“Uhh… what… the hell just happened?”
Lizzy felt a strong ache in her forehead as she opened her eyes slowly, feeling a soft and comfortable surface under her back. The last thing she remembered was that she was in the outskirts of a city, chasing after a strange creature that stole a bronze statuette that she took from a crime lord a few days ago. But this was a different place all together. Her surrounding environment felt warm and cozy with a tropical scent lingering in the air. She shook her head carefully before sitting up straight as her vision was clearing up once more. The sight before Lizzy made her silent in awe.
“Woah…this sure is new…”
She was shocked to find herself in a large and luxurious room, filled with many kinds of wooden furniture, including a soft and yellow bed that she was sitting on. The walls and ceiling was covered in colors and shapes that reminded of a central-African jungle, enhanced by the exotic fauna that were planted in clay pots in the suite. On the far left corner, there was a large collection of training equipment such as dumbbells, ropes, treadmills and punching bags, durable enough to handle her mighty strength for a while. On the far right corner there was a small living station with a cold fridge, clean oven and new microwave, ready to be used at any time. On the left corner next to her there was a door with the words “Bathroom” etched into it. Out of curiosity, the monkey girl entered it, noticing that the jungle-theme was found here as well, containing a large bubble bath fit for 3 people and a folding door shower.
Despite the swell living conditions of this room, Lizzy knew that not everything was as it seemed. She walked around her suite, scratching her head out of confusion.
“Strange…can’t be any of the rat gangs this time…their prisons are nowhere near this nice…” she thought to herself, thinking back to her struggles against the vermin crime syndicates that ruled many parts of her home world.
It was silent for a moment as she made her way to the dumbbells, lifting up one of them one-handed with ease. She made a small smile, glad to know that she was still as strong as ever before putting it back down on the ground, making it emit a small thud due to the fuzzy green carpet that covered the entire floor. She then walked slowly towards her bed, taking a deep breath to enjoy the scent of banana trees that was lingering in the fresh air. In front of the bed was a TV and a remote control next to it. Though she was still worried about her situation, she still decided to see what was on the air. Lizzy used her long tail to grab the remote control and push the ON button, hoping to find something entertaining before she tries to break out.
“Well… might as well enjoy this cage before I break it…” said the monkey girl to herself with a joyful grin on her face before leaning back on the bed, waiting for the picture to arrive. It was taking quite some time for any images to appear, annoying her as the seconds passed.
“Oh, come on! Just start already!” she exclaimed in frustration before leaping out of her seat and approaching the TV, preparing to hit it.
Before her palm could touch the side of the display, however, footage started to play. Lizzy stopped herself in the last second as she took a step back. The channel she viewed showed a large man wearing black tea-shades, nearly 8 foot tall, as he was writing on some papers. He had a red-purple complexion on his skin, almost like the color of a bruise, and two black horns on his forehead, similar to those of a Highland bull. His hide was covered in thick, spiky scales on his hands as well as his jawline, mouth and his forehead, yet seemed rather lean on his face. He seemed rather muscular underneath his grey tuxedo and red tie. For a moment nothing seemed to happen as the demon in a suit just kept looking over papers. Not being known for her patience, Lizzy rolled her eyes before trying to switch the channel. But any time she tried to watch a channel where other things were being showed, it kept switching back to the demon every 4 seconds.
“What a load of crap! Is this boring bastard the president of the world or something?!” she cried out as she threw the remote to the bed with enough force to make it bounce off to the wall.
Suddenly, the man in the TV moved his head up in a surprised at the same time as Lizzy complained, moving around in his office chair to look on a small yellow light that was blinking behind him. He then turned his gaze towards the screen with a big and gentle smile while keeping the palms of his hands held together.
“I’m guessing you were referring to me, Miss Strong? Sorry to keep you waiting for too long. Didn’t know that you were going to wake up so soon. Most of them time, people are knocked out for a longer time when transported over here. But enough about that. I’m Talius Buck. You’re probably wondering where you are for the moment. Don’t worry. We’ll be happy to explain.” he said in a deep, yet friendly and optimistic tone, catching Lizzy off guard.
“Wait… you can see me? And how the hell do you know my name?! Answer me!” demanded Lizzy as she moved closer to the TV with heavy steps, clearly showing her anger at the situation. The demon showed no signs of intimidation or worries at her aggressive gesture and instead kept up his polite attitude.
“That’s not important for the moment, but I will simplify it by saying that we have done a proper background check before bringing you over to this glorious occasion. Let’s give you a quick rundown of what’s going on for the moment. Don’t be afraid if you miss out on anything important. A DVD disk with the following information is underneath your TV in case something flew by your attention. Play the tutorial video at Lizzy Strong’s TV, boys!” said the demon happily as he looked to his right.
