Seth watched as The Lady and Beldon disappeared into the crowd.
"Wow that was fast", he thought.
Seeing the Major and Cali standing beside him he looked over the large doors as they opened to let the spectators into the stands. It was like a large flood of people moving at once as they headed in to the Coliseum.
"I don't know about watching the fights now. It looks like it's going to be crowded in there, with little room to breathe let alone stand."
Turning back he heard a familiar voice calling to them from the crowd.
From her vantage point atop Elite, Amarantha was able to scan over the heads of the throng of people here for Market Day. Spotting a pair of familiar faces, but realized that they would not hear her voice from this distance, she indicated to Elite that he should move at a faster pace.
Elite, moved into a trot but decided that it would be best if he show off a little. So he arched his neck and exaggerated the gate a little. Amarantha decided to ignore this, any attention would only encourage it.
When she knew that the sight would be conspicuous enough (a woman in white gauzy silks astride prancing golden alicorn would be a little hard to miss), she waved her arms and called out: "Hey you guys, what's up?"
"Hi Amarantha, Elite. We were thinking about going to watch the fights, but it's getting a bit crowded for my taste. But if the Major and Cali don't mind we can give it a go?"
Seth looked at Cali and whispered: "I know how much you hate crowds and all. Perhaps we can find you a spot above the crowds. Say up there?"
Seth pointed to a high wall where the Coliseum stood. "From that vantage point you can see everything and not be pushed and crowded like here in the market place. It's free and I do wish to see what part of the lioness is female."
Standing back up Seth walked over and asked: "Amarantha? Care to follow us into the Coliseum and watch a bit of fighting? It will not take long. Being free I am sure it will be a short fight. Something to tantalize the people to come back for a paid fight that will be much more bloody."
Reaching out his hand for her to take, he looked over at the Major.
"Care to come with, or will you be following Beldon and the Lady? I trust that she is in good hands. Beldon will not let us down. They will be careful."
Looking back up and into Amarantha's eyes, he blushed lightly and waited to take her hand.
Amarantha's eyes flashed a brilliant peacock blue for a moment at the mention of fights at the Coliseum that she had first seen upon entering the town of Montfort. "Well it's still too early to go back to the Inn yet anyway, why not. I love a good fight," she replied.
*Elite, get back to the Inn. Go to the stables and send a message to the stablehand. Ask for a stable, tell him, I'll pay. I want to see this, and I doubt there is going to be enough room for you as well.* She took her feet out the stirrups,swung her leg over and allowed herself to slide and drop from atop the high back of Elite.
Then took the phial swinging from the side of the stallion's back. Elite promptly trotted off in the direction of the Inn.
The Major nodded, unconvinced, and to the careful observer it would be apparent, that he has resolved to keep watch over the ladies, whether they ask for his assistance or not. Nodding again, this time to himself, he politely excused himself to return to the Inn and await an end to the sightseeing.
Turning back Seth saw Cali already heading into the Coliseum. People parted like a wave as he stepped beside them. Some thought that he was one of the fighters and they were patting him on the back and tell him that they wanted to see blood. Seth smiled when Cali turned and gave them a look that would turn anyone to stone.
"That should teach them to leave him alone."
Walking with Amarantha, the two headed in and found a good pair of seats, close to where the fights were being held. It looked like a large sand pit.
"I guess they use the sand to soak up the blood." Looking around he noticed that it was getting crowded. It looked like all of Montfort was here to watch the bouts.
"A great crowd! Think of what the owner will make when he or she starts charging." Seth shook his head at that thought.
The first of several bouts were between highly trained slaves. None ended in death, though a few of the gladiators had to be carried away from the sands.
"That was just a taste. I bet if we paid there would have been a lot more blood and a few deaths."
About that time someone behind him yelled out: "Blood! Give us what we came here to see!" A few more patrons yelled in reply to that remark.
Then a pair of dark-haired figures entered the ring. Both were clad in form-fitting black leathers and carried a pair of short swords. As they walked a circle around the area, the woman announced them. "The Nightwalker Twins," she called, "Sable and Magda! Tonight they will face four opponents in a free for all battle royal!"
"All right. It's about time they showed us something worth watching." Seth didn't understand why he was feeling this way. He felt his blood starting to boil. He didn't know that the Coliseum feed off his energy and those around him as well.
Cheers erupted from the stands. The deadly pair looked ready to show this bloodthirsty crowd what it wanted.
The four slave-gladiators entered. As with all the others, they were well-toned and oiled down. Two carried short swords and bucklers, while the others were armed with tridents. A few boos sounded, but most were still cheering at the prospect of a vicious fight. Truly the show was bringing out the savagery in them.
Seth watched as they separated into two pairs, each with a swordsman and a trident-wielding slave. The Nightwalkers stood calmly side by side as their foes circled.
