“One!” the Sabered Prince yells; his deep, growling voice carries across the Sinners Plains. The three horrors spring from their positions. The Sabered Prince runs on all limbs. He leaps and hits a large boulder sticking out of the ground and pushes off of it, gaining a slight advantage over Syphon. Syphon’s strides are long and fast; Speed is his specialty. Syphon’s veins tightened, his body tensed, and his eyes widened. The Sabered Prince looks to his side as Syphon nears just beside him.
“I don’t think so!” The Prince says.
Syphon vanishes, foliage, and rocks fly in all directions. The Sabered Prince flinches from the shockwave.
“I have your scent! You can’t outrun me for long! I’m a true predator!” The Sabered Prince also vanishes from the naked eye. Whisper slows down, realizing he cannot even compare them in speed. He looks down to the ground, turns around, and slowly floats back to Lala.
“It’s ok, Whisper. Racing isn’t our thing. Besides, we have our way of doing things. We won our last match, our first match just the other day! We have a long way to go, but we’ll get there!” Lala smiles. Whisper nods a few times then is unsummoned.
Lala turns to look at Lulu. Red veins begin to pulsate across her eyes. Gritting her teeth, Lulu feels the intense energy released by her horror. “Syphon’s never used this much of his essence before; It’s becoming a little painful.” Lulu clenches her fists she focuses intensely.
Lala walks over and puts her hand on her shoulder. “It’ll be ok, Lulu! The Sabered Prince is an impressive horror, but Syphon was born for this moment!”
“This big cat won’t stay off my ass!” Syphon remarks to himself.
Syphon swerves around a ditch in the ground; the Prince jumps over it, closing the gap between the two of them. The Sabered Prince roars and puts out even more speed. Syphon uses another vanish, getting further away from the Saberred Prince. The Prince lets out a deep growl. In passing, he picks up a large rock, slides along the dirt, and whips it like a baseball.
“What the hell is that whistling sound?” Syphon mutters to himself.
Syphon turns around and notices the giant rock flying right for him. He stops and trips over some thick foliage. The Prince takes advantage of his trick and leaps past Syphon. Syphon bears his fangs cuts the tall grass away with his claws and bounds for the Summit of Apophis.
I think you pissed him off a little. He’s gaining on us.
I can see that; I can feel that! The shockwave just kicked up the dirt behind my heels!
The Sabered Prince heaves heavily; his breath leaves his throat like an old machine spouting off steam.
Wait, what’s that whistling sound?
The Prince turns around and sees the spikes on top of Syphon’s shoulder blades skewing towards him. The triangular-like scales spiral around the ground below him. They cause little explosions kicking up dirt and throwing the Prince off balance. Syphon dashes past him and takes the lead.
“See ya furball!” Syphon raises his claws to give the Sabered Prince the finger. Just as Syphon turns around, he notices something not too far off in front of him. Two pale figures dressed in loose white cloth block his path. The Sabered Prince catches up to Syphon. Breathing heavily, he looks over to Syphon.
“Our race is over. We seem to have visitors.” The Prince says.
“What’s up with those things? What’s going on?” Syphon grows agitated.
“Stay calm for once. Those are angels of death. It appears we might have disturbed the peace.”
The two tall white figures approach the horrors. A man wearing a cowboy hat, black boots, and jeans with a black long sleeve tucked into his pants walks up to the two horrors. A brown leather strap holds a sidearm across his left side. He’s chewing on a long piece of grass; his pale skin reflects the sunlight. He hollers over to Syphon and the Sabered Prince as he gets within earshot.
“Well, isn’t just a beautiful day outside!” He spits the grass onto the ground.
“This is what I call a “proper” introduction. However, it could end up being quite unpleasant. See, you’re getting a little too close, way too fast now! At first, we thought it was pretty funny, such a wild sight; then we noticed you weren’t stopping any time soon. Figured me and the boys here pay ya a little visit ain’t that right.” The man looks up at the two angels of death. Syphon takes a step forward, but the Prince puts out his two left hands to stop him.
“I’ll talk to him.” The Sabered Prince takes a single step forward. “Listen. We were only having a little race of our own. Sure it was getting rowdy, and we should have been more-” The man interrupts the Prince. He waves his hand around.
