Castle Roland

Sands of Time

by Roland

In Progress

Chapter 14

Posted: 11 Dec 14

As the evening's final match was announced, the crowd started chanting for a real fight, wanting to see action blood, and death. In particular, they wanted death to a Drow. As Xavier finalized his bets, the rage, the ferocity, and the outright hatred of all things Drow was so strong, so intense and so blatantly seen in the minds of next to everyone in the arena, it hurt his head. If fact, it hurt in a way he had never felt before. His Mindmaster abilities were going on full overload and making matters worse he couldn't shut them off. The emotions were just too strong and coming from too many directions.

Because of this, his mind started catching snippets and even full visions from people's memories. There was the old man, two rows below him, who was threatened with being left on the steps of Under River for not doing chores when he was but a youngster. There was the female Dwarf who was told the Drow would come for her and chew on her flesh because she had been mean to her younger brother. Up directly behind him was an older teen who firmly believed and even had visions of being tied to a spit and roasted alive while Drows around the pit danced to his screams. The visions didn't stop there. In fact, every single being around him had been threatened with horrible and vile things from the Drow and being sent to Under River. The worst, however, was an aged elf, very aged. The guy had been told stories by someone, of Drow Warriors capturing a Dwarven, maybe even Garm, Fortress. After they had taken the place they had tied hundreds upon hundreds to piers below the highest peaks with thousands of sharpened stakes pointing up at the stars. Then as the piers were lit, screaming bodies of the young suddenly started raining down on those being burned alive. Because of how high the children had been pushed from, many of them still hit the ground even though they had been impaled on sharpened stakes, some of which were over two meters in length.

By the time the match started and attention turned away from the hatred and to wanting to see a fight, Xavier actually found he had to wipe a bit of blood from under his nose. That meant, like it or not, try or not, he had taken real damage through his Mindmaster skills from the vitriolic loathing of those around him. Judging on the way some of those closest to him were acting, the effect had a wide reaching effect. Fortunately, all eyes turned to the two boys, the girl and the guard.

Since this was a no-holds-barred match, full armor and weapons were allowed in. Nothing was "off the table" except long ranged attacks. As the quite plump Earl's son wiggled his wide bottom out of his cushioned chair, and rang a bell, a silence fell over the crowd. "This is our final match and my father has placed a personal bet on the outcome and because of this, he has left it to me to be the Declarer of the Law! First, gladiators, there will be nothing directed into the crowd. Any harm to anyone in the crowd is grounds for death by…" the young teen glanced over at his father only to see the man shrug, leaving it totally in the boy's hands, "Um, the gladiator committing the offense of harming someone in the crowd will be drawn and quartered!"

This got a huge cheer from the crowd and caused scores to hurl insults down at Syth, trying to get him to do them any kind of harm. The Earl's son let this continue for over a minute before he rang the bell again. Once everyone was looking back at him the boy smiled, "Yes, to see the blood of a Darkie is on everyone's mind here today, but lest we forget we be in a civilized city with rules of law. Because of this, we in the crowd must be respectful of even the dark one, for he fights for our entertainment this eve. Anyone in the crowd doing anything to any of our… fine…" the word fine was forced as he stared at Syth, but managed to continue. "Fine gladiators they all are, so whether by spell, potion, or thrown item, anyone in this audience who fouls this match will be whipped the number of silver bet against the targeted Gladiator. Now, keep in mind, my father, your esteemed Lord, has over a hundred gold placed on the outcome of this event, so anyone wishing to interfere could be facing over ten thousands lashes, and I decree right now, we will heal said offender as many times as it takes so they feel each and every blow."

The teen's eyes panned over those who looked up with wide eyes before smiling, "And rest assured, whoever gets such healings will pay for them one way or another, because I am not about to take money out of the city's fine coffers for it!"

This actually got some chuckles from many and even some applause.

