Fight on through hardship
And you shall be rewarded.
“Sure he’ll be a good fighter? He looks pretty… bashed up.”
“Oh he’ll fight just fine. Lots of anger to fuel the fire in this one.”
“I think he’s waking up boss…”
“Lucky he’s all chained up then isn’t it? Unless you do something stupid and I feel like letting him free, you’ll be fine.”
I can hear Mr Grenich and another man talking. I can barely see anything. I rest my hand on my leg, the bullet has been removed. What the hell is going on? “Awake yet Damien?” Mr Grenich’s voice sounds close. “You shot me you son of a bitch!” I thrust a hand out towards his voice and grab my target, his throat. Gaining vision in my right eye I stare into his face and drag a claw across. “What the hell is going on?” Mr Grenich chuckles “Hahaha! Damien you little monster! Don’t attack your saviour. I freed you from your binds and now I’m going to give you a new, better life!” I let my claws dig in a little deeper.
“What kind of a saviour chains up the saved?” he pulls away from my grip, coughing a little. “I did what was necessary.” I give my attention to the other man in the room. I grin, making sure to bare my fangs “And what about you? What’s your role in all of this?” fear is all I see in his face as he stares back at me. “M-me?”
“Yes. What’s your job? Care to tell me?”
“Uh…I’m not supposed…to tell you anything…” he avoids my gaze.
“Is that so?” Ive got my powers back now right? Haha. This should be fun then… The other man’s shadow starts to elongate and rise up the wall.
His shadow’s hands spread and turn in towards his neck. I raise him off of the floor while making his shadow strangle him a bit. Maybe I’ll snap it… “That will be enough, Damien.” Shockwaves of pain engulf my body and I let the man fall to the floor. “Don’t think I let you have your powers back without any safety precautions.” He stands and exits my line of vision, though I can still hear him. “It will be your turn to fight soon Damien. There’s a lot of money bet on you so I want you to do your best for me. Oh and I think I’ll put you in….with no weapon. Make it a little interesting for the spectators, hm?” There’s a sound of a metal door opening. At this point my vision is only just getting back to normal. I can make out the shape of the other man. He’s still on the floor, gasping. Mr Grenich is standing at a door near the back of the bland concrete room. “Damien, care to finish him off? I think you crushed his air ways. He’s of no use to me now.” The door closes and I’m left with the choking man. I guess I have no choice… I send one of my shadows towards him. His head twists to the side and he ceases his gasping. Better than living and suffering, right? Suddenly the chains that had kept me close to the wall fall away. Mr Grenich’s voice plays next to me “Go make me proud Damien.” A door behind me opens. “Go on now. Don’t make me hurt you again. Just go in and have fun.” I do as he says. I find myself at the edge of a caged arena, crowd screaming at the sides. Oh great… An excited, loud voice shouts to the whole arena “This, ladies and gentlemen will be a fight to the death! Between shadow master and flame bringer! Who will survive? Oh and what’s this?! The shadow master has been given no weapon or shield to defend him?! What will he do? Will he be able to handle the sizzling fire of the flame bringer? Or will he be burnt to a blackened crisp?! Let’s find out! Bring in the bringer of flame!” The gate across from me opens and a small kid nimbly walks out. I can see from here he’s shaking. His eyes dart from corner to corner. At one point they come to rest on me. They go from my broken horn to the scars on my eye and my still bloody knuckles from my attempt of escape. I’m so sorry kid. I’m so sorry. The voice comes back again “Who shall remain standing? Who will fall? Let us wait no longer! START! THE! BATTLE!” The kid runs to the side of the cage “Somebody? Let me out please! I don’t wanna do this!” He would be no older than ten. They want me to kill this kid? There is no way I could bring myself to do it. “Hey! Mister! Damien!” a familiar voice catches my attention. My eyes widen in shock. Zasha is sitting in the crowd, right up the front. “If you wanna get out you gotta do it. He’s an easy pickin for you. Plus you said to me if you got out you’d show me your shadow powers. Member?” she wants me to kill him too? The poor kid is just screaming to be let out! “Looks can be deceivin shadow eye. He