Agrias sat in her compartment which she shared with five other slaves. Her head was heavily bandaged and underneath that gray, blood stained tunic, it was the same. Her wounds were severe but the pain simply didn't acknowledge in her brain.
Not a drop of water, or a crumb of bread have touched her lips since her last match and for those three days, she had yet to move a muscle either. She just sat there in silence, her eyes without the shine of life, just dread.
"Lad, you alright?"
They all called her lad being the only child in the entire cell. None of them knew that she was a girl from the short hair that she now wore along with the given shorts and tunic she changed into, after all, how could one fight in a dress. It didn't matter anyway since they all were considered 'things'...nothing mattered anymore.
"I say, lad, can you hear me?"
After a pause , four words left her mouth for the first time since the past three days.
"...I killed them all."
Every time she fought, she got stronger, defeating them one after another then a loud cheer would be rewarded for her victory. But fighting ferocious beasts and other wild animals for the past three months was starting to bore the crowd so they decided that the Demon's Child should go against other real live humans instead.
It was a match between Hell's Heaven and Plymouth Plantation. Five men from each faction. Judging from the size, armor and weapon, Plymouth had a real advantage. Nevertheless, they charged full force at each other. There was no time for thinking. Just fight.
"Hacker, Death Mask, Ripper, Black eye..."
The names droned on, and after one was said, there would be cheering from its owner. This was their chance.
"Dragon Fang, Splitter, Mad Bull, Demon's Child."
The listing stopped and those who were called had their necks and limbs shackled like the day they came but this moment, might be the opposite.
"Maverick, you sure you want to bring that one."
He pointed disapprovingly to the unmoving body.
"It's just a first-blood phase. It'll grow out of it."
"That's the last one."
Those who were her teammates all died within seconds after the Plymouth stroked. Now, it was just her, all by herself.
"Well, lad. Let's play a game."
Her right shoulder, severed deeply, made her incapable of taking the weight of a sword. Her head and vision was a blur from the hard blow that was delivered by a shield to her head. Not a bit of strength was left in that frail body as her life blood poured out of her wounds.
A large bloodied hand grabbed a handful of the short auburn hair. With eyes gleaming with excitement, he licked a trail of blood that trailed down to her cheek.
"We'll be gentle..."
After the restraints were securely on, Maverick started to lead their best twenty slaves out Hell's Heaven and to the black carriage. Agrias absently followed the group, her mind replaying every detail of her sin.
"Stop! Let me go!"
They tore at her tunic. Hands, many of them were roaming roughly on her skin. There were too many of them and she simply didn't have the strength to struggle at all.
"What's that you say, little boy? I can't hear you!"
She felt the bareness of her chest and the humility caused tears to leave her eyes.
Within the confusion, a short flick of light caught her sight.
The familiar rocking and the endless darkness that got her here were around her once again. There were some noises that sounded like talking but none of the words made sense.
'I killed them all...'
...a dagger, clutched in a severed hand, laid there disgustingly yet alluringly on the sand. For a second, the monsters that were arguing about who gets to go first left her mind. The dagger was the only thing that she saw. She reached for it and when they touched, a sudden burst of heat ran through her body. Pain left her, only acting as an adrenaline. An evilness invaded her heart, nothing mattered, not even the words of Sir Rantoul. Hatred.
'Die!! Die!! Die!! Die!! Die!! Die!! Die!! Die!!'
Finally there. A different stadium, a different cage but with the same familiar cheering of the impatient crowd. Armors were suited and weapons were sharpened for the killing that awaited them.
One of her cellmates, Death Mask, shoved a sword into her hand but just the touch of it disgusted her.
"A knight is suppose to protect the innocents not kill them."
She dropped her weapon.
Blood was everywhere. Dismembered bodies, their missing parts lost in of the midst of limbs.
"Pl-Please! Spare me! I-I'm sorry! I beg you, Great one! Don't kill me! Pl-"
His plea was cut short as the dagger drove into his chest, crushing the bones that stood in its way. The blade kept on coming, even after the body had stopped struggling. Her mind was lost in a sea of instincts, survival and hatred.
They cheered at the sight, the brutality that satisfied their lust for blood, while the only survivor finally stopped. She stared at her own masterpiece and pain started to return to her. The weapon fell out of the murdering hands as she brought them up for her eyes to see.
Agrias let out a scream.
"Wake up, and stop this knight's bullshit already! You're not a knight and you're never going to be one. So you better gather your act, get out there and kill or be killed!"
