Chapter 7: A Fight in the Coliseum

Kason and Harper reached the Coliseum in high spirits. As they neared, they began to hear faint explosions and other strange noises, sounds that made them shiver and feel afraid. This fear was quickly replaced with renewed excitement, however, and they began to walk more quickly, impatient to reach their destination.

At the entrance was a grand archway carved into the building which seemed to have been carved from one massive block of stone, there being no obvious sign of bricks being laid or rocks joined together. They entered through the magnificent arch and found themselves in a short hallway of paved stone with wooden double doors at the end.

They proceeded through the doors and found themselves in another one of the round rooms with doors spread out along the walls.

“Another nexus huh?” Harper commented when they entered.

There were signs on each door like always, Kason spotted one that was labelled ‘Viewing Platform’ and walked towards it, calling out to Harper as he did.

They walked through the door and entered a large room with a rather low ceiling and a deep violet-carpeted floor. The wall facing into the stadium was made completely from glass and shimmered ever so faintly with an azure tint, suggesting that the glass was enchanted or in some other way, protected from being broken by whatever magic was released inside the arena. There were chairs and a few tables lined up near the massive window for people to use while observing whatever was happening below. Quite a few people were sitting there talking excitedly, most of them looked like they were seniors, but a few thrilled looking juniors could be spotted amongst the crowd.

Harper and Kason wound their way to the window and looked down into the stadium.

It looked like there was a whole world inside the stadium below the viewing area. The entire area of the arena was huge and looked more fantastical than anything Kason had seen so far, in one area, huge columns of rock protruded from the ground looking like gigantic thorns on some equally massive rose. In another area, clouds hung low over a barren looking landscape where enormous moss-covered, irregularly shaped lumps of rock hung in mid-air, completely at ease, as if gravity had given up affecting them like it should. Yet another area was covered in lush trees and thick undergrowth and although not being as impressive as the forest that was visible from the dorm’s windows, Kason thought it carried an air of wildness and ferocity that the forest outside their dorm windows did not have. There were other areas as well, a lake, a swamp and even a volcano, all fit into the massive arena.

Kason could not begin to imagine how they had managed to fit everything into the coliseum but as he looked around, awestruck at the magnificent sights, he noticed that beyond the boundaries of the current environment that the contestants were sparring in, the land seemed to give rise to a sort of haze, the kind one might see on a very warm day. He didn’t know what this signified but, but it reminded him that there was probably some magic going that allowed the all the different landscapes to fit inside the arena.

After a while lost in thought, gazing at the bizarre yet beautiful landscape below him, he was brought back to reality by Harper, who suddenly gave a delighted whoop. Kason looked over at him and saw him staring avidly at the competitors in the arena below. Kason, seeing his fervent gaze, looked down as well to see what was happening. One of the participants, a male, was retreating hurriedly away from the other, using some kind of magic to allow him to fly short distances, weaving between outcroppings of rock trying to get away. The other, a female, chased doggedly after him, blasting away the obstacles in her path with great bursts of flame. Both of their bodies were encased in a kind of light blue cocoon over the top of their college robes, the male’s being very faint to the point where it was almost invisible, whereas the female’s was much brighter.

Kason watched as the male continued to run, getting further and further away from his pursuer. Then the female suddenly stopped on top of a rocky ledge, looking down upon the fleeing male, she waved her hand and closed her eyes, seemingly trying to concentrate. Kason noticed that clasped in her outstretched hand there was a short pearly white stick which she pointed in the direction of her escaping opponent. Kason assumed that since she had stopped chasing, she must have given up, maybe planning to conserve her energy for their next engagement and so he took his gaze away from the battle and looked around at the audience, only to see the crowd watching with even more absorbed expressions.

Feeling a little confused he turned his gaze back to the arena. Just as he turned, the girl made a complicated gesture with her stick, ending with a flick in the direction of the man who had stopped and was taking something out from underneath his robes. Almost immediately after a red glow could be seen coming from the earth in the area where the male had stopped, evidently he noticed as well because he stopped whatever he was doing and hastily began to try and evacuate the vicinity, but he was too late.

A great pillar of fire burst high into the air, the top contorting into the shape of the head of some massive beast which Kason recognised straight away. A dragon! The column of flame lasted for only a couple of seconds before it collapsed, and Kason, who had been greatly shocked by the sudden attack, looked anxiously at the place where it had been, would the man be alright? He very much doubted that anyone would be fine after being hit with something like that!

As the lingering dust from the awe-inspiring display gradually dissipated, the man’s figure came into view, perfectly fine, except for the fact that the faint blue cocoon that had been surrounding him was now completely gone. A few moments later, shining white words appeared in the air announcing ‘Competitor B has been eliminated, Competitor A has won.’

There was wild cheering in the viewing platform and even Kason joined in, caught up in the excited atmosphere. After a moment he returned to his senses and turned to Harper, so many questions burning in his heart that he suspected he would never have them all answered.

“Who were they?” he asked slightly breathless, still feeling a slight thrill from the excitement of the match.

“You don’t know them!” Harper asked incredulously.

“Ah, no… Sorry.” Kason replied, feeling embarrassed at his lack of seemingly common knowledge again.

“Well, I suppose it’s not surprising. If I’m not mistaken, and I don’t think I am, then that girl should’ve been Emelia Ashworth, they say she’s vaguely descended from Almore of the seven great mages!” Harper said, a look of adoration on his face, “She’s in her second year in the senior division and she became famous in her first year for her outstanding control of fire. As for the other guy, well I actually don’t know but probably some guy from the senior division.”

