Chapter 17:

Cursed Are Those Who Destroy

X = Y

About a year had passed since Meya and Kanda left Kei. The astute and studious Kei Hirojima continued working as a detective. Bodies in Machira Town recovered in horrendous states, and evidence unearthed in suspicious places led to the arrest of many criminals. The killings of people rampaged on without any indication of stopping. Was it a serial killer? Was it a gang? Obscurity, animosity, tribulation — they would soon become undistinguishable if it continued.Bookmark here

As for Rei Hirojima, his story was distinctive.Bookmark here

Thursday the 15th of August, 2019. In the Dojo of Boxing, Master Akinobu Motoyanagi sat there on the sideline amongst a sea of his students. His admonishing stare, which perturbed those who dare look back, along with his spiteful demeanour, made him unpopular to remain near.Bookmark here

Standing tall and firm, like an adamantine pillar, in his Judo uniform was Master Umetori Kamahiro. Opposite to him, standing with those who helped him get here, with motivation spanning further than the outer reaches of space, was Rei.Bookmark here

"I can't believe he convinced you to do this, Umetori! You should be ashamed of yourself as a Master!" exclaimed Akinobu, whilst spitting everywhere. His face, a sea of anger. His eyes, spears of death.Bookmark here

"I'm not happy about this either, Akinobu. But you have forced my hand. For Rei to enrol in your Dojo, he must first graduate. But for that to happen, he must be accepted by you, yet you refuse. The only way that you will learn to accept him is if you see Rei defeat me." He said with a stubborn look.Bookmark here

"I'm sorry about this, Master," Rei spoke calmly.Bookmark here

"Worry not. I am doing what I have been asked. Absolute Authority. True Supremacy. Sovereign Subjugation. Eternal Rule. There are ways to counter it. I have been watching Seijiro fight for as long as I can remember. Creating plan after plan and devising new methods and techniques to defeat him, I thought it would be smart to test them on you." Umetori spoke sternly.Bookmark here

An air of silence drifted through the Dojo. To break it and start the fight, Rei lifted his right leg, slamming it into the ground.Bookmark here

SMASHBookmark here

He let out a smile, raised both fists, and prepared himself. Inviting the competition to him, Umetori smiled. Communicating his willingness to fight, he raised his arms, and the students around remained silent to watch who would move first.Bookmark here

"Judo is different. It's not like Jiu-Jitsu. Judo is the evolution of Jiu-Jitsu that focuses more on the finisher than the fight. One throw, and it's over." said Rei with an eager smile.Bookmark here

"Yes, but this is not regulated. It is more like a street fight. We live in this world where no one will come to fight for us. No one will be there to defend or protect you. Your power, and your strength, is all you have to win a fight." said Umetori with a smile absent of hate.Bookmark here

With a solemn face backed by murderous intent, Rei slid his feet across the ground, making sure his toes never left the floor beneath him. With the fighters creeping up on each other, both analysed the situation diligently. Their opponent's movement, the frequency of their movement, their habits, their consistencies, inconsistencies, their reaction speed, and reaction time. Every single thing within their vision, they took into account.Bookmark here

At the moment they were within arm's reach, Umetori grasped Rei's arms with gargantuan ardour. To his amazement, Rei slammed his arms on top of his in response, exemplifying the potency and dominance that he possed if left unchained.Bookmark here

Whilst preparing himself to perform an Ashi Waza (Foot Technique), Umetori memorised what he could see. He created afterimages in his mind to predict Rei's movements, to know where he would be once he realised the technique Umetori would perform. Closing his eyes whilst shifting his right hand onto Rei's right shoulder, he swivelled on his feet to perform a One-Handed Shoulder Throw.Bookmark here

With an astonished look that quickly turned into anger, Rei became dumbfounded by Umetori's precarious attempt to annul his Eternal Rule. By closing his eyes, Umetori thought Rei would be incapable of applying pressure to prevent him from acting. The absence of hesitation is what Umetori sought after.Bookmark here

The air. The ground. The heart. Rei felt all of it subconsciously. With an expression analogous to eyes that had scrutinised pain, with a soul brighter than heaven's light, Rei harmoniously slid his right leg below Umetori. Instantaneously, Rei put his right arm around Umetori's neck and held tightly. Wrapping his leg around Umetori's like an anaconda restricting its prey, he was swept off his feet with elegance.Bookmark here

He opened his eyes after feeling contact with his legs. Too late to respond, Rei performed a Kinshi Waza (Forbidden Technique). By adjusting his body, he stood firmly in front of Umetori like a tree with roots ingrained into the earth for 1,000 years. Rei pulled his entire arm and body backwards, applying a superlatively absurd amount of force on Umetori's neck.Bookmark here

They both fell rearward, and Umetori landed on his back whilst Rei fell on top of him. Rei's exquisite skill left everyone in the room speechless. He did it. He performed the Kawazu Gake (One-Legged Entanglement). He stood up, breathing heavily with his arms dangling beside him, like meat left to dry.Bookmark here

Furiously coughing, Umetori's back felt like a rubber band that snapped from overstretching. Impermanent pain sparked across his entire body, creating more pain abruptly. Numbness overwhelmed his stature, crippling his ability to speak. He slowly rose from the ground, but it was not his doing. Rei helped him effortlessly, even after performing a Forbidden Technique which hurt his leg and back. Like a bird's feather plucked from its plumage, Rei helped him up, and he stood.Bookmark here

