The Crimson Key
Kaori Kinless Munakigo
There is something outside of my tent. I ignore it and roll over. It’s probably just a bear. If it’s anything important the tribe elders will deal with it. As I’m falling back asleep I hear something come into my tent. I can tell that it’s a person. Animal breath doesn’t sound like that. I roll over and look back, thinking it’s my mother or brother after having dealt with that strange animal outside. I am met with a dark elf. I immediately rise from my nest of pelts. I’m too young of a goliath to be taller than this elf. I don’t know enough fighting. I will lose. I will shame my tribe. I will die tonight.
Jolting awake, the nightmare that I was having dissipates. It’s the only dream that I’ve had for years. Since I was taken away from my tribe. From my family. From the one place in the world that I belonged.
Shaking those thoughts away I leave my “room”. It’s a prison cell that can withstand a centaur, so a goliath would have no chance of escape. It’s my turn today. Now. I’m going to kill someone. Someone I don’t know. Someone that was taken from their family too. Even if I ever find my tribe again they’ll want nothing to do with me.
Cheers erupt around me as I exit the staging area. I’m walking to the ring and elves, gnomes, dwarves and humans are throwing flowers at me. Some have signs that have my names. Some are chanting “Kaori” and some are chanting “Munakigo”. It’s just like the elves to forget the most important aspect of my name. Kinless. I have nowhere in the world. Those thoughts exit my head as I enter the ring.
From across the ring I see an orc being brought into the ring. I can’t tell if it’s a full-sized orc. I’ve only dealt with stolen children like myself and the dark elves. I know I’m undersized. I’m only 7 feet tall. The orc gets handed a double axe. My heart rate rises. He growls. I’m beginning to see red. He charges. Something inside me snaps. I grab his axe and snap it in my hands. The orc falters and tries to get away from me. I keep charging him and grab his neck. His hands are grabbing at mine, but it’s too late. I throw him across the ring. He is struggling to get up when I walk over and grab his head. I punch through his chest and smear the blood across my face. I release a primal scream and the crowd goes crazy. The orc’s corpse is removed from the ring and my next opponent is brought to death.
Many fights later I am taken from the ring to a shower with guards. Centaur guards. I will never have a chance to leave this horrendous place. The red from my vision is slowly fading. I no longer feel insatiable bloodlust. Tears find their way down my face as I shower the blood of innocent children off. Goliaths mature much faster than most other races in this world. Why must I fight children? Why must I kill them? Why can’t I stop?
A knock is rapped on my door. It must be time to kill again. I can’t do this. I can’t. I need to leave. The door opens and I see a dwarf. He beckons me to follow. He doesn’t suspect my true feelings. I’ve been playing along for so long. I begin to follow him. Why would anyone suspect an escape? I turn down a hallway instead of following the dwarf. He tries to grab me to stop me. I swing my arm up and his body goes flying into the ceiling. Nothing stops his fall down to the floor. When his head hit the floor a loud crack is made. Someone would have heard that, but no one can stop me but a centaur or magic. Elves are about. I run to the door. I see sunshine.
Birds are chirping.
There are flowers.
Fresh air toys with my nostrils.
A smile graces my face for the first time in 18 years. I see mountains in the distance. I keep running towards them and a plan is taking place in my head.
I’ll find my tribe and explain what happened. Surely they’ll understand. They’ll know I never wanted to kill. They’ll look past my scarred flesh. They’ll understand that I have a destiny and my scars don’t affect it. I can do my tribe proud.I won’t be Kaori Kinless Munakigo anymore. A spark of hope bursts to life in my chest. I look forward to tomorrow.