As I included in the title, this story is for the Winter Writing Contest. I hope whoever reads this enjoys it. If you have any comments, please VM me with your opinion. I'd really appreciate the feedback. Probably should have included a rating in the title, but forgot. This has violence in it.
What You’ve Missed
You know that light at the end of the tunnel that everyone sees when they die? Well, that doesn’t really exist. How do I know that? In truth, I have seen plenty of people die. They all died screaming in pain, so my theory is if you could actually see the light, you wouldn’t scream because you’d know you’d be going some place peaceful instead of that fiery pit waiting below. But that’s just a theory, of course. My name is Broken Shadows Phoenix. I’m fourteen years old, a gym leader, and a battle commander. I’m hated by many, and loved by few, those of whom I rule over in Black Water City, Rhaeger. So, about that light. Both my parents died, so I couldn’t really ask them about it. My mother perished in childbirth, and my father two years after her while he was sleeping. Shortly after that, my older brother, Deathius Phoenix, ran away. He left me, a six year old girl at the time, in charge of a highly coveted gym, and over seven hundred-thousand people.
What a way to learn responsiblity, eh? I don’t blame my brother, though. Being a gym leader was hard work. But the burdens of ruling over Black Water City were removed from my shoulders when I turned ten. On my tenth birthday, to be exact. My second in command, Hector Malcolm, marched into my birthday party, an all girls affair, and kicked me out of my own home. From then on, I traveled from island to island, hiring myself out as a mercenary. It was a terrible life for a ten year old kid, but it did pay well. The merc industry was profitable since there was always another war going on some place. I excelled at hand to hand combat, could take down thirty men with a single dagger, so why not? It wasn’t like I could get my gym back anyway. In Rhaeger, you have to be fourteen, which was the legal age for children to be recognized as adults, to stake claim on something that was taken from you when you were a minor. When I did turn fourteen, I came back to Rhaeger.
I had visited my home between wars because it was where I grew up, and it was always in my thoughts. During my visits, I was hunted by a Legionnaire named Fenris Lyrium. He has a jacked-up name, but is a fierce warrior. I barely managed to escape from him as many times as I did. Anyway, I got caught by Fenris, whom I call Fen now, during a Pokemon battle. He cheated, and knocked me out with a dart, which was the only reason he won. After that, he hog tied me and carted me back to the Legionnaire HQ. The captain of the Legionnaires, my honorary uncle Valkyrian Breene, recruited me. I still don’t really know why, though. So, I am an apprentice for the Legionnaires, even though I command them in battle. It’s a strange arrangement, but works. I reclaimed my gym from Hector after I found out he had started a war with the savages behind the Gates called Brackenians. The Brackenians owned Rhaeger before my family kicked them off the island. They erected the Gates to keep them in their own territory.
That’s where a girl named Trixen Hallows falls into the story. She’s pampered, pretty, and way too soft for war, which works out in my favor. I don’t really know the story behind her becoming the Queen of Brackenia, but somehow she pulled it off. The Mad King, who ruled before her and declared war on me, was no longer in charge. I was kinda glad, because he was insane. Trixen loaded her army up on a bunch of warships and sailed into Rhaegerian waters. Legally, I could engage her force as long as I had probable cause. She could have overtaken my force easily, but made the mistake of sounding war horns, with alerted me. I gathered my troops, and snuck aboard her vessels. We were found, she told me how she was the new Queen, and attacked. I was knocked out in the middle of the fight by a giant who obviously fell from a beanstalk.
“And this is the Battle Arena!” The High Priest gestured to the colosseum with a flourish. It was a tall, circular building. There were floor after floor filled with seats. Sebastian stood with the High Priest on a private deck, reserved for people of importance. On the island of Arcadium, things were a bit chaotic. Long ago, Arcadium had been sunk deep into the sea by a creature called the Leviathan, which was a giant sea snake. Four Kings had gathered and unleashed the Leviathan out of revenge. Arcadium had refused to help the other islands in their time of need, so the Kings were bitter towards the island. They discovered the Leviathan, and set in towards Arcadium. Somehow, after it was sunk by the Leviathan, Arcadium had floated back up. The people who had been driven from their homes on the island wanted the four Kings to pay.
They devised the Battle Arena, a place where one champion from each of the islands the Kings had ruled over would battle. The champion left standing would get the Grand Prize. Their island would be spared from Arcadium’s fury. The losing islands would be subject to that very fury. Diseases and disasters would strike the other islands, killing the people there. A battle was held every year to determine the victor. Eventually, the King of Arcadium had grew tired of watching the champions hack at each like animals, so he came up with the Attribute system. Attributes were like super powers. Twenty Attributes were planted in each of the champions. As the champions beat each other, they would unlock and level up their Attributes. Depending on which of the four islands you were from, the Attributes were placed on a certain part of your body. Each champion had to undergo a procedure that imbedded the Attributes in their flesh.
