Part Five – I Shall Give You Death
The difficulty would not lie in throwing the human, Nhaqosa reasoned, but what would happen beyond that. There would be no leniency shown, yet the human, Elad, seemed unconcerned by that. Chances of success were slim at best, yet the weariness of days uncounted fighting in the pits had settled upon his soul. Dispatching the beast had torn at his heart, for it had been an innocent, mindless creature, a victim as much as he. Better to die in a futile attempt to escape than to live on and further sully his soul.
The pair walked towards the lord’s pavilion up in the stands, as was the norm for the victorious, to offer their salute to him.
“Now, Nhaqosa,” Elad growled as they reached a spot beneath it. Nhaqosa dropped his maul, reaching down with cupped hands. Elad grinned a terrible grin as he placed a foot in Nhaqosa’s hands, and in his face shone death and madness. Nhaqosa heaved, thrusting Elad upwards.
The man flew up as startled cries broke out from amongst the crowd. He landed heavily in the pavilion but retained his footing. The lord gaped, mouth opening and shutting as he tried to take in just what was happening.
Elad’s sword sung out in a glittering arc, and the notched blade tore open the lord’s corpulent throat before his guards could react. Blood sprayed from the wound, pouring down over the obese body. The man’s eyes blinked a few times, before his head slumped forward, body quivering.
Two guards ran at Elad, swords drawn, their wits recovered from the surprise attack that had slain their master. Blades flashed and rang as they struck each other, sparks flying. Elad pushed forward, sword whipping at his foes, taking the fight to them. He had to defeat them before more arrived and overwhelmed him. With a mighty bellow, Elad sent one reeling away with a deep cut to the shoulder, before swiftly parrying the return thrust from the man’s comrade. The two men stayed motionless, blades locked together and muscles straining as they sought to push each other backwards.
The tableau broke when, without warning, Elad slammed his head forward, cracking it into the guard’s face. He felt the man’s nose smash under the force of the blow. Blood flowed freely from the guard’s smashed face as he staggered backwards with a startled yelp. Elad’s blood stained sword rose and fell like an executioner’s axe and the guard crumpled, head cleft open.
A small moment of pause fell over the pavilion before the sycophantic aides made a dash for their lives, fighting against each other and squealing in terror at the blood stained butcher that had descended in their midst. More guards were on their way to the pavilion, though the rush of aides hindered their process. Spectators had risen to their feet, craning their necks to see what was going on, what new entertainment was on display, and a murmur ran through them.
A small brazier sat in the pavilion, despite the heat, there to roast nuts or meat for the lord when it took his fancy. Elad reached into it with his left hand, taking a hold of a glowing coal from it. He raised his hand high as flames began to lick around it before bursting into a blaze. The air around him started to shimmer from the heat, while flames leapt up to the covers of the pavilion where upon they erupted into a fierce blaze.
Elad spread his arms out wide towards the crowd, as if to embrace them, sword in one hand, flames in the other. “You came for death?” he bellowed at them. “I shall give you death, for I fear it not. I walk among the flames and death untouched, for I am Elad, a Master of the Order of the Ardent Flame, and I will show you death!”
A guard ran up the steps towards the pavilion now that the fleeing aides had cleared. Elad’s burning hand swung around to point at him. Whips of flames lashed out, wrapping around the guard. The man screamed in agony as he went up like a torch, his clothes and hair bursting into fiery life. Staggering, he fell backwards over the edge of the wall surrounding the pit to the sandy floor below, writhing from the pain that wracked his body.
Another guard ran from the other side of the pavilion, slashing with his sword as he yelled. Elad blocked the blow, knocking the sword aside before he swung his own sword in a downward arc, taking the guard’s leg out from beneath him. As the man fell back, cursing from the pain of his gashed leg, Elad drove his sword downwards, ending the man’s life.
The flames swirling about the pavilion began to intensify, bursting into full and furious life. As they began to leap from the pavilion out across the rest of the arena, the crowd started to panic, their terrified screams splitting the air. They ran, pushing and shoving against each other, impeding the guards who sought to reach Elad. Those who stumbled and fell had no chance to regain their footing, being trampled by the wild mob. Among all the chaos, Elad remained in the pavilion, waiting for the guards to come to him.
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