A few years back, after what had happened at the Maracaná, Vorelando had taken up meditation.
It was a necessary step for him. Guilt over personal actions can be reasoned away but when you feel tied to the crimes of someone else, there is no easy mental recourse. Vorelando remorse meant nothing to the souls lost in Rio that day, his repentance was futile. The only thing that could put them to rest was justice for the vore criminal himself, Voran magic.
But that was not forthcoming. No vorer could stand up to him, the Hague wouldn’t touch him and the US Militray was terrified what he might do if they missed a shot at the king. So Vorelando had to come to peace with the guilt he felt, and meditation was the way to do it.
Did it work? Sometimes, sometimes not but it did at least banish those thoughts from his mind while he was engaged in it. Right now though, he was just glad to have something to do. He had been meditating for a number of hours now waiting for someone to pass through or fall down on top of him.
Finally, it seemed like the action had found him. He broke his meditation position and started doing some quick stretches to prepare himself.
After a couple of moments, a towering figure emerged at the east entrance, easily 10 feet tall and built like a bistro, the man came to a halt and bowed.
“Pardon my intrusion good sir, my name is Benedict Eggmond, third son of the third son of Scramble D. Eggmond. You may have heard of me, you may have not, it matters in neither case, what matters is that I give you my name so that we may begin the process of an honourable battle.”
Vorelando took in the surreal sight of this shirtless behemoth bowing in front of him. All across his body there were scratch marks, in places bones were sticking out of his skin, some his, some not so certain. A bit of his left ear was hanging off and his hair had clearly been burned at one stage or another.
He’d clearly walked through hell to get here but that mattered little to Vorelando.
“Lift your head pal, there’s no need for all of this.”
“I am honour bound to remain like this until you return the courtesy.”
Vorelando was moved. He did not expect to face someone like this in here. Honour was something he thought lost to the sands of time when it came to vore but maybe there was still some to be found.
He dropped to one knee.
“I am Vorelando Jones, I am nobodies son.”
The two of them rose in unison and stared at each other.
“Thank you Vorelando Jones, for respecting my code. I feared I might die in this place without one last proper battle.”
“Benedict, I’m sorry but I don’t think you will find the fight you want with me.”
“Why not, Vorelando Jones?”
“These balls are resting on a pool of acid, I’m trapped here. Unless you have a way of getting across or voring me from afar, distance will preclude our battle.”
Benedict put his hand to his chin and pondered for a moment.
“The Jungle Gym has thrown up many trials, all of which I have overcome. If my body cannot withstand acid, then it cannot withstand the heights I wish to reach. If we do not do battle, it will not be the fault of the ball pit but a failing of my flesh.”
Benedict began down the steps into the ball pit of acid.
“Benedict, are you insane?!!”
“MANY PEOPLE HAVE SAID SO, VORELANDO JONES, THOSE PEOPLE ARE LIMITED BY REALITY.”
Vorelando watched in horror as Benedict slowly descended into the acid, step by step. Vorelando could hear the acid eating away at his flesh from where he was but that didn’t stop Benedict moving further in. Soon only his head remained above ball level.
“DO NOT LET YOURSELF BECOME A SLAVE TO WHAT YOU CONSIDER POSSIBLE, VORELANDO JONES. I SHALL SEE YOU ON THE OTHER SIDE.”
His head submerged fully under the balls as Vorelando sent him off with a salute and free flowing tears.
Kobe and Robert plummeted into the infinite darkness. The two separated in mid air and lost each other, their surroundings too dark for their eyes to adjust.
Kobe didn’t want to wait for them to hit the ground before engaging again, while they were in mid air, he had the advantage, there were no surroundings for Robert to transform.
He emptied his mind of everything, even fine dining, and concentrated on his 4 remaining senses. He heard the wind slamming past his ears, felt the chill it brought upon his skin and smelled his own sweat that had been coating his body for hours now.
All of those senses were useless too, so he blocked them out.
“I KNOW WHERE YOU ARE ROBERT! YOU CAN’T HIDE FROM ME!”
Of course, Kobe didn’t actually know where he was but his bluff paid off. The unmistakable taste of fear was in the air, Robert was about 10 feet directly below him, he was a little bit heavier than Kobe so he was falling slightly faster. Kobe needs to gain some km/h.
He undid the laces on his shoes and kicked them off. Undid the belt on his trousers and held in in his teeth and then he stripped everything else off to reduce the drag. He took the belt out of his mouth and held it close to his abdomen, then he narrowed his body to reduce the drag even further. The increasing potency of the fear’s flavour told him he was gaining ground on Voretis.
“ANY LAST WORDS ROBERT?!?!”
There he was, within striking distance. Kobe lashed out with the belt like a lasso, catching Robert by the arm and yanking him back up towards him. He closed around his back like a spider, jamming his feet and hands into Robert’s body to paralyze him.
Kobe bit into the nutritious neck flesh to stop the screaming. Over the next 43 minutes he cleaned the skeleton of all it’s meat until he was left falling into the darkness, lying on a bed of bones.
Now all he had to do was wait for the ground below.
So he waited. And waited. And waited.
He waited so long he doubted the passage of time. Kobe knew that in these situations without any indicators, one’s sense of it warped dramatically. Had he been falling for an hour or had it been many.
Suddenly, in the distance, both above and below, Kobe heard an alarm go off followed by the voice of Mr. Vorezingis.
“Welcome to day 2 inside the Jungle Gym girls! There’s only 35… wait, scratch that, 34 of you left alive in there. Remember, there’s no time limit on vore. If you all starve each other out, I’m getting an extended holiday this year! Good luck, you’ll hear from me on day 3 if you’re still alive.”
Kobe counted how long it had been since they started and estimated that he’d been falling for at least 6 hours straight by now.
He reorganized the bones into a chair and a desk and started making a plan.