The crowd bayed for blood as the two Oni fought one another ferociously. Batsu standing firm, his thick legs planted in the sand of the Ring of Fire. His opponent, BoBata, was staying just out of reach of a mighty bell that Batsu was swinging over his horned head. The tolling of the bell was distracting BoBata, the great clanging noise it fashioned, as it swirled round, and round, and round, set his nerves on edge.
It reflected the light of the bonfires and torches as it made its thundering rotations. It was a weapon of beauty thought BoBata, a weapon he desired for himself.
BoBata circled his opponent slowly, carefully. He switched his spike-studded club from hand to hand, to throw his opponent off balance; to keep him guessing, keep him on edge. Batsu lunged forward releasing the bell at BoBato’s head. He saw it coming and ducked out of its path, he heard the chain slither and rattle past his ear as he moved out of the way. But Batsu was far cleverer than that.
He followed up the very obvious attack with a swift kick to BoBata’s midriff, sending the younger of the two Oni flying. Dust rose into the air as BoBata came to a halt. He tried hard to catch his breath. That last kick had driven the wind from his lungs. Batsu, his opponent, was not waiting for him to get up; he towered over him, the rotating bell filling BoBata’s vision. The noise was deafening.
BoBata tried to roll out of the way, but he was tiring quickly and moving too slowly to escape. The bell connected, hard, sending a shockwave of pain through his skull. Black motes filled his vision. He groaned audibly. Batsu hearing this, pressed on. He kicked and stomped all over his foe’s muscular red body. But he too was tiring.
They had been at this for hours.
Two foes locked in a duel, a duel to the death. BoBata managed to roll away this time, as the bell landed where his head would have been; he knew that he would not have survived such a powerful blow. He staggered to his feet and lashed out with his club, striking Batsu on the back of the head. The spikes penetrated the thick folds of skin with ease, but stopped at his opponent’s tough skull. Blood sprayed from the deep puncture wounds landing on BoBata’s face. He licked the salty drops from his lips and smiled. He loved the taste of it; he craved its iron texture on his tongue.
Batsu was fading fast now. His breathing laboured, his arms tiring, his knees starting to buckle. It was time for one last attempt at victory he thought. Batsu dropped to his knees and grabbed a handful of sand. He spun quickly and threw it into BoBata’s eyes, blinding his enemy.
Batsu threw himself into the fray. The bell tolled louder and louder as he struck BoBata with several brutal blows. His heart swelled with pride as he saw how much damage his adversary was enduring and yet, how he failed to yield to the furious onslaught. BoBata was dimly aware of the audience howling for death and triumph.
To die in combat was an honour. Death at the hands of an enemy was a glorious thing, but he was not going to die today. Today death beckoned for someone other than him. BoBata went berserk, shrugging off numerous blows from his bell-wielding assailant. He closed quarters quickly, grabbing his enemy by the throat. He rained mighty blows down on his opponent’s face and head. He could feel his enemy start to weaken.
BoBata must end this quickly he realised. He did not have the strength to continue with this combat. He must kill his foe now, and end this bloody struggle. He struck Batsu across the eyes with his club, one of the rusting spikes wedging deep inside the eye socket, lodging itself in Batsu’s brain.
Batsu dropped to his knees, the fight leaving his once mighty frame. He was done for, he realised that now. He was going to die and yet, he had never felt happier, his training and administrations of his ward coming back to reward him, coming back to rip off his mortal coil.
The length of chain slid from his hands as the bell tumbled to the blood soaked sand as he collapsed on his back. He squinted up at BoBata standing over him. He felt the young Oni looping the cold links of the chain around his massive neck. He felt the blood swell in his head, his eyes bulging from his sockets. All communication was cut off now, he could not speak, the chain tightened around his neck and he knew it was over. A smile formed on his lips as the breath was squeezed from his lungs. He was dying! He was dying! He was...gone.
BoBata stood back from the body of the fallen Oni and howled into the night sky. His breathing was ragged and laboured, his massive heart beating hard in his chest. He felt a wave of savage delight at besting his opponent. He was proud that, he, BoBata, had felled the mighty Batsu; no one else but him.
He kneeled reverently before the body of his vanquished foe, watching the departed Oni’s soul waft its way upward, like a tendril of black smoke. He felt a sense of honour as it joined with his own. He perceived that his strength was far greater than before, the consumption of the dead Oni’s spirit, fuelling the potency and vigour that coursed through his mighty being. Even in death does an Oni live on. The souls of the fallen enemy, fuelling the vessels of the living...
He loosened the chain from around his dead opponent’s neck and raised high the bell. The throng of spectators chanted his name over and over again, as he swung it in a bloody arc around his head, spurring their shouts to even greater levels. “BoBata, BoBata, Bo-Ba-Ta!” yelled his brother Oni in admiration of his skill at arms.
”BoBata!” he roared, as he exited the ring, leaving his dead father behind him, his body cooling in the dust.
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