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   Chapter 144 No.144

The WeatherMaker Hearts Desire By Lady Lilium Characters: 5356

Updated: 2018-07-11 12:03

'Come on' Talut encouraged, his voice echoing back to her. 'It's perfectly safe, look I even went first.'

Annabel glanced at Shawn who stood behind her, and to Arlen who stood behind him.

'Its fine' Arlen said to her from the back. 'I trust him.'

Annabel faced to the door again, and entered, following after Talut and ducking to fit through. Shawn and Arlen followed after her.

The room inside was small and completely empty, but there was enough space for all of them to stand comfortably.

Arlen closed the small door after him, and Talut led the way through to the only other door in the dark and silent room. He opened this door and noise suddenly filled their ears. The room beyond was large and brightly lit and filled with people cheering and shouting to one another. They stood on a balcony of some sorts, looking over at a pit below them.

'There are many entrances to this place' Talut explained to them, raising his voice so that he could be heard. 'I prefer the more secretive ones. Come now Annabel' he said to her, 'you can relax now.'

'What is this place?' Shawn asked loudly.

Talut glanced towards him, flashing a grin. 'Fighting pits.'

The four of them approached the rails where there was a small gap for them to stand, seeing below them a pit sunk into the earth where two men fought viciously. Bare-chested, they were both thickset and heavy men, one was bald with tattoos all over his body, the other bearded with long dark dreadlocks. They fought with bare fists in the most brutal and barbaric of ways, resorting to clawing with their nails at each other, and ripping each other with their teeth at every chance. The sand around them was dark and already heavily stained with blood from fights that had ended previously that evening.

Annabel winced in distaste as she watched the spectacle, the crowd of men on the balcony around them cheered and hollered as the fighters below them tore at each other with primal rage. Annabel glanced up.

'What are they doing?' Annabel asked Talut, seeing a small group of men a short distance away. They seemed to be arguing, or haggling, or debating, and money was being passed between several of them.

'They're taking bets' Talut answered loudly back. 'These folk will bet on anything that involves blood and pain and violence.'

'That's horrid.'

'Not to these people' Talut winked at her.

'Have you taken bets before?' Shawn asked him.

'Taken bets?!' Talut echoed, incredulous. 'I've taken part in the fights themselves, that's how I got this scar' he said pulling his shirt down, revealing a grotesque scar that ran across his shoulder and chest.

Arlen leant over th

e railing slightly, watching the fight below him. He saw as one man head butted the other, knocking him onto his back and lunging for him. They wrestled on the ground for a short time, before one man gained the advantage, climbing on top of the other and grasping his head, forcing his thumbs through the man's eyes. The man on the ground began to scream.

Arlen watched as the man in the pit crushed the head of the other man with his bare hands, killing him instantly.

He turned away as the dead man was strung up by his feet and hung at the edge of the pit, joining the many other hanging corpses that circled the fights. The bodies of the previous fighters that had entered the pits that night, the ones that had not survived. The winning man thrust his fists into the air to the sounds of cheering, striding out of the pit through the iron gates.

Arlen spoke to Talut. 'Where is the princess we seek?' he asked.

Talut glanced up to the balcony opposite them. Within the crowd of men baying for blood, they saw a woman dressed all in black. Like those around her she was leaning over the railing, screaming and shouting at the fighters below, calling out for more.

'And I thought I was the only woman here' Annabel said dryly. 'Never mind.'

'That…is the princess?' Shawn asked incredulous.

'It is' Talut nodded. 'Why? Is she not as you were expecting?' his eyes glinted as he spoke. 'Come' Talut said, moving away from the railings as two new fighters entered the pits below them. 'Let's introduce ourselves shall we?'

The princess was a tall and slender woman who dressed more like a man, with black trousers, worn and filthy travelling boots and a long black trench coat. Her hair, black like the clothes she wore, was short and scruffy, as if she had cut it off herself.

Talut approached her and spoke to her briefly. The princess did not look at him, but leant towards him as he spoke directly into her ear, she waited silently as he told her what he needed to say.

The princess glanced up at last, seeing the others waiting behind Talut.

'I will be very glad to receive them' she spoke flatly. 'You may bring them to the palace tomorrow at midday.'

Talut bowed and left.

'Was that it?' Shawn asked him as they left the place the way they had come in, stepping out into the moonlight and the open still air again. The silence felt good.

'Yes' Talut answered shortly. 'Now she knows we want to see her. She will be waiting for us tomorrow at the palace.'

They returned to Talut's home and each was given their own room to sleep.

'Goodnight' Shawn whispered to Annabel when they were alone. 'I'll see you in the morning.'

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