You have hung with it this long? Congratulations. Usually, I hear back that others have been lost long before this.
As if you haven’t noticed, I’ve broken just about every rule in the book so far. And, I don’t stop in this chapter either.
The biggest one is that we haven’t gotten away from the battle zone yet. No, I’m not giving anything away, if you’re still here. We really haven’t. However, with a chapter titled “The Ascendance Trials” I think you get the hint that things are coming to a head for our dear character. And, if you guessed, yes, this phase of his life is coming to a close.
This is the announcement itself: ” “Fighter, presumed twenty-nine. Accepted on entertainment, brutality, and honor to our Web Mother.” ”
After many years in the Arenas, his master can no longer keep his name out of the candidacy pool. The opening of the chapter was fun to right, because we still have no name for the poor man. The closest he gets is “Gartal’s Silk”. Somehow, I’m pretty sure that’s not a name anyone would want to be saddled with. Especially since he’s not dedicated to his master, but to his goddess. Yeah, I had fun with this.
We get to see a little more of the City itself. Though it is underground, that does not mean it is bereft of beauty. I tried (and probably failed) to let everyone walk the streets as the slave was paraded around, seeing the sights for the first time. In the comments later, let me know if you think I succeeded or not.
“The fighter saw for the first time the ethereal, dark beauty of the Melkreschen Realm, though he did not know what he saw was beauty: forests of crystalline trees carefully nurtured, shaped, and grown in a silicon parody of the wood producing trees in the Sunlit Lands; homes and buildings made from sheets of the purest emerald, quartz, sapphire, amethyst, carnelian, and obsidian; torches – both green and orange – placed where they would best reflect in the ambers, peridots, citrines, and fluorites; each one spaced at aesthetic distances from one another, each color complementing the next in heart stopping beauty never seen in the lands above.”
Outside of discovering the City, we also get to see some of the comradare (or lack there of) that goes on in the communal cells of the Death Sentence cages. For the first time in many years the Silk is forced to endure an open cage, rather than the isolation he prefers. And, because he is so strange – even for one of the champions – he is the butt of unmerciful teasing before the matches even begin. With his lack of social skills, this leads to many misconceptions about him, and to a lesser degree – bullying. Big mistake for his eventual foes, right?
When the matches start, I had quite a bit of fun. Not just in planning how the matches evolved, but in how our intrepid Silk approached them. After all, when you plan a marathon event, you should start with the easiest parts first, and work your way to the toughest. In this instance, I elected to keep from going to the EASIEST type matches, but the ones I started with were a bit of a let down. Don’t worry, they get harder… and harder… and harder.