Part Three – An Unlikely Meeting
Nhaqosa studied the man sent to battle him as the pair slowly, cautiously circled each other, crouched down with their weapons ready. A dark haired man, his skin was pale though, unlike those who lived in the region that Nhaqosa found himself in. A northerner then, which made him a long way from home. Not as far as Nhaqosa himself, but far enough. A large bruise showed up on the man’s face, and that, as well as other signs of mistreatment, coupled with the hatred on display from the crowd, gave some indication as to the fate of the man. He had been condemned to the pit to die, with no chance to win freedom as some could. A Knight. That had been what the lord had called him. In all his time in the pits, and in that world, only rumours of them had come to the minotaur. Fierce warriors, they had all but been wiped out when the old Empire had gone down into ruin and flame and devastation. Few remained, and those that did were disliked, hated even, for they reminded people of a more civilised time, when such entertainment as he had been forced into would not have been permitted.
“They hate you, North Man,” Nhaqosa said to the man. The Knight paused in his circling step, eyes studying Nhaqosa warily, though surprise flared in them for a moment. Nhaqosa had become used to that reaction from people the first time he spoke, as if they could not believe it possible.
“And they seem to love you, Beast.”
Nhaqosa tossed his head and snorted. “Only because I kill for them, and I am good at it,” he replied, weariness in his voice.
The pair had almost stopped their circling, standing across from each other. The crowds grew restless, screaming for them to fight, to kill, yet curiosity stayed the opponents’ hands.
“Nhaqosa, Kwaza of my people, the Stonemaul tribe.”
“Elad, Knight of the Order of the Ardent Flame, once Lord Elad of Kellat. What manner of creature are you? I have not seen your likes in this world before, and I have travelled far and seen much.”
“Nor will you. My people are called minotaurs, and we are not of this world.”
“I had not thought such a thing possible.”
The jeers and insults from the crowd continued to rise as the fight ground down to a farcical non-event. Elad turned and gave them a mocking laugh and a bow, which only further incensed their white hot rage.
“Careful,” Nhaqosa warned, speaking quietly, “They like not being taunted.”
“What can they do?” Elad asked, still gesturing to the crowd. “Kill me? I was dead from the moment I entered the pit, and I fear them not.”
The lord had risen to his feet as well, face livid and jowls flapping as he screamed at a nearby guard. Nhaqosa knew what was to follow. He had seen it before.
“The true Beast comes.”
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