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View Full Version : wRHGT Finals: Kalena (Lobotomizer) vs Bl.An.C. (ErrorBlender)



acutelatios
01-10-2014, 08:36 PM
Click HERE for the rules of this Round... (http://forums.stickpage.com/showthread.php?68791-wRHG-Tournament-Discussion-Thread-FINALS-ROUND-IS-UP!!!&p=1114957&viewfull=1#post1114957)

***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.


Both ErrorBlender and Lobotomizer have the same ante: do not lose your Permanent Injury


Scoring:
- Votes are worth 5 pts. each.
- Fulfilling the Ante gives 30 pts. and losing it takes 30pts if failed depending on difficulty
- Judge's Blessing gives 15 points if entry caught the Judge's eye.


Here are the entries:

Bl.An.C. (http://forums.stickpage.com/showthread.php?58743-Cooper-Price-Bl-An-C-Blast-Android-Class)
[Tournament Finals Against Lobotomizer]
Synthetic Justice

He was in pain. Bl.An.C. was very sure of that. He felt the ground beneath him; his fingers registered the soil as he clenched it under his palm. Good, at least I know I’m not paralyzed. He had thought. He forced himself to sit up; every fiber of his being began to protest. Aches and pains scattered across his body like skittering ants, tiny trails of agony amplified by their sheer number. They came in waves, surging pain against his body and eroded his will to even move.

Cooper screamed in pain. He sucked in the stale air inside his helm in shallow then deep breaths. The shock of the pain itself shook him. His eyes widened in duress. He tried to swallow but his throat was too dry that it pained him to even attempt it.

“Query: Where…am I?” His voice quivered. The suit registered it as a pause in the sentence.

His gaze moved across the landscape, the one emerald eye’s glow blinking erratically. The sky was a dark purple and splotched with even darker colored clouds that hid a stark white moon. Bl.An.C. mustered enough willpower to sit up in spite of the pains.

“Statement: Area…appears to be uninhabited.” He groaned. “Additional: Spires decorate… distant skyline. And a massive cathedral seems to be in the very center of this.”

Cooper brought himself on his two legs shakily. He breathed in as he tried to pace himself. Blobs of candle and torch light kept the place lit but only barely. It seems as though shadow had claimed the land and overcame even lights creation. The very atmosphere felt unnatural; the android’s auditory sensors could make out voices but they didn’t seem near. Or alive.

“Observation: I seem to have triumphed over Walden.” Cooper mused, his voice wavered. It meant Walden was killed. “...and this must be the next trial.”

“Indeed it is.” A voice called out.

“Analysis: I remember that voice.” Bl.An.C. exclaimed silently. “Conclusion: Corvon’s mistress. “ He told himself as he tried to find the source of the disembodied voice. He instinctively ran systems check. Numbers and charts began to unfold in fuzzy images and most of them reported none too good.

Apparently, the wingpack and missile pods were still strapped onto him, leftover from the previous combat, then his auditory sensors picked up light sounds; footsteps from the alley behind him. Just now did Bl.An.C. notice that he stood on the very center of a massive courtyard. Its supposedly bright colors paled and diluted under the dim light of the deathly moon.The ornate design of the floor tiles resembled that of a sword and stave crossed of each other in a sort of pointillistic approach. It was encircled with three rings that centered on where the blade and staff met.

The woman approached, she climbed up the short staircase and onto the courtyard. Her appearance matched the surroundings. Her pleated skirt was stained with dark crimson and upper garment ripped and tattered. Kalena looked like she went through a war. And she lost. A survivor. Her hand caressed the pommel of her sword that was sheathed on her side. The female’s stare seemed to pierced through Bl.An.C.’s armor but the android did not falter.

“Query: Kalena?” He asked directly. He noticed his voice waver but luckily the suit did not show it.

Eirwen nodded and spoke: “Yes and I believe you owe me an answer, Bl.An.C.”

The pseudo-android looked around searchingly then at the woman. “Query: Where is Corvon? Isn’t he always with you?”

The heroine of justice just stood there in utter silence. Her disheveled hair covered her face in deep shadow. Kalena’s grip on the sword of truth’s pommel tightened. “He died.”

