"Spaniard!"

Maximus stirred a little in his sleep, but then he turned over and carried on snoring.

"Spaniard!" insisted the voice.

Maximus sat up, alert at once, his military training kicking in.

"What is it?" he called to the mysterious voice.

"It's me Proximo. I need to tell you something quickly. Hurry, I don't have a lot of time." the man whispered.

Maximus picked himself up and walked over to the iron bars, behind which Proximo stood. "What is it?" he asked wearily. He held onto the bars to keep himself upright, he had slept badly. Not only slept poorly, but when he had fallen asleep, he dreamed of the girl, who had threatened him the day before. It was only now that he realised how strikingly beautiful she had been.

"Maximus, listen. I must go in a second, but you should know that the first match of the day is you and that new girl, they call her Ligra. Watch out for her. She's dangerous."

Maximus sighed and replied, "She's just a girl, what's she going to do?"

"So's my wife Maximus, but I do my best not to piss her off. You have no choice but to fight her. I just want you to be careful." said Proximo, before storming off; furious that Maximus didn't take him seriously. Maximus walked back to where he had been sleeping and within seconds was snoring again.

When he awoke it was just past dawn and most other gladiators were in the process of waking up too and preparing themselves for whatever lay ahead of them this day. He drew himself up and wrapped the cloak he had slept on around his shoulders. He walked over to where they gave the morning slop out, then went over to join Hagen and Juba. They both grunted in response to his; none of them were morning men. He looked at his slop and thought back to when he used to feast with the Emperor, he had feasted like an Emperor, but now the Emperor was dead and the once General was cast out into the wind. He snapped his bowl in half with his bare hands without realising.

"Is everything all right?" Juba asked.

Maximus waved him off and walked away, then Hagen spoke up, "What a waste of good slop, ehh?" he said laughing, whilst spooning up what Maximus had dropped onto the floor.

Maximus went straight to the entrance to the arena and told the guards he wanted time to prepare. They didn't dare refuse him, he usually got what he wanted, except when he asked them to release him. They valued their lives more than his wrath. He stepped through into the armoury to pick out the usual. He already had his armour, but now looked for his favourite sword and his helmet of choice.

He found the helmet easily enough, it was set apart from the others. When he turned around however, he walked into someone else.

"Forgive me, I didn't realise there was anyon-" he began, but quickly broke off. It was Ligra.

"Good Morning to you too." she said.

She was holding Maximus' favourite sword. He noticed and chuckled before saying, "I don't want to cause any trouble, but that would be my favourite sword. No one else uses it, because everyone knows that I do."

"I know; they told me when I first got here." she countered quickly.

Maximus reached to his right and picked up the first sword's handle he felt. He did not take his eyes off Ligra. He raised his sword until he had it pointed at her, before repeating slowly, "That would be, my favourite sword."

He had no intention of attacking her; he just hoped that his show of force would cause her to relinquish his favourite sword, but she would have none of it. She swung his sword gracefully and knocked his aside before he had time to react. He only just held onto it, not expecting such force. Maximus grinned and was obliged to fight back to humour his opponent, before their public fight in the Colosseum later in the day.

He took a pace forward, she a pace back. They were amongst one of the many rows of weapons armour and shields, they were both long and narrow. She moved first this time, swinging to his left, he parried easily this time and countered her, swinging to her left. His opponent was no fool, she gave ground when needed, then furiously retook it when the opportunity presented itself.

A stalemate ensued, until she knocked over the support for one of the shelves holding weapons and it collapsed onto Maximus. When the dust settled she approached him, he couldn't move most of his body, both legs and his sword arm were pinned down. He could only flail his left arm, but to no avail.

Ligra came up to him and looked down on him.

"After all I had heard of you, and everything someone like you had been through, I expected more. Next time look out for your surroundings." she said tutting.

Then she drew her sword across his left shoulder, drawing blood.

"First blood to me!" she shouted victoriously, before skipping off.

Maximus waited until she was gone before shouting, "SHIT!"

He was in immense pain, but had managed to keep his cool. The guards had obviously heard his shouts and were running down the corridor.

This will be embarrassing to explain, he thought.