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12 The Gruesome Combo!

 The duo arrived to a clearing in a forest which was near the collection of huts. Hundreds of children were lined up in front of a stage. Oddly enough there were perfectly spherical boulders the size of a soccer ball in front of each child. On the stage was a chair in which another buff man was seated.

The other buff men were scattered around the perimeter of the children. Hard auras permeating their bodies. Taku was lined up at the back. After a few minutes the buff man who was seated finally stood up.

"Children of my Gutu Empire. I, Tanaka, welcome you to hell!"

Tanaka's voice was quite intimidating, but the children did not falter under its influence. Causing him to smile in approval.

"The other men before you, are to be referred to as Protectors. I am to be referred to as Hall Master. Now to begin your training. Each of you, pick up the boulder in front of you now!"

None of the children dared delay and each picked up a rock. All of the children had one thought when they picked up the boulders.

Heavy!

Some of the weaker ones almost fell over. But no one screamed and no one complained. Causing Tanaka to nod his head in approval once more.

This is how a Gutu child should be!

"Now listen up. I will only explain this once. The duration of this training is 4 years. It is to make you into a warrior worthy of the guard. The training is very simple. Each of you is tasked with carrying the rock you just picked up for the next 4 years!

When you are sleeping you better be holding it. When you piss you better be holding it. When u shit you better be holding it. I don't care how you do it, but you hand must always be holding the rock. If the rock touches the ground you are disqualified. If it is destroyed you are disqualified!

Now let me say this. There are about three thousand of you, and my Gutu Empire does not force any of its citizens to anything against their will. Thus I will say this one time. This training is lethal, and losing your rock or disqualification means death. Thus if there are any among you who wish to quit now is your chance!"

No child moved so much as a single muscle. Tanaka was once again pleased with this result and nodded.

"Alright brats. This is going to be a simple training exercise. Every day, from morning till evening, each of you will move with the Protectors and climb a mountain. Coming down is also difficult thus do not underestimate it. Meals will be left at at the entrance of your huts at sun up and sun down. Mind you, this must all happen while you are carrying the rocks.

Now in the Guard we have a motto. One which we will follow to our graves. Listen closely and repeat after me."

Tanaka raised his hand and bellowed at the top of his lungs. "Pain before dishonour, death before defeat!"

"Pain before dishonour, death before defeat!"

The children echoed his chant as best as they could. Then something unexpected occurred. The rocks in the hands of the children started shining.

Dum! Dum! Dum!

This sound appeared all around the children as quite a few dropped their rocks. And the moment they did, their bodies would fall limp to the ground.

Argh!!

It took all of Taku's willpower to not drop the rock. The rock had suddenly released a hot energy that rampaged all over his body the moment he said the motto. The energy acted like shackles, binding all of Taku's body. His entire body suddenly felt much heavier and the rock in his hands became very hot. It was as if he was holding a mini sun. Even movement became difficult as if each of his muscles had been restrained by the hot energy.

It was due to this that a few hundred children dropped their rocks. A few moments later the rocks stopped shining, and screams were everywhere across the clearing. From time to time a child would drop a rock, falling limp to the ground.

"Each of you has now activated the spell in the rocks. These rocks are called dombos. A dombo is a special kind of metal or rock that has undergone enchantment. The dombos you are holding are special in that they are designed to restrict the energy in your bodies, making you much weaker while at the same time delivering torture in some form.

These dombos have another function. Once they link with someone the person becomes dependent. In other words if you lose contact with you dombo you will die instantly. The dombos are also enchanted to disintegrate if they come into contact with earth type energy. In other words, if they even so much as touch the ground the result is instant death!

If you were to touch another person's dombo with your own body the result is instant death! If your combo gets destroyed or disintegrates its instant death!

So understand this. We don't need to monitor you brats. The dombos will do that for us. However know this, if you are caught by me or any of the Protectors trying to kill someone, then the result is that you will be killed on the spot!

Why would you want to kill you ask? Because the moment only one hundred dombos are left, the spell binding you to the dombos will be canceled!

If this happens before the four year mark then you can spend the rest of the time in the camp as you wish. Now all of you follow the Protectors. That is all, dismissed!"

...

This was without a doubt the most miserable day in Taku's life. Like soldiers the large Protectors goaded the children to march toward a mountain. The mountain was not high. Perhaps only five hundred meters. For a Gutu this was nothing. But the dombos changed everything. Those spherical rocks became the source of misery for Taku and his fellow students.

