Val throws down his sword, crosses his arms, faces the volcanic crowd.
“I will not fight!”
The gate opens.
Val closes his eyes, his muscles twitching. The Beast roars, lumbers toward Val, dust billowing behind. The beast leaps, Val side-steps, rolls, stands again, a pen held high.
“I am a poet!”
The Beast charges. Val curses, leaps, embeds his pen in the beast’s eye. The beast wails. Val sheds a tear, walks to his sword, is swallowed under the beast’s descending body. The beast deflates. Val emerges, bathed in blood. The ground shakes with the crowd’s eruption.
Another gate opens.