The Imperial seemed displeased that Lahar had also taken up a defensive stance. While he waited for the right time to strike the Imperial slowly edged towards him. Suddenly the Imperial leapt upwards and struck out with his sword. He rolled to the side keeping a sword ready if the Imperial tried to hit him while he was moving and slashed at his back. It was only afterwards he realised the the Imperial had feinted.
Antonius saw that Lahar rolled to the side. Antonius quickly landed on the ground and span around blocking the attack of the young Vaan, hitting his sword to the side. He knew that he still had the other sword but if he charged he wouldn't be able to use it effectively. He quickly stepped into the space he made by blocking and tried to kick Lahar in his stomach. While it had almost no effect on the big fighter a week ago, this boy was much shorter and much less muscled he would feel it. At least Antonius hoped he would feel it, that is if he didn't somehow dodge it.
Luckily for Lahar the Imperial hadn't struck him when he was rolling, unfortunately he did manage to block Lahar's attack to his back. The Imperial then stepped forwards closing the space between the two and tried to kick Lahar in the gut. He sidestepped out of the way bringing up his right arm to feint a slash to the imperials head, at the same time trying to wind him by stabbing at his torso.
Antonius saw the sword heading for his face. He made an rash decision and stepped forward trying to charge the Vaan while dodging the blow. he felt a stabbing pain from his right side the Vaan must have used his other sword, still he could go on with this. he charged the Vaan lowering his shoulder, while at the same time stepping in and lifting up one of the Vaan's legs. He hit him with his shoulder on the chest knocking him of his remaining leg. He quickly jumped and pinned the Vaan under him by landing on his waist. He tried to punch him in the face his first punch hopefully getting through because of the confusion. His fist headed for his face with great speed.
The Imperials charge took Lahar by surprise, he didn't think that the Imperial would charged at him so recklessly while a sword was still pointed at his gut. Unable to stop him he fell to the ground. Dazed and pinned to the floor by the Imperials weight he saw the fist coming too slowly. Unable to move his head the away, he turned his face so he would be hit on the cheek and not the nose. His sword arms were still free and since the Imperial unable to block with his shield he slashed both swords at his neck forming a cross. Panting, Lahar told the Imperial to surrender.
The week had been better than usual for Vokrash, the new recruits had arrived instilling new blood and energy into many of the older gladiators, himself included. The fact that there were two Asieren was nice as well; even though Vokrash had become detached from his heritage due to the decades of imprisonment and his banishment. Still he felt some form of distant kinship with Rowan and Gaius. He hoped that they would serve their forefathers proud.
However, Vokrash couldn't get past the notion that Gaius might be planning something. His eyes had been darting around all week, like an animal kept in a cage. Vokrash was beginning to get the idea that Gaius might be planning some form of escape. But he couldn't be certain unless he's approached about it.
Either way today was the day off, and Vokrash had decided to lounge around in the shade near the trees, one of the only places where he could be at peace in this world.
Antonius looked down on the man. he had been trained to go on until one of them was unable to move. This boy however was taught differently. Might as well play along. He smiled at the boy. "An good strategy I am beat you have won." He got off him and stretched out his hand to help him up of the floor.
Accepting the challenge, Durro raced after Rowan. Smacking his sword against the Asiren's sword with abandon. Vorgis smiles warmly at the display but his eyes stare coldly at the new comer.
Unknown to the gladiators, above them Marrick and his executor are going over the final listing for the games. "It's been a good year sir, my thanks for keeping most of our men out of the minor matches but are you sure about the entrants for the more exotic matches?"
"If what you've been telling me is true then I am certain. Said Marrick not looking up from his desk.
"But they hate each other." protested the executor.
"Exactly. We've both seen these grudges develop into something more violent and I will not have it in my ludus." Marrick's voice had a hard edge to it this time. "They will learn to work together or they will die. I have no time for them otherwise"
Accepting the Imperials offer to help him up, Lahar brushed himself down and quickly checked for any major wounds. Except for the quickly developing bruise on his cheek he was fine. "I doubt you have never met a Vaan before. Like the rest of my brethren I walk the Desert of the White Sands, if you meant my fighting style it is unique to myself. It is meant to be used with mine own blades, but they were taken from me" He said morosely.
"When I was younger my teacher told me 'Men who fight with dispair in their hearts, keeps fighting but wish the next blow will kill them.' You said you found your wife dead, not by your own hand but by others. Yet I can sense there is no anger in your heart, no grief. You fight like a man who has something to fight for. Tell me the truth of your tale"
"but they were taken from me" I am sorry to hear that they were taken from you. Perhaps you can earn them back?" He said hoping to give the boy some faith. "When I was younger my teacher told me 'Men who fight with dispair in their hearts, keeps fighting but wish the next blow will kill them.'...Tell me the truth of your tale" Antonius smiled and began to laugh. "It seems I have underestimated you once again you saw right through me. And yes there is an tale to tell but first." He turned around. "Do you swear on your swords that you will keep it to yourself?" Lahar nodded. Antonius went against his better judgment as he made his way away from everybody and began to tell his tale, through whispers so that nobody could hear what he said. Antonius finished his story with: "And that is why I am here right now. I wanted to protect my unborn son and wife." He looked up to Lahar awaiting his reaction to his tale.
