Passport to Paradise
When Kakarotto went down underneath the invisible
onslaught he thought his heart would stop. Aloud he called him names his
long-dead mother would have blushed to hear (before she had him whipped, of
course), but in his mind he begged gods he didn't really believe in to spare his
love. He hoped that Kakarotto had some sort of plan to get out of his current
predicament so he did not move from his spot lest he ruin it. When the barbarian
leader gathered up his unmoving form in his arms, he knew that there was no plan
whatsoever and that he had to save him at whatever the cost. Vegeta ran
top-speed down the slope towards Kakarotto then just as quickly found himself on
his back on the ground staring up at the sky, his brain foggy from his impact
with the invisible brick wall surrounding the two. Of course the man would have
erected some sort of barrier to keep everyone out. Vegeta cursed himself for his
"Are you all right?" Alain asked, helping him to his feet. The glare on Vegeta's told him that he had asked a very stupid question. As soon as the prince had regained his balance, he took off for the barrier again, hitting it as hard as he could with both fists. When that did not work, he drew his sword and tried to hack it to pieces. The barbarian leader smirked at him all the while, Kakarotto lying still in his arms as if he were dead. Neither Vegeta nor Alain could see his chest move.
"And you call us barbarians," he said with a laugh. "Do not worry, young princeling, you may have your lover back after we're through with him. He may not still have his mind, but his ass will still be just as tight as it is right now. We do not fuck Saiya-jin scum." Vegeta growled like an animal and renewed his attack on the barrier. The man laughed again and turned away. He walked back towards the camp at a steady pace, but before he got there, he abruptly vanished into thin air as if he had never existed. With his departure, the barrier vanished as well and Vegeta fell forward onto the grass with the force of his swing, his sword flying from his hand to land a few feet away.
His fingers clutched at the earth. "He's gone," he whispered. "That stupid kid, what was he thinking? No one sane confronts people who have just finished burning a city to the ground after decimating its population by seventy-five percent."
"He wasn't thinking of himself, no," Alain said quietly. "He was thinking of everyone else. They want something he has and now they'll get it and leave the rest of us alone."
"Do you honestly think people like that are to be trusted?" Vegeta's voice was high with hysteria. "They'll probably kill you just for the fun of it!"
A thin wail sounded behind them, proof that there had been other witnesses to Kakarotto's sacrifice and Vegeta's thoughtless words.
The younger man grabbed the prince by the shoulders and shook him. "Get a hold of yourself! You won't be able to rescue him if you're wallowing in misery!"
"Rescue?" He said it as if he had never heard the word before.
"Yes. I can lead you to the barbarian lands."
Vegeta stared at him in disbelief. "This isn't your fight. Just tell me where to go and you can stay here with your people."
"My people are dead." He said this quietly and with no hint of the sorrow he felt deep within his heart. "And the ones responsible just happened to take your lover with them back to their homeland. I need retribution and you need a guide. Simple."
"Simple..." Vegeta suddenly began to laugh, shaking his head at Alain's oversimplification of the crisis. "Alright, Alain. If you want to tag along and get yourself killed, be my guest."
He held out his hand. "You won't regret it."
"Me? Of course not. But you probably will." They shook on it firmly to seal the deal.
The world was very dark when Kakarotto awoke and he didn't know whether it was because the sun had sank or if it was because the place he was in had no windows. There was also a third possibility, one that he didn't want to consider: blindness. Whatever the reason, it made him uneasy not to be able to see anything even though he was sure his eyes were open.
When he tried to ease the ache in his limbs he realized that he was tied down with thick ropes at his wrists and ankles. Strong ropes, too, because they hardly gave an inch when he pulled on them.
So Kakarotto could only stare up at a ceiling he could not see, hoping that whatever the barbarians decided to do with him would not hurt too badly. He also spent a considerable amount of time silently begging Vegeta to forgive him for risking his life. He had thought that he might be able to somehow kill the leader, but he had never once considered what the man's corrupted magic would do to his own.
There was no warning before the door of the room opened to allow a yellow beam of light so intense that it felt capable of splitting his head wide open to spill into the room. Against his will Kakarotto groaned, then clenched his eyes shut. He hadn't wanted them to know that he was awake, but it was too late now.
"So you're conscious," a low voice said. The air shifted as the man drew closer to him and he tensed up in expected pain. "That's good. Ra Naga can hardly contain himself."
"Who are you?" He cautiously cracked open his eyes and, finding the room pleasantly dim, opened them all the way. The man leaning over him was dressed in a long hooded black cloak so that the only thing visible was his surprisingly young face and his thin, bronzed hands. His dark eyes also didn't hold any of the maliciousness that the leader's had. They were sympathetic and even regretful.
"That's not important. You won't be here long enough to truly care." He walked back over to the door, cracked it slightly to speak to someone, then closed it again. As Kakarotto looked around the small chamber, he noticed that the soft light came from the dozens of candles lit along the walls. He knew that the monk or priest or whatever he was hadn't had time to do it by hand, so he must have used his magic.
"You're quite handsome for a Saiya-jin," the priest said as he gathered his tools. Kakarotto suddenly felt as if he lay naked before him. After a quick look at himself, he realized that he probably felt that way because all of his clothes were missing. "I'd heard that Saiya-jin bodies were disfigured from all the battles they fought and that they painted themselves in mud." He chuckled. "A lot like what you've probably heard about us, I imagine."
Kakarotto looked away in shame. "We have a lot in common."
