Gaius found himself surprisingly on even footing with the legion. However before their fight could finish the day's training was called to an end. Gaius snarled at the man before following the other slaves.
Gaius was not impressed by the armoury, a collection of swords and shields. Nothing impressive... apart from the greatsword, and the two axes. Perhaps he could earn himself a battleaxe.
They were then taken to the Medicus, it was filthy and stank of blood. This was were Gaius received the mark of slavery. He was about to resist, but he knew that would cause him an early death.'No. If I am to die Marrick will die with me. And so he got the "M" burned into his skin. The pain was as bad as when he was cut with the spear, but he showed no signs of it. Only a stern face that got angrier and angrier. 'I'll cut this mark out of my skin' he thought.
Being taken to their quarter he found the female gladiators. He'd be lying if he said he wasn't surprised. One of them looked as if she could even take himself on. Perhaps even defeat himself. He smirked subtly as she groped one of the other slaves.
The more experienced gladiators had their own cells while Gaius and the newcomers shared one communal room with a few straw mats. Gaius quickly sat on one of them and leaned his back against the wall, staking his claim, before preparing to sleep. Who knows what tomorrow would hold for them.
Rowan had spent the remainder of his day lounging in the courtyard, watching the other gladiators fight. When the call came for them to head to their cells, he was pleased. His first day as a slave had gone well, and he'd proven to himself, his master, and more importantly to the other gladiators that he could hold his own in a fight. The precession of new gladiators moved quietly through the manor, listening to their tour guide intently. Rowan in particular perked up when they walked past the armory. The weapon's master Gable seemed like he would be easy to overpower if an escape was attempted, especially with only one hand. And the beautiful axes that hung from the walls made Rowan hunger for true battle.
They were then branded with the mark of their master, an "M". Rowan took his mark with a smile, hiding any pain he might have felt. He could tell the other gladiators wanted to look brave as well, and he wanted to show Marrick that he was worth more than six gold shards. Once his brand hand cooled the group walked past a cell full of female gladiators. Rowan could not resist taunting the Pingla he witnessed biting and scratching in the courtyard earlier.
"Perhaps you would do better fighting one of them" he jeered at the Pingla, pointing a callused thumb at the cells full of women.
When they finally came to a stop at the group's cell, Rowan moved quickly and purposefully to the corner farthest from the chamber pot. He did not care if he had no straw to lay on, just as long as he didn't smell like filth when he woke up to train tomorrow.
It was after Belkin had finished practising some more on his Sword and Shield use with one of the dummy's when the executor called the slaves together. He looked around at his fellow men, all of them battered or bruised in some way. He liked this, as least he now knew that they still put up a vicious fight even without proper weapons. 'Maybe these lot won't be so bad to fight with after all' he wondered, as he was being through the manor.
The armory itself was stocked with choice, which amused Belkin, given how he knew where it was now....oh the deaths he could create with all these. The swords and shields themselves looked simple enough, nothing too special about them in Belkin's eyes. He also noticed the named weapons dotted around the place, showing just how those who were Gladiators go special treatment.
Next up was the Medicus, a white room where they could be healed. When it came to be branded, Belkin tried to resist, but was subdued after punching the executor in the face. He hated the mark, wanting nothing more that to find a blade to cut the skin off.
It was then time to head to their cells, first cutting through where the Female Gladiators were. He checked each individual female as they waked past, completely oblivious to the groping of Lahar, fearing the worst. He did hear the other Asieren's remark to him, but stayed focused on checking the females. Fortunately, there were no female Pingla's present. He silently sighed in relief, thankful that none of his tribes women were subjected to this....at least here. It was when they were out that he responded to the other Asieren.
"I don't know, compared to my fight with Gaius today, you seem to be the most female fighter around here!" he replied.
Finally, there were at the male cells. He saw how the actual Gladiators were given separate rooms while he and the other branded slaves were herded into one huge cell like they were cattle. He walked over to the far side from the door and sat down there, staring at the door that kept them in there.
Lahar adapted his usual stance for use with one sword, holding the wooden blade near to his face in his right hand the point facing outward. It became apparent to him that Typhon wanted him to attack first, but he knew that a duel between War Walkers wasn't just about skill with a blade, it was also a test of endurance. In the sun of the white desert he would stand still in a battle stance to increase his stamina, more often then not many Imperials would fall from the heat of the sun, baking in their shining armour.
Lahar would've stood there all day facing Typhon, but before either of them could fall from from exhaustion they were escorted into the manor. When they walked though the armoury on the way to the medicus, Lahar couldn't help but hope he might see his twin blades there, row upon were rows of weapons made of wood and steel, none of them black.
When they reached the medicus the symbol of Marricks house was burned into his skin, he didn't scream he wouldn't allow his new 'owner' that privilege, but his face still contorted in pain as the brand burned it into his flesh. He silently swore that once he regained his freedom he would rip the mark out of skin.
They had to pass through the women's cells to get to their own. A woman, matching the size and girth of the giant Asieren grouped him in the rear. Any man would be scared if a woman who looked more like a bear grabbed them in the rear, but he didn't want the others to see his fear. He grabbed her hand and scowled at her, hoping she would take that as a warning.