Time slowed to a crawl for Jamukha, and a week passed by like a year. He kept himself to a steady routine, hoping to drown his anger and pain in tediousness and familiarity. Not that there was much variation in the ludus. They slaves woke early in the morning and were fed, and then they were led to the practice yard where their training continued. When they were done they were fed again and led back to their cells for the night. A rather bland and ordinary existence for a slave, Jamukha thought. No doubt that would all change when they were sent to the arena for the first time.
"Rowan," Jamukha called to the Asieren as they entered the courtyard on the eve before the Carvelan Games. "Do not provoke the boy. Have you seen what he did to poor Vorgis?" Jamukha gave the child a playful smile. Durro was a good lad, and Vorgis wasn't so bad for a brute either.
Jamukha found a spot in the courtyard close to Rowan and began to stretch out his body. As he bent his arm behind his back, he watched the Imperial and the Vaan, Lahar, spar. They fought like savages, without and soon the fight was taken to the ground.
"And Antonius is dead again." Jamukha said with dry satisfaction. "He is too reckless. Lahar had him the moment he stepped in and took the hit to the side. If those swords were made of steel, we'd be pulling that Imperial's body off of Lahar." Jamukha spoke to Rowan, but did not care if the Asieren was listening or not.
When their fight was over, Jamukha watched as the Imperial and the Lahar walked together to a discreet area of the courtyard, and began speaking very softly with each other. Jamuu wondered what they could possibly be talking about, but did not bother himself too long about it. Secrets were a rare commodity among slaves.
On the other side of the practice yard Jamuu caught a glimpse of the Pingla and Gaius exchanging a few words. There seemed to be a lot of conversation, and not a whole lot of sparring going on in the yard. Could it be that his fellow slaves were just as anxious to set foot in the arena as he was?
The story Antonius told Lahar was a sorrowful one. He regretted that he had held him in such contempt. Realising that he was just a man following order and that Imperial propaganda had made their wandering tribes look like feral beasts compared to the "civilised" city dwellers of the Empire, that Antonius had truly believed that he had to protect this festering city. It was not his fault, it was the ones in control who pulled his strings.
"You are not a bad man, nor 'dremulgar'. That is clear now" He said, apologising. "I will return to my meditations now"
Now that his mind was clear of the doubts he had about Antonius, he found a secluded spot and slipped into the meditation trance, wondering what the next day in the arena might hold for them.
Rowan moved to block all of Durro's strikes, but only countered with blows to Durro's own sword that could easily be blocked. He was having a good laugh until he realized Vorgis was watching him intently. Rowan had meant no disrespect to Vorgis by playing with Durro, but it seemed as though the champion didn't care too much for what Rowan had meant regardless. From the corner of his eye, Rowan spotted his closest friend amongst the other slaves, Jamuu, walking out onto the courtyard. Without taking his attention from the intense sparring match, Rowan shouted back.
"Aye, I'll be careful." Just then Rowan made a swooping motion with his sword arm, just slow enough to get caught by Durro's latest wild strike. Rowan crashed to the ground in an overly dramatic fashion and looked up at Durro pleadingly.
"Mercy! Mercy!" He called. He found himself actually having a great deal of fun, and he even forgot that the pair of them were slaves. If Rowan had had a son, he would have wanted him to be like Durro: proud, wild and strong. Pulling himself to his feet, Rowan also noticed the great deal of conspiring going on around the courtyard. He resigned himself to the fact that if he were meant to know what was going on, someone would take the time to tell him.
"Your boy is strong, Vorgis." Rowan said between heavy breathes. Hopefully his banter and kind demeanor would break that ice cold stare. After getting himself a drink of water and returning the practice sword to Durro, Rowan found Jamuu again and patted the Amon'tyr on his back.
"If the Gods are good, wood will turn to steel soon enough, and we will be rid of that Imperial."
"Your boy is strong, Vorgis."
"Aye." Replied Vorgis replied. Smiling begrudgingly.
"And you're sure about this?"
"There is no better pairing that I can see, The only question left is what roles too put them in?"
"The Pingla brags about his training with sword and shield and the Asiren quivers at the touch of an axe, just like the rest of his kind. I would say fate has made the choice for us."
"Still I would rather take your advise over fate's, executor."
"Thank you sir."
"And it is heard. The Pingla shall play the part of the tower, the Asiren, the woodsman and Carvinox shall play himself." Marrick smiled at that last remark
A few hours later the final list went up.
