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=EC 2018= Cellar Arena

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7/15/2018 12:04:02   

If Bren’s people had learned anything from the ever-changing, exceedingly powerful, and highly fickle arena complex that dominated their city, it was how to adapt. Quickly. Of course, the giant horde of strange, formidable, and otherwise insane competitors that visited every year probably helped with that as well. So despite the rampant destruction and piles of debris which still littered the streets, everyone was already consumed in revelry by the time hopefuls started to trickle in.

Music permeated the air, punctuated by the calls of innkeepers and shop owners. Delicious aromas of fine food and finer drink wafted about. Laughter and excited shouts grew louder as the sun warmed the city, illuminating the water droplets which clung to the walls of Bren’s homes and businesses until the city itself seemed to glow.

Still, as the trickle of newcomers turned into a flood of entrants and spectators, the air grew heavy. The first storm may have passed, but now it merely felt like the calm before a second, greater one. The Arena thrummed with power as the doors swung open to welcome the crowd. They yawned like the maw of some great beast, hungry and savage and ready to swallow those who dared accept its challenge. Even the seasoned officials, people whom had attended to the tournament’s needs for years, felt unease as they passed into the complex itself.

This would be a fight to remember.

A surprising number of people lined the way as the Arena’s halls twisted and began to lead downwards. Not just the officials and a handful of spectators hoping to catch an early glimpse of the competitors - but also doctors, healers, and… and a large collection of priests with shovels leaning against the walls beside them. They watched the entrants with grim looks, nodding silently to the warning inscribed above the spiraling staircases leading further into the complex’s depths.

No wound earned inside the walls of the Cellar could be healed by any means while its owner remained within them.

A set of metallic doors welcomed the competitors at the foot of the stairs, sliding open with a puff of steam. The foyer before the arena was unlit, and deathly silent. Lighting from behind briefly illuminated a second set of opaque glass doors before the first set closed, giving the challengers a brief moment of respite in total darkness. Then, with a hiss, the second set slid open, revealing the Cellar beyond.

Vast mirrors alternated with blank, white stone to form the square walls of the arena. Light, cold and bright, spilled outwards from where the walls met with ceiling and floor. Four immense, rounded pillars of the same unblemished stone supported the room, forming a square themselves that connected the polished white floor to the disorientingly similar ceiling above. The same bright light that illuminated the arena pulsed about the midpoint of the pillars. The effect was surprisingly calming. Lulling. Hypnotic.

What snapped most people to attention first was the noise. A constant, almost metallic buzzing that was felt in the bones of those within just as much as it grated on their ears. The second was the air itself. Uncomfortably warm, just too dry to be natural. The entire room felt bright and clean and sharp.

A stern reminder, as a booming voice echoed from seemingly everywhere, of the enchantments that bound those within the arena walls. “Let the Trial of Cellar: Restored, begin. Fight with valor, adventurers, or else forfeit your lives!”
AQ DF MQ AQW  Post #: 1
7/16/2018 0:15:23   
Eternal Wanderer

“Tell me the Light story, grandfather.”

“‘Tell me the Light story,’” the old Kaarme Phry repeated, his tone lightly teasing as he tucked his young charge in. “It’s always the Light story with you.”

“Father said it was
our story.”

“Oh, aye, and so it is
sade. I can only hope that....”


Blinking himself out of his reverie, the aged man patted his grandson’s still developing crest of horn and bone. “Ah, never you mind, young one. You must allow an ancient such as myself some time to let his wits wander.”

The boy bit his lip for a moment, and then smiled up at his caretaker with the perfect sincerity that can only be managed by the young or innocent. “But I’m here to help you!”

“So you are, my boy, so you are. But the story… I tell it different from your father, so listen carefully.” Composing himself, the old man began. “In the beginning there was Nothing. No moon, no stars, no sun. No earth or wind, neither was there water, nor fire, nor any other thing. There was only possibility, and all the things that might yet be.”

The old Kaarme smiled. “But then,” his fingers snapped, a sharp sudden pop to emphasize his words, “in an instant form itself found form, in a cataclysmic detonation of expanding matter. In this way, the universe as we know it was born.

“Now, as I said, before there was matter there was Nothing, the great and empty void, and thus the Nothing did not realize that it was, for there was no other thing against which it could perceive itself. But then came matter, and thence came change, and the Nothing-”

“The Enemy,” hissed the boy, scowling as he cut in, “the Dark.”

sade,” he tapped a claw lightly against the youth’s snout, “Fire and Ice, Energy and Water, Wind and Earth, Light and, yes, even Dark, these are the elements of life, the agents of matter. What we call the Darkener is an operative of the Enemy, but that is only a title, a way of speaking about a thing that is inimical to us. The Enemy is the Nothing, literally the No-Thing, the… Un-ness.

“Now, the Un-ness saw matter, yes, but for the first time too It saw Itself. And for many ages it was stunned, concerned only with Its contemplation of Itself, with the perfection of Its absolute unchangingness.

“And as the Nothing contemplated Itself, life took hold. There was green life, the life of growing things, be that in the sea, on the earth, or even beneath it. There was the red life, the life of the beasts and birds of field, forest, stream, and sky. And there was the silver life, that life which the Elements loved best of all.”

“The Light!” The boy interrupted again, exuberant.

“Aye, my boy,” the old Kaarme said, chuckling, “the Light loved our people, and we received its blessing. That was what saved us, in the end.

“You see, the Nothing arose from Its introspection and saw not only matter in its infinite profusion, but life as well. And it was life that It hated, more than anything else. Life, It saw, was change, and to the Un-ness, change was anathema. To Itself, It was perfect, without flaw. Matter is always changing, even the unliving matter that was the basest elements.

“But here the Nothing was vexed, for to eradicate life entirely, It would have to take a form, embrace matter. Yet to do so, to Its mind, would be to demean Itself, shackling Itself to that which It hated by binding Itself to space and time and matter so that It might unleash all Its terrible power. But the Un-ness would not do this, and so for an age It pondered how It might overthrow change without Itself being subject to it.

“At long last, the Enemy found its answer. Gathering to Itself Its power, the Nothing cast a shadow-”

“But grandfather, you just said the Darkness is not the Enemy!”

The aged Kaarme Phry smiled, “Aye,
sade, and you are right. This was not a shadow as we know it, but there is no other word that might suffice. The Nothing cast Its influence across the universe like a seed; a seed of corruption that took root and bloomed into a disastrous tree whose fruit was blight, tribulation, and sorrow.” Sighing, the old man looked down at hands scarred and battered by the long years of his life. “Yet, there were ever those who were willing to eat that blackened fruit. Perhaps they hoped for power, perhaps they hoped for wealth, perhaps they hoped to recreate the universe in their image, or perhaps they were simply rotten to the core, like that fruit. It matters not, for in the end all tyrants are the same... And so it was that the War of Form began, and the acolytes of the Un-ness sought to mar and unmake. Among them was the entity we would come to know as the Darkener.

“But they were not unopposed. The Elements blessed their chosen, and from among the chosen arose those with the power to combat the acolytes of Nothing. For ages the War of Form has raged, with the Elements and the Nothing doing battle through their champions. And when the Darkener came to blight our world, it found the Sun Guard waiting.”

“Like father.” The young Kaarme said suddenly, quietly.

“Aye, like your father…” For a time the two were silent, remembering. “Your father was the bravest man I ever knew
sade. He brought that out in others too, and there is so very much of him in you...” He sighed. “I think it would be best if you go to sleep now. We will continue the story another night.” Leaning forward, the old man kissed his grandson’s forehead and then stood, turning for the door.

“Grandfather,” the boy called after his elder, his voice solemn, “do you think… Do you think if the sword had been finished…”

The aged Kaarme Phry paused, silhouetted in the light of the open door. His voice was tired, as quiet as that of his charge. “There is not a doubt in my mind, my boy.”

Valo Aurinko had loved the story as a boy. Grown now, he clung to it with the intensity of a shipwrecked man to the largest bit of intact wood he could find. It was a light in the darkness, a guiding star just glimpsed on a clouded night.

The Kaarme Phry stood, taloned feet shoulder-width apart, the right half a step ahead of the left; in his hands Leikata glimmered, with his right hand gripped beneath its guard while the left reached across his body to hold just above the pommel. The sword hummed softly, an oddly comforting vibration just felt through the grip. He had never been able to tell why the sword did that, and the truth was it did not as often as it did. His grandfather could have explained it, Aurinko felt certain of that, but the humming was just a noise to him - a nearly sub-aural background noise that sometimes accompanied his swordwork.

Leikata’s blade was charged to Dawn’s Vengeance, a soft white curve of light whose emanations very faintly pulsed around him. Aurinko held the weapon at a slight angle, its length pointing up and back over his right shoulder. The first position, Sentry’s Watch. The thought drew a sad smile to the Kaarme Phry’s lips. Sentry’s Watch, a meaningless gesture in this place; it was a formal guardian stance for a threat unimaginably removed from Bren and its environs. And yet training will out, as they said back home. Some things went deep, wore their way into blood and bone and being. Back home there had always been a Sun Guard standing watch. It had been Aurinko more often than not, because the attacks always came at dawn.

Dawn… Was there a crueler joke to be found in any world? Calling what they had back home “dawn” was like standing on a pile of dirt and calling it a mountain. But here… Here the sun came up blazing red as though ready to fight, lightening by shades through orange to yellow, until it was a brilliant white disc in the heavens. Aurinko lowered Leikata, tilting his head up and closing his eyes, simply basking in the radiance pouring down from the distant star as it warmed the scales of his face. Hard to imagine that-

“What are you doing up here?”

The Kaarme opened his eyes, and turned slightly as he returned the sword to its sheath, feeling the faint crackling discharge as the blade’s photonic energy dissipated. His right hand rose to check the bandage about his left arm, tugging gently to ensure it was still tight and secure. Before answering, Aurinko took a moment to inspect the child before him.

She was a thin thing, clad in a worn and patched tunic, along with equally battered trousers. Her feet were bare, tough and dirt-blackened, and clear blue eyes stared suspiciously at him from beneath a thatch of wildly tangled auburn hair. “Well?”

His smile displayed a number of sharp fangs, though the urchin seemed unimpressed by the sight. In contrast to the child - an elf if the pointed tips of the ears sticking out of her hair were any indication - Aurinko was well garbed in a loose white shirt and black pants so baggy that more than one local had mistaken the garment for a skirt on first glance. The Kaarme had forgone his armor today, an unforgivable offense for a Sun Guard who had had all night to prepare, but the protection was hardly necessary here. At his waist was a wide cloth belt, through which a pair of sheathes, one for Leikata and one for Pelastaa, were thrust. He set a hand to the hilts riding at his left hip as he finally replied. “I am standing guard.”

The child regarded this intruder into what she obviously considered her domain with wary disbelief. “On the roof of the inn?”

Aurinko chuckled, taking a moment to glance out over the edge of the roof to the town of Bren spreading out below. It was a large inn, three stories in fact, thrusting its way up from the street and above the other nearby structures like a soldier standing at attention. “It has a good view of the surrounding area.”

“Well, yeah, but what are you going to do if there’s trouble? You’d have to climb down before you could help.”

The Kaarme looked at the girl, his expression as serious as his tone. “True. I suppose I would have to leap from the roof then.”

“That seems… stupid. You’d break your legs.”

Aurinko grinned, tapping a taloned foot against the wooden shingles covering the slanted roof. “If I landed poorly, yes. Still, the fall is quite survivable, if you know how to land correctly.” In truth, there was nothing on the ground a Sun Guard needed to fear, not initially. The servants of the Lighteater always descended from the sky. He laughed at the girl’s expression. “Believe me or not, rikka, but I have done similar before.”

“That’s not my name.” The girl replied, crossing her arms over her chest and fixing the Kaarme Phry with a surprisingly fierce glare.

“So it is not, rikka, but you never offered me your name. Mine is Aurinko, by the way, and it would be rude to simply call you girl, no? Now, perhaps you will tell me what you are doing up here. Shouldn’t you be breaking your fast, or perhaps still safely asleep in your bed?”

That brought a wary look to the elf child’s eye, and she glanced back over her shoulder to the edge of the roof she had scrabbled over. It was clear she was considering a quick exit back the way she had come from.

“Ah,” Aurinko said quietly, considering the girl for a long moment before sitting gracefully, pushing down on the hilts of his blades to angle the sheathes up and out of the way, though their tips still scraped softly across the wooden covering of the roof. The Kaarme Phry lightly patted the shingles next to him, smiling gently at the calculating look on the child’s face. “I am not unfamiliar with hard times rikka. I am an orphan myself.”

The elf child chewed her lip for a moment, and then sat as well, wrapping her arms around her knees. “Rana. My name is Rana.” She hesitated, and then asked quietly, “How did you know?”

Running a hand along his snout, the swordsman vacillated a moment over his answer. He could have told her it was a guess, and it had been in part. But she was thin and dirty, and the patches on her clothing were worn, their stitching uneven, childish in a way. And for a moment, before she had looked towards the edge of the roof, Aurinko had seen a flash of emotion in her eyes. It had not been the fear of being caught out playing truant when she was supposed to be home.

No, the look in her eyes had been the quiet determination of the survivor, the calculus and evaluation of one used to relying on swift feet rather than assistance from authority. The Kaarme knew the look. He had worn it. “I never knew my mother, and my father was slain in a battle defending our city. I was lucky, I suppose. My grandfather found me and took me away, to his home. But the war followed us.” Aurinko was silent for a long moment, recalling blood, the screams of dying men, and smoke choking the pale orb hanging above burning cities. His thumb rubbed over the end of Leikata’s grip. “After that I was on my own.”

Rana looked away, her voice as small as she was. “Sometimes… sometimes it isn’t so bad.”

“And sometimes it is.”

The girl glanced up at the Kaarme Phry, hesitating for a moment. “But it… gets better, right?”

Aurinko did not answer immediately, tilting his head back and closing his eyes, feeling the rays of the sun on his scales. One hand opened the pouch at his waist, withdrawing a heavy gold sovereign. The coin rang faintly as the swordsman’s thumb popped beneath it, sending it flipping end over end skyward. Opening his eyes, the Kaarme caught the coin deftly, rolling it out between his thumb and forefinger, holding it as if measuring the golden disk against the distant celestial orb. “I won’t lie to you, rikka. The bad times get fewer, farther apart, but I don’t know if they ever really go away.”

