Chapter 42 (Unlimited power)
Ikiffar gaped at Kkaj as the color drained from his beautiful eyes. She swallowed. What did he just do?
Kkaj took a step forward, his foot touching a flask of vodka. Had he drunk a fifth type of liquor? Was that even possible? The vodka flask shot across the room and embedded itself in the far wall.
She pulled out her last bottle of Lucidity and drained it. A fire burned in her chest, and her skin stretched. The spirit of Gluttony fed on the last of her youth, pushing her body into its middle years. “I don’t know what you just did, but you don’t have to die protecting that bastard.” He shouldn’t be able to match my strength and speed with this much Lucidity coursing through my body, but — She warped the white energy around her body and magnified her armor ten-fold.
“Did you not hear me?” Kkaj’s now melodious voice carried five echoes, yet he didn’t seem possessed. “I am already dead. But I cannot allow the wars your revenge would cause.”
Ikiffar shook her head. “Then I’ll have to destroy —”
Kkaj appeared in front of her. So fast. “I am sorry.” His fist shot forward and slammed into her gut.
Air raced from her lungs, and she doubled over. What. Power. How? Her mind reeled. She dropped to a knee. Her muscles twitched. Her chest heaved, and she sucked in a breath.
Kkaj cocked his foot back.
She pushed the last of her white energy into her armor.
His foot shot forward.
Her armor intensified.
His foot slammed into her chest.
Her armor expanded. She pushed off of his strike and flipped back into the air, landing on her feet. She slid backwards to regain her balance and bumped into a stand of some sort. The enhanced strength and speed provided by the armor made the stand’s fall to the ground seem like a slow crawl.
Kkaj bolted forward.
She could follow his movements. A grin split her face as she moved into Mountain form and sidestepped his formless strike.
He blinked. “Oh?”
She twisted her shoulders and grabbed onto his left forearm.
His rough, steel-like skin bristled against her fingers. Was that because she was wearing the white armor? Or his technique? He snapped her grip and shoved her away from him.
Shouldn’t have hesitated. She gritted her teeth and reset her form.
Kkaj transitioned into Plains form.
“How do you know there will be war?”
“I have talked with the other nobility.” He edged forward. “All want a piece of the throne.” His left fist shot forward.
She batted his strike away.
He jabbed again, catching her in the forearm.
The pressure ripped through the armor and cracked her aging bone. She bit off a scream and gritted her teeth. “Just because they want it, doesn’t mean they will fight a war for it!” She kicked low.
He turned his knee towards her strike. “Did you not notice the little uprising going on as we speak?”
Her foot popped against his hardened bone, and pain shot up her leg. How is his body so hard? She stumbled backwards and reset herself in River form to evade his next attack. “Uprising?”
A sigh deflated Kkaj’s shoulders, and he slapped himself in the forehead. “Were you not even paying attention when you came in here?”
“And the guards attacking you?”
“They’re just guards.”
He shook his head.
“I figured you had gotten to them and set off the alarm.” She circled around him, inching towards the back exit of the throne room.
“Did you hear an alarm?”
“That’s because those guards are trying to kill off the monarchs. There are fourteen different groups in the country alone plotting against the throne, each keeping the other in check.” Kkaj held up a finger. “This group here, Seed or something, is not backed by the nobility. Thus, I didn’t plan for this.”
Ikiffar froze in place. “So, because every part of the nobility fights for the throne in secret, if the throne was open, they would take their struggle to the streets?”
“Wow. You understand quite easily.”
“But with this Seed group out to kill the monarch, even if I fail, war will still happen.”
“Not if we help the monarchs escape.”
“I-I-I have to do this. For my family. For the future of the nation. We can deal with the war later.” She spun and bolted for the door.
Kkaj zipped across the room.
She juked to the left.
His fist slammed into the wall beside the door, crushing the stone.
After springing backwards, she turned into Forest form and struck for Kkaj’s throat.
His elbow shot upwards, and he barreled through the air like a wheel.
She caught his elbow and punched him in the ribs. He jabbed him in the ribs again then twisted her hips, pulling his left arm over her shoulder. Using his arm like a lever, she whipped him over her body and slammed him into the ground.
He grunted as the floor tiles cracked under his weight. Like a bullet, his foot shot forward.
She jerked backwards.
He gripped her arm tight. His foot smacked her in the jaw and sent her flying across the room.
The back of her head hit the floor, and she skidded backwards. She placed her hands behind her and pushed herself up.
Kkaj appeared above her and stomped her into the floor.
Blackness closed in around her. No! Power seeped from her armor, filling the air around her.
He stomped on her chest again.
The power around her dissipated. “Please.” Tears filled her eyes, and her grasp on the white energy loosened.
“Sorry.” Kkaj brought his fist down into her gut.
Screams burst from her lungs. Were they hers? Exhaustion overran her old muscles. The last of her white energy evaporated. Warmth washed over her body, and she closed her eyes. It was over. I’m sorry … mom. Dad. Jekor. She bit into her lower-lip, the coppery taste of defeat filling her mouth. I failed to avenge my family, and I isolated the man I love. Her hands trembled. Time to face death.
Something reached under her neck and her lower back.
She rose into the air.
Something pulled at her chest. A moment later, icy heat filled her body.
A gasp leaped from her mouth and rang in her ears. The pain vanished. Her eyes shot open.
Kkaj cradled her in his arms, rocking her back and forth. “I am sorry I am not better with healing.” He wobbled to the left, but regained his feet before falling over.
“Why?” Her voice cracked. “Why are you letting me live?”
“That’s what I want to know.” King Koi-Jankorest’s voice echoed through the throne room.
“I told you to get out of the palace!” Kkaj gritted his teeth and growled. “Your worthless life is in danger the longer you remain here.”
“I’ll leave soon.” King Koi-Jankorest pulled out a pistol and pointed it at Ikiffar. “Once I kill the little crocobear who defiled the royal liquor.”
“Get! Out!” Kkaj’s muscles tensed. “Of! Here! Now!”
King Koi-Jankorest cocked his gold-plated pistol. “As I have proven to you before with your little slut of a servant, I’m the one who gives orders here.”
Kkaj lowered his head. “Please use your power to hold JemKej together.” His voice rasped in a near-silent whisper. “Protect the crown prince.”
“What?” Tears welled up in Ikiffar’s eyes. “Isn’t that what your job is?”
“I will be the one to kill that bastard.”
Bang! King Koi-Jankorest fired.
Kkaj dropped her and snatched the bullet from the air. In one swift motion, he flicked his wrist and threw the bullet back across the room.
King Koi-Jankorest’s jaw dropped.
The bullet ripped through his head and splattered his brains across the broken floor tiles by the back exit.
King Koi-Jankorest fell backwards into his own puddle of blood. His arms twitched once. Twice. Three times. He went still.
Ikiffar leaped to her feet and caught him before he hit the ground. Her tears pelted his face. “What are you doing?” She shook his shoulders. “Get up.”
He reached up and wiped the tears from her eyes. “I told you before. I was dead as soon as I drank the fifth liquor. I just wish I had the chance to say goodbye to Roffor. I —”
“Kkaj!” Roffor’s voice echoed through the throne room.
Ikiffar looked up.
Jekor and Roffor scrambled over the king’s corpse and into the throne room.
“Jekor … .” Ikiffar released Kkaj and rose to her feet, staring at the ground.
Next: Chapter 42