Gaius felt good for the first time in a while. He had one ally ready to help him escape already. No doubt Vokrash and perhaps the the Champion Vorgis had tried to escape in the past, but their is strength in numbers. And with four, maybe five warriors if Gaius was willing to cooperate with those he didn't respect like the imperial, their was a good chance that at least one of them would escape alive. He couldn't understand why but his mind kept trailing back to Durro and his mother, he even felt less hatred for the Champion. Gaius had surely killed fathers and sons of people in the past, but actually seeing the child of Vorgis... it made him dread meeting him in the arena if it ever came to it. He couldn't live with himself if he killed him and then had to face his family, but at the same time he couldn't go easy on him because no doubt Vorgis would give him his all.
A few hours later a list came up with the various names of Gladiators on it. Gaius rushed to see the list, knocking others aside. The majority of matches involved teaming gladiators up, except his.
The tale of ever light tower -
Belkin (The Tower) Gaius (The woodsman) Vs Carvinox
Gaius was extremely confused. "The tale of ever light tower?" he said aloud. "What does this even mean? And who is Carvinox?" He looked around for an answer. Perhaps Carvinox was a name of a team, but most likely an extremely powerful fighter. No matter, he was teamed with Belkin, a man who nearly brought himself to his knees, even if he did have tactics like a rabid dog. But why did it say 'The Tower' and 'Woodsman' instead of listing weapons like the others? If it was an axe, not the small 'one in each hand' style of most Asiren but a large battleaxe, then he would fare well.
Antonius looked at Lahar leaving. Lahar had said something that Antonius hadn't excepted. He was too stunned to say anything as the words were still hanging in the air. "You are not a bad man, nor 'dremulgar'. That is clear now" He said, apologising. "I will return to my meditations now" Antonius smiled. Maybe he had even made an brother. His first one.. He felt a lot less lonely as he grabbed his sword with new determination, he continued training with new found power.
A few hours later a list came up with the various names of Gladiators on it. Antonius walked toward it avoiding the other gladiators. He was still smiling when he began to read.
Antonius (sword and shield) & Jamukha (Spear) vs The Darkling Brothers
The smile was wiped of his face as he turned pale. I have to work with that cŁlus! Lady luck really hates me. He turned around taking an neutral expression as he walked over to Jamuu. He walked up to him stopping before him making sure he couldn't pass. "Greeting Jamuu. It looks like we will be fighting in the first round together against 'The darkling brothers'. So I was thinking we could go through some tactic." Antonius wasn't pleased by all this but he would be damned before he died because of Jamuu. He readied himself for any punches or kicks Jamuu would throw at him.
After a few hours had passed, the list had gone up. Belkin stood up from where he sat and walked over, his muscles finding some relief in the day off they've had so far. Two areas of the list stood out for the Pingla:
Antonius (sword and shield) & Jamukha (Spear) vs The Darkling Brothers
'The Empire slave and the Amon'tyr working together?!....Wonder what the Arena's outlook is on ally killing' thought the now amused Belkin, hoping there would be a good place to see the brawl from where they were going to be no doubt stored. The other point that stood out was his own.
The tale of ever light tower -
Belkin (The Tower) Gaius (The woodsman) Vs Carvinox
'Public Exhibition, that means something before the main event, like a story...or the Executions...' Belkin now worryingly thought. Either he and Gaius were about to be killed before they even started planning their escape, in theatrical fashion to boot, or they were about to be props for some Gladiators story. Either way, the fact that he was named as the Tower made his mind know that his Shield work was about to come into play.
He walked over to the pile of shields there, picking one of them up while avoiding the swords. "Hey" he spoke to no-one in particular, "Is anyone interested in making sure my shield arm is good for tomorrow?"
When the list went up, Jamukha was one of the last of the slaves to examine it. After a week of anticipation, he decided he could wait a just a little longer. If fortune was on his side he would walk over to the list and discover he had been paired up with Rowan, or even Vorgis. Fortune however, was not on his side.
Anger sparked in the eyes of the young Amon'tyr as he looked upon his own match. The mere thought of fighting alongside that Imperial scum made his blood run hot through his veins. His anger had just started to peek when the Imperial approached him.
"Greetings Jamuu. It looks like we will be fighting in the first round together against 'The darkling brothers'. So I was thinking we could go through some tactic."
"You do not have my permission to use that name." Jamukha responded softly, his voice carried by a cold furry. Jamuu was his shortened name. It was reserved for friends and family, and those that the young Amon'tyr held in high regard.
Rowan had earned the right to use it when he defeated Jamukha their fist day in the ludus. So far none of the other slaves had earned that right, much less the Imperial. It took a great deal of self restraint for Jamuu not to strike the Imperial across the face for such an offense.
"You will call me Jamukha or you will not use my name at all." Frankly, Jamuu preferred the latter. Even hearing the Imperial speak his name felt like an insult.
"As for tactics," Jamuu stretched his left arm behind his head and as he spoke, "there is little to discuss. You will stay out of my way and I will kill these 'darkling brothers.' Is there any part of that you wish for me to explain in greater detail?"