He settled down on one of the small mats in the communal cell, he didn't like being this close to the Imperial. Instead of dwelling on it he concentrated on meditating, it was quieter in there, not as quiet as he wanted, but it was quieter then the rowdy city.
Antonius was too tired and bruised to use one of his winning tacts. While Gaius was unfamiliar with the weapons and fighting tactics. Neither of them could win so the fight continued for quite a while. Antonius was happy to hear that they could stop. The brute snarled at him. Typical Antonius walked in the same direction as he rest of the slaves as they were given a tour.
The weapon room looked quite good. Most of them were Empire made weapons something he appreciated greatly. And while the keeper of the weapons had only 1 arm he had an feeling he would win in an fight. He wasn't weapon master for nothing. And look there the great weapon of the champion that he had angered. Antonius suddenly got the feeling he had either won the champions respect or his hostility. And if he was his enemy he was as good as dead.
He sat down on the seat as he was preparing himself for the burn mark. The man prepared to mark him heating up the iron. Antonius made an request of the man. "Would you mind putting it there?" He said pointing at an ugly bite scar. "I might as well get it removed." the man laughed at this request and put the mark over the scar. Antonius thought of his wife and held his face in an iron mask. The pain was quite heavy but then again he had experienced heavy pain like this more then 20 times so he just manged to keep up his mask. He wouldn't give anyone the pleasure of seeing him hurt. Not the other recruits and not that damned Marric either.
Antonius was walking through the halls he wanted to rub his burn spot but didn't. If he showed weakness in front of these animals they would surly use that against him. They walked passed the female gladiator cells first. Antonius looked around all a bunch of savages they were no better then the males. One of them was especially strong looking she grabbed the taller Vaan's rear. Antonius ignored what happened as he walked on to where they would sleep.
The more seasoned gladiators all had their own cells. Antonius and all the other recruits were supposed to share an cell. Antonius walked toward one of straw mats and lied down, he wanted to get some sleep before he would wake up to face this hell again. He began to slip away into an deep sleep. Normally he would think for an while before closing his eyes, this time however he fell asleep instantly.
As the sun sank in the sky, Jamukha spent his time practicing his swordsmanship against a wooden dummy. High, low, middle, low, high, he switched his attacks up faster and faster until his arm burnt with effort. When that became too dull to keep his attention, he found a quiet area and began to stretch his limps. This was a common practice among his tribe. For a people who spent most of their time on horseback, it was important to keep the muscles loose and flexible.
Jamuu found it strange, how much comfort he took in these familiar actions. For a moment, just a heartbeat, he could forget about where he was and what he had become. He was home again, lying in a grassy field as the sun touched the edge of horizon, stretching his legs after a long ride. He could feel the grass tickling the back of his neck, and smell cool night air, and he could see the faces of his tribesmen. He could see the faces of his brothers.
And then the executioner cracked his whip and barked his orders. Jamuu opened his eyes and he was back in the training yard of Varlen Marrick. Resigned, he stood up and followed the others into the slave's entrance.
The armory was impressive. Jamukha had never seen so many weapons in one place before. Swords, axes, spears, there was enough to supply a small army. Though, Jamuu considered, that was essentially the point. What were they now, if not soldiers?
It wasn't until they entered the medicus that the full measure of Jamukha's situation fully sank in. Seeing the brand glowing orange and red, being pressed into the flesh of the slaves in front of him, Jamukha couldn't help but feel a surge of fear rush upwards from his gut. He was a slave now, a piece of property to be sold and branded like an animal. Fear turned to panic, and panic to anger. He couldn't, he wouldn't let himself be marked in such a way. He was more than that, more than a slave.
When it was his turn he struggled, he shouted and cursed. He swung madly and broke a man's nose; he knew not who it was exactly. But in the end he was subdued, and the fiery brand was pressed against his flesh, forever marking him as a slave. He wanted to curse, to scream and rip this flesh from his arm. But the pain smothered his screams in his throat.
He kept his head down for the rest of the tour, unable and unwilling to meet anyone's eyes. He barely noticed the female gladiators, shouting and heckling the new slaves as they passed by. Jamuu was silent as well, until he heard the exchange between Rowan and the Pingla.
"I don't know, compared to my fight with Gaius today, you seem to be the most female fighter around here!"
"Careful Rowan," Jamukha responded dryly, "You don't want him to pull your hair or bite your arm."
When they arrived in the open cell intended for new slaves, Jamukha found himself a corner and prepared himself for a long and sleepless night.
As the freshly branded slaves began to settle down for the night, their peace was interrupted by a woman making her way between the cells. Holding onto her hand was Durro, the boy from the training yard. In her other hand she clutches a bottle of wine. Stopping at the communal cell, she wraps her knuckles on the bars.
"Imperial, wake up." she calls to Antonius. "I am Kirra, master Marrick sent me about your reward. As is tradition the recruit that stands his ground against the champion is reimbursed his price at auction. By the master's orders, three copper bits has been added to your new account." She gives the message with the rigid confidence of someone who has been told to memorise the words. Once she is done, she kneels down and passes the bottle through the bars, laying it on the ground. "This is for all of you. We who bare the same brand should stick together, no?" She smiles warmly at them, her face full of good humour. "And share it nicely or you will each have me to answer to!" She calls behind her as she takes her leave, Durro trailing behind her.
