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View Full Version : wRHG Tournament R2: Kalena (Lobotomizer) vs Zero (blakphoenix)



acutelatios
08-15-2013, 02:29 AM
Click HERE for the rules of this Round... (http://forums.stickpage.com/showthread.php?74702-wRHG-Tournament-Round-TWO-Lost-and-Found-(Deadline-Extended))

***Antes are Extra Challenges that add twice the points wagered if successfully pulled off. They come in 3 Flavors (Easy Medium Hard). No two participants can have the same kind of Ante. For more info, click the link above.

Lobotomizer has initiated a Hard Ante.

blakphoenix has initiated a Hard Ante.


Scoring:
- Votes are worth 5 pts. each.
- CNC-ing an entry gives you 10 pts. Detailed ones get an extra 5 pts. Maximum 3 CnCs per participant.
- Bonus for the Round is 20 pts. Bonus for this Round is the best depiction of Irony.
- Fulfilled Antes give 10, 20, 30 pts. and lost 5, 10, 15 pts if failed depending on difficulty
- Judge's Blessing gives 15 points if entry caught the Judge's eye.


Here are the entries:

Kalena Eirwen (http://forums.stickpage.com/showthread.php?45403-WRHG-Kalena-Eirwen)
The floor quaked and rumbled, and with them towering walls of rock rose into the skies, sealing the paths of every gladiator and separating Kalena from the very person she had hoped to meet again.

"...Cor...von?" She murmured, slowly slumping onto the ground. Her hand moved to the walls, but the unnaturally smoothed surface offered no crevice, nothing for her to break through, nor a foothold to climb with. Corvon was gone as soon as he came, and nothing could be done about it. She winced as pain shot through her back, a result of a few iron pencils that had struck her back. Deep, but not very lethal, serving to only frustrate her more.

Once, she was tempted to break through the mass of rock with her blade, but when she motioned to her sheath, it dawned upon her that even her other companion was gone from her possession. All she had was herself, her sheath, and...

Her hand unconsciously moved to her chest, where a tiny, nondescript pendant lay, hanging from her neck by a silver chain. Almost as soon as she had, however, did the surrounding air shift ever so slightly. Wisps that seemed to appear from nowhere swirled into the space before her, joining themselves into a vague, blob like form that gradually morphed into that of a...wolf.

She stared at this creature, not sure what to think of the situation. It looked every bit like the real thing; a majestic canine with a thick fur that streaked a deep brown, and had there not been bits of swirling dust around it, she might have mistaken it for the true, live version. It returned the gaze evenly, looking both curious and cautious of its new owner.

Finding it rather docile, she crouched to the wolf's level and gave the back of its ears a light scratch. It didn't object; rather, it looked somewhat content at the scratching, nuzzling her lightly in return. She gave a rare, faint smile at that. For now, it seemed to have accepted her as its master...or at least, a friend.

Finally she stood up, her expression now steeled with little trace of emotion. Corvon might be absent, as was her sword, but at this moment, it was of little concern. She had her duty, her goal, and if she had to see through it, she would have to forge on ahead without her old companions. Her hand left the pendant, and now gripped tightly around the top of her sheath as she strode through the twisted labyrinth, her newfound partner trotting beside her.
____________________________________
“...Kalena!”

The sound of Corvon’s fist slamming into rock echoed around him, but much as he wanted it to, the walls would not open from his will alone, only staring back at his agonised expression, cold and unforgiving.

He gave the wall one final punch. She’ll be fine, he told himself. Kalena would survive, like she’d always had, no matter the opponent, no matter the situation. All he needed to do was to find her in this twisting maze, and everything would turn out for the better. He shook his head and turned back to the maze, thinking of regaining his bearings, but no sooner did he do so did he realise he was not alone.

“Observation: ‘You seem lost.’”

A voice emanated from beside Corvon, sounding almost robotic in nature. Corvon took a step back, almost unbelieving of what he saw. It was a man in a black metallic suit, accompanied by blinking, faded lights that glowed a light emerald. A queer sight, to see something so absolutely foreign even in this world, enough to make him wonder if he wasn’t simply dreaming about some iron equivalent. At least, the mage hoped it was a metal suit, and that he was not conversing with an animated metallic golem of some sort.
“I...suppose I am,” he replied slowly, unsure of what to else to say. Was this an enemy, or an ally? He couldn’t decide. Already his mind was racing, wary of anything this person might possibly pull. After all, anyone in the tournament was an enemy to Kalena; surely the same would apply to him too?

“Statement: How very strange it is to see someone like that here. You are not an enemy, I suppose.”

He shook his head in response, not trusting himself to say more.

“Suggestion: Then how about we assist each other. We gain nothing in fighting; we may as well fight our battles together.”

The man in the metal suit paused for a moment, before adding, “Statement addition: Provided, of course, if you would fight my battle first before I fight yours.”

Corvon noted the last part of the sentence, but even if it weren’t there, the answer to that was obvious. He was suspicious, paranoid, and more to the point, he was more concerned with finding Kalena as soon as possible rather than to gain a potential temporary ally. One who seemed little less than trustworthy.

“I...cannot,” he answered, gulping in anticipation for the other’s reaction.

Contrary to his expectations, the man merely turned away to the direction of the path, “Statement: That is a disappointment. But at the very least, I’d wish for us to stay out of each other’s way.”

Corvon found himself unconsciously nodding in agreement. Time was of essence, and he had no intention of fighting someone who isn’t even remotely related to his goal. He motioned to move off to search for his companion, but then his eyes drifted to the man’s hands, and he froze almost instantly. Resting in his right was a simply adorned short sword, gleaming under the light with pronounced sharpness.

“Query: Is there something wrong?”

Corvon heard the man speak, but his mind barely registered the words that left the man’s mouth. He was too focused, too fixated on that very one sword that was wielded. The blade that was with Kalena for so long. Of course, The Host had, with whatever witchery he had in his disposal, swapped everyone’s equipment and capabilities. But that meant that he had one other way to assist Kalena. Gradually, his eyes lifted to meet the pendant that was strung around the man’s neck, and a foolish plan came into mind.

“I apologise, but could I have your name?” He spoke, his eyes still locked onto the pendant.

“Answer: You may address me as Bl.An.C.” The tone sounded vaguely curious, piqued by the sudden question that Corvon raised.

“My name...is Corvon,” he replied, now meeting the man’s gaze evenly. Or at least, where he assumed the eyes were, “I apologise, but that sword you wield...it is the possession of a certain friend of mine.”

Bl.An.C. looked down, glancing at the sword in his hand, “Statement: Ah, this weapon. You understand that if you are in this tournament, you would have to fight that friend of yours as well, don’t you?”

”No...I,” Corvon frowned. That was a good question. Was he even a participant in this? And if so, why was he allowed in here at all?

“I’m...not actually a gladiator,” he admitted.

“Statement: Intriguing,” Bl.An.C. nodded, seemingly thoughtful about the matter, “I don’t know why a non-participant would be here, but I assume you intend to help your friend by relinquishing their weapon.”
A nod was given in response.

“Statement: A shame. You understand that all I have is this blade. I cannot allow you to jeopardise my ability to fight, debilitated as it is right now,” Bl.An.C.shook his head, sounding almost disappointed.

Corvon felt a cold sweat drip down from his neck, suddenly realising what the man was implying with his words, “so you mean...”

“Statement: It is a pleasure meeting you, Corvon, but I’m afraid we were fated to fight the moment this round had began.”
+++++++++++++++
The maze seemed to comprise of snaking lines that seemed to have no visible end to them, twisting, curving to unimaginable lengths. Once, Kalena would have thought she had a straight path to move to, and the next she would find herself taking more left turns than normally possible, or encounter one fork in the path after another. Even as she stuck to the left at all times, it almost seemed as though she was going in circles, and not anymore closer to the exit or finding her opponent.

It was eerily quiet. Not a single sound indicated the presence of the other gladiators in the maze. Perhaps the walls were far too thick, or perhaps no one had gotten into a fight yet. Whichever the case was, the silence only made the travelling more unnerving. Shadows seemed to jump at her, and she steadily grew more wary of her surroundings, turning sharply at the odd sound or movement that would turn out to be something more mundane than she'd made it out to be. At the very least, she could be reassured by the fact that she had a wolf for a companion. One that she knew was of the spiritual plane, but a companion nonetheless, who seemed to give off a feeling that she could rely on it without fail.

Minutes passed, but they seemed like hours, for there was little to keep track of the time with, nor were there landmarks to even show the slightest bit of progress they have made. But the monotonous journey soon changed, when the next turn she took led her into a spacious room. Perhaps it was the sudden change in surroundings - the increase in space, the transition from a dirt floor to a series of engraved, irregularly shaped cobblestone tiles that lined the ground in a spiralling fashion. - that caused it, or just the sinister aura that seemed to emanate from within the room itself, but Kalena could feel a wave of unease wash over her. This was no ordinary room, and for some unfathomable reason, she swore that this very room was made...for her.

The feeling hadn’t gotten unnoticed by her companion either; it slowly stood erect, arching its back with its mouth parted to form a visible snarl. its attention was directed, not at the room itself, but at the other exit of it, just a little ways from them.

Kalena turned her head then, and no sooner had she did a man come walking in from the other exit. He looked relatively young, clad in a modern looking jacket that was dyed a jet black, accompanied by matching shirt and pants. Like the last opponent before, he looked absolutely ordinary save for his silver hair and grey eyes, the latter just barely visible in the distance. And yet, he seemed to give off an otherworldly aura that she couldn't decipher.

"Oh?" The man seemed to notice her, and gave a slight grin, "I didn't think i'd actually manage to find someone in this maze.”
Kalena stared at him for a moment, then loosened her tense shoulders ever so slightly upon realising that he seemed to hold no hostility. At least, not currently.

“...Likewise,” she replied, more out of courtesy than small talk. At the same time she bent down and gave the wolf a few pats. It relaxed a little when she did, but still remained alert, staring at the new visitor intently with its piercing eyes.

A moment of silence ensued, both staring at the other but neither saying a word. Even as Kalena was cautious of this man, even she wasn’t willing to enter into a battle without reason.

“So,” The man continued, hoping to keep the conversation going, “tough situation we’re in, huh?”

A nod, but nothing in the way of words. Despite this, the man remained persistent, stepping forward to introduce himself, “Name’s Zero. What’s yours?”

“...Kalena Eirwen,” Kalena answered, and after some hesitation, hazarded a question of hers, “you seem to be a pleasant enough person, what brought you to this system?”

“Does that mean only unpleasant people should be here?” Zero joked.

“For a system which promotes senseless bloodshed among people, would that be wrong?”

His smile faded when he realised that her words were no joke, “training. There is a...certain goal I have to achieve that I can’t do without it.”
“And you would fuel the cycle of violence for that very reason?”

“Yes.” A moment of of silence, before Zero challenged, “and you? On what grounds do you have to be here?”

“To judge those in this wretched system, and remove them from it with whatever means,” she answered readily.

He gave a hollow laugh, “you can’t judge people. No one can.”

Her eyes narrowed, the only indication of her flaring temper at his mockery, “and for what reason do you have to say otherwise?”

