Chapter 18

“This is my last match, right?” Vur asked. He was sitting next to Lindyss with Snuffles in his arms. They were at the gate leading into the arena.

“Yeah. Use your dragon magic and stop hiding your aura once you’re out there,” Lindyss said as she pet Snuffles. “Let’s make sure they don’t want to keep you here.” Lindyss showed her fangs as she smiled. Vur nodded.

“Today is a special day folks. The ninety-nine time winner, the devourer, will be fighting his last match here today regardless of whether he wins or loses. His opponent will be a Cerberus tamed by the tribe chieftain himself. The Cerberus is a three-headed monstrosity with the ability to use hell fire. Its speed is unmatched and it took a raid of twenty-four of our strongest warriors to weaken it enough to be tamed. It has been starved for three days and it will be out for blood!”

The crowd hissed and thumped their tails against the floors. The arena shook and dust fell from the ceiling above Vur and Lindyss. “She’s really firing them up today,” Lindyss said. “They’re expecting a long drawn out bloody battle. Make sure to disappoint them.”

The gates opened and Vur dashed out. His eyes flashed with a golden light and a sky blue web-like pattern of runes spread from his forehead down to his toes. The Cerberus that had been charging at Vur stopped and it growled as its hackles raised into the air making it seem twice as large. It was pitch black and had three heads with round red eyes. Its teeth were as long as Vur’s hands and two tails pointed at the sky. The audience fell silent as a pressure descended and they felt their hearts tighten. The atmosphere was suffocating and a few people let out gasps as they tried to breathe.

The Cerberus’ eyes glowed a bright red and a halo made of black flames surrounded the Cerberus. It roared and the ring expanded before crashing against the walls of the arena and setting them on fire. The naga and lamia sitting in the first rows let out screams as they scrambled away from the flames. Vur had crossed his arms and disrupted the halo as it crashed into him. His eyes flashed golden and the black flames on his arms froze.

He let out a roar and charged towards the Cerberus while unsheathing Lust. The Cerberus’ body tensed and it pounced towards Vur with glowing red eyes. Vur’s eyes glowed again and a dome of purple surrounded the Cerberus while it was in midair and it crashed to the floor causing a shockwave to spread out in the sand. Vur stood over it with his dagger raised as its body was pressed to the floor.

“Stop!” a voice called out and Vur turned towards the voice with his eyes still glowing. The naga that spoke was the chieftain of the tribe and he shivered as he felt Vur’s gaze on him. “You win,” he said. Phoenix downs were expensive and he didn’t want to use one if he didn’t have to. Vur’s eyes stopped glowing and the runes surrounding his body faded away. The dome above the Cerberus was lifted and it rolled over onto its belly and whimpered.

“T-the w-winner is th-the devourer!” the lamia announcer said.

Vur left the arena and the audience let out a collective sigh before bursting into a commotion.

Lindyss smiled at Vur. “Good job,” she said.

“Are you ready to go home?”

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The Red Blade Adventurers stopped in front of a small wooden cabin on a cliff overlooking the ocean. The sun was red; it was just starting to set. They had traveled for weeks after reporting the zombie outbreak and turning in their fountain of youth request.

“This is the place,” Aran said. He strode up the porch steps and knocked on the door three times. A crash resounded in the cabin and smoke billowed out of a window. Footsteps approached the door and the door creaked as it swung open. A human wearing a blue conical hat and striped pink boxers opened the door. He had no hair anywhere on his body and the outlines of his bones could be seen against his skin. He had bags under his eyes and his face was smudged with ash. Aran stared at the man with his mouth open. The man stared back for a second before he started to close the door.

“W-wait,” Aran said. “We’re adventurers seeking passage into Fuselage.” The door stopped just before it shut. The door opened and the man smiled. His teeth were black and a few were missing.

“Shoulda said something earlier,” he said, “how many of ya are there? Six? Ah, there are even two women.” He grinned at Sophie and Claire.

Sophie shivered. “Are you Charon?” she asked.

“Indeed. Never liked that nickname,” the man said as he sighed. “Do y’all know the rules?”

“We completed the 15 SSS missions,” Aran said and nodded.

“Not those rules. If ya didn’t do that, then ya wouldn’t be here,” Charon said and shook his head while clicking his tongue, “youngsters these days, not so bright. Once ya go to Fuselage, ya can’t come back unless ya do 5 missions there. And if ya want to go back to Fuselage, then it’s another 15 missions here.”

The Red Blade Adventurers all looked at each other and then nodded.

“Is that all?” Aran asked.

“Just one more thing,” Charon said and smiled as he stuck out his hand. His fingernails were an inch long and yellow. “Give me all the gold ya have; ya won’t be needing it over there.”

The Red Blade Adventurers frowned, but removed their leather pouches and handed them over. “So that’s why you’re called Charon,” Claire muttered.

“Good, good. Now stand there in that circle of stones,” Charon said while ignoring Claire’s comment. The adventurers did as asked and Charon clapped his hands together once. A ring of light emerged from the stones; when it faded, the adventurers were gone.

Charon weighed the leather pouches in his hands. Tch, they had so little.

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Sophie looked around. The group was on a cliff similar to the one they were just on, but the grass was purple and the trees were gnarled and black with red nettles hanging off the branches. The sun was just beginning to rise and the sky was lit up in a shade of purple.

“It looks like we made it,” Zeke said. He inhaled through his nose while stretching his arms towards the sky and started to cough. “Ah, the sweet smell of sulfur. Just what I was looking forward to.”

“Look; there’s a town over there. It must be Fuselage,” Zul said as he pointed towards a town with a semi-spherical blue colored barrier covering it. There was a black road in the grass leading towards the town. The Red Blade Adventurers looked at each other and nodded before taking their first steps along the path.

 

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