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All I've Ever Known

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We fall down from the ceiling, each landing catlike on our feet. We eye each other warily, each of us daring the other to make the first move. I raise my sword, he raises his. I have been training all my life for this fight. Unfortunately for me, so has he.

We keep both our eyes and our weapons trained on each other. He is getting impatient, I can tell. I lower my sword invitingly, and he takes the bait and throws his sword at me. I’m too fast for him, though, and my sword is back up in an instant to block the attack. Now he is defenseless, his sword laying at my feet. I move to stand directly on it, daring him to come and get it from me.

He does. In one swift movement, he rolls down under my outstretched arm and swipes up his weapon, kicking my legs out from under me and knocking my sword out of my hand. I stumble and fall, and he kneels down over me. I won’t let him win, however, and I jump up and roll to the side, grabbing my sword and, before he can react, throwing it directly at his head. It lodges between his eyes, and he drops his sword, falling to the ground. His body dissolves into a shower of colored blood, which soaks into the ground. The arrow in the sky lights up yellow. The signal to move forward.

I run, knowing that my opponent won’t stay down for long. The training told me that. All I’ve ever known is to kill when I must, and to always follow the arrow when it appears. All I’ve ever known is what the training told me, and the training told me that following that arrow was my absolute top priority. Sure enough, as I run forward, my opponent appears again, with a new sword. He lunges forward, but I block. We exchange a few glancing blows, one of us attacking while the other deflects, but I am able to get a good hit in and he once again dissolves. I run onward, determined to follow that arrow.

My opponent appears again, and he immediately throws his sword. I don’t have time to react as it flies toward me, piercing my forehead. All I can see is my own, yellow blood, gushing out of me like water from a broken fountain.

Before I can even think, I’m back on my feet, a new sword in my hand as I face my opponent. He pauses. He’d been running in the direction I’d come from, following an arrow of his own. An arrow the same color that he was. An arrow that had replaced mine.

I lunged at him, jabbing my sword at his head, but he blocked it. He followed with an attack of his own, but I used that as a distraction and jumped, then divekicked him, knocking him onto his back and knocking his weapon out of his reach. As he struggled to stand back up, I lunged down, punched through his ribs, and tore his heart from his chest. His body dissolved once more.

My arrow was back, and I followed it like a dog to its master. But my opponent appeared again, and tried the same trick that he had used before. I, however, had anticipated this, and I rolled under it, and knocked him once more to the ground. Before I could repeat my previous actions, however, he jumped up and ran to retrieve his sword. I quickly threw my own sword at him, and it hit him through the back and he fell over, and erupted again into blood.

I ran on, following the arrow. My opponent appeared again, and I was forced to stop running to fight him again. He jabbed at my chest, but with a quick thrust, I knocked his sword from his hand and stabbed him yet again. As he fell, bleeding out, I ran onward, until I could tell that I was very near my goal. My foe appeared, but I merely jumped over his attack and kept running. He appeared in front of me again, but I didn’t even bother attacking. I kept just dodging and running, dodging and running.

At last, I arrived in a large open room. My opponent was not there. Instead, a crowd was gathered! They were all cheering for me! Had I won? The arrow was still hanging above me, so I pushed thoughts of the crowd to the side. I had to follow the arrow.

The arrow led me to the edge of a cliff. I looked over the edge and saw a large, pink mass. Moving toward me very quickly.

Before I could even react, the large, pink worm flew up from the pit and swallowed me whole.

The Nidhogg sank back into its pit, awaiting its next sacrifice. Two more people fell from the ceiling, both holding swords. They had been training all their life for this fight.