Fighters of the Southern Pits

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Michelle the Editor, Jul 2, 2015.

  1. Dawn was just coloring the sky when the arena started to fill up. Deep shadows still hung over the wooden seats, and the tawny sand inside the arena looked dark brown, the color of dried blood. Voices started to echo around the arena, both the hum of the audience speaking in low voices and the shouts of the handlers and slaves preparing for the fight. Bookies had already started collecting bets on who would survive the day's combat.

    The tunnels and cells beneath the galleries bustled with life. Handlers shouting everyone into line, cracking whips occasionally to motivate the slow ones; slaves helping to suit up the fighters or run errands; animals of various shapes and sizes rousing and rumbling in protest at being awoken so early.

    Nearly all of the ones shouting orders were like the audience outside: human. Most of the slaves and the fighters were not. Fur, feathers and scales were all in abundance, varying from almost human but for a few features, to barely different from the caged animals nearby.

    A leonine mountain of a man was standing in the nearest cell to the arena, arms raised as a slave laced up his breastplate. His owner, a richly-dressed woman, was standing in the passage, talking to some of the other slaveowners.

    "...Tagga's never been defeated, I'd put him up against ten fighters if I could find that many handlers willing to lose that many slaves." She chuckled and the others echoed it politely.

    "He's never faced an aquatic before, I think my Nagach may put up a challenge," a man said, gesturing towards a blue-green creature going through a warmup drill with a trident.

    Tagga's owner smirked. "Your Nagach can't even fight in broad daylight, dear Oraculus."

    As Oraculus started to respond, a slave dashed up the passage, carrying a bucket of something foul-smelling. He tried to slip around the group, but tripped and fell, splattering everyone with greyish goop. The rich handlers let out shouts of alarm and anger, recoiling from the slave.

    "I'm sorry," he said, scrambling backwards. "I didn't mean to--"

    Tagga's owner, eyes smoldering, raised her voice. "Tagga?"

    The leonine creature's head snapped around to look at her. The slave shrank back, terrified. At a signal from his owner, Tagga leaped through the open door of his cell. The slave barely had time to scream before he was dead, bleeding from a wound across his throat and chest.

    As if nothing had happened, Tagga went back into his cell and stood still so his startled helper could finish. Gathering up her stained skirts, Tagga's owner stepped around the dead body and headed out, muttering something about how much this dress was worth. The others drifted apart, avoiding the corpse.

    Eventually one of the other slaves, a skinny young man with the thick, rudderlike tail, webbed digits and small ears of an otter, stopped in the passage and grabbed the dead body. He shook his head.

    "Running in the tunnels isn't a problem, you said, you'd rather get there in time than beaten for being a few seconds late, you said. Now look at you. You're dead. Nobody listens to me."

    With a sigh, he started dragging the body away.
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  2. Sudden commotion across the preparation area snapped the female's attention like a whip's crack. By time her eyes found what her ears caught first the dust and loose dirt of the floors was still rising as the body hit the floor with a sound too familiar to be comforting.

    "Would ya' look'it that." Tharsus Owensson whistled out as he stood feet from the cage Nal stood in.

    While neutrality remained on her face as he spoke of the coming bouts, who was to fight what, and when her battle was to happen her mind wandered the room like a caged animal. The irony was palpable.

    "Ou!" Iron bars slammed loudly as a metal stick hit them to garner her attention. "Quit staring and get dressed."

    More dirt plumed as the wrapped satchel hit her cages floor. Though not completely nude her groin and chest was covered with the bare minimum to be considered decent by more of the 'sophisticated' owners. Inside its bindings could barely be considered protection.

    Thick leather formed into plates covered much of her lean legs while the same went upon shoulders. There was no visible irrigation that her stomach lay open as well as her groin, this was the normal, but still the growl that vibrated within her ribs made a passerby or two pause.

    Outside the crowd laughed and jeered. Opening acts of deformed folk play-fought and made it an act. Throwing fruit juice like blood where soon the real thing would be spattering the sand. It was all a mockery to get them ruled up for the main events.

