Chapter 241: Arena Champion
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“My friend has always been the last one to drop when we drank until the sun rose, and most of his stories involved fights he had been in or foolhardy feats he experienced after getting drunk.

I was actually considering forming a permanent team with a few of our friends back then, the Terus Empire has a large adventurer community and many opportunities for ranking up.

Sadly, his true passion is and has always been the arena, therefore he declined the offer.

Nevertheless, sometimes it was only me and him that were awake after a banquet as everyone else already dropped from the alcohol.

Those were the only times when he told me stories about when he entered the arena.”

Inside the pit, the spear wielder was happy enough to keep his distance.

Every time the gauntlet fighter wanted to approach, he slashed with his spear to prevent the opponent from approaching.

Similarly, the gauntlet fighter appreciated the chance to attack freely.

It gave him the initiative and he could slowly test out the defense of the spear wielder.

Once he tried an avenue of attack and it did not work, he moved on to a different method.

From the point of view of the audience, he tumbled left and right while clashing or deflecting the spear that came for him in a bid to stop him.

Nevertheless, the viewers were happy enough to see them fight and clash repeatedly, eliciting loud cheers whenever the spearman's defense wavered.

Tyne Pinewood, on the other hand, barely spared them a glance the entire time.

Nisha assumed that the fights did not have any aspect that he had not seen before or made him even a tiny bit intrigued.

Aaren could not help but glance towards the fight several times, clearly more enthralled than his two companions.

He did show interest in the story told to them by the [Eternal Warrior], so he had to split his attention between two matters at the same time.

 

“You have to understand that the Terus Empire Arena is a vastly different place.

Rather than a single arena league, they split it into several different tiers.

The lower league is for first to third rank fighters while the upper league has regular fights for people between fourth and sixth rank.

And on occasion, there’s even fights between powerhouses above the seventh rank.

The arena itself is huge and has a main arena for the big fights and several smaller pits, so the fighting never stops.

Even in the middle of the night, as long as you pay for a ticket, you can bet on fights and watch blood get spilled around the clock.

It’s difficult to describe the place when you guys have never seen it before, words alone don’t do it justice.

If you ever travel to the Terus Empire, I strongly recommend you visit the arena there at least once, it’s worth it.”

Now the boy next to Tyne Pinewood no longer had eyes for the fight in the pit.

He stared at their mentor and tried to imagine a grand arena, filled with blood and sweat as fights raged on perpetually.

Nisha similarly disregarded the fight to imagine the scene.

She often visited Lance Corporal Hale, but they had never talked about the arena.

If it was really that big, the Lance Corporal should have mentioned something at least when she talked about her home country.

But their talks did not gravitate towards the topic of landmarks or iconic buildings, so there was still a chance that the arena just had not come up yet.

Still, the local arena already occupied a fairly big area with their building, nestled in a corner of the city wall.

With the stands and the additional construction to house prisoners and personnel adjunct to the arena itself, the entire area almost qualified as its own small district, if the commoner district was not the biggest one in the entire city.

If the Terus Empire Arena was even bigger, it was more than possible that it actually constituted an actual city district.

 

“Think of the arena here and imagine it is built from stone and four or five times bigger.

The stands are separated into common seats, premium seats and lounges for the truly important.

Even the common seats have better amenities than here and more space, while the expensive seats are decorated with fine carvings, free food and complimentary services.

And the private lounges are not much worse than a royal suite, whatever you can think of, the arena will think of a way to meet your demands.

My friend had his own lounge and we would go to see the games sometimes, so I managed to connect the dots fairly quickly.

He did not start as a fighter with much renown, the opposite actually.

Before his life changed, he worked as a slave on a farm belonging to a prominent family of the Empire.

Just like countless others that sold themselves into slavery, he was born to slave parents and entered a contract in exchagne for some education and a tiny salary that would be paid out once he turned two dozen turns old.”

Tyne Pinewood lost himself to his memories, and despite speaking much more than on all occasions where the elf met the man combined, he fell into a lapse of silence.

Aaren next to him seemingly wanted to ask a question, but he read the situation and knew he had to hold back and allow the instructor to finish the story first, or he might stop talking altogether.

Nisha made a similar judgement and turned her attention back to the fight.

While their teacher wrestled with his memory, she might as well enjoy the display of technical skill.

It was a shame that the Arena League fights generally forewent the active use of skills, but there was still much to learn by studying the fighting technique of the combatants anyway.

In many ways, the gauntlet wielder and spearman displayed similar movements to those recorded in the [Imperial Swordplay], although just as many details had been dchanged to accommodate for the distinct use of sword and gauntlet.

 

The fighter with the gauntlets found most success in tumbling short distances and deflecting the spear to approach rapidly, making the spear user fall into a fluster when his opponent almost broke through his defense after using the gloves to directly block the speartip and pushing his weapon in the opposite direction.

He had to spend a lot of power to restore the mid range distance and the ideal range for his spearwork, giving the gauntlet wielder a possible flaw to exploit.

