The Emperor's Wedding

The Emperor's Wedding

A Story by Justin Carr

Two unfortunate gladiators are forced to fight to the death in honor of the Emperor's marriage.


 “I don’t care if you die or not,” Bryn puffed, wiping his brow with an already soaked handkerchief “but for the love of God, don’t go spilling your guts everywhere. I make good money selling gladiator blood, I want as much of it as you can give me.” He paused for a moment, looking skeptically at me. “ Do you understand, you daft, stupid, imbecile? They put it in ladies creams, makes them feel like champions.”

I wheezed my understanding, leaning against the heavy metal gate as the thin armor pinched my skin. “Now Eva,” Bryn continued, shifting focus to the woman next to me “You, I’ll be sorry to see go. I don’t like my fighters killed… It’s bad for business. If you die, your father is going to blame me, and I’d rather not have to explain to a senator how I get his daughter killed, understood? You just stay behind Olivious here, he’s on his deathbed anyways, and you wait for everyone else to kill each other.” Eva nodded, casting a sideways glance at me through a long strand of brown hair that’dfallen before her eyes.

Behind me the crowd roared, and a trumpet blared signaling the end of the bout. “How do you feel?” Eva asked, squaring up in front of me and checking my armor, tightening laces and adjusting knots. I swayed a little, my tired mind struggling to understand her words through the sickness that clouded it.

“You don’t mean to make him fight like that, surely?” Bryn’s wife scolded from from the stairway that led down to the gate. She was always there to see the fighters off, though usually under less dire circumstances.

“Surely I do, woman!” Bryn snapped.

“And what will Senator Sulpicious say, when he finds out you sent his daughter to battle with a man who was already nearly dead?” Bryn stood silent, and for a moment I thought he might pull me out of the fight.

“We don’t have anyone else to put in his place. The emperor was married yesterday, and he want’s a couples fight to the death. Gregory just fought last week, and even you understand Scipio is too precious to throw away in a death bout. Now come with me, darling, the fight is about to begin!”

A moment later the gate opened, and I was blinded as the sun hit my eyes. The crowd erupted as I felt my stomach tighten. I was going to die. Around the arena three other doors swung open, and two people emerged from each. Like Bryn had said, it was a couples fight. It was usually uncommon to see women in the Colosseum, but sometimes Emperor’s would enjoy seeing them hunt animals or fight against one another. This was on a totally new level though.

From somewhere in the stands an announcer began to explain the fight, congratulating the emperor on his marriage and making sure to pay respects to anyone important who’d come for today’s fights. Seemingly, half of Rome had shown up, and as the announcer rattled off a list of esteemed guests, the competitors sized each other up.

“Why are you here?” Eva asked, spinning the tip of her blade in the sand.
“Political enemy of the state.” I responded.

“You’re a little too young to be in politics.”
“You’re a little too wealthy to be in blood sport.” I retorted, turning away as I was seized by a coughing fit.

“My god, you’re going to die before the fight even starts! You’re absolutely pathetic.” She pushed me and I allowed myself to give more than I should. I didn’t care anymore, but I was forced to regain my composure as I caught Bryn giving me a sharp glare from the stands. I pointed my sword at the couple to our left.

“I’ve seen him fight before, avoid him. And her...” I was cut off by the blow of the horn. The fight had begun. It started slowly, no one seemed to want to be the first to engage. That didn’t last though, as suddenly an arrow whistled through the air and stuck the ground next to my foot.

I took off sprinting, and glanced behind me just in time to see Eva take off in the opposite direction. Ahead of me a three-way fight was taking place, two women were hacking away viciously at a young Persian who’d long since stopped moving. As it was clear that he was no longer a threat, they then turned on each other. The first, a tall Amazon, struck out with her spear and caught the other in the leg. The injured dropped to the ground, shrieking with pain only a moment, before the Amazon kicked her with a heavy iron boot.

She spotted me a moment later, and turned facing me, her face bright red to match the blood on her armor. She swung first, the sword biting into my left forearm and soaking my white tunic bright red with blood. I howled in pain as the second blow glanced off of my armor and into the sand. It was my chance now, and I lunged forward, the sword sliding easily between a chink in her armor. I withdrew quickly, not wanting to watch her die, but at the same time not having the strength to get my sword back out. She let out an almost peaceful sigh, toppling backwards over the dead Persian and landing on the sand with my sword sticking prominently out of her stomach.