"More than we realize."
Someone else entered the room, but this time the door remained open far longer. With a growing sense of horror, Kakarotto realized that at least five people had entered, one of which was the barbarian leader. He approached him on the side opposite the priest and gently caressed his face.
"You have no idea what this means to me, little one," he said tenderly. "The Kir will sing of this for ages."
"Sing of what?" he said bitterly. "Madness and destruction?"
Before he could even register the movement, the caress became a slap. His head whipped to one side and he tasted blood from where his tooth had cut into his lip. "Of course you don't realize the full importance of this. You're only a little monkey after all." He stepped away and took his place near the other men who had barely entered the room. "It's time, Tet Suel."
"As you wish, Ra Naga."
The priest, Tet Suel, approached Kakarotto and began to check the restraints on his wrists. "You'll probably be awake for most of it," he whispered. "I am sorry."
The teen smiled shakily and said, "Not nearly as sorry as I am."
"Tet Suel!" Ra Naga snapped. The priest flinched and quickly checked the ropes at his ankles. They were quite secure.
Pulling out a piece of white chalk from the objects assembled on a small table nearby, Tet Suel kneeled and began to sketch symbols on the floor around the table he was tied down upon. From the little that Kakarotto was able to see out of the corner of his eye, they weren't any he had ever seen before. Their magicks were too different, he supposed, for the barbarians to use the same symbols that his dead clansmen had even though he was sure that they stemmed from the same source.
Once the writing was complete, Tet Suel rose and replaced the chalk with a long-handled ritual knife. Kakarotto took one look at the blade, candlelight reflecting off its shining surface, and swallowed reflexively.
The priest began to chant in a low voice that rose in volume with every word. The sound of it caused shivers to run up and down Kakarotto's spine that were amplified by the fact that he was completely unable to even raise his head more than a few inches. Tet Suel was going to take the Key, the object that his lost clan had spent generations protecting against evil, and there was absolutely nothing he could do to stop him.
And with that realization, as if the gods were issuing their divine justice, the priest's knife tore into the soft, unmarked skin of his chest. Kakarotto had one moment of blissful shock before the pain of the intrusion impacted his nervous system and he began to scream as fast as he could draw air into his lungs.
"Now that," Ra Naga said to his fellow chieftains (some of whom were looking faintly ill), "is music to my ears."
Tet Suel's chanting reached a crescendo. He slowly slid the sharp knife down the center of the teen's heaving chest, leaving a cut several inches long but not very deep. It still felt as if he was trying to cut his heart out unfortunately. Dark crimson blood welled immediately to the surface to trickle down his sides and abdomen, pooling on the stone table beneath his body. When he removed the knife, it was a relief not to feel anything moving around inside of him anymore, but the pain didn't lessen in the slightest.
"Ab sorta! Y te alhot ardrit!"
Kakarotto's pain-filled mind struggled to sharpen when he heard these words. They were familiar from hundreds, if not thousands of magic rituals he'd witnessed over the years. 'I entreat you! Please lend me your strength!' The words were a supplication to the god of magic, Atla, who was said to have complete control over the flow of magical energy in the land. Every spell a magic-user cast successfully was only because the god had willed it.
He hoped that Atla turned their request down flat. The searing, throbbing pain in his chest would be more than worth it if he could see the defeated expression on Ra Naga's face. His touch made him feel unclean, even more so than lying in his own blood did. Only Vegeta was allowed to touch him that way.
But when Tet Suel continued the ceremony after a brief, respectful pause, he knew that there would be no last-minute rescue. Not for him. Something began to gather in his chest behind the wound, seeming to pull his magic out of his very cells to collect in one condensed ball of pure energy. It felt as if it had a tangible form that shifted aside his internal organs and stole what little breath he had gathered again after the shock of the knife penetrating his flesh.
Then that ball of energy decided that it wanted out in the very worst way. It pushed up against the wound, wringing more screams from his damaged throat, and forced its way through an exit that was far too small for it to fit through. Distantly, Kakarotto realized the extra benefit of his restraints: not only did they keep him from running away but they also kept him still enough for Tet Suel to finish the ceremony. He tore at the ropes, rubbing his wrists and ankles raw and bloody, but could not escape the mind-destroying pain within his body. When the energy was finally forced through, Kakarotto collapsed against the table, chest heaving and sweat slicking his skin. The bleeding of the wound had slowed somehow so that it was only a sluggish trickle instead of the flood it had once been.
"It is done," the priest said in his normal tone, his voice no longer echoing from the walls as he raised it in supplication to the heavens. He sounded worn-out, but his exhaustion would never come close to that of the teen who had been at the center of the ceremony.
"So that's the Key." Ra Naga took it and held it gently within his cupped hands. "I can't say that it looks like anything I was expecting."
"Are you disappointed?"
"How can I be?" he smiled. "It's the Key to our salvation." He held it out over Kakarotto's torn and bloody chest, taunting him with it. "Now that wasn't so hard, was it?" When Kakarotto snarled weakly at him he laughed long and loud.
For the rest of his life (the length of which depended entirely on the mood of his captors at the moment) he would never forget the sight of the Key. It was not shaped like any key he had ever seen before. Instead it had the shape of some sort of creature with semi-translucent white skin.
Then the four tiny little limbs attached to the bean-shaped trunk moved and he knew that it really was a creature and it had been living inside of him. Kakarotto's eyes widened in shock and he suddenly found the room to be spinning wildly. Then all was darkness once more.