IT'S FINALLY OUT! Chapter 6 of Mortal Kombat Tournament Edition! And it's only been a month and a bit! This one took awhile because I didn't write about two Kombatants beating each other up! Making up the geography of Shang Tsung's island was a bit challenging (I had to make a map) and deciding on what to write about (What? There's more to writing than having two people beat each other up?) took a lot of effort. Mainly because I was entranced by MKII and MKT during this update gap and was not motivated at all to write. In fact, I'm still not motivated, but, seeing as I'll be away for the entire winter break (visiting relatives in China :D), I didn't want to have two months go by without a single update. So, I finished up this chapter (I've been working on bits and pieces of it over a month, one paragraph at a time) and posted it. Hope you guys enjoy (I'm fairly certain that this is the longest chapter yet, but that's because this A/N is long AF)
"Man that monk sure is fast," panted Cage.
"That is true," replied Raiden, who was a little out of breath himself. "We set off after him only a minute after he had left. I did not believe that he could've traveled far in that short amount of time and yet we cannot find him."
The two of them had attempted to find Liu Kang and tell him the true importance of the tournament, but could not find him. Thinking that the warrior monk couldn't be far off, the duo had run after him, but to no avail. Five minutes of running after Liu Kang passed before Cage could not go any further.
"Man, that's a real bummer," groaned Cage, who had finally caught his breath. "There's no point going after that guy if we can't find him. Let's do something else."
"Might as well," agreed Raiden with a frown. "What do you want to do?"
"Let's go explore this island some more. It's not every day that I get to go somewhere exotic."
"Don't movie stars travel a lot? Anyways, where do you want to go?"
"Sure I travel a lot...within North America. I rarely get to leave the continent unless it's to accept some award in Europe. Anyways, let's go check out those mountains. Mountain climbing is a hobby of mine."
The two of them set off for the jagged peaks of the mountains after that. They passed beautiful gardens and majestic builds, all of which looked very Oriental. Johnny Cage even commented that he thought he was vacationing in China, seeing as he was passing all these Asian-looking buildings with a guy in a straw hat beside him. There was a distinct feeling of emptiness as they walked down empty streets and desolate buildings without seeing a single soul, not even a fellow competitor or guard. The duo was completely unnoticed as they strolled out through the palace gates and headed around to the back of the walled off area and went towards where the mountains were. There were a few small knolls and larger hills on their way to the bigger peaks, but nothing noteworthy happened as they walked and made small talk.
Though the walled off area of the palace was quite large, the island itself was clearly much larger. Walking out and around the palace took the two of them an hour, but walking to the base of the mountains took them twice as long. Their shadows were becoming really short as they stopped at the feet of the mountains.
From far away the mountains didn't look very intimidating, but, now that they were at the bottom, the two of them realized just how big the mountains were. The mountains rose out of the ground like giant talons. They were humongous shards of pure, black igneous rocks that rose up to snatch the heavens and drag them down to earth. Indeed, every peak stopped just as they touched the clouds, never rising above and, strangely, the clouds never floated beneath the maximum height of the peaks.
Even if the mountains weren't so tall and they weren't colossal claws trying to grasp the sky, they would still be intimidating due to their sheering verticality and smoothness. Each and every mountain looked as if they had been sanded to smooth perfection. Not only that, but the mountains were almost perpendicular to the ground, standing out at 89 degree angles. It was obvious that neither of them would be able to climb any mountain today, even if they had brought appropriate climbing gear.
"Man, that long walk was all for nothing," complained the movie star.
"Maybe we can continue exploring," responded the white robed god. "Look over there." He pointed at one of the mountain bases to their right. "You, being a mortal, cannot see, but there is a portcullis covering a small opening on the face of that mountain. Between the two of us, we can easily remove that obstacle and see what the portcullis is covering."
"Heck, why not. How far is it?"
"About a mile."
"Two things: You have really good eyes and that's pretty far."
