The head bounced twice on the ground before rolling to the puddle a few feet away from his right foot. The body was slumped few inches away from its head as blood leaks a pretty heavy amount of it from the clean cut across the neck.
Ale always think that taking someone’s life will be too easy, because he is trained with that kind of job before being a slave to be traded five months ago.
He has no weapons on his hand really, just bare hands attached to his own arms. He can do the killing just with those callused hands of his, steal a weapon from an opponent in a matter of seconds, and finished them off right away in a graceful stance.
The dead man that he just beheaded was a proof of it. He just knock the sword from him to be on his hold’s advantage, and immediately let the good sword of the poor slave to be used to cut his head off.
But that’s the way it is.
As always. The strong gets to win.
Every slave brought to be a gladiator in the arena knows the risk of dying, and surviving is by any chance the hardest to achieve among all.
“Get this done already, Celt!” a man behind Ale that came from the audience shouted hysterically as if he is about to die any moment now.
Ale was ‘The Celt’ that everyone is talking about.
No one knows that he was named Ale. But since he became a slave, news spread so fast like an epidemic throughout the land that he is the Celt that was favored by Axel, the Lord Master of the Assassin’s Guild, the most. He was sold to a slave trader than to surrender him to the Ranks directly.
He doesn’t talk much though, so how could anyone know about his past and real identity? After all, only the Lord Master of the Assassin’s Guild knows him fully, until the very tiniest bit of him. But aside from him, who will? He won’t even talk at all to anyone. Doesn’t even acknowledge or make his feelings be visibly seen in the open or be brought up after all. In short, he is really not good in interacting with anyone. Period.
That’s why, news would appear to be rumors in reality.
The remaining gladiator in the arena along with Ale shouted in anger for his fallen companion and lunge forward.
But all Ale ever heard was the thunderstorm overhead. All Ale ever felt was the dripping of rainwater, not the blood of the man he just killed that stains his skin.
Ale stands still as his new opponent rushes forward, making their distance much closer even if the arena is just about ten seven meters square in area. He prepares his stance, ready to attack as well with the use of the sword that he manage to steal from the dead gladiator. His sandals were wet in the puddle of blood.
His opponent raises his own sword to attack overhead, his own shield made of old bronze in front of his body. But he is too big and muscular, tall as well, with an ugly face and scars on every part of his body, for his shield to cover him fully… to completely protect him from Ale.
The Celt spins around with such grace and moves sideways before his opponent reaches him within sword’s reach, incredibly fast that no one could even copy how elegant he moves even while holding a sword or any weapon at all. And with a fast cutting arc, Ale ended the other gladiator’s life—a long, deep slash behind passing through his spinal cord.
He waited patiently as his opponent writhed in pain for a moment before finally falling face down firs to the wet flooring of the arena with puddles of blood and mud around. As he falls, the sound of metal falling heavily on to the ground obstructs the rumble of the thunder. The corpse laid down about four inches away from his companion’s head.
The crowd cheer in such an amuse way.
The sound of gold and silver Roman coins with the face of Domitian was heard clashing against each one inside small and big pouches from the audience—their winning money from the lottery. Everyone who loses their good coins upon betting onto either of the two fallen gladiators were in such dismay, ninety-seven percent from the audience made the wrong bet; lucky for the remaining three percent who had high hopes to The Celt.
The process is very common already for Ale, for he had heard about how it will be for every slave that becomes gladiators who won and brought to Roma throughout his life as an assassin. It is simple though since it will be announced throughout the city that a slave trader will host a gladiator with the use of his own slaves. They don’t care about their own slaves for they earn much more and better coins whenever they sponsor games. They earn twice than what their slaves can offer. And once they’ve seen such very good potentials, they decide to sell these winning gladiators to the Romans—to be the entertainment of the people of Roma and of the Caesar himself.
But this isn’t the first time that Ale had won a game. Actually, it was his seventeenth time winning after five months of being a slave under such trader named Proctulus who is a close ally of Roma itself.