For a short moment, the picture went black and silent before bombastic music began to play, not too different from that heard in gladiator movies. A large, detailed logo that displayed the words “DEADGOLD ARENA” was shown behind a burning background as the music kept going. Shortly after, overhead images of a massive amphitheater were shown, made out of coal black stone and blood red gems. The top of the theater was covered in large ivory spikes that made a curve towards the center of the circular structure. The gargantuan building was founded upon a rather barren and rocky wasteland, full of spiky stones and jagged rocks with only a few clean paths leading towards it. As the camera moved closer in a rapid rate, a wide variety of different creatures, wielding all kinds of weapons and armor were seen fighting each other, spilling blood of different colors on the sand beneath them. Some of them looked rather humanoid while others were alien to the eyes of Lizzy. They were cheered on by a big crowd of different species, mostly humanoid demons, who were enjoying the brutal battle ahead of them. An old female voice could be heard speaking as the video proceeded.
“Deadgold Arena. The largest and greatest gladiator arena in all of Taraboxus. The only battlefield where worlds collide in a savage carnage. Founded 138 years ago by Talius Buck, one of the wealthiest demons in the realm, he had the arena built upon the bleak grounds of the Wasp-bite Hills, turning the often avoided area into a successful tourist attraction overnight, baiting audiences from all over the world to enjoy the sights of mighty warriors that are literally out of this world.”
Lizzy kept listening and watching the morbid visuals that were shown, making her more uneasy as the seconds passed. Was she really stuck on another world, out of reach from her sister and loved ones? She didn’t want to believe it, hoping it was all just a trick, but she kept watching.
“Every year, specific people from different realms and worlds of reality are handpicked by our Realmgazer to serve as champions in the Deadgold Arena due to their varied abilities in different forms of combat. If you are watching this, then you are one of the chosen few to have this honor.”
Lizzy placed her right palm against her face before sitting down on the bed, clenching her left fist tightly as it trembled slightly.
“Great…stuck in a gladiator arena for the second time against my will…joy…” she lamented for herself before scratching her hair. The video continued despite her annoyance.
“During your trials, you will encounter many foes, wise and strong, big and small. As you progress with your life intact by defeating your opponents, you will not only earn riches from our vault and admiration from our fans, but you will be given glory beyond your wildest dreams for your accomplishments. However, before you get your hopes up to high, there is an introduction battle that must be fought where you will struggle alongside the follow champions in order to survive. Those champions who make it out alive will continue all the way to the championships. If you’re lucky, you might even face some of the former champions from past seasons.”
Lizzy began to listen a bit more to what was being said, witnessing a small slideshow of some different combatants from the past. Though she had no interest of killing other people to please a blood-thirsty crowd, she still found the supposed vault of treasure to be a treat for the mind. A small smile crept up on her face as she began to wonder how she could reach the riches in the best way possible. But she also knew she had to have an escape plan back to her own home world. That was going to be hard without any help. Normally her sister Izzy would be assisting her with these sorts of situations.
“That is all you will need to know for the moment, champion. Expect to be used to the scent of blood, the ecstatic cheers of crowds, the sounds of breaking bones and the sight of your enemies falling before you. Good luck. Welcome to the Deadgold Arena!”
With that, the images of epic battles and clashes came to a stop as the epic music was toned down. The picture returned to Talius Buck as he was once again shown with a kind and toothy smile on his face.
“Any questions before we open the door for you?” he said in a respectful manner before adjusting his shades.
Lizzy remained silent for a while, thinking about what she should say. She then slowly walked towards the barbell in the training corner and removed the heavy weights one by one, simply keeping the long metallic pole with her before moving back to the TV. On her way, she spun the pole around with ease before stopping in her tracks, leaning towards the screen as she had a questioning look on her face.
“Yea. When will you let me back home?” she said before looking over the pole.
“The terms of your release will be discussed once we believe that you have won enough battles. For now, you should probably make your way towards the food hall in order to gather your strength. The introduction battle is tonight. Simply follow the arrows on the walls and you will find it. Some of the other champions are already there, conversing with one another. I suggest you do the same. Have a good day. Bye.”
This kind response was not good enough for Lizzy, making her frown before making a hard stomp on the floor.
Before she could protest, the image switched to some form of toy commercial about a Lego-like product. The steel door that kept her inside the suite slid open, revealing a long hallway of doors similar to the one in her suite. The monkey-girl sighed deeply before feeling her stomach rumble. She was hungry and in need for a meal. She shook her head before walking out of the door, bringing the pole with her as she made a few tricks with it along the way.
