The Arena of Death

Russell Figgins

Gorack watched in silence as another criminal was brought down by the claws and fangs of the Sabretooth. The sands of the arena were already stained red with blood of the unfortunate. The crowd roared as the big cat tore into its prey.

"You, savage," one of the guards called. "Your match is next."

They led him to the large metal gate; standing before it he clutched his long spear, and raised the small, round shield to his chest. It had been weeks since he and his band of raiders had been attacked by an imperial platoon, only he survived. They marched him 40 days to the Imperial city, where he was thrown into the arena. The gate began to rise slowly, agonizingly slow. He did not wait for it to go all the way, and quickly ducked underneath of it, and stepped out onto the sand as the crowd roared. Across the arena he saw the Sabretooth look up from the remains of the dead man, its mouth and chest stained red with blood from the ghastly feast.

With a roar the mighty predator sprang from the carcass and charged. Gorack charged toward his enemy, raising the spear to his shoulder he drew back and hurled it just as the big cat leapt. He watched as the spear sailed through the air, and buried itself in the chest of the Sabretooth, causing the beast to flip in midair from the impact, and sending it crashing to the earth.

The spectators erupted in excitement; they had never seen a Sabretooth brought down so quickly. Gorack ignored them as the cat wasn't dead yet. It groaned and writhed, trying to remove the spear imbedded in its body. The Valley Son drew the long knife in his belt, and cautiously made his way over to the injured beast. The Sabretooth turned its head to look at him, its large green eyes showed a mixture of hurt, confusion, and anger.

His hand faltered, but only for a second before he brought the knife down, piercing the heart. The great cat gave a jerk, and then lay still. Placing the knife back in his belt Gorack grabbed his spear, and pulled it free with a wet pop. Raising it over his head he let out a yell of victory. Turning to face the imperial box he looked at Burma Purkoff, a grotesquely obese man with the appearance of a boar. The baron stood, and held his hands up for silence.

"We have truly seen an amazing spectacle here today my subjects," he said. "A mighty Sabretooth brought down in only minutes, truly an impossible feat. But; our victors day it far from over is it not? Who would you like to face him next?"

"Gilgamesh! Gilgamesh! Gilgamesh" they roared.

"Very well, good people!" he shouted. "I give you the metal man, Gilgamesh!"

The metal gate rose once again, allowing Gilgamesh to enter. The creature was a mass of cogs and gears on two thin legs, wires poked through the holes in Gilgamesh's armored body. Its eyes were two large, yellow lights. In one large hand he held a long sword, in the other an axe. Gorack raised his spear and started slowly circling his opponent.

"What are you?" Gorack asked. "Are you man or something else?"

Without a word Gilgamesh charged with blinding speed. Gorack, who had hunted the Sabretooths with spear and net, was used to speed. Diving forward he rolled behind Gilgamesh, dodging an axe swing by mere inches. Quickly regaining his feet Gorack turned to thrust his spear, driving it into Gilgamesh's back. The automaton let out a shrill screeching sound that hurt the Valley Son's ears.

Pulling his spear free Gorack retreated several steps as Gilgamesh turned to face him. Again the metal man charged, and again the caveman rolled behind him, but; this time Gilgamesh's upper body swiveled around like on sockets. Gorack raised his shield at the last second and barely blocked the sword swing. The force sent him reeling.

Dazed and confused Gorack stared up at the sky. The crowed roared as Gilgamesh placed a heavy foot on Gorack's chest and raised the axe for the killing blow.

"What say you good people?" Purkoff asked. "Does mighty Gorack live or die?"

Purkoff held his arm out straight, with his thumb sticking out. Many people raised their thumbs for life, many lowered them for death. The baron waited several seconds before raising his own thumb.

"He will live to fight again!" Purkoff said. "These two mighty lions will fight again!"

Later, after he had been returned to his cell, Gorack sat awake for most of the night. He contemplated a strategy against Gilgamesh. The sun had climbed high into the sky when Gorack was released onto the sands again. He stood now with a fresh spear, a large shoulder guard was his only protection. Across from him were several men with thick beards, and draped in mammoth skin shirts and trousers, they carried spears and axes. They were of the Mountain Clan

"They expect us to fight alongside a weak Valley farmer?" one of them asked.

"I am no farmer," Gorack replied. "I also do not look forward to fighting alongside inbred mountain goats."

