"You ready for this?" Syth asked as he looked over to Killian. The two of them were alone in a room at the Arena, preparing for their fight. Neither was wearing much in the way of armor, since one, it would interfere with their magic, and secondly, both of them were Sect Warriors. They preferred being as unencumbered as possible.
"Yeah." Killian said after taking a deep breath. "I guess." He paused for a second, looked over to Syth and grinned. "Actually I'm scared out of my mind."
Syth couldn't help but laugh. "So am I. It's a good thing. It means you'll be more careful. Just remember. You keep the girl busy. I will almost guarantee she will be in heavy armor, and has probably never been in a real fight in her entire life. She seems the type to have had all the training, yet none of the experience. When things go exactly as she expects, she will probably do fairly well. Get her off balance, and she will not know how to deal with it."
Killian was thinking and nodding. "You're right. Most of the really rich people have great training, but mommy and daddy make sure they are never in any real danger. The way she was whining when she didn't get her way, she's always had everything given to her."
"Exactly." Syth said with a grin as he slapped Killian on the back. "You have had to fight and scrape to get where you are, she had it handed to her. Which would you rather have?"
"Normally I'd have said I'd want it the easy way, but I see what you're saying." Killian said after thinking about it for a moment. "Not only does it make me better than her in many ways, but it also made her somewhat soft."
"Do not get over confident, I will guarantee you she is good, and she will get a hit or two in on you, if not more. She has probably had some very good teachers. You need to mess with her mind, get her angry. That will make her make mistakes. Remember to use your speed and your spells. If you get into trouble, make sure you call for help. I will not be using spells on the guard, so I will have all my magic free to help you if needed."
"You're not gonna use spells?" Killian asked shocked.
"No, I will not need to." Syth said with a grin. Killian was about to ask how he could do that, when Syth continued. "Something that occurred to me is that she called you a Drow lover, and I think I know how to get her so enraged, that you may be able to take her down quickly. Try not to kill her though, as Xavier and I have some plans for her afterwards. Now, here is what I want you to do."
Killian was shocked at Syth's suggestion, but giggled madly.
Lucas moved into the "arena", which was a major compliment to the place. It was a dirt hole with wooden benches arrayed to look down on the east and west sides, stepped standing platforms on the north side, and something akin to individual seating on the south side. Then there was the hole itself. It was unevenly dug and the sloped sides were too steep to easily climb out of; around the edges was a two meter lip where the "contestants" climbed a ladder to get down to the hole, and the ladder was then withdrawn.
From where Lucas was standing, he could see where someone had used a shovel to remove dirt recently, very recently. It didn't take much in the way of speculation to understand those marks were to remove large amounts of blood left from those who found themselves on the losing end of recent matches. It also meant the floor of the pit was uneven, so footing would be an issue.
On the other hand, the turnout for the very chilly evening was staggeringly good. All the way around the pit, the stands and seats were full; and those looking on had bloodlust in their eyes. As Lucas scanned the crowd, he realized he had never seen anything quite like this audience. Most were human, well over eighty percent, but then there was everyone else. There were several Halforcs including one particularly strange looking one in nice merchant clothing sitting in the middle of the single seating south end. There were also Dwarves, Elves, a trio of Hawklings, a small contingent of Illorcs, and even a pair of Wolflings.
Directly across from Lucas, the guard stared at the boy, not even bothering to look at the crowd. The man cracked his knuckles slammed his right fist into his open left hand and pointed at Lucas, while grinding his barefooted heal into the dirt. The man then reached down grabbed a wooden shield and a wooden mace while chuckling.
For his part Lucas rolled his eyes and spat while securing his staff in his hand. Hearing a few jeers from the crowd, he decided to play up to them a bit. He slammed the tip of the staff into his spit and twisted it back and forth. He then pointed to himself, then the staff, then to the guard and down at mud that he been his spit. This got a few snickers from the crowd, while causing the guard to get a very red face.
Suddenly a bell was rung and a beyond gaudily dressed, considerably overweight man, with red shirt, yellow pants, large silver belt buckle, gold wrist bands with deep blue inset sapphires, highly polished boots, and a bright green heavy cloak with a white fur collar, called out loudly. "Ah, good to see so many of you this fine evening! Let us light the torches to give all of us a little warmth and add extra light to our matches!"
