Chapter 1: The Beast of Yahaii
Part 1: The Playground Bout
“Next up, the fight you have all been waiting for! The defending world champion! The blazing! The fiery hot! The raging fury! The inferno of the weeeest! Vicaar ‘The Knuckle’ Asgaar!” The announcer roared his name and the entire stadium bellowed in support. “Knuckle! Knuckle! Knuckle! Knuckle!” The sliding gates opened, and the reigning champion emerged. He carried the belt as proudly as the crowds screamed his name. He entered the ring with his fist raised and a composed smirk, cool as ever. Behind him came his three guardians. First was Ezelle, the giant butterfly light-controller. Her wings reflected the sunlight like a perfect mirror created by the goddess of light herself. Next was Beliursa, the grizzly bear cold-controller, aloof and unimpressed by the crowd. The air around his thick body bent to his will as if the cold mist belonged to him. Finally, the guardian the whole world knew, Vicaar’s ace and first companion, Dragon, the giant salamander heat-controller. Many believed Dragon was the strongest heat-controller in the world, and possibly the strongest Jiva alive. Some believed he would one day enter the hall of legends. Some believed he already did. A Jiva you would see once in a generation. Dragon released his aura in a fiery wave, bathing the whole stadium in his scorching might. The safety barriers barely contained it. The pressure was felt by all. The waves of the massive crowds jumped and screamed. Roared and soared. The stadium trembled with the force of an earth-shattering quake. The battle of the century was about to begin.
Leon could not contain his excitement any longer. Vicaar was a hero to every kid he knew. He couldn’t believe his father got ahold of these tickets. He had tears in his eyes, screaming in support of his hero. How he dreamed of having a guardian like Dragon. One day, he promised himself. One day he would be just as great. He would have his own guardian and conquer the world!
Leon had stepped on the railing behind a person in front of him, and then on the railing of the seat in front. He wanted to see it all. He had to. He slipped. But dad caught him. “Careful, Knuckles!” Dad laughed. He laughed. Dad let Leon on his shoulders. He could see it all. When his little sister complained, Dad carried them both on his shoulders. One on the left, and one on the right. Mom looked worried for a second, but only a second. Today was the most special day of their lives. That must have been why she smiled.
“Next up! His opponent needs no introduction! He is the impenetrable shield! The immovable wall! The voracious hulking monster! And he is here to take back what was taken! He is the former champion of the woooorld!” The announcer held his hand towards the massive gates as they opened. “From the Geremian mountains! Yurakesh ‘The Bullwark’ Duwane!” The announcer roared his name. Yurakesh entered the stage with his guardians as well, holding both fists high. The crowd screamed in support. “Bullwark! Bullwark! Bullwark! Bullwark!” There were others that boo’d. Others yelled “Knuckle!”. Leon couldn’t stop shaking. He couldn’t believe he was there. His dad grinned at him.
The fighters stepped forward as the referee laid down the rules. “Fighters, I want to see a clean and honest fight. It will be a four-versus-four single battle. Twenty rounds. Understood?” The fighters nodded as the referee went through the rules. “Shake hands and get ready!” Both fighters commanded one of their guardians to take their position. “Start!”
The heavens themselves shook. The earth erupted. The waves of melting plasma consumed the battlefield. The sands roared like the gates of calamity. The battle was forever burned in Leon’s memories. And contained in his heart.
Leon would never forget the ending. That battle was six years ago. Afterward, Vicaar retired and Dragon was never seen again. It was the most precious memory he had of his father. Especially now, it was painful. The principal began to address the auditorium.
“Congratulations, everyone! You all have passed your exams. You all graduated.“ Some kids cheered. Leon didn’t. He continued. “Glad to see you in good spirits. I want to invite you all to celebrate your graduation next week with a barbeque. You can invite two extra people, next to your parents.” Leon inhaled and held his breath. Of course, the geezer had to rub it in. He caressed the spacewatch on his wrist. He stopped listening to whatever else was said. Some garbage about dreams, future, and potential. The same story every geezer would tell you. He knew how the world really worked. Only those chosen ones were allowed to do amazing things. The rest would just have to settle.
Soon he would finally be able to do what he was good at, as a researcher and explorer for Protex, the largest corporation in the world. He studied all his life for that position. That’s what he told the interviewers anyway. It will be the same job his father had.
