Result 10 – Part 6


The two fighters face off, with Seraphina showing why they call her “The Swift”, with lightning-fast punches and kicks, and agile dodges. However, despite her speed, she struggles to get the upper hand against Magnus, who blocks and counters her strikes and seems to keep track of her movements with less difficulty than would be expected.

Being sturdy and defensive, he mostly stands his ground and manages to strike back, and at one point catches an incoming kick, redirecting her momentum to swing her around and toss her to the ground instead. Seraphina scrambles to avoid his follow-up barrage of attacks as he leaps in behind her, as she eventually regains her footing and is pushed back toward a wall.

Using this to her advantage, she pushes off against the wall to bowl through him, causing him to stumble as she rolls and gets into a crouch, sweeping out a leg to knock him off his feet. Rising up quickly, she sweeps up a cloud of dusty sand at him as he rolls over and tries to rise, and as he coughs and squints, she brings down an axe kick to the back of his head, knocking him out cold. The crowd bursts into a wave of cheers and cries, and Seraphina wipes her brow as the dust settles, while Magnus lies still on the ground.

The announcer appears, declaring her the winner and raising her hand, and congratulating the winners of the bets. Seraphina looks at the crowd impassively as she is displayed to them, before gathering herself and exiting the arena. Magnus, meanwhile, is loaded onto a stretcher and carted away.

Rod gleefully collects his winnings as Kuron, now with a few beers in hand, comments that he hadn’t expected that outcome. Well, he had thought that Seraphina would win, but not in the way she did. Magnus is faster than he thought.

You watch as the bookies again run around doing their tireless work, while the announcer presents the new two combatants Iron Fist and Otoro; two large, muscular men carrying fake weapons; Iron Fist with a heavy rubber flail, and the Otoro with a sturdy wooden sword. You don’t like the looks of that flail and expect that the Otoro is going to come away with some serious welts and bruises if he’s not careful.

As the time to the next fight counts down, Kuron and Rod debate over who they think would win, and ask Ameronis for her “expert” opinion, as well as your own. You decline to suggest, while Ameronis states that she needs a bit more time to think about it before she can make any predictions. For the time being, the two rely on their own judgement, both betting on Otoro.

Bets placed and fight underway, the two fighters face off, with Iron Fist quickly dominating with fast, heavy strikes, but Otoro pushes back with skilful parrying and countering as the fight wears on. However, in a turn of events, Iron Fist changes his strategy, and switches his attack style; in a swift movement, he is able to disarm Otoro, sending his sword flying, and delivering a decisive blow; Otoro is forced to submit.

You flinch as you narrowly avoid a wave of beer being splashed out of Rod’s cup as he, Kuron, and many other losers protest at this defeat. A couple of people further to one side start throwing small objects at the fighters, but they fall short of their targets and the two of them are swiftly accosted by security staff and sucked away into the crowd, presumably to be tossed outside. The arena is cleared of debris, while the announcer mocks the ejected punters (and by proxy, the other losing betters), but encourages them to try again; surely they’ll have luck with the next fight!

——

Your group watches a few more fights, including one involving six fighters, with Rod and Kuron having variable luck. You continue to refuse to place any bets yourself and reject offers of more beer that Kuron keeps acquiring, either from the bar or via a passing pretty barmaid with a tray. Ameronis also regards the fights silently, but when the announcer presents the next set of fighters; Nina; a very young woman in a colourful, flashy outfit that wouldn’t be out of place in a circus, and Kit; a shirtless muscular man with a wicked grin, she decides to place a surprisingly large bet on Nina.

Kuron and Rod immediately follow suit, as Ameronis watches Nina gambol about below, completing a circuit around the arena, waving to the spectators and blowing kisses as she goes. Ameronis glances at you.

“Are you gonna bet?”

Nope! No point starting now. Either one could win, and you’d rather not take the risk.

The bell rings and the fight begins, and the matchup certainly provides a spectacle. You suspect that Nina might actually be from a circus, considering the flashy acrobatic moves she uses to evade Kit and strike him back, almost in a dance that he does not want to be part of. By the end, he seems quite tired out and frustrated, having taken many hits, while Nina is still cheerful and she bounds about with no loss of energy. After playing with him for a few moments longer, she manages to ensnare him in a complicated grapple, and after a quick strike to the temple, she jumps away and raises her arms in a “ta-da!” fashion, as Kit slumps to the floor, unconscious.

The number of cheers seems to be overwhelmed by the number of boos and complaints his time around, despite being boosted by the drunken efforts of Kuron and Rod. They over-excitedly thank Ameronis, who does her best to remain composed (and upright) amidst all the jostling. She brushes it off as the three collect their winnings.

Ameronis bets on the following 3 fights, each time betting fairly generously, and each time managing to win, as do Kuron and Rod, who follow religiously in her footsteps, and get bolder with their betting amounts. You still have pointedly refused to place a bet of your own, despite Kuron and Rod’s pestering.

As the latest combatants are escorted/carted out of the arena, Ameronis sidles over with a big grin.

