This has been the longest, five minutes of my life! Being with Kioro is so awkward. So awkward, just like waiting for a very long advertisement to finish before you could proceed to your video.
He’s silent on our way out. Our paths shift when we both exit the premises, the gate, where he took the road leading the coliseum. He must be a sports fan.
Beacons dance from the location of the coliseum. And I have to run towards it before the event starts.
The sun had already set, maybe a few hours ago and I’m terribly late. Grey won’t be amused of my tardiness, knowing how strict he is with time and how he deeply respect schedules.
The streets are silent, and some shops settle for the day. Traversing the dark pavement, thinking of the worst possible outcomes before it could happen. Once my mind starts to think about it, the lesser chance it will actually happen.
Turning to the right at the corner of the intersection, to the right taking a sharp turn. Almost slipped but I managed to hold my ground.
Rushing with one goal in mind, to catch up, suddenly that goal, ruined by a loud crash.
A sound reminiscent of metal roofing when struck with a heavy blow, echoing out a pitch-black alleyway. Hostile, aggressive voices held me in place, deciding whether or not intervene. Ruffians in town, according to Johnnard are stubborn thugs. Better evade any situation that involves them. They violate their Elements into their diabolical schemes and local police regard them as rogues.
Curious, I eventually gave in with the urge to pry with whatever they are doing, hoping not to be seen behind the dumpster.
“… Spoiled brats like you should rot in the dump!”
“Really? Should I get into your mouth since it smells like one?”
That comeback though. Then, I heard an audible socking punch through the gut. Leaning forward with my head, from this angle, I could see three men. Two of them held one arm of the assaulted. All of them wear the same wardrobe telling me they’re part of a gang.
“Tch, pity!” the canine assailant rubs his fist, scoffing at the victim of his punch.
The recipient of the punch constantly gags and coughs. Heavily breathing as the ruffians tighten their grip on his arms.
“Nobody speaks to me like that. Though, you’re more bark than bite, least I expected from a man bound with muscles. What gives? Are you gonna let silly Vlad beat you to pulp, kangaroo? Instead of resisting from those ridiculously limp grips?”
The guy, ‘Vlad’, holds a fist, frustratingly rubbing it on the side of the face of the kangaroo.
“Chief, we’re doing our best holding him down.”
“Yeah, give us a little credit!”
“Whatever… Let this be a lesson to you, Forterra. Interfering with our business is a death sentence. What you did earlier risks our secrecy. We’ll only let you go if you swear never to repeat this mistake. Capisce?
So wrong in so many levels. Watching him suffer is like staying silent while the person asking you through the screen in a kids’ show waits for your reply. I must report this before things get worse.
“Swear, tch! Make me!”
Another blow through the gut. The other two let go, throwing him hard against the rusted iron-roofing wall. The metal bend inwards with his weight. The kangaroo is in fact brawny and I question why he didn’t took the advantage of the scene. He could take all of them in one powerful kick!
“He’s pretty beaten, I must get out of here and find the guards,” I lower my body as I exit the crime scene, unknowingly stepping on an abandoned squeaky toy.
It deflated, crushed under the pressure of my sneakers.
“Who’s there?!” alerted by the high-pitched shrill, their ears perk at my direction.
I stopped, cringing from irreparable error. Heart pounding in my chest realizing an impending doom lurking from behind.
“Hehe, looks like we’ve got ourselves a guest-of-honor,” the canine snaps. With his cue, the mouth of the alleyway seals. Metallic wall separates me from my objective to report this violence. Now, I’m involved.
My lower torso and limbs, locked together by thick plant vines. In one forceful tug, pulling me towards them. A hand wraps around my neck, holding me up facing him. The same expression returns, the very same one every time strangers meet me for the first time.
“Ugh, what are you, a shaved ape?” he throws me onto the ground begrudgingly. Trace of disgust lingers on his face. I hit the same metal sheet causing a loud bang.
For sure, the guards have heard that. The initial crash is audible at the corner, just a few meters away from here. The canine is reluctant to keep a stable gaze at me, constantly averting his eyes away from my scowl.
