They all spoke of it enthusiastically although the phrase itself suggested opposing images but after learning of its meaning, Death Tour was indeed an ironically welcoming event.
On a spectator's point of view, this phrase was an entertaining event held every four years but for its despaired participants, it meant hope. The very day when their names were called, they were chosen; chosen to fight the best and the worst factions across Ivalice. The four surviving factions will proceed to Lesalia for the final match. As the name implied, it wouldn't be easy but the winner of this event would get a reward and there was no doubt as to what the victor would want. Now all she had to do was survive which seemed impossible since Maverick was being impossible.
Ever since her first official victory in the arena as a potential winner of the tour, Maverick, for her "own benefit", replaced her prized weapon with a piece of lead which served no purpose either than earning a few chuckles. During training, he'd even pull her aside and make her do the most ridiculous exercises which the others would not hesitate to laugh about.
If that was not bad enough, Maverick had also been consistently giving her extra training early in the morning, just seconds after her mind pranced off to sleep. Her pride, more then her muscles, haven't stopped aching ever since. But all that she could ignore except one thing which had her gritting her teeth with just the thought.
'Stupid bastard.' She whispered to herself. 'How could he keep me away from the games!'
Agrias slammed her fist into the metal underneath her. A solid racket echoed within the confined space and earned a "pipe-down" from the slave beside her which she promptly ignored.
Getting chosen to represent a faction was a matter of popularity. Naturally, the more you win, the better the chance. Sadly, Demon's Child had yet to fight another round and if she was not even appearing in the ring, despair was pretty much her destiny.
The swaying of the carriage soon stopped and they each got off, one by one, into the heated dessert sun. Without a moment of hesitation, training began as did her exercises.
Bend down and up, keep your legs straight and your ass high. Run with your arms swinging ridiculously by your sides and your legs pushing right up to the chest for every step. Then, roll like a ball on the ground while gripping your ankles. Her cheeks and the rim of her ears were as crimson as red chocobos as the routine continued. A few chuckles from some of her burly cellmates had her blood boiling hotter then the scorching heat.
Finally, the sun started to set and the slave driver gave the message from heaven, ordering them to stop. Dropping their equipment, they started their way to the stone building but just when Agrias was about to follow the rest of the pack, Maverick stopped her. The young slave reluctantly obeyed, retracing her steps before the owner of Hell's heaven.
"Repeat your exercises." He said curtly. It wasn't even a request, simply a demand which Agrias stared at in disbelief.
"I already did them!"
She looked at him, eyebrows squinted together in jealousy as the other slaves left inside.
"You need it." He replied plainly and the corners of the blonde child's mouth tightened into a thin line.
"I don't need it. I'm just as good as any other of your men."
"Obey me or I'll pull you out from the tour." Said Maverick.
The little slave gritted her teeth. Everything time, it was the same irrelevant answer over and over again. Not in the position to refute, a scrambling heat coursed through her body in an attempt to burst through.
"I'm here to fight, not to entertain you by doing silly things. Isn't that why you bought me in the first place?"
"Not when you doing a lousy job of it."
"Lousy?! I've won countless battles against wild beasts, and 2 battles against other slaves! You call that lousy?"
"Lots of luck and the element of surprise did a great job in covering your arse."
Agrias's arms flew out wide from her side as her mouth and eyes gaped open.
"I won all my fights fair and square!"
"Shut up or you're out."
Words were abruptly pushed back but only until her injured pride decided to take over and overwhelm her senses.
"Then go ahead! It's not like I'm doing anything anyways!" she sneered back.
"I hate repeating myself. Do them."
"No." answered the little blonde, not hesitating for even a second.
Maverick's hazel eyes sharpened, his pupils centering towards the disobedient slave who dared to question an order. Agrias glared back with equal force, not flinching one bit from the pressuring look.
"Having a little trouble there, Maverick?" Interrupted a second male voice, much higher and jovial compared to his partner's.
Tom sashayed between them, breaking the intense stare. The sky was quiet with no wind to blow through his long blue dress that laid lazily against his slim legs. It was held up with a belt that had a long coiled whip hanging off the left side. The thin tight top and red gloves covered every inch of his body and if it weren't for his flat chest, his body could have past as a woman's figure. Although his face had smooth curves to further emphasize his feminine appearance, never had anyone mistaken him as female. Tom bore his grayish blue eyes into Maverick's, studying him as he tucked a piece of long sandy brown hair behind his ear.
