Ime gasps for air as he races through the halls of the Arena. He knows Daniil and Kylii will be furious at him when he meets back up with them, but he had to stay. The workers helped him escape the soldiers after he closed the hole in the wall and now he needs to find the way up. He escapes the catacombs and destroys the gate leading onto the Arena floor. Soldiers follow him, but he uses his earth magic to lift himself to the seating area.
He climbs the steps to the hallway that leads into the lobby and nearly collides with another group of soldiers. They attack him, but Ime uses his air magic to throw them to the ground. He searches the lobby for stairs to the higher levels and skips every other step to stay ahead of any soldiers following.
Reaching the third floor, he discovers the stairs leading further up are on a different side of the Arena. Ime takes off down the long, curved hallway only to have more soldiers chase after him. Others, from opposite sides of the Arena, try to cut him off. He pulls large sections of the Arena’s walls inwards and uses the stones as a shield from thrown spears.
When soldiers create a wall in front of him, Ime throws more pieces of stone at them, knocking a few out of the way. Potted plants provide water to assault the legs of still more soldiers. They try to cut at the liquid, but their weapons only go through without breaking the stream. Ime throws these soldiers out the large windows, plummeting toward the distant ground.
The rest of the soldiers prepare to attack him as he runs closer, but Ime stops suddenly and leaps forward, slamming his fists onto the floor. The ground drops from beneath the soldiers sending them down two floors. Ime raises his hands and the floor returns, clear of the enemy.
The stairs to the fourth floor are empty, but the soldiers still chasing Ime from behind are getting closer. Ime grabs two potted plants and throws them down the stairs. He pulls the water from the pots and covers the steps. He stomps the ground with one foot and the top layer of the steps crumbles and mixes with the water, creating mud. The soldiers slip and trip each other up as they try to find traction, but Ime blasts them with a wall of wind, throwing them back to the bottom of the steps.
The fifth floor, usually reserved only for the wealthiest of audience members as a place to eat, drink, and socialize while they watch the fights in the Arena below, stands empty. Ime slows to catch his breath as he walks through carpeted halls lit by bright torches. The marble pillars and statues display the wealth of the Arena.
There won’t be any soldiers here. Klaeon doesn’t need their protection. He can fight on his own.
Ime catches sight of Blood King Klaeon standing at the largest window and staring down at the Arena. Some of his men are fighting the last of the Arena workers while others bring the slaves who stayed behind out to be executed.
“I see my men couldn’t even slow you down. Those you convinced into escaping have already left the city.” He turns to face Ime. His one reddish brown and one icy blue eye each glistens in the torchlight. “But you stayed. Do you want me to kill you that badly?”
Ime glares at him, his rage filling his body. “I haven’t come to kill you—yet. I came to take back what is rightfully mine.”
Klaeon smiles. “Your fire. If you want it back, try and take it.”
Ime throws a wall of wind at Klaeon, but he easily moves out of the way. The statue behind falls over and shatters. Ime sends another wall at him, but again Klaeon dodges before jumping away from the crumbling floor beneath him. Pots shatter as Ime forcibly pulls the water from inside out. The water circles Klaeon and splits into many lines. Ime blows cold wind and the water changes into sharp, thick icicles. Ime brings his hands down and the icicles rocket towards Klaeon. The King whistles and two thick shields are thrown to him. He catches them and kneels, covering his body with the metal. The icicles shatter harmlessly against the metal.
A knife stabs at Ime’s leg. But he turns in time to avoid it. He sees Teron standing at one of the windows. Ime curses and turns back to find one of Klaeon’s shields striking him in the gut. Ime gasps and stumbles back. Klaeon runs at him with the second shield in his hands and slams it down on Ime’s back. As Ime collapses to the floor, Klaeon prepares to strike again.
Ime rolls onto his back and protects himself with the first shield. Klaeon throws his shield to the floor and kicks the one in Ime’s hand away. He kicks Ime in the side. Screaming in pain, Ime moves out of the way of a second kick and scrambles to his feet. The pain in his stomach and side force him back to his knees.
Klaeon draws his sword and uses the hilt to hit Ime in the head. Ime falls to the floor again, his vision covered in stars and darkness. His vision clears as Klaeon raises the blade above his head. His eyes widen as the sharp blade rushes towards his face. He raises his hand and dirt from a nearby plant flies into the Blood King’s eyes.
Klaeon shouts in both pain and anger. He misses his target by inches. Ime rolls away and stands, wincing at the pain in his body. Teron appears behind him with his sword drawn, Ime raises the carpeted floor to block him. The carpet stays in one piece and lifts Teron off the ground, throwing him backwards. He crashes into a marble pillar and nearly out the window. Ime forces the floor to rise high enough to block the entire hallway, keeping Teron from getting involved again. Ime curses when soldiers appear at the other end of the hallway.
He looks at the ceiling and makes a hole. Then he raises the floor he and Klaeon are standing on up to the hole, escaping those below.
The sudden movement of the ground beneath him causes Klaeon to stumble back as he wipes the dirt from his eyes. “You truly have gotten better fighting in the Arena.”
“You’ve seen all of my fights. You already knew that.”
“That’s quite true. But I have been getting stronger as well.” He throws his sword to the side and runs at Ime. Ime tries to knock him off the roof with wind, but Klaeon is moving too fast. He avoids each blast as though he knows where Ime will attack from next. Ime changes to his earth magic, throwing stones up or dropping them suddenly. Klaeon avoids the sudden terrain changes easily and reaches Ime quickly. Ime tries to block, but Klaeon kicks Ime with such force he is thrown back and lands on the roof hard. Before he can react Klaeon kicks him again, causing Ime to roll of the edge of the roof.
Ime grabs for the edge with his hands, but it is out of reach. He uses wind to move him closer and manages to grab onto a broken piece of stone. His grip isn’t strong and he feels it slipping. He tries to pull himself up, but the harder he tries the more pain shoots through his body.
Klaeon walks to the edge and stares down at Ime with a wide smile. “Before I kill you, Ime, I’m going to take the rest of your magic away. I want you to feel completely helpless before your heart stops.”
“Ime!” Meah’s voice echoes across the roof. Both Ime and Klaeon see her being helped onto the roof by a strange, cloaked man.
“The Life Healer is here! How lucky for me. After I kill you, I’ll get to kill her with my own hands,” Klaeon says.
Ime tries to pull himself up again, his eyes wide with anger. “Don’t touch her!”
“Or what? You’ll stop me? I’m afraid it’s too late for you.” Klaeon kneels down and grabs Ime by the throat. Ime grabs the hand around his throat and tries to loosen it. But Klaeon pulls him onto the roof and forces him to his knees.
Dark magic fills the air, darkening the night sky around them. Ime struggles against Klaeon, but the power surrounding them is making Klaeon stronger.
Meah takes a step back. “He’s a magic user?”
The cloaked man nods his head. “He is called Blood King because he is able to use one of the forbidden magics. Blood magic. He can take away another’s magic and kill with a single touch to the heart.”