The creatures surged forward and Brick yelped and stumbled backwards in a blind panic. It would have been comical if the insect-like beasts hadn’t also surged towards Anausa, indiscriminate in their hunger and their bloodlust. The duel was forgotten, combat a distant memory as both men scrambled to avoid the ravenous maws and snapping pincers of the insect-like beasts.
As the two men separated from each other, Anausa eyed Brick with a cool detachment. The mantids seemed to be favoring chasing after the larger man, doubtless because they were attracted by the scent of his wounds, and Brick seemed aware of this. Even as he batted the creatures away, fighting them off with his bare hands, he stared at Anausa with a growing anger. For a brief moment, Anausa felt relief, relief that the mantids were apt to settle the battle for him, but then there was a glint of light and a dull thump against his chest.
Anausa staggered backwards and looked down to see the hilt of his own dagger sticking out from his body. Faster than his eyes could follow, Brick had torn the remaining blade form his own back, and thrown it with unerring accuracy at Anausa. And the fact that he didn’t feel any pain, only a spreading numbness, meant that the thing must have gotten covered in one of the mantids’ poison.
If he pulled out the blade, he’d bleed out. If he left it in, the poison would surely find its way to his heart and kill him instead of knocking him out. Anausa stared down at the blade dumbly, for the first time in his life as a soldier and as a pit fighter utterly uncertain of what to do. He simply didn’t know what the appropriate response was. Conscious thoughts wouldn’t form inside his head.
Some deeper, more basic instinct took over. Before Anausa realized what he was doing, he was charging towards the spot where Brick fought against the mantids, both daggers in his hands, blood streaming from the open wound in his chest, a snarl upon his lips. Maybe he would die, but Brick would die, too.