Cooper blinked in surprise not at the news but how Kalena delivered it. She seemed detached, almost apathetic now. Another death, another casualty but this one isn’t even part of the wRHG. I’m not surprised that she feels this way. Someone that close lost can break a person. But Cooper himself was breaking, he had killed another. Another life in the hundreds of lives tallied as his murders.

“Query: May I ask who your previous adversary was?” The android asked despite knowing there could only be one, Chance Downtown. I will have to debrief him later on about this.

“Answer my question first.” Kalena urged. She unsheathed her blade slowly; the pale moonlight glistened on its bloody steel face. Its blood tipped point directed at the pseudo android.

Bl.An.C. realized that his questions would lead nowhere. He ignored the pains and straightened his back. His lone emerald eye stared at Kalena’s blade. “Query: Why must you know the reason?”

For a few brisk moments there was nothing but silence. The air around them began to chill and the breeze strengthened to a gale. The whispers of the air changed into hellish chants of unknown origin. It was as if the village sensed the tension building up and it craved more. The structures creased and cracked seemingly magnetized towards the upcoming violence but none of the gladiators took heed to the lustful town.

“Irrelevant. What I need to know is why you joined this blood tournament.” Kalena stepped forward; her eyes were dark pools of brown.

Bl.An.C. tested his arms and flexed his fingers. All seems right; they still can’t receive weapons which is a shame. This might determine my death. The android eyed Kalena’s sword with worry. Armored fists against an enchanted blade—seems fair enough.

“Statement: Beat me and I will answer your question.” Bl.An.C. proposed. Buy yourself time, you need to learn the surroundings.

“Very well,” Kalena assumed a stance, her form ready to strike. “You protected Corvon in a previous battle; I owe you a debt of gratitude that even my payment of a canine escort will not repay but I will not repay you in mercy.”

“Agreement: Then we understand each other.” The android said and smiled in the anticipation of combat. Wait...Why am I -- suddenly hostile? Several pings alarmed Bl.An.C. of incoming transport, missiles inbound to the pods. The wingpack extended its wings and the engine began to rev up noisily.

“Now.” Kalena stepped back and her stance lowered to a near crouch. “Answer me.” The Sword of Truth’s blade tip touched the tiled ground. Within a bat of an eyeblink, a column of earth sprouted out from the ground in a blast of stone shards and carried the swordswoman towards the android. Before Bl.An.C. had accounted for the rest of his ammunition, Kalena’s blade had slashed across his chest from below.

Cooper bounded from ground to staircase, his body spun until his face plate grinded the floor. Bl.An.C.’s momentum allowed him enough energy to stand and stay on his feet afterwards. Unwittingly, the android swerved to one side that allowed him to dodge an oncoming slash from the bearer of the sword. The android darted ahead after his uncanny evasion and rushed forward and trusted himself that his fist would strike flesh but Kalena was faster. Her discipline with the sword bore the apparent upperhand against Bl.An.C.’s combat experience. The armored fist of the android struck the blade face of the sword, Kalena immediately twisted the blade to allow the android’s fist to pass by her. In one fluid motion, Eirwen twirled in place and made herself small as she crouched. In one burst of energy, the blade shot up as she jumped and sliced the android again, one that traced a large gash from the pelvis to the face.

The android staggered backwards on the decorated tiles of the courtyard, his armor weakened and distorted from damage.The jade eye attempted a focused image of Kalena. The image returned onto Cooper’s interface shocked him slightly. Kalena is missing an arm. I did not expect this speed from someone with that much damage on her.

‘Missiles armed’ The HUD alarmed Cooper. “Command: Lock missiles in the pods, open exhaust ports indefinitely.”

The android dodged a few more slashes, each of them gained speed and power and increased the difficulty in evading any of them. Something changed sometime in between the succeeding attacks, Bl.An.C. observed that Kalena was getting frustrated, her attacks became more violent. Less discipline showed and ferocity seemed to take its place. The sword smashed everything it touched; every time the blade struck the tiled courtyard, shards of colored rock shattered in its wake. The gothic architecture screeched around them yearning for more.

“...Allow free command on missile interface.” Bl.An.C. uttered the last word with a grunt as the blade was brought down on his head. His hands frantically clasped the blade between them, Cooper’s arms quaked with the strength delivered by Kalena’s blow.. “Command: Activate!”

