Liam averted his gaze from the tower to the seating arrangements. To the left at the opposite end of the arena to the cell with the Demon girl in it, sat the crown prince of Piawwa. He wore robes of the finest silks and a crown of gold upon a shock of blonde hair, he was laughing jovially with his bodyguard.
"Looks like someone has an audience with the future king." Liam said nudging Mathew in the shoulder.
Mathew visibly clenched his teeth and seethed "Probably a poor defenceless Demon ready for the slaughter."
They watched as the crown prince turned his face to the grand clock opposite Liam and Mathew. His expression turned dark and serious. He nodded to the auctioneer who, using his magnified voice boomed.
"Ladies and Gentlemen the Auctioning will begin shortly! But before that, I welcome Prince Dorian Drake our domain!"
The audience clapped enthusiastically, save for Mathew and Liam who exchanged glances as the crown prince stood and waved a hand good naturedly to the seated crowd.
"Spoilt, ignorant puppet..." Mathew muttered under his breath. Liam elbowed him in the ribs, sending him a warning glance.
The auctioneer continued "Today for your entertainment only, we have arranged an execution!" The crowd was ecstatic standing up and cheering, their voices a tidal wave of noise. "Today, my friends of Piawwa, a rogue demon will be executed for their crimes against the King!"
Mathew subconsciously flicked his eyes to the tower and then back to Liam who nodded. The Auctioneer continued "You may have seen demons fight to the death. You haven't seen anything yet... My friends prepare your-selves! GUARDS RELEASE THE DEMON!"
A 'whoosh...' of cold air rippled over them. Liam looked upwards. Nothing seemed different, everything looked the same, but Liam knew the Tuliou had just disabled the protective dome that covered the inner arena. Mathew whispered "I just need to relieve myself." He got up and vanished from the arena.
She could hear them, shouting, screaming with incoherent eagerness. She might not have been able to hear what that good-for-nothing prince was saying, but she knew what was going to happen to her.
She had been locked in a tiny cell fourteen levels below ground level for seven months; they hadn't fought her once in that time. She hadn't been physically touched in seven months only by cold iron metal that reeked of her own blood. She had forgotten what human warmth felt like. Unable to speak she had been consumed by her own thoughts, drowning in guilt. Every time she closed her eyes she saw them. The ones she had killed, their staring faces, their bloodied bodies.
The bared portcullis clanked upwards. Past the opening into the arena, death awaited her. By preventing her wavelength with the accursed muzzle and the enchanted chains she was unable to shift, unable to fight effectively. She was weak, too weak to fight them off without her true form. They had planned this from the beginning. She would be killed off easily. This was how the King punished her for her kind rebelling against him. She was an example used to scare others off.
Liam watched as the Demon left the cell into the arena. Her head was held high, not afraid of staring death in the face. The female demon stood in silence stopping about a quarter of the way into the arena. The prince's voice boomed through the grand stadium.
"Demon you have been sentenced to fight to the death! Your execution has been decided by the King of Ravata, ruler of Piawwa. For the killing of ten innocent citizens and injury of sixteen others you have been accused of turning rogue. I hope death gives you what you deserve."
If looks could kill, Liam knew the prince would have been writhing on the floor, burning under the intense hatred filled eyes that glared so furiously at him.
It happened slowly. Her eyes widened and she screwed them shut stumbling back as though buffeted by a powerful wind her hand shooting to her forehead. At first it seemed as though the prince had done something to humiliate her, but he looked just as surprised as the rest of the crowd. The packed stadium appeared to lean forwards, their eyes glued greedily on the occupant of the arena.
Regaining her footing she stared bemused at her hand. Even from his place in the stands, Liam could see the scales erupting along her skin, coating her in pitch black armour. The spread of abyss like black became less prominent stopping just below her jaw seeping across her collarbone.
The thrumming of magic that usually vibrated through the muzzle had stopped. Wave after wave of immense emotion crashed down on her shoulders. Anger, grief, sadness all merged together into one big knotted mess of untangle string, unrecognisable, indefinable. A pounding, shocked through her body, pain shooting through her head. The Demon inside had been released and it was battling to get free. Sparks burst from her finger tips as rage bubbled through her.
Staring in horrified realisation at the black scales pushing up onto the surface of her skin like many eclipses surrounded by small patches of light, her breathing quickened. She was free. She could no longer feel the pressure of the soul repression spell at the back of her mind. The anger swirled in her like a hurricane trapped in a glass jar. A jar with so many cracks and chips she was unsure of how much time she had before it shattered into an even more unfixable mess then it already was. In her weak state her body wouldn’t be able to support a whole demon transformation.
She had planned on dying when they had dragged her from the musty depths of the earth. Instead she found herself with a chance. A chance to make amends, to prove she wouldn't break under the King's rule. She would escape this infernal place, or die trying.
She was jerked from her thoughts as the muzzle slipped from her face and fell to the floor with a dull 'Clang' landing in the dirt solemnly.