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View Full Version : The Strongest (Gin) v. Infinitum (Gairovald)



The Strongest
12-30-2013, 04:19 AM
Redone because of an error on my part in the thread creation process~


Thunder boomed somewhere above, but its own sound was dwarfed by the roar of heavy artillery firing into the fortified positions of Gairovald’s soldiers. It was the third day of such shelling, and though it was largely ineffective thanks to the magic barriers and point-defense spells put up by the defenders. Still, the fact of the matter was that this position wasn’t one that could be retreated from easily, nor was it one that any of the units present wished to retreat from.

Unbeknownst to their assailants, there were reinforcements marching at double-time to reach their position in order to relieve their besieged allies. It was only a matter of time before the attackers were pushed from their position by devastating wave of cavalry-mounted mages.

While such was unknown to the majority of the commanders, it was known by a small group that had infiltrated and been marching with the company for a period of months, now, waiting for the inevitable clash between it and their foes. Shadows even in the shadows cast by the thick, odious clouds of smoke that the cannons had released, they toiled. The humble crew of two of the great batteries that were failing to do much more than cause a ringing in the ears of the men they sought to destroy.

There were two of them, each bearing a calling card that would become their name. The Jack of Bones and the Ten of the same suit. Both were clad in the fighting uniforms of their temporary host, and at that moment, both of them were grinning.

“Jack, this thing is going to be a success. The only question, then, is how much of a success is it going to be?” the one who had declared himself as Ten to the commanding officer before loading another round into the weapon he and his partner were manning declared.

“An absolute success, Ten,” wagered the other of the pair. “Just a matter of time before we get the signal. Then we use our ace in the hole.”

Their features were obscured in deeper smoke as the cannon fired again. The feeling of the cannon reverberated through their bones. One of them, the one who bore a number for his name, winced, and then an uneasy smile came up, for the feeling of pain was the signal that he had been waiting for.

“Pain, followed by the success in all endeavors.” Jack reflected as he turned to a seemingly ordinary round. “This war is out of our hands, as of now. It’s time to let fate decide its course.”

“Still, I pity the poor bastards. Fragmentation shells. This is going to hurt.”

The round fired, arcing through the air, projecting a sound of terrible purpose. Unlike the standard issue rounds used by the other cannons, this particular ball had been prepared especially to deal with the magic that was proving so effective at nullifying the attacks. While the other attacks had exploded brilliantly against the defensive spells being weaved by the force of mages who had been tasked with such a duty, this particular attack sailed straight through, smashing into the chest of one very surprised mage. The brief weakness in the screen suddenly grew much more prominent, with the subsequent explosion. Fragments of sharpened glass and metal tore through flesh and light cloth armor. Screams filled the air, only to be drowned out by the boom of more cannon fire. The effect quickly began to snowball, and a charge was ordered. The two infiltrators who had wrought such destruction exchanged another grin, before retreating from the chaos, evading detection as they allowed destiny to run its course.

The aftermath of the battle was bloody. The reinforcements had arrived to a fierce melee, and entered it readily. This produced an even bloodier battle, but a bloody battle that ultimately ended in the routing of the cannon-toting force that had been so hopeful of a final victory, here. Instead, of the smell of cheap booze and revelry, however, now there was a sober counting of the dead. The celebration was occurring on another hill. Here, there were a few soldiers given the unsavory task, and two heroes of the day.

Gairovald walked alongside Dominic, the commander of the forces that had managed to survive the dread onslaught. The pair were discussing the nature of the shield-piercing attack that had succeeded in surprising them all. It had been a magic far beyond the abilities of the army they had been facing, that much was certain, but who could be supplying them was another matter, entirely.

“Have we considered the possibility that the supplier came from within our own ranks? Its usage did not occur at any crucial moment, and judging by their own reaction, it had been a surprise.” Gairovald proposed. “It could have been smuggled over at some time, and simply been left to do its work.”

“It is a possibility, but there aren’t many amongst our rank-and-file who could have performed such an enchantment as that. The officers are loyal to both me and their country, and not a one of them was beyond their post or the line of battle during the engagement. I feel that the greater likelihood is that one of our enemies abroad has been supporting this war from a distance.” Dominic replied. The aging man, less grand in stature than he once had been, still conveyed a willingness and capability of surviving a confrontation a dozen times the scale as the one he had just witnessed. “I would be willing to gamble that it was our friends to the north. Perhaps out of revenge for one of the previous wars. We did side against them in their latest attempt to establish a secure foothold across the seas.”

“This trick does seem to play to their own inelegant carelessness.” Gairovald intoned, amusement playing at the edges of his syllables, though his words carried a sharpness cold as iron. “However, we have fought them many a time, I doubt even their best mages could duplicate a trick such as this.”

A chilling wind cut across the desolate battlefield, causing both to shiver. The sky above was a darkening gray mass of clouds, hinting very strongly of the storm that had been threatening to deluge the area for so long would finally have its moment. The autumn rains. Really, they had been fortunate thus far to have avoided them for so long. The storm gathering above seemed like it would be ready to more than make up for it all.

“Gairovald, you’ve been a great asset to this campaign,” the compliment broke the stillness unexpectedly, disturbing Gairovald from his own musings. “You’re receiving a promotion. As it turns out, it seems the crown plans on launching another campaign eastwards, and I’m being pulled out of this region for it. I have been given the duty of naming my replacement. It’s you, lad.”

Gairovald, for all his efforts, could not stow away the glimmer of surprise and pride that flashed across his face, and Dominic couldn’t help but notice it. A warm smile of pride lit up his face. A look that was suddenly made hollow in appearance, and followed by a soft moan. Then he fell forwards, revealing the vicious spike of glass that had failed to completely impale the man.