    "You there! Fish-rat!" The aging man called as the youth pulled the corpse past Nal's holding.

    "Get in here and secure my fighters armor. If she missed a strap it could fall off. Leather isn't cheap!" A heavy iron rod slid from its door to allow him in.
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  3. Osethy dropped the dead body; the limbs flopped almost comically as it hit the sand. He apologized mentally to the dead guy whose name escaped him for the moment. He mentally apologized for that too. He avoided eye contact with the old man, knowing that he was scowling and unable to help himself. These handlers and owners were so full of themselves. Heaven forbid he wait five seconds for another slave who wasn't busy to appear. Then again dead slaves were useless garbage, and garbage could wait to be taken out.

    "Yes sir," he said, and entered the cell. He didn't recognize the female fighter, so he did as usual around unfamiliar warriors and avoided eye contact with her as well. Anything that might be mistaken for a challenge was dangerous. Tagga's victim was not going to be the last slave to die today, inside the arena or out.

    Reaching the woman's side he started checking the straps, moving with businesslike efficiency. She didn't seem to be a talker. Nor was whatever-she-was very common around here; he couldn't recall seeing any other fighter quite like her. Probably from the north, judging by how thick her fur was. That was going to be a disadvantage; he could already tell it was going to be a bright, hot day.

    "Wouldn't want to be you today," he muttered under his breath.
  4. This step had been done a hundred times before. Each strap that held firm the excuse for armor to muscled limbs had to be tight lest it snag on something or simply come undone. Each time she hated allowing someone new near her vulnerable backside.

    A low rumbling growl had turned into a hissing snarl as one strap cinched a little too tightly, pulling a tuft of fur with it. Though remaining still it was apparent that movement was something she was fighting.

    His comment bit harder than normally allowed. The roar that crept from her throat like bike was silenced just as it left her lips by a swift snap of sharp leather on her calf.

    "Mind your manners, she-bitch." Tharsus howled as he raised he weapon for another blow to cow her aggression. "Save it for the fight! Got money on this.." Just how much was unknown.

    "And you." The whip didn't snap again on the slave. After all they weren't his to discipline. "Mind your tongue. Her ears are sharper than knives.."

    A call for roster last checks drew the man away in a hurry, eager to spend his last coins on a growing pot.

    "You would never want to be me.." Nal's voice was strained but bold as her eyes lingered on what could very likely be prey. A heavy breath escaping her lungs wiped away her tension as a palm rose to touch the handler atop the head, an idle gesture.
  5. The female fighter was tense, muscles taut. Osethy, too focused on getting the job done and getting out of there, didn't notice anything wrong until she snarled--then almost roared. Automatically he jumped back to get out of reach, but before she could do anything her owner was there with his whip. Osethy realized what a close call that had been for him, and swallowed hard. He nodded slowly.

    At the woman's words, Osethy started and looked back at her. He didn't like the way she was eyeing him, but the words and tone weren't as aggressive. It didn't sound like a challenge. Her owner had taken the fight out of her--or she'd withdrawn. More control than far too many of the fighters here. Their owners fostered aggression, so long as it wasn't turned towards humans.

    "No. I guess not. Sorry," he said, straightening again. "I talk too much. Don't know how I'm still alive, honestly."
  6. With the quiet pomf of a falling limb the female's arm dropped back to her side when the strange slave kept their distance. She could not give them honest blame, were it not for her own physique and demeanor this would be the last place to make a mistake. For a moment half-lidded eyes turned to the body on the floor outside her cage. Feral features made it hard to gauge the particular emotion, perhaps pity?

    The whips lash had opened a small wound upon the bare flesh at the small of Nal's back, turning white fur a dark red before it would begin to clot in a minute or so. "You should hurry." The roar above, muffled by sand and stone along with the moving of fighters was evidence enough that the time had begun to draw near once more. "Before they give your friend to the wild things."

    Before the chance to ask a question to the little male whose body was made for water could leave her lips the entire cage gave a mighty rattle. It's edges rising and falling with small whirlwinds of dust from the floor as handlers struggled to reel in the heavily armored beast. Or was that a flicker of sentient hate behind its visor covered eyes?

