Contradictory to my earlier worries, surviving until tomorrow was not an unusually difficult task. The man I was set to fight was a newcomer, angry and determined but not particularly skilled. It wasn't long, only about half an hour maximum, before I had him in the dust at my feet, my blade pressed to his throat.
"Better luck next time." I said, turning and leaving the arena as my defeated opponent scrambled to his feet, bewildered and looking rather confused.
I looked for Kris momentarily after the fight, but she was nowhere to be found. I returned to my cell, chewing my lip thoughtfully. Even if Kris did have a plan before, I knew it would need some reworking. I sat in the corner of the cell, staring intently at a spot on the floor without really seeing it. I was so engrossed in my thoughts that the sound of Vengeance's voice from the other side of the cell made me jump.
"It's not going to work you know," he said, watching me with his eerie molten-metal eyes, "Whatever you're planning, you won't be able to pull it off."
"How do you know that?" I replied waspishly, face flushing crimson. Had it really been that obvious that I was planning something? Or was Vengeance just a good guesser. Both options seemed perfectly feasible to me.
Vengeance shook his head, grinning slightly. "Have you any idea how many people have tried to get out of here? This place is a prison, every corridor is patrolled and there's not one single door without at least one lock on it. Even the Arena doors are coded to prevent escapes. Face it, you're stuck. Whatever crazy plan you're concocting, just give it up."
"I can't give up." I replied flatly, "If I don't get out of here then I'm as good as dead. There are people out there willing to pay for me to be bumped off by any means possible. Getting out of here is the only chance I have. Besides, there must be a way out somewhere, I know there is. No fortress is without its weaknesses."
Vengeance snorted derisively, "And you think you can find them? What are you going to do, blow a hole in the wall and fly out of here? And even if you did get out, where would you go? These people are just as likely to kill you out there as they are in here, more so when you're an escaped criminal. What's the point in planning an escape if it's not even worth it?"
"What would you know about it?" I shouted, my anger momentarily getting the better of me. I stood up and advanced on where Vengeance was crouched, eyes blazing and hands balled into fists. "What would you know about what things are worth? You don't even care about what life is worth! You just kill whatever comes within range and then just sit here waiting for your next fight. Maybe you even enjoy it? Maybe that's why you're dissuading me from escaping so you can tear me apart in the Arena yourself, just like you did to Morrow! Why bother escaping when your next victim is practically thrown at you every day? Tell me Vengeace, what difference does it make to you?"
I stood there, teeth bared and fuming angrily, glaring at Vengeance and half-daring him to disagree with me. But to my surprise he made no reply, leaving only an ominous silence to answer my words. Then he looked up at me and I swear by all the gods in existance I thought he was going to tear me to shreds then and there. Involuntarily I took a step back, fear beginning to replace my anger as, slowly, Vengeance stood up to his full height and fixed me with a look that would have sent most men into fits of terrified hysterics.
"You have no idea what you're talking about." Vengeance snarled, his voice like the rumbling of a volcano just before it erupts. "You have no idea what I've suffered in this place. I may not be human, but I do know what sort of a death-sentence I've been condemned to by being here. Anyone who steps through these doors is doomed from the start. Nothing you can do will change that. Just pray your death is swifter than mine shall be."
Then, as if nothing had happened, Vengeance backed down and slunk back to the corner, his movements as stiff as a mannequin doll. Heart hammering in my ribcage, I too moved back to my side of the cell, feeling light-headed at how close I'd been to death at that moment. Even as I moved away, Vengeance's words still hung ominously in the air around me.
Anyone who steps through these doors is doomed from the start.
The very words sounded like the tolling of a death-bell.
A bell that would soon be ringing for me.