Rising to his feet, Aurinko glanced down at the street below as he moved to the edge of the roof. “But I’ll tell you something my grandfather used to tell me,” he flicked the coin at the girl, grinning over his shoulder as she snatched it from the air just as dexterously as he had, “everything is easier to face on a full stomach.”

Rana turned the coin over in her hands, inspecting the unfamiliar markings stamped on it. “But this is..”

“Enough for several full stomachs, aye.” Aurinko smiled. “Take care of yourself, Rana.”

And then the Kaarme Phry jumped off the roof.

Twisting in the air, the swordsman reached out and caught the lip of the gutter, which creaked alarmingly at the sudden weight placed upon it. With a practiced, eel-like snap of his lower body Aurinko threw his weight forward with the swing, released the gutter, and angled both legs straight out, allowing the momentum to launch his body through the open window below the roofline. Flicking his heavy tail to slightly alter his aerodynamics, the Kaarme turned a partial lateral roll midair and landed, talons skidding slightly against the wooden floorboards of his room.

“Aurinko!” There was a scrabbling from above as Rana slid down the roof, clinging to the gutter as she peered down into the room, her hair falling into her eyes for a moment. “You... You could have been hurt!”

The Kaarme Phry glanced in the girl’s direction as he removed his sash, depositing his sheathed blades on the bed. Lifting the dou hanging from a nearby chair, Aurinko shrugged into the armor, doing up the straps with the ease of long practice. “I suppose I could have, rikka, and it would not have been the first time either. But here I am.” He winked at the girl while pulling a binding tight.

“Ugh, and adults say that kids are reckless.”

“So we do,” replied the swordsman, “because they often are.” Retrieving his kusazuri from the chair as well, Aurinko slung it around his hips before starting on the second set of ties. “But so are we, when it comes right down to it.”

“If you were standing guard before, why weren’t you wearing all this armor?”

Chuckling softly, the Kaarme lifted his weapon belt, wrapping the crimson silk around his waist several times and giving his sheathed blades a last automatic adjustment. “Some habits are hard to break.” He cast a glance at the elven child, who looked mystified at the meaning of that answer. Aurinko only smiled again, drawing a length of white silk from his pack. He removed the old bandage, checking his left arm quickly before binding the new length of cloth about his limb and settling a hand on Pelastaa’s hilt. “Now, I have business at the complex, so I will wish you a good day.”

Rana blinked, hesitating for a moment as she inspected the now armored swordsman and made the natural conclusions. “Good luck, Aurinko. Be careful.”

“As best I can, rikka. As best I can.”

Aurinko moved smoothly through the crowds funneling into the complex, following the signs indicating the way to the Cellar Arena. His thoughts were vague, preoccupied musings, touching lightly against his perception before fluttering away. The Kaarme Phry turned, slipping out of the press of spectators flowing towards their seats, and angled his steps towards the door marked out as the path for entrants. An official detained him only for the moment necessary to check the swordsman’s name against the list of registered competitors, and to direct his gaze to the words inscribed in the stone mantle above the ingress.

Some manner of magic to interdict healing. That simply meant that Aurinko would need to exercise appropriate caution when using Leikata. Nodding his thanks to the official, the Kaarme continued forward, descending the spiraling stairs to another set of halls deeper within the complex. That path terminated in a metal gate, where the swordsman and his fellow competitors waited; it hissed open with a puff of water vapor, and there was a general shuffling forward as Aurinko and the others moved into a smaller compartment barred by another gate. More cattle pen than foyer… The errant thought drifted away.

Once inside, the Kaarme Phry pressed lightly on the hilts of his blades, angling their sheathes up as he knelt gracefully and swept his gaze over each rival entrant in turn. Resting his hands palm down on his knees, Aurinko drew in a deep breath, holding it as he closed his eyes and sought out the calm and quiet within that would serve as the balance for the impending chaos without.

Inhale life
this scent of cherry blossoms
a wind fair and free.

Distantly, the swordsman was aware of the gate behind him closing, a gentle pneumatic hiss that matched his own exhalation as he expelled the breath and soft darkness embraced the miniature foyer.

Exhale death
that pale, shrunken conniver.
Lift thy blade.

Light pulsed faintly against the Kaarme’s eyelids as the way forward opened with a sibilant whoosh of mechanical movement. The illumination was accompanied by a buzz, felt through his knees and down his legs, heard as a subtly dissonant tone of no discernable source. Aurinko’s reptilian eyes slid open to calmly consider the pristine Arena before them: white walls, mirrors, pillars with cycling threads of light. He drew one breath and then another, consciously timing each to the rhythm established by those spinning strands of illumination.

His voice was calm, his enunciation precise, a verbal mirror of the quiet perfection before him. “And by this drawing grant that I may cast a little light. And by that casting grant that I may drive back the night.”

Aurinko rose to his feet, pacing into the arid embrace of the Cellar’s warmth and light. His right hand fell to Leikata’s hilt as he turned left from the entrance and angled towards the nearest pillar. The blade shard came free with a soft scrape of metal against leather, then rose and lightly brushed his left arm. With the whisper of scale parting beneath steel, and without the slightest sign of discomfort, the Kaarme Phry drew a careful wound across the limb, just long enough to wet Leikata’s remnant shard along half its length.

Pushing the silk band around his arm down to cover the shallow cut, Aurinko tugged it tight as he turned back to face the entryway. The wound would continue to bleed, but the silk would at least prevent it from leaking freely. Flicking his right wrist gently, the swordsman scattered droplets of blood from the shard, which was now ever so slightly humming a counterpoint to the Arena’s buzzing background tone. “And by this sacrifice grant that I may fulfill Dawn’s Promise to us all.”
AQ DF MQ  Post #: 2
7/16/2018 4:07:44   

White. Merely white was seen across a plain covered by a heavy mist. They swerve, neither in order or chaos. The mist dominated the plain, rulers of timeless recollections. Then, a soundless wind blasted against the mist forming an encampment.

Hollow clangs, ghostly bonfires. Misty blades swung at ever-shifting shields, as cries of battle boomed across the vanishing plain. Ghostly figures fought on, never seeing an end to the fighting. “What is justice to you, Michalis?” Horses, ever deforming and reforming in faint spurts of recollection, galloped past the forgotten soldiers. One horse had a rider of the living dressed in teal garbs and polished steel armor, the other just yet another faceless and ghostly figure of similar uniform.

“Justice. The will to set things right, regardless of where you stand in life.” The horses kept going, the riders clanging to the reins. The mist began to rise, enveloping everything before shifting to yet another recollection of events.

The living man was there too, holding a banner high above him. He motioned his arm, striking his chest, head lifted up. From the beyond, shadowed by the coming darkness, a formless mass encroached. Next to the living man stood the same faceless figure, mace and shield ready to protect the one filled with life still. Then, the man breathed in, letting out a heartfelt verse, made for the entire world to hear. His voice, despite that of a holy man, was not of an angel but a true man of the mortal plain.

No matter the odds we may face,
Our bonds are what allows us to stand together,
Solstice and Tyrfing stood side by side for justice,
Now we shall fight with their will to destroy villainy,
Never shall we disband bonds even as enemies,
For that is how the odds truly win,
Allow us to rise above our fates and standing,
For a future that we all may share and revel in.

The living man looked to the faceless figure, letting out a subtle smile. “Well, my friend. Let us not be hypocrites now.” The faceless figure rose his head up, before the two succumbed to the mist once more.

The mist settled once more, with only the living man. He carried a bag thrown over his shoulder, only dressed in merely a humble beige tunic, trousers, and dirtied boots. My bonds remain intact. Yet, I can’t in good conscious beside an order that construes justice for merely their own benefit. If I must leave, I must. There shall be no regrets, for merely staying in the past leads to stagnation.

Suddenly and chaotically, the faceless figure formed behind him, rising from the mist. He lunged his body forward, arm stretched out hand in a claw-like manner. Yet the man, despite walking slowly, escaped the figure’s grasp, unflinching, with not a slight look behind.

The mist settled, this time to return to the swerves they made beforehand, having grown darker afterwards.

With hustle and bustle, crowds swarmed the streets despite the recent elemental destruction. Speculation, hope, and excitement beamed from their faces. Fate was no concern to these people. Michalis chuckled to himself lightly tapping away a piece of debris. Their hope befitted his ideal, giving him a small bit of hope as well.

He rested against a wall behind a performing trio of musicians, dominated by wind instruments only. Their song, jovial and energetic yet simple, attracted a small crowd before the fighting were to begin. They wore nothing elaborate, merely clothes made for travel. Michalis’ eye then stared to the heavens above him, invisible even to him.

As the trio performed their last tune, the center-front leader of the three bowed, arm stretched to the side. “Thank you thank you. Before we finish for the day, the Flying Pelicans would like to introduce a guest for the day. Giving not a name, we decided one for him. Allow us to welcome the Mangled Hawk.” Michalis coughed to the side. Mangled Hawk, people can give quite half befitting and half strange nicknames. As the leader danced to the side, Michalis strode right onto center stage, his eye observing everyone he was surrounded by. Hidden by his cloak, a soft smile formed, like a father seeing their child grow up and doing something extraordinarily.

“Thank you, Geoffrey, for allowing me to present everyone around a small tune. Short and sweet, it is one that speaks an ideal. An ideal that I hope everyone strives for in their near futures. Now, if you three would begin proper,” Michalis twisted his head slightly to the right, as Geoffrey motioned the others to play.

Their tune began slow, but built up softly to something vaguely triumphant. Michalis held out his hand over him, then stretched his arm out, palm towards the sky. He then swung his arm to the side, face looking downward, eye closed. He sung softly, but surely.

“What is hope?
Where can one find it,” they say,
Despair encroaches all around us,
Threatening to be our way of living,
Despair sees us as pawns
Is this the end of each living being’s life?.

No! We are not pawns!
Pawns of nothing, not even destiny and fate!
For we are more than that!
Come forth! Stand together!
Come forth! Live Together!
Together, we can succeed!

Michalis practically embraced himself as the trio sped up and blew ever so more loudly. Then with a deliberate motion, he spread his arms like a hawk flying in the sky, swiftly and heroically.

We are all the light within the darkness!
We are what controls our futures!
Rise! Rise forth!
Even against destruction,
Nothing shall destroy the walls made by bonds!
For the light within the darkness never fades!

As soon as that last verse burst throughout the crowd, a rock was hurled towards Michalis. He then twisted his torso as he caught it, without stopping his short song.

Even with differences threatening disparity,
Nothing can break the chains made by bonds!
Despair shall be pushed back once more,
For we are not pawns of fate!
When the last stand comes,
We shall succeed, being our own torches!

With that last verse, he harmlessly tossed the rock back to where it was thrown. “Now, if one were to be forthcoming to who threw that?” He knelt down, eye analyzing faces in front of him. “I suppose someone disagreed with my ideal. That, or think ideals are a waste of time. No matter. I can’t force someone to think in my terms. As such, I must bid adieu.” Ideals certainly can bring conflict, but the ideal to bring hope and rise above fate was his true drive in life. As he bowed to both the crowd and Geoffrey, a simple man emerged from the crowd, arms crossed. He obviously was that of a poorer class. Not poor enough to unable to feed himself but still not enough to have at least a truly satisfactory living.

“Yet, you are clearly here to fight in the arena. To gain the wish. You speak of not being a pawn of fate but it sounds like you are. No one comes to the arena just to fight for honor or ideals. Everything they do in there is for themselves.” Despite the implications of being a hypocrite, Michalis merely chuckled to himself, unable to even show a faint hint of anger.

“Is that so,” he spoke absentmindedly as he slid a hand into his pocket. He then lifted up the front-side of his cloak, before turning to meet the man. “I suppose it might seem that way. Indeed, I faced a truly harsh failure in life.” Hopping off the platform, he strode towards the simple man.

“At least you implied what you truly want.” As the man spoke, he spoke not out of anger, but of disappointment. As if he was used to this, Michalis noted.

“Did I really?” Michalis looked up to the sky once more. “In that aspect, I do think one must show their ideals rather than merely speak of it. It seems you have hit a rough spot in life, in turn.”

The man rolled his eyes at the obvious observation. “Yes.”

“Allow me to offer you this then. I am heading to the Cellar to fight in. I would like you to watch me. That way, you can truly make an educated conclusion about what I really want, alright?”

“I guess that sounds fine, good to see someone’s true colors.” Still not convinced, the man merged into the crowd once more.

Michalis tugged at his shirt before he turned to Geoffrey. “I must head off now. Wish you luck on your endeavors.” Geoffrey scratched his head however.

“Surprised you didn’t act with even the barest of hostility, what was with that?”

“You get used to people not believing in ideals at one point or another. Why should I force someone to try and see my viewpoint? I personally believe that leads nowhere but broken bones. In which case, see you afterwards.”

An arena official guided Michalis to the starting position, as to not get lost within the crowd of spectators waiting to see the action to start. “By the lords, competitors and spectators should not go through the same pathways,” the official exasperated. “Hopefully you are prepared, my friend, for here no one can treat wounds in any way.”

She then motioned Michalis towards the now found starting entrance. “Here you go. Good luck. Don’t die. Whatever you feel like doing. You are on your own now.” Michalis then shook his head, knowing how the field of battle already behaves. Truth be told, he was in an empire’s military, one that inspired fear to take over other countries, despite having a defensive foreign policy.

As he entered, each other entrant was inside the same starting position tailored as a foyer. As soon he step foot inside, the room grew dark, air tasteless. Then with a hiss, a second set of doors open before him. Once the competition truly and properly began, he rushed away the combatants a short distance away, like a river no longer barred.

He swiftly brandished his blade, Tyrfing, as his three sets of daggers and chain swung a bit from their clips resting at his hip. As he did this one motion, a buzz crept along his bones, a buzz that grated the ears. Yet he had a goal, and he would not let minor disturbances distract him. As he faced away the pillars with the swirling light behind him, he quickly looked at the other combatants.

The blade pointed diagonally downwards, as his piercing gaze went past the sword back to any will-be opponent. He slouched forward, feet planted across the ground. Sing not for now, but still, the Spiritful has arrived in the arena, with a blade of hope in his hands.
DF  Post #: 3
7/16/2018 22:19:12   

Cadmooz was in a mood. He and the Ground Tribe had been delayed by a particularly nasty hydra, and he had not been able to join the glorious combat. You can't exactly harm a Hell Hydra with water, boiling or not. The delay, however, had taken far too long, and Cadmooz had planned to arrive only a day early as it was!

