Chapter 10 (The one-armed monster)
A violent shaking motion dragged Kkaj from the depths of sleep. He groaned as his eyes fluttered open.
Roffor shook his left shoulder while Saffer tugged on his left. The waiting room materialized around them, all bright blues, purples and pinks.
“What’s wrong with you two?” He squeezed the bridge of his nose.
“Us?” they said at the same time. “You’re the one who is about to forfeit his fight because he wants to sleep like a child.”
Kkaj scrubbed at his eyes then glanced at the time-keeping thing. “Moonshine!”
“Language!” both women said as one.
“Both of act like children.” Kkaj sprang from the chair and grabbed his Drunkzard vest off the small table. I hope I have enough liquor. He bolted from the waiting room.
Servants gaped at him as he pushed past them. The soft carpet made each step feel heavy and deflated. The stink of lavender hung in the air.
Kkaj gagged. Why did the king still insist on using these stupid candles? He raced out onto the arena floor.
The crowd erupted into cheers.
“Five,” the judge said. “Four.”
Thump-thump! Kkaj’s heart pounded in his ears and drowned out the crowd. Without breaking stride, Kkaj ran over to the ring and climbed in. He huffed. His chest heaved. “I —”
“-t,” the judges voice cracked.
A ball of fire slammed into Kkaj’s gut and doubled him over.
“What’s wrong, Kkaj?” Merkaej strode forward. “Tired?” He grinned and released a ball of fire energy around his only hand.
Kkaj dropped to his belly and rolled to the left. Has the fight already started? While on his back, he reached into his vest and whipped the flask of gin out. He placed it to his mouth.
Four swirling towers of flame surrounded him.
Shit. He tilted the flask back.
Nothing. When had he drank so much gin?
The towers of flame closed in around him.
After tossing the empty flask from the ring, he took a deep breath then grabbed his flask of rum. Two swigs, and it was empty, as well.
Greed filled his tired mind.
Kkaj’s joints tensed. In your cage! He released fire energy into the air around him.
A sickening laugh came from Greed’s spirit.
Kkaj focused and wrapped Greed in a cage as he filled the towers of flame with the pure fire energy. Kkaj flexed his mind, sealing Greed and snuffling out the towers. A throbbing headache bit into his skull. Not yet! He grabbed his flask of tequila and drank until his eyes watered.
Merkaej crafted a pair of flaming dogs then drew out a blue flask. He drank it before crafting two dogs of water and grabbing another flask.
That’s an interesting technique. Was Kkaj jealous? He should use a technique like that. It would — He shoved the spirit of Envy from his thoughts and locked it in the cage he had created for Greed.
The wretched sound twisted Kkaj’s heart. Surely he could let Envy have control of — No! Water energy flowed through his body, and he manipulated it without releasing it. A secret technique. Forbidden. His back arched as needles of agony pricked every inch of his flesh. His teeth gritted. A growl rumbled up from his chest.
Two more dogs of lightning appeared at Merkaej’s side.
The pure water energy magnified Kkaj’s muscles, expanding them. Replacing them. His exhaustion disappeared. He sprang to his feet and used the remaining energy to turn his skin into armor.
Merkaej arched an eyebrow. “What happened? Are you hungover?”
Two more dogs of earth and two of metal appeared around Merkaej. “Then what happened to the tequila you just —”
Kkaj sprinted across the ring in an instant and slammed his fist into Merkaej’s gut. Kkaj’s knee shot up like lightning catching Merkaej in the jaw and sending him flying across the ring.
The ten elemental dogs turned towards Kkaj.
Before they could move any further, he bolted to the edge of the ring and stood above Merkaej. Kkaj cocked his fist back. “This is the —”
Heat raced through Kkaj’s hardened skin, and he stumbled forward.
Boom-boom! Two more of the dogs crashed into him.
Kkaj leaped to the side and kicked the fourth dog as it zipped past.
