by Bryan Baugh

The Arena


The writer does in no way endorse cruelty to animals or encourage the destruction of life that was done in the arenas of Rome. These tales are the writers interpretation of what occurred and a warning of what (if allowed) could occur again.

Rome's Arenas were responsible for the utter extinction of at lest three species. One was the Pigmy elephant and the others were leopards that had different patterns and sizes. For all that was great about Rome the worst part of her was the addiction that she had to bloodshed. The writer believes that this lust for blood integrated every part of Roman Culture and destroyed her in the end.

The Lions approached slowly they had already lost one of their own to this soft pink creature with the short pointy tooth. They were hungry and the smell of blood mixed with the shouts of adrenaline filled the air. Thousands of people from the stands were yelling at the cornered man and his fellow sacrificial victims of the day. He bit his thumb at all of them. The three lions approached warily while their tales flicked back and forth in open hostility. Out of the corner of the slave's eye he saw his cousin go down underneath two of the largest dogs he had ever seen. He slowly backed away from the dead she lion as he tried to maneuver his back against a wall.

Screams of pain echoed across the sandy floor of the Coliseum as he watched from a distance a Rhino dumbly charge into a group of people who(unlike himself) had banded together. Six hundred pounds of angry black rhino hit the group of men and women like bowling ball on modern day pins. The crunch of bone and the sickening thud of the Rhinos horn sinking deep into flesh echoed threw the arena.

One of the cats moved to his left while another to his right there was no way to out run them and he had very little chance of out fighting them there were three of them and one of him.

Getting angry he stepped into the shade and yelled at the beast.

"Well come on you over grown Egyptian playthings come get a little of "Leo the Greek" come on you bastards lets see if you know how to die like a soldier. He sensed more then saw the shadow of one of the hell cats dart in from his left. He brought the flat of his sword around and smacked the lion in the nose and then grabbing the lioness ear with his left hand he soundly ripped it off. She huffed in pain in anger and ran away to find easier prey. Leo threw the ear at the big male that had distracted him in the first place.

"Your next big boy, come on!" Two lions left and then only Jupiter knew what else waited for him. He allowed his eyes to drift momentarily to the Imperators luxury box and growled silently as he watched Commodus dressed in a lion skin laughing at his plight. The other lioness then also turned away and then deciding it might be best to stick with his pride the big male followed the lioness around to look for easier prey. The crowd was angered by this and they hissed and booed as Leo walked out of the shadows still alive. He knew that all of the beasts in the arena had to be killed before he would be let out of the cage they put him in. Warily the loner scanned the grounds with his dark soldier's eyes. Grimacing he watched two of the biggest dogs he had ever seen ripping apart the dead remains of his cousin. Filled with anger and pity he bolted across the floor of the Coliseum like a spear and with one thrust sank his short sword deep into ribs of the first giant mastiff that tugged and pulled at his cousin's intestines. The dog died with a whimper and a growl. The other best turned at the commotion and stared nose to nose at the human that just killed his mate. Leo pulled with all his might at the sword that was imbedded in the first dog's ribcage to no avail.

Seeing his cousin trident on the ground next to his dead hand Leo rolled and grabbed it just as the dog's giant canines snapped at where his face had been only a second before. The dog just growled a warning and then continued his feast. Leo crept around in front of the second dog that looked up and growled protectively over the food he had hunted and ran down. Seeing the man do nothing the dog dipped his nose back into Leo's cousin now empty abdominal cavity. With all the strength and despair of a dead man walking the trident struck true and slammed the dogs head to the ground where the forked blade of the weapon pierced skull and brain, muscle and finally fat to pin the twitching beast to the earth.

In the second it takes to wink an eye Leo's world was painfully flipped upside down as he spun over and over. It wasn't till he rolled over on his back did he realize what had happened. He had just been hit by a bull. Turning to where the blow came from he watched as the bull got hacked down by a group of women with pitch forks tridents clubs and an odd assortment of swords and axes.