“I’ve seen through enough wars to understand. Morality is only seen in the perspective of your own. Judge all you want, but in the end you’re only imposing your own ideals on others. You’re no god, kid, your decisions are as human and theirs.”

Kalena snapped then, her voice raised in volume, almost to that of shouting if she hadn’t reined it in with what little control she had left, “should a criminal not be punished for his crimes simply because he felt it unfair? Should a king not be usurped because he felt his rule fair, yet his people suffer under his rule? Tell me, are you implying that justice is a flawed concept?”

By this time her words had grown loud that it almost shook the room. Her brows furrowed, lips parted to a near scowl, and her eyes, a gaze piercing through him with all the furious anger that she contained in her heart. Even the wolf beside her began to growl, arching its back to the Zero couldn’t help but take a step back at this sudden outburst, but it should have been expected; he was, after all, questioning the very motive she had for existing, even if he did not know the extent of it. But even so, he refused to back down. Stubborn pride perhaps, or just a need to set her right. Whatever it was, he countered her words with the same harshness,

“And what makes you think that you have the right to decide against what a person does with his life? Is it wrong that he gambles his life against others? What is justice, when you are trying to right a wrong that never existed?”

Kalena did not reply immediately, turning away with heavy breaths to calm her state of internal rage. “It seems that neither of us will convince the other; this argument is pointless to pursue,” she finally spoke, through her voice still quivered slightly.

"Yes," Zero nodded in agreement, feeling his own mood drop a little. He silently chided himself for even pursuing the matter; just because he had a wealth of wisdom with age didn't mean he had to flaunt it, and he swore he might've just made a new enemy too.

Kalena closed her eyes for a moment, then turned back to Zero with a cryptic expression, "hearing about your name had made me recall something."

Slowly, she pulled out a thin card from her pocket, its smooth, bone white surface glinting slightly under what little light that entered the maze. Etched on the front simply are four letters, “Zero”.

He widened his eyes in realisation, then fumbled in his own pockets, procuring an almost similar card, except this time its surface was engraved with Kalena’s name.

“Then I suppose we understand what has to be done,” she said in a soft, yet dangerous tone, “Let us cross blades. Only then will we truly know each other’s nature, do you not agree?”

Zero hesitated for a moment, but Kalena’s words weren’t wrong. He had no choice after all, not when each had the other’s key. “Fine,” he
nodded, drawing out a single baton-like object from seemingly out of nowhere. It fit snuggly in his hand, but nothing suggested it to be even a weapon for fighting with.

“Let’s start,” those were the last two words he spoke before he rushed forward, thrusting the baton straight at her in a bid to catch her off. Even so, Kalena reacted with almost inhuman speed, stepping back clear from his front. At the same time, a giant beam of light shot from the cylinder in his hand, reaching to more than two arms’ length and piercing through the air where she’d been.
Kalena frowned as she watched this display, her eyes narrowing ever so slightly as she murmured,

“How quaint.”
+++++
The battle commenced without a warning. No sooner did Blanc declare his hostilities did he rush forward, covering the distance between them with a single leap before swinging down the blade at his shoulder. Corvon, with barely any time to react, could only gather a small amount of energy to up a hasty barrier, a small translucent sheet that was to intercept the blow before it reached him.

But for a shoddy defense against a blade whose edge can cut through even the most tempered of metals, the result was obvious. The barrier shattered the moment it was impacted, giving the sword a free path to cut down at Corvon’s torso, tearing a gash through his clothing and into flesh before he could avoid it entirely.

“Nnngh...” The mage reeled back, pressing against his chest only to feel warm blood flowing freely down his hand and a spiking pain that made him more nauseous than ever. But before he could do anything else Blanc continued the assault, putting more pressure as he advanced with wide, arcing slashes that seemed to cut the very air itself. Yet Corvon was able to backpedal fast enough to match Blanc’s advance, narrowly avoiding strike after another. Eventually his opponent changed his attack, thrusting the blade forward instead to cover a larger distance, but that was what Corvon had hoped to see. Charging his hands with a thick layer of magic, he stepped forward and batted the side of the blade with a hand, the magic expanding violently with enough force to knock it wide off its trajectory. At the same time he struck his opponent in the torso with his other hand, the same blast sending the android stumbling back. Finally the mage swung back and, with all his might, punched him straight in the head, knocking him off his feet and onto the ground.

“Kuh...” Corvon bit his lip, wincing as pain shot up from his torso from the exertion. He put a hand on the wound and willed his magic to flow, clotting blood and stitching skin together until there was little indication of the wound having been there at all. But it was relatively shallow to begin with, and he couldn’t guarantee the next blow might not just lop a limb off. He had to finish this quickly. For both himself and Kalena.
He turned his head back to Blanc, who had, in that short amount of time stood up from where he was, seemingly bearing little damage from the attack before. Corvon cringed; it was something that he would’ve expected, seeing as he was facing a man clad in metal, but at the same time it became obvious to him that he wouldn’t be able to finish this easily.
“Statement: Not bad. I would have mistook you for a gladiator myself,” Blanc noted, dusting off dirt from his metallic suit.
Corvon gave no reply, because no sooner did Blanc finish did he lunge forward to strike again, as furious in his offense as he was from the start. He sidestepped the first slash, but the second grazed his arm, drawing a slit of blood. He had to get away, before he was shredded to pieces in a blink of an eye.

A few spheres of light were conjured behind him, brimming with vibrant energy before speeding straight at Blanc’s chest, forcing him to abort his advance to defend himself with the sword. The spheres shattered against its blade, knocking it back with each impact and bursting into shimmering clouds that glimmered from the sunlight. By the time the fog dissipated, Corvon had already taken the opportunity to run, his speed deceptively fast for the cumbersome robes that covered him.

Blanc pursued after him, blade poised to strike as he slowly closed the distance, but Corvon had other ideas. Without warning he doubled back, hurling a searing ball of flame that exploded in front of Blanc, who could do little other than to defend with the flat of the sword. Plumes of fire erupted from the impact, obscuring vision on both sides.

Corvon pulled a deep breath, stepping back as he channeled more magic down his hands, prepared to fire as much as he could to take his opponent down, but not a second later did the ground rumble beneath him, sending a torrent of stone spikes that shot through from the earth and tearing through his side. He could barely contain himself from screaming from the excruciating agony, clutching the wound as it bled freely.
Calm down, he told himself, calm down, calm down calm down. No matter how many times he echoed the words he could feel himself steadily panicking. His entire body quivered from fear and pain, screaming at him to run, and yet his thought of Kalena prevented him from doing so at all. He could only stand and quake in his boots, waiting for the inevitable to come.
And come the inevitable it did.

From the settling smoke, Blanc strode out, blade withdrawn as he confronted his opponent, his visor offering little premise to his emotions. It seemed to be a hopeless situation as the android brought his blade down upon the mage, who could only defend himself with a series of golden plates that barely intercepted the blow, groaning under the impact as blade met magic. But that was all he could do, before Blanc subsequently kneed him in the stomach, sending the mage reeling before he plunged the blade into his abdomen.
“Kuhh...” Corvon lurched as he felt the cold metal sink into his flesh, there was no pain, but the sickening sound that accompanied the strike was enough to tell him what happened. Was that the end? Was that all he could do?

He couldn’t believe it.

“Statement: It was good to fight you, Corvon, but I’m afraid this is the end of the line.”

He could feel the blade being drawn from him, letting his limp body sag ever so slightly. No, he couldn’t just let that happen. He’d yet to even help Kalena even once in this whole tournament...

Blanc was just about to pull the blade, now slick with blood, but not a second later did he feel a strong force gripping the sword, resisting his own efforts. He looked down, and saw his opponent clutching the crossguard of the blade with one hand, glaring back at him with intense determination. Determination that he hadn’t seen in a long time

“...You...!”.

The mage gritted his teeth, forcing his his own body to move despite his slowly diminishing strength. With one hand outstretched toward Blanc, he willed in what little magic he had left, surrounding his palm with an intensifying white light.

“Impact...!”

The light receded into a small sphere, shining with a golden brown strong enough to blind anyone nearby, before ripping itself apart in a giant, roaring explosion that was concentrated on Blanc’s torso. The two were blown apart from each other from the force, crashing and tumbling onto the dirt floor metres of each other.

Half a minute passed. The android slowly got to his feet, shaking his head as he tried to regain his bearings. The dust had yet to settle, having been furiously whipped up into clouds of dirty yellow, blocking his own line of sight. Despite the last ditch attempt, there was little to suggest he had been injured at all; his metallic body was scratched in places from the impact, and he could feel a throbbing pain at his chest, but on the whole, he was alive and well.

“Statement: A shame, I had expected more,” he said to himself with a barely audible sigh, dusting the dirt from his body.

His head swivelled to the ground, looking for the blade that was knocked out of his hands, but all that was around him was the sandy loam that covered the ground, nary a single glint of polish metal that indicated the presence of the sword of truth.

The dust slowly receded, swept apart by what little wind was present, but Corvon was gone. A trail of blood leading toward the inner maze, and the cracks on the walls were all there was to indicate him having been here.

A slow realisation dawned upon him. His hands flew to his neck, fingering the intricate chain that hung around it, but when they went down, there was but a gap between. The smooth, dodecahedral that was once attached to the metal links was gone. Ripped apart.
His lips parted to a grimace. Of course. The mage had been aiming for the rune this whole time. The palm strikes, the various missiles. Even the last ditch attempt was made to focus on the tiny artifact, not the wielder of it himself. He had been duped to the very end, blinded by his own offensive pursuit.

“Statement: Well done, Corvon. Very well done,” The android muttered to himself, slowly trudging deeper into the maze. He had no desire to pursue the mage; what was lost could not be possibly retrieved, and the fight was as fair as it could have gotten. No, he would have to complete the maze alone, and hope that he might find help on the way.

And on the briefest moment, Blanc wondered if Corvon himself had a part to play in the android’s lack of injuries...
+++++++++++
The laser blade crackled as it tore through the air, but Kalena was faster; in one quick sidestep she let Zero get into her range, and returned the thrust with a a flurry of strikes with her sheath, too quick to be defended against, before ending it with a single kick to the chest, which Zero was only barely able to stop with his free arm, softening the blow yet forced to stumble back a few steps.
The phantom wolf growled, stepping beside its new master, fangs bared and poised to strike. Zero gave an uneasy grin, rubbing his shoulder where an especially hard blow had hit. It wouldn't do for him to be careless even with this new toy of his, and the fact that his opponent had little more than a leather stick to fight with.

He stepped forward, swinging his blade in a wide, swathing arc that left a fanning black at its wake. Kalena wisely kept her distance, letting the laser pass just inches before her. Even as he pushed forward she seemed to know exactly where to go, her footsteps a frantic movement that seemed reminiscent of a dance; fast paced yet graceful. She was intent on waiting for him to slip up, he realised, but it wasn’t going to happen. He would simply corner her with his ridiculous range and...

*Click*

A sudden noise under his feet sounded. It was silent, just barely audible to the two of them from under the din of the fight, but just the mere sound of it spelt an ominous doom. Without even thinking, the two wisely evacuated, dashing back just before the floor tiles collapsed into a giant, gaping hole of a whole metre in radius that led into a dark pit. Had he not retreated, Zero would have found himself in somewhere he would rather wish not to be.

