The noises kept on becoming louder as the crowd grew ever restless .They were begging for blood and there was only one place in the whole city where their deepest and darkest wishes could be granted. While walking through the dark corridors he could feel his heart racing. From that moment onwards, the cold steel in his hands and the thoughts on his mind would become one and the same. He was greeted by the sun’s blinding light, as the enormous iron gates opened to reveal the arena. He felt like a newborn, seeing the outside world for the first time. Only it wasn’t the first time. He was a veteran of the Arena, loved by the people, hated by the overseers. The rulers of Acanthya.
“Ladies and gentleman, let me present you, the beast from Curynthia, the sagean dog, Deopus, the brave!”
The mention of his home made him uncomfortable. He was no longer a sagean, he was not even the same man. He had been born in Curynthia but shaped in the arena. He was now a son of Acanthya, the largest city ever built. The Acanthyan empire had developed the most advanced Technologies that the earth had ever seen. They ruled the seas and subdued the skies. His little town had been no challenge to the might of Acanthya. The whole sagean race was either made slaves or easily disposed of.
“On your left side, a man who needs no introductions, the blood drinker and corpse eater, the abomination from Gremmrun, Ithius, the monster!”
His opponent entered the arena, twice as large and twice as strong, he was truly a sight to fear. But Deopus had always been a fighter, he used to be a general. His father had told him once: “You chose to spend your whole life fighting, there will come a day when you will want to stop. But when that day comes the gods won’t allow you to do so!” The irony wasn’’t entirely lost on him.
The master gave the order, and the glorious dance of death began. Ithius’s strikes were strong, but his movement was slow. Deopus managed to hit him with his shield, stunning him for some brief seconds. The large man kneeled, attending to his newly improved face and Deopus grabbed the opportunity to cripple his legs. With a strong and precise sweep, the sword penetrated the skin on his left leg. The crowd cheered. Their thirst for blood had only just begun. The giant struggled to keep on his feet. Deopus wasn’t expecting his next blow, he fell on the floor but quickly fought to put himself back up. As he soon as he got up he kicked the man’s right knee with his foot. The sound that came from the knee was horrendous. He would not walk again. The master gave him the order and Deopus buried the sword in the man’s chest. The sand was covered in red. The crowd was pleased and his job was done.
Backstage a shadow approached him. “He never stood a chance, you have become strong, Deopus, you have my respect!”
“Keep it to yourself Pythos. I only did what i had to do, to live one more day!”
The other man was smaller than him. “You enjoy it. There’s no need to hide it, you are a fighter, it’s in your blood!” Deopus started heading for the showers when pythos grabbed him by his shoulder. “Sychus will not be happy. Ithius was his finest warrior. You have just signed your death sentence!”
“It was either him, or me!” And with that Deopus turned his back and headed for the shower room.
Acanthya was the brightest and most beautifull city ever built. The Acanthyans were proud of their architectural marvels. The city was composed of huge mirrors that used the Sun to power their technology. The Curynthian Elders used to call it magic. But Deopus knew the difference between the work of gods and the abominations created by man. While the common Acanthyan citizen bathed in the Sun, the prisoners lived in the dark. Thousands of intricate tunnels formed the Acanthyan Underground. It was quite literally the pits of hell. Prisoners and fighters ruled themselves in this dark underworld. The guards only came in to grab the next poor bastard to be thrown in the Arena. These guards had an obvious advantage, their swords were powered by the same technology as their cities. Light weapons, capable of killing a man on a single swipe.