From the next hill over, Gin watched and waited to see what his target’s companion planned to do. His body was inert, like a statue of glass, but Gin knew that nobody would be fooled by such an act. He had no plan to play the role of the harmless work of art, either. No. Gin deduced that this was a matter that would be dealt with best in a more visceral fashion. The shard he had implanted in Dominic’s back allowed him full vision of the immediate aftermath. There was the companion, a look of dull surprise having washed over his face. Further back, there was a soldier turning back to get a second look at a sight he, no doubt, couldn’t believe he was witnessing.

The companion was coming closer, now, to examine the piece of Gin, and when he saw his eyes, there, Gin felt a sudden rush of pride. Not pride his own, though. It was the pride of this man. Somewhere, deep down, a mental blade was unsheathed, slightly. The companion looked up from the shard, and Gin knew that he had been detected. The site was isolated enough that if he desired to gain a head start on the inevitable pursuit, destroying these men would be the surest way to widen such a window of opportunity as much as could be done. Besides, Gin would enjoy this.

How many men were there? How many lives needed to be extinguished in order to succeed, here? There were four. The companion to the target and three others, men who had been counting the dead. They were of no concern to the grander scheme of things. Any one of them could be slaughtered like so many sheep and the passage of time would render the action to nonexistence. At that moment, their incapacitation was all that he needed in order to proceed to the removal of himself from the former area of his operations. Gin got down on a single knee, steadying himself, before smashing one of his arms as hard as he could against the hill. It shattered, producing several pieces long enough for his goal. The companion was giving orders of some sort, Gin knew that much, but they were shouted in a language that he could not understand. The others were listening, however, which made them into easy targets.

The glint of a mirror’s shard rocketing through the air was all the warning the first of Gairovald’s soldier-underlings received before he found himself fumbling clumsily at a shard of glass extending from his throat. The cry of surprise and pain was drowned in the same blood that was quickly filling his throat. In spite of the advance warning this gave to the other two soldiers, they soon met similar fates. Gairovald was the only one with the reaction time necessary to raise his shield to intercept the incoming attack.

Gin saw him mutter words he could not understand, but the brief flash through his eyes, this he understood. The thing of mirror and magic stood, and then advanced. Gairovald. That was what the companion thought of himself as. There were other meanings to that name, meanings that Gin felt approval towards. Still, it was a name that Gin would be required to remove from the tongues of the people. Born to privilege, the man reeked of the lifestyle that Gin found so familiar, yet so repulsive. Brown hair, an Ancien military uniform, tall, but not tall enough to be larger than Gin himself. Depending on his facing, his eyes alternated from a harsh, dark brown to an intense apparent blackness. Gin wondered, briefly, how such blackness would look when the light of life was removed from them.

Gin’s advance was steady, slow and methodical. Though a construction, or perhaps because it was a construct, Gin’s body radiated a single-minded intent to kill, an intent that Gairovald was not blind to. From the motions of his mouth Gin surmised that he was calling for assistance. The revelry was too far away, however. It was the isolation of this killing field that had attracted Dominic for his announcement. In such isolation, the best Gairovald could hope for was that someone would notice that he and the commander, the two greatest heroes of this battle, were missing. The knowledge that the ignorance of the remainder of the force was the only thing allowing him to possibly have an escape without further detection lead a sense of urgency, then, to Gin’s killing aura.

Gairovald, naturally, detected the intent to kill, and so he prepared himself for the coming battle mentally. How was it going to be done? Before him was an opponent unlike any he had faced, before. He could detect no signs that there was a man beneath the armor that the advancing assailant seemed covered from head to toe in. Negotiation was, it seemed, entirely out of the question. The thing advancing on him, Gairovald deduced, was likely magical in nature. The area had been scoured for the remaining bands of the enemy that had once fought them, and so there could be no guide manipulating this construct. It had to be powered by a different intelligence entirely. Its own.

Gairovald permitted himself a smirk. In a single fluid motion, he drew his rapier and drew a line in the dirt with it. Whatever enemies had managed to accomplish this attack had been far cleverer than his previous opponents. An opponent more worthy of his intellect.

“Here I am. Here I remain.” Gairovald declared. A sudden wind caught his words and tore them from his lips, carrying them away into the rapidly darkening sky. The threat of rain was very real. In spite of the club he presumed himself to hold over the thing that seemed to be made of mirrors, Gairovald’s mind leaped to the possibility that this would not prove to be his immediate victory. Some enchantments proved too strong. The entirety of the former battlefield, then, was a viable place for his stand, that he might utilize its entirety to fight this opponent.

I did not turn back their powder to allow myself to be slain, here, by the cloaked dagger of another. Gairovald thought to himself. I’ll turn this blade back upon its wielder soon enough.

The thing of mirrors, now, stood close enough that Gairovald could clearly see himself in it. However, there was a smirk on the reflection that Gairovald himself couldn’t feel.

You are Gairovald.Throughout his mind, the simple statement rang, as if the thought originated from himself, rather than from the reflection whose mouth moved in time with the words.I am Gin.

Gairovald dodged to the side as he saw the attempted stab coming. A graceless attack without any artistry to it. In the brief moments as the blade cut through the air just a few centimeters from Gairovald’s torso, he caught a closer glimpse at the blade that he had deliberately allowed to pass so close to his person. It wasn’t gripped at all, but instead it was as if it were an extension from the thing’s hands, if indeed there was really a hand down there. Harsh, jagged outcroppings lent to an idea that function was valued over form to this thing. Still, Gairovald noticed, there was an intent to always have flat, mirror surfaces, as he saw his face, in fragmented form, reflected back at him a hundred times as his dodge continued into a momentum-building spin.

