Chapter 8: Blows, Conclusions, & Beginnings
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Numerous sets of eyes watch the confrontation between Cossus and his adversaries. They watch as he rains a barrage of blows on his youthful foes and as he smiles while doing so. 

He is an intimidating figure and though one could easily pity his enemies one also had to wonder what drives his foes to think that they could fight him in the first place. Even prior to his limited ascension he was a fairly broad-shouldered warrior, and now? Now he is on another tier of being intimidating. 

Even holding back the warrior’s blows hit hard. Thanks to the fact that he possesses perks and gamer-boons that offer his strikes a mild degree of self-correction and optimization even his softest blows hurt his foes. 

As he fights against the two warriors he studies the two of them with a broad grin on his face. He is clearly having a great time as he fights against the two young men. 

Worse than the enjoyment he is clearly feeling as he fights against the two warriors is something that the boy on the receiving end of the thrashing slowly realizes; the attacks of his oppressor are becoming worse over time. Cossus had launched dozens of strikes over the span of a few moments, a truly withering barrage of blows, and each one does just a little more damage than the ones before it. 

This degree of improvement and damage amplification isn’t due to the fact that the teen’s defenses are being wilted away by the blows, though they are. It is due to the fact that each blow the massive warrior dealt is taken, by his body, as a learning experience. Every single blow, no matter how minute, is something that propelled him towards mastery over his body and his techniques. 

Every second he spends in combat is one in which he is dedicating himself to self-improvement and mastery. That is something he quickly learns and once he is armed with that knowledge it only ensures that he is determined to keep this fight going. 

Meanwhile, the people watching him fight are feeling an array of emotions. He is a work of art as he delivers blow after blow to his enemies. His unique physiology plays a role in this, as it is due to a mixture of his attributes and his perks that he is able to be so masculinely handsome. 

In addition to the perks that are already fully active within him, every blow he lands earned him a miniscule amount of experience towards his first level up. And that will bring with it a whole host of new benefits. 

Cossus begins to laugh as he deals blow after blow to his enemy. Punctuating each of the blows with a powerful peal of laughter causes the blows to do harm to his enemy’s psyche as well as his body. 

After a few moments of this, the boy’s companion roars in fury and hurls his club at the powerful foe who is slowly overwhelming his friend. Cossus fully ignores the strike and when the club smacks his head he is almost pleasantly surprised to feel an echo of a small amount of pain even as the object cracks, splinters, and is destroyed by the natural toughness of the jumper. 

Cossus momentarily steps back, pretending to stagger back for the sake of drama. As he does, a few of the younger students watching the fight manage to quietly cheer for their companions, shortly before Cossus subtly smiles and lets out a loud roar. As he does he stands up straight and glowers at his foes. 

At his full height he is positively massive and thanks in part to perks he possesses as well as his natural musculature even the act of standing up straight is a bit frightening to those who have the misfortune of being his opponents. As he reaches his full height the crowd watching the fight hushes and some of the onlookers are afraid of what he’ll do to his enemies. 

Curiously, the thrown club does a small amount of damage to the warrior but only so much that it takes the time the warrior is being dramatic for in order to heal fully from the attack. The warrior turns his gaze onto the last remaining warrior who had the audacity to stand against him. Cossus does not hate the child, but he also knows that establishing himself as a merciless warrior is important to the “long-term” goals that he has, as “long-term” as his plans for the next few weeks could be anyway. 

The dulled attacks he has to endure do not seem dull to the onlookers who watch the fight closely. Instead of seeing an attack that has little to no force behind it they see a desperate effort by a young warrior to give himself and his friend a chance to flee. They see the heart behind the blow, even as they watch it fail. 

They also see the glee in Cossus’s eyes as he advances on the warrior who hurled his club at the future tribute. He reaches the other warrior almost instantly, due to his height and the length of his reach more so than anything as exclusive as his just beyond peak-human speed. 

At the very same time as he hurls himself at his enemies some of the experience he is accruing begins to have a manifestly visible effect on his body and form. A few of the perks he has within him that did not manifest as soon as he underwent his initial ascension began to warp his form! 

These perks were supernatural but they were not as incredibly powerful as the perks he’d unlock whenever he killed someone or did something like eat a heart. The perks that were bursting to life were powerful, but not in some way that granted him direct superpowers or magical abilities. 

As the figure begins to launch a devastating barrage of attacks on his final foe he becomes almost, but not obviously, supernaturally good-looking. Cossus has always been handsome in a rugged, devil-may-care kind of way but he undergoes a metamorphosis as far as his physicality goes that leaves him stunningly handsome in the eyes of every single onlooker, and even his foes are forced to admit, to themselves if no one else, that even as he pounds the shit out of them he makes it look good.

His every action is graceful and appealing, though in many cases it is the kind of predatory grace that a lion possesses but that is still quite graceful and regal looking. Even the sweat that begins to glisten on his skin takes on an almost supernatural quality that makes it appealing to those watching him. 

Beyond that, however, is the simple fact that his appearance transcends any singular orientation. His sensual ascension causes him to stir strange feelings in all of his onlookers, and even his foes. There is a sort of universality to his good looks that hits everyone regardless of their orientation. 

The audience watching the warrior’s display on the camera, far from the action, is as readily affected by the warrior’s transcendently attractive appearance as the crowd watching the fight in person. No one is spared from the power of Cossus’s good looks, and his courage and power only add to his appeal, though those closest to him do feel additional effects.