Having entered the city, he found the most interesting thing to see was the mortals. How small and frail were they! How could they live lives with purpose, knowing they could die at any second? How bad the trailers of them all, the uninteresting human, take such control of the world as they had, without the connection to the primordial forces held by the dragons, the fae, and the chikencows? P synapse Zeuster would allow him to take his leave of Mootopolis and travel the world, both to spread the glorious news of Zeuster's divinity and to study these curious bipeds that would worship him.

After tearing his eyes from the strange creatures, he noticed that many of them were tearing down temporary structures, a curious thing to build with houses and taverns within sight. Realizing this must be a sign-up booth for the tournament, Cadmooz strolled over and asked if he was the mortals in charge of registration.

"Mortal, wha....look, mister, registrations have-" turning around , the man stopped talking as his face turned chalk white. What a strange reaction, what could it mean? Had he recognized his divinity as a servant of the great and noble god of bacon, and he intended to worship him? Ah, or course, his illusory flames! The man must think him a fire hazard! Before Cadmooz could assure him of the game's harmlessness, however, the man seemed to have regained his tongue, with a shaky smile too boot. "Ah, I think I can fit you in, sir. Could I have your name please? "

As he walked through the doors, he took just a moment to wonder at the variety of unusual creatures he had been arranged with. He has written home to his mate before he was called to the arena, detailing the wonderful and weird hodgepodge that was yet cohesive, a town beyond his understandings, and yet here were more that surprised him again!

It was only a moment however. Cadmooz was quick to locate the right corner furthest from the door and quickly stride there. He would much rather remain in the heat of Glorious Battle, but his purpose given by his deity meant he had to fight intelligently. He then turned, thrust his sword out and bellowed, "Glory and thanks be to Zeuster! May your flesh make a worthy sacrifice to his power and majesty, or your honourable blade rend mine, a sacrifice to his beauty and wisdom! Death, Or VICTORY!!! " he then took a wide stance with his back to the corner, holding his blade so his arm crossed his chest and the back of his sword ran parallel to his arm.
Post #: 4
7/16/2018 23:36:06   

Dear Sylvia,
Today a group of Followers of Laru passed through our village. They stayed for most of the day. The Elder didn’t like that at all. He called them lawless vigilantes, and cursed the largest one near to oblivion. He was a curious looking fellow with bits of yellow light all over his face, like you get from sticking fireflies in a paper lantern. Seemed to be the leader of them, or at least the oldest, though if you ask the Elder, that makes you the leader. The Followers seemed unfazed by the old man’s shouting. They asked us about a stranger who had passed by recently. I knew a bit about him, as he had tried to buy a few of my sheep while he was in town. He was awful cross when I explained I didn’t have any to spare, and the next day two were missing. When I told them about it, they seem mighty keen to label him a sheep thief. I wasn’t gonna say it was him for sure, but after I got to thinking it seemed like an awful big coincidence. Still, if he does have my sheep, they said they’d bring them back, so I won’t lose any sleep on it. They claim the man was a bandit and a thief, wanted for the death of three families in a bandit raid farther north. I thought the man was a little nervous, sure, but I don’t know why a raider would want my sheep.
Anyway, they stayed for dinner that night. Helped with the chores around town as well, real mannerly. They didn’t have any money to pay for a room, so a couple of farmers let them stay in their stables since they helped out quite a bit with the chores. They raise those young one’s right, you should have seen how much hay they shoveled. The smallest one got charged by one of Olef’s bulls, and they boy wrestled it to the ground no problem, straight by the horns. Still, can’t help but feel for all their helpfulness and manners, they were constantly sizing me up. Sorta like aunt Martha used to size up melons at the fall market. Some of the questions they asked about me put me on edge. The older one seemed more restrained, but the young girls asked me some frightfully private things. Whether I had ever stolen, whether I had ever killed. Odd folks, those monks.
Plan on Martha and I coming down in a few weeks. Need to pick up some clothes and spices, and traders aren’t due for a few more months.
Much love,
Your Brother, Edgar

“You sit before us as an Unapologetic, Ragar. We bring Balance. Why would you resist?”
The man flinched as his name was said by the shorter man. He peered up at him from his kneeling position, his hands tied behind his back. Not that being unbound would help very much. When the four had approached his camp, he was taken aback at the group of cloaked figures standing before him in the very early morning light. He could hardly make them out in the pre-dawn radiance, their grey cloaks robbing him of much distinguishing color. One stepped forward, and showed his hands. It was then that Ragar reached for the brutal battle axe he kept at his side at all times. On the monks hands were large, bright gauntlets, sparkling bright yellow, even in the low morning light. Ragar raised his axe and brought it down in a brutal overhand chop, aiming to make short work of the monk with a blow to the head. His blow never met it’s intended target though, as brittle iron met bold dragon scale, and the blade of the axe was stopped by a strong forearm. The monk’s other hand grabbed the wrist that held the axe, twisting it violently. The axe dropped, and the monk worked two powerful strikes into his opponents abdomen, his gauntlets flashing like streaks of lightning. Ragar hunched over in pain, and the monk took a step back, before driving a powerful heel to the front of the knee. With an audible crack, Ragar fell to his back, now whimpering in pain. He was pulled to a kneeling position, his hands bound then bound. Now the monk stood in front of him.
“You have killed families, stolen their things, and now have resorted to stealing livestock, as well,” Finthick motioned to the sheep hides that lay not to far away, a little saddened they did not reach the bandit before the animals were slaughtered, “this is your last chance to come to us willingly. Your spirit will be brought to Balance.”
Ragar, for his credit, spat at Finthick’s feet. He could feel something broken in chest, his unarmored body having taken the brunt of the steel plated strikes. Finthick solemnly moved forward, and with a quick motion ended his life. He then pulled the axe from where it lay, and went to work on a nearby tree, cutting limbs for a pyre, while the three monks he traveled with began the pre-funeral rituals unique to their order. Wordlessly, they burned Ragar, releasing his spirit to the beyond, finally having Balance.

As the four of them looked over the city of Bren, Keeper Alice looked to the Retributor who had been sent with the younger monks. She had hardly ever seen one of their kind before, other than the stodgy old men who spoke of their service to the Lessons as if they happened so long ago that no one would dare repeat the encounters out of hallowed respect for their great legend. She expected this man to be just as proud and uptight, but was generally pleased to have been wrong. He seemed to be humble, polite, and was even warming up to the younger monks, who had shown an incessant need to pester him with questions about life outside the monastery. She had been ecstatic to have been summoned, along with Keeper Osren, to the Council’s chamber. A Healer had already been present when they arrived, both of them nearly jumping out of their skin with anticipation when the runner had told them they had been assigned to a recording team. The Healer they knew by name and face, an older girl than the two late teens, but still as sheltered and naïve as the Keepers that bowed to her. Healer Yvette had promising skill as a healer, with nimble fingers and good sense, even when presented with gruesome wounds. They were told to head to city of Bren, where a tournament of sorts would take place, and a large amount of elemental energies would converge. Normally, a senior Keeper was sent each year, but this year, the Council decided they were sick of incomplete spectator accounts, and instead wanted the grade a experience. It was for this reason they had sent word to a Retributor, the soldiers of the Lessons. He was to take part in these games, and win if possible, so that they might have some form of first person account. These three would go with him, his lore keepers and medic, so that he could arrive and return from the games, unscathed. They were given a sack of gold, three packs, and enough parchment and charcoal to fill a royal library, and sent north.

“Do you think you’ll be hurt at all, Retributor Finthick?” Healer Yvette asked, nervously pulling at her long hair. She was a nervous one, as far as monks went. Finthick often wondered where her Balance would lie, upon what path, but often decided it was not his place to wonder on something so personal of another monk. She was perhaps ten years his younger, the Keepers even more than that, but he welcomed their company, as curious and incessant with questions as they were.
Keeper Osren, well reserved most of the time, spoke up, “Retributor Finthick’s Balance will see him through. He was sent for a reason. The Council is not flawed in their judgement.”
Finthick shook his head beneath his hood, a small little chuckle leaving his lips. Keeper Osren was an idealist, sure. His faith in the Lessons had never been shaken, nor should it have been in the vast libraries that were his world. He and Keeper Alice were both excellent Keepers, already proficient in different hand-to-hand stylings, but that was where the similarities ended. Apart from Finthick, Keeper Alice was the obvious leader of the group. She took charge in most encounters they had on the road, and she was the only one that hadn’t shown some obvious reaction when Finthick brought balance to the raider they had been tracking. She had discussed it with him, they all had. But she had a certain strength of character that let her accept the Unapologetic’s death, and not dwell on it until she had time. Finthick shook himself from his quiet compilation, saying, “Perhaps, Healer. I have a formidable style, but one must always remember that he has betters in this world. Whether mine lay within that city is not known to me. However, it is known to me that it is my duty to carry out the will of the Council, and they wish me to participate. Given the chance, however, I will surrender and avoid my own death.”
Healer Yvette chewed on this a minute, and seemed determined to say more, but as cut off by Keeper Alice, “I’m sure you will be fine, Retributor Finthick.”
It was about this time that they approached the tournament officials. Things got quiet between the group as Finthick registered. The monk was oddly calm and even, though his younger companions grew more anxious as each moment brought him closer to entering the arena.

Finthick moved his shoulders back and forth as he walked down the stairs. He could feel energy building up in him, bit by bit, as he made his way into the foyer of this deep, dark cellar. The stone of the steps felt frighteningly warm against Finthick’s wrapped feet. He could feel the warm all over his body, having left his cloak with his companions. It was an unnatural warm, but it was the stillness that bothered him the most. He flinched slightly as the doors shut behind him, gazing about at his opponents. He could feel the crushing weight of the ground above him, acutely aware of the distance between him and the open sky. It was a part of his draconic heritage, this fear of being buried. He always felt more at home outdoors, under the blue sky, where a true drake should be. Even if he was flightless, he knew where his place lay, and couldn’t wait until he was out of this cave. He began pulling on his gauntlets as a faint, mechanical whirring signaled the opening of the doors to the arena proper. His vision slipped for a minute, the new light making everything appear just a bit brighter, and a faint irritation in his eyes as they again readjusted to the low light of the arena. His scaled hands catching each available piece of light, he walked in, still moving as much as he could, hopefully having enough energy to let an arc fly, even if it would be a bit weaker, or electrify his fists. Slipping past his opponents, assumed a ready stance just a short distance away from the others, rocking back and forth on his feet, keeping moving.
DF MQ  Post #: 5
7/17/2018 22:13:42   

“Drown. . .”

The child awoke in the abyss. At first, there was nothing; no light, no sensation. She was aware but felt nothing, knew nothing. She simply existed in suspension.

But then, light emerged through the abyss, and the girl could see at last. Its warmth rushed over her body, and she felt alive as her strength returned. She looked up at the light, the beams shimmering through the waves. In this world of absolute darkness, the only world she had, the light was here with her. Despite having no words, she opened her mouth to praise the light.

At once, the water rushed to take her breath, strangling the life out of her. She clutched her chest as the warmth faded, the cold gnawing at her insides. Her she looked up, her gaze fixed to the blessed light. Slowly, it receded, the abyss reclaiming the waters.

She tried to chase after the light, tossing her arms and legs with what remaining life she could muster. But the light was so far away, and the cold was too strong. Her violent movements came to a still as the pain filled her lungs. With her last gasp, she reached towards the dying light above, but there was no savior, no helping hand; only a booming voice as the child sunk deeper.


All went dark and silent; the pain was gone.


Autumn clutched her sheets as she fell to the floor with a thud.

“. . Autumn?!”

As her senses slowly returned, Autumn laid panting in Noelle’s arms. The lamp was on, illuminating the room with a soft glow. She was drenched in a cold sweat, her skin a ghostly white. Noelle parted her friend’s orange hair and looked into her eyes.

“Autumn, it’s okay- I’m here! YOU’RE here . . .”

Her breath slowed as Noelle held out her hand. With a nod, Autumn took her arm as Noelle brought her to her feet. She stumbled for a moment, the world still forming in her mind as she took her place on the bed.

“Wait here. I will be right back-”

Noelle scampered away and out of her existence, leaving Autumn with her thoughts. Autumn rubbed her swollen eyes before looking around the inn room. Sheets of paper were scattered across the room, their surfaces lined with as much black ink as possible. She had grown quite familiar with the surrounding town in the past two weeks. Shopkeeps, observers, former contestants — Noelle and her had squeezed any information from anyone about the Elemental Championships. Her eyes had wandered to a single flyer near her bed post. She took it into her hands, her grip nearly tearing it in half.

“One wish to the victor!”

Noelle quietly stepped back into the room with a cup in each hand. She noticed Autumn fixated on the flyer as she drew closer.

“Hey. . . “ Noelle spoke softly as not to startle her friend. Autumn turned towards her, gently placing the flyer on her lap. Noelle sat next to Autumn and passed her the drink. A wave of warmth flowed through Autumn as she quickly gulped it down.

“Thanks, Noelle. Sorry for waking you.”

“No, no, it’s fine!” Noelle finished her own glass before setting it to the side. She ran her fingers through her own blonde hair. “I couldn’t sleep anyways with ‘morrow and all.”

“Yeah. . .” Autumn looked down at the flyer on her lap. “I can’t believe it; the chance of a lifetime!” She rose up and walked towards the corner, her eyes fixated on the warscythe. Autumn picked it up, the leather casing worn from its many years of service.

“She gave up her life so that I may live. . .” Autumn trembled as she turned to face Noelle. “I will see this through; I must do this, or else. . .” Autumn fell on her knees, tears pouring down her face. Noelle rushed to meet the weeping girl, taking Autumn into her arms. “I don’t want to die, Noelle. I don’t want to die.”

“You won’t die, Autumn, I promise. One way or another. . . We’ll find a way, okay? The nightmares will be over. ” Autumn nodded once again, pushing herself up. She gently placed the scythe back in its place before sitting back on the bed. “Good. . .” Noelle sighed with relief as she made her way to her own bed. Autumn gave her own sigh as she slid beneath the sheets. "Goodnight, Noelle." She closed her eyes as her mind wandered. Will the nightmares end tomorrow? Or will they end her? She pushed these pointless thoughts away. Tomorrow will be made by her own accord.