Gairovald raised his arm and braced for the shock that rippled through his shield to his arm. Somewhere behind him, the sound of shattering glass could be heard as clearly as he could see the reflections from the flying pieces as they sailed past his face. In those instants, Gairovald perceived the reflection laughing, a hundred mocking derivations of himself, and then came the unbidden laughter throughout his mind.

What do I find so funny? Gairovald wondered, even as the laughter continued. It’s the fact that I thought such an attack could be effective. But this thought wasn’t mine. Of course would be effective. You cannot incapacitate a sword, only deflect it.

Thoughts that were not his own clouded together with thoughts he could not find the source of, and all were mixed with his own confusion. Always, his own mind had been the domain of himself, but then what depths did these words float up from? Gairovald’s search distracted him from a most unusual sight: the glass had ceased its movements.

Here in this moment, I prefer the silence.

Gairovald felt his eyes widen with the sudden realization. Gin. That’s what it had identified itself as, projecting the words into his mind.

Now you may die with knowledge in your heart.

A quick glance upwards revealed Gairovald’s peril. It was only a reaction that was equally quick that saved him from it. Again the cacophony of glass shattering sounded behind him.

You cannot escape your fate. If you are to die, here, then so it shall be. Your die is cast. Turn and face its result.

Gairovald turned over his shoulder and felt a growing fire within his heart. What did this thing believe it was, talking down to one such as him as one would a peasant, or worse, an equal? Not even talking, but invading his mind. It was an outrage and an insult that he would not allow to remain standing. Much like the thing that had borne him such an insult.

Magical energies flowed through Gairovald’s shield, culminating into a brilliant orb of white light that he projected at the ground to his left. The beginning of his ultimate victory.

It has already failed.

Gairovald was surprised to see that, rather than pressing a new attack, Gin had forged his other hand into a shield, mimicking his own. In similar fashion, Gin was projecting his own ball of light. It passed by Gairovald’s own orb and settled into the ground to his right, radiating the unmistakable turquoise color from his own magical arsenal.

No time was wasted, however, and Gairovald made a quick lunge at Gin, his rapier making contact where a heart would have been. The mirror, he noted, did not mirror this action, instead it stood smirking, though the smirk turned to a grimace of pain, as well as a look of shock and confusion. The mouth tried to say something, but no sound boomed through his skull, instead an incoherent, low, babbling wail was there, and in it Gairovald was made to know the shock at the sensation that had burned itself into his opponent’s breast.

Gairovald saw the next stab coming, and with his shield he smashed the fake rapier aside, pieces of it shattered, and Gairovald pressed his attack in order to prevent his opponent from regaining the assuredness of constant ground, if nothing else. Counterattacks were knocked away by the sword, and the momentary openings they created were swiftly exploited by Gairovald’s shield, which quickly was turned away from Gin to spit out another orb.

For all the damage that Gairovald could see himself doing, however, not a one of them seemed to be weakening Gin any. Where once a head-like structure had stood, there was only smashed and cracking glass. The mirror’s torso had deep fissures running through it that refused to widen any further, and while Gairovald could feel his arms beginning to tire, Gin’s own strikes never slowed.

Your fate has been decided, unbidden, the words rang through Gairovald’s head, but now he knew their source, and he paid attention to it. You will be erased, and your commander will witness your downfall before he joins you. Your destiny calls.

Gairovald felt the hairs on the back of his neck suddenly stand on end, and a sense told him without the need to be reinforced by his eyes that, all around him, the shards that he had been so successfully breaking off were poised to strike. He also didn’t need to be reminded of the magical nature of his preparations that had been proceeding during the exchange of blows.


Gairovald raised his shield, seeking to avoid as much damage from the coming storm of glass as he could, but even as he guarded his face he felt the slicing biting suddenly come up in a dozen places at a time. None of the shards cut deeply, but the pain was distracting.

A boom of thunder added to the distraction, and finally, Gairovald felt the first drops of rain. Promises, it seemed, were being fulfilled, and he recalled, then, the promise he had made to avenge Dominic’s death. Yes, he would avenge the death of his commander, and then he would drive this army into the heart of their enemy’s lands to force a final peace.

Gairovald stepped carefully over the black mass that swirled beneath his feet and continued backwards amidst the storm of glass. For a few tense moments, it seemed as if Gairovald’s entire existence was pain, and the buzzing sound of glass all around, slowly wearing him thin. That was it, the fons edax, that was the beginning of his plan. Gin, he had deduced, knew what was inside his head, but he could not know what Gairovald himself did not know.

You believe that such a trick would work against him? the voice from his head betrayed him yet again, but it was not doubt, it was pride. Pride from Gin. For all your supposed brilliance, acting on the fly is the best you can produce? I know what will come to your head as soon as you think of it. Lay down your arms and find some dignity in your end before it comes.

Gairovald gripped the shield tightly and then relaxed. All around, he felt his muscles doing the same, even as the glass ravaged his flesh. If Gairovald’s mind would betray him, he would relieve it of its duties. The trap, that Gin had surely been expecting, was sprung, but in a form that Gin could never have predicted. Gairovald was fighting on his instincts, conscious thought too slow to keep up with the fluid and instant reactions of Gairovald’s training.

Gin realized, then, that he was no longer fighting Gairovald, the proud, newly-christened commander of this army. It was a battle against all of his instructors, all of his experiences. Muscles. Such an odd system of flesh, and that it could turn itself against him so effectively.

