As Groud descended from the palace steps, the soldiers on each side took a step backward and knelt as he walked by. After he passed them, the soldiers would stand back up before following in line behind their king.
Coming to the bottom of the steps, Groud waved a hand over. His eyes along with the crown atop his head glowed and the two separate walls Kazuki and Oren were chained two slid across the ground before stopping a few feet from Groud.
(“Kazuki, you look strong. It seems prison has only done you good. Our battle will be…
Grouds words paused as he casually glanced at his father. As soon as he saw Oren he noticed the more youthful look he possessed. The fully grey beard had specks of black sparsed throughout it and the many wrinkles blanketing his father’s face had been greatly reduced. Not only that, Oren looked bulkier.
(“Father, what has happened to you? Your body, it’s…different.”)
Oren shrugged his shoulders, a glare in his eye and sarcasm in his tone.
(“Oh! the great and mighty king has concern for his father. Am I not the most blessed ape in all of the city. How must the other apes envy me. Are ya really asking about my well being ya little bastard or have ya forgotten the fact that ya betrayed me and tried to kill me in my sleep
Before Oren could finish his words, Groud struck his father in the face with a strong backhand. A few teeth flew out of Oren’s mouth along with a spurt of blood.
(“You dare speak lies about me in front of my own apes. I cannot allow this.”)
Oren lifted his head a false smile on his lips.
(“What’s the matter son, ya afraid of the other apes knowing the truth? Can’t control me as ya can them, huh?”)
Groud gave his father a punch to the gut and before Oren said another word, he continued and struck Oren again and again and again.
A mad fury in his eye, Groud continued to beat his father. Oren spit blood continuously but he never once looked away from his son. This look of his was filled with absolute disgust for Groud and Groud knew it. Finally, Groud grabbed Oren’s arms and was about to rip them both off when Kazuki called out.
“Are you sure that’s a good idea Groud? After all, you apes pride yourselves in strength and combat prowess. I thought you all had a sense of honor. Tell me, beating someone who can’t fight back, where is the honor in that? I guess maybe you don’t actually care what the citizens think of you and all that talk about a fair fight with me was simply that, talk.”
Groud released a long heavy breath from his nose before slowly releasing his grip. He eyed Kazuki as well as glanced around at all of his soldiers. Though they said nothing, Groud could see an unsure expression upon a few of their faces.
Groud’s voice was one of the mind and he could choose who heard it in their head and who didn’t. He stared at Oren and Kazuki could tell the two exchanged a few brief words but he could no longer hear it. He didn’t know what was said but by the looks of it, Oren agreed not to say anything to the others. Groud though still looked pissed by the end of it.
Afterward, he turned to all of the soldiers and commanded.
The soldiers gave a salute before turning around and dispersing. When the area was clear, Groud looked at Kazuki with a hate-filled look before his demeanor changed and relaxed.
(“Kazuki, you don’t understand the history between my father and me but that didn’t stop my father from revealing things to you. Because there is still a fight between the two of us and there is mutual respect, I won’t kill you here and now for knowing these things.”)
Kazuki felt annoyed hearing this.
“How kind of you.”
Groud didn’t like that tone and stood before him, towering above him.
“Hmm, are you going to beat me like you did your own father? Is that why you made your apes leave first.”
Groud opened the palm of his hand and with it, his crown lit up and a small bottle container appeared from out of nowhere. Sitting in his large hand, the small bottle seemed like a toy. Inside of it though was anything but. A black liquid moved and wriggled about within. Kazuki couldn’t tell whether the liquid was a living creature or something else but he knew how to play his part. Kazuki controlled his body and drained the blood from his face making his skin grow slightly pale. Forcing small droplets of sweat through his pores, Kazuki appeared terrified seeing the ominous bottle and its contents.
“What is that!? What are you trying to do!?”
Groud smirked slightly.
(“What you said earlier about honor, unfortunately, I have indeed lost mine. You are too strong, without a slight edge, I won’t be able to beat you. I know and understand this but still, I must appear to be the strongest of all or why would anyone continue to follow me.”)
Groud opened the bottle and held it over Kazuki.
Kazuki started to beg to add to his little play.
“Wait wait please don’t. You don’t need to do this. You still have honor, you must. If you didn’t you wouldn’t have let me live this long. You would have killed me the first day we met, right.”
Groud shook his head.
(“Appearances. Nothing more than that. Honor is something those without power can afford to have. Me, I only need power, the power to rule over everyone else. The moment you entered my territory and I found that I couldn’t beat you fair, your fate was already sealed. Don’t worry though, this poison won’t kill you. It will only weaken you a bit, I’ll do everything else myself. So relax and open up.”)
Groud grabbed Kazuki’s mouth and forced it open. Kazuki pretended to struggle as Groud poured the entire black liquid down his throat. As soon as the black liquid entered his body, Kazuki could feel it borrow its way into both of his lungs as well as into his heart. As soon as it found its way into those three places, Kazuki could feel the circulation of his blood slow and clot in some spots. Not only that it also separated some of the oxygen directly from his blood.
After that, it settled in his organs and slowly formed bigger and bigger blood clots while also slowing his blood circulation.
Kazuki knew immediately what this poison was capable of and was not impressed.
(This stuff is very weak but for most, it would cause difficulty in breathing and blood circulation to the heart and muscles. This in turn would make the muscles grow stiff and cause your movements to lag behind ever so slightly. It’s very slow so, during a fight, others would most likely not notice anything wrong until it was too late, by then everything would be over. If I was someone else, this would be my downfall, however, Groud picked me to use poison on.)
Kazuki casually circulated his ki and cleared all of his organs and body of this poison. At the same time, he collected all of it and held it in a barrier of ki within his stomach. He could simply push it out through his pores or spit it out but doing that right in front of Groud would absolutely be a no-go.
Knowing the effects of the poison, Kazuki continued to act in line with it. He did this to put Groud off guard. If Groud thought he was poisoned, there was a chance he would grow confident during the battle and slip up.
“What… what did you do to me!?”
(“You will know soon enough. Ah and just in case you try spouting your mouth off in front of my apes, here’s a little bonus.”)
Groud waved a hand and a piece of the orichalcum wall behind Kazuki started to peel away. Big enough to wrap around his mouth, it folded over the lower half of his face, preventing him from speaking.
Kazuki continued to appear scared but deep within he could feel his rage boiling. To humiliate himself was already bad enough but to then be poisoned and muted, muzzled like a savage dog in the wilds, Kazuki was itching to fight. To unleash his new skill, to break Groud and rip his body apart. Just thinking of how he would crush Groud, Kazuki had to resist the urge to smile like an idiotic fool.
Groud looked at the terrified look upon Kazuki’s face as well as his now battered and bruised silent father and felt immense joy.
(“Good, keep that look Kazuki, it will all be over. The two of us will clash in a spectacular battle and when the moment is right, I will slay you, the invader, and let everyone know I am the strongest King to have ever lived!”)
Right after Groud said this, Oren and Kazuki shared a brief but knowing look with one another. It was time for things to finish once and for all.