The Asiren shot forward to meet Lahar, thrusting forward with his sword in his right hand, He hadn't left himself entirely open leaving the sword his left hand behind the trust to block any attacks, Lahar had taught himself this style of sword fighting it was about ones own agility and matching it with the lethality of a blade, behind all that force, all that muscle Giaus was slow and putting all his energy into one attack was foolish. Lahar dodged the thrust and rolled around the Asiren's open right side and attacked, sending one sword up towards his opponents neck and one to the waist.
Lahar dodged around the side and went behind Gaius, thrusting his swords up into his waist and neck. Gaius anticipated this and thought to follow by example, diving forwards and rolling out of harms away, turning back to face Lahar. Gaius stood strong and awaited the Vaan's attack.
Gaius dived forwards avoiding his attack, the Asiren was quicker then expected, but he would still be slowed by his hulking size. He turned around to face Lahar after his roll, waiting for him to attack. Instead Lahar again adopted a defensive stance, he would learn what Gaius could do first, then take the offensive.
Gaius turned, waiting for the Vaan to strike. He didn't. In fact he merely waited for Gaius to attack. Lahar fought differently to Benjen and Dran, where as they eventually attacked first Lahar just stood there, waiting. Gaius figured he should just strike first, although he was sure Lahar had some form of counter attack in mind. Realising the height difference between himself and Lahar he stood low, just enough so his head was lower then Lahar's and he spread his legs to stay grounded. He attempted, just for now, to bat the swords away from him to break his defences. This would most likely be a more than difficult task as Gaius was fighting in Lahar's home territory, in terms of weaponry.
Rowan watched Belkin charge forward and take on the rebels like a mad man, urging the group to press on. Every bit of him wanted to help Belkin hold of the lunatics in animal masks, but Rowan knew that the mission was to get Antonius back to the ludus safely. Marrick would be none too pleased with injuries or delays. The sooner they got back in one piece, the better. If that meant leaving Belkin to fend for himself, Rowan resigned himself to doing just that. Besides, as far as he could tell, Belkin would be more than capable of holding his own. No doubt the Pingla preferred fighting in this fashion, perhaps he even enjoyed it.
Rowan kept his sword at the ready and ran out into the street, making his way to the alley. He moved and ducked to avoid the raining fire, and even had to engage a rebel head on to make it across the alley. The poor fellow charged Rowan with a spear, and Rowan responded by stepping to the side, allowing the spear wielding rebel to over charge him before slicing down his spine with his sword. Rowan spat on the body and continued forward, meeting up with the rest of the group.
Belkin had killed another mask wearer, his 10th or so, when he looked back at the alleyways. He saw the last of the group enter the alleyway, just as the rest of the mask wearers had started to converge on the lone Pingla. As much as the prospect to battle those foes tempted the Young man, he knew to keep with the group and save his journey to the Judge for later.
He looked around for another one of the mask wearers who had yet to throw their Fire bomb. He saw one hanging from the belt of a mask wearer who was on the opposite area from the alleyway, and still behind two other guys. Belkin ran towards him, throwing his sword towards one of the people in his way. The sword struck the man's chest, and as Belkin neared the other man, he pulled it out before blocking the other mans attack and stabbing him in the neck. The man with the firebomb saw that there was nothing between them now, and tried to really the firebomb to throw at Belkin. Belkin rushed the man, stunning him with his Shield before slicing off his hand so he couldn't retort in time to stop the lethal blow to his brain.
Belkin removed the shield from his arm, mask still attached to the underside, and threw it over the crowd of opponents into the waiting alleyway, picking up the still intact fire bomb with his now free hand. Belkin rushed through the crowd, a possible suicide tactic for many others, but for Belkin and the Pingla, something they were trained for. He emerged from the other side, covered in scars and his sword now nothing short of drenched with crimson blood. He entered the alleyway, throwing the firebomb into the entrance behind him, closing off any of the Masked men who dared try to follow.
He picked up his shield from the ground and reattached it to his arm before turning back to his colleges. He fell into the wall next to him, weak from fatigue, but steadied himself and slowly got back up. "Well, less gawping as to my survival, and more getting back home so we can ask about these less-than-capable warriors" Belkin replied, eager to just get home and rest.
Gaius briefly waited for Lahar to strike first, he lost his patience quickly though, charging at Lahar after a few moments. This time however Gaius ducked down during the charge and spread is legs outwards making it difficult for Lahar to uproot the large man with the sweep kick he had been planning to use to end the juggernauts charge. Instead he parried Gaius' attack, sending a jab to the abdomen to try and wind the hulking man and continue his counter attack.
Lahar parried the Asiren's attack and jabbed him in the abdomen. Asiren are taught from birth however to keep the body in a strong state, ready to take any and all punishments as Gaius's scars could show. He winced back and feigned pain, allowing the Vaan to continue his counter attack, waiting for the right opportunity.
It was with some effort that the party of warriors made their way back to the ludus. The residential districts of Ptolemy were all but deserted. The inhabitants were apparently either in the city centre hoping to take advantage of the chaos or barricaded in their homes waiting for it all to blow over. The small number of guards they had with them were rattled beyond reason from what they had seen and their captain knew it. He kept a tight watch on their reinforcements. His men may have been better equipped but their numbers had been diminished in the conflict and they were in no condition to fight.
