“For those who have fallen without glory.”
The gates opened and the sun shone down the narrow corridor. Under better circumstances Marcus would have been happy to see the light. But only dread filled him.
The men at the front of the column began to march forward, he felt his stomach begin to give out. A dizziness swept him and he tried to wipe it away.
He had to fight, they’d shown him some basic’s, but he knew his chances were slim.
As the ten men proceeded out into the light the yelling of the crowd grew to a crescendo. They were clad in leather shorts and sandals, but bare chested, each held a wooden shield and sword.
Most had short cropped hair and unshaven faces. A few, like Marcus, had slightly longer hair. It was mostly booing and jeers, as they were playing the role of the villains in this bout.
They were meant to die. The lighting had the first hint of evening to it. The arena sand glinted while in a perfect circle on a a raised ring above them the crowd went wild.
The gates on the other end had begun to rise, while the gate behind them had closed. They clumped together in a group, most of them terrified. Wooden shields shook on shaky arms.
From the other side of the arena came a whinny.
The gate had neared its top when a chariot drawn by two horses and armored on the sides bolted from it at full speed, skidding sideways to begin circling the arena.
In a manner of seconds it had circled around halfway and the men drew their weapons defensively, knowing there was little they could do.
Two men rode on the chariot, clad in furs and with sun tanned skin and shaved heads, their faces painted blue and black.
The driver had two swords at his hips, while the rear man held a longbow. The back of the chariot held several arrows and two spears. As it approached them three men ran forward on offense.
The first, a hairy think set man, was shot with an arrow. Straight through the heart it would appear, he dropped immediately.
The other two were thrown by the horses as another arrow was loosed into the remaining seven.
The man next to Marcus, a thin man approaching his middle years, cried out in pain and fell as it split through his knee.
With that the chariot had passed and begun circling for another lap. The two thrown men lay on the ground, one moved to crawl, but the other was still.
“Next to the wall!” Marcus yelled, his sun bleached brown hair waving in the evening breeze. “Use your shields to try and stop the arrows!!!” It was desperate but he saw no other option.
Yelling it to the others had been involuntary, but they did as he suggested, even dragging the wounded man and his shield with them.
They formed a tight cluster too close to the wall for the driver to be comfortable trampling them.
Holding their shields in terror they waited, the few seconds seeming like an eternity, as the chariot neared again.
This time no one ran. Arrows were loosed as the chariot swung by. Three men dropped. Two had their heads pierced with arrows. The third took one to his abdomen.
Meanwhile the crawling man was trampled by the horses and had ceased moving. Again the chariot raced by for another round. Of the five remaining alive, two were seriously wounded.
The man who took the arrow to the abdomen had lain down, seeming to have given up hope of life. He indeed looked grim and ashen.
Another lap and more arrows were loosed, two catching shields and the third ending the suffering of the man who took the arrow to his abdomen.
Marcus noted that the quiver was empty, and indeed on its next round the chariot slowed as both men jumped off the back, the archer dropping his bow for one of the spears.
The crowd went wild. The cheers for their “heroes” were deafening. Marcus stiffened his shield arm, but he felt the trembling trying to break through.
While the driver unsheathed his swords, the archer quickly raised the spear and threw it through head of the man next to Marcus.
The man dropped, dead, Marcus was spattered with red blood, while the sword wielding driver tossed a weapon to the archer.
It was now two on three, but the man with the arrow in his knee was little use. Marcus and the other man stepped away from the wall, weapons raised.
The driver moved so fast the man didn’t stand a chance, as his torso was hacked nearly in two as blood sprayed about. His shield and sword fell to the ground.
Marcus felt blood spatter his scraggly beard and was overcome with shock followed by pain, as he realized too late, that he had lost his focus.
The other mans sword had stabbed through his chest and he felt agony as the man raised a foot to push him off of it.
He fell to the ground, rolling on his side and saw the last wounded man quickly decapitated. Marcus looked at the wound in his chest and the dizziness overtook him.
His hands grasped at the hot sand as the last bits of consciousness abandoned him.