The higher the power of the Attribute, the more pain they had to endure when they were placed and unlocked. All in all, it was a cruel form of revenge. The one thing the Arcadians had going for them was that they didn’t encourage killing the champions. Of course, the champions had a choice. If they wanted to kill the person they had defeated, they could. The Arcadians would punish the person who had killed someone in the Arena. The battles would take place in the time span of one night. The champions were taken from their beds, and carried to Arcadium. There, they would be given their Attributes, and fed dinner. After dinner, the battles would take place. When the battles were over, the champions would be put back in their beds, fully healed, thinking that it was just a vivid dream. Sebastian grimaced.
“Have you been paying attention to what I have been saying?” The High Priest frowned at him. Sebastian laughed awkwardly. A soft wind blew in from the west, rustling Sebastian’s hair.
“No, I haven’t. I was just recalling something.”
“Ah. Well, I was about to tell you who the champions were this year. Would you like to know?” The High Priest looked at Sebastian expectantly. The high Priest was a old man with long white hair, and faded gray eyes. He wore a purple robe. There was a blue robe thrown over the purple one. He was a yellow sash tied around his waist. The High Priest tucked his hands away in the extra material from the long sleeves on his robe. The High Priest reminded Sebastian of his grandfather.
“Yes, please.” Sebastian waited as the High Priest called a servant girl in. She was tiny with red hair, pale skin, and gray eyes. Her light pink dress was long. It covered her from her neck to her feet, giving her a look of childish innocence. The girl cast a quick glance Sebastian’s way. Sebastian knew he had frightened the girl when she walked away as fast as her feet could carry her. Sebastian wore his red hair a bit longer than fashion deemed perfect. It curled over his ears, fell into his eyes, and was long enough to touch the collar of his shirt. He also wore a mask. It was made of white plastic-like material. A thin red line made up his mouth. There were the smallest of holes in the mouth and nostrils so he could breath. All that they could see of Sebastian’s real face were his eyes. Ice blue in color, Sebastian’s eyes were his only feature he allowed to show. He mostly scared off everyone who looked at him. It didn’t help that he topped six feet either. Sebastian ran a hand lightly over the marks that marred his skin. He had tanned this summer, so the marks were visible. The white tattoos ran from his finger tips to his shoulders. They covered his whole body, from his face to his toes.
“Here they are!” The High Priest smiled as he presented the pictures to Sebastian. Sebastian gave the pictures a quick glance, barely stopping long enough to read their names. One caught his eye. Sebastian picked up the picture and held it closer to his face. Broken Shadows Phoenix? The gym leader of Black Water City Gym?
“Her?” Sebastian showed the picture to the High Priest. “Why her?”
“Well, the King heard about her unique fighting capabilities and decided that he had to see her in battle.”
“She’s in the middle of a war.” Sebastian frowned. He looked back at the picture. Broken Shadows Phoenix was one of the most beautiful girls he had met. He had met her, once. She had been ten, two years younger than his own twelve years of age at the time. She had been such a tiny little girl. Her wide eyes had stared inside Sebastian’s soul, reading every secret he had tried hard to keep hidden. In the picture, her hair was loose from it’s usual braid. The dark brown mass was a mixture of curls and waves. The locks dripped down her back where they ended just below her waist. Broken Shadows’ eyes, the same color as her hair, held so much sadness in their dark depths. Pale gold skin complimented the darkness of her coloring.
“She truly is beautiful, isn’t she?” Sebastian’s thoughts were interrupted by the High Priest’s voice.
“Yes, she is.” Absently, Sebastian ran a hand over her picture. Her pink mouth was tipped up in a smile, even though her eyes told a story of unbelievable torment. Such pain, Sebastian thought. How did a young girl like Broken Shadows get those haunting eyes? Sebastian felt a tug in his heart, and cursed his other side, his softer side. The side that actually felt something for the fierce gym leader.
“I do hope she doesn’t die,” the High Priest said, as he ran a finger lightly over Broken Shadows’ face.
“She won’t die,” Sebastian said. “Legends never die.”