Bl.An.C.’s wingpack flared alive, and the missile pods exhaust ports exhumed bright wisps of yellow and red. The android’s leg boosted up in a powerful roundhouse. Eirwen was caught by surprise and the armored kick snagged the base of her chin. The swordswoman was thrown down to her back, the blade slipped out from her hand.Whilst in midair, android pressed on, his wingpack directed the android towards his enemy with a gust of heated wind.

Kalena scrambled to her feet, her mouth had begun to bleed. She felt around for her sword, found it close by and coiled her fingers around its handle. She could feel its energy course through her, earthen force pumped through her veins to command the soil around with one whip of the sword’s steel but she had to calm down. She grit her teeth, she almost attempted to hold the blade with two hands but remembered that she only had one to spare. It still felt as if the entire arm was there. As if it was never cut off. Her face was a plaster white, she had lost too much blood from the previous fight and now she had begun to bleed again. How long could she keep going against an armored gladiator? She whisked these thoughts away, she brought about all her strength on to the single hand she had that gripped the sword. She spread her feet wide in response to the rapidly approaching android and plunged her blade to the ground. An earthen rumble echoed slowly as she brought her blade upwards to meet an incoming attack.

Bl.An.C. spun in midair seconds before intercept. The left missile pod blasted a powerful yellow flame that boosted his kick. Kalena had her blade meet the blunt force and used her other shoulder for support and blocked the attack nicely. She did not move an inch, earthen clamps wrapped around her feet had forced her stay. For a few seconds, the two were locked in a stare, Bl.An.C. in midair whilst Kalena rock steady on the ground.

“Answer me, Bl.An.C.” Kalena urged.

“Statement: My defeat will permit me to answer your query, Kalena.” The android’s wingpack broke the stare lock. Bl.An.C. landed onto the floor, a bit shaken, but stable. Recall what you know of her blade. Corvon said it was magical, it drew essence from you every use. I can vouch for that since I’ve held and used the blade against the Saint. She will give in to fatigue at some point and with her current condition it may not take too long. The android thought. He felt a bit of strength leave him. His power waned and the suit’s energies were nearly depleted. It may not take too long for me either.

From afar both gladiators looked like as if they went through hell and back again. Their wounds, their scars and the pain that erupted every time they had moved was proof but in order to get out of the stadium, a new hell they had to pass, they’d have to defeat the other. In order to rise, the other must fall into eternal abyss.

Bl.An.C. wasn’t doing too well, the armor had taken direct hits from the sword. The gash that split the face plate in two sliced deeper than expected. The blade’s tip had scraped the skin of his face. The dual slices that struck the body disabled most of the armor’s capability to protect. The enhanced nanoshielding had powered down during iron fists’ implosion. It was only a matter of time before Kalena would realize how open he was. Act now, Coop. Act fast!

Kalena breathed heavily, she spat out a blob of blood to one side. She allowed the blade to fall to her side while she still grasped it tightly. The clamps on her feet crumbled to the rocks they were. She was exposed, her weakness for her enemy to see. Corvon. I did not mean for it to happen. The swordswoman straightened, her breathing calmed. Corvon wouldn’t like to see me in this weakened state. He’d get worried. I have to be strong. Kalena raised the blade again and directed it at Bl.An.C., she raised her head to allow her eyes to see beyond her disheveled bangs. Dried blood caked part of her face but she didn’t care. What mattered now is that she should survive. Not for herself but for Corvon. If there was a tiny chance that Corvon survived she will press on. And press on she will.

The android’s optics gazed at Kalena. A tiny flash of light appeared on his shoulder and materialized into small device that blinked red every second. Within a few seconds, several drones warped into reality.Their spherical bodies floated in midair, their laser guns trained at the lone swordswoman.

“Bl.An.C.” Kalena called out.

“Response: What is it?” The android said, his head twitched. The emerald eye flickered ice blue to emerald green.

“Do you want to end it?” Kalena asked. “Do you wish to end my life?” Her face was stern and serious. Ever since I came to this place...I’ve felt the urge to kill; more than a want, it seemed to be a need. Does he hear the same whispers?

The android visibly breathed in before he spoke. “Query: What is it with you and these questions?” The drones around him hovered silently and waited for the command to fire.