aint what he seems. This whole time he’s probably just been chargin up his powers.” I pause. She was right. There was an aura of power in the air. “Alright then. I’ll show you what you want to see.” Haven’t done this in a while. Hope I can still do it. I let myself be consumed by demonic energy. A steady flow of shadows begin to stir around me and my eyes return to their natural colour-well...one of them does- ,a golden yellow. The kid is no longer asking to be let out, he wants to fight. Flames erupt from his hands. You want to fight now ey? Bring it on! I may not have a weapon but I don’t need one. I have the shadows to rely on. Blades of darkness shoot towards my tiny opponent. This battle shouldn’t take long, his energy is barely recognisable. The flame bringer’s eyes reflect fear as my blades near him. Dead meat. But my shadow never makes it even close to him. He’s enveloped himself in fire, throwing my attack off course. Right. I should have known. There’s no way my attacks could make it through. His fire is creating uneven light; my shadows can’t find their target. I’ll have to find another way or Ill end up as charcoal. I check my surroundings. What can I use? I don’t have a weapon. I don’t have a shield. Looking at my opponent, I see my chance. But he does, and he isn’t even using it. A round shield sits implanted in the ground. He isn’t using his shield? What an idiot. I change my tactics. Sending my shadows towards the shield I grin. “Let’s just end this. I’m getting bored with your ‘come at me’ style.” The shield smashes into the flame bringer’s side. He gasps, falling onto the arena’s dusty floor. I stand over him, looking down with pity. “I don’t know how you got into this kid, but, I’ve got to get out somehow.” My claws extend from the ends of my fingers. “I’m real sorry kid.” The crowd is chanting, they’re telling me to end him. There are tears in his eyes. “I don’t want to die…I… I thought I’d get out of here…I thought…” Am I really doing this? Killing some kid that was only fighting for the same reason I am? I sigh. “Save it kid. Just…stop talking. You’re not making this any easier.” The crowd’s chanting is getting louder. “I’m not doing this for the fun of it. I just want out.” There’s one last breath from the kid. My claws sink into his chest, ripping at his heart. As the excited crowd cheers I whip my claws back out, shaking off the blood. Rest in peace, kid. The annoying voice of the commentator announces the winner. Anger creeps in “Alright, I killed some kid for you! Happy? Now let me go!” chains shoot from the back wall, encasing my ankles and pulling me back. “Damien?!” Zasha grasps at the bars of the arena. “Looks like they want you to go another round! I’ll try to help you! Just hold on all righ?” I let myself be dragged back into the cold cement room in which I had awakened. Come on Zasha, I need you! Mr Grenich’s voice comes again. “What a good job you did Damien! I knew you had it in you! Killing a poor little kid with absolutely no intention of fighting for real. You really are a monster. A real beast! We like beasts here. They make us lots of money! Now what do you say? Want to fight again? Wasn’t it fun?” I regret not ripping his throat out when I had the chance. “I’ll fight. But only if it’s you that I’m fighting.” He laughs that irritating laugh and speaks again, this timewith seriousness in his voice. “You can’t fight me Damien, I’m sorry. You may only fight for me. And if you don’t like that I can either send you back to where I stole you or somewhere even worse. That part is up to you.” He pauses, as if disappointed I didn’t enjoy killing as much as his other fighters did. “You have another fight to prove to me your worth. Do well and you will be rewarded. You’ve got ten minutes. Think about your choices.” The voice fades and I’m left to the silence and darkness.
“Boy! I thought he was never gonna leave!” I look around the room. Was that… Zasha? “They really did chain you up real good din they?” Where the hell is she? I begin to draw in the shadows around me. She has to show herself if I take away her shadow. “Oy! What do you think you’re doin?” I can see her clearly now, she’s standing on a table at the back of the room. “Aint no way to say hello.” She drops down, dragging a chainsaw with her. “That isn’t a way to say hello either…” Zasha looks at the chainsaw. “What, this? This is what’s gettin ya out.” I back away slightly. “Wont they…hear…if you, ah…use that?”
