This article was written by Q9uarpse99. Please do not add to it without the writer's permission.
- "However, Atakus and Metus were incorrect about many other things. Metus had stated that the arena was perfectly safe. They had decided that it was foolish for the bone hunters to attack Atero during the championship. They had said that Atero would be easily defended. Although their logic was correct, their facts were false. The Arena Magna was vulnerable…and in danger.'However, Atakus and Metus were incorrect about many other things. Metus had stated that the arena was perfectly safe. They had decided that it was foolish for the bone hunters to attack Atero during the championship. They had said that Atero would be easily defended. Although their logic was correct, their facts were false. The Arena Magna was vulnerable…and in danger."
- ― Narrator
Dual Conflict is a story serial (custom) by Q9uarpse99. It focuses on the Arena Magna, its history, and its culture.
Atero, Arena Magna. Midnight.
The shadows danced everywhere in even so grand a structure. From the outside, it might have actually looked like its resemblance in pictures, a grand, drawn-up circular palace, with a huge arena centering it. Although it was not as spectacular as its semblance, it was still not something to sneeze at.
The Arena Magna at night, however, was just like an over-renovated apartment building. Of course, for the workers who labored so hard to make the floor spotless for the visiting Glatorian, ready to show off their strength, there were beds and quarters, and for the honorable guests – tribe elders, Glatorian recruiters, all sorts of spoiled rich Agori from all over Bara Magna. The janitors were no doubt sleeping, as were the guests.
Below the arena and all of its splendor, was a chamber, almost underground, empty save for a wooden table and a dim, ebbing candle, a puddle of damp, drying wax slowly forming at its edges. That was where the entrance, all overdone and polished, led to. A doorway led to the stairways, which in turn, led to different places. It depended on where you went, and how well you knew the complex to get there.
There was always a guard, or at least someone, waiting down in that under-quarter, in the middle of the night, as it happened to be. Whether they were awake was one thing or another, but you could rarely deny their presence.
If anyone else were in this chamber, they would be instantly irritated, and awake, due to Metus’ loud snoring.
The ice Agori had been down in the under-chamber for several hours, but only awake for half. He was rarely awake past midnight, but now, it was well past that period. There were no windows, but if there were, nothing would be visible through them, if it weren’t for his abandoned fading candle.
Metus was a recruiter, and guest to the Arena Magna, for the Glatorian tournament. In a few days, he would be watching faces and bodies he knew well, sweating and clashing swords, showing that all their exercise and training had come off. But there was still preparation to be done. The excess sand had to be swept out of the arena. The Glatorian all had to arrive. Metus had volunteered to take a night shift and greet Agori and Glatorian coming to the arena, spectators or combatants. Of course, Metus had promptly fallen asleep.
Dreamless, thoughtless, mindless, happiness. He never expected to stay up as late as he was supposed to, and he had been correct as customary. His sleep was light, though, and he would have slept better if he were in his room five flights above the arena seating, or on his mattress, kneaded and flattened out to perfection, in his icy hut back home.
It wasn’t as if anyone was actually going to come at this hour. If there were caravans puling visitors, the Spikit or the like were probably the only ones awake. Any sensible Agori should be asleep at this hour. Metus was sensible, one of the most rational Agori he knew.
Metus was always one to follow logic. He had done it as far back as he could remember, always using logic to complete calculations, figuring out which Glatorian would beat which, which combinations of fighters would be the most efficient; Metus’ head was brimming with these ideas. Logic dictated that sleep dominated now, so logic dictated that no one would come while asleep, since that would be inconvenient. Metus was incredibly deductive.
His head rolled over onto the table, putting it in the path of the saturated candle’s dripping wax. A small pile of wax formulated on Metus’ head, until he instinctively shook it off, still sleeping, and rolled back to his original position.
