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The two recently caught criminals were led down a dark and muddy hallway. Body parts, blood and excrement littered the floor. Melly struggled to block the smell by covering her nose but it was a losing battle. Her not so friendly new friends, corrupt guard number one and corrupt guard number two, shoved her roughly down the hallway.

"Don't worry, miss," Corrupt guard number two said and tapped her on the behind. "It will be all over soon."

If her hands had not been chained, she would have beaten the man to a bloody pulp. She settled with giving him a murderous stare and using her murderous imagination instead.

Corrupt guard number one chuckled. "Ooh, scary,” he said.

Clemiticus yawned and blindly strode down the hall, trampling over all the things Melly deftly avoided. After a few more dozen feet, they arrived at a gateway where the sunlight revealed the horror of their criminal sentence.

Corrupt guard number one removed their bindings. Then Melly and Clemiticus were unceremoniously shoved into the arena with the gate clanged firmly behind them. Around them, the ground was covered in sand, no doubt to mask and soak up the evidence of battle. However, no amount of sand could mask the stench of death.

"Wow, this place is huge!" Clemiticus gawked as he stumbled around the Coliseum. He looked around curiously, rather like a tourist, unaware of the serious nature of their situation. Melly ignored him.

The sheer scale of the Coliseum was impressive to the point of terrifying.

Where did they get the money to pay for this place? Melly wondered.

Right in the centre of the circular fighting pit was a square trap door covered by an old, rusted cage. Around its perimeter was a tall stone wall lined with thousands of long, sharp wooden spikes to trap whatever was inside. The previous match's loser was currently dangling off one of these said spikes.

"Yuck." Melly said in protest as an involuntary wave of bile caught in her throat.

Melly looked around the crowd.

Surely there would be spectators? But no, there’s barely anyone in the stands, Melly thought legitimately curious.

Small groups sat here and there talking amongst themselves, looking like they had just come for their lunch break. The only actual sign of a crowd was a group of angry people surrounding what looked like the gambling station.

"I wager ten gold, the blonde one soils himself!" one patron yelled.

"Thirteen gold says they don't last a minute!" another replied.

"Twelve gold says the girlie gets stripped!"

"Hey!" Melly shouted. "Come down here and say that!"

"I'll give you forty gold if I can buy the angry one!"

"A hundred and fifty gold say we win!" Clemiticus piped in.

They all laughed.

"We are so dead!" Melly muttered.

Clemiticus looked at her oddly, as if being in imminent mortal danger hadn't even occurred to him.

"Why is that?" he asked, confused.

As if in response to the confused tourist, a large gate on the opposite side of the killing floor opened. The sound echoed as the immense barrier groaned. A handful of men emerged, running out into the arena dressed in full sets of chain mail armour. They laughed and jeered, acknowledging the small betting crowd. A few onlookers responded, but most went back to their little conversations.

A low hum sounded above Clemiticus and Melly and the all too familiar blue light flashed.

"Hi, guys!" the fairy spoke cheerfully. "A new side event quest has been activated."

A floating blue square popped into existence with the words ‘New side Quest' written across its face in golden filigree. The fairy explained, "The new quest is the, Survive the arena of corruption. Do you accept?"

Clemiticus scratched his chin. "Um, maybe. What’s the rewards like?"

"Yes, we accept!" Melly shouted and kicked sand at the adventurer. "Really Clem? You had to think about that one?"

"Okay, okay," Clemiticus conceded, dusting the sand from his face. "We accept."

A large tick flicked across the blue square and the blue light vanished.

"You have accepted the Survive the arena of corruption quest!" The blue fairy cheered. "Good luck!"

"Six of them?" Clemiticus commented and pointed above their heads. "Look at that. They're all level six."

Melly shrugged. She didn't have a clue. However, one glance at the warriors' armour and the way they pranced with overconfidence told her she and her simple companion had little to no chance to complete their new quest. Neither of them was wearing any protective armour and had no weapon.

Even her trusty potato was currently within the stomach of a crazy old man.

Clemiticus let out a giddy schoolgirl-like giggle.

"There's something wrong with you!" she said, sighing. "What's so amusing?"

"Nothing... I'm excited!" he said. "Have you ever seen that movie with that Gladiator guy who used to be an army dude? Then turns to a fighter dude n stuff."

