“Welcome to Bloodfall Arena! We have many fresh…faces among our fighters today. I see it will be an exciting first match of the day. I am excited to see which of our new competitors will be victorious and which will see their gods today. Enough talk. Let the fighting begin!” The Blood King’s words send the crowd into an excited frenzy.
The group of fighters slams their weapons on their armor and shields and roars with excitement. The slaves immediately split into two groups, the fighters and the cowards.
The cowards run back to the now closed gate where they entered where Arena workers push them back or poke weapons through the gate. Some are wounded and one frantic slave is impaled by a spear, then shaken off like a dead rat. Those who realize they have no choice but to fight, grab the extra weapons on the walls of the Arena and turn to fight.
The fighters face the opposing group and raise their weapons. The more experienced slaves slam their weapons on the ground to entice the combatants.
The first, and most eager to fight, run at each other and multiple skirmishes begin. Magic users band together to create protective barriers against the combatants or to offensively defend those weaker.
Ime hands Meah to the twins. “Watch her. Don’t let anyone get close.” He leans down to Meah and places his hands on either side of her face. “Stay with them. They’ll protect you.”
“Ime, we can’t do it alone.” Daniil motions to the fighting erupting all around them. Several of the combatants are proving to be more powerful and experienced than the others.
“I’ll take care of them. Keep her safe. Don’t use any of your magic unless you have to,” he says the last to Meah. He turns away.
Meah grabs his arm. “Wait! Why are you helping me? How did you know I could heal those close to death?”
“You said they called you a Life Healer. Life Healers are the rarest of Healers. He enjoys killing Healers because they can’t fight back.”
“But why do you want to help me?”
“There’s no time to talk now. Stay safe. Don’t fight.” Ime runs towards the fighting, throwing large pieces of rocks at the combatants. Great winds keep those attacking far from him.
“Come on, we need to move away from the center,” Kylii says, pulling Meah away.
A large combatant with a heavy axe appears in front of Kylii and brings his axe down. Daniil aims his hand at the man and he freezes. Kylii breaks the man in two with a quick kick and the three run away from the center of the arena, Daniil and Kylii moving to either side of Meah.
“Don’t think too much about Ime’s reasons for anything he does. We Rare Kinds have to stick together, that’s all,” Daniil says.
Meah glares at him. “You all keep saying that, but I don’t understand why! You don’t know me! How do you know you can trust me?”
Another combatant runs at them, swinging his sword. Kylii turns to the man and throws a dagger covered in flames into the man’s throat. His body catches on fire and he falls to the ground.
“You’re a slave like us. That means you were taken from your home forcibly and someone you loved was probably hurt or killed in the process. Now all you want is to go home. We’re the same,” Kylii says, his eyes darkening with bad memories.
Slaves scream all around them as the larger combatants overpower them. Meah searches the chaos for Ime. But he is lost amongst all the fighting. Her eyes stop on Rava and Mava. They both have weapons and are fighting back any who approach with surprising skill. They have cuts and bruises, but Meah can see the fire in their eyes as they fight to survive.
A scream behind Meah makes her jump. She turns to see another slave being stabbed in the stomach with a spear. The man holding it is laughing and digs the spear deeper as the slave begs for mercy. She recognizes the slave from the carriage. He is a slightly overweight man, one who had been even larger when the caravan had first started out from Foula Valley.
Meah turns to Daniil and Kylii. “We have to help him.”
The brothers look at the slave. Kylii shakes his head. “He’s a goner. We can’t help all the fresh flesh.”
“You either learn to fight or you die,” Daniil adds.
Both throw knives at attacking men who drop to the ground dead. Two other men manage to maneuver behind Daniil and Kylii. The brothers try to throw more knives, but the men dodge and knock them away from Meah.
They ignore Meah to focus on Daniil and Kylii. Meah sees a discarded spiked club on the ground and grabs it. She runs towards the man with the spear and the screaming slave. She slams the club in the combatant’s back, knocking him to the ground away from the wounded slave.
Daniil and Kylii finish taking care of the two men who attacked them and realize Meah’s missing. They search the area and see her standing next to the motionless form of the combatant with a spiked club stuck in his back. They look at each other in surprise.
Meah pulls the spear from the slave’s stomach and kneels down to him. “What’s your name?”
He cries and pleads for help, grabbing for her arms.
She grabs his arms and nods. “I’m going to help you. Stay still.” She places her hands on his stomach and closes her eyes. Hands grab her and pull her to her feet.
“What are you doing? His wounds are too severe and you don’t have enough time!” Daniil yells.
Meah rips her arm from him. “I’m not going to leave him! If I don’t have enough time, make time!” She kneels down over the wounded slave again and places her hands on his stomach. She closes her eyes and concentrates.
Kylii walks up to them, carrying two swords. Daniil looks at his brother and Kylii shrugs. He hands Daniil one of the swords and they prepare to fight. They fight men off with their magic, freezing some then crushing them with their weapons and setting others on fire.
