The Chronicles of Estiah

Chapter 5 : Sister

"Let him go!"

"He can't fight anymore! Your win is obvious already!"

"He was fighting for gold, just like you! You bloodthirsty barbarian!"

Standing in the middle of the coliseum filled with thousands of spectators, Nikkum raised his head with eyes closed. All these protests and boos from the spectators sounded like a cheer of victory to him. He welcomed every noise and insult; maybe it was the moment that he enjoyed the most in this tournament. He slowly took a deep breath; the smell in the air was a disgusting mix of sand, sweat and blood. He seemed not to show any concerns about this, as he was stepping on a trembling face twisted in pain.

A man was laying under Nikkum's feet, a challenger like many others in this local tournament organized by the city. He had believed it was a good day, as he managed to reach the finals, and even by losing he would still be off with some decent gold. Yet, when he stood before Nikkum, the relief disappeared from his face. He saw murder and destruction, something not that common in this kind of tournament whose goal was just to provide amusement to local inhabitants. Some competitors went off with injuries on the bad days, and hardly anyone remembered when the last death had occurred. But now he was lying there before he had a chance to display any skills, just like a dog meeting its final moments, struggling with its last breath. What the audience had witnessed today was not exactly a battle between two men but some kind of bullying from a super human on a helpless weakling. And the man knew it too well, he had already lost all his will to fight back, he was on the ground, waiting, dying, completely at Nikkum's mercy.

"Just stop that nonsense already!"

"Come on, he's got family, you aren't going to gain anything from hurting him more!"

So unusual to see all the spectators yelling in favor of the loser. Some of them were even trying to get into the arena to help. The audience was in confusion now, forgetting totally that the match was still going on. Always crying for more blood in the ordinary days, now they were urging for pity and mercy- this was only entertainment after all.

Only one man was entirely out of this commotion. Nikkum was still standing there, listening to the disturbance in the air. Maybe he was recalling something, but his heavily scarred body was a better indicator of his past. He never called himself warrior even though he appeared to be one. Brutality and courage, he had plenty, but honor and loyalty were only nonsense to him. He hated following commands, he hated giving orders. He fought for gold, for himself and for his past.

The coliseum became louder than ever before, even the most talented fighter in the past could not make it so excited and agitated. In this place where so much blood had been shed, it was so astonishing to see people ask for clemency. The spectators knew that they had to stop this fight, this meaningless event. They just wanted it to end, with the competitor alive.

The loser coughed up some blood, and seemed to have an even harder time breathing than before. With Nikkum's left foot on his face, the pressure was totally overpowering him. He felt not a man, but a giant stepping on him, a giant with an iron body and unbeatable aura. He never felt this hopeless before in his life, his prompt victories before the final match were so distant now. Remorse was all he had in his head, he disliked being weak, but most of all, he regretted entering this tournament, risking his life for some gold. His vision was blurred due to the injuries; still he seemed to cling to something, as he tried hard to find something in the upset audience. But his labor was in vain, as people started to move more and more violently, shouting, protesting.

As the whole place heated up, Nikkum slowly opened his eyes. Under the bright sun of noon, he felt warm and free, while his prey was shivering on the ground. He looked around, spotted the first few spectators who managed to descend into the fighting grounds. However, as his look crossed theirs, they fell back all of a sudden, in fear. More and more spectators flooded in, but still no one dared to come near.

And then, he released a beastly roar that would shake the ground of the whole coliseum. A blazing light burst out from his hand, by the time the spectators realized, an enormous axe was stuck into the head of the dying man, if that mixture of brain and blood could still be called "a head".

Suddenly, silence ruled over the whole coliseum. Some of the spectators not used to gruesome scenes started to throw up, while the others witnessed this inhuman killing with their mouths open.

The kill lasted the briefest moment; the victim could probably not have felt any pain. Nikkum moved toward the judge who was holding the prize of the tournament, ignoring the crowd gathered around him. He took the bag of gold from the judge's trembling hands with a single gesture, and headed to the exit. The unhappy audience did not utter a single word as they watched Nikkum leave, with the mutilated body left behind.

As Nikkum stepped out of the coliseum, he noticed that someone was following him. He turned his head but only saw a fragile girl about twelve years old, covered in dust and weakened from hunger.

"You killed Elissa's brother." she said.