“Stop answering mine with your own. Answer truthfully” Kalena used her sword to balance herself.

Bl.An.C.’s neck arched downward then faced Kalena. The helmet whizzed backwards clunkily, the grey locks moved without their fluidity and sometimes stopped mid-sequence. Once the helmet was out of the way, Kalena had full view of what Cooper had looked like. The grey brown hair flopped down to his silver green eyes. Blood stained his hair and a scar dashed down his left eye forcing it closed. He stared at Kalena. “If I have to.”

“Do you?” Kalena questioned. “Does anyone have to die?”

“No but this system has to be stopped one way or another.” Cooper replied.

“How are you going to stop it? By winning every tournament? By participating in every battle?” Kalena pressed.

Cooper looked at his opponent. “Yes. There is influence with the amount of wins you have and with enough, you might change things. I’ve skimmed gladiator profiles before, I couldn’t recognize you but now I do.” Kalena did not move she just kept her sword at the ready.

“You are the warrior that dislikes the system so much that if any gladiator refuses to stop fighting, you either kill them or maim them long enough for them to reconsider.” Cooper said. “You and I have the same modus, violence against violence.”

Kalena gritted her teeth and her grasp on her sword tightened. “So whats the difference?”

“Nothing. I doubt there is nothing else you want to do other than stop this system, I commend you for wanting that goal achieved. I didn’t then but out of necessity, I need to control the system for a few months time.”

“Control? You want to play god and dictate who dies by whose hands?” Kalena had to stop herself from yelling so she kept calm. She sensed that the drones inched closer, encircling her. This isn’t good. She had thought.

“Nothing like that, Kalena” Cooper assured. “There is something bigger than all of this, someone else that has his eyes set on the system. I’ve recently learned of this and I have to take this action to ensure safety.”

“Then why not just destroy the system? Wouldn’t that be faster?” Kalena mentioned. She began to recite an incantation in her head to keep it fresh in her mind. She decided she would need it later on.

“I’m afraid it cannot come to that.” Cooper sighed. His hands balled up into fists. “Not immediately.”

“Well, Bl.An.C., have I defeated you?” Kalena backed up slightly but she attempted to smile.

The pseudo-android’s face was confused. He looked at Kalena, puzzled.

“I’ve gotten the answer out of you.” Kalena pointed out. She assumed a stance, with her eyes dead set on her opponent’s neck.

Cooper grinned. “It seems you did. Now I have to ask you a question.” Cooper stared at Kalena. “Would you assist me in my endeavor?”

“Why should I?” Kalena breathed in and out. She felt fatigue set in. Her adrenaline was draining out of her body but she was sure that so did Bl.An.C.. His body seemed to move weakly now despite the armor. It seemed more heavy now than it did before.

“We have the same end game.”

“No we do not. You wish to control the system. I wish its end.”

“It will end your way eventually, Kalena. Postponing it for a few months will help paint the bigger picture.” Cooper explained. “You don’t have to answer now.”

“Nor will I ever.” Kalena said defiantly. The pale moonglow shed an eerie spotlight for the gladiators. Their bloodied faces amplified the already gloomy atmosphere. The whispers intensified, they began to scream in their low voices that urged both gladiators to commit murder. An act familiar to the both of them. Visions punctuated the screams, vivid manifestations of blood and gore sweeping their minds. The pseudo-android and the heroine of justice glared at each other. The raspy wind bellowed as the whispers ended in a powerful shriek and the gladiators ended their silence.

Kalena moved first with a hail of red energy that trailed behind her. Her uncanny speed was most likely due to the rush of adrenaline again through her veins. The android did not allow the swordswoman to get any nearer, the missile pods released their load, four rods of explosive power zoomed towards Eirwen.

Kalena attempted to dodge but pain began to set in, her side ached as she was about to dodge. She staggered forward and fell to one knee, her sword kept her upright as its tip embedded itself on the tiles. Before the ordnance could reach her, earthen claws sprouted from the courtyard floor and entwined with each other like fingers that formed a rough dome that shielded the Kalena from harm.