After taking a shower, he took the elevator down to the depths. He followed the tunnel to his home. A small hole he was proud to call a home, at least. While on his way he caught a glimpse of the poor bastards condemned to mining. Even after everything, he was grateful for being a fighter. The miners had it the worst. His eyes were hurting. The bright world outside made an extreme contrast with the darkness in the depths. Only small torches enlightened his way. There was a man, his name was Typhus. He collected pieces of broken mirrors that the guards left behind when their armor was defective. He used them to confuse the guards and steal their food. Their shining armor was reflected by those small pieces and he always managed to confuse them a bit. Enough to grab the food from their pockets, at least. Deopus liked the man. There were also bandits in the depths. They used ancient hidden tunnels to get by unnoticed. Thieves and murderers who tried to get everything the others owned. However, no one dared to mess with him, one of the perks of being a cold hearted killing machine.
“Home, sweet home!” It wasn’t easy to distinguish his own shithole from the other thousands of shitholes laying about. But his instincts always drove him to his small confortable hole. As he was preparing to get some sleep, he noticed a strange man, observing him from the distance. Too well dressed to be a bandit, but not enough to be a guard. Deopus held a torch and tried to get close to the man, but he soon realized he was surrounded. There were five of them. Time seemed to be slowing down, as he was trying to understand what was going on. He managed to fend off two of them, but while he was distracted, another man grabbed him by his torso. And then the unthinkable happened. A man hit him with his sword. He couldn’t see where. His head was dizzy. One of the men talked. “Sychus gives his best regards!”
The pain, he could feel the unbearable pain. He was looking, but he wasn’t seeing anything. Pythos arrived at the scene. “My god Deopus, your hand!”
His head was still fuzzy. “What about it? My hand! Oh god!” The sudden realization, filled him with pain. What used to be his left hand was laying on the floor. The world around him started to vanish and darkness took over.
“Mythra?” He opened his eyes. “Still in the same hell!” Pythos was standing next to him. He wasn’t feeling his hand. “Not a nightmare, then!”
“Dreaming of home, Deopus? Curynthia is gone. Along with your wife and all your old friends! I warned you about Sychus. You killed his best warrior, he won’t let anyone take his place as the best trainer around.”
“I didn’t need a trainer.”
Pythos helped him to get up. “No, you didn’t. And that is what scares him. He wants you out. They all do. Slaves are only used as punching bags, but you defied that rule. Not that it matters anymore, unless you can fight with your right hand and without a shield.”
They both stopped talking as a woman walked by, she was crying and grabbing a severed head. The only thing remaining from the man she loved.
Pythos pointed at her. “Haven’t you heard? Sychus got a new pet. Larger and meaner. Philtus, i think he is called!”He saw the anger in his friend’s eyes.
Deopus ran towards her. “Excuse me!” He grabbed her late husband’s head. With his right hand he held it up high. “IS THIS WHAT YOU WANT? IS THIS WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS FOR YOU?” he yelled.
Everyone in that tunnel stopped to look at him. Their faces in complete disbelief. One of the guards, searching for a fighter, grabbed his light sword. But as he tried to kill Deopus, the experienced warrior, used his legs to subdue the guard, making him fall. Pythos grabbed his light sword and killed the guard with it.
“They are not gods, they can be killed. And i only have one hand left.” He elevated his voice. “THEY LEFT US IN THIS HOLE, THEY TOLD US TO FEND FOR OURSELVES! WELL FEND FOR OURSELVES ,WE WILL! TELL YOUR FRIENDS, TELL YOUR LOVED ONES, THIS SLAVERY IS OVER! TODAY, ACANTHYA LOSES, TODAY, PARADISE FALLS!”
Everyone started running away, some were scared while some were screaming with joy. Pythos looked at him, his clothes covered by the guard’s blood. “I can only hope you know what you are doing. Whatever happens today, it’s on you!” He gave him the light sword.
Deopus contemplated the strange object. “Pythos, i think i have an idea!”
Outside, the bells started ringing. An army of shiny soldiers and their generals regrouped at the entrance to the dungeons. “Remember, kill as many as you need to make them understand the message. We can’t afford any of them reaching the surface!” The Overseers observed the action, safe and secured in their crystal tower. The soldiers forced their way into the darkness, slaying every man, woman and child they came across with. Blood was being poured left and right. All of the torches had been put out, but the soldier’s shining armor and sword illuminated their way. One of the soldiers was getting nervous. “Where is everyone? Only whores and beggars? Where are the fierce warriors?”