“Seems this will be a bit tougher than I thought…”
The smoky scent of meat and the fresh smell of fruit could be felt in the large food hall of the arena where almost 200 gladiators and staff members were eating food. Many tables that were positioned closely to each other could be seen for those ready to feast for the day. Only a few tables were placed further away, reserved for more important visitors such as staff or VIPs. They were distinguished by their clothing and gear, clearly visible by the common work-wear of the staff and the outlandish gear for the gladiators. Guards wearing different kinds of armor and weapons, ranging from simple clubs to guns as well as riot gear to regular robes, could be seen walking around entryways and exits, constantly keeping watch over the hungry inhabitants. There was always the risk of a brawl breaking out since the gladiators, most of them long-time criminals, were always bickering and arguing with everyone for any reason they could. Both men and women could be found amongst their ranks, being monitored by cameras in the walls and ceiling.
“Aahh…I recognize that smell anywhere! Freaking Ribs!”
As he felt the smell of the cooked meat and heard the sound of chatting crowds, Johannes Svartsvard walked through one of the hallways leading into the food hall, resting his large blade upon his shoulder. For every step he took, his bearpaw-shaped boots made small scratches on the polished stone floor as his armor emitted a rattling sound. His mouth was filed with drool, longing to take a bit out of some prepared food for once. He was getting tired of having eaten raw flesh and bones for almost a full year. Through the entrance, he saw all the people dinning before he opened the aluminum door leading in. However, before he was able to even take a footstep in, he felt a hand against his chest, coming from one of the many guards. The guard gave him a stern stare while standing in front of the death knight.
“New champion?” the guard asked in a serious tone. Johannes moved closer to him, wearing an angry frown on his face as his blind eye started to become a bit red.
“What’s it to you, prick?” said the undead knight with murderous intent as he held onto his sword tightly, moving his face close to the man who stood in his way. The guard, still wearing his stern expression without a sign of fear, took a step to the side and pointed towards the far right corner.
“The long bronze table is preserved for the new champions. Eat well.”
The answer quickly made Johannes turn his frown upside down into a cocky and toothy smirk. A small, but triumphant laugh escaped his mouth as he moved past the guard, picking up a tray before walking towards the serving station.
“VIP treatment on my first day! I’m loving this place already!” said Johannes to himself as he began to push his way through the food line. Despite the protests of the gladiators, the uncaring death knight kept pushing, punching and elbowing people of different species down to the ground, making them spill their food and drinks along the way. During his selfish quest for food, he grabbed a couple of glazed ribs directly with his hands along with some fried fish instead of using the tongs that were clearly in front of him.
“Out of the way, people! Move it, losers! Man of the hour, coming through!” Johannes called as he saw the bronze table in the distance. He could see how three people were already seated there. The undead man kept grinning as he walked towards them, having been informed that they will be his allies for the day, just like all the other champions. After having taken a seat and slammed his tray holding his meal down on the bronze table, he decided to take a look at his companions for the day.
“Alright, then. Who’re the losers that I will be kicking ass with toda-”
After witnessing one familiar face out of the three seated people, he went silent as his eyes grew wide in shock. The man stared back in a similar way as Johannes nearly dropped his jaw to the floor. It was the beastman paladin from New Ayers, Syranon Glaed.
“…oh…hi, Johannes…it has been a while…” the young paladin said with an unsure voice. It was clear that neither of them expected to see the other in the realm of Taraboxus.
“I’m taking that you have seen this guy before, Syranon.” said a red-haired woman sitting next to him. She was seen polishing a Walther P99 9mm handgun before putting a piece of cloth aside. She stood up carefully as the third man who was there from the beginning simply watched them.
Syranon took a sigh as Johannes was beginning to tremble in rage. The red-haired woman on the other hand was preparing her gun in case anything happened due to this unfortunate encounter.
“Even when I’m about to become a gladiator in another world, you still somehow end up fucking up my day…” said Johannes through his sharp teeth as Syranon moved his chair a bit back, trying to build some safe distance between the two. It looked as if the death knight was about to snap at any moment as he looked at the paladin, his eyes containing a burning hatred.
“Look. We were teleported here against our will when we tried to catch some creature who stole some documents from a police station. We were then informed that we will have to serve as gladiators in a distant demonic world, unsure if they will let us back home or not. As of now, we are simply trying to see what can be done about our situation. Whatever you think about this, I will inform you that you’re wrong in case you think we’re here to ruin your little fun.” said the red-head as she pointed the gun against the irate undead, remaining calm as she gave him a deadly gaze colder than ice.
“So how about you simply calm down?”
In response, Johannes stood up and pointed his blade against her neck, making her put her finger on the trigger, ready to pull it at any second. Syranon had a concerned look as a bead of sweat escaped his forehead. The last thing that he needed was for the guards to attack them, considering how many of them they were and how many weapons they carried.
“M-miss Ryo! Johannes! That won’t be needed! Please…just put your weapons down…” pleaded the beastman, but neither the death knight nor the demon hunter showed any signs of backing down. Syranon knew he had to think fast as he saw the guards turning their attention to them. The only man not involved began to pull a cigar out of his pocket before lighting it.