“C’mon, you’re missing out! This is your chance to win big; my lucky streak hasn’t dried up yet! Though, at this rate, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to walk around with such a heavy purse…”

She feigns weakness, being dramatic again as you question her wisdom in saying something like that out loud in a place like this. You roll your eyes a little and shake your head. No. No bets. You’re not risking it on something that could easily go either way.

Ameronis thinks for a moment, seeming a little disappointed before speaking again.

“OK, fine, how ‘bout this…?” she says.

Ah, what now..?

“You tell me which of the next two fighters you think will win. If he wins, I will give you 150 Cogs, but if he loses…” She shrugs. “Nothing. You don’t have to give me anything.”

You regard her for a moment and she smiles again.

“Go on! I just wanna see if you’ve got an eye for this sort of thing, and this is a chance for you to get some no-risk free money!”

You sigh, shaking your head. Fine. If she promises not to ask you to bet after this, you’ll take up her offer; she agrees.

You look down into the area at the combatants who are preparing to face off; Quintus and Ludo. Quintus is a tall, muscular man with short-cropped hair and a thick beard. He wears a sleeveless shirt that shows off his bulging biceps and tattoos on his arms. Meanwhile, Ludo is smaller and leaner, with long hair tied in a ponytail. He wears a tight-fitting shirt that shows off his lean, toned physique.

Quintus looks powerful, with the announcer mentioning all the things that Quintus can break with his boxing techniques (especially skulls), while Ludo looks like he might be a bit slippery, and the announcer warns whoever managed to get caught in Ludo’s grasp; you may not get out of it alive.

You consider for a moment; Quintus could certainly win using his power; he could probably win immediately with a good punch or kick to Ludo’s chest, but the question is; is he fast enough? His size and build could be a disadvantage to him. On the other hand, Ludo might be faster or more agile, but if he doesn’t have the strength to keep going or to do damage, he could end up tiring himself out or failing to do enough damage to Quintus while Quintus steadily beats him up.

But then, Quintus certainly looks like he’d win. Confident posture, an appealing physique, clearly strong; many in the crowd would certainly like to emulate him. Meanwhile, Ludo would be a more risky choice; he appears to be the underdog in this situation, and nothing like an underdog victory to upset the balance.

In the end, you decide that Ludo is more likely to win if he’s able to make good use of his supposed skills. Ameronis nods solemnly, and places an actual bet on Ludo, with Kuron and Rod dutifully following suit.

The fight begins, and Quintus uses his longer reach to keep Ludo back and get in some damage, or break away when Ludo tries to grab or throw him, but after testing and timing his attacks, Ludo manages to get in close enough to successfully grab and toss Quintus, and from there, before Quintus can get to his feet, Ludo ensnares him in a tight choke-hold, steadily tightening and restraining him further. In the end, Quintus is forced to submit, and Ludo is declared victorious.

Celebrations and mourning erupt again, and Quintus shakily gets to his feet, rubbing his neck. He pats Ludo on his shoulder as he makes his way out of the arena, as the announcer makes his way back in.

In the background, Kuron and Rod celebrate another win, while Ameronis grins at you.

“You’re pretty lucky yourself, apparently”.

Hmm…

She counts out a few notes from the wad she had gained since coming in here, then hands them to you. Not bad.

“Well, I think I have enough in me for one more fight, then I might go head back to Stardust to see if things have kicked off there yet.”

You check the time; it’s almost 11. That plan sounds fair. The next fight turns out to be a 4-man brawl, and Ameronis seems a little less sure now, suggesting that her lucky streak might be about to end. She decides to bet again but only goes for the minimum of 50 cogs. Of the four fighters, Raging Bull the brawler, the nimble and elusive Shadow Dancer, Finch the disciplined martial artist, and the acrobatic and agile Den Fury, she opts for Finch. Kuron and Rod attempt to copy her, but she warns them to think carefully and go with their guts instead. They hesitate, and Kuron bets on Den Fury while Rod goes for Raging Bull.

Despite the skills and abilities of the other three, Raging Bull is able to overpower and outlast them all with sheer brute strength and aggression. It seems that a lot of people voted for him, as cheers dominate the room as Bull roars at the crowd victoriously, posturing and showing off the muscles that granted him victory. Pieces of paper rain down on him like confetti.

Ameronis rips up her own paper and sprinkles it on the ground, and Kuron mourns while Rod goes to collect his winnings.

“Oh well”, says Ameronis. “You win some, you lose some. C’mon, let’s get out of here.”

The four of you start back up towards the walkway, pushing through the crowd, which seems to have got thicker as the night wears on. You’re almost out of the throng and onto the slightly clearer walkway where you feel something snag you. You turn and realise that Ameronis has grabbed your sleeve.

“Hey…Look.”

She stares off back at the arena. It’s harder to see now, past the crow and all the heads in the way, but you can just about make out the latest two fighters. One of them is a man clad entirely in dark clothes and carrying two fake daggers whom the announcer refers to as the Shadow Assassin, while the other is a shirtless man with ochre skin, long, black hair that flows down past his shoulders, and an ornate wooden sword.

You squint at him. Is that the guy from earlier? What’s he doing in here? You glance at Ameronis, who is looking at you with a curious look. Without a word, the two of you push back into the crowd to get a closer look at the upcoming fight.

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