In Honor and Memory of Andy Whitfield, actor of Spartacus- 1972-2011.
Floor 1st, December 31st, 2023
Guinevere falls to bed next right next to me.
“That was… vigorous.” Galant says.
They both laughed.
“Does this time count as a first time?” She asks me.
“No idea.” I answer. “In a way, maybe. You could say that your body’s still virgin, but your mind isn’t.”
She leans on me and gives me a kiss, which I’m happy to return.”
“I should go now…the girls of my room may be worried.”
“Right now, they should be.”
She leaves the bed, naked, grabbing her nightgown from the floor and begins walking towards the door. But before she can leave, I catch her hand and stop her.
“I have to go.” She tells me.
“If you do, my heart will break.” I tell her, trying to convince her to stay.
She smiles. Apparently, she liked what I just said.
“Ask me to stay…”
“Stay...” I say, getting closer to her.
“Ask me, by my name…my real one.”
I caressed her hair, moving my hand towards her cheek and at last, touching her neck.
“Sakura…” I stop talking for a short while. “I always liked your name, as beautiful as the woman herself. Why of my name…”
“Every girl knew who you were in the real life. And more importantly, they knew they had to AVOID YOU, LADIESMAN.”
I remember my time before I fell in love with her. I just cared about three things: fighting, my friends and girls. Nothing else was inside my empty head. Or at least, until I fell in love.
“That bad I was?” I ask
“Yes. The worst guy in the school.”
I sit on the bed, while Guinevere left her nightgown on a chair and joins me back on the bed.
“Then, why did you become the girlfriend of a man with such a bad reputation?”
“Fate guided me to you.”
“Again with the same… Fate? Destiny? I thought I’d proven that idea of your false today. After all, I defeated Belphegor.”
“No. You still haven’t proven anything. Fate comes to me sometimes, during my dreams. It showed me the man you may become one day.”
“Maybe, if you chose the correct path.”
She lays her head against the pillow and covers the rest of her body with the sheets. I do the same, placing my face right in front of Sakura’s. I grab her hands, which were in the middle of the pillow between them two.
As minutes in silence with the eyes closed passed, both of us begin to slowly fall asleep.
“One more thing…”I say. “…what else did you see in your dreams about my Fate?”
“One more thing: that you’ll never love another woman…”
Floor 1st, January 20th, 2024
Galant sits at near the bath house.
He’d just finished having a shower. He thought it’d also help him to change his thoughts, but it didn’t work. The blood of Ikuto, Taichi, Yamato and Sakura was still staining his hands, and wouldn’t ever leave. It didn’t matter if he killed all the members of Laughing Coffin and all responsible for their deaths with his own bare hands.
He wouldn’t recover what he he’d lost, and the pain, grief and other cursed feelings would remain there, deeply inserted within his heart.
“Battle well fought.” Ducard says, placing a hand in the shoulder of his new champion. “Arkadios is recovering from his injuries with the Doctor, but he’s unconscious.”
“I hope he recovers soon…”
“I will go with him once I’m done here with you. By the way, you’ve gained the Champion’s room. A small private cell, next to the sands of the Ludus.”
“I come here to give you congratulations to my new champion for his victory…” he says standing up. “But he acts as if he didn’t give a crap.”
“Sorry. I’m distracted. I still can’t get it out of my head. The lives of all my friends… Guinevere’s…”
“There’s nothing we can do to change to past. We must look to the future if we want one. You’ll enter the Arena as my gladiator in a month. You’re the Champion of this Ludus. The Slayer of Cerdic. The future Champion of Aincrad. Together we’ll edge the name Galant in the pillars of Aincrad and History.”
Ducard gets up.
“Galant…”He says, doubting. “….That isn’t how she called me. That isn’t my real name.”
“Well. It’s your name now.”
Ducard leaves the room. He walks to the place where Arkadios was resting, next to the doctor.
Doctor: “Remain still.”
Ducard: “Do as he tells you. I thought you dead after that battle.”
Arkadios: “When will I fight again?”
Ducard: “That’s really what you’re asking right now? Worry for nothing aside recovery. And the crowd may cheer your name again.”
Ducard walks to the door.
Arkadios: “I’ll regain my position, Master.”