Death Mask picked up the sword again and placed it back into her hands. Agrias started to shake at the touch of the handle.
"Whether you can or cannot you still have to get your skinny arse out there!" he yelled, tired of her stubbornness.
He secured the buckle on his helmet and just as he was about to drag Agrias out with him, Maverick stopped him.
"Ripper, take the slave's place."
Agrias's replacement shrugged then started to put on his armor with the infamous morning star at hand as Maverick signaled for the broken slave to follow. Once they entered the slave master's private chamber and the door was shut tight, both of them stood in silence as Maverick stared at Agrias and the slave stared blankly at the floor.
"Why won't you fight?"
"I said why the hell won't you fight, slave!"
"I killed them..."
A tear slid down her face at the memory. She had killed someone...not one but five. The last one even pleaded for her to stop but she didn't. Her hands were now stained with blood and the guilt of killing innocent people. She had lost the honor to become a knight.
This only angered Maverick further. This stupid slave was feeling guilty to have killed someone when all that mattered in this world was survival. Killing was the only way and this unappreciative brat was crying over such a trifle matter. He slapped Agrias then grabbed the blood caked tunic to bring that blank face close to his. The intensity of his eyes bore into her soul.
"Then why were you fighting those beasts for the past three months?"
"I had to. Or they'll kill me."
"Then why is fighting humans any different?"
"Th-They're innocent people!" she sobbed.
"Don't you understand that those low, dirty monsters out there are no "innocent" people. They'll humiliate, torture, just anything to impress the crowd !! I'm sick and tired of your attitude! Be happy with what you have now. You're already a lucky one compared to the rest!"
"Lucky? Killing people is considered lucky?" she shouted back at her cold blooded slave master with the same amount of force at the ridiculous claim.
"Remember what that bastard tried to do to you back in the ring?"
Her mouth widened as everything left her mind at the thought. Ignoring her silence, Maverick continued.
"A hand full of slaves that came in the same canister as you were sold for that sole purpose. But you, an ungrateful brat, is crying over a bit of blood spilled on your hands. This is not just about life and death, this is about walking out of that ring without humiliation. Tom and I bought you with real gil so you better get your arse out there and do what you've been bought for!"
"This is against my honor! I rather die then kill!"
Maverick suddenly went into a total rage, backhanding Agrias again then punched her in the guts.
"Honor?! You know nothing about honor! Honor is not wearing that word around your mouth every second. Honor is living with dignity no matter what you do even for a slave! You've been given the chance but you did not treasure it! Each one of my men out there are fighting hard for their life, for their goals. Now that is what I call honor! Think of all the others that are in their masters' chambers against their will. At least they have the courage to wake up everyday and live their life, unlike an idiot who's slobbering and welcoming death! They have more honor then you do! In fact, you're a coward. You can't even face your own fears, hiding behind a single word. You're pathetic even for a slave!!"
He threw Agrias hard on the ground then left to open the door, while breathing raggedly from his long lecture.
"Tucker, get this slave out and prepare it for the next round." He said indifferently but there was also a hint of disappointment in his voice.
Dragged by the collar, Agrias was lost in confusion.
Had she been wrong? What is honor? What is pride? She didn't know anymore.
With her leather armor and sword at hand, she followed the other four out into the open. Once again, the clear roar of rooting blasted at her ears. Their opponents all looked fierce and intimidating with large muscular chests, thick arms and legs and smug smirks on each of their faces. With the loud sound of the gong, the leash around their bloodlust snapped. Yelling their battle cries, they began the hunt.
Agrias froze and simply watched, unaware of the axe that loomed over her head. Should she fight back? Or just die to save herself from this hell? She watched it come down but the view suddenly changed as she was swept out of the way.
"Snap out of it, lad!!" yelled Hacker.
But before they could recover from the fall, the axe came charging towards them again. Hacker reacted with his own axe, stopping its path. Agrias watched from the ground as her cellmate held back the attack force by force. Cold beads of sweat fell from his hairline as he held his position with pain. Looking at his back, she suddenly noticed the large gash on his shoulder.
'He...he got hurt trying to save me...'
The wound burdened his strength and his weapon flew out of his hands. This was it. Disarmed and defenseless, his life shall end soon...
"You alright, Hacker?" Agrias asked worriedly.
Her cheerful cellmate, the nicest of the other four, was brought in on a stretcher after a fight.
"I'm fine, lad. Just a little cut."
