The ring of steel and the shriek of grinding metal was deafening as both combatants fought in earnest for a decisive victory, initially. Ashton stayed low and kept his feet and hands in constant motion as he swung with precision and determination against the larger but less nimble foe with Belrigger keeping pace yet only managing to stay on the defensive. Stuck in a single position, the older fighter was twisting and turning on his heel as the golden sword weaved to pick off the probing slashes but failed to deflect all of them, forcing him to rely on his dense body to mitigate the damage.
Lesser fighters would have been overwhelmed by the pace they fought at yet still they kept on with the dance in a dizzying display of swordsmanship that left the personal guard and even his own champions, masters all three in the art of combat, in a stunned silence.
Ashton's whole mind and body were in a state of absolute focus, a warriors trance that left no room for idle thoughts. There was only the now, the rush of adrenaline, the sound of his heart thrumming in his ears, and the numbing tingle as his blades met with the enemy.
Launching out a wild kick, Belrigger scored a clean strike to Ashtons head that put them in a controlled toll back to absorb the force as much as possible and came up in a crouch as Belrigger brought the golden sword down in a heavy vertical slash, Ashton narrowly dodging the blow by a hairs length and stabbing out with his left blade to score a blow on Belriggers quickly shredding shirt to connect with their stomach, to little effect beyond a wince as the Arena Masters divine blessing continued to repel the attacks.
Swinging the golden sword, tip leaping from the floor up to the ceiling, Ashton threw himself back to again narrowly
avoid certain death as the razors edge glided across his face, leaving only a superficial nick on his forehead, and retaliating again with a stab to Belriggers chest and stomach before retreating from the inevitable retaliation.
On it went, Belriggers superior defensive capabilities keeping him in the fight relatively unscathed while only managing to land a dozen shallow cuts and an equal number of bruises as the two circled, trading blows across glittering steel swords.
Up went the golden sword, catching Asthons shortsword in its crossguard to be ripped from their hands, clattering behind the bigger foe as they seized the advantage. Both hands on the sword, a whirlwind of stabs and slashes cut through the air with a tight fisted fury that forced his opponent back. With a single blade it was all Asthon could do to avoid the blade or turn it aside just enough for it to slide harmlessly by.
With a heavy overhand chop that was destined the miss, Belrigger shoulder rushed unexpectedly as the blade passed harmlessly next to the target, his sheer bulk enough to overwhelm the smaller fighter - A fighter that had disappeared!
Belrigger cursed under his breath as the edge of the shortsword clipped his thigh as they slipped by in a desperate display of agility, kicking the back of the big mans thigh as they turned to stand, breaking his stance and dropping Bel to his knee. Planting a foot on their back and launching themselves away with the same motion as, enraged, the Arena Master twisted on the ground with a wild backhand slash that passed harmlessly under Ashton as they sailed over the blade in a controlled backwards somersault to land next to their fallen blade, scooping it up and returning with another flashstep.
Belrigger was forced to blindly guess where his opponent would strike next, and the result was that Ashtons twin blades bit through the defensive prowess of his master as he all but planted himself in their path.
For the last half hour, Ashton Andrews had worked his blades at the hardened stomach and chest region of his opponent like a miner at the stones, chipping away at the impossibly tough flesh until finally they found purchase.
All around the room, guards shouted in surprise at the sudden turn of events as blood slid down the length of the twin blades' edges, dripping on the floor, both combatants locked in a stare of wills. All Asthon would need to do is slide the blades.. ever.. so.. slightly..
Grunting reflexively, the clatter of steel striking the floor echoed across the hushed room as Belrigger dropped the golden sword in defeat, sinking to his knees as he stared in disbelief at his undeniable loss.
Ashtons moment of triumph came like cold wind, "I hope you don't die on me, Master - Not just because I care for you somewhat, but because I still need you
." The words were glacial, more than even he had expected. Belrigger on the other hans had fire in his eyes even if his body didn't.
Taking the swords impaling his stomach, no more thanca few inches, he pulled them out in utter silence as his champions stared in disbelief. All 3, house guards included, long since thought the mighty Belrigger to be invincible and had been cruelly reminded of his and their own seeming mortality.
Clap.. clap.. clap
Getting to his full height as he clapped, the Arena Master was smiling against his injury. "Well fought, Ashton Andrews. Well fought!" Their master clapping, a roaring cheer went up through every corner of the massive room, men whistled, others clapped, some simply struck the floor with their tower shields, all of it creatinf a cacophony of noise. Belrigger waved them to stop, bringing quiet back.
"I will honor.. our agreement. But.. you others!" Sweeping his gaze across the room, eyeing each and every one of his guards in turn. "You are free men. I will not force you to fight and die like cattle. Who among you will march with me willingly?!"
Tense moments of silence dragged on for what felt like eternity before Mithril, first of the champions, raised his longsword. Beside him the other champions mirrored his willingness and raised their own weapons.
One by one the soldiers of the forgotten Arena raised their weapons in salute and readiness to fight for their Masters.
"Ready yourselves! We do not know when the enemy will strike but we must be vigilant. Form up with your squads, arm yourselves fully. Mithril will lead the scouts and become our first reponse. The rest of you will make ready for heavy fighting should it be found in the city proper." Addressing his last two champions, he continued. "Both of you will lead from from front with me. Full armor. Go!"
Everyone scrambled to comply, rushing to the caches through the mansion for their ceremonial armor and weapons. Belrigger turned to approach Ashton and held out his hand. "We cannot march without a clear enemy. I will accompany you through the city to meet with whoever you desire, Mithril will signal my company to march when we must fight. Lead on!"