Prologue 3: Truth
**I still don’t know his name. Maybe I should ask him after my last fight… No, he wouldn’t even tell me if I asked. As well as that, I don’t plan to keep in touch with him when I leave, because he’s obviously a criminal. A criminal who has invited me into his home so that he could train me. I'm not stupid. This is way too suspicious.
I accepted his offer because I didn’t have a choice but now, it’s different.**
As I continued to live and learn under the old man, in correlation I also became stronger, but more importantly, I managed to save enough money in the hopes of coming back to my old country.
I’ve also spent a large amount of my time continuously self studying after buying several textbook in English. I had troubles finding them but it was worth it.
Now, I knew what I wanted to do as soon I arrive home.
**I’m going to be a doctor. The road to becoming a doctor will be long and hard, but I promised myself that I would change and repent, even if mother doesn’t support me. I have to change. No, I will change.
Mother, Trisha… they probably still despise me, but it’s alright. I’m ready. I will apologise even if I have to spend my entire life. If I am not forgiven, then there is nothing I can do.**
After so many hardships, struggles and painful experiences, at last it finally ends.
It was time for the last fight.
I remembered our deal.
I will be given what I desire the most if I win one match at least twice a month for three years. If I win this match, my freedom will be granted.
Fortunately, I haven’t encountered that crazy midget again since our last fight.
**Maybe he is my final opponent, but I don’t care. I will leave before that.
Firstly, I will knock out the guards while they have their guards down and are restricted by the small spaces inside the car. Then, I will steal the car and drive to the airport and leave this country once and for all. It doesn’t feel right to betray the one who saved me and nurtured me, but he is too untrustworthy.**
I wasn't stupid, clearIy there was more to this than meets the eye. Even though he had made huge profits from gambling and shares of my winnings, it still doesn’t clearly explain why he would accommodate and personally train some random stranger he just met. What does he want from me?
**Everything is ready.**
I’ve hid all my savings, passport and other personal belongings on the way to the airport. All I had to do was wait for the guards to call me.
The voice came from behind my living room door.
“Coming.” I replied.
I gave a final glance towards my room before leaving with the guard.
As I followed the guard out into the front yard, I couldn’t help but look at the sparse furnitures, decorations and the faces of the many stationed guards that accompagnied me all this time.
**I’m finally leaving it all behind.**
Even after 3 years, I still wasn't allowed to be alone in the mansion. That was one of the many reasons that I couldn’t find myself to trust the old geezer.
I felt more like a prisoner than an actual guest, even if I entered by my own will.
As we finally left the mansion, I took one final look.
I couldn’t help but remember the many experiences that I spent inside this ‘prison’. I learned and I fought for the future. Some happy memories, some bad memories too.
**This is farewell.**
I turned away to find the same black car that always drove me to my next fight.
As always, the guard leading me will be seated next to me and the driver in the front seat.
**First I will deal with the guard next to me, then I can deal with the driver before he even notices what has already happened. This will be easy, I just need to get the timing right. As soon as we are far enough from the mansion, my plan begins.**
**Shit my entire body is numb. What just happened?**
“Sorry. These are orders from the boss”
The guard who was behind me said that while holding a taser in his hand.
I was careless.
I didn’t think that he would make his move so soon.
**I can’t move. I must stand up, I must….**
“Aaaaaaaahhhhhhh…” I cried out.
Before I was able to muster the strength to stand up. I received yet another discharge and slowly lost consciousness.
“It's time to wake up Thomas…”
I slowly opened my eyes to that strange, but familiar voice.
“Urgh… what’s going on.” I said in a groggy tone.
I slowly took a look around, but I saw nothing. There was only darkness.
An endless darkness.
“Huh… where am I?”
I stood up very carefully, as if I was beginning to stand on my two feet for the first time.
“What is this? What’s going on?”
“Hello once again, it's been a long time Thomas…”
I turned around in surprise. My posture was firm and steady. I was ready to fight whatever I was up against..
“Who are you…? Show yourself already!”
