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Lone Wolf Tale CollageYktobo (ick-tow-bow) is a new character whom I introduce in The Kahlea, Book 4 of the Lone Wolf Series. He’s a Kahlea Master, trapped by circumstances, inside the medallion of office which Mai wears as Champion. He resides there, for it is his Resting Place. Mai needs answers that only Yktobo can provide, so she visits him. The rules of the Medallion are that she must fight him and for every bout she wins, she gets the answer to one question. She has already given him four fights, but Itza (whom we met in the short story, And Itza Danced), is the First Champion of the Medallion. She comes to Mai’s aid, agreeing to fight Yktobo for her.

Mai knelt on the edge of the mat, drawing her pants close to her legs, draping her robe across her lap. She prepared to watch the match between the Master and the First Champion. The fighting skill of Itza was legendary, even in her own time she’d been considered nigh to a goddess. Seeing her now, Mai could well understand why such a woman was revered by all who knew her. Her speed was incredible, a blink and she was half way across the arena. It wasn’t as large as the one at home, Mai thought in passing, but then no one was here to watch them fight except her, so what did it matter?

Itza threw her robe aside with a flourish. It landed at the edge of the mat with a snap of finality. Laughing, she took her fighting crouch, very similar to Mai’s, except her right hand wasn’t back on her shoulder, rather up by her cheek, index finger a whisper away from her eye. Mai took careful note of this, sensing an advantage.

Yktobo chuckled, took his starting position and began his three turns clockwise. Mai wanted to shout to Itza about his style, but realized the other woman knew him better even than she, and kept silent.

The strike, when it came, was so quick Mai nearly missed it. Itza leapt in, spun in a tight circle, kicking Yktobo in the chin and cheek six times before she dropped. His head whipping back, Yktobo staggered to the wall of the arena, supporting himself on the railing. Itza waited, back in her crouch, a benign expression on her face. Patiently, she stayed there, watching Yktobo as he prepared himself to begin again.

“That was quite good, Itza.” The compliment was hollow and false.

“You’re wasting time, Yktobo.”

“How do we waste something we’ve an eternity of?”

“You waste Mai’s time.” Cocking an eyebrow at him, Itza tilted her head to indicate that he should begin again.

Slowly and deliberately, he walked back toward her, a frown having replaced his smile. This time Yktobo made the first strike, not even bothering to circle. He lunged toward Itza, tentacles whipping wildly, like snakes in a frenzy. Itza was a golden blur as she spun away, Yktobo in her wake, trying to smack her. Laughing, Itza ran full tilt at Yktobo, vaulted over his head and landed on the mat in a crouch, her back to him.

Spinning about, Yktobo attempted to tackle her. He managed to pin her arms to her sides, but she broke free, hurling him over her head, tossing him like a rag over the wall of the arena, landing in the stands.

“Sloppy technique, Yktobo, you grow lazy, I see.”

Yktobo rose, chest heaving, teeth bared in a snarl. “I can best you any day, Itza. Give me a chance.”

“You’ve had a chance, old one. You’ve failed, not only to beat Mai, but you also fail against me.”

“One more round, Itza. I demand one more!”

“A challenge then is it? I can’t decline that. So be it.” The two of them raced toward one another, crashing together with a blow, shaking the virtual world. Mai couldn’t see clearly what happened, for the action was far to rapid for her to follow.

After five minutes, Itza picked up Yktobo by the waist, raised him above her head and tossed him across the mat where he hit a structural support, falling to the ground like a bag of wet sand. Slowly and deliberately, he rose to his knees and then to his feet.

“You’ve won fairly, Champion Mai and Champion Itza. I concede the match. Ask your questions, child.”

© 2016 Dellani Oakes

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