The Sword Is Blooded In the Arena!
Images of Rohese haunted me for the past two days, but I had little time to entertain them. I have been sparring with a mountain of a man at the Barracks named Bear. He has been giving me some advice to help me out from time to time, and always seems willing to spar with me during the day. Of course, I found out quickly not to have a lot of money in my pocket when I sparred, since the winner takes whatever the loser has on him. Now I go into the Pit with a mere copper in my pocket. At first I thought Bear would be mad, but he just laughed and said something about me learning an important lesson. So I have been taking advantage of his “generosity” and honing my skill often. No doubt he is the cheapest trainer in town, and he seems willing to work with me. Or maybe he just likes to use my coppers to buy ale at night.
Today Bear told me that my sword skill was probably good enough to not get me killed in the Arena as long as my opponent was blind drunk. Given that I had finally left a mark on his arm after almost a week of training, I took that as a compliment. So I met up with Marcus and we headed to the Arena to get started on our career, or at least to check in and get on the roster for fights.
Marcus had been giving me grief about Rohese ever since I mentioned her to him. I almost regretted saying anything, but his ribbing seemed good natured enough. I’m finding him to be a good friend and I am sure we would make a good team. The only thing that troubles me is that he is still staying at the Brotherhood hall with those other slavers. He’s been good about not mentioning it to me, and we both simply leave the issue of slave trade out of our discussions. But it still digs at me from time to time. He seems like too good a fellow to get caught up in that damned business.
Arena combat is ranked based on your experience and win-loss record. Both Marcus and I are unranked fighters, and to prove that we are actually capable of handling arena battles our first few fights will be opening battles against animals or monsters rather than other fighters. This provides some entertainment for the morning crowd since once in awhile a novice fighter gets eaten by a beast, but it also gives new fighters a chance to prove they deserve a shot at full arena combat, which is the only way to end up as Champion of the Grand Arena.
Our fights at the arena were not that spectacular, but we both came away with a little coin. I was put in the arena with a nasty-looking wild boar, and Marcus ended up with some sort of huge wild dog with two heads. He took care of his beast in no time, but I was pressed a bit more since I had to engage at sword length with those big tusks. Even so, it wasn’t much worse than what I encountered as I traveled around my father’s lands. Eventually I won, and was also awarded a nice loin from the kill, which was turned over to the Mercenary barracks clerk for our evening meal the next day, along with my weekly dues.
What distracted me the most during the entire experience was the size of the arena and the noise of the crowd. As we walked up to it we both were in awe of the size, but when I was heralded into the actual battle I nearly froze as I walked out the large archway. There were thousands of people there in row after row of seats, and they soared so far above me I had to wonder how the people up there saw anything other than spots on the arena floor. And even with the early hour of these opening fights well over half of the arena was filled with people.
The arena was split into four quadrants for these warm up matches, and each of us had our own beast to contend with. Even at that I had easily a half hectare to work with. I am told that when the champions come to battle in the arena the fences we had are replaced with small buildings, rocks, even moats and trees for the group skirmishes. And for the finals of the Grand Arena Championship they have sometimes placed the fighters on an elevated stone platform above a floor covered with magical fire. I cannot imagine fighting in something like that, but if I want to be Champion I will have to deal with it, and worse, I suppose.
After our fights we went to the tavern near the arena, the Broken Arrow Saloon, and celebrated with some dwarvish ale. As we were leaving I noticed Marcus talking to some thugs from the Brotherhood. I was going to say something but I caught a glimpse of Rohese out of the corner of my eye. I headed to the door but by the time I got into the street she was gone…assuming I had actually seen her there in the first place. Maybe it was the ale playing tricks with my sight. I also had no idea where Marcus went off to, so I headed back to the Merc barracks