The general put his hand over the soldier’s mouth. “Right there!” At the end of the narrow tunnel, a small group of fighters were standing, with no swords on their hands. And one of their hands behind their backs.“I guess they decided to surrender, good for them! Kill them anyways, let’s send a message!”
Deopus, came from behind the group of fighters. The general ordered his men to advance. As the soldiers got closer, the small group retreated from the narrow tunnel into a large open area.
The soldiers all entered the large area. The Acanthyan general spoke. “There are only like sixteen of you, i have an army behind me, and an even larger army beyond this putrid dungeon. What do you hope to achieve sagean?”
Deopus stared at his eyes. His face showing no fear. “Freedom!” He whispered. “DO IT, NOOOOW!”
Every warrior revealed a piece of a broken mirror. Their sparkling reflections created moments of confusion. Warriors and bandits emerged from their hidden tunnels. It was too late for those soldiers, they were virtually blind and awfully outnumbered. Their screams echoed through the dark corridors.
“Is that it? Are we safe?” The whole group seemed confused whether to celebrate or start running for their lives.
Deopus gave Pythos his mirror shard. “Not yet, this was only their first strike! Pythos, you will lead them out of here. Grab some of those armors and try to head for Tryumphia. You will not be recognised there. Take as many people as you can with you, but mainly those who want to fight!”
“What about you Deopus, what do you intend to do?” Pythos seemed uneasy with the responsability thrust upon him.
“I have something i need to take care of!” And with that he left the group. The light was once again bothering his eyes, as he climbed up to the surface. The soldiers had destroyed the elevator to prevent the large numbers of rebels to ascend. The whole city was engulfed in chaos, as the prisoners climbed to reach the surface. The guards were doing their best to contain the situation, but the Acanthyans were never prepared for an uprising. They were too proud to ever believe that the slaves could kill an entire group of their own guards. But Deopus proved them wrong. He stripped them of their invincibility and showed everyone they could be killed. The people used to speak of the Acanthyans as if they were the descendents of the gods. The brightest and strongest race to ever step the earth. One man proved otherwise.
The crystal tower had been left defenseless as the guards tried to contain the situation on the streets. The Overseers had evacuated the city at the first sign of trouble. But Deopus wasn’t searching for them. He entered through the front doors without anyone noticing, after all there was a riot on the streets. He ascended the stairs until arriving at the panoramic room. A huge room, covered in glass, giving a perfect view of the streets. Before him stood an old man, dressed in a black robe and sitting on a crystal throne.
“Oh, now this is a surprise!” He got up and started walking towards Deopus. “Come to kill me? Is this your revenge?”
Deopus unsheathed his sword. “Hello Sychus! Where is your new pet? Heard he is pretty large!”
“I had to get rid of him, too stubborn for my taste!” The man turned to look at the streets. “Am i to believe you did all of this, just because of me? I’m speechless, you sure are efficient!
“I did this for freedom!”
Sychus laughed. “Freedom? Then you’ve accomplished nothing. As soon as Tryumphia and Pandorya hear of what has happened here, they will march against us. Our army will be distracted with the escaped prisoners and our rulers have fled. Once they harvest all our resources and technologies, they will just proceed to recapture every slave and use them for their own gain.”
“Then we will fight them too!” Deopus raised his sword.
“Well they will, maybe. Not you, though!”
As soon as he finished talking Deopus felt the cold steel entering his back, tearing his skin. He could feel his own blood, spurting from the wound. His eyes closed, and he dreamt of his home, Curynthia, where he lived with his wife.
On the horizon, a small group of people could be seen, marching towards the hills and away from that city. They were being led by a man with a shining armor. Their ultimate goal: Freedom.
© Copyright 2016 John Stark. All rights reserved.