11. Grand Demon’s Duel: Day 2
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Tara woke up with a jolt. She looked around wildly, buried in the sheets of Steff's bed. Her eyes flew over the walls, taking in the clean area. her clothes neatly folded and waiting for her, Steff herself was sitting in a chair in the corner, reading a scroll in the torchlight.

"Finally up, sleepyhead?"

"What? Where?"

"Okay, first question. How much do you remember about last night?"

The other woman frowned, thinking back, then blushed.

"All of it...mistress."

"You fine with it? I mean, you were under the influence of some aphro, and we got pretty wild."

"...I think I am, mistress. I've always been somewhat of a nympho."

Steff grinned, pleased that the other woman wasn't the least bit ashamed about admitting it. She folded up the scroll, stowing it in her bag, then stood up and stretched.

"So, how do i rate? On a scale of one to ten?"

"A solid nine, mistress."

"Good enough. Also, Tara?"

Tara yawned, then quickly got up, throwing off the covers and getting dressed unashamed of her naked form.

"Yes, mistress?"

"Call me Steff. What I said yesterday holds. You don't need to address me as 'mistress' all the time, only if you want to. I'm more comfortable with Steff. Okay?"

"Yes."

Languidly, Steff stretched, loosening all her muscles, then she walked over to her armour.

"Want to help me put this on? I can do it, but two hands are better than one."

Tara quickly complied, and the next few minutes were spent in a racket of metal as Steff guided her through helping her put on the unfamiliar armour. The other woman was putting up with the whole slave thing pretty well, to tell the truth. Her mood darkened when she thought about the fact that this was normal, everyday here. And people just readily accepted it.

Together, they left the room, Steff cracking a few jokes about Tara's flexibility, the other woman laughing along.

Half an hour later found both of them in the underground eating area of the coliseum, sitting at a wooden table, eating what passed as breakfast. It wasn't much, meat and vegetables, balanced for energy and provision, while skimping on actual taste. A fighters meal. One thing that never changed no matter where she went. She sighed.

"What is it, mistress?"

"I wonder what kind of dickheaded moron prevents the food that's GOOD for you from actually tasting good. All the shit that's bad for you tastes great, but if it's good for your body, it tastes bad. It's like the Illuminati want everyone to be too obese to resist their takeover of the world."

She just looked confused, and Steff waved her off.

They continued eating breakfast in peace, laughing and joking, already fast friends. Suddenly, a shout interrupted them.

"YOU!"

Looking up, she found the last person she wanted to see right now. striding towards her. Lyssen, the main character.

"You cheater! It's all your fault! Give me back Tara-chan right now."

For a second, Steff considered killing him right then and there. It wouldn't even be that hard. Just freeze all the water and blood in his body solid, then shatter it. Gritting her teeth, she shoved those thoughts out of her head, gave Tara a quick peck on the cheek and got up. shoving back the bench.

Spinning to face him, she put on her most neutral face, crossed her arms and addressed him, scorn dripping from her voice.

"What do you want, shitstain?"

For a second, he spluttered, taken aback. then he bulled on, stomping towards her.

"I demand Tara-chan back. You cheated yesterday. I won fair and square, and you know it. Now, give me the bracelet, and I won't go after you."

"Fuck off."

Seizing the moment when he faltered, she stomped forward and roared in his face.

"YOU TRIED TO ENSLAVE ME. YOU ENDED UP GETTING HER SOLD OFF AS A SLAVE FOR THE REST OF HER LIFE. I DON'T OWE YOU FUCK ALL, YOU STUPID BITCH. I BEAT YOU FAIR AND SQUARE. BUT YOU THINK YOU'RE ALL FUCKING SPECIAL AND THAT YOUR ACTIONS DON'T HAVE FUCKING CONSEQUENCES. WELL, GUESS WHAT? THEY DO. BECAUSE OF YOU THIS WOMAN WILL SPEND THE REST OF HER LIFE AS A SLAVE, WHY? BECAUSE YOU WANTED A SLAVE YOURSELF. ANOTHER FUCKPET FOR YOUR HAREM. YOU DIDN'T STOP TO THINK THAT MAYBE, JUST MAYBE, SOMETHING MIGHT GO WRONG. YOU NEVER DO. YOU THINK BECAUSE YOU'RE 'THE CHOSEN ONE' NOTHING WILL EVER HAPPEN?"

WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU THINK THIS IS, A FUCKING GAME? YOU'RE PLAYING WITH PEOPLE'S LIVES HERE, AND YOU DON'T CARE. I. WILL. BE. DAMNED. BEFORE I HAND HER OVER TO YOU, YOU FUCKED UP LITTLE SHITSTAIN. NOW GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE BEFORE I DO MORE THAN FLATTEN YOUR CROTCH AGAIN."

She had backed him up against a table, spittle flying from her mouth, and rage in her eyes.

Her piece said, she backed up, giving him some space. He looked shaken, but tried to brush past her regardless. Looking over her shoulder with pleading eyes, he called out to Tara behind her.

"Please Tara-chan, don't give up. I'll find a way to rescue you, i promise."

She didn't answer, instead she very pointedly turned away from him, ignoring him altogether. He called out again, but she didn't answer. Anger in his eyes, he whirled on her.

"What did you do to her, monster? I will kill you if you hurt her in any way."

Welp, threats against her life. Now she was justified in punching the fuck out of him. The old right cross put him on the floor, he never saw it coming.

First rule of an argument. Never threaten a short person wearing steel gauntlets while either your crotch or face aren't protected. Hmmm, cover both, actually. Just to be safe.

.....Not that that would save you from the Stelverine.

*****

Jian Xiao cursed under her breath as she danced around the arena, avoiding speeding projectiles of glass. This one was proving to be difficult. She had come out into today's matches, her fourth round, only to be faced of with...him. She hadn't gotten his name, a sudden gust of wind blowing sand in the announcer's face just as he said it, but he was frustrating her to no end.

It was late morning, the shadows cast by the rising sun slowly slipping away. giving her very little to play with. The sun was at just the worst possible angle, illuminating the entire arena, leaving the shadows she wanted just out of her reach.

She dodged another salvo of screaming glass orbs, and heard them shatter against the wall behind her. her eyes were locked onto her opponent. She was running out of tricks, Fast. With every passing minute he was creating more and more projectiles, firing them around the arena. She wasn't stupid. She could see what he was gunning for. Cover the whole arena, then throw everything at her at once.

Her cloak had a hole through it where one had nearly caught her, a hole torn through the billowing fabric. Her Sol reserves, while full, wouldn't help much. She was weak in her air elements, and could only use some shadow techniques. From this distance she couldn't use Shadow Spike. He would break free before she got close to him.

Something moved behind her and she threw herself flat, narrowly avoiding a cluster of orbs that had been aimed at her head.

She had to think of something. Even when everything was stacked against her, a member of the Darkest Night would come up with something. Fight smart.

Dancing around an eruption of sand to her side, she threw a burst of Sol forward, the air throwing sand in her opponent’s face.

For a second, he was distracted. Now, Whipping around, she used precious Sol to do something that would have been impossible a second before. She whipped off her gigantic cloak. letting it unfurl to it's full size, as large as a small house. Then she cast it upwards, sending a gust of wind up in each corner to hold it between her and the sun.

Then, there were shadows. Weak shadows that would be gone in seconds, yes, but still there. Good enough. Shadow Spike, now much easier to use, froze him in place for a second, sending the barrage of orbs that had been flying towards her cloak back to earth, and Shadow Step brought her right into the man's shadow. She smashed the hilt of her short sword into his temple and he collapsed.

...Just like that. From a quick, sloppy hit. So much for being 'the glass cannon'.

*****

Her fourth opponent forfeited.

When he had heard of the devastation she had caused to the arena in her last match, the Body Cultivator had taken the smartest move possible and simply bowed out, walking away as soon as the the match had officially begun.

She had to respect that. Knowing when to back down and how to pick your battles was a very important skill. One that she probably lacked. Not that she gave a fuck.

So, now, with a few hours to spare and nothing to do, she and Tara wandered around, having brought a crude map of the colosseum's tunnel from the cackling merchant. They went through the tunnels, Steff measuring her progress by using the map and placing indentions in the soil just outside the stone walls at each intersection.

She was just pointlessly wasting a few hours, cracking jokes with Tara and laughing. They had to turn back quickly, though, as neither of them had thought to bring a torch. They emerged back into the main waiting area on their side of the coliseum, and were stopped in their tracks.

Waiting for them were half a dozen of the most fancily dressed warriors she had ever seen. Red cloaks, plumed helms, and obviously expensive weapons.

They spotted her and turned as one, the foremost guard marching towards her with a no-nonsense look on her face.

"The Emperor wants to see you."

What in the hell had she done now?

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