Sunday, June 29, 2014

Lucidity chapter 10

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.
            Envy squealed.
            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

Lucidity chapter 11

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?”
            “Sounds wonderful.”
            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?”
            “Sounds good.”
            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