“ I will only warn you gluttonous Elf slaves this once. Lately there has been a lot of slacking during work, and there are whispers of a rebellion. If such a thing occurs, your punishment would be very severe, I urge you all to heed this warning.”
When the overseer had finished speaking, I approached him with Pirin and informed him of our decision to join the gladiator fights.
“Although I don’t understand why two young weaklings such as yourselves want to be gladiators, I have no choice but to acquiesce because it is the Lord’s will.”
An incredibly large golden termite approached us and led us to the fight the coliseum while being blindfolded.
“Why can’t I be alone? I want to fight by myself!”
“Sorry but the rules state that there must be three people in a team.”
A female knight with a petite figure and wearing shiny armor was being refused due to not having any teammates. I turned to ask our termite guide.
“Do we also need to be a team of three?”
“For slaves it is possible to register in teams of two.”
“Can we allow her to join us?”
The insect gave me a quick glance before going to inform the lady knight on our behalf. “She has agreed to join your group, so quickly go and register your team before it’s too late. I will wait for you here until you have finished your gladiator fights.”
Leaving the golden termite behind we went up to talk to the female knight.
“Thanks for helping me out guys, I was started to get annoyed.”
“Nice to meet you, my name is Bryonë and this is Pirin.”
“Uh… right, you can call me… Valen.”
The act of hesitating to say her name led us to believe she had given us an alias. Still, it didn’t matter for gladiators and we were just happy do have an extra member, increasing our chance to win the championship.
After finishing the registration Valen came up and told us.
“You only need to hide behind me when the fighting starts because it will get quite messy”
We only actually understood the meaning of her words in the first round.
We were fighting the in the fifth and lowest ranked coliseum which was designated for newcomer fighters and slaves. There weren’t many audience members but the number of contestants was quite high. We were almost 100 gladiators in a decent sized arena.
“There are a surprisingly large amount of Elven gladiators.”
It was just as Pirin had mentioned, many of them had joined for the sake of winning a wish from the King, but for the most part they would fail to secure the championship.
“Do we even have a chance?”
Simply by glancing around I spotted many warriors who seemed stronger than us.
“Worry not little Elves, just stand safely behind me.”
Valen had spoken as she held a small dagger and shield in each hand.
The ringing of the bell marked the start of the fight. If you were sent out of the ring, unconscious or willingly surrendered, then you were eliminated. If you could survive for 15 minutes then you moved on to the next round. After two rounds of qualifications the remaining teams would face each other in elimination matches to decide a champion.
Valen ran into the middle of the fighting, causing us to crie out to her in panic.
Puuuk Pung Puppebuc!
However the next moment an incredible sight appeared. Despite having a small frame at only 160 cm tall, when she clashed with the Lycan tribe warrior who was several times her size, it was the other guy that went flying outside the arena.
She then struck another one with her fist and the same result occurred, stunning all the gladiators around her. Valen however was already sharking around, hungry for another opponent.
“Isn’t she a little too strong?”
Without responding to our cheers she continued to knock out seven more gladiators out of the arena.
I didn’t understand why she bothered to equip herself with a dagger and shield, her punches and kicks alone were fearsome enough. Wherever she went the fighters would disperse in fear, like Moses parting the red sea.
Anyone unlucky enough to be caught in her attack range was punished without exception.
When the 15 minute bell rang again, there were fewer than 10 gladiators left standing on the stage.
“Ah, a nice little warm up! I even managed not to kill anyone by properly controlling my strength.”
Valen chuckled to herself in high spirits, not at all feeling tired.
“Miss Valen, how are you so strong?”
“Oh-ho… isn’t this the strength of an ordinary man?”
I caught her murmuring to herself, but found no reason to object. We had luckily found a very powerful comrade.
The same situation occurred in the next qualifying round. Valen would run around like an enraged stallion, knocking around the competition like they were made of paper. When the time was finally up, only a lucky 10 were once again left on stage.
The next step was the round of 16 and our team would only need to win 4 more time to be crowned champions.
“Thanks again Valen!”
“Oh it’s nothing special, it’s just that these opponents are too weak, you guys would be able to do the same.”
How was that possible, I was certain that any one of those opponents she sent flying could be more than a match for Piring and I. Not to mention that our future opponents would only be stronger.
“Actually we feel a bit ashamed since you are the only one fighting all the time.”
“Ah don’t worry about it, if it wasn’t for you two I wouldn’t even have been able to join!”
Pirin and I could not have been more thankful. With Valen’s help we advanced to the quarterfinals, the semi’s and onto the finals. It was the first time that someone had defended against her punches and kicks.
Our opponent was a human warrior joined with two skeleton soldiers which seemed incredibly strong. Seeing them, I heard her grumbled for the first time.