He stared at the pit with thinly veiled horror. Even Kalena’s eyes widened just a little as she looked on. The pit itself was surprisingly shallow, spanning just two metres in depth, except stone spikes lined the entire length of cobblestone, staring back at the two gladiators with their menacing, jagged points.

“Oh...damn,” Zero murmured, stepping back just a little more. But almost immediately he saw something darting at the corner his eye, and when his gaze left the pit he immediately felt a sharp pain as fangs dug deep into his right arm..

“Gah..you..!” He gritted his teeth as he desperately wrestled with the spectral wolf, struggling to open its clamped mouth before it tore apart more than just skin. But he had forgotten it wasn’t the only enemy in the battle. A few seconds later he felt the sharp thwack of leather whip against his side, .followed by a straight stab in the abdomen that sent him reeling.

Made confused by the sudden blitz, he could only strike back with a wild swing of his laser sword, made even more clumsy by the added weight on his forearm. Kalena made no effort to dodge, instead moving over to grab his hand mid swing and threw a punch in return, which he defended with his free hand. She proceeded to knee him in the gut, but he intercepted that too with his own leg. The two fought against each other’s limbs, each trying to overpower the other. Finally Zero resorted to slamming his head into Kalena’s, forcing her to stumble back in pain, stunned and bewildered.

He turned his attention back to the wolf, but right then it tore off a small chunk of flesh off his arm, skin and muscle together, before bounding back with a vicious growl. He could only barely stop himself from screaming in pain, swiping back at the wretched animal, only for the laser blade to pass through it as if it had simply phased out of the material plane then. It lunged at him after that, jaws wide open to clamp onto his leg, digging into flesh once more.

“Get off, damn you...!” Zero cursed, kicking it with his other foot with as much strength he could to get it off. Strangely enough, each hit seemed to connect, but it only served to make the wolf even more furious, shaking its jaws about to tear away muscle. Finally he swung the laser blade at it in desperation and it was forced to jump away, snarling. But before he could even pursue it Kalena was onto him, swinging her sheath down at his head. He stumbled back, throwing a wild swing at her as he did, grazing her shoulder with with a searing heat that cut so cleanly that the tissue was struck off without resistance. Kalena bit her lip in an effort to ignore the pain, continuing the attack with another thrust in the stomach. But the strike was awkward and desperate, easy enough for Zero to grab the sheath with his free hand, pulling both it and his opponent toward him before kneeing her in the stomach. She softened the blow by blocking it with her other arm, but she could do little against the following punch that floored her.

He could have ended the battle then, swung the laser blade just short of her neck and that would be the end of it. It didn’t happen, because not a second later was he knocked off his feet and onto the ground, struck down by Kalena’s wretched companion. It howled in fury, opening its jaws to tear the gladiator a new one, and it was all Zero could do to stop it just inches away from biting into his jugular. The two wrestled on the cobblestone, with Zero desperately defending himself before he was finally able to point the laser blade at the wolf, shooting a giant length of black that tore through its hide. It howled in pain, and that was the distraction he needed to kick it off of him.
He gritted his teeth, gripping the hilt to put his mind away from the numerous scratches and bites that now adorned his torso, standing up to destroy the damned beast with the final strike. It continued to growl at him, but it was obvious that, as ridiculous as it sounded, it was in no condition to fight as well as it previously did. Only its sense of duty made it stand its ground, staring at its opponent with determined eyes. Eyes that told a willingness to take the blow for its new master.

The sword was swung, but the blow never came. Instead the piercing sound of metal rang throughout the entire room. Zero widened his eyes, not daring to believe what he had saw. In front of him was Kalena, visibly panting from fatigue, her right hand now wielding a short sword that squarely blocked the laser. Despite the intense temperature that accompanied the laser, the sword kept its integrity, bearing not a single blemish from the prolonged contact. Immediately after she twisted her wrist, pushing his sword away to create an opening for a straight thrust, forcing him to disengage before she could do so.

“...I see you got your powers back,” he spoke with an uneasy grin, his eyes closed shut from the blinding light of the laser sword, “damn. Hard metal is definitely better than Star Wars.”

There was no answer, only the shuffling of shoes as Kalena slowly eased into a preparation stance.

Zero shook his head. Even with his personality he found little humour in the situation, “you’re not going to change your mind are you? Not even a bit?”

The answer came swift and firm, “you know as much as I do that there is no alternative.”

“Oh...I don’t know, maybe we could trade?” He muttered, giving a slight shrug. He opened his eyes, and though his vision was still tinted with white, he could see his opponent lunging forward, cutting the distance between them with a single leap and placing him within range of her. He hastily backed up, countering with a swing of the laser blade, which she simply parried with the flick of her wrist, angling her own blade just enough to deflect the laser from her before coming forward with a thrust. He sidestepped the blade, returning it with a kick the side, which she blocked with her free hand, only to be forced to leap back out of the way when he retracted the laser blade for another swing, cutting a long, deep gash through her torso.

Kalena gave a slight, barely contained gasp from the searing pain and stepped back, parrying the next thrust and forcing it down onto the ground before it could reach her before continuing her retreat. At the moment, the wolf which had watched this exchange haplessly leapt forward to attack, but Zero was prepared, retracting the laser blade before activating it again, this time facing the hilt at the spectral wolf. It gave a surprised growl as the laser streched to full length, just centimetres from its nose, and slowly backed off to its master's side, still growling with its fangs bared. The swordswoman slowly crouched down, petting it while retaining her cautious wariness toward Zero.
"Stay down," she whispered, "I'll be fine."

It gave a small reluctant whimper, torn by its allegiance, duty and feral instincts. Even so, it slowly backed beside her, letting the swordswoman continue her battle unhindered. Zero gave a frown at Kalena's actions, but showed nothing else to indicate disapproval or the like, merely readying himself for another attack.
They crossed blades once more, the clanging metal echoing throughout the room as steel met laser, each vying for an opportunity to strike at each other in a whirlwind of slashes and stabs that could barely be followed by the naked eye. Gradually it became apparent that Kalena had far better skill than Zero did, backed by years of live training and natural talent. With her weapon now at her grasp, she gave deadly swings that even Zero found hard to defend against. He was unused to the incredible lightness of his weapon, the need to activate it, and the need to gauge its length at all times, all of which showed in his awkward handling. But its range, at just under two metres, is still ridiculous, and it was the only thing that held his opponent at bay, even forcing her to retreat constantly while giving plenty of counters when she tried to advance. Within just a minute of close combat Kalena was already afflicted with a variety of wounds on her limbs and torso. Most of them light, but some more threatening, including the one at her torso, where blood leaked freely from it.

The turning point came when Kalena was slowly backed to a wall, having made little progress in her offense. It was clear that the battle was quickly drawing to a close. Sensing blood, Zero stepped in for the kill, only to see the swordswoman strike the wall behind her with her blade at the same time, sinking it into the rock. Zero paused for just a split second then, wondering just what she was thinking. A gesture of submission? Frustration? That moment of thought was what Kalena needed. From the wall, a giant pillar erupted forth, crashing forward with a raging speed. Zero, taken aback at this sudden move, was thrown off as the rock struck his side, sending him stumbling as it tore skin and flesh from the very impact. What happened? He could barely tell, disoriented by the sudden attack and the accompanying pain. Only within a few seconds was he able to regain his balance, only to hear a familiar, doomish sound.
*Click*

“Bloody-” He cursed excessively as he realised what Kalena had intended. He leapt off to his side without a single thought, just as the ground crumbled beneath him to reveal the very same pit. Scrambling to his feet, there was no time to even catch a breath as Kalena charged forward with a crushing swing, forcing him to defend himself with his laser blade set horizontally to intercept the blow. Not missing a beat, she followed it with a kick to the side, sending him stumbling stumbling before swinging her sword in a wide arc at his torso. He kicked back with his feet, leaping back far enough for the swing to just graze his chest before dropping into a roll, swinging in front of him as he recovered, stopping Kalena’s advance as well as cutting a vertical gash from waist to torso.
The two stared at each other intensely with laboured breaths, watching for just the slightest bit of movement from each other. Yet none of them moved from where they were, too exhausted and in pain to continue fighting recklessly. Kalena had gradually realised that even with her blade, dealing with Zero was quickly turning out to be a much harder task, especially when she gradually losing the power to fight; wounds littered throughout her body, and her blade felt much heavier than before in her grasp. She still had some energy left, but how long would it take for it all to diminish?

But there was little choice. She would have no help in this fight; she would not let her companion fall in battle, nor was there Corvon to save her at the last moment. Slowly, she crouched to a stance, her blade aimed at her opponent and ready to strike. Likewise, Zero did the same,waiting for his opponent to advance for a counterattack. There was no time for hesitation. With one breath she stepped forward, to finally put an end to this drawn out battle.

“...Kalena...!”

The sudden shout rang throughout the room, breaking the tense atmosphere and sending the two combatants into a grinding halt. From the doorway nearest to the two, a young man came rushing over, his tattered and bloodied robes trailing behind his figure. He was panting from exhaustion, and seemed to be as every bit fatigued as the other two were. But even so, his eyes were still bright and wide alert, driven by his sole desire to see his companion safe. But that changed when he saw Kalena, seemingly on the verge of collapsing, and his anxious expression turned to that of horror.

“Kalena you...!”

Kalena was no less shocked, but when she tried to right herself back up to confront him, she was assailed with a stinging pain from her wounds, and it was all she could do to keep herself from stumbling. That only made the mage’s concern skyrocket. He stepped forward, ready to be at her side, and for just a moment, Kalena’s eyes flickered to something almost close to fear.

“No...!” She cried out, but the word never made it into his head. Corvon was blinded and deafened by the need to be by her side, even to the miniscule creak as his feet stepped onto the pressure plate just a few paces from her.

There was no shout, not even a gasp as Kalena understood what the mage had done. She instantly leapt forward and spun her body around to deliver a crushing kick straight at Corvon’s stomach, enough to send the frail mage tumbling back a long distance away. And just as suddenly, the ground collapsed once more beneath her, and she was swallowed by the dark, nary a cry to indicate her fate as the floors reassembled themselves over the pit once more.

“Damn...!” Zero stopped short of the pit, having sprinted ahead to grab ahold of his opponent, but it was already clear that he didn’t have the time to do so. It happened all too quick, too sudden, that it almost felt as if nothing had transpired in the first place. His gaze flickered to the new comer, coughing on all fours as he struggled to recover from the kick. Who was this man? Was he trying to help Kalena, and just ended up killing her instead?

“K...Kalena?” The mage stared wide-eyed at the ground, his voice quivering as he gradually realised what he’d done. He scrambled forward, tapping the ground frantically, crying out for her name, but there was no response. He’d gone so far to help her through this round, risking his life just so he might give her the slightest advantage she could need. All so that she may accomplish what she’d set out to do, all so to prove that he could be of use...

...It was all for naught.

“Get yourself together, bud!” Zero yelled, breaking the mage’s panicked thoughts. It was hard enough to see this happen, and having this newcomer mope about was going to make it worse, “come on, if she’s alive we can save her.”

