This weekend I worked on this prompt as an exercise to “fix” Spinecrusher’s POV. Normally these prompts are fun and I can whip some thing out in a few hours since I don’t have to name characters, and fully create a place in Aeterra. I was trying out a thing with Ta’gosh/Spinecrusher, it took longer than two days. The whole thing was 3500 words, but I only included the section that leads up to the answere to the prompt. I’m excited to get this polished and carved into something to use in a manuscript. There are spoilers and will likely be included in the 3rd book of this series. its full of typos, so i will be updating as I find them.
It was almost time for the the games when they broke the negotions. The king had tried to lock in a price on paper for the next ten years but Ari advised against it. The amount was competitive on years when the harvest was good, but on the years when there was a bad crop, the cost would be too low and likely hurt the farmers and mills.
“Think on it, for now let us break for the games. I’ll give you a tour of the arena.”
He led them out to his personal carriages and conveyed them across the city. They entered the arena in a quiet square away from the crowds. here a fountain’s patter drowned out the sounds of people. They went into the pale pink stone building and into the tunnels. Spinecrusher could hear the crowds and the rumble of gates. Ari held his arm and reached out and touched the the walls. She opened the link and he felt the stone weep. She had let him feel the elements several times. He had felt the pride of his own home when she had touched the wood, but this was agony. The stone of the arena mourned the loss of each gladiator. Ari pulled her hand away and wiped her face.
“Over here we have the living quarters for the gladiators. They live here in the arena. Some of the veteran fighters are allowed freedom of the trade district. They get a small wage to buy comforts.” The king pointed down a hall way. A few men and women looked up with when Ta’gosh looked in. The galdiators were mostly Orish and Humans, with a few Forest Elves. The common room was neat and comfortably furnished. They had books and art on the walls. He wondered if Ari would have been sold into to the arenas. Probably not, the Falanians where beautiful and the king had surrounded himself with them in the palace.
They were ushered down the hall to some training rooms. Weapons lined the walls and several Egrielian Guards watched over the gladiators here. They held sticks that where some kind of magic weapons. He had wondered how the small guards kept control of the fighters. He knew that with her magic, Ari could incapacitate a large man or animal, but only for a short time. With a magic object they could probably inflict the pain for much longer. The combat weapons looked plain, but well made. Spinecrusher nodded indicating they had seen enough.
The last room they passed housed animals. The smell was horrible and several men were at one end beating an animal. Ari stopped and covered her ears. She loved animals and the sound of the beast crying out was too much after all she had seen.
“She has a weak heart like all women.” The king said with a sniff.
Spinecrusher backed away, “I agree with her. This is just cruel. We can take our seat now.” The other rangersfollowed with out looking in the room.
“You will have seats in my box today as honored guests.” The king flourished his hand and led them up the stairs. Several falanian women stood with trays of food and men held fans. The women wore sheer dresses that hid none of their bodies. Ta’gosh was not adverse to nudity, but he didn’t like the idea that they had no choice. He avoided looking, but saw that Ari was courious. she had likely not seen another falanian since her mother had gone missing.
As they were filing into the canopied area, a woman in stylized ranger uniform tripped and stumbled into Spinecrusher. He helped her stand up and noted her beauty, then looked into her eyes. It was a feminine reflection of his own down to the eyes. She pulled away, a look of terror on her face. Before she backed into the other gladiators as if hiding.
Ari had stopped and looked at her but must not have seen her eyes. The eye color that ran in his mother’s family was very rare. He had only ever seen it on close kin. He sat on one of the cushions, and an announcer spoke into an amplipher horn announcing the day’s champions. The woman who had bumped into him stepped forward.
The announcer called out “Blooddancer!” Around the arena people cheered and applauded.
Spinecrusher’s heart pounded. That was the name his mother had been known by.
The announcer continued, “fighting along side her devoted mate, Mountainsong!”
Spinecrusher felt weak. He parents had been kidnapped by slaver and had been fighting in the arenas for 35 years.
The games started with some of the newer fighters killing animals. The Orrish guests were all appalled. Killing animals for sport was not an idea that would sit well with any orrish. As the champions began their matches, Spinecrusher got an idea.
“Do they ever retire?”
“No. Though blood dancer and Mountainsong have survived decades longer than any fighters. They trained the other champions.” The king considered the pair of former rangers.
Spinecrusher hated himself for what he was going to do, but he would have to do it. He was sure those two were his parents. If they were not this was their lucky day. “I don’t normally make wagers, but I also don’t normally watch bloodsports. How about we make a wager. I will meet you halfway on the price per case if the long tooth rangers win their match.”
“That is a good wager–“
“And you throw them into the deal.” Everyone stared at Spinecrusher. “As a sign of good faith that you will stop capturing people on the listed lands.”
The king eyed him then looked over at the two rangers. “They have served well.” The king continued watching the fight. The human, the smallest of the champions was badly injured, but putting up a valiant fight when he was taken down. The other champion held a bald to the fallen man’s throat and looked up at the king. The king thought for a few moments, then gave the thumbs down. The winner knelt and took the condemned man’s hand and to Ta’gosh it looked like they prayed together. Then the winner cut his friend’s throat.
The arena was silent and the champions stood and banged their weapons calling out one of the old orrish Hakka chants. The rangers stood and joined in. Then they sat again.
The king whispered, as if this moment was respected, “many of the other arenas don’t allow them to honor each other, but they are people with gods.”
At his side Ari was furiously praying with her eyes closed. The winner accompanied the dead man from the arena floor and attendants came out to rake the bloody dirt away.
The king spared the next champion who lost and the combatants embraced as they left the arena floor.
The last four rose to go to the arena. Spinecrusher wondered if they knew how their performance today might alter their lives. Blood dancer paused and bowed deeply to the king. “May I have a blessing from the Naidwain.”
“You and your mate have been my favorites for many years. You may have your blessing.”
Ari rose and went to the edge of the seating area. She took blood dancer’s hand then took mountain song’s. “To whom should I send your prayers?”
Blooddancer looked past Ari to Spinecrusher. “To Baugh.”
Ari stuttered trying to start the prayer. Mountain song named his own ancestor, and Ary prayed for him. She kissed each of them invoking the guardian gods.
What would your character do? If you answer, I’d lover to read it. Tag me, @erikafrose, and @LexiIsAWriter witht the hashtag #povprompt on twiter or sharein the comments.