The largest of them, a massive man carrying a large axe spat at Gorack's feet.

"I am Uvenk, grandson of Ulk the Unwashed," he said, as he stepped up to Gorack, towering above him. "If our lives were not in danger of ending then I would split you down the middle with my axe."

Before Gorack could reply the crowd erupted in cheer as Gilgamesh took the sand. Without any hesitation he charged. The Mountain Clansman didn't react fast enough, as Gilgamesh leaped. An unfortunate warrior was crushed underneath of heavy feet of the automaton, a sickening crack erupted as the man's spine snapped under the weight.

"Kill him!" Uvenk roared, swing his massive axe. Gilgamesh quickly raised one foot, and pushed off of the axe in mid swing, pivoting he disemboweled another Mountain Clansmen with his sword, spilling his guts out onto the sand to the roars of the crowd.

Gorack charged forward, lowering his shielded shoulder he took the brunt of Gilgamesh's axe swing, before, stabbing his spear up into the underarm of the metal monster, causing him to leak black liquid. The sword crashed to the ground as Gilgamesh's arm fell listlessly to his side. Staggering back he fell to his knees and pressed his remaining hand against the wound, trying to stop the flow of liquid.

"He's wounded!" one of the Mountain warriors shouted. "Finish him off!"

"No you fools!" Gorack shouted, as three of them charged towards Gilgamesh. The three warriors slammed their axes against his back, to no effect. The automaton leaped over them, before catching one of them under both feet, and splitting the head of the last one open with a swing of his axe. Gorack and Uvenk looked on at the carnage before them as Gilgamesh turned to face them.

"Mountains crumble," a mountain warrior cursed. "He is unstoppable!"

"No, he is easily underestimated," Gorack replied. "I thought nothing of him and nearly lost my life as a result."

"Bah, I will end him right now!" Uvenk shouted, as he raised his axe over his head and charged towards Gilgamesh. "Die monster!"

Gilgamesh leaped at the last second, and sent a kick to Uvenk's jaw, sending him crashing to the ground. The remaining Mountain Clansman dropped his spear in terror, and turned to run. He did not get three steps before an axe imbedded itself in his back, sending him sprawling on the ground.

Gorack's reactions were the only thing that saved him from losing his head, as he barely ducked a sword stroke from Gilgamesh. Jumping back he dipped and dodged several more swings from Gilgamesh as the crowd fell silent. From the corner of his eye Gorack saw Uvenk climb shakily to his feet. Sidestepping another swing Gorack ran over to the dazed Mountain Clansman.

"Throw me at him," Gorack said, earning a confused look from Uvenk. "Throw me above him and I will draw his attention, while you charge in and strike."

"Fine, we'll both probably die anyway," Uvenk said, as he lifted Gorack onto his shoulder. "At least I take solace in you dying first."

"Aim true bondsman," Gorack said, before Uvenk hurled him high above Gilgamesh, drawing the automaton's attention. Hurling his spear Gorack watched as it was batted aside by Gilgamesh's sword. The metal warrior prepared to slice the Valley Son in half, as Uvenk's axe came crashing down through his sternum. The bright eyes were dark, and the body went limp.

The crowd erupted in cheer as Gorack and Uvenk stood tall in the arena. Purkoff stood and raised his hands for silence.

"These two warriors have indeed won more than just this match," the baron said. "In defeating Gilgamesh they have solidified their places in history, and have earned their freedom!"

The crowd once again erupted into cheers. Guards came out to escort Uvenk and Gorack out of the arena.

"What will you do now?" Gorack asked. "Return home to the mountains?"

"I think I'll travel to the south, I hear there is much to see there," Uvenk replied. "What about you Valley Son?"

"I think I too will head south," Gorack said. "You will need company."

"I'd rather travel with starving raptors than be seen with you," he replied.

"But, starving raptors are not much for conversation," Gorack said. "You seem like a man who loves to talk."

"Aye, I am," Uvenk replied. "I suppose you can come, but; only if you hold your own and not lean on me in a fight."

"I could say the same about you Uvenk," Gorack said. "Or did you forget what happened in the arena?"

"I'll gut you right now if you even mention that!"

"Consider it done my friend," Gorack said.

After purchasing supplies the two set out south in a caravan bound for the southern cities.