When they did finally step through the gates of the ludus and into the sparring yard every gladiator there was slack jawed at the sight of the beaten and bloody party. The Executor's eyes never left them as he silently waved one of the slaves on their way. Benjen moved to bring them some water. "You should get to the medica, the lot of you." he tutted.
A few minutes later Marrick came storming out of his manor, his robes aflutter. "What in the blazing hells happened to you? How hard was it to cut down some bakers and perverts?!"
The armed escort looked at each other, lost for words. Only their captain seemed to have the presence of mind to speak up. "You sent us into a death trap!" He roared back, pointing his sword at Marrick. "I had to watch my men get cooked alive. It's all out war out there!"
Marrick was not impressed. "Did I just hear a solider for hire complain about going into a war zone?" He asked the Executor.
"I believe you did sir."
"Dear gods you cannot find the help these days! Please tell me we at least got something out of today."
One of the house guards who had been with them finally stepped forward and handed Marrick a dirty metal token. "Sir." He wheezed. "You have a new champion."
Marrick took the token in hand, his eyes meeting Antonius'. The smile that spread across his face looked more like something that belonged on a wolf instead of a man. "Antonius! You have just won me your price back a thousand times over! Not much considering I bought you for some pocket change but still a sound investment." He burst into laughter at his own joke. "Owner of the Cauldron champion, if my father could see me now! Unchain this man." His slaves carried out his will as quickly as he could. "Captain I shall compensate you for your men, wait for me inside. As for the rest of you." The remains of the day is yours to do with as you please. Rest, see to your wounds, drink, eat, visit the women gladiators if you like I'm sure they'd enjoy the change of routine. Gods know I'm sure you all could. When was the last time you even saw a woman, Vokrash?" And with that Marrick was gone. A being of complete self satisfaction.
The gladiators were left in a state of silence for a time. It was finally broken by the Executor. He spoke to the wounded party more than anyone else. "You should sort yourselves out out. Then take advantage of the offers. If things are really that bad out there then there will be a a great deal of games to follow. The public will need to be satisfied and this is the only way the nobility know how. The next few days will be red ones. Enjoy a few hours of pleasure while you can." His tone was uncharacteristically soft. That was the truly disturbing thing.
As Belkin finally made it back to the Ludus, he looked at the state of himself compared to the others. Everyone had scorched shields, a few cuts on their bodies, swords with blood on them and a feeling of tiredness. Belkin.....his skin was so covered in blood, you could have mistaken him for wearing a red tunic from afar, his sword looked less like steel and more like a weapon crafted from pure crimson, his shield was as black as the void into Zuul, and were it not for his will, he would have collapsed ages ago.
It had been a LONG time since he fought in crowds that think, not since the raid of Ga'rterren.
He didn't listen to what was going on, he was still trying to remain awake. There was a coin, a prize, a cauldron....or a col'tran...What would he be doing with a chieftains wife, he couldn't remember. The only word that he heard was "Wounds" from the Pig, and when he left and the executioner had said his piece, Belkin headed off for the Medicus.
He took three steps before dropping his sword and collapsing, letting the Judge take him to Plains.
As Marrick left, Vokrash decided it would be best to head over to the medica, as his age was beginning to get the better of him and he knew that some wounds that he would have been able to take in stride during his youth could slow him down considerably in his old age. As he started to head over to the medica he saw Belkin drop to the ground like a ragdoll. He sighed and lifted Belkin over his shoulder and started walking off to the medica. "Idiot! He'll die if he pulls something like that again just from the blood loss. Rowan, get your arse over to the medica. If you don't get it looked at, the shoulder won't heal right."
When Vokrash reached the medica, he plopped Belkin down next to him. "Make sure you clean him up well, when you're done with him, patch me up." Vokrash sat down on the ground and awaited treatment. 'Now that I think of it, I was to young to be a suitor in my village.'
Gaius awaited Lahar's attack. The Asiren made a stupid move however as it was obvious he wasn't injured. Before the Vaan could teach him this lesson though the party of gladiators and guards returned. There were less than before, though the gladiators all remained, in fact they gained one more in the appearance of a bloodied Antonius. But he was not the worse looking one, they were all bruised and battered but that "honour" would go to Belkin, who looked like he just swam in an ocean of blood. He was panting and out of breath, then again they all were. The only one who looked to stand upright was Vokrash. Marrick came out in a rush and exchanged a few words with the executor, none of them pleasant. It seemed even the free men in Marrick's employ were rebelled against him. This was a possible for Gaius's rebellion, but not a very likely one. Antonius was being praised, something which Gaius paid little attention too, until he heard the word "Champion". Gaius was certainly confused as he was sure Vorgis was the champion, yet here they were trying to find a new champion, and also proclaiming Antonius as champion. It made no sense.
Such things however were the least of his worries as Belkin slumped down and fell to the ground. Gaius was about to rush over and take him to the Medicus but Vokrash beat him to the punch, seemingly less worried than Gaius. He turned to Lahar and said "Please excuse me, I need to check something." With that he paced to the Medicus seeing Belkin unconscious and Vokrash sitting on the floor, both men looking like hell.
