Episode Thirty Three - Might of a King
Taking rapid steps, Xin courageously rushes to meet the mysterious stranger. His body spins into a whip kick but the swift shadow shifts beside him like a blur.
A silver sparkle gleams from under the black cloak, and Xin immediately howls in pain. His body drops to the ground with a wide gash steaming cold blue across his thigh.
Kitsune charges, but the disguised man swishes his cloak across the pipe. A sudden clank from under the cloth knocks Kitsune to the ground, and the shadow effortlessly moves past.
Renzo tries to aim his chains but the dark silhouette trails in a zigzag, inching closer and closer. The shadowy man deflects the metal whips with a flash of silver underneath the cloak, and slices across Renzo’s lower torso, just under the rib cage.
Renzo braces the pain and backswings his metal-wrapped forearm toward the cloaked head, but the shadow is faster. The dark figure ducks under the attack and tears across Renzo’s bicep. The knife continues through his arm until clanging against his protective chains. Sparks eject from the colliding metals and the impact pushes Renzo several feet back.
“I’m gonna kill you!” Xin returns in fervor.
“How cute,” says the mysterious, yet familiarly smooth voice.
Kitsune climbs back to his feet and shouts, “Don’t! It’s King Kuro!”
But Xin doesn’t care. Striving through the massive pain in his leg, he steps toward the awaiting shadow and jumps into a front flip. His leg extends a powerful axe kick fueled by the flipping momentum.
Undeterred, the two arms beneath the cloak calmly rise to block in an X pattern. A bright flash of light and a sharp piercing ring echoes from contact, and Xin instantly stops in the air above.
A wicked grin reveals beneath the fur-lined hood, and the knives slash outward across Xin’s forward leg. Blue ichor spews from the wound, splattering over the road, and Xin is thrown several yards away.
The cloaked man finally lets down the hood and his long silver hair pushes into the open. He inhales a breath, smelling the cherry blossom petals dancing around him. “This mountain is beautiful. It’ll be splendid grave for all of you,” smiles King Kuro.
Tensions are high but the King maintains a calm facade. The Immortal Spades stand at a safe distance behind, only observing. “Kitsune, why are you doing this?” King Kuro asks, “Why are you betraying the Baya?” His smile widens.
Kitsune casually walks up the road toward the temple. “We both know what’s going on here, Kuro. Don’t continue this.”
“What was that?” King Kuro calmly steps after him, his stride ever slightly quickening.
Kitsune continues his backwards walking pace while keeping eyes locked on the King, “You’re screwed in the head, Kuro.”
Suddenly leaping from his step, King Kuro closes the distance in a blink and slashes forward. The incredible speed of the attack is almost unnoticeable, if not for the sharp swish of his motioning knife.
Kitsune raises his block but King Kuro is strong. The weapons clash and the metallic shriek resonates across the mountain peak. The immense force vibrates along the pipe and through Kitsune’s fingers to his arms, until his body explodes into the air. He soars past the drifting pink petals and lands just before the temple archway.
Zylo, Juniper, Bull, Fia, and Neon Supreme watched in awe as King Kuro effortlessly tore through their crewmates in seconds, without any hesitation.
“This isn’t right…” Starlet mutters, standing by the temple steps.
Kitsune rises from his stupor and stumbles through the dirt field toward the pagoda. “I pissed him off,” he chuckles before dry heaving into his dirtied, cupped hand.
King Kuro approaches fast and the hunters rush to meet him.
Bull goes first, fist cocked back and ready. “Let’s see if you’re strong enough to fight me!” He kicks off the ground and thrusts his large knuckled fist toward King Kuro.
In a sudden blur faster than Bull can see, King Kuro shifts past his punch and appears under his heaving chest.
Bull’s momentum abruptly halts in place, and he looks down to find two knives dug deep into his stomach. “Ugh…” he groans. His body hunches over, and King Kuro viciously pulls both knives outward from the sides, slashing through Bull’s gut. Blue ichor erupts from the massive fatal wound and flows over his legs to the ground while cold steam clouds the air around them.
King Kuro callously pushes Bull’s motionless body aside, and it drops with a heavy thud. Not even giving a second glance, King Kuro continues his stride toward the temple.
“I’ll kill you!” Fia angrily roars, swinging her bowling ball in a reckless charge.
King Kuro easily weaves under her attack and slashes across her torso. She screams in agony and collapses onto her knees, tightly clutching her rapidly steaming chest.
“Nice to see you here, Zylo. How’re the New Pirates treating you?” King Kuro greets.
Zylo and Juniper stand at the center of the temple grounds, blocking the King’s path to the pagoda. Without a second to waste, the pair fearlessly attacks, Juniper swinging from the left and Zylo from the right.
