(In which Antierra faces her most challenging arena combat to-date which she hopes will score a very important point for the empowerment of women in Elbre.)
To all of this, much more and repetitively, Tiki listens. I can feel her tensing at times, and wanting to speak but even here in these dreadful compounds there is an order. When the older women engage certain topics among themselves, the young stay quiet. They are expected to listen but may never interrupt. Those who do are quietly but viciously “punished” by the older ones in the training compounds. When they are punished, they know why. Thus the women discipline ‘their’ children even under these circumstances. Of course of those we are given, we can discipline freely. They are our slaves.
End blog post #64
Begin blog post #65
Chapter 28 – Vengeance as a Redemptive Act
Through Tiki I have been contacted by the female Cydroid who works as a goronda in the kitchens. The Koronese “sting” operation on Warmo and his infernal inquisition has been successfully concluded, details to be given to me in the future should I require them. Yes, XBA9 was tortured to death as was expected and his “re-cloning” (at astronomical cost to Dr. Echinoza and his associates on Koron) was immediately implemented when XBA9’s death on T’Sing Tarleyn was confirmed and officially accepted on Koron.
I am told that the King ordered a secret raid on Warmo’s dungeons following the death of a “terrorist” whose activities the King wanted to know more about. All the victims of Warmo’s torture, alive, dying or dead but still on the stakes, were taken out into a secure courtyard for official examination. Warmo was arrested on a technicality to do with a health code violation. Apparently he failed to remove the decomposing bodies of his victims and keep the floors and walls disinfected and a member of his entourage got sick from accidental contact with the bodies.
Again I must point out the twisted logic on how laws are used in pseudo-ISSA societies. I saw many such inanities when dealing with “environmental” or “health” related issues on Túat Har. There never were any doubts in my mind then that the endless legal subterfuges used by the courts to hide real crimes through the prosecution of misdemeanours would inevitably result in the great die-back. There never was the will to tackle the real problems because that would have exposed all the powers that be and all the rulers, leaders, CEO’s including the great heads of organized Religion.
But back to my story here. The “member” in Warmo’s employ – one of the Cydroids – blew the whistle. Another Cydroid, a member of the King’s legal counsel group, laid the charges against Warmo. After short deliberation and the additional startling discovery that the “terrorist” was a confidant of the King and friend of the court, Warmo was officially pronounced guilty. As you know, all crimes on Malefactus are capital crimes. Warmo was given the chance to redeem himself through a fight to the death in the arena. He naturally jumped at the chance and when he was told I would be his opposing fighter, he apparently raised his fist in the air and yelled, “I finally get to kill that bitch!”
All the men in the compound, from the overseer to the medics, are aghast at the bold move by the King and his counselors in reaching down into the official inquisition’s affairs and condemning “the” Warmo. The man is well known in Elbre. Before the previous King gave him the position of chief torturer – it is well known that the King used to go and watch Warmo work and sometimes provide him with interesting victims for the fun of it – Warmo had been a drook.
His reputation was so that no owner of female fighters would enter them against him and he had no more takers by the time he was promoted to be the King’s Grand Inquisitor. He killed with precision and mastery but more, with utter malice. Warmo was (and remains) a consummate misogynist. He literally tortured opposing fighters before killing them. No one died quickly at his hands. He would entertain the crowds with blows and cuts, to maim and disfigure after he’d tired his opponent. Even if the fighter quit and lay down to die, he’d continue beating and cutting as long as he could make her endure. He never sexually assaulted his victims and the story spread that he was a eunuch.
Well, maybe I’ll find out. In the case of Warmo, I’m going to be utterly “human” in performing my own ritual with him in the arena. Yes, I know I should not be so cocky, that anything can go wrong, that I am supposed to be a new person with a new outlook on life and that I need to be humble in all things. Sure, I know all that, just as you know all that. But again, there is that which I call compromised morality. This is not about me, even though I will be the center of interest and attraction.
This is much more than personal. This fight is a social comment and a political statement. It is of paramount importance that my purpose is not to survive an arena fight against a powerful drook, but meant to avenge his victims, particularly the female ones. I must be more than the ultimate fighter; I must also be the consummate actress to demonstrate that I am indeed the avenger.
In exacting vengeance on Warmo I will be causing the deliberate humiliation of a once “great” man and performing an elaborate execution by torture to be done by a woman to a man. This must be seen by all, and reported openly. This is my ultimate dare and my chance to make these males see what a fearless, self-empowered woman can do.
Even if after the fight I am publicly flogged to death or otherwise killed for my temerity, for having dared flaunt my womanhood towards a man, I must do this. The law is clear on this: the penalty for a woman demonstrating power over a man (other than in the handling of weapons, of course) is death. The choice of death, if it comes on that day, will be given to the crowd to decide. Not likely will it be a mercy killing.
Nevertheless, there must be no doubt that I am meeting this monster in my own capacity as monster. The meeting of Beast Warmo and the Desert Beast. The stakes will likely be the highest the gambling world has ever heard of. The betting will go ‘through the roof’ as the saying went.
I have two weeks to prepare myself for this event. It’s not that either Warmo or I need that time, but the longer the event is delayed, the higher the stakes will rise, and the farther the news will reach so betting will take place in all the major centers of Elbre, and perhaps even beyond. This is “play off” time and the Big Money will be in evidence everywhere. This also means that in the meantime, fewer women will be fought in the arenas as the money will be hoarded for the main event. That also is a great victory to me, although I can see an uglier side to this as well.
I hear the King has decreed there is to be but one fight in the arena of Hyrete on that day, regardless of how quickly it ends.
Also, the day of the “Fight of the Beasts” as it is billed is to be a kingdom-wide holiday.
I wonder how that will affect the non-fighter women and girls in the kingdom? They won’t see any holiday; in fact they will have a greater load to bear as a result of the partying, visiting, merry-making and the various needs for exotic pleasures and entertainment. There is also the very real danger that should the fight cause great losses of money, and I am the one who causes it by killing the Warmo, innocent women will bear the brunt of reprisals in a surge of hate and anger against women in general. This is, after all as I have already said, a world at war and in any war it is always the innocents who suffer the most.
Tiki and I speak of the coming fight. This girl is no fool. She understands her world and moves within its twisted ways with a skill born of breeding and necessity. If it’s information she wants, she gets it quietly and quickly and she deduces much from what is not being said or publicized.
I don’t have to explain the Inquisition or Warmo to her. She gets as much as I could tell her from her contacts which she has naturally developed as she works the kitchens, the yard and the cages. By now everybody knows her and she has had many offers to leave me and share younger flesh in other cages. She could do it, if she wanted it badly enough. Yes, she belongs to me, in a sense, but she could “trade” herself for another, say an older trainee who wanted to ingratiate herself to me for special training. This old human trading for advantage, for favours, is found everywhere except in the most advanced and evolved world touching the top edge of ISSA consciousness. No matter where I’ve encountered this process, I’ve always found it particularly repugnant.
End blog post #65