The Greatest Ludus Chapter Seven

As Praxites made his way from the arena the audience cheered. They had enjoyed the bloody spectacle of his execution of five thieves, and they eagerly awaited the next fight. As the guards dragged the bodies from the arena, Nepos raised his hands to request silence.

“Now good citizens of Rome, we welcome, all the way from Capua, one of the House of Sextus’ finest warriors. Many times has Sigivald- known to the good people of Capua simply as ‘The Butcher’- left behind many bloodied bodies in the arena. Today, you get to witness his prowess first hand!”

More cheering. The crowd was in boisterous form. Once again the far gate opened, revealing the one they called the Butcher.

At over six feet tall, it was difficult to make much out about the man. He wore a helmet that revealed only his eyes, nose and mouth, and was clad in thick leather armour. In his right hand he carried a large, spiky, ball and chain mace- his left a thick wooden shield.

“Today he faces the best we have to offer- one you all know and love. One I know you enjoy watching. The great and mighty tiger Nimr!”

If the crowd had been loud before they were deafening now. Nimr was the hero of the Castrense Arena, and the crowd adored him. Nimr entered the arena floor, clad very differently to Sigivald.

Nimr had always eschewed heavy armour and large shields. Underneath the hot Roman sun, and on the soft crunchy sands, he wanted to be as light as possible. He sported a small oval shield of light metal on his right arm, and wielded an impressive sword in his left, but aside from leather boots and shorts he wore nothing. His dark brown hair was kept as short as possible, and his passionate green eyes were focused entirely on his opponent as the two drew closer.

“Begin!” Came Nepos’ voice from the balcony, where the elite watched. Nimr smiled. It was time to give himself to the freedom of battle.

“I will tear you limb from limb, and reveal you not as a tiger but as a pussy.” Spat Sigivald. For a change, Nimr did not have to look down to look his enemy in the eye.

“Words are meaningless, especially from a man who hides his face.”

Sigivald didn’t like that. He roared and charged, and swung his mace above his head, then launched it at Nimr’s chest. Nimr simply side-stepped to his left, and the mace clattered into the sands. As Sigivald started to pull it back Nimr bolted toward him, swinging his sword for the other man’s ribcage, but Sigivald was wise to him and thrust his shield out, which splintered ever so slightly as Nimr’s sword smashed into it. The ‘Butcher’ pushed out, and Nimr was pushed back, his sword coming loose from Sigivald’s shield as it did. By now Sigivald was ready with his mace again, and swung it out quickly at Nimr’s legs.

Nimr jumped over it, and then again as Sigivald quickly readied it and attacked again. The third swing was for Nimr’s head, and it was easy enough to duck, though he also moved to the left, in case Sigivald tried anything elaborate. He hadn’t yet put his shield to the test against the mace, because he suspected it would offer little resistance, and he had to keep sharp, for if that spiky ball caught him even once…

The crowd cheered each time Nimr dodged the swinging weapon, but he couldn’t do this forever. He had to change the game.

The mace came out for Nimr again, and this time he dodged to his right. As he did so, he drove his sword down, through one of the links in the chain and into the sands. With Sigivald’s one and only weapon stuck, Nimr darted toward the other man again.

Sigivald dropped the chain and tried to catch Nimr in the jaw with his shield, but Nimr was quick- he ducked underneath the attack, punched Sigivald in the stomach as hard as he could, and swung for his ribs with the sharp edge of his own shield.

The thin metal shield didn’t have a lot of penetrating power, especially against Sigivald’s thick leather, but it was swung with such strength that Nimr managed, however slightly, to slice through the armour and into skin. Sigivald howled, and hurled a fist at Nimr’s face, which the Tiger managed to evade simply by leaning back. Sigivald kicked out, catching Nimr in his left hip, but it wasn’t a very good effort. Nimr rolled backwards, kicking at the chain that now lay on the floor, and scooped up his sword again.

