Fighting God Chapter 20: Brothers by Bonds
Aldred stood up from where he was sent flying. He looked up at Ralph and saw him form a giant stone blade above his head. NO! That bastard was going to kill Skaal! He willed himself to stand and rushed towards Skaal. As he approached the Razortail, he realized he could not reach Skaal in time. He jumped forward with his left arm raised. Arriving near the Razortail, he pushed the demonic beast out of harm’s way with his arm. At the same time, the stone blade fell…and decapitated his left arm. Aldred gritted in pain as he grasped his bloody stump while collapsed on the floor. He channeled some of his Qi and stopped the bleeding.
Skaal saw the wounded boy and was astonished. “You…! Why did you help me?”
Aldred looked at Skaal and gave a wry smile, “We may not be friends…we may not be family…but…we are comrade-in-arms. Though we humans have our differences with you demonic beasts…you are still my ally…naturally…I should look out for you…. I’m sure you would do the same for me.”
When Skaal heard his reply, he was silent. What did he just hear? He still couldn’t wrap his head around why Aldred had did what he done. This…boy…comrades? Does he really trust me that much? W-would I do the same for him? Maybe not in the past…. Maybe….
“Haha! Your stupidity knows no bounds! For a vile demonic beast, you even sacrificed your arm. Haha!” Ralph laughed. He raised his hand once more and shouted, “Toxic Swamp!”
The ground below Aldred immediately became damp with a shade of dark green. Potent acid pooled in the marsh. Aldred jumped backwards to evade but some of the acid splashed onto his legs. Aldred screamed in pain as the drops of acid ate through his flesh. Aldred tumbled backwards and fell on the ground, his legs throbbing. He quickly scrambled away. If only he had some ranged skills…or at least a weapon. Spotting some fist-sized rocks nearby, he pounced towards them. Picking one up, he launched the rock at Ralph as soon as he turned around.
The rock flew at breathtaking speed. This was due to the unnatural arm and wrist strength Aldred had developed over the months of intensive training. However, even though the rock flew towards its target at an incredible speed, there was not much in terms of accuracy. Naturally there was no accuracy…after all, Aldred did not train his current body for ranged attacks.
“Hmph! Futile! Although you got some speed, but you can’t even hit shit with that!” Ralph scoffed as he dodged the rock. “Let me show you how to throw rocks…Meteor Shower!”
As Ralph began casting the spell, large rocks floated high into the air. Ralph pointed towards the young boy and the rocks soared towards his target. Though the speed was not to par with the speed that Aldred threw, however, the accuracy was ten times better. The huge number of rocks flew towards Aldred in a fashion similar to that of a meteor shower. Aldred saw the incoming attack and started moving right away. However, even with his speed and quick reflexes, he was only able to dodge most of the attacks. This was due to the ongoing pain and initial loss of blood from his wounds and his severed arm. Suffering under these restrictions, it was obvious Aldred could not perform at his best.
Out of the hundreds of rocks, ten smashed into Aldred. There were ten purple bruises all over his body…but strangely not anywhere else…did that bastard aimed for his body on purpose? Aldred cringed…one…no, two ribs were broken. As he tried to catch his breath, Ralph fired a few more Earth Needles. Aldred dove head first and rolled out of the way, however, because of the pain, he wasn’t quick enough as one of the needles grazed him. A wide gash formed as blood welled up from the opening. He was in a precarious situation…was he going to die? Aldred coughed up blood as he shakily tried to get up.
“You still trying to fight? You are no match for me. Just die already.” Ralph mocked.
“Even if I die, I’ll drag you down with me.”
“Haha, wishful thinking. Stone Javelin!” Ralph shouted as he fired a larger version of the Earth Needle. The stone javelin approached Aldred who could not move. He was too tired and too injured, his body littered with bruises and bloodied wounds. Death was impending and Aldred could do nothing to prevent it. He saw the attack come…everything moved in slow motion. The stone javelin was less than 10 feet away. Suddenly, a brown blur dashed past the javelin and appeared in front of Aldred. It was Skaal. Skaal knocked Aldred over and covered him with his body. The stone javelin pierced the Razortail’s body but fortunately missed the vital organs. Skaal, in his pain, partially collapsed onto Aldred, their blood and wounds mingled with each other.
“W-why did you do this?” Aldred asked.
“Why did you save me?” Skaal replied.
“Exactly…because we’re comrades…brothers.”
To demonic beasts, loyalty and trust were valuable characteristics. Demonic beasts hate being betrayed. They were extremely loyal to those that they placed their trust in. Naturally, humans had never experienced this aspect of demonic beasts because of the innate hatred between the two species. When Aldred first saved Skaal from Ralph’s attack, this action stunned Skaal as it was not a normal human thing to do. But Skaal did not know that Aldred was not a normal human. He did not know that the young child was a reincarnated mortal of another world.
