Chapter 16 – Selfishness

  • by lemuel moo
“Brother, we need to hurry! Dylan isn’t going to let us go this easily.”
 
“…”
 
Zeel suddenly punched the wall in frustration and the wall was punctured with a hole. Sunny stopped climbing the stairs and looked at Zeel with tears in her eyes.
 
They were trying to escape the underground arena through the emergency stairway after Gale bought them time to escape.
 
“…Sunny, you are more dear to me than my own life. Yet it doesn’t sit well with me that I have to leave Gale there to fight while I run away with you!
 
You should go on without me! I need to help Gale out!”
 
In anger and frustration, Sunny walked up to Zeel and slapped him on his face.
 
“How do you think I will feel if both of you sacrificed yourselves to save my life?! Why are all of you so selfish?!
 
None of us could call for help if we were all fighting at the arena! Gale saw that you can’t continue fighting with your injuries, so we must get help!
 
Now hurry up before it’s too late!”
 
Zeel cursed his own powerlessness and gritted his teeth as he hurriedly climbed the stairway with Sunny.
 
“…I think that Aunt Agatha whom I saw today might be able to help. Do you have a phone with you? I couldn’t bring my phone to the fighting floor since I was a competitor!”
 
Sunny reached for her phone and looked at it, but alas, there was no reception.
 
“We need to be above ground before I can use my phone! There are still three floors left to climb, so let’s hurry!”
 
As they approached the second last floor before reaching ground level, a lady dressed in a beautiful crimson dress, with black hair and a rose brooch, was waiting for the siblings. Zeel and Sunny couldn’t hide their surprise!
 
“…Dinah?! Why are you here?!”
 
“…You survived your match even when the odds were against you, so I’m here to congratulate you. And it’s been a long time, Sunny!”
 
Sunny couldn’t believe that her brother’s missing love interest was standing before them. She was immediately ushered into the underground arena by Dylan when she arrived on the offshore island and didn’t manage to cross paths with anyone else.
 
“…Sister Dinah?! I didn’t know you were on this island!”
 
“Let’s talk about that later! Dylan’s men are waiting for you both upstairs, so I’m here to bring the both of you out in another way! Follow me!”
 
Dinah opened the door behind her and walked through a corridor, before motioning the siblings to follow. Sunny was confused because she didn’t know if she could trust Dinah, but Zeel walked forward without hesitating.
 
“If she’s here to hurt us, she would just leave us to Dylan’s men on the surface. Let’s trust her for now, Sunny!”
 
As Zeel and Sunny followed Dinah through a maze of corridors, Zeel couldn’t help but ask Dinah a question.
 
“Why are you helping us?”
 
“…Because you said, you were going to make it out alive through the fighting match. It would be a waste if both of you were caught by Dylan.”
 
Upon hearing those words, Zeel grabbed Dinah’s hand, and both of them stopped walking.
 
“If you are willing to help us now, why did you even sign me up for this tournament in the first place?! I am convinced now that it was never your intention to hurt us!”
 
Dinah heaved a sigh and didn’t turn to look at Zeel.
 
“…I made a bet that if you win, I will date you. Am I right?”
 
“Yes.”
 
“I didn’t just make a bet with you. I made a bet with Dylan’s sponsor.”
 
“…Dylan’s sponsor?”
 
Dinah pulled her hand away from Zeel and did not turn to look at him.
 
“When Dylan and I left this place to seek out better fortunes for ourselves, we arrived at a foreign city that was completely new to us. Everything was unfamiliar, and life was difficult.
 
Dylan was anxious to get rich, famous and powerful. So he took my photos, made a deal with the lynchpin of that city, and that man raped me in my house.”
 
Zeel and Sunny were awestruck as they hear Dinah’s story. Zeel’s anger was bubbling from within his bosom, and he struggled to contain himself.
 
“…Fortunately, that man who raped me came to love me properly as a woman. He treated both Dylan and me kindly, was very respectful to me and didn’t dare to offend me anymore. Dylan took advantage of that and gained the riches and power which he wanted.
 
After some time, that man proposed to me and wanted me to be his wife. However, I couldn’t bring myself to love him, because of what he did, and because my heart already belonged to someone else.
 
That man was desperate to win over my heart, so he turned to Dylan for an answer. Dylan said that the guy whom I love is strong, and he runs a motorbike shop with his sister.
 
