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Ludus Gladiatorum of House Cronenii: Dacen Prime, Romulan Empire

Tigranian stood alone in his cell once more, the events of the day weighing heavily on his mind. Every single time he felt like maybe he could rise above his cursed existence, Selonia managed to remind him of how little dignity he had left.

Either Rellas or Tulan would die soon, and there was nothing he could do to stop it. Worse yet, Seranius said that Selonia had special plans for him. Would he have to face an opponent himself? Would he have to fight another brother-gladiator? Maybe Selonia merely wanted to parade him in front of her guests like some sick prize. In any case, Tigranian wanted no part of it. However, unless he somehow found a way to raise sword against her between now and that evening, it would be as inevitable as the rising dawn.

Tigranian paced back and forth across the dirt floor of his cell, the walls feeling even more claustrophobic than usual on this dark night. Emotions ran through his body, charging him like a lightning rod.

"I want nothing but their green blood flowing over my hands!" his soul screamed from inside his chest, but his mind knew that any hope of victory was futile. Even if he somehow managed to acquire enough weapons to arm his would-be army of slaves, the Romulan guards would cut them down like blades of grass in a hurricane with their particle weapons.

On the verge of tears of rage, he collapsed onto his knees and stared up at the stone ceiling overhead. The light from the burning wall sconces danced across its surface. He ran his fingers through his mangy head of dark hair, and took a breath. He yearned to hear Laria's voice speaking to him, telling him to stay strong, but just as Rellas had warned, his wife's words were nowhere to be found tonight.

There was only one left who could possibly help, even though he would laugh at the pleas of a fallen warrior.

"What else can I do?" Tigranian whispered as he felt his finger move to the ground. Slowly, he traced the tIq ghob in the sand in front of him. When it's comforting form calmed his eyes, he rose onto one knee and began to pray:

"Kahless the Unforgettable, source of all honor and glory, I know I have no right to speak your name aloud. I am a dishonored man, living a pathetic captive's existence. I have been unable to fulfill my oath to die. Instead, I live as a slave to my enemies. I deserve neither your mercy, nor your grace. Though, I beseech you, in your holy name, save those who I now suffer with.

They have not known your love or your honor. They did not choose this existence. They yearn to live and breathe as free men and women, striving forward towards your pure warrior ideals. Open their hearts and minds. Give them the means to fight and win against their oppressors. Lead them towards your eternal salvation! Give them victory, for I have seen their spirit and they are worthy of it!

If I have served you at all with honor in the past, make me your instrument in this noble quest. With fist, blade, or disruptor, give me the ability to strike back! Let my skill be of use for something more than the pleasure of honorless bIHnuchpu'. Let my hands taste the bile of my enemies one final time!

Even, if it costs the worthless existence of my life, I would gladly face Gre'thor and all the demons of Fek'lhr's hordes to make it so. For there is no greater dishonor, no greater shame, that I may face in this life or the next than to sit and do nothing while good men are slaughtered.

Send down your warrior angels, your Valkyries, from Sto'Vo'Kor and across the River of Blood. Have them ride forth on their wingeds'tarahkmey and guide our blades into the hearts of the Romulan beasts…"

Tigranian looked back towards the ceiling. He beseeched the heavens, hoping for even the smallest sign that his prayers were heard. However, only the agonizing quiet of his surroundings answered him.

He looked down again. Selonia's brand caught his eyes and his heart fell.

"No," he said shaking his head. "My pathetic prayers are not worth your consideration…"

He reached down to the ground and wiped away the symbol of his lost empire. The Heart of Virtue's valiant ability to rally the righteous around it, its deep symbolism of hope and glory, was lost to him forever.

With the last bit of energy left in his tired limbs, he crawled onto his wooden plank-bed and lay down. He closed his eyes and let the subterranean darkness wrap around him like a cold shroud. He felt like a discarded corpse left to rot away under the earth.

"I offered to Kahless to face Fek'lhr and all his demons when, in reality, I already have and failed…" Tigranian thought to himself. "This place is hell, and Selonia is the mistress of all the underworld's torments."


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