As the two made haste to the tournament grounds, Autumn encountered the first of her many challenges. The streets of Bren were flooded with passerbys pushing and shoving in all directions. On multiple occasions, Autumn nearly fell over, barely catching her balance before her war scythe claimed an innocent victim. Autumn cursed under her breath as Noelle and her reached the open plaza.

“I wonder if anyone ever stopped to really think about all this.”

Noelle brushed off her grey robes. “What do you mean?”

Autumn waved her arms towards the crowd. “So many are eager to watch this unfold. What attracts them? Do they enjoy watching others die? ”

Noelle rolled her eyes as she ran her fingers through her hair. “I believe it’s something far simpler. I think everyone has some wish they want fulfilled, but. . . not everyone is able to.” She looked up at the open skies, her eyes filled with wonder. “So instead, they take joy in others achieving their dreams.”

Autumn crossed her arms and frowned. “That sounds terribly defeatist to me, watching everyone else earn their happiness. The untold potential that they have if only they took the chance.”

“And that’s what you’re doing now, right?”

Autumn paused for a moment, stunned in place. When she finally spoke, it was a whisper. “You’re right. . . but I don’t like it, Noelle. . . killing people.” She turned her eyes away from Noelle. “But it’s the best chance we have.”

“Name?” The cloaked official looked over the list of contestants, tracing his quill over each name.


“Autumn. . .?” He paused for a moment and gave her a confused look.

“Just Autumn.” She rolled her eyes as the man scratched his head. Her parents never had the opportunity to give her a last name. As far as Autumn was concerned, they never existed and she just came into being on the orphanage doorstep. It was simpler that way. None of that was his business, however, so Autumn bit her tongue.

“Aha.” The official marked off her name with a satisfying scratch. “So, Autumn, you have been placed in the Cellar arena for the first round. I’m sure this won’t be the last time you are told, but while inside the Cellar, healing magic is negated.” Noelle’s eyes widened, twisting her hair as the official continued. “There will be staff present in the event of your surrender. . . or defeat. Do you understand?”

“I do.” Autumn spoke with clarity, seemingly unphased by the official’s words.

“Then it is done. Follow the stairs behind me to the arena; meanwhile, one of our own will direct your companion to the viewing. May fate find favor with you, combatant!” Her body burned upon hearing that word. Fate. Autumn pushed the spite to the back of her mind and nodded, trying to accept the good gesture. “I appreciate it.” She turned to Noelle, giving her one last hug.

This was it, Noelle realized. She held Autumn tight in her arms as tears dripped from her blue eyes, her bravado shattered. “I’ll be watching from the side. Please. . . Don’t throw your life away. We can find-”

“— Don’t worry.” Autumn interjected. Noelle mouthed as to say something, but before she could, Autumn had stepped back, giving one last wave before making her way down the path. As Autumn walked onwards, Noelle’s gaze followed her, the official’s warning echoing in her mind. Noelle sighed as she went on her own way, clinging to what hope she could muster.

With Noelle away, Autumn’s own composure began to crack as she made her way down. No healing? The thought disgusted her; what sort of game were these Elemental Lords playing? The idea of countless individuals sent to an early grave in the hopes of one wish. . . she swore she wouldn’t become one of them. Regardless, she was thankful for the warning; any cut could mean death, even her own.

Upon reaching the bottom, Autumn saw the entourage the official described. They beckoned her forward, once again restating the nature of the competition and the enchantments of the Cellar. She pretended to listen, instead looking for Noelle in the crowd of spectators. Before she could find her, however, Autumn was dragged off to her starting point.

As Autumn waited at the doors, she scanned over at her competitors and observed. Whereas the others may have been all too eager to shed blood and die, she enjoyed this moment of peace; it would be the last quiet thoughts she might have.

The first opponent to earn her fear was the frost giant; Autumn could practically smell the ice essence swelling from him. His large stature matched his equally large axe. Autumn knew that she wouldn’t stand a chance in a brawl against him. At the same time, there was the matter of the shirtless monk. Formidable in his own, she could sense that ancient, unmistakable magic dwelling within him. . . Dragons? Did he commune with dragons?! Autumn shuttered to think of the potential power the man possessed.

Autumn couldn’t gather too much from the others, however. There was a knight in red armor with a unique air of magic surrounding him; what it was, Autumn had no idea, wary of his presence. Likewise, she could make out a furry creature among them, the idea leaving her equally puzzled. There was the older figure; Autumn caught a glimpse of his sewn-shut eye. In the end, her gaze fell upon the last individual, a reptilian man in exotic armor. Autumn sensed no magic from the combatant, but something turned in her mind as she observed him.

While she was distracted, the doors opened with a hiss, revealing the open arena. Autumn clutched her ears as the booming voice announced the beginning of what would come. Some of the competitors dashed past her to hold their ground. Autumn gritted her teeth as she rushed past the left pillar and placed her back to it. Once there, she pulled on the chains on her chest, letting them rattle on the ground. With her scythe in hand, she peered around the corner to examine the area. The man with the sewn-eye was brandishing his sword, likely ready to strike at a moment’s notice.

“I don’t need to kill. . .” Autumn reaffirmed herself. “I just need to prove my worth.”

AQ DF AQW  Post #: 6
7/18/2018 16:17:44   

It is quite warm in these lands, and the people here seem so excited about this tournament event even though they are still in the midst of repairing their homes. Such a strange lot that live here one would think that they’d focus on rebuilding first then prioritize such a tournament.

Voric had opted to remain outside the city until it was time for the tournament in the morning. Too used to sleeping under the stars and doubt of a building or bed that would fit him being within the city. On his journey to Bren he always spent part of his night before sleeping studying the way the stars overhead gradually changed from the sky that he was familiar with the one he rested beneath.

Slumbering beneath an alien sky his mind drifted from the thoughts of the heavens to a memory of the events of his last great bout and the aftermath of it. The battle against the frost wyrm that had lasted so long and taken so much out of him. He should of have died in that battle, he was no match for such a best yet he was here still standing. During the battle an icy whisper of a voice and crept up in the back of his mind, guiding him, strengthening him, aiding him in whatever way it felt it needed. Due to that whisper he stood tall over the wyrm in undeniable victory.

He had never mentioned the existence of the voice to his people, worried that if they knew of it that either they’d seek out a dangerous power too strong for even him to deal with. In the years that past after he felled the wyrm, he looked for information in the places that he could and when that failed he turned to other greater powers beseeching them to know what it was that had whispered to him so long ago and if he could trust it. Recently that whisper had returned and called him to Bern, one more great challenge the power of a single wish. He was called to prove himself here, to show he was worthy of the aid of those inscrutable greater powers.

Waking and stirring from a somewhat fit full slumber Voric rose to face the new dawn and the light it brought. So much brighter than back home and just as gentle and kind as it rose, though today he felt the world tense as it moved past the horizon. Today was the day, the day many would die in the name of gods, to die as entertainment for nobles and the huddled masses a like.

Breathing in the crisp early morning air Voric made his way slowly and carefully through the streets, taking great care not to break what had only recently been fixed or further destroy what was still broken. Pausing once or twice on his journey to the arena to lend a brief hand in moving some the heaviest pieces of debris. He was keenly aware of the silence that fell in his passing and the hushed murmurs that soon followed. Though they did give him a reason to halt his march to the arena, the place he felt most likely would be the place he fell.

Being lead deep beneath the earth, to the arena known as Cellar, a place where one can not heal while within its confines created a small spark of anticipation was born in his heart about this. Waiting by the door to the arena with the rest of the competitors slated for this place, he noted a few seemed much like himself, veterans of conflict those tempered in battle.

As the doors into Cellar opened and almost as one those other brave or foolish souls that were here moved forward. Taking a deep breath Voric strode forward as well while hefting his axe.

“Today is a good day. This place a good place. May we all stand proud in this field of battle!”

Slipping into his battle rage, Voric unleashed a mighty bellow and charged the scaled monk swinging his axe horizontally where the middle of the monk’s body was.
AQ DF MQ AQW  Post #: 7
7/19/2018 0:01:51   
Eternal Wanderer

The other competitors filtered in under Aurinko’s watchful eye, but for an instant the swordsman was distracted. Crimson drops flecked the floor and nearby wall as the motion of his hand scattered them from the blade, but for a single droplet which found the edge of a mirror. And then something most curious happened. The bards might say blood was thicker than water, but a liquid was ultimately a liquid, and the Kaarme had never seen one act like this. Not outside his grandfather’s laboratory anyway. Improbably, against all sense, the globule of blood bounced, ricocheting off the mirror rather than splattering against it.

It was an intriguing observation, but one that would need to be given proper consideration later. For now, the swordsman had a distracting sight of his own to impart on the other entrants. Lifting Leikata, the Kaarme Phry turned the broken blade, angling it parallel to his body; his left hand rose and cupped around the shard as a voice from the past whispered in his mind. “Remember, poika, that all warfare is deception.”

Aurinko’s breathing was slow, regular, and still in time with the flashing revolutions of the light strips as he precisely shifted his weight, drawing his right hand up and back while his left moved forward and down in a graceful arc. Cerulean light glittered through his fingers as they parted, condensing into a wakizashi-length blade of radiance sharper and harder than steel. The motion finished with the Kaarme poised, right hand bearing the faintly pulsing Leikata overhead with its curved blade pointed slightly left of center. His left hand was outstretched, angled down and away from his body, fingers loose and ready.

Now it was a simple matter of choosing his opponent.

Center, before the gate. Human in appearance, aged, battle-scarred. One eye was sewn shut, though he was clad in an armored jack and war-worn cloak. In his hand the man bore a shining sword, though other weapons clinked at his hips. Aurinko’s lips twitched slightly. Like to like, perhaps.

Right corner, back to the wall. The Kaarme Phry was not certain just what it was. There were aspects to its form that were Kotka in nature, the taloned feet and avian visage certainly. But it was intermingled with something else. A touch of mystery.

Further considerations were overridden by the creature’s bellow. It had a battle captain’s lungs, if nothing else. Zuester was not a god known to Aurinko, but the swordsman was willing to allow his opponents their beliefs, if not their peace.

Centerward, shifting. Another human? This one younger, though impressively scarred in his own right. Unarmed but for what appeared to be gauntlets or cestus upon his hands. Knuckle studs caught flashes of the Arena’s light, which also sparked off yellowed scales of unknown origin worked into the construction. Unencumbered and swift.

Far pillar, hiding. A flash of movement drew the Kaarme’s eye. This one seemed human as well, in her black tunic and leather armor. Metal clattered in the relative silence that followed the Kotka-thing’s cry, and the woman peeked almost timidly out from behind her chosen cover. The scythe in her grasp was rather at odds with her hesitancy. Reaping reach.

The tableau held; the others had shown no interest in engaging. But such a stalemate was ultimately untenable. After all, they were here to fight, not just strike poses. Decision firmed. Let us see what you are hiding.

Pivoting ever so slightly left, the Kaarme Phry broke from his ready stance. Leikata turned, its blade angling up as his right hand descended; his left hand rose to clasp the weapon’s hilt, and Aurinko assumed the stance of Sentry’s Watch. Stepping forward, the swordsman advanced upon the old warrior and the pankrationist, when a new player stepped into Arena.

From the gate, charging. This one was large, and for a moment the Kaarme’s impression was of a Vastaa: all roaring strength and guileless ferocity. It helped that the giant was wearing what appeared to be a pelt from one of the great white bears as he bore down upon the brawler, brandishing a heavy axe. A convenient distraction.

With the grappler no doubt occupied by his newfound sparring partner, all that remained between Aurinko and his target was the aged man. Continuing his forward march, the swordsman angled slightly towards the gate, which would take him out of the direct line of a turning strike by the battered veteran, but that was all the allowance given by the Kaarme Phry’s chosen path. Elsewise, his approach was steady and direct, making it very clear that he was advancing on the scythe-bearing woman.

Steps quickening
in breathless anticipation of
blade’s unsheathing

The swordsman smiled, lips skinning back to bare his fangs. Oh yes, he was looking forward to this.
AQ DF MQ  Post #: 8
7/19/2018 20:59:31   

Surprisingly, no one actually pursued, most if not all the combatants giving each other breathing room. Moment passed. Yet another. Someone roared about glory and thanks to a presumed god of Zeuster. Perhaps a god of war, whose warriors are more blood-thirsty than that of Tyrfing. However, he too made no move.

Time passed a bit more. Then a moment more. Silence.

Was no one going t- Ahh, yes, there, a giant of some kind came to the field of battle. From his pelt and manner of attack against the unarmed fighter, he most likely hailed from a less than sophisticated background, to no fault of their own.

With that, all of his potential opponents were clear in his mind. A reptilian swordsman, armor of most likely foreign origin, wielded a true blade of light. Eyebrow raised, Michalis took notice of the band around the wrist, not having catch the circumstance behind it.

While the reptilian fighter did not seem quite strange to him, a long life having lead to many peculiar events, people, and creatures, the one who provoked Zeuster’s name was an abomination to his eyes. Part rooster, part cow, part man. What kind of creature is this and who created it? Yes, it follows a god named Zeuster, but does that actually mean Zeuster created that amalgamation of creatures?

The one who must face the giant was unarmed, but his practiced stance aired years of training. Modest in looks, rigorous in the art of fighting.

The last one he took note was a woman letting loose chains near a pillar and bearing a scythe. As a somewhat humble blacksmith and soldier at that, he never seen anyone actually attempt to use a scythe in serious battle. Far too clumsy, in his view. Might as well go for the humble but ever so powerful spear. That way one can stay on target and backpeddle at a surprising speed.

With a huff, he sauntered up to the woman, not worried at all. He reached over his shoulder, stowing his sword in the meantime. In the same motion, he released one of his sets of daggers, two daggers tied together by rope at the ends. As he approached, he casually twirled one end to loosen his wrist when attention caught his sharp left, behind him. The swordsman made his approach, but was a tad strange.

By the trajectory, he planned to avoid a surprise swipe. Yet destiny can be a funny thing, disregarding any person’s intentions in life. With his path clear, both of their destinations were but the same. The battlefield was no different, the supposed embodiment of chaos. Fight multiple soldiers, only for more to come, in which one must cut them all down to survive. Cruel, but true.

