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Alone in the World
The door opened, and he walked in, ready to fight the strong, unknown, opponent. The finals of the tournament and with this victory, the final judgment would be made: if he could enter the elite legion of fighters.
Zak took a deep breath, closed his eyes, and thought of what he had to go through to get to this prestigious stage. He remembered when he was first forced to fight and defend his home land. When it was being raided by the neighboring alliance, his father was slain by the leader of the opposing crew. In response, he drew his sword, the one he crafted himself, and defended the castle and king. At such a young age, his physical abilities, as well as his strategies, proved to be more useful than anyone else in the kingdom. Instead of trying to hide, like the rest of the pathetic army, he stood in the front and fought by himself. With his impressive defense, the king named him the town’s arms master and bodyguard of the king himself. His name struck fear throughout the entire continent and for years, his face threatened them all. Daily, he trained for hours, wanting to take his revenge on the cities that tried to take over his kingdom.
One day, years after this incident, he looked over at the different empires and saw a mass of soldiers lined up. He had just finished practicing and went alone to try and get a closer view, possibly stop it. No matter what happened, they would not take the king or the country! Rushing back to his training room to change, he was still careful not to get spotted. There, he put on his leather boots, stole his shield from the cabinet, and grabbed a variety of weapons. Inside his boots, he placed two daggers, stained in red from the blood of him and others, in case he needed to pull them out and quickly take out a few enemies. Next, he grabbed his blade, and when holding it, his adrenaline always shot through the roof. On one side, a sharp, but smooth craft of the metal, on the other, the spikes were cleverly designed to be able to still kill from behind. After thinking about it for a while, he decided to take his spear as well, his most faithful weapon. The sharp head emitted a glow that he knew made this spear more powerful than any other craft. Only one more piece to put on, the helmet with the secret seal that kept his face a mystery to all. With this, he sneakily left the castle and traveled out of town to stop the approaching army.
A few steps out of the town, Zak decided to scout and possibly strike fear in the army, forcing them to retreat. Over 500 useless bodies stood side to side, coated in weak plate mail and armed with only a lance. He got close and decided to stand and fight, against all odds. The commander shouted at them, and like dogs, they obeyed and started attacking blindly. With ease, he managed to dodge and block most bows coming his way, then counter attack with his spear. Completely surrounded, he spun around spear two inches off the ground, sweeping the ones around him off their feet. Around three minutes of this passed, and he was getting pumped. Each attack raised his energy and awareness, but the masses were only getting larger. Every once in a while he was struck in the back, but he still continued to fight, though the spear’s attack was too slow to keep up with this madness. He spun his spear many times in the air, and proceeded to stab the group in front of him with much force. Then, he had to take out his raging sword, making him more agile, but weaker. Finally, after a long battle and hundreds of deaths, the enemy retreated. Grabbing his spear back from the dead body, he clutched his right hand that seemed on fire from the battle. He lied down, back aching and bruised, hands still grooved into the shape of the handles, and feet bloody from his constant pivoting and moving. He unlatched his boots and closed his eyes, pleased he did his job correctly.
Sunlight shone through Zak’s closed eyes, waking him up from his deep slumber. He smelt smoke, and to the east of him, a fire was burning. The castle of his home land was set ablaze! Still tired from his last battle, he ran swiftly to defend the king, his only job. His was still barefoot, but he sprinted as fast as he could back home. He saw guards, not of the native land, protecting the gates, but he stabbed and ran. Every house was smothered in the red flames and families were all running out, trying to save their possessions. The castle was on the top of the hill, heavily guarded, but there had to be a way to the top. He climbed to the top, knowing his role model was still alive and it was his sole job to protect him. Zak entered the room where the king sleeps, seeing how he was surrounded and the swords’ metal cold on his throat.
“King, are,” Zak cried, but he wasn’t able to finish his sentence, as new guards jumped on him.
“Unmask him! Let us find out who this man really is!” their leader shouted. After wrestling with them, his helmet clanked onto the ground. “Ah, Zak, we meet again.” Suddenly, that night his town was raided became familiar. Those cold blue eyes stared into the depths of hell, and that look was back on his face. Last time, his father died, this time it seemed to be the king. “Are you ready to witness a repeat of seven years ago? Any last words before you meet up with Zak’s father?”
“Where were you?” the king asked. “I have no doubt you could have repelled this push forward. And, also, you contain a special birthmark on your right side symbolizing a fighter. The lamppost…” Smiling, the evil Xin swung his sword down with all his might, beheading the king.
Enraged, Zak got up and pushed away from the men on top of him. He reached to his foot to grab the two daggers, but he wasn’t wearing them anymore. Spinning and avoiding everybody, he grabbed what the king told him, (and it closest thing to a weapon he could find) a lamppost. With it in hand, he leaped and hit Xin on the forehead. He whacked the nearby opposition as hard as he could, and knocked them back. Despite the awkward feeling it made on Zak’s hand, it worked as a great tool of destruction. Some of the men tried to get Xin up and get him back to safely, but he would have none of it. Seven talented fighters were up against him, but all their skill tenfold could not handle the immense power of this new post. Quickly, the others were forced to retreat and Zak was left alone with the deceased king.