"I don't see why you're asking it in the first place." He said. Although his tone was buoyant, not a hint of smile graced his pale and tired features.
The slave driver then looked to his shared property, immediately recognizing the young innocent face. He had never paid much attention to his purchases but somehow, this one held onto his memory, especially those sky blue eyes that watched him with ignorance, rebellion and ungratefulness.
Suddenly, Tom's face contorted into anger at the sight of this cheap thing that was worth nothing but 500 gils. The left side of his cheek twitched before the whip was uncoiled with an experienced snap, breaking its fury with ringing vengeance against Agrias's face.
A red welt stung in its place but before the pain could fully register, quick revolving gyrates followed his undefined anger, increasing its strength by the spiraling momentum, making its mark randomly across untouched skin and surrounding sand.
Tom's usual uncaring features were distorted into a strong concentration of hatred, seeking released although gaining none by this act of abuse. His eyes, dilated with obsessed madness, drilled into the curled and bleeding body while his teeth grinded.
Maverick, however, had yet to flinch even once as he watched idly.
The beating was then abruptly stopped with stillness laying peacefully over red painted sand that echoed nothing but cuffing noises moments ago as the sun continued its never changing course, like written history. Even if the world ended, the sun shall never stop rising and setting.
"It's not fair..." whispered Tom, his features relaxing. Mesmerized, those gray-blue orbs softened but that did nothing to stop his arm from reflexively ascending into the air once again. Another hit was about to come if not for the solid hold around his elbow.
Tom looked to the interrupting grip, then to its owner, waiting for his response and when Maverick gave him none, he jerked his arm away.
They were equal within this joint venture and never before had his partner questioned his actions. Tom's eyes tightened once again.
"Who do you think you are?" Sneered the slave driver.
"A bastard." Answered Maverick plainly.
Tom hesitated before speaking again.
"Then what am I?" he asked, his voice unfocused and lost.
Tom smiled a bit at the pleasing response, the corner of his eyes drooping a little with a hint of sadness.
"I'm not a bastard...I'm a bitch."
Tom stared at his partner for a few more moments before turning away with small even steps to lead him into the lone stone prison.
Maverick waited until the retreating back disappeared before bending down and grabbing a handful of the tattered and bloodied tunic. He was pretty sure that his slave was still alive and continued to drag it back to its appropriate cell with blood smudging unevenly over sand and cold stones. After unchaining the metal frames, his trained and bulky arm easily threw the excess weight into the opened cubicle and the opening was promptly locked once again.
Not another look was spared before Maverick strode forward, brushing away a curtain that separated the cells and the masters' rooms. But instead of going into his own, he entered Tom's instead.
A strong bitter and murky smell attacked his nose and following it, led to a small circular tin pot to his left that was burning within. A leather handle hung off the edge and he immediately recognized it to be Tom's whip. Either then the pot, there was nothing else in this room, except the lonely bed on the far left corner which was nothing more then wood with a piece of old yellowy cloth draping over it. Although it did not look a bit comfortable, Tom did not seem to mind as he watched Maverick from his laid down position.
"There's something called knocking." He gritted.
When Maverick ignored him, Tom looked pensively into the ceiling which looked no different then the walls surrounding them.
"I don't like that slave. Why did I buy it?"
There was a long period of silence before Maverick answered him.
"Because you like it." Answered his partner, breaking his quiet pattern.
Tom stood up, his eyes covered by loose pieces of hazel hair. Walking towards the other owner of Hell's Heaven, he started to remove his red gloves, revealing each finger one by one although nothing but stubs showed up on the last space. The feminine slave driver then proceeded to pull the tight white shirt over his head. Long stokes of scars ran across the otherwise flawless and pale skin. They shaded between dark red to pale pink, dark brown to pale brown. Some were deeper then others, scattering themselves over the slave driver's chest, arms, stomach and back especially.
Standing half exposed in front of Maverick, Tom reached for the back of the burly man's muscular neck, digging every nail into the bronze skin until the tough skin was punctured and bleeding.
"It's not fair..."
To be continued...
Short chapter but I needed to end it there. I didn't give Tom and Maverick much distinction within the previous chapters so there was more focus on them this time.