Gritting his teeth and trying to ignore the headache that was starting up, Zora forced himself to up his pace to an all-out sprint. Rheydi’s laboured breathing soon vanished into oblivion, drowned out by the distant screams of excitement from the watching crowds and the regular pounding of feet on grass.
Then a sharper sound cut through: boots slapping down on stone. Looking up, Zora saw that the other Champion had already gained the steps.
Pacenexiasde. Muscles screaming in protest, Zora tried to put on an extra spurt, but as soon as the other guy realised that Zora was hot on his tail, he upped his own game.
Fifty steps. I counted them last night. Zora took them two at a time, trying to gain on the other Champion, but it was useless. From afar, he could hear the chanting crowds bellowing out his name and what must have been the name of the other Champion. Zora glared at the man’s back as they reached the last twenty stairs, moving out to the side a little to give him a clearer run so that he wouldn’t be slowed by tripping on the man’s heels or kicked in the head. The balls of his feet were beginning to ache. Ten steps left—first one to cross the line… blast, if I only had enough breath to freeze him in place for just a second… .With five steps to go, just as the other Champion’s foot left the penultimate one, Zora flung himself diagonally up the stairs, catching hold of the other Champion and half-spinning him in midair. They both went flying into one of the braziers and Zora winced as, yet again, his back took the brunt of the blow as he slammed into the ground.