LoR - The Gladiators
(Sir Ian's POV):
Sir Ian knew not how long more he stayed in the dirty cell. He had been transported once more and his burned arm had been sloppily treated with a splash of cool water and a rough bandage. It helped, but not much. Apparently, they want they prisoners in good condition, he thought. He also knew not where the Loreesi man who had offered him assistance had been taken, or if he still lived. He somehow hoped so. Days, hours, minutes passed at a mind-numbngly. Here in the dark cell, no difference was to be told. The only thing that marked the passage of time was the occasional crust of bread and bowl of water slid though the iron bars of the door. So they wanted to keep him alive, they thought to himself. Finally, he glanced up to see yellow torchlight growing brighter as it flickered down the passage towards him. It stopped in front of his door. "You, come over to the door!" The guard fingered a ring of keys. Sir Ian nervously shambled over to the door where the guard stepped in, unlocked his chains, then whipped out a gladius. "Now, don't make me kill yeh." He prodded the prisoner with the rusted end. "Move it." Sir Ian shuffled down the muddy, damp corridor, for lack of a better alternative.
After he had been walking for what seemed like hours to his sense-of-time-bereaved mind, another guard pushing a similarly bedraggled Erathor Pridenar joined them from another corridor. "Hello, old friend," he gasped. "Stay silent!" the guard snapped and cuffed the Loreesi on the head. At the end of another musty corridor, Sir Ian could barely make out a pinprick of light.As they drew closer it enlarged. Finally, the guards shoved the two prisoners out the entrance. The light was blinding. Sir Ian squinted and could not keep his eyes open.
The sunlight made his eyes ache and tingle after being in the dark for so long. "Move along, blondie! No time for fooling around!" The guard jabbed Sir Ian's bare back lightly with the blade. He had no idea where they were going. Although colors swam and danced heavily in front of his eyes, he made out a dirty street fringed with ramshackle houses and tattered Loreesi banners sprinkled sparsely along the rooftops. He stumbled along the dusty street. Must be a nominally "Loreesi" village being used as an Outlaw hideout, he thought. He did a double take to see a young Queen's archer clad in the standard studded leather vest and a red bandana walking idly down the streets, fingering a cheap crossbow. The man stopped and directed his attention to the party of bandits, for they had now been joined by a couple more of their captors, and eyed the two knights quizzically. "Where'd 'e get these 'uns, Horace?" One of the Outlaws, the one dressed in Queen's uniform and wearing a battered gorget, replied, "Ah, we got 'em up at Granhaven. Them Loreesi and a few Garhims were pushing the boys out, so we decided to grab some, uh, booty, and scram while we still had our heads." "I see", replied the crossbowman. "You know the slave market up North just got busted, right?"
The Outlaw, presumably called Horace, replied, "So I hear. Shame, I coulda made some good money on these. But I guess they're just, ah, entertainment now." Next to Ian, Erathor spat and winced. This was obviously not how the Loreesi lord had imagined their remaining prison time to pass. Still, Ian thought, their was the hope of Rufus Battleborn. But Horace's next words sent a shot of doubt down the Garhim's spine. "You heading' down to the arena? We just got finished with a coupla' Lenfels and these two'll do quite nicely. Wargs are still hungry." With a pang of fear, Sir Ian remembered the whispered conversation he had overheard from the cell. The archer and Horace exchanged goodbyes and the latter prodded the two captives on.
