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5. Spartacus

Nikolai

"I'm sorry." Ava said as soon as she entered the dining room. I didn't expect her to wake up so early, especially after I wore off pretty good last night. If I knew she would be up, all of us would have waited for her.

Everyone were already half way through their lunch when they paused to look at her.

"I'm sorry, Rhazien." She apologised, genuine regret floating in her eyes.

"It's fine." He waved it away as if it was nothing. No one really minded it. They knew she was coming from a good place. I also knew they were worried. A Queen shouldn't loose control so easily and act out like this. But it hasn't been very long since Ava was in a position of power and she's doing splendidly in my opinion.

After lunch was over, we settled in the living room, awaiting an explanation from Javier. I mean I knew he was a strong vampire but the last thing I was expecting was a connection to the Royal family. This isn't even some far away cousin—we were talking about being the son of the King here. Javier had been a Prince before he came to Montana and became an Alpha.

"Josias is my twin." Javier started.

"No shit Sherlock." Dimitri muttered.

Javier ignored him. "I'm the older brother."

Now that's what stunned all of us.

Javier is the rightful King of Voda Kingdom?

"I was going to take over the throne but I wanted to travel the world first before I took on all the responsibilities. I wanted to live as Javier before the world knew me as King Javier of Voda Kingdom. That's when I met Valerie." His voice turned wistful. "I instantly knew she was my beloved. It was love at first sight, obviously, and we mated the same night."

"TMI, dude." Dimitri muttered.

Javier ignored him too.

"She didn't know I was the crowned prince of Voda Kingdom and I didn't know that she was the sole heiress of Montana Pack. We both fell harder because we knew that we liked each other not because of our power but because of whom we were. But reality set in the next morning when we realised who we were and that we had responsibilities."

"Jerome and Mary didn't like me at first sight. They didn't want their daughter's mate to be a vampire. But since we were already mated, there was nothing they could do. However, they placed a condition in front of me—that I stay in Montana if I wanted to be with Valerie. Because there was no way they would let me take her to a Vampire Kingdom. There was also the fact that they couldn't have children, so if Valerie came with me, Montana would be without a leader and the process of choosing a new Alpha would cause mayhem. A lot of blood would be shed and no one wanted that."

"There was no one else who could take over Montana but Josias could step in if I happened to leave. My family was not happy with my decision and told me to choose between them and Valerie. I made my decision and chose to be with Valerie and became the Alpha of Montana Pack." He released a pained breath. "Josias and I were the perfect brothers," his face turned sad, "we were twins, we did everything together, he was my best friend. He threatened me that he will never talk to me again if I stepped out of the palace."

"But I had already made my choice. I knew I would not survive without Valerie." And then he looked at Ava who was sitting besides me and was playing with my fingers. Ava's eyes lowered at his statement. Somewhere deep down, she held the guilt of separating the pair. She knew she wasn't at fault but she thought that she was responsible for it. "The only reason I'm alive after she left us is you, Ava. She left me a piece of her. And I don't regret any of it. I would do it all over again if I have to."

Ava gnawed at her bottom lip as she listened to Javier speak.

A tear splashed down her cheek and she stood up and hugged her father. "I'm so sorry."

"It's not your fault, Firefly." He hugged her. "I have you. That's enough for me. I love you." 

"I love you too." I know by her voice that she was trying hard to control her cries.

"You need to talk to Josias. And make amends." She said after she released him.

"If you haven't noticed, we aren't on speaking terms." He forced a smile.

"An apology never hurt anybody." Jessica chimed in. "He was obviously hurt. He thought you were ditching him."

"I've apologised countless times, kid. He said that my apologies mean shit if I don't do anything about it. And I'm not going back to Voda Kingdom. I've just gotten Ava back." He put his hand around Ava.

I knew he wasn't going to change his mind, not unless he wanted to. There was no point in trying to convince him. He needs to do things his way without our pressure.

"Whatever. Just no fighting." I said and stood up. "Enough storytelling for today. We should get back to business."

