Chapter 260One of Nine - Practice

When the cat's away the mice will play. And play we did, though we didn't consider ourselves mice. Not at all. We were the top of the food chain, invincible and strong. Of course this would be my night. No one else had beat me so far, only this one remained. But I was stronger and he knew it.

Of course that didn't stop him from trying to outsmart me.

The other seven just stood in a wide circle around us, the fire in between and he and I on opposite sides of it.

This was the game, we could choose how to attack. If we jumped over the fire, it would surprise the other. But you'd have almost no defense. Dash around and you're safe, but you will be seen. The balance between risk and possibilities. Offense and defense.

And I was the more experience one.

He, however, wasn't stupid. Far from it. There was a deviousness to him that served him well outside these walls.

But here, among the nine, in the center for the fight... How much use would his mind be?

Quite a bit, it seems.

He surprised me by jumping over the fire, I didn't think he would do it. But then, instead of trying to hit me, he dashed to the side and attacked me from there, the fire no longer behind him.

Of course I didn't stand still, I deflected his blow and hit his shoulder with my fist. He scowled in pain but it wasn't too bad. His move had surprised me enough to make it impossible for me to use full force.

My time to make a move. A low sweep was always a good way to get people of balance, but this time I made sure to kick some of the wood of the fire with it as well, forcing him to jump instead of dashing backwards. And then I had the advantage.

I moved to grab his ankle but he actually expected it and grabbed my wrist. But that trick went both ways. Instead of throwing him away, I pulled him closer and hit him hard in the side of the ribs, a satisfying crack punctuating my blow.

He spit out some blood when he landed. A few of the seven had to step away to give him some more space. The fight was already over, the balance had tipped. But he wasn't giving up.

A surprise move to his side and my behind left me nearly unguarded. Moving my arm back I was able to stop his sideways kick but it dislocated my shoulder. Not good.

It hurt like hell.

But this didn't mean I would lose. I admit, I was surprised at his inventiveness, but now it was time for me. While he was recovering from the kick, I turned and grabbed his neck with my good fist. I pushed him backwards and sat on him, with my legs on his arms. It was over.

He submitted with a troubled breath. "I give in."

I looked around and grinned. The others smiled and nodded. I had won, fair and square.

One of them came to the center. "Very entertaining. Get up and fix your shoulder. It's good to know you're able to adapt to different opponents. Maybe it will be enough for later."

I didn't like his tone, but there was a reason why we let him talk to us like that. He wasn't the strongest, but he was smart. In a very sneaky way. All his plans, so far, had been very useful for us. Even if we were in hiding.

Using a nearby pillar in the building, I pressed my arm back into my shoulder. It hurt even more than it did when it popped out. I didn't scream though. Partly pride but mostly to keep up my victory over the other.

It was good to see us getting stronger again. Even these fights were more of team thing than they were before.

Kryss might have been taken from us, but we were not dead.

Not by a long shot.