Chapter 35 (Break the walls down)
Kkaj kicked back the tequila and pushed the energy into his muscles. He gritted his teeth and screamed.
Jekor edged closer to him as the three crocobears encircled the two and their lone horse. Were the monsters waiting for them to make the first move? Jekor gulped then rested a hand on Kkaj’s shoulder. “You can’t fight three.”
“Not without using all five liquors.” Kkaj took a swallow of gin and added weather energy to his muscles. His skin hardened into armor.
A yelp sprang from Jekor’s mouth. “What did you just do to your body?”
“A forbidden technique.”
“What does it —”
One of the smaller crocobears leaped forward, looking like it wanted to have the first bite.
Kkaj shook his head. “Scholars … .”
Inch by inch, Small-one hurled through the air, claws aimed at the horse.
Kkaj took two swift steps forward and batted both claws towards the ground. As the crocobear flipped forward, he shifted into Plains form and set his feet.
Small-one’s nose touched the ground.
While turning his hips, Kkaj punched the crocobear in the back. Crunch!
Small-one shot through the air and crashed into Small-two. The two crocobears tumbled across the ground in a sprawling mess.
Jekor gaped at Kkaj. “We … never had a chance against you.”
“What are you blathering on about?” Kkaj shook his hand, broken knuckles sending lances of pain up his arm. As I thought, three won’t be enough. He reached into his Drunkzard vest. “I made an opening for you. Get out of here!”
Kkaj blinked. “Huh?”
Jekor pointed his horse towards Big-bear and slapped it on the rump. Then, he wrapped his arms around Kkaj’s neck. “To that cave! I have a hunch.”
“What are —”
The two smaller crocobears untangled then clambered to their feet. Both roared. Big-bear snapped the head from Jekor’s horse.
“I hope you actually have a plan.” Kkaj lifted Jekor into his arms and bolted for the cave, kicking up a dust storm behind him.
Roar! The voices of the three crocobears swirled together, exploding into the distance. The raced towards Kkaj and Jekor, the largest of the three closing the distance. How fast was that monster?
Every step Kkaj took drained a bit of power from Kkaj’s muscles. A heavy weight shackled onto his legs, and he slowed.
Just a bit further.
Heavy breaths from behind.
Without turning, Kkaj tossed Jekor into the cave then slammed his fist into the mouth of the cave.
Jekor grunted as he hit the rocky ground and rolled deeper into the cave.
Stones fell from the entrance of the cave as Kkaj slid deeper inside.
Jaws snapped into the cave behind him. They reached in further and snapped again.
Kkaj scooted forward, avoiding the razor sharp teeth by the shirt on his back.
The massive crocobear squirmed in the tiny opening, unable to fit more than its head through. Light streamed past it in small spurts, illuminating the black-rock cave. A deep sulfur-like smell hung in the air.
His nose wrinkled, and his lips curled into a frown. The remainder of his power fled his body, and weakness overcame his muscles. He shambled forward, surprised he hadn’t passed out. Surprised he wasn’t hungover. “Are you alright?”
“What did you just say?” Jekor stood up and took a sip of rum. He created a torch above his hand and shined it deeper into the cave which curved downwards. “If you mumble like that, I can’t understand you.”
“I’m not mumbling.”
“Huh? I just said to speak clearly.”
Kkaj took a deep breath and clenched his fists. Well, his fingers twitched, but it was as good as clenching his fists at the moment. “I was asking about your health, but I don’t care anymore. I hope you broke your ass-bone and bruised your spine.”
A sigh deflated Jekor’s chest. “Just stop trying to talk. I can’t understand you, and you’re clearly in no shape to speak. I think we should go —”
The massive crocobear snapped one more time then pulled its head out. It roared. The two smaller crocobears roared then scrambled into the small entrance, just wide enough for their girth.
“— deeper.” Jekor squealed then grabbed Kkaj by the wrist. “Let’s go!”
Despite the heavy pressure contracting around Kkaj’s shoulders like a vulturesnake, he trudged behind Jekor. The two of them pushed deeper and deeper into the cave. Run. Run. Run. Run! RUN!
The smaller crocobears scraped the walls as they pursued. Their armored scales created sparks that light the cave behind them and cast haunting shadows across their beastly faces.
“Break the walls down!” Agony stabbed into Kkaj’s chest, and tears flowed down his cheeks. What is this incredible pain? “You need to close the pathway to stop those monsters.”
“What part of stop trying to speak when you can only mumble did you not understand?”
“Break. The. Walls. Down!”
“Save your energy!” Jekor pulled Kkaj into a massive cavern. How far down had they come?
Stalagmites and stalactites covered the cavern like the pillars in the king’s throne room. The sound of rushing water splashed in the distance. An underground river? Is that what feeds the Lucidity distillery. Was that Jekor’s plan? Swim?
Kkaj’s brow furrowed then he glanced over his shoulder. “Hurry up and break —”
The smaller crocobears scrambled into the cave behind them.
“It’s time we go for a swim.” Jekor jerked Kkaj forward and bolted towards the sound of rushing water.
Kkaj shook his head. In this state, there was no way he could swim.
“We don’t have any other choice.” Jekor swallowed. “I’m pretty sure crocobears are afraid of water.”
The smaller crocobears barreled through the stalagmites and stalactites alike, not bothering to dodge around them. So close that their hot, panting breath licked the back of Kkaj’s neck.
Jekor dove into the water, Kkaj in tow.
The strong current swept them to the left.
The crocobears skidded to a halt at the edge of the water.
Jekor hooted and raised his fist into the air. “See? They are —”
The crocobears leaped into the water, swimming towards Kkaj and Jekor.
“Moonshine.” Jekor kicked his feet in the water, paddling towards the far wall. “We’re going to go under. Hold your breath.”
“Break the wall down!” Kkaj sucked in air.
“Good idea.” Jekor released fire energy into the stones as they passed under the stone wall.
Boom! The rocks collapsed onto the entrance, one thumping Kkaj upside the head. Everything went black.
Next: Chapter 36