"You don't have a knife to save you this time." He sneered.
Tobal felt a weak sick feeling in his stomach and realized he was probably in for quite a beating. Ox still held a grudge against Tobal from that time in sanctuary when they had argued over Melanie. Tobal had only saved himself from a beating by instinctively pulling a knife and threatening the Ox with it. This time though no weapons were allowed. It was simply hand to hand warfare with no rules.
Tobal assumed a boxer's stance and tried a few jabs to no effect. Cautiously they circled the ring looking for an opening. Then the Ox put down his head and charged straight at Tobal. He tried moving out of the way but was caught by a huge hairy arm that turned him around. Next a hammer exploded in the pit of his stomach and solar plexus doubling him up. He felt the bile rise in his throat as all the fight ran out of him. He lay in agony on the cave floor gasping for breath curled up in the fetal position trying to protect his stomach from further damage. Dimly he heard the referee call out time. Tobal had just lost his first match in less than two minutes. His eyes were stinging with tears.
Tobal was surprised when Joy re-challenged the brute from the first fight. It was easy to see there was no such thing as fairness in these matches. Anybody was fair game and the smaller and weaker got picked on more often than the bigger and stronger ones. If you were big and powerful things generally went your way. It didn't seem right but life was unfair at times and the strong often did win. It was brutal survival of the fittest in its most primitive form and wasn't very pretty.
Tobal tasted blood in his mouth as he sat watching Joy. She handled herself remarkably well this time and it was easy to see she had more stamina than the brute. She found an opening and finished the match by landing a kick solidly in the groin of the brute to the applause of the watching crowd. It was then that Tobal realized he had to be really careful. He had to learn a heck of a lot more about fighting than he knew right now. He also realized Joy was right in fighting after her first defeat. It was the only chance she really had to move ahead and it didn't cost her anything.
He looked over the unchallenged members of the group carefully. Being a looser he had the opportunity to challenge and in a spark of anger challenged one of the remaining members that hadn't fought yet. In a burst of fury and lightning movements he had tripped and thrown the person out of the ring over the rope. The referee called the match and Tobal was the winner. In a flash of sportsmanship he went over and helped the other person back to his feet and they started talking together.
"Man, what got into you?" The other person said. "You were like a demon or something. I never even had a chance. It was all over before I knew what was happening."
"That's how my fight with Ox went." He laughed. "I never saw it coming either."
His name was Jake and soon he and Tobal were hanging out together sparring and learning everything they could from any of the others that were willing to spend some time training with them.