“I don’t give a shit about whatever game yer playin. All I care about is why you’re out there. Coming to sightsee? Sorry but we’re closed right now, so I give you three seconds to back right the fuck up and turn around, and my boys here won’t turn you two into horror sashimi.”
The two angels of death materialize massive claymores in both hands. Their eyes begin to bleed streams of black blood; their mouths open wide, revealing a deep jet black void.
“Alright, we’re leaving. We don’t want any trouble.” Syphon says. He turns around and walks back the way he came; the Sabered Prince nods towards the man and follows behind him.
“What was that all about? For once in my life, I was terrified. What exactly are angels of death?” Syphon turns to look at the Prince.
“They’re one of the few entities capable of permanently destroying a horror. If they cut you down, you won’t be returning to oblivion, and neither will any of your essence, destruction. You’ll be gone for good. You have a right to be terrified; I know I was. I guess we almost overstepped our boundaries. They must have known we were not up to anything nefarious. Jacky and I witnessed what happens when you stand against one of those angels. However, they do seem understanding in a way. Maybe that’s just the human side to the control they must have upon them. Giving us a chance to walk away, we should consider ourselves lucky, friend.” The Sabered Prince pats Syphon on the back.
“Whatever. I’m more upset that we’ll never know who was to win the race. Screw those angels!” Syphon says with a snarl.
“I think you would have won on that last stretch. I was moments away from collapsing. I’m not built for long-distance like you are. I may be faster in short bursts, but you had me beat there. You’ll be our proxy in the upcoming event. I know you’ll do fine. Now unsummon yourself. I don’t know if you noticed, but you used up a lot of essence. I can sense from here Lulu is feeling the effects of our race. I can even smell her nosebleed from here.”
“Right. She’ll be fine. Consider it a little taste of what this next event will be like. I’m sure she’ll be at her wit’s end near the end of the race. Especially considering it will be even more stressful than this.” Syphon slashes a rift into oblivion and rakes his way inside.
The Sabered Prince runs on all limbs back over to the treeline. After a few moments, Jacky emerges from the treeline, fully clothed but drenched in sweat. He picks up his bottle of water and chugs the entire thing. Lulu uses her shirt to wipe her nose; blood splotches and runs down her lips. Lala tries to help her sit down. She takes her water bottle and uses it to clean her sister’s face. Jacky squats down next to Lulu.
“Sorry, Lulu. I didn’t think that would be so taxing on your spirit. Syphon won the race, and you’ll be our team’s representative. Until then, I want you to rest as much as possible.”
“Got it. I won’t let you guys down.” Lulu stands up and brushes off her pants.
“You’ll do great, sis! I’ll be cheering you on from the sidelines along with Jacky here!” Lala jumps with glee.
“Let’s get back to the apartment. We’re all exhausted.” Jacky says
The team makes their way back to the small apartment. On the kitchen counter is a small opaque box filled with rubies.
“This must be what we earned from our last two matches?” Jacky gestures to the box on the table.
“Nope. That’s what Lulu and I earned from just our match. What you earned we put next to your sleeping mat.” Lala kicks off her shoes, dramatically plops down onto the sofa, and turns on the TV. Jacky makes his way to his room. Inside, a dozen of the same boxes sit stacked at the end of his bed. The shimmering blue rubies glisten in the lamplight.
“Nice. I wasn’t expecting this many rubies. I guess my performance raked in more money than they were expecting.”
Jacky throws his coat onto his mat and undresses to take a shower.
Jacky looks in the mirror, wiping the steam off the glass, his reflection smeared. He stares into his own eyes. His pupils fade away, and the eyes of the Sabered Prince take form, replacing the sightseeing organs.
I can feel the gears turning in your head Jacky. I’m interested in what’s disturbing that mind of yours.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what lies ahead. The path forward is going to be one of great pain. The way this committee acts is chaotic. The man we encountered felt off. Something about him isn’t right.
I see. That man is powerful, whatever his role may be. The angels that accompany him are even more so. The events of today change nothing. We continue to play the game.
Jacky wipes away the Prince’s reflection, dawns something more comfortable, and walks out into the living room. Lala is watching tv; a battle is taking place on the screen. Jacky plops down next to her and throws his arm onto the back of the couch. Lala looks over at him.