The musings slowed Gin’s thought process, and the shield that came to suddenly smash his torso shuddered him to his core. Glass shattered, but Gin knew he was still aware. All around, there were the pieces of him. A thousand different views were his to behold of the battle, and there was one view that flew up and behind Gairovald. A piece had broken off larger than the others. Seizing the moment, Gin redirected it, and it found itself running Gairovald’s leg into the ground, impaling him, there.

Gin looked down at Gairovald, and he knew that now the battle had ended.

Your destiny is not mine to decide. I wash my hands of you.

Gin had found Gairovald’s rapier where it had been dropped following the attack, and he drove it into place in Gairovald’s other leg, before freeing the piece of himself from it.

As Gairovald’s vision began to darken, he watched Gin walk away, the reflection giving him nothing to see beyond a curious look.





Grey clouds - jagged, whirling masses of vapor and shadow cut through the sky. Though the pale light of day still shown across the plains beneath, it seemed the clouds above were determined to banish it, their pointed forms like jaws devouring prey, leaving behind only blackness for the world they had consumed.

“Fitting.” Gairovald thought, turning his gaze downward across the landscape that lay sprawled out before him. It was a beautiful countryside, and the rich fields of golden wheat rolled over the gentle hillsides, reaching to the horizons. It was still so like he remembered them.

But there was something different about them now. Their grandeur was decaying. Gairovald had seen almost no one at all for countless miles. No travellers, no one working the fields. Even the bandits and looters had already taken everything of value and moved on to fresher carcasses. The idyllic heartland of his nation, that only years before was its very lifeblood - feeding its people, lining its treasuries, fueling its levies - lay empty: although the fields teemed with life, they were at the same time a barren desolace of humanity.

Though the series of revolutionary wars may have come to a temporary end, earning the nation huge swaths of new territory, the devastation of the war had cost the newly republican nation more than they had ever anticipated. Millions of people lay dead on the battlefields, with too few able bodies to even give them proper burials. Thousands of homes were now empty, their owners dead or fled to greener pastures. The newly conquered territories, though for now broken, were simply too numerous: in time their children, who had lived under a foreign yoke for all their lives - or worse, seen the invasion take their parents and siblings - would rise and take back their nation from their conquerors, that in turn would be powerless to resist without the people to man its armies.

The peasants had never known when to stop. They lacked any true understanding of restraint, or of their own limitations. It was one of many things that set them beneath the nobility, why they simply had no place ruling even the most petty nations. And in their demented zeal, they had carved a vast empire they could not dream of holding. Regardless of how impressive their conquests may have been, admittedly, they would last no more than a decade or two. And they would fall so much farther than they had ever risen.

How quickly, how utterly they had destroyed everything Gairovald cherished. And for nothing.

And here had come the anniversary of the slaughter, the Reign of Terror. When he had lost his family, his emperor, his nation, his pride. Everything. How many years had it been? So few, but he could not even remember now. It had been pointless to count the years since then, nothing of importance ever changed.

Gairovald knelt briefly, looking silently at the three gravestones he had erected on the hilltop: two for his children, one for his spouse. There were no bodies beneath them, of course. Gairovald had no way to ever find them again. So he raised them to look over what had once been his father’s fief, on a hilltop overlooking the countryside. It was only a mile or so from where his mansion, his home, had been razed to the ground.

He had not seen the building itself since the Revolution. To see it now, the pile of charred rubble it would now be, was not something Gairovald was sure he could do.

Gairovald waited there silently for some time, simply allowing the waves of anger and despondency to wash over him. He swore vengeance once again, as he had so many times before, refusing to acknowledge the utter futility of the idea. Gairovald was not going to tarnish the memories of the fallen by giving in.

Gairovald rose from his contemplation, and turned to leave, only to be faced with some bizarre… thing.

It was something unlike anything Gairovald had never seen. It stood a head taller than he himself did, when Gairovald stood a head taller than most everyone already. It’s appearance was an unnatural but vivid field of colors that shifted with the slightest movement… a mirror, Gairovald realized suddenly, casting some distorted reflection of the world around it. Still more unnaturally, the thing’s head reflected Gairovald’s own face back towards him, glaring blankly.

An unnatural, telepathic voice broke the brief silence within Gairovald’s own mind. “I’m not surprised to find you returned here. Someone of your pride, feeling he is unthreatened by mere ‘peasants’… even if the same ‘peasants’ so easily defeated you years ago.”

“Do you still think that you can undo what has been done? Or take vengeance, perhaps? Interesting. Even while you tell yourself, over and over again, that you can… at the same time you know you are helpless against what has happened; that in the end your continued existence is nothing but a pathetic exercise in futility.”

Gairovald’s stunned silence at the bizarre entity’s appearance shifted into utter fury. But Gairovald was not a man to yield to his emotions. With his willpower, he forced his anger aside, demanded of himself absolute focus, ignoring the obvious attempts to provoke him. He brought himself to speak, turning his eyes to face the mirror image of his own.

“Why are you here?”

“To make you feel that powerlessness one final time. To take the one flicker of hope that remains in you.”

Gairovald watched as the... mirror’s form shifted, and out from his hands grew a rapier and shield that shaped themselves identically to his own.

But Gairovald’s weapons were readied first.

Gairovald lunged forward with ruthless aggression, his rapier spiked forward, his arm extended to full range from a coil, the blade twisting to carry the impact into the creature’s chest. Aggressive, lethal, but entirely controlled, the strike left Gairovald countless contingencies for any sort of counterattack. The mirror was not caught off guard, blocking the strike with a swat from a still forming shield.

