The Master giggled like a young girl as she walked through the hallways. The fights had just finished and she invited Johnny and Elizabeth for a late supper, who graciously accepted. The Master had her hand wrapped around Little Johns arm, Ian was ahead of them with Marion.
"That has to be the best fighting I’ve seen in a long time!" Marion gushed out. She tried to hide how disgusted she felt viewing men pitted against each other in senseless battles. In one of the fights, they even saw a man killed.
"I see that you are different from your sister." The Master brought her free hand up and slowly stroked Little Johns chest, still holding onto his hand with the other.
"Why is that?" Little John asked her. He stared ahead, not wanting to make eye contact with The Master.
"Well I saw how you tried to warn King Richard. That was very sweet."
She batted her eyelashes, Little John started feeling flush. "Well I hate to see a man attacked from behind," Little John said.
"Of course Johnny, but King Richard is a trained fighter; h would have been able to defend himself. You really mustn’t worry about these fighters. They are trained for one thing and one thing only, to fight. If they don’t, then they die."
"Not much of a life," Little John sadly said.
"Please, don’t feel sorry for them." The Master tried to comfort him.
"They are like your Kemal. Just slaves to be used in the battles. I have many here. They do their job, give us our enjoyment; then we end their miserable little lives."
"Is that what you plan on doing to King Richard?" Little John strained to keep his voice from showing the loathing he felt for The Master right now.
"Oh no!" she laughed out. She wrapped her arm around Little Johns, laying her head on his arm as they walked on.
"King Richard is something special. I can’t believe the luck I had getting him here three weeks before the tournament began. He was like a gift from heaven," she sighed. Thinking about the money, she was going to make.
"King Richard will be around here for a very long time. Have no fears, and in the end; I will use him to make more like him. I've always wanted to start a line of fighters. Who knows what I can come up with, given the right stock for him to breed with."
Marion stumbled when she heard this, Ian reached out for her,
"Are you all right?" He was concerned for her. He was beginning to like Marion as a friend now.
"I’m all right," Marion glanced behind at the invisible object that tripped her. She gazed back at The Master, she still had her arms wrapped tightly around Little Johns. Peering back at Marion, she gave her a contended smile. Little Johns look however was quite the opposite. Marion could see the strain on his face as he tried to contain his rage. He mouthed to her, "Help me." Marion gave Little John a sympathetic smile.
"You all right brother?" Marion asked. "I hope one of your headaches isn’t coming on?" Taking up on her cue, Little John stopped walking. He slowly massaged his temples, moaning a little to give it a better effect.
Marion turned fully around and stopped. Walking back to Little John she reached up and felt his head.
"Yes you do feel warm. I warned you not to get so excited Johnny."
Marion whispered to The Master. "He’s just so sensitive about so many things. Makes me wonder if my mother liked the gardener." She gave The Master a knowing nod.
The Master wondered if Elizabeth even had a mother.
"If you're not feeling well Johnny, we can call it a night." Marion tried to look very concerned for her brother.
"Is it all right with you?" Little John asked The Master. His brows were knit in pain. "I really don’t want to disappoint you." He rubbed on his forehead, to ease the phantom pain .
"Of course not, we can get together again another time. We have the rest of the week." She was still had a death grip on Little Johns arm.
"Well if its all right with you then, I think I will take my leave. I’m sure with a good nights rest I’ll be right as rain."
Little John tried to retrieve his arm from the killer grip that The Master had on it. She reluctantly let go, sighing heavily as he made a deep bow. His long blond locks flowing down. Standing up they flew back gently.
"I’ll see you tomorrow then." Little John took her hand and softly kissed it. The Master trembled inside as she felt his warm lips pressed against her hand. He bowed once again, turning he headed back towards his room.
"I think I’ll turn in too," Marion informed Ian and the Master. The Master continued to stare at Little Johns retreating figure.
"Goodnight then," she quietly said.
Marion briskly followed Little John, smiling wickedly to herself. That woman had it bad, she thought.
"You really have it bad," Ian said to The Master, as they were now alone.
"What do you mean?" The Master asked. She truly didn’t know what he was talking about.
The Master felt Ian grab her arm and spin her around. His look was one that not many saw on the pampered young man. Only the Master and his father saw this look. He was furious with her!
"Don’t you go soft on me you here!" he snarled at her. "I pay you to do a job. I don’t want you to get sidetracked by a pretty face."
Normally the Master would have torn anyone else’s head off for talking to her like that, but Ian was not just anyone. It was his money that the Master used. She tried to put up a front for the others, but when alone, Ian was the one in charge.
