The Hollow and The Saint

In a world filled with agony and despair, Logan, a master assassin embark on a journey to change reality in order to create the perfect society for his beloved Elizabeth Rose, where they can live together. Struggling against his bleak destiny and haunted by the demons ravaging this world enslaving people hopes and minds, all while fighting with a rage that might strip him of his humanity, will he be able to succeed in creating this perfect world?

Cover by INFINITE_EXHO

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6. Fated Encounter

     

     

They say that when your life is on the line, your true nature reveals itself. Dark or light, good or bad, this is who you really are.

   December 16,1920. The day the Gansu earthquake struck Haiyuan county in China. With a magnitude of 7.8, death was almost imminent. Suzi Q managed to get out of her small house before it collapsed, and was one of the lucky few to survive. A few minutes after the quake ended, Suzie could finally take a moment to breath.

   Surrounded by ruins and screams, she couldn’t shake off a disturbing feeling, like she had forgotten something important. Then, Suzie remembered. Rushing to the ruins of her house, she dug deep into the rubble with her bare hands. Despite the pain of clawing at the jagged concrete, she persisted until she finally found it - the corpse of her newborn son. Holding him between her shaky arms, something in her brain snapped. She couldn’t bear the weight of so much loss in one day. With her soul shattered, she lost her mind.

   Yes, despite her maternal instincts, Suzie forgot about her own son when her life was in danger. In spite of her pain, she revealed her own selfish nature. Today, I was on the verge of showing my true colors.

   I quickly took my defensive stance: hands at face level, one leg forward and the other behind.

   ‘Move swift as the Wind and as closely formed as the Wood. Attack like the Fire and be still as the Mountain.’ - The Art of War by Sun Tzu.  

   In contrast, my opponent was completely relaxed.  His form was weak and sloppy, and he left a lot of openings. Maybe this was because he was sure of his victory.

   ‘When the enemy is relaxed, make them toil.’ - The Art of War.

    This is my chance!

   He came at me with his right hand, but I quickly stepped backwards. I successfully dodged his first attack, and used my right foot to stagger his left knee. He didn’t budge. He then came at me with his left.  I dodged downwards this time, successfully landing two kicks on the same knee. This time, he lost his balance, falling down on his left arm.

   This is my opening!

   I made a fist with my right hand and then, with all my might, turned my hips thirty degrees to the right and my right foot moved forward, so I landed my first punch on his face. I could feel his nose cracking under my hand.

   The crowd went quiet for a second. I thought I had him, but suddenly I heard a ‘boom’ breaking the silence. Immediately, I felt a terrible pain in my stomach. I couldn’t stand on my feet anymore. I was so thrilled after landing that punch that my reaction slowed. There I was, defenseless, open to his attacks. He managed to punch me right in the gut. I was in so much pain that I thought I would throw up.

   “Oh kid, now you've done it! I am going to break every bone in your body,” he said with a threatening tone, after standing up.

   He began to kick me over and over while I was on the floor. Then he grabbed me by my arms and threw me at the wall. The crowd began cheering again.

   “One! Two! Three!” the referee counted.

   The contestant is considered victorious if the opponent yields, or hits the floor and stays down for five seconds, or… dies. I tried to get up. However, I was out of ideas. Black dots began to flash in the corner of my eyes, and the sound of the crowd started to feel so distant. I knew that if I got one more punch I would be done for sure.

   “When you are being overwhelmed by your opponent, don’t attack head on mindlessly. Look for the point that causes the most damage and concentrate on it. The fight isn’t about who is stronger.  It is always about who knows how to take advantage of every situation.” The Doctor’s words chimed inside my head.

   I must look closely… There! This is my chance! No. This is my last chance.

   Although I took most of the damage, I noticed that he was out of breath. It takes a lot of stamina to move a big body, and his nose injury was really making it hard for him to breathe. So I took a gamble.  

   I had to make a surprise attack before he regained his strength, so I charged with full speed. He quickly used his left arm to counter my advance, and I could see that he planned on hitting me with his right.

    As I came closer to him, I quickly dodged his left downwards. He reacted to my move with his right hand, trying to punch me in the face. As his hand was about to reach the left side of my face, I quickly used the open palm technique to attack his chest. With my current form pressed down and having him right above me, it was the ideal position to use this technique at full power. It unleashes the power out of your palms with a strength that can go through obstacles. My goal was to damage his lungs while trying to minimalize the damage to myself. His fist landed right onto my jaw, slamming my face like a sledge hammer.I fell down, and so did he.

   If both fighters were still unconscious after the five second countdown, the match would be concluded in a draw, forcing a rematch.

   The referee came to my side and started talking to me, but I couldn’t make out a word he was saying. Then he went to my opponent. He didn’t budge either. For one second, I felt satisfied with what I accomplished, but then these words began to repeat in my head.

   I am the absolute! I can’t lose to this inferior blob of meat. I am utter perfection!

   Maybe it was my subconscious talking in my head, but these words unleashed a fire inside my body, giving me power.

   “One! Two! Three! Four… We have a winner!” The referee announced the end of the match.

   The crowd couldn’t believe what they saw, as no one expected that this young boy would be the last man standing. Luckily, his last punch didn’t pack much power, or else I would have been done for.

   For the sake of my dream, I am prepared to face even the devil himself.

   That’s the phrase that I always told myself, and it kept me moving forward.

   However, it turned out that The Boomer was not just out cold, he was dead. For the first time in my life, I had killed someone with my bare hands. I couldn’t feel anything at the time.  Maybe it was because I was a little shocked, but it felt kind of… normal. Looking at him now from above, nothing more than an empty shell, I knew how inferior and little he was. This made me feel even stronger.

   As I was leaving after receiving my reward, a mysterious man approached me. He was a short old man, his small face was covered by a black beard.

   “Congrats boy, you really have some neat moves for your age. However, you are wasting your efforts in the ring. I have a job for you that suits your great talents, plus the pay is much better. So what do you say, young man?” he asked with his brown eyes glued to mine.

   “What kind of job?

   “The kind that lets you put nails in the coffin,”  

   I didn’t mind getting my hands dirty, for I knew that I would have to do it eventually to achieve my goal.  

   "By the way, I don’t think you have much time. The agent of the man you just killed doesn’t seem to be very happy about it. He’s gathered his men, and is waiting for you outside,” he said, pointing them out with his finger.

   “Just... who are you, mister?” I was shocked by his words.

   “Sorry, I didn’t introduce myself. You can call me Baron.”

 
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