"When you think about it, the earth is thousands of miles wide and the surface has millions of square miles. One or two is nothing."
"You have the best way of saying things in a way that belittles all humans, you know that?"
"Heheh. As amusing as this conversation is, I am quite curious as to what the portcullis is guarding. Let us pick up this conversation another day."
"Alright, let's go."
Fifteen minutes later, the pair found themselves in front of the portcullis. It had four thick bars going down and eight bars going across. Each bar was made of pitch black obsidian and, in front of the center four squares; there was a black metal plate with a dragon's head engraved on it, not unlike the dragon logos in the palace of Shang Tsung. The portcullis seemed to absorb all the sunlight as the tunnel that was behind it remained pitch black even though sunlight was shining into the tunnel, or rather, should be shining into the tunnel.
"Now then, let's see what's in that tunnel," said Cage. He walked up to the portcullis and then kicked it. He kicked it with a roundhouse Shadow Kick on the metal plate, ripping the portcullis off its hinges and flying into the tunnel. "Now that that's gone, let's go check this tunnel out."
The duo walked into the suffocating darkness of the tunnel. Luckily for them, the tunnel did not bend or curve (very sharply or distinctly enough to make them crash into the walls). The ground seemed to be sloping downwards however, and the pair walked deeper and deeper into the earth for a good five minutes. Finally, Cage broke the silence.
"Hey, if you can make lightning, how about you light the way for us?"
"That is a good idea," admitted Raiden. "I'll do just that."
He formed a ball of electricity in his right hand to illuminate the tunnels as he said that. The sudden light should've temporarily blinded Cage, but he was wearing his sunglasses so he was fine.
The duo continued down the tunnel for another ten minutes before reaching the end of the tunnel. At the end of the tunnel was a shaft that ran up perpendicularly to the tunnel. There was no way for either of them to advance any further.
"This is so lame," groaned Cage. "All this walking for another dead end. I knew we should've went to the beach instead. Maybe that blond chick will be there sunbathing. Ooooh yeah..."
"It's just a bit past noon. We can still go to the beach after lunch."
"Yeah, let's do that. But first..." Cage walked up to the wall at the end of the tunnel. "Stupid red herring, wasting my time like this," grumbled Cage as he kicked the wall. To his great surprise, his foot went through the wall. Unprepared for this, he shifted his weight forward to take a step forward. However, he did not expect the ground behind the wall illusion to slope downwards so steeply. As a result, the movie star lost his balance and fell forwards. All he got out was a surprised "Oh" before he went heads over heels down the newly found passage.
"Cage!" exclaimed Raiden as he stepped forward to grab Cage. He was too late however, and the actor's cries became more and more receded as he fell further away. "Guess we're not going to the beach then." With that, Raiden jumped through the illusion and used his thunder god powers to hover half an inch above the ground as he slid down the new tunnel.
To describe the new area as a chute would be more correct. Indeed, the tunnel is rectangular in shape and sloped downwards at an angle that is steeper than 45 degrees. The walls of this chute, unlike the walls of the tunnel that Raiden and Cage were in, are perfectly smooth, including the floor. This meant that someone sliding down the chute had no way of stopping, unless they were coated in tar.
Finally, Raiden reached the bottom and projected a ball of electricity to float beside him. This flooded the area with light and he immediately noticed a few things.
First of all, there is Cage lying in a heap. His face is in the ground and his legs are raised above his body in a comical fashion.
Secondly, the thunder god saw that there are bones and skulls littering the stone tiled floor.
Third, there are blood splatters all over the walls of stone blocks.
Finally, it appears that the chute had dropped them off in a hall. The hall isn't wide, but is big enough so that the two of them can fit side by side and have space leftover for two others. The hall goes as far as either of them could see, and, at regular intervals, there are openings in the walls of the hallway leading to other, identical hallways. Other hallways also seemed to stretch as far as they could see.
