The two faced each other again. CrunchIt repeated, “What are you training for now? What are all of you training for?”
Bowmark’s throat tightened. “I don’t want to kill anybody. Not even that pig’s anus.”
“Then you want to die.”
“No, I don’t want to die.”
“Presumed, those are your only two choices.”
“I don’t—I don’t—”
“You are choosing to become a pile of ash. And you’re condemning me. Do you think My King won’t pitch me onto the hot lava after you for failing to train you properly?”
Bowmark struggled to breathe. “He wouldn’t. He hates the Disc.”
“We all hate the Disc. That’s the point. Why else is My King secure on his throne?” CrunchIt grabbed Bowmark’s chin and wrenched his face up. “Listen to me. RaiseHim has caught the fish your net refuses to see. You need to be able to do anything, anything, to win. If he takes you out even before you get on the Disc, who do you think is going to win?”
Bowmark pulled his chin from the guard’s fingers and backed a step. “You think RaiseHim will be the challenger.”
“I know RaiseHim will be the challenger. Unless you take him out before the proving. Unless you change. If both of you end up on the Disc, RaiseHim will become My King and I will obey him like I obey all the Protocol. And. You’ll. Be. Ash.”
Bowmark whipped out his knife and charged CrunchIt.
The guard clouted him on the temple. Bowmark staggered backward and fell on the pile of driftwood.
“You fool!” CrunchIt shouted. “Why would you do a frontal attack with a knife on someone who is bigger than you and has a longer reach? If you want to kill me, what weapons should you use? What weapons?”
Bowmark choked out. “Spears. Arrows. Rocks. Ranged weapons.”
“What has My King uselessly tried to teach you about anger?”
“If you get angry, you die.”
“What did you just demonstrate?”
“If you get angry, you die.” Anger still thrummed through his veins, but Bowmark tried to suppress the narrowed vision, the narrowed thinking.