After the speech was over he picked up his backpack to make his way home. He left through the gate of the school’s front yard until Aures stopped him.
“Leon, where are you going? You’re gonna miss the battle!”
“I don’t care. I’m sick and tired of dealing with those losers.”
“But it’s gonna be the fight of our school life! You have to see it! If you go now, you’ll regret it forever!”
“Come on!” Aures dragged him to the back of the schoolyard, where other kids were already waiting. Leon knew that if he didn’t let her do this, he’ll never hear the end of it. She readied her camera. Aures was a childhood friend he met in the cradle. They knew each other longer than they held memories. Their mothers too were best friends since childhood and decided to live in the same neighborhood.
“Aures, Leon!”, a familiar voice said.
“Ossi!”, Aures said in response. His real name was Osten. “Who do you think will win?”
“I hope Sam wins. Enric has been giving me hell for years.”
Leon didn’t care either way. Both of them were plain old bullies that took whatever they wanted. Sam regularly collected ‘taxes’. Those who refused to pay would regret it. Look at her the wrong way, say something funny, and she will use her practiced martial arts against you when nobody was looking. Enric was more nefarious. He bullied for fun. Enric came from serious wealth and power and he had no problem flaunting it. Leon heard his family even had ties with the government. Some kids feared him so much they left school entirely and none of the teachers did anything about it. Leon looked forward to seeing one lose, but the other would have to win to make that happen.
Sam was the one who showed up first with her guardian. A normal blue cat. Its hairs stood sharp as spikes. Sam had her arms crossed, with that same hard look on her face whenever she did what she was good at, walking back and forth restlessly. Leon doubted she had other skills. Finally, Enric arrived together with his lackeys, Bo, the fat one, and Sellus, the tall one. Funny enough, those two used to be Sam’s lackeys. It must be in their blood. “Well, Sammy-boy, here I am. What are you going to do?”
“Shut up, coward. Summon your guardian.”
Enric grinned in contempt at her. “Sure, Sammy-boy. I guess you just can’t ever get enough humiliation in a lifetime, can you?” He chuckled. Sam’s veins started showing.
“Laugh all you want. In this battle, no one can save you. Remember that!” The crowd made provoking sounds.
“Who needs saving? I’m not the one destined to be a lifelong loser here. What are you even going to do after this? Be a hobo? You already look the part. And smell it too.” Some kids had to hide their smiles. But Sam was not smiling at all.
“None of your business! Now shut up and summon it! Or Patra will attack you directly! I’ll do time if I have to!” The crowd howled.
“Suit yourself, Sammy-boy.” He touched his spacewatch and flicked his wrist at the ground before him. A tear in space, black as a starry night, opened and a mountain ram appeared from the pocket dimension, about as tall as the average kid. Sam’s mouth fell open. It should not have been a surprise. Enric could buy a new guardian whenever he wanted. Had she really thought he would play fair?
Sam composed herself. “Patra, get ready!” Her guardian jumped forward. “Attack it from the side Patra!” Enric’s ram hustled up close and lifted his front hoof into a ferocious kick towards Patra, the sound proving its power. Patra dodged it by a hair towards the side of the ram, while the ram used his massive horns to catch Patra mid-dodge. Patra demonstrated her superior agility by jumping on the back of the ram, using its horns as a foothold, and biting in the neck. Enric’s face now looked visibly concerned. “What are you doing, idiot! Slam it into the ground! Stomp it!” The ram jumped and kicked, trying to get rid of Patra. But Patra held on, digging herself with her claws into the ram’s neck. “Patra, Spine cracker!” Patra dug her teeth in. That was a finishing move. If Enric’s guardian failed to remove her now, he would lose the battle. Impressive. He had expected Enric to sweep this victory. Clearly, Sam had been spending a lot of time training Patra.
“Slam the rat into the wall, idiot!”, Enric yelled. The ram whipped up a charge straight for the wall. It picked up speed quickly. A direct hit would cause serious damage to both of them. The ram slammed its back with full force into the wall, leaving cracks under its impact. Leon felt himself get angry at the sight. These things Enric would always get away with. The ram trembled and shook as it picked itself up, visibly in pain. “Move! Charge!” Enric continued. Leon saw a flash of anger in the ram’s eyes as it blared in frustration. Did Enric even notice? If Sam was smart, she could use that. Leon snorted out air, amused. Who was he kidding?
