41 Whirling Rend - Headed by a Snake
Barza Keith, the Lone Shadowdark, thought that he was getting used to the feeling of weightlessness. But gravity's cruelty again took hold of him and he collided with the hard forest floor, his entire body radiating with the shock.
Sound returned to his world-- a deluge of laughter. Jeers. Mockery.
"OH!! Ohohoho!! You broke the Outsider!"
Roars and excited screams crescendoed from the crowd, warriors of the Muto family clad in dark armor and black cloth masking their faces. They laughed at him. They cheered on the big man who had just executed a powerful throw. They took turns, kicking his side and stomping on his body.
"Hurr hurr hurr. Come on, Outsider! We aren't done with you."
"Hahaha! Look at him squirm!"
"Squeal, Outsider! Squeal like a pig!!
Barza dragged himself onto his elbows and knees, coughing and dry heaving after the last strike. 8 men of the Muto family had surrounded him and were taking turns beating him. He had lost his swords, but he still had his fists.
They were prideful fists. He'd never lost in a bare-knuckle fight before, not in roughhousing on the streets as a child, not as a teenage sellsword. His fame as a boxer was acknowledged anywhere on the east side of the Kingdom. But those same fists fell powerless against the hardened bodies of the Ivory Judge sect.
And in return, they struck his body. They even grappled him and threw him onto the cold hard ground. Their grappling techniques of Yoshio's men were even stronger than their boxing-- Barza's fighting spirit was cracked and broken-- but it only filled him with rage at his inability.
'Errrgh... What am I gonna do, what am I gonna do?!' Barza pounded the leaf-covered ground in frustration.
Too many things were relying on him. He needed to take care of these mooks and get back to Bucket, his sworn brother! He needed to defeat Yoshio, the evil villain of the Muto family! He needed to go back to the Iva-- to the sect and deliver them from their calamity!
How could he be held up by this group of unnamed trash? He was the Chosen One! He was the hero in their legends and prophecies and tales of valor! How dare they beat the crap out of him in the middle of nowhere?!
Ooooh.... Sheesh. A cold sweat assaulted his back, reminding him of the worst nightmare. Boss Tycon was a terrifying existence. If Tycon found out he lost... He'd probably be subjected to more training. Worse training.
He had to do this... He had it in him. He couldn't lose here. He couldn't embarrass the Guild.
"A sword..." Barza coughed. He just needed a sword.
Laughter surrounded him once more, ringing in his ears.
"What's that?" "Psh, the Outsider wants a sword." "We're your enemies, IDIOT! Why the hell would we give you a sword?!"
They all laughed again. Barza grit his teeth. If he wasn't hurt, he'd--
Barza stared at the ground-- at the pool of saliva he'd coughed out.
It wasn't blood.
It was odd. For the past several weeks, every waking sun... he'd been coughing and even urinating blood from his combat training injuries. His body would be in a constant state of broken or sore. Every single moment of training was filled with literal blood, dripping pools of sweat, and a reservoir of tears that he wasn't allowed to cry.
But now that he was in a life or death battle... It didn't hurt.
It ached. It frustrated him. It made him angry.
"Hahah! You broke him! Let me just KICKSTART him!" One of the ninjas laughed, approaching.
Barza took the impact of the kick, grabbing the man's leg.
"Eh? It looks like an insect is on my shoe. Looks like I'll have to--"
Barza pulled the ninja's sword from its sheath and stood, drawing it in a line across the man's throat. A mist of blood sprayed into the air as Barza spun the blade in a flourish. Barza turned towards the crowd, bathed in a rain of blood.
"I can do this," He muttered... "I can do this."
A ninja approached from Barza's left, landing a solid blow to the side of his face. It hurt. It really hurt. But it wasn't enough. Barza stabbed the woman in the stomach, pulling the blade out to the side, spilling her intestines onto his boots.
Barza took the corpse's sword, glaring at the biggest ninja, "Hey, you big bastard... Didn't you know? I'm the Chosen One."
The big man laughed, but after Barza's grisly display, no one laughed along with him. The big man pulled down his black mask and scowled in anger, thick veins bulging on his neck and forehead.
"Ridiculous! You--" The man began to yell, but looked down at the two dead men and hesitated. "You're just an Outsider... What can you possibly know about being the Chosen One?"
