Sage was training hard after returning from the last mission with Kuriza. The caravan mission showed him how much a gap was widening between himself and his peers, Sage knew it would take a lot more effort if he wanted to continue to be favored by Kuriza. He punched at the heavy bag, in anger of his own shortcomings. He was beginning to doubt himself. He would see many of his peers go on missions far more important than the ones he were to be called for. He looked over at the other soldiers who had also come back from a mission.
Sage and Farrow were at the same rank, and were Kuriza’s star pupils. However Sages missions brought far less recognition, while Farrow, on the other hand, had progressed quickly with his resume gaining the attention of many higher ranking members. His natural talents made him a reliable soldier who Kuriza entrusted frequently to handle situations far beyond his rank. Farrow was a determined warrior that never wanted to back down from a fight. His affiliation with the Blood Brothers had no doubtable tipped odds in his favor making him an irreplaceable asset for Kuriza’s plans. Farrow, now a full member of the cult, spent countless nights with them fulfilling a prophecy to resurrect a demonic spirit that they worshipped faithfully. From what Farrow explained to Kuriza, the spirit was the source of the Blood Brothers' power but at the cost of souls, to be fed to the demon, satisfying his blood lust allowing them to use a piece of his power. The amount of souls was based on how much power they used.
Farrow had just gotten back from a mission when he entered the dojo. It's been a while since Farrow had trained with Sage, normally Sage annoyed him but over the weeks their bond had grown and Farrow found a way to tolerate Sage's gentle mentality.
Kuriza was proud to see the fine warriors Sage and Farrow were growing into. His team was becoming a strong force set to send ripples through the universe. “Things are going to get a lot tougher around here. My rank continues to increase and so will the difficulty of the missions that we will be called upon to do. We need ro be ready at all times. We are full members of the PTO and at any given moment Lord Frost may call upon this squad. So with that being said I am increasing the reps of all training. And spars are mandatory for our leading ranks.” Kuriza Looked at Sage and Farrow as he said those last words. “Today we are going to work on teamwork. I want you both to fight me. Give it all you got, don't hold back. I surely will not. I have no use for a weak team.” Kuriza said, addressing his challenge to Farrow and Sage.
Farrow was ready for the challenge. “I don’t need him!” Farrow said, roaring to go he rushed forward. Kuriza rushed towards him, meeting Farrow in the middle of the dojo. Farrow threw a couple jabs in an attempt to open up Kurizas defenses, but to no success. Kuriza easily dodged his punches and threw his in equal fashion. Kurizas punches were precise and controlled, and as Farrow attempted to dodge Kuriza continued to press forward. “You're spending so much time dodging my attacks you’ve stopped throwing your own!”Kuriza yelled, laughing and started to spin. He thrusted the side of his tail into Farrow's ribs and the blow landed with tremendous force throwing Farrow back to the side of the room with the rest of the soldiers.
“You think too highly of yourself, did you forget who your opponent was? Did you truly think that you could best me, your Lord, by just simply wanting to? This will be your downfall Farrow. If you continuously underestimate your comrades, thinking that you solely will be the one to claim victory, you will be a distant memory of a fool that was well over his head. I’ve seen what you are capable of, which is why you’ve seen the success you’ve had. I have never sent you over your head! Remember that, and if you want to continue to rise you need to learn to lead. And that is not by discrediting the ones who will fight beside you, even when you've been defeated.” Kuriza ended staring at Sage who was standing in awe.
“And you, you will never see the other side of a rescue mission if you keep allowing others to determine how useful you can be. Farrow does not out rank you for a reason Sage. You are everything he lacks and vice versa. Separately, neither one of you are a challenge to me. Together I might be able to work up a sweat. But as long as you shell up in the shadows you will never be seen as a disposable support mission soldier.” Sage's heart burned with Kuriza’s last remarks. He had been training as hard as he could to be seen as useful by Kuriza as he saw Farrow.
Sage looked down at Farrow who was attempting to get to his feet. He offered his hand to attempt to help. Farrow looked at Sage in his eyes. Turning his head he looked back at Kuriza who was smiling with his arms crossed in front of him. Farrow frowned before accepting Sages hand. Once to his feet he addressed Sage. “He’s right, and I know he is. I didn;t accept you because of reasons beyond your capabilities on the battlefield. I see my mistake. It doesn't matter if i like you. It doesn't matter if we’re friends. I see now, the only thing that matters is victory.”