With a sudden burst of speed, Michalis quickened his steady pace towards the pillar. Ready to combat two opponents at once, he moved towards the opposing side of where he thought the swordsman would settle. In this same pace, he started a small verse, hopefully to effect the blade of light. Audible yet ever so foreboding to the ears. Quiet for a song, but treacherous to those in the vicinity. He began to recite the verse Beginning, the point where in a hero's journey they are at their weakest.

When a god is born,
Does his life bring hope and peace?
Or does it bring destruction and ruin?
Precedent been made, Tyrfing set forth,

While he sang, he steadily moved one end of the rope farther from him. Once he set foot in range, he jerked the longer piece of rope and dagger at the woman, hopefully in a way that curves around the pillar to slice at her back. Truth be told though, he was more concerned about the swordsman. The swordsman was not a quiet one, as such hearing should suffice. Should either he or himself come close, he shall limit their movement with the other end.

Into the sunset bloodied by loss
Where he was the weakest of all gods

With a stage whisper, the singing came to its conclusion. Still held by the exposed scabbard, the blade Tyrfing began to emit an eerie grey light. While indeed small, the light spoke an unknown threat. Like the beginning of one’s journey, heroes truly know nothing of what was laid ahead of them. At their weakest, they must rely on the basics of combat. Many famous heroes of Vascole wielded no magical might when they started out their lives. Why should today’s heroes rely on magic when they begin in turn? Everyone starts out somewhere, where they face failure but in turn success as well. This is indeed how patience is gained.

Patience… now that is something Michalis wished his son actually learned. The thought, his son pounding metal hastily, wasting it away without thinking that metal must also cool down steadily and repeatedly. Pound, shatter. Pound, shatter. Such a repetitive scenario. Nevertheless, the past is, as unfortunate it may sound, the past. What right does he have to change it? None, for his true goal is clear in the end. Vascole just simply needs to change, not the past. He was a paladin in heart, one does not simply betray their beliefs.
DF  Post #: 9
7/19/2018 22:13:53   
Ronin Of Dreams
Still Watching...

Sunlight sparkled off of metallic fur as Lodesh-Tinphair soaked in the rays, cradled as he was atop a burlap awning. He had staked out a stall within the arena walls, choosing an elderly fruit seller who let her wares do the talking for her. It was a mild consideration, given the way he dampened sound around him, but it was courtesy at work. Courtesy paid forward, as the staff had shown him great courtesy and patience when he had signed in with a forepaw. Someone, somewhere, had prepared for either more of F.E.R.R.E.T. kind or, perhaps, simply a rise in non-humanoid races.

Courtesy or not, it made for a rather comfortable spot for sunbathing. Warm, cozy, and peaceful for the lack of sibkin milling around him.

The crowds were mildly amusing to watch, too, as the thronging humanity and inhumanity mingled and chattered. Speculated or recounted previous years. Difficult as it was, Lodesh-Tinphair tried to key in on mentions of the Third Son. Tidbits of his exploits in the arena, new perspectives on his final moments. They brought depth to the memories and tales shared by Herald, Jester, and the new mixes who blended those gifts of telepathy and empathy. Others should come, experience these conversations, enlighten and brighten the Saga alongside other races.

“Sonya, Sonya, Sonya...there is just no way! He was draped in a cloak of silken starlight! That's how all the tales go - no way a Champion would have given you a gift for your little dolly.”

“Nuh uh! He was so soft and fluffy and cute! I held him in my hands and he gave it to me! He did, I swear!”

What is this? Implanted memories flashed through the ferretine skull, memory scrolls firing impulses along organic neurons. The name felt...familiar. Something vague, but something...original. It perked Lodesh-Tinphair right up, an impulse that had shades of purpose and Calling. He glanced down from the awning, tuning through the inverted noise of his hearing to find the source of the adolescent argument. He looked for kits of the grown races, settling his striped amber eyes upon a teenage boy towering over a blond haired girl. So strange to find her so familiar…

A scrap of shimmering satin, slightly faded but certainly once scarlet fabric threaded with golden trim. Wrapped with great care around a battered and much older bulge of canvas filled with fresh straw. A doll, bedecked in a robe that was legend. It all made sense, even as the older boy continued to berate and disbelieve. “Fibs and fictions, you little brat!”

“I'm telling you the truth, cousin Nikolai! I'm not a big, mean liar like you! That big scary Kriege never gave anyone locks of his fur, you just got that from the old dog of yours back home. Lucar-Narash left it for me!”

The argument, circular as it was, had the hallmarks of no end in sight. Nor did it appear either kit had a parent around to break them up, either. So Lodesh-Tinphair slowly moved to the edge of the awning, springing down and softening his landing with a well practiced mix of mental push and softening air currents. Padded his way over, hidden by the crowd themselves and as silent as ever. Crept behind Sonya and considered his options. He wasn't that much older than a kit himself, really...and his whiskers twitched in a bit of mischief.

Lodesh-Tinphair slowly rose up behind Sonya, taking to the air and drawing a few eyes to the quarreling pair simply by his own spectacle. Angled himself over her left shoulder as he slid his four flechettes and paired scalebreakers into a threatening mantle around himself that quivered lightly under force of will. And as Nikolai slowly took notice and the argument itself grew quiet, he ghosted forward and opened his jaws wise.


By virtue of Thane blood, this particular F.E.R.R.E.T. rarely if ever made noise; training and maturity had led him to embrace the Hush of his nature. But when he chose to, dampening his own traits to make sound, he could be just as terrifying as any other F.E.R.R.E.T. Nikolai jumped with a start and a muted scream before turning and running from the wicked sight and threatening sound. Proving his nature as a kit among humankind, as his screech grew even louder the further away he scampered.

Sonya’s reaction was much more surprising. Though she too started at the sudden sound and appearance in the corner of her eye, she only took a step back before surprise slid fluidly into outright delight. “Oh! Oh!” A hand shot up to her mouth as she heard her own voice twist and fade into silence. Lodesh-Tinphair meanwhile slid his armaments back into place, twisting in midair to blink his eyes at the female human kit. “You! You’re so...different.”

Sonya squealed softly, given the Hush, and bounced excitedly before the tiny construct. “You look so much like him, and yet so different.” She moved in closer, peering with eyes far more keen than her years should be, taking note of the less obvious differences. “Broad paws...are those cat’s eye gems for eyes? So preeetty. And I think you’re a bit bigger too! But no robe or cloak - seems more… subtle? Natural, maybe? Bet that's on purpose!” The girl paused, the sound of her exclamation swiftly swallowed up by the Hush. “Hmmm. So, you float and...do something with sound, right? So you probably wouldn't be able to mute bright colors.”

Her babble was pleasant to his ears, and he let her pluck him out of the air to brush her fingers against his fur. But like most kits, it was also relatively unceasing. “He was so nice when he gave me his robe, you know. And now Nikolai and the rest of my cousins will definitely believe me, hehe!” Her grin turned momentarily smug at that thought, then she glanced down worryingly. “Oh, but you going out of your way for me? That was so, so sweet of you! And you feel almost softer, too. Warm, like being kissed by the sun.” Another worried glance, and suddenly the human kit was darting through the crowd on deft feet. Slipping between adults to get to a posted scroll.

“Oh. Oh dear. Let me see...if Lucar-Narash is your relative...might you be Low desh Tin...tin...fair? Is that right, little one?” Ferretine whiskers bounced lightly as he nodded, still cradled in her grasp. “Oh! Yay! I do hope I got your name right. I had to practice for weeks with Momma to learn your relative’s name.” Again, Sonya swept her way through the crowd as she babbled down to him. “Looks like you’ll be down in Cellar, Lodesh-Tinphair. I'll try to get Momma to let me come watch down there, okay? I think Papa wants to go see Factory, though, but I'll still be wishing you luck either way!”

He began to squirm lightly in her grasp, knowing and feeling like he should get a move on now that he knew where he was supposed to be. But as he did, he noticed that Sonya was already practically there. So, slyly, sneakily as she babbled, he slid one of the scalebreakers into the sash of her doll’s robe. “Now, promise me you'll be careful. Please? I cried so long after...well...what happened to Lucar-Narash.” She sniffled, despite herself, as she put him down near the doors that signaled the descent into Cellar. “Win or lose. Just be safe.”

Lodesh-Tinphair twitched his whiskers again, nodding to Sonya before turning about face and scampering towards destiny. Silent as a Thane, speedy as the zephyrs of his namesake bloodline. And yet he still heard the start of surprise and the happiest of squeals follow him down the stairway…

There was a brief moment of calm and quiet. As darkness filled the confined foyer, Lodesh-Tinphair felt as though he were home in the burrows of the Menagerie once more, his fellow competitors taking the place of the bustle of other kits. Calm, despite their many shapes and sizes, but just as dangerous for wildly uncontrolled outbursts of elemental power, bloodline traits, and innovations of genetic variance.

Steam hissed anew, dashing the calm memory with visions of a stark, unforgiving expanse of polished white. Unnaturally clean, even to a descendant of the meticulously clean race of former clockwork ferrets. Light pulsed, but to him it was a sickly perversion of nature, an affront to Lightsplitters and their ilk. Regular, circular, and without even a scrap of cover - not even a stitch of shadow to conceal his diminutive frame from his towering foes.

This alone would have been a touch despairing, but the acoustic character of the arena was even more off putting. It was a burr that burrowed deep within the bones of the inner ear, a buzz made even more surreal and disturbing for the phase inversion through which Lodesh-Tinphair actually perceived sound. The diminutive ferret shuddered keenly at the vile noise, and in doing so, lost the initiative to the gathering of his opponents.

However...where another being may have reached the same result through a choice of caution, there was still providence to be had in lingering during the initial rush of activity. While others had achieved positions of personal relevance, there was no such location that Lodesh-Tinphair could have really chosen. Instead...it seemed likely that others had overlooked the ferretine construct entirely for lack of looking down low enough within the foyer. Giving the construct a chance to stalk his competition for their oversight, rather than leaping away from the jaws of death and firing down their throats.

So it would be the lessons of the Thane which he would now put to practice. While a truly monstrous giant charged forward into battle and drew plenty of attention, Lodesh-Tinphair slunk through that foreboding doorway. Hooked hard to his left and followed along the mirrored wall, utterly unconcerned about blocking the thin strip of light. Shrouding himself in the confidence of silenced movement as he gripped a flechette tightly with his will.

Ready to take a shot when it better presented itself.
AQ  Post #: 10
7/20/2018 0:21:50   

Finthick eyed each one of his opponents as they entered. A large humanoid had entered before him, taking a place in the arena. He held a long blade, seemingly made from light blue light. Finthick wondered at the humanoid for a moment, wondering if the stance he held was merely the basis of his style, or if it was one within a sequence of stances, much like his own unarmed style. He watched as another man entered, a sword drawn as well, this one emitting a bright light as well, though not of the same nature as the lizard’s. The most curious part of this man was his eye, sewn tightly shut. Finthick wondered what would drive a man to sew an eye shut, and decided to ask him if he ever got the chance. He watched carefully as a woman stood in the far corner, oddly out of place in this arena. She carried a large war scythe, and it was with careful eye that he noted it seemed much shorter than most he had seen. He knew he could make her regret the loss of reach if it came to it. His musing was cut short, though, as a large man bellowed to the competitors.

“Today is a good day. This place a good place. May we all stand proud in this field of battle!” a giant bellowed, hefting an axe taller than Finthick himself.

The dragon monk had turned to face the booming voice, and noted that the giant carried a sort of primal pride to him. He concluded that the skins he was clothed in were the results of collected trophies, but this is where his contemplations ended. THe giant’s face changed, and what had seemed to be a savage face before slipped into something full of primal fury. The rage of an arctic blizzard became apparent upon the giant’s face, and with a booming roar, he charged Finthick, swinging his axe with two hands at Finthick’s waist.

Finthick dropped neatly to the floor, slipping his head to just under the blade of the axe, which would have cleaved him in half had he been any slower. He smiled, just a little, as the giant continued his charge and deftly slipped into “Young Sapling Recovering from Strong Winds.” He planted a strong hand on the giant's arm, planting his leg, strong like the roots of a young oak tree. He leaned back, allowing his muscles to become flexible as the fibers that held the tree together, and pulled the giant forward. His hips became a natural fulcrum, and he forced his opponent over him, adding his force to Voric's momentum.

Voric flew above him, onto the floor of the arena behind him, landing four or five feet behind him. Turning lightly on his feet, Finthick resumed another ready stance, this one still as the large oak tree that grows in the meadows of his homeland, waiting patiently for the storm to resume. He had enough energy for the moment, enough to shock the giant. He needed to be careful of generating too much, and would need to discharge some soon before he overdid it and became paralyzed. Small bits of energy began crackling down his arms, and his eyes glowed slightly in the light of the Cellar. He smiled quietly to himself, ready for the next move by his opponent. A force of Balance was not taken quite so easily, he thought, and I will prove that to every combatant here.
DF MQ  Post #: 11
7/20/2018 9:58:07   

After his declaration, Cadmooz was quite shocked by the lack of action within the cellar. Had they not heard his rousing speech? Why were they so hesitant to enter Glorious Combat and honour Zeus with their battle?!

The sight of the first giant had made him positively giddy, a worthier for he could not imagiNe such, he felt a wave of disappointment as they began fighting with the dragonling. Curse his inactivity! And yet, Cadmooz was right, that this course of action was for the best. He would, however, have to find an opponent himself soon. Over-cautiousness could be as dangerous as recklessness.

He had noticed the weasel, strange and magical, but had written it off as an escaped familiar or something. when it had entered the arena, however, Cadmooz had noticed it scurry in and realized it must too be a contestant. He cursed himself, why had he not studied it more closely? We're his people not easily overlooked by others for their quadirapedal appearence? He would have to be observant for him, but he would look elsewhere for an opponent. A sly small creature against a large, heavily armored chikencow would make for awkward foes, for either side.

The one eyed veteran, another worthy-looking foe, and taken an interest in the swordsman, who was fighting a woman wielding a sikle, nay, a scythe. Ah, perhaps he can enter that particular scuffle, he thought, and not interrupt his another's duel! But as he observed the scuffle commence, he realized his interference would only cause the flow of battle to falter, and one of his competitors would suffer for it.