He didn’t wait for a response, stepping on the same pressure plate that did Kalena in. It wasn’t hard; there was a unique, snaking pattern to the tiles that he’d never noticed until now. He leapt back, watching the floor crumble once more.

“Go on, get her,” he tilted his head to the spike pit, grimacing a little, “I’ll keep the thing open while you’re at it.”
Corvon only nodded, too much in a daze to question his motives. He dropped himself into the pit without a moment’s hesitation, the magic at his feet keeping him aloft just enough for him to avoid getting stabbed by the spikes himself before he met the narrow ground between them.

“Kalena?” He spoke cautiously as he glanced about the pit, his anxiety rising. What if...what if Kalena had...

"How many more times will you call my name, Corvon?"

He spun around at the voice, to see Kalena standing amidst the sea of spikes accompanied by a large wolf, which seemed unaffected by the spike poking through its body, as if it weren’t there at all. Her hand clutched at her bleeding shoulder, and even in the dim lighting it could be seen that she hadn’t made it through unscathed.

“Kalena...I’m...” He half choked, running toward her with the most relieved expression he could ever make, but right when he stepped close to her he felt a sharp impact against his cheeks; Kalena had slapped him.

“Corvon,” she spoke quietly, lowering her hand. Even with her deadpan expression a serious tone could be heard in her voice, “your haste to help someone may very well lead both of you to your demise. I thought your master would have told you do.

“I’m...I’m sorry...truly,” he murmured, bowing deeply despite the smarting pain at his cheeks, almost making a right angle. It was his fault, but there was nothing more he could say or do to convey his regret.

“Look at me, Corvon,” she said, now much more lightly than before. The mage straightened his back, staring back at her in surprise.

“I...I am glad you came for me. I truly am,” she continued with some hesitation, as though she was choosing the right words to use, “the sword of truth returned to my side no doubt by your hand, and yet you still decided you had to do more to help. What more could I want from a friend? But rashness comes at a cost. You have learnt your lesson; do not repeat it.”

Corvon nodded slowly, feeling his cheeks redden just a little upon hearing her gratitude, “I won’t.”

She returned the nod, wincing briefly as her wounds started to smart again. Seeing, this, Corvon hurriedly said, “I’ll heal you.”

Kalena hesitated for a moment, unsure of whether to accept or decline. They had been given the grace of time by their opponent; what right did she have to ask for more?

“No,” she replied flatly, “at least, not here. I shall not take advantage of what time we have been given.”

“but-”

She interrupted him as soon as he began to protest, a firm message that she would no longer listen otherwise. Without an option, he only gave a sigh and agreed.
+++++++++
Moments later Zero watched the two leave the pit via an earth pillar summoned by Kalena’s sword, but when he was asked for a continuation of the battle he merely laughed and shook his head.

“No, no. I think we all know how this is going to end,” he points at Corvon, “you have him, and I’m almost half dead myself. I’d be asking for suicide.”

Kalena opened her mouth to object, but then closed it when she realised he was right. Corvon would fight, and even with him alone against an exhausted Zero the victor would be certain. He had no reason to continue, not unless he was foolish.

“Would that be a forfeit?” She asked slowly.

“Guess it would,” Zero gave a slight chuckle. Rummaging his pockets, he tossed his own key at her, which she quickly caught with her free hand.

“Take it, you’ve earned it.”

Kalena paused for a moment, eyeing at him with an almost confused expression, “I don’t truly understand just who you are, but I know you
have your morals, and I will respect that, as with your own viewpoints. Forgive my hostile attitude from before.”
Zero smiled, “I’ll have to apologise too, riling you up like that.”

“I...I’ll patch the two of up, then,” Corvon spoke hurriedly. With a few sparks of his own magic the two had their wounds sealed, though the deeper ones would have to require the body’s own regeneration to fully recover.

“If you plan on going along with your mission, then I’ll pray for your sake; it’ll be a long journey,” Zero directed his words at Kalena, “you’ve got a good friend by your side, if a little thoughtless.”

“Likewise. I hope the path you take will bear fruit,” she responded, “and that we may never have to cross paths once more.”

With that, Kalena and Corvon turned on their heels to leave after one last word of goodbye, leaving for the exit of the labyrinth. For a brief moment, Kalena's wolf gazed at Zero with curious eyes, only turning back to leave for its master when she had gone far enough. Zero watched their disappearing figures, sighing deeply to himself. Maybe he was a tad soft, but he found this conclusion satisfying.

“Yeah, it’s fine that way,” he spoke to noone in particular, resting himself on a section of the wall with a light smile, “it’s fine, if I get to see someone happy like that. Even if they don’t show it.”
There isn't much to say in 2am in the morning. The story went well, but become frustrating toward the end. I constantly questioned my writing, wondering if the whole battle itself was coherent at all, and I'm sure there were many parts that simply weren't well done. Would readers pick up on what I wanted to show in the story? Or just the mistakes i've made throughout? I hope at least the former, but the latter is refreshing too, in a way.

I tried to go closer to reality with the advantages on both sides, which tends to be the norm for me when I write. To be honest, that was what killed me in the end. I could barely think of just how I could have the battle end on Kalena's victory, given what she and Zero had. Maybe I should have just gone a little more wild with the earth manipulation, or more wolves. After all, being broken obviously isn't too big of a deal here. *snide jab*

As an extension of that, does the ending sound cheesy or abrupt to you? It probably does, but I guess I just ran out of ideas. Perhaps my opponent has done better than I on that regard, and if so it would be his own rightful win. It's funny, because I found Zero's seemingly generic cheery personality to be difficult to work with, and so the idea for how the battle would conclude was conceived within a few hasty minutes when I realised my initial plan wouldn't work.

Ah...Irony. I had initially planned for three events that would convey that, but it's been cut to just two. I'm sure they're easy to spot, unless I had the definition wrong. Not that having two means writing them well, but I had thought it would be funny to pepper the story with said theme. It's really tough to fight for two bonuses (ante and round bonus), though I guess having a little restriction wouldn't hurt, except in order to include everything I had to write I ended up with a monster of eight thousand words. It's really bad, to be honest.

Words words words...

At any rate, if you've read so far up to here, I must congratulate and thank you. I don't think I can ever steel through something like this in one session, especially when it's mostly just a battle. For the rest of the competitors here, good luck for the polls; I don't think voting will be as clear cut now.


Zero (http://forums.stickpage.com/showthread.php?64186-quot-Zero-quot-The-First-Element)
Final Hour of the Power Tower

The volley of elemental blasts continued to fend off the onslaught of demonic avian creatures with the assistance of Zero and Zeno. Deftly they felled one feathered assailant after another while maintaining their position atop the old wizard’s tower. Zero remained atop the tower so he could guard the central case holding his gems, as well as ensure the Demon-Avilon’s safety. Zeno took to the skies on the wings of his enemies, leaping from creature to creature as he slew them one by one. As another bird swooped down in an attempt to sink its talons into Zero’s chest, he dodged to the left and accompanied that movement with a swing of his sword at similar speeds. His blow found purchase along the creature’s side as it was cleft in two and slid along the tower top; the momentum it built up carried it over and off the tower’s edge. Zero refocused his attentions on the still bountiful swarm swirling through the air like smoke clouds, bearing an all-encompassing shadow of doom. ”How many more are there?” Was the only thought Zero’s mind could manage from observing the ominous scene; if he was to continue this battle, he would need the rest of his powers back.

Just as quickly as the necessity crossed his mind, his body was swarmed with a surge of familiar energies that coursed through his veins and sunk into the marrow of his bones. His sword emitted a barrage of light waves spanning the entirety of the humanly visible spectrum and died down soon after its flamboyant display of revival. Zero’s eyes were entranced by the lightshow and its swift ending revealed that he had returned to full power. Much like everything else in his duality filled life, this turn of events had a good side and a bad side. “Things are starting to look up.” He thought as he gripped his swords hilt with refreshed determination, but as he observed his gems another thought crossed his mind. “If the gems are with me, does that mean…?”

Just as quickly as the fear crept up his spine, his eyes observed the scene of the defensive expansions on the tower dissipate into nothingness. With Zero’s gems no longer powering the tower the duo was stranded up a creek without a paddle. The swarm seemed to take notice of this new development and began to flock in a more aggressive manner, the swirling smoke condensed into thick black clouds ready to release a downpour of death. The crippling despair did not set in for Zero until he witnessed the body of Zeno plummeting towards the endless abyss surrounding the tower. It was in this despair that the cloud released its torrent of demise aimed for the center of the tower. Without a moment’s thought, Zero found himself lunging for the Demon-Avilon hatchling still crying atop the gem case. As the helpless creature was inches from Zero’s grasp, a sheet of silence was placed upon the world covered by a blanket of darkness. Every ounce of light was concealed and Zero’s consciousness faded, engulfed in the shadows of reality and sealed away from the white light of existence.

Darkness of the Unknown

Weightless…Thoughtless…Zero existed; his mind was at ease within this old and familiar space, it rested upon an in-between of emotion, happily angered and carelessly worried in regards to the filled emptiness he found his consciousness displaced in. He opened his eyes to inspect the shadows which held on to his consciousness; with a blank stare he remained observant of his surroundings. He applied force to the nonexistent floor his body was resting on so he could sit up and begin to search for a way back into reality. Once he lifted his body to a seated position his tranquil mind became alarmed at what stood in front of him. It seemed that even in the dark spaces that reality’s light cannot shine through, the light of Life can find a way. She stood on the same invisible plane as he did and inspected his body to see that it wasn’t damaged in any way. They locked eyes; Zero never lifted his blank stare and seemed to cast a gaze which pierced Life’s mortal shell: revealing her true nature. In silence they waited for something to occur, for someone to speak, though neither had a clue of how to start. After having not spoken to each other for nearly two hundred years, they seemed to have lost all sense of what connected them prior. The tension between the two was too much for Life to bear; she freed her sight and began gazing around the space.

“Ensiron…” She finally uttered his name in a soft yet sheepish manner. He did not respond nor did he free his vision and continued to stare through her. “…do you know where we are?”

Foolishly she locked eyes with him once more during her inquiry. He could see a look of remorse on her face but it did not resonate in her eyes; they appeared to be just as soulless as the last time he spoke to her. This observation pained Zero deeply, rubbing salt on nearly closed wounds only made them fresh once more and Zero finally loosened his eye’s deathly hold on Life.

“Yes…” His voice was bare and devoid of any feeling, yet Life could tell that Zero had aggressive emotions underlying his words as he continued speaking, “…this is the realm Space created that connects the three of us together so we can freely communicate.”

“Good,” Life responded carefully, “since you’re here it must mean that a part of you seeks our council?”

He didn’t respond immediately, not as a way to further the intensity between them but he didn’t know whether or not her statement was true. The fact that his mind entered this realm is enough to confirm her beliefs, but she wants to hear him say it; he wants to hear himself say it as well, finding the drive to do so is all that holds his lips locked. As he scoured his mind he found that there was indeed a parasite gnawing on his curiosity. It entered his body the moment he stepped foot in wRHG territory and has since festered into an infestation that craved satisfaction.

“Why am I here?”

Life responded with a slightly confused “Hm?” She didn’t know how exactly to start answering that question. He realized that it was a foolish thing to ask as the parasites began to chew more viciously on his mind.