Avalyn

Like yesterday, the men and Ezra left to talk about the upcoming meeting and then Tessa, Jessica, Sof and I ended up talking. Sof was still a little off with me for some reason. I mean she wasn't mean to me but she wasn't the same Sofiya I had first met either. It made me overthink everything but I couldn't think of any reason she could be mad at me. Nat had specifically asked me to clear things up but I couldn't bring myself to do so. What do I even say to her? She was talking to me, responding to all my questions and she wasn't doing anything out of the ordinary. There was nothing I could ask her.

In the evening, we all had a hearty dinner together which wasn't as awkward as lunch. An amusement show had been organised for us before the meeting that I was dreading very much. I just hope that it doesn't stretch for another night. I just want to go home.

Around eight, a carriage came to pick us up to take us to the location of the show. And from Nik's expression, I knew he was not interested in it one bit. But we didn't have a choice. It would be disrespectful to not attend.

After a twenty minute ride, we came to stop in front of a Coliseum made out of stones and bricks. And it was enormous in size. I couldn't see the entire structure because we were standing right at the gate and were too near it. A purple carpet paved our way and Oliver led all of us inside. A set of grand, circular stairwell that led us up the tower. It had torches that lit up the insides but Nik kept a tight hold on my hand anyways.

When we reached the top, I looked over the arena and smiled. It was beautiful. The Coliseum was an open aired, ovoid shaped structure. It was three storey high. The seating area was formed of concentric rows of stands which were supported by arches built into the framework of the building. The common public was already seated there, talking amongst themselves.There were s total of six towers at regular distance which were a storey taller than the rest of the structure. We were on one of those towers so it meant that one tower was for each Kingdom and one was for the High Council.

There was a feeling of excitement and anticipation in the air. It was clearly going to be a good cultural show. Like people doing a play of some event of the past or maybe some traditional dance form or a circus perhaps.

Why was Nik so tense? I love this. Encouraging culture and tradition like this was so good.

The backside of the balcony, just near the stairs was raised to another level. On which, there was a huge torch that threw some light on the arena in the centre and next to it was the banner of Mozog. And where we stood, there were two main thrones for Nik and I and then smaller thrones besides and behind ours for Dimitri, Ezra, Rhazien, Jessica, Jester and Marc. Vladimir had said that he and Sofiya wouldn't be coming because she was pregnant. I didn't understand why but I let it go. Our throne was right in front of the balcony so we had a clear view of everything happening on the ground.

Once everyone were seated, I saw Elder Orlando stand and come closer to his balcony. His voice was loud enough for all of is to hear. "Good evening ladies and gentlemen," he greeted and the crowd cheered.

There had to be at least fifteen thousand people here. This is the largest gathering of supernaturals I have ever seen.

"How does Bellehaven have so much population?" It wasn't easy for vampires to procreate. Their fertility was much lower than werewolves.

"This isn't just Bellehaven's people. It's most of the population of the the vampire kingdoms. The Annual Royal Summits is a huge thing. It's work for us rulers and there are fun and fairs, competitions, games and various activities for the general public. It's a safe and easy way for people to connect and meet their mates and beloveds in a neutral setting." Nik explained.

It was a smart thing actually.

"Why don't we have one for both the races? That way the people who have mates of different species can also meet." I asked.

"It isn't safe for everyone to mingle so openly. People don't show it but rivalry is still very much prevalent. One wrong word will cause bloodshed or rivalry between two leaders fairly quickly." Nik said and I nodded. Made sense.

"This year, we gave decided to have a little twist in the Gladiator Competition." Elder Orlando said. "All of us know that the human blood tastes heavenly after a good workout. It's nicely warm, more oxygenated and fresh. Imagine how tasty the blood of the winner will be right after the competition." What the hell is he talking about? I didn't understand what was going on. "So after the competition, there will be an auction for twelve hours with the winner. Fifty percent of the money will go to the owner and the other fifty percent will be donated to God Sol's temple in your name. And it is known that a pleased God Sol means a permanent place in Heaven after death."

The crowd cheered and hooted again. What the hell is going on here?

There was a scowl on Nikolai's face as he glared straight ahead. His body was coiled tight and his hands had turned into fists.

"What is all of this, Nikolai?" I could hear the dread in my voice.

"I, Elder Orlando, Head of the Vampire High Council command the Gladiator Competition to begin!" He announced. That's when I saw that on the ground level, there were jail like gates below each tower that opened up. There must be one below the tower we sat on too.