"What happened? Is he okay? And what was all of that about Antonius being a champion? What happened to the choice between me, him and Rowan?" Gaius felt the sudden need to speak in his home language in his confused and agitated, worried state.
"What happened? Is he okay? And what was all of that about Antonius being a champion? What happened to the choice between me, him and Rowan?" The questions were rattled off so quickly Vokrash could barely realize somebody was talking to him until they had finished. He turned around and saw a concerned Gaius. "This one here decided it would be a good idea to take around a dozen men alone and Rowan had a sword meant for Antonius thrown into his shoulder. If he has any sense he'll get it treated before it heals incorrectly."
He looked up at Gaius to meet him in the eye and quickly realized that Gaius might think that he would need to do something extremely foolish to prove his worth as well. And Vokrash was in no way ready to let all three hopefuls be injured in some way or another. " Don't worry boy. I'm sticking by to what I said. The sands will be your judging areas. What these two have done here have only proven their own bravery and stupidity. A good champion does not go around killing all he sees for he would die to quickly; he must learn when to be aggressive and when to be defensive. If he only knows one then one day he will meet a foe he could never best. Do not be so anxious, your time will come." Vokrash paused for a bit so his words could sink in for Gaius. After a few moments of silence Vokrash spoke up again. "Antonius is now the champion of the Cauldron. A place where people bet on fights that aren't spectacular enough for the sands. And what of you? What have you done while we were out having fun?"
The Rebels where everywhere, Belkin kept showing why the Pingla were feared. The way towards the ludus was hell, but they manged somehow. They eventually managed to make their way to the ludus. The other gladiators jaws dropped as they spotted them. Belkin was completely covered in blood, and they didn't look much better either. He wondered how Marrick would react to what had happened, he looked at his wounds to see that they had all closed. A few minutes passed then Marrick stormed out of his villa.
"What in the blazing hells happened to you? How hard was it to cut down some bakers and perverts?!" The armed escort looked at each other, lost for words. Only their captain seemed to have the presence of mind to speak up. "You sent us into a death trap!" He roared back, pointing his sword at Marrick. "I had to watch my men get cooked alive. It's all out war out there!" Marrick was not impressed. "Did I just hear a solider for hire complain about going into a war zone?" He asked the Executor.
"I believe you did sir." "Dear gods you cannot find the help these days! Please tell me we at least got something out of today."One of the house guards who had been with them finally stepped forward and handed Marrick a dirty metal token."Sir." He wheezed."You have a new champion."
Marrick took the token in hand, his eyes meeting Antonius'. The smile that spread across his face looked more like something that belonged on a wolf instead of a man."Antonius! You have just won me your price back a thousand times over! Not much considering I bought you for some pocket change but still a sound investment." He bursted into laughter at his own joke. Laugh all you want Marrick, enjoy this moment. But don't think I will forget, that I was sent there to die. "Owner of the Cauldron champion, if my father could see me now! Unchain this man." His slaves carried out his will as quickly as he could.
The executor spoke to the wounded party members."You should sort yourselves out. Then take advantage of the offers. If things are really that bad out there then there will be a great deal of games to follow. The public will need to be satisfied and this is the only way the nobility know how. The next few days will be red ones. Enjoy a few hours of pleasure while you can." His tone was uncharacteristically soft. That was the truly disturbing thing.
Belkin collapsed and he was helped by other gladiators. Antonius felt like he should do something, but then again they would find some way to twist it to make him look bad. Antonius had been sent to die since he didn't want to place nice with the other gladiators. But in securing a place as champion he knew he would be safe. Sure it was the lowest arena of them all, more a slaughter house then an arena but it was a start. Antonius had no choice but to life. He had to see his wife and son again, and for that purpose he would outshine them all. Antonius walked over to the doctor his wounds had closed, but they would surly be infected if they were left unattended. The only person he felt like talking to was Lahar, he wondered where he was.
As Antonius got closer to the doctor he heard 2 people talking. He paused and tried to make sense out of it. "Antonius is...champion.......people..fights...you?...have you done..?" Antonius had wanted to learn more languages, but at least he knew a few words in 2 languages. He sighed and then entered the doctor's office. He spotted Belkin, he then turned to the doctor. "Is he going to be alright?" Antonius sounded worried.
Rowan scowled inwardly at the praise Antonius received, though he did not let on to his dissatisfaction. His arm ached, and he took Vokrash's words to heart, heading straight for the medica without delay. Burning shut the wound had staunched much of the blood loss, but it was a crude and ineffective method of dealing with his wound in the long run. He took a seat on a small wooden stool and waited for one of the doctors to address his wound. Before the man could start to treat him, Rowan grabbed him by the arm and shook him lightly to gain his attention. The doctor froze, perhaps frightened by the Asieren's bluntness, but stopped and gave a gentle look regardless.
