I Am Gladiator! (Closed, Started)

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Link to reference material: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/540.384763-Welcome-to-the-arena-Gladiator-RP-interest-thread-closed#15272919

Death of a Slave. Birth of a Gladiator

It is in the great city of Ptolemy that our story takes place. A fresh batch of slaves is brought out for the public to judge. Amongst them is young Varlen Marrick, owner of the Marrick family ludus. He is here on business matters and scans the rows of men and women critically with pale hawk like eyes. All around him the auction is a flurry of activity but he remains cool and distant from the whole beastly affair. He leans over and whispers in the ear of one of his slaves who in return nods and hurries off to join the fray. The bids Marrick places are tactical, bidding early on the slaves which no one pays any mind to spend their coin on and biding his time to steal the more popular items out from under those that would have them for themselves. By days end he has had a great success, purchasing what he believes to be a promising new batch of potential gladiators. One by one each of the souls is lead off and linked together by shackles round their necks as well as this their hands and feet are bound making it hard for them to move. They ponderously make their way through the streets of Ptolemy, an escort of guards keeping them in line and beating the heels of any that start to slow down.

For many of them this is the first time they have seen a city and this is the greatest city in the entire world. The symphony of sights and sounds assaults their senses and leave them in awe. Still, most are tired and broken unable to truly comprehend the scale of what they witness, dressed in nothing but rags that leave them exposed from the waist up. Together they make for a truly wretched display. The people in the crowded streets shout and jeer at them, children point and whisper to their mothers who usher them away from the crude beasts, some are even prodded and groped at by drunken revellers.

Eventually they make their way to the outskirts of the city to the Marrick family ludus. They are brought to the courtyard and presented for all to see, still in their chains. Before them stands Varlen Marrick, he had arrived shortly before them. He stands by a table adorned with a set of scales and two larger pouches of coin. Behind him are the gladiators of his house. The gladiators are taking advantage of this break in their training to lounge in the midday sun, entertaining themselves with banter and by throwing the occasional insult at the new comers. He had done this so many times now he had turned the introduction of new recruits into a well-rehearsed show. He motions to his executor, a stout, weary looking man with closely cropped hair who cracks his whip bringing silence to the courtyard. Marrick began.

"I am Varlen Marrick, your new master. You are here because you are now slaves, because at some point in your lives you have fallen, because you have each proved too weak to stand on your own. But do not worry, for I shall make you strong! Re-forging you out of blood and steel!" A roar erupts from the gladiators and the executor cracks his whip. Marrick smiles to himself, motioning to the first man in the line-up. A muscular man with an "X" carved across his forehead.

"One Imperial citizen. Antonius Julius, guilty of treason and murder. Final price, three copper bits." This is followed by a chorus of jeers from the gladiators as Marrick plucked three small copper coins from one of the purses dropping each one deliberately on the scales by his side.

"Two Asieren tribesmen, you hear that Vokrash? Some of your countrymen have seen fit to grace us." He calls to a greying Asieren behind him with a scar over his left eye. The man gives no obvious reaction to this, not that Marrick pays him much attention. He points to the scar covered giant before him. "Final price, ten gold shards!" Again he reaches into the purse and takes out ten large golden coins that follow the copper ones onto the scales.Then he points to the older Asieren, who in return smiles back at him gormlessly. Marrick is oblivious to the animal cunning hidden behind his coal like eyes. "Final price, 6 gold shards."

His eyes move further down the line. "Two Vaan. Combined price, four gold shards and 30 silver tokens. Congratulations, the two of you were a package deal. Your parents should be proud." This causes more laughter to erupt from the on looking gladiators as Marrick smirks at the two young Vaanic warriors. Their lithe frames making them look like greyhounds compared to the heavily muscled men beside them. Again Marrick takes their worth from the purse dropping them on the scales as the executor silences his baying men.

Further down the line he comes to rest on a young man, little more than a boy. Still despite the brutality he had endured to get there there was still a fire in him that was too proud to be extinguished. "One Amon'tyr. Final price, three gold shards and fifty silver tokens."

"And finally! One pi- pi- how do you say this one's tribe again executor? It's on the tip of my tongue, sounds like piglet or something similar."

"Pingla, sir." Says the Executor as he watches the blonde monster like a jackal.

"I prefer my version." Marrick says flatly. "One piglet tribesman. Final price... free, a gift from general Tavius. Estimated worth," He picks up the entire purse from the table, eyeing it mischievously. "Yet to be ascertained."

He motions to the scales. "This is your collected worth. This is what your fellow man thinks of you. Given time I shall make them change their minds. I shall make them sing your names with glory, as titans of the arena!" The gladiators cheer to this. "But we shall get to that later, now you must regain your strength." Marrick snaps his fingers and turns to leave the courtyard for his manor beyond. A Pack of slaves tidy up the table and scales and scurry off behind him.

One by one the new slaves are unchained and the gladiators move off to an alcove built into the eastern wall of the courtyard where two young slaves are serving porridge and water from huge pots.

"Eat! Drink! Rest!" Barks the executor. Each word punctuated by the crack of his whip. "Your training will begin in a few hours!"

Gaius looked at the puny man standing as his superior. He knew he had never been in a real fight in his life, and if he had he certainly must have had at least a dozen men backing him up. Gaius scowled and disgust letting out a quiet growl, whispering to himself only loud enough for the men on either side of him to hear "I will club him to death with my bare arms."

