The Roses of Death
The word hung in air like a dagger ready to drop on their heads. The whole Colosseum had gathered to hear the big announcement from, Smith. Smith, in fact, looked absolutely happy. The word had come by pigeon last night that Albrook and Tzen were at war. The long dormant conflict had bubbled to surface after the demise of Kefka. With no common enemy, the loose pact broke and war erupted for control of the southern continent. Not two days past a freighter from Albrook was hijacked by the Tzen navy. Siegfried, like the others, watched as, Smith, the gray haired and balding owner of the Colosseum, read the letter. It was well known that Smith was a great lover of war. It had been war that had allowed him to build the Colosseum in the first place.
"Each side pleads for mercenaries!" Smith proclaimed, greedily rubbing his hands together. " And I am inclined to forgive the debts of those who would sell themselves to a cause...that is provided I get my cut."
Fighters began talking to each other almost instantly. Life at the Colosseum wasn't all live die. Most low brow duels weren't fought to the death either. All this made for a lot of debt, and a very happy Smith. It was well known that over half the fighters here were well in debt to the little old man. Most had no chance of getting out of debt in their lifetimes in fact.
In front of Siegfried, Ultros snorted with displeasure to a large pink blob floating next to him that could only be Chupon.
"Not a chance you'd catch me raising a single tentacle on either side of that conflict. Hey I might be in debt for the next five-hundred years but at least I won't be dead anytime soon. Hehe.."
Chupon didn't seem to care, or maybe he just didn't understand. As a sort of reply he blew a large bubble from his spit, which popped messily all over his face.
Siegfried thought bitterly beneath his mask.
The crowd began to disperse back to their business. Smith however caught up to Siegfried.
"Wait up!" The old man shouted.
Siegfried stopped by a statue that displayed a golden dragon with its claws around a bull. The light seemed to dance, as it reflected off the polished gold. .
Siegfried stood still and watched as the man came huffing and puffing up beside him. Next to Siegfried, Smith was positively short looking. With his red cheeks and white beard, people were more likely to guess he was some little girl's favorite grandfather, than a wealthy owner of an arena.
"What?" Siegfried grumbled.
He had nothing but contempt for this man. He housed too many cravens and weaklings for Siegfried's taste. He was too clever by half as well. By law everyone here was a free man, but in reality, Smith had made slaves of them. By allowing those men who lost to live, he allowed them to fall into debt to him. Whether by drinking, or not being able to pay for rooms, half the population here owed thousands to this man. As they tried to get out of debt, their bills piled up as they lost fight after fight. And on the off chance one of them would happen to win, all the winnings went right back to Smith, who in turn sold the weapons he had taken back to new fighters only to get them back again as they lost. It was a very intricate web this man had built. Siegfried was only glad that he could kill the cravens and losers, disrupting his plan.
"I just want to talk," he said amiably, "I was wondering if you planned on going to war, in truth."
Smith paused to gauge Siegfried reaction, to his dismay he received only silence.
"Ahem, anyways. I was thinking that either side would pay handsomely to enlist the best swordsman in the world to their service."
"There was that one on the train..so many years ago. He had fire in his eyes. He wielded a sword better than I could ever hope to. The shrouded one and the muscle-bound oaf couldn't hold a candle to him should he have decided to turn on them."
Despite his thoughts, he allowed the old man to continue uninterrupted
"Now I have a mind to send you off to join them." Smith said.
Siegfried raised an eyebrow behind his mask.
"You don't own me like these others old man. Why should I do as you heed?" He spat.
Smith nervously rubbed his wrinkled hands together.
"Well...to be honest. You are a burden to me. You killed off that Gerold fellow. A man like that could have fought hundreds of battles before his family had to pay him out of debt. And now I walk away empty handed. I do intend to make it worth your while though..say..one million Gil?"
Smith looked apprehensive and began rubbing his hands together again.
"Hmm. Fitting he should do that, as he try to wash his hands of me."
"Ten million." Siegfried declared.
Smith looked as though he had been hit with a rock. He sighed.
"How about five million then?" He squeaked.
"Eight million or I shall stay and ante up to every challenge that comes though those doors."
Smith's face turned the color of a ripe tomato. Siegfried knew he had beaten him.
"So be it." He said briskly before turning from him and walking away, exposing his bright red neck.
Caves of Narshe
: Final Fantasy VI
©1997–2020 Josh Alvies (Rangers51)
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