As an assassin though, he had stolen thousands of lives already, working for people that seems to be so confidential to discuss already—merchants, slave traders, and even sometimes members of the Congress.
Until, Axel finally agreed with the plan he himself had devised.
The plan to reach the center of the Roman Empire’s seat of power—Roma. And to do so is to be the superstar of the infamous games of the gladiator to be made in its finest coliseum.
Ale glances above him and let the rain drips some of it to tickle his cheeks. A raindrop falls onto his long dark lashes before he closes his eyes and tries to memorize the feeling of being under the rain again after twenty weeks of being in a confined cell and fight in this small arena for sixteen times with the heat of the sun.
The rain causes him to relinquish some memories. Most of them that he wanted to forget. The past that no one remembers. But it’s a history that he is aware of, and he’ll always know.
He immediately opened his eyes again and glanced at the direction of the voice. His eyes landed onto a Roman soldier clad on his full attire—the silver metal of his armor appears to be so gloomy against the dark clouds, the deepness of the color red on his cape that was attached on his armor’s shoulders seem to be nothing compared to the real color of blood, the skirts that fall until above his legs and the laces of his sandals, the helmet that partners the armor he is wearing, a spear on his hand and a shield on the other’s forearm, and that scowl on the soldier’s face.
Every Roman soldier looks like they are all one for Ale that makes this one nothing like the others. For him, there’s no other distinction to notice who is who and who is not.
“Hurry up! Back to your cell!” the soldier shouted.
Ale stands up perfectly, back erect, chin held high. He then strike the sword with dripping blood on its blade on the ground separating the heads of his two opponents for today. After, he walks passed two Roman soldiers who stands still on both sides of the path back to the hallway of the cells of the other slaves that their trader has.
Before he even enters back to the cavern’s darkness again, he heard the people of Londinium shouting his name—The Celt—for his victory over the two other slaves that was said to come from the up hills bordering Roma.
He accepted the fact that he was called by many as The Celt. But he is wishing that the audience today while he is still in Londinium will one day call forth his real name.
Ale dreamed that he is running.
He sees himself full of blood on his face, on his hands, on his white clothing. His mind is shouting to him not to stop from running, continue having his feet and legs to take long strides even if he is in the body of a young child that has nothing at all.
Everything from him was stolen, and was stripped out from the freedom and assurance that all of it will be considerably his.
He glances behind him for a moment to see if the one following him probably lose sight of him. He can’t see anyone but he can hear the bark of orders to find him and kill him right away the moment that they see him.
Ale can feel the sudden rushed of tears through his eyes as a child. Him almost stumbling and tripping because his legs can no longer run much more. But he needs to—if he so desperately wanted to survive.
Immediately, he got an idea. The most foolish idea for anyone but at the moment, the cleverest one for a child to think of. The open window about two meters away from him is the best idea. And then he immediately saw something behind him that is about—
It is a nightmare to describe than to say that it is a dream. The best word to use might be it is a memory, a haunted one that never stops to come almost every night.
Ale tries to steady his breathing and focus his eyes onto the damp stone ceiling despite the darkness. The fire that the torch casts onto few blocks away from his cell seems to release very few hint of light, but enough to remind him that he is not running away this time. But, he is still fighting for his own survival.
Though, it is already alright.
Alright to think that when he glanced behind his back this time, he won’t see someone coming to follow him, he won’t hear someone ordering for him to be killed, and he won’t get to feel the rush of panic inside his system.
A moment after, Ale tries to make a mental note on his mind what time of the day is it now. He failed though, blaming the thick clouds during his fight earlier. And damn, he never know anything about astronomy or the weather at all to be a good guesser of what time it could have been already or even the day.Defeated by his mental analyzation, he cracks his knuckles for a moment, take a deep breath, and ended up deciding to expect a much wonderful dream as he closed his eyes again to get some sleep more.