Cash heard the crowd scream and cheer like wild animals as hot, blinding pain ripped at his lower abdomen, causing salty tears to blur his vision. He clumsily zeroed in for a quick drop-kick to the man’s groin, or maybe even his thigh. As he finally blinked the salt-filled tears from his dark eyes, he felt the gravity that he once held disappear as he was tossed into the air like a helpless rag doll. He heard the deafening crack a millisecond before the fresh wave of white-hot, agonizing pain flooded his chest. This was sure sign of broken ribs, as he was thrown against the arena wall. He gasped as the breath knocked completely out of his broken body. Red and sticky blood leaked from his lips and soaked his shirt as he staggered weakly to his feet, only to find his face meeting the ground once more. The corner of his vision blurred as he fought to keep consciousness. This is it; he thought with finality as the beast-like man loomed over him, and the enormous crowd’s cheering slowly faded I’m going to die.
Cash surveyed the vast area of trees and shrubs of the forest. His dark blue eyes grazed over the rough bark of the tree trunks and the different shaped leaves attached delicately to their branches. His nimble fingers rested on the hilt of his pistol. His senses were alert, and his steps were cautious and quiet. Twenty-five year old Cash Horan was hunting game for his wife and four-year-old daughter. They lived in a small, wooden cottage at the edge of Acre Forest, and they were isolated from all civilization. Cash had grown up with his grandfather, who had taught him how to hunt, find water, and survive on his own. It had proved helpful later on, providing excellent game for him and his family.
Cash ducked behind a large, gnarled bush. His keen ears picked up a quiet chewing noise a few paces away. He peeked over the bush carefully, making sure to mute any sounds that his body would make. His dark eyes fell over a beautiful, strong-looking doe that was grazing on a patch of deep green, newly sprouting grass. He removed his loaded pistol quietly from its holster, his eyes trained on the unsuspecting deer. He raised the small, black gun. The metal was cool on his fingers as he took careful aim, right at the deer’s neck. Just as he was about to squeeze the trigger, the doe raised its head and stared straight into Cash’s eyes, sending shivers down his spine. “You know, it’s very rude to shoot a lady,” the doe noted in a matter-of-fact tone, its large, furry ears twitching pointedly. Cash gawked, his eyes widening in shock as he stared at the deer. Was the doe actually…..talking to him? Cash stared at the female deer for a few long moments, and then chuckled to himself. Exhaustion really caught up to you this time, Cash. He thought dismissively before holding up his pistol again and aiming at the doe’s strong neck once more. The succulent female deer snorted and began walking away, tail twitching in obvious irritation. Cash brought his tiny black gun down slowly, watching the doe walk away. He climbed to his feet and followed the deer in a light, silent jog, and kept a good distance behind her.
After what seemed like two hours or so, the doe paused, staring straight ahead of her as if there were something there. Then, taking a step forward, the female deer disappeared. Cash froze in his tracks, shaking his head and bringing his rough hands up to his dark eyes and rubbing them vigorously before squinting at the vacant spot where a full-grown female deer had just been standing. A shimmer of light caught his eyes and he stepped forward hesitantly. He sluggishly reached out to touch the glimmering shield-like air. Suddenly, his body was pulled into the void of shimmering air.
Cash was tossed out of the air into a large puddle of brown, gooey mud. Cash gagged, spitting some of the brown goo out of his parched, dry mouth. “Aw, gross!” He spat, wiping the mud pie off his pale face and out of his eyes. His dark, jet black hair was plastered to the sides of his head and face. He carefully scrambled to his soaked, brown feet. Grunting in irritation, he sloshed out of the mud puddle and examined his surroundings. He was in the middle of a humongous arena……where even bigger crowd sat laughing and pointing their fingers at him. Cash’s eyes narrowed angrily ######################################### laughing at?” Cash growled “Have you looked in the mirror lately?” He snarled, his mud-crusted fists clenched tightly into balls. It didn’t occur to him where the deer had gone until suddenly, the crowd burst into cheers as a loud, earth-shaking bong was heard. His anger merged into confusion as he turned slowly to identify what, or who, the humungous crowd was cheering for. Cash’s dry mouth fell open as he spotted a bear-like man lumbering out of a large door in the side of the ring-like arena, holding a very deadly looking weapon in his paw-like hands. Cash squinted and saw that it was a whip, but instead of plain leather, razor sharp teeth was tied and weaved into its material. He could see dried blood already crusted on the razor sharp points. Cash’s heart skipped a beat as the beast man suddenly lunged at him. Raising his whip, the man swung it with great force, the teeth latching onto Cash’s lower abdomen before he could react, the blood already seeping out from the wound before the pain hit. These people wanted blood.
Cash’s broken, muddy, and bleeding body lay sprawled on the ground as the enormous man lumbered over to him, a look of triumph on his face. Cash closed his eyes, waiting for the blow to come.
Cash heard a familiar, sweet voice in his head. He searched his brain to find who it was.
Cash you can’t give up, we need you! Cash’s wife screamed in his head, her voice filled with urgency.
Cash groaned. But I don’t want to….I’m tired…. He replied mentally, his voice like a whiney child.
Daddy? Another voice spoke. This voice was from a little girl. Daddy, please get up, it’s time to get up Daddy.
Cash’s eyes slowly opened just in time to see the bear-like man raising his arm to swing the last blow to finish Cash off. Cash’s quickly rolled out of the way, in time to hear a whistling noise and feel the wind of the whip as it dug into the earth, latching deeply into the hard dirt. The man bellowed with rage as he attempted pulling the whip out of the ground. Cash staggered to his feet and looked around. A large, silver sword leaned against the opposite wall; he just had to get to it. Cash started limping as fast as he could in that direction, speeding up his pace as he heard the whip pull out of the earth, the blood-stained bones clinking together. Cash’s limp turned into an uneven jog, pain shooting through his body, his breathing coming in short, ragged gasps. He could hear and feel the thundering footsteps of the enormous man galloping toward him, and the silence of the crowd thick in the air. He was still a quarter of the way away when he heard the heavy footsteps getting louder, and he could almost feel the hot, rancid breath of the beast on the back of his neck. He sprinted now, his lungs screaming for air and his chest and lower abdomen feeling like they were on fire. As he dove for the sword, he heard his opponent lunge straight at him, roaring. Cash frantically swung around and held the sword straight out, squeezing his eyes shut as the sword sliced through the man’s body, the blade sticking out on the other side. Sticky red blood splattered Cash’s face, spraying out of the man’s mouth. The humongous body became limp, blood seeping out of the wounds and soaking Cash’s hands and clothes.
Cash dragged himself out from under the huge beast, gasping for air. The crowd around him was silent, shock and surprise was thick in the air. Then, a deafening roar filled the arena as the frenzied crowd went wild, throwing roses into the arena and whistling like crazy. Cash staggered to his feet and looked around. He had done it. Cash had survived and killed a man 10 times his size. He stood as straight as he could, almost forgetting the pain in his body for a moment.
I did it! He thought triumphantly, a look of relief spread across his face I’m going home.
Riolet, Miros, and Jaziel are OTP.