Rowan wasn't sure what hurt worst, his shoulder, or his pride. The soldiers that had seen to his care before selling him off had done a nice enough job to be sure, but there were still residual effects. Rowan was quite shocked when one of the men confided that the wound that had felled him came not from an Imperial soldier, but from the axe of one of his own tribe members. Betrayal stung deep, and he was sure his tribe thought him dead at this point, diminishing any hope or even desire of escape. And so he allowed himself to be sold, chained, and dragged through the loud and busy streets of Ptolemy. Perhaps the God's had seen fit to grant him new life, perhaps Morgal herself had drawn Rowan back from the brink of death as payment for all of the "feathers" he'd collected over the years. Feathers, Rowan noted, that had been lost in the confusion of the battle.

And so there he was, being pulled in a concession of mighty warriors to a fate none of them desired. The chains around his arms and legs pulled and pushed as the men behind him or in front of him changed pace, irking his fresh injuries further. Finally the group stopped in the courtyard of their new master's ludus. The man introduced himself as Varlen Marrick, a name Rowan figured he'd have to remember if he wanted to make any sort of progress in this new life of his. Varlen proudly ran through each man and their worth, and Rowan was almost insulted when he learned he was four gold shards shy of the top spot, occupied instead by the behemoth standing beside him, a fellow Asieren.

The spectacle was being observed by other gladiators, and quietly Rowan began to understand the root of it all. They were being tested, measured, and weighed. How they reacted to their master's test would go a long way in determining their fate, and how their fellow gladiators viewed them, be that as brothers, or competitors. Apparently the Asieren at his side figured this out as well, because he quietly voiced his displeasure at the situation.

"I will club him to death with my bare arms." he cursed.

"If you value those arms of yours brother, I'd reconsider." Rowan whispered back. When they were released from their chains, Rowan rubbed his wrists eagerly and strode across the courtyard to where the porridge and water were being served. Once he had a hearty serving and a nice cup of water to wash it down with, Rowan found a seat at the wooden table and groaned as he felt the shade hit his face.

"I am absolutely FAMISHED!" he shouted, loud enough for everyone to hear. "One more day without a good meal and I might have made five gold shards."

He was not afraid to make a spectacle of himself. After all, what were Gladiators if not spectacles?

During the trek to Ptolemy his died black hair had faded leaving the roots showing his natural blonde, his clothes had faded as well, sometimes he thought that his life was fading away with them. When Lahar lost his blades he felt that he had lost himself, his pride as a warrior and a monk gone. He was now nothing only worth the paltry sum of money that his new 'owner' Varlen Marrick had paid for him. He had been bought like an animal, like a dog sent into the pits to fight for others entertainment. And if he was worth only that could he still call himself a son of the Vaan tribe member of the mighty War Walkers? He had always found his way in life, but now his life was no longer in his control, could he find the way back?

Despairing he saw that among his new comrades was another Vaan, he looked like a war walker too they had to have been brought together to achieve something, maybe they could escape together. He would wait until later to broach the idea, long days walking though the desert had left him famished and thirsty, right now regaining his strength was more important then escape. Right after being unchained he rushed over to the pots of water, drinking as much as he could. He decided he didn't care if it made him look like an animal, he may as well play the part, for now.

'Piglet....I've been here for five minutes and I already hate him more than the last piece of meat who sent me away!' thought the insulted Belkin, already observing the place as he sat down to eat. From what he could tell, his latest owner was someone who was clearly wealthy, given the way he seemed to judge everyone by how much they cost. He was pompous, arrogant, boasting...and a fool. 'He should be happy he doesn't know what danger he's in if I ever got free.' Belkin thought, already wondering what way to kill the bloated Empire pansy.

By now he had already learned of the three other major tribes that had been sold into slavery many times before. The Vaan, Desert people who have access to a rare ore which they make their weaponry from. The Amon'tyr, who attack from great and swift beasts than charge across the battlefield. And the Asieren... fellow bogeymen who would rather die than see themselves as slaves. A pity the Asieren's and the Pingla's don't know each other, maybe they could have been allies over mutual hate.

Right now he finished his cheap, unfulfilling meal and then looked around the table. Two Older Asierens, Two Vaan who had the same skin and roughly the same age as himself, the Amon'tyr who looked young enough to have only finished training, and the traitor Empire soldier.... he didn't know what to think of him at the moment. And then there were the other Gladiators who were there...he didn't have a good look at them, but he knew he would probably be knowing them real soon.

Belkin just left his empty bowl in front of him, just watching and observing. His thoughts went back to before with the scales, when his price was considered "Yet to be Ascertained". That much was true...no-one here knew just what they were kept close to.

Click, the iron key turned and in one glorious moment blood once again rushed to Jamukha's thirsty appendages. Where once there had been numbness, a new sensation took route. A mixture of equal parts pain and pleasure flooded his senses. His limbs were sore, his hands and feet throbbed in unison with every beat of his heart, but at least he was free of the heavy chains which had accompanied him since the beginning of his long journey. Jamuu took solace in this small moment of liberation, superficial as it was.

As Jamuu massaged the raw and exposed flesh around his wrist, he took a moment to reflect on his surroundings. The first thing he had noticed about the city of Ptolemy was the noise. They were constant and deafening, and completely maddening to someone who has spent all of their life living in the open fields of the Amon Plains. The gentle whisper of the wind passing through the tall grasses replaced with the frantic yells and screams of merchants and other passersby. The soft trotting of horses on loose soil replaced with the rattling of carts and wagons on cold stone streets. The only thing even remotely familiar about his surroundings was the smell. For what was supposed to be the capital of the mighty Empire, Ptolemy smelled an awful lot like horse shit.

A sharp crack of a whip brought Jamuhka back to the world, and he was herded towards a nearby alcove where food and water were being distributed. Keeping his head down, Jamukha considered his fellow slaves and their new master. They were all strangers to him, alien in nature and appearance. He had heard of the ferocity of the Asieren clans, and looking at the towering beast before him he now believed them in full. The others, the tall and lean Vaan and the blue eyed Pingla were complete mysteries to him. As for the Imperial slave, Jamukha regarded him with silent contempt. Slave or not, he was still one of them.