"You do not have my permission to use that name. You will call me Jamukha or you will not use my name at all." Antonius saw the fury in his eyes. "I apologize. I had heard you mention that name to one of the other recruits, and thought that was your name. So I am sorry for using your shorted name."
"As for tactics,there is little to discuss. You will stay out of my way and I will kill these 'darkling brothers.' Is there any part of that you wish for me to explain in greater detail?"
Antonius looked at the man. "You do realize there is a reason they are called the brothers right? It is because they are probably brothers and since they fight together really well. They have probably spend years fighting together so they fight as one now. And I believe you are strong but without an horse I do not thing you can take them both on at the same time. My idea was that the simplest tactic would be to split them up, and that we both focus on taking one down. Do you agree with that Jamukha?" He still looked at the man with an neutral expression hiding his disgust for the man.
Rowan finally made his way to the lists, and looked over his match with a wide grin. He had been paired with Lahar, one of the more impressive fighters. The fact that Lahar preferred two swords and Rowan two axes made him slightly uneasy. Their fighting styles were so similar, it would leave openings for their opponents to exploit. Not to mention how the crowd would react to having two very similar fighters on one team. Perhaps it was time for Rowan to adapt a more distinct personality in the sands, to win the crowd to his side. Glancing further through the lists Rowan noticed that his friend Jamukha had been paired with the Imperial. And judging from their reactions, neither man favored the pairing. Rowan could only hope that Antonius survived his first fight, so that the two of them could meet face to face, and Rowan could kill him himself.
The more interesting match was the Public Exhibition. Gaius and Belkin had been paired, and it looked as though cast, in a spectacle called "The Tale of Everlight Tower". Rowan thought it was ironic that Gaius had not been chosen as the Tower, considering how tall and broad the man was. Although his role as Hunter seemed just as apropriate. If anyone could put Garinex to shame, it was Gaius. Just as long as the two men refrained from biting and scratching each other, they would put on a good show.
"Lahar!" Rowan shouted at the Vaan after he was finished reading "Fight well, and we will send this Maurie Clan to dine with Morgal."
Finally, the day came and each of the recruits was carted off to the Colosseum.
Ptolemy Colosseum is unlike any arena in all the Empire, taking up a wide expanse of the capital city. At its center is the classic circular arena (known as the den of hearts) but branching off of this are four smaller, identical arenas; allowing multiple fights to take place at the same time. From above this made the colloseum look like the symbol for five seen on a dice.
In the depths of the vast complex the gladiators were being made ready.
For Vokrash this was a simple affair, one he had been through many times. The armorer gave him his axes and armor, an open faced helmet, armor boots and scale plated pauldrons for his shoulders. The rest of his body was left bare, excluding of course a loincloth to cover his dignity. The old Asiren made his way out onto the sands of one of the outlying arenas and into the baking sun. Here he saw his opponent, San'irol. A young vannic man, the paint and dye barely faded from his body. He was armed with a spear and small buckler, armored very much in the same way as Vokrash except his arms were lightly plated as well as his shoulders. The Editor gave their introductions, the crowd cheered and the spearman charged.
Antonius & Jamukha
Inside their arena Antonius and Jamukha are given their equipment. Antonius, the short sword and large shield of the legion, his right arm and leg are heavily armored, his face covered by a thick helmet. The rest of his body is unprotected. Each of Jamukha's limbs is covered with plate armour but his head and torso left bare. HE has only a spear and buckler to defend them with. As the two of them head to their gate the executor stops them.
"Where are you two going? All exotic matches have special rules to abide by don't you know?" His smile is wicked as, to the recruits horror, he shackles them to each other by their necks with a thick chain (1 meter in length). Then they are allowed to take to the sands. The crowd roars in anticipation for the Darkling Brothers. Two savage looking men dressed in furs and armed with jagged blades. To the recruits chagrin, the brothers are not bound to each other and they circle the mismatched pair like hungry wolves.
Lahar & Rowan
Lahar and Rowan seem to be fairing slightly better. Their weapons are of good quality and each is happy to be able to fight in their signature style once again. Lahar is even given fresh hair dye and purple warpaint to anoint himself with before battle. Each is armored from the waist down, leaving their torsos on show for the crowd. Though they are given metal gauntlets to wear. They wait patiently in their open arena as the gate from which The Maurie clan will enter. The gate opens but no one comes out. then, after their own introductions, the Editor begins anew.
"And now ladies and gentlemen, some of the house favorites. Hailing from the savage Amon Plains. Having being tamed by the glorious 7th legion and brought here so many years ago for your approval. Once they were many, now they are few. I give you what remains of.... The Maurie Clan!!!" And at that the crowd errupts and from the open gateway bursts forth a trio of horsemen, two of them armed with spears the third with a bow. Their steeds rear and buck before lowering their heads and charging at their opponents.
