245 The Shattering of Chains*
The fight in the Arena below was just as brutal and bloody as always. The only difference this time seemed to be that Lord Revierre had learned his lesson from last time. He had not thrown mere Guards into the Arena to challenge the Reapers, no he'd quite clearly done more than that. While Ebony could only speculate, she'd bet that he'd hired them for a good price to avenge his past humiliation.
The challengers were skilled enough that Ebony worried for the Reapers below. Though she knew she shouldn't have. The only challenge that those warriors had faced recently was against each other.
Ebony moved around the Master's stand quietly and smoothly, pouring wine into cups and providing snacks for the patrons as they shouted, jeered and laughed at the entertainment on display below them. She could not help the thought that crossed her mind. That she doubted they would be so happy should they have been the ones down there. In fact, they likely would have begged for mercy. Those who had never felt the hardship, had never had to decide between their life and the life of another, likely had no idea how it felt. Ebony wasn't even positive that she understood. She had never had to kill anybody directly, but she'd certainly been an accessory to such things on more than one occasion. She wasn't entirely sure if it had bothered her or not.
Ebony looked up, noticing Neva's eyes as they glanced over her and the other girls. Ebony knew that this time if someone took an interest, she wouldn't be able to avoid them, nor would anyone step in. The Madame, who sat beside the Master, looked the same as always. Like she was living a life of luxury where she ruled over all, a glass of wine held in her hand as she watched the bloody fight below. She gave no indication of her allegiance, nor if she was ready to go through with the plan. It made Ebony tense.
Ebony happened to walk near the railing, glancing down to see Aegin's situation. He was doing well, but he was fighting off three men at once, and all three seemed to be quite adept. Aegin ducked and dodged as best he could, but Ebony witnessed the moment he slipped into a different style. The style he'd told her he'd never use in the Arena. The Havoi Style.
He went from wildly defending to having the attacks pass by him like they weren't even aimed at him to begin with. One warrior went down, then the second, and finally the third before Aegin spun and threw a dagger at one of those fighting Talo.
Lord Revierre stood, "What is this, Slave Master?"
The Slave Master merely smiled like he'd just earned a mountain of gold as he looked at Aegin.
"It appears we weren't pushing their potential nearly hard enough," the Slave Master mused, "I should thank you for doing so, Revierre".
Ebony's eyes narrowed at the words as she shifted to go back to serving. It would not matter in the next few minutes, at least she hoped it wouldn't.
Her jug ran out and she turned to go and refill it, her eyes catching a look from Lord Revierre as she did. Ebony swore under her breath. She'd managed to avoid his attention these last few days, why now?
She went into the serving hall as another slave exited, eyes filled with warning at what followed Ebony. Ebony took in a deep breath. She could do this. She wouldn't break. She was not a belonging. She could not be forced. She would not freeze again.
"You've hidden long enough, I think," Lord Revierre's voice cut through the room as Ebony placed the jug in her hands down. Her eyes spying the silverware to the side. She turned slowly to look behind her.
"Are you lost again, my lord?" asked Ebony.
Revierre gritted his teeth and stalked across the room, his hand raising to fist Ebony's hair and yank her head back. Ebony felt fear crawl through her limbs at the pain, slowly freezing them. No, she didn't want to freeze up again. She wouldn't, she couldn't.
"I don't appreciate your tone, slave. Neither do I appreciate your husband's audacity in undermining my victory. My reputation. But fortunately he is not here right now," Revierre sneered.
He was belittled. A mighty lord whom no one questioned nor stood against was feeling small thanks to Aegin. Thanks to the Reapers. The thought made Ebony smile. He was just a man in the end. There was no great power standing beside him, he would bleed just like she and Aegin did. Warmth slowly seeped back into her limbs as Ebony's lips curled into the most arrogant and confident smile she could muster.
"Fortunate you say?" she asked as Revierre's eyes narrowed on her, "I'd say its fortunate indeed, he can do a lot more damage than I".
Ebony raised her knee sharply, hitting his manhood before she pushed a flat palm forward into his throat, constricting his airways. Revierre stumbled back in shock. As Ebony turned slowly and picked a sharp knife from amongst the silverware.
"But I think I can do plenty of damage on my own too".
She stepped forward, dragging the knife under his chin before she drew back and thrust forward again, stabbing the knife up beneath his ribs. Ebony watched the fear and shock in his eyes as he fell in a bloody lump at her feet, a roar in her ears.
She'd done it. She hadn't frozen when it counted. She took a deep breath, finding that the first death she'd caused directly didn't affect her nearly as much as she thought it would.
Then she looked up as she realised the roar wasn't in her ears. It was coming from outside. Ebony stepped over Revierre's fallen body, yanking the bloody knife out as she did and stalking outside. Patrons were running panicked before her and as she hid the knife behind her skirts, the guards came from the shadows to surround the Slave Master who was busy shouting orders as he pointed towards the Arena. Ebony followed his finger, finding a bunch of chains thrown over the wall, and the Reapers rapidly ascending into the stands.
It had begun.