Sage let a faint smirk grow across his face. “Right, alright then you ready?” He asked Farrow as he crouched himself into a fighting stance. “You bet i am!” He replied dusting off his clothes and preparing for a second attack. Kuriza laughed, “Well?” He looked on as Sage and Farrow laughed towards him.The pair had grown so strong over the last few weeks Kuriza was having trouble keeping up. The coordination the two displayed was remarkable. Sage would throw jabs to open Kuriza’s guard and when he did Farrow would take advantage of the opening when Kuriza attempted to counter. Kuriza couldn't get a shot off. Every time he cocked his hand back to throw a punch he was met with several punches and kicks from farrow. When Kuriza tried to jump back and create distance Sage would press forward and Farrow as a feint to conceal his next attack. Kuriza took a step back, arms still up attempting to block the onslaughts of his two best pupils.
“Finally!” Kuriza said now having to use his tail to block. Sage had joined the attack and was picking up the pace. He was wildly throwing kicks and punches. It was unorthodox but difficult to defend when Farrows attacks were more rhythmic. Farrow looked into Kuriza’s eyes. It would seem as though he was getting the better of him. Sage looked at Kuriza continuously dodge and block. “What's the matter, Lord Kuriza?” Farrow had started to up his tempo as well. He looked at Kuriza and smiled. “You're spending so much time blocking,” He began to say and Sage finished his sentence. “That you've stopped throwing your own!” Sage said as Farrow launch a kick aimed at Kurizas head. His foot smacking Kuriza in the temple sending him flying backwards into the wall. Dust filled the dojo as a large hole exposed outside light appeared where Kuriza had crashed.
Before the dust could settle four balls of Ki came flying through the hole. Immediately he came rushing right behind them. Kuriza had charged another beam ball in his hand And spinned. When he released the Ki these ones moved faster then the ones he initially sent. Farrow Jumped to dodge the faster balls of Ki. Sage saw what was coming but it was little he could do. Jumping backwards Sage did several back flips attempting to create space he was able miss one of the faster ones as well but Kuriza had purposely sent those ones to the ground. He forced Farrow into the air where he directed the slower ones to hit him from above. Four ki last came crashing to the ground. One hit Farrow in the back as he attempted to evade. Farrow landed hard to the ground while Sage dodged the beam balls attempting to check on his comrade. Kuriza charged and spinned again. He used his tail to more momentum and laughed as he sent another charged beam ball directly at Farrow and Sage. Two for each. Sage grabbed Farrow's arm and flung him into the air before sending a barrage of mouth blast to meet the beam balls. While suspended in the air Farrow charged his own beam ball. Seeing the attack coming Kuriza jumped into the air charging another round of beam balls. Kuriza aimed all of them at Farrow this time to meet his blast, overwhelming it and crashing down back towards Farrow . Kuriza then flew fast to come crashing down on top of Sage, head first.
Sage jumped to avoid Kuriza who came down like a bullet. Kuriza would not let him get away however, grabbing Sage by the foot as he attempted to avoid Kuriza’s attack. As Kuriza quickly popped back from what looked like from underground, holding on the Sage’s ankle Sage could see the beam balls Farrow through colliding and exploding with Kurizas but Kurizas’s was stronger. The explosion they made on impact nulled both attacks but the recoil of the blast sent Farrow flying back into the wall.
Kuriza continued his assault, throwing Sage onto the floor. Kuriza started charging an orb of Ki in his hand. Sage tried his hardest to try to get to his feet. He struggled as he looked around for anything he could gain leverage with to hold his body weight. Farrow had gotten back to his feet, seeing his comrade in trouble Kuriza flew as fast as he could towards them. With his shoulder braced he crashed into Kuriza stopping the attack from forming. Kuriza flipped forward, surprised by the blow to his back. He stretched his arms forward and leaned down. He got to a handstand and twisted his hips as he flipped landing on his feet facing the two.
