Bucephalus and Incitatus pull the chariot around the arena’s curve toward Quintus’s last opponent, a German gripping a throwing axe. Quintus hears the team’s hooves, their frothy snorts, his own heartbeat. He raises his javelin.
The warriors release their weapons simultaneously. Quintus’s javelin pierces the German’s neck.
The axe swings low, severing Incitatus’s foreleg. Incitatus screams and pitches right, dragging Bucephalus down. Jackknifing, the chariot flips.
Quintus flies and lands on his back, spine snapping like a dry branch.
Moments later, Quintus’s lanista kneels by him. “You won.”
Quintus’s body is broken, but his eyes widen. He whispers, “I’m free.”