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Home > God Rising: Battle of Atela

6 Part IV

 "Those must be the humans that are competing. They're so huge" Artemis and Shirlyn spotted a group of men on their way out of the food market. They were done running errands for the new priest of their community chapel.

As expected, Aliah was replaced. The good news was that it wasn't the end of the world for her. The village didn't condemn her. Instead she was received with open arms.

Sweat glistened on the foreheads and shirtless torsos of the warriors who were going to compete. Their muscles contracted as they lifted heavy metals and rocks around. People watched in awe. The two girls were also amazed by their size and stature.

Artemis was certain earth was going to take the crown, and she'd be the one to wear it. She kept her interest in taking part of the summer tournament a secret. No one knew the little girl was sneakily preparing by gathering weapons and other important items she could find. She'd planned her runaway strategy in her head. She'd hide in a barrel whenever it was time for the fighters to leave earth.

The tournament day was fast approaching and the humans all over the earth, especially the gatherers, stacked all the extracted resources they could find.

Barrels were kept close to all the portals linking Sol to earth. The beastman would come to get them on the day of the tournament, and the warriors would go to Sol in exchange.

Gathering resources weren't only for an opportunity to compete, the beastmen were nice enough to give humans a large profit for doing so. It was all part of the policies contained in the peace contract the humans signed. The only option they had to keep the beastmen from destroying their world with the powerful magic they had.

All humanity could do was keep contesting until one day, a savior would take that crown.

On the day before Artemis would leave earth along with the human contestants, she left a letter for her dad who was yet to come back. she stated how mad she was at him for taking too long and whenever she comes back with the crown, she'd make him watch her eat all the delicious food demigod money can buy while he'll eat Mondays porridge. He liked it anyway. She didn't forget to squiggle a heart right next to a big 'I LOVE YOU PAPA' She slid the envelope under the front door of the rustic cabin she lived in with her father.

"I'll buy us a bigger and better house papa. I promise" she said with a confident grin before turning to leave. She went back to the orphanage cabin and checked if the weapons she'd gathered were still in the position she left them - under her bed.

She slept peacefully and dreamt of her journey to victory.

***

The sun was resolutely below the horizon when Artemis snuck out of the orphanage. She made sure she left enough letters telling Edvin and Shirlyn to tell everyone not to worry. She wouldn't come back empty handed, but with a big surprise.

She made her way down the quiet stone path leading to the portal where barrels were placed just as planned. No guards were there, and it made everything easier for her.

Her luck didn't stop there, she found an empty barrel perfectly her size. All she had to do next was wait for the portal to open.

While waiting, her eyes became heavier and heavier until they closed and sent her to a dreamless sleep.

The barrel Artemis was in was lifted up by one of the human slaves that were brought in chains to convey the heavy barrels to sol. Luckily, the man who carried Artemis along with the bottle was somewhat relieved by how strangely light the object he carried was.

The little girl squealed internally. The time had finally come. Once the barrel seemed to have been dropped, she waited a while before she peeped to see if the coast was clear.

She pushed the mildly sealed lid off and got out of the barrel. She inhaled the air of another world for the first time. She noticed she was in some kind of storeroom, plain brown with barrels and boxes all over the place. She saw an opened door and assumed that that was the way out.

"HEY, YOU!!!" She turned back to see her very first beastman. A drunk pudgy Catman. She chuckled then stuck her tongue out teasingly before making a run for the exit. The beastman was far too exhausted, he'd report the issue whenever he was sober. He was sure she'd end up as a slave because no human on Sol was allowed to roam around freely without a collar or at least a leash whenever they were on a walk with their masters.

The tournament week was her only grace of doing so. She was likely to end up as a manual labour slave because that's where most strays ended up.

As Artemis pushed her way through the thick crowd that was heading to the arena, she observed the new environment. Her chocolate brown eyes darted around to even the slightest details to be noticed.

It seemed like the Arena was far from their place of residence, she hardly saw homes around but she spotted the bright shop signs everywhere. She couldn't read the writings on it, but the items on display gave her an idea of what was being sold. They probably just put the stalls up because of the number of people that would watch the games till the end. She was quite aware of the marketing strategies, her father let her in on the tips and tricks.

A chariot pulled by black stallions stormed by and the people began to scream in excitement. Artemis joined in as well and let out all her fervor in a loud scream. That was surely the present demigod. Artemis heard it was the first 'she' to win the summer game.

A sweet scent waft through the breeze as she passed in her storming chariot. Artemis imagined when it would be her turn to enjoy such privileges.

The girl was close enough to see the projecting arena along with the hordes of people made up of an enormous percentage of beastmen and a couple of human slaves in chains. They all progressed into the oval-shaped building spanning almost into the sky, but Artemis paused in her steps as soon as she noticed the second entrance supposedly for contestants.

Once she recognized the faces of the bodybuilders she saw the previous day, She energetically jumped to join the enlistment line.

She examined her rivals, especially the beastmen. She noticed how much they varied and came in different shapes and sizes. Some had ears sticking out of their heads.

Some looked like humans but short and ugly (dwarfs) 'That's rude but also the truth' Artemis coughed thinking to herself 'I need to appreciate all of creation a little more.' She mistook the elves for her race but looking closely, she could see their oddly pointed ears.

She spotted children in her age category and a few a bit older, but they weren't humans. Nevertheless, she was happy children like herself were also aspiring for gold.

Waiting in line was taking forever, Artemis's legs already started to wobble and to top it all off, the heatwave wasn't pleasing. She needed to sit down and drink an ice-cold orange juice, or at least drop the cowhide bag full of weapons she'd been carrying around and still get to drink something cold. Sadly, there was nowhere close to sit down and she didn't have money for a drink. She'd just have to wait a little more. The line was moving fast, it was just the number of contestants that caused the delay.