"Oh man, my face," groaned Cage.
"You'll be alright," comforted Raiden. "And look at the bright side, you've found a completely new area for us to explore. Now get up, let's take a look around."
Cage sprang to his feet and started walking down the hallway with the thunder god close behind him. The dark atmosphere of the area and their sixth senses screaming at them to escape turned their casual exploration into a very tense walk.
The most disturbing part of the hallways isn't the blood splats or the bones or the skeleton chained on the wall, it was the glowing, yellow eyes that peered at the duo as they made their way down the hallway. The entire area has an unnatural feel to it and both Cage and Raiden are on edge as they walked down the seemingly endless hall, ready for anything that might pop out at them.
So focused were they on what was in front of them that they did not notice the hulking four-armed monster behind them until it picked both of them up by the back of their collars.
"Hmmm...fresh prey," growled the beast. "The sorcerer is never so kind as to send fresh food to me unless the tournament is about to reach its conclusion. But why two of you down here?"
"Don't mind us buddy," said Cage. "We just lost our way exploring the island and we're searching for a way out. Tournament's still going on, and we just decided to look around a bit."
"It is quite unfortunate for you that you wandered into my lair. None who enters Goro's lair comes out alive, save the sorcerer."
"Well, I still got a tournament to win, so you can eat me later."
Cage and Raiden made eye contact and nodded simultaneously. With that, Raiden unleashed an electric current from his body and delivered a shock to Goro that is strong enough to make him release his grips on the duo. Cage immediately turned around and threw a green bolt at Goro. This is easily blocked by Goro, but, with his arms raised up, he does not see Raiden flying at him until it is too late. The torpedoing god smashed into the four armed behemoth and shoved him backwards and bounced off Goro. The brunette actor then dashed in and uppercutted the prince of pain twice in the guy before jumping up and smashing his knee into the monster's face. Goro roared and swung his top right arm, catching Cage right in the chest and sending him flying down the hall. The half-dragon proceeded to fire a fist-shaped fireball at Raiden, who dodged it easily, and leaped at the thunder god, grabbing him, and throwing him into the ground.
Raiden struggled onto his feet only to find Goro's foot in his face. The kick sent the white-robed god violently into a skeleton chained onto the wall, breaking the skeleton and leaving a big crack in the wall. Raiden's vision was blurred as the four armed brute sauntered up to him. Goro sneered and picked up the thunder god with his bottom two arms, while his top two arms grabbed either side of Raiden's head began to squeeze his head with all his might. The straw hat wearer could not stop his screams as the intense pressure exerted by Goro began to break his fracture his skull. Raiden was helpless; bruised and beaten, he knew that there was nothing he could do to save himself. The force crushing his head became stronger and stronger until...
With an almighty shout, Cage Shadow Kicked Goro in the side, sending him flying and causing him to drop Raiden. The thunder god dropped to the floor and grasped his head in pain.
"Saved your butt. You owe me one now."
"I will undoubtedly repay you." replied the white robed god as he stood up. "Now let us beat this brute."
The pair looked at each other and nodded their silent agreement. Cage charged the Prince of Pain while the thunder god teleported behind him and they assaulted the Shokan from two directions. However, their opponent had two arms for each of them and he fended off the two sided attack. Not only did they not gain an advantage, the four-armed warrior managed to gain the upper hand when he caught Raiden with a huge hit and sent him flying. Now fighting alone, Cage was quickly driven into a corner, where he was caught by the black haired monster. Goro grabbed Cage's arms with two hands and, using his other two arms, brought the actor into a massive bear hug. Once Cage was stuck in that position, the Prince of Pain squeezed until the superstar's ribs started breaking. He coughed out blood as broken bones punctured a lung. Cage screamed at first, but soon the blood pooling in his lungs made that impossible. His mouth was open in a silent scream of agony, but the only noise that came forth was a strangled cry.
