It was as Cho promised; Robin was forced to fight until the end of the day. Alan was exhausted, he panted heavily, as he plopped on a bench. Cho praised him as he slapped him on the back.
"A good day Alan. You helped to train him well. I want to see you early in the morning. There is still much for us to do."
Alan rubbed his jaw. Robin hit him there numerous times. Robin tried to keep a subservient pose. Especially so Alan couldn’t see him grinning.
"I’ll be here Cho," Alan grunted, moving his sore jaw back and forth. "I think I want to train him in my specialty too."
Giving Robin a wicked grin, the grin fell as he clutched his back in pain. Alan slowly limped away. When he left the room Cho heartily laughed.
"That was a very good training." Cho gave Robin his highest approval.
"Alan must realize just because his sister is The Master, he must still work for what he wants. Now come boys. We must rest for tomorrow."
Cho advanced towards the exit of the arena, they passed by the other trainers.
"So Cho it looks like you were right." Curtis called out to him, as they passed by them. The Two dogs halted, giving Curtis a threatening growl.
"Back!" Cho ordered the dogs. The Dogs slowly walked behind Robin. They stood there, waiting for their master's next command.
"He did well," Cho briskly returned.
Robin kept his head down. He didn't want to make eye contact with Ox, who was standing next to Curtis. The work out was hard on him. He felt every muscle in his body screaming for rest. His body was too sore for anymore fighting.
"He did great Cho," Curtis said, trying to flatter him with praise.
"You were right. He seems to be everything you said he would be. I have to say. Some of us are envious of you Cho. With this warrior, I think you have a chance to beat your people in that tournament." Curtis placed his hand on Cho’s shoulder. Giving him an enormous smile, Cho coldly looked at his hand. A row of growls was heard deep in Nero and Caligula's chest. Curtis quickly drew the offending hand back, laughing nervously.
"I guess I’ll talk to you later then?"
"Later," Cho sharply said.
He then proceeded to walk out of the Arena. Robin followed him, with the two dogs in the rear. Caligula looked back, giving Curtis a final, threatening growl, before they exited.
"Gee Ox. I think Cho doesn’t want to talk to me," Curtis laughed.
"I wonder why Curtis?" Ox’s lips cracked into a big smile. "Maybe he thinks that I’m a better fighter?" 'Ox still hadn’t got it,' Curtis thought. He was so dumb sometimes. Patting Ox on the arm, he soothed him.
"Yes Ox that’s it. He knows you could easily kill his man."
"Yeah I could kill him," Ox agreed.
Curtis spun around and headed for another section of the arena. Ox followed him, like a puppy dog. Sometimes he was such a pain, thought Curtis. Things were going to change though, and soon. He turned his head, to stare where Cho and Robin had exited. Yep, for the better!
Cho brought Robin to a large room. It was filled with trainers. Cho boldly walked up to a large fireplace that sat on the far side of the room. Robin remained behind him. His nose lifted up, the smells that came from this room made his mouth water. He had nothing to eat all day. After that workout, his stomach was about to disown him.
Grabbing a large tray, Cho shoved his way to the fireplace "My warrior is hungry, I want a full tray of meat."
A small man stood next to the fireplace. Taking the plate, he began to cut large chunks of meat from a huge stag that was roasting over the fire. As he piled the meat on the tray, Robin saw Cho digging in his pocket. He pulled out a small packet. Once the man handed Cho a full tray of meat, Cho sprinkled what was in the packet on the meat.
"Come, we eat now."
He led Robin to a large table in a far corner. Robin noticed that there were no fighters present in the room. One of the trainers glared at Cho as he walked by him.
"Why did you bring THAT in here?" he growled at Cho. "You know we don't allow them in here."
"My warrior goes where I go," Cho snapped back. "If you do not like that, I am sure that Caligula and Nero would be pleased to talk to you about it."
The trainer noticeably cringed, as the two large dog's jowls pulled back, to reveal a set of very sharp teeth.
"Someday, those dogs won't be around to protect you Cho," he mumbled.
"On that day you will see why my people have won the battles every time we meet!" Cho snapped back.
Glaring at the other trainers in the room, he declared. "My warrior stays with me, as it has been in my country. If anyone disagrees with this, let them speak now."
Robin noticed every trainer in the room back down. Cho's chest stuck out proudly. "Let us go!" Cho dragged Robin past the protesting trainer, "It is time for you to eat."
He led Robin to a table near the exit. Keeping his back to the wall, he shoved Robin down on a bench. He dropped the plate of meat on the table.
"Eat!" he ordered Robin.
He blankly stared at the meat. He could see the powder sprinkled on the meat glistening. "What did you put on it?" Robin asked.
Cho sat next to Robin, grabbing a large piece of the meat, he began to chew on it. "It is not poison, if that is what you are thinking," he mumbled. "The powder is from my country. We use it to help build a warriors strength. Eat King Richard, I need you to build up your strength for the coming days."