“Xin,” he swore, “I will find you and kill you. On this lamp post, I swear it! Even if it takes me a million years, you will never be safe!” By now, Xin was probably out of the city, but it didn’t matter. Zak sat down and saw a message inscribed on the brass. “Fields of Justice, 7/12, seek Devilash.” One week, just enough time to get to the fighting arena.
On the 12th, the competition began, but Devilash knew of Zak’s impeccable fighting capabilities. Throughout this entire tournament, Zak never lost, nor took a blow, so in the finals, he would have a handicap. “For the finals,” Devilash announced, “Zak, the champion contender will have to fight with one foot on the ground at all times!”
“No problem!” Zak replied. “If that’s what you want, then I will fight on my own terms!” He dropped his weapons and grabbed a brass lamppost, the same one from the day when his faithful king died. “I will fight with only this measly lamppost! In addition to your conditions, I will keep one foot on the ground!” The crowd roared and the judges were shocked.
“The rules have been established, so then let these doors open to introduce the challengers!”
Zak’s eyes were now open from his short-lived dream and now looked on into the future. On the opposite side, the gates were lifted, but the opponent was still hidden in the shadows. Looking down at his weapon, he prayed quietly, “King Reginald, father, give me the strength to make you both proud. With this trusty lamppost, help me crush the skull of any opponent, even against all the odds.” He noticed some more writing on the handle of the post. As he was staring, the marks were being made, “I’ll be watching you.” Smiling, filled with new courage, he looked back up, hyped and ready to go. The challenger was none other than his rival, Xin Zhou, the son of King Jarson, the one who took the life of King Reginald and his father.
“Challengers, approach each other.” They both stepped towards the center of the arena. “Now fight!” Instantly, Xin took advantage of the fact Zak couldn’t move around his feet and charged. His battle cry raised the crowd’s interest level to a fever pitch, but Jax was unmoved. The golden sword, with some illegible characters almost chopped Zak’s arm right off. However, he dodged and counter attacked by striking the lamppost against Xin’s unprotected head. With a battle cry of his own, he struck again, getting into the heat of the moment. Each attack made him stronger and attack faster, but Xin was also getting faster. Swiftly and fiercely, Xin swept his sword around in a crescent shaped fashion. This was the first blow that was landed on Zak, knocking him off his feet and into the walls of the arena.
“Pain, this is what it feels like,” Zak muttered. Xin decided to charge again straight into Zak, but pivoting, he managed to barely dodge it. Still, the sword got caught in his cloak, and was thrown into the air. At the peak of his flight, he managed to knock the sword out of Xin’s hands. He landed with a thud, panting heavily for the first time in this competition. With the lamppost, he smacked the shoulders of Xin, who managed to finally dodge the third shot. Taking advantage of this opportunity, Xin attempted to kick Zak and grab his sword, and he was successful.
Both fighters made their way close to the center of the arena, where they fought head to head. As Zak fought, he got stronger and faster, but Xin seemed to get energy from the adrenaline pumping through his veins. Zak had amazing agility, dodging most attacks, but Xin got right back up from any blow. Eventually, the two locked weapons, and took time to whisper to each other.
“I only fight for my country and my father,” Xin said through gritted teeth, “you fight for revenge. From my training, I realized that death is inevitable. However, one can fight to avoid defeat.”
“Keep in mind I used to fight for my country and king, until you took it away from me!” Zak replied. “Besides, once I’m done with you, you’ll be dead and losing this match.” Countering this lock, Zak threw his post straight at Xin. Then spinning, he took it back and stabbed Xin through the stomach. Unfortunately, Xin managed to dodge it and he kicked him into the air. There was no time to capitalize, but it still stalled time. Zak was angry now, and decided to attack relentlessly. Xin still tried to fight, but Zak was way too nimble, and ignored any hit that was hit. Xin leaned after each attack, which were now coming at three a second. Lifting and spinning the lamppost in the air, Zak landed a great blow on the ear of Xin. He fell, lifeless for now.
“And the winner is… Zak!” Devilash announced. “What a battle! Please proceed into the next room, where you will be judged.” Zak looked up, knowing that he could win without the support. Walking towards the open room, he was ready to face the pressure of being judged. It could possibly take hours, so he took one last look at the arena. Xin was being tended to, but managed to give a thumbs up. One look at the massive doors gave Zak a feeling of greatness.
He walked in, and then saw the next door open. Both marble doors were open, it must be a mistake. The judges said nothing, but waved him on. He took it, and walked on, proud of his accomplishments. Everyone in the crowd was cheering for him, and he thought he saw his father figure as well as King Reginald. He heard their voices, and knew this wasn’t an illusion or a dream. Now in the elite group of individual fighters, he wondered if Xin would be ready for his fight tomorrow, but it didn’t really matter. Zak was immediately welcomed.