Before they round the corner Durro stops at the cell belonging to Vogis, who in turn kneels before the boy, Vorgis says something to him the the others are too far off to hear and kisses the child on the forehead through the bars of his cell before sending him on his way.
"Imperial, wake up." Antonius eyes opened. He turned around ready to defend himself from any attack. He was woke up by a woman who held the hand of the little boy. "I am Kirra, master Marrick sent me about your reward. As is tradition the recruit that stands his ground against the champion is reimbursed his price at auction. By the master's orders, three copper bits has been added to your new account." He was stunned. 3 copper bits? THAT BASTARD! I can imagine him laughing his ass of right now! Oh he will pay for this! Antonius faked an smile as he sat back up, the woman came closer to the iron bars. "This is for all of you. We who bare the same brand should stick together, no?" Sticking together with people that hate me sounds like an very bad plan.
She smiles warmly at them. As she gave Antonius the bottle of wine. "And share it nicely or you will each have me to answer to!" Antonius felt broken, his body had been broken many times but not his spirit. He wanted to smash the bottle, but he didn't of course. Antonius saw what happened with the champion. I am guessing that is his son. So that is how Marric held him in line. Antonius slowly stood up as he turned around. "Well you all heard her this bottle is for all of us. So who of you wants some?" Antonius looked around at the other gladiators. He extended the bottle to whoever wanted to grab it. He could see some faces filled with hate other with just disgust others a bit more neutral but they were all hostile. I don't want this bottle anyway. I am sure drinking right now is not the best idea.
It was damn near impossible for Gaius to sleep. He stayed in an upright position as he didn't trust any of the other new recruits. Sleep was coming slowly to claim him though, but before he could fall asleep he saw a strange exchange. The imperial was given a bottle of wine by a woman walking with the small boy from before. He held her hand and trailed after her- 'No... A mother and child. That Va'Kesh Skaad.' Every passing hour seemed to give him new reason to slowly murder Varlen Marrick.
As the Imperial was handed the bottle Gaius stared at him intently, with both hatred and jealousy. He was the same to him. Just like Marrick.
Lahar saw the woman who had given them the wine walk of towards Vorgis' cell. Not only was Merrick keeping the boy captive, but he was keeping the whole family imprisoned as well, cimex. He wondered why Imperials had stooped so slow, and treated people so inhumanly. Nothing ever happened like this in his tribe, slavery had been abolished so long ago that he tribesmen wondered if the Vaan had ever kept slaves.
The Imperial was offering the wine to the others. It was never his wine in the first place, but he's offering them the wine when he could keep it for himself. He didn't ask for any, he believed wine was a poison that clouded the minds of men, so they couldn't see what was truly there. He realised that maybe the prejudice he had towards Imperials was also blinding him; this man should treat us like scum, but he doesn't. Lahar needed to know.
"Imperial", he said tentatively "Why do your people do this? What started the war?"
Vokrash couldn't sleep. His mind was on the new recruits who arrived earlier in the day. Especially the Imperial, Antonius. that one is hiding something. The signs were showing themselves. Obviously trying to retain laughter as he was sold for 3 copper bits, challenging Vogis at the earliest possible chance and grinning like a madman when his face almost got smashed in. This one truly is different. No matter, one cannot hold secrets in a place like this. Whatever he's hiding will come out in due time.
As this thought crossed his mind Vokrash chuckled and thought back to when he was sold off. It was almost 32 years ago. This was before Vokrash had learned to suppress his feral instincts that he had developed after living for two years in the wild away from any form of civilization; back when he had attempted an escape almost every month for two years. But then on the day of his first fight, something happened to Vokrash. That fight was when he learned to suppress his rage. His mind had snapped and he drank the blood that flowed from his downed enemy. The next thing he remembered he was inside of a pit for three days as he came to fully realize what he had done.
All of the fellow gladiators that witnessed that sight are now dead, many of them felled by Vokrash himself, and he knows that one day the truth would resurface whether he wishes it or not. Perhaps in time the Imperial will willingly tell the truth, but no matter. The truth always finds a way out. And with that morbid thought, Vokrash's eyes began to get heavy as the fatigue set in and he fell asleep to be haunted by memories of the past.
He looked around he saw the taller Vaan looking in a strange way. "Imperial..."Why do your people do this? What started the war?" Antonius looked a bit bewildered at the young Vaan. What was up with those questions? He shook of his bewildered expression as he went back to his normal expression. He thought about it while he had gotten an education he didn't talk often about such topic seeing as most soldiers didn't like talking about such things. "Well it is simple really how does any war start? For power money and land. The higher ups wanted more recourses more land. They got greedy and since we had far superiors weapons during that time and we had an stronger army then our neighbor countries we attacked. It is as simple as that the higher ups decided it and so the lower order of soldiers and officers followed marching into battle."