“Expel two missiles” Cooper commanded. “Disable explosive function.” One cylindrical rocket rolled out from a compartment at one side of each of the pods. He grabbed each and gripped both tight by the tip. The drones had stopped their barrage, their singular eyes kept alert for signs of movement that came no sooner than they had expected but more explosively than anticipated. The dome expanded violently, razor sharp shards scattered around and skewered drone after drone and caused each to implode. Not all of the robotic spheres were destroyed but the subsequent explosions from the debris cloud only said that they were taken out.The resulting smoke cover obscured the android’s vision. He shielded his eyes from the smoke but more than a few deep inhalations of the grey cloud forced the android to back away.

Bl.An.C. coughed more than he should have, almost tripping over his own feet. He used the back of his hand to cover it only to see blood as he pulled it away from his face. “Not…good at all.” His face darkened as he gazed over his shoulder. Kalena burst out from the dust cloud, trails of smoke flittered away from her person as she swung the blade. The android’s wing pack flared to life and allowed him to jump away the last second.

Bl.An.C. landed less than gracefully down the short staircase. His feet skidded on the floor as his fist slammed the ground in an attempt to slow himself. Kalena came in quick, the pommel of her blade struck the android deep in the gut. The swordswoman connected the attack with another pommel strike to the head but the android’s plans did not include being clubbed to death. Bl.An.C. boosted himself away from Eirwen. Whilst in midair the android uttered a command: “Missile Two, boost on!”

One of the android’s missiles on hand blasted powerfully forward and carried his fist towards the surprised Kalena.The swordswoman took the blow to her face, the boosted right hook sent her falling back to the small staircase. The android crashed to the ground a few feet away from Kalena. His grip on the missile loosened enough for the projectile to free itself and fly off into a nearest spire and cause its collapse. Bl.An.C. sat up and forced himself to stand.

Bl.An.C.’s shoulder’s sagged and took his time to get near Kalena. His steps seemed to become a chore as his breathing. Cooper’s eye widened at the sight. Kalena lay sprawled on the staircase, her body weak from all the action. She breathed in erratically, her breaths became shallower by the second. Her face was caked in blood and her stump of an arm bled onto the stone steps. The sword was gripped lightly by her hand. Kalena looked close to death. He dropped the missile he held.. The explosive rod fell to the ground with a solid clang.

“No. I won’t let you die. Not like Walden…” He said as loudly as he could but as of now, it sounded more of a whisper. “...not in the RHG…”

“What are you doing?” Kalena spat. She winced as she tried to face the android. Her fingers coiled around her blade. Defiant to the end. Cooper thought to himself.

Cooper fell to his knees near the swordswoman and attempted to carry her. Kalena did little to resist. He slid his arms beneath her body, careful as not to cause too much movement as he did. He grit his teeth, even grinded a bit as he forced his body to bring up the extra weight. He let out a groan. His body protested against the new weight as he attempted to stand. The wingpack burst out a bit of flames and allowed Bl.An.C. the additional power to stand.

But to no avail.

He collapsed on the floor; tired and weakened. He gazed around lamely as if searching for help and allowed Kalena to roll off his arms gently. The only thing that answered his calls were the whispers of the mad spirits around. They kept urging to kill. Craving blood and guts across their floors. The maddened cries bore into Cooper and Kalena’s heads. The structures around appeared closer than before, spikes and spires seemed to arch towards them.

“Is this how it will be?” Cooper asked the air, his head tilted to view the chalk white moon overseeing their battle. “Are these whispers made to force us to fight?”

Kalena growled. “That may be.” She said weakly, relieved to hear that she wasn’t the only one hearing these torturous words. “Leave Bl.An.C., you’ve won. Take your leave and leave me here.” She said

“I can’t do that.” Cooper said. He made a move to move closer. “I can’t kill.”

“You didn’t kill me.” She rebuttled.

“I am the cause. Its the same for me.” The android said tersely. “Now, let me help you up.”

“Why did you join?” Kalena asked again. Bl.An.C. went to her side with a sigh, grabbed her arm and slung it over his shoulders. The mechanical servos and a bit of adrenaline forced them both up.

“Is it that important?” Cooper asked, his eyebrow raised above his closed eye.

Kalena nodded.

Cooper took his time to answer, he looked away and breathed in.

“It was to pass the time originally. I had thought it was all spars.” He said honestly.