Goro laughed a roaring laugh that echoed off the walls of the hallway, making it sound like a hundred other Shokan were present and laughing as well. Raiden struggled to his feet and teleported behind Goro. So busy was he squeezing the life out of Cage that he didn't realize the thunder god was behind him. The straw-hat clad god channeled his electric powers and grabbed the four armed brute, shocking him and causing him to release Cage. Raiden did not stop his assault at just that, however. He continued to channel millions of volts into the body of the beast, the equivalent of a lighting strike. The god of thunder continued to channel electricity into Goro until he could do it no more. He then grabbed one of Goro's arm and threw the Prince of Pain with all his might.
To his dismay, he saw that Goro stood back up, the punishment he took barely fazing him. Regular humans would've died after all the electricity zapped them, but, to the Shokan, that was a light static shock. Goro bellowed in anger and charged at the duo. With Cage drowning in his own blood and himself having spent nearly all his power, Raiden knew that there was only one thing he could do. Leaning to do grab the movie star's arm, he used last bit of his might to teleport themselves as far away as he could. A bolt of lightning engulfed them (it seemed to have come out of the ceiling. Indeed, it did not break through the ground, for there were no holes in the ceiling after the event) as Goro charged at them and transported them away in the nick of time.
Frustrated, Goro roared and punched the wall of the hallway, leaving a massive crater in the wall.
High above Goro's lair, a bolt of lightning smote the ground and left behind a dying actor and a battered god. The skies were once again overcast and the winds heavy. Raiden looked up to the skies and, now being closer to his element, drew forth energy to heal both himself and the superstar.
Cage coughed once and gasped in lungfuls of desperately needed air. Raiden too, although healed of his injuries, was tired and sat down.
The thunder god took this time to look at his surroundings. He had teleported them out of Goro's lair and onto a cliff overlooking the sea. They were still on Shang Tsung island because the aura of death and decay that surrounded the island still permeated the air. Behind him were the mountains that they had intended to climb this morning.
Wait, behind? Thought the thunder god. That must mean this is on the other side of the mountains. Let's see what there is. In front of him was the open sea, white waves driven by the strong wind dashed up against various rocks, some large some small but all very sharp, except for one. The special rock had a small base but the top expanded up like a reverse mushroom. On the rock were a large number of people, easily in the hundreds and even possibly in the thousands. Light rain started to fall and Raiden drew enough energy from the incoming storm to levitate over to see what was going on.
As he got closer, the roar of the waves no longer covered the sounds coming from the mini island. The sound of steel clashing against steel and death cries floated heavenward to Raiden and he realized that there was a battle going on down on the small island. He looked and beheld a grizzly sight. It was an unorganized, unsupervised, free-for-all, no holds barred battle. Hundreds lay dead or dying and hundreds more were fighting. Weapons of all sorts, swords, knives, spears, maces, axes and scimitars were being used as fighters hacked, slashed, stabbed and smashed away at each other. People were horribly and atrociously slaughtered. Morning stars smashed jaws off faces. Swords and axes bisected bodies. Maces broke skulls and allowed brains to spill out. Blood and gore covered the ground and the piles of corpses grew taller and taller as Raiden watched. He felt a rage he never experienced before and cried out in a thundering (literally) voice.
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING? HALT!"
At once, the combatants stopped fighting and looked towards the source of the sound, the floating, straw-hat wearing god.
"CEASE THIS SLAUGHTER AT ONCE!"
"That is something you have no control over," a voice from behind the thunder god said.
Raiden spun around and came face to face to Shang Tsung, who was also levitating.
"Go back to what you were doing, lest you wish to die," he commanded. His voice, while not as loud and earsplitting as Raiden, was still loud enough for everyone to hear. They resumed their battle with no lack of vigor.
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING SORCERER?" seethed the god of thunder.
"That is my question for you," responded the sorcerer. "Shouldn't you be indoors and out of the rain? Or perhaps enjoying yourself out on the beach?"