My eyes kept darting around to get a good look at whatever was tormenting me.
“You're as cruel as ever Thomas. Do you truly not remember me?” The voice sounded sinister.
I fell silent for a while from his words before shouting in anger.
“Do not make me repeat myself. Who are you and what do you want?”
“Hmph… I am the one that hate you the most. I am... Your. Sin.” I felt a chill run down my spine as he said those final two words.
My eyes widened in shock as I finally realised who I was talking to.
“J-Jordan…?” I replied. My voice sounded surprised with a hint of fear, which were also clearly shown in my eyes.
“Yes, It's me”
As soon as he said that, he began to materialise in right in front of me.
A cruel smile had formed on his lips. A smile that I've never seen my entire life.
I fell to my knees with my mouth slightly wide open and my knees trembling.
“B-But how? You’re suppose to be dead.” I cried out.
“I am dead. You were the one who killed me after all.” he said with bitterness.
“Yes I know that it my was fault… but… but that was an accident.”
My head turned to look at the ground as I couldn’t bare to keep looking at him as tears began to fall from the corner of my eyes.
Jordan didn't reply. The silence between us was unbearable, as if sharp blades were being pierced through my heart slowly.
“Tell me. How can I be forgiven? I will do anything! Just tell me!!!"
“To repent for your sins, there is only one way”
The voice coming out of his mouth was cold and bitter.
I looked up to meet his gaze. His dark brown eyes were full with hatred.
I felt my heart skip a beat as soon as our gaze met until a single cruel word left his mouth.
I couldn't answer anything as the ground under me began to open up. The darkness was swallowing me up as I fell.
My eyes turned wide open and I was panting quite heavily and my back felt wet with sweat.
**It was… just a nightmare.**
My breathing began to slow down and relax a bit. I slowly began to recollect myself from that horrifying dream and focus on what was happening now.
I tried to take a look around me but I couldn't.
I found that I was tied up and strapped to a cross back inside a poorly illuminated room.
The situation made my heart beat faster as a feeling of panic began to seize my heart.
Firstly, I tried to free myself, but the ropes wrapped around my arms and legs were too strong and tight. I couldn't move my members and was barely able to turn my head.
**I don’t know what they want from me, but I can’t let them do it. I must escape.**
“Good, you’re awake.”
As I was struggling, a familiar voice came from behind me.
His footsteps were heavy with the sound of his cane beating the ground each time he moved.
It was the old man.
“Why… why are you doing this!?! I’ve done all that you’ve asked. I’ve trained, fought and won like you told me.” I shouted, unable to suppress the anger and fear clenching my heart.
“Yes, you were perfect.” He replied with a joyous tone.
If I could see his face, I was sure that I would see that smile of his that I hated so much.
“Because I prepared this from the very beginning. You really thought I would not see through your little escape plan? Don’t make me laugh. You are a hundred years too young for that, boy.”
“I-I’m sorry. I will fight the last match so please, untie me. I promise I won’t try to run away anymore.”
I was desperate.
“There is no need to beg or ask for forgiveness, like I told you. I prepared this from the very beginning. All the things I’ve done during these 3 years were for this very moment. It was a dangerous gamble but I’m glad I made it. With you I can finally start over once again.”
“What are you talking about? What do you want from me?” I shouted angrily.
“I already told you, there is something in you I’m deeply interest in. It is a rare gift in this world. Only a few people are blessed with it. I have spent the last three years cultivating this gift. Now it is time to harvest it.”
“I don’t understand what you’re talking about!”
I heard his foot steps coming closer and closer, until I could finally see his two blue eyes as cold as ice staring right at me. His smile was radiant accentuating all his horrible scars. Slowly, he whispered into my ear.
“You don’t have to know since you will die here.”
It was as if cold water run through my veins. I suddenly remembered that nightmare again and I shuddered after remembering the sinister and cruel words coming from Jordan’s mouth.
