It was getting darker as he descended down the stairs. The corridor was empty. Though there was a window above, little light came in.
There were many slaves from the three major cities stationed here, perhaps to prevent any sort of mishaps.
These people stopped Shao Xuan to question him when he arrived. Once they heard he was the next fighter and saw Chi Shi hold up a wooden symbol given by Lord of the Fallen Leaves, they let them go. However, they reminded, “You can’t go in now, wait here. There are people from White Stone City there.”
Shao Xuan looked over to see there were more than ten White Stone people standing at the mouth of the walkway. He wanted to see if Lei and Tuo where there but he was stopped before he could get any closer.
White Stone and Fallen Leaves were rivals and had many issues in their relations. Chi Shi had also brought other people to follow them when Shao Xuan came down here. Right now, both parties were looking at each other at the mouth of the walkway.
“Anyone here up next?” Shao Xuan asked loudly. If Lei and Tuo were here, they would definitely respond.
Indeed, once he finished his sentence, he heard Tuo’s voice. “Ah-Xuan?!”
It sounded as if Tuo wanted to approach but was stopped.
“Ah-Xuan, what are you doing here?! You need to leave quickly!” said Tuo frantically.
“Shut the hell up!” shouted someone from the White Stone City from within the corridor. Shao Xuan then heard something like a brawl.
Shao Xuan narrowed his eyes and kicked at the nearest person, who was from White Stone City.
The fuse was lit. People from two rival cities started fighting each other.
The guards around them started shouting, charging at them and prying them apart roughly. Once the guards finally stopped all the fighting, Shao Xuan had already slipped inside.
The walkway was even darker but it was enough for Shao Xuan to see.
Tuo was leaning against a wall, panting. Perhaps due to the short brawl he had with the other person from White Stone City. Next to him, Lei was sitting on the ground. He did not look well.
Shao Xuan checked on Lei. While his life was not in danger, he had broken a few ribs and suffered internal injury. Shao Xuan distributed a little of the medicine he’d brought with Tuo and Lei then looked at everyone else.
Yep. Other than Lei and Tuo, Shao Xuan recognised four more people inside. Two from the Feather tribe, two from Tianshan and all four had many wounds ranging from minor to severe injuries. There were four more slaves covered in marks made by whips, one of them had a hand cut off at the wrist. These must be slaves who deemed guilty of crimes.
Shao Xuan knew the wooden box belonging White Stone City had many people and wasn’t sure if Lei and Tuo were inside. Now that he was here, Lei and Tuo were there along with four more tribesmen and other slaves!
White Stone City had prepared ten people including Lei and Tuo for the fourth fight. Or more like ten sacrificial lambs for the fourth fight. With the conditions all of them were in, they would not be able to defeat a beast specifically bred for battle.
Tuo took this opportunity to explain what happened the day they were captured. They had fallen into a trap set by the people of White Stone City because they met the Feather and Tianshan tribesmen.
“Also,” Tuo had a solemn look on his face, “Ah-Xuan, I saw the Wanshi emblem that day too.”
The Wanshi tribe had relations to the slave masters, Shao Xuan had known of this for a long time. However, he hadn’t expected them to work with specifically White Stone City. Is it because they both had ‘shi’ (stone) in their names?
“That’s not it. We also… saw Dao Yu.” Tuo hesitated to speak. “Lei and I could not defeat him. Lei’s injured because of Dao Yu.”
To be defeated like this by a traitor, Lei and Tuo felt like they had embarrassed the Flaming Horn tribe. They had no dignitiy left to face the shaman nor the chief, right now their heads hung low as they spoke to Shao Xuan.
“This is not the time to talk about it, take the time to rest,” said Shao Xuan.
Tuo and Lei wanted to speak but Shao Xuan stopped them with a hand. He distributed his leftover medicine to the other few.
The four people from Feather and Tianshan tribe were fatigued, especially the two from Feather tribe. They were very young, they’d never experienced anything like this so they were very anxious and terrified. The men of Tianshan tribe did not have their bow and arrows with them, hence their confidence had taken a huge hit. They knew they might die when they joined this travelling group but never would’ve thought it would come to this.
The Beast Battle City… They would rather be eaten by an animal in the desert than die a humiliating death here. Suicide? They had no guts for this either.
Lei and Tuo had the guts to kill themselves but they would not do so. They want us to fight a beast? Then we’ll fight! To them, they would rather die fighting.
In the pit on the other side of the door, there was a deafening roar that shook every heart. The young warrior of Feather tribe stood with shaky legs- and this was after their training too. If they had not endured the suffering in the deserts, perhaps they would not be moving now.
Could they escape? They’d thought of this but there were layers and layers of guards on the other end of the tunnel, they had bows and arrows poised in their hands too. It was impossible. What about them? They didn’t even have a piece of rock! How would they fight? They’d die immediately!
The vibrations outside the door weakened, the roars were no longer as loud. After a few shrieks of agony, everyone knew it was the end of the third battle.
When everything stopped, it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop in the walkway. Every breath could be heard.
The breeze brought with it the smell of rot and blood, heightening their anxiety.
Soon, a group of people wielding weapons approached.
The leader snarled maliciously, pointing the sharp end of his weapon at Shao Xuan and the rest. “It’s time!”
It sounded as if he said ‘time to die!’.
The heavy stone door opened, revealing a pit so bright everyone covered their eyes with their hands.
Although some of the sand was replaced after every battle, some of the bloodstains from prior fights remained.
The guards hurried them towards the sandpit, slashing at them with their weapons when they slowed down. However, one was stopped by Shao Xuan.
The guard was about to slash at Shao Xuan again when he said, “What, want to come with us?”
The guard was stunned for a moment, then stepped back. He did not want to fight to his death in the pit.
Shao Xuan did not look at the rest, merely walking towards the pit. Lei and Tuo hurried after him. The people of Feather and Tianshan tribe looked at each other then walked. The last four slaves were kicked into the pit by the guards.
The heavy door closed, sealing off their entrance.
Clatter clatter clatter!
More than ten stone blades were tossed from the bleachers above. These blades were quite sharp too, made of good quality stone.
These people grabbed the knives frantically.
The door opposite to theirs opened with a rumble. A giant beast with cone-shaped spikes all around its body ambled into the pit.
There was a tall building connected to the walkway that led into the pit. This was where all the beasts were kept, each locked separately in a cell. And within one of the cells, a beetle emerged from the ground.