Their Fated Travels…

RPG Party events as told By Robert James Freemantle

Chapter 33

The Fighting Pit

Round Four

These fights were all happening on the same day. Because of this, the fighters taking part were truly being pressed hard. Some were having an easier time of it than others, but even now, winners would have to contend with a final round after this one.

The next match saw Dieter come out, resting his weight and all the troubles in his world upon his walking aid, as he normally did. He was looking a little sheepish, around at the cheering crowd. He had suddenly become quite aware of how animalistic he had come across in the previous rounds. He would have to be wary of this. He had an image to retain on the surface. Even though this was an underground fighting hall, news of him might travel overground. The less that groups like the witch hunters knew of him the better.

As usual, Dieter twirled his hands and produced a scythe from thin air.

Just then, his opponent was announced. It was Tordrad! Dieter visibly commented, "I'm screwed."

Tordrad smiled at Dieter with joy. He respected the small crazed man.

Dieter bowed respectufully to his allied foe this day. Tordrad saluted back, with the sign of the bear hunter warrior.

Just like the other rounds, Tordrad was not wearing his helm. It was too hot down here to do so. Dieter would have felt more comfortable if he had. He had to stare at the warrior man's face, a gleaming grin of self confidence in the upcoming battle. He had seen this glint in his eye before. It wasn't that he belitted Dieter – far from it. He just knew what he was capable of.

Tordrad internally resolved to be as careful as possible with this fight. He did not want to permanently injure his team mate. He certainly wanted to win though. He would find a good balance he decided. He knew Dieter was a strong and brave enough man to take some punishment and not complain.

Dieter at that moment almost considered trying to flee from the ring. All of his hard work up to this point though would have been for nothing. But he knew that a straight one on one fight with the Kislevian warrior would mean defeat, at the very least. Then he remembered that this point of reasoning had applied to nearly every fighter in the ring he had bested so far. Each far outmatched him in combat skill.

The one element that Dieter had going on his side with all of them though was the little care he regarded for his own safety when trying to win. He would pull any surprising trick it took to gain the upper hand, even hurting himself to do it. Then he confidently reasoned that this fight would be no different. Perhaps he did have a chance if he outsmarted the man. Though Tordrad knew him, he knew very little about who Dieter was truly deep down, deep inside. That though was another element that concerned him – what if this fight went too far, if his life felt endangered and "the other" emerged? That would be bad, especially as Tordrad's death would shorten his own life expactations dramatically, due to the curse marks that had been burned onto his chest all those months ago when they first set out together as a group. Morr really did have it in for him. He knew he mustn't forget that.

The horn sounded and Tordrad as usual was not backwards about coming forwards.

His hand weapon and shield were at the ready. He ran forwards with a charge and bashed outwards with his shield. Just before it made contact though, Dieter had picked up some of the sand and sawdust enriched dirt from the ground and threw it at Tordrad's eyes.

Not very much made contact but it did enough to have an effect. It burned and made tears run a little, blurring the shield bash accuracy somewhat.

The shield still contacted Dieter though, squashing his arm against his body painfully. Tordrad shouted with might as he pushed with most of his strength. Tordrad pulled the shield round again and forced Dieter to duck a shield slice aimed for his head. His team mate was trying to render him unconscious, he knew.

At last the shield struck Dieter, but elements of darkness emerged from the smaller man's body, as if his shadow had until now transparently been wrapped around him, only now showing itself enough to push away the offending shield. It visibly looked as if it was being pushed back.

Dieter counter attacked and Tordrad easily sidestepped it. His vision was at last clear again. His shook his head in mock disapointment and wagged his finger at the small curly haired man. Obviously Tordrad had considered the attempted blinding move to be too dirty, but he smiled at the cunning anyway.

Dieter tried to attack again, but Tordrad grabbed his forearm and kicked him away again. Dieter held his shoulder where the boot had met it. That blow had been really strong, but the man didn't look like he was putting his weight fully into it!

To make matters worse, the severe effects of magical mishap he had suffered in the previous rounds had meant that Dieter's access to the winds were now wavering. He was able to channel far less energy than he normally could.

This was the danger of being an untrained hedge wizard in this way. Even some hedge wizards though had instructors, masters. Dieter never had anyone – or at least that was as best as he could remember.

