So the first Daily Post Weekly Challenge for 2014 was titled Cliffhanger. I wanted a little break from the Zero to Hero stuff.I was a writing challenge to write a story in two parts, generating a cliff-hanger in between. I love doing cliffhangers. They create such dramatic effect. Here’s my first part.
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I stood there, silently; anticipating, waiting. It could be any time now, and about time as well. I had been waiting for far too long, wasting my precious time for such a senseless ordeal. It was senseless to me but it meant a lot for the people who were counting on me. I couldn’t let them down. Not after all they had done to get me to this place.
I walked toward the platform, slowly. I knew this could be my final day in this world. I was no longer quite sure why I was doing such a thing. Why would I risk my lives for other people? When had I become this caring human? I was never like this before. What had changed?
I didn’t like this new found responsibility and morality that I had acquired, but there was no turning back now. I had to get it over with. If not for their love, then at least for my own pride and ego; I had to get out of there alive.
“THE RULES FOR THIS CONTEST ARE AS FOLLOWS:
- NO PARTICIPANT CAN LEAVE THE ARENA AT ANY MOMENT UNTIL THE FINAL GONG IS RUNG.
- ALL PARTICIPANTS MUST WEAR THEIR TEAMS BANNER AT ALL TIMES. LOSING THE BANNER WILL RESULT IN DISQUALIFICATION.
- ANY PARTICIPANT THAT RECEIVES A HIT WILL BE ELIMINATED.
- ANY PARTICIPANT THAT USES ANY MEANS TO DECEIVE THE GAME SHALL BE DISQUALIFIED FROM NOT ONLY THE CONTEST BUT THE WHOLE GAME.
- UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCE WILL THE GAME END BEFORE THE TASK HAS BEEN ACCOMPLISHED; EVEN IF IT MEANS A CONTEST IS INJURED AND IS IN NEED OF HELP.
- NO OUTSIDE PARTICIPATION IS ALLOWED UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE AND PERPETRATORS OF THIS RULE WILL BE LOCKED AWAY AS PRISONERS.
- THE CONTEST WILL END WHEN ONE OF THE PARTICIPANTS HAS RETREIVED THE RUBY THAT RESTS IN THE DRAGON’S NEST.
MAY THE BEST MAN WIN!”
The proud voice of the game co-ordinator was making me feel sick to the pits of my stomach. How could such a vile man generate such a response from the crowd for such a despicable announcement?
It was beyond my understanding. This was why I preferred to stay away from worldly matters. They were full of nothing but pain and suffering. There was hope riding on me but not only me. In the crowd, there was hope amongst every face. The winner of this contest would be able to keep possession of the Ruby and bring riches to his team and nation.
All these faces were in prayer for their champion to attain the prize. Being the champion of Team Xansu; it was my responsibility to turn that dream into a reality for the people I was representing, just like the other 7 men that had entered the platform with me.
The arena was a dome that consisted of shatter proof glass that allowed the carnage to be kept at bay from the crowd that had gathered. It was entertainment for the higher-ups who had placed bets on the contestants. I couldn’t really care less of who had bet on whom and how those bastards would earn. I was determined to get what I had set-out to get, even if it meant trampling upon the lives of the men that had gathered here with me.
The size of the arena itself was large enough to accommodate a small village. It reminded him of the arena’s that of old ages, back when the Rome was occupied with Gladiators.
Entering the Arena, I looked around to size up my competition; seven healthy warriors, a mix of young and old. There were some brawler types, some speedy types and some confident ones. It didn’t matter. I was the most confident of the lot. The dragon had been kept quiet for now. It was sleeping. Probably the effects of a tranquilizer I believe. I could tell by its scales and size, it wasn’t the usual pot-bellied dragon. This one was faster than the average dragon and its blue scales made it obvious, it held Ice in its breath.
The gong was sounded but the dragon remained in its slumber. I looked around to see nobody had moved from their step. It was obvious they would have to be careful; otherwise it would a risky procedure. More than one of them could lose their lives here. I knew, I had to get out of here and alive and with that ruby in my grasp. I had to have that kind of faith in my ability. My team-mates were counting on me. A whole nation had their hopes pinned on me. I couldn’t let that many people down and live with it. Although I did make a promise to myself before entering; I was never taking on such responsibility ever again.
As swiftly as the stars, I broke into a sprint and began to head my way toward the nest of the Dragon. Realising I had made the first move; the panic struck warriors followed my lead. One of the youngest of the men had remained frozen on his shadow. He couldn’t step forth out of fear. He couldn’t hear the noise of the crowd that cheered him, nor the thousands that laughed at his cowardice. He was too afraid to even breathe.
I felt sorry for such a man. Without courage, a man was useless in this world. He would forever remain in the shadow of others. I had never been afraid of what life had to offer. I always took it head-on when such moments arrived. There was no reason to stand around being scared. It never helped to do nothing. It was only worth it, if you were doing something about it. Everybody has fears but it is facing those fears what courage is all about.
Although I was fast, I wasn’t quite as fast as some of the others were in this competition. Two of the warriors had caught up to me already and were looking to surpass me. I noticed the brawlers behind me had stopped to grab a weapon or two each. I slowed my pace down a little, allowing the two front-runners to amass a distance and take a healthy lead.
Spotting a spear no far off, I changed my direction ever so slightly to remain travelling ahead but at a diagonal. It would give the advantage to flank the beast whilst the fools who were sprinting head-on would provide me the distraction I need. It had become a racing competition between the two. Little did they realise, without containing their stamina gauge, they would be useless against the strength and speed of the dragon.
It didn’t take long for me to equip a steel sword and add a shield to my collection as well. The spear was all I needed for now.
It was a tasteless act what I did next but it was the only way to ensure one of the two fools didn’t take hold of the ruby before I had a change to make my move.
The spear in my hand left at a pace. The power in my left shoulder sent it sprawling in the air. It was aimed at the dragon’s wing. The most important thing was to stop it from flying around. Damaging the wing would also leave it unbalanced. It wasn’t very large; the dragon. It was still much bigger than us humans but I would say no longer than the combined size of five elephants.
Piercing through the right wing; the Dragon awoke with a roar. You should have seen the sight of the two guys that were mere metres away from the beast. For a second I thought they would relieve their bladders out of fear. Luckily, they managed to gather their senses and split off in random direction. Lucky for me, neither was heading toward me. This gave me half a decent chance to make something of this opportunity.
There were plenty of jeers directed at me for my malicious act but I swatted them away like flies. No critics could ever bring me down. As I dashed toward the nest, I heard a gasp. I didn’t bother looking back because there was cheering involved as well. It could only mean one thing.
One of the two sprinters, wearing a green band around his head had scrambled his feet into a net that was laid out, having not paid much attention in his run.
The warriors with their weapons tried to hack and slash at the beast but they were too late in arriving. The young soul had already lost more than enough blood through the slash that ripped his guts for all to see. Most of the crowd had already covered their eyes when the dragon devoured our young hopeful.
I didn’t flinch. This was bound to happen. I was prepared for witnessing something like this. It was a death in battle. For a warrior, that is the best way to go. Rather die trying, than live in failure. Which is why, I had to make it out of here with the victory in my grasp.
The others would keep him busy. I knew this was my moment. As I spread my wings and raced to the finish line, the unthinkable happened. I looked over my shoulder and there standing behind me…
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