The Battle of The Ice Arena by Eloise Brown & Xahra Kitto
Darnica The Dragonslayer
By Eloise Brown
The plate raises me up into the arena. I hear the all too familiar voice of the Overlord.
“Presenting Darnica, the Dragonslayer!”
I do not blink an eye but the others situated around me do. I see one opponent, clearly new to the Overlord’s Battle Royals of The Below, trembling and biting their lips at the gleaming snow and frigid ice. I stand back, survey the others. Some run and start fighting. The sound of pleading and the crunch of blade meeting flesh does not bother me. My eyes pass a middle-aged man whose long hair is like golden silk. An olive-skinned woman. A being that is only a cloak and an ebony mask. My eyes linger on a girl who looks very much like me. I long to ask her where she comes from. Where I come from.
I quickly move on, and what I see makes me rethink everything the arena has taught me. My shock must register on my face because he gives me a cocky smile. Ashen hair, well fed with narrow eyebrows. Nothing I haven’t seen before. But the eyes. Jet black, they gleam with cruelty. They are like dark tunnels I might get lost in. I know instantly that If I die in here, those eyes will be the last I see. And I must destroy them. For I know who those eyes belong to.
The Overlord. How can this be? It is like him but 25 years younger. There is only one possibility. And yet even that seems impossible.
Why would the Overlord put his son in the arena? He knows how dangerous I am. I have killed dragons and even lindworms. I don’t hesitate. I run. He saunters over to me, and as I charge, steps aside, as if thinking that I am but a barrel that wins only by strength, but I am smart. I rotate the blade of my axe and deliver a severe blow to his back. He gives me little more than a few punches. Within mere minutes, I have him cornered, weaponless, and as he realises his end is impending, he gives out a bloodcurdling screech. His head, so arrogant in what only feels like a few moments ago, flies across the room. I stamp on it, just to make a point. It is my own way of rebelling against Teshi and The Overlord’s tyranny. I look up. The Overlord locks eyes with me. It is enough to make even my blood run cold. It is that moment, that I know, truly know that even if I make it out of this arena alive, I will not survive the night.
I have no time to reflect as I turn my attention to the jet-black cloak and mask that is know gliding towards me. It swishes around me, a whip of fabric, with glimpses of a silver blade. I have seen so much in the arena, that I barely blink an eye as I recall the long-haired man that had already beheaded this strange being previously. I swap my signature axe for my sword, sensing this will be an easier battle with the same weapon.
The sword goes for a slice beneath my leg. I jump effortlessly, taking advantage of the fact that the cloaked creature is bending down, and drive my sword into its back. I swivel my sword and watch a cylinder-shaped piece of flesh fall to the ground. The being jumps up, and its sword glows a sinister purple. The sword seems to remould itself into the head of a dragon like the one I slayed. The one that brought me to fame. Lunging forward, the sword clamps around onto my sword and crunched through the so-called indestructible steel. The twisted lump of metal clangs to the ground.
I grasp my axe, and hurl it at the icy roof of the cage. I watch as the icicle falls, piercing through the hidden head of the masked creature. Two halves of its body fall to the ground. I am about to turn around, find another victim, when I see its eyes flash a vibrant red. The two halves of the corpse start wriggling closer and knit themselves back together. I gape in horror.
The creature stands up.
“The Evil One has nine lives,” it rasps.
I step back and almost become frozen as The Evil One’s blade darts towards me, and I scan the name in a lettering I cannot read.
I narrow my eyes as the sword delivers a gory wound to my shoulder. I stand up, ignoring the agonising pain and sprint forward at The Evil One. I hear the rip as I tear through the dark fabric. The Evil One is shocked, and I capitalise on it. I lunge for the mask, tearing it away, and twist The Evil One’s neck until it is facing backwards.
Stepping back, I feel the crunch and look down to see a rotting skull turn to sawdust beneath my steel capped boots. It seems this arena has been used before, and the janitors forgot to clean up.
I turn my attention back to The Evil One. I had expected an old woman. I had expected an old woman with glittering violet eyes. I had expected an old woman with glittering violet eyes and greasy raven hair. I had not, however, expected a girl my age, slightly younger, 13 years old maybe, with wispy scarlet hair and big eyes. I watch as her head cricks and jolts and twists around to face the right way as she gets up.
Wondering how many lives she has left, I step back. Then I realise. Why am I waiting for her to get up? Waiting to fight? Risking injury, or worse? I lean forward, crouching beside The Evil One’s head. As I do, one of my pale blonde braids falls out of its carefully pinned position. Tucking it into my shirt I raise my axe. As the Evil One comes back to life, I plunge my axe into her neck before she even has the chance to blink an eye.
I am lucky to not be dead, for I am so consumed by getting ready to repeat my last kill, that I don’t notice the long-haired man running at me, sword raised. My armour, bronze and battle-worn saves me, and I immediately turn around. My axe is raised as I take a step back and catch my breath. His uniform is purple and gold, the royal colours of some kingdom in the land beyond the Below. The land I have never gone into. The land I will never be allowed to go into.
My eyes fall on his name tag. A name. A name I will never read for I cannot read. This ashaming fact, this weakness in me meant to be almighty soul, gives me an anger that I use as I hurl myself towards the man. I am a machine, striking, punching, scratching. I am hurt, for this man is a mighty warrior but I have the upper hand. I lunge, darting towards his throat, planning to puncture his throat but as I approach I hear an ominous cracking sound. I stop and watch the whole floor of the Ice Arena turn to mini-icebergs floating on water. I am glad that I stopped because one look at the freezing liquid gives me the feeling that I wouldn’t want to take a dip.