Out of each gate, about five to ten humans walked out with a helmet on their head and a steel sword in their hand. All of them walked in together to the centre, some with apprehension while some with purpose.

"What's going on, Nik?" My voice was barely a whisper. I finally understood what was going to happen. But it couldn't be true, could it? These people can't be so cruel.

And them suddenly, a loud trumpet blared that was followed by the deafening roar of the crowd. The humans took that as a sign and engaged in a wild fight.

"Have you heard about the gladiator fights in ancient Rome?" Nik asked. I shook my head, my eyes fixed on the brutality happening in front of me with bewilderment.

Everybody were fighting and trying to kill each other. Everyone was everyone's enemy. It was all men for themselves. And the people cheered when someone was killed and booed if it wasn't gory enough.

A saw a man slice the head of another off his shoulder. The body stayed upright for a second before it fell backwards. And his head tumbled to the side, his lifeless eyes still open. And the crowd cheered.

Tears rose in my eyes.

"The gladiatorial games originated in ancient Rome. The gladiators were usually slaves, criminals, or prisoners of war. Occasionally, the gladiators were able to fight for their freedom. Criminals who were sentenced to death were sometimes thrown into the arena unarmed to serve their sentence. Some people, including women, actually volunteered to be gladiators." Nik explained, his voice gentle. "Orlando was there and had the idea to replicate it. This is eradicated from the human world but it's still the most famous means of amusement in the vampire world."

I rubbed my chest. My heart hurt. How can people be so cruel? This was downright evil. I had thought that Elder Orlando was a nice man. But he did this...my respect for him was crushed.

I saw a human plunge his sword into another's stomach. And then he pulled it out, spilling all the contents of his insides on the ground. All his intestines were falling out but the man didn't die. Tired, sweaty and bloody, he swayed, holding his sword with both his hands. His opponent laughed. And then the man raised the sword with both hands with difficulty. And as he brought the sword down, he fell down with it. His opponent who hadn't even moved, kicked him in the side before he walked over him, leaving him there to bleed to death.

I knew they were slaves. But why were they doing this? They could be forced but they looked like they were enjoying it too!

The crowd cheered again, women flashed their breasts. Some people in their crowd were drinking blood from their own slaves while some were having sex. I looked up at the rulers and saw King Xillian was getting a blowjob while he watched the competition with rapt attention. He also had a drink in his hand. King Ciro and Queen Rhapsody were having sex. Queen Zakyra was also having sex with a female and King Josias was engaged in a conversation with a Papa as he watched on. I guess they finally relented and decided to talk it out. Good for them.

But they didn't care. Nobody cared about these people. Papa didn't care either. And then I realised it, Papa was a part of this world, or at least he used to be. He was used to it. Did he enjoy it?

"I-I can't...I can't Nikolai." My head turned to look at my mate. He was already looking at me. I bit my lip hard, drawing blood. I want to go home. He gently pulled my lip out from between my teeth and brushed the blood away.

'I'm sorry you have to see this, Moya Lyubov,' he said through the mind-link. 'But we can't leave.'

I squeezed my eyes shut. But the smell of blood and hunger assaulted my nose. Each and every cheer, each and every boo of the crowd, each whimper, grunt and cries of the 'gladiators' assaulted my ears. "When does this end?" I whimpered.

"When only one gladiator remains." Nikolai replied, taking my hand in his own, giving me strength. I bit my lip again. So just for our 'amusement' so many people will die? How many lives did these games take? How many of these 'competitions' were held? Hundreds of thousands most probably. So many lives. Lost for nothing. Oh goddess. My head spun.

I'm glad Sof wasn't here, it wasn't a good place to be.

The crowd broke into deafening cheers again. My eyes slid back to the arena. I saw a man slice another's sword arm. I could hear his stomach-churning cry as he tried to back away but before he could take another step, his head was separated from his shoulders. My jaw dropped. His face was filled with fear, he hadn't wanted to be here. He was forced. Like most of these slaves.

"Ava." Nik called and I turned to look a him. He wiped a tear that had escaped. 'Please don't cry, Love." He murmured through the mind-link. 'Supernatural eyesight is strong. People can see you.'