Belkin & Gaius
In the center arena "The Den of Hearts" stands Gaius and Belkin both of them in a state of confusion. While in the depths Belkin was dressed in a suit of plate armor and given two large, specially designed, tower shields. Special in that a gauntlet had been fused to their metal handles. Belkin was made to slide his hands into these gloves and was then strapped into them by a pair of belts, making it impossible for him to throw the shields down.
Gaius on the other hand was put in a peasants rags and given a large two handed axe. Their wonder continued as the editor of the games went on to bore them with the story of Carnivox and the Ever Light Tower. Speaking of how he had run through the peaceful religious temple, killing every priest and pilgrim that crossed his path. Only being forced to flee when he was wounded by a heroic woodsman who was passing through the area, who in their struggle Carnivox mortally wounded. He roamed the outlying woods for many days until he was captured by soldiers. Now Carnivox was brought to the arena to re-enact his deeds and die for the pleasure of the people of The Empire. The ferocity with which his attacks were described made the two recruits think that he most have been a beast of a man. Until his gate was opened. And out of the Darkness starred two bright, merciless eyes. It was then that they realised "man" was not a word one would use when describing their opponent.
The lion known as Carnivox stepped into the light and let out an ear shattering roar. The cat moved with the purpose and grace its kind are known for, eyeing every member of the baying crowd like a potential meal. Until those sharp feline eyes came to rest on the two recruits and Carnivox set to the hunt.
Belkin was annoyed that he wasn't able to see what was going to happen to the rest of the slaves who he had worked with, but he had his own match to worry about. He was suited up alongside his ally, Gaius. Belkin was made to wear a suit of Plate Armor, the weight a little hefty for the Pingla's liking, not to mention the muffled hearing that came from the open-faced helmet. Then came his weapons...or rather, lack of them. They were two tower shields, roughly 2/3's the size of the man, and attached to gauntlets that meant he couldn't remove them and attack the man bare-fisted. He was annoyed by the weight of his ensemble, however he realised that the weight behind him meant that he could just charge at the enemy and pin him long enough for Gaius to be-head the guy. He was then also delighted by the protection when he saw what Gaius was wearing; little more than rags, while still hefting a giant axe. "Say" he said jokingly to the man, "I'll trade you my shields for the axe!" he joked before being lead out to the main arena.
It was only then that he learned what his role was. Apparently the Tower itself was a temple that was slaughtered by the Gladiator they were about to face, before being attacked by the woodsman Gaius was playing and then being captured by the Empire sheep. He smiled as they decided to release Carnivox to the two of them, his shields being key to helping Gaius kill the man. What he saw......was no man.
It was as agile as a cat, only hairier, louder and MUCH larger. The way the thing moved set Belkin on edge, he had plenty of open spots for those claws to sink into, and the weight from his armor wasn't going to help much. He slowly brought his shields closer to his body, hoping to pin the thing with his hefty shields...or at the very least, stop it from making him into another temple.
As Antonius announced his own plan, Jamukha scuffed. There was sense in the Imperials plan, but Jamuu would never admit that openly. Instead he would hold on to his anger and his hatred, let it act as fuel for tomorrows fight. Jamukha almost felt pity for the Darkling Brothers. Tomorrow would be their last day in this life.
"Do as you wish Imperial. As long as you do not hinder me I care not." Jamukha pushed past Antonius in a rather gruff manner and moved further into the courtyard. He spent the remainder of the day preparing his body and mind for the conflict ahead.
Morning brought with it the promise of blood. Jamukha remained in wordless meditation leading up to his fight. Even the sight of the massive Colosseum inspired only silent awe. Massive statues carved into the walls looked down at him and his fellow slaves, as if judging their worth. The roar of the crowd was so deafening it was as if the Empire had fit an entire nation into these walls. Never in his life had Jamukha seen such a structure. Mere men could not have built such a thing, thought Jamuu to himself. This is the work of a god, a bloody and vengeful god.
As the other slaves dressed him in his armor and handed him his spear, he said nothing. His body was prepared to take life; his soul must be equally ready. Should he lose his own life on the sands, there would be no one to burn his body.
His meditation was broken when the iron shackle was placed around his neck, linking him together with the imperial. Anger and fear rose up from his gut and burned in the back of his eyes.
"Damn you." Jamuu looked accusingly at Antonius. "Damn Marrick for his ticks." Jamukha had no time to argue the matter though, as both he and Antonius were pushed outwards onto the sand.
The crowd erupted in violent yells and shouts, eagerly anticipating the coming bloodshed. Before them waited the Darkling Brothers, who looked more beast than men. Jamuu's anger flared even higher when he realized that the brothers were not bound by the neck as well. Was there no such thing as a fair fight out here on the sands?
"Stay close Imperial, I'll not die today because of you." Jamuu kept himself oriented towards the Darkling on his right, letting Antonius watch the other one. He kept his spear low and level, tracing his opponent's movements in the air. As long as he had the reach advantage, he was perfectly content letting his enemy come to him.