"Yes Ian," she humbly said.
"Very well, you just remember your job. We’re almost there, just a few more days and we’ll be living like Kings."
"And queens!" The Master added.
"Yes that too. Now lets go eat, I’m starving." Ian headed towards the banquet room. The Master, watched Little Johns retreating figure turn the corner. She lingered in the hallway for a few seconds, before following Ian.
The suns warmth on Cho’s face woke him up. Realizing he had slept late, he jumped out of his bed and quickly dressed. His people would be here today! He had to prepare King Richard for their arrival. He needed to make sure he was clean and dressed properly. Cho dressed that morning in the clothes of his country, he wanted to impress his people when they came. Opening the door to his room, Cho saw people bustling back and forth in the corridors. He could hear many voices coming from down the hallways. The two guards were still posted in front of Robin’s door. Pushing them aside, Cho walked into Robin’s room.
He saw Robin sitting by his window, with Nero at his side. Caligula rested on the floor, by the bed. Cho slammed the door behind him. With his master here, Nero rose and walked to Caligula, laying his head by his side. Cho was surprised to find Robin was dressed in the outfit he had given him the night before. The scarlet red leather sparkled by the sunlight that poured into the room. He was pleased to see Robin had braided his hair with a red leather tie. Cho came up to him, examining him he found he was already cleaned up from the previous fight. He was proud that his warrior was able to take care of himself. Robin ignored the large Mongolian, he continued to stare out of his window.
"They arrived before dawn," Robin quietly said.
"Who, King Richard?" Cho asked.
"Your people." Robin pointed out towards the courtyard.
Briskly walking up to the window, Cho leaned over Robin to gaze into the front courtyard. It was full of colorful wagons, decorated in red and white banners. Cho’s heart leaped at seeing his countries banners. He was anxious to mingle again, with the people he was born with.
"Well King Richard, since they are here let us show my people what my warrior looks like."
Robin stood up, and quietly moved to the center of the room. There he waited for Cho’s approval. Cho slowly walked up to Robin, his head bent in thought. As he approached Robin, he gave him a warm smile.
"When we meet my people, remember you are my warrior. Stay close to me, do not talk to them unless I give permission. Their ways for training are different from mine."
"How different?" Robin asked curious as to the ways of Cho's people. Maybe they treated their warriors better, he thought.
"I go by the old ways. I keep you clean, I help you when you are hurt. I keep you healthy. I even allow you to speak to me. I allow you to think for yourself. I know a warrior must use their wits as well as their fighting skills. My people do not follow these ways. You are less than a dog in their eyes. Their warriors are not allowed to think for themselves. They are nothing but puppets, their masters pull the strings. That is why you must stay with me at all times. I will not allow them to treat you in such a way. Now let us go King Richard, we have much to do today."
Cho then walked out of Robin’s room. Robin stayed close behind, with Nero and Caligula always by his side. As Cho left the room, he now found four guards waiting for him.
"Why are there four of you?" Cho questioned the first guard.
"The Master ordered it for King Richard’s protection," was the only reply the guard gave.
So, Cho thought; The Master was worried about King Richard now that his people were here. She was smart enough not to trust his people.
They then headed towards the arena. Every so often Robin would see some of Cho’s people walking through the corridors. The first thing he noticed, was that the trainers had leashes on their fighters, attached to metal collars that were bolted on their necks.
The fighters eyes remained downcast. Scars could be seen along their bodies. Cho’s face grew longer, as he witnessed something he had nearly forgotten. His people cast away the old ways of training. Their warriors were trained in the new ways. Cho's chest grew in pride, as he realized they would lose the tournament this year. Once his warrior won the tournament, he would return to his country. He would revive the old way of training. His old sect would be very proud.
As they entered the arena, Cho was amazed to see his people all around the arena. He felt as if he returned to his homeland.
"Master Chang!" Someone called out. Cho turned towards the direction the voice came from. A small Mongolian man came running up to Cho.
"Master Chang it is good to see you again." The man executed a low bow to Cho; Cho returned the bow. " It is good to see you again Soon Lee. But I no longer go by that name. I am just Cho now." He bowed again to the small man.
"Oh Master Cho, what is this?" Soon Lee said in amazement. He slowly walked around Robin. Bringing his hand out he attempted to grab him. The two dogs let out a warning growl, Cho hushed them with a low growl.
"Stay and be quiet." He ordered the two dogs. Reprimanded, the dogs sat at a short distance from Robin. Soon Lee resumed his examination of Robin, he stood still as the man grabbed one of his arms. He squeezed hard on it, Robin grimaced in pain. He was amazed at the strength of the little man. Letting his arm drop Soon Lee walked around, to face Robin. He searched into his eyes. Robin continued to stare ahead, blatantly ignoring the small Mongolian.