I huddle close to the kangaroo. Seeing him up close made me regret my earlier judgements. Apparently, he’s injured, not that bad and thankfully, his concussion isn’t that of severe.
“Is this one of your cronies, Nayte?” he kicks at the exhausted kangaroo, struggling to draw his breath. “Answer you fool!”
“N-No!” I stifled a cry. “Please, this must be a misunderstanding—”
“Spying other people is no misunderstanding, mister,” he snarls, ivory blades pokes the side of his mouth, glistening under the orange glow of the faint lamplight. He presses his worn out baseball bat up against my chin. “Nosey little turd will eat what he deserves.”
Menacing grin stretches on his face. His henchmen stood side-by-side beside him, preparing their fists for an unforgivable action.
What do I do? My nerves are alarmed, and adrenaline clogged my mind into fleeing and panicking at the same time. How could we exit this apparently locked-up alleyway?
My Element is no use at all. One hit, and say hello to suite number 10 in the hospital. My grimoire though? Will it be of any use to me?
Luckily, the three of them caught themselves in a minor quarrel, buying me time to rummage into my bag. I scrambled for my grimoire in cold, shaking hands. Once my palms feel its canvas-coated spine, I tugged harder to pull it out.
Halfway through, I feel a warm paw touching the back of my hand.
“No, don’t” he whispered. “It’s too risky. You’ll just rile them up, worsening things.”
“Make me do something, at least!” I whispered back. “Those injuries are not gonna heal themselves either. When we’re out of this mess, let me treat it, please.”
I don’t know why I’m helping this stranger. This day has gone weird enough for me to deny and helping this poor kangaroo should suffice. Maybe this is fear-driven. Not actually knowing what to do next in these pressure-fueled games. A game I’m unwilling to participate.
“Okay, feel free. But don’t try to provoke them all of the sudden. They can be too hasty and their moves are too unpredictable.”
“Got it, chief,” I said.
“What’d you say?” the canine snapped his head at us with a menacing scowl. I forgot his companions address him as their ‘chief’.
“Oops…” I murmured.
“What he means is…” Nayte wraps his arm around my shoulder with the other free hand twisting the air. The earth beneath them hollowed open. The thugs easily sink into it. Before they could retaliate, Nayte seals the surrounding ground, cementing them with their upper body poking out like sprouts.
The three of them are clearly pissed, especially Vlad, constantly grimacing at us like a provoked, leashed dog trying to squirm his way out of the soil.
“You bastard! Wait ‘til I have my paws wrapped around your neck!” Vlad barks. His crew tries to wriggle hard. Their efforts seem to be useless.
Nayte walks darkly, paws shoved in his green shorts. Despite his condition, he manages to grin back at the buried ones, seeing how things flipped in his favor.
“Chief, remember what you said earlier about me being more talk than acting?” he plants himself on the ground folding one knee, with the other paw reaching the chin of Vlad, making him face up. Vlad’s scowl remains. “Well, look who’s barking now?”
He returns to me, embracing an arm around me again.
“See you later, losers! I’m terribly late for my appointment now. That cervine’s not gonna be happy about what I got myself into. Oh well, I’ll take my leave now and one piece of advice. Quit talking crap about me and my parents.”
Smooth as silk. And that, the two of us hopped off the alleyway taking the other route away from the criminals.
The streets are as vacant as an abandoned parking lot. Some businesses are open, illuminating a medium glow that luster on the wet pavement. I haven’t paid much attention on the road earlier, realizing it had rained before. Maybe the time when I was in the laboratory.
Nayte pulls me along in his studio. He told me his members are out in the coliseum, watching the event.
The town clearly anticipates this event. As I treat his wound, I inquire about the ruckus the town is excited.
“The champ made an announcement a month ago about a competition held exclusively here,” he said, wincing and hissing at the pain as I apply peroxide on his open wound. “The winning team gets to assist the champ with his mission to liberate the continent from the Armaggon empirical tyranny.”
“That’s something,” I said, applying the gauze then.
His room resembles a celebrity’s room. Closed without windows, ventilated by a vent system delivering cool air into his room. Among the places in the town, this establishment is modern compared to the rest of the archaic vibe the town radiates.