Antonius seemed to think for a second before continuing." And with 'why we do this' you mean hold slaves right? Well that is an simple one really since we are at war and we are winning we make allot of war captives. Question is what do you do with them? You can't release them as they will pickup arms and attack us again. And killing them makes us lose valuable workers. I mean our society is build in a certain way that relies on a very large number of people doing such lower work. And well the captives who have no rights are the perfect candidates to do this work."He looked at the taller Vaan he looked a bit disappointed. I wonder why.... oh right they are quite spiritual maybe he wants to know how we as humans can live with having slaves.
Antonius continued with his story trying different direction. "And well it is really normal in our society that nobody really questions, if having a slave is good or bad or care about what the slave thinks. Some people even see the slave as lowly humans not much more then animals. It is just the way the rich in this country are raised. You might think that it is evil to have slaves, allot of people would disagree with you on that. It is just second nature to them it is just the way this country works." He looked at the taller Vaan with his normal expression. "Did that answer your questions?"
Rest did not come easy to Jamukha. And so he was wide awake when the female slave and young child brought the Imperial his prize. It was with great interest that Jamuu watched their exchange. He had been a slave for less than a day, and already it was tearing him down piece by piece. Jamuu couldn't help but wonder about that poor child and the woman... how long had they been in Marrick's "care"?
When the Imperial turned around and offered the wine to the rest of the slaves, Jamuu couldn't help but be a little surprised. Imperials were not known for their generosity. But then again, this man really wasn't an Imperial any more was he? He was no more an Imperial than Jamuu was an Amon'tyr or Rowan was an Asieren. All of their identities had been burned away by that cursed brand. Now they were all of the same clan, the same tribe. They were all slaves.
"Imperial", Jamuu's head was drawn to a tall and strange looking slave. "Why do your people do this? What started the war?"
The Imperial now had Jamuu's full attention. He listened intently as his fellow slave tried to justify war and slavery, tried to apply any sort of logic to something as illogical as mass murder. When he was done, Jamuu shook his head.
"So, we should not hate you for killing our families, for burning our homes? It was only natural that you invaded our lands and stole from us? Because you were stronger that gave you the right? You think it is that simple? Can you even hear yourself?" Jamuu turned his head to the other slave. "I will tell you why they act as they do."
"They cannot restrain themselves." He stood up and took a step towards the Imperial. His words dripped with the anger and resentment he had inherited from his father. It was an anger bred from years of war.
"We have a word for them, dremulgar. It means 'with an empty heart'. They are born dremulgar and they die dremulgar." Jamuu took another step towards the Imperial. "They lust for everything but love nothing. And they will burn the world to the ground trying to fill their empty hearts."
Jamuu was now directly in front of the Imperial slave, close enough to look him in the eyes. He snatched the wine bottle from his hands and without taking his eyes from the Imperial turned it over. Wine spilled out in a steady stream, pooling at his feet. When the last drop rolled off the bottle's lip, he turned it back over and shoved it towards the Imperial's chest.
"An empty bottle for an empty heart."
"So, we should not hate you for killing our families, for burning our homes?.....Can you even hear yourself?" Jamuu turned his head to the other slave. "I will tell you why they act as they do." Antonius looked at Jamuu. Oh this should be good.
"They cannot restrain themselves." He stood up and took a step towards the Antonius. He sounded very angry as you would except from some who hated imperials. "We have a word for them, dremulgar. It means 'with an empty heart'. They are born dremulgar and they die dremulgar." Jamuu took another step towards the Antonius. "They lust for everything but love nothing. And they will burn the world to the ground trying to fill their empty hearts." Antonius almost wanted to smile. Like I excepted another soldier who knows completely nothing off this world, and tries to make sense of it but fails.
Jamuu was now standing in front of Antonius. He snatched the wine bottle from his hands and without taking his eyes from the Imperial turned it over. Wine spilled out in a steady stream, pooling at his feet. When the last drop rolled off the bottle's lip, he turned it back over and shoved it towards the Imperial's chest. "An empty bottle for an empty heart."
Antonius looked at the wine bottle held against his chest and stepped back, leaving Jamuu with the empty bottle. "Nothing of what you just said it makes any real sense. The only thing I can agree on is that that most of the higher ups are like that, always greedy always wanting more never appreciating what they have. That doesn't mean however that the entire Imperial population is like that. What you are saying right now is that even an child of 2 already hungers for battle or other evil ways of filling this so called 'imaginary hole' which is of course completly wrong. While I don't know who gave you this misguided view of my people it is completely wrong. I mean there are enough stories about Imperials disobeying orders and setting civilians free, or even taking care of them until they can stand on their own again. And they get nothing in return and yet they still risks their lives for total strangers. And why do you think that is? There is an simple answer to that question. It is because they care more about the well being of an stranger then their own lives. Their hearts are filled with nothing but compassion and love for their fellow man. And while you say their hearts are empty I can assure you they are not." He looked Jamuu right in his eyes.