And that left him with....NO-ONE!? Did these fools feel he was an unworthy challenger!? Did they think him of such little consequence that....Cadmooz calmed himself. Anger would only weaken him at this stage of the battle. He shifted into a loss with his legs shoulder-width and the blade on his shoulder, relaxed but ready. Very well then, he would just have to wait until an opponent had broken away from the scurmish, then he would duel them. He's tried to observe the patterns and skills as he watched, but Cadmooz was a warrior, not a strategiser. Therefore, he relegated himself to watching the sport, while keeping an eye out for the little martin. Perhaps his duel would come earlier than he had hoped!
Post #: 12
7/21/2018 22:52:27   

As battlecries echoed around the Cellar, Autumn held firm as she watched from her cover. She sighed in relief; the monk had introduced the giant to the floor, turning his own strength against him. With her two biggest concerns distracted, Autumn could focus on the others.

It was fortunate, then, as what came next demanded Autumn’s full attention. Waves of cerulean scattered across the walls— the reptile held a blade of solid light within his grasp. Autumn’s grip relaxed, her eyes wide like a child’s. It was beautiful. The swordsman moved with such grace as if the blade were an extension of himself. Of all the emotions, she felt bitter nostalgia.

Autumn could recall when, once upon a time, she wielded the light with such finesse. When she was weak, the light made her strong. When she was lonely, the light comforted her. At least, that’s what Autumn had thought then. But in reality, it was a lie. That divine light was no different than her enemies, stripping those they possessed of their life, their humanity— Autumn had to escape it; she was still trying to.

When Autumn looked at the distant warrior, she saw the blade instead of the man, and it was coming straight towards her. This would be her target, the fight that determined if she was worthy to live on. Of course, fighting it head-on would be suicidal; most of life’s problems are not that simple. Autumn had to start the fight on her own terms.

As Autumn turned and hopped, her gaze met with the other swordsman, his one eye following her movement. Caught up in her awe, she had forgotten that he was even there; Autumn knew that she might pay for overlooking him. He darted out of her vision, likely going to the opposite side of the pillar. She slowly inched her way around the circle with her scythe in front of her, ready to strike at the first sign of the man. As she did so, she could hear a faint voice piercing the open air, a whisper among the thunder.

“When a god is born,
Does his life bring hope and peace?
Or does it bring destruction and ruin?
Precedent been made, Tyrfing set forth. . .”

She assumed that it belonged to the aged swordsman as he was the only one close. Were Autumn in a better position, she might have remarked on the bard’s singing quality or his wisdom; however, she was in no position for praise. Rather, the words left a burning in her chest, her emotions still raw from the reptile’s display. Before she could continue, however, her thoughts were interrupted as a knife came sailing at her from around the pillar. Her reflexes took over as she swiped her scythe, cutting the rope before the knife hit her. It sailed into the nearby mirror and rebounded, sailing several feet away before clanging on the ground.

“Bloody hell. . !”

Autumn had barely registered the knife coming towards her; if she hadn’t had her weapon ready to begin with, it would have struck her in the chest. Autumn cursed her rotten state as she recomposed herself. She had hidden for far too long, allowing herself to be cornered by the two combatants. No more running. Unbeknownst to her, the bard had finished his song, the humming magic lost beneath her thoughts.

Autumn cleared her mind as she twisted her scythe upside-down, both hands on its center of gravity. She needed to deal with her current assailant before she could stand against the reptile. Autumn stretched out her left hand, pouring all of her focus into her palm. She called upon the pain within her, the light of her own humanity, as a ghostly white aura erupted from her grasp. It swirled around as it grew brighter and brighter until it took the form of a sphere. Autumn smirked as she ran her fingers along the ball of mana, its hue closely matching the Cellar's ambient light. Perfect.

With a deep breath, Autumn leaned forward as she readied to dash. She hesitated as her heart pounded like drum. She was alive, and she intended to stay that way. Her fears disappeared as she pushed off her feet. After a few steps, she leaped forward as she passed the pillar's edge with her arms held in front of her. Although Autumn couldn't jump far, especially when burdened by her scythe, she hoped that the bold move would come as a surprise.

The moment the bard came into view, Autumn tossed the orb towards his torso before drawing the scythe to her chest. If her attack connected with her target, then the orb would shatter into a cloud of light as the mana tightened around their victim as a web of barbed chains and shackles. If the orb hit the pillar, then it would shatter the same, perhaps partially ensnaring his shoulder if he was still close, but the remaining chains would fall to the ground.

Autumn gritted her teeth as she tumbled a few feet forward, rolling over her left shoulder until she came to one knee. All went quiet as she closed her eyes. Autumn cringed as her bones ached from the maneuver, the hard floor unkind to her knees and shoulders. Most of all, her wrists burned, likely swollen but still functional. It would all be numb soon, Autumn told herself, but she had no time to wait. She pushed the pointed end of her scythe into the ground to aid her ascent, hoping that all would be well as she turned around.
AQ DF AQW  Post #: 13
7/22/2018 0:05:40   
Eternal Wanderer

It appeared that the aged warrior had the same objective as Aurinko. However, rather than attack the human maneuvered away, breaking centerward to hook around the Arena’s top-left pillar. It would seem that the woman and her scythe were about to be faced with two opponents. The Kaarme was not overly bothered by the prospect. Some might have thought combining forces against a woman to be a coward’s tactic, yet the swordsman had no intention of making common cause with the battered veteran. For the moment it seemed they were upon similar paths, but that did not mean Aurinko would hesitate to strike the old man down should the opportunity present itself.

After all, the crowd had come for bloodsport, and though the competitors were drawn to Bren for their own reasons, each was required to brutalize the others for the favor of whatever Powers ruled this place. Theirs was the only approval that mattered.

Abandoning his slow approach, the Kaarme Phry burst into motion in a rattle of harness, the faulds of his kusazuri clattering against his legs. His target shifted back, fading slightly behind the pillar. Facing the old man, not running. Closing with his target, the swordsman shifted - Leikata tilted around to angle back and over his left shoulder - as he prepared the strike. And then between one step and the next, he encountered the day’s second curious occurrence.

There was a subtle change in the air, a gentle pressure as if the Kaarme had run straight into a net of delicate cobwebs. Leikata’s azure blade stuttered in his hands, and it was almost enough to jar Aurinko’s concentration. The weapon of hardened light flickered out before surging to life again in a blazing coruscation of emerald radiance. That was very odd. The blade’s color had always been a conscious choice on his part. But then, it had never faltered in such a manner against any other opponent the swordsman had faced. There was an unusual taste in the air, and a tactile sensation of musty spider silk. But who was its source? Was it the result of something the scarred warrior had done, or some trick of the scythe-bearing woman?

In the end it made little difference. His target leapt as her scythe flickered through its arc amidst a burst of light. Spellblade. The Kaarme Phry’s eyes narrowed. He made an instinctive adjustment to his course as she landed and rolled. Leikata hummed, sweeping left to right in a descending verdant slash at his opponent’s shoulder as the hooded woman began to rise. If the mysterious effect was coming from the competitor before him, he would put an end to it. If it was coming from battered veteran... then he would carve a path through the scythe-bearer to the man.

Fulfilling upon
the promise of Spring’s greenery
Autumn’s riotous hues.
AQ DF MQ  Post #: 14
7/22/2018 13:44:39   

Voric couldn’t help but laugh bit as he landed on his back from being thrown by Finthick.

“Didn’t think I’d met anyone capable of doing that to me here. You have my respect.”

Rolling to his right and then getting up his feet, Voric took in Finthick’s ready stance and smiled a bit at it. It should a more patient battle style excellent for defence over offense rushes he was used to.

Time to change things up then.

Hefting his axe as he tightened his grip on it. Charging in once more however instead of committing to the charge he stopped short swinging the axe in a huge arc motion of his lower right to his upper left. The real attack however being a heavy kick from his left leg into Finthick’s legs, while attempting to keep his opponent’s attention on the axe.
AQ DF MQ AQW  Post #: 15
7/22/2018 22:25:05   

Michalis knew how he moves his body around. If someone were to irrevocably change it, it is impossible for him to not notice. As such, the sudden lack of force that went into the swing, as quick as it was, was pause for curiosity.

“Bloody hell…!”

That explained everything. The woman must’ve cut that particular end of the rope. Perhaps scythes were not as clumsy in more trained hands? Indeed, otherwise, he has seen trainees too often fumble with scythes when they were trying to one-up their fellow partners.

Regardless, there was no need for concern. As he pulled the now cut rope back with only his right arm, he drew his blade out once more with the other. His opponent was aware, as such he must be ready for a counter attack. As he began to creep around from the other direction, he suddenly caught a glimpse of her coming out. He put his blade forward in a battle-ready stance when the woman boldly jumped and hurled a sphere of light forward.

Too fast to dodge fully, still far enough to truly react. Readied, Michalis swiftly lifted his blade upwards and then brought it down in a decisive cleave, in one solid motion with no hesitation. With the blade stopping once it fully past through, the sphere was split in half, dissipating and sizzling before the two halves were able to do anything.

Yet, something was still off. Besides the fact that this fighter did in fact wielded magic, the sphere itself still had some form of weight behind it. Indeed, he had the curse around him. This one certainly put much of her effort into this single attack, he thought. Whatever it could’ve done though, it’s gone now.

As his eye drifted to where his opponent landed, he took note of her situation. After all that, she was in the processing of getting up. Must’ve pegged on the sphere hitting him by surprise, sacrificing of what was in fact a solid position to hold on to. A longer weapon in trained hands are excellent at holding a position of any kind.

Taking advantage of this, he moved towards his opponent away from the pillar and whipped the other dagger, hopefully to further restrain the scythe-wielding combatant around the arms. Once restrained, he would be able to encroach and throw her down to the ground once more, hopefully with a then quick finish to her life.

At least, that was the intention. As it went from right to left diagonally down however, the swordsman, quite rudely at that, joined the fray to make a slash at his would-be victim. He naturally thought the light sword-wielding reptile to more or less take advantage at his supposed distraction and disregard of any other combatants within the vicinity. Wasn’t a fool for that classic premonition, but also not exactly one to willingly interrupt the actions of another. That or he himself truly is assumed the stereotype of the wise soldier who knows all form of combat considering his appearance…

In the end, whatever happens is now going to depend on what the woman actually does in this perilous moment. Perish? Survive? Who knows. Destiny can't be changed in any capacity. Those who say they can change it are liars, for if something were to happen to someone, it was destined to happen. That is why everyone must be the ones who write their own destinies, and if they met an ill-fated one, rise above it to make a better one.
DF  Post #: 16
7/22/2018 23:23:41   

As Cadmooz observed the progressing batte, he felt increasingly displeased with the bigger of the two confrontations. While he could respect the work of predators, hunting down and killing the weakest prey, he also knew that his own species had once BEEN prey, and found the onslaught distasteful.
The woman herself appeared unwilling to go for the kill. He had seen such looks in the eyes of gladiators, confident that glory could come without bloodshed. It is allways a sad sight to see that innocence leave their eyes, but a necessary one as well. Cadmooz began to fear, however, that she may soon lose her chance to learn anything.

Shifting his position, he moved until those on the offensive would be like up in his sight,. Then, raising his sword in his right hand over his left shoulder, he charged, hoping to mow his adversaries down in his path. He would swing his sword at the first attacker but, as the weight of himself and his armor would now doubt imitate an earthquake in this confined space, he may only strike air. Whether it went through a body of not, the blade would strike the pillar and, hopefully, stop him before he had gone to far from the fight. Cadmooz could not tell what material made up the pillar of how sturdy the cellarwas, however, and hope his simulated earthquake diet become a very real cave-in.
Post #: 17
7/23/2018 16:37:20   
Ronin Of Dreams
Still Watching...

The repulsive pulsing of light from the Cellar’s support pillars reflected upon Lodesh-Tinphair’s wide gemlike eyes as he continued to scan the arena and its combatants. With typical organic flair, the combat had already devolved from an organized and orchestrated affair into something far more primal. Chaotic. Inefficient. There was no sign of the concerted efforts and regimented disciplines characteristic of F.E.R.R.E.T.s at war. None of the elegant simplicity of a group of disparate models acting as one cohesive battlemind in flawless cooperation. Not a shade of proper pack tactics nor even stilted alliances, yet.

Whiskers twitched in amusement at such providence, just before his eyes narrowed. Silk and scales and a thick unwieldy tail. These were the hallmarks of the swordsman who had gracefully maneuvered around one pillar and had come ever so close to the diminutive construct. The swordsman whose eyes were sharp, observant...yet spared the F.E.R.R.E.T. their lethal intent. That reptilian focus narrowed instead towards one of the fledgling engagements, choosing to ignore the uncamouflaged bundle of fur at the warrior's feet. Opportunistic? Certainly, and Lodesh-Tinphair nearly redoubled opportunity with opportunity as the swordsman increased their pace from a languid approach into a sudden rush. It would have been such a simple thing, to strike Aurinko from behind. Simple.

Yet lacking a certain elegance. With only four flechettes at his disposal, Lodesh-Tinphair had to make them as maximally effective as possible. He wasn’t concerned insofar about penetrating scales - the simplicity of the war darts could penetrate skulls when they hit dead on - yet still he hesitated. To miss would be to lose that dart past the scaled warrior and beyond the pair he sought to engage, and there was no ideal line present to chance striking another via shrewd aim and uncharacteristic angles.

So instead the sly sniper twisted his body and padded back towards the entryway, keeping his eyes bright and observant as padded paws brought him past the yawning opening and alongside its heavy frame. Black hematite bands swirled in the quartz silicate structures as his gaze alit on the developments between the frosty giant and the unarmed draconic creature closer to the arena center. The giant had rolled and gotten to his feet, and the coming aggression was plain. Lodesh-Tinphair’s eyes twinkled. Alignment and opportunity both in one, as Finthick’s back was to him and his very body posed an obstacle for Voric to notice the F.E.R.R.E.T.

Paws spread wide and belly fur brushed against Cellar’s stark white floor as Lodesh-Tinphair swiftly broadened his stance and stretched out towards that pair. A sole flechette slid into place just above the mithril fur along his back, four inches of lethal intent quivering on a cushion of wind and tensioned by invisible strands of telekinetic force. He felt and heard the deep set thrum of telekinesis generators spooling up to full output reverberate through metal and flesh; caressed the Winds around him as he pulled the air away from the missile’s initial flightpath. Experienced the euphoric CRACK! as everything fired off with clockwork precision, hurtling the dart bare inches above the ground towards the duo.

But within the Arena proper? There was naught even a whisper as silent devastation shot forth towards the dueling pair.

