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The encompassing metallic walls kept me shrouded with an overwhelming absence of light. It was not just my eyes that were blinded by darkness, no, all my senses felt clouded by a malevolent pressure. My unnatural sense, the strange power that dwelled within me, was particularly dampened to the point where I almost felt normal. I suspected that the metal box they kept me in was specially built to keep my unusual powers at bay. For a warrior like myself, the inability to properly sense the world around me was most frightening. Now, it’s not that I feared death, but the idea of dying of anything other than wounds inflicted through battle was something I couldn’t stand for. A warrior is remembered by how he was in death just as much as how he was in life. To have my legacy end at the mercy of a box would be a humiliation.


Activities within the strange metal box were limited to moving about and, well, not moving about. I kept my self-occupied through exercise. The box was spacious enough for me to perform some martial art routines. I moved my body and hands in to position, mimicking the stance I would take if holding my sword. I practised the moves passed down to me by my master from many years before. No amount of strength and experience would ever make up for a lack of the fundamental skills. Breathing, footwork and mental conditioning were as important to a warrior as their weapon. Not a day went by where I didn’t go through the motions of practice swings and breathing techniques that were taught to me years ago.


The act of practice made me feel oddly nostalgic, perhaps because at heart I knew that this world was not my own. I yearned for the familiar. I couldn’t help but fall into a trance of reminiscence to help the time go by. I thought back on my days of training, back to the days before I even realised the dormant power within me, simpler times. My Master was a kind man but he was a stranger in a foreign land, an outsider in the country I called home. He hailed from the western world, that alone made him a person of interest, for both good reasons and bad.


I was naught but a child at the time, orphaned by the swords of war. I remembered the cold patter of the rain as it bashed against my face. I remembered the warmth of my hand as I put pressure on my wound. A child travelling aimlessly made easy prey for bandits. I was sure my death was imminent and part of me was fine with that fact. I was ready to let the gods take my broken soul, but he, my Master, wouldn’t allow that. He rescued me, healed me and eventually took me in as his own. A raggedy orphan and a foreigner, quite the duo we made. My Master was surprisingly well versed in the ways of the sword, he had travelled from his land to mine to learn the craft of swordsmanship. He then saw fit to pass down what he had learned to me. Even when I discovered my strange powers, it was he who helped me learn to control them. Now that I think of it, he was more of Father than just a Master.


My reminiscence came to an abrupt end when a sharp pain shot through my stomach. I was hungry. The day before one of my captors had opened the lid and dropped down some food. Although, the word ‘food’ is probably giving them too much credit. Three packets containing a strange substance that was stuck between the realms of solid and liquid. The substance was a tasteless paste that I assumed was only intended to provide the basic nutrition needed to keep me alive.


Anyway, the brief opening of the lid was my only chance for escape, and I knew a thing or two about chance. I bided my time and waited patiently. I had to be fully alert in order to strike as soon as the opportunity presented itself. I had a plan, albeit a plan about as solid as the tasteless paste they gave me for food. The problem was that while waiting in complete silent darkness, my mind couldn’t help but wander off again. I’ve always been like that, getting lost in my own thoughts and for better or worse, overthinking things. Some may say that a warrior has no need to think but such people always appear like rank amateurs to me. War, like life, is nothing but a long line of complex puzzles that we humans must solve one at a time in order to live to see another day.


As I began to revel in theories and personalised philosophies I finally asked myself the question that had been lingering at the back of my mind. Where am I? It had taken me a day of diligent exorcise and pointless contemplation to actually think of something important. Maybe I was just putting it off, aware that the answers to my own questions were far from what I wanted to hear. In fact, the reality of my situation was almost fictitious, though that could be said for my life in general. I knew this world was not my own, but it wasn’t just the case of simply being moved from a familiar location to a non-familiar one. The where wasn’t even that important, no, what I really wanted to know was not the where but the when.


I knew my theory was verging on crazy territory but every fibre of my being told me I was right. The mysterious looking soldiers with weapons I had never seen before and their strange portal were big clues. However, most of all it was the reaction of my senses when I first stepped foot in this land. I could sense the nature around me, it was different from what I was used to. It was if it had aged, decayed and polluted by the passing of time. Yes, it was still my world but not my time. That was my theory. The more I thought about the more I believed it to be true. I guess the fact that I had dedicated my life to slaying demonic entities through the power of gambling made strange just a little bit more normal to me.


“Why am I here?” My inner thoughts became accidentally vocal, not that anyone was around to hear them.