“Svartsvard…just look around you. I know you’re strong and all, but there is no way you can take all of them on! Do you really want to die like that? And Ryo… you know I need you for this if we’re ever going to escape. We can’t let the people down back home for something so petty …”
The speech of the paladin seemed to have some effect on the death knight as he began to slowly look around, noticing that Syranon had a point. Ryo too knew that her friend was speaking the truth. The stand-still between the two remained for a few more seconds, but they were gradually getting to their senses before placing their weapons aside.
“Guess you’re right, kiddo…” she said before witnessing Johannes take a seat further away from the group.
“Killed by nameless goons in a cafeteria…fuck that shit. If I’m ever going down, it better be epic as all hell!” exclaimed Johannes before he bit down on the ribs he collected, chewing through both bones and meat at a rapid pace. His delight was shown clearly as he kept eating away on his food, burping and wiping his mouth with his hand for every piece.
In front of Syranon and Ryo, the sound of someone breathing out was heard as the strong smell of tobacco was felt. Syranon coughed a bit as Ryo barely reacted, having smoked for many years of her life. An excited, but short laugh was released by the man sitting in front of them. As he was smoking his Cuban cigar, he wore a big grin on his face as he pulled out a bar of silver and a bar of lead.
“Wow! Now THAT was some tense shit right there! I always love those moments when you never know if a motherfucker is going to pull the trigger over what some guy said. Never get tired of it.” he stated before adjusting his brown pilot glasses and stroking his hair back. He took another puff from his cigar before blowing out some smoke in the air above him.
“Do you really have to smoke that here, Escobar? I’m a bit sensitive to that stuff.” complained Syranon as the Latin-American man took another deep puff before letting loose another thick cloud of grey smoke.
“Yes.” stated Escobar as bluntly as possible before he leaned back in his seat. He then looked over the bar of silver and lead that he had carried with him. The paladin would have to endure the smell that was sadly uncomfortable for his animalistic senses.
“So like I said before the guy in desperate need of a tan showed up, I think the three of us could make some good business if we find a way to keep our worlds in contact. Just think about it. All the guns and contacts that you guys have along with my guys. This is big money we’re talking about here. What do you say?“ he continued, visibly annoying Ryo in the process.
“And as we stated before: no. We have no interest in the drug business or your bribery rings. All we want is to find a way back home.” answered Ryo as she began to eat some fried vegetables from her plate.
Escobar rolled his eyes before placing his hands against the silver bar that he had in front of him, touching the rare metal for only a second. When he pulled away just a second later, one could see that there were two holes in the bar, taking the shape of a knife and a fork. In the hands of the gangster were now one silver dinner knife and fork, both in the same shape as the holes in the silver bar. Both Ryo and Syranon were taken slightly by surprise because of this quick and masterful manipulation of solid matter as Escobar kept eating his meal after putting his cigar aside.
“Fine! Suit yourselves.” he said while chewing on a piece of boiled potato. Unbeknownst to him, Johannes had taken notice of this power that Escobar possessed, putting a piece of fish aside.
“Hey, that was pretty awesome! What else can you do?” asked Johannes as he seemed more amazed at this than Ryo or Syranon. Escobar turned his head to the death knight in response, giving him a smile that was simply shining with pride.
“Glad you asked, man!”
Escobar placed the knife and fork on his table as he then touched the heavy bar of lead. In an instance, he pulled out a revolver from the solid metal, spinning it around and even showing the separate bullets inside the cylinder. With one rapid spin, the revolver turned into a small 9mm handgun. For a moment, Johannes looked like a happy kid watching a magic show, never taking his eyes off Escobar. After pulling out a magazine from the gun, he placed the firearm to the side and turned the bullets and clip into an icepick. He then jammed the icepick of lead into the lead gun, the metal fused with the pick, turning both of them into a bowie knife in less than a second. Johannes made a small applause as Escobar made a bow.
“Now turn this table into a car!” requested Johannes right before Escobar slammed the bowie knife into the remaining lead, making the bar whole again.
“Sorry, esse. I can only control silver and lead. The favorite metals of any gangster!” he said before raising his hands above his shoulders. Johannes made a disappointed groan as he kept eating. Ryo raised an eyebrow at, feeling suspicious at what she had just witnessed.
“Are you sure that any of those things you made are any functional?” she asked, making the gangster slide down his pilot glasses slightly.
“Baby, please. Here. Look through this one if you don’t believe me!”