His room consists of a bed, a door leading to his wardrobe, a computer table with a functioning system, and a vanity mirror close to the door, cluttered with his belongings.
Other than these, paintings donned all over the walls. There are larger ones, there are smaller ones, all in which pictures landscapes and futuristic cityscapes.
He’s a few inches taller than Ramyl, definitely more voluminous than him, wearing an orange-and-green vest over a gray-and-orang sleeveless shirt. His shorts are green as well, held firmly in place by a belt with his Element embedded in his buckle. It has an orange tint to it. His left ear has this round crop portion on the side.
“Not just something! Imagine fighting side by side with the champion, recognized as our last hope by and of the Sylvans. Well, he may have worked under the Armaggon federation, but he’s sent by the Giver to us without the Armaggons realizing it.”
“Wow, he’s on the verge of the cliff if I had a say in this,” I admitted.
“Exactly the same thing I thought, but it’s been four years and counting, and he’s never caught by them. His excuse of getting here was to ‘survey’ the borders,” he made air quotation marks with his fingers. “And report back for a possible… breach or anomaly.”
“What if one day… he suddenly betrays you?” I said to him, emphasizing a word in the statement.
He sighs. “Well… we’ll be mortified for sure, before Armaggons rig our memories. Before we could defend ourselves. He’s our last hope, there’s no way he could betray us. But you can’t be wrong either since it can be a possibility. Hoping that the future unfolds as the Giver wanted. You’re not against the Giver, right?”
“No, not really,” I said. Before things get awkward in between us, I switched to another relevant topic. “Oh yeah, don’t mind me asking if it sounds offensive.”
“Hmp, I suggest you keep it to yourself instead,” he bats an eye at his door. “Not in the perfect condition to talk about it. Since you’ve helped me so much, feel free.”
He smiles back at me, a warm and friendly one. I start wrapping his arm with a clean bandage.
“It’s about those thugs from before,” I said.
“Oh, them?” he scoffs. “Bunch of hooligans ought to cause trouble wherever they lurk. Ain’t stopping themselves from messing, vandalizing town the walls, and their unpermitted shenanigans causing disturbances.
“It’s not my job to confront those fools until they made fun about my parents. Something that is personal to me, so I try confronting them. I didn’t realize sooner they had the upper hand and took advantage with their number. Until you arrive later.”
I finished tying the bandage securely. Nayte raises his arms, examining the product of my effort. “Wow, amazingly clean!”
“Yeah, a guardian of mine says that a couple of times,” I admitted.
“By the way, have I told you my name yet?” he asked, shifting himself on his seat.
“The thugs from before mentioned it though, but we never had a proper introduction.”
“Well then, let me do the honors, first!” Nayte steps onto his seat, launching himself up in the air and spun backwards, landing on one knee with a paw planted on the ground performing a hero’s landing pose. “I’m Antimony Niall Forterra, a red kangaroo, and also the town demolisher! Call me Nayte instead.” he strikes a pose in his introduction. “Also a part time ranger, dancer, artist, and kickboxer.”
I chuckled from his silly introduction. “I’m Ruelo, just Ruelo. A lost human being.”
Nayte and I exit his place right after our introductions. He’s terribly late at the venue he’s attending and so am I. Both of us are heading at the coliseum in quickened pace.
Once we got there, I immediately searched for Grey. Not around the entrance, maybe he’s inside. The two of us lined for our tickets. It costs that much but I could afford it with the help of my allowance.
Nayte and I split ways in the lobby, saying he’s needed to take his personal necessities in the restroom. I take my leave as well, following the cheerful cries of the spectators in the bleachers inside.
The event must have started. Finding Grey and the others is seriously going to be a challenge. The roars might be tempting, but I don’t let it get excite me just yet. Saving it for later once I get through this maze.
Five minutes later, and I’m lost. Literally lost. Staring at the wall in defeat, feeling my back slump ahead of me.
“Grey will definitely kill me later,” I murmured.
I spun around to retake my steps. Without concentrating on where I step, I bumped again at something big and sturdy.
“Whoa, eyes on the road, little guy!”