Farrow extended his hand to sage returning the favor of helping him up. Sage grabbed his hand accepting the help. He rose to his feet and wiped the blood off his lip. “You alright?” Farrow asked to sage as he gathered himself for the next attack. “Yeah, I'm straight. You?” Sage responded seeing Farrow's tethered uniform. His arm hung limp, hurt from the force of smashing his shoulder into Kuriza. “Yeah just dislocated.” He said popping the bone back in place then rotating it. Farrow winst in pain as his arm windmilled around. “Alright that's good enough, are you ready? Farrow asked as he saw Kuriza preparing to attack again. Farrow, determined to prove himself, decided to meet Kuriza head on. Farrow quickly charged behind, eam ball charging in his palm. Farrow let off his blast. Four Ki balls rushed out speeding in front of Sage. Kuriza charged through two beam balls before receiving damage from the first. A ball of ki exploding on his shoulder. Sage took the opportunity to duck under the smoke from the explosion. Shielded by the smoke Sage ran up close to Kuriza and delivered an uppercut sending him into the air. Farrow flew up high meeting Kuriza at his highest point. Farrow raised both fists in the air and crashed them into Kuriza with a hammerfist.
Farrow, understanding his overconfidence is the reason he was injured previously showed no hesitation in working with Sage now. Kuriza was sent crashing into the ground. “Very impressive. I have to admit I did not see that one coming. It seems you two are beginning to see what i can see.” Kuriza smiled as the two in front of him stood ready. “I guess the warm up is over now. Seems as though it's a fair fight now.” Kuriza smiled as he started to spin slowly hoovering higher and higher off the ground. Sage and Farrow both frowned, they knew what was coming. Horns started to expose themselves as other times they had. Kuriza was beginning his transformation Kurizas arms began to stretch longer as well as his torso and legs. His neck stretched from direction to direction as it looked as though his head was going to pop off his shoulders. Kuriza grunted and moaned in pain but laughed while he did. Kuriza’s toes, massive in size compared to his smaller, previous, stature touched the ground as the spinning stopped. From under five feet he now stood over eight feet tall, muscular and grotesque. Pleased they brought this form out of him, he laughed.
“From now on when we train you will be fighting me in this state. With the two of you together it is no longer beneficial elsewise. It's time for your next lesson. It's time to see if you are now worth commanding my army. It's time to see what you really have to offer me. Are you a piece i need to win the game, or are you the pawn, used in a strategy above your pay grade. Your next lesson is a test of pure will. Your next lesson is pain, unimaginable pain.”
Kuriza went on the attack charging with another beam ball ready in his palm. Instead of throwing it this time he waited until he got up close and fired all of them into Sages chest at close range. Changing his attention to Farrow he got as close as he could before unleashing an elbow to his jaw. Sage in an attempt to block raised his arms to meet the last, his arms were smoking. Farrow tried to regain his composure but Kuriza took well placed shots. He took his time throwing punches in combination, alternating between punches to farrows jaw and temple to hooks to his ribs. Farrow back peddled trying to get space to maneuver, Sage rushed in to help. Kuriza threw an overhand punch swatting Sage to the ground. He spinned then rose with an uppercut aimed for Farrow. As Farrow popped into the air Kuriza flew up high chasing him.
“And now its over!” Kuriza screamed as he pulled his arm back ready to finish Farrow off. Sage without second thought came rushing in once more. “ Kuriza looked under him and could see Sage closing in. “Didn’t i show you last time, that's not going to wor…..!” Kuriza stopped mid sentence in shock. Instead of attacking Kuriza, Sage flew in with both feet extended, kicking Farrow to the ground narrowly missing Kuriza’s fist. Sage twisted his body, spinning as fast as he could before suddenly coming to a halt, arm extended punching Kuriza in the stomach. Twisting his hips again he spinned with his leg extended. Flipping his body the top of his boot crashed into the back of Kuriza’s head as he was hunched over from the first blow sending him crashing to the ground a short distance away from Farrow who had already recovered. Charging toward him Farrow unleashed a flurry of jabs and kicks. Kuriza returned in exchange.Sage came crashing in joining in the exchange. Their speed seemed to have increased dramatically since they first started fighting. The par didn’t stop continuing their onslaught. They left no opening for Kuriza to land a successful blow. Kuriza in his second form was keeping up with their blows as well. His tight defense left little room for penetration.
Farrow, the more experienced fighter of the two did two backflips disengaging from the hand to hand combat. Kuriza tried to take advantage but Sage’s unorthodox way of striking did not all Kuriza the opportunity to get around him. Farrow charged another beam ball in his palm as Sage continued to throw heavy blows forcing Kuriza to focus on him. Four orbs burst out of Farrow's palm, all in a direct line towards Sage and Kuriza. Sage sent one last wild over hand punch to Kuriza, who lifted both hands up high to block it, before flying fast high into the air evading the four beam balls hitting Kuriza in succession. Sage wouldn't give Kuriza the chance to recover. Opening his mouth wide he sent a barrage of mouth blast raining down onto him. Kuriza got to his feet again raising his arms up to block, receiving each blow, as the ground around began to crumble from the ongoing blast crashing from above.