Escobar turned part of the lead bar into a 9mm handgun again, handing it to Ryo. She took it from him with caution before slowly picking it apart. As she did so, the champions could hear a chair on the furthest corner of the bronze table move to the side. As they looked over, they saw a very pale, blue-haired woman with a couple of flexible steel pipes come out of her back and arms. She wore golden bracelets on her feet, a pair of dull green shorts and a cropped tube top with the same color. Her forearms looked like a big machine consisting of a large tube, sharp claws for fingers and a purple crystal on the palm. She didn’t say a word as she simply sat down, holding onto what looked like a rubber duck. She seemed to be focused on nothing else but her toy as the others gave her a strange look. Syranon scratched his left ear after a moment of silence, approaching her.
“Hi there. I’m guessing you’re one of the champions too, right?” he said politely, but recived no answer. He was quiet for some time before reaching out his right hand to her, wearing a kind smile.
“My name is Syranon Glaed. What’s yours?”
Almost a minute passed until the woman even looked at the paladin, wearing a rather dead expression on her face.
With those robotic and monotone words, she turned her attention back to the rubber duck, almost acting as if it the beastman had disappeared.
“Oh…kay…just… just tell me if you need something. I’ll try to be of help in any way I can.” said Syranon before slowly walking backwards to his own seat. Once again, silence claimed the table for another long moment.
“…She’s hot.” stated the undead warrior suddenly, breaking the silence as the three people before her gave him a questioning look. Johannes began to look back and forth between all of them in a defensive and offended manner.
“What? WHAT?! Don’t judge me, assholes! You know I’m right!”
Before his tirade could continue, Escobar moved a bit closer to Johannes, whispering in his ear.
“Trust me, homes. Crazy silent chicks might be awesome in bed, but you will regret meeting them in the long run. And this one looks like an emo terminator as well, man! Take it from one who knows.” Escobar warned silently as Johannes just ignored his warning.
“I’m going to hit that sooner or later! Just you watch!”
Suddenly, something crashed onto the seat next to Syranon with great force from above, startling the 5 champions at the table. As they instinctively pulled out their weapons, they were met with the source of the surprising movement: Lizzy Strong, holding onto her long metal rod along with a big tray of different fruits. She grinned at the champions before placing the tray on the table, standing on the table between Syranon and Sorrow.
“Guess you’re the champions that the boring guy on the TV talked about! No worries, people! You’re safe for the intro round with me around! Lizzy Strong, best treasure hunter in the world, quickest thief in the land and most beautiful woman around!” she said boastfully with great confidence and pride as she held up her weapon for the day, letting out a triumphant laugh in the process.
The other combatants around the bronze table simply stared at her in confusion, except for Sorrow who simply turned her attention to the rubber duck the moment that she realized that the thief was of no harm for the moment. The champions slowly put their weapons back as they resumed their eating. Johannes, however, kept looking back and forth between Lizzy and Sorrow as he was putting a hand on his chin.
“Hmmm…robot-girl…or monkey-babe… Ah shit, this is going to be a tough choice…” thought the death knight for himself as perverted thoughts were flooding his ill mind.
As the impact of her grandiose entrance was short lived, the monkey-girl was quickly getting bored. Lizzy still stood on the table for a few more seconds before she looked at Syranon, noticing how the young beastman was almost done with his food. A soft and sly smile crept up on her face as she suddenly had an idea spring to mind.
“Let’s see if I still know how to pull this off.”
She slowly moved off the table as the end of her tail stroked the chin of Syranon in order to grab the attention of the naïve paladin. The soft sensation made the paladin look at Lizzy who now stood next to him, meeting the seductive and sweet smile of the strong monkey girl. Her crimson eyes gazed deeply into his grass green ones as she placed one foot before the other, moving her hip to the side. She leaned closer to his face, noticing that he was getting flustered by her flirtatious wiles.
“So…who might this noble knight be?” she asked as her tail easily snaked behind his back before coiling around his leg softly and playfully.
Syranon’s eyes grew wide as a bead of sweat escaped his forehead. He was used to affection from fans, but nothing of this sort. His heart began to pound like a sledgehammer against the anvil that was his chest at the sound of her alluring voice and at the heat of her warm breath. Trying to regain his composure, the young beastman tried to politely look away and put his head on other thoughts, standing up as he did so. He then noticed her tail around his right thigh, making him blush a bit.
“W-well…errrm…I’m S-Syranon Glaed…nice to meet you…Miss Strong…” he said in a shaky voice. He didn’t want to reject her outright, but he had little experience with these kinds of situations.
As he looked to his side, he felt her hand easily guide his eyes back to hers by pushing on his soft cheek. She placed one of her legs next to his waist before pressing her breasts against his torso, smiling a bit wider as the paladin’s heart almost stopped from this. During this, Johannes was seen holding onto the bronze table hard as he gave the paladin an envious glare, causing deep dents in it with the help of his fingers alone. Ryo stopped dismantling the lead gun from the gangster before she pulled out her own gun, wanting to be sure that this was no trap. Escobar on the other hand simply placed his feet on the table as he leaned back, watching Lizzy play around with Syranon.
