Hera thought herself to be a kind person.
Her partner pressed soft kisses to her skin, letting them melt into the image of domestic bliss that they had created. The styled balcony they occupied was the one that provided the best view of the grand stage.
She smoothed down Callista's brown hair, the texture impossibly silky and smooth despite the grime that surrounded them.
The woman peered up at her curiously. Their attention was quickly returned, however, to the scene before them by a scream of pain.
Callista breathed out a shaky exhale against her skin. It sent goosebumps rippling across Hera's body, and she absentmindedly gave the brunette a pat on the head.
A boy stood before them. He was young, no more than fourteen at most, but there was a ferocity in his eyes that had sparked interest when he had initially stepped onto the center stage. He was scrawny, as all street rats were, but his confidence had been an alluring show.
It seemed, though, that both his bravado and his life would come to an end here.
His opponent snarled, an ugly sound that bounced with surprising volume among the deafening cheers of the crowd. He was a bulky thing. Clearly experienced in a combative trade, evident by muscles shining with a sheen of sweat and the martial stance he took.
She wondered what the man had done wrong. A skilled talent like him did not end up in her fighting ring without unhealthy amounts of desperation.
A roaring yell was all the warning the boy got before the man lunged, knocking him down to the floor. Agonized shrieks ripped from his throat as the man slammed his head continuously into the concrete below. The boy writhed, frail arms beating at his opponent before they too were shattered upon the floor. His screams cut off soon enough, ending with a loud crack that sent blood and flesh streaking across the floor of the stage.
Hera viewed the scene apathetically from her private balcony. Callista pressed closer against her, a desperate bid for favor that had amused her enough to allow her to stay.
Dear Callista and the boy dead below were not so different. Hera ran another hand through the woman’s hair, feeling a gaze burn into the back of her head. Her lips tugged up into a smile at that, causing the brunette to stiffen with a renewed hope shining in her eyes.
The stage was being cleaned up, the victorious man being led away to the jeers of the crowd. Red would likely decorate the arena for the foreseeable future. Hera noted the difficulty the staff were having in trying to clean up the mess, eyeing the disfigured body with disdain.
Her mood instantly soured. The hand in Callista's hair suddenly pulled, forcing the woman’s head to snap back with a startled yelp of pain.
Hera shoved her away. Her eyes were icy as they ran over her shaking figure, clearly terrified beyond her wits. It made her feel a little better.
“Throw it out.” Hera snapped with finality, waving for the guards to dispose of her trash. She heard Callista break into sobs as she realized what was happening. There was a terrible scraping sound as the woman attempted to dig her nails into the floor’s stone tiles, accompanied by screaming apologies and begging for another chance.
Everything went ignored as Hera turned back towards the center stage. It seemed like the cleaning crew had given up trying to scrape away the entirety of the bloody mess, and had instead opted to go ahead and signal the start of the next round.
It would’ve caught attention, if Callista was even a bit quieter. Instead, heads in the audience snapped towards her balcony. Hera dug her nails into the soft fluff of her armchair, thoroughly annoyed at the spectacle.
The guards took notice of her mood and began tugging at the sobbing woman with more urgency. All noise faded as Callista was fully lifted and swiftly removed from her presence.
The silence fed the gaping hole in her chest, and she melted into her plush seat. Hera sighed. She let everything else fade as she tilted her head back, feeling like she was sinking into the fabric.
A man redirected everyone’s attention back to the center stage. He waved dramatically and introduced their next combatant, shoving forward an older teenager with a particularly nasty scar etched on his face.
Hera eyed them with a tinge of disinterest, but graced them with her full attention when a metal cage was placed into the arena with a loud slam. Barking could be heard from the inside.
The pit in her stomach tugged, becoming a vortex that swallowed all of her emotion and left behind a withering husk of apathy. There was no reaction from her when the announcer exclaimed with a sadistic joy that a special round would take place.
The man on the stage skipped away in inhumanly large strides, leaving behind a teenager whose face slowly grew white with dawning terror.
His death warrant was signed the moment the man leaped out of the arena with a cackle. The electric lock on the metal cage snapped undone, and from the darkness emerged a full pack of rabid, hungry dogs.
A bone-deep wariness settled in her. Hera took in the massacre of a fight in full detail, shivering as she felt even her own bodily warmth desert her. Her eyes were carefully blank as she watched.
It wasn’t long before he fell, muscles tearing under fangs and tendons ripping under claws.
It wasn’t long before she fell, eyes drifting shut and body fully relaxing under the lullaby of wailing shrieks and sadistic jeering.