Then the procession walked through the arena, and I joined at the end with the other gladiators, listening to the screaming crowd. I waved and looked at them, but under my helmet they could not see my face, twisted with fear.
After we went out of the spectators’ sight, I tried to keep calm and stop myself from fainting. This was going to be my last day, I knew it. Apart from the advice and teaching Marcus had given me, I had no experience. How could I go against trained men, who had worked for years to do this?
Then the beast hunts signalled the official start to the games. Then thebestiariifought against wild animals. After this thedamnaticame into the arena to be executed in some horrible, painful way. I thought that I was like one of these, forced to go here with no hope of leaving. I prayed for them while they were ruthlessly slaughtered.
As the noise grew louder, I knew my time had come. Sunlight flooded into the room as the door was opened. This was the beginning of the fight, the end of my life. Now I had to go. I stepped out into the arena.
The crowd yelled and cheered as I came out, and I waved to them, my hands shaking. I caught sight of my opponent, a muscularretiarius,staring at me with an almost bloodthirsty look. He held his trident and net proudly, turning the trident over and over in his hand.
I forgot about everything for one moment, then I saw my brother’s face in my mind. He was smiling at me, telling me to try hard and assuring me I was going to win. I smiled and thought of the promise he had made just yesterday. I promised myself, I promised him I would fight well.
Theretiariusstarted running for me, and I knew the fight had begun. I held my shield in front of my chest, which was not protected by armour. I lashed out wildly with my sword, in an attempt to put him off. He had his hand poised to stab me with the trident, in a pose you could call elegant.
I noticed the right side of his chest was vulnerable and exposed. I ran to him, adrenaline coursing through my veins, and jabbed at him with all my strength. His net flew up and caught on the sword, yanking it from my hand. I had no weapon. He lunged at me and the trident wedged into my shield. I threw it far from me and left him to go and get it.
I grabbed my sword from the net and swung around to see him charging at me. I slashed with my sword until I could feel it hitting flesh, and theretiariusgrabbed his shoulder, which was now bleeding heavily. I ran towards him, slammed my hands on his shoulders and knocked him to the ground. I had blood all over my hands and I was wild in the frenzy of battle.
The crowd were going mad with bloodlust and were screaming at me to kill him. I stopped. Could I do it? I didn’t know.
Then I put my sword down and took off my helmet.