I rolled over, expecting to encounter the warm body of my Absol. Instead of Talon’s body, I met air. I let out a shriek as I hit the cold floor. Wait, what? I was in my bed, covered by my quilt. I shouldn’t have been that high up. My bed was actually pretty low to the ground. I opened a eye to see a strange room. Instantly, I jumped to my feet. I took a step back, my butt hitting something. I turned around and saw a cot. Where the hell was I? Why wasn’t I in bed? Then I remembered. I had been fighting aboard a Brackenian war ship, not in bed. I remembered getting knocked out. Had I been taken prisoner? The room I was in was made of metal. There was only the cot I had fell off of, a small table, and a tiny heating vent in the room. I heard a noise coming from the vent. I dropped to my hands and knees, and squinted into the darkness. Three Pokemon were huddled in the space. All were cream colored. One was blue. Blue curly hair, blue shoulders, blue ears, even the tip of its tail was blue. The second was red. Red hair, legs, tail, ears. Number three was green. Same curly hair as number one, only number three’s hair was green, green legs, green tail, and ears. They looked like monkeys.
They grinned at me, flipped me the middle finger, and scampered off. Weird. I had to be dreaming. No Pokemon did stuff like that. I turned around, nearly hitting my head on the cot’s frame. The metal door opened, permitting a tall man with shaggy red hair. He wore a white mask that had a red line for a mouth. It wasn’t conformed to his face, so I couldn’t really say what he looked like. He was dressed in blue jeans, a white dress shirt that wasn’t tucked in, and wore black sneakers. He hooked his thumbs in his pockets. Eyes so icy, they hurt to look at pierced my own brown ones.
“What’s up?” His voice was warm, and held a bit of curiosity, and something else I classified as excitement. I held his gaze as I slowly stood.
“Who are you?” I frowned.
“That,” he said, amusement bleeding to his voice. “Is an excellent question. I am Sebastian Bane. My advice is to not do anything stupid.” He extended his hand, a smile on his face. I ignored his hand. I never asked for his advice, but I had to just lay low, and bide my time until I could get free.
“Where am I?”
“Another excellent question. You are in Arcadium.” He dropped his hand.
“Why am I here?” Arcadium? I had never heard of Arcadium. Was that somewhere in the Kingdom of Madness?
“You are just full of good questions, aren’t you?” I could swear he was grinning under that mask. “You are to compete in a contest. You have to fight other people.”
“Are you serious?” My jaw dropped. The cold air in the room made my flesh break out in goosebumps. I shivered, and cast a second glance around the room. I couldn’t tell if it was just me scaring myself, but it felt like there was something heavy and dark hanging over our heads.
“Yup.” Sebastian then proceeded to tell me exactly why I was competing.
“This isn’t happening.” I sat on the cot and buried my face in my hands.
“Yes, it is. By the way, here are your new clothes. You can’t wear a T-shirt to dinner.” I looked down. Oh, heavens, he was right. I tugged the T-shirt down farther, my cheeks burning with embarrassment.
“Honey, that wouldn’t do you any good. I’ve already seen your legs. Do you work out?” There was a hint of interest in his voice.
“Go to hell!”
“Flash me those legs again, and I’ll gladly go,” the stupid pig said, probably grinning like a fool behind his mask. “You want these clothes, or not? Because I’m perfectly happy with ogling your legs.”
“Give me the clothes.” I growled. Sebastian happily pulled the bundle out from behind his back. I snatched them. There was a pair of black, high waisted shorts, matching black bra and underwear, a long sleeved shirt, and knee high boots.
“Are you serious? I can’t wear these!” I complained.
“You can. It’s only for a little while, anyway. Now strip.”
“I’m not getting dressed in front of you!” I gave Sebastian an incredulous look. Who did he think he was?
“I’ll turn around. You won’t have to worry.”
“You’ll peek.” I glared at him. Sebastian held a hand over his heart, staggering back a step.
“You wound me!” He cried out. I raised an eyebrow. “Fine, I’ll leave. For now.” Sebastian left the room, grumbling about celibacy. Quickly, I shed my T-shirt, pulled on the undergarments and shirt, stepped into the shorts, and shoved my feet into the boots. I pulled the boots up. The door opened, and Sebastian entered the room.
“Nice.” There was a smile in his voice, I could tell. My eyes narrowed. “I like the hair. Very hot.”
“You’re slime.” I drew out the syllables of the last word.
“Oh, please,” he said, waving away my insult. “You know you want this.” Sebastian gestured to his body.
“Really?” I scoffed, floored by his arrogance. “I wash my hands of you, fiend.” I held my head up high, and walked pass him. Sebastian caught my arm.
“Not so fast, sweetheart. I need to take you to dinner, and get your weapons of choice.”
“My weapons of choice?” I perked up at that.
“Yes. Isn’t that what I said?”
“I want my daggers.”
“Yes, my daggers,” I sighed, exasperated. “Are you slow or something? How many times do I have to repeat myself?” I was extremely annoyed. About the contest, everything that had to do with Arcadium.
“Relax. I’ll arrange for someone to pick them up. Let’s go, sweetheart.” I frowned at Sebastian as he pulled me down the somber hall.
