Somot knew and was no stranger to hard work, if the life of her husband and that of her son were to mean anything, then the farm needed to continue and prosper. In the summers since the death of her husband and Tomoko's conviction, the farm kept going, in no small part due to the Goren who had remained. They had 'adopted' Hobin and Yontil and rarely let them out of sight. They taught Hobin how to harvest the rare tubers and wild potatoes in the wilderness beyond the farm. Yontil became adept with the sling and continued to bring baskets of vermin to the Goren.
Volan continued to be a problem, with Saraq's ascendency his behavior created issues that were getting harder to overlook and ignore. His drinking was becoming an issue that all too many were becoming aware of. His indiscriminate sexual predations weren't confined to either sex either. Saraq knew the boy was a lout, thickheaded and dim to boot. What's more was that he had no imagination or ability to think ahead. Where he wasn't cunning, he was forceful in ways that left little to the imagination.
The latest incident involved the middle son of the head of the merchants' guild. The boy, Gabor of fourteen summers, was an enigma and a danger. Where other boys were rough and tumble, Gabor was studious and possessed a keen mind. He was a student who excelled in his lessons and inhaled anything and everything to do with the Chronicles. His father possessed, in name only, the market town's oldest copy of the Chronicles. Moreover,
Gabor had access to all of the historical records of the town and its customs.
It was his acute mind that led to a profound disagreement with Volan, who was only interested in having his way with Gabor. He had been a few days without releasing seed due to his drinking and wanted Gabor to suckle on his fali.
As small and slight as Gabor may have been, he should not have been any match for the predatory Volan. A swift well placed kick however evened the odds considerably. To further Volan's humiliation, Gabor withdrew his copy of the Chronicles from his Dbjib and soundly let it connect with the top of Volan's head as his body reacted to the shift kick in the eggs.
Word got back to Saraq who couldn't figure out what distressed more, that Volan once again threatened everything he had worked so hard to achieve or that an ancient copy of the Chronicles existed outside of his control.
The timing couldn't have been worse, the arena needed his attention, there were issues that needed to be dealt with if it were to be ready for the next luni. There were two suns of events that needed to be planned for. Food and drink had to be bought and paid for, the floor was a shambles and the overhead iron grates holding back the Goren needed attention. The only good that would come out of the next event, was the farm boy would lead off the morning of the second sun, he was one of two lose ends that needed tiding up. By the time the two others who followed him were dispatched no one would remember just who the fuck he was.
That left just one weak link, Volan. He was too much of a risk and he needed to disappear before the next luni at the latest. Sooner would be better and then all he would have to do was to get ahold of Gabor's copy of the Chronicles. He would have to talk with Volan, get him to stop drinking until the dust settled. He would have to impress upon him the need to stay out of sight.
Looking around the farm Somot wistfully thought that this should have been Tomoko's, the summer of his eighteenth year was here and his birth luni was nearly upon them, fourteen suns to go and she would travel to the market town, stand in the arena and watch her son breathe his last. A parent should never have to bury a child and the thought left a darkness on her soul. She had a spot on the hillside across the flowing water picked out for the grave. It would grieve her immeasurably to place her son in the ground but was only slightly comforted that she would be able to see him whenever she wished.
Saraq breathed a sigh of relief as he left the guild hall, for once Volan was believable and was very contrite in his abject apology to Gabor. Once that was done he sent Volan away. Away to clean and rake the arena floor. The offer to Gabor and his father to sit front and center in the arena for the second round was most welcome. Generally, these prime seats were reserved for those who wished to bet large sums however betting generally fell off after the first afternoon of the event. It cost Saraq more than a few coins, coin he would extract from Volan but at least this crisis had been averted for the moment. On leaving, a not too subtle threat was made as Gabor's father, reminded Saraq that boys will play but drink and boys play was never a good mix.
Somot had no intention of staying in the market town any longer than necessary. Word had been sent ahead there were goods for sale, trade and barter. She would be there for two suns, all business was to be completed before the second sun, on the second sun she would be in the arena once the remains were collected they would be on their way back to the farm.
Everything was in order; the arena was ready and open for business. Once the last event was over with the setting of the second sun he would have time to deal with Volan. That he had to go was no longer an issue with Saraq, Volan would have to die, he knew too much, a little too much to drink and accident would ensure the outcome.