As for his new master, Varlen Marrick, Jamuhka was not impressed. His theatrics with the scales proved nothing. Marrick struck Jamuu as a weak man, hiding behind his coins. Given the chance, Jamuhka would gladly kill him.

"I am absolutely FAMISHED" The smiling Asieren shouted loud enough that everyone could hear. "One more day without a good meal and I might have made five gold shards."
Jamuu sat opposite of this man, and began greedily devouring the food he had been given. The gruel was bland and tasteless, but his stomach was grateful for the extra weight, and his arid lips welcomed the water the accompanied it.

"You are in high spirits for a slave." Jamukha said, looking up through mouthfuls of food. "Perhaps you know something the rest of us do not."

He remembered the warm embrace of his wife and they joy he felt as she told him that she was pregnant. He also remembered the look on her face as he left and turned back. He knew in that moment that he had made the right choice. For his wife and for his son he knew he had no other choice then to make the ultimate sacrifice. Turns out those damned parents didn't even wanted him to die quick instead they had told everyone he was an traitor and made sure that he was sold as an slave. He remembered standing there everyone screaming at him but he didn't care. In their own stupidity of not having him executed there was a change for him to get home. This wasn't the time for tears this was the time for joy. But then he had seen him the eyes of an merchant only interested in money. and the way he looked around the market revealed that he was interested in other kind of live stock then most merchants.

Antonius had been jelled at the most in the streets. One of the drunkards had tried to punch him in the street. While his hands might have been bound he could still easily dodge that drunkards puny attack. As he was called forth first his crimes were told to him and the rest and also the amount of money paid. And had been bought for next to nothing still one was bought for nothing it could have been worse. This hurted his warrior ego but he didn't show it. He was still standing upright with his head held high like any soldier of the Empire should. I guess even gladiators dislike wife killers. He wanted to laugh at the whole situation. He had never betrayed anybody and his wife was still alive but nobody except him and his wife and his best friend knew that. He had even burned a corpse so that it could pass for the carcass of his wife. He knew they would never look for her and even if they did they could never find him. He heard the giant say. "I will club him to death with my bare arms." He almost laughed at this remark. It seems like some tribes are all the same. The other gladiators seemed like nothing special sure all strong warriors in their own right but he had faced off against all these tribes before and won. The one that caught his attention was the Pingla. He had faced them before once, not an fond memory they were ferocious warriors. He had managed to kill one before being ordered to retreat still he had done it before so he could do it again. And also the older fighter caught his attention. He had heard of him before. All he knew for certain was that he wouldn't go near either of them unless he needed to.

He was happy to have his chains removed he looked down at his attire. Only an small underpants and all of his scars were showing all 28. Well at least that will show the other gladiators that I am not knew to fighting. He turned around and walked over to the 2 stands that offered food and water. He was quite sore after the "friendly treatment" he had received for being a traitor. Nonetheless he wouldn't give them the pleasure of him showing them that he was injured. He remembered the look on his fathers face as he heard what he had done. He would never forgive him that was for sure. He also had to remember the name of his master "Varlen Marrick" it sounded like the name of vermin. "I am absolutely FAMISHED! One more day without a good meal and I might have made five gold shards." Huh a man with an big ego and probably not the skills to match it. He hated his type.

He smiled weakly at the slaves as he accepted his rations of water and porridge. This was almost as bad as what he had eaten in the army whatever they did to him had been done before. Murderous training? surrounded by people that hated him? no good food, not enough sleep. This place looked more and more like the academy with each passing second. He quickly downed the meal and drank the water. It tasted better then he had expected, he then gave the bowls back and wiped his mouth ignoring the other gladiators. He then turned around looking for the best place to try and rest for a while. He finally decided on a nice quite place in the shade. He walked toward it making sure to avoid other gladiators. All he knew was that they would probably hate him and that he didn't think highly of them. He reached his spot and sat against the wall. The cool shade felt like the perfect place to be in this burning heat. He sighed as he tried to catch some sleep. A soldier knew that if he got the opportunity he had to sleep as much as possible. He closed his eyes as he began to slip away into a deep sleep. He trusted his senses to wake him up if someone had gotten the idea to sneak up on him.

Skaad. The one word to describe this putrid city: the Asir word for scum. These people flogging their wares in the street, screaming for attention like rotting whores and dying animals. And the people who stared at him in the street, no spitting or laughing just staring and pointing. 'These are the Kanestra who steal my home' he thought to himself. 'They do not deserve their own homes, let alone my forests.'

"If you value those arms of yours brother, I'd reconsider." A brother with sense. For a moment he thought he had found an ally, until not a moment later he heard him shout I am absolutely FAMISHED! One more day without a good meal and I might have made five gold shards." A proud fool he was after all. No allies or friends could be found in this place. Escape was already on his mind, but he wanted to personally kill some of the Skaad that were broght in with him.

He took his food and water and stood against a nearby wall. Not speaking but taking a dominant pose. He eyed his fellow prisoners. None of them looked special, the only ones that caught his eye were his fellow Asir, the Pingla and the Empire Va'kesh.
One of his brethren... no they weren't brethren... they were just more strangers now. One already a gladiator looking like an old and jaded psychopath, and the other he had already judged as a proud fool.
The empire man, he couldn't hide the laughter he felt at having a former soldier here with him, but only in a small smile. If given the chance, Gaius would kill him. Break his arms and crush his neck.
And the Pingla, finally one he could respect.
The worth that Vermin Varlen Marrick said they were worth meant nothing. Being considered more money by the others made Gaius feel no different, as it shouldn't any warrior. But this 'Pingla' seemed to care just as little as him about their supposed worth. Perhaps some kinship could be found.