“Stop calling me that.”
“Okay, sweetheart. What ever you say.” What a jerk. I was going to hate this guy, I could tell. What I couldn’t tell, though, was where we were going. All the halls he led us through looked the same. They were all gray, with bright lights over head. There was the occasion door, of course, but other than that, I had no idea if we were even going the right way. It reminded me of a jail house in here. Maybe that was the look they were going for.
“Where are we going?” I demanded.
“To dinner, I told you already.”
“We’ve been going around in circles, haven’t we?” I glared at him back.
“It never ends!” Sebastian threw his hands up in the air, clearly agitated. “There’s always another question! Are you never quiet?” There was exaggerated pain in Sebastian’s voice. I rolled my eyes. Finally, we came to a door. It was a plain door, made of oak. Sebastian grasped the knob, and twisted it. He held it open.
“After you, sweetheart.”
“Why do I have to go first?”
“Because I don’t trust you not to stab me in the back.” Fair enough. The only problem was that I didn’t have a knife.
The room was big. There were chairs and tables everywhere, and almost every seat had been taken. There was a long buffet table at the back of the room. Lively chatter filled the air as Sebastian and I made our way to a stretch table with vacant stools. I slid on one stool.
“I’ll get us some food.” Sebastian walked away, leaving me alone. Did he honestly think I wouldn’t try to escape? I heard a noise coming from underneath the table I was seated at. I hopped off my stool, I got down on my hands and knees, and peeked under the table. The three Pokemon from earlier were sitting on the floor. They were sharing a pomegranate, each taking turns picking the small pips from the fruit, and popping them into their mouths. The blue saw me, offered a pip. I accepted the fruit and bite into it. They couldn’t be hallucinations. The three Pokemon seemed so real.
“Well, this is a compromising position.” Sebastian’s voice made me nearly groan, and not in relief. Why did he have to come back now? I crawled out from under the table, and stood, my head held high.
“You have a nice butt. You do work out, don’t you?” Sebastian teased me. Ignored him and sat down. He set a plate heaped with noxious food in front of me. I leaned forward to sniff the food, then pulled away in disgust. There was a piece of rubber-like chicken, mashed potatoes, sad looking vegetables, and some unidentified substance that looked like vomit.
“Who made that poisonous stuff?”
“Poisonous stuff?” Sebastian echoed my words.
“Yes. It smells like garbage.”
“Don’t eat it then.” With that said, he went back to munching on his steak. I sighed, and took a small bite of the mashed potatoes. My Absol, Talon, loved mashed potatoes. He would sit by my side, silently begging for a bite whenever I ate them. I looked at my plate sadly. I missed my Pokemon.
“You have something on your face,” Sebastian’s voice jerked me out of my thoughts.
“You have mashed potato on your face.” Icy blue eyes held my gaze as I swiped at my mouth. “You missed it.”
“You really are annoying.” I frowned at Sebastian, and swiped at my mouth again.
“I’ll get it. Lean forward.” I did as he asked. Sebastian leaned forward as well. Then he licked me. His tongue felt wet as he ran it over the corner of my mouth. I pulled away from him so fast, I started to fall off my chair. A strong arm clamped around my waist, holding me up. Sebastian’s face hovered right over mine. I gulped. The icy blue of his eyes started to draw back, and form swirling flecks in gray eyes. It couldn’t be. . . For a brief second, I was staring into Fen’s eyes. Then the blue flecks stretched back out, taking over the gray.
“You should be more careful. You could have been hurt pretty bad if I hadn’t caught you.” Sebastian helped me back onto my stool, his icy gaze boring into me like a laser.
I didn’t say anything, just quietly ate my food. Why had I seen Fen’s eyes? What was wrong with me? Maybe I was just freaked out about being in Arcadium, and started seeing things. Yeah, that had to it. I drew in a shaky breath to calm myself. My skin literally burned from where he had touched me. What was wrong with me?
“Are you okay? You’re so quiet.” Sebastian’s blue eyes were clouded with. . . Was that concern I saw in their depths?
“I was just thinking about someone I know.”
“Really?” Sebastian looked surprised.
“Yeah. When are we supposed to fight?”
“After dinner is done, which is in about ten minutes.”
“Then I had better get out of these clothes, and into something more. . . Well, just more.” I looked down at the clothes I was wearing. There would be no way in hell that I could fight in these. Sebastian grabbed my arm and led me out of the dinning room. We walked through more gray halls until we can to a flight of stairs. Down the stairs, and to the left was a door. Sebastian opened the door to let me inside. The room was painted a light pink with black trim. There were clothes of all kinds everywhere. They were hung up, folded and placed on couches, laid out on the floor, you name it.
