Akira and Mileena continued to win their matches and spent the rest of the day searching for clues hoping to find where the gladiators where living.
No matter how hard they searched they were unable to find another entrance that the gladiators would be escorted through. They even watched the entrances to see if they would be brought through one of them but they saw nothing like that happen.
Varbu had not seen Mileena’s sister or any gladiators during the last few days as there were too many fights between the tournament contestants for the gladiators to fight.
Now that the teams had been whittled down to 50 the inside of the arena had been changed. There were no longer two rings in the middle of the arena, there was only a large square ring roped off.
The remaining arena floor was filled with cramped rows of wooden benches. The benches set up inside the arena were dangerous to sit in since the fighting inside the ring could spill into the nearby area easily. So the seats were sold off for an extremely cheap price compared to the safer ones far behind them. This allowed for thousands of more people to be able to enjoy the fights.
The seats filled up quickly even with the risks that came with sitting so close to the fight. A few of the people that bought the tickets for the bench seats had missed purchasing a regular seat and had to settle with what they could get.
The majority of people that bought the seats were hardcore fans who made sure to bring tarps to cover their bodies in order to keep clean from the blood guts and other things that could get all over those who sat in the first few rows.
Why? Because starting from today the gladiators would fight!
The arena announcer who had been cracking many jokes (all to cringe-worthy to remember) since the beginning of the tournament had become soberer and somewhat professional as the numbers were whittled down.
Varbu sat in his seat eating a few snacks and while cheering along with the crowd. The sly team ‘Slimy Snakes’ won the match by knocking the nearby numbers girl (the person who held up the team numbers for the crowd to see who was fighting) into the opposing enemies path tripping them up and causing their defeat.
“UHHH… that has got to hurt. I hope she’s okay!” shouted the announcer, “Our next battle will star the outstanding beautiful Desert Sword Dance Duo!”
The crowd cheered like crazy.
“Their opponent will be the unorthodox Lewd wolf and Majestic cat!”
Another roar of cheering went through the arena.
Akira and Mileena walked through the small roped off path that led through the large crowd of fans sitting on the benches. They were only a few arm spans away some fan tried to reach out and touch them but had their hands bashed away by the escorting guards.
The other team was already waiting for them inside the ring when they arrived.
Akira quickly looked over his opponents. Their tight-fitting outfits made them look more like assassins than reputable warriors. He ran all the information he had heard about them through his head.
The two were from the capital of Otria and studied under the Grandmaster swordsman Hue Hyaa, who had created the prestigious Desert Sword Dance school of martial arts.
They were one of the top 10 teams that people were betting on to win the tournament. He only knew this much from what Varbu had told him when he had come back to the inn the day before after placing his bet on Akira and Mileena’s upcoming match.
Akira didn’t much like gambling but in order to raise some funds for their travels, he let it slide since he was 70% sure he could win.
That was all he knew about them.
But there was one thing that was troubling Akira greatly as he looked at them. So he decided to end his curiosity by just asking them.
“Why are you two using spears instead of swords? Aren’t you supposed to practice some sort of sword dance?”
An angry feminine voice blurted out through the half face mask that was covering her mouth, “Ha, ha, very funny! It’s not our fault that we can’t properly use the sword techniques of the grandmaster!”
“Don’t get so worked up sister, we can do this! I am Fred and she is Ed,” said Fred while placing her hand on Ed’s shoulder to calm her down.
“Wow, your parents sure knew how to pick weird names for girls,” said Akira.
“They’re not our names! They’re our ring names,” said Ed getting agitated again.
“Fight!” shouted the judge.
Both teams stood where they were watching each other to see who would make the first move.
It was Fred and Ed who broke the stalemate first.
“Fred you know what to do,” shouted Ed.
“Right!” said Fred.
They started to move forward towards Akira who held his shield in front of him ready to block any attack thrown at him.
Their movement was slow and odd. It was as if they were…dancing.
The two stopped moving suddenly still a good distance away and shoved their spears towards Akira as if they trying to pierce him with the attack all the way from such a far distance.
Yellow light in the shape of a spearhead shot out from both spears and raced towards their target, Akira.
The use of a special skill surprised Akira but that was all, due to all his training his shield moved as if it had a life of its own and was able to block one of the skill attacks that punched into his shield and created a loud scraping thunk.
He ducked and leaned to the right to dodge the second attack that had been aimed at his head.
“Guahhhh!” a loud pained voice came from the crowd behind him. He could hear several cries of surprise and numerous people moving away from the seating area behind Akira.
“Would you look at that! The famous Desert sword Dance skill has appeared!” shouted the announcer happily, while ignoring the injury of one of the audience members.
“It is widely known that 1 in 10 students who are able to enter the school are able to use the desert sword dance skill,” explained the Announcer.
“Ha! You can’t beat us when we go all out!” shouted the hothead Ed.
“Mileena, let’s charge them since we can’t let them continue using those types of attacks. Stay behind me, you should know what to do when we get there,” said Akira in a hurry. He could not use his own skills for fear of killing his opponent or members of the audience, which would cause him problems.
“Understood,” said Mileena as she stepped behind Akira.
Akira charged forward with his shield in front not using the skill [Shield Slam] for fear he might miss the targets.
Several more solid thunks could be heard as he continued to block their attacks with his shield which slowed his steps for a few seconds each time they hit allowing the two attackers to retreat.
Akira continued to push forward and reached them as they managed to send out two more attacks.
One of the spears was so close that the attack aimed towards his head almost connected but Akira leaned his shoulders to the right causing the skill attack to graze his cheek almost cutting his nose off.
