Chapter 372: Killing Purely for the Sake of Profit
A massive underground arena capable of holding tens of thousands of people appeared before Moss. In the center of the arena was a single, metal cage enclosed stage.
The cage was made from the finest steel wires, and each wire was covered with sharp metal barbs. But even then, the cage was clearly deformed in many places and covered with congealed blood. Some parts of the cage even held pieces of cloth and bits of flesh. It was evident that most fighters were incapable of avoiding it, no matter how hard they tried.
Surrounding the metal cage were several crystal platforms atop which orchestras performed with gusto and dancers shook their waists and hips like there was no tomorrow.
Beyond the platforms were the viewing stands, which were covered with seats made from supple red leather. Most of the seats were occupied. No matter where Moss looked, he saw people screaming crazily. He could also see several people who were acting extremely strangely. They had likely taken some kind of drug.
A path covered with raging red flames extended before them into these stands.
These flames, however, seemed harmless as people constantly waded through them, creating a wondrous scene. Whatever the path was made of, it was absorbing the heat of the flames.
Numerous scantily clad women carrying various goods made their way between the seats as their pleasant giggles and shrill shouts intermittently interrupted the sounds of battle.
In the few minutes since Moss had arrived, he had already seen two half-dead people carried out of the stands.
“Mister Roy Wayne, are there no rules here? Even if it is the black market, surely one cannot just kill whoever they wish right?” Due to the racket created by the various aspects of the arena, Moss had to shout at the top of his lungs to be heard by Roy Wayne.
“As a place created for people to vent the feelings which they cannot release outside, how could we care about what happens during minor matters like fights? But for the most part, people only injure each other. If someone truly strikes with intention to kill within the stands, people will intervene.” Roy Wayne narrowed his eyes and cackled as he pointed at the twisted, blood covered metal cage and continued, “People only die in there. But almost all of them are those who have broken the law. So no one cares if they do.”
“You… you don’t c-c-care if they k-k-kill?” Moss stuttered.
“Pure to the point of foolishness.” Roy Wayne shook his head. “If the matches here were the same as outside, would it still be considered the black market? Everyone here comes for the blood and excitement provided by these fights. And the fighters are incentivized to provide such a show. Because the market itself awards very little in prizes. Most of their prizes come from those in the crowd. If one can kill several fierce opponents in a row and cause the crowd to go nuts, one can obtain a lot of wealth. In fact, there have even been times where spectators have gifted winners artifacts in hopes of allowing them to provide even more stimulating fights in the future.”
After a short pause as he observed the crazy scene before him, Roy Wayne broke into a mad laughter as he shouted, “Your luck is pretty good. You guys have arrived just as intermission is ending. Another match will be starting in just a few minutes.”
“Pleasing the spectators… just a single victory can result in a shocking amount of wealth. But defeat might mean death…” Moss mumbled dazedly to himself as he comprehended Roy Wayne’s words. Afterwards, he asked, “What are the rules?”
“The rules are there are no rules.”
Roy Wayne shook his head. “Methods don’t matter as long as you defeat your opponent, even if it is through usage of some powerful artifact.”
“Then won’t these battles be extremely unfair?” Moss asked.
“Unfair?” Roy Wayne explained indifferently, “For many of these lawbreakers, just the rewards obtained through a single fight is enough to enthrall them. For the sake of obtaining even more shocking wealth, they will decide to continue onwards. But as their wealth increases, so does the number of people who covet it. And as a result, other competitors are drawn onto the stage. Why would the black market care about fairness if people are constantly throwing themselves onto the stage?”
Moss was speechless.
But he accepted the truth in Roy Wayne’s earlier words. Entering this underground world had indeed opened his eyes. The world of arcane masters was much more primal and crueller than he had ever imagined.
Compared to this and his experiences during the war, the peaceful time he spent in St. Laurens at Holy Dawn Academy was like a perfect dream.
“Those who enter an arena like this for the first time are usually like Moss… but this fellow… it is as if he was born for this kind of place. He is enjoying it immensely. This savage and barbaric slaughterhouse of arcane masters… it is no wonder that Carter and the others wished for him to come here… Whatever. I’ve helped these guys a lot. No matter what happens in the future, I should be able to make something out of it…”
By this point, Roy Wayne’s gaze had fixated itself firmly on Belo.
“So many kinds of blood… I’m just standing here, yet I can feel strength coursing through my body.” Belo’s expression was rather calm as he stood there, but blood red light flickered incessantly under his glasses, which he seemed to have produced out of thin air.