"It wears your colors Master Cho. Is it the Greatest Warrior you have been looking for?" Soon Lee asked. As Cho was about to answer, he heard a deep chuckle from the side.
"There is no such thing," the deep voice bellowed.
Robin kept his head erect. He was unable to understand what the Mongolians were saying, but he could feel the tension in the air as another Mongolian approached. Cho slowly inched his way to stand next to Robin. As a young man stopped in front of Robin, he could see that the man had a leash in his hands. On the other end was a Mongolian about Robin’s height. His head was held down. His eyes gazed blankly at the floor.
"So Lu Chang, you came." The tension was evident in Cho’s voice.
"This is your Greatest Warrior? The Master informed me about it. King Richard she said it was called."
Lu Chang stood no taller than Cho, but his build was different, more muscular. Lu Chang also looked to be about half of Cho’s age. He examined Robin very carefully. His eyes narrowed as he saw what Robin was wearing. His piercing slit eyes burned into Robin.
"You have it in our colors," Lu Chang growled. Robin sensed that the new man was uncomfortable with what he was wearing. Bringing his hand out, Lu Chang was about to hit Robin on his chest. Cho’s hand quickly came out. Blocking the blow, Lu Chang's face lit up with anger and surprise.
"Still as quick ever Cho," Lu Chang gave Cho a courteous bow.
Cho stood his ground to the younger man, "You will not touch my warrior."
"Oh, this is your warrior?" Lu Chang let out a taunting laugh. "Your Greatest Warrior that you always spoke of."
Lu Chang slowly started circling Robin. His eyes examining him up and down. Robin stood up straight and tall, he was sure to keep his head up. He would not show any subservience to this man. He somehow felt he had to stand up to this Lu Chang.
As Lu Chang walked around Robin, his fighter followed closely behind, the leash was tied to a ring on his neck. Robin could trace old and new scars all along the Mongolian's arms and chest. Finished with his examination, Lu Chang stopped in front of Robin. His eyes glared at Robin, Robin stared back at him, locking eyes with the younger Mongolian. Lu Chang felt uneasy looking into the eyes of a fighter, he was not accustomed to it.
"It looks at me with defiance in its eyes. You still follow the old ways Cho!" Lu Chang spat. "You must treat them like the mongrels that they are." Lu Chang then jerked on his leash. Saying something in his native language his fighter kneeled on the ground. He then brought his head down, to lie on Lu Chang's foot. Settling himself down he kept it there.
"See Cho, you cannot let them forget who is the master," Robin was surprised
to hear the Mongolian say in perfect English. They did know English; he
made the statement in his language, only to goad him.
Robin looked down at the Mongolian warrior. His eyes were closed as he kept his head on his masters foot. A deep burning started building up inside Robin’s chest.
"Master, may I speak?" Robin softly asked.
"You may!" Cho gave Robin permission, he stayed rooted by Robin’s side.
Robin gazed straight into Lu Chang's eyes, his look of defiance still there.
"I was not trained to fight a dog. I was trained to fight a man!" Robin then smiled at Lu Chang, giving him a small bow. Lu Chang was enraged, he heard a giggling from the side, it was Soon Lee.
"You have trained your warrior well Cho. I think this years tournament will be very interesting." Soon Lee giggled again.
Lu Chang jerked on his warriors leash. The man rose to stand by his masters side, his eyes were always looking at the ground.
"I will not stand for it to talk to me in such a manner Cho!" Lu Chang hissed in English.
"Follow your old ways. We will win this tournament." Looking back into Robin’s eyes, Lu Chang's eyes were on fire. He felt a fierceness at being spoken to in such a way by a mere slave.
"Keep a watch on your warrior Cho. Because if I get my hands on it. I will take out those eyes of defiance."
Pushing Robin aside, Lu Chang stormed to the other side of the Arena, dragging his fighter behind him. After he left Soon Lee once again started to giggle.
"I missed that Cho, this should make an interesting tournament. I will talk to you later then." Soon Lee slightly bowed to Cho before leaving. Cho returned the bow. As Soon Lee retreated, Cho said softly to Robin.
"You did good King Richard. You did very good."
Keeping his head erect, Robin slowly let a smile come to his face. It did feel good standing up to that man.
"Now come, Alan awaits us. I want my people to see how good a warrior is, that is trained in the old ways."
Slowly, deliberately, they walked to the center ring.
End of Part Twenty
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