246 The Master“s Death*
Aegin leaned to the side to dodge the jab of a spear, using the momentum to spin with his own spear and slice across the throat of his attacker before he spun back to the other way to do the same to another opponent. The opponent parried the blow, but didn't expect the dagger that lodged itself into his throat in the split second he took to prepare to move forward.
The clanking of metal on metal and the thump as it hit the stone walls and sandy floor was easily missed in all the fighting. But the sudden shocked silence of the crowd was not. Aegin spied a chain and took two steps forward before he dug his spear into the ground and launched over a group of his opponents, throwing three of his knives down to take care of them as he landed and sprinted past Garrow.
"Show off!" Talo called out. Aegin was ready to turn and fire back some reply when he realised that Talo had been referring to Layton.
The young whip-user had been the closest to one of the chains and thanks to the reach of his whip was able to climb a fair way up before his attackers reached the base of the chain. The Guards in the stands had responded quickly as well however, and had come to the top of the chain to wait for him. To deal with this, Layton had used his whip to grab one of the huge beams that were incrementally placed around the inside of the arena high enough that no one on the ground could reach them, then he'd swung over to the next chain before the Guards had been able to respond. This sudden development had led to panic in the stands as Layton had begun to attack anyone who got close to him, no matter if they were one of the audience members of the guards.
Aegin wouldn't leave him up there alone. As he approached the chain, he took two large steps then threw his spear at one of the guards that was preparing to defend the top of the chain. Aegin didn't glance up again to see whether or not the guard had been hit, the shouts of surprise above were enough as he scooped up two discarded short swords and put them into his belt before swinging up onto the chain. He climbed rapidly, vaguely aware that the other Reapers had already made their way towards chains or were climbing already. When he reached the top, Aegin dodged a spear and grabbed the shaft before the guard could pull back. He yanked the guard over the Arena's wall and barely glanced down to watch him scream as he fell.
Turning the spear, he threw it up at another oncoming guard, then pushed off the wall and used his grip on the chain to flip over. He landed quite ungracefully on top of a fleeing audience member, but sprung up just as fast, drawing the two short swords and hurriedly fending off the guards that were approaching him.
He was still a fair distance from the Slave Master's stand. At least a quarter of the way around the Arena. He couldn't afford more than a mere glance as he let himself settle into the Havoi style, defending and using the guard's strengths against them so that he was far less likely to take any cuts from those could-be-poisoned spears.
Thanks to the Reaper's rapid progress up into the stands, the audience had cleared out as quickly as they could to avoid encountering the coming slaughter. It gave the Reapers more room to move.
Aegin quickly noticed however that, despite their efforts, they may not be able to get to the Slave Master before his guards evacuated him from the premises.
And where was Ebony?
Aegin couldn't see her. She was not among the cowering slaves who screamed and whimpered in the corner, trying to appear as small as possible. Nor was she one of those the other guests in the Master's stand were using as their human shields.
Ebony always served in that stand. He'd even seen her earlier. Why wasn't she there now? What had happened to her?
Aegin was only about a hundred metres from the stand when he realised he couldn't see Revierre either.
Aegin's efforts to move forward redoubled.
He slashed and stabbed and dodged and ducked, moving through the guards as the other Reapers went through their opponents. He was so engrossed in the movement of his body that when the roar of pain cut through his concentration, he took a second to register it was from an ally and not from an enemy.
Aegin turned, hearing Talo call out a familiar name, "Garrow!"
The big guy had only been stabbed in the shoulder, barely a scratch to him, he'd been stabbed there plenty of times before. Only this time, the black lines that rapidly stretched from the wound made it clear that it wasn't merely a wound of the flesh.
"Garrow!" Aegin echoed the call worriedly.
He almost reacted too late as a spear slashed past him. He moved to the side, the spear's blade cutting through his sleeve. A sting, barely there, cut through Aegin's focus now that he'd seen Garrow go down.
No, he hadn't gotten to Ebony yet.
Aegin moved, taking care of the final two guards before him before he took a second to glance down, waiting for those black lines to appear. He breathed a sigh of relief when he realised the cut hadn't even fully broken through his skin. That had been too close.
It was as he looked up, swords clenched in his hands, that he noticed Ebony emerge through the crowd as if she was coming from the group of slaves. Her arms were held down beside her, but Aegin was focused enough on her to not miss the bloody knife hidden in the folds of her skirt. She appeared timid, but her gait was determined as she made her way towards the Slave Master. Aegin realised in and instant what she was doing. He charged forward, throwing one of his short swords as the guards surrounding the Master moved to intercept him. Then Aegin ducked past and drew his last throwing knife, but he couldn't get a clean shot from this angle. He dived down feet first, sliding along the ground, then released his knife.
He knew the second it was released that it wouldn't reach the Master as he pulled the guard behind him in front of him. But as Aegin launched back up to his feet to deflect the blows from the spears coming his way, he realised it didn't matter. His knife had been effective all the same.
He watched as Ebony thrust the knife in her hand into the Slave Master's back. The Master gasped in shock, then jolted as Ebony pulled it back. She gripped the stumbling Slave Master by his forehead, pulling his head back to expose his throat before dragging her knife across the front of his neck.
He went down and Ebony stepped back to narrowly avoid a spear which Aegin parried. He backed up with Ebony behind him as the other Reapers made their final approach to the stand. They'd lost Eros too, whose body was currently being carried on his brother's back as Will defended them.
"Is our end fulfilled?" asked Ebony.
Aegin turned to look at the Madame, who knelt down beside the body of the Slave Master. As she watched him bleed out, the necklace around her neck suddenly shattered. The Madame grinned as she stood.
"I'd dare say it is. Let us commandeer some ships, shall we?"