[LB] In the Pit (NB Refresh 01)

edited November 2014 in LadyB
Flashback. Happens when Naomi was still a pit fighter.

Naomi, what is the name of the place where you fought in the pits? Who owned you?

This is a big fight, the one against the troll. Your owner put you, Jonas and that fanged elf Hecate in against it. What weapon are you holding, and who is in the worse shape as we come onto this scene?


  • image

    They call this place the Pearl. It was built by a bunch of rich imperials to show off their wealth. Shells of perhaps thousands of oysters decorate the walls of this place. They look like regular stones until the light hits them, and they light up like tiny, iridescent rainbows that dance across the pale sands. And I hate them.

    Our owner, Alba, loves them. They say the theme was his idea. I can't decide if it was vanity or a stroke of genius: the shells are buffed until they shine like little mirrors. They bounce the light around, so you have to keep them at your back. Fighters new to this place don't know that...and that gives us an advantage. But that advantage is too unreliable: on windy, cloudy days, a stray sunbeam can be blinding if you're looking at the wrong place when the clouds part.

    That's what happened earlier: rookie mistake that nearly got me killed. I'm moving in to sheathe my sword in its gut, and there's a sudden flash of light right in my eyes. I should have spun backwards, rolled to safety -- and, instead, I kept going. I misjudged its reach. If I hadn't moved at the last minute, that blow would have broke my neck, and I'd be just another corpse. But it came down on my shoulder and broke that instead.

    I don't feel anything, though, not like I should. My whole arm is numb -- I only know it's there, because every time I move, it swings and pulls on my shoulder, and I can feel that, kind of a sharp pain. But my adrenaline's up, and I don't have the luxury of waiting until I feel better... If I stop moving, that thing will kill me. Or, worse, Alba will decide I'm useless...and if that happens, I might wish I was dead.

    Somehow, my fingers still clutch the hilt of my short sword. It's a weak grip though -- I can't even hold it upright. My right arm isn't as strong or precise as my left, but, right now, it's better, and it's the only option I've got.

    The troll stomps towards Hecate, who is tiny compared to you, a gnat compared to this monstrosity. It's club comes thundering down on the tiled stone floor. She tumbles out of the way just barely, skittering a couple steps into the pearl-crusted wall which cuts her lithe shoulder. She grunts in pain, then charges right back at the troll, running up its leg as it brings the club back clumsily.

    "Strike! Strike now!" She screams it in her shrill little tones as her daggers stab and slice at the thick skin. She's little more than a nuisance, but the troll reacts with a roar when she reaches its eyes.

    "Bishop, leg!" Jonas yells as he darts in with spear and shield, aiming to pierce tendons and cripple it.

    Naomi, how did you get the killing blow on this beast? Who wanted it the most, was it you?
  • image

    That thing is moving fast...and they're counting on me to do my part. I dodge around the massive club it carries -- it's damaged the floor of the arena, bringing broken pieces of tile up with it like shrapnel as it lifts the club up again. But I get to the leg. Jonas's cut is graceful and masterful -- I know I don't have the right grip on my sword or dexterity with this hand to mimic him. Instead, I press the blade of the sword into his knee, and I throw my weight into the attack. It's messy but effective; the troll moves blindly, reacting in pain and confusion as its legs refuse to hold its weight.

    Even a crippled troll is still dangerous -- they're too stubborn or too stupid to die when they should. It lurches sideways, falling in Jonas's direction. He'll have to move -- only an idiot with a deathwish would stand there and wait for the troll to fall on them. And Jonas will have to wait for it to come down before he can do anything about it, and our elven friend's tiny daggers are no match for it's hide... Guess it's up to me. It's already reaching for it's face, reaching for the elf. I've seen people crushed by trolls before -- it's not something I want to see again. "Hecate, move!"

    It's coming down, hard and fast. I back off, crouch, and push myself forward at a sprint. The giant is still at a 45 degree angle from the floor of the arena when I spring into the air and land upon it's leg. It's leg twitches, and I almost lose my balance, but all he does it help me loose my sword from his knee as I hurry by. "Jonas, switch!"