Ducard nods his head and left the room. He was happy. A new start, with Galant as his new champion. He shall mold him into a new man and warrior. A gladiator who Aincrad had never known before. He’d already defeated The King of Monsters, what may he accomplish once victory and killing becomes his only concern? And with the rise of his champion, Ducard would become the best trainer of gladiators. And with that title, rise beyond the Ludus, beyond the prison…
Perhaps, the very leadership of the Army itself.
Galant walks back to his new cell. A small one, which was very similar to the one he and Guinevere were three weeks ago, just a day before the Battle of Camlann.
He sits against the wall of his cell and grabs Guren which was hidden in his pants. He began to tab it while thinking about his loses and if his choice of becoming a gladiator was correct.
If that was the right path to take or if he should’ve chosen a different path.
The door opened and Antinomy entered his cell.
“That’s not a good Idea, Gal.” He tells him. He sits down on the bed and continued talking. “You should’ve left the weapon on the armory. If the guards see you with it…”
“What can they do that hasn’t already been done to me? I should’ve never assumed the mantle of leader.”
“You did what you thought was the best, to protect your friends and your girlfriend. You should return Guren to the armory.”
Antinomy gets up and leaves the cell.
Galant sits on his bed. He hides Guren beneath it and lays down, trying to sleep while hoping for the absence of dreams.
Floor 1st, February 25th, 2024
Galant clashes wooden practice swords with a player; they push each other and slide backwards. The gladiator attacks Galant, bit he manages to jump on the shield, landing behind the player. He turns around in no time, delivering two strong and quick blows that send his adversary to the ground.
Galant turns around back. A guard was calling his name.
“The Warden calls for you.”
He leaves his weapons on the sands alongside the other gladiators and follows the guard.
Galant was accompanied by the guard to the third and last floor of the Prison.
They rapidly walk up the stairs, an iron cell wall, stopped them from entering. The guard took his key-ring from his belt and grabbed the key from for the gate. The key for opening that gate was the largest of the ring and it was golden. Its shape resembled somehow, a gun. The door made a squeaking sound when the key was placed inside the door. The hinges made the exact same squeaking sound from old rusted metal while it was opened. The guard pushed Galant in and showed him the way.
They walk through a small corridor and soon they appear in front of Ducard’s office.
The place was surrounded by white marble stone busts those that came behind of Galant, the former champions of the Ludus.
Ducard got up from his chair and spoke.
“This Ludus is filled by champions. One day, if you prove worthy, you’ll stand among them.”
“You honor me, master.” Galant says, but he stood unfixed.
“I have news for you. You’ll step into the sands for the first time as a gladiator tomorrow. You’ll fight both the 26th and the 27th of February. The first fight will resemble yours against Cerdic, and who’s better to fight him than you. You’ll have to wear a makeshift armor. Four of our gladiators will be assisting you as soldiers.”
“Two executions. On the 26th, seven of the members of the guild Titan’s Hand, an Orange Guild. They’ll represent Cerdic’s hordes. The next day, the 27th, you’ll face Ishi, the Blade Master.”
“Ishi?” Galant asks wondering. “Sentenced to execution?!”
“Yes. Why, you know of him?”
“I do. I barely spoke to him. What did he do?”
“I don’t know.” Ducard says bluntly, before going back to the subject. “Both dates will be a grand spectacle with you in shining helm.”
Galant did not spoke for a brief moment.
“I won’t fight.” Galant says seriously, without any doubts.
“You’re mistaking me. I’m not asking you to fight. I’m commanding you.”
“I won’t fight players that may be innocent, the same as I am.”
“It’s already time for you to forget your past. You’re no longer the person you were. You’re destined to great and wonderful things, Galant. Accept the path you‘ve been set by Fate. Your mind is still clouded by grief. You MUST clear it.”
Ducard looked to the guard.
The guard grabbed Galant, and forced him out by pushes, though Galant did not refuse to leave.
“It’s not a good idea to refuse Ducard.” Antinomy tells his friend.
“He’s asking for something illogic and immoral. What do you expect me to do?”
“He’s your master now, Gal. You shouldn’t defy him.”
“I won’t fight players who could be in my exact same situation.”
