Author note: So yea, I didn't go super in depth with the fight. Could argue I really didn't go into much depth at all with the fight as to what I could have done. But being what this game is, a sandbox hack and slash ARPG, I'd rather set up a fight and give juuuuuuuust enough info to spark the reader's imagination on how they would mold the sandbox to their ends. I'd rather focus on the characters more than the fights. Fights will happen, its a hack and slash game after all. However, I want to add my personal touch of character and, well, personality to the story. So feel free to comment and review and other stuff. Until next installment, thanks for stopping by :)

Chapter 12: Brutus, Lord Incarcerator

The sequence of events that occurred once they stepped inside the room were but a cohesive blur. A few steps in, the door behind them swung shut and locked itself. Then there was the distorted voice which sounded all too happy to greet them, like a butcher overly engrossed in his work. A chain hook barely missing between them forced a split. Catching a quick glimpse, Stryer now understood the injuries of the dead body just outside the door. But no sooner did he make that connection than did he have to move again to avoid impalement from spikes hidden in the floor.

The Warden, Brutus, stood a giant of a man like Hillock on the beach. However, Brutus was more monster than man unlike Hillock. Cauterized stumps wrapped in long chain were all that was left where hands should have been. Scarred yet bulging muscles were spotted with bone and metal along his arms, a large chain hook contraption attached to his left. All in all, a scary man this warden presented himself as.

'Your crime is trespass. Your sentence is death!'

From those uttered and barely understandable words did their current chaos ensue. Alyssa moved further towards her side of the room while avoiding any further floor spikes possible. Stryer bore the unfortunate luck to garner the Warden's attention and an upheaval of ground, a result of a heavy ground slam from Brutus. Stryer avoided the oncoming wave but let his guard down. The wary chain hook caught his leg and pulled him in. Hands grasped madly for any edge but to no avail. The chain pulled, and pulled hard. Next thing he knew was the floor above his head and an ugly face looking down at him.

"Alyssa, doing your Ranger stuff would be nice!"

Three arrows impaled the Warden's shoulder. "I thought you were used to an arena, Duelist."

"Not one like this." Stryer swung his axe and landed a blow to the cauterized hand. Brutus did not take the pincer of pain kindly, but the jarring movements helped to free Stryer from the catch of the hook and greeted the ground quickly. "Ah, how I've missed you sturdy stone."

Stryer hobbled with haste out of melee range and none too soon. Brutus raged and repeatedly pounded the ground in the hopes of landing a killing blow. The cut to Stryer's leg could have been worse, but his mobility had taken a hit unless he could down a sip or two of his flask. Alyssa kept the barrage of arrows coming in a methodical pace. Her quiver stock was running low. A moment to rest was buried as brutus charged forward in his furious rage towards Stryer. Brutus crashed into the stone wall, dust and stone shifted to their own.

"This guy has more stamina than I'd like." Stryer took a much needed swig. "Damn, it's like Hillock all over again."

Alyssa had jumped up on a small platform piled with broken furniture and machines to avoid any more nasty spikes. "Need you to at least land one-uh...we have a problem!"

She looked up at the ceiling to see the source of the ratling echo that had grown louder in the last minute. A multitude of cages hung along the ceiling of the chamber, and each cage held a very alive skeleton. The skeletons were also armed to the teeth with axe, sword, and a small few with bow and arrow. As if on cue, Brutus stomped the ground over and over. The cages swung back and forth, the chain holding them strained to breaking point.

"Duelist, watch out above!"

The chains broke and the cages fell. Metal broke and the lively dead inhabitants crawled out from the wrecked cages. A myriad of empty eye sockets shambled towards Alyssa while Brutus refocused his efforts on Stryer, much to his chagrin. If hell ever manifested on a battlefield then this was it. Stryer fought and maneuvered between skeleton, then the malformed Brutus, and back to another skeleton. Chilled and electrified metal crackled and sparked against weapon and bone. Stryer pulled out all his best moves that he learned from the arena to stay alive.

One skeleton down, then another, and a slash or two across the leg of Brutus. Sweat, bone, and blood had never had a more literal meaning than now. Stryer caught a glimpse of Alyssa dealing with her own share of undead by bow and dagger. A glimpse was all he got. With most of the skeletons gone, Brutus came with unrelenting aggression. If Stryer survived this, his shield would have a few more splinters thanks to the scarred stumps that struck it.

"To hell with this, I'm not getting any younger." An electrical charge tingled across his fingertips. "Might just go all out. If it fails, well, I'm dead either way."

Brutus swung with his hooked hand. Stryer aimed to deflect it off his shield, the axe prepped for a counterstrike. His shoulder felt like caving in yet another time as stump met shield. Stryer unhinged his axe and hacked away at the extended arm. Lightning pulsed and released from the axe upon every hit. Brutus reared in pain. Stryer pushed his assault. Alyssa knocked off skeletal heads with her bow as if it was a club.

The chaos subsided. Heavy breathing from two bodies resting on a short series of steps, as their eyes surveyed the aftermath. Alyssa was fresh out of arrows and Stryer was pretty sure his axe was cracked beyond repair. A fresh carcass of the brute once called Brutus lay on the ground and slouched against the far wall, dozens of new lacerations appeared all over.

As Stryer sat on the steps and observed Alyssa fiddling with a skull in amusement, the words of a dead man came back to mind. The poor fellow that he washed up next to on the beach. What did he say? This was Wraeclast, home to creatures of your darkest nightmares? So far, Wraeclast has shown to live up to its reputation.

"It may not seem like the right time, but may I ask why you're here?" Stryer tossed what remained of his axe into the scattered pile of bones near his feet. "I mean, what got you exiled?"

"I know what you mean."

They sat in silence for what seemed to never end. Alyssa kept staring into the eye sockets of the skull like it was an escapable void, lost truths hidden just beneath the blackness. But those answers never came and she tossed it aside with the rest of its kin.

"Pettiness and pride are some of the worst sins of humanity, at least that's what I thought before arriving in this land."

The irony was he thrived on pride and pettiness of others within the arena, a cause of their mistakes and faults. "They are each intolerable in their own right."

"It was a Noble, and an err of bluntness for my part." She flashed a crooked smile. "He took offense to the arrow I firmly placed into his shoulder. By all rights, he should have had two or three more for what he suggested."

"I've dealt with my share of assholes." Stryer humored his own smile at the thought.

Alyssa shuddered and then as if reset herself, stood up and slung the bow over her shoulder. "Let's find one of those damn runic stones and get back to Lioneye's Watch. Get food in my belly, and yea, you got yourself a story."