“You don’t know much do ya?” she knocks on the wall with the blade of the chainsaw. “Soundproof they are. They dun like people hearin demons screamin to be let out.” Lining up the blade with the chains on my ankles she laughs. “Just don’t do any movin coz if ya do I might accidentally cut your foot off.” Just more limbs that are sliced with sharp objects, is this some kind of curse? I close my eyes “Just do it already.” Zasha revs the chainsaw, starting up the rotating blades. “Hold still okay? Unless you dun like your feet.” The noise of the chainsaw against the metal is almost unbearable, it sounded like a million crying children getting slowly put through a blender. Eventually the high pitch shredding noise stopped and was replaced with the chink of metal falling onto concrete. “Now we gotta get you out.” There are still metal rings around my ankles; they don’t look like they’re going to budge any time soon. “I’d of gotten the rest off for ya, but a chainsaw aint no good for that kinda thing.” She grabbed my wrist. “Now hold on, im gonna warp us out.” I could feel the space around us moving, it felt almost like we were on a tiny boat in a giant ocean. By the time I had blinked, I found myself in a clearing surrounded by pine tree woods. Zasha was staring down at her bandage covered feet. Now I was able to see her properly she was worse for wear than I had thought. Bandages wrapped themselves around both of her feet and up her left arm. There were ragged holes in her dusty tank top, it looked as if people or animals both didn’t take a liking to her. She had two sets of horns, short and long. Short, purple hair matched her slightly glowing turquoise eyes. “So what you gonna do now your free?” she still wouldn’t look up, she just kept on shuffling her feet and swishing her tail. Scanning the clearing I realise this is the mountain forest id always dreamed of exploring, or even living in. It’d be a peaceful lifestyle. There would be nobody to hurt you…and if you had a family…there’d be nobody to take them away… “To be honest I have no idea.” Zasha remains silent. Grinning I add “But I’m sure somebody like you could show me around a bit. Since ‘I don’t know much.’” Immediately she perks up, eyes sparkling. “You need a place to stay then right?” she grasps my wrist once again. “This way then! You gotta keep up. It’s not good to stay out at night. Lots of bad stuff comes out. Then again, you like the night don’t ya? Plenty of shadows.” Zasha continued her rain of chatter for the whole journey. You’d think we could just warp there…or that she hadn’t spoken with anyone for millennia. We passed through reaching pine mazes and over flowing rivers which were full to the brim with fish and other small creatures. Every now and then there would be the screech of a bird or a rustle amongst the undergrowth. Zasha ignored all of this but the sound of her own voice. She seemed content to talk about anything and everything. One might even say she was talking to herself. “…and that’s why you don’t steal from people who have lots of swords. Oh look! We’re here!” she ran ahead to a small wooden shack. Several planks boarded the outside looking like they could fall off any second. “Don’t just stand there, come on in!” The inside of the shack was cluttered and dirty, but to Zasha, that was something called home. She was busy lighting a small fire in the corner. “You hungry? I got bread and bake beans.”
After our hot meal and hours more of Zasha’s talking, she pulled out a massive quilt and two plump pillows. “I only got one of these, so we’re gonna have to share.” She spread the quilt over a carpet on the floor and threw the pillows on top. “Which side you want? Left or right? I usually sleep on the right side but if you want to-“
“I’ll sleep on the left then. Don’t want to mess up your sleeping pattern.” Zasha laughs and climbs under the colourful quilt. I follow and lay next to her. “Goodnight Damien~.” She says, blowing out the candle which sits in a broken lantern. “Night, Zasha.” I roll over onto my side and close my eyes. “Hey Damien?”
“Yeah?” I yawn.
“Mind if I call you big brother?”
“…um…Ok, sure. Go ahead” I don’t know if I want a little sister but, what the hell, why not? “G’night then…big brother.”