“What was that stick thing she was using?” Kason asked curiously

“Stick!” Harper practically screeched, “That wasn’t a stick! That was a wand! She was part of our college’s squad for north-eastern region’s annual Bout which our college won and that wand was one of the prizes. It’s said made from the tooth of a black dragon!” Harper sighed emphatically after he finished.

“What’s a wand?” Kason asked in a small voice, subconsciously readying himself for another outburst from Harper.

Harper just stared incredulously at Kason, who grinned nervously, for a moment before sighing in a resigned sort of way and beginning to explain, “They’re objects that help you cast magic. There’s not much more to them than that I think.”

Kason nodded and looked back at the arena, which was now empty.

“There probably won’t be another match for a while, let’s go see some other places,” Harper said after a while so they made their way back to the nexus and out of the entrance.

Outside the coliseum, there were several groups of students standing around, still discussing the previous match. Kason and Harper walked past them and caught a snippet of their conversation.

“…a pity that Stefan wasn’t using his wand. If he had been, I reckon he would’ve won easily.”

“I don’t think so. Emelia’s gotten much better recently, maybe she learnt something at the bout. I mean did you hear? Apparently, she beat Bethany last week.”

A sharp intake of breath followed this statement, “Wow! Weren’t they on the same level before the Bout?”

“Yeah, she beat her quite comfortably supposedly and also…”

They moved too far away from the group and were unable to hear any more.

“Looks like the other guy was called Stefan.” Harper commented as they walked, “They talk like he’s really good, he must just not be that famous. But even if he is as good as they think, I bet Emelia would still be better.”

“You seem quite confident in that Emelia.” Kason said, smiling wryly.

“She’s my idol!” Harper exclaimed passionately, “If you’d seen her matches at the Bout she’d be yours as well. Ah… She has the perfect balance between grace, elegance and destructive power.”

Kason made a noise of agreement, while also feeling slightly uncomfortable with this new side of Harper.

They took a path that led down through a forest, trying to get to a place called the ‘Observatory’ but, having forgotten the path shown on the large map in the common room, they could only rely on the signposts and the small map feature of their rings.

As they walked along Kason continued asking his questions, “You keep mentioning this ‘Bout’ thing, what is it exactly?”

“Man, you must have lived in a ditch or something, do you really not know about it? Well, they’re competitions between the colleges that happen every year. The whole country is split into four regions, and all the colleges in each region compete against each other, we’re in the north-eastern region so we compete against all the colleges in the north-east. There’re different events like mock battles, displays of technique or control, races and lots of others. The mock battles are generally the most popular though, they’re super exciting to watch!”

“Wow!” Kason let out a breath of amazement, “It sound fun!”

“Doesn’t it! I wanna be in the squad at least once, I wanna fight in the mock battles, I’ve watched them a few times and they seem really intense!” Harper had an enthusiastic gleam in his eyes as he spoke.

“I don’t think I’d like to be in the mock battles, they sound quite dangerous,” Kason said hesitantly.

“Maybe,” Harper said, “But they have people watching over it, and they are supposed to be shielded from any serious damage so it’s not supposed to actually be that dangerous.”

“All the same…” Kason still felt that he would much prefer participating in a less violent form of contest.

They continued along the path they were following and eventually came out of the forest they had been in and to a signpost at a crossroad. Kason and Harper both frowned as they looked at it, “This isn’t where we were supposed to end up.” Harper gave voice to both of their thoughts.

“Perhaps we went down the wrong path?” Kason suggested.

“But there were no turn offs, the path was straight, we couldn’t have gone onto a wrong path.”

They both stood there looking around confusedly for a couple of minutes, then decided that they should probably start to make their way back to the dorms. They used their maps to figure out the direction that they should walk in and began walking again.

Kason had to admit that their afternoon had not been as successful as they had hoped. Although they had seen the thrilling battle in the coliseum early on, they had spent most of their time after that walking, which wasn’t exactly bad but Kason’s feet had begun to ache. Perhaps it was this that alerted him, but he suddenly had a feeling that there was a large uncomfortable lump in his left shoe. He called out to Harper, saying he needed to check something, and sat down on the grass by the side of the path.

He pulled off his shoe, turned it upside down, and shook it violently, hoping to dislodge whatever was stuck inside. After a few seconds of shaking, a round black stone measuring two or three centimetres across fell onto the grass from the inside of his shoe.

“How did you manage to get that in your shoe?” Harper asked incredulously.

“No idea…” Kason replied, equally confused.

He picked up the stone and felt it between his fingers. It was warm from being trapped in his shoe and very smooth, the surface glinting in the afternoon sun. It was pitch black, Kason looked intently all around it and didn’t find the slightest hint of an impurity discolouring the black surface. There were also no scratches anywhere, which was surprising, given that it must have been picked up off the well-used path on which they had been walking.

“What is it?” asked Harper, peering down at the stone in Kason’s grasp.

“Looks like it’s just a rock.” Kason replied, rolling it again between his fingers. Harper shrugged, not having any better suggestions. “Well I suppose I’ll keep it, it looks nice.” Kason decided, slipping it into a pocket.

“Suit yourself.” Harper said moving back onto the path, and checking the ring on his right hand, “We should keep moving though, otherwise we’ll be late for dinner.”

Kason nodded and put his shoe back on and they set off again back down the path.

Here’s the next chapter. We get to see some magic in use here and the appearance the black stone, what is it you wonder? Well, it’s a secret for now, so I can’t tell you.

Anyway, if you enjoyed feel free to drop a comment and follow the site n’ stuff



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