The skeletons only stayed behind and observed Valen fight the human warrior. Although we tried to join in and help, they were moving far too fast for us to keep up.
Puk pupupupu puk!
He was the first to have resisted her strikes, and Valen was staring daggers at him.
“Don’t forget that we can’t go overboard…hey, just control yourself! Ok?”
The human male was speaking casually with Valen, as if they had a history.
“No, in a fight you need to try your best!”
The stadium floor which was made out of solid rock was crushed under the weight of her next step.
“Aiii I surrender!”
Seeing Valen’s determination, the man jumped outside the ring.
“Hey! Why are you running away?”
“No need to continue anymore!”
He ran off with the skeleton soldiers and Valen chased after him.
Eventually Pirin and I were the ones crowned champions.
“Can the two of us really accept this result, Pirin?”
“We don’t have much of a choice, they said that they are unable to locate Valen.”
Although the tournament organizers looked everywhere for her, she was nowhere to be found. We were still part of the winning team despite not once having fought, and were scheduled to meet with Necropolis’ King on the morrow.
“Yes, we did it!”
“It’s all thanks to Valen.”
Exchanging a knowing look we both erupted into laughter. I thought about Valen’s heroic feats and figured she could be halfway around the world by now.
The very next day we were invited to the royal palace for the award ceremony. While marching in along with the winners of the other coliseums, I noticed the faces of Necropolis’ citizens shining brightly. They had a happy and healthy appearance which spoke volumes of their quality of life in this city.
“I’m so envious of them Pirin.”
“Yes, if our people could simply swallow their useless pride, I’m certain that we can eventually join this fair city and become just like those citizens.
“We must strive to be even happier than them!”
Thinking of the possibility Pirin and I started giggling.
Eventually we had arrived and lined up with the other winners before the Necropolis ruler’s observatory tower.
“The King is pleased with your victories.”
A person flew down from the tower and touch the ground soundlessly, it must’ve have been a magic skill I thought to myself.
She was a 160 cm tall girl, who descended from above like a celestial goddess.
“I Valenor, wife of your King, have come to hear your wishes.”
The little girl’s voice who claimed to be Valenor was identical to Valen’s. Even many of her mannerisms were the same.
Pirin and I locked eyes.
We spoke out to each other simultaneously. Valenor who had been hearing the wishes of the other champions turned and gave us a sharp look. After listening to all the other winners, she finally arrived before us.
“And what do you Elves wish for?”
I hesitated for just a moment before speaking out courageously.
“I worry that my people will revolt, I hope you can find a solution to this problem!”
Valenor’s face turned into a frown, and after a moment of reflection, flew back to the top of the observatory.
“You may all leave, your wishes have been heard. The two Elven girls however shall stay behind.”
After some time Valenor’s voice rang out from atop the observatory, and we couldn’t help but anxiously stay rooted in place.
She eventually flew back down.
“You Elves, better make sure to keep the fact that I am Valen a secret!”
Valenor glanced at us and whispered strongly.
She then gave us a cute wink and we nodded back.
“My husband will take care of the situation so you don’t have to worry about your people anymore.”
We were relieved by her words. Valen, no, Valenor, was someone who we could trust.
“But there is one condition.”
Pirin and I stared at her nervously.
“You two will have to act as intermediaries and ambassadors for the Elves.”
It was all smooth sailing for there.
In order to uncover who were the ones responsible for spreading the rumors which ignited this rebellious spirit, all the parties involved were given a fair trial. The elves themselves were the jurors and the guilty were found and treated accordingly.
Since that day, Pirin had been designated as the representative for the Elven slaves. She was an intermediary, collecting complaints from her people to deliver to Necropolis, and relate back to them on the city’s decisions.
Necropolis had decided to make three important promises, which had become the hope of my people. Since then, none of us had ever again thought of raising arms against them.
The first promise was that the Lord of Necropolis would find Elfheim. The second was that after ten years of servitude, the Elven people would gradually be accepted as Necropolis’ citizens. The third and perhaps most important was that in 20 years time Elves will be guided to their homeland in Elfheim. Until that time however, they would have to dedicate themselves wholeheartedly to Necropolis’ success.
None of the Elves opposed such generous conditions and if any Elves tried acting unruly, they were handled internally. Nothing would come between us and our dream of returning home. After all, for a long lived race like the elves, 20 years was a relatively short period of time.
“Is it just me or do the Elves look healthier and happier than when they arrived?. Somehow I feel like I have been duped.”
“I agree Johra”
“Hmm… even if it smells fishy I can’t really do any major public changes or I’d lose face, I will have to find a way to secretly punish them individually.”
From the observatory the King of Necropolis had seen the entire thing play out, and was having dark thoughts about sneakily making the Elves suffer.