Dan had managed to dodge Juro's kick, but instead of leaving the Oni open as Dan expected, Juro still followed through with the soccer kick into the air, completing it into a half moon kick. The oni landed safely after his somersault, barely dodging the uppercut.
Juro met Dan's elbow with his own and quickly pressed himself close to Dan to prevent his leg from tripping him.
"I aint fallin for that, ya pink bastard!"
Juro charged, looking to push Dan off the bridge simply by grabbing him, if they made the minimal ammount of space, Juro would once again go for a kick to the groin. It was an obnoxious strategy, but one very hard to break out of.
Ai in the meantime was beyond stressed as Dan dodged the previous move by a hair's width. Could he actually win this?!
Dan didn’t end things as quickly as he had hoped. Juro was more skilled than he seemed, adapting quickly to their new situation. In one way, Dan was in a worse position than before. If Juro got his range, there was no way that Dan could dodge again. Juro knew what was coming and there would be even less room than before. On the other hand, Juro had willingly put himself right next to Dan. Dan leaned into the shove, feet digging into the wood to prevent himself from moving. Juro was plenty strong, but Dan knew how to use his lower center of gravity. He barely budged, and used the opportunity to grab onto Juro’s loincloth.
It wasn’t the nicest place to grab a man, but hey, it wasn’t very nice going for the balls either. This range couldn’t be better for him. Juro’s long limbs made it harder for him to strike and defend his whole body, and besides that, Dan excelled at this range. He threw a one-inch punch for Juro’s liver with his free hand, then pulled him down to slam his chin with the top of his skull. If Juro tried to guard his head, Dan would pound his liver again, and if he covered his body, Dan would headbutt once more. He didn’t intend on giving Juro any opening of his own.
Dan chuckled when Juro fell away. He wiped his forehead and turned to walk off of the log. How surprising was that, he wondered? That a human could beat an oni? Still, that was a wakeup call. Juro wasn’t the strongest contestant, Doi had made that clear. But he was still a decent fight. This wouldn’t be impossible, but he would need to be at the top of his game to get through this… and make a plan for Doi. He let Ai drag him out of his thoughts, accepting her high five with a grin. “Dang, Juro wasn’t number one? Guess I’ll really have to go all out on the next guy.” He chuckled. He wanted to stay and watch the rest, but it seemed Ai wanted to keep moving. “Huh? Who wouldn’t? Well I guess people who don’t think they could help, but uh, I think I can handle this. I’m not letting you get married if you don’t want to, and honestly it’s kinda screwed up that I have to punch anybody over that idea. And besides, uh… I like your matches. That last one with Kazuki was pretty great.” Dan turned slightly red. It must be so nice being an oni. Nobody could tell if you were blushing.
Ai laughed at Dan's reaction, she lightly tapped Dan's bicep with her fist
"Pffft, of course not! the dude was a loser....You are a weird guy, you know that? most people out there wouldn't help even if they could, the world is not such a nice place, dude."
The oni was genuinely surprised by Dan's actions, him complimenting her made her roll her eyes while smiling
"Riiight. Well, if everything goes well, I will probably be having more matches over there in the future, aint that nice? I'll tell you what, you win this for me, and I'm getting you a front row seat to my next match. deal?"
The oni extended her hand out to Dan with a smile
"And while we are at it, I might start coming to yours, that thing back there was pretty entertaining after all!"
The group kept moving while Ai's father seemed puzzled. eventually he stopped next to a boulder many times his size and seemed to finally get an idea
"Ah, why not? alright, uh, anyone who can move this thing goes on to the next round i guess"
Ai facepalmed, was her dad actually taking this seriously?
"You are kidding right?! look at the size of this thing, old man! this looks like iron ore! nobody is gonna be able to move this!"
giants steps were heard as Doi shoulder charged against the massive boulder, a thundering sound was heard across the island as the giant ore rolled a few meters front.
"You were saying, sweetheart? Alright boys, do your worst!"
“Well I’m gonna have to step up my training if I want to impress you.” Dan took Ai’s hand and let her lead him back into the jungle. He didn’t need the encouragement to help her, but it sure was nice. Holding her hand made him nervous, but in a good way, like right before a match. He was feeling positively dreamy for a moment before he reminded himself there was still work to do. And besides, I’m 30, not a teenager. Stop being giddy, old man. Well, he would have come down when he saw the next task regardless. Dan wasn’t a math whizz of any sort, but it was easy enough to say that this boulder would be at least a couple 10s of tons, maybe close to a full hundred. Dan hadn't really measured how much weight he could push, but it was definitely a lot less than however much this boulder weighed.