'Why do you care more about what they think than me?' My face crumpled in pain. Why couldn't he understand that I can't stand this violence? War was bad enough and now I had to endure this!

'You know that's not true.' He sounded hurt. 'Come here, I have an idea.' He held on to my hand and tugged me to my feet and then near him. He pulled me on his lap and then made me straddle him. "What are you doing?" I looked to the sides. Rhazien, Jessica and Ezra weren't looking our way. Jester and Marc were engaged with their own slaves.

'Distracting you.' He murmured through our mind-link and trailed tantalising kisses up and down my throat.

The smell of blood reached my nose and I pulled away. I tried to get off but Nik had a tight hold on me. His lips brushing against his mark and I shivered. His tongue darted out to lick it and I gasped. "Lift your dress." Before he even finished his command, my hands were already working to hike my dress over my thighs. And then he arranged the material in a way that it was covering both of our lower bodies.

The crowd booed and I heard the grunts of a few slaves in the background and I stiffened. My eyes slid shut in shame. What are we doing? "I can't, Nikolai, not right now."

'I know, Love.' He said through the mind-link. 'We just need to make it seem like we are having sex.' He dug his nose in my neck. 'That way, you won't have to look and I can distract you without anybody noticing.'

I circled my arms around his broad shoulders and I rested my head against his neck. I released my breath and goose- bumps rose on his skin. I focused all my attention on Nik and tried to shut down all my senses. 'Distract me Nik,' I begged, playing with the hair at the back of his neck to occupy my fretting hands. He was getting harder by the second and his hands came up to hold my waist and he began rocking me against him, already making me focus all my attention on him.

'Tell me what you thought of me when you first saw me, when I bought you.' He asked with a delicious thrust.

'I -I was scared at first. And then when I saw you, I knew I'd be safe. I-I wanted to be happy. I wanted p-peace. You looked like a mysterious dark prince. But my prince. And you gave me strength in front of Emilio that day. I liked that. And you bathed me. T-thank you for taking care o-of me. You asked me to bathe you. Thank you f-for believing in my strength before I did.' I slowly began rocking against him without his help, rubbing my clit against his hard-on, ignoring the layers between us. 'You scared me in the beginning. B-but you gave me respect. Love. Happiness. Family. Home. Peace. I wa—' A scream and then a cry laced with pain interrupted my train of thoughts. I squeezed my eyes shut and held him tighter.

'Do you know what the first though in my mind was when I saw you at the auction?' He quickly asked and I shook my head, my nose brushing against his neck.

'I wasn't sure if you were my mate. Your wolf wasn't present back then. But I really, really wanted you to be. I thought you were beautiful, Avalyn. You are the most beautiful woman I have seen in my life. I loved your smell, your body, your voice, the way those dimples dig your cheeks, the way your eyes sparkled when you were happy and the way the brown of your eyes darkened with need when I touched you. I loved you the second I saw you.' I gasped as his words. 'I wasn't there to buy a slave. I was there to help Alexander. But when those bastards started bidding on you, I had the unimaginable urge to take you away from that place and save your purity and innocence.' I rocked against his hard on faster, his voice pulling me in a protective blanket and his body closer to my high. 'My urge to protect you was strong since the day I saw you, Love.'

My gut clenched and I knew I was close but wasn't quite there yet. I needed a little bit of pain. I knew that now. And so did Nikolai. Because his hand slid inside my skirt and his finger expertly flicked my clit.

My eyes slid shut and my body convulsed as I came. Nik pulled me into a deep kiss, muffling my moans and groans of pleasure. My belly clenched as I rubbed against him for the last time, finally riding off my high. Breathless, I rested my forehead on his shoulder.

He rubbed my back gently, "it's done, Ava." My cheeks heated up. Yeah, we're done. It's the first time we've dry humped each other. That too in public!

"Are you okay?" His voice was filled with concern and his hard on pressed against me. That's when I realised he hadn't come.

"I am. Thank you." I nodded and let out a relieved breath when I heard silence in the background. So by done, Nik meant the competition is done. "Let me..." I reached in under the folds of my dress to finish him quickly.

He captured my hand, "it's fine, Love, you don't need to." He pecked my lips. "This was for you. To distract you."

