Watching as Takeru literally destroyed himself and descended into insanity, Kakane clicked his tongue and glanced at Serena. She nodded, raising her arms. As she was chanting her spell, Kakane prepared himself. He allowed his signature fire magic to consume his entire body, condensed especially in his hands and feet. As Serena finished her spell, he felt himself become consumed with red, orange, and yellow light as power flooded throughout his body. The second Serena was done, Kakane shot forward.
He pushed Takeru to the side, causing the dual-haired boy to fall to the ground. Takeru staggered on his feet and quickly collapsed. He was more unstable then he let on, it seemed. Phase one, complete. The speed spell that Serena had enhanced Kakane with made the magic bullets shooting towards him appear slower, and he successfully evaded all of them. He was upon the soldiers in an instant. Time for phase two. The flames covering his arms condensed until they were war blades of red-hot fury. Not only had Serena boosted his speed, but she also temporarily increased his strength and the intensity of his fire magic. Glaring menacingly at the Doryokan soldiers, Kakane’s lips pulled back into a hate-filled snarl.
A bright sigil erupted under his foot and the blades turned into a tornado of blazing destruction. Kakane jumped and twisted his body mid-air, letting his flames consume the soldiers. The fire cut through their flesh and clothes, melting their spears to their hands and burning away at everything on their bodies. The dry grasses around them were set ablaze and aided in sending the column of flames up into the sky. The heat was almost unbearable, and even Serena could feel it from how far away she was.
Kakane felt no remorse for the soldiers as they whimpered and cried out in pain, a collective group of burnt flesh and molten armor. He turned to the Thunder Lion, who had closed his eyes and gone completely still. Final phase: kill this foul commander.
Kakane knew that the Thunder Lion had his people’s blood on his hands. He could smell the putrid ashes from the burning of their cities. Within him, a pain throbbed beyond comparison, pain from loss, scars, and unhealed wounds. Time could do nothing to ease his hatred, it only made it grow. Kakane could practically taste his people’s anguish, which was bitter and salty with tears. He touched his scar and grimaced, remembering the reminder it served. Looking at Christophe Sakamoto, a flame burned within Kakane so volatile it threatened to consume his entire being.
He was filled with nothing but rage and utter hatred.
“Now is time for you to pay for your crimes, Christophe Sakamoto,” Kakane hissed, drawing a flame-covered arm. “I’ll at least make this quick, as compensation for your soldiers.”
Behind him, out of the corner of his eye, Kakane could see Serena healing Takeru. As long as he didn’t get in her way, he could go all-out on the Thunder Lion. The time of retribution was at hand. How he had waited for this moment.
The Thunder Lion sighed and opened his tired grey eyes. He readied himself to fight with lance and shield in hand.
“I’m sorry, my loyal men,” he said remorsefully. “But I must fulfill my duty and remain loyal to my king. I have my orders, which I will dutifully follow. All of the southern beasts must die!” he declared, his voice booming over the plains.
“Shut up,” Kakane growled.
“Come! Show me then what you can do, oh prince of the dragons.”
The embers of power still lingered within Kakane’s body, a sign that Serena’s enhancement spell to his speed, strength, and fire magic hadn’t faded yet. Seeing the slow, old Thunder Lion in front of him only made Kakane disgusted. He would end this quickly.
Christophe Sakamoto readied his lance. A chain connected the spearhead to the pole, and when he thrust it, the spearhead came loose, lodging itself in the enemy flesh. It dealt more damage as it was pulled out of the body, taking with it organs, blood, and lives. Along with the lance, the Thunder Lion had a chilling, crackling wind imbued with an icy cold and thunderous electricity. But Kakane refused to flinch or heed to the chilling breeze. He would not allow his weakness to this frigid air to be his downfall.
Not on his pride as a king.
Kakane attacked the Thunder Lion, narrowly dodging the initial thrust of the spear and punching Christophe in the face. Oh, how he loved this feeling. It was indescribable, the sensation of having your fist hit the mark and pound someone’s face in. Kakane felt blood, broken skin, and unlodged teeth under his fingers. Oh, vengeance was so sweet.