"Some drink to dull the pain, please." Rowan said before releasing the man. The doctor nodded and went off to a small table where he poured a concoction into a cup, and hurriedly returned. The doctor held the cup just over Rowan's mouth and tilted his head backwards, pouring the substance into his mouth carefully. It wasn't wine, but the stuff was strong enough to ease some of the pain in his arm. The doctor went on treating the wound, rubbing a salve on the burns and wrapping it in cloth. When he was satisfied, the doctor gave Rowan leave to go about his business. In the mood he was in, all Rowan wanted to do was sleep. Today had been a hellish failure.
"This one here decided it would be a good idea to take around a dozen men alone and Rowan had a sword meant for Antonius thrown into his shoulder. If he has any sense he'll get it treated before it heals incorrectly." Gaius scoffed at that, there was no point in needlessly endanger oneself. Then again, he had certainly done such things to himself in the past, in fact he had gone the extra mile and even considered suicide.
"Don't worry boy. I'm sticking by to what I said. The sands will be your judging areas. What these two have done here have only proven their own bravery and stupidity. A good champion does not go around killing all he sees for he would die to quickly; he must learn when to be aggressive and when to be defensive. If he only knows one then one day he will meet a foe he could never best. Do not be so anxious, your time will come". " Vokrash spoke to Gaius like a teacher to a student, ready to discipline but also eager to encourage. It was rather odd though, considering as far as Gaius could tell he was at least five or six years older than Rowan and Belkin, though it was hard to tell considering their builds. "Antonius is now the champion of the Cauldron. A place where people bet on fights that aren't spectacular enough for the sands." Gaius was rather relieved, though soon after Vokrash said that Antonius entered and spoke to the doctor, he sounded worried about Belkin. Gaius was just glad he couldn't understand him and Vokrash.
"And what of you? What have you done while we were out having fun?" Gaius looked down, trying to avoid eye contact, until he realised he was acting like a child-avoiding the gaze of the older warrior. He cocked his gaze back and said to Vokrash "I was trying to hone my skills in weaponry other than the battleaxe. Just now I have been training with dual swords with Vorgis and Lahar. I sparred with Benjen, at first with the battleaxe. The session got a little intense but I defeated him. He is a good man, and treated me with respect. Dran however..." Gaius paused, for some reason, and he couldn't quite put his finger on it, Vokrash reminded him of his grandfather. It made Gaius feel awkward but none the less he carried on, not wanting to disrespect Vokrash with silence. "Well I sparred with Dran trying out a new technique of spear and dagger, but when I got the upper hand he got very angry. Furious would probably be the best word. I put him down but I'm afraid I may have made an enemy within these walls."
"Well I sparred with Dran trying out a new technique of spear and dagger, but when I got the upper hand he got very angry. Furious Would be the best word. I put him down but I"m afraid I may have made an enemy within these walls." Vokrash let out a harsh laugh. Do not worry about him boy. Dran always likes to shoot off his mouth when he loses to someone he deems inferior. It is good that you are learning new weapons; it takes a long time for you to save up for your own pair. Mine took almost ten years!" Vokrash began laughing again but started taking a more serious tone after a few seconds.
"The more weapons and fighting styles you know the better. It allows you to anticipate what another will do and you can react before they do anything at all. For example, you can stab or slash with a sword, but you can only slash with an axe. If you know how to wield a sword you can anticipate their actions with the positioning of their body. For example, if somebody with a sword pulls his arm back into his body you know that he will be making a stabbing motion and depending on where his elbow is pointing you can anticipate where the stab will be. The same thing with an axe, if you pull your axe back and up then the only swing you can make would be an over the head if you don't want to lose any momentum. The more styles you know, the easier it will be to counter them."
Lahar was about teach Gaius about the folly of feigning injury when he clearly wasn't injured, but as he was about to do so he saw that the gladiators that were missing had returned, beaten and bloodies by the looks of things, none more so then Belkin. The ones that were most injured were whisked away to the medicus. Guius and Vokrash were busy chattering away in their tongue, making Lahar feel even more lonely in the ludus, the only gladiator he could've spoken to in Vaanic was dead, leaving only Artus and Lyria, he doubted would want to meet him again after what had happened earlier today.
He wandered over to Antonius who was also alone in the ludus.
"What happened?" He inquired.
Antonius had been listening in on Vokrash and Gaius, but, as they began to speak faster, he couldn't follow them anymore. Antonius headed outside and was happy to see the sun again. When he had been sent to the Cauldron, he was sure he would never see sunlight again. But he had managed to survive the Cauldron, just like he would survive here. He knew his son and wife were waiting for him outside, and he couldn't let them down. Someone talked out to Antonius, he looked up to see Lahar. "What happened?" Lahar asked.
Antonius was happy to see Lahar, he was the only gladiator he trusted. "Well quite a few things happen, Lahar, but it all started a few hours ago when I was sent to the Cauldron. I don't know if you have heard of the Cauldron, but it is the lowest arena there is. To be honest, it is more like a slaughter pit where people bet on the fighters. I think I was sent there with the purpose of either dying, or make a bit of gold for this ludus."
Antonius looked around, but saw no one listening in. He then continued his story, "Anyway when I arrived there I had to fight 2 other fighters, and got a random weapon to fight with. But what they hadn't expected was, that I killed both gladiators and remained almost unharmed. After that they sent another round, and then another. But no matter how many men they sent into the ring, I killed them all." Antonius sighed as he remembered the young fighter he had to kill.