"Do as you wish Imperial. As long as you do not hinder me I care not." He then walked past Antonius pushing him away. Antonius was at least relieved that the man hadn't attacked him. He walked back to the training zone practicing, knowing that this was all he could do now. Antonius was mostly quiet leading up to the fight. Expect for wishing Lahar good luck when the rest wasn't looking. He wouldn't see that Lahar would be shunned because he talked with him. He thought backed to his previous fight with 2 men. They were baldy trained and weren't trained to fight together. These ones where however, Antonius knew that if they both went 1 on 1 they would have an good change to win. But 2 on 2 would prove to be fatal.
He looked at the Coliseum. Somewhere his father had once brought him to, see how vicious the outlanders where. Now he would be the one who would show how vicious he was. He got his weapons from the other slaves, but after this fight he would be an gladiator more then an common slave. He was happy with his weapons they felt familiar. Then the shackles were placed Antonius eyes widened in shock and anger as he knew that they had only a very slim change of survival right now."Damn you." Jamuu looked accusingly at Antonius. Antonius was confused for a moment. "Damn Marrick for his ticks." Antonius said. "We will make him pay if we get out of this alive." The crowed began to cheer knowing that blood would be split soon.
Antonius got an even worse feeling when he saw there opponents. He then saw that they weren't wearing shackles, which made him realize that they only had a very slim change to win this. Still he wouldn't give up he had to live for his wife and son. "Stay close Imperial, I'll not die today because of you." Antonius smiled. It was obvious what Marrick wanted. They also did this with recruits in the army who constantly fought against each other. "If we fall today it is not your or my fault. It would happen because we couldn't work together. It is clear that Marrick forces us to fight as 1, to create bonds of brotherhood. Or we will die fighting alone." Antonius readied his shield and swords looking at one of the 2 brothers. He would take one and so would his fellow recruit. Hopefully they would win but the chances were against them.
Vokrash stooped into a low, defensive crouch and brandished his axes as the Vaan charged in with his spear. At the last moment Vokrash tumbled to the left of the spear thrust and jumped back up into the crouch. He let loose a manic laugh; he's to make certain that the crowd gets their entertainment. With his eyes filled with manic bloodlust, he awaited for a chance to feed his axes the blood they so desperately craved.
Gaius was happy beyond belief to be holding an axe again. He kept his eyes closed and drowned out the sounds of the crowd, only hearing the boring storyteller in the distance getting fainter and fainter while he focused on the sounds of the forests. The birds and the grass, and the rivers of his home. He was brought out of his delusion by his ally Belkin.
"Say" he said jokingly to Gaius, "I'll trade you my shields for the axe!" he joked before they were led out to the main arena.
"Belkin" Gaius said in mock anger "You never mess with an Asiren and his axes." He smirked as they walked upon the sands.
Gaius was ready for whatever they threw at him-them. He forgot he was fighting in a team, and that his axe would need to protect the Pingla, and vice versa. He was used to fighting in leather armour, not much but enough to hinder the swords of Empire pawns as he slaughtered them in their dozens. Here though, we wore rags fit for a peasant. What he saw the beggars and merchant's wear in the city streets. It did faze him, but not enough to inspire fear as he was surprisingly quick and he had a great technique to use his handle like a staff to stun, sometimes even kill. He was usually the tank when fighting with his own, but here it was clear that would be Belkin's role and Gaius had to be quick on his large feet.
And then came Carvinox. 'Twas not a man as he expected, but rather a fully grown, tooth and clawed, feral Lion. He looked like a beast of legend and his roar was enough to make even Gaius flinch. He told himself it would die all the same and that Garonex would be pleased... but he still had doubt. He would not however leave the job half finished like the woodcutter, this thing would die, and painfully so.
The young spearman was left off balance by Vokrash's sudden flash of movement and haphazardly swung around to face his opponent, slashing out with the spear point, trying to open Vokrash's stomach. The attack was fierce but his footing was sloppy. The boy was clearly new at this and the panic in his eyes only grew as Vokrash's laughter rang through his ears.
Antonius & Jamukha
The Darkling Brothers had been through this same song and dance many times before. As they encircled their chained enemies they opened up their furry garments revealing a ragged collection of knives. They twirled, almost in unison, giving the crowd and their prey a good eyeful. The brothers each let out an animal like howl and then broke into a sprint. One (dressed in black furs) charged headlong at Jamukha, a knife in each hand. The Darkling smacks at the spear point with one dagger and goes to stab at the young warriors face with the other.
The second brother (dressed in grey furs) dashes towards Antonius at an angle, only to throw one of his knives at the imperial solider and then change direction suddenly as he tries to sprint past Antonius and lock Jamukha in a pincer movement.