Two dozen guards moved forward and lit massive torches, then stepped back. This gave the pit a weird dichotomy of light, as the late day sunlight kept the north side in sunlight, but the torches gave enough extra illumination to give the darker south side a great deal more flickering light.
The hefty man spoke again, once he was satisfied the torches were all going to his satisfaction. "Our first match is a warm-up only! This, a match free of serious harm, and a contest between a visitor to our esteemed city and one of our fine guards. This is a no serious harm match, nothing more, so no screaming for blood. We will have a chance for such cheering later!"
This got a huge cheer out of the crowd, while a few called out to the guard to not play with the "whelp" too long, so the real entertainment could begin.
The hefty man then clapped his chubby hands together which caused a slave women of move up to him and wrap him in a blanket with the crest of Welleger on it. "Since I assume the boy is new to how we do things, let me run down the rules. One: when the chimes ring again, the fight starts. Two: since this is to subdue with no lasting damage, when the chimes ring again, back off if you are able!" This caused some snickering, as those around the pit found the chance it would be the boy winning absurd.
This got a rather foolish looking grin to spread over the speaker's round face, "Third, any blows stuck after the chime to cease combat will result in a fourfold blow or series thereof to the offender! Five: What more can there be? This is an arena and my people have paid coin to see action!"
With those words, the man nodded and a boy, who was a spitting mini-image of the speaker, right down to his outfit, moved up and eagerly smacked the chimes with a small metal hammer.
Across from Lucas, the man slid down the steep slope on his butt and jumped to his feet as he hit the bottom while motioning for Lucas to join him. At the same time he looked up at the man who had called out the rules, "Me Earl, is spankin' dis child's bare butt, until him submit, out a da question here?"
The portly Earl laughed so hard he had to have help from the slave women to keep standing, "A red ass is not lasting harm my fine guard!"
Off in the seated area a deep scowl crossed Xavier's face as a man in extremely nice finery shouted out, "Make sure to spin the little urchin around so we can all enjoy your hand marks on those firm cheeks! I'll pay you ten silver if I get to see a full handprint!"
Xavier glanced at the man and slipped on the amulet so he could communicate, "So you wish to place a wager on the outcome sir?"
"I don't take money from boys…"
From up to the left and slightly behind the two, Hontel spoke up. The teen was once again dressed in his own finery and rolled a pair of gold coins around his fingers with impressive speed. "Worry not Xavier, he has a reputation of pretending to be wealthy. He is not even close to your class."
Before Xavier could speak the man turned a bit red and snarled at Hontel, "Boy…" He then saw Hontel adjust his collar enough to show his Primary Swordsman Guild pin and gulped, "My apologies, young man."
Hontel's lips twisted into a smirk. "You see, Xavier, he just is not of our station. Ignore him."
This time the man's eyes narrowed dangerously, "Ignore me? I have more money in my pouch than either of you will see in your lifetime!"
Hontel smiled widely, "Your move, but make it quick, your friend is about to slide down the hill, and once the first blow falls all betting, even side betting must cease on this match, but don't break this poor fellow; I am sure 20 gold would be well above his station in life."
Xavier's Mindmaster ability picked up the fact the sum of 20 gold was a huge burden on the man, but he was not about to admit it. In fact many around the conversation were now looking at the two of them with obvious interest which was making the man willing to reach a bit beyond his means, besides the man was pretty certain this was a sure thing. To this end, Xavier decided to play to what the odd boy who had helped Thane had set in motion, "I don't bother to place any bets with those who cannot handle at least thirty five, and even then, it is such a paltry sum, forty to fifty at least makes life interesting."
The man made a snarling sound which only those closest to them heard. As he saw Lucas finally slide down into the match pit area he dug into his pouch and pulled out a star sapphire and 22 gold coins, "This is worth at least forty five!"
"Well, then…" Xavier kept his voice very disinterested, "If this is the best you can do, fine." He reached into his own pouch and pulled out 45 gold coins showed them and offered his hand. As the man took the handshake a guard came up and took the coins while informing both of them of the five percent winner's tax, something Xavier found outrageously high, but forced his face to remain neutral as he gave a single nod while verifying the guard was telling the truth, which he was.