My eyes widened as I took in the sight. I wanted to scream with joy. I loved clothes! And there were shoes! If there was one thing I loved more than clothes, it was shoes. I walked a few steps from the door and encountered a pile of dresses. I couldn’t wear those, but it didn’t hurt to look. I lifted one of the dresses and found the three Pokemon from before. They waved, smiled mischievously, and scampered away. That had been odd, I thought as I examined the clothes. I finally found some that were suitable. A white T-shirt, black leather pants, and knee high black boots. I kicked Sebastian out so I could change. I dressed in record time, casting my old clothes to the side. Sebastian opened the door.
“You’re missing some pizzazz,” he said, frowning.
“Pizzazz? Is that even a word?”
“Of course it’s a word! Lots of people use it.”
“Whatever.” I rolls my eyes.
“Let me help you.”
“You want to dress me?” I gave him a incredulous look.
“Yup. I play games that have armor in it, and know how to make it look stylish.” What the hell did he just say? What kind of game had stylish armor? Sebastian was looking around the room, shifting through piles of clothes. He returned with an armful of crap.
“These look good. Hold your arms out to the side, and spread your legs.”
“Last time someone said that, I got tied up.” I replied in a droll tone.
“Haha, very funny. You’re such a comedian. Just hold still, and do as I asked.” I raised an eyebrow at his words. “Please?” I nodded, and did as Sebastian asked me to. He grabbed a gauzy cloth and tied it around my hips, the knot resting on my right side. Next, he pulled out a leather corset. It was black, like my pants and boots, and zipped up in the back. As Sebastian strapped me into the thing, I wondered what my Pokemon were doing. A tug of longing pulled at my heart. I missed them so much, it hurt. Instead of making myself sad, I focused on the corset. It started under my breasts, and stopped at my hips. Straps came over my shoulders. Sebastian cinched a thin belt around my waist. He gave me leather cuffs that covered my arm from wrist to elbow, and laced up. The finishing touch was a band that looked like a Arbok. It wound around my biceps a couple times like an actually snake.
Those accessories made me sure that Sebastian was gay. No straight man had good taste.
“Are you gay?” I blurted out before I could think about what I had said.
“What?” He turned around, and gave me a bewildered stare.
“Are you gay?”
“No!” He all but shouted at me. “I’m not gay! I like girls!”
“Jeez, you don’t have to get all defensive about it. It was a simple question.”
“You just asked me if I was gay. How the hell do you expect me to react?” Sebastian glared at me. Men were so touchy. I grinned at him. “Come on, we have to get your daggers.” He sighed.
Sebastian couldn’t believe his ears. She had just asked him if he was gay. Sebastian didn’t know whether to shake some sense into the girl, or show her that he wasn’t. They walked down more gray hallways to another door. Whoever had decorated the stupid place had terrible taste in colors. Sebastian pushed open the door, silently rebuking himself for losing control at dinner. He couldn’t believe that he had allowed him to come out, even if it had been for a brief second. It had been so long since Sebastian had control, that he was getting a bit drunk on the power of it. Whatever happened, Fen could not get out until Shadow was gone from Arcadium. Sebastian felt something push him into a table.
“What was that?” He asked no one in particular.
“Puberty?” Shadows volunteered. Sebastian hated her freaking sense of humor. It was twisted, and sometimes cruel. He had to get away from her soon.
I accepted my daggers from a small girl in a pink dress. I didn’t like it in this room. Something dark hung over the heads of everyone inside it. Something evil, I could feel it. This room looked like the others. Gray walls, oak floors, tables full of all kinds of weapons. I found some thigh holsters for my daggers, and strapped them on. They wrapped around my thighs to secure the daggers to me. I tightened the straps until they were to my liking.
“Hurry up. We have to go.” Sebastian told me. I sighed. I was tired of being dragged all over. We walked through more gray halls until we reached a door. I was so tired of seeing gray, I was about to scream. Was there no other colors in the damned place?
“This is where we part. Have fun, try not to kill anyone.” Sebastian curled a strand of my hair around his finger before he left. How weird. He almost reminded me of Fen right at that moment. I bit my lip as I pushed the heavy metal door open. Bright lights flashed in my eyes, blinding me. I lifted my hand to cover my eyes. The Arena was huge. There was floor after floor of people. They had all come to see the fights. Flood lights had been attached all round the Arena. In front of me, there was a private box. It was square, and made of glass. A giant screen hung over it. The stench of sweat, vomit, and bad breath assaulted my senses. I had to stop and take a breath before I passed out. The floor of the Arena was composed of dirt. I guess the dirt made cleanup easier. There were chairs, stools, and other stuff thrown in the Arena. Standing in the middle of the Arena were two girls. I gouged their age to be early to mid twenties. They both were bottle blondes, brown eyes, and pale skin. They were dressed identically in what looked to be tennis clothes. I sighed. At least this would be a quick fight. They wouldn’t be able to move very well in fear of showing their underwear. They both carried short swords, and had different colored ribbons in their hair. I dubbed them Pink and Purple.