Frustrated over a love rival, that man then made a bet with me. If you could win ten matches, I will be free to date whoever I want. If not, I will be his woman.”
 
Tears couldn’t stop flowing from Zeel’s eyes, and he collapsed on his knees. Sunny started crying too and hugged Dinah from behind. Dinah didn’t turn her head and tried to shrug Sunny off, but Sunny held even tighter!
 
“Sister Dinah! Why didn’t you tell us about it?!”
 
“…Your brother wouldn’t be able to calm himself down and would try to save me from that man’s clutches. I will be an even greater sinner if I did that and let him be killed!
 
It was very selfish of me to make Zeel fight this tournament and put his life on the line. However, that was my only glimmer of hope to live the life that I want, so forgive me.”
 
It took some time before Zeel could muster enough strength to stand up from his knees. He was relieved that Dinah didn’t betray him, but was devastated that she suffered so much just for him.
 
“..D-Dinah, I wish we could talk further, but Gale’s life is on the line right now. We need to quickly get help, and after we rescue Gale, all of us will — “
 
“There is no ‘us’, Zeel. You didn’t win the ten matches, and so I will have a new lover now.”
 
Zeel immediately stood before Dinah and grabbed her shoulders! However, Dinah bit her lips and did not look at him in his eyes.
 
“DINAH! This is not right! I swear to you I will get you out of this mess, even if it kills me!”
 
Dinah shrugged off Sunny’s embrace forcefully and pushed away Zeel’s arms.
 
“Can’t you see that you are powerless to do anything about it?! That man is a famous lynchpin with dozens of assassins under him! Why do you think Dylan had 30,000 men obeying his every whim and fancy?!
 
It’s already a miracle that you survived your previous match! Let’s not push your luck too far and get ahead of yourself!”
 
At that moment, the ground that they stood on shook, and Sunny exclaimed.
 
“T-That’s Gale’s killing aura! It’s insane that we can feel it right here!”
 
Zeel grabbed Dinah’s hands and pulled her to himself.
 
“We need to get going now! Gale has been overexerting himself because there are silver needles that are obstructing his flow of power! The more energy he emits, the more harm his body will experience!
 
Lead us to the ground level right now! There is no time to waste!”
 
Dinah hurriedly walked forward and tried to lead the way for the siblings. However, after a few steps, there was a figure in the midst of the shadows ahead of them, and a sinister voice spoke.
 
“Where do you think you are going, sister?”
 

 
Gale bled profusely from his body because he cut himself and invoked a ‘near-death’ state on himself. Yet he stood tall and did not back away from the challenge that was ahead of him. He was like a bear robbed of her cubs, and he prevented the Four Abominations from chasing down Zeel and Sunny by firing sword energy projectiles whenever they tried to get around him. 
 
A murderous aura permeated the atmosphere, making it difficult to breathe and a twenty kilograms of weight was upon everyone in the arena. The Four Abominations were hesitant to make a move as they felt a slight fear from Gale’s display of power.
 
“Gwen, why do you think he hurt himself just so that he can fight us? It makes no sense!”
 
“Your guess is as good as mine, Beatrix. This guy is very mysterious!
 
Asti, do you want to try to take the first shot?”
 
From Gale’s observation, Gwen, who is ‘the Scrooge’, is a strategist. Beatrix is ‘the Glutton’, Porneia is ‘the Bewitcher’ and Asti is ‘the Drunkard’.
 
Asti stepped forward and signaled to one of the officials for a weapon. A metal pole was thrown to her, and she swung it around as though it was second nature to her.
 
“Let’s see how you deal with me, boy!”
 
Asti’s battle pose was familiar to Gale. It was the [Drunken Pole Techniques][1], a set of techniques that were derived from [the Drunken Fist]. These techniques were famous for their unpredictability, like how a drunkard would behave.
 
Holding his [Black Sky] sword with his right, and his [Five Elemental Wooden Sword] on his left, Gale readied himself as Asti sprinted forward and thrust her pole aggressively.
 
Gale sidestepped the thrust, but Asti turned her head towards Gale and spit out a mist of wine vapor at his face! 
 
If Gale breathes the vapor into his lungs, it will temporarily intoxicate him, and that will cause him to stagger in drowsiness for a while. However, Gale was familiar with that mist attack, known as the [Wine Mist], and returned the mist back at Asti with his [Lion King’s Roar]!
 
