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Arram Draper hung on the rail of the great arena, hoisting himself until his belly was bent over the polished stone. It was the only way he could get between the two bulky men who blocked his view. He knew it was risky, but he couldn’t waste his first chance to see the gladiators when they marched into the huge stadium. His father and grandfather were back at their seats, arguing about new business ventures. They weren’t paying attention, waving him off when he asked to visit the privies and never realizing he’d squirmed his way down to the rail instead.
Apart from them, he was alone. There were no friends from school for company. They all said he was too young. He was eleven—well, ten, in truth, but he told them he was eleven. Even that didn’t earn him friends among his older schoolfellows. Still, he wasn’t a baby! If he didn’t see the games with his family today, he might never get the chance, and he’d learned only last night he might not see Papa again for two years, even three. Carthak was a costly voyage for Yusaf Draper, and his new venture would take him away for a long time. But in the morning, Arram would be able to tell the older students that he had watched the games right from the arena wall!
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