"Then they sent the champion into the ring. He was fully armored and wearing beautiful armor. I, on the other hand, was wearing no protection and was using the weapons of the dead gladiators. The fight between me and the champion was fierce, but he made an mistake. He lifted his helmet, and didn't put it back down. I used that weak point to attack him, and after stabbing, cutting and hitting him time and time again he finally died." Antonius smiled.
"I was then made the new arena champion of the Cauldron. The crowd went wild, and I was escorted outside. A group of people began to follow me and cheer. But then the rebels attacked, and a fight between them and the guards erupted. The escort and I were caught in the middle but then suddenly Vokrash, Belkin and Rowman showed up. We fought our way through the street towards here, they fought ferociously." Antonius stopped a second to think about his own performance.
He then continued with "I wish I could say the same for myself, but my previous fights had tired me. Then someone threw a sword at me, and Rowan blocked it by jumping in front of it. The fighting was long, but eventually we managed to make our way here. So that is what happened just now. I was sent to die, and returned as a champion," Antonius grinned. He had to admit he was rather proud of that. "So what have you been doing Lahar?" Antonius asked in Vaanic. His accent was horrible, but it was clearly Vaanic.
Gaius listened to Vokrash, he laughed off the Dran incident and commending Gaius for learning new skills, making some comments about various weaponry. He remembered Vokrash sounding quite displeased or at least annoyed at Belkin and Rowan, prompting Gaius to ask "Off topic about weaponry, though I will take your comments on board, of the three of us who are you more likely to choose for the Eferus armor?"
"Off topic about weaponry, though I will take your comments on board, of the three of us who are you more likely to choose for the Eferus armor?" Vokrash was put off by the sudden question. And he answered with a certain agitation in his voice. "As I have said before, I will be judging you based on your performances in the sands. None of you are more likely to get the Efferus Armor as of right now."
Vokrash seemed annoyed by the sudden question, a bad call on Gaius's part. "Of course, I was just pondering the thought. Back on topic, which combination of weaponry is the most favourite for the crowd on the sands?"
The rest of the week passed without incident. Gladiators trained and slaves toiled away at their menial tasks. Marrick made sure to try and keep any talk of the riot out of his ludus but still there were those rumours that slipped through the cracks. For his own part the slave trader made sure to find out as much as he could about the matter. There was no doubt now that it was no mere riot. The chaos had been caused by rebels and dissidents in a terrorist attack. Imperial politics had always been a tangled and convoluted affair, one which had a habit of causing bout of violence in the populace but this group was different, they were organised, funded.
There were plenty of stories going around about what had happened during the fighting, but one that stood out above the rest was the story of the gladiators who heroically stormed into the fray to save the life of an imperial child who had been stranded in the middle of all the violence..... Marrick may have had some of his people alter some of the less appealing aspects of the story. Soon every common worker was talking about the band of noble gladiators. Their names were heard at every street corner.
Unfortunately Marrick had to deal with an irate senator Balus ranting on about how one of his gladiators had offended his honour and how he demanded justice. For his part Marrick just smiled and nodded. The military were putting on a week of lavish games to try and sate the masses and distract them from the political unrest, just as the Executor had predicted.
The Den of Hearts had suffered damage during the riots so every other arena in the capital was pulling double duty. One establishment that grabbed the moment to steal some prestige was "The blood grounds." A rough, medium sized arena set out like a square wrestling ring. The walls of the ring were set up like prison bars so other gladiators could watch while they were waiting for their match and it was no uncommon for some to reach through and interfere if the combatants got too close to the edge.
The crowd had had a good morning and the grounds had been given a generous watering of blood. Up in the higher seats Marrick watched on, with Senator Balus in the seat next to him.
"This should be amusing Marrick. My man's recently been given a pair of new toys to fight with. Expensive things, fine pieces of work from the northern deserts."
Marrick did his best to keep up a mask of mutual amusement. Lahar was standing out on the sands, looking like a little black ant in the sea of red and brown. He hadn't even gotten a decent introduction from the games master. It was pity, Lahar could have made a name for himself given time. But there was no time left for his lonely Vaan, this fight was a fixed as they came. Lahar only had light leather coving his arms and thighs, along with the black coat and clothes he'd brought back from Kedrin's estate. Though why he was wearing them he had no idea.
Out of the depths of the arena came his opponent. A giant of a man, with body twisted with a tapestry of scars and a fierce, cruel looking face. "Now, introducing the champion of House Balus!" Roared the games master. "The tamer of the sands, bane of the north! Bringer of pain, master of tears!" The crowd whooped and cheered and Balus beamed with pride, mouthing along with the list of titles.
"Slayer of Vaan! His enemies know him as Memnarch Baal! You and I call him.... The will! Of! Death!" And the crowd went wild.
This vicious looking gladiator was well equipped. His arms and legs were armoured and a bizarre pauldron covered the right side of his chest. His face was left bare as he roared back at his approving public. He held a sword in each hand and raised them for all to see. Balus was right they were interesting pieces of craftsmanship.
They were black as night. With hooks at their tips.