There were many ways to strike and debilitate a foe. With element of surprise in his forepaws, Lodesh-Tinphair’s aim felt true. While a headshot may be lethal, the fighting pair were far too at risk of accidental movement. Striking at organs would be effective, and more likely to hit than heads thanks to center of mass, but this too had been discarded. There was no telling if the hide of either foe was too thick to strike deep enough to cause appreciable damage, and a glancing blow would be pointless - the flechette was too smooth to deliver the metallic toxins that such a hit would require to be useful. No, his shot was far more subtle. Strike at the base, topple the foe, and then even the tallest of creatures is more easily dispatched.

And so, a pin. In line with Finthick’s left leg and Voric’s right, just high enough off the ground to dig in and puncture either the draconic’s Achilles tendon or lodge deep in the ankle of the larger frost giant. From behind, or through obscuration, th0e F.E.R.R.E.T. felt certain that this shot would count. Now to make the rest equally as savvy and sure...
AQ  Post #: 18
7/24/2018 0:44:06   

Finthick grinned to himself as the giant rolled out up from the ground. The large man was very nimble for his size, Finthick gave him that. The monk also knew the power of momentum, though, and knew how to use the giant's own against him. The swing that came at him next from the giant's axe was heavy and intimidating, but also seemed restrained. Finthick stepped light to the side, swinging his left foot out so it stood solidly behind his right. He thought for a moment he had heard the slightest hiss of a projectile, felt the faintest movement of air past where his left leg had been, but shook it off, chalking it up to the chaotic movement of battle. The axe's blade reached the top of it's arc, and Finthick ducked, letting it swing above his head. He smiled to himself, thinking that the giant would have to hit a little harder, and a lot faster if he wanted to strike this monk. He was just a little surprised when the giant raised his left foot. Finthick's hands were up immediately, catching the foot as it stomped towards his midriff, where his legs would have been if he had not lowered himself. He audibly growled, a deep, ancient sound, much like a dragoness made when something strayed a bit too close to her clutch of eggs. His feet slid a few inches back as he pushed back against the giant's weight. He gritted his teeth against the force, his arms having taken the brunt of the strike, and grasped into the leather boots that covered the giant's feet, letting loose every bit of energy he had stored in him. The result was audible crackling as the energy slipped through his hands into the giant's leg, the smell of burnt leather filling the air as it darkened under the electrical assault. The shock was strong, close to the max he could produce, and he was sure the giant would feel it. He shoved the foot aside, and danced back from his opponent, regaining his defensive stance about 5 steps back, his manner the same as before. Natural, and unwavered against this icy storm.

< Message edited by Riprose123 -- 7/24/2018 0:49:19 >
DF MQ  Post #: 19
7/25/2018 15:02:47   

Before the Match. . .

Noelle twisted her locks as she stood in the center of the corridor. Dozens of spectators had filled the viewing, and while there was plenty of room to move and breathe, she felt suffocated so far underground. The wait wasn’t helping her nerves, either, nor were the abundant presence of men with shovels. Were she a more quarrelsome woman, Noelle would have broken the tool over their heads; of course, that wouldn’t help Noelle in the slightest, using them as scapegoats for her frustration. They were simply performing their duties. Still, the mere thought of Autumn coming to harm was too much. Autumn was as bold as her hair, Noelle knew, and one wrong move could be her doom.

Noelle looked around the corridor, desperate to find relief for her fears. Immediately, a unique group stood out to her. Three youths, one man and two women, all dressed in matching robes. Although Noelle had no magical ability within her, she could sense an air of spirituality from the crowd. Monks, perhaps? The man and one of the women were eye to eye, locked in their own world as they discussed something with intense fervor. Meanwhile, the other woman was pressed against the see-through wall towards the Cellar’s entrance, her fingers pulling at her hair.

Noelle chuckled as she approached the nervous woman, twirling her own locks. “You do that too?” The lady, lost in own thoughts, flinched when Noelle greeted her. When she turned around, Noelle could see the worry in her eyes.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to sneak up on you. . . My name is Noelle. Do you have a moment?”

The young woman dropped her hands and bowed as she attempted to push aside her fears. “My name is Healer Yvette, of the Followers of Laru. Pleased to meet you.”

Noelle smiled as she returned with a heartwarming nod. “Nice to meet you, Yvette.” Her gaze shifted to the Cellar’s entrance. “Are . . . you looking for someone?”

The healer nodded. “I am here with a Retributor, one of my order’s most skilled martial artists. . .” She motioned to the entrance. “He awaits the beginning of this tournament. I hope he does well.”

“I see. . .” Noelle gave a sigh as she looked at Yvette. “That’s one more thing we have in common, then. I too have a friend in the competition. You will know her when you see her— black robe, flaming orange hair. She’s different, alright. . .”

“Finthick didn’t have much of a choice coming here. This tournament is a bit above his normal duties.” Yvette paused, a speck of worry returning in her eyes. “He is a strong man. I hope this tournament does not weigh heavily on his mind or body.”

“I know how you feel.” Noelle shifted back towards the arena. “I trust Autumn, but. . . It just doesn’t feel right, you know? Helplessly watching as your best friend risks their life? I know that if it were me in there, Autumn would tear down these walls if she had to . . . “

Noelle sulked as her eyes met the ground. “It’s always been that way. Ever since we’ve met, Autumn has devoted her life to saving others. But now, she is forced to save herself.” As someone without magic, Noelle had envied Autumn’s gifts. Now, she knew of the sacrifices she had to make. In Autumn’s darkest hours, Noelle wanted to provide more than just words.

A pitiful smile had escaped Noelle. How absurd, she thought; here Noelle was, pouring out years of her deepest troubles onto a complete stranger. She could hear Autumn's earlier words.

“I think everyone has some wish they want fulfilled, but. . . not everyone is able to. So instead, they take joy in others achieving their dreams.”

“That sounds terribly defeatist to me, watching everyone else earn their happiness. The untold potential that they have if only they took the chance.”

“I want nothing more than to be with her right now, to help her live without fear.”

Suddenly, without warning, a light touch had graced Noelle’s shoulders. She looked at the healer’s eyes, bright and shining with conviction. “The plans of the gods are beyond our knowing. Take comfort in her current path, and pray that when her time comes, if it be now or many years from now, she goes with a light heart and a balanced soul.”

As Yvette dropped her hand, she returned her gaze to the entrance before pulling her hair again. Yvette had spoken with resounding clarity, but Noelle could see that she was trying to believe the words herself. Regardless, they had softened her heart, and Noelle nodded in agreement. Autumn had rejected her former destiny as an emissary to the divine; but perhaps, it was all part of the plan. Perhaps it was her destiny to be here, right now, fighting for herself.

Suddenly, a booming voice rose above the crowd’s gossip, and without hesitation, the competitors raced forth. Murmurs became roars as the spectators pressed themselves against the one-way mirrors. Yvette had grabbed Noelle’s arm as she glowed with enthusiasm.

“That is our Retributor, the tall one, with the lightning scars and large gauntlets!”

Noelle watched as the monk moved forward, the metallic shine of his scales visible even from where they were standing. Yvette was completely enthralled by his presence. Suddenly, an unmistakable curtain of black ran through the corner of Noelle’s gaze. “Autumn!” Noelle frantically hooked to the right and sprinted away, stopping only to give the healer a proper goodbye. “Thanks again, and good luck, Yvette! I know he’ll be safe!”

Noelle’s eyes went wide as she dashed towards Autumn. By the time she drew close, Autumn had her back to the pillar as her opponents drew close. It was obvious to onlookers that the scythe-wielding girl was in a poor spot, and if any did think otherwise, her cursing would remedy that.

“Bloody hell. . !”

Left of the action, Noelle watched in horror as Autumn struggled to find her compose; Noelle didn’t want to believe it. Autumn was completely out of character. Her normal bravado was nowhere to be found, and in its place, a stance of dread and hesitance. It was one thing for Autumn to be careful; it was another for her to hide. Noelle wanted to be confused, to pretend that it was all fake, but deep inside, she knew that Autumn was truly afraid for her life.

Just before Noelle could tear her hair out, something changed in Autumn. A smile crept on Noelle’s face as Autumn spun the ball of light in her hands.

That’s right; fight like you always do, Autumn!

Noelle followed Autumn as she leaped through the air. For a moment, Noelle’s fears were nonexistent as Autumn rekindled her fighting spirit. . . only for her hopes to be literally dashed as the bard sliced through Autumn’s attack. The crowd winced as Autumn slammed and rolled to a knee. Even Noelle shared the same sentiment as she clutched her shoulder.

Noelle’s fears were compounded as an emerald light flickered from the side, just bright enough to catch her attention. Her skin drained of color as she was made aware of the Reptilian, the warrior just mere feet away from Autumn. Noelle slammed her fists against the wall as the sound of heavy metal rattled in the air, her scream unhearable to those it was intended.


As Autumn began to pull herself up, she knew that something was off. She had thrown the orb directly at the bard and the pillar behind him; even if he dodged, the orb would shatter against the pillar, the air rattling as the chains materialized. But what truly worried Autumn was what she could see and hear. The clattering of metal plates echoed all behind her, eerily both loud yet distant. At last, a faint blue light gave way to emerald, and Autumn realized that her worst fear was behind her.

Reptile! Autumn let go of her war-scythe and fell forward into a roll. If the reptilian was as close as she thought, her scythe would serve little use to her. This time, however, she landed right on her feet and pushed off, using the momentum to jump again and further the distance between the competitors.

As Autumn touched the ground, she reached for her serrated blade on her hip and spun around, brandishing the blade in her right hand as she looked back. As she thought, the swordsman was right on her, ready to cut her in half. She quickly glanced to her right; the bard held close to the pillar with his rope in hand. She looked to her former position, seeing another knife nearby. A simultaneous strike. Autumn remarked on her fortune; any other women might have enjoyed the attention of so many. As she returned her gaze back to the bard, she noticed that he was not alone; the red paladin had rushed into the fray to join the trio as he swung at the bard.

Autumn returned her gaze to the reptilian swordsman,puting on a grin as she focused. Even if she wanted to hide, there was no possibility of it now. Her left hand twitched in anticipation as it gathered light once more.
AQ DF AQW  Post #: 20
7/25/2018 23:34:57   
Eternal Wanderer

The hooded woman fell forward and dropped into a roll, evading Aurinko’s strike. Disappointing, perhaps, but the effort did not go entirely unrewarded. In her bid to dodge the Kaarme Phry’s slash she left behind her scythe. Reach neutralized. There was a touch of satisfaction to the thought, but it was a distant thing, unimportant background input to the calculations and plans within the swordsman’s mind. His opponent turned the roll into a leap and came up with a sword perhaps as long as Leikata clenched in her hand; one edge of the blade was straight, while the other looked toothed or jagged, rather like a swordbreaker. She took a ready defensive stance and darted a glance swiftly to the Kaarme’s left.

From the corner of his eye Aurinko caught the blur of motion. Not just the aged warrior, but the herald of Zeuster. Momentous charge. It was instantly clear there was next to nothing the Kaarme Phry could do to halt that onslaught. The sheer mass of the oncoming bullrush was simply too much to stand against, not without a polearm that might be braced to receive the assault and turn its power against the charger.

Reed Bows to Wind. A solution intuited in reflexive time, one of hundreds of kata graven by endless hours of repetition into muscle, blood, and bone. The kata were forms of attack, movement, and defense, perfect in their elegant simplicity, and second nature in their execution. The swordsman abruptly twisted, pushing from his left heel to shift his weight to his trailing right leg, following the momentum of his slash and turning into a three-quarter spin. Aurinko’s arms slid back and up through the rotation, angling Leikata’s emerald blade down his spine as he lifted it overhead. A stomp of his left foot shifted his weight forward again, leaving him facing south towards the pillar. He drew his arms down, his sword whispering through the buzzing air as he flowed into Sentry's Watch.

The maneuver had adjusted his stance to face the oncoming threat, and provided the added benefit of having displaced the Kaarme so that a section of the pillar lay between him and his foe’s approach. Aurinko idly noted that the battered veteran had wisely vacated the line of the charge, but there were more pressing matters to focus on, like the massive arcing swing whistling in on line with the white pillar. Blade met stone and something wicked off the blade, an arc of droplets that hissed against the scales of his snout with searing, surprising heat.

Smiling gently, the old Kaarme Phry shook his head. “Ay... Sade, do you know what your problem is?”

The boy, nearly into his juvenile years now, remained motionless; he was balanced precariously on one taloned foot, sword held with arms cocked to angle the blade up over his head and towards his left shoulder.
Crane in Repose. Then, Crane Beak. Flow to-

A hard palm-thrust to his shoulder threw his balance off, sending the boy tumbling to the ground and his practice blade wheeling from his grasp and skittering out of reach. The youth flashed a baleful glare up at his caretaker. “What was that for?”

His grandfather simply chuckled. “Your problem is that you
focus too much. You get too deep. The battle trance makes things clearer, yes, but if you let yourself fall too far in, then you may as well be wearing a set of blinders.”

“Father would practice for hours in the morning, and at night!”

“So he did,
sade, but the difference between you is that he made the forms his; they became a part of him. But you make yourself the forms. You become part of them.”

For a moment the stripling seemed about to speak, perhaps to lash out in denial of the charge. But he seemed to think better of it a moment later, subsiding with a troubled frown. “I don’t understand.”

“Your father called it dancing on the blade’s edge,” the older Kaarme Phry said, reaching out to clasp his grandson’s hand and pull the boy up with wiry strength. “You must find the balance between the mindful mind, and the unmindful. A place that is still, but still admits of motion. Let your thoughts flow through you with the forms. Touch them lightly, and set them free.” He smiled gently and shook his head. “It is not an easy thing to do; your father struggled with it as well.”

The boy’s eyes widened. “Say true?”

“Sure as sunrise,
sade. Now, since you have practiced your way through the morning, be so good as to help these old bones back to their laboratory. We have much work to do…”

It was the burning sensation that broke the battle trance. Aurinko had been in his share of fights, and had held his focus against the depredations of claw and tooth, blade and mace. But this was a different kind of pain, a searing splash that rippled patchily over his scales, unexpected and jarring.

You’re focusing too hard again. He almost heard the thought in his grandfather’s voice, and it brought a minute grin to his face despite the discordant clangor of the crier’s blade against the stone. That really is a poor way to treat your weapon.