Then, on some unseen signal, the twins leapt into motion. Sable ran towards his pair. He closed with the slave armed with the trident. He sprang into the air jumping over a thrust of the trident so he could put that man between him and the sword welder.Then Sable spun and closed with the man. Too close to use his weapon effectively, the slave tried to use his trident like a staff. But Sable was faster, and fighting with two blades. By the time his partner had moved to help him, Sable's swords were both red and the first slave was sinking to the ground with his neck and gut both cut open.
"Wow! Did you see that. They are good, I will give you credit for that."
Magda's pair faired no better. She charged, and just before the trident was in range to impale her she hurled both her swords at the slave. He screamed and crumpled with both weapons buried in his chest.
"Oh no. Now what's she going to do. She's unarmed." Seth wanted to jump into the ring and help her, but something held him to his seat. His fist clinched an he wanted to draw Selina but found that he couldn't. Sweat poured from his body as he tried to rise, but he was held down by some unseen force. So he sat there and watched.
Sable and his remaining foe traded several attacks, all blocked by sword or buckler.
Meanwhile, Magda's opponent had tried to charge her while she was unarmed. But the dark-clad woman dove under his swing and rolled between his legs. When she came up behind him she had the trident in her hands. She began to spin it in a dazzling pattern until it was a blur in the air before her.
"By the gods, she's fast!"
As Sable's foe swung yet again, he found his opponent was simply not there. Too late he realized that Sable had dropped into a crouch to duck under his blade. He tried to lower his buckler to defend, but could not stop the kick the struck his leg. The bone gave way with a sickening crack and the slave's own momentum spun him around to land in a heap on his back. The last thing he saw was Sable's heel as he brought the kick down squarely between the other's eyes and drove his nasal cartilage into his brain.
"Man! That had to hurt." Seth could hear the roar of the crowd and he was caught up in it as well.
Magda's foe lunged, trying to penetrate her blurred defense. She deflected his sword upwards and moved in. Before he could lower his arm she caught it in the tines of her weapon and twisted. The sword fell as the slave's wrist gave way. Then she dropped the trident and caught the falling blade. As the slave tried to back peddle she dropped and once again rolled between his legs to come up behind him. This time,however, the blade in her hands was red, and she made no effort to turn to face her foe.
Blood gushed down the slave's leg from his severed femoral artery, and before he could finish turning he had collapsed.The crowds had shouted and yelled all during the bout, but as the twins rose and moved to stand together the frenzied mob reached a new peak of shouting and cheering. Then the two bowed and left the ring. A group of slaves rushed out to clear the area. "The Nightwalkers ladies and gentlemen!" the announcer called, "A pair of deadly fighters to be sure!
But now, allow me to introduce you to Leena the Huntress ... part woman and part lioness, she hails from a distant and savage land where she roamed the savanna as the ultimate Queen of the Beasts!" This elicited a new round of cheering.
"Now here is what I came to see. I can't wait to see what part is female." He turned and received a dark look from Amarantha. "What? Are you not at least bit curious? I know I am." Seth was not disappointed.
From within came an earth-shaking roar. For the first time since the show's beginning a hush fell over the assembled people. She strode into the arena with a fluid gracefulness. Seth noticed that she stood perhaps seven feet tall, but was also nearly that long as well. A woman's torso, lean and muscular sat atop the body of a great lion. Tawny fur melded into well-tanned flesh. Her hair, a lighter shade of her fur's color, cascaded down about her shoulders and provided the only modesty to her very tanned and very womanly upper body.
"By the Gods of the Fye. She is beautiful!"
She carried a golden spear in her right hand. Several large rubies set in the head reflected the magical light. Once she reached the center of the arena,she sprang up onto her rear paws and clawed at the air roaring and bearing her large fangs. This action caused her hair to fall backwards and for the several seconds that she so gestured her large and firm breasts were bared for all to see. It also broke the spell of stunned silence that had befallen the crowd. Suddenly they were cheering and shouting again. Seth was among the ones that were screaming. He stood up with the rest and yelled until is throat turned dry.
Then she came down and her hair once again fell forward to provide some sense of modesty.
"Leena the Huntress!", the woman proclaimed loudly enough to be heard over the roar of the crowd, "stands ready to challenge anyone who thinks they are man enough to best her! Can you defeat this savage beauty? Pit your skills against her and find out. To the victor go the spoils, and in this case that means Leena's ruby-encrusted golden spear, as well as the chance to hear this mighty lioness purr as your own for a night like no other you've imagined! Yes, both the spear and the huntress could be yours! When the gates open tomorrow come and speak to a Coliseum representative about Leena's challenge, or if you're not feeling up to facing her feline ferocity, sign up to fight before the cheering masses and show your martial prowess! And for those who feel that they're as close to the arena action as they want to be, the Coliseum will begin to hold it's regular fighting tournament and extravaganza in one week's time! Or come back tomorrow for another exhibition of the Coliseum's own warriors and another chance to see Leena before she begins to fight her challengers! There will also be another surprise bout featuring one of the Coliseum's top fighters! And, again in the spirit of the Grand Opening of the Montfort Coliseum, all seating will be free! For now, the Coliseum wishes all a good evening and hopes you enjoyed this taste of things to come!" As the magical voice had boomed from the walls, Leena had stalked about the ring waving her pear and rowling. Then she stalked back into the archway from which she had emerged and the portcullis slowly descended behind her. Slowly the crowd filtered back out onto the streets. Some headed straight for home. All of them felt tired, almost drained, from all the shouting and screaming they had done.
