201 The Dawn of a Warrior I *
Ebony sucked in a breath as quietly as she could through her slightly parted lips. She'd spent the week in training with the subordinates of Madame, and had excelled at many things more than they did. It became obvious to many of the teachers that Ebony was not new to serving Masters. Still, she never let that defeat her newfound desire for freedom.
Over the week, she'd only met once with Aegin, but his confidence in being able to protect her, and by extent escaping at some point, had been clear to see. Aegin had not reserved himself to remaining a prisoner here on Herguard, so Ebony saw no reason to believe otherwise, even if she was somewhat skeptical.
Ebony had been brought up to the stands of the Warrior's Arena this morning. The Madame had thought it fitting that Ebony watch her fate play out before her. In a place that had a reputation like the Warrior's Arena, Ebony was anxious to watch. But this was Aegin, and when it came to a fight, the only one Ebony had ever seen him lose against was Rassa.
Her anxiety over what Aegin would have to face almost completely overwrote the fact that she was currently standing at the Madame's flank, a slave collar around her neck that was attached to a rope, the other end of which was grasped lazily in the Madame's hands. The Madame didn't trust Ebony, nobody could afford to trust anybody around here, but the Madame did trust that Ebony wasn't stupid enough to try and escape from where she was.
The Madame was right, but that only made Ebony more annoyed at the fact that she was standing beside such a woman.
"What do you think Madame?" asked the Slave Master from his seat beside her, "Will the boy survive?"
The Madame sighed in obvious boredom, "That entirely depends on what you've concocted to go up against him. Though it would be a shame to lose such marvelously trained goods".
The Slave Master glanced at Ebony, aware that the Madame was not in the least concerned about Aegin.
"You've taken a liking to it?"
"Well, if it wasn't currently incapacitated I would have put it to work," the Madame replied, "I'd make a fortune with this one".
"Well, the boy seemed confident I'd make a fortune off of him alone," said the Slave Master, "If he survives the next three days, perhaps we could even make it a competition of who could earn more?"
The Madame sighed, "I couldn't think of a more boring way to pass my time".
The Slave Master chuckled, turning to look back at the Arena floor where one of the four gates was opening.
Ebony held her breath as she watched Aegin step through it, armed with a spear and a belt with six throwing knives in it. He held no shield, something that the crowd whispered about being strange for a new warrior. He'd surely die without one. Ebony took another breath. No need to be anxious over this, he'd more than proved how deadly he could be without a shield.
The announcer, a portly man who stood in a box beside the VIP stand, looked to the Slave Master in question. The Slave Master just nodded.
"Ladies and Gentleman, please welcome our challenger, Warrior Aegin!"
The crowd gave a polite clap. They hadn't seen what he could do yet, but not bringing a shield was stupid.
"Warrior Aegin has Challenged the Slave Master himself in order to protect his one true love," the Announcer said it mockingly, but there was a wave of interest through the crowd. Ebony didn't know how to feel about everything thinking she and Aegin were together. It had been a good rouse at first, but it hadn't actually occurred to her that she may need to keep it up.
"The Slave Master has answered with Three Trials," the Announcer Continued, "Should Warrior Aegin complete them, he shall win the freedom of his love".
Ebony chocked back a scoff, clearing her throat. 'Freedom' clearly had a different meaning here. The Slave Master turned to look at her, and Ebony looked back for a moment before she turned to Aegin.
"The First of the Challenges...The Pentablade".
The crowd seemed to shake with excitement as the gate opposite Aegin opened. Five warriors, each holding a sword variant of some kind, stepped forward together. Compared to Aegin on the opposing side of the Arena, the Pentablade certainly commanded a far larger aura and respect from the audience. There were cheers throughout the crowd.
Clearly, the Slave Master was not going to make the trials easy by any means.
Ebony bit back a protest. It was not her place to question, and chances were pretty much none that she could convince the Slave Master to be more fair. This was the Warrior's Arena. 'Fair' was unlikely to ever pass through the gates.