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Gaius & Belkin
The lion, Carvinox, is not amused by its new surroundings. Why wasn't he in the forest? Last he remembered, he was stalking some new hunting grounds and enjoying a great harvest easy meat. Then he was knocked out and shoved into a cramped, cold cage. Now he was here. The place was rank with the smell of sweat, blood and what he thought was the faint smell of excrement. He decided that he hated this place. It was too cramped, too loud and his side still hurt from where the large meat thing hit him with it's strange stick.
Then he saw the two meat things in front of him. One of them had a stick like the one from before and the other was shinier than their kind usually were. He didn't know why they were here but he assumed it was their fault he was here. No doubt they would scatter before him like all the other meat things he found, so with that in mind, he charged them as if they were sheep in the fields.
Antonius saw that these guys knew what they were doing. That wasn't good news it was just like he had feared, still them using knives was a better then 2 swords. The brother charged toward him only to throw the knife at him. He deflected it whit his big shield. He saw the man charge trying to get past him on his left side. He slashed at the mans head with his sword held in his right hand. Of course the man ducked and manged to dodge the slash, Antonius grinned. "I have you know!"
His left hand with the shield came out of nowhere it was heading for the brothers head. The man hadn't seen this as he was focusing on the blade. The shield hit his jaw staggering him as well as knocking one of his teeth out. Antonius used this window of time to knee his opponent in his gut. The man was surprised by Antonius speed as he was hit with the knee. He took a step backward and quickly roles moving out of the way of Antonius sword which almost beheaded him. "Damn." Antonius said disappointed that the man was still alive. The man stood up, he wiped some blood from his jaw and looked at his gut. Only bruised, he grabbed 2 knives readying himself for the next attack.
Unimpressive. Jamukha watched cautiously as the Darkling Brothers put on their little knife show for the crowd. Pomp and flare, it would serve these brothers poorly when met with the end of Jamuu's spear. But the crowd seemed to enjoy it well enough. Jamuu wondered just how many times the Brothers had put on this show for them.
The brother in dark furs charged, and Jamukha dug his feet into the sands. Taking a quick step forward, Jamukha thrust his spear forward at the mess of fur. The sharp metal tip lunged toward the Darkling Brother's chest like a viper, hungry for blood. But the brother was quick and well practiced. Jamuu's attack was swatted away in one terrible motion Jamuu's enemy had maneuvered himself into a dangerous position. Now with the spear point behind him, there was little Jamukha could do to defend against the Darkling Brother's assault.
A flash of metal appeared in his enemy's hand, and Jamukha saw the blade as it cut through the air on the way to his head. Instinct took over and Jamukha leapt backwards, nearly crashing into Antonius's back.At the same time, he swept his spear back to parry the attack and thrust forwards in a counter attack of his own, still aiming at the brother's wide chest. The goal was to avoid the black brother's attack while at the same time reestablish the range of this engagement on Jamukha's own terms.
Out of the corner of his eye he saw the second Darkling charging at him, blade in hand.
"Stop him!" Jamukha yelled. With no time to defend against the second assault he had no choice but to trust Antonius to intercept the attack. Sure enough, the Imperial was ready, and with surprising ferocity beat back the grey brother's assault.
Lahar had been meditating on what Antonius had told him and after a few hours he got up and decided it was best to get an early nights sleep, not knowing what he would be up against in the arena he did not want to be tired. It was then he noticed his fellow gladiators were gathering around a table and looking at something.
He saw it was the lists for the matches that would take place the next day. He was partnered with the Asieren Rowan. Lahar hadn't really got to him during his time training, maybe that was Marrick's plan, to force his new fighters into making bonds by making them fight side by side. All he knew about Rowan was that he fought well with two axes, he wondered if they would fight well together due to their similar fighting style, it seemed that they would need to be on the offensive if they were fighting a whole clan.
He saw that Antonius was partnered with Jamukha. That can't end well. The Amon'tyr had not hidden his hatred from the Imperial, and seemed to go out of his way to make his life in the ludas worse.
"Lahar!" Rowan shouted "Fight well, and we will send this Maurie Clan to dine with Morgal."
"I will, I hope you do the same"
Lahar had been given some dye to re-dye his hair with, it had a while since he had last dyed it so the roots and some of the top part of his hair were blond and the rest was a gubby mix between blond and black. Strangely some part of him had not wanted to go out onto the arena looking as he had. They had also given him the purple war paint of his tribe and anointed himself with it in his signature spiral style. He had been asked what it meant by one of his fellow tribesmen, he told him that the spirals so that no matter how long you live, your life will one day come to an end.
He waited with the Aserian in the otherwise empty arena, he was wearing the gauntlets he had been given, but had opted not to wear the grieves since with the steel swords he felt to weighted down with them on. Instead he wore some plain black pants.
When the gate first opened he was surprised, instead of a whole clan, there were only three of them all astride large horses. Two of them wielded spears -no doubt to run them down with - The other a large bow. While they could dodge out of the way of the spears, or try to chop off the tips with their weapons, they were defenceless against the bowman since neither had a shield.