The young man smiled even wider, "So with those basic rules set, Gladiators, give us a good enough show and don't get killed outright, so the cheers of those here may be heard by the gods themselves. Do this and you may find mercy to fight yet another day. However, I am going to make this even more interesting. To the victors go the spoils. The winner or winners own whatever they want of the defeated!"

The Earl's son then rang the larger bell while shouting, "Now give us blood!" as he plopped back down in his chair to the roar of a crowd with a lust for blood in their voices.

"By the Gods..." Mablin breathed out as the words of the young boy fully registered. Mablin wondered if the Earl's son even understood what he just said. Chances are he did not.

Syth looked up and around at the crowd while keeping the hood of his long robe up and over his head. The noise they made was unlike anything he had heard back where he had come from. This was more animalistic, more crude, and a thousand times more vile than anything he thought could possibly come out of the mouths of intelligent creatures. If this is what the Drow fought for, risked their very existence for, back in the Mythling Wars, than it had all been for nothing. With a sigh he looked at the token in his hand and matched it to the table with the same marking on it.

He moved over to the table and had to fight back his disgust over the fourteen bronze weapons laid out across the table. A glance around told him the other's tables had the exact same items on them and the table he had been assigned had been done through the drawing of tokens out of the bag moments before they had entered the pit. Partially because the Captain of the Guard wanted no chance of being seen as playing favorites, Killian had been allowed to draw out of the bag first, followed by Syth, the girl and finally the guard was handed the final token.

The instructions were clear. Each contestant was allowed to take two personally owned non-ranged weapons in and could select up to three others off of his or her table before or during the match. Once the third weapon was removed from the table, slaves would yank the edges of the cloth up and haul away what was left. No one but the person holding the token for the marked table could take anything off of it. If they tried, crossbowman positioned to look down at each table were ordered to fire aiming for the legs of the offender.

Part of him wanted to kick the table over, displaying his total contempt for the cheap garbage on the table in front of him, but Syth had been told to make this a good match, an "in your face" spectacle for the heathens ringing the pit looking down. It was a ploy to earn respect and instill fear to those who would be walking the streets with him in the coming couple of days. It would allow word to spread as well, and just maybe invite other matches allowing those with him to earn coin off of the betting. Today, however, was the chance for the biggest payout, since everyone expected him to lose.

Syth scanned the so called weapons again. He had come in with a plan, to utterly humiliate the guard while still making it look like a close to even fight, but as his eyes fell on the spiked flail his plan changed. He would save his sect weapons for later, or at least until the bronze chain of spiked ball failed or flattened out too much to be of any use. With a smirk he grabbed the weapon, spun it to get the feel and nodded. This would do exactly what he wanted it to.

With the flail in hand, he turned and dropped his cloak. The crowd paused their jeering for a moment as the saw the white haired, jet black skinned boy with a black leather vest with holders for his sect weapons built in to the sides. On the front was the crest of Under River, a kite shield with a black hand clenched into a fist with silver lightning bolts coming out from the fist. Above were stalactites and below stalagmites which, when looked at in their entirety, appeared to be a teeth of a creature of some sort. The wristbands with the marking of a Gladiator covered his upper forearms, but gave nothing in the way of real protection.

He pants were also black, laced with silver looking twine on the outside of the legs. The pants ended just above the knee, but the front thighs had a padded piece which hung down to cover the knees while giving full freedom of movement. Finally, Syth's feet coverings were blood red foot wraps, but were clearly thicker than normal. A silver looking lace secured the top of the wraps around his upper calves.

Above him people muttered and shook their heads in disbelief at someone entering the arena with no armor.

Since Syth was so quick with his weapon selection, he had a chance to look over the other three. First was Killian. The boy entered with a cloak, much like Syth, only his was a muted grey in color. The smaller brown haired boy looked over the weapons with a total lack of interest, but finally decided on the bronze tip shod staff as his primary weapon, while taking a second to run his hand over the battle axe, but quickly shrugged it off and gave the staff a couple of practice spins so he could get a feel for its balance and weight.