“You know… I have always wondered what a night spent with someone like you would be like… I’m sure that it would be unforgettable.” said Lizzy in an alluring manner.
Her face moved closer to his as her arms moved behind her back in order to keep him close to her in a firm, yet comfortable grip. They blind of Johannes began to twitch as Syranon felt like he was in an unescapable situation, feeling his entire body sweat.
“L…Lizzy…I…I already…have someone el-“
He was unable to finish his sentence as the monkey girl placed her right index finger on his lips, silencing him in an almost magical way.
“Shh…it’s ok…she doesn’t need to know.”
With those words, Lizzy closed her eyelids softly before moved her head closer, shortening the already short distance between them. She puckered her lips a bit as it seemed she was reaching in for a kiss. The beastman was nearly frozen, as he tried to take a step back, but couldn’t move away thanks to the tail moving around his leg.
“M-Miss Strong! I-I can’t d-“
Without any form of warning, he felt how the grip around his back clenched around him hard, causing pain. He had no time to react as Lizzy then arched her back instantly, throwing the paladin over her head with a belly-to-belly suplex. He was launched a few meters away before landing on his back against the floor, letting out a pained gasp due to nearly breaking his back in the process. Lizzy stood up with a big grin on her face as both Escobar and Johannes couldn’t help but to laugh out loudly. Ryo took a sigh as she walked over to Syranon, trying to help him up.
“Yep. Still got it!” stated Lizzy proudly before returning to her seat, munching down on a big green pear.
“You need to be a bit more careful, kid…” said Ryo before pulling up the paladin, pulling his arm over her shoulder. Syranon felt embarrassed that he fell for the trick from the monkey girl, but he was at least happy that it was nothing that would have killed him.
“Y-yea…I’ll keep that in mind…”
“Saw that shit coming a mile away, boy. Some of my enemy’s girls always try that shit to my guys, just with more knifes and less wrestling. Hell, I even lost a kidney that way. Worth it, though!” explained Escobar before finishing his meal and pulling up his cigar again and lighting with his lighter.
The 6 people at the bronze table continued to eat for a few more minutes, trying to gather their strength for the upcoming battle. They had not gotten an exact time to when it would happen, but they had a feeling it could be soon. As time passed, they could hear two people approaching them from a distance, conversing about something.
“…which is why you need to join our battle against this patriarchic agenda, sister.” said a young voice from a distance, belonging to a woman. What followed was a groan, coming from a feminine, yet noticeably deeper voice.
“Look…Xanthe…I have told you at least 20 times now and you have been speaking for two hours now. This patri…whatever you call it, may be a concern where you live. It may be a concern in this world too. But it is of no concern of mine or my home world. This Sisterhood that you speak of is of little interest to me, nor is it of any importance to our situation. Can we please change the subject?” pleaded the other voice.
The 6 champions at the bronze table turned their heads to the direction of the voice, noticing two people near them. The first one was a short girl wearing sunglasses and a helmet. She had a blond ponytail as she held onto a baseball bat. The other woman was a 7 foot tall Viking who was covered fully in Nordic armor from head to toe, including a helmet that covered everything but the eyes and her mouth. In her hands were a brown Viking shield and a long steel sword with the inscription of “+ULFBERH+T” etched into the shiny blade. Her long ginger hair was braided into thick pigtails, showing signs of damage in different places. She sat down near the table, holding a tray filled with fish. The smaller woman had picked no food and didn’t seat herself.
“Good day, fellow warriors. You must be the champions for the upcoming battle.” said the Viking as she removed her helmet, revealing her brown eyes and her blue markings.
She reached a hand out to Ryo, who had just dismantled the lead gun from Escobar. It was shown that the weapon from the gangster really was a functional weapon. The demon hunter turned her attention towards the Viking, grabbing her hand carefully. She had a strong grip, further enhanced by the metal and thick leather on her gloves.
“My name is Annika Lundadotter. It will be an honor to fight by your sides.” she said with a kind smile. The demon hunter gave a respectful nod towards the Norse warrior. It was strange for the champions to meet a Viking like her, but considering what they had to face, some had a feeling that it was only going to get crazier from here.
“Syranon Glaed.” said the paladin as he made a small bow.
“Johannes Svartsvard. But you can call me God.” boasted the death knight before eating the last rib on his plate.
“Escobar.” stated the drug lord after blowing another cloud of fumes from his cigar.
“The name’s Lizzy Strong.”
The only ones who said nothing were Sorrow and the girl with sunglasses. Sorrow still looked on her rubber duck as the girl in shades simply gave Syranon a judging look, making the paladin feel nervous. He scratched his hair a bit before looking to Ryo for a moment. His attention then turned back to the one staring coldly at him.
“So…what’s your name?” asked Syranon kindly as he reached a hand out to her.