Antonius stepped forward and they once again stood face to face. "I myself detest slavery. I have never had an slave and I will also never have an slave and nobody in my family has had slaves either. The reason I joined the war was to protect the civilians of the Empire. While it may be horrible to have slavery, at least it is an life. When our people get captured they are almost always executed. While this life may not be glamour at least we get an second change. And of course you say slaughtering your families but that is also very untrue, we capture them we don't kill people if there is another way. And while you may not want to admit it, I am just as much an human as you are even if your hatred blinds you from this fact. And one last thing, spilling the wine that was meant for all of us doesn't make you an good man. It only makes you an egotistical cûlus." Antonius face had an angry expression on it.
The Amon'tyr spoke with anger and bias Lahar thought there was some truth in what he said. The Imperial however spoke the words put in his mouth, justifying the war, saying it was the right thing to do. Shaking his head Lahar said, "One white spot doesn't make the dirty cloth clean. You may abhor slaves but the others don't, you don't loot and burn our homes but others do! You say you fought to protect other Imperials, but what do they need protecting from in this cushy city? You say it was all the higher ups, but you made the choice to become a solider. You say it was their greed that forced their hand, so why not establish peaceful trade routes instead?"
Rowan was more than content to sleep away the day's aches and pains in silence. His cellmates however, appeared to have a different plan in mind. It started with a woman handing the Imperial some wine and muttering about a personal account of three copper bits. Curses, if I'd fought that brute I'd have six gold shards in my pocket by now. Rowan lamented to himself. Surely that would have been enough to persuade his master to allow him an axe of his own. Vokrash's pair made him jealous, such blades were clearly a sign of prestige in this new world, and Rowan wanted to be very prestigious. He could hear the crowds chanting his name as he drove opponent after opponent down into the blood soaked sands of the arena, all while using his very own, shiny steel axe.
He was drawn from his illusions when one of the Vaan, a soft looking man with a hard spirit, Rowan recalled from watching the fights earlier in the day, began to question the Imperial. Rowan could see the outcome of this coming a mile off: men who hated each other locked together in a cage with a cask of wine between them. In an effort to avoid getting his own hands dirty with blood, Rowan tipped his head back and pretended to be asleep, listening very closely. More chatter about duty, honor, following orders came from the Imperial, and then Rowan heard something that made his heart skip a beat. Shortly after the voice of his new friend Jamuu had expressed his own thoughts, Rowan could hear the splish-splashing of wine on dirt. That made him wonder what the Amon'tyr word for "Empty Belly" was.
Figuring that a calm night of rest was now far from possible, Rowan opened his eyes and watched as Jamuu and Antonius locked eyes, mere feet apart. Antonius was spewing forth justification after justification, and now the Vaan was pressing him even further. Rowan wondered if their master had done this on purpose. Had he bought the Imperial over any other candidate, knowing full well that a cage full of foreigners might rip him limb from limb, and be all the happier for it? Finally Rowan had had enough, and, rubbing his eyes to make sure he was alert enough should things come to blows, he decided to interject his own opinions.
"Smoke." he said at first, trying to keep as calm as possible. "The leaves on our trees turned to smoke, and the bark a bright red flame. Our homes, my home, burnt away because of your people. And you tell me what? You joined the slaughter to protect your family? Protect them from what? The only men I ever killed were soldiers like you, killers in their own right. I never saw an Imperial child on the battlefield. And yet the children of our tribes were forced from their homes, forced to take up arms, forced to see horrors that no child should see."
Rowan hawked a glob of spit right at Antonius' feet, rising to his own and shaking his arms awake. He had no desire to fight the man on his own, but he would gladly defend the rest of his new brotherhood if they decided to teach the Imperial a lesson in humility.
Antonius was attacked by 3 people now he looked at all of them. They were only 2 paths to take now A= fight probably kill at least one of them and then die B= apologize and hope they don't press the matter. He was just about to destroy both Jamuu's eyes in a single motion when he saw an flash inside his head. It was his wife holding a son. Antonius looked down at the ground clearly shaken up about something. He then looked back up his anger gone his face betrayed sadness. "I am sorry for all the harm caused by the empire. I also hate the empire that is why I betrayed them... I caught wind of some plans to attack an village that was filled with children, it was an place where the refugees were holding out. When I saw the plans I froze, what they were planning was not what I signed up for. I went over there myself and warned them but I was found out.. When I got home I found my wife dead on the ground she was burned alive.."
Tears start forming inside the corners of his eyes. "I was then arrested for the murder of my wife and betrayal... There is no justification for what they have done to any of you. They burned your homes just like they burned my home... I am sorry for defending them earlier it is just hard to face the truth..." Antonius just manages to fight back the tears he looked weak. His face then filled with anger as he looked back up. He spread his arms out looking at Jamuu. "So be all means take a shot at me! But know that while we might have been on opposites side of the war, I joined your side in the end. And it cost me everything! my freedom, my home, and even my wife." Antonius voice broke as he mentioned his wive. He looked very weak his posture changed. Antonius was waiting for the first hit he knew that what would follow wouldn't be pretty. Of course everything he just told was a lie but it was the story that the parents of his wive had told. The only people who knew that wasn't what happened where his wife and her parents. Marric thought it had gone down like that. That is if he even asked what he was punished for.
fine if this thread is closed then there's only one thing left to
A soldier that threw out weak justifications for war and pretended that he was innocent of it all, Jamukha could feel no pity for such a man. Imperial soldiers who had nothing but compassion and love, soldiers that protected and cared for their enemies? What world was this man living in? Was he truly so delusional as to believe such blatant falsehoods? Only a child could be so foolish. Perhaps this Imperial had never seen a battle before; perhaps he had never been there to witness the full extent of his Empire's "mercy".