“You didn’t take my offer, Zylo. I can’t say I’m not saddened by your choices.” King Kuro smiles at their attempt, and simply raises his arms.
The Shield projects from his body and instantly knocks Juniper away. Zylo, on the other hand, manages to strike the barrier with his lengthened rod. The steel presses against the invisible shell, slowly edging deeper into the protective force until finally breaching a threshold. The remaining momentum of the attack snaps through and smacks King Kuro’s head.
“Argh!” he stumbles back, but quickly composes himself. “Well, that’s interesting.” King Kuro adjusts his hair and stares down the Pirate. Not a second later, he dashes forward with a speeding attack, and Zylo desperately shields.
The silver blade instantly tears through his protective force and strikes the rod. The impact flings Zylo away and he barrels into a wicked tumble, rolling several yards before stopping under the temple steps.
“So, the rumors were true. You really can Shield. That’s very peculiar...” King Kuro sounds genuinely interested.
“I hope we can still be friends,” Zylo climbs back to his feet and brushes off his blazer. “Really, I mean it. You’re an amazing piece of shit.”
Kitsune runs toward the temple, “Juniper, take the truck and get everyone on it. Get out of here, ASAP!” He tosses her the keys and runs into the pagoda, and Zylo quickly follows after him.
King Kuro quickens his pace but is interrupted by a barrage of splintering cards. He wades side to side past the volley of projectiles, sprints up the temple steps, and forcefully plunges both knives into Cecile’s chest.
“NO!” Starlet cries.
King Kuro pulls out his weapons and Cecile drops flat to the ground.
“My time is over…just run, my dear…” Cecile mutters with her last breath. Her cheek hits the wooden floor, and her watery eyes stop cold.
“What have we done?” mutters Elza.
The Spades arrive to see the violent mess amid the temple grounds. Despite her loyalty to Jacks and the crew, Elza fails to deny her conscience.
She fearlessly charges up the temple steps and lunges toward the King. The tip of her umbrella jabs into his back and slams him against the wall of the temple pagoda.
King Kuro roars menacingly, and knocks the umbrella to the side with his forearm as he whips around to face her. His other hand stabs the knife into Elza’s stomach, and a ruthless kick tosses her down the steps onto the dirt field.
“What the hell are you doing?!” Jacks rushes over to Elza and holds up her restless body from the ground.
Rolly rushes to engage, but King Kuro is undaunted.
“You know when you try to hit a fly and it disappears?” King Kuro bobs his head from the swinging crowbar, “You know the fly is still alive, fluttering around like a nuisance,” the King low kicks Rolly and easily drops him onto one knee, “you realize the fly was simply moving faster than you could ever imagine!”
King Kuro swipes the shimmering knife smooth across Rolly’s chest, then glides past his body slicing his throat.
The heavy crowbar drops from Rolly’s hand, and he topples over the wooden deck.
“Hayaku, Fei, we need to hurry! King Kuro is here!” Kitsune and Zylo rush into the garden to find Vetus Fei still meditating, only now, the grass island is glowing bright blue. The light rises up from under her crossed legs, engulfing her entire body in mysterious light.
“We cannot escape him…” she utters, “but we can defeat him!” The glowing blue light fades and something starts to materialize just above the Elder’s outreaching hands. She quickly snatches the emerging sheet of paper out of the air and hands it to Kitsune, “Here, take this!”
He grabs the paper, a second before the dark shadow zooms across the garden and stops beside Vetus Fei.
A gush and a tear, and her chest slumps over. The two knives are already dug deep into the Elder’s stomach.
“It…is too late, Kuro,” mumbles the dying Fei, coughing a gurgling mess in her throat.
“What is too late, last Elder?” King Kuro turns to see Kitsune’s pipe held against the piece of paper.
“Eat shit, Kuro!” Kitsune tears off the back sheet and drops it on the ground before jetting out of the garden with Zylo.
King Kuro anxiously pulls both knives from Vetus Fei’s stomach, and her lifeless body drops tenderly onto the grass. He hesitantly picks up the piece of paper, already suspecting what it is.
–KING KURO– the Avaricious, was contracted on 4/13/080 at 16:21:34.
–KING KURO– is to be hunted and killed, his Soul reaped and granted to the successful hunter.
–KING KURO– life must be confiscated by the Baya. All attempts to resist will be met with force.
INFINITE BOUNTY time for –KING KURO–
During allotted BOUNTY time, appointed Baya crew [New Pirates] is to claim the bounty, DEAD or DEAD.
INFINITE HEAT time for –KING KURO– During HEAT time, other interested Baya crews may claim the bounty for themselves.
King Kuro’s eyes widen with disbelief. He pulls up Vetus Fei’s small, frail body by the collar and frantically yells, “Get rid of it! Vetus Fei! Cancel this contract now!”But she is already dead.