Chapter 27:


The Scorned

I was nervous as I walked into the ring. In no way was I worried that I might get hurt. I was worried about how to follow what Selene did. She did just enough to make sure people knew they needed her skill while not showing everything she was capable of. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to hide my power as she had. I had to hand it to Selene. She really did know what she was doing.

I was snapped from my thoughts by the announcer walking back into the ring. Calling out to the crowd, he yelled, "Well, that last fight sure was exciting! I think I can speak for everyone here when I say: I didn't see that coming. Now though, it is time for the next fight! Will our mystery man here be as strong as his wife? Or will he fall to the giant?"

The crowd had been silent since Selene's victory, but at the mention of the giant, they worked themselves back into a frenzy. As if on cue, heavy footsteps pounded their way towards the ring. Looking toward the sound, I saw a huge man. But neither huge nor man described him. He had a human's features, but he was, at the very least, double my size. I shot Selene a questioning glance, but she only shrugged, as confused as I was.

I turned my attention back to the giant and saw that multiple guards were struggling to hand him a club the size of a tree trunk. It seemed this time they weren't trying to hide their favoritism. The announcer yelled, "Fight!" and quickly ran out of the ring. All around me, people were chanting "Gi-ant" over and over.

With a smirk, the giant lumbered over to me and said in a deep voice, "You know they promised when I killed you, I would earn my freedom. But I turned it down. There is no fun in something like that. Instead, I asked to take that beautiful wife of yours, and they agreed. I can't wait to get my hands on her. I get excited just thinking about all the things I am going to do."

I felt my blood begin to boil from the implication of his words. Through clenched teeth, I hissed, "I will give you one chance to take back what you said, or I will make you wish you had." The giant let out a loud laugh and turned to the crowd, calling out, "This man just threatened me because I told him I was going to take his wife. Imagine what he is going to do when I explain what I am going to do to her."

Everyone in the crowd laughed with the giant, but I was no longer paying attention because a sudden and familiar intense pain had gripped my right arm. This was the same feeling that made me attack Selene, and there was no way I would let that happen again.

With my body shaking from the effort, my left hand gripped the wrist of my right hand, trying to stop any movement. Speaking to whatever the hell was trying to take over my body, I grunted out, "I will not let you hurt her again. I don't care what you do to anyone else here, but you will not hurt Selene again. If it comes down to it, I will lose this arm before I let you touch her."

The battle for my body paused after my threat, but before anything else could happen, the giant slammed his tree trunk club down on my head. The force of the blow caused the club to break in half and buried me, face in the sand.

There was no pain whatsoever, but I was pissed. I was pissed because this giant thought that he could kill me and take Selene. I was pissed because the people watching cheered him on as they all celebrated my apparent death. Most of all, I was pissed because I couldn't kill this giant because I had to worry about my own body hurting Selene again.

Still lying face first in the sand, I gave whatever was inside me an ultimatum. "Look, I don't know if you can understand me, but know that I mean it when I say I will give this arm up when it comes to protecting Selene. That being said, I am not opposed to killing. If you can somehow promise me that you will not hurt Selene, I will let you kill this giant."

As soon as I finished speaking, the pain in my right arm dissipated. I wasn't sure what to make of my words being understood, but I could worry about that later. There was a giant who needed to die.

Slowly rising to my feet, the rowdy crowd instantly went silent. The giant spun to face me, and I relished the fear in his eyes. My right hand shot out and wrapped itself around the giant's throat, and slowly began to squeeze. The giant's face went from confused to shocked in an instant, as he felt the amount of pressure I was placing on his neck. He tried to say something but was unable to form words.

Happy with what was going on, I didn't fight whoever was using my right arm. I yanked the giant inches from my face and whispered, "I told you to apologize, and now you will suffer." The giant's eyes looked as if they were about to pop out of his head from lack of oxygen. Suddenly my hand squeezed harder, instantly crushing his throat, and I threw him into the crowd. He landed with a thud crushing a few people with his massive, lifeless body.

The place was dead silent as I walked back to Selene, still in a foul mood. I held both arms in front of myself and was surprised that I was back in complete control already, making a mental note to talk to Selene about this when we were alone.

Selene got up from her seat and stared at me with a concerned expression. Eventually, she said, "Well, you sure took a different approach from me." Frowning, I replied, "I noticed what you did, but I couldn't hold back after what he said about you." Selene only nodded her head and got lost in thought.

While Selene was thinking, soldiers slowly surrounded us and menacingly raised their weapons. Selene took a fighting stance, but a voice called out, "Come now. Is that any way to treat our new members?"

Turning my head, I saw a slightly older man heading our way. He wore armor over his whole body and walked directly up to Selene and I. One of the soldiers pleaded, "Sir! Please be careful. The man is no normal human. He is far too dangerous to have around."

The older man turned to the soldier and snapped, "We are about to march across the Deadly Desert because we are going to war. Why don't you stop talking and think: 'If this man is a monster, wouldn't we want him on our side?' Now all of you lower your weapons and let them pass. I want to speak to them."

The soldiers slowly lowered their weapons and the older man said to Selene and I, "Now, would you please follow me?" I looked to Selene, who nodded her head, and the two of us slowly followed after him.

We weaved through the labyrinth of tents until we stopped in front of one that looked exactly like the others. The older man walked through a hanging cloth that served as the door and disappeared. Selene and I followed inside and watched as the man let out a long sigh and slumped in a chair. He signaled for Selene and I to do the same. Once we were situated, he asked, "I take it you two are the traveling mercenaries that I have heard about?"

Selene nodded her head in confirmation, so the older man continued, "I heard about you two, but watching you fight doesn't add up. The man here fought like a brute, while the lady here fought with precise attacks. You obviously aren't normal, but honestly, I don't care. My only question is: will you two help us with our fight?"

I only shrugged and responded, "I don't have an opinion. I am only here to make sure she stays safe. If you want us to join you, you need to convince her." I turned to Selene and said, "I trust your judgment. I will be fine if you decide for us to stay or leave. I am going to get some fresh air and do some thinking. Find me when you make your decision."

Selene gave me a nod, happy that I let her take charge again, but was obviously worried about me.

With that, I stepped back through the curtain to see if I could figure anything out.