The skies were clear on this day. There was no snow.
The canvas used for blocking out the sunlight around the Great Slave Masters fluttered loudly in the wind, along with flags of different cities around them.
At the centre of the pit, there was a shiny man waving an axe. He faced the beast head-on, using his entire body in every hack at the beast. He’d swung several times and each step was powerful as ever.
The audience could hear one footstep after the next. Some were the beast’s, some were the fighter’s. They were like war drums, adding a layer of violence and anticipation to the arena.
Although this opening battle arranged by Snow Plains was a questionable one, this young master of Snow Plains City still had his strengths. He was strong and agile in his fighting techniques, able to slash and quickly dodge the beast’s attacks. His armour helped protect his vital organs from falling pieces of the stone wall smashed out by the beast.
And because the ground of the pit was covered in sand, slave masters referred to this place as a sand pit. Sand here had been sifted through so these were larger grains. They only flew close to the ground even in a sandstorm, never flying in the air like dust or regular sand in other fighting pits. This would only affect the audience’s viewing experience.
To the slave masters, a ‘good’ fight must have blood on the sand, the more blood, the better or it would be considered a failure.
Within the pit, the sand grains flew with every vibration. As the grains hit on the surrounding walls, it sounded like a storm.
Every slash of the axe left long, bleeding cuts on the gigantic beast. Blood flowed like water from a spring unto the sand.
The crowd went insane. Shouts and cheers of a violent nature rang across the spacious arena. Anticipation built. Then it happened.
The beast roared an unwilling roar, then collapsed.
The young master of Snow Plains City raised his axe high. With a loud cry, he took a lap of victory around the pit. His shiny golden armour was already dyed red with the beast’s blood, he looked mighty and magnificent as ever.
The Great Slave Master and Lord of Snow Plains City gave a satisfied smile upon witnessing this. This was the heir to the throne, of course he had to be capable. Today’s battle was to show everyone what the future lord of Snow Plains was capable of.
No matter what the rest thought, the Lord of Snow Plains thought his child was the toughest one he knew. The lord had on an expression of delight that had not diminished since the beginning of the fight.
Just as the crowds were talking about the future lord of Snow Plains, at the viewing box of Rock Hill City, Shi Shu was sipping wine from an exquisite wine glass. He listened to the discussions around him but did not comment, merely smiled as if he did not care though they were of the same age.
The first battle had ended with a flourish. After the sandpit was cleaned, the second battle began.
The younger slave masters mostly enjoyed battles between beasts, they thought it was more exciting. The older people preferred watching battles between man and beast, hence many ambitious and daring slaves took volunteering to fight as an outlet to impress slave masters.
From the second battle on, the beasts were no longer ‘questionable’.
This was a true fight and the audience could tell it was a brutal, violent one. This was different from the showoff opening fight, performed just to impress but a bloody one that satiated the bloodthirst of the slave masters.
The slave masters usually fed the beasts enough so they would be muscular and strong but a few days before a fight, they would either stop or drastically cut down its food. This was to deliberately starve them so they would be wilder in the pit.
These starving animals were brought into a corridor. As they walked through the door, these beasts who’d been held captive for so long finally had their ‘release’, they often entered with baring teeth and waving claws, howling and roaring so loudly at the skies that the entire arena shook. The audience felt the excitement in their bones, chills down their spines.
The second fighters were two senior slaves from Flame Mound City.
There was no limit to the number of audience per battle so some battles had more people, some fewer.
One did not look physically strong but had the aura of an agile, cunning fighter. He moved swiftly in battle. The other was muscular, every hit delivered was powerful. The combination of these two made the fight enjoyable to watch- it satisfied the lords greatly.
These beasts who have long awaited their release did not need any teasing from the fighters. Beasts and men attacked each other, it was exciting and terrifying to watch.
Within the arena were screams of terror, cheers of violence, shrieks and shouts all mixed together. It was a huge vortex of emotions, sucking every person and ripping away all rational thought. All that was left was insanity.
When the second fight ended, all parties were severely injured. Since both sides were unable to continue fighting, the Lord of Snow Plains City could not help but stop the fight. Who won? Well, this was no longer important, as long as the audience enjoyed the show. As for the rest, that was left for the folks of Flame Mound to worry about. These slaves were sent from their city, they’d embarrassed them.
Upon witnessing the Lord of Flame Mound City’s irritation, the Lord of Snow Plains was in a better mood.
The third fight was between two beasts- one from Shaqi City and the other from Sky Wheel City.
Before the fight, the Lord of Fallen Leaves City instructed a slave next to him to send a message to Su Gu.
“Father wants you to prepare for the fourth fight.” Su Gu had an unreadable expression. What happens if this fighter dies? Wouldn’t he just lose a lot of his current advantages?
Shao Xuan was only a little surprised. He once said that if Lei and Tuo were forced to fight, he would go down to the pit too. However, it was just the beginning of the third fight, he didn’t even know who the opponents were for the fourth fight. How did Su Lun know then?
Perhaps Su Lun knew something about the arrangements of White Stone City too, Shao Xuan could tell from this instruction.
“I understand,” said Shao Xuan with a nod. He’d already expected this, he was not too shocked.
“Also,” Su Gu said in a low voice to Shao Xuan, “The beast White Stone City has prepared this time is a horned lizard beast. It was enslaved only recently, this is its first enslavement so it is still very wild. And horned lizards are not as easily provoked into a rage compared to other beasts. They know how to gauge battle conditions so if your plan consists of provoking it into a blind rage then getting another person to attack, it might not work.”
Su Gu explained more about the desert horned lizard’s fighting style and habits. It rarely fell for simple tricks such as food baits, which have very limited effect on them. At the same time, they were highly territorial, if they would definitely kill everyone present upon seeing humans in the sandpit.
“I heard that the Lord of White Stone told the other lords that the fight he prepared would definitely satisfy everyone,” said Su Gu.
The battles were usually fights between cities, such as the second and third battles they’d witnessed. However, the cities occasionally prepared their own fights like the first opening battle and the fourth one arranged by White Stone City.
“Can you predict your own future?” asked Su Gu.
“I can’t,” came Shao Xuan’s reply. He tried Bushi divination once but could not get a definite prediction out of it. However, he felt like something big was going to happen.
“Be careful. If you can’t win, try to dodge it. Sigh!” Su Gu had no confidence in Shao Xuan, despite the fact that three people from Flaming Horn were going into the battle. This wasn’t a jungle, there were no places to hide. All you could do was stick through it and fight. Then again, Shao Xuan and the two weren’t very strong either. Perhaps they might fare better elsewhere but in the pit where everyone was a strong fighter, they looked weak.
Shao Xuan did not tell anyone that he had attained senior totemic warriorhood hence Su Gu did not know that he had grown more powerful. Then again, he might not think much of it even if he did.
“Alright, I’ll get going.”
Shao Xuan pulled up his hood and left his seat with Chi Shi. He walked towards the steps behind the bleachers that led to the pit below.