...Our “host” had at last decided to introduce himself, odd name though it was. Though, at his next statement, even if I’d been allowed to say anything I’d have been speechless! Mr. Tall-good-looking had stood there and calmly told us we’d be sold only after we’d been trained.
Trained, damn it!
“You’ll remain here in the training area,” Cor’lyn went on, “and you’ll be schooled to fight with a variety of weapons and in unarmed combat. When I consider you are ready, you’ll be sent to the market, where patrons will bid against each other to purchase the best combatants. I warn you to give of your best while being schooled; it will gain you nothing but pain to disobey.”
What kind of society was this? People taken into slavery for little more than some kind of barbaric entertainment! No wonder they’d only wanted the young and strong. I thanked my lucky stars that, for whatever reason, the leader of this group had decided to bring me along, too.
I wasn’t worried about the instruction we were supposed to undergo—there wasn’t a weapon made I couldn’t use—but I was worried about Liander. While I had taught him enough he could competently protect himself, he was no warrior. It hit me then that if we were training together, Liander and I—
“You will be divided into groups for the training, and you will remain chained to each other as an added precaution against escape.”
Fuck! Was the man reading my mind?
“Hear me,” Cor’lyn said sharply. “There’s no chance of escape from the arena.” His gaze slid over all of us, and I could have sworn it momentarily settled on me. “Even if by some miracle you could accomplish the impossible and get beyond the guards and the high wall, there’s nowhere for you to go. Outside the city, beyond the growing area, there’s naught but desert for hundreds of miles.”
I found it odd he made no mention of the ocean. I guessed the harbor area was guarded and, then again, home was many days across the sea. It would be enough of a deterrent to most men, but Liander and I were not most men. And we had to trust the others would not let out that vital piece of information. So far to our captors, we were just two more members of the tribe of the seven villages, and we needed to keep it that way.
The guards moved among us again then, removing the long chain linking us together and removing the waist chains, too, leaving only the manacles on our ankles joining us in pairs.
“Your training will begin in earnest tomorrow. Tonight you will be allowed to bathe, eat and rest. You will split into two sections; one section will take the left hall, while the other takes the right.”
This was my chance, if only I could get in the same section as Liander. I’d begun to drag Ledo toward the other end of the line when all at once Cor’lyn blocked my path.
“Ah, the tall one. You intrigue me. I see a wolf among the sheep. You will bear watching. I also think I want to keep you from…” He smiled and glanced in Liander’s direction.
I could see the prince attempting to hang back, but he was being pushed toward the left hall by the guards. Turning back to me, Cor’lyn continued, “That one interests me, too.” His eyes narrowed as he considered me, and I felt a chill creep up my spine. For whatever reason, Cor’lyn knew there was something different about Liander and me, and that made him dangerous.
Cor’lyn raised his chin at one of guards and indicated with a nod of his head that Ledo and I should be taken to the right hall. Only with a prod from the guard’s weapon, I pivoted away from Liander.
I glanced over my shoulder, and Liander was walking with his back turned to me, head dipped. Fortil turned, saw me watching, and he grinned and licked his lips.
If that bastard as much as lays one hand on Liander… But what the hell could I do locked behind another door across this huge compound?...