“Why…” He spoke again. His voice lacked resolve as he was unable to find a foundation for his question. He tried to dig deeper in his mind, uncovering nothing more than “Why?” after “Why?” after “Why?” His search became more frantic with each unfinished yet unchanging question he uncovered.

“Why am I at the wRHG? Why am I with the F.B.I?” It wasn’t good enough. The parasites stopped chewing even though they too know this answer won’t satisfy them. As long as Zero quells their hunger for just a moment he may be able to find the answer they seek. Life was unaware of his internal struggle and answered the question he asked as though it was his intended course of conversation.

“I thought Kiarah had already told you. You’re at the wRHG so you can strengthen your mortal body enough to hold in your elemental essence. Once that is complete you will begin your quest across all of existence to become an ethereal, like you were born to be. As for your employment to Carson, I simply wanted to make sure that you always had a place to come back to. I could never provide you with a home, not like—“

She stopped mid-sentence, the next words that could have been uttered were not something to be taken lightly right now. Unfortunately she stopped a few words too late, Zero repeated to himself “a home…not like…” It was then that he stood in his field of “Why’s” blinded by a light which illuminated where he had to dig for the question he so desperately attempted to find. Life’s eyes widened as Zero locked his with her again and she could see the raw emotion and unstable energies flowing within his irises in tandem.

“Why…” He began to speak. His voice bore a definite clarity in its renewed resolve. “Why did you let Akiko die?”

As the question was released from his lips, so was the weight that he’d been carrying for nearly two hundred years. The tension Life had been attempting to avoid had found them and in no better light than the one it was shone in all those years ago. Their eyes remained fixed on each other, Life could see in his eyes the pain and longing he still felt. She wanted to ease that eternal suffering, draw in that longing for answers and affection, but that wouldn’t help him. If Zero is to become one of the Ethereals then he would need to stop lingering in the past and the only way to drive him forward was to hurt him more.

“Fine, the real reason I sent you to the F.B.I was so that you could begin taking steps forward again. You need…” She paused. She was about to utter the words she was taking so much care not to say, the same words she didn’t think would have such an effect last time. “You need to move on Ensiron.”

The invisible band that held the room in its weighted air, the tension, Ensiron, and Life collectively had now been broken of what bonds held them together. Ensiron’s face fell from its ledge of pain and longing, into the depths of hatred and anguish. He did not need to speak, Life could read him and wanted so desperately to comfort and console him but she knew she could not risk impeding his progress.

“Ensiron, I know how you feel. I understand your emotions—“

“Don’t!” Zero interrupted with a blazing intensity enflaming his words. “You may know how I feel, but don’t ever say that you understand my emotions!”

“En…Ensiron?” Life was in awe filled confusion, she had never seen him speak in such a manner towards her. The words continued to flow from his soul and drown her attempts to interject.

“You may have given emotions to humans and me but even though you know what they are, you’ll never experience them the way we do!”

“Ensiron, I…”

“You’ll never know what it’s like to make a friend, to be overwhelmed with joy when you see them, and to be overcome with grief at their death!”

“Ensiron please, I DON’T…”

“You’ll never know what it’s like to lose someone you care for, someone who understands you, someone who you want to spend the rest of eternity with, someone—“

“I DON’T WANT TO LOSE YOU ENSIRON!” Burst forth from Life’s lips against her own will. Just as quickly as it escaped, her eyes widened and her hands shot up to cover her mouth.

The two remained locked in silent eye contact, and for the first time Zero could see real emotion behind her sorrowful gaze. His raging anger was being corrupted by the spiraling depression of guilt; he began to feel more terrible for yelling at Life the longer he stared into her eyes. A shining teardrop escaped her eye and began trailing her cheekbone. She reached up to touch the foreign anomaly; her expression became one of complete bewilderment. She then fell to her knees and allowed true sadness to overtake her all-powerful being.

“You don’t understand Ensiron, I am the only Ethereal who knows and embraces these mystical powers Existence imbued within us known as emotions. The others believe me to have weakened myself because of this and treat me as if I’m not even a part of Existence sometimes. All I have to pride myself on is the help I offer you and now, if I lose you too…then…”

She was overwhelmed with grief once more and rendered unable to continue. After hearing this Zero understood Life more than he ever envisioned he would. He stood up, walked over to Life, knelt down, and hugged her; she cried in his arms as he began to apologize and for once, it was her that needed to be comforted.

Land of the Lost

“Every life has a purpose Ensiron; you would do well to remember that.”

Her last words haunted Zero, as they often did, he knew she bore foreknowledge that warranted her to speak such a phrase and it killed him to not know what she meant. Though his eyes were closed he could feel the all-encompassing darkness of his mind space fade and give way to the light of reality. He was down on one knee after his proposal to Life that they should never forsake one another again. His mind raced out of the tunnel of darkness and all that was reality surrounded him once more. The world felt cold and misplaced; a cloud of confusion hung in the immediate area and tension kept it from moving on.

“Kalena! You are alright. I’m hoping.”

A single voice cut into the cloud which gave cause for Zero to open his eyes. The sounds of rumbling rocks accompanied his visual discovery of the world. The noises allowed him to grasp a single image of the remaining tournament contestants all watching as a man and woman walk to meet each other happily. This image was replaced with walls of layered stone rising from the ground, thus separating them, Zero, and assumedly the rest of the contestants. The walls that rose formed a “T” intersection with him in the middle and both the left and right walkways leading away from the direction he was facing. He felt sorry for the two of them being trapped in a dangerous place where they couldn’t be together and hoped to help reunite them if the opportunity arose.

“Every life has purpose huh?” Zero repeated the words to himself as he stood up. He was startled when the task of standing was slightly more cumbersome than usual. He looked over his body and found a few strange objects: two were around his neck, a glowing object shaped like a dodecahedron and a large button, hanging on his waist were metallic hilts, one short and one large, and originally sticking out of his pocket he held up a card shaped stone with the name “Kalena” written on it.

“That’s her; maybe if I get this to her she can be reunited with that man.” It was a sound idea to Zero. He put the card away, turned towards the left walkway, and held his hand out in front of him. These walls came from the earth so why, Zero thought, shouldn’t he be able to simply force them back down? He swung his hand downward in an attempt to control the wall. When no response was given Zero panicked slightly, and then remembered that his necklace wasn’t on him. He grabbed two adornments around his neck and flung them off of him down the left walkway. He then failed at another attempt to control the wall and yelled in frustration.

“What? Why? First I lose five, now they’re all gone! If this keeps up I’ll never get to say my new catchphrase!” His eyes closed in quelled anger; he leaned his back against the wall closest to him and slid down to a sitting position. He was now facing the stem of the intersection as he asked, “What else could possibly make this more of a headache?” As if trained to wait for his cue, Zero’s ears picked up a familiar shriek sounding directly in front of him. Unamused, he lifted his eyelids to see the Demon-Avilon still only partially hatched staring back at him with all four of its beady, wide, and red eyes. They sat in a still silence as they stared at each other for seconds that felt like minutes to Zero. The Demon-Avilon began to open its mouths to ready another shriek and break the silence.

“You know with every shriek you make, your life gains less and less purpose.”

It halted all movement and slowly closed its mouth without making a sound. Zero was about to stand when he was caught off guard by the Confetti-Kitty using his head as a landing pad. It bounced off and landed just to the right of the Demon-Avilon. Zero stood up as it meowed and dusted off his clothes and hair. Knowing that standing still would literally get him nowhere, he picked up the bird creature and walked down the path on his right to pick up the necklaces he threw earlier. He looked down the length of the pathway and saw three off branches along its expanse. He lowered his head in annoyance and met eyes with the Avilon held under his left arm.

“Why haven’t you hatched yet?”

It let out a shriek in response and Zero started down the pathway. After placing one foot down on the path he was stopped by the sounds of violent hacking coming from his initial position. He turned his head to the left to see the Confetti-Kitty being tortured at the mercy of a hairball. With each intense hack its coat changed colors: “Hack: red” “Hack: blue” “Hack: yellow” “Hack: green,” Zero watched in horror, covering the Avilon’s eyes, as this cycle repeated itself three times over leading up to a final long drawn out “HACK!” with its fur flashing through the rainbow over the duration. A chocolate chip cookie then slid out from its mouth and on to the ground. The Confetti-Kitty fell on its side and its body stiffened; the life that once inhabited it was present no more.

With the indescribably horrid scene over Zero approached the corpse in time to watch as it faded out of reality, its body transferring into floating sprites of white energy and lifting to the heavens. He picked up the cookie and flipped it so the back was showing. A small white strip of paper was protruding out and Zero lifted it from the baked dough. “This is not the fortune you are looking for. ”

“Aw man, I hate it when I get this one.” Zero whined with a stinging disappointment. He ate the cookie and decided to trek on into the maze so he wouldn’t become gripped with despair at his unfortunate fortune. Taking his originally intended path he made his way to the first off branch and decided to go along it.

Seeds of the Future
As he walked he found himself inspecting the Avilon’s egg, wondering why only his head hatched. After wandering the maze for hours, taking automated turns, he found himself at a crossroad with no idea of where to go. The grey stone walls of the labyrinth offered no assistance in guiding him, it seem any sort of markers even those that should be left by time held no grip on this maddening maze. Looking up at the overcast sky in slight frustration, he realized that the walls only reached so high; which gave him an idea. If he could get the Avilon to fly above the walls, he may get an idea of where to go. He placed the hatchling on the ground; knowing this was a demonic creature he assumed it would grow faster than a regular bird, his plan was wholly directed towards this hope being right.

“Ok, so the plan is I pull you out of your shell and you fly up and shriek in the direction that you see the closest living being. Got it?”

The Avilon made no response.

“Got it?” Zero reiterated expecting the Avilon to respond as it had in the past. No response was the only answer it gave; all four of its slanted red eyes seemed to be staring directly through him.

“Good!”

Zero keeled down and compressed the hatchling’s egg between his thighs for leverage. He placed one hand around its neck and the other on top of the egg for even more leverage. Their eyes met once more, both bore a resolve unbeknownst to the other: Zero wanted his plan to succeed; The Avilon didn’t want to die for its caretaker’s idiocy. With a nod of affirmation from Zero and an attempted shriek from the Avilon, he began to pull the hatchling free. When it didn’t work on the first pull, he released the tension on its neck and tried again, and again, and again. In this trance of piston-like pulling motions that failed to accomplish much of anything, Zero didn’t notice that he had an audience.

“Query: Are you choking that chicken Ensiron?”

The question caused him to stop as he was about to make another pull. Both he and the Avilon turned their heads to see Cooper, in his robotic glory, standing in front of the left pathway. The Avilon let out a faint shriek as Zero stood up to greet his cybernetic ally.

“Cooper, I’m glad to see you again!” Smiling as he spoke, he walked over to give him a handshake.

“Affirmation: It is refreshing to see a friendly face in this labyrinth.”

As Cooper completed the handshake Zero nodded and was then met with a sickening realization as they released their grips.

“Cooper, we are in the midst of a fighting tournament. I was assuming that the first person I ran into would be my opponent, so according to that, my face is anything but friendly right now.”

“Reply: Yes, we are in a fighting tournament, so don’t you think going with that assumption would be slightly illogical?”