Suddenly a sound tares across the room. Looking behind me, I see the invisible barrier between us fighters and the spectators start to glow purple. A purple I recognise. I stare at The Evil One, hair flowing, eyes glowing and watch as her powers seem to tare through the barrier. She takes off, bounding through the dazed crowd and off into the dim, flickering streetlights until she is swallowed up by darkness. I don’t know how long I stay there, watching as the barrier reseals itself, as the crowd goes into uproar, as the Overlords eyes flash in shock and anger.
People die. I hear screams. People surrender. I hear the crunching off ice as they are taken down below the arena. I can only register shock, for the rules that have governed by world into now have been broken. Eat, sleep, train. I have not been abused, or hurt or starved. But I have never been free. I am a prisoner of the Overlord. My room is always locked. The walls are cement. Guards surround me whenever I train for the battles that I have no choice in. And I don’t mention the outside world. I know I was kidnapped. I know I have a past. But any mention of it would be crazy. I don’t question the Overlord.
The horn that signals only two are left brings me back to my senses. The other is the girl that is like me. She is soaked in blood. We fight. I win. I hesitate to deliver the final blow. I think that she will make the death less painless, for the Overlord will surely punish me for killing his own. I am kidding myself. The reason I hesitate is because I want to know where I am from. She has answers. Surely. She thinks I am giving her mercy.
“Thankyou for saving my life. I appreciate your act of kindness. For that, I will surrender.”
She looks up into the Overlords eye, “I, Aida, surrender from The Ice Arena.”
She disappears beneath the ice. I am the victor. I’m not sure I want to be.
By Xahra Kitto
My feet shake, my legs wobble, my head aches I feel as if I could capsize at any moment. A shiver rushes through my spine sending me to glance over at a young man shaking like me. He’s tall and very friendly looking if I can say that in this position. His chestnut hair gleams in the light flopping over his forest green eyes. A fog horn blows, sending everyone running, except me. Specks of ice sting my face. A shallow, frail body slides through the maze of icicles jabbing into one. Two men come out of nowhere and rush the body through a crack in the wall.
All of a sudden the man from before is standing an inch in front of me. I can feel his warm breath against my skin. I don’t know what to do I can’t run and I don’t want to shoot…
“Alliance,” the words come out of his mouth in a shaking voices that makes me realise he like I am, human and we are both afraid of what will happen next.
“Sure,“ I say in a cautious voice.
“The names Gooey!”
I snigger. What type of a name is that? By the look he gives me, I realise that he is not joking.
I look over at his weapon of choice, a bow and arrows. The wood seems to be red elm. My attention is directed to the head of the arrow, glossy and sharp. Gooey must notice me staring at them because he shifts to move them out of sight but only to reveal a rusty dented nail gun with visible iron so polished I can see my reflection.
A blood curdling scream stops my train of thought only for a second and I see a middle aged man running straight for me with a blade raised at his side. Gooey gets his bow and shoots right at the man’s foot. He has obviously done this before because it goes right through with ease and it turns the man’s face as red as his hair. In rage the man pushes his sword into the chest of my newly made friend leaving him lifeless on the floor.
I scream in hatred and shoot him in the palm of his hand making my ears ring. He drops the bloody blade making a crack in the ice. He charges at my side pushing into my ribs. I gasp and scream, but the strange noise is followed by a crack that sends water to my eyes. I drop and reach over at Gooey, looking only for a split second at his face which makes it harder to fight back the tears. I try to ignore the splitting pain in my ribs which is not being helped by the cold icy floor. I grab onto the shaft of arrows and grab one. I load the bow pulling back with all my strength and launch it into the air.
The head shines in the glossy sun as the arrow penetrates the body of the monster pinning him to an icicle. My only ally is dead because a heartless thing. I can’t help but picture my father and mother. Would they be disappointed that I did not save him? Happy that I avenged him? Or disappointed that I would do such a thing as wound a man even if he was trying to kill me? Their eyes stare back at me and I remember that night in the woods. Spira holding me tight and Lydia getting bread to comfort us both, nothing ever felt the same after that.
My feet numb, the ice melting slowly giving me something to drink. The cavern that I was tucked away in was sheltered from the snowy blaze outside but it wasn’t too dense to see a figure coming in with a torch, lighting the way and making the dripping sound come faster and faster. The figure made its’ way to my corner and revealed a woman who looked like me; her blonde hair the same butter colour as mine, she reminds me of Spira. Her face is fierce but still shows a little sympathy.
I look behind her and see an axe dragging at her feet. I scramble backwards, sending my head back with a smack to the ice.
“We’re the only ones left,” the women says, almost sounding mad at what had just come out of her mouth.
“D-don’t kill me. P-please.”
All I can hear is my mother’s yells telling me to hide and the face of Gooey lying on the ice.
“I won’t just … I cant believe I’m saying this but…you need to surrender.”
Surrender that didn’t even occur to me. Surrender.
“Yes, yes I will. I SURRENDER!” I shout into the storm.
With that, the storm diminishes into a light snow and the same loud horn goes off. It is over.