The other ninjas were less convinced, "The Chosen One? Like in the stories?" "They say he's capable of all of the sect's hidden techniques!" "No way, I didn't sign up for this!" "I heard he can talk to animals!" "H-he's just one guy!"
Barza lowered his center of gravity and closed his eyes. Smooth, yet fast. With power, but with grace. His blades were a windmill of death and slaughter. He opened his eyes, wide, taking in the breadth of his foes. He swung his swords with viciousness and speed, spinning his body with great power and great responsibility. "WHIIIIRLWIIINNNND ATTTAAAAACK!!!"
The nearby bush erupted in raucous laughter. Dragan choked on his own saliva, coughing like an invalid, laughing and gasping for breath. Tears had collected at the corners of his eyes.
"Ohhhh, wooooow. WhiirRLLwIiNnD aTTtaaAAack,"' he groaned, snorting through his nose.
"He just-- haha! He just spun in a circle like he was working at a whorehouse!"
Dragan peeked again through the bush he was hiding behind.
"Bwahaha!" He cackled, holding his palm to his face. "It WORKED! HOW?! How is it working?!?"
He looked up again, but fell onto his back in laughter, "BY THE GODS, HE KILLED ONE!! WHAAAAAT?!? GAHAHAHA!"
Barza swallowed. He had spun so hard he vomited a little in his mouth. But the Chosen One doesn't vomit onto his clothes. The Chosen One has self-respect.
His ultimate move had taken care of the biggest ninja-- probably the leader. And he saw no less than three cuts on the remaining ninjas. Leaderless, the ninjas would probably run away in fear. He was doing pretty well.
"Use the black eggs!" The ninjas began shouting. "Right!" "I brought 20 of them!" "Yeah, we should have used them from the beginning."
The remaining ninjas began reaching into their pouches, each removing several black-painted eggs.
Barza opened his guard, his swords pointed outward, "What's a black egg?"
"Light him up!" One of the ninjas commanded.
"No, wait! Don't light him up! Don't--"
Barza suffered a barrage of thrown weapons-- the painted egg shells struck him accurately, splashing him with the concoction of muck, inside each of them. The corrosive liquid burnt through his clothing and his skin hurt and itched, feeling unbearably cold yet swelteringly hot. Some of it got onto his face and eyes-- sharp, irritating bits and granules, far worse than sand.
"Oh, crap! Oh! What are these?! Oh! OHH WHYYY! WHYYYYYYY?!! WRRRRYYYYYYYYYY!!!!"
"Don't stop throwing, we've almost got 'em!" "Pick up the eggs from the casualties, too!" "I'm sorry, Chosen One!!"
"QUIT THROWING THOSE THINGS!!"
Dragan continued to snicker, watching Barza dance and cry under the onslaught of ninja weapons.
"Ah, hah...? I guess it's almost time for me to help."
Dragan sat cross-legged, watching patiently.
Barza finally had enough. Dragan leaned forward, hopeful that Barza would do something interesting. Barza yelled with all of his might and... threw his sword.
It wasn't aimed at any one particular ninja-- he was trying to rub whatever liquid gunk was in his eyes, but it only made him scream in pain louder.
It was just as well. Dragan held his hand out toward the spinning sword, his eyes aglow with mana.
The blade curved sharply to the side, slashing the throat of a nearby ninja. Dragan swiped his hand quickly sideways, stabbing another. With a turn of his hand, he decapitated one and gutted another.
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Dragan hopped out of the bush and dashed to one of the ninja's bodies. He drew the woman's sword and tossed it at the last remaining ninja.
The sword didn't stick but managed to deliver a fatal neck wound, their blood spraying fantastically upward as they fell to their knees and died.
'Eh, good enough.'
Dragan looked over to Barza. He was angrily spinning a single sword while crying tears of black fluid and quite possibly blood.
"Come at me! I'm the CHOSEN ONE! Your attacks mean NOTHING TO ME."
He was yelling at nearly the opposite direction of Dragan.
Dragan shook his head and picked up a pack of the black eggs from another fallen ninja. He sloshed around the liquid inside of one before grinning in amusement.
'Well, if you really want, I guess I don't mind' Dragan thought as he threw the first egg.