It was another good question, except this time I lacked any theoretical answers to my self-imposed query. The most obvious reason I could think of was because of my powers but that alone was not enough to quench my curiosity. The last couple of days had filled me with numerous questions, none of which I could answer by sitting around in a metal cube. I had to get out, and the mistress of luck answered my plea just in time. The box lid above slowly opened. Streaks of unnatural light began to edge their way inside my temporary metallic home. The light was then once again blocked as the imposing head of one of my captors came into view.


“Enjoy,” he said, dropping more of the tasteless paste into the box. He spoke the same language as my Master did, so communicating wasn’t an issue.


I couldn’t see his face for the mask but I was sure he was sneering underneath. Unfortunately for him, that was the moment I had been waiting for. With one part of the box open I felt a familiar sense come back to me, the open box had stopped whatever was sealing my powers. I had to move fast. I placed my finger in my mouth and pressed down hard enough to draw blood, required for the activation of my abilities.


“You call this food?” I picked up a packet of paste.


“Eat it and weep,” he replied.


“Oh, I will. Gamble! Change form, food packet.” I formed the image of a sword in my mind and tried to wish it in to existence in exchange for my trusty packet of paste. The gamble of changing an object was something I used often. The good think about my power was its limitless potential. Changing a packet of nutritional food paste into a sword wasn’t outside the realm of possibility. Unfortunately the one thing my power was limited by was luck, something I had no control over whatsoever. The form of the packet didn’t change which meant the gamble had failed. It also meant I was about to feel the consequence of a failed gamble. A sudden pain overwhelmed my left shoulder. Broken? No, just a dislocation. It was a fair price to pay, probably. I have no idea what the outcome of my punishment will be for losing a gamble but on that day the powers at be deemed that trying to change some food into a sword and failing was only worth a dislocation. Lucky me.


“Don’t move!” The man raised his strange gun and pointed it towards me. A complex metallic structure that I assumed fired the kind of projectile that could rip a man in half in less than a second.


As my gamble to change the food packet’s form failed, I no longer had the option to try it again. I can never make the same gamble twice using the same variables. However, even though I could no longer change the form of the packet in my hand, there were still other options available to me.


“Gamble! Change form, gun!” Once again I formed an image in my mind, what did I want the gun to change into? The answer was simple. I needed a rope.


Luck was in my favour for the second gamble. The cocky guard became visibly bewildered as the mass of iron is his hands unravelled into a sturdy rope. Before he had time to relinquish his grip on said rope I gave the other end of the rope a good yank and pulled the guard down into the box. The element of surprise was still in my favour so I acted quickly, before the guard had the chance to regain his composure. I picked up the rope and wrapped it around his neck, puling hard on both ends, draining the life from him. He struggled hard, grasped at the air with his metal covered fists. The muffled speechless screams barely managed to escape from beneath his mask. He was a good soldier, well armoured and well trained. Unfortunately that just made his suffering last longer than it needed to be. After what seemed like forever, my visceral grip on the rope loosened after I realised there was no longer any resistance. The guard was dead.


“Now I just need to get out of this damn box.” I voiced my problems, looking up at the now open box. It wasn’t overly high, but not low enough for me to climb over it. However, I knew this from the get go, that’s why I needed the rope. Originally I had hoped to kill the guard with a blade and then create a rope but, I’m not that lucky.


I quickly made preparations for my great box escape. First I had to fix my dislocated shoulder, which had probably moved even further out of place following the strangling. With a steady hand and a clear mind, I readied myself for the pain. A forceful movement of my shoulder clicked it back into place, the resulting pain disorientated me for a few seconds. With my shoulder fixed I then tied one end of the rope around the deceased guard’s waist, but not before removing all his armour first, of course. Then I gave his dead body a ride on my shoulders as I forced his body over the top of the box, head first. Everything was now in place. I clenched tightly on the side of the rope that still dangled within my dark box of a prison cell and used it to slowly climb over the top of the box, the guard's body was acting as an anchor for the other side of the rope, thus allowing me to escape.


“Aha, freedom!” I had made my way out of the box and onto a strange floating pathway, it was unlike anything I had ever seen before on my life.


“Or...maybe not,” I said, realising I spoke far too soon. Between myself and the door at the other end of the path were three guards. All of them had their weapons drawn, obviously the act of throwing a naked guard tied with rope was far from subtle.


“I think it best if you climb back inside your cell.” One of the guards stepped forward, presumably the one in charge of the other two. He, and the other two, were holding strange looking weapons. They looked like batons, except a strange glow was emitting from them.


Is that....lightning? My mind concluded that the batons definitely seemed to covered with some form of lightning based charge, though I had never seen such technology before. The weapons of the future certainly put me at a disadvantage. However, I wasn't going to run or cower away back in the box, but if I wanted to fight I'd need a weapon.