Gairovald countered with a series of rapid slices and thrusts, forcing him to maintain the defensive while Gairovald circled to claim the high ground. With his weaponry now formed, the mirror took the aggressive. It charged in close, bashing its shield into Gairovald’s own, occupying it so it could not deflect the sudden, angled slash at Gairovald’s side. Gairovald parried once, twice, a third time. The mirror pressed close, its shield still pressed against Gairovald’s, raining cuts from every angle with brutal force, every blow jarring Gairovald’s arm to deflect.

Gairovald was startled by its ferocity, but it wasn’t something he was unprepared to deal with. He parried a few further strikes, still being pushed up the hill, until the one he was waiting for appeared.

The mirror slashed vertically, slanting his wrist to try to bring the slice around Gairovald’s defenses to strike him in the back. Deadly, and almost certain to defeat an unprepared opponent.

But Gairovald was anything but. With a half-step back, he parried the blow with the flat of his blade, twisting slightly to slow its retreat. Such a high attack had pulled up the mirror’s center of balance far above the ideal. Before it could react, Gairovald stooped slightly, sweeping his leg out at his opponent’s, hooking his shin around his opponent’s leg and swinging.

The mirror wasn’t ready for the move, but managed to land on one knee, shield up, prepared for a strike. But it did not come. Instead, Gairovald took the time to release a sphere of golden light from his shield, which struck the ground behind the mirror. A golden ray of light shot up from the point, humming violently.

The very sound may as well have been the embodiment of satisfaction to Gairovald. It was the instrument that had brought the demise of so many of Gairovald’s foes, spewing forth orbs of arcane destruction at his foes that might as well have been the instrument of divine judgment. Against an enemy that might as well have been composed of glass, it would be all the more destructive. He allowed himself a small smile, and spoke a brief taunt:

“Obe Sententiam Tuum.”

Gairovald followed the declaration with a slight leap to his left, followed by an aggressive forward thrust. The mirror would block it easily, of course, but the strike was merely a distraction from the true assault.

Gairovald felt his lunge parried by the blade - an interesting choice, for one in a disadvantaged position as the mirror was, but one that succeeded. But Gairovald soon saw the cause. Parrying by blade allowed the shield to turn toward the Fons Sententiae… and release an orb of turquoise light, which would fuse with the ground just before it, erupting in a shining barrier of iridescent light. Fons Paritate. The golden orb launched itself from Fons Sententiae with the signature hum of chords, launched forward like a bolt of lightning from a storm… only to bounce harmlessly off the Turquoise mantle, hurtling harmlessly into the sky.

Gairovald pulled back, and stared. How?

The mirror seemed to smile at him with his own face. “You think so highly of your ‘sacred magic,’ but you seem so unprepared to deal with it yourself.”

The mirror stood up once more and rushed at Gairovald shield first once more. Gairovald anticipated it, and made another quick sideward leap, followed by a quick stab. The mirror returned more frenzied cuts at Gairovald, still leaving no holes in its defenses. But Gairovald parried them expertly, slowly retreating before the aggression, trying to draw it from the cover of his Fons Paritate.

The mirror complied, circling Gairovald at a pace near a sprint to keep the Fons Sententiae and Gairovald himself in the same direction, preventing it from being used without risking hitting himself. He had little choice but to wait and allow it to gather further charges. Its offensive capacity was neutered for now, and Gairovald was forced to defend against the mirror’s ruthless aggression once again, without any form of magical aid.

Suddenly, Gairovald realized the advantage the creature must be pressing. Its continuous assault might tire Gairovald, but the mirror could fight with the same boundless ferocity, drawing on every ounce of force it could muster for each and every strike until Gairovald died of his own exhaustion. By forcing him to counter its aggression, Gairovald needed to exert himself to his limits merely to defend, something no human could manage for long at all.

Gairovald would have to do something that went against every tactic he had ever relied on: he would have to end this as quickly as possible.

Gairovald altered his style. Rather than trying to return the being’s aggression, he allowed it to dictate the flow of the battle. Gairovald backed away, deflecting the endless barrage with as little effort as possible. Feigning exhaustion, Gairovald allowed himself to be pushed back slowly toward the Fons Paritate, simply awaiting another error in the mirror’s fighting he could punish. He eventually got one.

This time the mirror rushed at Gairovald with a wide, angled cut. But its shield was held lightly, meant to allow faster strikes at the expense of proper protection. Clearly the being had already tasted victory; it did not expect Gairovald to even attempt to strike back. Gairovald rushed in with his shield, bashing it against the mirror’s with the force of his whole body. The mirror held its ground, retreating only a step, but found both its blade and shield caught against Gairovald’s. Gairovald ducked low, swinging with as much force as possible into the mirror’s leg, hoping it would have at least some effect.

He was rewarded when his blade connected with a sharp crack, vibrating with golden light as its enchantment ripped at his foe’s own essence and shards of silvery glass fractured and fell from the mirror’s leg, leaving a sizable gap. The mirror leapt backward, standing awkwardly but still solidly, avoiding Gairovald’s attempted follow-up strikes. Even having been damaged, it still directed the same smile at Gairovald that it must know frustrated him so deeply.

“The amusing part is that you still think that exchange was a gain for you.”

“It was the first success of many. And each one will be easier than the last.”

The mirror said nothing, merely widening its smile slightly.

Suddenly, the three jagged shards levitated into the air, poised menacingly as they pointed at Gairovald’s heart. They suddenly leapt forward with alarming velocity, one aimed at his waist, one at his chest, and a third at his head.