Could even Doi move that? Apparently, yes, yes he could. Dan had to brace himself when the island shook, more from Doi’s pounding steps than the boulder, Dan felt. There went plan A, which was hoping that nobody could move it and he could avoid this problem entirely. Plan B… he couldn’t just shove it like Doi, that was obvious. He could probably assert the most force with a strike, rather than a shove, so that was his best bet. But it would have to be far beyond his usual strength. That was doable, but only with some help. “I can do this, but you’re going to have to hit me. Hard, and keep doing it until I say stop. Left shoulder, I’ll need my right.” Dan mumbled to Ai as his aura rushed into life around him.
“I’m tougher than I look.” Dan assured Ai, but he still winced when she picked up the club. Well, it was probably what he needed. He reassured himself by thinking about how she knew what he was doing. She really had watched some of his matches. When she swung, he took it in full and the force stunned him. He had to set his feet so as not to slide. He couldn’t sway away or deflect the impact. He needed it all, but damn, it hurt. His aura flared brighter around him, and the second hit hurt less, slowed by the aura sucking away at its power. It still hit hard, and the third was nearly as bad as the first, like she swung harder to compensate. At the fourth, pain shot down his arm like a bolt of lightning.
“Enough! Ah, fuck!” He flexed his arm and wiggled his fingers, making sure all was intact. His shoulder cramped up at the motion. She hadn’t broken anything, but there was still deep damage. Nothing he could do about that. “Thank you. You hit like a champ. Remember that when I move this boulder… You’re pushing it with me.” He marched out into full view, aura pulsing far beyond his body’s limits. It flattened grass with its weight and carried a palpable force, making his hair rise. He stepped close to the boulder, then closer. He shifted near until his nose brushed the stone and he could smell iron in the air. Speed was power, everybody knew that. And speed could usually only be built with enough distance. But Dan had been a master of close combat, mere inches from his body, for years and eventually those skills had condensed into a single perfect punch. He barely seemed to move, but his aura concentrated into a single spot in a blinding explosion. If the boulder didn’t move, it would probably be blown apart.
Dan pulled back his fist with the quiet satisfaction of withdrawing after a KO punch. Cheesy, whatever. That was how he rolled. Well, maybe only when he was trying to be cool. He worked to bring his vital signs back to normal before the next matchup. He could still use both arms, but his left was just about done. Pretty much any stress would finish off the muscles and he would be one-handed. When the contest was announced, he realized that wouldn’t matter. He needed to buy time, not to build strength, but to think of a way he could possibly win this. His heartrate didn’t slow, just picking way up. “Hey, is your impatience why you need to constantly find new wives? Maybe fix that and you can keep the ones you have happy.” Dan shot off quickly before turning to Ai’s dad. “This is my first time doing oni armwrestling. Any special rules? I wouldn’t want to break his arm by accident. After all… I’ve arm wrestled with Mai Musashi.” He didn’t need to tell them that he immediately lost. If you can’t win physically, it’s time for mind games!
Ai's dad half bought Dan's claim. Mai's name wasn't often thrown around like that in these parts.
"Is that a fact? How come you still have both arms then? Nevermind that, if you have never played our game, i'll clue you in kid. you can attack while armwrestling, but you are not allowed to lift your elbow off the table."
Ai walked next to her dad and looked at him.
"you can't use weapons either. You were gonna tell him, right?"
"Ah yes, that too"
The oni girl dragged Dan down to her height so she could whisper at him
"You are not gonna beat him in strenght, if you are gonna pull something, be quick about it, Doi is strong, but he's not that fast"
Ai's dad would set both Dan and Doi over the iron ore, holding their fists. Doi looked both nervous and angry after hearing Dan's claim, so he held on tight to Dan's hand.
Bingo. That was the ticket to victory. “I still have both my arms cause unlike Doi here, I’m actually tough. Careful with your fingers, blueballs. I might just squeeze them right out of their sockets.” That’s right Doi. Keep your focus entirely on the contest of strength. Keep thinking that just maybe these arms overpowered the slayer herself. He locked his hand with Doi’s keeping his arm relaxed, no effort at all until Ai’s father gave the word. At that moment, all of his power went not into a push, but a pull. He whipped himself up over the surface of the stone headfirst, throwing his forehead for Doi’s nose. Only then did he attempt to actually arm wrestle, hoping for a quick win before Doi even knew what had happened.
Ai moved behind Dan just as he was taunting the Oni, Doi seemed confused between Ai shifting places and Dan's bravado. His mind was already not quite in the game but Ai gave it just another push as she undid her top.
Her clothes were not even fully off by the time Dan's headbutt connected, a quick pull and Dan was the winner.