    I throw my sword towards him -- a less-than-spectacular throw, I admit. Fortunately, his weapon is more easily thrown. I snag his spear out of the air at about the stomach and leap onto it's chest and plant the spear into his chest above his heart. His head comes down on the tile, then and I grab tightly onto the spear to keep from being flung off as his body settles.

    I'm surprised, and a little horrified, when he doesn't stop moving yet. Shit, the spear hasn't gone in deep enough... I knew my short sword was no good, and that's why I switched in the first place! It's hurt him, but, obviously, it needs to bite in more deeply if I want to reach his heart. I pull the spear out and try again -- but I just can't push down enough with only one hand. So I grit my teeth and bear the pain as I bring it to bear using both my right and my left. This time, it's no little stabbing sensation I feel in my shoulder; it's a searing, white-hot pain as I put my full strength into it. Squids, it hurts -- I'm not sure if that's my agonized cry or it's dying snarl.

    I wanted this. Of course I wanted this. But this show wasn't about me, and it wasn't about Jonas. This was about the elf. You know why you don't see a lot of elves? The Imperials unleashed trolls on them -- some say hundreds of the beasts, and the trolls did their job for them. The elven homeland was pretty much wiped out -- it's just a wasteland now. This was supposed to be a grudge match -- the audience always loves a grudge match. That's why Hecate got stuck with those useless toothpicks -- they think it's funnier that way.

    Fucking Imperials.
  • The gathered crowd of nobles, gamblers and hangers-on erupt into a frenzy of cheers. The throbbing of your shoulder echoes the stamping of feet from the crowd. They shout your name, Naomi. Jonas gives you a salute and a nod of respect. Hecate looks at you with that impassive expression. She took no joy in the spectacle, but you know she has a private little joy at the death of that troll.

    Alba stands up, towering over the others in his raised seat. He calls down to the crowd, "Ah, yes. Bishop never fails to entertain. All honor to our great warrior!" The crowd yells excitedly, some throwing favors down to you. What is it that they throw to you, Naomi?
  • image

    I sag against the spear for a minute, breathing hard and listening to my heart pounding. When the cheers break through, I push myself upright using my right arm and lift the same arm in a wave with a smile that, I hate to admit, isn't completely forced.

    That's the sick part of this, the arena, the fights and the murders. When it all ends and you're standing victorious over your foe, when the crowd is chanting your name and you know your name will be on their lips tonight as they tell their friends what you did... It's something powerful and intoxicating -- and, for just a moment, it sweeps you away and makes you feel indestructible and powerful, an idolized god standing before her subjects.

    But then you feel the aches from the blows you took. You see the blood, a bright splash against your dirty skin and rags. And you see the body on the ground in front of you, and, you know that it could have been you. And you feel hollow and sick inside, because they've found their way in under your skin and made you, for just that moment, one of them.

    And the only thing that fills up that hollow space is hatred, because you know that for all your defiance, all your pride, all your strength, in that one moment, you are truly powerless, and they have you right where they want you.

    I dread having to move -- I fear the spear is the only thing propping me up -- but that sick feeling, like a survival instinct, insists I need to move, and I need to move now. Tenderly, a bit awkwardly, I slide down the troll's side until I land on the ground. With the fight done, the adrenaline is fading, and now my arm is joining my shoulder with a throbbing pain that seems to increase with each heartbeat.

    Still, Alba demands a show. I scoop up one of the favors and press it to my lips, then lift it high above my head in triumph. There's a variety of favors thrown -- few see their intended fighter, to be honest. Some of the poorer with goods to spare throw food -- bread and cheese, usually -- and the arena guards and staff get that. The rest is well-intended junk -- everything from ribbon to shells to beads, and it's thrown out with the corpses. What they think we do with them is beyond me. This particular piece is a large wooden bead that looks as though someone has tried to shape it into a...squid, maybe? It doesn't matter, really. It dangles from a short, dark green ribbon that gives it a particular eye-catchiness I like.
  • "All honor, and well deserved!" Alba continues, and the crowd answers with heart. "It is with a heavy heart that it is her last match."

    When you look up to him, you see someone else. Behind him, in the dark. Long and lean, with glittering eyes, a flowing beard and a regal bearing. It is none other than Lord Blackbird himself. He's watching you, Naomi. Watching every move with an approving eye.

    -- END SCENE --
Sign In or Register to comment.