Asti dodged the point-blank blast of the [Lion King’s Roar] by bending down, but the shockwave’s radius was wide, and she was thrown backward by the impact. Without giving any time for Asti to recover, Gale leaped forward and fired a [Crescent Moon Slash] at Asti. Asti then struck the ground and pulled the concrete tiles right at the slash attack to soften it, and afterward parried the energy projectile away from her.
 
Gale unleashed the [Thousand Waves Of Fury] technique at Asti, and caught everyone’s surprise!
 
“Doesn’t this skill belong to the Mizushima family?! How does he know this technique?!”
 
However, unlike the usual [Thousand Waves Of Fury] that Kasumi or Hideki usually use, Gale’s version was with dual swords, and he used his wooden sword’s ability to enhance the penetrating power of his slashes! Asti felt threatened by the tidal wave of slashes that headed straight for her, and she swirled her pole rapidly in circular motions in front of her to block the technique!
 
It was as though Asti was trying to fight against a flash flood, and the barrage of slashes rained down at her body mercilessly, shredding her clothes and cutting her body in all directions! In desperation, Asti spewed out a huge cloud of wine mist and used her [qi] to ignite it, which forced Gale to back away from the fire.
 
Asti was all bloodied and covered with slash wounds, and the rest of the Abomination didn’t have the time to react!
 
“…This guy didn’t even allow Asti the chance to use her techniques! He’s not the average fighter, and he will beat his opponent down quickly whenever he finds an opening!
 
All of us must attack him together, or we might be taken out one by one!”
 
Upon Gwen’s instruction, Porneia attacked Gale from the right with her claws and Beatrix attacked from the left with her fists. Gwen synchronized her comrades with her kick, and all three tried to hit Gale at the same time. However, Gale responded and counterattacked with his [Crescent Moon Slash]!
 
Beatrix, with her strong defense and [qi], stepped forward and took the slash head-on. There was no cut on her body as she cloaked her body with [qi] and protected herself, but the impact of the attack prevented her from moving forward. Porneia, with a nimbleness and speed, leaped forward and tried to puncture Gale’s body with her fingers.
 
Gale had better reach than Beatrix with his swords and parried her fingers with his [Black Sky], but Porneia’s fingers were as hard as his [Black Sky], and the sound of metal clashing against each other rang across the arena as Gale’s sword and Porneia’s fingers met.
 
In the midst of the exchange, Gwen sneaked behind Gale and landed a clean hit on his face! Gale coughed out blood and crashed onto the ground with a big impact.
 
Beatrix didn’t want to give Gale any breathing room and punched the air multiple times. From her fists, energy projectiles were fired towards Gale! Gale pierced his wooden sword on the ground immediately, and a stone wall arose from the ground to block the multiple shots. Porneia swiftly got around the stone wall and aimed her fingers at Gale’s eyes! Gale did not dodge and counterattacked with his [Crescent Moon Slash]. But before he could complete the move, his face was suddenly punched, and he flew a good distance away and rolled on the ground.
 
“Their coordination is amazing! Gwen looks out for openings and clean hits whenever Porneia and Beatrix attacks!
 
I have to up my game, or I might lose my life!”
 
With unwavering determination, Gale projected his murderous aura even further and used it as a radar to detect his enemies’ presence. He could roughly tell where his opponents were without searching with his eyes, and he immediately targeted Gwen since she was giving him the most trouble.
 
Gale swung his wooden sword upward, and a big stone sword emerged from the ground at where Gwen was standing! Gwen leaped before she was cut by the stone sword, but Gale was in front of Gwen in the air, and he swung his [Black Sky] down hard!
 
At that moment, Beatrix was on his left side and threw a series of energy blasts from her fists to interrupt Gale, but Gale swung his wooden sword, which caused a huge wind and deflected the energy blasts away! Porneia used her quickness and swiftly pulled Gwen out of danger, and the swing sliced the fighting floor into half!
 
“H-He’s half dead and has that much power?!”
 
The Three Abominations continued to coordinate their attacks, in an attempt to wear Gale down. However, Gale was gaining momentum and the upper hand, while fear crept into the hearts of the Four Abominations as they fought! It wasn’t that the Four Abominations were weak. Rather, Gale was gaining strength as he bled from his wounds! The more wounded Gale was, the more powerful he became!
 
“I REFUSE TO ADMIT DEFEAT!”
 
