'Damn, it's just like that one show with the bald dude! He can control all the four elements and kill monsters with just one punch! Or… wait… am I mixing things up?'
Katsumi closed the small bubble and looked back at her reflection. There she was. Teary eyed, the two buns in her hair still intact and an ominously smiling titan approaching her back.
– Gahh! – she screamed out in fear before swiftly turning around.
But besides the stone cold walls, there wasn't anything to see. When she looked back at the mirror, the titan changed directions and walked in a seemingly random pattern.
'What the hell… what is happening?'
Then she realized: there were no walls in the mirror. It was just her, Liatris and the crowd with eyes fixed upon her. Although the stone walls were at least four meters tall, they could see her somehow.
'Is this… are these walls not real? It's like they are illusions! But wait, if they are not real, that means someone used magic to elevate them, which means that explosion from before was a counterattack against my magic! Someone is interfering with this match! But who could that be? I don't know any illusionists…'
Carefully observing the mirror, she caught the glimpse of another world. The walls behind her were dark and cold, only half of the torches were lit and most of the decaying chairs were empty.
It felt less like a glorious coliseum and more of a ruinous graveyard. Deep below the overgrown flora and cracked pillars was a woman in beige clothes, her body decorated with flowers and purple hair blooming on her head. She smiled as their eyes met and took a sip of her blueish wine.
'Madonna… just who are you?'
– Found you!
Liatris was right behind Katsumi, only a few steps away. This time he really was there.
– You… what is this maze bullcrap? Was this really necessary or are you dumbasses just that bored?
– As a Finger of Madonna, I have the right to decide the layout of our arena before each battle.
– Well, hope you had fun with this hide and seek, because now? We're playing a game called 'Whac-A-Mole'.
– Quite a unusual name. I'm interested!
– It involves two parties: a dude with a hammer, me, and a buncha' plastic moles, you. The goal of the game? Hit as many moles as you can.
– And how do the rodents win?
– They don't. Now die! – she yelled before lunging at the titan with her knife.
Liatris raised his palm into the air. Katsumi jumped up and almost stabbed the titan, who swiftly waved in front of the girl and blew her away with a enormous explosion.
The force generated by the slap rushed through the maze, blowing all the dust into the air. It felt like a sandstorm down there. Liatris could barely see from all the dust swirling around the walls.
– Kahh! Oh, elders! Kahh-kahh! Oh, this dust…
Katsumi expected his attack. She raised her arms before getting slammed into the wall and blocked most of the damage.
'This storming whirlwind of dust… this blinding smoke screen... this is my opportunity to attack!'
Her knife slicing through air, she charged the titan once more!
'This is it… this is what happens when you don't pay attention to detail! This is what happens when you're an ignorant fool! Now die, you crazy old sing…'
But just as she was an arm's reach away from the man, he raised his hand again.
His palm struck down like lightning on the sea, striking where the lone salmon Katsumi swam! The explosion blew her above the maze, above the huge walls, where she could see all those ferocious eyes waiting for her approaching demise.
'H-How? How did he see my movement?'
In this silent world she found herself, only one melody remained: that of Liatris' humming. Even though Katsumi was still in the air floating between life and death, he was already humming. It was loud, energetic and more powerful than before.
'Why is he so happy? He was blinded by the dust! There's no way he saw me getting blown away! Then why is he, someone unsure about his opponent's whereabouts, humming such a joyful song?'
Through the rushing waves of one's mind, a revelation conquers!
'Wait… could it be he's using echolocation to find me?'
She extended both of her legs on opposite walls and slowed down the fall. The moment she touched ground again was the moment the true hide and seek has begun.
Her steps were silent as a snake slithering through the dust. The humming lost sound as she crawled away into a corner of the arena.
'He's called Godslap, yet his hand is the least impressive! What a beast… unfortunately for him, I'm starting to become one myself! Now let's see what my water manipulation can do.'
She sat down, took a deep breath and closed her eyes. The storm in her head calmed as her body entered a dormant status.
'I can feel it… the drool in my mouth, the sweat on my back, the tears on my cheeks… even the ones I've yet to shred! Even if just one group at a time, I can move them as if they were an extension of my body. Holy fuck, I'm so cool!'
Her tears changed directions and flowed upwards.
'Wahaha, this tickles! Oh shit! Keep it cool, Katsumi, or else you'll lose control. Ahh, even though impressive, it's still not enough. I can only control one group at a time and only liquid that's in direct contact with my body. Fuck, why didn't I drink that pervert's wine? Then I'd have something to work with, even if it would be disgusting. Wait… can I move liquid that's in my body?'
A calm emptiness engulfed her mind as she concentrated with all her might. She could feel it, the blood flowing through her veins! Just a bit more focus and she can…
She fell forwards, losing air from the agony. Her entire chest was shaken by a torturous bang. It was her heart, pulsing sharp pain throughout her body.
'Shit, so I can control my blood. Though, it hurts like hell! Fuck! Only if there was a way to get some of it out of my veins…'
Her eyes widened.
'Am I actually this stupid?'
Not so far away in this maze of stone was Liatris, peacefully walking through the emptry corridors. His eyes were closed to better his hearing capabilities. Even if he could 'see' everything in a nearby area, that didn't extend to the entire battleground.
– Humm-hamm-homm, for the elders we come, hey-hay-hoy, the testers may fall…
– Holy fucking shit! – painful cursing echoed through the walls.
– Heh, there you are...
Liatris ran through the formless road, turning left and right and left again. His palm was ready for a decisive slap as the dirty maze finally reached its end and only one final turn remained.
