Thankfully it was only around a second for Xey to finish the conversation and me realizing I was next in line and so the villagers behind me had not become agitated enough to cut me in line or shout insults at me, and so I quickly gathered myself as I walked forwards towards the bulky guards at the entrance. As I neared, one of them, the one to my right spoke out in a thick Gorse accent like Serosa, her voice made difficult to understand because of the heavy metal helmet she wore. ”Arm. Extend it.” said the gruff female voice. She looked like the guards that the leader had for his personal protection. They also resembled the guards that escorted Muite off the stage yesterday.
These guards were from our village for sure but there was something quite queer about them. For one, they did not have the same kind of armor as I and troops had when we went in for battles. Ours were bent, dented, and was not made from the strongest metals in the village, whereas theirs were sparkling clean with green velvet clothes covering over their armor hiding it. Also in past glimpses, I had seen that they had gold for their mail lining and they almost exclusively never removed their war helmet which looked more like a fashion statement than anything practical. They had full metal helmets that again seemed like some premium material than what we were given to us to go for battle, it had eye visors made of metal like those seen in old Roman warriors and they also had the red fluff on top of their heads.
They almost looked like high ranking officials of an army, but I or none of my friends or comrades had ever seen them in action, unless that trouble was towards the leader or any resisting victim of the leader, like Muite yesterday. Not only that, but none of my comrades had seen any of these guards participate in any of the battles that we were constantly involved in, which on one hand was understandable but on the other would have really helpful for us, especially for a village like us where almost every able-bodied villager was put in the army.
Which bought me to another set of questions. We did not even know their identity much less how many were exactly there totally and all that we did know was that Were was a part of this secret army, but almost all attempts by us to obtain information from him was shot down, making us feel it was secretive for the reason to keep our village safe. Yet for some reason, I felt hatred towards them, like an agitated itch, as I felt they were treated far better than any of us in the battalion would have ever had and they till now were not involved in any fight that was life-threatening like how faced almost every few weeks. At least for one I was not alone, many other friends of mine in the battalion also felt the same and although we did want to confront them, we never did, fearing the worst if we did.
I now extended my arm without any hesitation and the other guard brought out the device. It was a long slim device with a needle at one of its ends. As the guard put the needle into my skin, I got a good look at it. There was a pain for sure but it not too painful, just like any other injection.
The body of the device was and at the other end, opposite to the needle was a clear chamber where presumably my blood would flow to. Also next to the clear chamber was a screen of some sort that I did not the purpose of. I thought there was going to be some sort of plunger on this device that would help to remove the blood but to my surprise, the process seemed to be automatic as I could clearly see the hands of the guards while feeling the blood sucked from my arm.
I could not see the blood getting sucked from my arm as the ‘syringe’ was opaque but I did see it pass on to the clear chamber. Once it was there the removed the syringe from my arm and handed me a small piece of cotton. The guard handed the syringe towards the lady guard and she shook it up a bit sending small drops of blood everywhere.
She then waited for a second and looked at the screen of the syringe and just at that moment beep from the syringe sounded, maybe indicating that I was of age to spectate in the event.
She then gestured me to go inside the arena but I did not take a step forward. This was because I was fascinated with the syringe because I had never seen anything so advanced in our village. The same could be said to almost everyone in our village, because in our village after the Schism no one had the materials or the brains to create such advanced technology.
I now felt a hard push from behind and it was from the guard who had taken the blood sample and since now the event was going to start at any minute the guards were rushing the people into the arena and so I had to snap out of my thinking state and quickly grab seats in the arena in order to get a proper viewing angle. By what I think was sheer luck, I found three empty seats that had a decent viewing angle of the arena inside.
I quickly grabbed one of the seats and sat on it, putting my hand over the other two seats saving them for my cousins. My cousins arrived a second later and thanked me for saving the seats saying that if I had not gotten the seats we would had to watch the event standing up.
We then settled in, making ourselves comfortable on the plastic seats. We had gotten seats on the third row even though we thought we were too low to see any of the action, it turned out we were in fact very high off the ground as the right beyond the railings and the tall metal fences of the first row of seats was a near twenty-meter drop into the arena. This was the first time I had been to an arena of any kind so almost everything around me seemed new and what I was currently experiencing seemed so surreal. Like I was in a dream. A weird dream which I had never had before.
But the fans shouting was real, and it was loud. It was hard to distinguish out of so many chants what they were exactly saying but I did catch a few. Some were shouting our village name like how Were had done before, and others encouraging words to Muite, who however was not to be seen anywhere right now.
At first glance, it looked like everyone was happy to be there, enthralled to be exact, but from the almost pale and tensed faces all around me I was almost sure that they too here were feeling the same way I was feeling and why they had come here was not to be entertained but to give their last respects of sorts to Muite, to the anguished. Although there were few maniacs like the Gurzal gang and few others who had come for the pure entertaining as it was seen by their antics and shouting, it was clear that the others were anxious, almost scared to see the fate of Muite.
It seemed like it was better for the villagers to be there in the arena during his last day and support him than rather leave him to die without any support, which in this case also was the audience.
As I examined the surroundings I noticed that the arena was in the shape of an oval like a cricket stadium and we were sitting on the edge of the parallel lines right at the start of the arc of the stadium. Since the stadium was very big I could only see the curve of seats with villagers to my left and the continuous straight row of the seats to my right.
Looking right in front of me to into the arena which was a few row of seats below us, I was certain that Muite was going to show up in the ground below us but it was pretty hard to say exactly where he might enter from.
This was because there seemed to be several entrances to the arena from below with two dark doorways staring at us, ready to throw at us a helpless person who was going to meet his fate here.
If this arena was anything but symmetric that would have to mean there were two other doors which my villagers were sitting on top of and so that now lead to a total of four doors, two on either side of the parallel walls opposite to each other.
And although I could see the dark doors of the other side of the arena from where I was sitting I could not see the people sitting right opposite to us. Actually, for that matter, none of who sat next to me could see the opposite side as it seemed some sort of mirror had been placed right where the seats were supposed to be and it reflected our image back to us. “It’s a one-way mirror,” said Zefe who was sitting right next to me, while Xey sat to the other side of Zefe.
“It’s put there because apparently we were too ugly to be looked at by our enemy!” Zefe said her voice gradually ending in a shout as she finished the sentence as she also balled and threw her fist out in the air out of anger. But in context, her shout was almost nothing compared to the crowd that was almost doing the same and she just seemed to be one of the crowd to anyone else watching.
“But don’t worry” she suddenly continued in her usual calm tone “We too have those one-way reflective mirror thingies on our side too so our enemy can look at themselves and really say who’s the uglier one! Ha!” she said a menacing grin covering her face now.
“Yeah, they ought to be the ugly ones….” I said weakly. Although I knew some things about our enemy at this point of time I got a reality check of how much I actually knew about them.
Of course, I have heard the tales many of my friends and elders have told. But almost like any other villager I never knew the truth because it was dangerous to tread too far into the east side of our village due to the Inimical river.