Chapter 22 (A bad memory)
Kkaj stepped into the ring and bowed before the judge. After stretching, he turned to allow the gathered nobility a chance to witness the splendor that was their arena champion. For a private tournament, this has been especially boring. And now —
Reinkk, his cousin, stepped into the ring across from him. Her long golden hair whipped behind her, and her glowing purple eyes stared him down. With smooth cheeks and a tight body, she was the perfect woman. So beautiful. So strong. So irresistible. Why had Father forbidden Kkaj from having a relationship with her? Why had Kkaj been forced to spend time with her in secret?
A grin wrinkled his brow. “I’m surprised you made it this far.”
“Only because you know you’re going to lose.” She reached into her Drunkzard vest. “I’m not going to hold back just because I … you.” She swallowed before glancing over her shoulder.
He edged forward. “I’ve made enough money to live without Father’s help. We could run away and —”
With her free hand, Reinkk pressed her finger to his lips. “You know I want to, but … .”
“Then what’s stopping you?”
“That shouldn’t matter.”
Tears rolled down her cheeks.
The judge coughed. “Are the two of you ready?”
Kkaj did the same. “Just think about it.”
“Alright.” She took three steps back and fell into River form, tequila flask held close to her lips.
The judge arched an eyebrow at Kkaj.
“Yes. Yes.” Kkaj swept both hands in front of him, and a smirk tugged at the edges of his mouth. Rum or gin?
A quiet ran through the nobility. Reinkk was a rising star. She had crushed her two opponents before this with ease, and everyone clearly wanted to see how she’d handle a real challenge.
“Fight!” the judge shouted.
Reinkk sucked down her tequila. Water energy wrapped around her arms as she swayed forward. The green glow of Envy shined in her eyes. How much had she drunk to show the edges of possession?
A lump formed in Kkaj’s throat. He pulled out the gin and took a shot. After releasing the weather energy above his left hand, he drank some rum and released fire energy around his right arm. Unlike holding the power inside so it didn’t deteriorate, releasing it made it easier to wield more than one element. He turned the weather element into wind and lightning, crafting a spiked gauntlet on his right arm.
A spray of water bullets flew towards him.
He turned to the side and ducked, using his gauntlet like a shield. The impact sent him stumbling backwards.
Reinkk appeared in front of him. When had she gotten so fast?
Planting his back foot, he punched without form.
She caught his gauntleted hand and shoved raw water energy directly into the crafted item.
Boom! The gauntlet exploded, sending Kkaj to his back. Without looking up, he turned the fire energy into a wall and placed it above him.
Something crashed into the wall with a splash. Sizzle. A moment later, the fire vanished as if sucked up through a straw. Reinkk stood at his feet, wrapped in blue flame. The deep red of her Greed-possessed eyes showed through the flame armor he had taught her how to craft.
Though, turning that much fire blue was beyond him since his Penta specialty was weather. Kkaj bit into his lower-lip and reached for his flask of tequila.
He placed the flask up to his mouth.
A searing pain cracked against his side and sent him tumbling across the ring. His flask flew from his grip and into the stands. The crowd roared.
With the drop of tequila he had ingested, he crafted small claws around his fingers and dug into the stone ring, stopping himself from falling out of the ring.
Reinkk kicked him in the chest as he rose then punched him in the gut.
He doubled over.
One became two. Two became four.
He blinked, trying to focus.
She strode forward. Which of the four was real?
After rubbing his eyes, two of the doubles vanished. He stumbled backwards and took a swig of whiskey as he did so.
She laughed, the face plate of her armor opening to reveal her beautiful face. “Do you think that metal will help against me?” Her voice carried the melodious echo of possession. A soothing sound if the implications weren’t so frightening. “I am perfect. A fire savant.”
Icy octospider legs walked down his spine, and he took a long drag on his flask of vodka. A seizure rippled through his muscles as the two elements mixed inside his body. How did some Pentas do this so well? He was going to sick up, but he needed to practice ingesting more than one liquor if he was going to master the Enhancer technique.
Her blue flame armor opened around her chest and retreated up her right arm. “I will make you suffer before taking my victory here. I will own everything in this one’s heart.” She pulled out her flask of rum and drained it. Her armor tripled in size, turning her into a giant as the flames covered her beautiful skin once more.
How much rum did she drink? He crafted the metal and stone energy into a shin, near invisible armor before taking another drink of whiskey. This time, he crafted the metal energy into magnetism and lifted the stone plate under Reinkk’s feet.
She stumbled to the side, massive legs crushing the stones beneath them. “How dare you try to take something from me!” She released a wave of fire into the stands, ripping through the barrier and killing a handful of the nobility.
Kkaj’s eyes bulged. I have to stop her. Even if she wins, with Greed possessing her, who knows how much damage she’ll do.
She released two more fists of flame, killing more spectators. The crowd screamed. The judge scrambled out of the ring. She fell into a run towards him.
He downed his own flask of rum, followed by a large amount of vodka and gin. After using the last of his magnetism to trip her, he did the one thing his master told him never to do. He forced not one, but three raw elements directly into his body. The three-way battle of the spirits ripped at his mind, yet their war allowed him to maintain control. He moved forward in a blur.
Reinkk rolled over and kicked her feet up under her.
Using the momentum of his run on top of his enhanced strength, he cocked his fist back.
Something gripped at his mind.
Kkaj gritted his teeth, and a feral growl rumbled up from his throat. The glow of Rage reflected off Reinkk’s armor as he released his remaining fire energy into her body. Kkaj regained control of his mind just before his fist tore through her armor.
She grunted. The blue flame sputtered. Crunch! The resonating break of her spine twisted his insides.
Tears formed in his eyes.
Her flame armor imploded. Boom! The explosion threw Kkaj from the ring.
He crashed headfirst into the wall beside the stands.
Blackness clawed at the edges of his vision.
With everything he had left, he forced himself to stand.
A charred pile of bones and gore smoldered in the ring where Reinkk had been standing.
No … . Kkaj threw up all over himself. Then, he reached for his knife, flipped it open and placed it against his throat. I will see you soon, my love. The cold blade bit into his flesh and warm blood rolled down his neck, joining the vomit on his chest.
Several guards rushed onto the arena floor and tackled him to the hard-packed dirt. Three of them wrestled the knife out of his grasp while he thrashed about on the ground.
“Kill me!” He headbutted one of the guards and took the pistol at the guards waist. He brought the pistol up to his chin.
Something smacked him in the head, and everything went black.
Next: Chapter 23