“None of your business, dudebro!” she said before slapping the hand away.
With that answer, the beastman’s gentle smile turned into a worried and confused expression. Was it something he said or did? He didn’t know why someone he just met would be so quick to judge him. Annika rolled her eyes before giving the paladin a reassuring but hard pat on the back, causing Syranon some discomfort on his already sore back.
“Her name is Xanthe Justice. And don’t feel guilty for an unknown crime, young one. Hopefully she will like you in time.” said the Norse woman. The cold gaze of Xanthe turned towards Annika for a few seconds as she took a step closer.
“There are no male allies, Annika! I’ve already told you why! Just ditch him before he betrays you, like all men does!” said Xanthe, making the paladin feel a bit hurt inside.
“Well…I’m sorry if I offended you somehow…I just wanted to get to kno-“
“You wanted to know how you could hurt me the best. It’s what your kind does!” interrupted Xanthe, further spurning the innocent Syranon. Ryo placed a hand on her forehead as Lizzy moved a bit further away from Xanthe.
“Oh great…you’re one of those…” lamented the demon hunter, catching the attention of the fanatical man-hater. In her own universe, Xanthe had always managed to find a way to get any woman on her side, human or not. The fact that the two she had met so far didn’t listen to her was something that bothered her greatly.
“You don’t believe me, sister?”
This question made Ryo shake her head before she got up from her seat, looking down on her supposed ally.
“First of all: don’t call me ‘sister’. It sounds weird. Second: why should I trust some ungrateful brat over a close friend who I have known for years?” asked the demon hunter.
“Because it’s in the nature of every man to oppress wom-“
“Blab bla bla, kill all men, guys are evil, I’m right, you’re brainwashed, nudity is dictatorship, cleavages are sexist, hot women are slaves, models are traitors, all hail the vag, burn the cock and Jesus god damn Christ, JUST SHUT THE FUCK UP!” shouted Johannes loudly, his cursing echoing in the food hall before he threw his chair to the side, silencing Xanthe instantly. However, she was not startled in the slightest as she looked at the death knight, giving him a nod of approval. It was uncertain for the others if she was agreeing with him or if she was being sarcastic.
“Seems you have studied our cause. But tell me if yo-“
The pale undead slammed his fists into the bronze table, causing two deep dents in it along with a loud crashing noise that was heard through the entire food hall. A burning projectile was seen in his hands, a tormented Bolt, as he prepared to throw it against her face.
It seemed as if Johannes was about to throw the bolt against her, but he then stopped himself. He looked around himself, noticing some the guards in the distance closing in on him. He closed his eyes before taking a deep breath, making the Tormented Bolt disappear. The undead knight then slowly moved towards his, taking a deep breath as his eyes were red from the veins exposed by his anger. Xanthe didn’t even flinch at the outburst from the undead warrior.
“Ok…ok… I’ll calm down for now…fucking guards…”
The only sound that was heard for some time was the bickering of gladiators as the champions sat still. The sudden outbursts from Johannes has made them more cautious towards him. To break the ice between them, Syranon broke the silence by clearing his throat a bit.
“So…how did you guys get here?” asked the paladin kindly towards his allies. He was met with a smile from Annika who showed him her blade.
“Glad you asked, furred one. My imprisonment to this land began when I was out in the cold shores of Birka, selling bear hides and hog meat to fellow merchants from Viking lands. Suddenly, this strange and thin creature, not any taller than a dwarf, came and stole some of the hides before running away. It managed to avoid any of the people trying to catch it, but I still kept chasing it towards the nearby forest. Though I had no intentions of harming it, I still wanted my wares back. I pulled out the sword given to me by my parents before a bright light was emitted from the creature. After being blinded and stunned by this magic, I woke up in a mighty hall, fitting to any Norse. Some magical images in a box of metal then told me to get out here and that is when I met Xanthe here.” she explained before drinking from a cup of mead.
The others seemed to be intrigued by the mention of a small creature, even Sorrow who stopped looking at her rubber duck, holding it in her hand before turning towards the Annika.
“Small creature? Orange skin? One grey horn? Skinny and about this high?” wondered Xanthe as she Viking turned to her again.
“Yes. How come, miss Justice?” said Annika as she looked down on her.
The blonde girl scratched her chin before looking up on the ceiling.
“Hmm…the minions of dudebros are becoming more diverse. Need to take notes. Sounds like the creature that brought me here after sneaking into the Women-only Space and making me chase it out…”
Escobar rolled his eyes before placing his cigar aside.
“Ok, the fuck is a ‘dudebro’? Sounds more like a compliment than an insult to me. Anyway, I found a weirdo like that too before I got here. Motherfucker stole two bags of cocaine from my villa and I chased him by car into an alleyway. Blew that punta’s brains out before shit got all white. I passed out like a party gone bad before I woke up in a sweet-ass suite before this UGLY fucking diablo on the TV said I’m a gladiator all of a sudden. Can you believe that shit? Guess the same goes for you guys too, huh?” told Escobar before leaning back in his seat and looking at Ryo with a smirk.