The mountain's uneven ground and its steepness became torture for the children. Surprisingly the trip downwards was even more torturous because the children were already tired from the climb, and the weight from the dombos made it difficult for them to balance themselves. Thus it took a lot of effort to get down without dropping the rocks.

By the time they got back to the camp it was already night time. On the first day alone a quarter of the children had perished.

The children were crying in their hearts. They never would have imagined that they would end up in such a spartanic situation. Many of them doubted how anyone could survive such an ordeal. Wanting to kill others? This was laughable. They could barely stay alive themselves. Who could attack someone while they could barely stand.

Alas the children knew that they could not voice their grievances. All they could do was go to their huts and rest while they could.

The food was far from ideal, but it staved off the hunger. The biggest worry the children had was the next day. They realized that the biggest danger in this training course was accumulated fatigue. But a saving grace appeared.

When every child woke up the next day, they realized that their fatigue and injuries from the next day vanished. Many nearly cried tears of joy when they saw this. It was clear that this was the effect of the dombos. The Guard was not stupid, it would not provide a training regime that was not beneficial to its participants.

Thus the perilous training at the training camp began. To leave the camp, climb the mountain and come back to the camp took nearly twelve hours. And the children would be too tired to do anything else besides sleep when they got home, thus the first few months were uneventful.

There were still quite a few who died due to accidents, after all it was hard to keep holding a heavy, painful rock with you the entire time without allowing it to touch the ground. Many died in their sleep due to carelessness. There were even a few who died due to tripping.

Needless to say, after a few months, the weakest had been removed and only the strong, cunning and careful remained alive.

...

Far, far away, in a distant place, a large fleet of ships was approaching land after a long voyage. The ships were large and made out of high quality wood, adorned with many different markings to make them seem more intimidating.

At the head of the fleet was fine ship, and at the front of that ship was a young Caucasian man with blonde hair and blue eyes. Wisdom far beyond his age was visible on his face as he used a pair of binoculars to look ahead.

"So far so good. Nothing up ahead." Said the young man as he looked ahead.

"You are being too cautious Captain! The Gutu monkeys will never see us coming!" laughed a bulky man with a red beard.

"Do not underestimate our enemies McLeod. They are far more capable than you think. There is a reason why their empire has been standing strong for countless millennia." Said the young Captain.

"Hmph!" The bearded man only snorted in response at his superiors words.

"Captain Windsor, I believe there is some merit to McLeod's words. Ours is only part of a mega fleet with nearly a million ships. Even if they are the Gutu of legend, their strength will have its limits. No matter how strong one is, there is always someone stronger."

A charming voice came from behind McLeod. She was truly a lovely woman. Wearing a robe that hugged her nearly flawless skin she walked to Windsor's position and hugged him from behind. Her face looked as if it had been sculpted from the most precious of diamonds and her hair cascaded down like a water fall. Even the muscle headed McLeod swallowed his saliva in her presence.

"Well then let me also throw another idiom in into the mix. Do not underestimate your opponents. It is very simple but is quite effective. I plan on following these words down to the tee." Said Windsor with a stern face. He escaped the charming woman's clutches and turned around. "Tell the mages to get their most powerful long range spells ready! I don't want any mistake from any of you. If an error was to occur on this crusade, it certainly won't come from my fleet!" Yelled Windsor.

"Yes Captain!" yelled the crew in response.

McLeod noticed that an odd expression was on Windsor's face so he asked, "Captain, what is on your mind?" The charming woman was surprised because she assumed that McLeod was only a foolish brute, yet it seemed he had more to him than she thought.

Windsor squinted his eyes as he looked at his hands, "I'm not sure why, but I have a bad feeling about this."

"About what?" questioned the charming woman.

"This timing is odd. I know the rest of the Western Continent has always been eyeing the lands belonging to the Gutu, and I know that this is the first time the entire continent has managed to form an alliance against the Gutu. But at the same time the Gutu are at their strongest in thousands of years, and according to rumours, their current Emperor is one of the most powerful in their history, not to mention the monstrosities he calls his children. We lack information! We need to know more before making a move! It's too risky to make a move right now."

"Aye, I understand how you feel Captain, but you must understand that those monkeys have an iron tight grip on their country. It's easy to get in but leaving intact is harder than ascending to the heavens. If it was that easy to obtain information about them then we wouldn't be in the dark." said McLeod after some contemplation.

"Indeed Captain, since we have little information about those barbarians then its best that we act now. I am positive that even if we do not gain much in terms of material possessions in this war, our knowledge about these people will surely increase by many folds." added the charming woman.

"Do you really think it's that simple? Tell me McLeod, what do you think about the shinobi from the Yamato Shogunate?" said Windsor.