Nevertheless, it took swift reactions and precise judgment to anticipate the trajectory of the spear, so it was not a feat that could be replicated at will and the crowd raved as the two fighters swept left and right through the arena, testing their limits and pushing each other further through heavy pressure.

Nisha was fairly impressed this time as she applied her own knowledge of sword fighting to their techniques and saw a common theme.

Imagining herself in the pit, the dragon wondered whether she could perform just as well with a weapon.

Most of her encounters when hunting in the Dungeon or on a warrior trip concluded quite quickly as long as she brought her superior physique and large aura reserve to bear down on her enemies.

Giving herself an honest appraisal while seeing an example of genuine technique and tactics in a rapid exchange of blows, the elf had to admit that her own technique lacked refinement and practice.

It gave her inspiration to persist and endure the repetitious training to polish her own technique with a beautiful example of future results right in front of her.

As the fight raged on, Tyne Pinewood snapped out of his reverie and gave his two students a moment to appreciate the fight.

Once someone reached the upper ranks of the first realm such as himself and the members of [Silverveil], low level fights like these lost any appeal, since there was hardly anything left for them to benefit or learn from.

Nevertheless, he entered the arena this time on account of his students, their current attainments were suitable to learn from the matchups and broaden their horizons.

 

“The Terus empire does not have the concept of servants. When a family falls into ruin or faces annihilation, it is not uncommon to sell descendants into slavery or enter altogether under another family.

Even common families, with some small amount of wealth, often buy a slave to handle the daily affairs of their homes,

This is important, because my friend was born from parents who were also slaves.

He grew up with a small amount of education, which is somewhat surprising, but the rich and wealthy regard slaves as their property and not followers.

Whether they want to sell some of them later on or are afraid of their property reflecting back on them poorly, most slaves are treated fairly well.

They even have the chance to buy back their freedom, once they served a master for forty turns.

It’s an important law decreed by the empress herself, and some of the oldest noble families in the council ruling the empire had to enter slavery for one or more generation to survive in the past.”

Taking back his gaze from the pit, the [Eternal Warrior] reclined his head and closed his eyes while he continued the story.

Nisha was surprised at the difference between the treatment of attendants between Leandar and the Terus Empire, but she had read similar accounts in the general section of the library in regards to other countries such as the twin kingdoms and the tribes living in the icy regions of the far south.

It was, however, a new revelation that the noble families of the empire treated their slaves quite well and even bothered to give them an education.

“When my friend was a young adult, he was sold by a rather influential family to one of their followers, who also had some amount of influence and wealth, hence he ended up as a manual worker on a rural estate that mainly served as a manor for the main family to retreat from the capital of the empire and relax while they hunted and hosted social receptions for families of the same social rank.

Perhaps the trajectory of his life would have taken a vastly different turn if he found his role in the estate and bought his freedom many turns later.

Sadly, the environment of the manor changed when the heir of the family was put in charge of the estate to learn about management and leadership as a test from the head of the family.”

 

Hearing that the tale continued, Aaren and Nisha returned their attention to the unusually talkative instructor.

Although the fight was still interesting - the spear wielder regained some ground and pushed forward more aggressively to prevent his opponent from coming into close combat range and overpowering, while the fighter with the gauntlet became increasingly skilled at deflecting the speartip with the reinforced metal of his fists to create opportunities - it was very rare for the usual languid and lazy Tyne Pinewood to volunteer a story from his past, whereas the arena would still continue to host fights of this level in the future.

“As a young and proud scion of an influential family, the heir implemented changes and wished to take charge of many areas in person to prove himself and take over more affairs from the family.

My friend has always been talented and attained the late second aura rank by the time he was a dozen and two turns old.

He represented the strongest among the youths belonging to the manor and to seize authority over the slaves, the young master wished to make an example out of him.

Alas, the heir overestimated himself and underestimated how a desperate man driven to the edge could lash out.

My friend had nearly beaten him to death by the time the guards intervened and sent for healers.”

The [Eternal Warrior] sighed and emanated a wave of profound sadness.

Nisha was confused why the man expressed regret while his friend won the fight.

Fortunately, the following words explained the situation clearly.

“In truth, the head of the house that owned the slaves was quite grateful that his son was taught a lesson about humility and careful planning without lasting harm, as the priests managed to completely restore the young master.

But it’s impossible to let the perpetrator off the hook, or slaves would think that rebelling against their masters was acceptable or even possible at all.

Therefore, the master of the family personally went to the rural estate and escorted my friend back to the capital, where he was sold as a criminal to the arena.

Similar scenarios happen quite often and it was a popular way to get rid of undesirable slaves in the Terus empire.

Those assigned twenty five matches knew they carried a death sentence and quite often lost the will to live.”

Opening his eyes, Tyne looked at the red sand of the arena, seeing the struggles of the past.

“When my friend was sent to the cell, he received a different judgement.

He had to survive fifty fights.”

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