“Names?” The Free Leagues clerk was strangely informal, even for a junior officer of the Deliberative. His attitude was akin to that of a man tallying grain stocks instead of taking the names of fighters for a league qualifier.
“Ravius Vergerus,” said Ravius, teeth gleaming in the sun as he grinned.
The clerk, deftly recording this, suddenly looked up at Ravius, irritated and expectant, before Gavin could utter his own name.
Ravius paused for effect, drawing it out. The clerk’s stylus hovered impatiently above his tablet, involuntarily still. “Arena name: Ravishing Rude Ravius.”
The clerk frowned, unable to tell if the Gladiator had forgotten or was merely jesting at her (*his) expense. This robbed him of his chance to be superior and he quickly turned to Gavin.
“Gavin Orphanus,” said Gavin evenly. “Lionfang.”
The clerk paused, gazing at the information in the crystal of his link tablet.
“I see,” he said. “You’re both Gladiators, ranked six… Faction Champions, albeit from a small town in the south… Decent records… Still in good standing with the Reds. I see no problems here, honoured Gladiators. Do you wish to join the Free Leagues?”
“We do,” Gavin answered, cutting off any chance for Ravius to exercise his wit. They’d stood outside in the rain and mud for several hours for this very reason, but the clerk still needed their official acquiescence.
“Agreed,” said Ravius.
They both touched their thumbs to the clerk’s link to finalize their agreement.
The Free Leagues are a sort of Gladiator’s limbo where fighters who aren’t happy with their prospects in the Faction leagues try to build a name for themselves. The freedom appeals to Gavin.
And a little something extra since this is my 100th post.
Gavin turned down two more passages, going right whenever he was faced with a choice, before he came to another wide clearing. He detected faint musky odour. He took two steps into it before instinct screamed at him to stop. He whirled around as the spike hound that had been trailing behind him attacked. The Gladiator’s lunge caught the beast in the air. The Gladiator’s aim was precise and creature’s own momentum drove the spear through it. Gavin let go of the spear and sidestepped the body as it crashed into the brush walls, where it twitched in its death throes. He barely had time to draw his short sword before the others were on him.
The next few moments were a confusion of snapping jaws, gnashing fangs, and desperate footwork. Powerful, spiny bodies darting at him from multiple angles. A heavy form barrelled into him. He twisted to minimize the impact, then sent the beast sprawling with a kick. A powerful clawed paw swiped at his shield. Gavin turned and raked the offending limb with the device’s razor edge. The Gladiator was able to keep on his feet. Fending off the two remaining hounds by backing down a tunnel.
This fight takes place in a maze. One of the Chosen is using Gavin to test a new match venue. Of course, like anything in the Domains there are multiple layers of meaning in this test…