“What’s up?” I asked. They looked at each other, then back at me. The girls shouted, and charged me. Purple swung her sword at me. I hopped back, and frowned. I didn’t draw my daggers, though. What the hell was their problem? I was only trying to be friendly. They dove at me again. I rolled backwards, came up with one of the stools. I used it to block their wild swings, The stool broke. I dodged to the right, and kicked Purple in the shin. She cried out, and dropped to the ground, holding her injured leg. Pink narrowed her eyes. I grimaced. She looked like she knew how to handle the sword, unlike her friend, so I drew my daggers. She brought her sword down, like she was trying to cut wood. I crossed my daggers and blocked the blow. I kicked her in the stomach, sending her back a few steps.
She swung again, almost catching me in the side. Pink twisted, almost getting me again. My dagger and her sword collided. Pink held my other hand in a death grip. We both used our strength to push our weapons down on the other, trying to get first blood. The tip of my dagger nipped her wrist, drawing a bead of red. Pink took a second to look at it, leaving an opening for me. I knocked her blade out of her hand, slammed my head into her nose, and kicked her in the stomach again. As Pink went down, Purple got up. A nasty green bruise was forming on her shin. I winced. It looked painful. Seconds later, Pink got up, too. What the heck were they? Robots? They didn’t have their swords, so I dropped my daggers in the dirt.
I punched Purple in the thigh, turned, and caught Pink in the jaw with a punishing kick. Pink caught my leg seconds after I hit her, and yanked. I crashed to the ground, flat on my back. I rolled to the side when Purple tried to smash her foot in my face. I slid between her legs and vaulted to my feet. That’s when the real fight started. All that could be seen was a flurry of punches. They were tiring from trying to hit me. I had been dodging their punches, looking for the right time to strike. As soon as they both punched with their left arms, I wrapped my arms around their necks, hooked my legs around theirs, and fell back. We hit the ground hard. They took most of the pain, but I wasn’t unscathed from the fall. I untangled myself from their bodies and stood.
The screen over the private box flashed my name. Suddenly, I felt a burning pain in my stomach. I dropped to my knees, overcome by the pain. I gritted my teeth, and forced myself to stand again. The screen had a picture of a circle. Inside the circle was a flame. There was another circle. This one had three wavy lines. Over the speakers, a voice announced that I had unlocked the level two Attribute flame, and level one Attribute water. Slowly, the pain began to dull. I looked at my palm. Sebastian had said that we could use our Attributes in battle. My next opponent came lumbering out of a door. He has dressed in a toga, had long, matted red hair, and murderous gray eyes. He wore the biggest pair of sandals I had even seen. He was also extremely tall. If I had to guess, I would say seven foot eight at the minimum. The giant also had a hammer. Priceless. I sighed. I really didn’t want to die here. One swing from that hammer, and I would be history.
“Please, don’t eat me.” I gulped. My words were amplified over the speakers, sending the crowd into peels of laughter. The giant roared, silencing any laughter. I walked away, casting quick glances over my shoulder to make sure he wasn’t following me. I retrieved my daggers. A bell rang, and the giant started advancing on me. He swung his hammer. I ducked, and stabbed him in the arm. He frowned at me. I smiled nervously. The giant dropped his hammer and picked me up. He held me over his head. I was scared out of my mind. I grabbed at his hands, shrieking in fright. I felt his hands disappear and, for a few seconds, I was airborne. I hit the ground hard on my side. I laid there, stunned. My lungs weren’t working. I couldn’t feel my body, either. Finally, blood began to flow through me again, bringing with it pain. I rolled over onto my back, and expelled a long breath of air. The giant had tore off a piece of his toga, and was tying it around his wound.
Obviously, I wouldn’t be able to get close to him. I needed range. The Attributes! I could use them. Surely, I could still throw fireballs. I pushed myself up. I gazed at my palms. I held my hand out, and willed the flames to shoot out. I was floored when a fireball shot towards the edges of the Arena. The giant had finished his makeshift bandage, and was now coming toward me. I threw a fireball at him. It bounced off his chest, as did the next five. I ran further away, trying to bide some time. A thought flashed through my head. There had been this game that I had played. Inside, you had spells that used fire, and other elements. There had been this particular spell from the game that stuck in my mind. It was called Fire Storm. I held my hands to level with my hips. Slowly, fireballs began form. As they got bigger, I lifted my hands higher. The giant took one more step and was in front of me. He seized me and threw me across the Arena like a rag doll. Pushing the pain out of my thoughts, I stood and continued to make the fireballs bigger. When I couldn’t hold them anymore. I let them go. They shot up into the sky, split into dozens of little fireballs, and fell back down. The giant was in the middle of the Arena, slowly making his way towards me. The fireballs hit the ground right where he was. All I could see was a curtain of fire. When the flames abated, I could see the giant was on fire. He wasn’t burned, just on fire. That made me mad for some reason.
