Author: Andrew Sudomerski | Banner: Andrew Sudomerski

[Continued from Match 88]

A new year dawned over the horizon. The brittle chill rushed to fill the void, brushing large trees aside. Snowy slabs shook loose from their resting place under the harsh winds and crashed down onto a sheet of thick ice. Native fauna ran with the wild gust down the mountainous slope and steered clear from the one who was climbing to its peak.

Large, earthy claws sunk into the mountainside as he pulled himself along. For Anguirus, his trek to find a safe haven had been long and arduous. It had felt like an eternity ever since he had encountered Mothra, but he continued to persevere nonetheless. The icy Japanese Alps gave him no comfort, even worse still were the cries he heard in the wind. Distraught souls continued to haunt him ever since the day he had slain the monster god. His unease swelled, but he disregarded them once again.

When he reached the top, the brown ankylosaur saw an enormous lake, which brimmed with thick ice, surrounded by pure white snow and other peaks. A magnificent sight for those beholden to see it! Without a trace of doubt, Anguirus hurriedly charged down the ridge, with a tumbling avalanche following in his wake. There was not a living creature in its proximity; therefore, nothing would hinder his long awaited slumber.

The loud rumbling disturbed the serenity, yet there were no ghosts to be found. As the commotion died down, Anguirus dipped his long snout into the frozen lake and broke the surface layer. He drank the chilled water and ice chunks alike with no discrimination, a much needed refresher from his travels. Then at long last, he would finally rest. His eyelids shielded his tired eyes from the harsh winter as he dozed off…

***

Uneasiness filled the air with hollow chanting, which woke Anguirus from his snooze. Most of it was indiscernible, but there was one word that stuck out in the midst of the mantra. “Angira! Angira!” the souls cried out. Anguirus wasn’t sure what to make of this, but he wasn’t going to let his guard down. He bore his fangs at the unseen spirits and waited to see what they would do next. White vapor escaped Anguirus’s mouth as he released a curt growl.

One by one, the mysterious choir faded into the howling winds. The crisp air took a nosedive and became unbearably chilly. Soon only the wind kept him company until the ankylosaur heard the distinct snowy crunch echo nearby. He turned to its source and raised himself onto his hind legs to look imposing. He had fought many in the past that far outclassed him and expected as much with the intruder.

Then a honk caught Anguirus’s attention.

He looked down and what he saw unnerved him, yet remained steadfast. His primitive mind registered it as a mirror of himself, but he couldn’t be further from the truth. The golden monster certainly boasted many similarities, but they were fundamentally different. The creature carried nobility in spite of its diminutive size. Its short tail hosted a spiky club at the end of it, and its carapace curved along its neck, annunciating its regality. It stood on four long legs, like that of a dog or a horse. Upon closer examination, its golden, bumpy scales exuded frosty mist while the pronounced, paler spikes that jutted out its body were akin to solid ice.

Glowing red eyes peered directly into Anguirus’s soul. They held a righteous wrath undisputedly similar to the distressed ghosts. Anguirus howled as his gold counterpart, prepared to throw down.

Angira felt the same when he unleashed a soul-filled scream.

Anguirus slammed his forearms to the ground and wildly charged at his foe, uprooting trees and kicking dirt and snow in the process. Angira gracefully galloped to meet his opponent head-on, with minimal disturbance to the snow-covered foliage that surrounded him. The two clashed with a resounding sonic boom upon impact, alleviating the surrounding forest of their frost coated burden. They clawed and slashed at each other and then Angira drew first blood by ramming his spiked nasal horn into Anguirus’s neck. Before it could even begin to bleed out, the arctic cold froze the blood, effectively clotting it as Angira pulled away. Anguirus temporarily wavered at the odd neural sensation that ran down his neck, but not before retaliating with a vicious slash across Angira’s face. Sparks and blood poured out from the wound as the gold beast screeched, again with the gash freezing over. Even if contact had been just for a moment, Anguirus felt his claws shiver from the frost.

The brown ankylosaur went in for another swing, but the golden freezing monster foresaw the attack. Opening his mouth wide, Angira caught the other hand in his grip and sunk his teeth into the earthy scales. Anguirus screeched as blood oozed from the wound, only to be immediately frozen over by the ice beast’s body temperature. He felt his hand go numb as anxiety built within him. However, not all was as it seemed.

Anguirus forced himself upright and dragged the smaller creature with him. The anklyosaur recalled this attack from an old friend; with an incredible heave, Anguirus threw Angira over his shoulder and slammed the spiked monster into the earth. The ensuing shockwave rocked the forest, but Angira held on with utmost ferocity despite the pain. Anguirus inhaled the cold air through his nostrils to fill his lungs. Even with the frostbitten wound on his neck, he had to take the risk. Releasing the stored air, Anguirus hollered at the icy beast with a high-pitched shrill. The ultrasonic roar splintered the trees nearby and saw cracks formed from the vibration. It took its toll on his neck wound, but the output was more than worth taking the brunt of the pain. Although Anguirus barely felt it, he witnessed Angira release his grip and noticed that some of the icy spikes started to fall off. The golden creature was stunned and perplexed, but Anguirus wasted no time.

Although his numbed hand was far too injured to move about on, the ancient reptile had a contingency plan. Once again, he found himself on his hind legs, but this time did a simple twirl. Anguirus faced his spiny carapace toward his gold counterpart and anchored his feet into the thick snow bed and crust beneath it. With a magnificent bound, the anklyosaur propelled himself backward and pinned Angira between his shell and a nearby rock wall. The arctic spirit wailed under the immense pressure of Anguirus’s sheer mass. However, Anguirus couldn’t keep the imitator crunched forever and dropped back on all fours. Anguirus swiftly turned around to face Angira, even if his frostbitten hand made it uncomfortable. He had expected the wounded dragon to be shattered and panting. Much to his surprise, the broken Angira clubbed him directly in the face with his spiked tail and threw him to the ground.

