Anausa rolled to the side, quick but not quick enough to completely avoid Brick’s punch. It caught him on the side of his head, the metal knobs and spikes on his glove tearing open Anausa’s flesh. Anausa ended his roll on his belly, began to push himself off of the ground, but the voice clamped around his ankle and found himself tumbling through the air, the world spinning around him. He landed on the fresh wound Brick had left on his face, and for a moment darkness overcame his vision, the pain he felt surging from something sharp and hot into a dull roar that drowned out the world with its insistence.
But Anausa was a veteran of the arena, and in another life (A life Brick knew about, but how does he know, how does he know) Anausa had been a soldier. He was no stranger to pain, and he was no stranger to fighting through it. “Get on your feet,” he thought to himself. “Get on your feet before he kills you. He got caught off guard earlier, but now he’s going to press the attack.”
The attack never came. Anausa found his footing, but Brick was where he’d left him, playing to the crowd once again. “Coward! Cheater! Is this what you all came to see? A sniveling worm without honor?”
As one, the crowd roared its displeasure. The arena shook with the cries of outrage. Brick had his back to Anausa, his daggers still embedded in the giant’s hide. “To Hell with honor,” Anausa thought. “Close the gap, grab a dagger, slit his throat. End this.”
Before Anausa could advance, Brick turned to face him, grinning. “No,” he said, still addressing the crowd even as he kept his eyes locked on Anausa’s own. “You are good people. Fair people. And I think a cheater should be punished, don’t you?”
The crowd screamed, a god gone hungry for blood once more. Anausa let his eyes run across their faces before snorting in distastes and turning his attention back to Brick. “Fine,” Anausa thought. “Keep talking. If you’re too dumb to realize that you should just charge me rather than give me time to plan, so much the better.”
As if he could read Anausa’s thoughts, Brick’s smile grew wider. “How do you punish a worm?” he asked the crowd. “What do you do when you see a worm?” His eyes narrowed, pig-like in his glee. “Why, you unleash the mantids, of course.”
MANTIDS MANTIDS MANTIDS