A character develops with experiences. He also develops with those around him. He has to be willing to allow people to get close to him in order to develop.
A lone wolf can only get so far in life.
By the time we returned to the courtyard, it was dark, and the torches were lit. The guards who had been escorting with William and I opened the main gates to let us through. What awaited us was a mob of gladiators cheering and congratulating me.
"The champion has returned!"
"Edward the Conqueror!"
All their cheering made me blush with embarrassment, but I was happy to have them as brothers.
"Ed, what happened to the others?" a younger gladiator walked up to me and asked. Turning my attention to the boy barely old enough to be called a man, I noticed it was John. He was close to Buch who went with me to the pit earlier today.
I bit my bottom lip and shook my head.
Silence overtook the courtyard as we had a moment of silence for those who have left us.
"They would have been happy to see you come back," Darrel spoke, breaking the silence. He was the oldest out of all the gladiators. The story had it that he had been here since the beginning of the games, but I never believed those stories.
Darrel was the trainer that Aldon had bought from another magister. While skilled in the way of the sword, he no longer had the strength to compete in brute strength.
"Cheer up guys! The master has given us forty barrels of liquor to celebrate Edwards accomplishments!" William announced lifting the spirits of all the gladiators.
"LIQUOR!" They yelled so loud that the magister would have been able to hear it from his estate.
The only thing these gladiators did better than fight, was drink. Forty barrels may sound like a lot, but for over a hundred gladiators… well, let's just say a gladiators or two got a black eye or two fighting each other for more liquor.
While the rest of the gladiators were drinking their hearts out, I quietly snuck away. "John, why aren't you with the others, it's rare that you guys get liquor to drink.
"Did Buch die well?" John asked.
Taking a second to think about the question I answered the best way I could, "he fitting of a gladiator." Although I had seen Buch's head get taken off, I thought it would be too much for the boy to take in.
Tears formed in the boy's eyes, and I didn't blame him, John was only fourteen and had lost everything. They killed his family and sold him as a slave. When he finally found someone, they too were stripped away from him.
"John, Buch wouldn't have wanted to see you like this."
"How about I teach how to wield that sword," I suggest pointing at the wooden sword he had been using to beat a straw target.
He looked at with red eyes from all the crying he had done, "Teach me to be as strong as you."
"It will take a lot of time and hard work, but if you're up for it I make you my second." I had learned this from William on the way back. As a champion I could take on a second, someone who I would train as my apprentice that would fight in my stead when I was to die or step down. Most champions found training an apprentice a waste of time and didn't have one, but I didn't want to just make him my second.
Buch had been kind to me during my time here, and I felt guilty being there to watch him die while doing nothing. I wanted to amend by taking John out of the system and give him a better life.
"Yes master, I am willing to be your second," instantly standing up straight with his arms to his side like a soldier in the army.
Chuckling, "no need to call me master, just Edward will be fine." This should bring some spice to my life, I thought to myself, "show me what you can do."
As the rest of the gladiators were having fun drinking and partying on the other side of the courtyard John was practicing with Edward teaching him on the side.
Noon the next day.
"Your feet should be farther apart. You don't want to lose your balance. That's good. Now pivot as you deliver the stroke, get all your weight behind the blade." Edward could be seen showing John how to best deliver a sidestroke when he spotted William enter the yard.
"You're taking quite a liking to the boy," William commented with a smile.
As I walk over I give him a big hug, "back from the Pit in one piece I see." William had gone to fight to maintain his champion title early in the morning today, but knowing William no one could possibly be his match.
"You're going to have to put your training to a hold. Something big is happening," His voice was grim, and he had an expression of thinking what to do next. "Come with me and bring your apprentice with you."
Not knowing what to expect I quickly follow William to the front gate with my apprentice in tow.