Biting my lip, I nodded and he gave me a small, crooked smile. "I'm sorry you had to sit through this. I'll let Vladimir know that we will not be attending the VARS from next year." 

"Thank you." Deep gratitude was etched in my tone.

"The winner of the this year's VARS Gladiator Competition is....once again Slave Eliyah— our very own Spartacus!" Elder Orlando's voice boomed in the arena. The crowd went wild as they cheered and hooted.

I turned around in Nik's lap to see who the winner was. Much to my suprise, instead of soaking it all in, Eliyah was kneeling on one knee. The tip of his sword rested on the ground and he held the hilt with both hands, his head resting over them.

He didn't look happy one bit.

Around him, lay dead bodies of dozens of humans. I bit my lip. He looked terribly melancholic. He looked...broken. Of course he did. He didn't want to kill these people. But he had to so that he would live. And that was killing him.

"Stand up, Slave Eliyah." Elder Orlando commanded. "Strip down and show yourself to the fortunate Master or Mistress who will get the pleasure of spending private time with you. And get the pleasure of drinking the blood of a hot blooded male such as yourself."

Eliyah didn't move for about half a minute. I held my breath when I saw Elder Orlando gestured something. Two men built like mountains stepped inside the arena with whips in their hand.

No.

I jumped off Nik's lap and rushed to the edge of the balcony. Using my powers, I forced Eliyah to stand up before those men could reach him.

My lips parted when I realised that he was the same slave as yesterday. The one that Lady was stroking for two hours straight. Only now, he had multiple cuts and wounds on his body. For some reason, I felt for him. Being the source of entertainment for these people was the last thing he wanted to do, I knew that.

"Strip, Slave Eliyah." Elder Orlando's voice was sharp as a whip. Before he could help himself, Eliyah's hands reached to the hem of his t-shirt and pulled it off, revealing his tanned, muscular body. I saw his hands tremble as he unbuttoned his pants and pushed them off. And then his boxers.

The crowd gasped at his sight and then like cheered like a pack of hungry wolves. They viewed him like a fine piece of meat. His face was deathly cold as he glared straight ahead.

"Let's start the bidding, Ladies and Gentlemen," Elder Orlando said and I looked around myself. Nobody here looked civilised enough to be called Ladies and gentlemen. Their eyes were feasting on his body and their mouths were salivating for his blood. They were all hungry for him. "The starting amount is ten thousand dollars."

Nikolai came and stood behind me and wrapped an arm around my waist and rested the other one on top of the balcony. 'It'll be over soon and then we can go ahead with the meeting.'

"Twelve thousand dollars," a male called.

"Fifteen thousand dollars," another called.

"Twenty thousand dollars." Called another.

Memories of me being sold in the auction resurfaced.

"Forty thousand dollars," Queen Zakyra rose from her throne. Until now, only the Lords and the ladies were bidding. A Queen entering the competition would surely make things more competitive.

"Fifty thousand dollars," King Josias bid.

"Seventy thousand," King Xillian drawled.

"A hundred thousand," Queen Zakyra threw a sassy wink and a flying kiss towards King Xillian.

Oh Goddess no. I have no idea what she will do to the poor human. No one raised the amount after that. It was an insane amount for half a day with a slave anyways.

"One hundred thousand going once, one hundred thou—

"A hundred and fifty thousand," words escaped my mouth before I could help myself.

I heard gasps from the crowd. I knew what they were thinking. Why were werewolves interested in humans? Well, I didn't care about their opinion.

"A hundred and fifty thousand going once, a hundred and fifty thousand going twice, a hundred and fifty thousand going thrice, sold to Queen Avalyn for twenty four hours!" Elder Orlando's voice rang with happiness. The crowd began clapping and cheering but I had tuned most of it out.

Queen Zakyra barred her fangs at me. I gave her a sassy wink and a flying kiss.

"Tonight's auction went a lot better than expected. Thank you for your generosity, Kingdom Mozog. Slave Eliyah will be delivered to your living quarters after tonight's meeting ends. We have a one hour break before the meeting starts, I request everyone to be on time. I officially declare the end of this year's Gladiator Competition." His little speech was followed by a hearty roar of hurray by the masses.

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Ybhor Zurc Aled Torres
wow I enjoyed reading so nice
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