“They aren’t. Haven’t you heard of that Orange Guild? The members of Titan’s Hand don’t have anything with you. They’re Orange Players: Thieves, murderers, rapist…They deserve death.”
“Then let another player’s blade face them. I won’t.”
“You think as if you had a choice. Gal, you’re now a Gladiator.”
“I have a moral compass.”
“You’re a prisoner!
“I’m no slave.”
“You are! How far did those beliefs take you, uh? If you keep on holding to those beliefs, how long until you die and you join your friends? I thought you’d already learned this. You have to accept that you’re here now!!!”
Galant remains silent looking towards Antinomy.
“Sorry, Gal.” he says looking down. “I say things without thinking. It’s just that…I understand what it means to kill somebody inside the Arena. Even when it was just an execution …I still remember every face. The last words of each one.”
“It’s a heavy burden to carry. But you’ll carry way more if you want to keep on going this way. I wanted to make you understand it…I’ll leave you alone. I’ll go to gamble….”
Antinomy gets up and leaves Galant alone in the baths. He went with other gladiators to Gamble. A stupid thing, since the reason he was inside the prison was gambles. To gamble would mean to remain here even more time paying his debts
Galant leaves the baths to his room.
He sits on the floor. He took out Guren, still hidden beneath his bed and begins thinking. Those haunted memories, which would never stop following him no matter what he did.
The memory of Sakura, her laugh, her voice, her skin, her lips…
Everything about her.
A tear flows down of Galant’s cheek. He places his hands on his face as he begins to cry. He moves his hands until placed them on his chest and looked to the purple ribbon tied to his right hand.
A memory came back to his head….
Floor 49th, December 23rd, 2023
Sakura and I rested by each other’s side before tomorrow’s battle.
She was leaning on my chest as if it were a pillow, while my head was on a proper pillow. I wasn’t still dreaming. I couldn’t sleep because I still had something important in mind, a question that needed to be answered by her.
“Do you still believe in it, Fate?” I ask her plainly.
“Yes.” She tells me.
“Our friends will leave tomorrow. We may die in the battle against Cerdic. If there was no Fate, nothing can give shape to what happens in our lives. There wouldn’t be meaning to any of it.”
She raises her head, to look to my eyes, placing her left hand on my cheek as I caressed her back with his left.
“I can’t believe it guided me to you. To bless me with your love, only to be witness to your grief, pain and suffering for all what has happened so far. No… There’s a deeper purpose for the path you choose, one that still has to be revealed.”
She was about to lay on m7 shoulder once again, but I stopped her, grabbing her from her own.
“We won’t be separated, ever. I’ll be with you. Without you, there’s no reason for me to be here, in this game.”
“There’s always a reason to live.”
“Without you, I’d be lost.”
“No. Fate will put you on a proper path. You just have to close your eyes, and place yourself at its hands.”
She lays her head back on my chest and goes to sleep while I gently stroke her tender golden hair until we fall sleep in loving embrace...
Floor 1st, February 26th, 2024
Galant was sat on his bed.
The tears of his face were cleaned and had evaporated. He was looking to the ground beneath his feet, thinking, when the door opened.
“We’re leaving for the games. You made your decision?”
Galant grabs Guren from his side and pointed to Ducard. The Army member feels fear for moment but then speaks.
“What kind of answer is this?” He asks wondering
Galant turns around Guren, letting his master grab the handle.
“So that is your way for giving messages?” Ducard asks angrily.
“Hear me. Maybe, what I mean is more understandable.”
Galant crosses his arms and looks to the wall.
“Guinevere spoke many times with me about Fate or Destiny. She believed in it. I never have...”
“You really have guts, to dear to doubt about Fate.”
“And I’ve suffered much for it. But no longer, from this point forward. I’ll accept her beliefs as mine and accept my fate.”
“Those words give me great happiness, enough to forget to ask how or why Guren came to your possession. Let’s put the dark of the past really behind us. We’ll now advance on a path of light. Let’s go, games await you.”
“I have just one condition.” Galant says getting up.
“Condition?” Ducard stops while laughing reluctantly. “You’re just kissing my cheek to put your finger in my ass… Speak, before I rip your tongue.”
“I’ll enter the sands against the members of Titan’s Hand, but fighting them alone and without GHP.”
