"Kalon, Kalon wake up. The guards are coming"
Kalon woke to see a young sixteen year-old boy dressed in rags, with scruffy blonde hair and bags under his eyes. The boy was in distress, his eyes wide and panicked.
"Terrance, calm down. What's happening?" Kalon asked with concern.
"The guards are coming, it's time for the hunt. We're gonna die Kalon! Today is the day we die!" Terrance replied.
Kalon looked to Terrance and then to the stairwell in which the guards were walking down. The sounds of their foot-steps getting closer. The fear started to corrupt Kalon's heart as well now. Deep down he knew Terrance could very well be right, today may be the day they die.
Today would be the day the young noble mage apprentices would practice their skills on the slaves in a hunt. Any slave that had left a bad impression on a noble or simply couldn't keep up with the work they had been assigned would be sent to be the prey on a hunt.
Kalon had always had a bad attitude towards the nobles, he was always spiteful towards them for looking down on the weak. After five years of leniency they had finally decided to remove him from their service and the easiest way to do that was to have him killed.
Kalon had a plan though, if he and Terrance could manage to evade the apprentices and make it out of the forest, they would be free. They would live their lives on the run, but in Kalon's eyes anything was better than service under Duke Carlyle.
The two had been moved to the castle's dungeon while the hunt was being prepared. They had already been there for two days now. Supplied with barely any food or water, the two were already worse for wear and now they were expected to entertain some noble mage brats in a hunt.
"Whatever we do Terrance we have to stick together, I have a plan." Kalon whispered as he heard the guards getting ever closer.
"Okay, I trust you."
Terrance and Kalon had been brought to the castle on the same day after all, how could they not trust each other. The two had been through thick and thin. The long days obeying the mages every command, whether it was cleaning their quarters or simply serving as a target for their unbridled anger. The two had faced it all together.
Seconds later the guards entered the room. One guard was short and thin with long orange hair, tied in a neat pony-tail. The man had a freckle covered face and a large scruffy beard. The second guard to enter Kalon's line of sight was a short, fat, blonde haired man, it was as if he had been stealing all of the first guard's food. The latter was the first to speak.
"Rise and shine little lambs, it's time for the slaughter," the guard yelled.
"Heh, don't frighten them Paul, we need them at their best if we want some good entertainment," replied the orange haired man.
"True that, Dave. I can't wait!" Paul said with a grimace that made Kalon and Terrance flinch with fear.
Paul walked to the cell, key in hand, smiling fervently. He unlocked the cell door and held out his hand. What he held were two orange pills that to Kalon looked nothing but ordinary.
"Take one each." he said.
Kalon and Terrance looked at each other with hesitation before grabbing a pill each. The two sat awaiting further instruction seeing as, if they were to act without command they would be severely punished.
"Bring these lowly slaves some water, Dave!" yelled Paul.
Dave already had the two cups in hand, as he started walking towards the two slaves. He reached out with a smile offering the two the cups.
"Now before you take those." Paul headed towards the two.
As Paul approached Kalon felt a sense of foreboding wash over him sending shivers down his spine.
"Aarrrgh!" he yelped as he spat blood from his mouth.
Kalon had been sent flying into the wall of the cell. Paul had used mana to strengthen his leg and had kicked Kalon in the ribs with all his might. He had broken multiple ribs in the process.
"Why!?" he asked in confusion as he lay there struggling to breathe.
"I think I have internal bleeding, f*ck I'm gonna die before the hunt even begins." He thought.
Paul turned to face a mortified Terrance who could do nothing but tremble in fear. He then took hold of Terrance's left arm with both hands.
"Arrrrrghh, please no!"
Paul had cleanly broken Terrance's arm to the point that the bone could be seen protruding from his forearm, blood gushing onto the floor.
"You bastard!" Kalon spat.
"Silence rat!" Paul replied while throwing the other boy to his side.
As Paul was headed towards Kalon for another round, Dave interjected.
"We should stop now before you accidentally kill them Paul." Dave said with knitted eyebrows.
"It's fine, those are A-grade healing pills. The higher ups wanted them at peak performance for the hunt. It's only fair we inflict a little pain for wasting such valuable pills. They'll heal anyways, right?" Paul responded with a smile.
"I still think we should stop now, if they die we're f*cked. The Duke will not be pleased."
"Okay, okay. You're such a spoil-sport Dave. I was having good fun here. Give them their glasses of water, they can take their pills now." Paul grumbled.
Dave headed over to Terrance and then to Kalon. The two immediately gulped down their pills with the help of the water. Seconds later an aura enveloped the two.
Cracking could be heard as the bones of the two shifted back into place. Terrance's wound closed at a rapid pace, as could be expected from an A-grade healing pill. In just thirty seconds the two had completely healed and were in fact better than even before Paul had beaten them.
The two boys were renewed with energy, it felt to them like their hunger had been sated and they had slept for a whole day.
Kalon glared at Paul with rage and disgust.
"F*cking bastard. Simply because Terrance and I are mana-less, you treat us like animals. The slaves with mana are at-least shown the tiniest shred of kindness. If I make it out of this hunt alive, I will do everything in my power to end you. Even if that means becoming an 'animal' like that of which you think I am." Kalon thought, letting the anger flow from within.
Paul then interrupted Kalon's rage fuelled trance. "Okay, get up, slaves. It's time to go and get ready for the release."
Kalon and Terrance stood only to have Dave place shackles on their wrists. It wasn't like they could do anything to escape anyways, they were mana-less they had no hope against two of the castle Guards who were at least C-Rank mages.
The guards started to walk towards the stairs tugging Kalon and Terrance along in their shackles. The two slaves looked ahead towards the bright light at the end of the staircase. Kalon hadn't seen sunlight for two days now and despite knowing what was about to come he couldn't help but feel excited for some reason.