As the two Asieren were unchained and sent off for some gruel and water, Vokrash heard one of them and fought to suppress a smile. "I am absolutely FAMISHED! One more day without a good meal and I might have made five gold shards." At least that one has spirit thought Vokrash. Let's see if it will do him any good.

He then turned his attention to the other. A giant of a man. Vokrash knew that this Gaius must have some battle history judging from the amount of scars that littered his body. He wonders how many men he has killed. This one should last awhile, but he will need to ally with someone lest he be left behind.

Antonius Julius, a traitor and a murderer. He sure does look it. Visibly trying to suppress laughter at the worst crime a soldier could ever commit and then eating the food alone and finding a place to doze off. Either he can feel no guilt or he's hiding something.

And the Pingla, that one seems to be mad at the world. That one certainly looks like he'll go far. Piglett, I like the sound of that. Still, this one certainly seems like he could hold his own.

All of these newcomers appear to have one thing in common with each other. They already hate Marrick. Good, they'll need to hold on to that hate to survive here. Surviving is the greatest defiance one can give in the arena.

"You are in high spirits for a slave." Jamukha said, looking up through mouthfuls of food. "Perhaps you know something the rest of us do not."

The Amon'tyr that had sat down next to him looked young, but strong and capable. Rowan remembered that he'd been bought for a little under four gold shards. In response to the remark, Rowan smiled and continued to eat his porridge for a while, glancing around the courtyard at his new home and the people he'd be sharing it with. All things considered, it didn't seem that bad. When he was finished surveying, Rowan turned his attention back to the boy. He placed his bowl down between them and nodded.

"You saw those men when we came in, yes? They saw you. They saw all of us, and they are still watching. Watching like hungry dogs, waiting for one of us to look weak, or defeated. They are already fighting us in their heads."

Rowan pointed around the courtyard at the various goings on, and the many fresh gladiators that had begun to settle in.

"We are putting on a show, my friend. A dog that barks loud enough is not bothered, and so I bark loudly, you see?"

The moment they had all arrived at the ludus, they were being sized up by the other gladiators, Rowan had no doubts. They were trying to pick weak links, and Rowan had no interest in being the one they chose to make an example of. Finding friends quickly would no doubt help him thrive in his new environment, and there were certainly plenty of people he could align himself with out of the need for survival. The other two Asieren came to mind, particularly the old man Vokrash. Surely he'd have invaluable advice on how one might distinguish oneself in the games. For now Rowan was content to enjoy the company of this Amon'tyr.

"I am Rowan." he said simply, before taking the last swig from his cup of water.

The weapon must become part of you. Your best friend, your eternally loyal companion. You must be able to FEEL the intricacies of the blade, know it's strengths and weaknesses in your sleep. If you cannot do this, you won't be able to survive the trials that lay before you. These were the instructions given Typhon by the master of the forge, guidelines to help him forge the perfect blade for himself. He took these words to heart, carefully forging the staff-sword he was meant to wield.

He traveled to a small oasis he had discovered during his training. It lie in a relatively low traffic valley, but was the only source of water for miles in any direction. Typhon sat for a time near the center of the oasis, getting familiar with the heft and balance of his weapon, before standing and working through some forms suitable for use with the blade. He started with simpler forms, loosening his muscles in preparation for the harder, more useful maneuvers.

Typhon was so focused on his rhythm that he didn't hear the hoof beats of the group of Imperial cavalry until it was too late to hide. The loose sand of the area didn't help matters any, muffling them in a way only cloth could match. Without time to hide, he could only hope they would not find him worth the time it would take to run him down.

His hopes were dashed when, without any audible commands at all, they surrounded him with a ring of lances. Well, this could certainly have gone better. he thought, searching for anything he could turn to his advantage. Typhon was glad to see that only a few of the lancers could get to him at a time, as the press of horses prevented any more from getting close.

Typhon stood tall, accepting that he would not likely survive this battle, but determined to make these Imperial asinos regret coming into his desert. He waited for one of them to advance, before exploding into motion, his blade spinning to quickly dispatch the overconfident soldier before returning to a ready position. Seemingly not concerned in the least by their comrades sudden demise, but realizing the advantage Typhon held while only a few could approach him, the soldiers dismounted and rushed him as a group.

It was a bloody fight, but unfortunately he could only guard effectively against a small portion of the patrol, and it took only a few moments before one managed to bring a club to bear on the back of Typhon's head, knocking him unconscious...

-

Typhon awoke an indeterminate amount of time later, bound and blindfolded, presumably on the horse of one of the men he slew. He heard the sounds of a city surrounding him, as well as one of the soldiers bargaining with someone. Someone threw him from the horse, and he was unable to suppress a groan when he hit the ground.

The soldier who dropped him removed the blindfold in time for Typhon to see his blade being passed to another man, a civilian by his cloths, who gestured to the soldiers guarding him. They started towards a market, where the sounds of bidding could be heard. So, I am to be a slave, then... He thought, the reality of his predicament finally hitting him. Better I should have died in the desert.

Typhon was stubborn enough that he wouldn't give the soldiers surrounding him the satisfaction of seeing him give up, and so he walked, head held high. He still had spirit, and resolved to not let go of it, no matter that his days were looking grim. He was of the Vaan, and he would find a way.

He was led up to the auction block along with several other slaves. Another Vaan, and several people from tribes he did not recognize accompanied him. It was late in the day when he and several of the other slaves were finally led away, this time more securely shackled, to a villa on the outskirts of the city. Apparently, it was the home of their new master.

About this time, Typhon realized that he hadn't seen if the man who brought him to auction had sold his blade with him. Despair nearly overcame him then: he had barely had the black steel blade for a week and he'd already had it taken from him. I am unfit to be a War Walker... No. I won't let this stop me. I'll get my sword, and my freedom. I'll prove that life will always find a way...