“Seven against one?! Without possibility of living if they defeat you?! I won’t risk my new champion for that”
“If this is really my fate, if this is the path I have to take, I won’t fall.”
“And if you’re wrong?”
“Then I’ll give the crowd a great spectacle, before joining my friends and wife.”
Ducard tabs the knife and walks a bit, thinking of his suggestion. After ten seconds, he speaks.
“Fate has brought you this far, right? I don’t think it’s done with you yet. But if you want to do this you way, I also have a condition. When you’ve killed the last of these shits, what’s left of your past self: who you were, your real name and any other things from you relating past, dies with them. After this fight you’ll accept fate, and your destiny, as Galant! …”
One of the gates of the Amphitheatre opens as the seven members of Titan’s hand enter. The crowd starts shouting and mocking them.
The trumpets were sounded. Ducard gets up to make the presentation speech before the battle.
“Players of Aincrad! Today we honor the brave warriors who fought and died during the war against Cerdic. The leader of the monster hordes, who was unmatched in ferocity and evil.”
Approbation of the crowd.
“As tribute, we’d prepared this fight to replicate the final battle of the war. The Battle of Camlann.”
“Look at the prisoners standing in the arena and imagine the monsters that invaded the castle of Aincrad. Raping, stealing, murdering all in their path!”
Mocks from the crowd towards the Orange Players. They begin shouting and throwing things towards them.
“Violence and madness swept Aincrad while Cerdic’s army marched. All seemed lost, until they appeared…Entrance!”
The soldiers at the gate open it. The crowd starts coordinating claps, each time faster than the one before.
“And, who could be a better option, than the player himself? THE ONE THAT STOOD AGAINST FOUR GLADIATORS AT THE SAME TIME. THE SLAYER OF CERDIC. THE CHAMPION OF THE PRISON’S LUDUS, PRESENT TO YOU, GALANT!”
Galant enters the Arena, wearing a brown makeshift armor. A light breastplate with small shoulder guards and metal pieces. On his arms and legs, he was wearing bracers and greaves respectively.
“GALANT! GALANT! GALANT! GALANT! GALANT! GALANT! GALANT! GALANT!”
The crowd cheered, as Galant walks towards the prisoners in front of him.
Ducard: “Thinker, you should give the starting command now.”
One of the prisoners walks the front, looking towards Galant. The Slayer of Cerdic briefly looked at them, and turned his sight to Ducard, who nodded to him.
“You just have to close your eyes, and place yourself at its hands.”
Galant closes his eyes with his swords pointing diagonally to the ground and his face looked upwards. The prisoners look at him, wondering what was he doing.
The entire Arena was extremely silent, so much that the fall of a small coin could be heard.
The player at the front tosses his spear. The projectile flies, pointing directly to Galant’s face. It but scratched his face and cut a bit of his hair before embedding itself to the sands.
Galant opens his eyes, looking to the players.
Now, he’d found the answer.
The prisoners begin running towards Galant one by one, somewhat forming a line. Galant also rushes towards them, ready for battle.
He clashes with the first and keeps on rushing forward. He parries the axe of the first one, the sword of the second one, the sword of the third one. He turns and dual slashes the back of the third player with both Crescent Stardust Slasher and Stardust Slasher. The player body was divided in half, felt to the sands and shattered into polygons.
At the same time, the forth one swirls his spear as the first one rams his axe. Galant barely manages to avoid the two weapons, bending his whole body. The two weapons pass slowly, just centimeters above his face. He parries the spear, but the player spins once again and hits Galant’s back. He was then kicked back with a strong hit to the chest. He rolls in the ground, and the next one with the hammer bypassed attacks. He hardly eludes it while rising his body back up. He then manages two get up and blocks the next one’s sword as the last one tried to slash him, but Galant blocks the move, grabbing the player from the arm and raising him up his back. He uses the player’s weight against him, throwing him strongly against the ground. Yet, the one with the hammer smashed Galant’s body, sending him to the ground with just one move.
The prisoners joyed and shouted to the crowd as if they were already winners.
As he was trying to get up, other of the players kicked Galant’s stomach. Once. Twice. He also knees his face.
Thinker: “You do realize he won this battle?”
“Perhaps history won’t repeat itself this day...” Kibaou says.
