Escape

I awoke on the floor of a pitch black cave. I couldn't see anything, and my hands were tied behind my back. It was quieter than the vacuum of space. I hope they are planning a rescue and executing it fast, I thought. I'm running out of time.

The moment we were out of the town, Amadeus knocked me out with a thunderous punch to the back of my head. I didn't know how long I was out for or even if I was on the same floor.

I heard footsteps headed my way. Each step made my head pound, and the pain increased as the noise did. I could make out the shape of a cloaked figure. "It's time to go," he said.

"Go where?" I asked. He did not answer. He only helped me up and guided me out of the labyrinth with a knife to my back. The cave opened up into an arena, and I realized that it wasn't a cave but a tunnel. The light was blinding for a while before my eyes could adjust. The cloaked figure unbounded my hands then shoved me out and quickly shut the door.

I walked out into the middle of the arena and looked around. About a thousand people were in the stands, some booing at me. "Die, beater!" shouted someone from the crowd. Amadeus came out into the arena soon after. I quickly equipped my shield and sword then drew my sword as Amadeus approached.

"You have some interesting equipment," commented Amadeus, amused. "Which quests did you steal to get them?"

"Hawkfury made them. If you want some, then go ask him. He might do it if you're nice."

"Kill the beater!" came from the crowd.

"Do you know why you were brought here?" asked Amadeus.

"To finally end this."

"Not exactly. You were brought to this arena to die, but not just to die. It will be a painful and public death in front of all those who wish to come. All of the seats were filled for this event."

I wonder if Shade knows about this, I thought.

"Hurry up!", "Kill him!", and "I didn't pay to just sit here!" came forth from the crowd.

"Now it is time," said Amadeus. We started the match and the usual scoreboard appeared. The crowd cheered.

We exchanged blow after blow in an attempt to hit the other person. Amadeus fought with a killer fierceness in his eyes while I was fighting to just stay alive. He continually advanced which caused me to continually retreat. His attacks were almost too much.

I leapt forward after an exchange of blows and rammed into Amadeus, knocking him onto his back. He scowled at me then jumped back to his feet.

"Did you really think I'd enter this if I wasn't guaranteed to win?" asked Amadeus. He then whistled, and five more players entered the arena. "You're going to die. They may not be able to harm you, but they can deflect your attacks and leave you open."

"Did you really think I'd enter this if I didn't have an escape plan?" I asked. Amadeus laughed at me.

"Your escape is impossible!" said Amadeus. "No beater has escaped from my grasp!"

"There's always a first for everything." Shade suddenly jumped down from the stands and landed at my side.

"I'm sorry about the wait," said Shade as she armed herself.

"The wait was fine," I said. "Did you bring back up?"

"Of course I did," she said. Hawkfury, Moon, Nightshade, and Dwyn soon joined Shade. Klein and his friends jumped in.

"I would never miss a fight against the enemy with you, Nighthawk," declared Klein with his fist raised.

Auryon leapt in and said, "I'm tired of watching things happen. I've decided to do something about things."

"It's great to see you here as well," I told Auryon.

"I didn't come alone," She said. Six other women joined her. "This is my party. We would like to follow the cause."

"Normally I would welcome you, but considering the circumstances, we need to get out of here," I said.

"You are locked in combat," said Klein. "You can't leave until it is over."

"I am going to need help with this," I said.

Egil leapt in next to Klein. "That is something I can help with," he said. The giant ax wielder looked close to the same as during the meeting on the first floor.

"Egil! Long time, no see!" I said. "How has you shop been?"

"Sales are going up," he said. "It helps to be cheap."

"Enough!" shouted Amadeus. "Your little reunion is cute, but I have to break it up now." He whistled again and all 23 members of the Laughing Coffin entered the arena. The crowd gasped at the appearance of the hooded figures. We were then outnumbered by the Laughing Coffin alone. "Give it up! You can't win!" jeered Amadeus.

"We will win. We will always win. It doesn't matter how many numbers you have on your side of how powerful you have become. We fight for the survival of our friends and family, and for that, we will always be the victor," I said.

"You are so naïve," said Amadeus. "Strength comes from power and numbers." He gripped his sword tighter. "But enough talk. Let us end this!"

Our two groups collided in a fury of blades. To onlookers, the battle looked like a giant frenzy. Every shadow was lit by the sparks. Our group was shoved back to the edge of the arena as we tried tirelessly to fend them all off. Then Amadeus showed himself and started charging at me with two of his minions.

"Cover me!" I shouted. I stood my ground as he came barreling towards me. He aimed his sword at me like a lance and charged into me. I barely dodged the sword, but I was knocked down by the force of the impact. He was just about to land a vorpal strike when Egil knocked him aside with his mighty ax. Shade, Auryon, and Klein joined him and made a wall between me and Amadeus.

"Sorry we're late," said Shade.

"Better late than never," I said back. I got up and readied myself again.

"You fight Amadeus," said Egil. "We'll try to keep outside interference to a minimum."

"Sounds good to me." They parted then formed a ring guarding all of my sides except my front. "This ends now."

Amadeus charged forward again. I cleared my mind and focused on just Amadeus. I blocked his attack with ease then slashed his chest with lightning speed. His eyes widened and he looked down at the red line left from the attack, stunned. I wasted no time and landed a vorpal strike, penetrating right through his chestplate and his back. His eyes showed fear as he gripped the blade that stuck through him. Amadeus dropped to his knees and let go of his sword.

"Game over," I told him. His HP hit zero, and his avatar shattered and disappeared.

The battle was over. The members of the Laughing Coffin stopped fighting and retreated, and the crowd got up and left. Silence filled the arena like a flood. I put away my shield and sword then walked over to the others.

"Thank you," I said.

"What is the point of forming a confederacy if you can't rely on it to help?" asked Klein. "Besides, it was fun fighting something other than an AI controlled monster."

"There is still a threat among us," said Egil. "The Laughing Coffin will not take this defeat lightly. They will probably try to take revenge in the middle of the night."

"Then we go into hiding just as they have. During the day, we will search for them, but during the night, we will hide," said Auryon. "We will hunt them down and bring them out."

"That we shall," I said. We all left the arena together.