Even maimed, Angira imposed his regal presence. The numerous cracks oozed blood, which quickly became the adhesive to patch his wounds. The splintered spines reformed, and the sacred monster’s crimson eyes glared with intensity as he sprinted into action. Anguirus didn’t even have the chance to prop himself up before he was rammed by the smaller monster. The brown monster’s large body paved the landscape as he crashed into the very lake that lured him here. Ice shifted as the surface layer cracked under Anguirus’s weight and displaced the water beneath it. Its immeasurable chill stung his wounded hand and quickly enveloped all his senses. He writhed and sprawled in the ice cold lake and tried to regain feeling in his body.

Angira approached the outer rim and dipped his forepaw into the water. It froze nigh instantaneously and with little effort he pulled it out. He took another step; another patch turned into solid ice. Even after Anguirus found his footing, fighting against the freezing lake had taken the energy from him. He sluggishly tried to charge, but stumbled over himself before he could meet halfway. Anguirus managed to pull his head out of the water before it froze over; even then, the running water that rolled off him became unwilling icicles. Anguirus narrowed at the ice monster that stood before him and the two locked eyes.

Angira growled. The beast peered into Anguirus’s very essence. Angira’s eyes were wrathful and judgmental. Their redness lit ablaze as they ventured deep into a world beyond the physical. Every beastly impulse Anguirus had acted on, every human being he had killed, they were all accounted for. The ankylosaur felt his neural processors being washed over by an unnatural feeling. Anguirus was not a complex creature, yet he was unsure of what he felt. Was he truly being cleansed of his past transgressions? Or had his tenacity been overwritten by fear? He had faced larger and more powerful monsters, so why was it that this golden lookalike had the most influence over his very being?

“Mosura… Mosura…” the chanting returned. There were more souls present. Was it Mothra? Had her death called him here? He had felt remorse for defiling sacred land, so why was he being punished for it now? A burning sensation skulked within, one he felt disgusted with. Fear or purification? He did not know. This trance lingered for what felt like another eternity. Yet it came to an abrupt end. The audience vanished with the wind. Angira’s eyes dimmed and no longer held the same animosity he did just moments before. There was a tenderness to them that had been absent before. With a snort, Angira turned around and began to walk away.

Anguirus was lost and confused. He didn’t know what to make of the current matter. His instincts urged him to continue the fight, but his gut told him it was futile. The more his soul was in conflict, the more he felt desperation overwhelm him. Be damned of what happened; he would see it through to the end, because Anguirus was a creature of the world. The frozen coat crumbled as adrenaline shot through his body, which gave him the strength to break free from his icy prison. Channeling his newfound strength into his legs, the large ankylosaur leapt high into the air.

He had it figured out: he would employ into his rolling ball attack and savagely beat his lookalike. There was a feeling, perhaps from the sudden rush of adrenaline that was more primal and feral, one that made him lose his line of reasoning. For him, this was a fight he had to win, no matter the cost.

Before he could do anything, he felt several, excruciating points of agony lance into his exposed underbelly. Any forward momentum he had was stopped once the golden spears reached the underside of his carapace. The bleeding wounds froze over from their cold touch. In that moment, he saw that Angira had extended the spikes on his carapace and made them lances, all without turning to face him. He felt the poles wriggle as Angira shook himself, ever so loosening from Anguirus’s soft underbelly. While some of the spear-tipped icicles found their way out, others snapped and remain embedded within Anguirus. Either way, the prehistoric animal dropped back into the ice-covered lake with no cushion to catch his fall.

Anguirus was tired. He yearned for rest, yet had been denied time and time again. His eyes glanced at Angira one last time as he saw the golden freezing monster withdraw and reform its spikes. The frost guardian turned around and approached Anguirus’s prone form. He knew he was done for. No strength to pull from, no tenacity to persevere. Truly, a humiliating day! Before his eyelids embraced him in darkness that would comfort him in his final moments, he locked with Angira’s eyes for the last time.

They were filled with pity.

Anguirus accepted his fate and disappeared into his mind’s void.

***

Lazy eyes opened up. What he saw was stunning and beautiful.

Lush greenery surrounded him. The sun rained down with splendor, not a raincloud in sight. Next to him was the lake, which had long since thawed out, and reflected the sun’s rays. The native fauna teemed with life. Anguirus shifted and got to his feet, incidentally disturbing the wildlife in the process. It hadn’t been purposeful, yet couldn’t be avoided. He scanned the area, unsure if this was the same place he had been at…

His senses told him it was the truth. The snapped trees they had crushed were still there. His body tinged with light pain, the only signifier that he was involved in battle. Otherwise, he had nearly recovered from whatever wounds were sustained. He sniffed the ground and tried to trace for his former opponent, but he came up with nothing. Aside from the scars left on the battlefield, the second Anguirus was nowhere to be found.

Part of him felt light as a feather. This may have been induced from a much needed hibernation, yet it also felt like something much more than that. The guilt he carried was gone. His mind couldn’t comprehend the concept, but he didn’t care about it either way. It was the most jovial he had felt ever since winter began. That, to him, was all that mattered.

Winter passed and spring flourished. Anguirus dipped his head into the vitamin rich water and drank from it. His grueling voyage finally came to an end. But the road of life was a much different journey that still had more bumpy paths to come. Nevertheless, he would face them, now endowed with newfound wisdom from the other Anguirus.

Anguirus would live to see another day.

Winner: Anguirus (2001)

 

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