244 The Living cannot wait for the Dead*
*Eldovian Year 1713, 9th day of the 8th month*
"All you have to do is fight as you normally would, then, when the ropes come down, kill the Master as quickly as possible".
Ebony's instructions after she'd explained the plan to Aegin were simple enough. But executing them would be entirely different. For one, along the way to killing the Master, Aegin and the other Reapers would have to avoid all of the guard's weapons in case they were poisoned. There was no way to get around such a hurdle in such a small amount of time. If they had longer perhaps they could swap out all of the weapons in the Guard's arsenal without being noticed, but they only had two days, and that was not nearly enough time to work without being noticed.
Because of this, the Reapers were still apprehensive when Aegin told them about the plan. However, they also had to admit that if the Madame played her part, it was the plan with the best chance of actually succeeding.
"We're fighting that Lord's warriors again...maybe we could steal their armour after we kill them?" Talo proposed, "After all the more skin we cover the less likely we'll be cut".
"And the less quickly we'll be able to move around," Eros countered.
"I'm not going to be a jingling mass of mismatched armour, I won't be as agile," Eon added.
Aegin didn't say anything. He was just happy they were discussing this like it was a possibility.
"We could take extra armour from the Armoury," suggested Layton.
"If we are to act as normal this may not be a liable option," Sel refuted, "None of us ever take much armour, even with a challenge like this".
So the idea of extra armour was dismissed, though Will did point out that if their opponents dropped a shield or two that wouldn't be as hard to pick up on the way to the ropes.
The night before the challenge and their inevitable attempt at escape, Aegin nervously passed the Tracking Charm from hand to hand. This was it, he was going to get out. He and Ebony would finally be able to start the free life that they'd always dreamed of, and they wouldn't let something like this happen again. Their life was theirs to live, Rassa had given them that opportunity originally, now, they were taking it for themselves.
Aegin clenched the Charm in his fist, full of determination. Him and Ebony. They'd get out of this together. They'd survive together as they had for the past two and a half years. His eyes raised to follow the brightest line that led from the charm as he activated it. The one that led to her. He was reassured by the fact that she was still in the direction of the slave quarters this late at night. She'd no doubt had to employ all manner of tricks to get away from the Lord who wanted to use her for means she was not willing to accommodate him in. Aegin turned to lie down, ready to go to sleep for the night, only to freeze when he saw the flickering line that headed to the East.
That wasn't possible.
Aegin rubbed his eyes, convinced he was hallucinating. He hadn't seen that line in years. That line had faded and disappeared. That line had made him lose all hope of rescue. Yet there it was. Still flickering and faded enough to show a great distance stretched between them, but it was there.
How long had it been there? Had he been alive this whole time?
Why hadn't he come?
Aegin felt an overwhelming sense of betrayal as he stared at the line. Where by the gods had Rassa been? All this time when he and Ebony had been suffering and he chose now to reappear? Now when they were on the eve of their escape?
Aegin threw the charm into the corner of the cell and it rebounded off the wall and clattered into the far corner. A part of him knew there must have been a reason. If he'd been in the sub-death the whole time he'd been incapable of returning to them. Of saving them. But the part of him that had suffered, the part of him that had been forced to fight for his and Ebony's lives over and over, that part was deeply hurt. Rassa had left them, and Aegin didn't see a reason to not be angry at him for it.
Alive or not, the plan was still the same. He'd get out without Rassa's help. Perhaps he'd even be better off for it.
Aegin held the spear in his hands as he stared at the gate before him. The others shifted with a mixture of excited and nervous energy behind him. The crowd was hysterical outside, enough that he could feel the earth beneath his feet rumble. The Arena was packed more than it ever had been.
It made no different though. A fight was a fight.
"You good?" asked Talo as he came to stand beside Aegin, stamping his trident into the dirt at his feet.
Talo nodded, "You know, I'd like to say I won't miss this place, but maybe I've just been here too long".
Aegin turned to look at him, then at the others who are clearly listening despite the fact that weren't staring at the two of them.
Aegin sighed, "I left a place where I'd been trapped once before. I didn't want to miss it either, but I did".
Talo turned to look at Aegin.
"But missing it is not the same as wishing you had remained," Aegin continued, "It just means that you acknowledge that it was once an important part of your life, that some part of it defined who you are, but you've moved on for one reason or another. And moving on is not something to ever be ashamed or afraid of".
Talo smiled, "You've been a good friend, Aegin. I wasn't supposed to make any of those here, none of us were. But you did a good job of it anyway".
The gate before them began to open and the light of the wide arena filtered through the crack.
"Let's move on together, shall we?" asked Talo.
Aegin smiled, "And in the process, Reap a few unsavoury souls".
"No ifs, buts, or maybes about that," Talo grinned, then he picked up his trident and stepped out, Aegin and the others right behind him.