Seth was one of them. He had lost Cali in the crowd and Amarantha too. He knew that she would be safe.
"I would love to see that fight. It would be worth paying any price to be able to sit and watch that!"
His throat was dry, and he felt drained. The crowd that was in the market was filtering out and he found that he could walk without being stepped on or pushed around. It was going to be a cool night. Finding his way back to the Inn, he found the Major siting at the same table as before. His pipe was in his hand and rings of smoke floated around his head.
"Evening Major. You missed some great fights and I found out what part of the lioness was female," and he blushed. "They said that she was going to fight all comers. The winner would receive her ruby-encrusted golden spear, and spend a night with her too."
Pulling up a chair, he noticed that they were the only ones there. "The rest must still be at the market." Seth flagged down Sera and asked for something soothing.
"For my throat. It's dry from yelling so much." Seth looked over and noticed that the Major's glass was empty. "Major? Care for a bit more? My treat tonight. When the others get back, we will order supper. From what The Lady has said we will be heading out tomorrow morning at day break."
Seth took the drink from Sera and tasted the cool liquid and felt it wash the dust from his throat.
"Ahh! That's more like it." Grabbing a chair he sat down and closed his eyes." If you do not mind Major. Would you let me know when the others arrive, in case I happen to dose off."
Seth didn't hear the Major's reply. Once his eyes closed he was out. But before his eyes closed he saw a young lady in the corner. It looked like she had wings.
"A dream. Just a dream," and his sight grew dim ...........
Cali immediately made his way to the stairs leading to the upper sections of the Coliseum. The crowds in the Coliseum did not shun him as in the market streets. He could not decide whether this was good or bad. The people here felt much more at ease, as if all of them gathering in the same place meant they had a unified purpose, as misguided as it was. Some felt the freedom to pad Cali on his back, and wish him a good fight. One person even struck up a conversation with him, even though Cali made it look as if he urgently had someplace to be.
"Hey buddy. Hope you have a good fight. Oh, and make sure that we get to see some blood! Break a leg, har, har, har." The man laughed at his own wit. Cali just shot him back an unwelcome stare, and that was the last he had to deal with him.
Once at the top of the stairs, he looked all about him. The crowds here were considerably thinner, and above him was only open sky. The edge of the outside walls were decorated with various statues of fighters or animals - perfect. Cali could blend in with those very easily. He shed his cloak, which by the end of the day he found quite restrictive, and stretched out his wings. There was not enough room for him to get up to a full wingspan. He walked over to the wall, and dug his clawed hand into the mortar. Since the mortar was considerably softer than the stone bricks, it was very easy for Cali to create little handholds and climb to the top of the wall. He found a spot which gave him the best view of the arena, and settled down.
The first fights were already on. The arena was filled with several slaves pushing each other around with sticks. The crowds were booing, and complaining that the fights were not violent enough. Then the slaves cleared out, a few had to be cleared out, and the female announcer introduced the first match of the night. It was a pair of fighters, both clad in black leather, both with two swords. They walked to the center stage, with the grace of well trained dancers. The crowds cheered. Their opponents were four; each pair outfitted with a sword and a trident.
The Nightwalkers made the fist move, and a fast first kill. The crowd erupted into a wild scream and applause. Cali just held his concentration the dying man - he was dead before he fell to the ground; the crimson liquid pouring out of his body, and seeping into the sandy floor of the stadium arena. The moon was already rising in the sky, and Cali was beginning to enjoy himself. The dying screams of the second man produced a roar of excitement in the crowd, as well as a satisfied sparkle in Cali's eye. He perched himself a step closer to the edge so could have a better view. The last two slaves lived a little longer. One of them got disarmed, and his opponent was toying with him. Cali could almost see the terror in the man's eyes, while the leather-clad woman twirled his trident in her hands.
Cali leaned just a little too far, and fell from the wall. In a reflex reaction, he spread his wings, and glided safely out of the fall. ~I sure hope no one saw that! Just to be safe, I had better not return.~ He pumped his wings and rose higher into the evening sky. The Coliseum crowd was too preoccupied by the fights, to notice anything flying around above. Cali decided to circle the Coliseum at safe distance.
Cali had a bird's eye view as the last two slaves met a particularly graphic fate. Next the crowds met the star attraction of the Coliseum: a female wemic -part human female, part lion. She did not fight, she was just paraded around so the crowds could get a taste of what is to come. ~Finally even Seth gets to enjoy himself,~ Cali thought.
The moonlight sparkled off of the gargoyle's body, and he was finally having a good day. As it was just after a full moon, and a few clouds were in the sky Cali decided that he would enjoy the solitary night sky a little longer.