Tordrad struck with the handle of his weapon, trying to smack Dieter's head with it. The trainee doctor de-summoned his scythe and raised both hands to stop Tordrad's one arm! It took both just to grab the blow in time as he then reached out while casting a spell under his breath.

Dieter's palm touched Tordrad's ear and side of his head just as a shocking electric jolt of aethyric magic ran from it. It zapped the Kislevite man, but his arm with shield had already been coming in to stike its target. Dieter pushed his shoulder up and took the blow into his side as he saw that his shock spell had worked, stunning Tordrad in disorientation for a moment.

Just as a precaution Dieter struck the Kislevite man with another shock spell, this time to the other side of his head. The man's medical knowledge was shining through. He stepped backwards and re-conjured the amethyst scythe, swinging it the moment it appeared. It sliced into Tordrad's arm, cutting through the armour in one place. A small wound had occured. This was significant though for Dieter had taken first blood. In the tradition of Kislev, this meant that Tordrad's opponent was to be respected at all times.

Dieter swung the large scythe once again, this time in a more undisciplined dangerous arcing path but Tordrad had snapped out of his lull just in time to parry the magical blade and swing with his shield as a counter blow. This time the full force of the shield's centre struck Dieter in the torso, winding him and sending him backwards up against the arena wall. He almost fell over, bent double in pain as he tried to catch his breath again.

For just a moment, Dieter swore he could see lightning crackle in the eyes of his large foe. "Perhaps", he reasoned to himself quietly but out loud, "I am awakening his seemingly strange latent power. I have seen lightning elements about his person before. I had forgotten that..."

Dieter didn't worry about speaking aloud here because Tordrad couldn't understand him anyway.

Just then, the trainee physician looked down and saw blood on his hands, dripping from his mouth. The massive kite shield's shape had obviously impacted deeply somewhere in his body and caused some harm. He growled low in his throat, feeling the old rage building in him again. He couldn't help it or control it at that second in time. He flash stepped with the aid of his magic and ended up quickly behind the large man. He lashed out with his scythe.

Tordrad though had fought with Dieter long enough to have seen his way of fighting many times before. He knew that a strike was coming from behind and stepped forwards while turning with his weapon in hand to return a blow back at the smaller man.

Dieter's scythe did no damage to Tordrad's armour this time. Only the end of it crackled against the shining plate where it made contact.

Dieter was forced to jump backwards to avoid the long hafted blow. This left him wrong footed and Tordrad ran at him to take advantage of this.

Dieter lashed out awkwardly with his scythe to keep the warrior man back. This worked for a few moments but then Dieter was forced to concentrate his blows into something better, forcing Tordrad to repeatedly parry him.

Dieter kept wondering the same thought to himself, is he toying with me?

Tordrad stepped backwards and counter-swung with his weapon.

Dieter and Tordrad for a few moments in time were unable to hit one another, each dodging away from the other's attack.

Dieter decided to throw caution to the wind and run forwards. Tordrad didn't know what to do with this sudden change of attitude – all he did was bring his shield up about him to stop the blow. Dieter simply used a shock spell from his fingertips as they made contact with the metal!

The electricity pumped through the shield and into both Dieter and Tordrad. Dieter's translucent black shadow covering his body saved him from the brunt of electrocution however, but Todrad had no such protection.

For mere moments, the larger man was stunned on his feet, his body still shaking from the currents passing through it.

Dieter used these few seconds to lash out with his scythe, It struck Tordrad's right arm, the one carrying his scimitar. A small opening in the plate armour had appeared. Dieter considered there must have been some damage underneath it too! The man could actually be hurt. Barely, but hurt none the less.

Tordrad shook of the stun once more and laughed out loud. He enjoyed the fact that the small man had some guts enough to attack him. The pain refreshed him. He stared in some confusion though over the strange swirling darkness that manifested across his body.

Tordrad used his height advantage to strike from above with great velocity. Dieter did not even attempt to parry it. He would have had no chance against the larger man's strength of position. He instead rammed his stave outwards into the man's face. This struck him in the eye. That would definitely bruise!

In the moment of confusion, Dieter moved quicker and more decisively than most experienced fighters might! He dashed close and slashed with his scythe across Tordrad's shield arm. Again the plate gave away to the aethyric blade edge and blood trickled from the opening.

The overall desired effect though had not come about. Yes both of Tordrad's arms had been wounded but still the big man held his weapons easily as if they were toys.