    A great cheering whoop came not a moment after things had gone (relatively) quiet. "Look'it him!" Nal's owner had returned with a greedy gleam. "That's your opponent!"

    The idle swishing of her tail quickly ceased.
  7. Osethy saw the female fighter look out at the dead body. He couldn't read her expression, which itself was rather odd considering how most fighters tended to wear their emotions on their sleeve. Unless they concealed them entirely; Tagga for one had the same expression all the time, just with varying levels of strain.

    At her words he paused, taken off guard. There was a very definite hierarchy in the pits, and the only things lower than errand slaves were dead errand slaves. Fighters were near the top and they rarely acknowledged anything lower. He gave his head a slight shake and started on the last few straps, moving more carefully this time.

    "He's not my friend, I don't even know his name," he said.

    As he finished, but before he could tell her that he had, the ground trembled and the handlers appeared, hauling in a struggling monster. Osethy had glimpsed it a few times in passing--he'd made a point to stay well out of its reach--and still wasn't sure whether or not it was sentient or not. He had a nasty feeling it was sentient but so blood-crazed it had lost its sanity. Wouldn't have been the first time. Some handlers were incredibly cruel.

    "Done," he said, stepping away from the female fighter.
  8. The job already done on the straps had been sufficient enough to allow hardly any extra tightening. There was familiarity with the weathered gear that provided such minimal yet necessary protection. For the time he was tending to it she didn't look away from him, half-turning just to keep the strange new male in view.

    It was the least Nal could do without having to look across the dim room to see the thing she was meant to fight giving up its struggle. "Someone told it ya' were its opponent and it couldn't even wait to get into the ring!" Why her owner was more excited about her opponent than her usual victory was perplexing the fighter, even worrying.

    "Tha-" "Alright, rat get outta here before she decides to gut you!" All it took was a single glance at the man's white knuckled grip on that cured leather rope to silence the fighter. Despite her bestial looks there was gratitude painted there without a smile.

    Above the crowd roared and minutes later the gate opened and in they drug one of the fighters with a trail of colored ichor trailing from a bloody stump. Had it not been for the groans and shallow breath one might mistake them for another corpse. Hoots, hollers, roars, and inhuman cries sounded across the preparation area as adrenaline pumped through rapidly beating hearts in anticipation.

    With little else to do but wait the fighter began an idle grooming process. Pulling tufts of fur from beneath straps and raking fingers tipped with sharp claws through what accounted for her hair, the thick mane that ran down to her plush tail.


    "It doesn't need to know yor name you ugly mongrel." The owner, Tharsus, snapped quickly as a booted foot came up to expedite the fisher-folk away. Too slow to connect but the message was clear as his fighter continued their ritual.
  9. Osethy didn't really have much work to do; the female fighter had dressed herself almost perfectly. He was aware of her eyes on him but he tried not to make eye contact. Again, might be seen as a challenge, even with her owner right there. Then again, the man didn't seem to care about her that much. He did finally look up as she started to speak, and felt surprise at the look on her face. Gratitude? He'd seen it so rarely he couldn't be quite sure it was there. He backed up, if only to make her owner happy.

    The one-syllable word took Osethy off-guard, but the owner's response told him what she'd done. Although he was usually good at avoiding blows the owner's boot got him right in the mid-back, shoving him out of the cage with a grunt. He hesitated again, picking himself up, then spoke in a low voice.


    Before the owner could do worse than kick him, he hurried away, grabbing the body of the dead slave to drag it away. He wondered suddenly if that was why Nal had told him her name. So that if she ended up in this slave's position he could at least know her name. That was a scary thought, and one that didn't bode well. Fearing you were going to lose could make a fighter more cautious, but the crowd could sense fear and they were vicious to any perceived cowards.
  10. Men built like mountains clad in armored mail and plate rattled as they carried chains to bring her to the pit above. Only two were needed to lead her out compared to the dozen for her opponent who yanked and struggled against their bonds. If her people could sweat Nal would be drenched while seeing the slave haul away the one who's name even they didn't know.

