The Captain climbed the ladder, worked his way around to his seat next to the Earl and smacked the bell with the handle of his dagger. All around him the crowd exploded into cheers and jeers as they screamed for action and blood.
Syth moved quickly to cut off the big man from helping the girl. However, the man showed little interest in doing so, which caught Syth slightly off guard. He ended up having to tumble back as the man swung the shield at him and followed it up with a relatively easy to duck, swing of the pick.
Syth thought this had been a mistake and tried to use the flail to hit the man's exposed chest, but the shield quickly covered the gap causing one of the spikes to sink into the wood. This forced Syth to yank it back in order to keep his weapon, which he barely did.
Seeing the man snort and smirk, Syth realized this had been the man's plan all along. The guy had no intention of helping the girl. At the most, the guy was going to prevent a backstab. Syth then rolled out of the way of another swing, while giving a perceived opening. He figured if that was the mans plan, then at least he could pull the guy away from Killian, so the smaller boy would not have to worry about getting too close to the brute on accident.
Syth rolled again as the pick swished over his head. The attacks were light ones, and Syth knew it. A glance up confirmed the guy was not putting much effort into things at this point which seemed odd, but the guy was keeping up a good defense. The wooden shield proved to have soft wood on the exterior and harder wood underneath which made it a good tool for trying to pull a stuck weapon out and away from an attack. To this end, Syth realized he had to adjust tactics with the flail, targeting the non-shield side.
On the other hand, this back and forth and a dozen near misses and a couple of disarm attempts for the spiked ball getting stuck into the wood, made for great action for those above. The shouts and stomping of feet only grew when Syth took a grazing hit from the shield to his side and repaid the blow with a good shot to the man's side with the flail. As a tiny trickle of blood came out of the corner of Syth's mouth and the slight redness appeared around the scales of the armor of the guard the blood lust of the crowd seemed to triple.
On the far side of the arena, the girl first whipped one of her daggers at Killian, hoping to end the whole thing quickly, but the boy had been ready, more than ready. It sunk into the dirt wall, not even coming remotely close to the brown haired, brown eyes slave boy. A glance over her shoulder told her, the guard had her back so she moved up on Killian with the mace, thinking the kid couldn't hope to be fast enough to get out of the way of a well aimed swing with a close in weapon. She was wrong.
Killian rolled between her legs and as he came up he did a blind swing over his shoulder with the staff, smacking the girl in the back of the head. She stumbled forward, dropping the mace as her hand covered the spot where the tip of the staff had hit.
She pulled her hand back, seeing it was bloody. Her eyes went wide with horror and rage. She moved to grab the mace, but as she bent down the staff slammed into her back sending her face down into the dirt. She rolled away, but as she did so she could taste blood as it poured out of her nose and into her mouth.
Killian backed off a half step actually feeling a bit sorry for the girl, "Don't pick up a dropped weapon in the middle of a fight! What are you thinking?"
"Don't you dare speak to me slave! You have no right!"
"In the pit you are equals, girl!" A man right at the edge shouted down with laughter while the rest roared approval over seeing obvious signs of blood.
Killian glanced over his shoulder, making sure to stay away from the Swordsman and Syth, both of whom looked to be toying with each other instead of really going after one another. However, his task, per Syth was to occupy the girl, so he focused back on her and did so in just the nick of time. The second dagger was already in flight. He spun, but not quite fast enough. A bloody cut of five centimeters long opened up on his left shoulder.
The girl then charged thinking she had the upper hand. However, she had never been in a real fight before and it was clear to all those watching, Killian had. As the girl got close, he grabbed the staff in both hand and tossed it at her face. She ducked and it sailed over her head, but in doing so, she went too low and opened herself up. Before she even realized what was going on she saw the foot coming toward her face. The fact she was ducking down, leaning forward and charging only compounded the devastation of the attack.
Killian timed the kick to perfection. His foot connected with the already bloodied nose, flattening it while flipping the girl backwards. She slammed into her empty weapons table snapping it in half while blood from the kick itself splattered over a dozen people on the upper edge of the pit. At the same time the extra dagger and the short sword she had selected both came out of their sheaths leaving her unarmed. The crowd jumped up and cheered while those on the edge who had to wipe some blood off of their faces applauded even as they used shoulders to get the blood off.
At the same time, Killian had to back off and hop up and down a couple of times. He had kicked people before, but never this hard and never someone rushing him with their head down. The force of the impact actually gave him a bit of a charlie-horse. Fortunately, he had plenty of time to recover, since the girl was all but out cold.
The Swordsman saw this and moved to rush Killian, not wanting to take on two kids. Even as Syth shouted a warning and struck out with the flail, he knew his friend was about to get hurt. Still, the flail did what he wanted, wrapping around the man's leg, tripping him.