“Are you hot?” I shouted, forming a giant ball of water. “Here! Let me cool you off!” I threw the enormous ball of water at him. The ball broke against his chest, sending him to the ground. Saved by the video game. Would would have thought? I only had one champion left before I could leave. My whole body was screaming in pain. I could hear the screen announcing I had unlocked and leveled up all the Attributes. That was probably why I couldn’t breath. Sebastian lied. He had told me that you could only unlock and level up one Attribute at a time.
I felt a hand in my hair, and looked up. Sebastian was kneeling next to me. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw those three Pokemon. They were on all fours, their eyes clouded with concern. They looked like they wanted to run to me, but thought better of it. The three Pokemon turned tail, and ran. I groaned, the searing pain in my stomach too much. Sebastian’s hands were on me, removing the corset, laying me flat on my back. All I wanted to do was curl into a ball, and cry for my mom.
He pulled my shirt up and ran his hands over my skin. I looked down at my stomach. In a row, marching around my waist, were circles. They each had different pictures inside them.
“Damn,” Sebastian whispered. “You unlocked and leveled them up at the same time. What did you do?”
“I made these giant fireballs,” I started, only to be cut off by Sebastian.
“I know, I saw. It was a rhetorical question.” He smoothed a hand over my hair. “I know it hurts, Shadow. Just hold my hand and squeeze when it hurts the most.”
I did as he told me to. I must have had his hand in a death grip, but he didn’t even wince. Every few seconds I would bit down on my lip to stop from screaming. Slowly, the searing pain died away. I breathed a sigh of relief.
“Get up. The next champion had beat everyone else, so he had all his Attributes. ”
“How do I beat him if he has all his Attributes?” I sat up with help from Sebastian.
“Final Spark?” I frowned.
“Yes. When you’re fighting, you’ll know the moment when you need to unleash it.”
“That’s really helpful,” I said, sarcasm ringing in my tone. “Any other tips you want to give me?” My sarcastic remark went right over Sebastian’s head.
“Well, I have never seen anyone achieve Final Spark, so no. Just do your best. Be careful. The fight won’t be easy.” I stood, took my daggers from Sebastian, and held my head up high. Sebastian jogged back into the building. The heavy steel doors opened slowly. A man wearing a slick black suit walked in. He wore rectangular glasses, had straight white hair that was combed back, gold skin, and piercing light green eyes. He walked right up to me. He was taller than me, not much of a surprise considering I barely topped five feet. He held his hand out. I slipped my into his light grasp, and shook firmly.
“You have a firm handshake. For a woman.” His voice was as smooth as silk and low. He smiled at me, which was nothing more then him lifting a corner of his mouth.
“And you have soft hands. For a man.” I smiled back, but the smile didn’t reach my eyes. He could tell.
“I am Kalin Montgomery.”
“I’m Broken Shadows Phoenix. Sup?” This time he did smile fully.
“Your language is atrocious.”
“As is your humor.” I shot back.
“It seems we are not impressed with each other.”
“It seems you aren’t used to that.” I raised an eyebrow, daring him to deny it.
“No, I am not used it. Shall we commence with the fight, then?”
I dropped to ground and swiped his legs out from under him. As he fell, I rolled away. Kalin propped himself up on his elbows.
“I would seem I have underestimated your skill.”
“You should never underestimate your opponent. I thought all sharks were taught that.” I put my finger to the corner of my mouth, and gave him an innocent look. I stood, my back to Kalin. I sensed him before I felt his hands on me. He moved quickly. I grabbed his hand, and flipped him over my shoulder. Kalin twisted in air and landed facing me instead of on the ground. He rammed his fist in my stomach, driving the air from my lungs.
