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April, 77 AD

Night washes the sky in its black glow. As the boring people, the ones who make sure to head straight home after, he doesn't know, politely playing a game of latrunculi while pish-poshing about the place, close their doors for the night, Paullus is just waking up from a nap. There weren't any races scheduled for today, but he's been busting his ass doing training for the two-horse chariot the whole day. Procella, ever the enterprising stallion, was especially unpredictable today, meaning the kind grey gelding running alongside him was unable to keep pace. The whole contraption almost flipped once, but he's okay, really. All it takes is to throw his body weight to one side, and it's settled. In any case, Manager said it was fine for Paullus to go out for the night provided he not make too big a fool of himself ('and use your own money, and don't come crying if you get into debt, and blah blah blah.' Paullus had stopped paying attention and started bouncing his leg impatiently until he was allowed to leave). 

Out in the night, the cheers of young men going out to get shitfaced invigorate him. He smiles, a bold expression that shows off far too many sharp teeth, and whoops before dramatically kissing his coin purse before fixing it to his belt and leaving the stables to buy some drinks, play some games. Have some fun. Technically, his ideal evening would be braiding his favorite horse's mane, but Procella can't stand still for that long in anticipation of getting led out, and Paullus is sure today's antics have even worn the stallion out. But him? He's an eternal flame, and the rest of the world better be ready to see it. An eager hand reaches for his coin purse until he slaps it away. Stupid pickpockets. He'd done the long path and earned these coins himself, they'll be for him and him to spend only. 

Where to today? The night vendors are just getting into full swing. An evening's worth of fried cakes with honey? Not a bad option. No, he'll be too sluggish in the morning. If he's going to be tired when getting up tomorrow, he may as well go all in. No use doing things by half measures. He thinks he sees a bar; a dingy one. Those ones are bound to have the best drinks to knock back. And they have the best people; that's where he met the guy he now buys his tinctures from, all down-low because the last thing he wants is for Manager to hold an intervention. At that point, he'd prefer to be tarred and feathered.

Tonight'll be great, just like always. He can't possibly ruin it all. 

Which is when his thoughts get the better of him and he bumps into a woman with dark hair, then keeps walking. 

@Chevi

Edited by Insignia
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Thessala was out on the town after a long day of training. She did not plan on staying out long; she was not done up in full Thessalian witch costume like she normally did when she made public appearances. Sure, she still had all the jingling things braided into her hair, and her eyes lined dark with kohl, but she was mostly out for her own amusement now. A drink, maybe a bite of food, and then make it an early night. She had more training to do tomorrow. The new male-female gladiator pairs were promising a lot of fun, but they also took a lot of practice.

And then some kid walked straight into her. 

And kept going.

"Oi!" Thessala called out, turning on her heel after him. She might not have been fully in character, but she was still very recognizable as Thessala, the witch of the arena. Which meant, she was not going to just let people walk into her. "Are you blind, or is that just the only way you can get close to a woman?"

@Insignia

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Contrary to what many might believe about him, Paullus isn't very connected with the gladiator world. Sure, he's made some acquaintances, but when he does meet them it's usually in a dingy popina, not in the grand arena itself. Effrenus, that stage persona of his he's taken to cultivating lately, needs some work before he can truly socialize with other forms of gladiators and actors and be able to fully understand their doubles lives: one in the arena or racetrack for the public to look at in awe, one being the cruel fall back to reality and the realization that they are all merely pieces in a game of dice. The high of making Effrenus stick for good excites him regardless.

Honestly, he half expected the woman to yell back at him regardless. Just his luck for pushing past somebody who, now that he glances back at her, must be a gladiatrix. Wait, she's the- Juno's tits, he needed to get to the arena more often. If he can't recognize even the most distinguishing of costumes, he's not worthy of being a famous charioteer. You can't rub shoulders with the most prestigious if you run into them all willy-nilly at this time of night. But he's not scared. He won't let himself be.

"For your information," Paullus replies, "I've gotten close with many a woman, and I didn't need to dump a bucket of paint on my eyes to do it."

@Chevi

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The young man rose to the challenge. Thessala sometimes put the fear of the Furies in younger men, for good reason. And then there was the kind that was immediately intrigued, but too dumb to say anything clever about it. She was wondering who this one would prove to be.

"For your information. I've gotten close with many a woman, and I didn't need to dump a bucket of paint on my eyes to do it."

"Oh." Thessala arched an eyebrow with an amused smirk. "Pickpocket, are you?" She made a show of checking her purse. "Not a very good one, though." Some people paused to look between the two of them.

@Insignia

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If he were more reasonable, more cautious, he'd have said sorry and moved on. However, Paullus is exactly none of those things, and he reacts about as well as an impulsive young man would expect to her dig at him. He stands up straight and tries to make himself appear taller and more intimidating than he actually is, but he fails miserably. Instead of being some tough guy, he looks more like an angry kitten. 

"I'm not a pickpocket," he seethes. "I drive chariots for a living, and I don't need to steal your pocket change to have a good night out on the town." Very angry, Paullus. Very scary. Definitely. 

@Chevi

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The young man pulled himself up to his full height. Thessala, enjoying the reaction, stalked a few steps closer. Some people were paying attention now, which meant she put on her full character, her stance subtly changing and her eyes sparking at the exchange.

"I'm not a pickpocket. I drive chariots for a living, and I don't need to steal your pocket change to have a good night out on the town." 

"Ooooh" Thessala grinned, making a show of looking impressed. "A charioteer! I'm sorry, I don't think I recognize you without the horses... And what's your idea of a good night out on the town, hm? Getting piss drunk and groping some women?"

@Insignia

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"I-no!" It becomes quite apparent that Paullus is out of his depth when it comes to fighting with words. Gah, if only he could call up Procella and ride away all majestic-like on the streets. Without his horses, he's nothing. And Thessala has taken note of this, and used it against him before he could think of a proper retort. Stupid gladiatrix. Stupid arena people. Stupid Rome. That is, until he thinks of a comeback that will end any and all arguments for the night.

"I think you're projecting, whatever-your-name-is." Boom! She is roasted. Done for. He's so proud of himself he doesn't even care that a nearby slave pushing a cart has missed hitting him by a margin of a couple hand-lengths. 

@Chevi

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"I think you're projecting, whatever-your-name-is."

Oh, the kid was flailing. Sure, Thessala was not much older than him, but she could recognize an easily wounded ego under the bravado. She'd seen those enough among the gladiators, for sure.

Thessala grinned at the comeback.

"Sure I am" she agreed. "I am definitely getting drunk and groping some women tonight. If they ask me, anyway." No need to be rude about it. Not when you were Thessala. "I'm Thessala, the witch. And I'll still be happily drinking when you're long passed out under a table somewhere."

@Insignia

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Posted (edited)

Bested again. Better luck next time. Barely phases him, for he has everywhere to rise. He'll take it as a learning experience in the war of words. His Latin isn't the worst since he was exposed to it from an early age, but there's still an accent, a verbal reminder of where he came from and what he did. Terrible days, new tomorrows. But hey, he made the gladiatrix grin and he chooses to take whatever victories he can get. 

"Alright, you win. May as well get a reward for it," he concedes. Crap, what to think of? What would be a gift to anyone on this good earth? "I'm Paullus, and the gift is...my friendship! Where's the nearest bar?" 

@Chevi

Edited by Insignia
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