Inferno
Chapter 9

Copyright© 2019 by LT Vulcan

Andy stood in a desolate and rocky valley. It was bright, perhaps midday. With the sun beating down onto him Andy scanned the area around him and found a group of fifteen individuals standing 20 feet away from him. Among the group was Lukas, George, and Julia. They were leading Andy to assume that it was The Round Table.

They wear all talking to a man in a white hooded cloak. It seemed that some of them were arguing with him. Andy walked up to them and started to pick up on their conversation.

A man with spiked jet-black hair and katana strapped to his hip was speaking. “Jason, I completely disagree with this. If he is a Host, then he should have a more difficult selection than that.”

The hooded man whose name was Jason said. “No Lester, he was just severely injured during an encounter with the God of Wind. An average trial will yield the most accurate data on his combat ability at this time.”

Lester looked at Jason and scowled, and then a man in a suit of Iron Man-like armor said “Injured or not, Julia herself already healed him to the best of her ability. He needs to be given a more accurate assessment of his capabilities because he is a Host, and to the God of Judgment no less.”

Jason looked at the armored man and said “Mike, I understand what you guys are getting at. But if he underperformed against someone of your caliber, then that will hinder him. Then we would have to take into consideration his injury. But if he fights someone on a much lower level of power and he defeats them, then he would have defeated a Round Table member while having an injury.”

Lester spoke up again “Okay I get what you’re saying. I’ll agree to go along with your plan.”

Andy finally spoke up “What happens if I beat a member of the Round Table?”

The group turned to him, and Mike spoke “If you beat a member of the Round Table then you become a member yourself. We were just talking about the level we wanted to give you as selections for your opponent.”

Andy stopped him and said “So let me summarize how this is divided. One half wants to give me a simpler opponent because of my injury, and the other half wants to give me a stronger opponent because I’m a God’s Host. Is that right?”

Mike, Lester, and Jason nodded.

“Who has the final say?”

Lester said “Jason, he is our leader at the moment. That’s why we are talking to him to try and persuade him.”

Andy looked over at Jason “So what happens if I want to select my opponent that might not be in either group?”

“Then we will go with your decision.”

“Good, then let’s come to a compromise then. I pick you, Jason.”

There was silence all around them, and Andy continued. “That way I fight who someone who isn’t weak, and you can go as easy on me as you feel that you need to.”

Everyone on the Round Table laughed except for Jason. Lester said, “That would be a good idea, but Jason doesn’t know the definition of going easy while in a fight, that is why he’s never lost a match.”

“Even so, you think I’m weaker because I’m injured. I intend to prove you wrong.”

“Andy, I don’t recommend you doing this. You’re still young and inexperienced; you won’t fare well against him.” Damus whispered to him.

“It will show me where I am and where I need to get to.”

“If you repeatedly fight people that you can’t beat, then that could hinder your progress. If you go up against people closer to your abilities, then you gain experience and confidence.”

“Even so I need to prove to these guys that I can fight.”

“So, Jason are you ready to go?”

“If that’s what you truly wish.”

Everyone else from the Round Table moved to the upper area of the valley, leaving only Andy and Jason standing facing each other.

Andy drew Talon from his waist and let it rest beside him.

There was a black shadow dart across the corner of Andy’s eye forcing his head to look over towards it instinctively.

It was a person in a pitch-black cloak, and it was practically gliding across the ground.

Andy saw a glimpse of a twinkle of light and the person darted towards him. Andy barely had the time to block the razor-sharp sword that thrusted towards him.

“Hey man, this fight is between Jason and me. So, butt out.”

The person responded by leaping into the air and flipping back down at Andy, swinging his sword in a downward slash.

Andy brought his sword up and blocked it. He kicked up at the person and launched them back.

He sliced sideways at the mysterious attacker and slashed a piece of his cloak off.

Andy whispered to Damus “What do you make of this?”

“I think I might know who this guy is. I want you to try and remove their cloak so I can confirm.”

“I’ll see what I can do.”

Andy launched forward at the mysterious man and swung out his sword again. The man blocked it, and Andy reached out and grabbed the hood of the cloak and pulled back as hard as he could causing it to rip off.

Under the hood was a face made up of almost entirely of wood.