His breath became withdrawn from his body, his vocal cords were craving to vibrate so words would come out, yet he was helpless. Akinobu Motoyanagi was wholly speechless. He stood up with terror emanating from his eyes, like a radio tower releasing signals.Bookmark here

"How could you let him do that?! Unbelievable! A Forbidden Technique! You taught him that, you fool!" exclaimed Akinobu, fervently furious.Bookmark here

"It's only forbidden in sanctioned events, not street fights. I tried to counter him, but I've failed. I hate to say it, but Rei defeated me. It all happened within that moment. That's the idea of Judo. Similar to Taekwondo, Jiu-Jitsu, and Muay Thai. You adapt. It was my first time going against the Eternal Rule with that method." Umetori spoke with disappointment, but he smirked.Bookmark here

"Your's real. But you can't beat Seijiro, right?" Akinobu spoke with disbelief inked across his face.Bookmark here

"Yeah. Master Kirihoshin is impossible to defeat. No matter what I did he beat me in a moment. That moment slowly turned into a second. Now it's five seconds." Rei spoke sincerely, with his heart in his hand.Bookmark here

Meanwhile, a student Rei befriended at the Kamahiro Dojo of Judo, who fought him in the Subterranean, ran with eyes saturated by terror. He slammed open the door, not caring to preserve the precious infrastructure of the Dojo. Breathing heavily, he looked around frantically, like he was searching for an escape. His clothes were ashy, and his face was charred.Bookmark here

"Master! The Dojo!" screamed Hirotaka Mitsuoka.Bookmark here

All their eyes turned to him, and the expression of grief on his face. Eyes widening, heart tightening, pressure rising. The realisation of a charred student entering a Dojo created premonitions in their mind, which laid themselves out like cloth on a table through their eyes.Bookmark here

At the Dojo, which burnt like the infinite storm of pain within their eyes, which became inveterated into them, pillars of fire burst from it. At the front, witnessing malevolence rise and fall in fire's form, were Rei, Hirotaka Mitsuoka, Teruya Iwatsuki, Master Umetori Kamahiro, and Master Akinobu Motoyanagi. There were also students of the Judo Dojo behind them.Bookmark here

"Who did this, Hirotaka!" Umetori screamed.Bookmark here

"They're all dead...They died! The Ruler killed them all!" He said, shaking violently in fear, and falling to the floor, kneeling.Bookmark here

"The Ruler...where did you hear that name?" said Akinobu. He spoke like that name was equivalent to words uttered before death.Bookmark here

"That's what he called himself! He ran in! He said he was the Eternal Ruler of death!" said Hirotaka whilst crying.Bookmark here

"This world...what has it come to. Where are the buckets of water! Before the fire spreads to the forest! I'll do it myself then! Umetori! Focus on this first you fool!" Akinobu spoke like a leader and tried to bring purpose back into their battered lives.Bookmark here

"I'll go with you, Master!" Teruya spoke with confidence and bravery.Bookmark here

Akinobu ran with Teruya to the lake, where other students, commanded by him, brought water. A wave of students that were watching followed the two. They left Hirotaka, Rei and Umetori behind.Bookmark here

"Are you sure there's no one left alive?" Umetori questioned with peril and panic bleeding down his face.Bookmark here

Hirotaka ignored Master Umetori and looked to Rei. Life became devoid in his eyes, whilst his hands were jittering uncontrollably, his legs were trembling. Rei couldn't move.Bookmark here

"Rei! Master! Rei's broken! What's happening to him!" exclaimed Hirotaka.Bookmark here

"Rei! Hey, Rei! Compose yourself, Rei!" Master Umetori slapped his hands onto Rei's shoulders and tried to get his attention. Rei was unresponsive.Bookmark here

Conceptions of an inferno swallowing his house whole, and this fire-storm enveloping the Dojo he inhabited, overlapped. Visions of the people he had bonded with, strong enough to destroy steel, were fading away, never to be reminisced of again. His mother, his father, his brother and his friends — they imploded, they became fractured. His mind itself splintered down its nexus, sundering into remnants. He failed to understand the movement of the lips trying to caress his mind, to ease it. Incoherent were the words spoken to him, intended to guide him back towards reality, towards subsistence.Bookmark here

An endless abyss, where only the mind could drift in, was where Rei found himself. There was no one else there but himself. Left alone in the world to suffer and perish. His mind was dragging him down, and so too was his body. Numb to feeling, yet heavy to the heart. He fell to his knees in the real world, and he keeled over, but not dead.Bookmark here

"Rei!"Bookmark here

Picked up by Umetori, he was placed far away from the fire. Brought to a small stream, Umetori ripped a piece of his clothing and wet it, bracing the cloth on his forehead, waiting patiently for Rei to return.Bookmark here

All that he could see was darkness. Lost in his conscious, stuck by the will of time, fated to one day resurrect himself, detesting the position he found himself in along with his weak, frail mind, Rei promised to hasten the search for his brother.Bookmark here

Thus, like two dice spinning together, they landed on the same number. Two brothers — twins — separated by a plenteous distance, both gaining their individuality, with dreams divergent from the other, were puppets at the hands of destiny. Inane and vulnerable, their separation only brought them closer than they would ever envisage.Bookmark here

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