Ebony's eyes fell on Aegin, who stood still as he stared across the flat Arena. There was nowhere to run or hide here. Nothing to use to his advantage. The Announcer spoke again.
"This fight will be to the death. Let the Trial begin".
The Pentablade moved forward, confident in their strides as they spread out to encompass him. Ebony clasped her dress in her hands as she watched, her anxiety creeping up into her throat.
He can't die here. He won't die here.
Aegin watched the advancing swordsman, observing the way they communicated with one another. It was obvious that the guy in the middle that headed straight for Aegin was the leader. He'd seen the five of them before in the sparring room. While they were well known, Beast and the others clearly didn't like them much. It had told Aegin all he needed to know about these Pentablades. They liked being here. They liked shedding blood for the crowd and their masters.
To Aegin, that was enough for him not to think about sparing them.
As they closed in, about five meters away, Aegin finally moved. He whipped out a throwing knife and flicked his wrist towards one of the men at the side before he sprinted forward towards the leader. The leader met the attack, which Aegin used to propel himself up and over the man. A quick glance assured him that his knife had met the target. One down, four to go. The leader gave a cursory glance towards his fallen comrade as well, then turned dangerous eyes onto Aegin.
"You'll pay for that".
Aegin gave a smirk, "I'm more concerned about evening the odds, but thanks for the warning".
Aegin advanced towards the man once more.
The man met Aegin's spear jabs with his sword, his feet moving backwards to compensate for Aegin's longer reach.
"Watch for the throwing knives!" the leader ordered as the others began to advance from Aegin's sides.
Aegin smirked, then grabbed the end of the spear and spun it around. The first one jumped back, but the third was too busy watching for knives to defend against the spear's blade. It sliced his neck and he fell to the ground.
Aegin gave the remaining three no time to contemplate as he took a stronger hold on the spear and advanced once more.
These last three were clearly stronger, they began to attack together, taking advantage of openings that Aegin left. Two of them were at least smart enough to know to be careful every time an opening was there, the third didn't realise the pattern until he found that getting within arm's length of Aegin was just as deadly as getting within spear's length. He fell when Aegin drew another knife and sliced he throat.
Without even a breath to pause, Aegin threw the same knife. Though the leader deflected it as he charged forward with a roar. Aegin backed up quickly, keeping him at spear's length until his back suddenly hit the wall of the Arena.
Aegin's eyes widened at the blade moving for him. He ducked down and rolled to the side, abandoning his spear as he drew out two of his remaining dagger and held them firmly in either hand. The Leader lunged for him, and Aegin deflected the blade before slicing at the man's arm.
Aegin had to admit. The man had some skills. They all had. But their skills were suited for this Arena. Their warrior blood was bred and cultivated here. Aegin's was not.
The leader recoiled, only to be replaced with the other remaining pentablade. Aegin ducked under his guard and stabbed a dagger into the man's abdomen as he stepped forward towards the leader. The second hissed as Aegin took the blade with him. Then as the Leader prepared to meet Aegin's attack, Aegin spun and threw a second dagger right into the second's spine.
Aegin completed a full spin back around before the man even collapsed, throwing the dagger in his other hand right at the leader. Aegin kept advancing at the leader deflected the blade, then Aegin stepped wide of a slice from the leader's blade and followed through by flipping back onto his hands and then onto his feet.
"There," Aegin said, "Now it's just you and me. Though after seeing the capabilities of the Pentablades, I really think it was more even at the beginning".
The leader grit his teeth, then picked up the spear Aegin had dropped before throwing it at him as he charged. Aegin stepped to the side of the ferocious spear throw, then, in a move that was clearly unexpected, Aegin caught the end of the spear in one hand and used its momentum to spin it around grasping onto it better with his other hand before he paused and braced.
The Leader charged right onto the end of the spear, eyes wide with surprise as his jaw loosened and a string of blood leaked from the side of his mouth.
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Aegin pulled the spear back as he stood, tsking at the fallen warrior before he turned back to face the VIP box where the Slave Master sat.
Ignoring the crowd, Aegin raised a single finger.
One down. Two to go.