Down in the pit the two combatants moved around the edge of the pit getting a feel for the ground under their bare feet and checking out their opponent. This didn't last for more than fifteen seconds as the guard charged, trying to bring this whole farce of match to a quick end. His attack with the wooden mace and attempted shield slam met with nothing but air as Lucas rolled away and popped up to his feet while wiping his now dirty sleeve off as if annoyed. At the same time he used this motion to utter a few softly spoken words while twirling his fingers.
In the crowd, only four or five realized the lad had just cast a spell, and when nothing happened, all but two ignored it. Mablin, on the other hand leaned forward as did a rather astonished looking woman in a dark brown cape.
Down in the pit Lucas put on the nastiest smirk he could on his face as he edged back and spat again while shaking his head in disgust over such a reckless attack.
This caused a ripples of jeers, this time directed at the guard, to cascade from above while a few even gave a light cheer at Lucas' deft maneuver and the ease at which it was done.
The guard's eyes went wide and his cheeks flushed crimson as he puffed out his chest and moved forward. On the third step the dirt under his foot made a loud snapping sound as three of his toes suddenly erupted in blood. At the same time a small glowing jawed trap appeared then faded just as quickly.
The guard let out a stream of curse words and he dropped his shield and mace while grabbing his foot. His eyes then went wide as he heard a swishing sound. He looked up just in time to see the side-armed strike connect with his jaw. He dropped like a rock, his eye's rolling up into the back of his head showing nothing but the whites of his eyes before his face met with the dirt at the bottom of the pit.
While there was nothing but shocked silence from those encircling the pit, Lucas' eyes went wide. He moved over to the guard and nudged him with his bare foot. The guy didn't budge. The man was not only unconscious he was leaving a pool of drool under him. With more than a bit of concern, Lucas stuck the staff under the guard and rolled him over so the guy wouldn't drown in the mud pool he was making.
Lucas then looked up, cast a quick spell to make sure he could speak and be understood, "Um, I really thought he was supposed to be a guard… Like… I mean, I figured he would be tougher than… Am I going to get into trouble for this?"
The Earl sat there stunned. He shook his head to make sure what he was seeing was really there. The guard was indeed unconscious on the ground, with the boy standing over him, looking up at the Earl with shock clearly written on his own face.
The Earl struggled to get his large frame out of his seat, while looking down at the Captain of the Guard, who was staring equally as shocked. The Captain shook his head, quickly, and the Earl struggled to find words. "Uhh, no. No lad, you will not." The Earl waved his hand, and three slaves quickly ran out to where the guard lay. "I... I congratulate you on your... victory." The man was still shocked as was most of the crowd.
Xavier though was laughing like a fool. This was a fight that he would have to remind Lucas of every time the boy tried to say that a mage is not meant to get close to the combat. He looked over at the guard and held out his hand. The guard, still shaking off the stunning victory, quickly handed Xavier his winnings.
Xavier looked at the guy and couldn't help but grin as he shrugged. "What can I say. I had a feeling the boy would do well, although, I must say I did not think it would be that... easy of a victory." Xavier sat back into his seat, and looked around with a smile on his face. He took a moment and spotted the others in his group, all spread out around the arena, doing the exact same thing he was, taking bets, and hopefully making a good bit of coin.
Hontel leaned back and watched the shocked looks of those around Xavier as the youngster slid the gold into his pouch like it meant nothing to him. The kid had just won almost 43 gold coins, 4,300 silver, and it was as if the kid had rolled a set of dice and won a copper. The Junsac Barony Watch had given Hontel five gold and 50 silver, a sum which made Hontel split it up into five different locations on his person, a sum he never figured to hold. Yet, here he was watching a kid slightly younger than himself handling eight times as much without it bothering him. It made him shudder.
On the other hand, those around the boy were now fully taking notice and those closest to him saw what looked to be an easy mark. As the next arena match was called, pitting two alleged teenaged thieves against their accuser, a Primary Echelon Swordsman, those closet to Xavier started offering to bet on the outcome.
Hontel watched as Xavier seemed to study those below before turning to a couple of the more persistent merchants around him. Xavier, seemed to sigh as he simply glanced at the more wealthy of the two and nodded down toward the pit. "I'll put ten gold on the two kids."