“Oh god.” I whispered, staring absently at my wound, watching the blood spurt beneath my fingertips. The loud beat of drums filled my ears, but I knew it was only in my head. My life was draining, the only question was “What would kill me first?” I sank to my knees and glanced around, attempting to understand my situation. I heard the crowd explode in a frenzy of excitement, and turned just in time to see an arrow plant itself between Eva’s eyes. She fell, a crumbling tower as her body gave out beneath her. I was so caught up in the action, I hadn’t even realized that I was one of the last two left.

“Vesta! Vesta! Vesta!” The crowd chanted her name as she stalked towards me, grinning from ear to ear. She’d replaced her bow in favor of a small hunting knife, brandishing it menacingly as she drew nearer. I flung my hand away from my bloody wound to push myself up off of the sand. Rising slowly, the pounding in my head merged with the chanting of the crowd, my legs wanting nothing more than to just give out.

“Vesta! *Boom* Vesta! *Boom* Vesta! *Boom*” She was within my reach now, but instead of attacking she just circled me , like a bird of prey eying it’s next meal.

“Die!” She screamed, lunging forward. I had enough sense to move out of the way, cutting into her side as she passed. She cried out in pain and swung around, slashing into the air in front of me. I struck again, this time overextending my reach. I yelled out in surprise as she grabbed my arm and threw me to the ground. Then, she was upon me, the cold blade resting against my skin as she pulled my hair back, exposing my neck to the entire Colosseum. She waited, staring intently at the Emperor’s seat, waiting to know if she should kill me or spare me.

“Give them what they want. Kill me.” I mouthed, locking her eyes with mine. I attempted to gauge the crowd, but the screams were almost incoherent. One man shouted “Spare his life!” whilst another roared “Gut him like a pig!”. It felt like an eternity before the newly crowned emperor Justinian I stood, sweeping his arms to call for silence. 

“This many has fought poorly, and I should like to see him killed… However, my wife insists that it’s only right we should have two winners, to celebrate the junction of a couple. A splendid show, truly!” And with that Vesta let go of my hair, and I sank back into the sand, holding my arm as it gushed, and trying to decide whether or not I was happy to be alive.  

© 2014 Justin Carr

Author's Note

Justin Carr
Any feedback is greatly appreciated!

My Review

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You have a good story here. Overall a good plot and exciting action. You seem to know some specific details of gladiator fights/combat which helps with the fighting scenes. I do however believe that things progress too quickly between the beginning of the fight and Eva's death. The pace slows for the bit with Vesta, which was executed very well. I challenge you to introduce a few more sentences into the beginning of the fight to provide some balance, it seems rushed at the moment.

Especially these lines: "I took off sprinting, and glanced behind me just in time to see Eva take off in the opposite direction. Ahead of me a three-way fight was taking place, two women were hacking away viciously at a young Persian who’d long since stopped moving." --> it's hard for me to believe that in the time it took for Olivious and Eva to part ways, a Persian was already killed and had "long since stopped moving"... we are only two lines into the fight and someone has "long since stopped moving"? GRANTED, I am being picky here, but I think this would be an easy fix to transition in a more gradual manner to the death of the Persian etc.

I also challenge you to attempt to incorporate more character development in here too. It's a definite challenge in such a small story, but I would like to feel more pity when Eva dies... and you final line would be much stronger if I had a bit of a better understanding behind Olivious.

I hope my feedback is well taken, I really enjoyed this piece and I see even further potential that I believe you can achieve due to the obvious writing skill throughout this piece. Hopefully you are able to check out some of my writing and provide me with an outside viewpoint so that I may improve as well. Cheers! Keep on writing!

Posted 6 Years Ago

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1 Review
Added on September 23, 2014
Last Updated on September 23, 2014
Tags: Gladiator, arena, thriller, history, medieval, action, fight, death, kill, murder, exciting


Justin Carr
Justin Carr

Okeana, OH

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