Akira was quick to counter-attack with his own sword darting out in front aimed at Fred’s stomach, only for it to be blocked by Ed who knocked the sword off target with her spear hitting the flat of the sword’s blade.
Akira was again forced back onto the defense blocking numerous quick viper like thrusts of the enemies spears.
Mileena picked this time to jump out from behind Akira and launch an attack on Ed, forcing her to stop her attacks on Akira and defend against both daggers that came flying towards her head.
Akira used [Shield Bash] to knock Fred back and off her feet blocking her from helping Ed.
Only one of Mileena’s daggers had been blocked by the spear while the second one was able to snake its way past and stab into Ed’s right armpit.
Ed’s right hand that was holding the spear lost its grip, causing the spear to fall to the ground.
Before she could reach for it with her left hand Mileena used the butt of her daggers and forcefully hit both of Ed’s temples knocking her out.
Akira jumped forward and kicked one of Fred’s legs out from underneath her as she tried to stand up back up.
Standing over Fred, Akira placed a foot on her non-existent chest stopping her from getting up and aimed a well placed [Shield bash] to her face knocking her right out.
The fight was over in a flash.
Akira took in a few gulps of fresh air as he panted from the heat of the hot desert day that did no favors for those that were fighting.
“We have a winner! Lewd wolf and Majestic cat! Can you believe it! One of the top teams expected to win has been knocked out of the tournament! They even used their special Desert Sword dance skill and failed to produce results. I’m sure that they will be in a lot of trouble when they get back to their master,” shouted the announcer as enthusiastically as ever.
Before leaving the arena Akira and Mileena bowed to the crowd a few times causing loud roars of cheering and applause.
“Now we saved the last battle of the day for something special! A gladiator fight to the death!”
The crowd roared the loudest it had all day. They wanted to see someone, anyone, die!
“This battle, as with all the other gladiator battles over the next few days, will have a special rule or rules to make the fight more fun! Today’s rules are… no armor and only one weapon is allowed to be used!”
A different gate that had not been used by the contestants opened up and two gladiators were pushed out wearing only thin cotton clothes.
The guards pushed the gladiators into the ring in the middle of the arena and unlocked the metal shackles around their feet before returning to the tunnel.
“Let me introduce you to the two gladiators that will fight to the death the first is someone you may be familiar with.
It’s Brock Omama! He is has been on a winning streak lately with two wins! Can this be his third? Or will the new challenger be able to beat him?
The new contestant is Maya the nyantail goddess! She comes all the way from the northern desert!” shouted the announcer.
Varbu who had been lazily munching on his snacks nearly dropped them upon hearing the name of the last gladiator.
His gaze quickly zeroed in on the female gladiator down below.
Ears, check. Tail, check. She even had a bow! This must be Mileena’s sister!
‘What to do? what to do? Do I go inform Akira and Mileena or do I stay and watch the fight to see if she survives?’ Varbu thought to himself.
‘I’ll watch the first bit to see if she can stay alive or not, then I’ll go find the other two,’ decided Varbu.
Akira and Mileena walked out of the arena’s side entrance still wearing their mask to hide their identities from fans and other dangerous types of people that may be watching the rear door.
As soon as they walked through the exit they noticed something was wrong due to a large number of people milling around a far corner of the street near the exit.
They were all wearing the same familiar armor that Akira and Mileena had just seen in their last fight. Each one of them had their hands on their swords ready to draw them and start a fight.
Akira turned to the opposite direction and started walking away from them.
“Hey, you! Hold up!” someone shouted from behind.
“Pervert wolf! I’m talking to you!” shouted the voice again.
‘Who are you calling a perverted wolf?!’ though Akira angrily.
“Let’s go,” said Akira ignoring the people behind them.
He grabbed Mileena’s hand and started running through the slightly crowded evening streets.
“They’re trying to get away! After them!”
Akira and Mileena took a long and winding route over ten minutes to try and lose the people following them before heading to the inn they were staying at.
But before they could fully escape they were spotted and chased into a dead end. They were now surrounded by ten people in a semicircle.
‘Damn it we were so close to reaching the Inn.’
“What do you want?” asked Mileena.
“You made our martial arts school look bad in front of everyone.”
“Yeah, you’ve made out master lose face. So we have to take care of you to regain the reputation that was lost!”
Akira pulled Mileena back and stepped forward to protect her.
“Huh? What’s going on here?” came a familiar voice from behind the attackers.
“Piss off if you know what is good for you Orc,” said the leader of the group.
A large quarterstaff club slammed into his stomach.
“Varbu! You’re just in time!” said Akira.
“Sorry I’m late, I seemed to have missed the invitation,” said Varbu with a smile.
Soon cries of pain that were so horrifying could be heard coming from alleyway making it so no one dared to go near for fear of getting caught up in whatever was happening.
“You saw her?!” whispered Mileena while sitting at one of the inns secluded corner tables.
“Yeah, she had cat ears and a tail just like you although different color hair and fur. The announcer said her name was Maya,” said Varbu.
“Wait, that means you saw her fight? Did she win?”
“I left before the fight ended so I could find you guys quickly and not have to deal with the large crowd. When I left she had the upper hand and was holding her own. So I don’t think she lost the fight.”
“Which gate did she exit from?” asked Akira.
“It wasn’t one that either of you have used before. It was that one between the other two,” said Varbu.
“Hmm, the third gate. That probably explains why we couldn’t find any other entrances and or see any gladiators going to the arena. They are most likely brought to the arena through an underground tunnel,” said Akira.
“So what’s the plan? How do we rescue her now that we know how to find her?” asked Mileena.
The three of them continued to talk late into the night hatching different plans for different situations.