"And one last thing, spilling the wine that was meant for all of us doesn't make you an good man. It only makes you an egotistical cûlus."
"I'm not a good man. I'm a sinner, but at least I recognize my own reflection. You are so far lost in the illusion of your grand and perfect Empire that you ignore the truth in front of you."
Jamukha wanted to strike him down for speaking such lies, for being so blind to the sins of his people. Even when the Imperial change his tone, and began confessing his supposed crimes, Jamukha could feel his hand tightening into a fist. No doubt it would be easy to overpower one Imperial slave in a cage filled with men such as this. But after some contemplation, Jamuu decided against it.
"You are not worth the effort." Jamukha looked at the Imperial with disgust. "Pray to your false gods that we never meet in the arena." Jamukha spat at the Imperials feet, and turn his back to the man. He began to walk back his corner and hoped for at least a few moments of rest.
"Would you lot shut up!" Bellowed one of the caged gladiators from across the room. "Some of us are trying to sleep!"
The rest of the week passed without any great incident. On each day the recruits were tested with each of the weapons the ludus had to offer. Swords, spears, nets and tridents. Even axes made an appearance, pleasing the Asieren to no end. But it was not only their ability with weapons that their new master wished to test. Their strength, speed and endurance were tested to their limit with regular weight training and races (and on one occasion a race where they were made to wear weighted clothing).
As time went on each of the new slaves became more familiar with the members of their group and under the watchful eye of the executor they were taught the ins an outs of arena etiquette. How to entertain the crowd, how to hold an opponent at the point of their blade so that the mediator would be able to deliver their final sentence and how to execute it in the goriest way possible.
Their days went on like this until the eve of the Carvelan games. A grand festival, that would be greeted with a tournament of games that would set every arena in Ptolemy a blur. Marrick had given the gladiators the day off of training so they could rest in preparation for the games tomorrow. Most spent it lounging in the training yard amusing themselves with idle chatter while they waited for the final listings of the upcoming games to be put up.
As the recruits enter the courtyard they see Durro and Vorgis at play with a pair of wooden swords. Durro backs the giant gladiator against the wall with a rapid and childish attack, finally tapping the man in the stomach. Vorgis falls to his knees making dramatic death noises until he falls to the ground. Excited by his victory Durro grabs up the second sword and silently offers it to the recruits a huge smile covering his face.
The week that passed after the incident in the cell was a mix between a silent hell and a return to his training for the young Pingla. On the one hand, he was still a wolf in a cage, always being watched over by that Empire Kanestra of an owner, his blood boiling every time he saw that mark on his arm, just wanting to rip the flesh off right there and then. So to keep himself preoccupied and keep himself from going mad, he put all of his focus into his training, using all of his energy to learn how to use each weapon effectively. When it came to the tests, his performance was sporadic, from barely coming second to last (in the case of the weighted clothes race) to coming first (As was the case with a majority of the Endurance tests).
As the week wore on, he started to get along a bit more with his fellow competitors, some (Gaius) more than others (Antonius). He respected their tenacity to learn with the lesser equipment, and enjoyed the many times he sparred with them, testing their strength and resolve, as was the way when fellow Pingla fought as well. One night, when they were discussing how they got to become slaves, he regaled them all with how he and his hunting partner were set upon by an ambushing party of about 30 troops, and how one lucky arrow killed his partner, giving the three survivors the drop they needed to capture him. He described the whole ordeal in bloody detail, in particular the death groans of the three that captured them as their wounds from the battle killed them during the night. It brought joy to the many, and disgust to the one imperial there.
But now the week had passed, it now being the day before the start of their Arena battles. They were given the day off, which annoyed the man. 'Why have the day resting, when death is around the corner' he thought. He decided to let it be, going outside and sitting down.
Exactly how long had it been since he really could rest for once?
"You are not worth the effort." Jamuu looked at the Antonius with disgust. "Pray to your false gods that we never meet in the arena." Jamuu spat at Antonius feet, and turned his back to the man. Antonius still acted to be quite sad as he went to bed. But then a devilish grin appeared out of the sight of the other gladiators. Those fools fell for it. They needed to think that he was weak and on their side. All I need to do to survive is stay out of everyone's way and stay in the background as much as possible. I will outlive them all. He was trying to fall asleep as he began to think about this situation. This was his new home he could only accept that and move on. He also knew that as long as he would not attract attention he would probably live.