"I was attacked by your toady, Goro and teleported myself away randomly. I never expected to see such a ghastly sight."
Shang Tsung narrowed his eyes at Raiden's mention of his encounter with Goro. It seemed that it had displeased the sorcerer and he was glad that he did not mention that Cage was with him.
"Is that so? Well, I advise you go back past the mountains and stay within the walls of the palace, it is for your own safety."
"I am not leaving until you explain why this atrocity is happening."
"So be it. During the ride here, you faced against several opponents to prove your worth for your spot into the tournament, yes?"
Raiden nodded. He remembered it well.
"Well, officially, the losers taken back to where they came from once the ship docked, but a storm blew in and knocked them off course. The ship was dashed against these jagged rocks and broken to pieces. Luckily, no one was hurt and they all managed to climb atop of this rock. However, with no ship and no food, they were bound to die. Thankfully for them, a passing sorcerer took notice and offered them a chance to escape. If they were the last man standing of a free-for-all battle to the death, the sorcerer would transport them back home safely and soundly. He conjured up a vast arsenal of weapons and allowed each man to pick a weapon of his choice before letting the battle begin. It's been half a day already and yet the battle is still raging."
As Shang Tsung explained, the thunder god's blood froze with horror. So that's what is happening. Shang Tsung is forcing a bunch of innocent people to fight to the death for no real reason.
"Answer me this, sorcerer. WHY are you forcing them to fight to the death? Surely you could've just left them alone and die."
"Ahhahah...yes. Partly because it is so entertaining to see people kill each other, but my main reason is something quite different. You know my end goal, yes?"
"To open the dimensional gates by unbalancing the furies and allowing your dark emperor to step through and conquer or realm, yes."
"In order to that, I need a large number of souls. These past 500 years have allowed me to gather a plethora of souls. When this battle ends, I will nearly have enough. The killing of the last competitor in Mortal Kombat will be the last soul I need to open the dimensional gates.
"However, there is another prerequisite. I need to form the base of the gate with the blood of my victims. Look at the island and look at the flow of the blood. Take a step back and look closely. What do you see?"
Raiden squinted and looked at the entirety of the island. Indeed, there was something about the island, something that was right in front of him but never noticed. He focused and looked closely and gasped when he realized what it was.
There was a massive pentagram etched into the island, and it was nearly filled congealed blood. The life of the fighters below flowed into the grooves, further filling them. Raiden noticed that though the rain was now falling quite heavily, none of the blood was washed away.
Realization dawned on the thunder god. For 500 years Shang Tsung had planned and done this. Souls of thousands of warriors were in his possession and their blood filled the ditches of this unholy dimensional gate. Raiden had come into the tournament knowing that the fate of the Earthrealm depended on it, but he never knew how important the tournament really was until now.
Electricity surrounded his hands as Raiden shot Shang Tsung a fury laden look.
"You will not get away with this."
"On the contrary, my dear thunder god," sneered Shang Tsung. "On this island, the midway between Earthrealm and Outworld, I am on equal footing as you. In fact, with all the souls in my possession, I daresay I am STRONGER than you are! BEGONE!"
There was a peal of thunder and the sorcerer shot out his arm and unleashed a pulse of power, transporting Raiden back to his room while obliterating the ball of electricity he had shot at the same time.
The straw-hat wearing god's eyes widened as he realized that he was in his room.
Damn you, Shang Tsung. Raiden cursed. This tournament's stakes are now higher than ever. Perhaps it was good that I was defeated. It is clear that the sorcerer's powers are beyond mine. Defeating the sorcerer is now in your hands alone, Cage. You must win not only for yourself, but also for the fate of the world. Which reminds me, he's still at the cliff where I left him, isn't he?
The tournament has taken a sinister turn and winning the tournament is even more important now than ever (as if the fate of the world didn't already depend on it). Next time, the semi-finals and Test Your Might!