The guard was good, however. Even as he fell, he swiped the shield outward slamming it into Killian's back, sending the kid headlong into the dirt wall of the pit. Killian slammed into the hard dirt and fell back, seeing stars while doing his best to breathe. With the wind knocked out of him and a couple of ribs busted, there was little he could do to protect himself. Fortunately, he didn't have to. The guard had his own problems to worry about and the girl was barely moving.
Syth, however, was angry. He was angry at himself for letting the guy blind side his partner. It was clear, now, the jerk had been waiting for it the whole time. At least, as the man struggled to get back to his feet in the heavy armor, the flail shot to his ankle, combined with the chain wrapping around it, had done some real damage. Not only was there a decent trickle of blood dripping off the wound, the guy was obviously limping. On the other hand, the attack had ripped the flail out of Syth's hands, so he pulled his two weird weapons. The blades were curved to an extreme extent to where when held, they came down over the forearm guards and the blades were only on one side. The other side was ridged to give a punching surface.
It was with these two weapons in his hands, Syth sprung. The guard held up his shield, to absorb the attack but Syth had no intention of letting the thick wooden barrier stop him. He slammed into the shield hard, while using the curved part of the blade to snake around the shield and into the man's shield arm hand. As he felt the blade dig into the man's hand, he yanked and twisted at the same time, while rolling off to the man's shield side.
The guard's scream of pain was what alerted those watching to the actual injury, but it wasn't until the shield fell to the ground, revealing the man had lost three of his four fingers, did any realize the extent or viciousness of the attack.
Syth didn't stop there, however. Instead, he took the opening to drag the blade across the back of the man's foot, on the already damaged ankle. The deep gash severed muscle and bone, while causing the Achilles tendon to totally snap and roll up in the inside of the back of the man's leg. He lost support and crashed to the ground, even as Syth rolled away. The man still managed to toss his heavy pick at Syth which caught him in the leg, opening up a pretty nasty gash, just not nasty enough.
Across the pit, Killian finally recovered enough to see the girl reaching out for her short sword which was just out of reach. He almost moved to go kick it well out of her reach but then thought better of it. He waited as he held onto his ribs. As soon and the girl wiggled over and put both her hands around the hilt, he spoke an arcane phrase, while his right hand pressed down into the ground with his fingers spread out as far as they could go. The hilt, along with the girl's hands suddenly sank into the ground. He then pushed his hand across the ground, with his fingers still extended as wide as they could go and the ground hardened. He forced himself to stand as he moved over to the wide eyed girl. His eyes glinted with victory as his foot once again lashed out and connected with her face. With her hands locked under the ground, she could do nothing to defend herself. The blow to her exposed face was more than enough to leave her totally unmoving. He then turned to see how Syth was doing, only to see the boy's weapons earn their name.
Syth lunged and rolled as the man tried to sit up so he could grab his bastard sword. As soon as the man's hand went up, Syth plunged the tips of his renders into the man's armpits, angling them in. As the man screamed and jerked, Syth went one better; he shoved them in all the way to the curve.
While the man twitched and blood started coming out of his mouth, Syth spun, with the blades still deep inside the man, put his feet on the man's chest and yanked downward with everything he had. Finally, Syth got to the man's waist with both blades and drug them across the guard's gut. With a glare up at the crowd, he spun himself so his butt was over the man's face and pulled upward, ripping the man's rib cage and armor upward all at the same time. As he got to the top he pulled out one of the renders and snapped the breastbone right under the neck and tossed the ribcage off to the side while showing everyone all of the guy's internal organs.
He stood and put his blood covered hands over the wound in his leg while nodding at Killian. He then glanced up, "We keep what we take, and we take her as well. Her parents can pay us if they want the thief back!" Due to the fact that Olpha had cast the communicate spell on Syth prior to the match, the words he spoke were heard by all in the stunned silence. The only thing that could be heard at that point was the retching of many people. Never before had they seen something so horrific, so brutal, that it overcame the blood lust of the crowd.
The silence was broken by a woman's scream. "NOO!"
Followed by an angry man's shouts. "HOW DARE YOU! You're nothing but Drow slave trash!"
The crowd started to agree with the man, until Mablin spoke loudly, while moving towards where the Earl was sitting, Xavier, Thane, and the rest close behind. "I am truly sorry good Sir. But the Earl's son was very clear on this. To the victor go the spoils. Which means that your little girl now belongs to them." He then looked pointedly at the Earl. "Which I may add frees both of those young men. Something that I am not exactly happy with."
The Earl of Welleger finally stood, albeit on shaky legs. The blood from Syth ripping the guards ribcage off, was splattered over his fancy clothing and there was vomit on his right sleeve. It was nothing compared to the vomit which drenched the female slave to the fat man's right side.