Unable to bring himself to talk with the other slaves just yet, he quietly accepted the food and water and found a quiet corner to observe and plan. He'd speak with the other War Walker later. Odds were good that they'd end up being on the same side of numerous battles, and there'd be time to talk during training.

Far removed from the Gladiators below, Varlen Marrick steps out onto the balcony of his manor overlooking the courtyard. He signals to the executor who nods silently at him in return. Time for part two of the days proceedings...

"Form up!" The executors voice shatters the relative peace in the training area. "Move it you dogs, I don't have all day!" He cracks his whip once again and the gladiators line up in front of him with the ease of a group who have done the action countless times before. Marrick cleared his throat.

"It is traditional in this ludus for one of our fresh recruits to take part in an exibition against the current house champion."

"Vorgis! Front and centre!" Shouted the executor, right on queue. Out of the line of gladiators stepped forth a monster of a man. broad as a barn and muscled like a bull, his body decorated by a forest of scars. His hair cropped close to his head. On his left arm he bore the brand of a house Marrick gladiator. A sharp capital "M", next to it was a simple depiction of a gladius sword. "Vorgis! Vorgis! Vorgis!" Chanted the other gladiators. This routine had been drilled into them over countless performances. House Marrick had seen more than its fair share of new recruits.

"Normally we would make a show of this but the Carvelan festival is approaching and time is of the essence. If the volunteer stands his ground he will be rewarded; the rest will pair off for sparing."

"Durro!" Cracked the executor. Upon that signal a young boy bearing the Marrick brand scurried out from the shadow of the manor, he couldn't have been older than 5. He carries a pile of wooden swords. He sets about handing one to each gladiator, moving amongst them without hesitation. As he does each of the veteran gladiators thanks him and sends him on his way with a kind word or a smile. He lingers longest around Vorgis who ruffles the boys hair affectionately. After all the swords are given out he sets about giving the other gladiators shields that are almost the same size as him, the process is slow but Durro is fast on his feet. He hands them out to everyone except Vorgis and the new recruits who he looks at expectantly.

"So, who will fight my champion?" Intoned Marrick with a voice like a delighted devil.

Antonius was woken up from his short sleep. And he quickly fell into line with the other gladiators. He was still a bit tired but even the small amount of sleep had given him new energy. Then the champion stepped forward his name was Vorgis. He seemed like a brute but an experienced brute, he looked like what you would expect of such an champion. Antonius heard about this challenge it was quite common to do this to see who was foolish or brave enough to accept.

Antonius didn't even hesitate for a second he stepped forward before anyone else did. "I accept the challenge I wish to fight Vorgis." Antonius had stepped forward even though he knew he had no change against this giant. He had done it anyway because the only way for him to be left alone was to prove he was strong or crazy. And accepting this challenge was crazy. He stood with an straight back and looked Vorgis straight in his eyes. Most people would think he was foolish to accept this challenge, but even if he Vorgis won with only 1 hit Antonius would still have proven to be brave. Something that was greatly respected by almost any warrior.

"I accept the challenge I wish to fight Vorgis."

"Excellent." Whispered Marrick to himself. "Perform well and be rewarded."

The Executor cracked his whip yet again "The rest of you get to sparring! sword and shield exercises on the double!" And with that the last of the shields were handed out to the remaining recruits. Each of them pairing off to begin their exercises, leaving Antonius and Vorgis alone in the centre of the fray. Each of them armed with nothing but a wooden sword.

"Been a while since I've cracked an imperial skull." Grinned Vorgis. "This should be fun."

"Begin."

Lahar found a quiet corner to try and get some rest but it was too nosey hear here, how did anyone every sleep in the city, dogs barked, traders peddled their goods and there was the consent clatter of steel coming from the training ground. He longed for the peaceful white sands of his home.

When sleep finally embraced him all he dreamt about was the nightmare of his capture. He was on his way back from the ancestral forge, it was one of the few that no longer had a forge master. It had taken him months to get his swords right. Once the blades ware done he started his journey back to his home. However on his way back he had been attacked by Imperial Outriders, the hoof-beats of their horse's muffled by the sand. His style of sword play favoured being out matched, he kept most of the soldiers at at a distance while he fought.He fought smartly he knew that, a misplaced thrust of a spear and he would leap over their heads slashing their necks, a block that was too slow and he would duck around them slashes at their waists. But there were too many and he too inexperienced and in the end he was captured.

Unable to sleep for fear of more nightmares he tried to meditate, but there was too much noise and without his blades he felt incomplete.

When dawn broke he was tired from his lack of sleep, the other gladiators were being corralled together and he had no choice but to join them. The current champion was a beast of man, tall broad and built like a aurochs. He had no chance of beating him, not with out his blades, but instead of true steal flimsy ersatz swords made of wood were being given out. To his relief the imperial stepped forwards to accept the challenge, he hoped that he'd die during the foolish endeavour, then he would get what was coming too him.

He hoped that he would be partnered with the other Vaan during sparring, hopefully the could work out some sort of alliance and plan an escape.

The few hours that had passed were wasted by Belkin, his activities consisting of either observing his fellow slaves or, when the time permitted it, sleeping off the fatigue. Nightmares didn't plague him like when he was first taken captive, the emptiness of being caught and taken from his home now replaced with a drive to survive long enough to bring the plains of Zuul onto the Empire itself. He slept peacefully, his dream being a recollection of the ambush he and 4 other of his fellow Pingla made against a force of 100 Empire Soldiers when the war was just starting up. They killed Bardern...we killed all of them. It was a good day.