The one with the hammer rams it at Galant, ready to stab him at the eye with the spiked extreme. But Galant shields with Guren, avoiding being killed by the dagger’s extreme durability. Galant manages to elbow the player across the face and kicks him.
He then rolls sideways on the sand, eluding another attack from the player. He gets up and pushes the player alongside other two coming, throwing the whole group to the ground, though they quickly got up.
Galant and the group separate for a brief moment as he looked towards the ground.
“There’s always a reason to live. Fate will put you on a proper path.”
He looks back to the player and attacks them.
Galant cries out.
The first one comes. Galant parries the short spear two times before managing to make it slip from the player’s fingers. He slashes his leg, thus makes him fall to the sand. He pierces his leg with Guren.
Other player with a short spear appeared, but Galant grabs it while spinning. He cuts the player’s throat, killing him. Other appeared to Galant’s left. He manages to stab him with the spear, piercing through the body, and then slashed the player’s body with Stardust Slasher, killing him. Both dead corpses fall to the ground before touching it and disappear.
Four to go.
Another attacks. Galant turns around his spear and impales the player through the mouth. The one with two axes throw one to him, but Galant shields with the player’s body. Other came. He kicks the player on his lance towards the upcoming player, who catches his dead partner. Galant spins while turning the lance backwards. He impales both players in the chest at the same time.
The one with an axe attacks him, but the Slayer of Cerdic parries the attack easily. He uses Shimmer Spike several times, stabbing the player repeated times. Galant finally throws him away with Balmung still embedded on his body.
Ducard was amused as his Gladiator fought like being possessed by a demon.
Galant faces the last prisoner, the player with the hammer, without weapons. He avoided the attack to his face, by bending his body. The prisoner then tries to smash him, but Galant catches the hammer and hits the player back of the knees. The prisoner falls to the ground. Galant raises the hammer and ends the battle by smashing the face of the player.
The crowd roared and was amused by Galant’s showing. They’d never seen something alike the battle they’d just witnessed.
Galant drops the hammer which shattered into polygons seconds afterwards. He grabs Balmung and walks towards the last remaining alive player. The prisoner tries to get up, but he could barely be kneeling by the wound in his left knee. He extends his hand to reach for Guren, but Galant places his blade to his neck,
KILL! KILL! KILL! KILL! KILL! KILL! KILL! KILL!
The crowd roared and gets their thumb fingers down on the player.
Galant forces the player’s face up with the point of his blade. When they make eye contact, he sees the unbelievable.
His face. His own face, instead of the prisoner’s.
Galant eyes widened, shocked by after seeing this.
That was his “past self”. As Ducard had told him to do, he had to kill whatever was left of his past to embrace his new path.
His jaw began to tremble.
Doubts in his head again.
“Don’t do it.” The player says. Galant hears his own voice instead.
Galant turns the blade to the other side as the prisoner closed his eyes.
The crowd continues to shout.
Ducard gets up to see.
He has a vision of all his past. The first day on Aincrad. The creation of the Royal Knight, the fight Against Belpehor, his first time with Sakura, the war against Cerdic, the death of Dagonet of Galahad, The battle of Ayres, Elicia’s death, Lance’s death, Tristan’s death, Gawn’s death, Bors’ death, Percival’s death, Guinevere’s death, the battle against Laughing Coffin, his execution, the battle against Arkadios, the entrance to the brotherhood, the acceptance of his fate.
And that phrase:
“A man must accept his fate…or be destroyed by it.”
Out of rage, Galant shouts and slices the throat of the player, much for the crowd’s amusement and the joy of Ducard. Galant turns around, letting his sword fall to the ground. He looks towards the Pulvinus, satisfied and relaxed.
Thinker: “A great show.”
Ducard: “It’s an honor for me to be of service.”
“GALANT! GALANT! GALANT! GALANT! GALANT! GALANT! GALANT! GALANT!”
The crowd began cheering Galant name once again.
Galant lifts up his right hand, while inhaling slowly with joy and nostalgia in his eyes. Ducard laughs and lifts his own right hand mimicking his own gladiator.
Finally accepting his Fate, Galant turns to the crowd while he lifts up both arms to his sides and released a powerful scream from deep inside his soul, echoing in all of Aincrad.