He was probably already half-awake, when the door creaked on its hinges and an Agori entered. For a split second, there was a howling wind heard, until the newcomer slammed the door, took off his coat and scarf, and finding nowhere to hang them, dumped them on the table. He sighed, and sat down in the chair facing opposite Metus.
The first thing Metus saw was the candle, the damp wax and the slow, flickering flame. He thought it was a dream, and his eyes closed, but he blinked, and his groggy specs stretched themselves out, trying to combat his natural urge for sleep.
Breaths of cold air had been let into the pseudo-underground chamber, and Metus detected them. He, still dazed, reached out and clenched the candle in his solid fist. A wave of heat ran through his hand, and jolted him awake.
Seeing the newcomer, amused at watching Metus wake up, he jumped in shock. The black-armored Agori, seemingly a Roxtus native, had rested his own hands on the table, and gave Metus an acknowledging nod. Metus groaned, and growled, “You woke me up.”
“You’re supposed to be awake,” the Agori pointed out, mildly entertained.
“When did you get here, Atakus?”
“Oh, only a few minutes ago,” Atakus responded, crossing his strong arms over his chest. “The air woke you up.”
Metus sighed and rubbed his eyes in a half-hearted attempt to be vigorous. He looked around, and observed the room: empty blank walls, windowless, the only activity going on at the table.
“Well, I’ve learned my lesson,” Metus commented, his voice still not clear with the instinctive yawns of the morning, even though it was nighttime. “I’m not volunteering for this kind of work. I don’t do community service. The next time, I’m doing my job and that’s it.”
“You’re too rational to do volunteer work,” Atakus offered.
Metus flicked out dust from his eyes and nodded. “It’s just not my kind of thing. Let the night watchmen work when they should rest. It’s good to see you, Atakus.”
Atakus nodded and snickered, also glad to see his friend after half a year. He, in contrast with Metus, who was too tired to do anything other than lean back, was at the edge of his seat like usual. When Atakus relaxed, he felt lethargic and awkward.
Metus glanced downward to the floor, where his sword and shield had slipped out of his backpack, hung on his seat, to the floor. His foot traced the outline of his sword, feeling the edges and admiring the sharpness. He had not been swindled when he was told that he was buying fabulous weapons, although he was rarely in combat. But he had had these weapons for over five years, and they were just as sharp, if not sharper, as when he bought them.
“So, you came here with Skrall?” Metus referred to Atakus’ master, for his Agori intimate was a servant. “She’s participating?”
“Well then, we can cancel the competition. She’ll win.” Metus’ tiredness slowly receded, and his words returned to his usual eloquence.
Atakus laughed, but stopped when Metus opened his mouth to say more. “Maybe I’ll book her just once a day,” Metus decided.
“Good idea, although I might be fighting with her.”
“Honestly? Finally!” Metus exclaimed.
Atakus nodded, pleased with himself. “After a decade, I’ll finally fight with her,” he announced. “And you?”
“Well, let me shake your hand,” Metus reached over and clasped Atakus’ still gloved hand, his gloves dark and leathery. “You do know, this ties you into my business…”
The two friends burst out laughing, Atakus nodding. After Metus had let go of his hand, Atakus removed his gloves, and inserted them into his coat pockets, almost disrupting their contents.
“How was your trip, Atakus?” Metus asked.
“Tiring,” he responded. “But I was awake. I’m not tired! But Skrall and the others dozed right off. We’re going to win, Metus, I tell you! I bet you a Glatorian from Roxtus will win. For sure.”
Metus scratched his head and tapped the candle, its flame slowly dying. The puddle of wax had grown significantly, and Metus would not be surprised if it affected the table in some way. He tried to slide it over to the left, but it scalded his hand, so he restrained.
“So nothing went wrong?” This was a question Metus asked to all of the newcomers; safety was high on the list of priorities in the Arena Magna. His clear piercing blue eyes penetrated Atakus’ own, and for a moment, the Iconox native actually looked fully awake.