“Gamble! Make, sword!” Conjuring items from thin air was also something within my realm of possibilities. However, the crunching sensation in my left arm, followed by a sudden pain, made it evident that my gamble had failed, again. My left arm felt limp, it was no simple dislocation, this time the failed gamble had broken my left arm. My power was strong, I'll admit that, but it's temperamental nature is what led me to try and not rely on it. Unfortunately, the situation at hand wasn't something I could deal with alone. Even if I still had two working arms, taking down three armoured men with weapons that were unknown to me was suicide at best.


Due to one of the restrictions my power had, I would no longer be able to conjure a sword, since the gamble cannot be made twice. However, one thing I had learned through living with the power for many years was that my choice of words were a powerful factor. I asked for a generic sword and got nothing, but that wouldn't stop me from being more specific with my gambles.


“Gamble! Make, Katana!”


I could feel a familiar weight form in my right hand. The gamble had been a success. I now had a weapon, and it was my weapon of choice at that.


“Come on then, I could take you all on with one arm tied behind my back!” I shouted, as although it wasn't tied behind me, my left arm had been rendered useless for the time being.


“Remember, beat him good, but don't kill him, not yet anyway.” The leader spoke briefly and then finished with a menacing charge. His weapon was on a collision path with my blade, but at the last second I dashed backwards before it could make contact. I didn't no why, but my instinct told me that letting the strange lightning weapon and my blade touch would not be good, for me.


“What's this? Scared already?” The leader laughed.


“Hardly, just rethinking strategies!” I replied with a follow up forward charge. The guard leader swiped his baton horizontally, hoping to get a clean shot to my head. However, I was faster, much faster. I lowered my body into a near crouching position and with all the strength I could muster, slashed my blade from the ground up. The resulting wound was deep, but the armour had kept his life intact. His previous composure however, was nowhere to be seen and I used that opening to dispatch him quickly. The narrow platform on which we fought was dangerous for many reasons. None more so than the fact that pushing a man off it was an easy task, especially when he was heavily wounded. With a hard kick to his front. I sent the armoured guard toppling over the edge of the floating platform. We had to have been pretty high up as I failed to hear the sound of his body crashing against the ground. Now, only two remained.


Thankfully, the narrow path made it so that my enemies couldn't get behind me, but I didn't like the idea of a long battle on such a thin battleground. I attempted to finish things off quickly so I dashed forward again, lunging my blade towards one of the remaining guards. However, he was faster than his leader, and before I knew it his strange weapon collided with my blade. A shocking sensation was sent throughout my entire body, as if I had just been struck by lightning, albeit it wasn't as deadly as a real bolt of lightning but it was still enough to do some damage. While I was still reeling from the sudden shock, the third guard followed up to finish what the second had started. He dived towards me and tackled me to the ground. He pinned down my broken arm with his own, obviously he had noticed the fact I was favouring my right side. His bulky armour gave him the weight advantage so shaking him off proved difficult. I gripped my blade tight and stabbed the guards leg, my current predicament made it hard to do any serious damage but the sudden pain he felt made him loosen his grip for a second, allowing me to force him over the edge of the platform.


I regained my footing and prepared to face the guard who shocked me again. My left arm had become twice as painful thanks to the previous guards attempts and I couldn't be bothered thinking up a plan, thus I gambled, but not using my strange powers, no, it was a gamble of strength. Who was stronger, me or my enemy? That was a gamble I was happy to make, without relying on the supernatural. I got the sense that my opponent was thinking along the same lines. I put my right foot in front, gripped my blade and then attacked. I put everything I had into one strike, it was a gamble of life and death.


The hazy mind of battle dispersed and at my feet lay a body, I had won. On that day I was the stronger warrior and thus, I was the victor.


The path in front of me was now clear, I stepped over the guard's body and made my way to the ovular door at the end of the narrow pathway. I had no idea what would be on the other side, or even what I planned to do when I got there. I was just a man who was in a time and place that wasn't his own, but doing nothing wasn't going to help, so I had no choice but to move forward.


I had questions and I was going to get my answers, no matter what.





Submitted: January 11, 2016

© Copyright 2021 ShakeilKanish. All rights reserved.


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This may sound sad, but I was happy to see his luck failing on him a bit. He couldn’t get what he wanted all the time, which is the whole point of his abilities, and it makes things interesting, from the dislocated shoulder, to the broken arm, one slightly more easy to fix. So what is he going to do with his broken arm? Well, I don’t know, but his means to escape was neat, and it explained more of how his powers work. It was interesting to see him use them more too. I liked how he spoke too soon after his escape too. It was slightly funny. I also liked the ending. Yes, questions is what we all need right now. Great job on a great chapter.

Tue, January 12th, 2016 7:16am

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