With impressive dexterity, Gairovald swatted the upper two aside with his blade, and with his shield deflected the one aimed at his waist. All three arced behind him, before turning to come at him again. But this time the mirror charged him again. Gairovald sidestepped, desperately parrying while trying to dodge the shards. Although the blade was intercepted, Gairovald felt a jagged edge cut across his leg. The point had missed, but the gash still left a searing pain on his calf, while all three blades arced back behind him, only to turn on him once more.

How long could he defend himself from so many directions? They would simply rip through Fons Paritate if he made one. Fons Edax was too slow against such a threat. His Fons Sententiae, though gathering a wealth of charges now, was still uselessly behind his foe’s stolen Fons Paritate. He had nothing against such a foe.

Gairovald’s foe had no reason to change tactics. It hammered at Gairovald’s defenses again and again, striking with undiminished ferocity and speed, still circling rapidly in response to him retreating in a direction it did not want. Gairovald felt as his muscles began to burn, his lungs began to tighten as they struggled to supply the air to meet his needs. Minutes of all out exertion with only the briefest rests already had him approaching his limits. Although he still maintained his precision, years of military discipline not allowing anything else, each parry was more difficult than the last. His arm burned, and every successive blow jarred his arm for longer than the previous. Each mistake was harder to press. He was forced to make a jump or sidestep every time the shards came for another pass, costing precious energy. And even then the mirror still circled him effortlessly, never slowing its assault.

Its constant, unbreakable aggression proved as methodical as anything Gairovald had ever faced. Even with the knowledge he was being pushed into the Fons Paritate, where he would no longer have the luxury of retreating from its assault, where he lost any chance at all to use his Fons Sententiae, he could do nothing to stop it.

And all the while, it kept that same, infuriating smile directed straight at Gairovald. If nothing else, its mockery that invoked so much rage in him was motivation to fight with every last ounce of his willpower until the end.

Gairovald still fought with expert skill. Even as he was pushed back within feet of the Fons Paritate, he gave no openings for the mirror to exploit. It was, once again, the mirror that would make the next error. An overly aggressive slash at Gairovald’s legs that, once blocked by blade, left room for him to direct his shield as he chose for a moment. Another orb of golden light shown forth, striking the ground several feet to the side of the Fons Paritate. As soon as it had formed, Gairovald called forth its blast, aimed at the mirror’s exposed chest.

But despite its overextension, the mirror brought its shield to bear once again. It had seemingly also gained the power of Gairovald’s own, and the blast reflected harmlessly off it, slamming into the ground with explosive force. It followed with a second Fons Paritate, which connected with his previous at a sharp angle. Gairovald was now completely cornered between his foe and the two walls, his only two fountains uselessly behind them.

Gairovald, took one of the few brief seconds to catch his breath a bit, not allowing despair to seep in.

The being seemed to shrug, still taunting Gairovald, allowing him his moment of rest.

“Your precious ‘nobility’ was outdated anyway. Even you had to know it on some level.”

The shards hung still in the air behind the being’s poised blade. The rest would have little effect on the outcome, it knew.

“I’m not sure whether to admire the courage of trying to face me even when it became obvious you had no chance, or laugh at the stupidity of fighting to the last anyway. Or maybe you just realized that you couldn’t outrun me. Either way.”

“You overestimate your chances,” Gairovald countered weakly, “the final blow is the only one that truly matters.”

In reality, he was just trying to buy more time. In a situation like this, Gairovald knew, even he would accept that the battle was hopeless and simply face death battling to the last. But the tactician in him couldn’t shake the idea of executing one last gambit. It was what had always defined his military strategy - bold gambits, and exploiting errors. And in its arrogance, the mirror had made several already. Gairovald couldn’t shake the idea that it had made one he had yet missed. A critical one.

And, suddenly, he realized. All he needed was to hang on long enough for one final fountain.

The being began to advance.

“Wait. Before… before you kill me, at least let me know the name of the one to best me in single combat.”

It stopped, turning its gaze to meet his own once again. “Gin, the Mirror.”

It began its advance again.

Gairovald did his best to seem broken and afraid, desperate to prolong his life for even a few moments, doing his best to overcome his own pride. “That’s it? No titles? I need to know you’ve at least achieved something before I die.”

Gin looked at him, as smugly as it ever had, but said nothing. It infuriated Gairovald to know what he was thinking, and even the satisfaction of knowing he had fooled it did little to soothe him. It would only matter if he could delay it long enough.

Gairovald had regained a mere fraction of his energy. But still, with it, he now had some small hope with which he could continue to fight.

Gin stepped forward again, its shards rocketing towards Gairovald’s head. Gairovald bashed them aside into the Fons Paritate, which they pierced, but having been slowed by being blocked lacked the velocity to escape the spell’s ever closing membrane. Gin began to rain its same, overwhelming assault. Gairovald struggled against the brutal, endless aggression, maintaining his defenses for as long as he could. With each strike, Gairovald’s rest seemed more and more useless. An overhead slice nearly tossed his rapier from his arm.

Finally, in his exhaustion, Gairovald made the first error that Gin would bother exploiting. Overreaching a parry, Gairovald extended his blade too far, putting himself off balance. Gin slammed the shield into Gairovald’s outstretched arm, pinning it against the barrier.

Gin slammed the hilt of its rapier into Gairovald’s shield with all his might, again and again.

It mimicked Gairovald’s earlier sweeping kick. Gairovald, trapped in the tight space and without the energy to stop it, was brought to the ground.