Hours later

Belkin was awoken by the shouting man who watched over them, his form meant to be more Imposing then combat ready. He stood and joined the line, listening to the man who lorded over them like a pig. The message was simple enough: One of you fight my best guy, the rest of you go nuts! He observed the entire event, surprised that it was Empire slave that spoke up to accept the challenge. 'Well, the dog has a bark...now to see if he has teeth to match' thought Belkin, impressed but by no means liking the guy yet.

He was given his wooden sword and shield from the young boy. Belkin was trained to use a sword and shield since he was a child...it would be fun to see who he got paired with, see how they paired us against his training. He secretly hoped to be paired by one of the Asieren's, the more quiet one in particular...time to see if this "Forest Demon" can stand up against a "Half-Demon"!

"Perform well and be rewarded." Antonius liked the sound of that. The Executor cracked his whip and gave orders and the other gladiators left and began to spar with each other. Only he and Vorgis remained, each armed with an wooden swords. "Been a while since I've cracked an imperial skull." Grinned Vorgis. "This should be fun."

"Begin." He grabbed the sword in his right hand and took an defensive position. He would only need to prove that he was worthy. And with his hand to hand skills he would have an advantage, at least if his opponent didn't have such training. He slowly began to move in a circle around the champion hoping that he would make the first move. He was ready to counter the attack of the champion. Antonius was smiling, his first fight would probably end with him on the ground but at least he would have proven that he was brave.

Jamukha ate like a starving dog as the man sitting opposite of him rattled off a response. Luke warm porridge pressed against his cheeks and leaked out of the corner of his mouth. A month ago Jamuu might have been too proud to debase himself in such a way, but hunger had a way of superseding pride.

"We are putting on a show, my friend. A dog that barks loud enough is not bothered, and so I bark loudly, you see?" A strange thing to say, thought Jamukha. In his clan, if a dog barked too loud for too long it was considered an annoyance, and was put down and fed to the others. Perhaps things were different for the Asieren.

Regardless, Jamuu wondered just how well the man before him understood their situation. Here no one cared how loud you barked or how tall you stood. The only thing that mattered now was how fast you swung a sword. That was the way it was in Jamukha's clan, and that would be the way of it here. Jamuu would like the others pose and brag like women in the market, he would focus on fighting.

"I am Rowan."

"You will call me Jamukha." Jamuu responded. He washed down the last of his porridge with the last of his water and proceeded to lick to bowl for anything that remained.

It seemed like hours that he sat there, across from Rowan. He passed the time observing the other slaves. The Imperial dog was fast asleep, as were several others. Jamukha envied them, if only a little. Sleep had not come easily to him these past few weeks. Perhaps he was too sore, or perhaps he was just afraid of what nightmares sleep would bring.

Finally, their new master reappeared, and ordered his slaves to line up. A challenge was made. Jamukha took one look at the house champion and knew it would be a waste of breathe to fight him. His body was already bruised and broken enough without adding any new injuries. He was perfectly content to allow the Imperial slave accept the challenge. Another fool, thought Jamuu. He'll be regretting his bravery soon enough.

Jamukha took his sword and shield from the small boy, and felt a tinge of pity for the child. Had he been born in servitude? Did he know what it was to be free?

The sword was bulky and off balance, and the shield was far too heavy for Jamukha's liking. He considered it for a moment and tossed his shield to the ground. It would do him more harm than good to use it. He then turned to Rowan, and spoke his own challenge.
"You bark loud enough, but can you back it up?"

Rowan's grin widened into a full smile when the Imperial accepted their master's challenge. Rowan might have done so himself, but this way he could see an Imperial soldier get the snot kicked out of him. A worthy trade off. he thought. The Amon'tyr introduced himself rather bluntly, which shortened Rowan's grin right back. And then the slave boy came with the wooden swords and shields. Useless weapons, as far as Rowan was concerned. It would seem that Jamukha agreed, as he tossed his shield to the dirt. Rowan stood from the table and grabbed himself a wooden blade, ignoring the shield pile completely. A true Asieren did not bother shielding himself from the blow of a stick.

He walked slowly, methodically, and turned his head to where the champion stood ready against the Imperial, planting his feet deep in the dirt and barking out a laugh.

"Now we will see, my brothers. How does Imperial Skaad fight when all is fair?" He said, not quite as loud as the last time he addressed the whole courtyard. He hoped quietly that the champion would win, and perhaps more that he would break the soldier.

"Jamukha." Rowan replied, his harsh Asieren accent spitting the last few letters out onto the sands as he brought his focus back. "Let us fight, yes?"

Aseiren were accustomed to sparring, training with their brothers to make the whole tribe stronger. Rowan noted that they used real blades, however. And the axes of the Asieren were far more superior than any sword. But if Rowan was to distinguish himself, he had to play the game the way it was meant to be played. The time would come for axes and blood, and he would send Morgal the greatest warriors on the sands.

The new recruits all formed a line and were handed wooden swords and shields by a child. 'Child Slavery? I will crush their skulls with my hands' he thought to himself. The boy was the only innocent person here, including himself. He was probably the only one who hadn't spilled blood.

Taking the wooden weapons in his hand he felt as if he had just been stabbed. His former weapon was an axe, not one handed like some other Asieren axes but a large battleaxe. He used it like a staff to stun, and the blade to destroy. He was insulted, but a weapon is a weapon.

He wanted to challenge the "champion" himself but the imperial dog was too quick. At least he will hopefully die quickly, the champions build was indeed impressive.

He walked away once they were all dismissed. Seeing the other Asieren and the Amon'tyr drop their shields, he decided that he too would discard this shameful tool. An Asieren thought head on. Your body was your defence.

"Pingla!" Gaius exclaimed, throwing his shield down in front of him and kicking it to the side. He readied himself for sparring. It kept Asieren strong and he would only waste his energy on one that deserved his strength.