"C'mon kid, don't tell me you can't endure waiting in a line" her eyes settled upon a lizard man with tough scaly skin and a height that was twice hers. He'd look down on her with what appeared to be disdain and he seemed to have a solid wish of letting her know her place as a lower race.

Artemis proudly turned like a peacock, elegantly and slowly. Her gesture was telling him that she wasn't underneath anyone, she might not look it but she knew deep down her strength was like a volcano ready to erupt.

Once it got to her turn, Artemis stretched out her hand and showed the lady her palm. The human woman with a shackle around turned her gaze from the soft pampered hands to the eyes of the little girl before her.

Her heart skipped a beat just looking at the glow of the child. it wasn't because she felt a ground-breaking aura, it was because she felt a feeling of attachment. Like she'd just reunited with someone she'd lost.

"You stupid earthling! What's the holdup?" Her boss yelled making her shriek in her seat. She looked at the girl again, she didn't know the words to say. It had been ages since she actually spoke the universal language of earth. She wasn't sure if she'd be able to communicate properly and go straight to the point.

"This girl must be nuts" she murmured to herself. The woman along with three other slaves was in charge of giving all the contestant numbers. It was a job her master gave them because he was too lazy to do it all by himself, and he loathed to give a helping hand.

To give those numbers, they'd need to carve them out on the palms of the contestants but the woman holding Artemis's hand couldn't do that to the innocent girl who knew nothing about the bloodbath the arena would turn into.

She looked at the angry faces of the beastmen behind the girl then turned to look at her boss who happened to have been distracted by a cheap gold peddler. She dipped the tip of the knife in the little ink she had and wrote the number 99 on her palm. "No matter what...don't forget this number."

"I'll never forget!" Artemis nodded assuringly before zooming into the arena.

The woman prayed the girl had some sort of blessing from a god because she needed something more than luck. If she was by chance lucky or better still, blessed, it might not be her last day as a living being.

Trumpets blared in the arena and the crowd roared making the ground shake. Some performers danced with flaming poles, the best of the musicians played their pipes and beat hard on the tournament drums creating a merry atmosphere.

Flags were let down signifying the regions of Sol, and one filthy banner was for Earth.

Behind those flags were representatives and supporters of the different clans and tribes In the regions of sol. The Reptiles - green, the Fays - blue, the Goblinoids - yellow, and the Fauna tribe - red. All wore garments to coordinate with their banners and made a work of hues from every direction of the building.

No human was present amongst the crowd, earth's flag was the only thing available to cheer for its side. The beastmen disrespected it and made it dirtier than it already was.

The woman at the registration desk reported to her boss about the human girl, and the outcomes weren't what she anticipated. She thought she was saving the girl, instead, it made everything worse.

Her master went ahead to tell his friends to kick off the tournament by pairing the bratty human with the weakest of the beastman contestants, an orc.

The two hundred contestants were paired with only one who could emerge the winner, and it would take a week of hard work and survival skills to have a chance of advancing to the next level.

From a richly decorated tunnel leading to the arena, after so much anticipation, the demigod, Melissa made her grand entrance. She waved as she was led to a flat marble podium at a reserved area for those with high social status.

From her prominent position at the northern part of the arena, where she'd have the option to see the massacre that would occur, she stepped up to give the welcoming speech to all the contestants as well as the spectators that traveled and safely arrived at the venue.

The contestants bowed, Artemis did the same and the crowd silenced.

"WELCOME ALL..."

'Such a pretty voice'  Artemis thought to herself. Not only was demigod Melissa beautiful, especially with her choice of clothing on such a prominent event, the sweet tone of her voice added up to her perfection as well.

She must've had designer stylists because they did a great job at making the woman look hypnotizing in her glistening white and red robe of translucent silk.

"I'M AMAZED BY THE NUMBER OF CONTESTANTS PRESENT, AND ALSO THE GREAT INCREASE IN SPECTATORS. HEARING THE VIBRATING CHEERS MADE ME HAPPY, BUT SADLY, IT WON'T BE A JOYOUS OCCASION FOR EVERYONE. I HOPE YOU ALL KNOW WHY YOU'RE HERE AND THAT THIS IS MORE SERIOUS THAN IT ACTUALLY LOOKS" that was directed to the contestant but Artemis felt like the question was aimed directly at her.

"YOU MIGHT HAVE BEEN SMILING WHILE WALKING INTO THIS BATTLEFIELD, BUT I JUST HAVE TO REMIND YOU...NOT EVERYONE ONE OF YOU WILL STEP OUT OF THIS PLACE ALIVE DURING THE LONG WEEK OF THE TOURNAMENT."

Artemis gulped, she wondered why she was feeling scared when she'd gone so far.

"PRESENTLY, I WILL ASK...IF YOU ARE TERRIFIED OF BITING THE DUST, YOU CAN LEAVE NOW. YOU HAVE A MINUTE TO THOROUGHLY CONSIDER THIS OPTION"  Artemis looked around and saw the other contestants unmoved, even the humans remained glued to their decision to stay. In fact, they scoffed the idea of running away.

Artemis' eyes met with those of the lizard man from before, she bit her lip as she acted calm and it left the man of the lizard clan amused.

"VERY WELL THEN..." the tournament gates were sealed for the period of the game. Anyone who didn't make it on time would need to return tomorrow and those that were sufficiently fortunate to be inside would have to sit tight for the evening before they'll find the opportunity to leave. It was worth it. The beastmen were keen about the sight of blood, which was called the beauty of the battlefield.

"LET THE BATTLE BEGIN!!!"