He gazed down at the two boys with almost no color in his face but finally gave a nod of concession to Mablin. He looked around at the crowd who were just as stunned, but many still looked excited. The fight had been a good one by all accounts. With a gulp and a clearing of his throat the Earl held up his right hand to silence those who were not quite. "Good citizens of Welleger, no one here can deny we were treated to one of the best spectacles this arena has seen in many a year, agreed?"
This got a cheer from some, but not enough.
The Earl's eyes narrowed, "I ask again, we have seen the best match in many a year, agreed?"
Those who knew the hefty man, knew to not cheer would be to invite his wrath, and looking at the guy his anger would be considerable, so they cheered. This, in turn caused others to start to yell. Finally, a chant started on the far side, "Darkie! Darkie! Darkie!", and spread to consume the entire arena.
The Earl let the ruckus continue as he took a step back. The man then glanced over his shoulder and jerked his head in the direction of one of his servants. "Get me the Gladiator gifts I keep in the palace." As the man ran off, the Earl turned to his son and whispered in the boy's ear with a nasty snarl, "Your allowance is cut by two-thirds for the next year and you best figure out how to be very kind to your whipping boy. For the cost of this, all of this, is coming out of his hide!"
Seeing the boy turn even more pale than he already was, the Earl made a growling sound as he stood and held his hand up. Even with this action it took almost a full two minutes for the crowd to totally quiet. With a slight shake of his head, he looked down, "Boys… Young men… You came to us this day as slaves, as property, and as gladiators, nothing more. However, your actions…" the Earl stopped as he struggled to come up with the right words, "Your fighting skills have earned you your freedom. I hereby decree your actions this day have earned you the right of being free gladiators and I do this under noble decree within the Kingdom of Eaglelonia! Now send healers down to treat these two!"
Seeing the stunned looks on the faces of those around him, he forced a smile, "Come now, good people of Welleger, this is a time of celebration. For in the eighteen years since my father's death I have never once given such a decree. Think, good people of Welleger, you all have seen a fight which will be written about and told in tales for years to come! This is a privilege to be here, to say you saw it with your own eyes!"
This got the crowd back into it. Many started nodding while another chant of "Darkie!" broke out.
The Earl once again let this continue for a bit, before holding up his hand and once again waited for silence. He then turned to look over at Mablin, "For the freeing of your boy, I give you five gold. He fought well, but not well enough to deserve more!"
Mablin hid his annoyance as he nodded. He knew he should have been given a full ten gold allotment, but to complain would do no good. Besides, the money he won on the match was way more than the gold he was missing on having his slave freed.
The Earl turned to look at Thane who he assumed actually owned Syth, "And you, young foreigner, you… your Drow… your slave… is no longer slave or yours. But his showmanship deserves praise. I give you the full allotment of ten gold for his freedom and a pair of extra gold I am granting to you as well for the loss of such a skilled gladiator. The boy may travel with you if he wishes or go his own way. As of now he is a Gladiator of Eagleonia, a title of sorts, one almost never given, let alone given to a Drow. I recommend you do not go against my decree and enjoy your earnings."
Thane glanced over and got the slightest of nods from Xavier, so he gave a deep bow of acceptance. Thane then pointed to Syth, "You need to remove your slave markings, Drow, you are now free." Thane had to take a deep breath after speaking, because it hurt his own feelings to have to call Syth a Drow as if it was a curse word, but he had to play up to those around him as best as possible.
The attempt to blend in seemed to work well, however, as those around Thane patted him on the shoulders and congratulated him on bringing such a skilled slave to the arena. Many of them also offered him their sincere condolences over the loss of such property.
As both Killian and Syth got treatment from Healthmen and Channelers, the Earl's servant returned with two men carrying an iron bound box with a heavy lock on it. The Earl pointed down to the bottom of the pit while jerking his head at the two men.
It took a couple of minutes for the locked box to get carried down, but once the two men got it there the Earl pulled a gold chain off his neck which had a large key on it. He tossed it down as he spoke. "Free Gladiators of Eagleonia, unlock the box. You will find four sets of bracers. You may each select one. Also inside the case with the bracers is your first real coin, fifty silver. The bracers each hold a black pearl of attuning, so once put on, they will be yours and only yours, they also have special abilities, magic. Such is the honor given to Gladiators of Eagleonia."
The Earl let out a long breath, "What the bracers do and how they work are described on the attached scrolls. My most faithful servant will be happy to read them to you. The will adjust to your size once they are attuned, so there will be no need to get any work done on them. The silver insignias on them show the world you have earned your titles and your freedoms."