Gaius spent the rest of the week practising with various weaponry. His biggest weakness was his speed, and while he was somewhat faster than most Asiren it would not be enough to evade someone as quick as Lahar or Antonius. He kept his battleaxe at a distance, trying out the dagger and spear combination, along with dual swords and sword and shield, though he was not a big fan of the shield. It surely offered good protection, but his Tank like body was already fulfilling that role well. The day before they were sent to these "Blood Grounds" he spent a few hours brushing up on his skills with the smaller axes like most other Asier warriors, such as Rowan and Vokrash.
The Blood Grounds were extremely different to the last arena he fought in. The fights took place in one large cell. The only part Gaius liked about the concept of an arena was that it didn't seem like a cage, now that was out of the question. Lahar was sent to fight first against a beast of a man, holding up two gracious looking swords. Gaius grabbed a spear and dagger from the weapon rack, thin enough to fit between the bars and stab the ogre facing Lahar if he got too close.
As Gaius waited for the fight to begin, he found Antonius and thought it would be good to ask the former imperial what happened in the city. Gaius wasn't there and had little to no information as to what happened, other than a riot and gladiators supposedly saving a child. "Antonius!" he called to him, "What happened in the city, I never asked you before, but what was this about Rowan, Belkin and Vokrash saving an imperial child?"
Through the rest of the week, Vokrash prepared for yet another battle. The routine was the same as always; practice swords and shields, practice hand to hand, practice blocking techniques, and keeping his body familiar with the workings of an ax. This time they were going to the Blood Grounds, somewhere Vokrash had not been to in some time. The gladiators were walled in and some of the more rowdy ones could "assist" in the match itself by holding one of the fighting gladiators back against the wall. Vokrash put a mental note into his mind to remember and stay away from the walls.
Before his fight began, Vokrash decided it might be a good idea to go around and look for Vorgis. When he could not find him, he decided to head over and try to get close to the walls for the fights until he was called. As he went there he saw Gaius taking a spear and dagger from the weapons rack. He followed him to see where he would go, and saw that Gaius had found Antonius. ""What happened in the city, I never asked you before, but what was this about Rowan, Belkin and Vokrash saving an imperial child?" Vokrash walked up behind Gaius. "A bunch of hogwash that Marrick made to make him look like a good master. I tried to eat it but we couldn't light a damn fire." Vokrash turned his attention to Antonius and nodded towards him. "Never got around to saying it but congratulations for winning the Cauldron." Vokrash then whispered to Gaius "Why do you have those, it is not your turn to fight"
"A bunch of hogwash that Marrick made to make him look like a good master. I tried to eat it but we couldn't light a damn fire." Vokrash answered for Antonius as he came over and congratulated the man on his victory before whispering to Gaius "Why do you have those, it is not your turn to fight."
Gaius replied "Look at Lahar, he has no weapons and faces an ogre. He'll need all the help he can get if that so called "Man" gets close enough to the walls".
"Look at Lahar, he has no weapons and faces an ogre. He'll need all the help he can get if that so called "Man" gets close enough to the walls". Gaius replied very plainly. "I know that, this is a stacked match. The boy is meant to die, put away the weapons." Vokrash looked Gaius in the eye. "Do not make it so obvious eh? There will be quite the backlash if Lahar would survive due to a gladiator outside the walls stabbed the other with a spear." Vokrash turned back to Antonius. "Sorry for interrupting, keep up the good work lad." Vokrash walked off to find a good vantage point to watch the match. If he survives this...
""I know that, this is a stacked match. The boy is meant to die, put away the weapons. Do not make it so obvious eh? There will be quite the backlash if Lahar would survive due to a gladiator outside the walls stabbed the other with a spear." Vokrash didn't seemed concerned whatsoever of Lahar's fate. He wished Antonius well and was off. Frustrated Gaius followed him.
"Then I can at least pass some weapons through the bars for him can't I? I won't allow one of the few good men I know here to be thrown to the slaughter!"
Antonius spent the rest of the week training. But unlike before, when he had trained alone, this week he spend quite a lot of that time training with Lahar. He felt that he could learn a lot about sword fighting from him. The champion fight had left him with multiple smaller wounds but luckily for him they all healed within a week. One of them left a small scar on his back- a token from his battle. Antonius's spirits had been lifted during their week of 'rest'. Practicing with Lahar brought back good memories of the army. Antonius spend nearly all of his time training, he was rarely seen resting. He practiced with any weapon he could get his hands on, mostly axes, swords and spears. He had trained with all of them before, but he felt he needed to train his axe skills the most. He had never really been good with them.
Antonius spent the time before the arena fight practicing with a spear. He hoped he would get to choose his own weapons this time. The arena looked different than the other ones, Antonius recognized it from a fight he had once seen. His father in law had insisted though he had always thought that the fights were barbaric and unnecessary. He wondered if he would be there today, watching him fight, hoping he would die. Lahar was sent to fight first, the man he had to face looked like a real champion. Antonius wished him luck and told him that if he managed to get him close to the cell, he would help him. He then grabbed a spear and a large shield from the weapons rack.