Gin knelt over Gairovald, still pinning his arm with strength Gairovald could no longer match. One of the shards broke through, stabbing into Gairovald’s side. Gairovald shoved his body against one edge, trapping the jagged blade to prevent it from cutting further. He had effectively locked it in place, but it was still tore at his side, twisting and tearing at his flesh as it tried to escape. Gairovald did his best not to cry out from the pain. Fortunately for him, Gin seemed to have simply forgotten about the others, apparently no longer worth the focus when he was so close to his goal anyway.

Gairovald felt as the edges of his vision began to shimmer and blur, dimming into blackness. He gritted his teeth, channeling every ounce of willpower into maintaining conscious, holding on until he could cast another spell. There was no chance that Gairovald would simply give in to this... thing. Gin brought down its blade again and again, no longer bothering to vary its attacks. It would simply keep hammering until Gairovald could no longer hold his shield, its reflection of Gairovald’s face still hunched over the original with the same mocking smile.

But Gairovald, though floored, barely conscious, and exhausted, had held on just long enough. Gairovald angled his shield to intercept Gin’s latest blow with the rim, tilting the center down past its side. An orb of absolute blackness erupted from the shield, speeding past the inhuman monstrosity, striking the ground just behind it. It immediately began to hiss violently, spewing a corona of light from the pulsating orb of blackness.

Gin’s expression did not change, but it began its attack with renewed urgency, desperately trying to pierce Gairovald’s failing defenses in time.

For five further, agonizing seconds, Gairovald hung onto his consciousness while parrying the latest blows. The black orb suddenly exploded to a meter in size, devouring the ground behind them, its slow advance like the march of death itself. They were both trapped between the turquoise wall’s and the all-consuming maw of Fons Edax. Gin had only two choices: he could be devoured by the maw, or dispel the Fons Paritate. Only the latter left any chance of survival.

But doing so left him within feet of two Fons Sententiae on either side of him, one having generated only a couple charges by now - the other with several dozen.

He had no time, no room to dodge.

Every charge was released at once. Dozens of golden orbs rocketed forward, hammering into the mirror simultaneously and exploding together with incredible kinetic force. Though it managed to reflect several with its shield, it simply was not enough. Gin was shattered between innumerable explosions across every portion of its body, crushed into a hail of fragments that rained in every direction.

Gairovald’s shield absorbed most of them, but his lower body was still shredded by the shards.

Gairovald dispelled his fountains, lying on the ground, struggling with the last of his willpower to remain conscious and breath properly. The lower two thirds of his cloak was torn to ribbons, matted by blood, and bristling with remnants of his foe. He had a fountain for healing, Fons Sanitis, but he would have to remain conscious enough to cast it or he would die of blood loss.

Until then, Gairovald focused his mind on the fight he had just won.

Gin took its own formidable strengths, and added to that the powers of its foe. But interestingly enough, it seemed it had also taken his weakness. If it had not been so blinded by hubris, had not allowed itself to be trapped, had not let itself be fooled by Gairovald’s last ploy, had not taken so long to finish him, had used all of its shards… Gairovald would be dead. It was only when Gairovald had truly recognized the threat of his foe, had bothered to use his intellect against it, that he stood any chance. If he had been more cautious at the beginning of the fight, he might have won much more smoothly.

Gairovald angled his shield at the ground, and let a well of blue light cover it. Gairovald crawled into it, already feeling the rejuvenating power of Fons Sanitis, and with it the overwhelming relief of knowing he would live.

His eyes turned towards the shattered remnants of Gin, watching the pieces slowly… moving. Reforming?

Well, Gairovald could only hope that he would heal and regain consciousness first. He would be healed enough to regain consciousness in an hour or two, but he knew little of how long it would take Gin to reform.

And he could only hope that no one would find them, but Gairovald was mostly confident about that -he had seen absolutely no one for miles, and Fons Sanitis was not particularly bright anyway.

Gairovald closed his eyes, feeling his consciousness fade away. He resolved to move on, not to make this trip again. At least something interesting had happened this time.

ErrorBlender
12-30-2013, 04:25 AM
It was hard to decide which was better since both were very much great. I liked how TheStrongest made their battle happen in the middle of a battlefield, it gave a good background and atmosphere. Infinitum's had a long intro but gave a good insight to Gairovald and what he is now which is what I like other than the battle itself.

I can barely give any advice since it all seems good already

I'll just vote to whose work I like better.

SaulMurphy
01-02-2014, 01:59 PM
I couldn't really find problems with either besides the small things. If I studied both texts deeply and had more time, I would try to find more cnc, but my vote is purely based on which story had my attention more.

The Strongest
01-04-2014, 05:37 PM
Keep the CnC and the votes coming, please~!
(And thanks to you three who have already voted.)
((And a special thanks to you two who CnC'd))

Infinitum
01-05-2014, 12:48 AM
Agreed. Thanks to the people who have already voted and CnC'ed. Although I have to admit I was hoping for a bit more of them.

SaulMurphy
01-05-2014, 03:43 AM
Congratulations Infinitum. Loved this battle, was very good and I enjoyed reading it. If you feel the need to return the favor... cough cough... you know where to cnc my battle

blakphoenix
01-05-2014, 03:57 AM
I have voted for The Strongest because in the end I felt his was...the strongest.

The Strongest: I feel at times you get so caught up in writing that you forget you're telling a story too. Rambling poetically is fine so long as it is helping with the description of something. At times I feel that your musings are unclear and leave a build up of gas in the stomach and lower intestine.

Infinitum: Boy, did I have to read your character page. It's a nice page, as previously stated by my clan members of course. I notice that you suffer from the repeating of words repetitively that radiate rays of redundant repetition along with annoying albeit awesome alliteration.