“I thought so. Andy that is a puppet and what we are fighting is a puppeteer. I thought it was strange how Jason didn’t interfere and stop the attacker.” Damus said aloud so that Jason could hear.

Damus then whispered to Andy. “Now there are two ways to go about this. We could destroy the puppet and then contend with Jason afterward, or we can attack Jason, and if we beat him, that will stop the puppet.”

Andy smiled and said “You know what they say right? When you’re outnumbered in a fight, cut off the head, and the body will fall.”

“I like the sound of that, spin my necklace around so I’m facing behind you and I’ll watch your back for the puppet.”

Andy did that as he turned and dashed towards Jason. He brought his sword to his side and slashed up at Jason, who dodged it with ease.

He reached out his hand, created a fireball, and launched it straight at Jason. Suddenly there was a glimmer of light, and the fire was put out.

Jason had in his hand a katana. Andy decided that it would be best if he pressed forward. He did so while swinging his sword left, right, up, and down in any way to try and land a lucky blow.

Jason blocked and dodged every slash easily. Andy hit him with a barrage of fireballs, and Jason cut each one of them down.

“Puppet coming up from behind.”

Andy reached his hand back and fired a flamethrower attack at it. The puppet leaped through the flame. Andy swung his sword around and blocked the sharp blade coming at him.

“Andy, I think now would be a good time to learn how to use a new type of energy. This is the basic overview so try to pay as much attention as possible. Got it?” Damus whispered to Andy.

“Okay go ahead,” Andy said as he withdrew his sword and swung at the puppet, managing to scratch its arm.

“Picture that energy particle from your fire attacks but make it big enough to cover your hand.”

Andy raised his blade in one hand and swung at the puppet. “Okay, I’m imagining it.”

“When I tell you to hit the ground with that energy particle around your fist. That will disperse it into the ground. Then picture immediately gathering the energy back to your fist.”

“Is that earth energy?”

“Yes, although it’s a very basic move. It will shock Jason long enough for you to deliver a punch to his puppet. Earth Energy is all about producing insane physical damage. But it moves very slowly, that’s why I want you to take them by surprise.”

“Okay sounds good.”

Andy rush toward the puppet and jump kicked it. He used the kick as a spring to both knock the puppet back and launched Andy towards Jason.

It worked, and Andy was now fighting Jason again. He swung his sword and let it get caught by Jason. He then raised his finger in a gun like way at Jason. He fired a small and quick flame dart at him. It pierced through Jason’s cloak but must have failed in hitting him because he just kept swinging his sword with Andy just barely managing to block it.

Damus whispered to Andy again “Andy there is something I don’t like about this.”

“What is it?”

“Puppeteers are supposed to fight with only their puppet because they need to use their hands to maneuver them. But he’s fighting with his puppet, and I haven’t seen him move his hands for anything except to fight.”

“Should I hit him instead?”

“That probably wouldn’t be a bad idea, but I don’t know. This guy seems to be smart, and if we don’t hit him at the right moment, we might be made into sitting ducks.”

Andy leaped forward and swung his sword in a sideways slash, which Jason blocked. Andy then let go of his sword and dropped to one knee. He brought his hand to point-blank range, aiming right at Jason’s chest. Andy quickly fired a fireball at Jason and hit him in the chest.

Jason flew back in the air, never letting his eyes off Andy.

“Andy! Behind you!”

In shock and without a weapon Andy did the only thing that he thought he could do. He spun around still on one knee and used the earth fist attack.

Andy’s hand hit the ground with a loud crushing sound, leaving a small fist-sized crater in the ground. He called the energy he released back, and the rocks that were flung away from the crater were brought back around his arm to form a boxing glove made of rocks.

He then used the foot on the ground as a spring and added an impact to his new mighty fist. He punched forward with all his might and hit the puppet in the dead center of the chest. He caused it to break and send thousands of little splinters flying in all directions from its chest. The puppet landed on the ground in pieces with a clunky sound.

Andy turned to Jason with the rocks crumbling away and saw him staring at Andy.

“I was informed that you didn’t know any earth attacks,” Jason said.

“I just picked it up actually. I was going to use it on you, but the puppet that was attacking me made me change my decision.”

Andy clenched his fist again and punched the ground.

He leaped into the air and at Jason when suddenly, he was stopped in mid-air.

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