It had been a month since Griff had been captured... The fights in the pit he had been in now numbered up to 7 in total. He had fought an ex-knight, a thief and a lunatic called 'The Wicker' that had volunteered to fight in the pit for the heck of it.
He had been there for over a year until Griff defeated him by pure luck. He had used the sand on the floor of the arena to blind the berserker after he was beaten to a pulp and used that chance to stab the bastard right in the eye, killing him in the process.
The crowd had went wild upon witnessing his comeback. He had been dubbed a veteran and moved to better living quarters.
'I just can't take it anymore... I need to get out of here fast.'
There was an event nearing by. A death-match tournament involving bets on which favored veteran would win and Griff was being forced to participate because some slimy fat masked noble wanted to bet especially on him. It was today, the tournament opening ceremony.
It had been dubbed the Bloody Knighthood Tourney. The victor that survived this carnage would hold the title of Battle-Master and be given freedom on the condition to work for the nobles.
Only one person would escape... the rest would face the cruel death of the arena. Griff had been preparing himself, steeling himself to do whatever it takes to survive the coming ordeal.
"Orten, open his cage, the ceremony for the tourney opening is 'bout to begin and the big boss wants to see his new baby veteran."
Griff moved along the dark and moist cage and exited. The two guards flanking him. He walked through the dark and horrid corridors that made him always think 'Is this the time I die?'
These two guards had been assigned to him since his first day in this hellhole as cell guards and they were oddly jovial. It was clear that they were very laid back.
The gates rose and Griff met the poorly illuminated arena with the masked freaks called nobles watching his every move once more. However, there was an oddity.
They were too silent, being bloodthirsty sadists. The reason for all this stood in the front row. A new mask had joined the crowd and stood at the middle. He had a dragon mask on. His gender was clearly male due to his posture.
Griff moved his head right and looked at the center of the arena. There stood 7 more people, all presumably veterans of the arena. Each bore their own scars clearly as they had unreadable expressions on their faces.
Most of them looked the same, muscular males with shaved heads to keep the hair out of the dirty fights they went in to.
From small to large they were mostly the same. The only oddity was a man clad in robes near the right end of the line and a man with piercings all over his body.
"All stand to pay respects to the master of the arena!"
The speaker brought Griff out of his daydream and he witnessed a pretty odd sight. The cruel nobles were paying their respects to the master of the arena.
Those sadists that only care about themselves went out of their way to show loyalty to the owner of the arena. This man was truly dangerous if he had the capacity to do this...
"Thank you everyone! Now we will be assigning the fighters for the first round! The preliminaries which will begin tomorrow!"
The speaker waited for the crowd to settle and continued speaking.
"Our first match up is between a fan favorite! The Cracker!!!"
The oddly large man between the fighters with piercings roared, he was presumably the cracker. It was believable with that getup.
"His opponent shall be the only mage in the arena! It was very hard to get our hands on one of them! He still hasn't given us his fool name so we have dubbed him as Mana!!!"
The crowd eyed the man, or presumably young boy, in the robe quietly.
That's it folks! This match is the only match you will be witnessing tomorrow, and the other preliminaries will be announced after each match-up!
To make things more interesting we will place all of these fighters in a large cage together to live until the tourney ends and only one remains!"
The crowd cheered for the drama that was being displayed by the arena.
The guards standing at the doors approached the fighters and rounded them up just like cattle, poking spears at them, directing them towards the only gate Griff had never been through...
The corridor was darker than expected, darker than the usual corridor Griff went through to arrive a this so called home in this hell hole.
They arrived at the end of the corridor where a dimly lit barracks had been set beforehand.
Inside were necessary utensils, nothing much nothing less. But something sparked in Griff, it spoke to him. This place was critical. He had a gut feeling.
"This is y'er home for the week fighters, well most of you won't see this place longer than 2 or 3 days before you die. Make the best of it."
The group was escorted inside and the huge door to the barracks sealed. There were 8 rooms with softer beds than the usual and a toilet.
Each room had a lock, for each fighter to keep their privacy probably. However, the guards most likely had the keys to every room.
It was a false sense of security to make them lower their guard. There was also a common room with a furnace which was dimly lit. That was all to the barracks.
"Hey lads! I say we party and celebrate our big boss's victory for tomorrow!"
A man exclaimed. The boss, The Cracker, grinned widely and eyed the mage and turned his thumb down. He looked like a ruler giving a death sentence.
Most saw this as represented. Griff didn't want to indulge in the affairs of the blood soaked psychopaths and decided to try talking to Mana.
Maybe he could learn a trick or two that would help keep him alive longer. Plus, he was the other odd one of the fighters. He hadn't cut his hair and he was pretty athletic instead of muscular. The fighters presumably saw him as weak.
He moved across the room and approached Mana who was sitting alone in a corner, his head looking upwards like he was in deep thought.
He couldn't be older than 25 years old give or take, he was definitely older than Griff but he still had his youth. Griff said nothing and sat next to him.
Mana had bluish short hair and blue eyes. He seemed like royalty to Griff, the way he walked, the way he spoke. He was diligent. Perhaps not for long though as this hell hole may be his grave.
"So why did you sit next to me?"
Mana broke the silence.
"Well, we both are the odd ones in this group, don't you think so?"
Mana eyed him for a bit before looking forward again.
"I guess you can say that. So what do you need from me? They all have a request if they come next to me, they hate my guts. You, even though you seem different, still are the same. Human nature is just greedy. Isn't friendship based on that?"
Griff taught for a few minutes before replying. Mana did have some truth behind his philosophy but perhaps being locked in this arena for an extended period of time may have forced him to only see the bad side of life?
"Well, I do agree to some points of what you said, but I'm not here to ask anything, nope. Not yet atleast. I just wanted to talk to the other odd person in the room. I may learn more of the outside if I stick by you. You seem more... diligent than the rest."
"Well... I am a mage after all. Magic changes people. Plus, these guys are all the same. Old villagers that had their villages sacked and have no chance but to fight to survive. I have a broader world."
Griff nodded in silence and smirked slightly. Even if he died, he could at least learn something about to outside.
Griff turned to Mana.
"Why are you crying?"
Griff touched his face and realized it was wet.
'I guess I'm lying to myself... I really really really want to live...'
"And also... why are your tears black..."
Griff raised his hand to have a better look at his tears... it was black.
'What the hell... What is this? Am I sick? I... I cry black? What does that make me..."
"Nevermind kid, people have their own special traits. Even if most are the same race they have their differences. I haven't seen black tears, but it may be related to an affinity you have. Some people demonstrate their affinity by some actions. People with potential to fire usually do not feel the heat and can suddenly have their arms or legs on fire when their affinity first surfaces. Sorry for making you worry."
Griff shook his head nervously and wiped his tears. He had cried before in the mana chamber but he hadn't cried black...
"Hell, I haven't seen this kind of affinity..."
Mana nodded to himself and then slowly he smirked and leaned towards Griff and whispered to his ear. Each word that he spoke was spoken as loud as only Griff could hear. It was a silent sentence but it changed everything for Griff...
"I would like to see you grow kid, so I will take you to the outside..."
TITLE: Words of Hope