"MY HEAD....."RAIZO MANAGED TO SAY,

"IS HURTING?",MCSTEAMY COMPLETED FOR HIM,"YEAH,I KNOW RAIZO,DRINK THIS".HE SAID, HANDING HIM A GLASS OF THAT NOT-SO-EDIBLE-GROSS-LOOKING DRINK

TAKING THE GLASS FROM HIM RAIZO SIPPED A LITTLE FIRST,THEN DECIDED IT DIDN'T TASTE THAT BAD AFTER ALL.THE DRINK ALMOST SEEMED TO ADJUST ITSELF TO THE TASTE THAT RAIZO FAVOURED.SO HE DRANK THE REST IN A SINGLE DRAUGHT.THE PAIN SUBSIDED BY A LITTLE AFTER A MINUTE OR SO...."SO WHERE AM I?WHAT IS THIS PLACE?"HE ASKED

   THE TWO OF THEM EXCHANGED CONCERNED LOOKS,

 "YOU DONT REMEMBER ANYTHING DO YOU?" MCSTEAMY ENQUIRED.

 "YEAH...I MEAN...THERE WAS THE MATCH, I KNOCKED OUT CONNOR, WON THE CHAMPIONSHIP, AND THEN THERE WAS THAT GUNSHOT.THE LAST THING I REMEMBER IS SOMETHING FALLING ON MY HEAD, BLACKED OUT AFTER THAT" RAIZO REPLIED.

HE NOTICED THE BURLY GUY WAS LOOKING AT HIM WITH A 'SERIOUSLY?!!’ KIND OF AN EXPRESSION,

 “WON?!! YOU JUST GOT YOUR ARSE KICKED! IM SURE THEY DONT CALL THAT ‘WINNING’ WHERE YOU HAIL FROM!!." HE SAID.

 SEEING THAT THE BIG GUY’S TONE DIDN’T EXACTLY COMFORT HIM,MCSTEAMY TOOK OVER, "RAIZO, YOU LOST THE FIGHT.YOUR BODY SUDDENLY CRAMPED UP WHILE FIGHTING AND YOUR OPPONENT HIT YOU,RATHER PUNCTURED YOU,WITH THE HILT OF HIS SWORD.YOU DONT REMEMBER ALL THAT? COMING INTO THE CITY WITH ME? SIGNING UP FOR THE GLADIATOR MATCHES? ANYTHING AT ALL?".

"GLADIATOR MATCHES?! SWORD? ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND? LOOK BRO, HOW MUCH EVER THE OWNER OF THIS PLACE PAYS YOU TO TALK LIKE THAT, I’M TOTALLY NOT INTERESTED. I DONT EVEN KNOW YOU GUYS!” RAIZO SAID A LITTLE FRUSTATEDLY.

 MCSTEAMY LOOKED LIKE HE WAS CONSIDERING SOMETHING, ‘BRO?’ THAT CERTAINLY WASN’T THE LOCAL DIALECT. HE TOLD RAIZO, "THIS IS ZOLTAN, SON OF DORIAN, AND I AM LEO, SON OF APOLLO, NOW YOU KNOW US."  RAIZO WAS SURPRISED, NOT BECAUSE MCSTEAMY CLAIMED HE WAS THE SON OF SOME GREEK GOD, BUT BECAUSE HE STILL HAD THE INCLINATION TO MAKE UP STORIES EVEN AFTER RAIZO HAD JUST GONE THROUGH A NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCE.

 YET HE ASKED, TRYING TO KEEP HIS TONE CALM “BY APOLLO, YOU MEAN....".

 MCSTEAMY ROLLED HIS EYES "THE GOD OF THE SUN, OF MEDICINE...HOW MANY DO YOU KNOW??”.

 THAT WAS THE LAST STRAW. THESE GUYS ARE EITHER TRYING TO PRANK ME OR ARE TOTALLY CRAZY, RAIZO THOUGHT. HE GOT UP NEGLECTING THE PAINFUL PROTESTS OF HIS BODY AND STARTED TO LEAVE.

  HOWEVER,LEO STOOD IN FRONT OF HIM BLOCKING HIS PATH “YOU ARE NOT IN A CONDITION TO LEAVE RAIZO AND IT’S THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT. I SUGGEST YOU WAIT UNTIL DAWN, YOU NEED REST.I’LL ARRANGE A DIFFERENT QUARTERS FOR YOU TOMORROW.BESIDES, YOU HAVE NOWHERE TO GO”.

“ANYWHERE IS BETTER THAN THIS SORRY EXCUSE FOR A THEME HO...WHATEVER IT IS” SAYING THAT, HE SHOVED LEO ASIDE AND WENT TO THE DOOR. AS HE TURNED TO FOLLOW HIM, LEO THOUGHT HE SAW SOMETHING MOVE OUTSIDE THE WINDOW, BUT DISREGARDING IT FOR A DEER, HE STARTED AFTER RAIZO, WHO WAS OUT OF THE DOORWAY AND OUT BY THEN.