– Brace yourself, Momo Katsumi! It's high time you pay for your transgressions against titankind!
It was a larger area with only one exit, the one through which Liatris entered. On the opposite side of this stony cage, facing him was Katsumi. Shock and fear sparkled from her eyes. One of her arms was burnt, while the other was covered in blood.
– Ohoho! Chocolate and strawberry! Two of my favorite colors!
– No! Please! – she fell on her back. – Don't come any closer! Stay where you are!
– I'm sorry, young gal! You had your chance to beg and decided to stay stubborn about it. – he approached the girl with an open palm.
– No! I'll do anything! Please, stay away!
– What's that? Where did that rebellious attitude go? What happened to your beliefs? Do you have no pride? Stand up and face me! Answer for your crimes!
– No… please…
– You... you're a disgrace! Not just to titankind, but to all beings with a soul! You're a pathetic poser! I'm done with you!
Liatris raised his arm.
– Squirm like the worm you are and take the lesson of a lifetime! Take this! 'Serious Series'...
– 'Serious Slap'!
Ka-Boom! An earthshattering explosion! The sound barrier broke as he slapped, producing a bang so loud it could be felt on the surface. Dust shot out to every corner of the coliseum, only stopped by a magical shield Madonna quickly raised. It took more than half a minute for the dust cloud to settle, all the while Liatris stood completely still.
He was panting, hardly catching any air. The attack he made was so powerful, it exhausted him so much, his entire body went numb. It was truly the most powerful attack he's ever made.
– So it is… huff… done… huff… the girl… is she… huff… alright? Huff…
Yet he couldn't believe what was in front of her. Katsumi just stood there as if nothing happened, scratching her butt. As her eyes met the titan's, she awkwardly pulled her hand aside. And then... she remembered something.
It was time to do THAT.
– What? Huff… How is this? Huff…
Katsumi pointed towards him.
– And your next line is, 'How is that brat unharmed'?
– How is that brat unharmed?
She disappeared as if teleporting through the wall. Before Liatris could fully comprehend what just happened, a voice whispered into his right ear:
– I won.
What will it be? A knife through the heart? A pot through the skull? These questions flashed through his mind as he turned around to see a cheerfully smiling Katsumi.
She put a finger on the titan's nose.
– W-What? How… huff… how did you…
– Mirrors. What you saw before, me begging, that act was coming from another room. I wiped down the walls and stood where it seemed like I'm just right in front of you! Oh yeah, and you've probably realized I'm a bit pale.
– H-How… what…
– So I kinda cut my upper arm a bit and drained some blood outta' there to do the wiping. Heard me cursing, yea? I was a bit too enthusiastic about cutting myself. And uhh, yeah. – she pulled the green uniform aside and revealed liters of blood tightly hugging to her side. – I've kept it all here so you wouldn't see it and get any funny ideas. By the way, that slap was really cool! I didn't really feel anything besides the dirt raining into my hair, but hey, GG!
He stood completely still, hardly understanding anything the girl said. Mirrors? Blood? Acting? Only one thing was clear, clearer than the mirrors Katsumi used.
– So… huff… now that's you've humiliated me, are you satisfied? Was this enough, did you enjoy the show? Are you ready to kill me now?!
– Uh, what are you talking about?
– Do it! Stab me through the throat, I don't care anymore!
– Huh? Why not? Do you still have anything to throw at me? Come on, make me regret my birth!
– I won't kill you. Not now, not ever.
– Then what is your plan? To make me your personal slave? To make me act like a pig for the rest of my life? – he teared up from all the shouting. – Come on, say it already!
– You're a pretty cool dude. – she smiled.
– We were born in different cultures. Well, different worlds, but that's basically the same. Our values are different. I like dogs, you probably like cats. I believe in peace and equality, you probably believe in hard work and survival of the fittest. We're enemies, yet you never had the intention to end my life.
– Hah, what are you talking about? Are you crazy? We're in an arena, we're warriors!
– And yet you were concerned about my well-being. Don't act like I wasn't standing in the next room when you asked whether I was okay or not.
Liatris didn't answer her.
– You saw my ideals, didn't you? You saw that I was ready to fight that giant not because Glechoma is my friend, but because of my faith. Even if it was a stupid and harsh thing to do, I still stuck my nose up into the air and followed my ideals.
Liatris still didn't answer her.
– You have very different beliefs. You believe in respect. I'm sure that's not because you find enjoyment in picking on teenagers, but because you believe that's the key to happiness. And I might be going a bit too far with this, but maybe, and juuust maybe, you saw a glimpse of truth in my morals.
– You talk a lot for someone so small. – he smiled. – Are you really not angry with all I've done? You know. My reactions certainly weren't excellent.
– Well, it would be a lie to say I'm not greatly upset deep down, but… you know… I believe appreciating our differences is more valuable than punching you in the face, heh.
The walls crumbled around them. The outside gradually sneaked into the ruinous maze and Katsumi could finally see the coliseum's majestic lights.
– I'm happy I've met you, Momo Katsumi.
– Huh? Why are you so formal? Wait, are you crying?
– I finally found someone… who believed as much as I did.
– What? Hey, what's wrong?
Katsumi approached the titan, but stopped right before touching him. Something changed in the air. Just now, just before her, something moved through.
– What the hell…
A small red circle appeared around Liatris' neck. Katsumi watched as it became more and more red, eventually dripping down to the titan's chest before it fell down next to his decapitated head.
There he was. The greatest singer Katsumi's ever met. His head lying next to his body, blood shooting out from both of them.
Katsumi couldn't say a word. She stepped away from the body with a neutral expression.
After walking a few meters away, she vomited all over the ground.