Thin fingers flexed and tightened around the hilt of the wooden sword as Jamukha watched his opponent walk around in the sand. The Asieren's movements were slow, and reeked of over confidence. Jamuu recognized it well.

"Now we will see, my brothers. How does Imperial Skaad fight when all is fair?" Rowan seemed more interested in the Imperial soldier and the house champion than the fight before him. Over confident and unfocused, Jamuu would have an easier time of this than he first thought. The young Amon'tyr would have smiled, if he wasn't so focused himself.

"The Imperial will be on his back soon enough," Jamuu said loud enough for the others to hear, "You two can share a bed together while you both recover." He wasn't overly fond of banter, but Jamukha decided he'd give it a try, just for the hell of it. Any advantage he could get in this fight, even mental, could prove the difference.

"Jamukha." Unsurprisingly, Rowan managed to butcher Jamuu's name with his accent. "Let us fight, yes?"

A short nod was all the response that Jamuu gave, before charging at his opponent like a wild horse. Jamuu was smaller than Rowan, and quick on his feet, that would be his greatest advantage in this fight. He struck quickly and often at the Asieren, feinting left and then swooping his sword high and to the right. Strike after strike, he continued the barrage, quick and unrelenting, hoping to wear Rowan and end the fight as quickly as possible.

Belkin noticed how the Asieren and Amon'tyr were throwing away their shields and fighting either with just their swords or bare handed. This annoyed the Pingla warrior, he was trained to fight with a sword and shield, and they were just throwing them away. While it wasn't that much of a handicap, as he was also taught to try and fight with whatever he could get his hands on, the fact that what he was taught to use was being absconded like this was frustrating. 'At least this will change once we enter the arena!' he though, wonder just how unwilling to change tactics his fellow warriors were.

The sudden shout of "Pingla" caught Belkin's attention. He turned to see one of the Asieren, who had thrown away his shield but kept the sword. Belkin smiled to himself, he could remember all the lessons he had learned about using a Sword and Shield, now it was just a case of using their knowledge, just like he did many times before against the Empire. "I hope you're ready for a long brawl, I was trained to use these two items almost my whole life" he said to his now opponent, readying him shield arm for a lot of blows against it.

The executor's hard amber eyes scanned the courtyard before him. He analysed each recruit with cold intensity. Watching which ones seemed to favour offensive or defensive tactics, how they held their swords. He was disgusted to see some of them threw away their weapons like they were trash. That attitude will get them killed in the arena.These ones would need disciplining. Still he had to admit some of them showed promise. The boy, Durro, tugged at his leather jerkin. The child looked at the the discarded weapons and then worriedly at the new recruits.

"Don't worry lad." cooed the executor as softly as his rasping voice would allow. "Go collect their things. Those men won't hurt you."

Meanwhile at the centre of the courtyard, Vorgis charged at Antonius with a great roar. Swatting the imperial's sword away as if it were a fly with one arm and slamming his forearm into the side of Antonius' head.

"You two can share a bed together while you both recover."

So the boy thought himself clever, did he? Rowan wiped a thumb across his brow and practiced swinging his sword in each hand, limbering himself up in preparation for their bout. He had heard that the Amon'tyr were agile warriors, a trait that would be difficult to overcome. His advantage came in the form of his experience, and brute strength. By the end of their sparring session, Jamuhkha would regret his remarks.

"And rob him of your company, brother? I wouldn't dare."

Jamukha struck out quicker than Rowan was anticipating, raining down strikes in quick, wild succession. Rowan was able to take a few cautious steps backwards and block some of the strikes, but those that hit stung his chest and arms. Waiting for his opening, Rowan led Jamukha back, back, until he was ready to strike himself. His arm tensed, muscles bulging out in true Asieren fashion. A swooping strike meant to cross from Jamukha's left shoulder down to his right hip roared out, followed by a solid swing at his gut. As their battle progressed, Rowan began to see how a shield might have been important and useful, even if such a tool was a sign of weakness in his mind.

The pair of them danced around the sparring area, Jamuhka largely in control of the fight for now. But Rowan knew enough to stay patient, and to make each of his attacks as powerful and purposeful as possible. The horse-boy might have grown up needing to be quick, but in the forests of the Asieren, Garonex teaches his hunters a deadly patience. To soften his prey Rowan spun his sword in his hand and sent forth a jab, one he did not intend on landing. He needed to regain his influence on the fight.

Another quick strike came from the Amon'tyr, but this time Rowan was more than prepared to show Jamukha just what he'd gotten himself into. As the strike came down, Rowan leaned to the side, the wooden sword whizzing past his chest. Rowan raised himself back into a fighting stance and struck out towards his opponent's head, determined to finish him off.

Antonius took the hit and his weapon was swat away. Vorgis slammed him with his forearm hitting the side of Antonius head. He felt the pain but he had anticipated the move, but now the champion was defenseless. He had used both his arm to attack. While Antonius still had his left arm he had only used 1 arm to defend. Antonius left arm moved with great speed and he hit the champion with an full power liver punch. A punch so devastating it could take most men down with 1 hit. Still this was not the effect it had on the champion. It would probably only hurt him not even stagger him. Antonius quickly gave the champion a kick to the side of his knee hopefully distracting the champion. He then quickly jumped back and took the same defensive position as before.

"I accept the challenge I wish to fight Vorgis". The words rang strongly in Vokrash's ears and only one word sprang to mind: idiot. 'That one won't last long unless he learns to keep his head down. A warrior's mentality does no good outside the arena. I wonder how my kinsman are doing'.

As Vokrash turns around he sees Rowan tossing away the shield casually and getting into a fight with the Amon'tyr; out of nowhere he hears Gaius bark Pingla as he tossed away his shield and sword to fight bare handed. 'At least they're getting right into the thick of it, now they just need to learn to adapt'.