"Antonius!" A voice shouted. He looked up and was surprised to see Gaius. "What happened in the city, I never asked you before, but what was this about Rowan, Belkin and Vokrash saving an imperial child?" Antonius was just about to answer, happy that he had spoken to him, but Vokrash answered first "A bunch of hogwash that Marrick made to make him look like a good master. I tried to eat it but we couldn't light a damn fire." Vokrash then turned to him and nodded. "Never got around to saying it but congratulations for winning the Cauldron." He smiled and replied, "Thank you." He was happy to see that Vokrash was nice to him as usual.
Vokrash and Gaius then started whispering, Antonius could barely make out Gaius saying. "Look..Lahar...weapons..faces....he.. need... help...man...close...walls." Antonius smiled, it seemed Gaius had the same plan as him. Vokrash seemed less pleased and said, "I...match....boy....die...away....weapons.....backlash...Lahar....survive...gladiator...walls...stabbed...spear." Vokrash turned back to him. "Sorry for interrupting, keep up the good work lad." Antonius didn't smile, he was unhappy to see that Vokrash didn't seem to want to help. Vokrash walked away but Gaius followed him. Antonius decided to follow him too."I....weapons.... bars....him....I....allow.....good....men...I....thrown...slaughter!" "While I don't speak much Asieren, I understood some of what you said. And I agree with Gaius, I won't allow Lahar to be killed here. Even if that means I will be in serious trouble," Antonius said. He looked determent and wasn't about to let his only gladiator friend die.
It took two days for Belkin to heal from the punishment he took, but when he was healed, he returned eager to continue training. While his body was busy with the mixture of training and recuperating, his mind was elsewhere. His thoughts went back to his Death run that he did, and what had occurred from it. Was it his lack of shield which caused his damage? Has he been so long from training for the tactic that he's forgotten some pieces? He didn't know, but he wanted to talk to the Executor and talk about sitting up a place for the Gladiators to learn to fight like the Pingla...and JUST the Gladiators!
When Belkin came to "The blood grounds", it reminded him of a classic duelling pit from his home...only with the bars wide enough for interference to occur. He has picked up a Sword and Shield, as was his training, and sat down to reminisce in his head. The pits from his home were places where two warriors could settle arguments, debates and, when the time called for it, battles to the death sometimes. There was a code of honour in the place: No stealing weapons from the opponent, no interference from the outside, no throwing of weapons, it was a place where the battles were fair.
So it disgusted Belkin when he saw Lahar, the Vaan, entering the arena with nothing but some native finery that he had, going up against an armed house champion from "Balus", probably another bloated Empire "KRUVH ORYHU" (Kruu-veh Oryhuu, one who....."Enjoys" horses), who had with him two Vaanic swords. Belkin just sat back however, he wouldn't interfere unless there was a valid reason, like someone else cheating to help the champion win. He had noticed Vokrash and Gaius talking to one another, with Antonus stalking closely behind. They were speaking in Asieren, so Belkin couldn't guess what they were saying, but he assumed it was about the match as well.
"Then I can at least pass some weapons through the bars for him can't I? I won't allow one of the few good men I know here to be thrown to the slaughter!" Gaius had decided to follow Vokrash, obviously not approving of Vokrash's response to Gaius and his weapons. "While I don't speak much Asieren, I understood some of what you said. And I agree with Gaius, I won't allow Lahar to be killed here. Even if that means I will be in serious trouble." Antonius too was jumping on the "let's save Lahar" bandwagon.
Vokrash turned around and looked at the two of them. "Then I shall speak in Imperial so you can understand just as well. Lahar is meant to die here. The fight is stacked against him. I never said not to help him, but having a spear and dagger is too obvious, at least before the fighting starts." Vokrash stopped for a moment and thought. "Not to mention that Lahar is Vaanic, and that most of the Vaanics who become gladiators were War Walkers. Warriors who only wielded weapons black as night, forged by their own hand. With a stacked match, against the champion of Balus who is a well known hater of Vaans, wielding two swords black as night, I would not be surprised if Balus had heard that two Vaans had been purchased by Marrick and gone off to buy any black swords that came on the market. Those two swords could very well be Lahar's, one more insult to add to the injury."
Vokrash stopped for a moment once again. "Now it looks like Lahar is going to die yes, and there is almost nothing that anybody can do to help him other than himself. This is his fight, on more than just survival." Vokrash started to walk off again hoping that the two would not follow him. "Plus a spear is a little too obvious, something more discreet might be better. Last time I checked daggers are quite small, and arms have squeezed through the walls in the past as well."
"So what have you been doing Lahar?" The accent was terrible and the pronunciation none to better, but it was Vaanic and it did something to lift Lahar's spirit out of the melancholic mood he been after the ill-fated meeting with Artus.
Holding back laughter from the poor attempt that Antonius had made at speaking Vaanic, he replied."Just some training with Gaius and meeting my 'patron'," His mood became more serious, "It did not go very well, for showing I was not just a dog who barks and bites at the beck and call of his master, I angered the senator who had asked me to speak and was ushered away quickly after that.
On my return I saw the chaos you had spoke about, flames roared from inside the city and so the screams of the people living there.
They call us savages, but I have not once seen the chaos that I saw today dwell within any of the tribes I visited with during my pilgrimage." He was falling back into the mood he was in before, so he decided not to dwell to much on the subject, "Anyway, it is best that we see how the others are, from your story, most of the others did not fare as well as you."
