My Reign Is Over
Urasina's note: This took place late last year.
The Pastel Zafara leaped at me, clearly going for a kick to my face. But like all the other attacks she had used so far in this arena fight, I could see it coming from a mile away. A quick twist of my body and a slash with one wing knocked her out of the air.
“Too easy,” I thought to myself, charging up to the stunned Zafara, intent on trampling her.
She rolled out of my way, but I could see that she was tired. So I turned sharply and pounced on her, pinning her down on her back. She struggled to get out from under my hooves, but simply couldn’t. As a Speckled Uni mare, I was much bigger and heavier than she was.
All that struggling quickly wore the Zafara out, and she raised one front paw in the sign of surrender. I had won again, and remained the champion of the Sahkmet Arena and Battledome League (SABL).
I got off the Zafara and used my Light magic to heal her before helping her back onto her paws. She smiled gratefully.
“I never stood a chance against you, Urasina,” she said. “Maybe someday I’ll be strong enough to try again, but for now, congratulations on keeping your champion crown.”
I smiled back, but my heart wasn’t in it. I had been the champion for a long time now, and there simply was no fun in it anymore. I was lucky if I got a contender every two or three months, and none of them had beaten me. Every fight was different, of course, but when you’re as skilled as I am, not every fight is a challenge.
As my owner, an adult human male named BG, cleaned me up before we went to bed, he could tell how I was feeling.
“You’re not having fun being SABL champion, I can tell,” he said.
“Yeah, that’s exactly it,” I replied. “It was fun for the first few months, but now, there simply hasn’t been a challenge in ages.”
I thought for a moment as my owner brushed out my tail.
“Do you think… It’s time for me to retire?” I asked hesitantly.
“That’s your decision to make, Urasina,” he answered.
BG was like that. He’d give me advice if I asked, or if the situation merited it, but most of the time he let me figure things out on my own.
“I’m going to have to think this over,” I sighed as he finished with his brushing and I climbed up into the bed, ready for a good night’s sleep.
The next day, I went to watch a lower-ranked SABL fight. As I watched the two Neopets in the ring below, I couldn’t help but notice the fire and passion they were showing. They wanted to get stronger, and they wanted to do well. I simply didn’t feel that passion anymore, largely because I could go no higher in the ranks.
As I left the arena after the fight, I looked at the obsidian plaque on the wall that showed the champions of SABL. My name was the most recent one on the list, and my reign had lasted quite a long time. Not the longest reign, of course, but a long one.
“I think it is time to resign,” I thought to myself. “I’d better talk to everyone.”
When I got home, I rallied the rest of the family: my many siblings, BG, and Kouren, the mighty Light Faerie who had attached herself to my family.
“I’m considering resigning as SABL champion,” I told them all. “There’s simply no challenge, or fun, in the arena anymore. I saw a fight today where the two challengers, despite being low rank, were clearly having fun, and their enthusiasm and passion showed. I just don’t feel that anymore.”
My siblings all looked at each other, but none of them spoke up at first. It was Titance, the gigantic Tyrannian Uni stallion, who broke the silence.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” he asked. “Ever since Giant’s Pit was neutralized, being SABL champion has been your primary job and source of income.”
“I know, but maybe it’s time I looked for greener pastures, so to speak,” I replied. “You know how it is, wanting to do something new, if only to experience a change.”
“You know me so well,” he responded, seemingly pleased with my answer.
BG spoke up next.
“As I’ve said countless times in the past, I’ll continue to support you no matter what you wind up deciding to do,” he reassured me. “But this is still your decision to make.”
“I think that if you don’t enjoy it anymore, you should resign,” Ludroth, the Darigan Peophin mare, said next. “You’ll keep your crown, at least, and that might be better than losing it in a fight.”
“I agree,” Pyoga, the Royal Girl Peophin mare, added.
The others voiced similar opinions.
“So we’re in agreement then?” I asked finally. “You guys agree that it’s time I looked for something else to do?”
Everyone was, even Kouren.
“Then it’s settled,” I said. “I’ll go talk to the SABL directors tomorrow.”