Turning quickly around so that he wouldn't get caught unaware again, he saw the Rhino slow down and finally fall to its knees where it wheezed bloody froth from its nostrils and mouth. At least one of the three spears that pierced its armor like flesh must have penetrated a lung for there the great beast lay dying.

Seeing an unused curved spata shining up at him from the dust Leo bent over to pick it up. Pain vicious and sharp screamed into his brain and it was then that he realized he had at least one broken rib from the bull. Looking back towards the women who had saved him from being trampled he smiled. None of them smiled back. They were scared and mad at being here.

"What are you guys doing here?" he asked while trying to keep the pain out of his voice.

He walked over and snatched an axe from a blond haired girl who didn't know how to use it.

She meekly responded

"We are Christians."

"Oh," he grunted as a hyena charged towards the group of women with bloody foam surrounding his mouth like a old mans beard. The ax caught the beast as it leaped into the air.

"I hate all cults" Leo spat as he turned the axe around and hammered the already dead hyenas head into mush. It continued to growl and twitch.

"Especially yours." He grabbed two of the women and pulled them behind him. The others followed and he quickly changed places as a giraffe with a net wrapped around its head charged blindly around the arena. He watched as an old friend and comrade of arms ran forward and hamstrung the beast. The Giraffe fell and then kicked out with its good leg and smacked Leo's good friend full in the chest. Leo winced as he heard his comrade's sternum crack like a bundle of dry twigs in winter. The Lions seemed to come from no where and they pounced on the old soldier and giraffe alike.

"I thought all you Christians died praying and peaceful like." Leo spat as he reached down and freed his trident from the skull of the dog he had killed earlier.

"That is only against man. But we defiantly believe in saving what little life that God has granted us. And if they want to kill us badly enough then they will have to send men to do it for we will fight for our life against the beast of the field and the birds of the air."

"Weirdo's" Leo grunted and taking aim threw his trident like a spear at the lions that feasted on the giraffe and his old friend.

The trident stuck in the side of one of the lioness and she growled in pain. Leo cursed when he saw her reach around yank the weapon out of her side with a mighty jerk of her mouth. The spear had obviously not gone deep enough. Looking around the coliseum floor Leo noticed that almost all the humans had either been trampled gored or in the process of being eaten. He was the only male human left alive. There were four women and two children left.

"What kind of person feeds children to wild animals?" Leo thought to himself as his eyes found the children hiding in the corners of the arena. The giant cats of which there were a total of five remaining were too busy at the moment to worry about the small group in the center. The lions were feasting on twitching man and screaming giraffe, while a leopard was busy licking the blood off its paws in obvious splendor. A cheetah yowled in pain and shock as it held up a wounded paw.

Leo knew that now was the time to act. The animals had feasted on both other animals and human flesh. It was obvious that they had been starved before being released now after gorging them selves they were tired and sluggish.

"Grab a weapon, ladies and follow me one way or another we finish this now." The women who didn't have one started looking around for them.

The big male lion with a mane that would be the envy of any beast in world sat back on its haunches and roared its authority. Leo grimaced. There was something about a lions roar that sent shivers of fear down his spine.

With caution and as a group the remaining Christians and the lone soldier walked over to the leopard that had stretched its paws out, rolled over on its side and had fallen asleep. A pitch fork and an axe descended violently on the beast. The pitch fork pinned it to the ground while the axe landed decidedly on the tired cat's brow. The skull cracked with resounding affect.

"Good job ladies good job only four more to go."

The cheetah screamed again as it limped back and forth in great pain. As the group came close, the Cheetah sensing what was to happen loped away in fear. It easily outdistanced them even being on one paw.