Gwen could see that they were going to lose if the battle dragged on. She could not exploit any openings from Gale, and his increasing speed meant that there would be a point where she could no longer dodge his attacks. In desperation, she threw a series of poison knives towards Gale and Gale finally realized that Gwen’s specialty was poison. 
 
Gale held his wooden sword in front of his face. A wall of wind swirled in front of Gale and blocked all the projectiles instantaneously. As the knives were caught in the wall of wind, Gale swung his sword and redirected all the projectiles back to Gwen! Gwen wanted to dodge, but the projectiles were faster by two times when she had thrown them! 
 
As a final resort, Gwen used her arms to block the knives from hitting her face, and the knives plunged into her arms and legs as though it was butter!
 
The poison that Gwen was a non-lethal, paralyzing poison to render her opponents immobile. Therefore, Gwen found herself unable to move and Porneia stood in front of Gwen to protect her.
 
Not wanting to waste opportunities where he could ensure that Gwen was out of the battle, Gale took a few steps towards Porneia who was blocking his advance when he suddenly bent down and vomited a pool of blood!
 
“…Darn! I overextended myself, and I’m about ten minutes left before I really die of my wounds. The silver needles are punishing me badly!”
 
Ceasing the opportunity, Porneia rushed forward and tried to grab Gale’s neck with her hand, but Gale hardened his head with his [qi] and knocked Porneia’s face with it! The latter was in a daze from the impact for a few moments and Gale slashed her body as a follow-up. However, Gale barely recovered his strength from vomiting blood. Thus the slash was not lethal.
 
Beatrix was the only opponent left on the fighting floor. Gale readied himself to attack Beatrix when suddenly the both of them were interrupted by a lady who walked onto the fighting floor.
 
All eyes were upon the lady, and she was a beauty to behold. Her long, black flowing hair was dazzling, her skin was luscious white, and her facial features could knock a guy off his feet. She wore a black coat with a black leather blouse, skirt, and boots.
 
Beatrix started stammering as she gazed upon the loveliness of this lady.
 
“L-Lucy A-Adamas! W-Why a-are y-you h-here?”
 
Gale didn’t know who she was and inquired innocently.
 
“Who’s Lucy Adamas?”
 
“She’s the leader of the Black Diamond Syndicate! What is she doing here?!”
 
Upon hearing that Lucy was the leader of the syndicate who wanted to kidnap Clere, Gale quickly used his recovery breathing skills and invoked self-healing techniques to prepare himself! He knew ten minutes was not going to be enough to defend himself against Lucy!
 
However, Lucy didn’t appear as though she wanted to fight.
 
“Congratulations Gale! You won tonight’s match!”
 
“…Pardon me? I have won tonight’s match?! What do you mean?”
 
Lucy walked gracefully towards Gale as she spoke.
 
“While you were fighting here, the lynchpins have been conducting an auction on you. The highest bidder will get to own you as a bodyguard, and I have won the bid!”
 
Gale was dumbstruck at hearing the news.
 
“…I’m just a manager and not a participant!”
 
Lucy tapped Gale on his shoulder, and his body was encased in [Black Ice], except his head! Gale did not expect that, and he realized that Lucy was a very competent fighter!
 
Lucy leaned forward and licked Gale’s face.
 
“We aren’t law-abiding citizens here, you know? When the winner of the bid decides something, it is final.”
 
Gale immediately exerted his [qi] to break out of the [Black Ice], but somehow his [qi] was absorbed into the [Black Ice] and made it even stronger! Lucy laughed at his perplexed expression.
 
“You don’t have enough strength to break out of it now, and this ice cannot be melted by heat! The more energy you give it, the stronger it grows!
 
Will you agree to be my bodyguard?”
 
“Why do you even need a bodyguard when you are much stronger than I am?!”
 
Lucy plunged her lips and attacked Gale’s tongue with her own. Gale had no strength to resist as Lucy toyed with his tongue like a ragged doll.
 
After some time, Lucy peeled herself away from Gale, and a thread of saliva bridged between both of their lips.
 
“Delicious!”
 
“W-What’re you doing?!”
 
“You are my first kiss, Gale! I don’t despise men who will sacrifice his own life for his friends! And you were so brilliant in your fight!”
 
The [Black Ice] was absorbing Gale’s energy little by little and he used a rare breathing technique called [Phoenix Bloom]. It was the most powerful regenerative technique that the world had ever known, and Gale silently activated his technique to pull himself out of his ‘near-death’ state.
 
