Aiden and the Scroll of No Man's Land

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Chapter 20

Looking back at the arena I took in the other details. Unlike a traditional arena, like the Roman Colosseum, the arena here was not actually one barren landscape where the two unfortunates had to fight.

It was actually the complete contrast to a traditional amphitheater in that it had dense vegetation of lush green trees and shrubs growing everywhere. There were plenty of trees which were thriving here and growing to such heights that they came up as high as the tall boundary wall of the arena.

Although these trees were abnormally tall and something that I had never seen before, these trees dwarfed in comparison to one tree.

Well, I don’t even know if I could call it a tree because it was so tall it easily reached the top of the arena and well crossed the metal crisscrossing bar that were placed in concentric ovals until they met at the center and merged.

This tree which I think was a Ceiba like what Nibbles used to call home, was much taller than the average tree. It was so high in fact that it grew out of the gaps of the concentric metal ovals rings and in the open air, and it almost felt like it was trying to reach out to the open world and to be free from this cage.

The tree was almost right at the center of the arena and had many branches too, which obscured most of the vision to the other side of the arena. Looking right next to the mighty tree I saw something that seemed out of place for something like an arena.

There was something large and black smack right in the center of the arena very close to the tree. Once again it seemed that Zefe seemed to be observing me and offered an explanation.

“Boy, that is something you do not want to fall into-” “Actually it is” interjected Xey this and he seemed proud that he finally took revenge for his sister interjecting him earlier. Zefe gestured him to continue and a rather proud Xey did so “I mean if… if someone wants to win you know. That’s the whole point of this stupid game anyway. All you got to do is monkey your way through all those shrubs, bushes, poisonous ivy, and of course the enemy and go and jump into that big black hole to win.” “That’s all?” I asked thinking something like that maybe kind of easy for Muite to do.

“Of course this doofus left out the important parts..” she said grinning while Xey gave his famous agitated look. “The electric glass, the part where you need to come out of that hole, and of course the -” she was interrupted by a loud screech that seemed to be from some bird of some sort.

Many sitting next to closed their ears trying to block the deafening screech but it lasted only for about a few seconds. The screech then faded away and a voice was heard all around us and it seemed like the speaker’s voice was being amplified. I instinctively searched for a source for the sound but could no find any and then Zefe pointed towards her left where the arc of the arena went on to join a small gray viewing dock that was built into the arena’s structure. The viewing dock seemed to be present right at the middle of the arc and the other half of the arc was not visible due to the concrete wall that was built to support the overhanging dock.

We could see through the glass right in front of us, at the overhanging deck which hung at least a good three feet into the arena.

This deck was actually situated a little higher than our viewing stands. This meant we had to stand up in order to see who was speaking. I did do so for a brief second but then noticed that they had the same one side reflexive glass and although the announcer was speaking from far off from where I was standing, the voice around us seemed loud and clear and this was after I had thoroughly scanned the room for speakers of sorts.

It was kind of a weird feeling hearing the voice but not being able to see the source of it here being the announcer and the speaker.

My attention now came to the speaker’s voice itself and now he spoke “Welcome citizens of Vroudulan, here we are gathered willingly or unwillingly to watch the fate of our competitor for the night, Muite Guiz.” the announcer said with a hint of empathy in his voice. Nonetheless, he seemed to have years of experience in this business as he spoke with fluency and a silky kind of voice that in the long run could get someone irritated.

“Muite from our village, is a farmer from the outskirts whose house is not far from here,” he said and now there seemed to be some kind of enthusiasm in his voice which I instantly hated him for.

“Issue according to Muite came when he was plowing in his field and a piece of garbage, according to him, came flying right out from the sky and crash-landed into his field destroying several crops. The culprit responsible for throwing the garbage was later identified as Varein Roger who he now faces as his enemy. Muite Guiz now faces Varien after verbally confessing to this fight. Proof of this verbal confession was heard by several eyewitnesses present at the scene and the leader himself.”

