204 The Dawn of a Warrior III *
Aegin took a deep breath in, then released it out. He was standing in the Weapons Vault just below the Arena Gate. The Warriors that were fighting would be placed in there with the weapons that would be available for them to pick for the fight. There were all manner of weapons. Enough that Aegin would never be hurt for choice. But the down side was that he knew nothing of the terrain of the Arena. Most of the time the Arena was flat, just a course sand covered earth. But occasionally there would be obstacles put in. If there were obstacles, Aegin was more inclined to pick the bow and arrows. He much preferred it when there was something to stand on top of or behind. But for normal confrontations, Aegin was partial to the spear and throwing knives he'd used for his first trial. He preferred the longer reach and more dynamic use of a spear. Swords were okay too, but he had other weapons he preferred to use.
He'd stood in the weapons vault, contemplating what challenge the Slave Master would give him for this trial. In the end, Aegin had bit the bullet and gone back to his spear and knives. As he was making his way towards the gate, one of the guards stopped him, then tied a long red scarf to his belt.
"What's this for?" asked Aegin.
The Guard had just smirked as he'd walked off. Aegin hadn't liked that smirk. He very much doubted that some noble lady had offered him a token of her affection. Any noble lady wouldn't be caught dead on Herguard. Such a token would certainly never be so large, the scarf fell to his calf and swayed as he walked.
The gate opened up before him, his welcome into the Arena this time much more pronounced than yesterday when everyone had been unsure about him. It wasn't quite the welcome the Pentablade had received, but then, they'd probably had time to build a reputation. Despite Aegin defeating them, the crowd likely didn't think that one fight was enough for Aegin to really prove himself. They were probably quite happy that Aegin had 3 trials.
Aegin stood to the side of the Arena, about ten metres from the gate he'd stepped through. He watched the other gates, waiting for his opponents to come out. The Announcer threw energy at the crowd and they responded in kind. Aegin tuned it all out, focusing only on the task ahead.
After a moment, the earth beneath his feet rumbled like an earthquake.
Aegin's head titled to the side ever so slightly as he squatted down lower to place his hand on the earth. His eyes scanned over the base of the arena, and suddenly, two rectangular cages rose from the Arena floor at equal distances from Aegin and each other. The cages rattled and clanged, then a distinct roar echoed through the arena.
Aegin's eyes fixed on the cage to his right, he'd never seen the beast for himself, but he'd heard the stories and seen them illustrated in books. As large as a horse, though it had a shorter stature. It's fur gold and the mane around its neck and shoulders a dark bronze. Aegin's eyes narrowed at the sharp teeth as long as one of his knives' blades. The beast swiped a large paw at the bars, its nails producing a distinct ringing sound as they hit the metal bars. A Lion. An actual Lion.
Aegin's eyes, still partly focused on the dangerous beast, flicked over to the cage on the left.
This animal at least, Aegin had seen before. Though he'd only seen it grazing in meadows and relatively passive, not charging the cage bars enough to bend them. It was twice the size of the lion, and its hide was no doubt thicker as well, it snorted aggressively and pawed at the metal base of its cage with tough hooves. It's horns curled to the side and then above its head, pointed at the tip and likely filed to be sharper, though he pitied the keeper that had to do such a job. Each was was as long as his forearm, perhaps longer considering he was seeing both from a distance.
Aegin huffed, glancing up at the Slave Master. The Bastard really wasn't playing fair. Aegin then looked at the spear in his hand. It may help somewhat with the Lion, but he doubted it would be much use with the bull.
Aegin stood once more and moved ever so slightly to withdraw a dagger from his belt. The red scarf tied to his waist fluttered in the wind, and the bull, which had been raging in the cage, suddenly went stock still and fixed on Aegin. Aegin glanced down at the scarf.
No wonder the damn guard had smirked like that.
For a moment, Aegin wondered if they were going to release both creatures at once, but surely that would mean they were at a greater risk of harming each other, not just Aegin. Sure enough, as Aegin was contemplating whether or not to abandon the spear in his hand, the cage on his right opened. The lion hesitated only a moment before it jumped out, padding away from the cage. It didn't seem to be in a hurry to kill him, though as it appraised the area, its eyes fixed on the raging bull, who was now intent on killing Aegin, then, after a moment to assess the danger there, its eyes turned to lunch.
Aegin looked right back. There was a pause in the atmosphere during which neither moved then, the Lion gave a deep gutteral growl of warning.
Aegin huffed. Yeah, he didn't much want to attack it either.
Aegin glanced at the cage, that had yet to be dragged back beneath the Arena floor, then, without further indecision, he ran for it.
In hindsight, running was probably not the best idea.
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The lion roared again, jumping forward threateningly before straightening back up again. When it determined that Aegin was not heeding its warning, it growled and ran forward to attack.
Aegin may have been fast, but it became clear rather quickly that he couldn't outrun a lion. His only advantage was that the lion was headed for him, not the cage, meaning it had a further distance to go.