   IT WAS DARK OUTSIDE SO RAIZO COULDNT MAKE OUT MUCH OF THE SURROUNDINGS, BUT HE WAS SURE THERE WAS A FOREST ABOUT HALF A MILE IN FRONT OF HIM.STRANGE,AS FAR AS HE KNEW,NO FOREST EXISTED IN VEGAS,AND THERE WAS NO CHANCE OF ONE GROWING IN A DAY.WHERE WAS HE REALLY?THERE WERE MANY MORE QUESTIONS POPPING UP IN HIS MIND, SO HE THOUGHT IT WAS BETTER TO WAIT AND GET THINGS SORTED OUT WITH SOMEONE IN-CHARGE AND IN CONTROL OF THEIR SENSES THAN JUST WALK AWAY IN PYJAMAS, OR WHATEVER IT WAS THAT COVERED HIS LOWER BODY.

 HE COULD HEAR LEO AND ZOLTAN CALLING OUT HIS NAME FROM BEHIND HIM YET WITHOUT HEEDING TO THEIR CALLS, HE KEPT WALKING ON.

 AND HE WOULD'VE CONTINUED,BUT THE FOREST THAT LOOMED IN FRONT OF HIM NOW SEEMED FOREBODING.HE REALLY DIDN'T KNOW WHERE THIS PLACE WAS, MUCH LESS FIND SOMEONE TO SORT OUT HIS PROBLEMS.SEEING NO OTHER WAY OUT, HE THAT DECIDED HE SHOULD GO BACK, BUT BEFORE HE COULD TURN A HAND CLAMPED ON HIS FACE AND THERE WAS A SWEET SMELL.HE THOUGHT IT WAS LEO BUT HE COULD HEAR LEO AND ZOLTAN STILL SHOUTING FROM A DISTANCE BEHIND HIM SO IT WAS SURELY SOMEONE ELSE.HE TRIED TO FREE HIMSELF FROM THE PERSON’S IRON GRASP BUT TO NO AVAIL,THE HAND DIDNT BUDGE FROM HIS MOUTH.THE ATTACKER WAS HOLDING HIM IN A LOCK WITH HIS OTHER HAND UNDER RAIZO’S ARM AND PALM ON THE NECK. AS IF THE PAIN WASNT ENOUGH, NOW RAIZO COULDNT THINK CLEARLY,THAT SMELL WAS OBSCURING HIS THINKING CAPABILITY.HE FELT THE PERSON HOLDING HIM STAB HIM IN HIS HIP WITH WHAT FELT LIKE AN EXTREMELY THIN KNIFE,OR WAS THAT AN INJECTION?.

  'SH#T'............LIGHTS OUT.

                  LEO GRABBED HIS SWORD, AS HE HAD FORGOTTEN HIS BOW AT THE ARENA AND DASHED AFTER THE ATTACKER, WHO LEO, FROM HIS ATTIRE, FIGURED WAS AN ASSASSIN. "NO LEO WAIT! HE’S PROBABLY GOING INTO THE FOREST OF ACERBUS!!’ ZOLTAN WARNED FROM BEHIND.

            THE ASSASSIN HAD HAULED RAIZO ON HIS BACK AND YET RAN FAST AS A HORSE.LEO REMEMBERED A THING HE HAD ONCE READ ABOUT THE ASSASSINS OF ACERBUS, OF ALL THE THINGS PEOPLE CALLED THEM O’ER THE CENTURIES,THEY HATED IT TO BE CALLED COWARDS, SO HE DID JUST THAT, "STOP!!...STOP YOU SPINELESS COWARD!"

WELL, HE THOUGHT THE ASSASSIN MIGHT TURN AND STOP FOR A DUEL BUT INSTEAD, HE TURNED AND A COUPLE SHORT THROWING KNIVES SHOT OUT THE BRACERS OF HIS HAND AND STRAIGHT INTO LEO’S LEFT CHEST.THEY WERE POISONED, AND LEO IMMEDIATELY FIGURED THAT BECAUSE HE EVEN THOUGH HE KEPT RUNNING, HE FELT HIS LEGS GIVING AWAY UNDER HIM SLOWLY AND SOON, HE FELL.HE SAW THAT THE ASSASSIN WAS AT THE EDGE OF THE FOREST NOW AS ZOLTAN CAUGHT UP WITH HIM.

"GO AFTER HIM." LEO SAID, BUT ZOLTAN CONSIDERED THE ODDS. THE ASSASSIN PROBABLY HAD A COMPANY WAITING IN THE FOREST INCASE HE NEEDED BACKUP.IT WOULD BE FOOLISH TO WALK INTO AN AMBUSH.

"WELL YOU’RE HURT, AND I DON’T EVEN KNOW THE GUY! I’M TAKING YOU BACK." HE HELPED LEO STAND UP AND PROPPED HIM ON ONE HAND OVER HIS NECK.THE ASSASSIN HAD DISAPPEARED INTO THE FOREST WITH RAIZO

 “MAY THE STARS WATCH O’ER YOU RAIZO”

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