Robin hesitantly took a piece of the roasted stag. He could hear his stomach growling, telling him he needed to eat. He quickly popped the morsel in his mouth. His hunger was so strong, the meat was the best he had never tasted in his life. He quickly consumed what was on the plate. While he ate, Cho left to fetch his own dinner. Nero and Caligula remained with Robin. He was so hungry, the thoughts of escape never entered his mind.
Cho returned with his dinner, two mugs filled with a liquid, and two very large bones. He threw the bones on the floor. The room was soon filled with the cracking of bones, as the two dogs happily ate their supper.
Before handing the mugs to Robin, he again, spilled a packet of powder in it.
"This will help to take some of the ache out of your muscles," Cho explained.
Robin greedily drank the liquid, he was pleased to find it tasted sweet. Once he was done eating, they left the dinning room.
Robin wearily followed Cho back to his room. As Cho opened the door the dogs ran into the room, going to their corner, they finished what was left of their supper. Cho shoved Robin in, closing the door behind him. As Robin walked in, he stood in the middle of the room. Cho locked the door, placing a bar in place. He then sat on the only bed in the room. Robin remained in the center of the room. Wearily he hung his head. All he wanted to do was rest. He felt as if every muscle wanted to leave his body.
Bring his head back up, Robin stood patiently, waiting for Cho to tell him where he could rest. Cho just sat blankly on the bed. He was staring at the chest that held the clothes that Robin now wore. He sat in mediation, his mouth silently moving. It was then that Robin realized that he was praying. Not wanting to interrupt him, Robin searched the room for something to use to sleep on.
He was able to find some old sheets, going to the corner opposite of the dogs. Robin made a bed on the floor. He laid one sheet on the floor. Sighing heavily, he began to take his gauntlets off. He then took off the leather shirt and his boots. Placing them on the floor next to the make ready bed. Taking one of the sheets, he sat on the floor, keeping his back up against a wall. He covered himself to keep warm. Being so far down in the monastery, the room was damp and cold. Robin noticed that Cho used a wool blanket to keep himself warm. He waited for Cho to finish his prayers. He had no idea how long he waited, before Cho completed his prayers. As he finished, he looked up to see Robin gazing at him from the far corner.
Standing up, he went to a table and picked up a pair of manacles. Walking up to Robin, he squatted down and locked the shackles on his ankles. "You may sleep here," he ordered Robin. Satisfied he was set for the night.
"Thank you," Robin humbly said. He tried to keep up the act of master and slave. Wait, he reminded himself. When the time is right, then he would make his escape.
"You did very well today King Richard," Cho yawned, as he sat back down on the bed. He let out a weary sigh, rubbing his aching back. Robin was able to get quite a few hits on Cho as well as Alan.
"Why haven’t you asked me my real name?" Robin quietly asked.
Cho pondered this. He was the master. He didn’t have to explain himself to his warrior, but this warrior was special. What he had been looking for his whole life. Perhaps he would give him an explanation.
"I have not asked your name because that is not the way. You are like a...." Cho tried to think of a good comparison. Then it came to him.
"Yes, you were right the first time. You are like Nero and Caligula. Your purpose now is to serve me. You will do only what I tell you to do. As for your name?" Cho smiled benignly, "King Richard is a good name for you. I do not need to know what your real name is. Nor do I care."
Robin wearily closed his eyes as Cho stared at him. It was hard for him to maintain his act as the subservient slave, but he had to keep it up. He had to survive, until he found a way to escape from here. Opening his eyes, Robin could see that Cho was still staring at him.
"May I ask you something else?" Robin brought his eyes down in submission.
"One question. Then you must sleep," Cho sternly answered him.
Robin bowed his head in thanks. "What is this fight you talk about?"
Cho’s gaze went back to the chest. Robin quietly waited for his reply.
"The Tournament was started by me," Cho explained.
Robin sat up. At last, he was going to find out why he was brought here.
"You see King Richard. My family has trained men for battle for centuries. In my homeland, we hold contests to determine the best warrior. This of course gave status to their trainers. When I first came to this land. I met Ian's Father. He had much gold to help set up the fights. . When I told him of how he could increase his riches with the arena. He eagerly helped me set up the battles. That was twenty years ago. Every five years we stage a tournament. We go to one country then the other. This year it will be held here, in your country. Ian's father is dead now. His son is now in charge of the tournament, but the son is a weakling. Not like his father. His father would never let a woman run things!" Cho spat on the ground at the mention of The Master.
"She said I was to old to be a trainer, that my fighters were not good enough. But that will change now. You see, never has one of your countrymen reached the final battle. My people have always won. But I know I will win this year with you! And the Master will know that this man is not to old to train the greatest Warrior."
Cho eye's possessively glowed, as he stared at Robin. He would show them all!
"Now sleep my Warrior. There is still much work to do. We have less than two weeks before my people come here. I want you ready to meet them. They will not realize how good you are. Until it is to late! Now sleep."