"To win?" the man snorted with wide eyes filled with greed.
"Yes, to win. If one of them falls and they still take the match the gold is mine. If they both fall, then the gold is yours."
"Sure…" the man spoke with astonishment and glee, figuring a trained swordsman would make quick work of the two thieving brats.
Slightly up from the merchant local nobleman spoke up, "Boy, I'll take your bet on a two for one."
Xavier glanced up and gave the man a nod, "My ten gold to your twenty, then. We have a bet."
A third spoke up, this one a guilded Druid with a pair of Obsidian wolves, one on each side. "I'll bet ya thirty gold against that there rock ya just snagged off our now broke friend if ya want to place a third bet on dem two urchins down there."
Xavier shrugged, stood, extending his hand and gave a firm handshake. As before a guard moved up and collected the rest from all parties, knowing it made no difference to the earl who won or lost as long as the five percent entered the city coffers. He was actually about to take a fourth bet, but the kids had already slid down the hill and engaged the big man. One of the boys flew back as the man connected with a gauntleted fist, destroying the kid's cheekbone while putting a several centimeter hole in the boys' face while knocking out pretty much every tooth on the left side of the youngsters mouth. The Crowd stood and let at a huge yell, praising the mighty blow.
The Swordsman, however, paid a dire price for his haymaker swing.
The other boy took full advantage of the wild and devastating blow to his partner. The teen moved behind the man dropped onto his stomach, wrapped his legs around the man's left foot and spun his whole body.
The Swordsman's knee never stood a chance, it made an audible popping sound.
The teen didn't stop there, though. As the man fell screaming and clutching at his ruined knee, the boy spun again, this time in the opposite direction and did two complete spins. The impressive display caused bones to rupture, not just through the skin, but the leather armor covering the man's leg as well.
The boy rolled away as the chime sounded ending the quick and nasty match. But the sight of blood along with the other teen's ripped open face really got the crowd into it. They were cheering loudly for the uninjured teen and demanding more blood in the next match.
Hontel, having never been inside an arena found the spectacle both sickening, yet exciting. The conflicting emotions made it hard to focus on who he was supposed to be paying attention to, However, the Watch training he received was enough to push past the sights and sound around him and focus in on Xavier again.
As before, the young Halfelf collected his winnings with a subdued look. He then managed to place another bet on the next match which pitted two adult slave gladiators against one another in an honor dual which was actually between their owners. This match was to the death.
The fight seemed to be evenly matched, with each gladiator exchanging sword slash after sword slash. After nearly ten minutes, both men were badly bloody, but then the smaller of the two paused. The other, thinking this was his chance, sprang forward only to find his opponent had saved some of his force and had increased his agility. the smaller man spun out of the way then, as the bigger man went by, slashed his bronze short sword down on the back of the man's neck cutting deep into the backbone. The bigger man fell while the smaller one staggered back and took a knee too weak to even stand any longer.
Hontel found himself cheering for the winner even as he saw yet more coin disappear into Xavier's pouch.
The next match was between two wolves and a female who had been found guilty of kidnapping and trying to ransom back a merchant's child. Hontel found it very odd when Xavier bet on the woman, but quickly reversed his thinking as he noticed Xavier betting much smaller, taking four five gold bets. Hontel knew a sucker play when he saw one, and this was it. Xavier was actually wanting to lose so he could place a bigger bet on the last match, the match with his Drow friend. The ploy worked perfectly.
As the woman fell and was being ripped apart by the wolves, Xavier pretend to be annoyed. His lips pressed tightly together as the guard handed the winnings out to those around him. As he offered up huge bets for the Drow to win, many jumped at the chance; including those who had already lost money to him sensing he was only seeing the coin he had lost.
Hontel, however, saw the telltale signs of certainty in the way Xavier took the bets and passed his coins and even the gemstone over to the guard who had to call a pair of other guards over to help and keep track of the betting. With this attitude he saw under the surface of Xavier, Hontel glanced at the rich man next to him, "So, I'll put three gold on the Darkie if you are willing to give three to one odds."
The wealthy man patted Hontel on the back while his mouth twisted into a smirk, "I'll be happy to take your coin boy! Three to one odds it is!"