The battles for the day had ended and the suspension of any further battle was announced soon after the defeat of Tracede. It was the only logical step once the length of Aeron’s match caused those that had been in line behind him to abandon their positions to watch the historic fight. No one wanted to fight after what they saw. The shock of what has occurred was still sinking in as the audience took their time vacating the stands of the Coliseum.
Soon after leaving the arena, Tracede was taken to the infirmary and had the ancient sword removed from his old injury. His new wound had been stitched and dressed as Susanda stood silently by, watching, making sure Tracede was receiving the best care possible. They may have been immortal but that did not mean they could not experience great pain. Now removed to his own chamber, he laid upright in bed, leg elevated, still under the watchful cool eyes of Susanda. Tracede was fighting sleep, having been told by the healers to remain awake at least until nightfall.
“Was a darn good plunge, I’ll give him that,” Tracede mumbled under his breath. “Right in the sweet spot, very good aim. I don’t think I’ll even have a fresh scar, the new one landed right over the old.”
Susanda because slightly livid, “’a good plunge?’ ‘Right in the sweet spot’? He could have killed you. He was trying to kill you, after all that was entirely the point of what we do here.”
A little groggy but no longer sleepy from Susanda’s outburst, Tracede smiled his goofy smile at her, trying to melt that icy exterior of hers. “But he didn’t. He could have easily aimed straight and plunged the blade in to my chest or could have pulled the blade out and cause me to bleed out. But he didn’t. He willingly did what he did, with the intention of preserving my life, and then aided me back for aid. You can be angry that he injured me, that he defeated me if you like, but don’t think h did it because he wanted to, sweetheart.”
Susanda’s posture stiffened slightly at something he said and knew he meant what he said, “perhaps, but do not feel the need to call me that again, ever.”
Tracede laughed, ending abruptly due to wincing in pain but looked back at his sultry friend anyways, lovingly, “we’ll chalk it up to the pain. But Susanda, not ever?”
To the untrained eye, her facial expression did not move a fraction of an inch, but Tracede could tell she smiled, if only on the most minimal scale. He decided to change the subject in case she changed her mind in keeping him company. “Did you bring the blade with you here? I’d be very interested in having a look at the weapon that nearly killed me.”
Susanda made no motion to move or speak, but simply gave him the look of all looks and remained silent. She had brought the blade with her and had already examined it during a short period of time that Tracede was unconscious. Her eyes moved to where she had place it but still made no motion towards it. He was about to ask again when she raised her hand to silence him, “there is nothing about it that cannot wait until you are rested, which you should be doing now. Besides, Caranne mentioned wanting to speak with you when you were up to it. To check on you, I supposed and probably ask what happened out there.” There was momentary quiet as the overwhelming obviousness of what Susanda wanted to know herself lingered in her previous statement.
“You’re adorable when you’re curious, you know that? You want to know what happened too, don’t you? I can tell you, if you like, but you have to allow me to call you ‘sweetheart’ from now on.” Tracede teased her, knowing she would either concede in order to learn what happened or simply leave, and he did not imagine her doing the latter in his current condition.
Susanda turned to Tracede and gave him a legitimate smile, “or I could wait until Caranne arrives and she asks you. Would you give her the same ultimatum as well? Do you want to call her ‘sweetheart’?”
Tracede laughed through his pain, relinquishing to her sunning revelation and enjoying seeing her smile. “Oh no Susanda, you’re the only soul I’d ever wish to call that, even though you don’t want me to.”
The silence that preceded was not awkward but comfortable. Each knowing the other, nothing else needed to be said at that point. The timing was perfect though because only a few minutes passed before a knock came at the door. Caranne entered in all her mild glory carrying a platter of food, drink, and fresh dressings. Tracede and Susanda nodded in her direction in quiet respect for the woman who was essentially their employer, but most certainly their superior. Regardless of her elevated position, she was also their friend and did in fact hold an enormous degree of care for them. However, she may have been considerate in bringing in fresh dressings for his wounds, but nothing would compel her to change them for him. “I was told you look as though you will live to fight again Tracede, but how are you feeling? It’s not every day we see a defeat occur of one of our own, let alone experience it personally.”
“Well, as long as I don’t laugh or move or breathe too much, I’m right as rain,” Tracede jested, wanting to show his worried friend that he was still in good spirits. He knew she came in to the room as a worried friend first and a concerned employer second because she had asked after him first and not about what happened immediately. That was the largest misconception the mortals had about them; that they were immovable forces that had not a care about anyone or anything that did not improve their personal will. Just because they were gods and had the potential to live forever did not mean they had no knowledge of what it was like to be human, after all many of them were one at some point. “Have you seen him yet? He hasn’t passed because of his chest wound had he? I couldn’t imagine having accomplished all that he did only to…”
“Be calm, I have not received news of any decline of his current condition. I have not gone to see the mortal in person yet because he had remained unconscious at this time. I knew you were awake so I came here first, and knowing you, you would be hungry of all things.”
Tracede propped himself higher on his pillows and reached a hand out towards Caranne to accept the platter she had carried into the room, “right as always, wonderful lady. The only thing that could hurt more than my leg is the insatiable pain of my empty stomach.” Accepting the platter on to his lap he began devouring its contents, but not before giving Caranne a look so she would understand he knew her other motive for visiting his so soon.
A mortal challenger had won, and not only that but had spared the life of his opponent even though in changed positions Tracede would have taken his. Tracede’s mouth was full and Susanda was unlikely to say much while she knew Caranne had questions to ask, so Caranne broke the silence, “certainly something none of us have experience before. Every seasons when the weather, temperatures, and conditions change and the first Champion that these mortals face is refreshed, all come with the certainty that they must kill to achieve victory. This mortal’s actions completely contradict what mortals know and expect, so it leave me to wonder if this young mortal…for lack of a better work, has perhaps found a means of cheating. Maybe we should have the chemists have a look at you Tracede and his blade for any signs of poisoning.” Slightly anxious due to the situation, Caranne had begun slowly walking the length of the room.
“Maybe that’s why he won though,” Tracede managed to voice, mouth full of fresh bread.
“Do you feel more poorly? Do you think you have been poisoned? Do you feel feverish or chilled? Are you having any chest pains or pain in your arm?” Susanda began to panic at the notion that Tracede could have been poisoned and sat untreated while all he did was continue eating. “It was probably that old blade and those etchings; maybe they were made with something laced with poisoned, with or without the mortal’s knowledge. But then, who would have willingly used an aged blade among so many finer, newer blades…”
Tracede quickly cleared this throat, “no, no, sweetheart, I don’t mean the poison part. Maybe Aeron won because he didn’t come ready to kill his opponent but because he came prepared to win or die but not to kill. You said yourself Caranne, he’s acted completely contrary to what every pervious combatant has acted. Unlike them, unlike all others, literally all others, he was victorious.”