Wednesday, March 31, 2010

pt 42 The Arena

The commotion can be heard echoing across the canyons of the Valley of Honor. In the fading light of the approaching evening, a crowd gathers at the entryway of the Ring of Valor.

Normally, the massive arena, tucked away in the north east corner of Orgrimmar, is used for the myriad of fighting events that take place from time to time. It's Arena Battlemaster, War Hunter Molog, supervises scores of fights each day by both professional gladiators, and convicted criminals. However, in the evenings a mob takes over the arena for what the authorities think are small, harmless grudge matches by restless amateurs out to prove their fighting prowess. I guess in their minds it's better to have these kind of fights in here rather than in the streets.

It has been several months since I last checked in on my old friend Goregreedy. The last time I saw him was when I reunited him with his daughter. She was so heartbroken over the death of Calmfury. After barely escaping from the Argent Tournament and the wrath of Garrosh, I tried unsuccessfully to console her. But, I am a warrior not a nursemaid and I decided it was best that she go and live with her real father in Orgrimmar.

The mob outside the arena was small compared to the mass that had congregated inside. All of them laughing and drinking heavily. The smell of sweaty flesh and booze is almost overpowering.

Being a professional gladiator myself, I am accustomed to the savage mobs at these places. I travel to fights all across Azeroth and even into Outland. However, something seems different about this group. There is an insidious electricity in the air, as if everyone is here to witness an atrocity or a crime. Such is the nature of amateur fights I suppose.

After searching for a short time I find him. Goregreedy sits in a throne-like chair at the edge of the arena. He isn't wearing his armor anymore, and for good reason, in the past few month it looks like he's gained some weight, as his bloated, boil and disease ridden belly hangs out from beneath his clothes, that are now too small for him. At his side is that same old maul he has carried around since I have known him. He is talking to a group of people, and taking small bags of what I know are coins. I have been around long enough to recognize a gambler when I see one.

It takes me a bit to press my way through the crowd towards him. As I do, I can't help but glance down at the arena. It's blood stained sand floor remains empty except for the carcass of a bright yellow scorpid. Obviously I have either missed the main attraction or just a small opening fight.

"Ey Goregreedy, yer lookin like crap as usual" I say as slap him on his stained tunic.

He quickly turns to me, and his face lights up in a big smile. "Slasherjoe!! ya durty basturd!! How dah hell are ya doing!!" He takes a moment to stand up to give me a bear hug. As usual, his smell makes me gag, but what should I expect from a deathknight.

"Whut are ya doin in Orgrimmar des days?" he says as he falls heavily back down into his chair.

"Well, I gut a messuge frum Squish. She's comin tah town and wunts to see yous right away." As I speak, a troll tries to press a bag of coins into Goregreedy's hand, only to have him waved away.

"Git away!!" Goregreedy barks. "Eym not takin eny moar bets!!"

As if by some strange sense of respect or fear, the troll turns away without an argument. Usually, a bet taker will get harassed with negotiations for better odds or a larger bet on a fight.

"Aey Gore, weer is Meekha tonight?" I ask.

The Deathknight turns back to me with an uncharacteristic twinkle in his eye and a smile across his hideous face.

"Har har har!! Sheel be here soon eynuff" he says as he picks up a haunch of meat and stuffs it into his mouth.

"So, like ey said... Squish is ere lookin fer yah, sez eets real importint. Yu know how she ees, whin she whunts sumptin she whunts eet now. Whut do you whunt me ta tell er?"

Goregreedy stares at me blankly as he chews his food with an open mouth.

Suddenly, horns blare out loudly, drawing the attention of the crowd to an announcer.

"Its time fer dah fight you savage dogs!!!" the goblin announcer shouts in a voice that seems too big for his small frame.

"Slasher!" Goregreedy say as he grabs my arm. "Dis is gunna be good. Yah not gunna believ whut we got going tunight."

I've seen every fight imaginable. They all end up the same, in a pool of blood. Fortunately, I am too good to die in such a way.

"In dis corner!! Dah twin terrers of Duratar. Gronk and Korlong!!"

Out of the shadows walk two very young orc children. They are apparently twin brothers, and they each carry a short, pathetic spear. The bloodthirsty, anxious crowd cheers in anticipation.

"Whut the hell is dis Gore?!? Des peons are too young tah fight in dah arena!!" I say as I angrily grab him by the head. As I do, a clump of his greasy hair rips off into my hand.

"Let go of meh yah stoopid git!!" he says as he tries to shove me back. "Des gruntlins are gettin dah best educatin on how tah fight!! Nun of dem is gettin kilt or nutin!!"

"Yoo mean tah tell me yah have been fightin orfaned gruntlins in dah arena?!" I say in a frothing rage through clentched teeth.

"...And in dis corner!! Dah ferocious beast herself!!" the crowd starts roaring and stomping "Dah bloodthirsty Lioness of Duratar!! Meekha the Savage!!"

Out of the shadows on the other side steps a small orcish girl. She is dressed in bits of leather and mail armor with an ornate leather helm in the shape of a lion's face covering her head. In her hands she holds a pair of barbed fighting claws. Even from here I can see that her sweaty green body is covered by numerous scars and abrasions. Her muscles are lean and wirey as if she has been training hard to for this fight.

"You wretched basturd!!" I yell as I punch Goregreedy square in the face.

The disgusting Deathknight stands up and grabs the maul at his side.

"Stop eet yah basturd dog!! Eet wus her idea. She wunted tah be a warrior!"

I stare at him for a moment in complete disbelief and disgust. I have fought all this time in the arena as a gladiator, a noble profession amongst the Orcs. I know what goes on. I can't believe that a father would let his daughter do this, even if she asked. We orcs pride ourselves as warriors, but never would we have our children fight each other for sport, not even in the darkest days on Draenor.

"Ey cant stand tah watch yah do dis to yer daughter Gore. I hope she rips yer guts out sumday." I say as I turn and press through the roaring crowd.

Somehow it feels wrong of me to just leave. The thought crosses my mind for a moment to jump in the arena and stop the fight. To take Meekha away from this place and to really teach her how to fight and be a proud orc. But, as I leave the arena I realize that this is between a father and his daughter and that I have no business getting involved. Still, the heartbreak of seeing her come to this brings a tear to my eye. I can't help but look up at the dusty evening sky and say a prayer to the ancestors to help her.


I look down the worn street leading to the arena and I see Squish leading a small entourage towards me. All of the old faces of Bloodlust are with her, along with a few new ones.

"Did you find Goregreedy as I asked?" the Bloodelf says as she approaches.

"Yea, hees in dere." I say with my head held down as I gesture towards the arena.

"Good, you continue to serve me well orc. Stick around, I need to talk to you." Squish says as she walks past me towards the massive building.

I follow the group back up the short walk to the door.

"I'm not going in there." Squish says as she stops at the entryway. "Calmfury, your on your own. We will wait out here until your done. Make it quick!

I watch as a burly looking Tauren at her side reluctantly lumbers forward and starts wading into the mob inside.

"Wait, Squish did yous call em Calmfury?" I say with a sneer.

Squish turns to me and nods with a half grin on her face.

"Dats not funny Squish" I say as I look back up at the faint twinkle of the evening stars. "Calmfury wus mah freend, ah watch'd Garrosh hack em tah peeces."

Squish continues to smile in her arrogant, all-knowning fashion.

"I am going in with him." another tauren says, this one a woman, as she runs forward and presses into the crowd.

Squish just sighs and shakes her head. "This is going to take forever."