah

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"The vigiles aren't morons! They're just overworked! And sometimes distracted by women," Bestia said, frowning. "I met one the other day. A very nice man he was, helping me get a chicken I was owed. It's not their fault some of their men are idiots. That's probably the prefect's, or whoever elects him. I forget how things work in Rome." She waved her free hand above her head, dismissive.

Bestia spent the rest of their talk trying to keep the foxes still. Now that they weren't getting dizzy from being flung around, they were starting to fight. Angry sounds and desperate kicks meant they almost fell out of her hands, which led to her shushing them. If they grew too combative, she would shake them in her folds and spin around a few times, earning her stares. Bah, these Romans, she thought. They were too busy looking at everything around them, not minding their own business!

Curiosity overtook her as they came to the ludii. She'd seen the four great schools many a time, but the specifics were lost to her. There was one for the bestiaries, those who fought animals. Another was for murmillones, who sparred with sword and shield. A third was for...well, she couldn't remember what the third was for. Or the fourth. Wait, wasn't the fourth one the big one favoured by the Emperor? She'd have to ask Thessala.

Following in the taller woman's shadow, Bestia said, "Could we ask a bestiary? Or are all their cages the big ones, for the tigers and elephants and lions?"

 

@Chevi

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Bestia stood up for the vigiles, which was a surprising turn. Most people who were outside the usual norms of society, and especially the women, usually had no love lost for those men. Musing about this, they made their way to the ludus, with dizzy foxes still bundled up. Those needed to be put in a cage before any drinks could be had.

"Could we ask a bestiary? Or are all their cages the big ones, for the tigers and elephants and lions?"

"We don't have those here." Thessala shook her head. Those beasts were too large to be kept at the ludus. "But we do have some smaller ones..."

Thessala walked across the inner courtyard, where some of the gladiators were training, and many of them were throwing glances at Bestia. They were used to Thessala being odd, but not her guests. At the back of the courtyard, in a smaller space used for open air storage, some empty crates and cages were stacked up. Probably for smaller animals for the kitchen or sacrifices. "Would one of these work?..."

@Kah

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Bestia flashed a grin at some of the gladiators. It was as bright as the ones she gave Thessala, or even more so. A little too bright to some of them, at one point. The unbroken eye contact she gave, evaluating and hungry, raised a few eyebrows. Some of them turned their heads and looked away, either annoyed or unnerved. Bestia smirked, then turned her attention to Thessala.

"Yes, those will work well," Bestia said. "The animals will not like them at first. They are too used to being loose. You may have to grind up poppy seeds and drug them when you clean out the cages, which should be every few days. They should be fed a third of a chicken once or twice a day, including the organs in whatever piece you give them. If not that, scraps from the kitchen and garum no one wants. Bones they may choke on, as dogs do."

She unfolded her cloak and put the vixen on the ground, then lifted the todd over her head. Both flopped and cackled in her grip, slapping around in the mud. Bestia stepped past them to inspect the crates and cages, testing a hinge on one of the latter.

"Once they settle down," she said, "you can try to teach them to take from your hand. It may not work, and they will bite instead. Can't tell you if it's out of confusion or spite, just that it hurts." She picked up another cage, slightly larger than the last.

"They will need exercise to stay happy. A small pen or unused room will do, and better if you can put down some straw.  You can sit in their pen to try and let them warm up to you. You should bring flowers, sticks and branches to scatter around and make them feel at home, and for them to hide in. A few torches will keep them in comfortable lighting. They stink, and so do their droppings, but you can smear and spread it in gardens to fertilize and keep away beasts."

Bestia put down the cage she was checking, and reached around the pile. After sorting through the pile, she brought out two cages that might've housed puppies. They were bulkier and larger than the rest, but still able to be carried by a woman like Thessala. Bestia put them down in front of the foxes, saying, "If you could get the door, I will toss them in. They may try to dart away, so be quick. The vixen's the faster one, but the todd's not as tired as she."

 

@Chevi

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Apparently, there was a whole lot one needed to know about keeping foxes. Thessala arched an eyebrow as Bestia gave her the details, while sorting through the cages. She had not left the ludus that morning preparing to buy two live foxes and keep them. And yet, here she was. How did that happen? And what on earth was she going to do with the damn creatures?...

"If you could get the door, I will toss them in. They may try to dart away, so be quick. The vixen's the faster one, but the todd's not as tired as she."

Thessala stood at the ready over the cages. The last thing she wanted was to fight a fox. Without an audience. At least her reflexes were great.

"Ready."

@Kah

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Bestia moved forward. First came the todd off of her neck, the vixen held by the legs and put to the side on the ground. The female kicked and flailed as she sensed freedom, Bestia ignoring her. The woman held the todd's legs tight as she undid the rope, deftly pulling loose a series of bowties and knots. It tried at once to stand and flee, only for the woman to grab its feet, swing it back and forth, and shake it with vigour. The animal stilled for a moment, long enough for her to pin it.