"Yessss!! what an idiot!"-Ai screamed her lungs out in a shout of victory.
Doi took the hand off his face as he realized he had been played. The rest of the Oni had already made a run for it as the blue monster kicked Ai's father aside in rage.
"You...you cheated!"-he said as he extended his hand towards his club and swung downwards at Dan, unrivaled might behind the blow.
The bout went exactly how Dan needed it to. No need to actually struggle with Doi, he just won. Not his favorite kind of fight, but the only one he could actually win. He raised a hand from the crater Doi’s hand had made and stood on the table. “I couldn’t have done it without you!” He called to Ai, barely noticing her correcting her top in his elation. He also took a little longer to notice Doi’s motions than he should have. Of course the massive oni wouldn’t take this loss lying down. He had probably never failed at all before. It was that thought that led Dan to glance back just in time to see the club rising. He made a snap decision and he hoped it was the right one. He couldn’t move enough to dodge completely, just a sidestep so he could parry the blow with his shoulder instead of his skull.
Most of the power was deflected sideways to prevent the force from going through his spine and legs, but he still heard something snap, and it wasn’t the club. He knew his body well enough to know that his shoulder was gone. No left arm in this fight. He had chosen which side to sacrifice, and he picked the one that Ai had already injured. It hurt like hell, but that only made him smile. Now this was more like it. “I didn’t cheat. I just outwitted you. But I guess you’re too dumb to know what that means either?” He had a chance, standing on the table, and he took it. “You think you’re invincible cause you’re bigger than everybody, but let me tell you…” Dan took a step in, turning as he did so to put his strong side in front. “It gives me bigger targets to hammer.” He thrust his elbow directly at Doi’s massive Adam’s apple, seeking to smash his windpipe and leave him gasping.
Just as Dan lounged for an attack Doi readied a block with his club, he was surprisingly fast for his size, and had experience to boot. This however, did not compensate for what was a surprise attack, with Ai pulling Doi's horns from the back, presing with her knees to expose the Blue Oni's neck.
boom! Dan's fist connected right onto the adam's apple. The enraged oni reached for Ai as he gasped, pulling her from her hair and smashing her onto the sand, the Oni raised his foot as he aimed to crush the girl's face.
“All right Ai!” Dan cheered, in awe of her movement. It was a beautiful move, stylish and effective in equal measure. The curve of her spine, the tautness in her arms as she put her full power into pulling Doi’s head back. She opened Doi right up and his elbow struck the great oni’s throat, delivering its force right to his trachea. He almost expected his opponent to fold right there, but to Doi’s credit he kept going. If he was even going blue from oxygen deprivation, well, it was hard to tell with his skin tone. Instead of attacking Dan, his wrath seemed to be directed at Ai. Dan bristled.
“You aren’t touching her unless it’s her fist on your nose!” He yelled, jumping down from the stone to intercept the attack. A unique combination of Doi’s immense size and his choice of attack made him vulnerable to something Dan had never done before. He grabbed Doi’s loincloth in one hand, helping to anchor himself as his hip twisted. His knee came up, right at Doi’s supporting leg. A similar attack thrown against a human should aim lower, a sweeping kick, as a knee would just strike the muscular thigh and be absorbed. However, against Doi, he could strike the side of Doi’s own knee, aiming to work with the oni’s own weight to ruin the leg and send him crashing to the ground. Dan gave Ai a smile, cutting through his anger at Doi instantly. “He’s not as tough as the boar, but want to help me finish him anyway?” He offered a hand to help her up.
Ai's body throbbed with the impact of Doi's brutal attack, every fiber of her being screaming with exhaustion. The pain pulsed through her muscles, yet the rush of adrenaline coursing through her veins propelled her forward. As Dan extended his hand, his warm smile cutting through the chaos, Ai couldn't help but reciprocate, her own smile breaking through the blood staining her face.
"Yeah, I've had my fill of seeing that much blue. Pink, tho..." Ai replied somewhat blushing and slightly embarrassed at her own statement.
She hastily wiped the blood off her nose, momentarily pausing to regain her composure before unleashing a swift and powerful straight punch right into Doi's face. That was it, she was definitely gonna be free.
Ai’s smile made Dan’s heart jump, but he did his best to keep his mind on the fight. Well, mostly. He was thinking maybe she would like some help washing the blood out of her hair. “Well I’ll show you some more! Let’s end this guy!” Dan grabbed at Doi’s horn to pull his face right into Ai’s punch and his own vicious knee, coated in his flaring aura. With pain shooting through his entire left side, he was hoping Doi stayed down. He supposed he could make that more likely. If Doi fell, his face would take a few good stomps to make sure he didn’t rise again.