284 A Coin for a Coun
Aegin was still as he watched from the sidelines, his gaze calculated. The third fight he'd seen, the scarred man, who had won against his previous two opponents, picked up his current opponent and slammed him onto the ground. When his opponent stilled, the crowd started counting.
The opponent shifted coughing as he recovered from being winded. The scarred man advanced again as his opponent got to his feet.
A swipe of his massive arm, and the poor guy was down again. He'd feel that shortly.
This time, the count made it all the way to eight before the bell to the side was rung and the crowd cheered.
The big scarred guy spread his arms in victory and circled around the inside of the wooden pit. Because it was a pit, the ring was about twenty paces across, but it was another storey and a half down from where all the spectators were seated. Well, more like squashed in like fish in a barrel. They made use of every available space possible. Whoever ran this place was certainly getting their money's worth. Aegin could tell they'd probably get it from the bets alone from what he'd heard in passing.
Finally, after the fifth win of the scarred man, Aegin saw just what he was looking for. The next challenger was much smaller than those before, but he also possessed a far darker shade of skin, and much to the crowd's shock, he was blind. But Aegin could tell by the way he walked in. By the baring of his shoulders and the placement of his feet. This man was going to win.
Most people immediately laughed, placing their bets on the sure thing that was the scarred man. Zu, if Aegin had caught his name properly. He honestly hadn't been caring about it much though. Aegin stepped forward, weaving through the crowd until he stopped beside the man taking all the bets.
"I'll bet on the blind guy," said Aegin, holding out his two silver.
A few people around him chuckled.
"Odds are fifty to one kid," said the man who was taking the bets.
Aegin nodded, "That's fine".
The man sighed, "Fine. Your funeral".
Aegin didn't think so.
The bell tolled for the match to start. The scarred man approached, baring his teeth in a grin. Aegin grinned with him as he watched the blind guy shuffled a few steps back as if nervous. The scarred man roared and charged, ready to absolutely devour the poor guy.
Even Aegin didn't blink as he watched the blind man circle one foot back in an elegant side step before he continued to swing his leg, hitting the scarred man right in the centre of his back as he passed him. The scarred man ran head long into the wall of the pit. The crowd flinched, and seemed confused for a moment as if they couldn't believe what had just happened.
Aegin smiled as the blind man took three steps towards the centre of the ring. The scarred guy stood up, shaking his head to get rid of his dizziness. He'd had plenty of momentum going into that wall. Aegin was surprised he hadn't knocked himself out.
Still, he had no chance. The Blind guy was a Havoi Master.
The fight dragged on and on, the crowd becoming more and more agitated as they realised they'd lost. The few among them who'd dared to take a chance barely uttering a word for fear of being mobbed.
Finally, after what must have been at least twenty minutes the big guy just sort of swung and then collapsed.
There was an awkward silence, then the bell tolled.
Aegin turned back to the man taking the bets with a smile, "50 to one did you say?"
The bets man rolled his eyes and handed over a gold coin, "Don't go tripping over yourself on the way out".
Aegin chuckled, then paused as he sensed someone coming from behind him. He frowned, prepared to side step before he realised that in order to do that...it wouldn't look human. He hesitated, and in that hesitant moment took the blow. He took it easily, using the momentum to flip himself over the rail and landed on his feet in the pit below. He glared up at the man who'd hit him, who was looking pretty damn smug with himself.
"That was rude," Aegin huffed.
"And we have another challenger!" came the call. Aegin's eyes widened in surprise. He opened his mouth to protest, but the crowd drowned him out. He looked around, the images of a much bigger stadium filling his mind as his eyes landed on the blind man.
"Didn't you just bet on me to win?" asked the man. He was confused. Aegin was more confused as to how he knew. No way he could have heard.
"Yeah," Aegin huffed, "Funny how fate just kind of throws us into these situations".
"Seemed like you jumped in to me," said the blind man as he stood tall and readied himself.
"Jumped, pushed, fell, thrown," Aegin shrugged, "You still end up in the same place".
The blind man smiled, "I don't mind you kid, pity you'll lose".
Aegin huffed a laugh, "Unfortunately, I really don't think that's a probable option anymore".
Aegin stepped to the plate opposite, knowing there was no easier way out of this than just to fight. The bell tolled. Neither of them moved.
Aegin wasn't exactly a Havoi master. But he did know that making the first move was practically the same as throwing the fight.
The Master smiled despite his blindness, "You're smarter than the other guy".
Aegin huffed out a laugh, "Call it survival instincts".
The Master took three steps forward and lashed out. Aegin automatically fell into the rhythm of the Havoi style, and after a few steps, the Master's smile widened.
"You know this style," he said, "Pity you're such a novice".
The Master moved his leg slightly to interrupt Aegin's movement. Which probably would have laid Aegin out and left him open for an ending blow had he been human. He wasn't though, and his pride wouldn't allow him to throw the fight. The Master looked a little confused when Aegin caught his fist.
"Yeah, I admit I'm not great at Havoi, but I am much stronger than I look," said Aegin.
He punched out, and the Master coughed, winded as he stumbled back into the wall and slid down. The count sounded out, and the Master grinned, not bothering to get back up when he knew he'd lost. Aegin extended a hand and helped him up.
"It seems I have found myself a new contender," said a new voice over the crowd. Their voices died down and Aegin turned to find himself looking up at an aristocratic looking middle-aged man with a long, thin black beard and a bald head, "You name, warrior".
"Not interested," said Aegin. He'd just wanted more coin, he'd gotten that now. Time to leave. He wrapped an arm around the Master then, pushed off the ground, grabbing the railing at the top of the pit and climbing over easily. He spotted the guy who'd pushed him over the side, then didn't hesitate a second before punching him in the nose. The guy crumpled.
"Every fight won earns you fifty gold," said the man. Now that, that made Aegin pause.
Fifty gold. It was easy money...too easy. Every match with him would be rigged.
Unless the other showed up, but Aegin thought that unlikely.
Aegin gritted his teeth. He was so sick of bowing to that. So sick of limiting himself and his freedoms because of his nature.
"It wouldn't be fair," Aegin said eventually.
The middle-aged man's smile flickered, "Fair? I think the price is-"
In an instant, Aegin crossed the thirty paces between them and stood right before him. The entire crowd recoiled in surprise, "It wouldn't be fair for everyone else".