The two boys moved forward. Killian read the Northman scrolls so Syth could understand what they did. For Syth, the decision was easy since all but one set gave the owner the ability to see in the dark. Since Syth already had this ability, he chose the one set that didn't grant this ability. The left one, with the small ruby gave him the ability to resist heat attacks while the right one, with a small star sapphire gave him the ability to resist cold attacks. Each had three charges per day, but as long as each one held a single charge, the wearer was kept at a temperature comfortable to him.
While not overly powerful, they were nice and the craftsmanship was extremely good. The insignia, with inlaid silver was of a hand clutching a dagger, with the hilt of the dagger having the crest of an eagle clutching a battle axe.
Killian took some extra time. The right bracer would give him heat sight, but the options for the left one made it difficult to chose. One was magical weapon sheath allowing him to make any one weapon appear in his hand or disappear back into the bracer at will. The second option was giving one held weapon a "ghost touch" ability for one hour a day, meaning the held weapon could hit creatures with no substance. The final one allowed the wearer to see invisible items or creatures. Since as a 'Ferret' He was most comfortable fighting without weapons, he chose the one that would allow him to see the invisible.
Syth's anger grew, as he looked around at the sea of supposedly intelligent beings. His eyes finally met Xavier's. Syth knew the pain that his friend, his Prince was in, and the slight nod of his head caused even more pain, not of the physical kind.
Syth knew what Xavier meant, and agreed. This was painful for him to do as well. But he knew it had to be done. He took his two bracers in one hand, and grabbed Killian with the other. He then pulled the boy out into the center of the Arena. He held the bracers high, causing the crowd to go wild with excitement. He then walked over to Thane and held his hand out. Xavier had slipped the key to the locks on the bracers to Thane while everyone was distracted. Thane looked annoyed, even though Syth knew by the look in his friends eyes, that this was as painful for him as it was for everyone else.
With a moments hesitation, Thane took the key out and handed it to Syth. With a nod, Syth then moved over to Mablin. He could tell by the look in the man's eyes that Mablin knew what was going on, probably briefed by Xavier. So after hesitating a moment, he also handed Syth a small key.
Syth held them both high as he walked over to Killian. He nodded to his fellow Gladiator then made a show of unlocking the bracers that showed he was a slave, and an even bigger show of putting on the ones that marked him as a free Gladiator. He then helped Killian put his own, as well as take of his collar. Together they slowly walked along the outside of the Pit showing to all of the crowd their new status symbols. The crowd ate it up and went wild. Chants of "DARKIE! DARKIE! DARKIE!" were heard all over the city. Not that there were many beings that were not there to see the matches.
Finally Syth and Killian made their way back to where the girl was still lying on the ground. Her hands still locked inside the ground. She was awake though, and Syth stood over her with the most evil grin he could manage. As he figured the crowd slowly grew silent while he glared down at her. The Girl was first looking furious, but the long evil stare by Syth soon had her lip trembling as she fought back tears.
He looked over at Killian and held his hand out. It took Killian a moment to figure out what Syth was asking for, but then he knew. He slowly smiled as he handed Syth the slave collar he had just taken off.
When the crowd was completely silent, Syth raised his voice so he could be heard by all. "First you attempted to steal from my former master's friend and traveling companion. Then, instead of simply accepting that you had been caught, and admitting to your thievery, you tried to attack the merchant's slave. The very one who witnesses your unlawful act. You compounded this by agreeing to an honor match with the very slaves that caught you. By the decree of the Royalty of this FINE city, you are now my property!"
Instead of the wild cheering he had expected, the crowd was still stunned silent, watching what was going on below. Syth paused for a second, before he looked at Killian. "Free her!"
Killian looked stunned but did as he was told. Syth backed up as did Killian when she was free. "As is custom in the land I am from, I offer you this. Pick up your sword. You may fight me for your freedom. You win, and slay me, you have your freedom. However if you lose..." He left the rest unsaid, since honestly, he wasn't sure what could be worse than being a slave in this world, but from the tears flowing out of her eyes, and the gasps coming from the crowd, they all could think of things worse.
Syth was actually expecting the crowd to call for another fight, but they mostly stayed silent. The girl did not move, not even to get up off the ground. After almost a full minute of silence, Syth tossed the slave collar on the ground in front of the girl. "If you will not fight for your freedom, then put the collar on and become the slave you are meant to be."
Everyone watched as the girl slowly reached her hand out and took the collar. She glanced at the guard, whose insides were still dripping out of him, and shuddered. She closed her eyes tight as she put the collar around her neck. Syth nodded, turned and walked where the ladders were, anxious to leave this place.
In the small crowd that had gathered near the Earl's chair, Xavier looked at the Captain of the Guard and spoke softly. "This night may not be a good night, but I would honored if you and your family would join us for dinner tomorrow night."
The Captain looked over and forced a smile. He simply nodded, then turned and walked away. Xavier also made to leave. He had a small fortune of coin to collect.