Agrias looked skeptically at the inch-wide, deep cut on Hacker's abdomen.
"What? I'll survive. Still have 'em two kins waiting for me at home. Can't let them down."
The axe fell beside his face as the eyes of his attacker bulged then lost its shine of life. There stood Demon's Child, with her blooded blade in the killer's guts as the body came down.
Surprise and relief filled his whisper.
"You still have two kins waiting for you at home."
Hacker smiled and picked up his weapon.
"Indeed you're right."
They stood side by side to welcome two other incoming enemies, each ready with their goal clear in their head.
'I can't die here. My knighthood is still waiting for me.'
Now she knew the answer to her doubts. All of them were here to fight for their dreams. This was not just a fight for survival but a competition to see whose will and goal was stronger, to endure this challenge and prevail. She shall fight to honor her dream of knighthood, fight to protect her teammate, Hacker, fight to honor Sir Rantoul's teaching, fight with dignity.
'None of these men will show me mercy and neither will I.'
Her sword, the weapon of a knight, bared its weight into her arms. No longer was it a burden, it was a gift and she shall use this blade to reach her ambition.
One of the men came charging forward, a flail swinging above his head. Her mentor's short lesson on weaponry came back to her.
'Flails give devastating hits using its weight and spinning speed but the attack's direction cannot be changed once thrown...'
She waited for the spiked ball to come, watching the chain and the man's shoulder and once the direction was confirmed, Agrias stepped out of the way.
'Weakness: Slow recovery'
Taking the flail's flaw, she used her speed advantage from her small body and maneuvered herself to the side; his blind spot. Aiming at the opening, she swung her blade.
Hacker, on the other hand, was having trouble dealing with his opponent. The wound was starting to bleed profusely from his swings, slowing his attacks and it was a matter of time before he will be too slow and weary to fight.
He stumbled several steps from another attack.
"Yo! Fat guy! Over here."
Agrias started to run towards the remaining Torturer, the opposing faction, and leaped into the air to gain more power from her trip down, just like the time the lion attacked her.
The blades hit but the man didn't even flinch. They exchanged several blows but the sheer power from the attacks was starting to make her hands numb. Even though his body was large, the speed just didn't allow her to use the power-shedding trick she applied on the thief. Agrias clutched her teeth in frustration.
Hacker was about to join the feud but a voice stopped him.
"Wait, Hacker! This is the slave's fight. How can it continue if it couldn't even defeat losers like that."
Agrias was surprised to hear him but there he was, standing calmly at the opening.
"He's right, Hacker. A knight fights his own battles." Added Agrias, her confidence returning.
'I shall prove him wrong.'
Determination filled her once empty eyes. The courage when facing the thief and the bullies removed her doubts and fear for her opponent. Power seemed to flow into her body and mind and she felt unstoppable. Nothing shall keep Agrias from her purpose much less a mere sword.
"I'm not a coward..."
Impatient, the man came charging towards her. Pushing hard into her back leg, Agrias, too, started her way towards her foe. The sword came down and she jumped back to avoid the blade. Bending low and using her free hand, she jumped into the air once again. The man bought his weapon up to prepare for the attack.
All of a sudden, she couldn't hear anything, see anything but her enemy. Holding her sword high above her head, she concentrated all her force into her sword, determined to win..
"And I have honor!!!!!" she yelled.
...and the weapon shattered. Through the broken fragments, the blade found its way into the exposed shoulder. Bringing her sword down, the edge engraved its marking deeper and blood sprayed from the wound. He fell, but still alive.
Agrias pointed the tip to the heaving chest.
"Pl-Please! Don't kill me! I don't want to die!"
"Pl-Please! Spare me! I-I'm sorry! I beg you, Great one! Don't kill me! Pl-"
"Surrender and I'll spare your life."
She won't make the same mistake again. The man surrendered and the announcer declared Hell's Heaven the victor as her cellmate stared in disbelief. The lad actually shattered a sword which he, the Hacker, had trouble defending against. And for a second, he was sure that Agrias's sword glowed. A clear white light.
'Must be the light reflecting on the blade.'
Ignoring it, Hacker gave a pat on the back for his teammate.
"Good job! We survived." Smiled Hacker.
Agrias smiled back. The first time since the rebirth of Demon's Child.
To be continued...
Please, please, please comment! Tell me if it's going to slow or too fast and what's missing because I don't know these things. Readers do. Also reviews are part of a fic writer's writing diet. The more the merrier!