“That was a low move,” I said, coughing. I brought my knee up, intended to hit him in his forbidden zone. He blocked it, and caught the blow in his upper thigh. I’d bet it still hurt like hell. I hooked my leg around his and jerked. He went down on one knee. We broke apart. Kalin smoothed his hair back, adjusted his glasses. He lowered his head and charged, catching me off balance. The momentum carried us a few feet before we both slammed into the ground. I put my hands to his chest and pushed. Air shot from my hands, blasting Kalin off of me. I looked down at my hands for what felt like the hundredth time, and smiled. I waved my hand, and a small tornado formed. It ran right over Kalin, tossing him around in the air until it disappeared. Kalin crashed to the ground. Sebastian had told me that this was going to be hard. Maybe had been wrong. Suddenly, I was airborne. Kalin had picked me up with his air power. I threw my hands out to the side, effectively stopping myself. I found that I could fly using one of my Attributes. Cool. I caught Kalin in a bubble of water. I used the bubble to levitate him up. He used his own air power to break the bubble. He threw a fireball at me. I countered it with a blast of water.
Kalin was suddenly in front of me. He folded his hands, raised them over my head. I put my hands over my head to block the blow. He drove his knee into my stomach, then brought his hands down. I fell out of the air and hit the ground.
“You see, you may have had the lead before, but I can use my Attributes better.” Kalin smiled, giving me a glimpse of the evil lurking in him. He picked me up, and tossed me around over and over again. Finally, I got close enough to him. I slammed my fist into his face. I kicked Kalin in the chest, making him stagger back a few steps. I grabbed a handful of his white hair and hit him in the face again and again. Kalin grabbed a handful of my own hair, and twisted. I yelped, pain shooting up my scalp. He dragged my head down, forcing me to my knees.
“There’s a reason women don’t wear their hair down when they fight.” Kalin lectured me. I grabbed his leg, and sunk my teeth into the flesh. He swore viciously, pulling on my hair even harder. I bit down even harder. Kalin let go of my hair and shoved me away from him. He pulled up his pant leg to expose the bloody teeth marks in his calf. He let off a string of violent curses. I swiped at my mouth. The material from his suit had kept the blood from getting into my mouth, thankfully. I surged to my feet and kicked Kalin in the head. He went down to his knees. I kicked him again. He caught my foot, and twisted. I twisted as well, managing to hit catch him in the head with my other foot before falling to the ground. I landed on my stomach. I could feel Kalin’s footsteps shaking the ground. I got on all fours, and rolled away. I clapped my hands together, facing Kalin. Rocks that had been buried under the dirt were unearthed. They clamped around Kalin’s foot, rooting him to the spot.
How the hell I knew what these Attributes were, and how to use them was beyond me. I was just glad to be winning again. Not willing to get close to Kalin, I blasted him with fire and water, one after the other. Kalin was working hard to get unstuck. He finally succeeded, and I turned tail, and ran. I could hear him pounding the ground behind me. I kept picking up rocks, and throwing them at him. Kalin took a flying leap, and tackled me, his arms wrapping around my legs. I fell with him on top of me. I bucked, throwing Kalin off. I swung wildly, my punch hitting him in the side. Kalin used his air power and tossed me into the air. He floated up to where I was, and wrapped a hand around my throat.
He applied pressure, squeezing the life from me. I put my hands on him and tried to pry his hand off. Little black dots began to dance around the edges of my vision. I could feel hot tears leaking from my eyes as my lungs heaved for air. This was it. I was going to die. I felt the hand around my throat loosen the tiniest bit. I went limp in Kalin’s grip, trying to get him to loosen up some more. His hand slipped away from my throat and I dropped. I sucked in some air as I tried to stabilize myself.
“So, you’re still alive, huh?” Kalin caught me with a flick of his wrist. “Guess I’ll have to remedy that.”
He dropped me again, and I crashed in the ground. By now, all my nerves had gone blank. I couldn’t feel a thing right now, but in the morning, I would be in so much pain. I saw Kalin’s shoes right by my face, felt that very shoe dig into my stomach. I grabbed his leg and resorted to a tactic long used by two year olds. I bit his ankle. He groaned, typing to shake me loose. I dug my nails into his calf muscle, making Kalin fall to his knees. He but his foot to my thigh and kicked, pushing me off him.
“What is up with you biting me?” Kalin said through clenched teeth. With some difficulty, I got to my feet. Kalin was still on the ground, holding his wounded ankle. I held my hand out, using my other to steady my arm. Just one water blast. That was all I needed. I concentrated on my hand. I could feel the energy draining out of my body and into my outstretched hand. Kalin stood and glared at me. He too held out his hand. My palm began to burn with the power now contained in it. My legs began to buckle. I didn’t have the energy to stand here all night. As the black spot began to take over my vision, I let the power in my hand go. It wasn’t enough to damage a mouse, but, hopefully, it would blast Kalin back and give me enough time to get back out. A bright light flashed from Kalin’s hand and tore into me. It was setting my nerves on fire, searing my insides. For the first time in my life, I prayed for death to come. When it did, it came in the form of a shining star. That shining star was the last thing I saw.