"We should try to kite the archer," He said to Rowan "If we do that then we can concentrate on the spear men"
The arena was everything Rowan had hoped it would be. A true marvel, vast and terrible and stinking of blood. He and Lahar had been separated from the other gladiators and armoured up for their fight against the Maurie Clan. Lahar looked fierce in his war paint and dyed hair, and Rowan knew that the added theatrics would please the crowd, which would give the Vaan some favor should they survive this fight and compete in the sands again. Their armor was nice that Rowan had expected, but he did note the lack of any protection to his chest, neck, and head. It appeared as though he would have to sacrifice protection in order to please the crowd. The axes Rowan was given felt like an extension of himself, and he ached to soak them in the blood of the Maurie Clan.
When they were walked out into the arena, and the Maurie Clan introduced, Rowan gave Lahar a quick glance to see the Vaan's reaction. Two of the three horsemen had been given spears, and the third outfitted with a bow and arrow. The spearmen would be easy enough to deal with. One missed thrust and Rowan could easily bring horse and rider tumbling down in a bloody heap. The archer however, presented a complicated problem. Any attempt to attack the trio would be met with a hail of arrows, Rowan suspected. Lahar appeared to have the same thought.
"We should try to kite the archer. If we do that then we can concentrate on the spear men."
Nodding, Rowan shook himself loose and prepared to sprint at the archer. "Stay close, Lahar, we may not get a second chance to strike." he replied
Smart and fierce. Rowan was begining to think thier master had made too good a choice pairing them together. They would certainly give a good show if they managed to take down the archer fast enough, the problem was getting close enough to deal a killing strike. And with the horses charging straight for them, they did not have alot of time to formulate a clear plan. Rowan began to move quickly towards the archer, snaking a path in order to avoid giving his foe an easy shot. To avoid being shut down by the spearmen, Rowan stayed to the outside of Lahar's path and acted as a buffer between the Vaan and the other members of the Maurie Clan. If one of the spearmen dared to get close enough, Rowan would be ready.
As the pair closed the distance between them and the Maurie Clan, Rowan reared back in anticipation. He could try to take the horse down, but that would risk injuring Lahar in the confusion. Perhaps the smarter, and more entertaining move, would be to separate the rider entirely from his horse. In close combat, Rowan could certainly defeat the archer fast enough to return his focus to the spearmen. At the last few feet before they collided, Rowan dug his feet into the sand and leaped high into the air, axes primed to strike. His goal was to tackle the archer to the ground and disorient him long enough to get a few good slashes in. He could only hope that his gambit paid off, and Lahar was able to handle himself.
(OOC: Posted on behalf of Protochimp, this is seen from the POV of Gaius)
Gaius readied his axe and gripped it tightly. Quickly he said "Belkin, I have a plan but it may not be the best. You hold your ground and I will attack from the side, hopefully your shield will blunt its charge while my axe cuts it." He wasn't confident in his plan. For the first time in his life Gaius wasn't in complete control. He didn't like this.
As the beast started to charge before them, he heard Gaius talk quickly. "Belkin, I have a plan but it may not be the best. You hold your ground and I will attack from the side, hopefully your shield will blunt its charge while my axe cuts it." Belkin nodded in agreement, "Its as good a plan as any" he replied, quickly crouching down slightly and moving his arms to make the two shields into a makeshift barrier. He hoped that his strength would keep, as the gauntlets didn't give him the means of wrist mobility he needed here.
"Its as good a plan as any" Belkin replied as he made his shields into a barrier, protecting himself. Gaius held his axe so tight that it bruised his palms as the Lion moved closer and closer to the team. It pounced in the air and Gaius came in from behind, swinging his axe with a mighty battle cry aiming for the side of the beast's torso.
The Asieren had leapt over the archers horse and looked like he was going to try and wrestle him to the ground. Strangely the archer had not loosed one arrow, Lahar thought it was because he was taken back by two skilled warriors charging him head on. It was a risky gambit but it had paid off.
The mounted spear-men had switched their attention from Rowan to Lahar, encircling him with their horses, toying with him. They would charge at him one at a time so when one of them was wheeling around the other would still be there trapping him. He would dodge there attacks each time, they were obviously more concerned with putting on a good show then winning outright. That was their mistake.
The next time one of the spear-mean charged at him, spear held high aimed so it would skewer him though the head it hit him. This time instead of waiting for him, Lahar charged as well and at the last possible moment slid under the horse, narrowly avoiding it's hooves and slashed at it's stomach. The horse reared and neighed painfully, doubled over and collapsed, the rider was trapped underneath.
Flabbergast, the remaining rider charged at him, this time lowering his spear so Lahar couldn't use the move he had used last time. He waited for the spear-man to reach him and dodged slashing at the horses flank. The rider wheeled around and charged at him again spear down. This time Lahar charged as well and jumped over the spear-man twisting mid air to slash him in the back. He hoped he had done enough damage to unhorse him.