“I didn’t say that, I’m not done explaining…”
“Then please do,” Metus blinked, and the sleep returned.
Atakus sighed, his own orange orbs duller but intense. “About halfway through, we were intercepted by bone hunters,” he said. “They tried to bargain with us. Not that they had a chance. We in Roxtus don’t let those creeps get ahead.”
Metus knew this was a huge lie, but he didn’t say anything. Bone hunter prisoners were often brought back to Roxtus, although no one knew why.
“We could drive them off easily, and we did so,” Atakus bragged. “I myself landed a blow on an idiot who didn’t know which way to drive his rock steed. He was called Fero, but that doesn’t matter. I don’t think he’ll be feeling too good…”
Atakus chuckled. Metus followed suit, trying again to scrape the wax puddle off the table and failing. “That’s about it,” Atakus continued. “I’ll warn you, Metus. They might be planning an attack on the Arena Magna once the tournament starts. I figured that out myself, and told the others. They were concerned, and if there’re any other Glatorian awake, Skrall’s telling them now.”
“You don’t have to say that,” Metus winced, shaking his head in annoyance. “I’m not an idiot. I can figure that out on my own. And I know which Glatorian to mount the defenses with.”
“Sorry, I was just making sure of the arena’s safety.”
Metus nodded, and almost laughed: even though he was his friend, and despite his best efforts, at heart Atakus was still a braggart, and a pseudo-narcissist.
“Well, Atakus, thanks for making sure…” Metus replied. “I could lose my job if the arena wasn’t safe. But Atakus, I honestly don’t think that the bone hunters would risk an attack while the tournament is in progress. Think about it, and realize, that they would be beaten instantly, if they tried to attack a building with close to a hundred Glatorian, maybe two hundred.”
Atakus winced. Metus had outwitted him again, and being who he was, Atakus hated that. “I was just checking. We should have some defenses mounted just in case, so matches won’t get interrupted.”
The stocky ice Agori nodded. Silent, he reached down to the floor, and picked up his blade. Sharply, he dipped it under the puddle of wax that was now still, since the candle was expiring, and sliced it off the table. It cleanly fell onto the ground; Metus’ eyes darted towards it but otherwise he made no motion.
“So! Enough of this unpleasant conversation. I want to enjoy the time I spend with you, Atakus,” Metus changed the subject, placing down his sword on the cold floor. “It really is nice to see you again.”
Atakus grinned, and responded. “How are things in the arena, Metus?”
“Normal,” his icy comrade replied, warming back up to talking. “Glatorian injured, Glatorian eager, Glatorian powerful…sometimes I even wish I was one of them. I’m not a fighter, Atakus, and you know that. But I know all of the fighters. That’s usually true. I even make files. But this time, so many fighters I don’t know are showing up! And I have to meet them, talk to them, and get to know them. It’s hard, now, and I would appreciate if you helped me with it.”
Atakus nodded. “Sure,” he said. “But right now, I have a question.”
“Do you have a bed for me?”
“Up those stairs,” Metus pointed. Metus got up and gathered up his belongings; Atakus did the same – but not before looking out of the small square window, inset into the door. It was pitch black outside, save for the Arena’s outside lights, and Atakus could tell that it was freezing in Atero’s night.
Once Metus confirmed, he showed Atakus up the stairs, and up five more flights. Once Atakus had settled in, Metus decided that he needed some good sleep too, and had made his way over to his room. In half an hour, both Agori were asleep.
Atakus was right: it was gelid and numbing, and most sensible Agori were inside. Of course, at day, it would not be cold, but now, it was. The rock Agori had been grateful that he had his suede gloves to protect his hands, and his fur-lined coat.
However, Atakus and Metus were incorrect about many other things. Metus had stated that the arena was perfectly safe. They had decided that it was foolish for the bone hunters to attack Atero during the championship. They had said that Atero would be easily defended.
Although their logic was correct, their facts were false. The Arena Magna was vulnerable…and in danger.