The most Dieter could do was whittle him away slowly. Tordrad however packed great power into each blow he delivered. The few strikes Dieter had received had already taken their toll on him. He was feeling dizzy and nauseus. He knew he would have to fight off that feeling quickly because Tordrad was coming again.

The Kislev man swung his scimitar across towards the trainee doctor. Dieter part parried the blow but the rest of it still passed through, slowed down from its first contact. As it struck his chest, the dark swirling mass again showed itself on Dieter's body and seemed to absorb the damage. Whatever was truly inside of him, it knew that if Dieter died, it too would be trapped with him in a cursed afterlife.

Tordrad saw this and struck again, fascinated by what might happen. This time the blow struck Dieter's arm. Again the damage was mostly absorbed.

Tordrad swung around with his shield and smacked it against Dieter's upper torso before slicing again with the scimitar, this time causing massive damage to the smaller man's left arm.

Dieter dropped his stave at once, clenching and unclenching his fist where it felt like he was losing feeling along with the sustained damage from the blow. The wound in his arm was quite bad and blood loss woud soon be an issue, he reasoned. Dieter knew that he had very little time left to attempt to win this impossible fight.

Tordrad had realised he was going to have to take the fight seriously. He determined that he would continue to use the scimitar and shield in combination until the small angry man came to his senses and gave up – either that or lost his senses and get declared unconscious.

The two men stared at each other intensely for a few moments. Tordrad saw darkness in his companion's eyes. A terrible secret lay somewhere deep inside the man, he could see. The question in Tordrad's mind though was: is it a secret that he even knows?

Dieter felt freed by the resignation that this fight would be un-winnable. This allowed the fear and adrenaline to recede away again to let cruel calculating thought take over once more. He secretly reached into his pocket and pulled out a piece of his battle putty. As he quickly palmed it, he incanted an ill fortune curse into it. This was a common battle trick by the man. It made foes more likely to miss or blunder their attempts at pressurised physical actions. He tucked this back into the pocket of the jacket.

Dieter's first jacket had been blown up in round one. Luckily for him, he had paid an urchin child to steal one for him from the arena floor. The man who had lost his jacket, didn't even realise that the one he was staring at now was indeed his own. He had taken it off because of the body heat generated down in this place. This jacket too was filled with medicinal alcohol bottles that also contained bullets, poisoned herbs, ignition oil and trace acid. Because of acid being used in the mixture, they would have to be made and used freshly. Dieter couldn't count how many of these he'd had to throw away over time because no one had come along to offer themselves up as a sacrifice to him, while travelling the dangerous lands. Because he was at a push for supplies, he included the granola bars he used for his "headaches" amongst the inner pockets. These after all also contained gunpowder...The final trick to it all was that the jacket's external leather covering had been previously coated in oil.

Dieter touched the jacket with his palm as he commanded a small lick of fire to appear in his palm. That had been enough!

The very jacket Dieter was still wearing suddenly went up in flames as he ran towards Tordrad screaming and laughing wildly.

Dieter could feel the fire moving into his internal pockets. It was almost time now. He quickly pulled the jacket off of himself, ignoring the searing pain to his gloved hands from contact with flame –and he then spun it around in a backwards heading circle that arced towards a deadly frontal momentum. As Dieter faced Tordrad once again, he let the jacket go!

In that one moment as the jacket reached its target, Tordrad slashed out with the scimitar, batting it down to the ground in front of him. A weak attack that Tordrad was surprised at. He thought Dieter could come up with something better than merely lighting a garment on fire and sending it weakly sailing towards him. Now Dieter was even less defended than he was before! Todrad shook his rolled his eyes and decided to end the fight now so that the angry small man could have a lie down in the medical area. He certainly looked like he needed it.

Dieter simply stood with his arms out wide, as if inviting Tordrad to come finish him off. Tordrad stepped forward to do just that. Dieter's eyes narrowed as a blinding flash errupted almost below Tordrad! The jacket had exploded! The result of the explosion threatened to kill both men! Dieter closed his eyes and allowed the explosion to do what it would.

Flames shot upwards as Tordrad took the worst of that and Dieter was subjected to heat damage by proximity. Pieces of flaming jacket flew everywhere! Even people in the audience got burned by stray pieces. The two men took damage from this. Acid contained inside the bottles burned and hissed where it landed, including through Tordrad's armour and shoes and Dieter's trousers. Pieces of glass fired in all directions and impailed themselves wherever they met skin. Both men were coated in multiple small shards. Bullets had caught the blaze and fired in all directions, themselves coated in a nasty poison as all of the gunpowder reacted at once.

