Chapter 11 (Cheated)
The cold jolt of healing pulled Kkaj from the depths of the darkness that held his mind. Where was he?
A high-pitched cough helped the blurry world form around him. “You did well, my champion,” King Koi-Jankorest said.
“Huh?” Kkaj’s parch voice burned his dry throat.
Two soft hands rested on Kkaj’s shoulders and pulled him to his feet. Was that Roffor and Saffer? Or someone else?
The distant cheers of the crowd said they were still in the ring.
King Koi-Jankorest placed something cold and round in Kkaj’s hand. Was it a shot glass? King Koi-Jankorest chuckled. “As promised, your reward. Lucidity.”
This doesn’t feel like a map. He tried to focus on his hand, but the throbbing headache only intensified, and the world spun around him.
“You may take him home now.” King Koi-Jankorest clapped his hands. “And let him know that I reduced the shares his family has to give up. Thought … .” The king’s words along with the rest of the coliseum faded into the thrumming headache.
Kkaj sat up in a bed and vomit burned all the way up his throat. He choked it down. His stomach twisted. Where was he? He squinted, but the rays of light peering through the window were only enough to make his head hurt more.
Something soft pressed into his side. Saffer nuzzled onto her pillow while one of her breasts rested on his stomach.
He squeezed the bridge of his nose, and he groaned. “What happened?”
Saffer rolled over, facing the wall.
With his left hand, he poked her in the back. “Stop ignoring me.”
“It’s too early to be awake. Go back to sleep.”
“I need some water.” Kkaj stumbled out of bed and made his way to the kitchen. Two glasses of water later, he yawned then placed his glass in the sink. His throbbing headache lessened, so he turned around.
Roffor froze, and her face turned a bright crimson. Why were her eyes fixated on his waist?
Kkaj glanced down, and his jaw dropped. Naked. Stark naked. No wonder the crisp summer morning sent chills across his skin. He spun to stare at the sink. “S-sorry.”
“Kkaj … I — No.”
“I mean are you feeling better?”
He shook his head. “On top of the crippling ache in my bone, my head is killing me.”
Her smooth hand rested on the small of his back. “The healers said you shouldn’t get out of bed for a week.”
After using three liquors with the Enhance technique, I shouldn’t be able to move for more than a week. Yet this hangover … . “How long has it been?”
“Only a day. When you didn’t wake up yesterday —”
His jaw dropped. “W-w-what did you just say?”
“You slept an entire day.” Her soft hand trembled, and she sniffled.
I’m able to move after just one day?
She pressed her face into his back, and cool tears rolled down his naked flesh. “I was so worried. I thought — I thought — I thought —”
Kkaj turned around and wrapped his arms around her, squeezing her tight against his chest. “Don’t cry.” Why couldn’t you have been the one to pursue me? “I’m fine. Well, as fine as a hungover Drunkzard could be.”
“Do you want some food?”
She looked up at him. Her warm breath brushed across his left nipple, and heat rushed between his legs.
Kkaj stepped back as he became hard and moved past her towards the hallway. “I’ll go put some clothes on.”
Roffor mumbled something, but her words didn’t reach his ears.
While walking down the endless hallway, Kkaj chewed on his lower-lip. How is this possible? I should be, at the very least, bedridden. A trickle of blood rolled down his chin, and he grimaced. I guess I’m just lucky. Or stronger than I thought. He shook his head as he entered his bedroom and stumbled to the closet.
“Stop making so much noise,” Saffer said from under covers.
“I’m being quiet.”
“You call stomping down the hallway and pounding your fist against the wall quiet? You even kicked the end of the bed.”
I did? Kkaj massaged his temples before opening the closet. “Sorry. My brain must still be blurry from how much I drank.”
“Shouldn’t you be in bed?”
Yes. “I need to get some food in my stomach to minimize this hangover.”
“And you’re going to cook?”
“Roffor said she would cook.”
Saffer began laughing. Her cackling voice grabbed onto his headache and magnified it ten fold. “You would trust anything she cooked?”
“Better than you.”
Saffer sat up and arched an eyebrow.
“And a hundred times better than me.” Kkaj pulled a pair of silk, three-quarters pants up his legs and turned to grin at her.
“Were you talking to my sister naked?”
Heat filled Kkaj’s cheeks.
Saffer slapped herself in the forehead. “You probably gave her a heart attack.”
“Yeah. She was too shocked to even scream.” He forced himself to chuckle.
Saffer lay back down. “Hurry up and get out of here. If you’re too slow, she’ll probably burn the food.”
Kkaj nodded then threw on a short-sleeved shirt and returned to the kitchen. “Is it ready?”
Roffor turned away from the stove. “I just finished.”
“What is it?”
Roffor picked up the frying pan and spilled its black contents onto two glass plates. She carried them to the table.
Kkaj joined her at the table and stared at the plate as he pulled his seat closer to her. “Doesn’t look too bad.”
She pursed her lips. “I burned them a bit.”
With one of the forks sitting on the table, he took a crispy bite and swallowed. Don’t throw up. Don’t throw up. Don’t throw up. “Actually, this is pretty good.”
Her brow scrunched. “I’m not a child.”
“I know. So, what did you two do with the map?”
“You know. The map the king gave me for winning.”
She frowned. “You thought he was going to give you the map to the Lucidity distillery didn’t you?”
“What do you mean, ‘thought’?”
“All the king rewarded you with was a shot of Lucidity.” She pointed to the liquor cabinet where his flasks were. In front of them, a carry-shot sat as if more important than his flasks.
Kkaj gulped. “You can’t be serious.”
“That’s all the Lucidity he gave you. Though, it’s probably worth a ton, I know it’s not what you wanted.”
A rumbling scream erupted from Kkaj’s mouth, and he threw his plate of eggs across the room. “That bastard! I’ll kill him! I’ll —”
“Calm down.” Roffor rested a hand atop of his. “Just because he won’t give you the map, doesn’t mean we can’t get to the distillery. I’m sure the national library has some information on it.”
Kkaj’s eyes expanded, and he bolted to his feet. His stomach twisted into a knot, but he ignored it, leaning over to kiss her on the forehead.
She blushed, face a deeper red than earlier.
“You’re a genus!” He looked towards the liquor case. “Get a carriage ready, I’ll wake Saffer.”
Next: Chapter 12