    Cold dread had to be killed early as she was lead into the daylight above. Blinded for a few moments before keeping her eyes half-lidded until they're adjusted. Men and women cheered, booed, and bawked as a blade shorter than her forearm was placed in her hand with a spear half her height in the other as the chains fell free.

    Across the pit the enemy had a club that could have been a tree in their grasp. Swinging it wildly and slamming it against the ground with enough force to rattle her teeth through the ground itself. All it did was serve to rile the crowd up even further. They were loving it.

    As the horn blew to begin and it began it's murderous charge
    Nal touched the edge of her sword as icy tendrils of instinctual ran like lightning through her.

    They'd given her dull weapons..
  11. Osethy's trip was brief; a handler stopped him and sent him and his burden towards the deep, covered pit used as a mass grave for the fallen. Osethy lowered the body as far as he could before dropping it into the darkness, then pulled the cover back over. He could feel the arena trembling with the noise and shouting of the audience. The next fight was beginning.

    Osethy turned back and headed for the ring. He knew it was risky to just stop and watch the fight, but he wanted to see what would happen to Nal. He already had a bad feeling about the way this fight had been set up; it was still morning so it wouldn't be terribly hot, but her opponent was massive and berserk.

    Reaching one of the entrances to the arena, Osethy looked out at the sunlit arena. The monster was already charging towards Nal. Even without any combat experience of his own, Osethy did not like the look of her weapons. Something was wrong here. Osethy felt a hot burst of anger that surprised him. This wasn't fair. If only he could slip her better weapons...

    "What am I thinking?" He said. "I can't--"
  12. The sword was nigh useless to even consider using against the rampaging thing before her. With foam flying from its mouth she could smell the herbs they made it eat when her cafe shook, pungent things meant to dull pain and make anger flare. As if it couldn't get any harder..

    Though Nal was still large compared to a human her opponent was larger still. It's club, swung like a tree in a storm, ripped up pieces of hardened sand from the floor as it came to a jarring stop right where her padded feet had been moments before. Agility was on her side, that was about it as the next arc came without pause.

    To try and block was suicide, a parry would be a death wish. Only avoiding the blows kept Nal alive.

    Each swing brought gasps and cheers. Each miss more booing than the last. Money changed hands now more than ever as scales tipped in favor of brutality and force than the savage grace Nal had learned through a life of killing. One bellowing roar that made ribs vibrate and dwarfed the crowds fervor was met with another of desperation and anger. In the area reserved for the fighters owners Tharsus grinned with glee.

    To say her opponent was stupid would be folly. A beast he may have been made into but still sentience flickered behind bloodied eyes. Her mistake was ducking below a wide swing to catch a fist wrapped in iron bands come from below.

    Tossed like a child's toy there was no graceful landing to make the crowd gawk. Only wince and cringe as she rose once more with the spear head broken off.

    The next few seconds were what put the nail in at least one coffin. Inside his swinging arc it had no choice but to try and keep moving forward even as she curved and slid her way around.

    One thing the crowd does not like is swift endings. They want it drug out, but not much.

    The silence that came over many as Nal earned her surname once more could be sliced with a knife. Here broken spear was rammed clean through its leg, knee cap and sinew hung by threads of muscle as her teeth held firm to its armored back.

    Down he fell with groans of pain that drugs could do little to diminish. In came handlers and the wagon that had carried more corpses than a grave digger..
  13. Osethy watched intently as Nal avoided the monster's blows. She was quick, though that might not be enough in this fight. If she couldn't get any hits in, she'd tire out eventually, and the berserk fighter wasn't going to wear out before she did. The monster's back was to him now, but he saw Nal flung aside and winced. Was that it?

    Almost before he could register, Nal had counterattacked, and her opponent stopped as if he'd run into a wall. Osethy started, staring in the sudden silence. That...was impressive. The crowd didn't seem sure whether it felt the same way; they hadn't expected such an abrupt end to the battle.