A huge explosion tore upwards into the air, peppering both men with wounds. All of this happened in the split seconds of the blast coming about. But strangest of all was Tordrad's actions within those few seconds – For he was armoured and able to take the blows better than his small companion. He jumped forwards, throwing himself onto Dieter. This shielded the trainee doctor from the rest of the blast as Todrad's plate armour was tested and bested above and behind.

Tordrad lost consciousness.

Dieter panted and breathed painfully from the massive deadweight of the man on top of him.

The adjudicater with the horn saw Dieter trying and failing to push the larger man off and the horn was sounded. As Dieter passed into blissful unconsciousness, he heard his name declared as winner of the bout. He wondered if there had been some mistake...then all was black.

Maestro stared agape as Tordrad was carried off of the field. He could still hear a heartbeat, reassuringly enough.

He wondered why Todrad had done such a thing. After all, he was only being paid to keep him alive, not anyone else. Maestro worried that if Tordrad was filled with bullet holes from now on, what if something shot at him later down the line? One of those bullets could pass right through the afore-made hole, out of the other side and into him! Of course, he realised that idea was ridiculous. He knew more Kislevian meat would grow over and fill them in in no time. He relied on his Kislevian companion to die instead of him were the need to arise. On their adventures together, it seemed that the need had arised several times – it was just that Todrad hadn't quite grasped how to die. That was a useful trait to be ignorant in, considered Maestro. But on the matter of the here and now, he remembered that he was now down quite a lot of bet money, thanks to Dieter...

In the last round, Maestro had stepped out of the fighting area to relieve himself. He had missed a truly unusual fight indeed. The wounded slave doom bull had faced the mutant.

The doom bull had managed to win, tearing the poor suffering man apart with his horns and teeth – however, the mutated organ had also been cut. Some of its vile liquid had made contact with one of the minotaur's open wounds. Only now, as the doom bull came out into the arena to fight did the result of this reveal itself.

As the pit fighter came out to face him he stopped in horror, seeing a pulsating liver coloured organ pushed out of the creature's back like a large hump. It swelled with blood or whatever foul substance it was filled with and then fell again. It did this every five seconds or so.

The parasitic chaos organism had successfuly taken a new host.

The large creature swiped out to defend itself against the pit fighter's attacks, as the man struck right and left looking for an opening. Some of these attacks were already cutting the creature's arms. This did not slow the beast down.

The doom bull saw the man charge him and grabbed his arm in response, taking a slash to the chest. He threw him into the built up wall behind him, with a swing around to follow through with the man's momentum.

As the pit fighter staggered forwards, the doom bull charged the man. One of the horns impailed his lower left stomach and the rest of his built up form collided with the man, knocking him down once more.

The man was wounded and dazed, but still he climbed back to his feet. He was used to being in this state, but as soon as he was standing once more, he was grabbed by the hair and lifted off of the ground by it!

Quickly the man brought his short sword up and cut his own lengths of long hair as he dropped from the creature's control. With that, he slashed the doom bull about the body, this way and that, cutting it open expertly in places and still it was not slowing. It ignored every deep gash it had sustained. The massive hump like organ was seemingly pushing him to further and further internal extremes.

As the pulsing organ quickened, so did the reaction speed of the monster. Suddenly, with lightning quick speed, the creature's hand smashed into the man's face. His eyesight blurred. As his vision cleared he could no longer see the creature.

The doom bull had jumped into the air, above the man's visual descerning point.

From this high jump, gravity did its work and the doom bull came down right on top of the pit fighter, bringing him to the ground with his mass bulk. There he proceeded to smash the man's head against the floor multiple times until the horn was sounded.

The minotaur creature did not want to let up on the man's nearly dead form. He wanted to feast on him but the slave handlers came in and lashed whips against the creature's body. One such whip wrapped around its throat and that was that – it was powerless, lest it being choked again. The scars on its neck showed that this had happened to it before.

It decided to let the humans get on with it. While it was injured and malnourished, slowed and weakened, this new strength it had found would be the tipping balance to help it escape its captors, soon. He would just have to wait a little longer, get a little stronger...He bided his time. He would kill the man in the final, next round and then make his bid for freedom in the confusion.