The octagon smelled rank of combat. Sweat, blood, aggression, anxiety, pain, fear, and rage all left their tell tale marks on the canvas. For Ilya, Fury of Ragnarok, the scent was home. He didn't dance around in a silly little pre bout ritual. He didn't bounce around like a fool. The Get of Fenris just stood, head bowed, waiting for his signal.
Many of the fighters underestimated him in their first matches. They saw his lack of height and thought that it meant he wasn't up to standard. Some took a second look at his bulk and considered the training that put him in this weight class, but in the end, they still underestimated him. "A man that chiseled shouldn't move so fast!" "Where did he come from?" "Explosive" "Definitive" "Unprecedented" It went on and on.
He didn't fight for the prize money. He didn't fight for the prestige. He didn't win for the glory or to advance in the tournament. He fought to win, and he won because that was his natural place in the order of combat. He didn't care that the magazines were calling him the number one rookie of all time. The media could go to hell and he would keep fighting whether or not he was under the bright lights.
The crowd chanted his name, but it just sounded like a dull pounding roar. The only voices he could hear were Sköll behind him, coaching him and reminding him not to drop the Veil, and the referee, telling when to start and when to stop.
"Center! You know the rules. Touch gloves. Return to your corner."
The rituals of the fight were calming. His mind was the eye of the storm about to be unleashed. Was it really that complex and artistic? No. It was just as simple as hear the bell and knock your enemies down.
Ilya surged to life with the bell, looking up at his foe for the first time as he barreled into him, knocking him down and pounding him into a glaze-eyed stupor. Round one knock-out, less than forty seconds.
He left the octagon with the crowd roaring their approval behind him.
If only it had been Soren instead of some human...