“Pass the time?” Kalena echoed nonchalantly. “Something changed your mind and it was in the mission you had?”

“Yes. Please reconsider my proposal. If there is one person I can trust outside my group to see my plan go through, it would be you.” The android said calmly.

Kalena was silent. “I will...think on it.” She said solemly.

Moments pass between steps and groans. Bl.An.C. and Kalena made progress as they passed the gothic buildings and to a street. The android decided to break the silence.

“If you don’t mind me asking, how did Corvon expire?”

“I ended his life.” Kalena said gloomily. Her eyes were glassy as she allowed one tear to fall from her face. She went into this world alone, ready to fight the terrors on her own but in a change of fate and a mage’s will, she entered the portal with an ally but one thing was for sure for her. Kalena was grieving more than she expected she would. Corvon didn’t seem like just an ally and even more than a friend.

The vivid image of Corvon impaled by an earthen spike was etched into her head. Wherever you are Corvon, I’ll find you.
[Bl.An.C. wins the tournament]

Truthfully, I never thought I'd get this far. Anyways, this battle is relatively shorter than what I usually write. One reason is that I couldn't think of ways to extend the battle when both fighters are exhausted, bloodied and worn out from the previous bout. I hope this doesn't disappoint anyone.



Kalena Eirwen (http://forums.stickpage.com/showthread.php?45403-WRHG-Kalena-Eirwen)
He remembered her as a young lady barely of age, fighting for what she believed was right. A young lady, surrounded by an entourage of people who fought tooth and nail for her ideal, yet seemingly alone in the path she walked.

Their first meeting was brief, yet telling. He, a bumbling apprentice all too eager to finish the errands entrusted to him, crashed into a visitor as he sped through the hallways of the castle.

Amidst the chaotic fluttering of parchment, a rapid exchange of apologies was made. And almost naturally, they began to converse. It was a queer pair. He, soft spoken, and the other, quiet, speaking only when she needed to. Yet a conversation flourished. They spoke of his status, his abilities as a mage. Then there was discussion about the change that had swept through the lands, driven by a rebellion that tolled the bell for the continent’s unification. A bond formed between the pair with little difficulty. An awkward bond, but a bond nonetheless.

But at one point, he could not contain his curiosity at this stranger.

'I have said plenty, why not you tell me more about yourself?'

There was no reply. Only a smile, and a polite shake of her head. The most she would let on was her own name; Kalena.

And it was then that he noticed how she kept her distance. Not out of ill will, but rather, it was almost as if she were keeping his distance because...she needed to. That loneliness he saw in her drove him to make a promise to himself. He would do what he could to help her. As a friend.

But when they finally parted ways, they would not meet again. Not for a long two years.

The shadow ruler of the continent of Hadridon soon made their presence known, the one that led the rebellion that united two warring countries. It was not a hardened veteran, or a cunning advisor who had defected from his original country. For all the wild theories that passed between citizens, none came close to the real truth.

The one who had caused a sweeping change to bring peace throughout the continent...was a young woman, clad in clothing that hardly suited royalty. Cries of doubt and anger spread like wildfire, but when she spoke from the main balcony of the castle, every man, woman and child were stricken dumb before her. Her words told a tale all too intimate with the rebellion army, information privy to no outsider; their journey, their goals, and the future of the unified continent. All the time she bore the true air of a queen, with all the dignity and pride one would have.

And when she was finished, there was a single clap within the crowd. That one clap begetted another, and another, until the air shook with earth-shattering applause and cheers. This woman, the crowd thought, was without doubt their true ruler.

None noticed, amongst their fervour and excitement, the lone mage that stood with them, struck dumb by the realisation that by a twist of fate the one he had met not so long ago was...his queen. And that was when he understood that, as much as he wished, he could not fufill the promise he made for himself.

For she was queen, and him, merely one of the many thousands of commoners. The thought of seeking audience was a laughable one.

Two years passed.

The autumn morning was a cold one, but where others would huddle themselves by the fire in their warm homes, the archmage Logan was at his office, sorting out paperwork for the college. The pages were surprisingly thin for one of his status, but the archmage had little interest in what he'd labelled 'layman's work'. Threats have been made to the unfortunate who delivered such paperwork to his office, all which have worked so far; inciting Logan’s fury was a line none dared to tread.