“Patra, it’s weak! Do it again!”
What was she doing? All she needed to do was play into the ram’s frustration. It would turn against Enric! The ram’s anger had not doused its focus. Its horns started to emit light. Then it jumped on his hind legs, as Patra was about to come from the side, and emitted a bright flash that made the onlookers flinch, and blind Patra. Then it turned its upper body towards her and struck with a bone-cracking kick. Then it rammed its rounded horns onto the downed feline to finish the fight. The crowd fell into a cold silence.
Enric laughed at Sam in victory. “Once a loser, always a loser. Maybe you will have better luck in another life. Try jumping the next gate, Sammy-boy.” Sam looked mortified. But the only one who Leon felt sorry for was Patra. Sam rushed up toward Patra to see her injuries. Then she looked up at Enric in rage. “The only reason you won is because your guardian has an element! You are a coward! One day I will make you regret this!”
“‘One day’, she says.” Enric chuckled. “Sellus, can you put ‘one day’ on my calendar?”
“When is that?”
“Beats me. Must be loser’s day.” Everyone resounded in laughter. “Eh, Sammy-boy?” Not even Leon could contain himself. Sam couldn’t hold herself back any longer. She hustled forward to strike Enric, but the ram struck her and rammed her to the ground. Enric walked over to her.
“Truth is, Sammy-boy, I’m just better than you. I always will be. It’s because you were born from trash and I was not. That’s how it is. And I will prove it.” He turned towards the crowd. “Watch me. I will be the next champion of Yahaii! From today onwards, I will start my career as a professional guardian trainer! I will become famous!”
Enric was insufferable. Nobody had the guts to tell him though. Leon could tell Sam was holding back tears hearing that. He guessed this battle meant more to her than it meant to everyone else. He could not pity her though. She lost because of her own stupidity. Enric recalled his guardian to his spacewatch, leaving the schoolyard with his gang. Some others followed.
“The battle was amazing,” said Aures. “But the ending was disappointing. I was rooting for Sam.” She stopped recording.
“Yeah,” Ossi said. “But predictable.”
“I can’t believe how dumb Sam is.” Leon felt frustration building up. “If I was her, I would have won, hand down. Element or no element, it would not matter!”
“Leon!”, Aures whispered loudly.
“She does not have the brain to look one step further than-”
“What? It’s true. She has no skill except for beating people up. She deserves-”
“You again, sneaky weasel,” Sam voice scraped his eardrums from behind. He recognized that agonizing voice any time.
“Care to say that again?”
“Care to say what?” How could she have even heard? She was too far, was she not?
Aures came in between them. “Sam, he didn’t mean it. Let’s just go. It’s the last day anyway.” Sam grabbed Aures and pushed her aside.
“Hey, stop that!” Leon said.
“And what are you going to do about that?”
“I’ll just go. Let’s go Aures, Ossi.”
“Oh, no, you don’t.” Sam grabbed Leon by the collar, reeking of sweat and unwashed clothes. Leon tried to push her away. “Stop!”
Then she twisted up his collar, pushed her hip into Leon’s, lifted him off the ground, turning, and then slamming him into it, judo style. She then punched him in the eye. Leon cried out in pain.
She spat next to Leon on the ground. “That’s what you get. Remember that.” Then she grabbed Patra and walked off.
Leon felt dizzy as he held his hands on his eye. “This is why I didn’t want to come, Aures!”
“How is it my fault? I tried to warn you!” Ossi and Aures looked concerned.
“Are you alright?” Ossi said.
“Yeah.” Leon got up. “I’m leaving. I’m done for today. Leave me.” Leon started going his way.
“Sorry,” Aures said.
“It’s fine. Not your fault. See you later.”
Skill Type: Disruption
Skill Requirement: Light Anima
Additional Requirement: A short wind-up
Skill level: Beginner
Special effects: White Blind
Basic Energy Source: Chakra, Ki
Energy strain: Low
Threat Level: Low
Skill type: One-Hit-KO
Skill requirement: Strong jaws
Additional Requirement: The user needs to lock in
Skill Level: Beginner
Special effects: Paralysis
Basic Energy Source: Chakra
Energy Strain: None
Threat Level: High
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