As the blast rained down Kuriza laughed hysterically. “I'm going to have to retract the last statement. I would have never guessed I would use this for training purposes.” Kuriza snarled as he gathered energy under his block. The horns on his head started to retreat back to where they came as the top of his head extended in length. His chest seemed to melt with his shoulders as they shot outward horizontally. His physic became smaller as his body decreased in size. Kuriza now stood a little over six feet. And with his face more reptilian like Kuriza smiled, licking his lips as he knocked the final blast from above over to the side like a fly with newspaper.
As the smoke settled Kuriza stood with his arms dragging the ground. He was slightly slunch over in this state, appearing as if when his body shrunk in size his arms remained the same. Kuriza’s smile was ear to ear now. “Congratulations! You two are truly remarkable!” He shouted from across the room. As Farrow and sage stood shocked Kuriza flaunted in his own glory. They were gassed. Panting heavy they watched Kuriza stretch, leaning from side to side. He looked to have recovered from the damage inflicted in their last exchange while he and Sage were on their last leg. “Don’t have anything left in the reserves? Kurizia asked mockingly as he chucked walking forward. “A pity, I do hope you haven't forgotten today's lesson. Sage and Farrow both looked each other in the eye and responded at the same time. “Pain”
As the words escaped their lips Kuriza had already launched his attack, sending his knee into Sage's jaw. It looked as though he didn't wait for his foot to touch the ground before he was sending his fist into Farrow's mouth, sending him falling backwards. Kuriza used his tail to grab Farrow's foot. Lifting him high in the air he sent Farrow crashing down into Sage. Both fighters dropped to the ground. Kuriza grabbed both of them by the head in each hand, crushing their skull. “Ahhhhhh” They screamed in pain, kicking and punching wildly with their eyes closed.
Kuriza threw Farrow to the side, flailing him like garbage out a window. He switched Sage to his dominant hand. Still holding tight he flew in the air, farrow laid on the ground holding the sides of his head. Blood was dripping down his face from where Kuriza’s nails had dug into his skull. ”Ahhhh” Sage grunted through his teeth desperately flailing to get loose, but with no hope. Kuroza had his nails deep into his head. Kuriza at his desigered height lightly tossed Sage up higher and waited with his hand cocked back. As sage helplessly fell towards the ground Kuriza open hand slapped him sending him crashing on top of Farrow.
Still hovering above Kuriza charged an orb of Ki in his palm. “You have done marvelous, so please do not take this defeat with a cold heart. You never stood a chance from the start. In my dojo we do not spar for fun. We spar like we fight. To be ready, at all times, prepared to die. “Now tell me, are you prepared to die?” He yelled as he released multiple balls of Ki. All of them raining on the ground where the two fighters laid. Farrow, who was finally coming to his senses, grabbed Sage and flew as fast as he could away from the blast. As each ki blast hit the ground a shock wave was produced sending both Sage and Farrow through the wall and out the dojo.
Kuriza began to revert back to his original form. “Still can't sustain it for long, but it gets the job done. A little more training with Lord Frost and I should be able to do much more. As his feet touched the ground he was completely back as before. It looked as though he hadn't even been in a fight, while both Sage and Farrow laid unconscious outside in the rubble from the wall. Kuriza walked towards the hole in the wall. “Are you boy’s alright? Sleeping on the job tisk tisk, i must say.” Kuriza turned his attention to the Blood Brother troops rushing to get them from under the brick. “Take them to the infirmary. Only four of you will be needed for this. The rest fix the damages to the dojo. Training resumes in the morning and I expect to not have holes in the wall. This a dojo not a backyard barn. Filthy!” He said as he jumped out the hole in the wall to the street outside.
Kuriza looked at his two pupils being carried away. “Recover quickly!” He yelled, waving his hand, smiling. Kuriza didn't intend to mock, he meant his words endearingly. Kuriza turned and took off in flight. Heading towards Master Frost, it was time for another session. After weeks of being pummeled by Frost, it would seem Kuriza’s training had been coming along. A few more sessions and he would be able to proceed to the next step of his plan. With a successful career within the PTO ranks loyal soldiers at his ready and Fasha coming closer and closer to his grasp Kuriza was on the path to victory. He smiled as he approached the doors of Master Frost.