The next morning I headed for the arena, with my sister and squire, Ming the Royal Girl Bori, riding on my back. One of the directors, a brown Xweetok, was overseeing the cleaning of the arena, but when I approached, he gave me his full attention.
“Do you need something?” he asked me kindly.
“I need to talk to all the directors at once,” I said. “There’s something big I have to tell you guys.”
About fifteen minutes later, the three directors had gathered with me and Ming.
“I’m resigning as champion, effective immediately,” I announced. “I’m simply not enjoying myself in the arena anymore. I need to seek greener pastures.”
One of the other directors opened his mouth, clearly intent on trying to convince me to stay, but the Xweetok glared at him.
“I understand, Urasina,” he said. “And while I’m sorry to see you go, I know why you made that choice. I wish you the best in your future endeavors.”
“B-But you were our main attraction!” the other director cried out.
“If all you cared about was money, then I should have left a long time ago,” I retorted sharply, which made him look very ashamed of himself.
“We’re going to be without a champion for another month or so, but we can handle it,” the third director added. “Thank you for being a part of SABL for so long, Urasina. We’ll leave the champion’s booth available to you and your family as long as you want.”
“You’ll always be a champion to us,” the Xweetok added, smiling.
With that sorted out, and my resignation officially handed in, I sent Ming back home as I wandered through the arena. I was going to miss it, but I knew in my heart that this was the right decision.
As I rounded one corner near the live-in fighters’ quarters, I almost collided with a Striped Uni stallion. It was Arvakur, a former member of the Thieves Guild. I had accosted him as he tried to commit a crime, and threatened to kill him if he didn’t change his ways. Now he was a live-in fighter, which kept him safe from retribution from his old allies. He was still rather low in the ranks, but was trying hard.
And he looked absolutely stunned.
“Urasina!” he said. “I heard! Why are you quitting?”
“There’s no fun in it anymore, Arvakur,” I replied. “Being champion, with no worthy challengers, is boring. My passion for the fight seems to have burned out.”
“But I’ve been working so hard, so I can be strong like you someday,” he retorted. “Now how am I going to get the chance to fight you again?”
“If you want me to kick your tail again, I’m always willing,” I retorted just as sharply. “But even though I’m done as SABL champion, I’ll still be involved in the organization. And I’ll still be keeping an eye on you.”
He didn’t seem satisfied with my answer, but he knew enough not to push his luck.
“Listen, I’ll make an exception for you,” I said. “If you want to fight me, just let me know, and I’ll do so. It won’t affect your ranking, of course, but it’ll help you get stronger. And maybe one day you’ll be the champion.”
Arvakur sighed, but nodded.
“OK,” he replied. “But you’d better keep in shape, because someday we WILL fight again. And you’d better not lose until I defeat you myself!”
“I look forward to that day,” I snorted, amused.
Once Arvakur had left, I continued my rounds of the arena. I paused for a long moment in front of the champion’s plaque, thinking back on my climb to the top of the rankings, before sighing and turning to head back home.
I felt a lot more glum about my decision than I had thought I would. Maybe I did still have that passion for the fight. Or maybe Arvakur’s words had impacted me more than I thought. Either way, I was having a hard time coming to terms with my decision.
My siblings understood that I was feeling rather moody, so they gave me my space. Even BG let me be, something I was both happy for and sad about. I really wanted someone to tell me I had done the right thing.
And that someone was Titance.
He took me aside as the sun began to set, then gently nuzzled me.
“I know you doubt your decision, but I also know you did the right thing,” he said kindly.
“I agree with you, but that doesn’t make the decision any easier,” I sighed sadly. “Maybe I should have thought it out more.”
“You tend to think a little too much when it’s something big like this,” he replied. “Sometimes you just have to follow your heart. And I know your heart was telling you that it was time.”
“I guess you’re right,” I responded, feeling a tiny bit better. “But the sting of this decision is going to take a while to fade.”
I looked up at my big brother.
“Titance… What am I going to do with myself now?”
Author’s note: I’d like to thank my friend Kaz for helping me brainstorm this story, and for letting me include her character Arvakur in it.