“Come on now boys, help me give those watching a good show!” Cossus roars, gleefully. His voice is different now and also affected by his aesthetic ascension. It is powerfully attractive, and those who hear his command want to see his words be obeyed. The only people who are partially resistant to this are his foes who manage to overcome the temptation they feel to do as he says because they’re being hurt by him as he roars at them. 

Shortly after he speaks the young man hurls a particularly devastating punch that manages to connect with the face of one of his foes. It sends the boy hurtling backward and he collapses into an only somewhat conscious, sprawled out heap on the floor. 

He turns to his last remaining foe and smirks. This causes the warrior’s heart to hammer in his chest and he pauses, his fists quickly balling up as he considers whether or not to try to lash out at the man who has just completely defeated his friends. 

“Enough Lars. Surrender and concede this fight. You’ve done enough.” Cossus advises, as his eyes seem to soften. This is an act, but the power of perks makes it seem totally sincere and the boy who has just seen his friends get beaten senseless, lowers his defenses and falls to his knees. 

He feels the wave of adrenaline that had been powering him through this begin to dissipate and pain slowly begins to creep into the edges of his consciousness. Cossus steps forward and in a display of comradery places a hand on the warrior’s shoulder. As he does he closes his eyes and begins to speak confidently and powerfully.

  “Friends, fellow students, faculty, and visitors, lend me your ears for a moment!” I begin, a proud smile on my face as I speak. All around me everyone turns their attention fully to me, and internally my smile turns into a smirk. 

“Lars, Arruns, and Paullus have just proven their ferocity, valor, and tenacity on the battlefield. They deserve respect and to be applauded for both their courage and their wisdom on the field of battle.” I proclaim, causing the eyes of Lars to widen in awe and pride. He was not expecting that, but I have a wider view of this minor conflict. 

To me, this represents a creative opportunity. The three warriors I just defeated were not unskilled foes, and each blow I struck and was dealt resulted in me gaining valuable experience. Plus at the very end there I gained the powers of two jumps; “Generic Romantic Story Jump” and “Generic Hentai World” both of which have perks that are handy even if the intent behind them is obviously to encourage sexual and romantic actions and meta-narratives that I don’t especially care for. 

I want to experience more fights. I also want to awaken more powers within myself. I know by that seizing this chance I can easily create greater chances to “inspire” more spontaneous attacks on my person. 

“The courage to seek growth opportunities at all times is to be applauded. The bravery it takes to rally allies together and to use them against even a seemingly superior foe is laudable. We should all aspire to be as brave as this trio of young heroes and future tributes!” I say, authoritatively. This causes a brief silence and stillness in the air, before causing the audience I had gathered to burst into applause and loud cheering of the trio I have just felled. 

I smile at this and my supernatural sense of empathy allows me to determine that I have succeeded in making the three warriors locally famous. As I watch the crowd I hear a distant sound of adults rushing towards the four of us, adults whose gear appears to be medical in purpose and make. 

A few seconds after I hear the distant sound of boots rushing towards us I see the figures responsible for the noise; a group of peacekeepers carrying medical equipment. One of them rushes towards me specifically, while the others rush towards my fallen foes. 

When the figure reaches me he begins to hurriedly examine me and is quickly astounded to learn that I have not been hurt in the slightestm even though I took a few hits during the fighting. By the time he is done he gives me a quick bill of health. 

And so my legend begins to spread. Time begins to pass, hours turning to days and days turning into weeks, all filled with endless training.

Cossus spent the time before the reaping endlessly honing his skills. To him, every single minute that passed presented a plethora of opportunities and he did his damnedest to milk every second for what it was worth. 

The warrior engaged in battles every single day, even taking initiative to offensively attack a few of his classmates himself. He aced every single assignment and earned the approval of his fellow students, his teachers, mysterious spectators who watched the battles in the training courtyard daily, and even the peacekeeping forces stationed in District 1. 

He was an impatient force of nature, constantly growing, constantly pushing himself ever closer to mastery of self, and to true perfection of his mostly mundane body. By the time the day of the reaping arrived he was an even greater force of nature than he had been. 

At night he’d allow himself to spend an hour or two in his “Warehouse”, which upon his first solo visit to the dimension he was surprised to discover was a replica of the training center that he knew would soon house Katniss, Rue, Peeta, Thresh, Glimmer, and various other tributes. The place was actually much more than a replica of the training center but he didn’t need to know that just yet. 

He trained there as well, casually embracing the potent boost to his training speed which allowed him to further master himself. He was a paragon of self-perfection and endless work ethic as he strove to become as powerful as he could in the buildup to the actual Hunger Games. 

The warrior had pushed himself so incredibly hard that even in his amplified form he had grown taller still thanks to his muscle. He was now 7’1” in height, and had a monstrous physique and presence that allowed him to be a shoo-in for securing the position he coveted; the lauded spot as District 1’s Male Career Tribute. 

The warrior slid into the handmade suit that his brother had ordered for him weeks ago when he first reached his new height. Donning the outfit is, in a very real and literal sense, effortless thanks to one of the perks he wields. The clothed future tribute smiled as he studied himself and after a few moments spent admiring his almost inhuman aesthetic perfection he walked out of the door and to the city’s central square; an area right in front of its Justice Building. 

He has a reaping to attend to, one where he intends to usurp Katniss Everdeen’s role as the protagonist of this year’s violent death games.