Chapter 15

“Today, dear guests, we have a rare exotic species for our opening match. He’s the servant of the corrupted one, brought here to test his mettle. Today is his opening match, so no one knows his ability, but a servant of the corrupted one is bound to be strong. His opponent is, Nar’lith, seven time winner and son of the Slhill tribe’s chieftain. As many of you know, the Slhill tribe was conquered by the Svathi a few moon cycles ago. Nar’lith is the tribe’s only hope at rebirth if he can win one hundred matches. Will he go on to claim another victory today? Or will the servant shut him down?” a lamia said with her voice amplified by wind magic. The sun shined over the circular coliseum, leaving no shadows in the arena.  The center of the arena was a flat expanse of yellow sand. Two gates underneath the seating area faced each other from opposite sides. The figure of a naga wielding two spears could be seen in one gate. The other gate had a small child and a woman with a pig.

“What are they saying?” Vur asked Lindyss. “Can I play yet?”

“Very soon; they’re saying the rules for the game,” Lindyss replied. “You’ll be fighting that snake over there. You’re not allowed to use dragon magic or show your aura. Only unnoticeable self-buffs and weapons allowed.”

Vur nodded. “Okay,” he said.

“Also, you can’t eat him,” Lindyss said.

Vur pouted. “Just a taste?” he asked.

Lindyss shook her head. “Not in front of all those people. I’ll feed you one tonight if you win.”

“Okay,” Vur said with a smile. “Grimmy says dragons never lose.”

“All bets have been placed and the fighters are ready. Remember the rules: there are no rules and we want to see blood,” the announcer said. “Open the gates!”

“They’re starting now,” Lindyss said. “Have fun.”

Vur dashed out of the room and waited at the center of the arena for Nar’lith. Nar’lith circled around Vur, getting closer with each rotation. “I’ll make this quick child,” Nar’lith hissed. “It’s a shame killing someone so yo-. Wait, what are you doing?”

Vur pulled his pants down to his knees and retrieved his dagger after rummaging around. Lindyss facepalmed. I should have got him a belt sheath instead, she thought. Nar’lith stared as Vur put his dagger on the ground and grabbed the top of his pants to pull it back up.

Swish!

He dashed forward and stabbed his spear straight at Vur’s head. “Wah,” Vur cried out and fell over onto his butt as the spear passed through the space where his head used to be. Nar’lith raised his other spear and stabbed down at Vur who quickly turned over and leapt forward. The spear stabbed through the top of his pants, but Vur’s body continued forward, slipping out of them. Lindyss sighed. “Why do I even try…” she muttered to herself as she watched her handiwork get impaled.

“That’s not nice!” Vur said as he scrambled to his feet and turned around. “Auntie made those for me.”

He pounced towards Nar’lith with his hands outstretched. Nar’lith twisted his body to the side until his back was parallel to the floor and stabbed at Vur’s body with his left hand. So fast, Nar’lith thought. Vur grabbed the spear with his right hand and used it as a pivot to redirect himself towards the naga. Nar’lith gritted his teeth and stabbed at Vur with the spear in his right hand, but Vur caught it with his left. Nar’lith looked up at the boy whose body was suspended in the air above him and tried to pull his spears apart. So strong, he thought as Vur struggled to keep his grip on the spears. Vur opened his mouth and puked onto Nar’lith’s face with the miro skill dissolving acid. Nar’lith screamed and let go of both his spears as he clawed at the vomit on his face. He started to puke and then his vision went black as Vur’s fist connected with his temple.

Lindyss shook her head and sighed. Snuffles looked at her and oinked.

“W-winner! The servant has triumphed over Nar’lith,” the lamia said. “Someone hurry up and clean up that vomit. It smells terrible.”

The audience glanced at each other and a few half-hearted hisses sounded out from the seats.

Vur picked up his dagger and put on his torn pants before returning back to Lindyss. She looked at Vur’s dangling 2nd dagger and sighed. Is there a point of putting on pants if it doesn’t cover anything? she thought, but didn’t say anything.

***

“What happened here?” Sophie said as the group left the forest. The once green plains were black and a layer of ash floated in the air.

Zeke crinkled his nose. “It smells like burning hair and death,” he said as he looked around.

“Look; there’s people over there,” Claire said as she pointed off in the distance.

“Let’s ask them what happened,” Aran said. The wrinkles on his face were gone and his pepper and salt colored hair lost its salt color.

“Something’s not right,” Zul said as they got closer. The figures ahead of them were stumbling with tattered clothes and disheveled hair. One of them turned around and stared at the group. Half of his face was covered with burn tissue and flesh fell off of his other cheek. He raised his arm and moaned.

“Zombies,” Claire said and sucked her breath in. She raised her staff and a white light covered the group as she cast shield: physical and shield: magical.

Ross and Aran charged forwards and engaged the group of zombies. A few hits later and the zombies collapsed. “Man, I didn’t even get to do anything,” Zeke said. “They were too weak.”

“Something must’ve happened,” Zul said. “These were probably villagers. Could the liches have made their move?”

“You think the graveyard is expanding?” Ross asked as he wiped brain matter off of his leather gloves. “Why now?”

Zul shook his head. “I don’t know, but we should hurry back and report this.” The group murmured in agreement and they headed off again with their weapons raised.

 

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