Battle of Beasts

A fantasy writer’s metaphor for the conflict in Charlottsville

The charred-wood arena was located in a remote land; far from the regulating eyes of the legionnaires. The fights that were held there were illegal, but also the most fantastic of all, and so many risked arrest and banishment to travel to the hidden site, beyond the woods and carved into a mountain, as legend has it, by dragon’s fire. Indeed the rock jutted inward from the otherwise regular contour of the mountain in jagged edges and teeth-like points. The arena itself appeared somewhat like the snarling mouth of a serpent snapping at its prey. In its throat monsters and men battled to the death.

The arena was run by despicable men. Men who cared nothing about right or wrong, only about money and prestige. They profited off the deaths of heroes and slaves, champions and beasts. They did not value life in the least; only coin and fame. With this goal in their hearts, they captured or lured many types of souls with promises of mercy for their families or wealth for their pockets, yet most promises went broken. Still, the bouts did not go unfilled and the seats did not remain empty. Many gathered for glory, entertainment and wealth.

This particular evening there was a fascinating match. The owners of the arena managed to capture an ogre and pit the foul beast against a troll, and equally disgusting creature. Both were very strong yet also heinous. All were intrigued by the fight which was about to begin.

A pair of men, who placed bets of the opposing beasts sat next to one another with goblets of ale apiece. Each were officials from a nearby kingdom; lofty in position and authority. Though the arena was forbidden, they did not hesitate to participate in such sport, confident that the regulation did not apply to those meant to enforce such social constraints. They delighted in the spectacle and enjoyed seeing the hoi paloi risk their lives for a small purse of coins. Their names were Lords David and Vanne.

Lord David, smile beaming across his face leaned over to Lord Vanne who he was already very familiar with and stated with confidence, “This troll will defeat the ogre easily! I’ve put much gold on that! It will be a glorious battle!”

Lord Vanne grimaced, “I wouldn’t be so sure. The ogre is a savage creature. Deadly. I put my coin on him.”

“You know nothing,” David scoffed, “Trolls are ancient creatures. They’ve roamed the lands murdering and destroying peasants since before civilization. They’ve lasted this long, they’ve learned to survive anything. This orge is no match.”

“You are ignorant in the ways of ogres, clearly,” Vanne countered, “Ogres are stronger and more savage. While the history of them is shrouded in mystery, their results speak for themselves. None can best them. The ogre will tear the troll limb from limb.”

As they debated the virtues of the beasts, the monsters were released from their cages and set loose in the arena. For moments they were confused, each looked about and saw all of the spectators. Each howled at them and roared with stinking breath detectable throughout the circle. All held their breath and coughed trying to escape the stink of the combatants. With attendants pushing the beasts with poles and trying to anger them, they finally noticed the other. They did not hesitate to attack, each recognizing the danger in his opponent.

The foul creatures rushed toward the center and collided as two boulders sending an earthquake throughout the arena and a deafening crack like the snapping of a giant trees. Each monster howled in pain as bones broke in the collision. Undeterred they attacked further through a grapple. They bit and clawed and kicked at one another.

Blood, spit, hair and teeth were flying in all directions as the two hideous creatures battled for their very lives. Meanwhile, the crowd roared in approval.

Lord David was confident his favored monster, the troll, was winning. “You see this Vanne, you fool? The troll is the better beast by far! Surely he will win!”

“You must not be watching the same fight,” Vanne replied, “It appears to me that the ogre is much more powerful. There is conviction in his attacks. The troll will succumb to his savagery any moment.”

“Nonsense!” bellowed Lord David. “Your ogre is done for. Trolls cannot die except by fire. The ogre will never prevail.”

The lords yelled at the top of their lungs at one another trying to convince each that they were correct to back their particular brand of monster. Neither budged but stubbornly held their convictions.

The ogre and troll grappled with equal strength, each unable to manipulate the other into submission. Both monsters dug deep into their pain and anger and battled on. As they struggled for control of their enemy the troll tripped and stumbled backwards. In his fall, however, he pulled the ogre with him and threw the beast with all his might into the side of the arena.

The monster crashed through the wall separating the spectators from the combatants and several who were cheering on the battle were injured. Screams of terrified mortals filled the air as the ogre, confused and blinded by hatred, clawed and punched those near him. One by one he murdered those men who moments earlier cheered him or his opponent on. They were not as gleeful now that they were part of the fray.

Guards with spears sped into the arena, some to block the troll, who regained his footing, from engaging the ogre any longer, others to try to coax the ogre from his attacks on the crowd.

The ogre would no be deterred. He relentlessly attacked those around him and the number of dead rose quickly with blood and limbs spraying from the epicenter of the attack. The heinous monster left a trail of death as he moved through the fleeing crowd.

The troll was mollified for a moment as the spears thrust at him gave him pause, but he was far too angry and hateful to be calmed by a few guards and when he backed against the wall he looked up and decided he could leap upon in. With a roar and a mighty jump, the troll bound to the top of the protective wall and stared down the helpless crowd. He hopped off the wall and into the crowd of people and tore through them like he evil counterpart did on the opposite side of the arena. All were in peril.

Lord David blamed the ogre, “Your stupid ogre caused this mess! Now look at what’s happened! People are being murdered by that dull monster and you were naive enough to support him.”

Naturally Lord Vanne saw the scene very differently, “You imbecile! That hideous troll you so brazenly backed threw the ogre into the crowd. It is the troll’s fault that these people are dead.”

The Lords continued to argue about who’s fault it was and who was misguided in their support of their respective monsters. Meanwhile the evil beasts murdered any they could get their claws on, included the pair of lords who did not have enough sense to flee when danger approached. They were more concerned with blaming one another than saving their own lives. In the end, dozens were murdered and the beasts escaped and fled into the night.

Kings denounced both beasts eventually and passed decrees outlawing such arenas and the beasts they forced to fight therein. But alas, little changed. The charred-wood arena was rebuilt and once again was a place for the hopeless to seek fame and fortune. Others like it thrived across the land. All the while ogres and trolls roamed the countrysides murdering peasants and destroying towns.

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