Taken, in chains to the small cell where we were kept before the next slaughter. I had no idea why they kept us all in cages where we could see each other, it just let us see who was going to be the first to crack and who were the ones to look out for. Most of the “gladiators” were just boys that had barely seen fourteen winters, the rest were grizzled older men who were probably sold once they could no longer handle the requirements of forced marches.
In due time we would be taken by armed roman soldiers to the center of the colosseum where a variety of weapons would be laid out. The spectators would spew in from the vomitorium and fill all the seats… every seat. This was the first sign for me that something was amiss, there was no way that not one seat was empty. This was the third time for me, so I was starting to notice the cracks. Guards with different voices but the basically the same face. Each time I had been taken to the same cell before the fight, and the same cell after the fight, but the time between the end of a fight and the start of the next seemed to be filled with nothing substantial, like its all just busy work.
One of the boys wails and shits himself. The pre-fight shits are a common occurrence, the whole place reeks of death and blood, so who in there right mind wouldn’t be scared out of their minds. I was clearly not of the right mind, because I had no fear. I was strong and I had survived this two other times. I knew the weapons and I knew the best way to survive.
I also knew that none of this was real.
The signs were there, for a keen observer. Why though were all these people being forced to kill each other, for who’s pleasure, and why did it seem to just never end?
The guards arrived, hit a switch that opened all the cell doors. With a loud thud the doors opened and one of the prisoners rushes out to escape and trips over his leg chains, and is immediately skewered with a spear. There was only one way out of this place, death or victory.
They take off our chains, and we are all led out of the dank cells and thru the portal to the arena floor. The light blinds my eyes, blinking to return my vision, the cheers of the colosseum’s crowds gives me a certain rush of adrenaline.
We are all lead into a large circle. Weapons are scattered around the central pillar and the emperor raises his hand for silence. Which is immediate.
His hand drops, the madness begins.
Rushing for the weapons I head straight for the shield and sword. Its worked for me before and i had proficiency in it. An arrow narrowly misses my shoulder, someone must of gotten there quickly. Picking up the sword and shield find my first foe, a child holding a trident that is clearly too big for him. Its gruesome but quick and he does not suffer long.
After having dispatched the child I moved onto some of the larger, slower targets. I am quick on my feet and dance around an older man with a large woodcutters ax. Slicing at his heel first, he falls and the rest is easy. I do not like to see anyone suffer and try to make it quick as possible.
Looking around, most of the prisoners are on the ground, blood mixing with the sand of the arena. Two others impale each other on each others weapons. From what I can see no-one is left. The odd’s of surviving four of these just seems too small for it to be coincidence. Cheers from the crowd is drowning out all noise and I drop my weapon.
And then it hit me.
An arrow right thru my chest.
and I saw nothing more…
… Fighter 14 wins, odds 7.8:1 please collect your winnings from the cashiers desk.
“I can’t believe the favourite didn’t win! I had 60 credits on him, why the hell did he drop his weapon before finishing off that kid with the bow? Just shows how no matter how good the odds are, there will always be upsets…”
“That’s why the casino always wins, the people in those simulators are so easy to manipulate and the odds always pan out for them”