The roar of the crowd could be heard from miles away. At the center of the amphitheater, cheers rose and fell with the swing of swords.  Klocus rested on his spear. His legs begged to sit down but he wouldn’t; it would make standing again all the more difficult. He’d fought one, then two gladiators now the gates were rising to reveal three fresh warriors while he bore the burden of two previous fights.

From the stands, Gayus watched with as his bravest warrior fought for the kingdom. He had borrowed from the Mezites too many times and now they were willing to forgive the debt on the condition of a tournament to the death. They never said it but Gayus knew it. They owned him. They were never coronated, they never wore crowns but they were the true rulers of the kingdom and he was just a puppet who did their bidding. He, like many on the left side of the stadium, watched in sadness as their best fighter dodged a wide swing to be met by a stab.

He had now killed six of them and the Mezites were responding by throwing things into the stadium. The death challenges were the first thing Gayus had stopped when he became emperor. Now, he sat with their leader, Nastras, by his side watching as his life’s work crumbled to nothing.  Then a hand tapped his shoulder he turned to see his daughter.

“Father, the Mezites said that the penalty for defaulting on debt is death,”

“Yes, they did child.”

“and this show has been to show people what happens when they don’t pay their debt.”

“Yes, it has” he replied.

“What would happen if say someone like myself had outstanding debt that I didn’t pay?”

Gayus turned to his daughter ready to call her mad. “It would be considered an outrage.”

“People are throwing things at Klocus, don’t you think someone might throw a spear or an arrow that could kill or maim someone. How far can our archers shoot?”

“No. You can’t do that!” said Natras as he rose from his seat. He understood what she was trying to do.

“People have never been stopped from hurling things into the stadium, what’s so surprising about an arrow or two landing on one of the performers?” From her robes, she produced a scroll with the rules and regulations of the Colosseum.  “Go on read it.”  She then turned to one of her guards, “Suaros, remember that time you helped me taming the horses, that was not part of your job.”

“No, no it wasn’t princess.”

“And you were never paid for it, I think I have outstanding debts. Wouldn’t you agree father?”

“Yes, completely.”

“I deserve to be sent to the pit.”

“At once,” he said. “Take her to the waiting cage!” By the time he stood to make the announcement the guards had already nocked their bows all aiming at the combatants.

Inspired by: Daily Prompts Loophole

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