**He’s not joking. He will kill me. I will die. No… I can’t die here. I can’t die now. I still haven’t accomplished anything. I still haven’t apologised. I must at least see them one last time. I can’t die yet.**
“Why?” I asked with a trembling voice. I could barely muster any strength. My voice was barely audible, but he strengthened his posture and replied with burning eyes.
“Because it’s the only way for me to live again.”
**What is he talking about?**
“What are you talking about? Why will killing me make you live longer? I have never tried to kill you. I’m not a threat so why?”
My voice was growing desperate each time I spoke.
“Master, we’re ready”
The voice of a third man came to my ears. I wasn’t able to see him enter.
“Good, let us begin the preparation”
He was not alone.
Several people wearing the same long black robes with a hood hiding their faces began to encircle me.
I could see by their figures that some of them were women.
They slowly walked around me and stopped. Then they kneeled and placed both of their hands on the floor.
**What are they doing? Are they crazy?**
The floor began to emit a red glow illuminating the dark room.
I was in the middle of a huge circle with complex designs and symbols that I couldn’t understand. There were also several weird white stones placed a few feet away from each other. The circle continued to glow. It became even brighter with every passing second.
Another light suddenly caught my sight. It came from above.
There was another circle glowing with the same red light. It was as if there was a mirror reflecting the patterns on the floor.
I couldn’t understand what was suddenly happening.
“You owe me an explanation. I did everything you’ve asked of me. I fought in your fucking games. If I must die, then at least tell me for what purpose!”
It was despair.
I was sure the old man could feel it in my voice.
“There is a little time before it activates so I can grant you that wish. Consider it my gift to you, because after all, you are my saviour, boy.”
My sight was beginning to blur.
**What is he doing to me…? No… I’m just crying.**
My tears were flowing without interruption.
I realised that escape was impossible no matter how much I struggled.
But, I still wanted to know what purpose my death will serve.
**I must hear what I did to deserve such a fate.**
“You’re just unlucky. Just like the eighty-two others before you. You all had bad luck.”
I stopped crying hearing his words.
“Eighty-two? You’ve killed eighty-two other people before me?” I asked, my voice trembling.
**He is too calm. He confessed his murders as if it was the most natural thing in the world.**
“I chose them carefully just like you. To become my sacrifices, they have to fulfil several conditions.”
“Yes. Each one of them had a very strong life force. It was called differently from where I was born, but it’s not important. What is important is that it’s something extremely rare. I think this is something only one human for a million have in enough quantity within them. I myself are one of them. I also have an ability that allows me to see those rare chosen ones.
He made a small pose and turned his gaze toward one of this white stones inside the glowing circle.
"I collected their life force inside this circle. When the circle stops glowing, it will also be able to activate once more. You will die to transfer all the energy that I accumulated within these past fifty years. It will kill you, but I will be able to become young and escape death once again.”
I failed to understand everything he said in his long speech. I simply knew that I would die when the lights stop glowing.
**This man is sick.**
“It’s like you’re talking about magic. You’re insane.”
“You can call it what you want, but the end result will be the same. Without this I will die soon, this is my only chance. This is why when you entered my office, I almost couldn’t contain my excitement. You were nearly perfect. You just lacked a body strong enough to bear the ritual until the end.”
“So all that training was for this?”
“Yes, to develop your life force and to make you strong enough to support the last step of the ritual. I trained you, pushed you to your limits with the matches just as I did with all the others. This was the only reason I organised those fights after all. I don’t organise death matches, remember?”
“Bastard, you’ve already killed eighty-two people, why must you kill me. One shouldn’t be much of a difference so release me!”
“You’re wrong. You are special and indispensable to trigger the circle. I am ninety-eight years old, if I could I would have triggered it already.”
“What is so special about me? I don’t understand. Release me now! ”
I continuously begged, but he paid it no mind and calmly explained to me.
“Your sin, boy. That is what made you special.”
“My sin? What do you mean?”
“I investigated you after you told me about your brother and I discovered exactly what I was looking for.”
“You mean I was chosen, because I’m responsible for the death of my brother?”