Contrary to what Error has stated, I don't feel that both these stories were "very much great." I found no reason for Gin to be in either of these settings, though the former did make more sense than the latter, I would have enjoyed a proper explanation. I give a 6 out of 10 to both stories. Strongest you have a grand vocabulary and a brilliant mind, but you need to see when the writing has to stop and the story needs to start. Infinitum I can see the promise of great things covered in a dust of flaws; all you need is a quick wipe with Pledge, lemon scented preferably, to wipe it away and you'll shine baby!

Good work you two, keep at it.

Nightlock
01-05-2014, 04:42 AM
Well, neither of these were what I was expecting. I admire each of your vocabulary; both are astounding. Although, to be completely honest, after looking up what a 'fief' is I wondered why you didn't just say 'estate,' Infinitum. IDK, it's just my opinion. In fact, despite my admiration for your respective uses of diction, I felt you both went in a very roundabout way to tell us your story.

Strongest, your setting was highlighted to a state of importance that just wasn't necessary. Half of the supporting characters you created weren't related to the fight itself, and I questioned their purpose enough for it to bother me. Unless I'm wrong and both Ten and Jack were both meant to be story plot related... but then, this seemed to surround Gairovald more so then it did Gin. I'm not entirely sure, which is why I bring it up. Beside the descriptive opening scene, your word choice had me pause multiple times. "Your die is cast" could have easily been "Your death is unavoidable." And my biggest issue is that Gin spouts death threats for majority of your fight, but in the end leaves without dealing a final blow. It was really anticlimactic, and a little disappointing.

Infinitum, you show a lot of promise with what you've given us. But the roller coaster of a piece here was a long ride, and not a complete enjoyable one throughout its entirety. Your first paragraphs are a good example: the explanations of warm, nostalgic plains of gold greatly clash with the death and depression that immediately follows. I'd guess that the dark clouds over the field were meant to present the lingering unease of the land, but it, along with the air of despair, were dropped so suddenly that I questioned their importance. I don't mean to say it was written poorly, because it wasn't in any way bad. It's just, like I mentioned before, so roundabout that I feel it's only use was to add to the wordcount. Another problem I feel the need to point out is your narration. At times it gets too personal, almost as if the narrator's presence is in the story and not omniscient. I don't know why the narrator didn't know what Gin was and described him as a "...thing." Conjunctions were also heavily used to start your sentences, and in turn diminished their strength. For example: I feel the sentence "And they would fall so much farther than they had ever risen" could have been written "They would fall much farther than they had ever risen" to keep its significance, yet hold greater weight in its finality. And lastly, your sentences seemed to run on for a while. Less is more.

To me this was not only a battle of two gladiators, but battle in story length as well. Again, less is more. Each story had great depictions when it came to the actual fighting, though both of you had word choices and placements that could have used some revision. In the end, my vote goes to The Strongest. I hope what I've pointed out was helpful.

blakphoenix
01-05-2014, 04:46 AM
Well, neither of these were what I was expecting. I admire each of your vocabulary; both are astounding. Although, to be completely honest, after looking up what a 'fief' is I wondered why you didn't just say 'estate,' Infinitum. IDK, it's just my opinion. In fact, despite my admiration for your respective uses of diction, I felt you both went in a very roundabout way to tell us your story.

Strongest, your setting was highlighted to a state of importance that just wasn't necessary. Half of the supporting characters you created weren't related to the fight itself, and I questioned their purpose enough for it to bother me. Unless I'm wrong and both Ten and Jack were both meant to be story plot related... but then, this seemed to surround Gairovald more so then it did Gin. I'm not entirely sure, which is why I bring it up. Beside the descriptive opening scene, your word choice had me pause multiple times. "Your die is cast" could have easily been "Your death is unavoidable." And my biggest issue is that Gin spouts death threats for majority of your fight, but in the end leaves without dealing a final blow. It was really anticlimactic, and a little disappointing.

Infinitum, you show a lot of promise with what you've given us. But the roller coaster of a piece here was a long ride, and not a complete enjoyable one throughout its entirety. Your first paragraphs are a good example: the explanations of warm, nostalgic plains of gold greatly clash with the death and depression that immediately follows. I'd guess that the dark clouds over the field were meant to present the lingering unease of the land, but it, along with the air of despair, were dropped so suddenly that I questioned their importance. I don't mean to say it was written poorly, because it wasn't in any way bad. It's just, like I mentioned before, so roundabout that I feel it's only use was to add to the wordcount. Another problem I feel the need to point out is your narration. At times it gets too personal, almost as if the narrator's presence is in the story and not omniscient. I don't know why the narrator didn't know what Gin was and described him as a "...thing." Conjunctions were also heavily used to start your sentences, and in turn diminished their strength. For example: I feel the sentence "And they would fall so much farther than they had ever risen" could have been written "They would fall much farther than they had ever risen" to keep its significance, yet hold greater weight in its finality. And lastly, your sentences seemed to run on for a while. Less is more.

To me this was not only a battle of two gladiators, but battle in story length as well. Again, less is more. Each story had great depictions when it came to the actual fighting, though both of you had word choices and placements that could have used some revision. In the end, my vote goes to The Strongest. I hope what I've pointed out was helpful.

Less is more. ;P

Crank
01-05-2014, 03:14 PM
I've got to admit, I'm stunned by the actual combat details and tactics implemented by both of you! Unlike the two guys before me, I lack intelligent feedback and advice to give you, but I have tremendous respect for the both of you!

I had to go with Infinitum however, I honestly feel like I learned about how blades are used in combat and that's a huge plus to me!