“Illogical? Well we are in a magical tournament where anything can happen. I think logic would be the first thing that gets damned here; unless you know something I don’t?”

“Concurrence: It does appear that the impossible is possible here.” Zero watched as he grabbed the necklace around his neck. He was intrigued that it matched one of the ones he was wearing. “Question: Have you thought about what purpose this rune around our necks serve?”

Zero lifted his rune as well, eyes fixated on the powerful glow it emitted.

“I thought these were some sort of ability binder at first, once that was proven false I was out of guesses.”

“Affirmation: You’re right it is an ability binder, though not how you would think of one. Clarification: It binds another fighter’s abilities to you while keeping that fighter from using them.”

“Oh!” With that mystery cleared, Zero reached into his pocket and pulled out the card. “Then what about this?”

“Clarification: At select points around the center of this labyrinth are three gates each with a single slot inside of them, with the precise measurements of these keycards. You cannot enter the gate without your card, for it scans not only the key but also the key holder to make sure they’re a match. Analysis: My card has ‘The Saint’ on it, therefore I am under the assumption that he may either hold or know the whereabouts of my key.”

“Well that certainly clears up everything; my card belongs to ‘Kalena’.”

“Query: Kalena? Expletive: Shit, Corvon!” Cooper turned towards the pathway he emerged from. “Statement: You may uncover yourself now. As you observed, this fighter is a friend who is also looking for Kalena.”

In the direct center of the pathway a small area of space became slightly distorted and from it emerged the man from earlier. Corvon was his name and he seemed to be indefinitely worried. He approached cautiously as though expecting to be attacked at any second. Zero could feel the magical power coursing through him, but something about him felt attenuated; like he could cause damage but used all of his will to not hurt a fly for fear of retaliation. In his hand was a large sword that looked out of place in his possession. Zero could tell they haven’t had any luck.

“So you haven’t found her either I see.” Zero pointlessly questioned.

“Statement: No, but I offered Corvon my protection until we find her.”

The Avilon let out another shriek which reminded Zero that it was still here. He turned to see that there was another guest present. It was Acel who entered from the pathway across from the Avilon; Zero and Cooper had met her once before in the chat room but they never held any extended conversation. The two groups stood at a distance, sizing each other up with silent empty threats to dissuade possible conflict from occurring. While sizing her up Zero noticed his necklace hanging around her neck and as he looked at her eyes he found a similar look of purpose. He was ready to confront her and retrieve his necklace, but Cooper held his hand in front of Zero to stop him.

“Analysis: It seems we are at a crossroads; Ensiron has your weapons and you have his. Suggestion: If you answer one question for me, you can trade weapons with Ensiron here and we’ll be on our way.”

“Why would I do that?” She responded with confusion and dominance, “We are trading on even grounds.”

“Observation: Ensiron has your swords and shield, things that he can use quite well. You are not much of a swordsman, but even if you could activate Ensiron’s sword you wouldn’t be able to use it to its full potential. Analysis: Getting your weapon back is more important to you than it is to Ensiron which is why you will accept my trade request.”

She appeared as though she was ready to respond, but she withheld her rebuttal.

“One question.”

“Query: What is The Organization?”

She held a straight face as though she was trained to answer this kind of question a million times over.

“We are a group devoted to the observation of the wRHG.”

Zero waited for more information but Cooper lowered his hand which was his cue to begin the trade. He began to step forward but was stopped by a slow movement from Acel raising her hand. She grabbed the rune around her neck and took it off. The rune was glowing in her hand for a moment; she crushed it in one strike. It released a burst of light mirrored around her neck and his; his necklace had returned to him. Acel picked up on Zero’s surprise and decided to clarify his confusion.

“I was assuming that by crushing these runes our weapons would return to us, but I didn’t want to test that theory until I could locate both weapons.”

“Query: How could you have been so sure that it would return to you and not simply be lost along with the rune?”

“It was merely an assumption, that’s why I was waiting to find the weapons.”

“What would you have done if my weapon was lost?” Zero worriedly questioned.

“Noted the effect and continued on my way.”

Zero was taken aback by her response, but decided it was best to cause no conflict over it. He took his rune off and smashed it on the ground. A light erupted from the destruction then quickly faded. With her weapons now returned to her and without another word she began to walk down the path Zero entered from. He summoned his sword, all the gems were glowing and he felt his power flowing through him once more.

“Good to be…back…in my element.” A smile, one that rivaled the immense satisfaction of an exiled god eating ambrosia for the first time in eons after wandering the earth, crept across his face. He looked at Cooper. “What was that thing with The Organization about?”

“Reply: I was just curious. Statement: Take Corvon with you since you’re guaranteed to find Kalena in this place, it would be more logical for you to have him.”

“What?” Corvon finally spoke up.

"Statement: I am off to fight my own battles, good luck to you Ensiron; I hope to see you again.”

“Don’t you want to take this sword with you for protection or something, Cooper?” Corvon offered, knowing Kalena would not approve, though he couldn’t allow his kindness to go unrewarded. Cooper turned back and grabbed the hilt of the sword, graciously taking it from Corvon. “Keep it safe, and promise me you’ll crush your rune as soon as possible.” He added before the transaction was completed.

Cooper acknowledged his request and walked down the path directly across from them, leaving Zero and Corvon to watch as he meandered down the pathway and finally turned at its end. Zero looked at Corvon who still appeared worried, perhaps now more so than ever. He smiled and held out his hand.

“I don’t think we were properly introduced, the name’s Ensiron but you can call me Zero if you like.”

Corvon shook Zero’s hand, skepticism still guarding his eyes.

“Hello, Ensiron. I trust you can help me find Kalena?”

“Well I have to,” Zero chuckled, “she has my key.” He smiled as he walked over and picked up the hatchling. Corvon looked at the creature with a fearful confusion; Zero noticed this and hoped that he could dispel these initial responses.

“It’s a baby bird that I was given so I could learn the value of a life.”

Corvon didn’t say anything, he simply nodded in agreement.

“Now what do you say we get going?”

Another nod and the two set off down the path Acel entered from, beginning to their quest to find the swordswoman Kalena.

Secrets of the Labyrinth

Corvon and Zero wandered the endless labyrinth for what felt like an eternity; Zero attempted to hold conversation with Corvon while they traversed together. Corvon made conversation a challenge because he was unsure of Zero’s intentions, but he slowly warmed up to Zero with the realization that his motives were pure. Corvon spoke of the reason that he and Kalena were in the tournament and Zero revealed that his new focus was to find out what happened to Zeno and the rest of the combatants that didn’t win. The duo made their way around a right turn to find an almost one hundred yard long spacious pathway with a large golden gate at the end of it, and roughly three quarters of the way down was a woman who appeared to be walking with great care; select sections of the path were missing up ahead but Zero couldn’t make out what those holes lead to.

“Kalena!” Corvon called out almost instinctively. She began waving her hands while shouting something inaudible.

“Did you catch what she said?” Zero wondered if Corvon’s ears had some sort of special attunement to Kalena’s voice.

“No, but with the way she is moving about and the missing sections of ground I don’t think it would be wise to—WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!” Corvon was horrified at Zero’s careless action of stepping forward into the pathway. When Zero heard him shout he turned around with a smile on his face.

“Well I won’t be able to reunite you two if we don’t get closer. C’mon!”

Going against his better judgment Corvon took a step forward in unison with Zero. As Corvon set his foot on the ground, he felt it sink slightly and stop with an audible click. Both of them froze and Zero slowly looked back at Corvon with an expression of horrid shock. His heart sank as he witnessed the ground near the entrance dissipate into thin air; revealing a deep thirty foot chasm with a layer of stone spikes erected at its bottom. Without realizing he had stepped on another pressure plate, Zero dropped the hatchling, grabbed Corvon, and tossed him further down the passage in order to keep him out of immediate danger. The floor underneath Zero’s feet gave way before he could move again. Plummeting down the chasm he instinctively reached out towards the wall and ripped his hand back; a layer of rock ejected outwards below him, saving him from certain death.

Zero’s eyes scanned the randomly evaporating floor above him. His eyes were instantly locked on one object falling through near him; it was the shouting, plummeting body of Corvon. In response to his cries for help, Zero ejected another layer of earth for Corvon to land on. Just when all seemed safe, Corvon continued to fall behind the stone safety net; Zero had misjudged the distance. He was preparing to make a second attempt to save him when Corvon was engulfed by a shimmering light and fazed out of sight. Confused, Zero made stone steps leading him up the initial ground floor to see Corvon at the end of the path next to the now sword bearing Kalena. “Her rune must have been broken.” Zero let out a relived sigh as he made his way to the end to meet the pair.

“Hey there!” He warmly stated as he landed in front of the gate. Kalena noticed his entrance, but Corvon seemed gripped by both the relieved happiness of being by her side once more, and the despair of being left without her in this dangerous place.

“Kalena, never separate us willingly again!”

She paid no mind to his demand as she held her sword out towards Zero with a cold glaze over her eyes.

“Are you the one that helped Corvon in finding his way back to me?”

Zero put his hands up at the unexpectedly defensive response from her.

“Yes. Now would you mind lowering your sword so we can talk?”

“No.” She responded flatly.

Zero was slightly confused as he looked at Kalena. He had just reunited her with Corvon and was unarmed as well; “What more could she want?” He thought to himself.

“Why not?” He inquired

“Because I cannot trust you.”

Corvon interjected, hoping to dissuade her. “Kalena you can trust him, he said he’d bring me back to you safely and he did. He is a bit weird and reckless, also he has some annoying demon bird thing that he carries with him, but he seems trustworthy enough.”

“A demon bird?” Her eyes narrowed, “Why would you be watching after an offspring of evil?” She held her sword closer to his neck.

“Whoa! You don’t understand; it was given to me so I could learn the value of life and— oh my god it fell in the spike pit!” Zero’s eyes widened as he turned around to see most of the pathway gone and no hatchling in sight. He prepared to jump into the chasm when a caw sound emanated from below him. The Avilon had hatched and was nearly a quarter of the size of the adults. It flew out from the chasm and landed on Zero’s right shoulder, he noticed that one of its wings along with its tail feathers were white. Kalena lowered her sword at Corvon’s request and they both were now awkwardly staring at Zero as he pet the creature; it stood nearly nine inches in length off of his shoulder. He smiled at them and began walking towards the gate.

“Well, we aren’t going to leave this place by standing around here.”

He approached the gate while Kalena and Corvon engaged in a hushed conversation. Upon inspection of the gate Zero was confused, Cooper had said that they only had one slot but this one had two slots. He pulled out his card in hopes that staring at it would somehow clear his confusion. While doing this, Kalena and Corvon approached the gate as well.

“Two slots?” Corvon seemed just as surprised as Zero. “When Bl.An.C and I found the first two doors they only had one.” They all stood in contemplative silence. Kalena was still untrusting of Zero and the aura of defensive intensity she emitted resonated within him. Corvon had one idea cross his mind, “Maybe you should both put your cards in.”