Leo instructed the ladies to fan out and try again this time the cheetah had no choice but to fight. Leaning back on its rear paws the cat whipped its good paw out and the ladies leapt back. In violence born on hate and fear the cat shot forward and leaped onto the nearest lady who was holding only a knife. She screamed in pain as the growling cat sank its fangs deep into her collar bone. Leo moved fast but one of the Christians who were closer swung her weapon from the hip in a vicious arc that struck the cat in the spine. The cat was unfazed and as the lady fell to the earth the back claws of the Cheetah ripped their way past her simple white tunic and into her soft belly flesh. Leo straddled the cat and the screaming woman and grabbed a handful of the great cat's neck. His other hand brought the spata around and pierced the animal in the side of the neck. He pushed until the shiny tip came out the other side.

Rolling the beast off the unprepared woman Leo cursed when he saw the look of fear and puzzlement upon her dead face.

"Lets rest a minute before tackling those lions." Leo requested as he sat down next to the dead Christian. An orange that was thrown from the crowd rolled threw the sand and stopped at his foot.

"Jupiter's ass its hot out here." He cursed as he reached forward and grabbed the orange. The blond that he had talked with earlier asked him what he had done to get himself into the arena.

"Well I, my comrade and my cousin had all served in the legions for the last fifteen years. Well two weeks ago our job was to help guard a jail where some of your Christian brothers were being held. Well one night while we were playing cards a earthquake took place and shattered the jail house well we bust open the Iron door and go searching to make sure everything was good. We found the jailor crying in the corner about being saved and the whole back wall of the jail was broken apart. Of course your brothers were gone. We are of course now here. My comrade is over there and my cousin is there." He said and pointed to the dead half consumed bodies of his cousin and friend.

"Every time I run into you cultist something bad happens Ill be glad when I get out of here for Ill find the farthest rock in the middle of the deepest ocean and never ever run into your kind again." The girls nodded as he handed them each a piece of the orange.

"Well are we ready to finish this." The blond smiled at him as she pulled him to his feet.

"The lord will deliver us and if he doesn't then we will feast with him in paradise." He growled

"Whatever" he tightened his grip on his axe and spata and headed towards the lions that had packed up and were busy licking each other. The male watched them with aggressive eyes as they approached. The lioness began to growl. It was three to four and when it comes to lions those aren't good odds.

Holding the ax Leo crept forward until the beasts rose to their haunches in a protective gesture. It was obvious they wanted to be left alone but in order for the Christians and the centurion to be freed the mighty animals had to be killed.

Leo felt his palms start to sweat as his mouth went dry. Before today he had never truly felt fear and the truth of the matter was he didn't like it. Not one bit.

"Slowly now" he whispered "Slowly"

Two women circled the far right lioness and tried approaching from the rear. She sensed them though and turned to face them. Leo seeing his opportunity cocked his arm back and with all his force threw the ax as hard as he could. The lioness turned just as the heavy hammer end of the ax struck her in the temple. It bounced off the lioness's head and landed in the dirt. Dazed but defiantly not dead the female hunter roared in anger and turned its back on the two Christians. Who immediately ran forward and attacked her with pitch fork and a broken spear shaft and desperation. The lioness was done and she knew it but she wasn't going to die alone after being stabbed she charged forward into the Christians. The second lioness now moved away from the big male and began to try to circle the remaining three humans. The blond and her companion broke away from Leo and began to engage the lioness that left Leo with his Spata against the big Male who waited patiently in the shade for the pink creature to come with in distance of his massive paws.

Leo heard one of the women scream but there was nothing he could do for if he broke his attention now off the lion he knew he was dead. The lion looked away from Leo and then lowered his head into his paws. The whole time though Leo felt like it was a trap. A lioness screamed behind him and Leo almost messed himself right there. Instead though he changed his grip on the sword and sprinted forward. The big male who had been waiting for such a move lunged forward to meet the threat. The counter charge stopped Leo cold and the big male swung his claw. Leo lifted his foot up and stabbed forward with his sword. Neither of the two combatants drew blood. Leo stepped back a few steps the lion stepped forward. Leo feinted to the right and thrust the blade to the left. The lion snorted as if to ask if the feint was a joke.

