207 The Dawn of a Warrior V *
"Plenty of Warriors have passed through those doors, Aegin. They never leave the same as they were".
Aegin could understand what Beast had meant when he'd offered that small snippet of insight. Even with only two fights in the Warrior's Arena, Aegin could tell how it would change a person. One needed to be okay with the idea of death in there. Those that weren't, they lost themselves in mind or body, sometimes both. Those that were too okay with it. Those that reveled in the spilling of blood. Well, they ended up changed in other ways, and none were suitable for a peaceful life outside of Herguard.
Thanks to his previous training as a part of the Ridge Men, Aegin had already been okay with the idea of death. He did not relish taking life though. He was taught that it was a necessity, and in order to live inside the Arena, it was very much a necessity that he take life, no matter if they were beast, man or somewhere in between.
He'd heard the concern in Ebony's voice when she'd spoken to him. Of how she feared he would lose himself to it. But with her around, it was doubtful he would. He'd made her his ground in this place. A technique taught when he was young. To choose something or someone that reminded you of who you were, of the goal you were aiming for. The fact that he was fighting for Ebony to remain near him so that they wouldn't be separated seemed to be more than enough reason for him to make her his object of grounding.
Aegin took a deep breath in. It was his third fight this time. And now that he'd heard those words the night before from Beast, he was confident that he could win. That he could pass this third trial and pull through to secure his and Ebony's safety here in this dark place.
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He turned to the weapons around him and looked at the spear and knives that he'd fought with the two previous times. The spear had been practically useless last time. The knives had only just gotten him by. Still, his knives had gotten him out of plenty of tough spots before.
He took the belt of six throwing knives buckled it at his waste, then looked at the spear. He reached for it, then he turned to the twin short swords.
So far he'd fought five on one, and with two different beasts. The Slave Master was theatrical if anything. This fight would be catered to be the most difficult for Aegin, but apart from the short exchange with the Pentablade's leader, he hadn't actually fought one on one with anybody. Sure he could do it with a spear, but something told him the swords would be a better option.
Aegin took them and attached them to the belt at his waist as well.
Aegin made his way to the gate. It opened for him and he stepped out into the Arena to an applause that would be considered thunderous compared to the first day. If he won this, he would most certainly win the profits that he'd hoped for.
Aegin looked up to where the Slave Master sat, Ebony with who Aegin assumed was the Madame sitting slightly in front of her. Ebony gave him a short nod of encouragement, and Aegin's eyes went back to the Arena floor.
The gate on the far side opened, and Aegin's eyes narrowed.
There was no mistaking that hulking figure as he walked out of the gate, a massive battleaxe sitting over his shoulder. It was a good thing Aegin hadn't chosen the spear. It would have snapped in two with one hit.
Beast stared back at him across the arena, the warning in his eyes. One of them was going to die today. There would be no mercy. The Slave Master wouldn't allow that.
Aegin drew the short swords and spun them in his hands like a nervous tick before gripping them tightly.
"Ladies and Gentleman, today, Warrior Aegin's third and final trial. He will fight one on one to the death with one of the Arena's greats, the one, the only, Beast!"
The crowd cheered as Beast stopped, the axe falling to the ground and piercing it with a clear thud.
"Will Warrior Aegin prevail with his thorns to save the rosy cheeked love of his life? Or will the great Beast end his great crusade?"
Aegin was getting sick of that announcer. He wasn't quite sure if he could throw quite far enough to kill him though. Maybe one day. He'd certainly be dying before Aegin got off the Island, along with the Slave Master and possibly the Madame depending on how she treated Ebony.
"Let the fight begin!"
Beast pulled the axe out of the ground, holding it slightly to the side as he stepped forward, Aegin followed the meet him. If either of them were going to die, he would not do the warrior the discourtesy of running away. Beast had spent to much of his life here. If this was to be his last fight, he would want it to be worth it. He would earn his death.
Aegin's speed increased as he approached, though his agility would be his only advantage against Beast, whose strength had appeared unrivaled in the training rooms.
Sure enough, the Beast swung the axe around and up above his head as he gripped it with his other hand, then straight down to slice Aegin in two.
Taking that his straight on would flatten him, Aegin crossed his short swords to the side and push the Axe blade to his right as he skidded across the ground on his knees. Beast was quick, twisting the axe and pushing it across Aegin horizontally. Aegin pushed off the ground with his hands, spinning over the blade before he landed on his feet and sliced across Beast's leg before backing up as Beast threw in another lethal slice.
They danced back and forth, Aegin only daring to make contact with the axe when there was no other choice. The weapon was too solid, too heavy for his tiny short swords and even tinier throwing knives.
The longest he'd lasted against Beast in training was ten minutes. But that was without weapons. Aegin wasn't sure if he had the advantage or not with them. He could barely keep track of time as they both took the fight seriously, dodging, cutting and barreling towards one another with their lives.
Finally, as Aegin attempted to dodge under Beast's guard and around him, Aegin realised he'd made a mistake. Beast shifted his footing ever so slightly, and Aegin was unable to dodge it. He tripped and rolled to the side, dropping one of his short swords as it clattered away. He looked at it desperately as Beast took two, steps, raising the axe up once more and bringing it down towards Aegin. Thanks to the awkward position he'd stopped in, Aegin couldn't move out of the way.