On a sunny day like any other, in which I would usually have accompanied the hunting party in their work to get the food that would be prepared for dinner, I stayed instead near the cave, among trees that hid my presence as I exercised my body so that it would not give me any inconvenience when it required its maximum capacity.
While standing, I would stretch my arms down so that my fingers would touch the tips of my toes, and I would do the same when crouching, only instead, they would be placed diagonally. In addition, I would also throw jabs, kicks, and knees into the air, imagining that such blows connected against an imaginary enemy.
Even so, that was not something I would do for long since, with no water available to rehydrate me, sweating too much would work against my intended goals for today. So, before I got exhausted, I sat on the ground, on a small overhanging rock, under the shade of the trees, taking in the cool breeze that whipped the leaves over my head.
However, although then my muscles rested, at such a time, my brain took its place and went into full action, for I began to think of numerous scenarios that could result from my upcoming actions.
I planned every detail of what might happen, from the first move, which was to get its attention, to the last, when I would rise victorious with an intimidating roar, all of which I did in the knowledge that this would probably prove futile. After all, I lack the ability to see the future.
At most, I could consider a few things that, in the long run, might turn out to be beneficial, such as my opponent’s day-to-day actions in fighting, whether he preferred to resort to savage violence from the start, or if his movements were governed by caution.
In the middle of these thoughts, my mind wandered to a nearby memory, distracting me by recalling how difficult it was to discern the best opponent for me among many subjects of equal appearance and size.
It was not at all easy to select one that met my requirements, but even less so to learn to differentiate him from his counterparts since they were all part of the same experiment, apart from possessing such a high regenerative factor that prevents the formation of lasting scars, they lacked distinctive features, so the only way I could record him in my memory was by counting the wrinkles on his face.
Eight on his forehead, seven around his eyes, and three on each of his cheeks, which increased to six when he smiled. Those were the ones he had, and even then, one of his brothers shared the same number, but fortunately, his eyebrows were slightly thicker.
Too much trouble, too much work, which I hoped would make a difference.
Although, in reality, to have even the slightest chance of victory, what I needed was to calm these nerves that were bothering me so much.
Due to the concern, I could not stay still for long, even though I knew I needed to do so in order not to become more agitated than necessary, for I feared I would regret not having trained hard enough, for making a mistake in a movement that I should not have missed.
Such was a horrible emotion that tried to take hold of me, but that I kept at bay by biting hard on my fingers, not my nails, because that was something I had stopped doing some time ago.
‘I’m really not sure if this is right or if I should-…’
”Pat; Pat; Pat…”
As I was fighting a brutal battle within myself, a faint noise in the distance of grass being broken through and branches being stepped on told me that the adults had returned, or at least the first group had.
Therefore, since I did not know if the guy I had chosen was in this one, I got to my feet, and after emptying my head of pessimistic thoughts, I walked at a brisk pace towards the clearing, as I did not want my opponent to engage in combat without me being there.
I needed him in perfect condition, not wounded or tired, as defeating him when he was weakened would not give me the prestige I sought.
So, after a few minutes, I arrived at my destination, albeit it was too soon, since among the men who, with their particular barbaric language, were challenging each other or arguing, there was not the one I was looking for. However, instead of returning to where I had come from, I chose to sit near them, watching them fight.
Knowing that my current self was no better a fighter than these idiots, not unless you used clever tricks against them, by watching them closely, I hoped to find something that would shortly be helpful to me.
Moreover, with this spectacle in front of my eyes, it was easier to avoid falling back into a violent vortex of negative emotions.
”Growl; Goah; Howl…”
As always, I found it interesting as well as stupid the way they communicated so seamlessly with the mere use of grunts and guttural sounds, as their intentions were conveyed without much trouble.
Once they had decided who to confront, they would get the tacit approval of their opponent with crude signs or aggressive pushes, and without anyone having to point out anything else, both would move away from the rest of the individuals so that they would not interfere in their long-awaited match.
On top of that, without the need to get to the point where their conflict becomes a kill-or-be-killed one, or even until their opponent is lying on the ground beneath them, they decide when to stop, and forgetting all rancor, they travel together to the dining hall to fill their empty stomachs.
Of course, that attitude stems from the fact that they consider themselves equals because, meanwhile, those who are evidently weaker than them, such as children, show no respect whatsoever, even beating them to death if they dare to bother them.
That is why I had not dared to have this fight until now, for I considered it dangerous to do so without having earned their recognition… Although, in fact, that is no longer important since what I want is a fight to the death, not one for honor, much less for fun.
A heavy sigh escaped from my mouth when I inadvertently remembered the danger I would soon incur. Then, I moved my right hand to my face and stroked it to calm myself, transmitting to my palm a strange sensation similar to touching wet and wrinkled pants.
Numerous blows began to sound, for the fighting had begun. However, I stopped paying attention to those, having found amusement in the excess of skin on my fingers. Despite that, the return of a new group of men did not go unnoticed by me.
Among them was him. He came laughing, looking happy and proud as he carried on his back, sweating, the body of a huge feline whose skull was caved in while drops of blood trickled out of its six orifices, staining its white fur.
Finally, the time had come, so I had nowhere to run. Therefore, I got up and walked in his direction. Also, while I did so, with a hint of concern, I watched every inch of his body, hoping he was unharmed.
Fortunately, so it was, he was fine except for a few minor scratches he had possibly gotten as he ran in the brush that scraped his skin, as well as his chest that intensely rose and fell, revealing how exhausted he was.
Despite not having wounds that inhibited his movements, he was clearly not in his best condition and needed to rest. So, rather than going directly to him to ask for a fight, I joined the group that accompanied him, with those who looked at him with anger and envy, ready to challenge him at any moment.
In fact, I did that to prevent them from overtaking me, as their eyes revealed their intentions. Thus, I followed his every step, from when he went to leave the body in the room closest to the entrance of the cave until he started to show off with his companions.
Not for an instant did I take my eyes off him or those who stood next to him, and that is why I was able to react in time when one of these guys approached him with an evident desire to fight. Hence, before the other man touched him, I stretched out my arm toward him, who was distracted watching the battles that started before his arrival.
Three gentle taps were enough to make him turn to me, and then, doing my best to remember what I had recently heard, I imitated their wild language to ask him for a fight.
If he were someone with a modicum of intelligence, he would have reacted with disdain to my proposal. After all, the one who made it was none other than the guy who bothered them during several hunts, the one who, at the behest of the giant, had to be treated with more care than he deserved.
But he was not a human. It was a beast. One that based his actions mainly on his most basic instincts, so, instead of getting upset, his face lit up with enthusiasm, for after seeing others confront each other, his blood had begun to boil.
Wanting to please his body that urged him to satisfy the hunger for violence and sadism engraved in his genes, with what I considered a head nod, he accepted it, and placing himself next to me, he moved with me to a space away from the others.
That was how we two walked together, leaving behind a couple of enraged fools. We moved into a fight that would only end with one of us falling and never being able to get up again.