Leo was starting to get angry he knew that he couldn't keep up the pace for to long for he was already weary from the countless battles he had fought that day. The lion sensing he had the advantage started to press him. Leo landed a lucky strike though and sliced deep into the shoulder of the lion. The Kings of all beasts roared and leaped at the human. Leo turned and ran out from under the jump. The lion confused for a moment shook his head and ran after the centurion. Not knowing what else to do the old soldier kept running. He could hear the lion gaining on him. The lion leapt again just as Leo's sandaled feet hit the metal lid of one of the elevators. Leo's feet slipped out from under him and he watched almost in slow motion while the body of the giant lion soared threw his vision and blocked out the sun. The lion landed on his feet and whipped it self around just in time to see the sharp tooth whip and slash its way at him. The blade sliced into the cheek of the lion and then the brow. Leo was screaming as hot lions blood sprayed with every blow. He could hear the crowd shouting their encouragement as in his rage he drove his blade over and over again into the lions face and chest. In fear the lion roared defiantly. The roar seemed to shake the adrenaline completely out of Leo. It was now the lions turn, missing an eye and being cut in a dozen places the lion did a half jumped and caught Leo with his sword down. Leo grunted as the beast dragged him to the ground. Letting go of his useless blade Leo grabbed the lion by its head and actively started seeking the beast remaining eye. He jerked violently away from those powerful jaws that snapped shut like a mighty trap. Leo hissed as he felt the Lions claws dig into his shoulders. The beast was trying to hold him long enough to bite him. Bunching his right up into a fist Leo pounded on the lion's snout and face over and over again to no avail. The lion growled and bit snapped and huffed as it struggled to get a hold on the flesh of this squirming pink thing. Grabbing the lion by its jowls Leo shoved his face down to its head and started biting while trying desperately to get his legs out from underneath the beast. He felt the claws dig in deeper. The lion ripped its bruised and battered head away from the man and drove its fangs deep into the man things thigh. Leo grunted in deep pain as adrenaline shot threw him again. Taking his thumb he plunged it as hard and as deep into the lions only exposed eye. The big male immediately screamed in pain and leapt off the pink thing that had hurt him so badly. The big male was now blind and scared he knew he was going to die he just didn't know why. The mighty cat lay down and whined to himself as he desperately tried to attend his hurting eye. He licked his paw and then rubbed his paw over his face. Leo watched the blond and another girl go up to the lion and lift up their swords.

In that split second before the blades drank their fill Leo thought about stopping them. Thought about how that lion and those Christians didn't deserve to be here and to die like this. He didn't say anything though he just fell back and listened as the women finished the job.

The blond rushed over to the soldier who lay as if he were dead. She was covered in the blood of wild beast and her friends alike. She desperately didn't want this brave man to die. All the beast of the arena had been killed 90 percent of the all the people that were thrown into the area were dead as well. Most of the men and women died like heroes. Some died praying on their knees, others died while plunging their weapon into their own killer's bodies.

Leo looked up and saw the concerned face of the blond while from behind her came the roar of approval from the stadium. Not only had they seen the fight for survival but they also witness the spawning of love. The young blond helped the ex soldier to his feet. The soldier lifted his head proudly before the crowd and limped to the center of the arena.

Commodus was clapping for the surviving three and then the clown Emperor held his hands out for the crowd to be still. They did.

"Well done Roman!" The Emperor shouted the crowd clapped and whistled.

The emperor continued.

"Today you have bested both man and beast and proven your worth to live so here is your freedom and your reward." The emperor threw a sword at the weary mans feet. It was made of wood and it was dyed white with gold etching on it. The crowd roared its approval. Leo bent down and picked up the wooden sword.

Commodus then pointed to the Christians.

"You too have fought well pagan, against the beasts so to you I give one more chance for freedom and life. Renounce your strange one God ways and bow before me a Living God Hercules in the flesh! I will then spare you and return to you your property and all that was confiscated." The brunette looked at her friend and fellow believer. The blond saw tears well in her eyes.

"Martha?" the blond asked

"I cant Brianna. I cant do it we fought and prayed all day today for a miracle and one never came."