Vokrash looks down at his hands and looks at his wooden sword and shield and grips them tightly. 'Now then, let's find somebody to have some fun with' thought Vokrash as a smile grew on his lips and he set off to find somebody to spar with.

Vorgis winced and staggered as Antonius' combo hit home. He rubbed the spot over his liver where the punch had made contact. "That's fine, I wasn't using that anyway." he growled. He threw his word at Antonius who caught it in mid air. "There you go, let's make this interesting." At that he set upon the imperial like a wild dog throwing punches left and right.

While this was happening the Executor watched as the various fights unfolded around him. At least they have spirit.

"I hope you're ready for a long brawl, I was trained to use these two items almost my whole life" Smiling at the Pingla's words Gaius charged headlong at the man. Instead of striking with his sword he used his brute strength to kick the shield in order to stagger him before smashing his sword against the other man's. He was sure his strength far succeeded his opponent as he sent his large fist flying towards the Pingla's face.

The sword and shield he was handed by the slave boy were crude, the shield weighed him down, too heavy for him to hold comfortably and too cumbersome for him to use his signature acrobatic style. He saw others throw their shields away and he did the same. The sword he given was the same, crudely made, more of a toy for boys to play fight with then fight duels to the death. He would have to make do with though, he could see no other weapons.

He walked over to the other Vaan and said, "I am Lahar. Lahar Que'ol, I see you are also a War Walker, do you wish to duel?"

Belkin saw the huge Asieren run towards him, sensing that he was about to try and stagger his posture before attacking. He braised himself for the hit. When the kick struck, he used every muscle to keep himself steady, using his legs as an anchor against the force of it. When the Asieren came to strike, he bounced it off with his shield, which still held firm from the attack. He had held off the guy for now, that much was true, so he decide to play defensive for while, so he could get a feel for the shield itself.

Step by step, strike by strike, the battle was slowly tipping in Jamukha's favor. As Rowan retreated, Jamukha advanced ever closer to victory. Jamuu knew that if he gave Rowan even a moment to recovery he would lose his advantage and possibly the fight. So he persisted, changing up his attacks every so often to keep his adversary off balance. For every attack that Rowan blocked or dodged, two more caught him on the chest or glanced off of his arm. Jamuu's strategy appeared to be working, until the Asieren decided to start striking back.

Rowan took another step backwards, but this time instead out staying on the defensive, the Asieren decided to attack. Quick as a cobra, Rowan struck out with a vicious overhead slash. Jamukha had barely enough time to raise his own sword to block the attack. Wood crashed against wood, and Jamuu's arm buckled under the impact. Pain shot through his wrist and up his arm like a bolt of lightning. Before he could recover, Rowan had already sent another slashing attack towards Jamuu's gut. Again Jamuu moved to block the strike, and again the pain exploded through his arm.

It was quickly becoming apparent just how strong Rowan really was. Directly blocking his attacks was out of the question. So when Rowan sent his counter-attack at Jammu's head, the young Amon'tyr didn't even attempt to block the attack.
Instead he ducked under the strike and dove forward into a roll. As he recovered, now behind

Rowan, he slashed at the back of the warriors left leg with all his strength. The strike landed with a sickening thud and the Asieren fell to one knee. Jamukha stood up and turned to face the back of his downed opponent.

"A loud bark is useless without the teeth to back it up." Jamuu allowed himself a moment to gloat before raising his sword to deliver the finishing blow.

Gaius' sword bounced off of the Pingla's shield. He was surprisingly strong. Gaius liked this. Letting out a strong growl he beat his wooden sword against the shield with one hand while clubbing it with his other massive arm. Again he held steady. This tactic wasn't working. Gaius was so used to running across the battlefield, taking cover from arrows and spears while rushing forward and destroying their defences with insurmountable force. But then he had a battleaxe, and his enemy's were foolhardy enough to try and take him on with their swords. This one was smart. This one played defensively, 'Perhaps I shall do the same.' he thought.
Gaius gave a strong knee to the shield before jumping back and holding his sword forwards and leaning down. "Gaius". He told him his name, and expected the same respect in return.

Belkin withstood the knee attack, again anchoring the attack with his legs. 'If this the way most Asieren fight, this is gonna get boring' he thought to himself. He then saw the Asieren bow to him and say his name. "Gaius" was his name apparently.

Belkin responded in kind, kneeing on one leg and showing his sword and shield in front of the now named opponent, as was old Pingla duelling custom. "Belkin" came the reply as he quickly rose up to continue the fight.

"That's fine, I wasn't using that anyway." he growled. Antonius smiled as he thought. That hurts doesn't it you big lump of meat?! He threw his word at Antonius who caught it in mid air.There you go, let's make this interesting." Antonius readied himself, now he had two swords. The champion started to attack with an fury of punches, driving Antonius backward while he blocked the punches with his swords. Antonius took some hits on his arms but he knew this strategy would pay off eventually. He waited and after about 25 seconds he saw an opening, he quickly side stepped dodging the attack.

He then hit the champion on a nerve in the knee making him stagger. He dropped one of his swords and went in for the kill. He quickly stepped behind him and used the full body behind throw he had learned. He grabbed him by the waist and then made to roll himself taking Vorgis with him. The champion was thrown over Antonius' own body and made a spin eventually slamming his knees into the ground. Antonius completed the roll rolling over the Champion's back. he now stood behind the defenseless champion. He then grabbed the wooden sword with two hands, and hit the Champion with a full power two handed hit against his foreheads weak spot. He knew that even a one handed slash would have been enough to do the job.

"Belkin" the Pingla replied as he knelt in front of him before advancing. Gaius decided to try this new strategy, putting one hand on the edge of the blade and the other on the handle in order to block oncoming attacks. ' Perhaps I was foolish to abandon the shield' he thought.

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