The words that Aldred responded sparked something in Skaal. Comrades…in the human continent, comrades meant allies – temporary teammates…however, in the beast lands, comrades meant brothers – permanent friends…allies forever. The word ‘comrade’ was used interchangeably with ‘brother’. The word ‘brother’ was used strictly for someone that one would place their complete trust in. Even though the meanings were different, nevertheless Skaal still felt the trustworthiness that Aldred displayed. When Skaal saw the young boy cornered by Ralph’s attacks, he rushed forward to help. Though the time he and the boy knew each other was short, he had developed a sense of reliance and conviction with the boy after observing the boy’s positive attitude towards him.
As Skaal leaned gently on Aldred, his green blood trickled into Aldred’s wounds and the boy’s red blood smudged into his wounds. Suddenly, a glow emitted on the duo. Skaal recognized this occurrence…this…this was the Ritual of Brotherhood. The glow covered the two completely causing Skaal and Aldred to close their eyes from the blinding light. When they reopened their eyes, they found themselves in a land filled with lush grasslands, a bright sky, and beautiful nature.
“Where are we? What happened to my wounds?” Aldred exclaimed as he looked around. His wounds had disappeared but his arm was still missing.
“We…we are in the Ritual of Brotherhood. This place is…was what the world once looked like many eons ago.” Skaal replied as he also looked around dazed. How was this possible? The Ritual of Brotherhood should be strictly accessible to demonic beasts…but Aldred was a human?
“Ritual of Brotherhood?”
“Yes. I’ve heard of it from my family. Come, we need to walk forward. The beginning and end of this ritual should be somewhere nearby.”
Aldred nodded as he followed Skaal. He was curious of his predicament. The two walked for what seemed like an hour before finding themselves in front of a temple. The temple was large with seven pillars engraved with the Seven Primordial Godbeasts – Nalia the Abomination, Oceanas the Vast, Orin the Free, Arthro the Terror, Lusca the Soft, Echino the Immortal, and Nelid the Helpful. These seven primordial godbeasts were the predecessors of all demonic beasts in existence.
Legend has it that the Seven were the ones who first performed Form Change and each represented one of the Form Changes that they specialized in. Nalia represented Demonbeast Form, Oceanas represented Godbeast Form, Orin represented Human Form, Arthro represented Weapon Form, Lusca represented Giant Beast Form, Echino represented Spirit Form, and Nelid represented Small Beast Form. As Skaal described the history of the Seven who paved the way for demonic beasts to thrive as well as the wars that they fought with the demons and the humans, the two entered the temple halls. When they approached a set of stairs, a thunderous voice resounded in the near empty halls.
“Welcome to the Temple of the Seven Primordial Beasts! You, who had passed the trials of friendship and loyalty, have been granted the eminent honor of Brotherhood! Please step forward!”
The two looked at each other before climbing up the steps towards the ritual table that was set up before them. The ritual table had a incense pot wit three sticks of incense placed inside – upright and lit. A bowl of some strange blue liquid rested in the middle of the table. Behind the table sat a large statue of the Seven Primordial Beasts. Somehow, they knew what must be done and what must be said. This ritual of brotherhood was a ritual of blood. The two dripped a few drops of their blood onto the bowl. The blood mixed with the blue liquid and became a golden color. To have a golden color represented their trust towards each other. They were comrades…allies…brothers. The golden liquid split into two and each portion floated towards Aldred and Skaal. The two each grabbed an incense stick and held it in front of them in respect towards the Seven Primordial Beasts.
“I, Aldred/Skaal, a human/demonic beast, have come together as brothers….” The two began their oath. “…. From this day forward, we are family. Our bonds formed from blood and trust. May the Seven Primordial Beasts witness our brotherhood and strike me dead if I dare betray the other.”
After the oath, the golden liquid entered the two’s bodies, forming a tattoo-like mark. The black mark looked like scorpion fangs. The mark was located on Skaal’s back while the mark on Aldred was located on his face – one fang on each side.
“Congratulations on forming your brotherhood. Your bonds are stronger now…who knows, maybe you can unlock a new Form. Go forth!”
A bright light shone causing the two to close their eyes once more. When they opened their eyes again, they were back – their wounds miraculously healed. Aldred looked to his left, but was slightly disheartened that the arm didn’t grow back. He looked up and saw Ralph staring at them in astonishment. To Ralph, the bright light had covered the two initially and then disappeared the next second to reveal the two healed of their injuries. He did not know of the ritual that occurred.
“How did your wounds heal instantly like that?! Was that light a healing spell? Impossible!”
Aldred stood up with Skaal. After the ritual of brotherhood, Skaal felt his power increase…it seemed like he might be able to Form Change! Skaal looked at Aldred and a telepathic conversation was exchanged between the two.
I think I can change into a new form. Skaal said.
Which form? Aldred asked.
It’s most likely the weapon form. Remember I am the descendent of Arthro who specialized in Weapon Form? Well, that also goes with his descendants. We are more likely to Weapon Form Change than any of the other special Form Changes. I think I am able to change. Should we try it out?
As soon as the conversation was over, Skaal concentrated on himself right away as he gathered his power. He wanted to be helpful to his sworn brother…how can he be helpful? What weapon should he be in order to benefit the most for his brother? Suddenly, his eyes brightened…he had figured out what to become. He turned into a brown blur and flashed towards Aldred.