For this will be your final meal until your slumber takes you. Both Pachyderm and Burro heard this haunting phrase before the evening of the games. They would swing swords tomorrow for all to see. The entire Colosseum would be full, and this fight would mean everything to them alone. To the onlookers this was an exciting day. They would dress in their best and eat and drink until their hearts content. They are here for the merriment and to place bets on the winner. "Oh, how they would never know how hard he has trained for this day and how he was putting his life on the line for a modicum of respect he may never receive," Burro thought. He was from a lowly Burro family in the valley that had to work hard for everything they had and somehow ended up here. Fighting the Pachyderm in a Colosseum full of spectators for their sick enjoyment. He was interviewed by one of those uppity Swans from the Spartacus Gazette who would put her own spin on his beliefs. She would of course say he was fighting for Burros everywhere when really, he was just trying to make some money for his family to survive. Those Swans loved to talk up the lowly Burros and turn their lives into a rising from the ashes story for entertainment. Pachyderm was from a well to do family. They had made a name for themselves in trade. Derm as his friends called him, really did not want to enter this battle but he had no other way of gaining his fathers respect. His father, a hard Elephant had come from nothing. Papa Derm was tough on all his boys making them train daily with little approval in the name of toughening them up. If Derm lost this fight he might as well die because he certainly could never show his face at home again. He pondered the answers he had given Swan and how she kept comparing him to his brothers. “I am going to be a laughingstock even after I'm dead!” thought Derm The morning of the melee had arrived, and the stands were roaring with animal sounds. “What Pigs!” thought Burro to take such enjoyment in others demise. There were banners from all of the sponsors waiving through the air profiting from this horrid event. Pachyderm saw his family in the audience and his father didn't even wave or smile. Both animals were called to center ring, they circled each other ready to trap or maim one another. They wanted this spectacle to last for a while as the fans had paid good money for tickets to this brawl. Derm had chosen a spear to be held with his tusk and Burro picked a sword that the newspaper had deemed the “blade of justice.” Round and round they went without a strike, the crowd was growing impatient. “Kill that dirty Burro!' someone yelled. That comment had really stunned Derm. Burro was his opponent meant to fight to the death but he still had respect for him. How could someone say something so horrible about this gladiator? “Murder that stupid Donkey!” "This was getting crazy," Derm thought. It was hard to focus on fighting this worthy opponent that he had trained with, ate with and slept near while obscenities were being yelled. Derm stopped suddenly in the middle of circling Burro and yelled, “We may be opponents, but we are equals here!” The crowd booed in disbelief. He turned to see his father's angry face. He didn't care, he wouldn't stand for this, if he was going to die anyway he might as well do it with dignity. Burro stopped and starred at the Pachyderm with incredulity. They were supposed to be killing each other not defending one another. Derm threw his sword down and told Burro to kill him, that he would be their puppet no longer. Being an animal of decency Burro discarded his weapon as well. The crowd went silent for a few minutes trying to figure out what was happening. Then they turned on the animals violently. They started to jump the stands and rush the two animals like a tsunami. Derm grabbed Burro and pushed him towards the door they came out of. The animals ran inside looking for an escape. The crowd backed them into a corner and Derm covered Burro with his bountiful body. Burro looked up and said, " you don't owe me this.” Derm looked at Burro while he was being attacked from the back and said, “Take care of your family, I have nothing to go home to." As the animals were stomping the selfless Pachyderm needing to make someone pay the Gazette was in the corner writing the story for Monday's paper. Burro was able to go back to his grateful family because the crowd was satisfied with Derm's sacrifice. He would often think of the Pachyderm and mourn the events that had transpired. They had mostly left him alone these days as the battles were henceforth deemed too merciless to be continued. Burro pondered how it always seemed to take a terrible sacrifice to change such things. Derm's family raised a plaque to him at home in his honor and spoke of his bravery often. “What more could he have wanted,” thought Burro, except maybe his life?"
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