    "Out of the way! What are you gawking at?" The voice made Osethy spin around, and he saw handlers dragging a cart towards him. The furthest shoved him aside to open the door, and Osethy quickly got out of the way. Back to work, now, before someone complained. Still, something about this whole battle seemed off to him. For whatever reason, Nal hadn't been supposed to win.
  14. More than once the opponent tried to stand up only to fall back with a heavy thud. Even the orators that whipped the crowd into a fervor, cheering fighter's names and causing a general contained riot, were quiet. If to judge the mood in the stadium it was to look at the owner's seats.

    Exactly how a few distinct members were missing..

    Nal had done what Nal had done best for the past decades. She had fought, fought well, accepted the chains back upon her wrists and ankles, and been led back into the preparation area to be commended for winning her owner money. Not so much this time.

    Tharsus Owensson was in an absolute frenzy the likes of which Nal had never seen. "Hold her!" His voice snapped like the whip that made Nal's ears fold for a moment. The next few minutes were something that many had witnessed but many fighters hoped would not become of them.

    On and on the man struck his fighter with a violence and fervor of a man possessed. When his hands grew painful and bloody knuckled he resorted to his whip, cracking it against her flank and back over and over. With a knife he cut the straps of her armor when the whip hit it once with a protective thud. Even her meager clothing was not spared, were it not for her strength he would've kicked her legs open just to strike her more tender parts. All the fighter could do was take it, trying to curl as tightly as her chained limbs would allow.

    When a guard finally subdued the man it was evident the damage had been done, innumerous cuts and scrapes littered her body, staining otherwise white fur an ugly red. "Come on now, boy!" A portly dwarf cried as he waddled over. Rings upon his fingers and more gold than a vault hung from his opulent clothing. "Let's talk you an' I.."

    With ears folded flat Nal could only catch bits of the conversation. Her victory had ruined her owner, having bet all of his assets upon an overwhelming opponent in a last ditch attempt to get out of debt. What they discussed was for his debts to be cleared in exchange for Nal as a fighter. The dwarf failed to mention he'd wipe the debt clean after the banks had their cleaning of his assets. After a while of the heated exchange Nal had sat up on the floor, chains still in two guard's hands.

    "'Gratulations, Nal.." The thick accent pronounced her name the same way as ball, not that she was capable of complaining. "Ya've got a new home.. You!" His finger shot towards Osethy through the small throng of captivated handlers, pausing to witness the spectacle with the other fighter's and owners as well. "Yer' takin' care o' her."
  15. Osethy had been rushing around, trying to look busy and avoid trouble, when he heard the shouting. It was sudden and startling after the eerie silence that had captured the arena. He wasn't the only one to notice; a pack of handlers and slaves had already started to fill the narrow passages by the time he turned back in that direction. Then he heard the whip cracks. It was an all-too-familiar noise, and he winced sympathetically at the sound. In suiting Nal up he'd noticed relatively few whip scars--though with her fur it was difficult to tell.

    He squeezed through the gaps in the crowd as the beating went on. And on. And on. He'd rarely seen an owner so furious, and he started to worry that the maddened man was going to kill her. Not that he could do much; from experience he knew that interference or resistance when an owner was in this kind of fury was a death sentence. So he just watched and hoped the man would run out of strength soon.

    Instead a creditor appeared, and Osethy's shoulders sank in relief. Nal was still breathing. Good. Served that idiot of an owner right, trying to sabotage her like that. It was selfish and stupid, but Osethy always liked seeing an owner get into desperate straits. They got so squirmy and temperamental in such minor situations.

    When Nal's new owner came forward, Osethy winced again. The dwarf was a regular, and not a particularly kind one. He stiffened as the man pointed him out, but hurried forward without complaint. Crouching beside Nal he scanned the injuries, touched her shoulder and said in a low voice, "I'll have to get you back to your cell to treat these. Can you walk?"

    He hoped she could; she was head and shoulders taller than him and had a lot more muscle.
  16. "My fighters get taken care of.. " There was promise and warning in a single spoken sentence as the dwarf gestured at the former owner who could look none the happier. His debt had been paid after all. What he'd not expected was to be drug out by the guards, the rules were absolute. No fighter, no admission.