Killian then dropped his robe, revealing a very plain outfit. A light leather vest with a baggy long sleeved grey shirt under it. A belt which held a sheathed Gnome Steel dagger, was well secured around his waist. Finally, he had bracers with thin Gnome steel guards which went up the forearms but the left one had a strange bulge underneath which for the life of him Syth couldn't figure out. However, he did know it was a weapon of some kind as the man at the table had him point out all his weapons and Killian held up the odd bracer without hesitation. Killian's pants were loose fitting and baggy, but with padding over the knees. Finally the boy wore soft skin boots with laces that went all the way around, but not overly tight.

For those above who know what to look for, both boys all but screamed out of being Sect Warriors of some sort.

The girl came dressed exactly how she had been when she had attempted to steal the moonstone bracers. Her tight and form fitting leather armor was well made and provided some protection from her ankles to her neck, extending down to her hands. Her two Elven Steel daggers where in quick-draw sheaths made for throwing, which was acceptable as long as they didn't go into the crowd, and her fine leather boots were designed not only comfort, but for silence as well.

She moved up to her marked table and quickly selected a light mace, the short sword, which she adjusted the strap and put over her back and finally she grabbed one of the daggers. With three weapons selected, a pair of slaves rushed out, pulled the cloth over the remaining weapons, tightened it into a bundle and quickly departed leaving the table empty. For those watching above who really took notice, the glances exchanged between Syth and Killian mirrored each other. Taking the weapons at the start badly cut down her options and they both knew it.

Since Killian had been tasked with taking down the girl, he had to force himself not to grin at such an obvious error. On the other hand, the girl didn't have to worry about having to make it back to her table if needed, but the tradeoff was a bad one and everyone with a gram of common sense knew it.

The guard was the most diligent in selecting the weapons on his table which seemed kind of odd since he came in pretty much prepared for action. His high-grade bronze scale mail armor, with a heavy wooden shield, gave him the most protection by far. His primary weapon, a Dwarven Blue Steel war pick, was meant to deal massive damage, and his backup weapon, a large Elvin Silver Steel bastard sword hung over his back. However, this left him with no light weapons. To this end he settled on a short sword off the table after feeling the weight of it, the light mace, both daggers, and the hand axe.

Syth eyed the guard's gear and could tell, just by the look on the Earl's face, the rich fat man had supplied the guard with much better quality than Syth had expected. However, the man was slow and the spiked flail, when properly used would be the man's tormenter.

The Captain of the Guard couldn't help but eye the gear and even raised an eyebrow at it, but he also knew the Earl had bet big, one hundred and thirty-five gold big, on the guard being the only one standing at the end of the match. This told the Captain two things. First, the man would do nothing to help the girl, nothing at all. Second he would not go for a kill until the girl was out of the fight. He would, however, have to make it look good so the Captain of the Guard guessed the man would move to keep one of the kids away from the girl's back and use the shield to block any shots sent at the girl's flank.

The Captain immediately saw the flaw in this. The two boys could dance around him for a very long time and eventually he combination of the heavy armor and wielding such heavy weapons would take its toll. If the man didn't hit one of them fairly early on in the fight, the whole thing could backfire, and after seeing what Syth could do, he had placed his own side bet on the boy, two gold at five to one odds as to Syth being able to walk out under his own power. Still, seeing the extremely high quality weapons and armor made the Captain mutter under his breath. In the Captain's mind, this was on the fringe of cheating, however, the Earl was within his rights to arm his guards however he saw fit, so this was technically within the scope of the law.

The Captain glanced up, doing his best to ignore the upgrade of weapons to a junior guard as he spoke, "Remember, this is their fight. Stay out of it or face our young noble's decree of punishment!" He then turned back to the fighters, and raised his voice. "Now, you four, face one another give a nod of respect to those you are about to fight and stay where you are until I hit the bell. May whatever God you look to, be with you this day!"

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