"Next, the mouth," she said in a murmur. Her free hand reached up toward the todd's neck, the male squirming and fighting all the way. She grabbed the edge of its scruff, her fingers pulling back until she felt a vein. Bestia pinched it, and the animal went limp. Swift as she could, Bestia pulled the rope free, tongue sticking out of her mouth as she did. When that was done, she took her new free hand and clamped it on the todd's throat and held it up.

"Now!"

The todd was tossed in, flopping like cloth. Its eyes had rolled up a bit in its head, but the movement seemed to rouse it. As it weakly lifted up its snout to sniff, Bestia repeated the process with the vixen. It struggled and kicked more, necessitating Bestia to do the neck-pinch on it twice to still it. The small woman muttered a curse under her breath as its sharp nails caught the edge of her wrist.

"Again!" Bestia called. Once more came a two-handed toss, and the vixen ended up in the same position as her counterpart. Bestia stood up, brushed the mud off the front of her pallium, and wiped her hands against one another. Blood had begun to bead on the scratch on her wrist, but she either didn't notice or care. It was a flesh wound, anyway - no different than a scrape against rock.

 

@Chevi OOC: I sped the process along a bit to keep with the narrative, but you can have something happen if you want. I can go back and edit/cut off at some point to fit it in.

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Thessala watched with fascination as Bestia took care of freeing both foxes, and then tossing them into the cages. The moment they were in Thessala slammed the doors on them and secured them. The foxes made some annoyed sounds, but they were not breaking out any time soon. Bestia, with techniques and reflexes like that, could have stood her ground in the arena.

"Well... that's that" she concluded, dusting off her hands and looking at Bestia. She noted the blood running down her skin. "Let's go find a bandage for that. And drinks?" She walked off in the direction of the room that belonged to her. She usually had bandages at hand. And also wine, although they could also go out and get that at a popina nearby.

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"A bandage for what?" Bestia asked. She glanced down at herself to inspect for injury - oh. That. Bestia lifted up her wrist and inspected it, following after Thessala.

"You can get a bandage if you want," Bestia said, "but I'm sure it'll heal up just fine." The woman held the cut to her nose, sniffed it, and then gave it a lick. The blood disappeared, and a slave tending to some amphorae nearby had to stop and stare. Bestia flashed him a grin and an eyebrow waggle, and the young man quickly hurried along.

"This looks like a sturdy place," Bestia commented. "Little dusty, but it can't be helped. Especially at this time of year." She glanced at her cut again, slowing to marvel at the pillars and tiling. It was a plain place, not a particularly special part of the building they walked through, but Bestia took it in. Thoughtful humming accompanied a swipe of her finger across some graffiti.

"This place has seen many," she noted. "Scrawls, all over the place. Almost as many as on the walls on Rome. When do the tributes to Vibia pop up?" 

She realized she was falling behind. From where she bowed to examine the writing, she hurried to join Thessala. "Some things I don't recognize, too," she said. "Greek letters, but then strange shapes. Unless they're supposed to be gladiators comparing their 'equipment'." Bestia held up her fingers to make quotes, pallium batting at Thessala's side.

 

@Chevi

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Bestia did not seem bothered by her injury at all. Thessala reflected that it was probably not her first, and was not surprised to see her just lick the wound, like the feral creature she was.

"A bandage for what?... You can get a bandage if you want, but I'm sure it'll heal up just fine." 

Thessala headed to her room and Bestia followed, although now that she was not struggling with the foxes, she slowed down to inspect the building of the ludus, and the messages scrawled on the wall.

"This place has seen many. Scrawls, all over the place. Almost as many as on the walls on Rome. When do the tributes to Vibia pop up?" 

"Probably not in here. She is way too expensive for a gladiator. Even the free ones" Thessala smirked. She only knew Vibia from reputation (and graffiti), and she was out of the gladiators' league. If she wanted to indulge, though, she would have had many takers, Thessala included.

"Some things I don't recognize, too. Greek letters, but then strange shapes. Unless they're supposed to be gladiators comparing their 'equipment'."

"Equally possible." Thessala smirked. Gladiators were many things, but not subtle. They finally made it to Thessala's room and she walked in, rummaging around in a chest for bandages. "Do you... uh, want to take a bath, first?"

@Kah

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"I need no bath!" Bestia said, giggling cheerfully. "I'll just scrape some dirt off and splash my face in the Tiber. Baths are too noisy. I only have them when I need to. Romans make cleaning oneself so [i]complicated[/i]!"

Bestia trotted in and made herself at home, sitting on the nearest hard surface. It needn't be a chair, but it could be a stool, a chest, a tipped-over basket - if it fit, she would sit. She watched Thessala in silence, canting her head to one side. Messy tangles of brown-black hair swayed into her face, and drops of blood dribbled down her wrist. Her hands rested on her knees.

"What is it that you do when you're not conquering hearts or trying to rip them out in the Coliseum?" Bestia asked. "Preparing for the next war with Troy? No, wait - that's the Greeks. Silly me." She giggled again.

 

@Chevi

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