The Greatest Ludus Chapter Eight

The Tiger and the Butcher faced each other on the sands. Sigivald was nursing a couple of wounds- his chest had been sliced into on the left side of his ribcage, and there was a small cut above his right knee. His right cheek was bruised but not too badly. The one injury that troubled him was his broken left forearm, which throbbed with pain.

Nimr was largely unhurt. One or two kicks had landed upon him but he felt completely fine. He wielded Sigivald’s original weapon, a ball and chain, and he swung it gently as Sigivald readied his sword.

The mace was not Nimr’s first choice of weapon. It was heavy and clumsy. Unfortunately his sword was the other side of the arena, so he had to make do. As it was, he’d broken Sigivald’s arm with it, so it was at least proving a little useful.

Sigivald cried out in red-hot rage as he charged Nimr. Not trusting the ball and chain to find the target, Nimr launched it but across himself and Sigivald, the chain stretching out. Sigivald ran straight into the chain, which wrapped itself around his knees, and he tumbled to the floor. He grunted in pain as the impact jarred his injured arm, but righted himself quickly. He span round, expecting Nimr to be running for his sword- so when a shard of wood from his broken shield pierced his right eye, he not only screamed from the sheer agony, but from shock as well.

He staggered backwards, dropping his sword as blood poured around the wood now stuck in his eyeball. Somehow he managed to slip his helmet off- long blond hair was matted and damp from sweat- and slowly pulled the piece of wood from his eye, a process that caused him even more pain. When it was free what was left of his eye was a bloody mess, and all of a sudden Sigivald felt sick.

Nimr raised his arms aloft.

“So this is the great warrior of Capua? The famous Butcher? Ladies and Gentlemen, I am not impressed!”

The locals approved his admonition. They cheered his name as Sigivald continued to stagger.

“So, how shall you die Butcher?” Asked Nimr casually. He picked up Sigivald’s own sword, testing the weight, swapping it between his hands.

“Fuck you!” Came the angry reply.

Nimr chuckled. “How can you without a cock?”

Sigivald grabbed one of the larger pieces of his broken shield and hurled it at Nimr, but it wasn’t even on target. Nimr launched himself into a run, almost skipping across the sands, and though Sigivald tried to get out of the way, the Butcher could do nothing to avoid the sweeping sword as it cut through his left arm, taking it completely away. Blood spurted everywhere and Sigivald screamed again. Nimr brought his fist into the other man’s teeth, snapping three of them off at the gum line. A hearty kick to the stomach sent the Butch stumbling, and he fell to his knees.

Nimr brought the blade to Sigivald’s neck. His stricken foe raised his head to stare at him with his one good eye, and defiant rage burned there.

Up on the balcony, a rather portly man, wrapped in a cream toga, shot daggers at Nepos’ back. Sextus was angry, to put it mildly.

“Good people of Rome, this fight is nearly at its end. Nimr has once conquered his prey! The only question remains, shall Sigivald live, or die?”

The audience stamped their feet, and cheered, and roared. They began, as one, to chant one word- ‘KILL’.

Nimr looked to Nepos, who held his thumb out straight. Sigivald closed his eye, and took a deep breath. He did not expect to live.

Sure enough, Nepos pointed his thumb down. Nimr glanced back down at his opponent, and swung his blade. Sigivald’s head fell to the sands. His body collapsed a moment later.

****

“This is beyond outrageous! That whelp has cost me much coin in future earnings!” Sextus stormed into the local hall that doubled as Castrense’s ‘administrative’ centre. He walked straight up to a small table with a rather large vase filled with beautiful potted honeysuckle flowers- and shoved the vase to the ground. It shattered in hundreds of pieces on the black marble floor.

“Calm yourself Sextus. The fight was fair. You boasted of Sigivald’s prowess and you were warned of Nimr’s impressive record, so any loss of coin is your own doing.” Maccina Severina, wearing an elaborate royal blue robe that distracted from the silver strands in her brunette hair, walked around the ruined vase. Water trickled toward her sandals and so she kept moving.

“I do not recall inviting your opinion Maccina.” Spat Sextus. “As a woman, what can you possibly know of the arena?”

“More than you might think Sextus, and you would be wise not to take such tone with my wife.” Caius Maccius Metellus, a relatively short man, like Sextus out of shape but not nearly to the same degree, and unlike his wife completely grey, turned his sharp brown eyes to the other man as he entered the hall. “Maccina has seen many a contest in the arena, a fact you will do well to remember. She is also the wife of a senator, another fact you would be wise to remember.”

Sextus looked like he had more to say, but instead took in a breath.

“Apologies. This has been a difficult day, and I did not mean to place blame on your shoulders my lady.”

“Accepted.” Maccina smiled. “And do not worry Sextus, you will be compensated. Young Nepos has powerful enemies, and even now they move against him. It will not be long before he is destitute.”

Sextus switched his gaze between the married couple. “I would dearly love to see him destroyed.”

“As would I.” Replied Caius. “Nepos and his family have inflicted much hurt upon my own down the years. It is therefore fitting that revenge should be thoroughly and equally painful- which it will be.”

Sextus snorted. “You are a senator. Why not simply have Nepos arrested for any arbitary reason you desire, and be done with the arrogant whelp?”

“Because such a move would be entirely lacking in satisfaction.” Replied Caius with a grin. “I wish to see Nepos ground beneath my heel, not dealt with quickly. There is no enjoyment to be had from that. Trust me though- Nepos will get what’s coming to him.”

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