“What about you, chica?” he said, raising his eyebrows up a bit. It was clear that he was coming onto her, but Ryo decided to ignore it for now.
“Like we said before, Escobar. A similar creature to one you’re describing stole documents, making me and Syranon chase it. We cornered it and we ended up here thanks to a stunning and bright light. We suspect that the demon calling himself Talius Buck is behind this, considering how he wants us in this Deadgold Arena. Same thing for the rest of you?” said Ryo as the others nodded.
“Yea. I had just gotten a new horse wagon before one of those little shits broke it. Tore his ass in half before I ended up here. But hey, I’m not complaining! Now I get to be a gladiator! Finally! Getting money and fans for kicking ass! And the bitches! Don’t forget the bitches!” boasted Johannes as he let out a cartoonish evil laugh.
“True that, homes!” exclaimed Escobar, giving the death knight a big high five.
“Hell yea! I like this guy already!”
Escobar handed Johannes a cigar, lighting it for him as the undead warrior blew a big cloud of smoke. The two of them began to converse in private, moving away from the bronze table as Xanthe kept giving them a mean look, a stare that was ultimately unnoticed by Escobar and Johannes.
“Right…you saw this thing too, Miss Lizzy?” asked Syranon once the less law-abiding champions had built some distance between the rest of them.
“I’ll keep it short. Short guy stole the treasure I found. I chased him and then ended up here. So yea.” stated Lizzy bluntly before finishing her food. The attention of the paladin then turned to Sorrow, giving her a kind smile.
“And your story, Miss Sorrow?”
The cyborg was dead silent for a while, simply staring at the paladin with her dead eyes. Suddenly, her sharp fingers retracted into the tube machinery that made up her right hand. The fingers came out after 3 seconds again, but this time holding onto a piece of burned bones. It looked like a small and charred spine, making Syranon take a step back for safety’s sake.
“…It stole my rubber duck…died slowly…”
“Well…Good to know…I…I guess…” said the beastman as he carefully walked back to Ryo.
All the champions besides Xanthe Justice, Johannes Svartsvard and Escobar sat on the bronze table for a bit longer, finishing their meals and conversing with each other. Without a moments notice, a loud horn-like sound could be heard from loudspeakers, catching the attention of everyone in the food hall. The sore and crow-like voice of something inhuman began to speak through the sound system.
“Attention, champions and gladiators! The introduction battle will begin in 45 minutes! I repeat: The introduction battle will begin in 45 minutes. Return to your chambers to prepare. Guards will escort you towards the battlefield at the last minute. Good luck!”
It was now time. The first bloodshed would begin soon. Most of the gladiators moved towards their collective living quarters as guards pushed in the less obedient ones into line. The staff members were going another way as the champions had their own rooms to go to. Annika looked over the champions at the table, putting on her helmet before giving them a nod and a smile.
“I hope that the gods are on our side for this struggle. Fight well.” she said, making a salute with her blade before walking away. Xanthe followed her shortly only to continue her rant about her hatred towards men, much to the dismay of Annika.
“Time to kick some major ass, Escobar!” said Johannes before laughing along with his new companion.
“Damn right, man! Let’s give ‘em a show to remember!” exclaimed the drug lord, bumping fists with the death knight before they both went their separate ways.
Sorrow walked away, holding her plastic toy without saying a word. Lizzy on the other hand showed up behind Syranon, poking his hip with her own before giving him a teasing wink.
“See you there, pretty boy. Don’t let me down!” she said before blowing him a kiss as she leaped towards her own suite. Though she felt no attraction towards him, she still thought it was fun to tease others, especially one as easily flustered as Syranon.
The paladin looked away, unable to hide his blush from his friend, Ryo.
“Come on, kid. We need to get ready. So how is that back treating you?” Ryo asked as she noticed Syranon walking a bit slower than usual.
“Oh, it’s ok. I can heal it in a few seconds.” reassured the paladin as he gave his friend a soft smile.
“Ok, then. Take care. I’ll do my best to keep you alive.” said Ryo before she walked back to her room.
“Thanks. I’ll return the favor, Ryo!” responded Syranon.
The beastman was for a moment standing alone in the now empty food hall, void of anyone but himself. He took a deep breath as he looked around. Though he felt like he could count on most of the fellow champions for the introduction battle, he had no idea what was in store for later fights. He didn’t even know how far the trust would last, considering how some of them seemed rather happy about their situation while some even despised him. Though he didn’t plan on killing anyone of his allies, he simply hoped he wouldn’t be in a situation where that would become inescapable.