The two man faced each other. Where Sigivald’s eyes had held such confidence and venom earlier, now they held caution.

Nimr grinned. He would never choose the mace- unwieldy, even in experienced hands, it could certainly kill with a single blow but landing that blow was very difficult. Plus, as he had demonstrated, it was a weapon easily removed.

Sigivald however, was no fool. He reached to his side- and unsheathed a hidden sword that had been disguised by his armour. Slightly smaller than Nimr’s own weapon, it looked well-made as it shimmered in the sunlight.

“Come at me then Butcher. Or is it you who is the pussy?” Taunted Nimr. Sigivald snarled and charged.

Their swords crashed against each other in a dizzying whirl of movement. The two men pirouetted, appearing to dance, yet as fluid as their movements looked this was a fierce fight to the death. Shields blocked fatal strikes, flesh was narrowly brought out of reach, and sparks flew as the steel blades struck one another. For Nimr, his shield was starting to be a burden.

Being quite flimsy, it was denting, even tearing where Sigivald’s sword hammered away at it. Deciding to ditch the rapidly deteriorating shield, Nimr kicked out at Sigivald, knocking him back a little, then tore it away. Sigivald looked as though he wasn’t sure whether to smile or be worried, then came back at Nimr.

Nimr did the unexpected. He kicked the sand up into Sigivald’s face, stopping him in his tracks for just an instant. He slashed out for Sigivald’s right hip, just catching it with the tip of his blade before Sigivald re-orientated himself and tried to slash his throat. Nimr rolled away, in a very specific direction, and Sigivald growled.

“Cowardly fuck!” The Butcher roared. “You claim to seek battle yet you keep running away!”

“Then why are you the one bleeding?” Retorted Nimr.

Sigivald snarled again. He once again ran at Nimr, his sword held at his side. He swung for Nimr’s neck again, and Nimr jumped back, flicking his sword across Sigivald’s right cheek. The helmet prevented serious injury but the crunch of steel upon steel still managed to hurt. Before Sigivald could react, Nimr kicked him hard in the stomach. Sigivald staggered backward, but bared his teeth and came back once again. He slashed his sword quickly, forcing Nimr to retreat and parry with all of his skill, but Nimr was silently pleased. He shimmied backwards just in time to avoid his left leg getting gored, and took another cheeky swipe at Sigivald, slicing the Butcher’s leg just above his right knee.

Enraged, Sigivald finally managed to land a blow- he kicked out with his left leg, catching Nimr in the chest. Nimr stumbled, the breath knocked from him, and though he blocked Sigivald’s attempt to slice down his chest, he could do nothing to stop Sigivald’s heavy shield, which crashed into his right hip and sent him sprawling, dropping his sword.

Sigivald kicked the sword away and tried to impale Nimr upon the sands, but Nimr rolled out of the way and got back to his feet. Winding up weaponless had not been part of his original plan and now Sigivald stalked him, his eyes full of bloodlust. Nimr was hoping to get around the other man and get his sword back, but Sigivald was cleverly covering that option.

So Nimr went for something else instead.

The chains beneath his feet as he retreated across the arena belonged the ball and chained-mace that had failed so miserably earlier to be a burden to Nimr. He stepped back, scooping up as much of the chain as possible, then held his ground.

Sigivald sneered, then charged forward again. His sword came around, aiming to end the fight swiftly… So when Nimr launched the spiked iron ball directly at him, Sigivald’s eyes widened in shock, just before the ball smashed into his shield, shattering it and breaking his left forearm in the process, not to mention sending him crashing to the ground.

The Butcher shrieked in pain. The crowd went wild, cheering and applauding their hero. But Nimr knew the fight was not over. Sigivald, holding his injured left arm to his side, slowly rose again. What was left of his shield lay in pieces on the arena floor.

“When I gouge the eyes from your lifeless face I will skull-fuck you you worthless shit!” He screamed. Nimr laughed.


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