The Thunder Lion was quick to retaliate, however, and swung around his shield. The bottom tip of the metal plate was hammered into a point, which Kakane nearly had torn into his stomach. He jumped back to avoid another thrust from the chained spear, growling as a blast of cold, tingling air hit his face.
Kakane began racing around the Thunder Lion in a circle. Christophe’s careful dark grey eyes watched as Kakane sped up into a blur, ready to pounce at any moment.
A plume of fire appeared in front of Christophe, and he immediately struck it. But the spearhead became lodged in stone, for there was nothing behind the flames. It was stuck, and his grip was absolute. Eyes widening, the Thunder Lion briefly glanced behind him only to see bright red eyes filled with hatred.
Burning through the thick armor with scorching hot flames and an insatiable rage, Kakane struck the chest of his foe straight through his back. The melted steel sizzled and smoked as Christophe cried out with pain. Kakane found that his enemy’s tortured shriek was music to his ears. Flesh and blood and metal burned as Kakane let out a war cry, blasting the still-beating heart of his enemy with pitch-black flames. The old muscle feebly fought back but it was still burned to a crisp, crushed, and destroyed. Christophe Sakamoto coughed blood, becoming limp against Kakane’s chest. He removed his arm and the great Thunder Lion slumped to the dirt. Kakane looked at his blood-covered hand indifferently, proceeding to spit on the Thunder Lion and scowl.
“Heed my words, servant of Doryoku’s king,” Kakane hissed venomously. “For all that you have done to my people, I will rain fire and ash upon your empire. Before you know it, your king will be slain by my hands. I will not stop until vengeance is mine. I will not stop until the king of Doryoku, Enjo Hononen, is dead!”
“Is that truly how you wish to live your life…?” the Thunder Lion asked.
“Even if I must fall in the process, I will avenge my people by taking the head of your king, Enjo Hononen.”
“I see… Forgive me, Your Majesty. It seems I was not able to heed your order… And it also seems that I… have also failed to protect you.” With that, the Thunder Lion, Christophe Sakamoto, breathed his last.
Taking one last look at his sworn enemy’s corpse, Kakane turned his attention to the soldiers. Some of them had died, unable to withstand the excruciating pain of having their armor melted to their skin. But most of them had managed to retreat and were no more than specks over a distant hill. Kakane debated on whether or not he should chase after them, but he decided against it. Let Enjo Hononen know of the threat that was looming over his head. It would not change his fate. He was doomed to die at Kakane’s hands.
“He was a good knight.” Kakane turned around.
Mira had recovered and was now aiding Serena in carrying Takeru’s body. He was unconscious, with his head hanging limp and his arms slung over the girls’ shoulders. Most of his injuries had been healed by Serena but she was still using his magic on him. Pink sparkles danced through the air near his head, indicating that there were still a lot of recoveries he had to go through before he was back on his feet.
“That man,” Mira continued, “was loyal to his king until the end. I don’t believe him to be a bad person. It’s the duty of all knights to follow the orders of their king without question, and he was the perfect embodiment of that.”
“I could never forgive someone so blindly loyal to Enjo Hononen,” Kakane snapped. “His death was well-deserved, considering what he did.”
“Kakane…” Serena shook her head. She wasn’t sure what to say to him. “We should head back to the Dagaalyahanno. Takeru needs more advanced treatment than what I can give him here.”
“We’ll leave you be for now,” Mira added quietly. Kakane nodded, turning his back to them.
Even as they walked away, Kakane could still feel the embers of his anger lingering within him. He could so vividly remember the Thunder Lion barking orders to his soldiers and trampling his city. He could still hear their laughter as if this were a fun pastime to them all, as if it were no more than a weekend hunting trip in the woods. He placed a hand on his right cheek, feeling the rough skin of his scar, a constant reminder of that horrible day.
He didn’t return to the Dagaalyahanno until nightfall. And even then, all he could see was red. But by killing the Thunder Lion, he was one step closer to having his goal realized.
One day, Enjo Hononen would pay for all that he had done. But for now, as Kakane realized how tired he was, he would allow the king of Doryoku to live to see another sunrise.