"What's a movie?" Melly asked.

"Never mind," he replied. "I keep forgetting you're not from where I am. Now, how does this scene start again? Oh yeah, the protagonist is all silent and cool."

Clemiticus gave her one last wink and set his expression into his best action star impression. He then knelt and scooped up a fistful of sand, brushing it between his hands.

"Whoosh," he said, dramatizing every action with obnoxious sound effects. Moving forwards, vocalising each movement.

“Step. Step. Step,” he said, walking directly into the path of the heavily armed warriors. They twisted their weapons in their grasp and laughed to each other at the casualness of their opponent.

The first man lunged with his trident; the deadly tip aimed directly at Clemiticus' abdomen. In the last moment, before impact, Clemiticus rolled to the side and grabbed the shaft of the weapon. Cries of astonishment rose from the stands as Clemiticus tore the weapon from the man and threw it towards another warrior.

For a split second, Melly felt a rush of triumph. The moment, however, was short-lived. The trident fell short of its target and bounced harmlessly on the ground.

The small crowd roared with laughter as Clemiticus sheepishly gave out a weak shrug.

"Clemiticus has failed to learn the skill Pole-arm," the Blue fairy sang. "Just to let you know, master. The Adventure class can't use pole-arms."

"I thought I could use most weapons?”

“Yes. Most weapons. Just not that one.”

“Aw man! I wanna use pole-arms!”

The warriors turned in confusion to each other and then they, too, laughed with the crowd.

Clemiticus looked at Melly and shrugged. "Russell is going to be so ashamed. Sorry, Maximus!"

Melly picked up a handful of sullied sand and threw it at him. "You idiot! What did you think was going to happen? You don't have a sword! Numbskull!"

"A sword!" Clemiticus brightened. "Ah-ha! A sword, a sword. My kingdom for a sword!" he sang and plunged his hand into his pocket, pulling out his ill-begotten brand spanking new clay-more. The sun reflected off the steel, and it flashed as he flourished it, testing it lazily in his grasp. The crowd’s laughter instantly died down.

Clemiticuses magic 'six feet of steel from a pocket' trick was certainly a killer ‘bit’ for any occasion. A sure crowd-pleaser, or at least, in this case, a sure crowd baffler.

"Where on Hell's island did, he keep that?" Melly heard a voice from the crowd above.

The audience looked at each other in stunned silence and then all at once cheered. The warriors collected themselves and eyed their new potential opponent and slowly advanced on the now armed madman.

"Clemiticus has received the buff, Roar of the Crowd!" the blue fairy announce then squealed in glee. "Master’s accuracy and speed stats have been increased by thirty percent for thirty seconds!"

"Well, oh damn!" Clemiticus said, chuckling.

The next few moments were a frenzied blur. Clemiticus skipped towards the warriors, screaming like a banshee and swinging his newly stolen blade. The scene looked vaguely reminiscent of a small child swinging an oversized novelty toy sword in pottery store. The buff increased the awkwardly long sword speed so much that the steel was a blur.

With every uncoordinated swing, a piece of warrior parted from its owner. Such was the power of the accuracy buff. Clemiticuses' technique may have bordered between an overzealous windmill and an excited earthworm but it was certainly effective. Each strike hit its mark. And within thirty confused seconds, the bodies of the men all lay on the ground in assorted messy pieces.

"Holy cow!" Melly shouted.

Clemiticus cheered in triumph and threw his sword towards some confused audience members. He then shot his arms out skywards and shouted, "Are you not entertained!? Are you not entertained!?"

A sound chimed above, as the fairy giggled. "Clemiticus has reached level nine."

"Clemiticus, you threw away your only weapon, you idiot!" Melly yelled as she face-palmed. She should have known by now not to underestimate the epic stupid-ness that was Clemiticus.

A voice echoed from above, drowning the cheers of the small crowd as a tall, pale figure emerged from an alcove overhead. The voice belonged to one of the oddest characters Melly had ever seen. The strange man was clad in bright red nobles' clothes, complete with a bleached white cape. His arms were like twigs and his legs to match.