The week past in which he attracted not much attention. He spend most of his time alone training he did sit with them during the nights to talk, but most of the time he was silent and listened to their stories of killing Imperials. He ate, he slept and then trained. He trained more then they were required to, he pushed his limits everyday. He would come on top no matter the cost. He did quite well the test. He practiced allot with all of the weapons handed to him, but his balanced training had seen to it that he had already trained with most weapons before. the only weapons he had almost no experience with were the net and the trident. He had trained a few times before with a trident. But he had never trained with an net so that is why he trained with the net the majority of the time. In his dreams he was with his wife and during his day he was training non stop. He felt his body adapting to the bad food and the training, it wasn't a giant change from his life as an soldier. He could already see the result off his training beginning to show while minor they were noticeable. He was still scared that the champion or some of his fellow recruits would attack him at some point so he was constantly watching his back. He also practiced allot of unarmed techniques. Problem was he had nobody to train with but the wooden pole so his hands would be busted most nights.
He was finally resting he could feel the worries just disappearing as he sat in the shade and enjoyed it. He looked down and smiled as he grabbed some sand. He thought back to his time on the academy. And that is when he remembered what an teacher had once said to him. "The more things change the more they stay the same." That old fool was right after all. Antonius looked up at the sky. Maybe he should find a sparring partner just to get a feel of what he can do? Then again he was not hated anymore but he was still disliked. At least some dislike him some still hated his guts. He sighed as he stood up walking toward the weapon rack. He saw the spectacle the champion made with what he thought to be his son. Antonius smiled before moving on. He wasn't standing even close to the boy however so it wasn't like he was ignoring him. He grabbed an wooden sword and shield and turned around in his hand a few times. I wonder if anyone would be so nice as to train with me..ha don't be ridiculous.. He walked over to the training area. He began to train hitting his target while practicing a few new moves specifically his footing.
Gaius sat and watched the exchange with disgust. The imperial will die soon enough. With that Gaius tried to get some sleep.
Over the week Gaius found some solace in the training. He could at least use these techniques in killing Marrick once he got the chance. He found himself usually coming third or fourth in the races but the endurance tests were where he shined. The weighted armour felt right on his stature. He felt great holding an axe in his hand once again.
He didn't socialise as easily with the other Gladiators as they spoke more and more, sharing secrets and stories. He kept his story to a minimal. Gaius felt there was a time and a place to tell his tale.
Finally they had some time to rest, although he didn't know why. It was appreciated but there was no point, more training could be done. Sitting bored on the sand he walked over to Belkin and sat next to him. "I am sure I heard you use one of my words a few days ago. Tell me, do you know what Kanestra means?" he said with a smirk.
Belkin looked over to Gaius, who sat next to him. "I am sure I heard you use one of my words a few days ago. Tell me, do you know what Kanestra means?" he said with a knowing smirk. Belkin gave a grin back, knowing the insult quite well. "Well, from what I can recall, the closest translation you can give without being up front about it is...'Dog Botherer'"
Belkin gave a grin back. "Well, from what I can recall, the closest translation you can give without being up front about it is...'Dog Botherer'" Gaius laughed. His first real laugh in a while. "And how do you know what it means? I have never heard of Pingla before I came here, have you ever met my kind?"
"And how do you know what it means? I have never heard of Pingla before I came here, have you ever met my kind?" came the reply. Belkin just shruged his shoulders in response. "Can't really tell. Just overheard it one day and how it was use to describe that. Couldn't tell if it was two slaves talking or two Empire scum."
"And how do you know what it means? I have never heard of Pingla before I came here, have you ever met my kind?" came the reply. Belkin just shruged his shoulders in response. "Can't really tell. Just overheard it one day and how it was use to describe that. Couldn't tell if it was two slaves talking or two Empire scum."
"If it were Empire scum I would strangle them for dirtying my language, even though they themselves probably bother dogs on a regular basis... Just like Marrick." Gaius looked up angrily towards the balcony where no doubt the man who bought him was off doing something lecherous. He couldn't help but remember the woman who was no doubt Durro's mother. Maybe once he killed Marrick he could get them out, but he'd need to cooperate with the Champion if that had any chance of happening.
The tale the Imperial had told was deeply lamentable, but the way he had so quickly turned from praising the empire to denouncing it disquieted Lahar. Even if they were wrong he had heard that people would recklessly fight for what they believe in, religion, politics even the new sciences. This man however had changed at a flip of a coin. Lahar suspected that some of his tale, if not all was false but he kept it to himself so he could ask the Imperial in a more private situation.
The week that passed was uneventful, they went through a training regime to test what their endurance and fighting skills. Unaccustomed to the bulky armour that the executor made them wear during training he came last in most of the tests. The only tests he exceeded was when they raced without the weighted clothes on, outpacing the larger more muscled warriors and beating the other Vaan a few times as well.
Training with the new weapons that gladiators used didn't go much better. The steel swords were heavier compared to the ones he had made from black steel. When he trained with axes, spears, a net and trident and other more exotic weapons he had no experience in he looked like a bumbling oaf, how does Marrick expect me to fight with my blades? He was started to doubt his chances of success when the real fighting began.
They had been given a day to rest before the start of the fighting festival, he nerves frayed after the poor performance he couldn't meditate, instead he started pacing the courtyard nervously. Lahar saw that the Imperial was looking for a partner to spar with, he had quiet during the past week, keeping away from everyone. It confused Lahar, after his outburst he had expected him to start making friends, not further isolating himself. Lahar thought he might be able to learn something of him when they fought, if not that he would at least see how other Imperials fought.