After the short conversation, Lahar headed back into the ludus with Antonius following him, stopping by the medicus to see how the others were doing.
While the others gladiators recovered, Lahar spent the week training. Helping Gaius with his technique when wielding duel swords, while he picked up the basic quickly, his speed was still an issue. Lumbering about when Lahar would dance around his sluggish swipes and slashes. Lahar thought that his strength and brute force style might match better to either the battle axe Gaius was used to wielding (even thought he spent the week staying as far away from it as possible) or a large shield with a spear, prodding and poking the enemy, tiring them down until the fatal blow had to be struck or they surrendered, while staying behind a wall of defence.
When not helping Gaius, he spent his time training with Antonius, who seemed to fight with renewed vigour after being sent to die at the Cauldron and coming back not just alive, but as the new champion of that arena. He learned about fighting against others who wielded a multitude of weapons, from sword ans shield to axes and spears. Each combination he learned to parry and fight against, noting their weaknesses and strengths encase he had was brought up to against those who wielded them in the arena.
The few moments of spare time he had he spent meditating, he had decided that once he had got his blades back, he would try and get Typhon's weapon as well. It was only right that his weapon should be put to rest now that he had fallen.
He had been told about where he would be fighting next; it would be in the arena called the Blood Grounds.
Lahar had been pushed onto the sands of the new arena, for this fight he had been told to wear the clothes that Artus had given him-the black coat, trousers and shoes, but he didn't know what the importance was, the coat would get in the way and the shoes, loose as there were, would only fetter his movement. However this time he had not been given any weapons and all he had for protection were some strips of leather covering thighs and a pair of vambraces tucked beneath his coat.
"Now, introducing the champion of House Balus!" Roared the games master. "The tamer of the sands, bane of the north! Bringer of pain, master of tears!" The crowd went wild and the monster of a man that Lahar would have to face was revealed. "Slayer of Vaan! His enemies know him as Memnarch Baal! You and I call him.... The will! Of! Death!"
So this is what it meant to cross Balus, this was why Lyria had admonished him for how he he had spoke to the 'esteemed' senator. Unlike him, this gladiator was well armoured and well equipped, almost covered from head to toe in strangely crafted armour, there were weaknesses in the design, his left side was left exposed and so was his head. The glint of black steel caught Lahar's eye, he wasn't just any War Walkers weapon, he was using the twin blades Lahar had crafted, the ones with hocks at their tips.
Rage bubbled inside him, it was an insult for another to use a War Walker's blades, he quickly calmed himself and thought on how he might win this battle, no matter how high the odds were stacked against him, he wasn't just going to let himself be killed by Balus' ogre.
He took of the coat, the length of material that trailed behind him could be grabbed and used against him. He took of the boots to give himself the extra mobility he would need. It would've been better if he had a weapon, but he would make do.
It had been a while since he was forced to fight with his fists.
He did the last thing that people would've expected and charged at the brute, he would slide once the brute tried to slash at him with his blades, tripping him over.
The bigger they are the harder they fall.
Gaius was pleased to hear Antonius join him in wanting to save Lahar, however Vokrash raised a good point. The odds were stacked against Lahar and even if they held weapons there was little they could do. Still Gaius wasn't going to give up and let Lahar die, from what little he met of him he seemed a good man, and being killed with swords he crafted himself, that was a step too far. However Vokrash did leave them with some parting wisdom. "Last time I checked daggers are quite small, and arms have squeezed through the walls in the past as well."
Gaius nodded, knowing what he meant and put away his spear, instead picking up another dagger and handing it to Antonius, saying to him "You know what to do. Look!" Lahar suddenly charged forwards at the brute. Had he gone mad at the site of Vaan blades being wielded by an outsider?
Vokrash turned around and looked at them. "Then I shall speak in Imperial so you can understand just as well. Lahar is meant to die here. The fight is stacked against him....one more insult to add to the injury." Antonius looked at Lahar, he could see anger on his face. "Now it looks like Lahar is going to die yes, and there is almost nothing that anybody can do to help him other than himself. This is his fight, on more than just survival." Vokrash walked off, Antonius was unhappy to see that Vokrash didn't want to help.
"Plus a spear is a little too obvious, something more discreet might be better. Last time I checked daggers are quite small, and arms have squeezed through the walls in the past as well." Antonius smiled, he was happy that Vokrash did care about Lahar. Gaius handed him a dagger, which he accepted. He put away his other weapons. "You know what to do. Look!" Gaius said, Antonius looked at the fight, he prayed that Lahar would win. He looked at Gaius and whispered "How about you hold him, and I stab him?" Antonius held the dagger hidden from view.
"How about you hold him, and I stab him?" whispered Antonius as he held the dagger hidden from view. Gaius nodded in response as he put his own dagger on the floor by the bars as a safety precaution.
"In case something goes wrong pick up this one. Perhaps Lahar could even pick it up, we shouldn't look so suspicious." Gaius leaned against a wall, far from to cage wall but close enough that he could dash towards it and grab the freak. Gaius, Rowan and Vokrash were possibly the only people who could hold him in place.