There was an idiom called [Flying Dragon, Dancing Phoenix][2]. Legend says that there was a pair of twins with different genders. Both of them were young prodigies in martial arts and in their prime, people referred to the guy as ‘the Flying Dragon’, and the girl as ‘the Dancing Phoenix’.
 
They spent a year in secrecy together, to research and develop an ultimate martial art skill. As a result, the guy created a skill called [The Heavenly Dragon Secrets][3], and the girl created [The Phoenix Heart Scripture][4]. [The Heavenly Dragon Secrets] primarily focuses on offense and power, while [The Phoenix Heart Scripture] focuses on regeneration and agility.
 
The siblings found a young boy and imparted both their skills to him, hoping that he would use their skills to do good for the community. The young boy became famous when he meshed the skills together and created [The Flying Dragon, Dancing Phoenix Secrets], and he became the strongest martial artist ever known.
 
Gale’s [Phoenix Bloom] was one of the techniques from [The Phoenix Heart Scripture], and as he meditated, his face turned purple while his power surged tremendously. His body began healing itself, and even though the [Black Ice] was gaining strength, his power increased much faster than the [Black Ice]’s absorption rate!
 
Lucy was intrigued as she observed Gale, and she knew that Gale was using a very powerful breathing technique to gather strength. Yet, she didn’t want him to escape, and so she tapped on the [Black Ice] with her fingers and chanted, ‘[Black Diamond]!’
 
Immediately, the [Black Ice] compressed itself and hardened by an exponential rate!
 
“…My dear Gale, if I use my [Black Diamond Skill] fully, your body will be crushed as my [Black Ice] becomes harder than a diamond! I know you are strong, but learn to give up when it is appropriate, okay?”
 
The [Black Ice] became [Black Diamond] as it compressed and gained density by multiple folds. However, Lucy did not use her technique to hurt Gale. Gale ignored Lucy’s words and continued to heal himself with his breathing techniques. Soon after, he was out of his near-death state as his body repaired itself.
 
“…I can’t be your bodyguard! I’m already contracted to someone else!”
 
“I don’t need you to be around me all the time, so you can hold two jobs at once. When I need you, I will call you.”
 
Gale hesitated as he didn’t want to mention the fact that there was going to be a conflict of interest between being Lucy and Clere! His thoughts shifted towards Zeel and Sunny and immediately demanded to be freed.
 
“Let me go! I need to ensure that Zeel and Sunny are alright!”
 
“They are alright now. They are just having a conversation with Dylan at the moment.” 
 
Upon hearing Dylan’s name, Gale’s countenance changed dramatically, and his fury was kindled. 
 
“If you don’t let me go this instant, don’t regret it when I do break out of your [Black Diamond Technique]!”
 
Lucy caressed Gale’s hair and smiled gently toward him.
 
“They are coming back to this arena as we speak. I have instructed Dylan not to do anything nasty to them.
 
However, you hold the keys to their fate.”
 
A bespectacled lady walked up from the corner of the fighting arena to Lucy and whispered to her some information. A broad grin flashed across Lucy’s face, and she asked Gale a question.
 
“Looks like Dylan has some trouble trying to apprehend Sunny! We have cameras installed through this place, and we can show you what is happening over there.
 
You can make your choice after you see what is happening to them!”
 
A screen was lowered from the ceiling, and a projector flashed the footage of Zeel, Sunny, Dinah and Dylan having a conversation in a secluded place. Gale noticed a figure hidden in the shadows and reckoned that it was Ivy, who could transform herself into a black knight.
 
“Gale, let me know whenever you are ready, and I will order Dylan and Ivy to stand down.”
 
Gale knew that the odds were against his favor, but he prayed that Sunny could make a difference as he knew that she’s been saving her strength all this time.
 

[1][Drunken Pole Techniques] is derived from [醉棍], or [zuì gùn].
[2][Flying Dragon, Dancing Phoenix] is derived from [龙飞凤舞], or [lóng fēi fèng wǔ]. It’s an idiom to describe a beautiful scenery.
[3][The Heavenly Dragon Secrets] is derived from [天龙诀], or [tiān lóng jué]
[4][The Phoenix Heart Scripture] is derived from [凤凰心经], or [fèng huáng xīn jīng].

 

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