"You have been practising, little one," Lazarus chuckled as Krista blocked his attack, her counter-response hitting her teacher against the side of his thigh.
"I am not little anymore," Krista complained as their fighting session grew to a halt, "I'm taller than my brother now." She stated with an air of pride.
Lazarus bowed his head in mockery at her achievement, "You are still little to me," He chuckled, his voice as sweet as honey, as he reached down and ruffled her hair.
His beautiful dark skin shone in the candlelight as she ducked away from his patronising hand and jabbed her wooden sword playfully into his side, "Dead!" Krista laughed as she got in a kill shot.
Lazarus reached down and scooped her up with one arm, holding her against his side, as if she weighed nothing more than a feather, "Time for you to go home."
Krista crossed her arms over her chest, still hooked under his arm, as Lazarus stepped out of his small hut and began the short journey back to her home. Lazarus and her father were close friends. Almost everyone who lived near them were friends. After all, slaves had to stick together, that was what her father told her.
"Can we practice again tomorrow?" Krista asked as she wriggled in his grip and he placed her gently back on the ground. She didn't need carrying like a baby.
"Of course," Lazarus chuckled as they strode side by side down the cobbled street, "You are my best student."
"I am your only student," Krista told him when she turned to ask him something and saw that Lazarus was no longer walking beside her. "Lazarus?" Krista frowned as she looked over her shoulder and saw him stood a few steps back from her. Turning around, Krista gazed up at her tutor in confusion. Stood rooted to the spot, Lazarus's gaze was fixated on something further up the road and there was an expression on his face that she had never seen before. It worried her a little. "Lazarus?" She called quietly, not sure what to do.
"Krista," Lazarus gasped as if he had only just remembered that she was there, "You need to go home. Now."
"But Lazarus . . ." Krista moaned.
"Now, Krista!" Lazarus shouted at her causing Krista to flinch away in fear. Lazarus had never raised his voice at her but when she looked up she saw once again that his attention was on something else further up the road.
Curious to see what had Lazarus acting so strangely, Krista followed his gaze and gasped. At the end of the road a company of horses had just turned onto their street with the city guard upon their backs. Krista had seen them before at midday in the centre of town but as they lingered at the end of the road, the evening darkness settling over them, their presence felt much more menacing.
"Lazarus?" Krista whispered, "What do they want?"
Lazarus's hand went to her shoulder and gaze it a small, comforting squeeze, whilst his eyes never left the men on horseback, "I do not know."
Krista did not know how long they remained like that for. It could have been a minute or several but the air around them grew colder and Krista could feel herself beginning to shiver when one of the men kicked his horse forwards, his hooves clattering against the cobbles. Lazarus's hand tightened on her shoulder as the other horses approached, the sound of their hooves now a thundering beat in her ears.
She was certain that they would stop. Why would they want to run them down? Surely, they had seen them? But as the horses grew closer their speed increased and she realised that the men were not going to stop.
YOU ARE READING
Gladiator of RomeHistorical Fiction
Rome's hunger for gladiatorial combat has never been greater. The passion for novelty and variety in the arena has given rise to a range of warriors but none quite so like Krista. Sole survivor of her family's brutal murder, Krista is now the pro...