He walked over to the stand that held the weapon swords, seeing that no-one else was practising he picked up two of them and challenged the Imperial to spar.
Antonius heard that someone was approaching he didn't think much of it since he was in the train zone. But when the person stopped behind him his brain started racing. Maybe it was one of the more aggressive recruits who had finally decided that his time was up. He turned around ready to fight only too see the taller Vaan standing there. He believed that his name was Lahar. Lahar had been meditating quite allot and seemed to be very calm so there was no real danger of an surprise attack. And he seemed to be among the gladiators who wouldn't kill him for fun given the opportunity. Antonius was happy to see that he was in the clear.
Lahar then asked him to spar with him holding 2 wooden swords. Antonius looked at the Vaan he couldn't even begin to guess the mans intentions, but figured why not. He had wanted to test his strength anyway. Though the way he was holding the 2 swords made him doubt his odds of winning this. It was clear that fighting with 2 swords was his preferred fighting style. He accepted the duel and took a few steps away from the man. Walking to an more open space with less thing in between them. He took an defensive position as he tried to anticipate his opponents moves. Lucky for him he had fought Vaans quite often.
The Imperial walked over to a more open area in the courtyard and took up a defensive stance, his shield held up, pulling his body and tucking his sword neatly behind it. Lahar did the same, taking up the same stance when he duelled Typhon this time however he held the other sword in his left hand pointing outwards towards the Imperial and waited for him to strike.
In the week that passed after their first night in the cells,Rowan took the time to get to know each of the other gladiators, at least on a cursory level. Gaius and Vokrash were the easiest to get along with, given their shared heritage. Belkin, Lahar, and Typhon were a little more difficult to relate to, but Rowan did his best to remain friendly during their encounters. Antonius, the Imperial, was a different story. Rowan had no interest in getting to know such a man. His story the first night, about discovering his wife burned in their home, seemed peculiar to Rowan. Their master had called him a "wife murdering dog" after all, and it seemed all too convenient that just when he was being called out for the sins of his empire, he too was a victim, not a willing participant. On the rare occasions that Rowan did acknowledge Antonius' existence, it was by bumping into him in line to get food and drink, taking his spot or knocking over his water and porridge. Should we meet on the sands, Rowan thought, I will send him to his wife with pleasure.
Their training was harsh, but Rowan got at least a small amount of enjoyment from it. He was not the best by any means, though he did preform well enough to keep him in the running. When he finally got his hands on a proper axe, he could hardly contain himself. The other weapons paled in comparison to the axes, and Rowan almost praised the Empire for having such fine steel at their disposal. Rejuvenated and focused, the rest of his training went twice as well as before. Rowan kept the pain of training at bay with the thought that each exercise brought him closer to the sands, closer to serving Morgal once more.
The day before their debut in the sands, Rowan found himself wanting nothing more than to relax. Walking out to the courtyard he spotted Vorgis' boy with a couple of training swords, one of which he offered up to the crowd of gladiators. With a smile Rowan took the blade in his hand and bopped Durro on the top of his head lightly before sprinting to the middle of the courtyard. A little bit of fun before the bloodsport that awaited him tomorrow felt like a good idea, and Durro's victory over Vorgis seemed to have energized the boy.
Antonius was unhappy to find an foe that also used defensive tactics, still it was bound to happen at some point. He began to move forward holding his defensive stances. When he was close to Lahar he suddenly jumped forward lifting his sword to strike. This was merely an feint however as he knew the boy would try to counter. And Antonius wanted to see how he would do that, so he could think of an way to best counter his fighting style.
Gaius chuckled slightly as he saw Rowan attempting to play with Vorgis' child, hopefully Vorgis wouldn't be too angry about that. 'I could use their assistance in my escape'. Gaius thought silently for a minute before stating clearly but quietly to the Pingla next to him "I'm going to kill Marrick. I will try to escape but if I die I need to know Marrick dies with me. Now I know I can't do this right now, and it will take planning. I want to get Rowan and Vorgis to help me but again, I know they will take a while to convince. I need to know if you want in."
Belkin leaned in and listened in to what Gaius had to say. Escape was risky, that much was true, but if he was ever to get home and show the Empire just what the Pingla were truly like on the battlefield, escape was more than the best bet, if fact, as far as he knew, it was the only way. He responded to Gaius in a hushed tone. "I'd gladly help, if only for my last few days on this land to be that of showing the Empire what would happen if a single Pingla soldier got loose on their soil. They'd leave us alone in a heartbeat."
Gaius was relieved. His only ally so far was willing to help. Now he had to convince the prideful fool Rowan and the Champion of Ptolemy. His family will most likely follow suit. Vokrash however, maybe he could rely on his kinship but he knew his story. He was selfish and cruel and may ruin their plans. Gaius turned to Belkin and said "Thank you my brother. I too want to fight on their sands and spill the blood of their best 'warriors', and we may need to fight for a while before we can attempt escape. I just wished I was quick enough to challenge Vorgis, then I would have ten gold shards to my name, which I think is many in their coin. I was thinking maybe Vokrash as well but he seems too... attached to the ludas."