At this point, anger started to build up in me as not only was the announcer’s voice really getting on my nerve as seemed to enjoy his job but also because of the measures the leader and his loyal subjects were taking to ensure someone so innocent and ill-equipped could be justified to go into battle into without even knowing how his enemy looked like. I tried standing up but was restrained by Zefe putting her hand across me.

Aiden...we have tried before to stop this at the earliest stage but we only get overruled by the leader. He always goes for the but-if-we-do-win-it-will-benefit-our-village excuse and honestly the way he says it out into the public to our villagers, who are suffering, tend to take his side and they would rather let this battle happen for the mere fact that the anguished one might be lucky to win. I know this is tough to watch and it was for me and Xey too. But we always have hope that some good god above is watching over the innocent and so we come here to show support for the anguished one...” she trailed off and it seemed she wanted to say more but she just stopped there. For some reason, her speech reminded me of what my mom had told last night and now Zefe saying this only seemed to seal the fact that the leader could not be stopped from doing this event.

“Cousin, for a fact, and I’m not making this up, but the number of deaths in this place is a little, wittle, teeny, tiny portion of the matches that occur here....there is still a pretty percentage of who come out from this place you know,” said Xey now who was quiet up till now. “Of course they are bashed and bruised but if they put on a well enough show to grab that empathy side of Ivor then he will instantly change his mind and stop the game, in mid-game!” he exclaimed “Seen it a couple of times.” confirmed Zefe and that seemed to calm me down a little as I sat back in my seat.

My mind was now in a mess and I could not think straight, and all I could now think about is Mutie putting on a hell of a show to impress Ivor to stop the game. Which seemed far-fetched but the only thing that I thought would work. I now felt a headache come over me as the announcer spoke again his every word irritating me further.

“So now, few have entered the Quike like you have Muite, and fewer have returned, let us hope this is not your last stance you take. May the anguished find the peace they are seeking in triumph or by doom. Vroudulan forever!” he said shouting the last sentence out as from somewhere I could not see, drums started to play in a beat, and Muite arrived from an entrance that was to the left of me, right below the viewing deck where I presumed the leader and the announcer were watching from.

Because of the angle I was sitting in I could not see the entrance and I instinctively looked slightly to the right, where if I had assumed correctly, there had to be another entrance right opposite to the one Muite had just entered from, but the Ceiba tree’s trunk was so huge that it blocked my vision. I also assumed there was another viewing deck just like where the leader and announcer were sitting in, on the other side, right above the gate where the opponent would enter from, for very special guests, but this too was blocked from my vision by the huge trunk of the tree.

My gaze once again returned towards Muite and I could now see how exactly he had chosen to face this battle.

He dawned what appeared to be the heaviest armor our army’s inventory could supply, and was completely head to toe in armor with the only exception of his eyes not being covered. These heavy armors were rarely used by our battalion, used only when there was a particularly serious battle to be dealt with, and when it was used, were put on the fittest of men and women to fight in.

Even though I could not see his eyes because I was too far from him, I was absolutely sure he was terrified. His posture and the manner he held his lightweight shield and the basic sword told it all. He was bent, out of fear, and also the weight of the heavy armor. He was shivering too, as he barely clung onto his sword, which, by my experience, I knew was one of the lightest swords in the army’s inventory, but in the hands of an inexperienced one, could feel like it weighed a ton.

And this was all before he could even see his enemy for the first time. According to my friends who had attended these events before there was a good chance that the enemy might as well turn out to be someone just as inexperienced as Muite, but there was an even better chance that the person walking from the opposite gate was someone who was well fit for an event like this.

My headache soared and I started sweating profusely as I hoped the latter wasn’t chosen. Just as the announcer started yet again with his announcement of Varein Roger and the drums started banging again for his entrance, which I had predicted correctly from the opposite side, I heard Zefe call out to me. Her face expressed concern and her voice sounded distinct and heavenly as she spoke. “Aiden! Feel well?” I nodded trying to fake what was really happening to me “Boy! you don’t look that way.” said Xey and that was the last thing I heard before my vision went black and I felt my body slump forwards into the villagers and seats right below me.

Closing my eyes seemed to extinguish the headache, pain, tension and all other emotions I felt during that time and I then suddenly felt my body completely relax with peace.

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