Into the Pit
Dill peeled off his shirt, he stood at the edge of the ring in his leather breeches and bare feet. He inhaled deeply, the smell of sweat, blood, sand, smoke mixed with spilled ale. Intoxicating. The usually laughs, catcalls and insults of “Who let a child into the pit?” and “Your mama’s calling boy,” rained down from the stands. He paid no heed as he oiled up his chest and arms. He shot a furtive glance over his shoulder to the party. They seemed to be enjoying themselves, Valindra sipped from a tankard the length of his leg. He turned back to size up his opponent, “Bruiser.” And then Dill did something he hadn’t done in days, he smiled.

In theory, they are not for mere butchery but a display of courage, skill, and strength for the gods. Though of course, the fighting pits also bring in a large amount of coin from spectators, and those who gamble on the fights. As a result, the games are quite popular with both the rich and poor, and many fighters willingly participate in the games because it is their chance to achieve wealth and glory. Dill isn’t here for any of those reasons.

The combatants wear no armor in the fighting pits as it is blood the crowds have come to see. Usually, fighting pits feature combatant against combatant, man against beasts, or beast against beasts. But there are also pits in which slave children are forced to fight beasts, and "follies" in which children, cripples or old people are placed with fake weapons against wild animals for the mockery of spectators. There are even pits in which slave children are covered in different foods so that patrons may bet on which child a given beast will devour first. Dill had no stomach for any of that.

This is the bullshit world he lived in now. The Undead, plague, monsters, and decades of winter to come. Now you throw man’s inhumanity to man on top of it? No wonder Dill lost all hope.

He wandered and fought for survival at first, enough to win a little coin to afford a meal or warm shelter at night. His emotions became as calloused as his hands and knuckles.

But a peculiar thing happened along the way, he felt a kind of release and satisfaction at inflicting pain on another. In a world where he became desensitized to everything around him, the physical contact of fighting woke him up and made him feel truly alive.

Dill charged across the pit at “Bruiser,” how off-putting his wide grin must have been that fleeting moment before impact.

Losing all hope was freedom.
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2 Comments

Whoa, this is the best one yet! This is such an interesting twist to his character. Very nicely-written too. That last line hits like a clap of thunder.
Yeah. Very good, John. I love Dill's nihilism.