That was a matter between the big man and his blacksmith though, and the Kaarme had but a few seconds to respond.

Open the gate, bar the way. His father’s voice, quiet and confident, put a wolfish edge on the swordsman’s smile.

Leikata swept out parallel to the ground, pointing to the swordsman’s right as he gracefully fell to one knee in an unmusical clatter of metal faulds. Perhaps Aurinko could not stand before his new opponent’s bullrush, but the big man was committed to both the charge and the swing, and it would be no easy thing to sap his forward momentum. The Kaarme Phry intended to turn that against the larger competitor. His counter-attack came in low, a sweeping horizontal cut from right to left aimed at the enemy combatant’s unarmored right thigh. With the charge’s momentum to back it, the blow could go wickedly deep, perhaps even crippling the limb.

Heart’s blood
upon bare strength reliant
falls unguided
AQ DF MQ  Post #: 21
7/26/2018 1:31:39   


Voric felt the pin dig into his ankle as the grabbed his foot and released a large amount of electricity into it. Gritting his teeth through the pain and clutching his axe tighter in his grasp to keep from dropping it he let out a subdued growl at Finthick.

Testing his weight briefly on his legs Voric found that his left was slightly cramping and stiff from the electrical discharge. A bit of numbness also settled into his left leg in contrast to the pain searing through his right. His right couldn’t really support his weight all that much anymore but it could for moving forward at the least. He figured he was causing more damage every time he put his weight on that leg.

Can’t be helped I have to keep moving otherwise I’m just a large stationary target. I'll deal with the bare-fisted one first and then move onto the small mammal. If only because he decided to intervene in this bout.

Bellowing out another battle cry this one sounding more like the whipping roaring winds of the cold plains of his homeland the limited water moisture around Voric started to condense and freeze. Within a brief moment an impromptu blizzard whirled around the form of Voric.

Having taken note of where Finthick stood, Voric charged forward once more. Though this time he didn’t go for a grand swing he opted instead to do perform a spear like thrust aimed at his opponent’s abdomen. He was also attempting to also drag the axe blade across Finthick’s abdomen.
AQ DF MQ AQW  Post #: 22
7/26/2018 20:12:54   

Once more, the plains whirled around, no longer the misty white they were. Now a dull grey, they move, moving in the direction of chaos instead of order. Despair approaches, seemingly undaunted.

Now, the endless swirling mass deforms and reforms into a simple room, that of a simple house. There, the living man sat on a misty wooden chair, a faceless child seated on his lap. Opposite to them, a faceless woman sewing a formless shirt. The living man, now older but still in his prime, stroked his hand across the faceless child’s head, affectionately as he smiled dearly.

“When gods lose their humility, they also lose their sense of self. For you see, pride can be a truly evil thing. But, it can also be a truly good thing. Without it, we have no ideals. Too much of it, we lose our humanity. See, son, I am proud of you for one thing. Even though you fail, you stand up once more. You are filled with humanity, filled with spirit. I know you think I criticize you too often, but I truly do love you very much.” The living man rose his head, eyes closed in splendor, like a hawk that is about to soar into the sky.

“But are gods truly above us all? Dictating what we must do?” The child’s voice echoed in the room, distant to the ears.

“Not at all. In fact, we are more equal than you might think. Tyrfing… well, I am sure you know the story. Despite being considered the weakest, he still stood toe to toe with all of them. Be it intellect, battle prowess, heroism, or his sense of justice. It was his humanity that allowed him to prevail. Simply goes to show how our actions can truly lead us to our doom or greatness. Lead the path of greatness, so you can aspire others to do the same.”

Above the man and child, a man with a groomed beard, featureless robe, and cap made of cloth that hid his hair formed and floated about. Yet unlike the child and woman, his face was truly defined. He looked down, smiled as he rushed his left arm out, hand opened with dignity and benevolence. Bursting out from his hand, a surge of light rushed out, clearing the room of any grey, returning the mist back to the white it was before.

As the mist swirled once more, walls no longer obscured the now dark mist that was daunted by the white mist. Within the white, the living man appeared over a cliff, a sword held within the scabbard. With him, the familiar faceless man with armor and garb stood by him. “Here you are, disrupting peace within the land for your idea of justice. Is it really setting things right, Michalis?” Unlike before, the voice is heavy with doubt, hints of disdain brewing from within.

“I hold firm that this is not truly peace in the slightest. Countries still fight Vascole even after all this time. What good is it for the people to have a nation continually fighting war after war, even after a century?” In contrast, there is no disdain, only contentedness.

“And so you fight instead? You are only proving your actions as merely hypocritical, using violence when from the sounds of it you despise the violence that still lingers.”

“Tell me, Varn. For an empire like Vascole, one who continually spreads fear in order to make their rivals succumb to their demands, using violence themselves to trample upon any peaceful protests, secretly eliminate any opposition to the ruler, is it able to make a calm reversal? People are being sacrificed. If I don’t do anything, more will die. If some die, failure or success, it is better for only some than even more, including if I die in the process.”

“If you were to somehow succeed in this rebellion, Vascole will be no more, despite your intentions to save it.” With that note, the living man looked over the horizon, none too bothered by the prospect. However, within his face lied understanding as well, understanding that while he knows the result shall entail, there is also no other way forward.

The groomed man loomed still above the living man. “Michalis, at this moment, he made an excellent point. Yet you still pushed on.” Around them, the dark mist then made a sudden encroachment. However, they were then pushed back by an immense invisible force. “I may have given light to this shed of time, it is still merely an representation of you. You are the one providing that light.”

Once more, the mist dispersed, forming a depiction of the living man with a mass of archers behind him, all faceless like the others. As the groomed man watched the living man, he then reared his gaze to the dark horizon, where he sensed a great impending army, ever near the living man’s position.

As Solstice and Tyrfing made their opposite approach,
They stood silent, worried that the bonds were broken,
Yet as they watched, a smile grew on their faces,
They made action, fighting as friends would,
Bonds grew despite the opposition,
For bonds never die.

“Do not demonize our enemies. For if we do so, we become no better than them!” the living man raised his sword and shouted, with dignity, without regret, with spirit. “Fire!" The archers then lifted their bows, as a swarm of arrows bathed in misty fire rained now in the unseen horizon.

The dark mists once more threaten to overwhelm everything, but still, they made no headway. They were bar by a force so great, even the so rulers of recollections could hold no sway. “Your failure was imminent. As such, why did you press on? Because you held true to your ideals. You may have failed and you did not know it yet, but you have inspired others. Prota? She succeeded in removing the previous ruler. While she too must be overthrown, if she could do it, you could’ve done it as well. It was the possibility that mattered to you, where it proved to others that it was indeed possible to fight back. They had said you were a bandit, and that it was a bandit uprising. But in the end, there was still those who refused to believe it. Prota for instance found out, and she shown great disdain for it. Why would she rebel herself, after all?” The groomed man watched as the mists swirled around once more, showing no recollection. Yet still he was there. He waited, with great interest to see what was shown next, all in the light within the darkness. “Where after your failure and regret, you still did not fall into despair.”

As the dagger quickly made headway, and the swordman’s blade of light neared its target ever closer, the woman just flat out rolled out of the way and made a jump for safety as she left her scythe behind. Impressive, truly impressive. Even if it meant losing a weapon, one’s life is far more important than just a mere tool of war. Without anyone wielding a weapon, it loses meaning. Even the blade Tyrfing only meant hope since it was in the hands of Michalis. As such, life and soul are what truly matters in these tools of war, for good or ill.

Then, with a boisterous encroachment, the behemoth who worships the being Zeuster came charging in. Second interruption of this year’s event, where now this brawl around the pillar is in fact becoming akin to a war zone.

Michalis, sensing that the dagger has outlived its use, dropped the rope. At which point, he readied his blade as best as he could to his left as he leaned forward, angled to the right. As the behemoth before him drew close and even began to swing diagonally, he leapt out of the way forward, gracefully as a hawk would at its equivalent age. However, he too made sure to keep the behemoth guessing as he made a swift strike with his blade at its left thigh. Although swift and true to its direction and momentum, accuracy and power was sacrificed to make the evasive maneuver and counter possible. Indeed, he felt his strike flew true, he felt certain. He could feel the push of the behemoth’s charge, but this he had taken into account.

In some way, he was reminded of battling against his friend, Varn. Only, he wielded sword and shield, his preferred style leading ahead the simple spear. Memories of his shield came to mind, emblazoned with the symbol of Tyrfing, two hands, one with a skull, and one with a bird looking to the sky. The right, ill-fate. The left, the ability to soar high. He certainly soared on that one day, as well as meeting an ill-fate. There, he truly did learn that both can happen at the same time. Will this day be the same?

After his maneuver, he came to a knee as his right palm touched the hard floor. In one sharp movement, he jolted up and returned his attention behind him. As his eye loomed its gaze back to the other two opponents he was engaged with. He noticed that the woman began preparing a spell, seeing the light coalesce in her hand. She also drawn a sword, one similar to that of his blade in terms of both sides of the edge. The swordsman at that went for yet another strike, this time at the behemoth.

For all around, he must make his point via his actions. Sink not into dishonorable tactics, respect your opponent in the end even if they fumble, and stay true to your tenets of justice. Behind the cloak, there was but a stoic expression, unable to be manipulated by any circumstance. Yet behind it all, laid a man who just wanted peace and could not obtain it. How could one feel regret and not express it? Was it due to ideals? Becoming a monster? Nay, it is just who he was. If one submits to fear and despair, then who shall take action? This is why he must continue to endure the hardships and ultimately forge the path to the freedom of Vascole.

Perhaps the behemoth and swordsman can distract each other for awhile then. Indeed, he could aid in the death of an opponent easily. However, it was far too brutal for his taste, not to mention it also meant that he had to focus on two at the same time once more. For now, it’s time to just focus on the one, the one who initially made an attempt to blast him with a sphere of light.

His curse was nearing its end, so only one more strike could be made. He rushed forward, right arm slightly stretched out. Unlike the behemoth, his movement made much less of a sound. Merely the sound of his chain rattling from time to time. As he came close to the woman from her right, he prepared to grab her around the neck. Once he does so, he shall hop and let his feet fall backwards, his back against the ground, momentum bringing the woman down with him. However, he kept his blade close to his torso, pointing to his side slightly forward, as to not be caught off-guard by the woman’s now drawn sword either.
DF  Post #: 23
7/27/2018 0:05:51   
Ronin Of Dreams
Still Watching...

The shot had proven clean and true, and though the target had wound up being his secondary choice all things considered, Lodesh-Tinphair found the outcome more than acceptable. Beyond that, the evolving state of affairs meant it would have to be. Voric had other tricks up his sleeve, as had become apparent by the fall of snow and the bellows of...anger? Determination? Rage? The emotion mattered little, compared to the burgeoning blizzard which the frost giant had chosen to shroud himself within. It did not reach as far as the F.E.R.R.E.T., and while it offered a momentary impediment to taking further shots at that particular duel, there was no inconvenience in the current situation.

The giant could simply fight Lodesh-Tinphair’s battle for him, and either prove the hobbled victor over his agile draconic opponent or be put down. The kill didn’t matter to the youthful F.E.R.R.E.T., only the opportunity to hold true to his instinct in this scenario - to strike and remain aloof of the more melee-oriented combatants in this stark, repulsive killing field. Either outcome suited him, as an exhausted Finthick would prove easier to evade and strike down in time, while Lodesh-Tinphair should be able to fly rings around Voric after that crippling blow. His business with that duo had thus concluded for the moment, and so his gaze slid over towards the other mess of an engagement.

”But is that really how you choose to fight? Is that really what you desire?” The thought rose from memory scrolls like a niggling itch, unwanted and impossible to outright ignore. Insistent, as per his Calling to journey to the arenas in the first place. But while in his head, the tone...the voice...was not his own. Like a spectre of implanted memory from the storytelling Heralds. Or something else…

Lodesh-Tinphair scrunched his nose and twitched his whiskers in annoyance. For the moment, he concentrated on skulking and padding once more to the opposite side of the great doors, taking care to place his next shot even as the reverberations of the charging Cadmooz were still dying down. How terrifying that stampede must have been to the others, but how polarizing their responses too. There was wisdom in trying for another pin, luck in the positioning that was apparent to the sniper’s instincts and training, but the postures...those did not line up as cleanly. Set to receive the local titan as they were, there was no way for his strike to be nearly as surgical.

With another gentle thrum and a satisfying SNAP! that shook his frame, Lodesh-Tinphair fired his second dart into that particular fray. Aurinko’s hamstring was less ideal of a placement to aim for, but by aiming more towards a center of mass, Lodesh-Tinphair played the odds. Should the dart not reach in time, there was still the chance of the flechette striking into Michalis’ groin, though the angle was far less certain than with the pin from the shot before.

T’was the time for risks. No more, no less.
AQ  Post #: 24
7/27/2018 17:47:03   

As Cadmooz rushed towards his opponents, he felt the thrill of battle course through him. He did not feel the stinging of the flesh on his thighs at first, even as he saw the swordsman make their blows, and he felt all the giddier for it! It was a discomfort, however, striking the pillar. He had hoped the blade would sink into the pillar a bit and slow his progress but, it seemed, the stone had been enchanted for durability. Between the indestructible stone and his magic blade, it was he that absorbed the brunt of the blow.

Upon finally stopping, he spun and realized his change in momentum had taken him behind and to the left of the female's position in the fight. The blows he'd felt were glancing, though the one to his right thigh had done slightly more damage. It took focus not to limp, though the damage seemed overall superficial.

Rolling his neck, first to one side, then the other, he let out a series of thunderous crunches from his spine nearly louder than his charge, while brandishing his mighty horns. This, this was what he had come for! The glorious battle, the bloodshed! Zeuster would certainly be honoured by thks battle! He then strode towards his target, his left arm forward in a defensive pose while he held his right out to the side and behind him, blade nearly touching the ground. Upon noticing him clashing with the woman, however, he turned his onslaught towards the Zardman (whoops, an ussumption of race! Ahem, reptilian homonid then!). He intended to swipe upward and diagonal, turn that momentum into another stride and a kick from the left, then continue the momentum in a downward two-handed slash. His heavily armored arm would be there to defend untill he grabbed the blade for the final attack, and he would end it by jumping backward, out of the enemies range.
Post #: 25
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