I hear the roaring of a crowd. The turning of wheels. The elongated creaking of a rusty gate. And the loud, disgusting voice of Cassia Caeso.
“Welcome, my fellow Romans!”
The crowd responded in thundering excitement.
“I think we can all agree that this event has been LONG overdue. But wait no longer, for it is HERE! Ladies and gentlemen, after seventeen years of fighting the Battle of Cannae, seventeen years of losing loved ones and countless deaths, but most importantly, seventeen years of NO ENTERTAINMENT...”
The crowd silenced, in silent tension.
“WE ARE FINALLY HAVING...” Cassia took a dramatic death breath, “THE FIRST GLADIATOR FIGHT OF THE DECADE!”
The crowd exploded in cheering, roaring, shouting, every possible volume of sound thundered into my ears as Cassia’s voice was drowned in the outburst.
After a long while the crowd settled down to hear the rest of Cassia’s address.
“Now, now, my fellow Romans, the fighting has not even begun yet! You must let me properly introduce our contestants! Now, traditionally, it would be proper to save the best fighter for last... but I’m feeling a little impatient after seventeen years!”
Cassia began to stomp on the ground for dramatic effect, willing the audience to follow his motion. Soon the rapid beat of leather against stone echoed throughout the stadium.
“Now, you might have heard of the Savior of Serville, or know him as the Defender of Byzantium, but it is my pleasure and HONOR to introduce to you, the one, and ONLY... MARCELLUS TIBERIUS!”
Marcellus's fans screamed louder than ever before, shrieking at the tops of their lungs, proclaiming their love and obsession for him as Cassia struggled to be heard over them.
What a sham! I could kill that kid in two seconds.
I struggle against my bindings, trying to wriggle the blindfold off of my eyes.
No such luck.
Cassia went on, rambling about all of Marcellus’s accomplishments, badges, medals, and most of all, muscles.
Ugh. Let’s just get this over with.
“And finally,” Cassia hushed the crowd. “The competition!”
I hear the creaking of rusty gears as the gate opens, and light filters through my blindfold.
“We picked this one up right outside of Apulia, on our way back from the Battle of Cannae.”
A sudden jolt, and I’m being carted forward, towards the noise of the crowd.
"She may not seem like much, but DO NOT underestimate her! She’s got spirit! She was massacring a village when we found her!”
I feel the warmth of the sun hit my body, and I take a deep breath of fresh air. Once I'm in the open, the crowd progressively becomes louder, bombarding my ears with insults and booing as I lay, helpless in my cart.
"WHO WANTS BLOOD?" Cassia screamed.
The Romans howled.
"...DEATH?" Cassia dragged the last word out, straining his voice to the breaking point.
The cart rolled to a stop. It tilts and I slide off, wincing as bristly splinters slip through my side and legs. I tumble off the edge, sharp rocks jab into my back on impact. A groan escapes my mouth.
My head pounds from dehydration and my mouth feels dry and sandy.
I hear four... five sets of feet marching around me, and my bands are loosed and my blindfold removed. The sun blinds my eyes, and I cannot open them. I try to stand, but stumble.
The crowd laughs.
I grit my teeth. Working on one foot at a time, I force my trembling knees to hold my weight.
I open my eyes, squinting at first. I see fuzzy shapes surrounding me. Purple, white, gray, blue sky. I blink my eyes until I can see clearly.
The colosseum is colossal. Rows upon rows of steps of stone slab all leaning inward, towering above me. Each row is filled, packed with Romans in togas, all staring at me with the same face.
Hatred. In the form of a cruel smile.
Oh, they can't wait for this.
I turn. Which caused a lot more pain than I expected, every muscle in my body screaming at me to lay back down and wait for my impending death.
I see a tall man standing across the arena from me. He is dressed in a shiny armor breastplate, gifting him with 'sculpted abs' and a huge ego. He wears sandals and a leather tasseled skirt.
He is turned away from me, standing atop the 15 foot wall that separates the seats and the arena, wooing a beautiful woman. She looks over his shoulder at me, and he follows her gaze.
His eyes narrow and his face mirrors the smirking faces of all the Romans above him.
Marcellus squeezes the lady's hand and jumps down into the arena with that deadly look on his face. He makes his way toward me, slowly at first, turning to face everyone in the stands with his hands raised as he screams a battle cry.
The Romans loved it.
What a sicko.
He's running towards me now, unsheathing his sword from his waist.
The audience hushes, leaning forward eagerly to watch the bloodshed that was sure to follow.
He's halfway through the arena now, and I can barely stand. I step forward...
Hm. Not as hard as I expected.
Marcellus is ten feet in front of me now, running his hardest with no intention of stopping.
I plant my feet into the dirt, tense all my muscles, and unleash a bone rattling roar. It started in my gut, runs through my throat, and explodes out of my maw with such force that it vibrates the ground I stand on.
The sound ripples across the arena, seemingly freezing the crowd in time. The Romans stare at me in awe as I face Marcellus.
Marcellus was so started, he dropped his sword into the dirt and yelped like a puppy. The expression on his face was of absolute terror. But soon remembering there was an audience watching him, he straightened up and snatched his sword off the ground. "You're not like any lion I've ever fought before," he smirked. "Not bad."
And then he lunged.
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