The world returned to Trinn slowly, like a weary old man climbing a hill. Every step it took toward her throbbed in her skull and she curled away from it, screwing her eyes more tightly shut, hoping that if she was very quiet it would think she was dead and go away. But world was not fooled, and it wiggled back into her mind through the stale urine stench in her nose, the thick dryness in her mouth and the smooth chalky stone under her hips. Resigned at last to the reality of her continued existence, she opened her eyes to accept it.
She lay like a broken doll on the cold stone, wrapped in her cloud of chestnut hair and a thin white shift. A wall confronted her large oak eyes, a curious rarity. She rolled over slowly, the stone grinding against her back, to find herself surrounded by two more, and a portcullis. The floor was invisible under the still bodies of two men, asleep or dead she couldn’t tell. She pulled her arms beneath her, and slowly lifted herself. Her body seemed to weigh almost nothing without her clothes, her boots or her weapons. She stepped lightly over the prone forms of her cellmates and wove her fingers through the portcullis’s bars. She was unable to fit her head through, and her narrow view of the hallway outsider her cell showed her only more walls curving away to either side.
“That’s not a good feeling,” a rough voice groaned behind her. She jumped and pressed her back to the bars. One of the men sat up, rubbing his head skull between his horns. He has dark eyes, his skin his a tint of red, and he has horns. A tiefling. Trin never trusts anyone with a tail. “I feel like I had a good night. But now looking around this feels like it might be more than a hangover.” His eyes adjust to the dark room and he locks eyes with the elf. He stands up, “I’m Kabul, what’s your name?”
She looks around uncomfortably, she doesn’t like talking to people outside of her tribe, let alone of another race. But given the situation, she doesn’t have much choice, “Trin.”
“Well nice to meet you Trin, and how did a girl like you end up in a place like this?”
She hesitantly answers, “I was scouting ahead for my tribe, found some berries. I had a few and passed out. Someone must of coated them with a sleeping agent. How about you?”
Kabul was much more forthcoming with his information, he circles the cell looking out at the hallway just as Trin had, “I was out at a tavern, enjoying some drinks. And I was knocked out. Think we could get this open?” He gives the portcullis a kick.
“Even if you could you wouldn’t want to,” the last of the prisoners wakes up. Trin takes a better look at him now. A little shorter than the average human, but stocky like a dwarf. Definitely a mul. “You go out there an’ they kill ya. At least if yo’ play their game you have some chance of survival.”
Trin starts, “What-” but she stops herself when she hears footsteps approaching from the other side of the portcullis. Her first instinct is to hide so she presses herself against the wall nearest the gate, hoping not to be seen. Kabul stands next to the bars waiting to see who is coming. The mul doesn’t get up.
A human with short brown hair and a scar over his left eye walks up to the gate. He speaks with a hoarse voice that grinds against ones ears, “Glad to see you’re all awake. Rest easy and prepare for your fight.”
“What fight?” asks Kabul.
“You’re going into the arena gladiator, survive one hundred fights and you’re free to go. Get to know each other ‘cause you’re all that you got.”
Trin comes out of her hiding, “Why are you doing this?”
“Makes good money.”
“Has anyone ever won a hundred fights?” Asks Kabul.
The man smiles, “Just one.”
“And where is he now?”
“Now? Now he runs this little arena with an iron fist.”
“You?” Trin’s voice shakes with anger. The man nods. “Why would you do this to people if you’ve been through it yourself?”
“Told ya, good money in it. Rest up now, I have high hopes on you.” He leaves without saying another word leaving the three to ponder what to do.
“Cypherous,” the mul says, “Cypherous is my name. Now if you don’t mind I’m going to sleep.”
Trin and Kabul look at each other and go to opposite sides of the cell. They both try to sleep.
- * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The portcullis opens up, waking the three prisoners. “Right, let’s go,” Cypherous stands up and walks out into the hallway. “You guys comin’?”
Trin and Kabul follow, what other choice do they have? Kabul catches up to Cypherous, “What’s your story?”
“Got captured by slavers, sent here. Now we fight or die. If we’re lucky we’ll die to someone strong. If we’re luckier we’ll kill someone even stronger.”