“You’re just in time. I turned on the match that Lulu and I won! I already watched it once the other night, but I think it’s super cool!” Lala throws her fists into the air then falls back onto the couch lazily.
Jacky focuses on the video; the quality of the video is superb shot at the best possible angles. Whisper is about to fight against another horror of similar height. Its eyes are bright green, almost glowing. The body of the horror seems to be made of a gelatinous flowing slime. Three legs hold the central portion of the horror’s being. Long, thick wavering arms accompany its side. It has a head, small, and the expression is stiff like a grouchy plastic doll. Unlike other horrors, this one is calm and still. An aspect of intelligence shines through the horror. Whisper flies headfirst at the horror; its name flashes at the bottom of the tv like how info cards flash during a boxing match. “Trixies Trap.”
“This fight was tough. Whisper had to give it his all against such a confusing opponent.” Lala moves her lips to the right side of her mouth as if still puzzled by the horror.
Jacky glances at Lala then back to the match. Trixie’s movements appear as if in slow motion. Its arms move up very slowly, and the hands of the horror form around an invisible sphere. Just as Whisper closes in on Trixie, a shockwave forces him soring through the air. The ground begins to tremor, and multiple spheres of energy pulse from the horror. This constant flow of power disrupts the lights cast onto the arena. Whisper tries to push through the assaulting force but repeatedly finds himself backed against the arena wall. Whisper wobbles in the air and shakes its head, dazed.
“We already went over his new power, right? He should-” Lala shushes Jacky
“He’s just about to don’t ruin it for yourself!” Lala sits up in anticipation.
Whisper’s body becomes transparent. He flies through the pounding sphere with ease. He closes in, face to face with the horror. Trixie opens its mouth and screeches; Whisper, struck by the ability, stumbles back just a few feet, his mask cracks under the intense pressure exerted by the odd horror. Disoriented, Whisper floats down towards the ground; still transparent, he quickly finds enough strength within him to rise back up and force his way through the immense force keeping him at bay. Whisper flies halfway through the head of Trixie and becomes tangible again. The pulsating energy sphere is exceptionally forceful, so close Whisper is flung high into the sky; however, Trixie’s headless form falls over. All the noise comes to a sudden halt; silence befalls the arena. Whisper is announced the winner of the match.
“Not bad. That’s what I was waiting for. What an annoying horror. Staying in one place and throwing out all that power can only last for so long. They were right about one thing; it was a trick and nothing more. Some talents may trick you, but tricks are talentless.” Jacky stands up and pats Lala on the head.
“I’m off to get some rest. Don’t stay up too late.” Lala smiles then frowns.
“You’re not gonna stay for Lulu’s fight?” Jacky shakes his head.
“I know just how that match would go. I-” Jacky notices something on the screen.
“Pause it, go back.” Lala is startled and reaches for a small triangular-shaped device with only three buttons. She presses one, and the entire fight starts over from the beginning.
“Oh, shoot, let me-” Jacky walks in front of the tv.
“It’s fine. I still got what I saw.”
Standing on the corner of the stadium wall leaning against an advertisement sign is the same man the Prince and Syphon encountered earlier in the day. His smile is sharp, and his hat covers his eyes.
“What is it, Jacky? Let me see. Let me see!” Lala puts her face next to Jacky’s. Jacky backs off and shakes his head.
“Just someone standing up there, see him?” Jacky points to the corner of the screen. Lala squints and notices the man.
“Oh wow! He better be careful up there! If he falls, he could get seriously hurt. Good eye! What a weird thing to do, huh?”
Lala looks up at the ceiling and puts her hand on her chin, pondering what the man could have been up to. Jacky sighs and turns and makes way for his room.
“Goodnight, Lala. We’ll be going out late in the afternoon for some training out in the plains again tomorrow. We’ll stop by Claire’s office to let her know Lulu will be our choice for the race.” Lala nods and turns the tv off.
“I guess that means I should get some sleep then. I’ll see you in the morning, or if you sleep in, then, around lunch!” Lala skips off into the room; Jacky enters the room and leaves the door slightly cracked. He flops down onto his back on his sleeping mat, laces his fingers behind his head, and stares up at the ceiling.
It seems we have a stalker. Maybe it wasn’t just a coincidence that he interrupted our race yesterday.
I’m thinking the same thing. This guy is something else. Let’s get some rest, and we’ll think more about it later.