“No… that accident wasn’t your fault, but the way you lived before that was. Among the seven sins of humanity, yours is the worst.”
I remembered all those times I cursed my brother. I knew what my sin was.
“It’s envy, isn’t it”
“Yes, you always considered yourself above all others. You didn't think that someone could be better than you. Just like on your first match. When you first saw his size, you judged that he wasn’t a worthy opponent for you.
“It was just like that with your brother too, isn’t it. You couldn’t stomach that he was smarter than you. He made you feel inferior to him. It was unbearable so you beat him to hide your incompetence and shattered pride.”
I couldn't utter a single word.
Each word I heard from him was like a blade slowly piercing into my heart.
**Now that I think about it, he’s right.**
“This circle is special and unlike the ones I used on the others, it will only activate to punish a sin. I have made several attempts and the single time I succeeded was on a man with nothing but pride. Honestly, I’m not sure why but the stronger the sin, better are the chances of success. That’s why I said you had bad luck. You’re a gift from the heavens to me, boy!”
He laughed loudly. He looked like a mad man. The happiest mad man ever.
However, if what he said was really the truth then this was really my punishment.
I ran away as far as I could to not face the reproaches and without knowing I was just getting closer and closer to my sentence.
**You can’t run away from your sin. No matter where you go or what you do, a true sin will never disappear. I understand that now.**
I stopped struggling.
The light also started to fade.
It will be over soon.
**I’m afraid to die.**
“It’s over boy. It was nice knowing you, the days I spent with you were quite enjoyable. Maybe we will be able to see each other again…”
I looked at him with a blank look. I knew what was coming but I couldn't do anything against it.
“… but not in this life.”
He took something from his belt.
It was a knife.
It was over.
My entire body shook violently in a last attempt to escape death, just like a beast before it enters the slaughterhouse.
However, instead of cutting my throat he made a small cut on my wrist and quietly walked away from me to get on another portion of the circle before cutting his finger and let a drop of his blood fell.
**What is he doing…? Is he sparing me?**
I began to recover some hope as a drop of blood fell from my wrist.
However, as soon as it made contact with the floor, the entire circle glowed fiercer than ever.
It was a beautiful golden light.
It became too bright to look directly at it, it was painful so I squinted my eyes.
However, the pain wasn't going away.
Instead, it began to spread.
Slowly my entire body became painful.
I quickly became unable to control the spasms shaking my body. I felt the rope cut in the flesh of my wrists but it was just like a breeze compared with the storm of pain that was assailing me. It was far worse than anything I could’ve ever imagined, far worse than when I lost my eye. I felt my blood vessels shatter under the pressure.
I couldn’t hear anything else except for the sound of my own screams.
**Make it stop. Please. Anybody, save me. I’ll do anything… stop it.**
I begged all the gods to stop the pain, but it didn’t go away. It only kept increasing, until nothing but the pain remained.
Suddenly, the pain stopped. My consciousness began to fade.
I felt it.
I also knew that as soon as my eye closed, it will never open again.
I gathered my last strength to look at the old man one last time. It was difficult to see him clearly, my vision was too blurred but I was sure he looked happy.
I should hate him, but I couldn’t bring myself to do so. I didn’t know why myself. Maybe because I would have died long ago without him. Or maybe because he is the only person I talked to during those three years. No, that’s not it.
I know, it's because he has freed me. He is the executioner of my sentence. I can finally free myself from my sin.
**Jordan… I will be joining you soon. When I see you, I will properly apologise so please, don’t hate me anymore.
I hoped I could apologise to mom and Trisha too.
I’m sorry for all I did. Thank you, supporting me for so long.
Thank you too, old man.
I don’t want to die… In the end, I couldn’t get another chance. What a shame…**
My entire body was numb. It was difficult to move but I smiled and mustered all my remaining strength and opened my mouth.
“Thank you, master.”
I could see the incomprehension in his eyes.
It was the last thing I saw before feeling my body becoming light and closing my eye one last time.