It was at this dreary hour that the door was unceremoniously burst open, revealing a figure all too familiar to Logan himself. Brown, somewhat curled hair, a wide eyed look and features that made him younger than he was. Coupled with the same cloth robes he had seen more than enough times, it was obvious who the sudden visitor was.

It was his apprentice, none other than Corvon.

"Urgent business?" Logan inquired casually, even as he observed the mage's distressed and flustered expression.

"Is it true?" Corvon blurted out, "Ka- i mean, the queen. Is she..."

"She is leaving for another world, yes," Logan interrupted, all too intimate with the procedure; the paperwork he held in his hands were all regarding the substitute ruler for when the queen left. Troublesome, but of course, necessary.

"Alone?"

"Yes."

"When?"

"In one hour or so. The shifters are beginning to create the portal as we speak."

There was a long pause as Logan studied his apprentice with piercing eyes. It took him little time to understand the young man's intentions, "you wish to accompany her, i suppose."

There was a nervous nod in response, and the archmage shook his head. Slowly, he rose from his seat, turning away from his apprentice to face a conspicuous safe at the corner, crafted from enchanted steel, and locked tight with sealing runes crisscrossing each other like a complex, interlocking web. All was of the archmage's own make and designed to be, by all definitions of the word, impenetrable. He unweaved the runes with practised ease, however, having memorised the direct route to solving such an intricate puzzle. Moments later, the door creaked open to reveal its contents. Within, the archmage withdrew a giant book, bounded with a nondescript cover that only bore its name in flickering letters.

The Grand Grimoire.

There was a deathly silence. Even the occasional sounds of chirping outside seemed to have halted. Corvon needed no more than a glance to understand that he was not looking at an ordinary spellbook. There were too many pages within to describe a single concept or a selection of casting methods, but more strikingly, the book itself reverberated with a hint of residual magic, as if its pages could come alive any moment, crackling with animated energies.

"The Grand Grimoire," Logan finally spoke, "is the spellbook that is handed down from the current archmage to the next. A compilation of every existing basic spell, casting method, magic related theory, even..."

There was a short pause, enough to make his last words sound almost ominous, "...even those that have been banned by the college, sealed away from prying eyes."

Corvon looked at the archmage. His expression was the same, harsh seriousness, and not a single part of his weathered features indicated he was joking. Logan had planned to give the Grand Grimoire to him, its value and college tradition be damned. It was all too much for him. What did he, as a mere apprentice, do to deserve such an artifact?

"I...i can't-" he began, but Logan cut him off before he could say more.

"Corvon," he spoke in hard tones, and the mage fell silent, "you are a naive and spineless fool, this much I know. But as idealistic your thinking is and how blind your optimism may be, you are still, at heart, my apprentice. It would be despicable of me if i did not see you through your apprenticeship. This is perhaps the only way I will ever be able to make due."

He planted the book in Corvon's arms, taking opportunity of the close proximity to fixate his gaze in the other's eyes, to view once more the faint fire within that he'd seen in their first meeting. A flickering spark, waiting to be ignited into a blooming pillar of flame. And then he withdrew, shaking his head.

"You have great potential, Corvon, far more than you expect of yourself. Consider my entrusting you with this tome a confirmation of that."

Corvon gazed at the cold covers of the grimoire, and then at his master. Little words were exchanged, but he knew, Logan had trusted him this much. That no matter how gruff and distant the archmage made himself be, the bonds between master and student never faded, only strengthened with each meeting, with each milestone...the very passing of the grimoire was a representation of that very fact.

"...Thank you, sir." He finally choked out, wiping the tears that had welled in his eyes without notice:

Logan did not reciprocate his words, only turning to face the glass windows behind.

"Now go.”

Corvon did so, motioning to leave the office without another word. But as he passed through the doorway, his tears only flowed more furiously when he heard Logan speak once more, in a whisper almost inaudible:

"...And do me proud."
________

Everything fell into place swiftly after. Kalena stood attention at the ritual circle, waiting for the time that was to come, to travel to another world where she would mend with the best of her ability...paired only with her sword of truth, sheathed in a plain scabbard bequeathed by the original leader of the rebellion, her one true friend, now gone with the void.

