-Young men, what are you doing here? Isn’t past your, fancy fellows, bedtime? One of the two brutes by the door greeted us.
-We have a fight tonight, Michael said, opening the door.
-I hope you made peace with the world because tonight it’s over for you, the other one shouted behind us.
As we went through the dark passway, I considered that for a moment and then pushed the thought away.
The stone path took us to an improvised arena. It was actually, the remains of an old meeting hall. The almost round base of it was still standing. This was now, the fighting pit.
On the opposite side, from the entrance, there was an archway and on one of the walls, weapons hung. We headed that way.
We were early, but people were already gathering. Ours will be the first fight of the evening because they considered us to be fresh meat. Just some crazy kids, looking for a thrill.
While we were choosing the weapons for what was coming, the champions of this arena made their way on the ground. They were an odd couple, like me and Michael. The big one, white-skinned, was a head higher than me and built like Michael. His face was covered with a thick gold beard. A scar starting in the corner of his mouth split his face in a strange grin. The other one, brown-skinned, like he spent too much time in the sun, was half his companion’s size, but all muscles. And the collection of scars on his torso told me he was not keen on defense.
-Which one do you choose? I asked Michael, pointing at the two men in the middle of the arena. I wanted to sound as confident as possible, though my heartbeat was picking up.
-I guess I’ll take the big one. He’s a better fit for me, he said swinging a club he picked from the wall.
-I was thinking the same, I said, trying out one of the blunt swords.
-Don’t worry, I saw you fight. We can do this.
-I know. It’s time, I said when I saw a man standing in the arena signaling us to come.
When we got in the middle of this place I was ready. My senses were all awake. The smell of dust was filling my nostrils. I heard my heart pounding in my ears. The gentle breeze brought faint aromas of fear and excitement from the people waiting to see us bleed.
-Boys, I hope you know what you got yourselves into, the man who called us out said, in a low voice.
We looked at each other and nodded. He then continued.
-You fight until both fighters of one side give up, or until they’re both unable to get to their feet.
Our opponents were ready. The white one was carrying a wooden club, like Michael’s. The other one was swinging with both hands, a wooden stick as long as I was high.
The four of us were left in the arena. Sizing each other up. Waiting for the first move. Like on a sign, both our adversaries charged.
I blocked the first hit. The second one nearly hit my shoulder. He was swinging that long stick so fast. It took me a few moments to notice the brake he did before every blow. That was my moment. I avoided the next hit and let my sword come down where his hands were holding the stick. He let out a cry of pain and dropped his weapon.
I turned to look for Michael and saw him lying on the ground, trying to avoid the repeated hits of the club.
I launched towards them, to give Michael time to get up. I preyed on the surprise and hit him hard behind the knee. He grunted and put his knee down enough for Michael to get on his feet.
Next, I was staring at the stars, with my back on the ground…
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