Octava put on his leather suit of armour and placed his sword in the scabbard on his hip. He stood straight, feet slightly apart, feeling strong before the match. Broad at the shoulders, a muscular body, standing six feet six inches tall.
His aides, after helping him with his suit of armour, were putting the final touches to it. Smoothing it down over his back and chest. Checking if the pads were protecting his shoulders correctly. Tightening the belt that pulled in an already slim waist.
The smell of greased leather was in the air and the armour squeaked as layer rubbed against layer. He looked not unlike an Armadillo about to go to war.
Octava strode up and down feeling strong, ensuring the armour fitted correctly. Testing it as he twisted and turned his subtle body. He wielded his sword flashing it in the brilliant sunshine.
“By the lowering of the sun victory will be mine.” He said as he held his sword high above his head.
His aides stood back and bowed to the man they admired.
Shareen watched the three men from a distance. Sheltering from the burning sun under a spreading tree.
She stepped forward; the hot sand burned her feet, but she carried on until she came alongside Octava.
“My lord, my love, may I have a word with you?”
“Yes, but hurry, I am in the tournament shortly.”
“My lord you know your opponent, Dradoon is in love with my sister, Rosca, even though they are both already spoken for.”
“Yes, but what has this to do with me?”
“Well, my lord. I can make sure you win this tournament and become the greatest fighter ever.”
“I can ask my sister, Rosca to flaunt herself at the ringside and tease Dradoon so that his mind wanders during the challenge.”
The two aides listened to what Shareen had to say and nodded their heads in agreement.
“Master,” said the first aide, “You are not getting any younger. You have been ill a while. This is a good plan that Shareen has devised. We beg you to think about it and go with it. We know you can win this fight, but we want to make sure of your success above all the odds.”
“I will think about it.” Said Octava as he held his sword, examining the sharpness of the blade and aligning his eye with the length, admiring the straightness of it. “I will ponder over what you have told me and let you know. A little help is always good, but you all know I am not one for cheating.”
“But, my lord, this is not cheating. Dradoon is already in love with Rosca and a little flirting and temptation never did anyone any harm.”
“All right then, but make sure Rosca is given a good place to stand as the arena will be packed. Make sure Dradoon can see her. Now leave, as I must prepare for battle.”
The aides and Shareen went about their business in the small settlement. Octava was left to ponder over the idea. He stood and faced the sun, closed his eyes and prayed to the gods and asked if this plan meant that he was a cheat. Suddenly black clouds appeared overhead and a strong breeze blew sand in his eyes. He splashed water on them to wash the sand out so that he could see more clearly. Then he realised this was a reply from the gods to tell him that he was not seeing things as he ought. He was taken in by his mistress Shareen and her deceitful plan. He had to put a stop to it. However, it was now time to make his way to the arena and he could not see Shareen or his aides anywhere.
As Octava marched to the stadium he passed by a slave attending a horse.
“Yes, my lord.”
“How long have you been tending horses?”
“Since I could hardly walk, my lord.”
“You look the kindly sort and you manage that horse well. I have a proposition to put to you.”
“Yes, my lord, I am listening.”
“As you know I am due to fight Dradoon in the arena. People say several seasons have passed since we last fought. I have been unwell since the last full moon and they fear I may not win.”
“But you are strong my lord.”
“Yes. I feel fit. However, there is a group who have set up some trickery. Rosca, who is in love with Dradoon and he with her, even though they are both spoken for already, will be taken to the ringside by her sister Shareen. Rosca will then tease Dradoon from the ringside so that he is distracted, and I can then slay him. I know I can win this match fairly without any trickery. I ask that you come to the arena, find Rosca and take her away to my quarters so that she does no damage and so that I can win this match honestly. In exchange I will make you a free man on the understanding that you tend my horses and mine alone. Are you agreed?”
“Yes, my lord. Most definitely, my lord. I will be at the arena and take Rosca away to your quarters so that you can win as you rightly should.
“Thank you, slave. I must be off to the arena now as the tournament is about to begin.
Octava sped off with long determined strides and entered the arena. Dradoon was waiting for him. The two men met face to face and then paraded around the arena showing off their sparkling swords.
Rosca and Shareena had made their way into the crowd. Rosca was waving a blue silk scarf. “Dradoon, Dradoon.”
Dradoon pretended to ignore her but he could hear her cries above that of the crowd and he glanced her way.
The two men stepped into the inner circle in the ring and on the command of the ring master they drew their swords.
Meanwhile the slave pushed his way into the crowd searching for Rosca. He found her and grabbed her around the waist with one arm and placed a hand over her mouth. Rosca managed to push his hand to one side and screamed, “Dradoon, Dradoon.”
Dradoon heard Rosca’s cry for help and turned to where her voice came from in the crowd.
Octava seized the moment and plunged his sword deep into Dradoon’s heart.
As the slave dragged Rosca away screaming Dradoon fell to the ground. Blood poured through his leather armour and spread across the sand in the arena.
Octava held his sword up high and roared, “I am the champion. I, Octava win again.”