Zero looked at Kalena who was still carefully watching his every move, he held out his card and she hers. Once the exchange was made they both inserted their cards. The gate began to glow, faint at first but the light grew in intensity quickly until it unleashed a final flash; all three of them covered their eyes and the Avilon let out a loud caw. The light faded and the group was slightly puzzled by what lay before them. An empty white room with another closed door at the far end about thirty yards away. They remained still with no idea of how to proceed; all of their senses screamed “It’s a trap!” but they knew it was the only path to take. Zero was the first to speak.

“Well, it looks like we have no other choice.” He woefully stated as he entered the room with the Avilon on his shoulder; it began to fly around the room when he stepped far enough in. He walked over to the other door and found there was no handle or any way to move it; an inscription was etched in the center that read: “Two will enter and stir the walls/ Death is certain unless one should fall.”

“Well that doesn’t seem good.” Zero said to himself as he read the inscription.

Kalena looked at Corvon who was more worried than before over the possibilities that lay before them.

“Kalena…” Corvon began to try and offer up an alternative

“I’ll go first, you follow after.”

Kalena’s mind was set and Corvon knew there was no other option; he nodded and awaited the worst. Kalena took a step into the room and before Corvon could follow behind her, a stone wall burst forth from the ground separating the duo once more. Kalena and Zero listened as Corvon pounded his fists on the wall while yelling indiscernible things.

“You!” Kalena exclaimed, brandishing her sword at Zero once more. “I knew not to trust you, once I let my guard down for a second you took the opportunity to single me out. Your guise of helping Corvon may have deceived him, but I knew better! To use one you knew I held close in order to trap me; that is sickeningly deceitful.” Her tone went from reserved and defensive to angered and disgusted at what she thought Zero’s intentions were.

“What? You think I planned this? I can barely plan what I want for dinner some days!” He knew that jokes wouldn’t get him far with her, but it was more of a reflex than an attempt to reason with her. She brought her sword closer to her body and held it with two hands, she positioned her legs shoulder length apart and lowered herself; a solid charging stance.

“It would not be the first time someone has gone to such lengths just to kill me.” She shifted her weight to her front facing leg, and Zero knew the time for talking was near over. “So long as evil infests this world, I shall be here to purge it.”

“Wait you got it all wrong! I’m here to find out what’s up with this tournament too.” She was silent, that wasn’t a comfortable thing for Zero so he continued talking in hopes that she would listen to him. “I entered this tournament by the will of another, and after seeing what it had to offer I’m a bit skeptical of its existence. I want to find out who the host is and what he has done to those that didn’t make it through. I owe it to the dignified warriors like Zeno who don’t deserve a horrid fate due to a simple competition.”


“So you wish to save those condemned to the will of the host?”

“Yes.”

She contemplated the validity of his claim. Zero only hoped that she could hear the genuine concern laced within his cause.

“You do seem to have an admirable heart, but I cannot allow the feelings of another to stand in my way of destroying the evil inhabiting the core of this tournament.”

Kalena remained in her stance; she and Zero were battling through their eyes, both attempting to exert their will upon the other. Knowing she would no longer listen to his reasoning, Zero drew his sword as well. Tension in the room rose with each passing second as neither appeared to budge in their resolve. A loud rumbling noise began to resonate throughout the room and both fighters released their stances as they noticed the walls moving closer. Zero watched as the Avilon cawed once more and landed by the exit which reminded him of the inscription “Death is certain unless one should fall.” He thought to himself then lowered his posture into a battle ready stance; Kalena did the same in response.

“I’m afraid that in order to stop the walls, one of us must be felled in combat.” Zero bluntly stated.

“Then let’s see whose resolve is stronger.” She seemed willing to accept his statement. “I’m certain it’ll be easier to find the answers you seek once you join the departed.” She added.

Strength of the Resolute

The walls of the room moved with the sound of imminent death that rapidly inched closer with each passing second. The two warriors clashed their blades a multitude of times, neither budging an inch in their resolve. The intensity between the fighters overshadowed the monotonous pattern of their attacks, Kalena noticed this and as Zero went for another swing against her she ducked below the horizontal slice instead of deflecting it. With nothing to stop his momentum Zero’s swing caused him to overextend his arm and slightly lose his balance. Kalena slammed her sword into the ground and launched a blunt pillar of earth into his abdomen; he was sent flying back towards the closed door. While in the air he unleashed a stream of electricity from his fingertips. The earthen pillar shifted shape and formed a defensive shell around Kalena’s body and nulled the attack. Zero landed on his feet and raised a secondary earth shell around Kalena’s. He began to laugh but was interrupted by the pain of that last hit. He looked at the Avilon who was still sitting by the door and smiled.

“Watch this, she’s going to let down her earth shell and be really shocked. She’ll probably say something like—”

“What?!” Kalena’s voice cut through the stone with a sharp confusion.

Zero laughed to himself as the second earth wall was also taken down to show an even more determined looking Kalena. She slammed her sword in the ground once more, unleashing a wave of stone spikes heading straight for Zero to shoot up from the ground. Zero charged a ball of flame in his hands and unleashed it in response. The sphere of flame traveled faster than the spikes and exploded at Kalena’s location just before the wave reached Zero. He leaned against the wall and let out a relieved sigh, but before he could catch his breath he witnessed Kalena rushing him from the smoke deftly racing atop the spikes to him. He held up his sword to defend himself but her strike met with more force than he was prepared to take. She pinned him against the wall with his own sword slowly cutting into his left shoulder.

“Admit defeat if you value your life.” Her voice was intensified by the situation at hand. If neither would submit then both of their lives would end.

“You know I can’t do that.” Zero replied nearly shouting as he tried to hold off her amazing power. Zero shifted his body to the right and dislodged his blade from his shoulder. Kalena shifted back as soon as she noticed his movements, but she was startled in her defensive retreat by one of the moving walls. Zero’s back was also against one and they stood a mere seven yards apart, this had to end.

They charged at each other both bearing what they thought would be the finishing blow. Their swords clashed and sliced along each other’s edge, generating a shower of sparks to cleanse the warrior’s pains and replace them with an adrenaline induced fury. Kalena drew her sword back first and loosed an overhead strike on Zero. He moved to the right and followed up with an underhanded slice upwards. Kalena took a step back to avoid the attack; she landed to see Zero regaining his footing. She charged forward once more with all her strength to stab at his stomach. By the time it was too late to falter in her assault, she noticed one of his gems glow a deep blue and his hair and eyes beginning to take on a similar color. A bright light engulfed both the swordsmen, and Kalena felt her sword penetrate something. Her hopes were raised for a moment, only to be stricken down when she was thrown to the ground with her sword being repelled by something she couldn’t see.

She landed with an accompanying splash that truly confused her; water began to flood the room at an alarming rate. Kalena stood up to see water cascade from his blade into the room and it was already at to her ankles. She started towards him but the current of the flowing torrent overwhelmed what little strength she still had, leaving her at Zero’s mercy. The small room quickly filled to the top and left no space to breath except for around Zero and the Avilon. Fighting against his urge to save her and the situation they were in, Zero watched as Kalena struggled for breath and water began to fill her lungs. Watching her body thrust about in the current he still fought with the urge to save her. As his will weakened and he thought to save her, the water in the room disappeared into thin air and Zero fell out of his form and onto his knees. He began coughing and sprayed the ground with a thicker and more crimson liquid. Struggling, he tilted his head up and saw, through blurred vision, Kalena lying on her back, unconscious, but still breathing. The stone door behind him retracted into the earth and let a cool refreshing breeze into the area. He laughed in disbelief only to be cut off by another violent bout of coughing. Using the walls to help him stand he looked at the Avilon that was already a few feet down the pathway of maze that the door opened to.

“This better be the exit.” He stumbled as he spoke, but caught himself along the stone wall as he walked down the path. The Avilon flew around the area and took its spot back on Zero’s shoulder. He looked into the bird’s eyes once more and laughed to himself as he spoke under his breath. “Shiver me timbers.” The bird cawed as if it too understood the joke.

He stopped and looked back at Kalena for one final moment, and then continued on his way. “When I find the host I’ll make sure you are one of the first I save.”

I battled with the length of this piece for quite some time in hopes that it wouldn’t be too long. All efforts towards this vision failed and I totaled out at 7,888 words. What I had originally planned to write could have possibly exceeded ten thousand words, but of course that would have been utterly ridiculous; being ridiculous would obviously be out of character for me of course. I’d also like to state that I went through five different pirate jokes before I settled on one that I thought was subtle enough to not take away from the writing, it wasn’t. This note has been added to make it 8,000. :)

Scores will be tallied and calculated at the end of the round.

Vote fairly!
o w o

Nightlock
08-15-2013, 02:34 AM
Wait, I'm confused. I thought that for this round, two participants could have the same ante, and that Blak had chosen a Hard one. Did the rules change, or did I miss that update?

acutelatios
08-15-2013, 02:39 AM
Haha, you must be mistaken both are Hard ante~
< w <
> w >
*quickly fixes it*

Nightlock
08-15-2013, 02:42 AM
LOL, Of course, my mistake. ^-^

It's late and I'm tired, I just wanted to check into the writers lounge before I go to sleep. I will read and CnC this and each of the other battles tomorrow.

blakphoenix
08-17-2013, 10:43 AM
I know commenting on my own battle wont get me much of anywhere, but I'd like to say that I was very pleased with the way you portrayed Zero, Lobotomizer; in spite of his, yes generic and cheesy, personality. I am slowly pushing towards that calm mannered, more mature, and wise Zero with each passing story and you just gave me a good look into the future. Also, I enjoyed how you wrote two battles at once, and the fact that all of us who used Corvon portrayed him with a different set of abilities. My only thought at the moment is that I got lost slightly while trying to envision everything in your battle to the same degree of detail that you explained it. This caused me to read a couple of sentences over again, but that could just be me. Let's wait and see how the others feel. Overall, you wrote a great and detailed battle that I am honored to be up against. :)

Lobotomizer
08-17-2013, 12:45 PM
So I decided I need to get the whole cnc job past me, and then I recall blakphoenix's story spanning close to eight thousand. And it's 2 45am.

Groan.

I'll edit this post when I regain consciousness and in a mood to read and critique.

Chamel
08-20-2013, 05:57 PM
Blak is a homie (I feel slightly ashamed for saying that...) but that isn't what voting is about...

I don't know how to accurately describe it... But The way Lobo wrote just seemed to have a little better flow and the fact that she wrote two battles at once won me over... ;-;
Dun hate meh...

Good job Lobo :D

Nikx232
08-20-2013, 06:30 PM
I'll add more to my CnC on this later when I finish gathering everything from both parties pieces :U

The Quick CnC:
However, I'd have to say that I felt Lobo's piece (as stated before) flowed nicer and felt more novel-ish

Black's felt a bit forced as far as some descriptions were concerned (I'll find them later). I felt as if some of the descriptions were unnecessary for the focus of the plot and perhaps could have been used else where.

Boomerang
08-20-2013, 07:01 PM
Lobo... That was beautiful. I loved how you added two battles and you had such brilliant writing. I don't even think I could come up with problems with this if i sat and thought for hours.

I am just so very won over by this.

My vote goes to Lobo.

ErrorBlender
08-21-2013, 01:24 AM
I loved both battles. They all had an edge in their own way and I found it hard to remove my eyes from the screen at each one.

