“It's common sense.” Kore smiled. “'Common' being the key word there. I see real people all day, every day. The handful of people you see may as well be from the space beyond the heavens as far as reality goes. I know people, that's all and in my occupation we have to have people weighed up pretty quickly otherwise we're injured, or worse.” She accepted yet another drink and wondered who was the most drunk, her or Ursus. “See here?” Out came the stitched up wound, an almost certain activity practised by all drunken fighters. Kore waited for the gasp and Ursus predictably obliged. “That because I didn't weigh up that my second was a moron.” Kore laughed and told Ursus about Shawn's irresponsible placing of his sword on the cell bunk. Ursus was as horrified as Leo had been. “And here, this big old bruise was from this afternoon where the last one dug me in the ribs and this scab under my chin is where the Nellation nearly kicked my head off. Oh he's fine now by the way.” Kore nodded seriously. “Jyp!” She yelped suddenly. The poor man was still outside sitting under a bush! She's completely forgotten about him! “I really must get going Ursus.” Kore got unsteadily to her feet. “It's a fair walk back to the Pit.”

“You're welcome to stay here if you like. As I said, Spence never comes in here and there's loads of room.” Ursus offered.

“Any other time I'd accept your wonderful offer.” Kore said truthfully. “I appreciate you asking but my colleagues won't know where I am tomorrow. Believe it or not, we do keep tabs on each other down there out of concern.”

“I understand. I'll walk with you to the main doors myself. The guards won't stop and hinder you if you're with me.” Ursus draped a shawl over her shoulders then found another one for Kore. Real silk! “Mind you don't trip over the pedest ...” Ursus tripped over the pedestal of the washbasin instead and sprawled headlong into the door, then the lobby. Kore could hardly move for laughing and Ursus could hardly get to her feet for the same reason.

Jyp unfolded from his bush when he heard, rather than saw, Kore approaching. Ursus had left her at the doors and Kore was now weaving down the path singing a bawdy gladiator song that Blacklock had taught her when she was a child.

“Little Lady! Having good old piss-up eh?” Jyp laughed. “Good stuff indeed. Up goes you.” He hoisted Kore onto his shoulders and she sang even louder. By the time they reached the Pit, Jyp also knew the Gladiator's Ring song all the way through and was singing it as loudly as Kore was.


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