Augus – The New World

Chapter 6 - Break

Phillo walked away and Ren stood by the bar while preparations were conducted. The patrons were eager about the tournament, and a buzz ran through the lobby. Excitement was electric, and many glances were directed at the boy standing near the bar with his rags and the strange cat on his shoulder.

The musician and the dancer left the stage, which was emptied completely. New lanterns and lamps were lit around the wooden structure. Madam Lucille reappeared. She greeted a few people until she sat down in a remote part. Then she cast a glance in Rens direction.

Time passed until Phillo reappeared and positioned himself in the center of the stage. The people turned their attention to him and cheered with claps and whistles.

The short man smiled gallantly as he thanked the audience for their affection. Then he raised his hands for silence before he spoke.

”Good evening everyone, it is an immeasurable pleasure to welcome you here to the Midnight Garden. For those of you who grace us with your presence for the first time, we have prepared a very special event for this evening. Something that will live in your memories! ”

Animated clapping broke out between the tables, and Phillo took the opportunity to dry his forehead.

”Every day, people arrive in our port from across the sea. Looking for wealth, glory, or simply a new life in our beautiful city. But some have no time to lose, some want to achieve their dreams right away. And here in our beautiful garden they can test their will. Here, a challenger can, in one night, conquer the wealth of a lifetime. All he needs is courage and resilience! ”

The audience became more animated, and the clapping shook the atrium.

”Let me introduce the challenger of the night, ” Phillo then extended his arm toward Ren.

The young man got the message, as did Sphyr, who jumped up on the counter while her partner made his way to the stage.

”A round of applause for him! Lets salute his courage and determination! ”

Phillo pointed to Ren, who stood in front of the people who were cheering for him and shouting several words at the same time.

”Him!? ” a voice said.

”This won be fair at all! ” another voice decreed

”Go home, boy! ”

”Hes kind of cute… ”

”I don even need to see whos going to fight. Ill bet on the other one. ”

”Go take a bath! ”

And a bunch of other phrases he could recognize, but Ren didn pay attention to them. He just kept laughing as if he was being complimented.

Phillo then approached him and said, ”I will introduce you to our audience. Lets start with your name. ”

”Ren, ” the young man spoke with confidence.

”Very well Ren, how long have you been in Augus? ”

”I arrived this earlier today. ”

This provoked surprise and some laughter.

”Ohhhh, ” Phillo grimaced in forced surprise. ”Do you smell fresh meat? ”

He gestured to the audience, who responded to the joke.

”I can smell it! But not that fresh! ”

Some shouted the word bath, and Ren glared in their direction.

”And what are you doing here? ” Phillo continued with his questions.

”I came to become an Explorer. ”

”And you are ready to fight for it? ”

”For all I care, I would be fighting already. ”

Rens answer provoked a lot of reactions and laughter.

”Good boy! ”

”I like the spirit! ”

”Start at once! ”

”Yall see, don let appearances fool you, ” Phillo stepped forward. ”Lets introduce Rens first opponent on his journey. ”

A new round of lively applause.

”He is an old acquaintance of many here. Like Ren, he came from the other side of the Sea of Fury a few years ago. He also tried his luck in our beautiful garden, but learned that things are not always as we wish. So he decided his story would not end like this, that he would not be just another vanishing silence in the night. Day after day he trained his body, fought to survive in our streets, learned the secrets that move our world. Fought against wolves and bears with his bare hands. Then he came back to us, no longer as the boy who had his will destroyed. But as a true challenger. With his fists, he claimed victory and is now one of our champions. A round of applause for Marc, the unshakable! ”

On the other side of the stage appeared a man with long brown hair. His broad chest was showing because he was only wearing a pair of pants. The hairy chest was permeated with lots of muscle, as were his arms. He was a little shorter than Ren, but his body was clearly stronger. But what was striking were the scars. On his cheek, on his nose, on his chest, just above his left nipple, on his belly, near his belly button and on his right forearm.

”Now let the betting begin! ”

Phillo sounded excited as other employees of the Midnight Garden passed by to collect the coins from the customers and their guesses. During this time, Marc and Ren stared at each other.

When the bets were registered, Phillo was notified and he returned to the center of the board.

”All right, the bets are in and you know our fighters. Nothing else stops us from starting the big event of the night. Everyone ready? ”

The audience greeted him once again with a mixture of words and clapping. The little guy loved that attention.

”Lets get started! Are you ready? ” he looked to them both.

”Fight! ” And with these words, he gestured to the two of them and left the stage.

Marc assumed a fighting stance while Ren stood still, watching his opponent like a goof. But the other fighter didn rush in front of so many weak points and kept his posture.

”What are they paying you to fight me? ”

Ren spoke in a tone that only Marc could hear. His question was so unusual that Marcs gaze lost focus and his posture lost its solidity.

”Huh? What kind of question is that? Be quiet and fight! ”

Ren completely ignored him and continued whispering,

”They will pay me twenty coins if I beat you. How much is at stake for you? ”

”Doesn matter, just stop this nonsense. ”

”If you don want to answer, it must be too little, too. ” Ren was rambling aloud. ”Think with me, they haven made the rules of the fight clear, and if you win an amount like mine, you can just give up. Ill pay you ten coins out of my twenty and nobody has to get hurt for it. ”

Marcs expression was the most honest description of mental confusion. He had certainly never stopped to think about something like this before.

”And why would I do that? If I can just beat you and take my money? Stop talking nonsense. You
e just afraid of getting beaten. ”

Again Ren ignored him and his eyes traveled into new ideas.

”Come to think of it, if I beat you, they will allow me to fight more. If the pay increases with each fight, Ill be able to pay the one I beat and keep the rest for myself. Do you understand what this means? Everyone can win with this, and we don have to fight each other to entertain this bunch of suckers. Of course, it has to be done in a way that doesn arouse suspicion, so isn harm you. ”

Ren was holding his chin in thought and finally put his hands together in excitement.

”Do you understand what this means? You will earn exactly what they promise to pay you, without having to fight with anyone. Just trust me, can you do it? ”

Rens eyes sparkled with excitement, but Marc didn share the same mood. He was used to fighting for things, to suffering for his achievements. Those ideas made no sense to his mind. And above all, he would never trust someone he had just met.

”Are you crazy? Just shut up! ”

”Yeah… ideas that make sense are always ignored, its easier to suspect something that sounds too good. ”

Marc was snorting with anger.

”If you are getting irritated by just a few questions, maybe you should change your name. Because you
e too shaken up for so little. ”

Marcs eyes shot wide at this provocation, and he didn stop his body. The man advanced towards Ren with a frontal punch, aiming for his big, insolent mouth.

The boy took a step to the side and grabbed Marcs arm, and used the force of his body to throw him to the ground with one motion. The man lost his balance and fell backwards against the board.

The audience held its breath. No one was believing their eyes, and Sphyr was licking herself as if nothing had happened.

Ren took hold of his arm and placed his foot on Marcs throat.

”You should have accepted my proposal, ” he sighed. ”At least these suckers aren having any fun. ”

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