    Unless you had the coin.

    Rather than manage spoken word all the beaten fighter could manage was a hiss of pain before a subdued whimper took it's place. It hurt so much more to make that noise than the myriad bruising and bleeding that had speckled the floor all around her. The grip on Osethy's shoulder was tight, clinging to him like a piece of floatsam after a shipwreck.

    Finally rising up there was no hiding her what designated her a female. Shame would come later that others had witnessed her like this, but for the time being as shaky limbs managed to hold up the bulk of her weight with tail tucked beneath her.

    "Escort them out." With a tabard different from the the pit's own guards the man grunted and thumped his spear on the ground before stepping before the strangest pair in the room.

    ((Last post before bed. You're so quick!))
  17. Osethy glimpsed the owner being led out before Nal responded--not with words, just a sound of pain and a hand gripping his shoulder. Ow, she still had her strength, that was something. Osethy tried not to stare at her as she stood up; her owner had stripped her in the beating. If Osethy had been wearing anything more than a short tunic himself he'd have tried to cover her up, but for now he just carefully wrapped an arm around her to support her. He tried not to put pressure on any of her bleeding stripes.

    He took a step forward, and stopped as Nal's new owner came forward.

    ((Okay, see you later tomorrow, I'll be busy in the morning. When I'm online I'm quick.))
  18. "The Master has private quarters for his fighters." The dark skinned guard rumbled with that deep southern accent. Another thump of the spear on the ground and upon his ankle he spun like on a pivot.

    "See to them." The portly man chided as the guard passed. "If so much as a single scratch gets infected it'll be your hide." Even though the whip made of what looked like pristine leather hung from his hip it was crack of his voice that the slaver relied upon. Fear meant respect, care meant adoration. A holy duo when it came to owning others like property. "An' if I catch ya' ogglin' her it'll be an eye!"

    Around the corner the guard gave a low chuckle as Nal tried to follow at a steady, if not shaky, walking pace. Had Osethy not been support it would have been difficult as she favored her right leg quite plainly. She knew it wasn't broken. A small blessing in an otherwise cursed existence.

    "The Master will see that you are fed and given.." From behind the visor he appraised the tall fighter. ".. Clothes.." A shrug followed as one corridor led down another and yet another. Above and around turns the sounds of the crowd rarely ceased, the inner workings of the pit did little to slow the gears oiled by bloodshed.
  19. Osethy kept pace with Nal, almost grateful she was moving so slowly because he doubted he'd have been able to keep up with her otherwise. He eyed the new owner carefully as he passed; at least the man wanted Nal treated well. Though he could only wonder what he planned on doing to her. That was the thing about owners, especially of fighters; kindness was a luxury, and more care usually meant they had a very specific and not very pleasant purpose for you.

    The guard's ogling was pretty obvious despite the visor. Osethy glared and considered calling him out. Normally he might have just done it, but he was aware of Nal leaning on him and didn't want to start a brawl with her in this shape. So as they passed a heap of torn clothes, ready to be torn into rags for bandages, he snagged one with his tail and took it in his hands. Awkwardly he reached around Nal to wrap it around her waist. His arms didn't really go that far.

    "Can you hold this?" He asked, glancing up at her.
  20. When her living crutch moved just a little to grab maker knows what Nal let slip a pained whimper as her weight shifted upon her favored leg. Quickly replaced by a growl to scold and possibly strike her only help it was silenced far faster than it had rose.

    Some seconds passed before Nal gave a quick nod to hold the cloth up as instructed. Such kindness was such a rare commodity that she was at a loss with how to handle it at first. The thank you that followed was quiet and subdued, almost wary that it may be heard and bring trouble down on them.

    It was nice to be covered at least a little. Even if it wasn't much more than normal it did the job well enough that it almost forget her still exposed chest.

    Their escort paused and appraised the change. Too absorbed in the duty to delve deeper into it there was a dismissing shrug. "We're almost there. Hurry up."

    At a door he paused and stood to the side to usher them in first. Rows of doors lined the hallway with a sconce flickering by each one.