With Lobotomizer's work, I enjoyed the dual battle scenes between Kalena and Zero, Corvon and Bl.An.C.. Though, the only thing I can say is that Bl.An.C. wouldn't go that extra mile to kill which is what I think yours depicted. He disdains killing and would only go that far if the need requires it. In this case, it wasn't. Anyway, other than that, I think you captured Ensiron's and my own character's personality well. It was a great read and the fight scenes were intense. We took different paths on how Corvon would react to being separated from Kalena and I can't be sure if Corvon would actually do that, [my part].

blakphoenix. That opening was awesome. You picked up from where you left off and I liked that, you left us with a cliffhanger back in R1 and I was glad to even read the continuation of it. Nice. I felt that I grew to understand Ensiron a bit better through your part. The conversations between the gladiators in the middle was a nice addition as well. The battle to me was good but it was short. Not to say it didn't convey the impact it should have, I liked it, but Lobotomizer's part held more substance.

All in all, I enjoyed both works and decided to vote for Lobotomizer.



#Vote Lobo.

You are missing the number sign, BoomerangReturns.

Nightlock
08-21-2013, 05:35 PM
So I'll start with Lobotomizer. I've got to be honest, I'm going to get nitpicky with you because of this:

That's why he's[Lobotomizer] our strongest seed. I thought that was pretty clear at this point XD
I'm not putting this all on Hewitt's shoulders; My point is that I'm sure that most everybody in the writer's lounge and in the tournament can agree with this statement. I'm sorry if the others' expectations of you are a burden, and if putting you into this kind of pressure seems unfair, but to balance your skill level with proper CnC, I've got bring to light everything I find to be lacking in your tournament entry. I'll start with the negatives.

--She winced as pain shot through her back, a result of a few iron pencils that had struck her back.
--Even the wolf beside her began to growl, arching its back to the Zero couldn’t help but take a step back at this sudden outburst
--Had he not retreated, Zero would have found himself in somewhere he would rather wish not to be.
--Strangely enough, each hit seemed to connect, but it only served to make the wolf even more furious, shaking its jaws about to tear away muscle.
--I thought your master would have told you do.
The bolded areas are pretty much parts in your story that could have used editing to replace unnecessary repetition, unfinished sentences, sentences that were worded weirdly, and/or slightly confusing sentences. These had me stop where I was to reread the entire paragraph that I found them in, just to see if I had missed something. It threw me out of the story momentarily, and made it longer for me to finish reading.

Your portrayal of both Zero and Bl.An.C. were not on mark. I understand that hammering down the right dialogue to showcase Ensiron's humor and Cooper's robotic attitude is not an easy challenge, and only Blak and Error can fully pull that off; however their actions also seemed off cue, which I feel you have more control over. Zero's small philosophical outburst towards Kalena about justice seemed way out of character, especially when paired with the OOC seriousness in his demeanor. And if I'm not mistaken, Bl.An.C. never goes for the kill, so the attempted death strike on Corvon had me shaking my head in disagreement. As well as Bl.An.C.'s sentence starters, they could have been better. Error has an Index on how to start sentences on Bl.An.C.'s wRHG page, so to only see a few used, when multiple were available... IDK, it seemed just a tad lazy. I grade the portrayal of Ensiron and Cooper an A- in effort, but the overall outcome a C.

Now for the good stuff. Other than those five sentence, only five, I had absolutely no trouble understanding your story. Given that majority of it was fighting, I've got to give you even higher praise. The actions in fight scenes seem to be some of the toughest to describe, and here I was able to picture every sword swing, every physical contact, all the placements of the fighters, and even the emotions and pains of each contestant described.

I found some ironies, whether you placed them in or not, but I have to tell you how much appreciated the twist you did with Corvon and Bl.An.C. I believed, as I'm sure the other writers did, that when swapping items/abilities/companions to new owners, those new owners would essentially use the newly acquired add-on in the same way that the were used before; a weapon used as a weapon, manipulation used as is, and companions used like their original purpose. Corvon, outside of being her friend, is essentially Kalena's squire, so when he was assigned to Bl.An.C. I had thought he would act as such as well. Both Error and Blak wrote them that way, but you didn't. Instead of acting as squire, he became enemy. Because I think Hewitt had originally planned for Corvon to become squire for a different contestant by switching them, this seems like a pretty large Irony quota. I could be wrong, but that's how I see it. And who knows, that might have been one of the ironies you tried to write in and it was meant to be obvious. I just wanted to state that I highly enjoyed the twist.

Moving on to Blak. It wouldn't be fair if I only picked apart sentences in your opponents piece, so I'll do the same for you.

--...two were around his neck, a glowing object shaped like a dodecahedron and a large button, hanging on his waist were metallic hilts, one short and one large, and originally sticking out of his pocket he held up a card shaped stone with the name “Kalena” written on it.

--Watching her body thrust about in the current he still fought with the urge to save her. As his will weakened and he thought to save her, the water in the room disappeared into thin air and Zero fell out of his form and onto his knees.
The first dashed quote is an example of how long you write some of your sentences. I see that there are enough commas thrown in to help break it up, but I remember learning in school that, basically, once a sentence reaches a certain length, no amount of commas will fix it. Break up larger sentences into smaller ones for a better flow. And the bolded words is an example of your use of repetitiveness, I found a couple throughout your piece.

And I can see how the readers would have already had an idea of what each character that Zero would run into would look like, but that doesn't mean you can't go into detail on describing their looks. Little to no (none at all, if I think about) descriptions on appearance were given, including Life who is a character in Zero's story, and that's kind of disappointing... and also kind of lazy.

Good stuff? Despite the long sentences and repeated words, I had no trouble understanding your tournament entry as well. I think the flow from beginning to end was great; different settings, different actions, different people, all spread out smoothly to keep the readers refreshed. I liked how it started off where round one ended, pretty much like a continuation, and how you were able to throw in additions to not only Zero's main plot, but also to S.E.E.S. and Observer Protocol, two story-based clans in the wRHG. The length of the actual battle was short in comparison to the whole entry, but detailed nicely.

I was able to point out a few ironies, and they were really good. And like always, your stories have a good amount of humor, some hidden and some obvious, that I really appreciate. Especially with the word variety you use. If I had to, I would say that your vocabulary variety is better than Lobotomizer's. But if I'm being brutally honest, I don't think your ironies hold a candle to his.

You both are great writers, and this matchup was not fair. You both deserve to make it to the next round. My vote?... It goes to Lobotomizer. The Irony and Fight scene were superior in my opinion, and in terms of who deserves to go on, the scale tips in his favor.

You guys are great writers, and I can't wait to see what more you put out. ^_^

blakphoenix
08-22-2013, 01:57 AM
Ah, I was waiting for someone to pick apart my piece a bit. I appreciate any other CnC I have gotten, but I was awaiting one (maybe two or seven) of this caliber. In regards to some of my lengthy sentences, I typically try to eliminate such faults in my edits but it appears that my edits were lacking slightly for this piece; that, in itself, may be a heavy contributor to the choppiness of my entry. Also It didn't hit me until nearly thirty minutes after I posted it that I had little to no descriptions of the other characters. Haha! I guess I assumed that anyone who followed these tourney pieces knew who the characters were, and I subconsciously deemed it unnecessary to once again describe these characters; although laziness is a very plausible excuse as well. :p

Thank you for giving me something to look over and discuss in slights Night.

Lobotomizer
08-23-2013, 08:55 AM
Well! I'm finally sober enough to post my own CnC. Or maybe just comments, because I really haven't much to say.

Let's start by a rare compliment from me: This story is, without a doubt, quite well done. I'm afraid I can't put it into words properly, but it seems that you have a good balance of each aspect of the story, from humor to battle to interactions. There isn't an excessive amount seasoning or steak; it's just about the right amount.

Like what Nightlock said, there are plenty of good, fleshy bits that turn up throughout the story to keep it interesting the whole way. Unfortunately, the meeting with Acel fell short. That is, her purpose was almost solely for allowing Zero to regain his own ability. The reason was that the interaction was brief with Acel disappearing once they'd finished the switch, and seemed to achieve little result other than the aforementioned purpose. Paired by the fact that you've done little to elaborate on Acel's appearance, intentionally or unintentionally, made me feel as though you really wanted to get that event out of the way and continue to the beefy parts. In my opinion, that might have hurt your depiction for the condition stated in the hard ante. As I've said, that is not for me to judge, but I do believe that it has also made your story just a tad weaker.

In all honesty, I'm not too happy about the battle. It's not much in comparison to the rest of the story. This is subject to opinion of course, but I had viewed each event (excluding the first chapter with Life) to be leading up to the battle and for it to end so quickly was a bit of a disappointment. In addition, I feel as though Kalena was fighting a little too recklessly for someone of her caliber. Maybe it's just me.

Finally, I believe there was much more you could have done to convey emotions, especially between Zero and Life. You could have talked about how their tone sounded, actions, gestures that they would make that would show how they feel rather than outright saying it. Show, not tell. You've done a decent job, but I believe you can do better than this.

I'll be honest here, I'm surprised I've garnered so many votes despite your work being fairly up to par. I know I've made plenty of mistakes, some of which have been pointed out by others, and all of that has made my own story weaker than it should be, and from all this I'm almost compelled to feel that it should have been a more close battle. Regardless of which, it's a good entry, better than half of those on the current round two, even.

blakphoenix
08-23-2013, 11:07 AM
I would like to thank you Lobo, first of all, for those kind words. I do agree with the comments you have made relating to my piece and I can't help but sense some sort of disappointment in your tone...or maybe I'm just imagining it. I wasn't happy with the battle either. In my day to day writings that I scribble down on paper or type in a blank document, I typically don't portray much more than...well...if anyone has glanced at my piece in Original Literature then that's what I typically do. Fights are something else entirely to me and I am writing in this forum solely to increase my abilities to describe intense battles, and to make a few friends along the way.

I've given my initial comments on your entry as well, but with the recent CnC given to you, I'm afraid I cannot say more without droning on about the same points. I hope that when next our pens are turned against one another, I may offer up a piece which you would bow down to. :p

Tantalum
08-28-2013, 06:33 PM
I'm sure I said I'd comment here ages ago Dx I'll keep that promise at least, a shame I've been too busy to get round to the others before today though. Let's see what I can manage in a couple hours.

Like others said, this was a really close one. Lobotomizer's prose was flawless, save for the the few sentences Nightlock pulled out; Blakphoenix's wasn't quite as consistent with wording, but I found xis storytelling to be much clearer to visualise, enough to even the score. Neither were lacking in either aspect, just they really shined in their respective pieces xP.
As for the stories themselves, Lobo's was pretty entertaining - almost a given since I'm much more drawn towards lengthy fight scenes. Overlapping two of them was only a bonus, and neither were made too confusing either. The ending twist was completely welcome despite its cheesiness, and I feel it rounded off the story well. Blak's aimed to entertain more through dialogue than action, and certainly succeeded, only it did result in a fight that felt lackluster compared to it. The ending was just as impacting, but a more elaborate climax would've made all the difference.
These comments are a little vague, but consider them my personal comments - as far as CnC goes, I feel Nightlock covered about all of what I picked up on and more. My vote's on Lobo, though again both were real impressive reads x).