Merkaej sat up, groaning.
Kkaj danced away from the remaining six dogs, unable to land a strike against any of them. The ache in his muscles grew as the elemental enhancement began to fade. I can’t let this go on much longer. He twirled to the left then slipped between a pair of the dogs and closed the distance between himself and Merkaej.
Merkaej pulled out two flasks. He drank from one and erected a box around his body with earth energy. Then the metal plates from the ring encased the box. A massive dog of lighting began forming outside the protective box, growing four times bigger than the others.
Kkaj slid to a stop and spun to kick the pursuing dogs.
Both exploded upon impact, sending him reeling backwards.
His armor dissipated. The skin on his leg melted away, and he screamed. The power in his muscles deflated. His shoulders sagged. It can’t be helped. He reached into his pocket and pulled out his remaining three flasks. I just hope three is enough. He drank the remainder of the tequila.
The remaining four dogs surrounded him.
Kkaj drank several gulps of whiskey. His chest burned. Using the technique with one liquor could leave him hospitalized for a month. Thus why his master had called it a forbidden technique. Using two liquors could burn away his ability to drink. Five would kill him. He lifted the flask of vodka.
The crowd gasped. A Penta who could handle different liquors was rare. There was nearly unheard of.
Kkaj drank in the vodka as the four dogs leaped for his throat. This is going to hurt. He manipulated the energy into his body rather than through it. Thump! His heart slammed into his chest and sent waves of raw pain through every fiber of his body. He molded his skin into armor and cut off his ability to feel pain. Dangerous. And only possible with three liquors coursing through your body.
The spirits of Envy, Rage and Pride tangled in his mind. His mental shield would not hold them, but their base desires, warred with one another, preventing each other from possessing his body. It was a good trick, but it wouldn’t last long. Eventually, one would win out.
The massive dog finished forming and charged towards Kkaj. The four regular dogs bit into his neck and shoulders. Ba-boom! Smoke filled the area around him.
Kkaj pumped the remaining energy into his muscles then strolled forward.
Three more massive dogs formed. The lightning dog bit down at Kkaj. Its teeth ripped through his image.
A gasp rippled through the crowd again. Crying sounds joined it.
Kkaj stood beside the massive dog.
It turned and lunged at him. Was everyone this slow?
He swatted the dog with and open hand.
The dog folded in on itself and crashed through the wall on the other side of the arena floor. The kitchen staff turned to regard it then stared at Kkaj through the massive opening he had created.
I don’t have much time left. He moved as fast as his legs could take him and struck the metal encased box of earth with his fist. Clang! The echoing sound shook his nerves, but the warring spirits in his mind prevented him from falling into his memories.
The first metal plate bent around Kkaj’s fist and ripped the box of earth from the ring, sending it tumbling into the balcony seats just beside the monarchs.
Damn. Kkaj glared at King Koi-Jankorest. I missed. He glanced back at Merkaej.
Merkaej’s jaw trembled, and he shook his head. “This is impossible. No spell has enough force to break my two-element barrier. I —”
“This isn’t a spell.” Kkaj placed his hand on Merkaej’s forehead. “Say goodnight.”
The three new massive dogs spun towards Kkaj. Merkaej squealed.
Flexing his mind and his enhanced muscles, Kkaj flung Merkaej into the royal balcony. Shatter! The breaking glass brought a grin to Kkaj’s face, even if he only managed to hit Junkoi with the strike. Kkaj raised his hand and turned to the judge. “I believe that counts as a ring out.”
The judge nodded with a slack jaw. “A-a-and our winner and still unbeaten champion, Kkaj!”
The crowd erupted into cheers.
The loud noise pelted Kkaj’s thoughts as he released the technique and dispersed the magic in his body. The throbbing headache rattled his mind, and without their magic anchoring them to his body, the spirits vanished. Kkaj dropped to his knees, and blackness took him.
Next: Chapter 11