One Year Ago
Stunned silence reigned over the crowded field. The people’s hero, their final hope, son of Jaguar the Great, lay on the ground defeated. Unconscious it was easier to look past his height, muscles and fierce energy to see him for the 16 year old boy he really was. What a sad hope.
The loser was lifted gently, reverently, and moved to lay on the bench of shame where the many who had previously been defeated already sat, clutching their injuries, faces full of murderous intent and barely restrained rage as their hateful eyes glared at their victor. He was of unimpressive size and build, had the looks of unknown heritage and the styling of a punk. He gave an exaggerated bow to his opponents, making a farce of the Muchovan tradition. One man needed restrained by his more level-headed, bleeding companion.
A tall thin man in fine clothes strode out to stand beside the conqueror. The appropriately called Asp, Prime Counselor of Muchovan, was now the second most hated man in the country. He’d sponsored the detested winner. No one knew why. Even now as he approached his champion faint, aristocratic distaste painted his narrow, severe face.
Asp did what was expected, though, bowing to the winner, placing the heavy, symbolic epaulets on his shoulders, then presenting him to the crowds. The silence broke, erupting with boos and hisses and cursing, covering Asp’s privately spoken words.
“You should have killed him. He’ll hate you for winning and won’t stop until you’re brought down.” The victor gave the counselor an ironic look.
“As opposed to my adoring public?” The distaste in Asp’s eyes grew to full-fledged disgust, his lip involuntarily curling. The throng’s volume rose and threatened to mob the winner’s circle, gaining the counselor’s attention. “Aww, are you worried about me?” His victor taunted, “That’s sweet.” Rather than responding, Asp turned sharply from him, fully facing the sea of unhappy faces.
“Muchos, one and all! Hear me!” The shouting fell to murmurs. One didn’t dare ignore someone with a reputation like Asp’s. He was Prime Counselor for a reason. “I present to you the new leader of all Muchovan armies. For his victory and actions here today he will henceforth be known as General,” Asp paused to look back at him, a superior gleam in his all-seeing beady eyes, “Cringe.”
This name stopped the murmurs for a split instant, only to be replaced by a glee filled laughter. No Muchovan had ever received such an appellation, but how appropriate for such an unworthy outsider.
The newly dubbed Cringe, gave a half laugh, his lips twisting into a smirking smile at the Counselor. He liked this name; how appropriate indeed. He stepped forward, chin raised defiantly, the smirk changing into the toothy smile of a tiger. The laughter started dying in the people’s throats.
With Cringe in power, they were just now realizing, they may have a tiger by the tail.