"I can't survive another day like this one. Brianna forgive me Im so, so ,sorry."

Throwing down her broken spear shaft she limped forward a few steps and dropped to her knees.

"I Martha of Antioch Citizen of Rome admit that there is only one living God and his name forever on my lips shall be Emperor Marcus Aureillius Commodus. Hercules made man God made flesh and to this God's mercies do humbly plead."

The crowd was shocked and silent over what they were witnessing. It wasn't a Christian dropping her belief it was a Roman Citizen being forced to bow before an eighteen year old lunatic who called himself Hercules.

"Hercules hears you plea cultist and forgives you for your past uh what's the word you people use? Sin! That's right Hercules forgives you for your past sin and grants you life."

Leo saw the pleasure that this gave the fool. His pig like face shined with glee as he studied the three. In anger he turned his attention to the blond whom Leo just learned was named Brianna.

"Now you Blondie get on your knees and live don't and die."

Brianna looked up and saw his strong muscular form. She saw the lions mane that wrapped around his shoulders and the Skull that covered the mans long brown hair. From her angle she could see the Emperors man hood for he wore nothing but a skirt of leather to shield his nakedness.

" I SEE NO GOD HERE!" Her voice echoed threw the stadium.

"I only see a boy who wishes he was a man so bad that he plays at being a God." Leo put his arm on the bloodied sleeve of her tunic.

She shook him off like he was a fly.

"MY GOD IS STONGER THEN YOU COMMODUS! MY GOD CREATED YOU AND WILLED LIFE INTO YOU! THERE IS ONLY ONE GOD AND YOU ARE NOT HIM." Commodus exploded in a very un-Roman like way. His eyes bulged as his veins popped out of his neck. His tan coloring had turned to a bright shade of pink as he spat curses.

"I want that bitch burned alive! Shut her mouth! Praetorians! PRAETORIANS!"

The gates from underneath the Emperors box and the guard rushed out. Their armor clanged against their shields as they formed a circle around the duo. Leo held out his spata uselessly. The crazy woman beside him continued.

"Romans Listen to me! Hear my voice. There is a God that is not made of marble or stone or silent when you reach for him. He is not only the God of the Hebrews he is the God of all mankind."

"Kill HER!" screamed the boy emperor. The praetorian advanced.

"Wait!" cried the Leo.

"Let her finish!" The praetorian paused. There black helmets shining in the afternoon sun while purple plumes danced in the breeze.

"THIS God who made both me and you loves his creation and loved us so much that he sent us his only child so that we may learn of him who made us. So that no longer would we have to travel the world in darkness, lost, praying to statues of wood and clay. Jumping from one thing to the next, searching for that which would fill the void inside all of us.

How much wine would we have to drink before we are never thirsty? How much food do we have to eat before we are no longer hungry? How long does it take after laying in lust before the lust returns with greater need then before? I tell you here and now that there is one that is closer then a brother and that he lives today. He knows how weary you are and his burden is light.

IF you wish to know him and find your way in this dark and cruel world then just ask him to show you the truth. For fellow Romans the truth will set you free!" Turning to the boy in the lions robe she hissed at him.

" I now lay down my life as Jesus the Christ has done so before me and I pray that he forgives you your sins as he has forgiven mine and I hope Commodus that over bread in my fathers house you and I will sit someday and become friends." Commodus drew his thumb across his throat and a praetorian stepped forward and grabbed her hair he yanked her head back and Brianna's eyes found Leo's.

" I hope that someday you find what I have found." The blade bit deep and her blood shot across the sand. The soldier let her go and Leo caught her falling body. He laid her gently on her back and slowly drew the hair out of her eyes. She whispered and only he could hear.

"Forgive them father for they know not what they do!" He shook his head in shock. She then lifted her arm and pointed to the sky.

"Look son of man Look and see the Christ coming for me." He turned to look and saw nothing, he turned back to her but she had died. Standing up Leo spat and threw his sword down.

"Crazy Christians" he growled as he left the arena a free man

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