Donning his robes and making his way to the arena platform Saraq thought of the coin that would come his way, with what he'd save with the accident Volan would encounter would a long way in assuring his fortune. He would have to replace Volan and he had thoughts on that as well. He was surprised that Gabor didn't tell his father about Volan's clumsy attempt. The kid was smart but could he be molded and adapt to being an acolyte was the question.
The prisoner Majed was brought from the mines to stand before him. It was only a luni ago that he stood in the box and watched the unfortunate soul that he would follow. Once his feet were secured and his arms pinned, the Stigel was applied and his herka removed, sentence had been passed and it was time Majed paid for his crime.
It was over brutally quick Saraq thought, something should be done to prolong the bout between the condemned and the Goren, the question is how. The midday meal finished it was time to head back for the final bout.
Many coins were made this day, enough to keep all of the fingers in the pie satisfied. Like today tomorrow would feature two bouts as well.
Gabor wasn't a fool and it was clearly obvious Volan was insincere, he made a mental note to avoid him wherever possible. The High Priest also bothered Gabor. Clearly, he was an unctuous phony and offering his father two seats to the arena was beyond the pale. The priest had something to hide. His interpretations of the Chronicles left much to be desired. His father insisted that he accompany him to the arena after the morning meal. He wasn't sure he wanted to go after the clandestine trip to the arena but if he were to follow the Chronicles as his path in life, what happened in the arena would be part of his future.
Gabor was up before the sun that morning, after taking care of his daily needs, bathed and dressed before anyone else was up he took the ancient book of the Chronicles and went out to his spot in the garden. Placing the book on the pedestal he began his morning prayers, asking that the gods grant him wisdom and guidance for this day. He asked for their forgiveness for his deception the previous sun. It was after the mid-day meal and he went to the arena. He was late and was able to sneak in just as the condemned came through the opened lid. He needed to see for himself the struggle. He did not want to react badly in front of his father or the priests. Pulling the hood of his Dbjib over his head he wormed his way as close to the arena as possible. The condemned he was told, had raped a girl of ten summers after beating her mother to death. The struggle was brief and bloody. Any revulsion Gabor felt was tempered that the condemned deserved to die. He was certain that he could face the next events in the arena with equanimity.
The Chronicles were very clear as to crime and punishment, as they were regarding all facets of daily life and living. Today he would witness the trials of a boy in the morning who killed his father, and later after the mid-day meal the trial who robbed a priest to feed his family. To take a life was the gravest of crimes, that the boy deserved his fate left little doubt in Gabor's mind. To die because you needed steal to feed you family bothered him, it bothered him greatly that the boy had to steal from the priest. They should have fed the boy and his family, the Chronicles were quite clear on this. He would speak to his father during the mid-day meal.
As Gabor finished his morning prayers and daily readings, the call to eat the morning meal was sounded. His father called to him, it was time to go. Gabor was sure he could face the morning bravely, he knew what would happen.
They were led to their seats, offered refreshments which were politely refused. These seats were right up front, they had a clear view of everything. Gabor watched with detached interest as Tomoko was brought to the High Priest and sentence was passed. He had an unobstructed view of the Stigel being placed against Tomoko's fali. He watched as the herka was drawn forward and tied off. He watched with grim fascination as the High Priest's blade swiftly did is work. He heard him cry out that he was innocent.
Gabor watched as the lid was opened and Tomoko entered the arena, something was off he noticed, it was as if there were no fight in him as he carried the stave to the center of the arena. Facing the iron grate the Goren would appear from Tomoko stood proud. He barely heard the horn that signaled the end of the betting, he watched as the iron grate was opened and the Goren made its appearance.
He was as stunned as everyone else when he watched Tomoko drop the stave and fall to his knees. He watched his chest rise and fall with the deep breaths he was taking as the Goren approached. There was no doubt it was hungry as it scented the air, smelling the blood on his fali and thighs.
With a morbid sense of curiosity, he watched as Tomiko exposed his mid-section and threw his head back fully exposing himself to the Goren who was now within striking distance as it circled closer and closer around him, obviously, his time was up… now!
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