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Rated: E · Fiction · Contest Entry · #2305308
You are thrust into arena combat when captured by pirates following a shipwreck.

You regain consciousness slowly. Your hands are bound behind you and the rattle of chains through the hood that covers your head reaches your ears.

Fragments of memory float to the surface: an ocean voyage, floating on a piece of wreckage, the ocean sapping the warmth from your body. You recall waking face-down in the wet sand, cold water lapping at your knees and feet. Lifting your head off the beach, you recollect a screech and the click of a mechanism.

"Oi," a high-pitched voice from a few feet away caught your attention. "You're alive? I thought you was dead!"

You looked toward the sound to see a small crossbow pointed in your direction, and that was the last thing you remembered... until waking up. Here. In the dark.

You hear muffled voices in a language you don't understand. Something grabs your leg and a loud "click" reaches your ears. A weight you didn't realize was there disappears from your ankles. A huge hand grabs your arm, dragging you to your feet. You feel the bindings around your wrists release, letting blood flow to your now-tingling fingertips. Rough hands lead you from the place you were to the place you now stand. A fist yanks the sack-cloth from your head, almost taking a clump of hair with it.

"Take them!" barks one guard, gesturing at a table laden with an assortment of weapons and other equipment.

You take in your situation. You're in a small, dank chamber. The only furniture is a damaged table holding some gear. Two daggers, two maces, a net, two shields, two short swords, two short spears, two scimitars, a javelin, and a whip lie arrayed on the surface. You see two exits. Your guards block one that leads into darkness. You sense more guards in the passage outside. Another exit leads out, through a short tunnel, toward sunlight. With you are three other people you recall from the voyage. They appear as confused as you.

The guards prod you with spears until you choose your weapons. You select your preferred blade, and the guards push you through the door and down the corridor.

You proceed through the tunnel and into the sunlight. You blink at the brightness. Behind you, the heavy metal gate slams shut. You squint up to see it's operated by a winch from the viewing area above. The roar of a crowd reaches your ears. This is a makeshift arena inside a deep natural shaft. The bottom, where you stand, is roughly circular and eighty feet in diameter. Fine white sand covers the floor. Scraps of ruined armor and splatters of blood litter the surface. The shaft walls are near vertical. Someone has hewn a viewing area from the rock some forty feet up the rock face; a few dozen people cheer from the heights. Several guards scattered among the crowd point loaded crossbows into the pit. More than a hundred feet up, the walls give way to a clear blue sky. Across the arena, another group of prisoners, much like yourself, faces you. They hold their weapons clumsily.

A voice bellows from above. "We have fresh blood in the arena!"

You look up to see a bald man with a thick black beard arms spread wide. He seems to preside over this whole affair. He lowers his arms, then points down at your group.

"This bunch has just arrived. They've not even had the time to unpack and settle into their lodgings!" The crowd laughs. "We want to give them every chance to explore their new accommodations, so fighting against them are our next newest guests; this lot has only been with us for a few days, Place your bets, my friends! As you know, the prizes of Pirate's Pointe depend on a good match."

The man hesitates, raising his open palm melodramatically. "Begin!" he shouts as his palm closes into a fist and he drops his arm sharply. The prisoners opposite you look nervous. They hesitate, share nods of grim determination, then take a few uncertain steps. Several strides later, they charge.

You watch the prisoners stumble toward you, and throw your weapons into the sand.

"These are not worthy opponents!" you shout to the black bearded man. "Look at them! They barely know which end of a sword to hold!"

One of your assailants takes a clumsy swing. You shoulder the blow aside, disarming the man and throwing the sword out of his reach.

"Fight, dammit!" he hisses at you through gritted teeth. "If you don't fight us, we all die!" He and his companions continue attacking.

One by one, you and your allies disarm your opponents, knocking your attackers unconscious instead of killing them.

You hear the bald man with the black beard. "What a disappointment!" he shouts over the boos from the crowd. "Our newest guests easily bring our last crop of captives to their knees. Let's hope their next engagement offers more entertainment!"

Opponents left standing gather their weapons. Turning to help their collapsed teammates out of the coliseum, they stagger across the sand as the gate through which they entered reopens.

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