Elkay shrugged his shoulders, shifting his armour, as he gazed upon the cheering crowds all around him. His armour, designed to both protect him and conceal his identity, was hindering his view quite a bit, he hadn’t really noticed until now just how many beings were watching. By his feet was Elefthras, his defeated Thanatian opponent, collapsed in a heap from exhaustion.
Something buzzed near Elkay’s ear-hole. A little microphone, a direct connection to both the House Fighter Leader and the Raptor herself, connected to a small band around his neck. Two bickering voices, crackling at each other.
“Rethan, they want to see your face.”
“Why spoil the mystery?”
Elkay considered them both. The House Fighter Leader liked Elkay’s mysterious status, his unknown identity, to the point that he had never actually asked who Elkay was. He respected Elkay’s concealment, if only to make more money for the Dessaron Battle Arena. But the crowds were baying for answers. They’d been patiently waiting for Elkay to reveal himself for so long now. The only problem was that Elkay was supposed to be dead.
“Now is the time,” Elkay muttered. “Can you turn on my external mic please?”
“Fine. End your mystery,” the House Fighter Leader sighed. “Your mic is on.”
Elkay picked up his axes and holstered them, then turned to the crowd. “My oh my, you are a very excited crowd today, aren’t you?” His helmet muffled his voice slightly. It wasn’t uncommon for House Fighters to speak to their crowds, but this was the first time Elkay had done so. “You all want to know who I am?”
The crowd erupted into a loud cheer, a mashed up chant of phrases like “reveal yourself!” and “who are you?” Elkay took that as a compliment, then decided to wander around the small arena, specially designed for live battles.
“Are you sure you want to end this mystery?” Elkay goaded the crowd, causing them to cheer louder. Now they were chanting more consistently.
“Are you sure?”
A bellowing cry of “WE ARE SURE!” echoed across the arena and out towards the rest of the city.
Elkay smiled underneath his helmet. “Very well then. But do not blame me if my identity is too… shocking for you…”
The Rethan reached round towards the clasp on the back of his helmet and undid it. He tugged at the helmet, teasing the crowd, who had gone eerily silent. Finally, in a single, swift motion, Elkay pulled off his helmet and casually threw it to the ground.
At first, no one said anything. Elkay wasn’t really sure what to expect, but the ongoing silence wasn’t at all what he thought would happen. With a little wave, Elkay began to explain.
“I know, it is surprising to see one who was apparently killed, who you all buried and mourned for, someone who is now back amongst the living. I was surprised myself. I felt myself drifting away, dying, only to be woken up, beaten and exiled, as if I was some sort of criminal. Meanwhile, my attempted killer and his… sponsors… are still out there…”
Slowly, the non-Rethan parts of the crowd began to cheer. It had taken them a moment to realise who Elkay was, and the fact that a non-bastard Rethan politician was fighting in their favourite gladiator arena filled them with joy.
“I have been gone for too long. I hated having to hide away. I despised leaving behind my job, my duty, my life. It is an upsetting, almost unbelievable thing, and I do not expect you to believe me. But I have proof of my claims, which I can show you all if you wish.”
The Rethans in the crowd seemed unsure at first. But as everyone else cheered, they began to cheer as well. After all, Elkay had always been popular among them.
“There is one more thing I must tell you though. My reveal here today, it is not without purpose. You all deserve to know who I am. And the Rethans among you deserve a better leader. Tell me, have things been… good, while I have been gone?”
Many of the Rethans began to shout rather than cheer. An unusual cry of “NO!” echoed underneath the chaotic cheering.
“I thought not. It’s the High General, isn’t it? He doesn’t seem to care any more, does he?”
The Rethans began shouting and cheering alongside everyone else. Elkay had struck a chord with them.
“Maybe it’s time we did something about it, don’t you think? My fellow Rethans, my fellow vok, I stand before you today, to announce my candidacy for the position of High General.”
Without warning, the crowd erupted with applause, chanting Elkay’s name. Not just Rethans, but every being in that arena was cheering for him. Elkay smiled and waved, blown away by everyone’s support. Perhaps he had a chance after all…