The top half of his torso was also skinny. However, his stomach was the exact opposite. It protruded so perfectly spherical that he gave the impression that he was a balloon that had grown arms and legs. He was also bald yet sported a rather stylishly thin, pointed goatee.

"You dare presume to defile this sacred arena with your filthy presence? You are nothing but criminals. Bring out the beast!" he yelled in anger.

The motley crowd cheered in excitement.

“BEAST! BEAST! BEAST!” they chanted.

Melly swore, "You had to make them mad."

Clemiticus shrugged. He seemed to do that a lot.

The trapdoor in the middle of the killing floor cracked open, and a hand reached through it and thudded onto the sand-covered floor. The creature below was huge. Cool shivers of fear rolled down Melly's spine. The crowd fell silent as the monstrosity pulled itself out of the floor and stretched out its long, muscular limbs.

It was a Triclops. A three-eyed Ogre. The height and width of a small mountain. This thing was even bigger than the thing they had faced in the swamp. It wore a single iron collar around its neck and a chain-mail kilt. The grotesque smell of it caught in the back of Melly's throat as it lumbered towards them.

"Level thirty, aye? Well, aren't you an ugly one?" Clemiticus blurted out.

"Clem! Don't insult it. It might understand!"

"Me no Uhgee! RREEEEEEE!!!" bellowed the Triclops. "You punny wan is Uhgee!"

"It seems I hurt his Fee fees!" Clemiticus laughed.

"The Triclops has become Enraged!" the fairy warned. "Triclops' attack speed and attack power has increased by fifty per cent!"

It was too late. Clemiticus had thrown away his only weapon and now faced an enraged Triclops. His special buff had faded, and the dullard was out of luck. The monstrosity lunged towards Clemiticus who unceremoniously ducked to one side. The creature missed him by only inches.

"Herpa derp!" Clemiticus yelled. "Missed me ugly!"

"YOU LIDDE RAT!" the Triclops bellowed.

"Stop making it mad!" Melly shouted over the thundering of footsteps.

Clemiticus twisted in place and smiled. The expression he had whenever he concocted an awful idea was now shining brilliantly on his goofy, smug face. He sprinted directly toward her as fast as he could. Melly threw up her hands when she realised what he was about to do.

"No, no, no, go away!" she pleaded.

He ignored her and just kept running right for her. As he ran past her, he snatched her hand and pulled her sideways.

"What are you…" she screamed as he pulled her hand harder, sending her flying in an odd direction. The deadly pikes of the edge flew past her, barely missing her face. Melly flopped to the ground among the rotten corpses.

"EW!" she squealed.

The Triclops ran for them and ignored the pikes. That was its last mistake. The first had been to get angry at a simpleton.

"NOOOOOOOO!" the Triclops cried out as its momentum carried it to the edge of the arena. The pikes sunk deep into its putrid flesh and the Triclops jerked in pain. Blood from the giant wounds splattered the crowd and poured over the two small combatants.

"Gotcha!" Clemiticus cheered, then ran back into the middle of the killing floor covered in blood and flexed his muscles for the sake of the crowd. "How do you like me now?!"

Melly shook her head and wiped what she could off her clothes. "What an idiot!"

"Hey, it worked, didn't it?" He said still gloating.

She had to give it to him. He had just single-handedly killed six gladiators and a giant Triclops. "Yeah, yeah. Good one." She gave in.

The crowd muttered at the victors and a slow clapping echoed around the arena. Both Melly and Clemiticus gave a bow.

The blue flash of light flickered for only a second as the fairy's voice resounded. "Quest complete!"

"Melly has levelled!" the Blue fairy sang.

"Clemiticus has gained an enormous amount of charisma experience."

The red balloon like figure emerged above them once more. The bald man stroked his goatee and then held up his scrawny arms to silence the crowd, who fell into hushed murmurs. It seemed to Melly that the man was forced to acknowledge the victors.

"My people! Here stand your conquerors!" he announced. The crowd cheered once more. "Bring them into the keep! So, they can both be duly rewarded."

Melly felt uneasy at the calculating eyes of the bloated man, whoever he was. There was something strange in the way he said rewarded. It sounded a little too much like punished.

This, however, was lost on Clemiticus who asked. "Rewarded? Sweet! Does that mean we get loot?"

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Grimtorn

  • Australia

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