Meah feels the wounded slave slipping away, but stretches her magic far to bring him back. She sees the muscle, fat, and skin reform. She furrows her brow. She can feel something new. She can feel how the blood flows through the slave’s body and can sense each muscle moving. Small shocks explode thousands upon thousands of times as nerves come to life. The current of information and feelings becomes overwhelming. As soon as the slave is healed she tears her arms away and falls on her backside, gasping for air.
The chubby slave sits up and touches his stomach. His clothes are still torn and bloody, but his skin is clean and no wound is seen.
He looks up at Meah and cries, “Thank you! Thank you!” before he stands and tries to run away.
“Daniil!” Meah gasps.
Daniil jumps and turns to see the slave running. Meah points at him and he thrusts his hands at the slave. The slave falls to the ground and Daniil pulls his arms back. The slave is dragged across the ground until he is in front of Meah. She sees ice formed on his legs and she nods at Daniil. Daniil lowers his hands and the ice melts. He draws a throwing knife and turns to stab it into the side of the head of a combatant aiming for him.
Meah stands, grabs the handle of the spiked club, and pulls it from the back of the man she killed earlier. The chubby slave turns and tries to crawl away, but she falls to her knees next to him. She grabs his arm and twists it, forcing him to sit up. She forces the spiked club into his hand.
He stares at the club with wide eyes. He shakes his head furiously and looks up at her. “I can’t! I’ve never killed anyone before!”
Meah grabs him and pulls him closer, sweat rolling down her forehead. “Neither had I. You can. If you don’t, you’re going to die. I won’t heal you again if you don’t at least try to fight back.”
A hand grabs Meah’s collar and pulls her back from the slave. She falls onto her back on the ground and stares up at the man she thought she’d killed. He now has a sword aimed at her throat. She screams and the spiked club smashes into the side of the man’s face. He falls to the ground dead and Meah looks at the chubby slave.
His face is pale and his eyes wide with surprised shock. He swallows and nods his head, making a decision. “My name is Bern. I will fight for you. I will fight to protect you.” He stands and moves next to Daniil and Kylii, attacking combatants who come too close to Meah.
Meah tries to stand, but her legs are still shaky and her vision blurs. She can still feel everything that was happening inside of Bern’s body.
Kylii grabs her and helps her stand. “Whoa there! This isn’t the place to pass out.”
“I’m fine,” she mumbles, shaking her head to clear her vision.
Daniil freezes a group of three and hurries to help Kylii with her. Bern moves behind them to protect them as they move away from the fighting. They set her down against the wall of the arena.
“Sit there and rest up. This fighting isn’t looking like it’s going to end soon,” Daniil says, cleaning blood from the throwing knives he recollected from those who died at their hands.
Meah looks out across the arena. Bodies lay on the ground, being trampled by those still fighting. She searches the many faces and sees Ime on the opposite side.
Four combatants surround him. They attack him from all sides and he uses his air magic to try to keep them back, but they have clearly fought magic users before. They manage to move closer to him without a single hit. He is forced to use his earth magic. He slams his right foot and the ground crumbles beneath their feet. All but one manages to move to more solid ground. The fourth disappears into the earth. Ime then tries to bring spears from the ground, but the men easily avoid them.
Ime groans and spies spectators sitting along the wall with glasses of water. He takes a deep breath and pulls the water from the stands to him. The crowd cheers at his maneuver and all eyes go to him. He uses some of the water to moisten the earth and turns it into quicksand. He shoots another spear out of the earth at one of the combatants who jumps into the quicksand. Ime quickly hardens the earth making it impossible for the man to escape. The two others move away to avoid the same trap. Ime takes the remaining water and throws it at one of the men. He dodges and laughs. Ime pulls the water back and makes it into a sharp point. It stabs through the man’s back and explodes through his chest. He falls to the ground dead.
The third man grabs Ime from behind and tries to crush him with brute strength, keeping his arms pinned to his sides. Ime uses his air magic to send both flying into the air. They land with Ime facing up and the man tightens his grip. Ime stomps his foot on the ground and the earth crumbles. The man rolls as soon as he feels the earth loosening, kicking Ime away from him. They stand and face each other. The man pulls a hidden blade out of his arm cuff. Ime rolls his eyes and throws his hands into the air. Pillars of earth surround the man and crush him.
The man still trapped in the earth from the quicksand trap pleads for mercy. Ime turns to him, forgetting about the man he just crushed. He walks over and raises a boulder over his head. When he drops it on the embedded man, the crowd explodes with excitement. They begin chanting Ime’s name.
Ime looks at the Blood King’s box and throws the bloody boulder at him. He smiles and crosses his legs. One of his soldiers, standing around him moves in front of him and grabs the boulder with a long chain. He changes its course to hit a group of slaves huddled against the wall of the Arena. They scream.
Ime yells furiously and punches the closest combatant, his punch powered by air magic. The force sends the combatant flying into the wall of the Arena, crushing the man upon impact.