It was not long before they reached "the arena". While not as impressive as Sir Ian had imagined, it was still a grim sight, as he watched the spent forms of 2 Lenfels being dragged away. It was about 20 feet square, with 2 of the walls being constructed, or more thrown together, of stone and mud, while the other two were of wood. Sharp stakes lined the palisades, making any thought of escape more complicated. A crowd of Outlaws surrounded the ring on crude wooden benches, talking amongst themselves, obviously delighted that they would see another pair of prisoners meet their end today. "Put these on!" said Horace, who dropped a few meager pieces of armor, a shortsword, and a mace at their feet. "This is barbaric!" whispered Erathor as the two knights leaned over to adorn the scraps of Outlaw-fashioned pauldron and vambrace. Sir Ian was about to reply but something caught his eye. "Look! There's Rufus!" he returned in a dry whisper as he noticed the heavyset Outlaw amidst the crowd. "I hope he carries through." "Indeed," the Loreesi noble replied. "Alright, enough chit-chat!" Horace gestured into the arena. Seeing no better choice, the two men clambered over the wall and dropped to the scuffed ground. Another one of their captors locked a chain around each man's neck and fastened the other end to a post."Have fun!" the man laughed, and vaulted over the side of the arena to observe the imminent spectacle. Sir Ian fingered the mace he had chosen. It was rusty, but better than nothing. Suddenly, he snapped to attention as with a snarl, a far less-groomed version of his old friend Tarminus' mount bounded over the crude palisade. The beast growled again and sprang forward. "Quick, Erathor!" Sir Ian yelled and ducked behind the post to feel the bast's great bulk slam into the other side. Erathor stepped in from the side and brought his sword down on the Warg's back. The crowd exploded with hollers of disappointment and delight alike. The animal growled viciously and snapped its head around the tear at the Loreesi. Sir Ian dodged back around the post and swung his mace and the already-bruised back of the Warg. It howled in rage, but the two knights had gained an advantage, and continued fending it off while dealing out blows. The Warg had had enough, and, bruised and battered, turned and bounded away, springing from, the arena and bowling over a couple of surprised spectators. The rabble roared with raucous laughter. "Impressive!" boomed Horace's commanding but cruel tone. "It seems both of you have some skill with the blade. Evidently, the only sensible conclusion is that you fight…each other!"
(Lord Erathor's POV):
Erathor was not in a cell anymore, the guards had deemed him unworthy for such a privilege. Instead, he found himself hunched in a cramped cage, bars all around him, unable to move. He blinked the sleep out of his eyes as, once again, he heard footsteps approaching.
“Get up, you!” A stinking Outlaw unlocked the cage and Erathor crawled out, wincing in pain as he did so. “C’mon, move it!” He was pushed forward and he staggered into the hallway, almost falling into Ian as he did so.
“Hello, old friend,” the lord croaked, only to receive a blow to the head.
“Stay silent!” the guard ordered, and they continued forward to a large entrance, filled with blindingly bright light. Shoved through the doorway, Erathor could make out buildings all around, buildings that appeared to be Loreesi. He was in the desert, and the glare of the sun was hot on his head.
"Where'd 'e get these 'uns, Horace?" asked a guard in Galainir’s uniform. Erathor squirmed with rage.
"Ah, we got 'em up at Grahnhaven. Them Loreesi and a few Garhims were pushing the boys out, so we decided to grab some, uh, booty, and scram while we still had our heads."
"I see,” replied the crossbowman. "You know the slave market up North just got busted, right?"
"So I hear. Shame, I coulda made some good money on these. But I guess they're just, ah, entertainment now." Ian shivered and Erathor spat onto the sand, still trying to break free from the guards, who were surprisingly strong. Where was Rufus? Why were they relying on another Outlaw to get them out? He sighed, realising that they had no other way out now.
"You heading' down to the arena? We just got finished with a coupla' Lenfels and these two'll do quite nicely. Wargs are still hungry,” the former Queen’s man said as he turned to walk away, leaving the two captives to their fate.
The arena itself was crude, made up of bloodied wooden stakes. Fresh blood was on the sand, staining it scarlet.
“Look, there’s Rufus!” Ian whispered urgently.
“Indeed,” replied Erathor, desperately hoping he wouldn’t let them down. The conversation was cut off, though, as they were ‘guided’ into the arena and chains were fastened around their necks. They were tied to posts, effectively live bait. Scrappy armour placed on them, rusting weapons in hand, the two men faced down the creature that had been let in, a huge wolf-like thing with teeth the size off a man’s hand. There was anger in its eyes.
The warg leaped forward at Ian but the Garhim’s instincts had kicked in, and he ducked away. The beast turned to Erathor but received the strong blow of a sword on its back, just as Ian’s mace flew forward. Howling in rage it continued its attack, but it was severely weakened and could be held off by the battered Roawians. It suddenly appeared to have had enough and the creature flung itself back over the spiked fence, receiving cheers from the crowd. Horace stood and laughed.
"Impressive! It seems both of you have some skill with the blade. Evidently, the only sensible conclusion is that you fight…each other!"