Robin obeyed Cho, Curling on the floor, he covered himself with the thin blanket. He struggled to sleep on the cold stone floor. Cho waited a few minutes for his warrior to settle himself, before blowing out the candle. Plunging the room into total darkness. Robin was so tired, from the days workout, that not even the coldness of the stone floor could keep him up. He fell instantly asleep. He spent a restless night on the floor. His dreams were of picks being inserted in his back. He saw Marion shoving them in. She maliciously laughed at his pain. Cho was by her side, telling her how to insert them, where she would cause the greatest pain. Robin begged her to stop, but she just grinned wickedly and added another. Robin was shuddering as he woke up in the dark. He felt something near him, keeping him warm. It was one of the dogs. It had snuggled up to him in the dark. Robin laid his head back down on his arms. He knew who it was…Nero. Closing his eyes, he felt safe with the massive dog next to him. When he fell asleep again, the nightmares didn’t return.
Robin woke up the next morning to a shower. Cho poured a bucket of cold water on his sleeping form. Robin gasped as he woke up. Cho squatted down and unlocked the manacles. Reaching back on the floor he picked up a rag and gave it to Robin.
"Dry yourself off!" Cho ordered him.
Robin tried to catch his breath from the cold water. Standing up he started to dry himself off. The cold water dripped off his face. He rubbed it dry, then dried off his dripping hair. Cho had thoroughly soaked him. Shaking from the cold he felt being wet, he then started working on his body. Cho stood up, with another rag in hand; he helped dry Robin off. Humming the familiar tune Robin had etched in his mind.
"I have been trained in the old ways," he said, as he rubbed the dry rag on Robin's body. "A good trainer must keep their charge clean and healthy." He rubbed Robin hard with the rag, humming his tune. Robin reached back to try to dry himself off. He flinched, the pain reminded him of the workout he had yesterday.
"You hurt? Here?" Cho asked. He felt along Robin’s shoulders. Robin quietly nodded. Dropping his rag on the floor, Cho went to his mysterious chest. Opening it up, he rummaged in it. Robin continued to dry himself as Cho was searching in his chest. He smiled in glee as he brought out a small jar. Walking back to Robin, he opened the jar. Robin caught a strong foreign scent that emanated from the jar.
"Turn!" Cho ordered Robin. He wanted Robin to have his back facing him, Robin complied. Cho then started to rub a foul smelling ointment on his shoulders and back. He massaged it in hard. It pained Robin more than the ache he felt from the workout yesterday. Cho worked the lotion into Robin’s sore muscles; kneading the muscles, working out the knots and kinks. When Cho was finished applying the strange ointment on his back, he grabbed Robin’s shoulders and twirled him around. Digging his fingers in the jar, he started applying the ointment on his chest and arms. Robin felt like a child in his arms. He treated him that way. He kneaded and massaged his chest and arms. The ministrations hurt Robin, but soon began to feel good. When Cho was finished, he closed the jar.
"Now dress," Cho briskly ordered Robin. "We have much to do today."
Robin threw the damp rag on the floor. Grabbing his shirt, he began to pull it on. As he reached down for the boots on the floor he felt a hotness grow, where Cho applied the ointment. He felt his muscles loosening.
"What did you use on me?" Robin asked as he pulled his boots on.
"Something from my country. It helps to take away the soreness of the training. The other trainers don’t have this. I may have tutored most of the trainers here, but I did not tell them all my secrets." Cho then opened the chest and returned the small jar to his mysterious chest. Robin shrugged his shoulders back. The stiffness was going away. He wondered if Tuck could make such an ointment.
Retrieving his gauntlets from the floor, Robin sadly closed his eyes. Tuck, he wondered, as he slowly tied the gauntlets on. What were his men doing right now? Did his Marion miss him? He definitely missed her. He cursed himself for falling asleep that fateful night. If he had not made the decision to ride out the night, he would have been back home in Sherwood Forest. With the people, he loved. Robin flinched as he was poked in the back by a staff.
"Wake up! We leave now!" Cho prodded Robin again. He finished stringing the ties on the gauntlets.
"Now let me make sure you are ready." Cho circled Robin. He undid the tie on Robin’s hair and retied it tighter. Walking around to the front, he was satisfied.
"We go now."
Taking off the bar, that locked the door, Cho left the room. Robin followed him. The two dogs, as always; were behind him…guarding him. Robin had to do something about the dogs first, if he was going to be able to leave this place. As they walked on, Robin noticed the stares had changed. The warriors were now looking at Robin with a look of hate and anger. They talked in whispers as he passed them by. Cho noticed it also. His face set in a grin. They were envious of him! It felt good to be the top trainer again. As Cho entered the arena, his head was held high. The other trainers moved out of the way, as he walked by. It had been a long time since they did that. The center ring, the main training ring. It was now set aside for Cho and King Richard. Alan waited in the center ring. He had a staff in hand, grinning at Robin he said.
"This weapon is my specialty! I bet you don’t know how to use this!"
Cho handed the staff that he had brought with him, to Robin. Robin entered the ring. As he walked towards Alan, he spun the staff over his head. Bringing it down he spun it behind him and in front of him. Stopping it quickly, he slammed the end on the floor.
"Perhaps," Robin grinned back.
Alan swallowed hard. He thought this session was going to be easy.
End of Part Ten
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