“Both fighters have come out. Let’s meet with our first fighter.”
Roy Wayne cackled as a booming voice suddenly filled the arena, causing everyone to shriek and roar with excitement. It became so loud that Moss felt as if the screams were tearing his soul apart. Roy Wayne looked at Moss and said, “I forgot to mention one thing. Before the fight begins, you can place bets. Only in gold and silver coins though, because it is too hard to determine the compensation for artifacts. That said, you can always lend your artifacts to a contestant before the match begins. If you wish to do any of this, just hand it over to one of the girls constantly moving through the stands.”
But Roy Wayne’s words fell on deaf ears as Moss’ attention had already been thoroughly captured by the first arcane master to enter the cage.
The first arcane master to step foot within the cage was a beautiful woman.
She was tall and slender, and well endowed. Her long brown hair cascaded down her back like rolling waves.
She wore a semi-transparent white robe which perfectly accentuated her mountainous curves but no shoes. Moss gulped as her perfectly jade-white feet waded through the blood covered ground of the stage. Around each of her smooth ankles was a black anklet made of some unrecognizable crystal.
Her face was also extremely beautiful. She wore a golden circlet over her forehead. Embedded in the center of this circlet was a blue gemstone reminiscent of a snake’s eye which released dense arcane energy fluctuations. In addition, she had upwards of six different piercings in her ears.
But for some reason, what attracted Moss’ attention the most were actually her hands, which did not have any artifacts whatsoever.
Her hands were flawless and jade-white, her ten fingers slender and supple. It was these fingers which released the strange attraction force.
“What do you think? Pretty? But don’t be fooled by her appearance.”
Roy Wayne patted the dazed Moss’ shoulder as he nodded at the beautiful female arcane master and said, “Her name is Hiruka, but she is better known as the Snake Charmer. She has already won six matches in a row, killing her opponent every single time. She has become famous for her cruelty and ruthlessness, and has obtained over fifteen artifacts, which now adorn her body. It’s said that if you give her a good artifact, she will spend a night with you. Hahahaha.”
At this time, the other arcane master entered the metal cage enclosed stage. Their short stature was completely covered by a black robe and their face was hidden away by a blood red mask.
“Blood Mask is another fighter I like a lot. This fellow has extremely precise control over arcane particles, whether their opponent’s or their own. He is rather careful when he fights, resulting in long drawn out battles which end the moment he finds an opportunity to go in for a critical blow. Because his fights are so tense, the crowd is constantly drawn into a frenzy, raking us a lot of profits. However, being such a cautious fellow, he only participates in matches after he has mastered something new. That said, he is not without his flaws. He is a rather greedy individual who commits evil acts outside of the black market and underground arena. My sources tell me that he is a main member of a group of bandits.” A smile emerged on Roy Wayne’s face as he swept his gaze across the two people within the metal cage. “The two of them are quite evenly matched. This fight will be a good one.”
In this kind of match, the loser would often be killed.
So who would win?
This question lingered in Moss’ mind as he followed Roy Wayne towards the front of the stands where it seemed like only members of the Burning Corps and some other powerful figures were allowed to sit.
“Wonderful. The total reward has surpassed three thousand silver coins. Let the match, begin!”
Shortly thereafter, a loud voice emanated from one of the crystal platforms.
The entire arena abruptly turned silent.
“So we were waiting for the pool to surpass a certain amount before starting the match. What a huge reward. It is no wonder that people are willing to risk their lives to participate in these matches!” Moss thought to himself.
“Are you able to kill me?”
An enchanting voice rang out atop the metal cage enclosed stage.
At the same time, a faint cluster of pink flames emerged from Hiruka’s body as a one of the many earrings on her left ear released a pink light.
“Hiruka, kill him!”
“Hiruka, you whore!”
“Hiruka, tonight I want…”
Deafening screams rang out from every inch of the arena as the crowd erupted.
At the same time, Blood Mask’s hands emerged from under his black robe as he pushed forwards.
His body abruptly began to fly backwards at a shocking speed as a transparent shockwave shot forth from before him.
Several wires behind where Hiruka had originally been standing abruptly twisted beyond their limits and broke, revealing a round hole in the metal cage.
A startled looking Hiruka reappeared ten or so meters away from her original position. Her hand was already clasped around dim yellow gemstone about the size of an egg.