But as the whirling of translocational energy spilled forth into the room, and a seemingly empty void was created in the tear of reality, there was a shout of her name, by a voice familiar, yet so distant to her.

When the void engulfed her, all she could remember was the same, hard feeling of a figure crashing into her, and she instantly recognised who it was that had joined her.

And amidst the confusion generated by the warping of space around the two, a smile unconsciously crept onto her lips. A genuine smile, knowing that she was not to embark the journey alone.

That she still had a friend, willing to partake of her burden, her curse.



What happened after came so swift, so sudden, that it seemed almost like a blur. A blotch in her memories that she could not decipher. The only thing she last recalled was the roaring of earth as rock and stone pierced forth from the ground, and then, darkness. The fate of the battle, her opponent, her companion, all unknown.

When Kalena awoke, she was no longer in the ravaged cell. It was a crystalline cave, its walls lined with various shimmering minerals of various colours, held aglow by the green ambient light of unknown source. It gave off an almost serene, tranquil feeling, as if it were a sanctuary of sorts, sealed off from the rest of the world. That feeling intensified within her when she recalled just what this place was.

Yes, this was the place where everything began, where she accepted the burden of fate that had so thrust itself onto her being. Where she took the oath of the keepers of law, and withdrew the sword of truth from the mound before her.

Except where the mound was, a sword was not struck into it. Rather, a young girl stood on the very spot, her eyes fixated upon Kalena with a complex, indecipherable expression. Her features were cherub, yet somewhat pointed, almost elvish in nature. Accompanying that was a cream brown long hair that extended down to her waist. A white frilly dress adorned her being, plain yet fitting. Had she not such distinguishing features, Kalena might have mistaken her for an actual child.

“Who...are you?” She spoke with some hesitation, finding the girl almost familiar, yet at the same time, she could not think why.

“You wound me,” The girl gave a mock frown of disappointment, “I have been by your side for years, do you not remember?”

She hopped from the mound, walking down to Kalena with light, springy footsteps. And when the two were close, she continued, her voice etched with melodic tones, “I am The Sword of Truth. If you wished for my name, it would be Adelaide.”

There was a pause as Kalena briefly considered the girl’s words, Adelaide...her sword? Questions welled from within her mind, but long before she voiced them out, the girl answered them with little more than a casual smile, “I may be a sword, my dear master, but I am nonetheless a relic left by the ones who once watched the world. Should I not be afforded some sentience?”

When she was met with a blank expression, her smile faltered, and she turned away, “you have more questions, I suppose. Very well, I shall have to explain.”

“When my fate was bound to yours, I took residence within your mind. This sanctuary is representative of that; a place where we can freely converse, unhindered by the passage of time. The appearance is, of course, purely cosmetic. I merely found it adequate that our first meeting in person should match that of when our pact was formed.”

Adelaide fell silent at that, but Kalena knew there was one vital question left unanswered, a question Adelaide had seemingly avoided, “yet, there must be a reason to call me here. What is it?”

She did not answer immediately. Instead she spun on her heels to face Kalena once more, no longer smiling. Her expression was now of marked seriousness, and perhaps...a hint of disappointment, that flared in her eyes for a split moment before disappearing.

“You walk a lonely road, Kalena, and yet you were fortunate enough to have a friend. A friend to rely on, to tide you over the hardest of times. Do you know what has happened to him?”

The swordswoman froze. She opened her mouth to reply, but no words came out. For as desperately as she tried to recall, there was no answer she could give.

“...I...I don’t…”

“He is dead,” Adelaide spoke simply, her words harsh and cold. There was no emotion, only scathing bluntness. Kalena could only stare at her with dumbfoundedness, and when Adelaide returned the gaze evenly with unchanging expression, the swordswoman understood.

Corvon had truly left this world.

She could feel strength leave her limbs, and she dropped to the ground, trembling from the revelation that she would once again be alone.

As she had been many years back.

A wave of emotions surged forth, of loss, regret, that she had not truly appreciated Corvon's presence, or even managed to protect him from harm when she could. And then from that seed of despair and vexation, came anger.

"It was that man, was it not?" She murmured, standing up with a darkened expression. The same sense of vengeance returned, stronger than ever, like flames fueled by oil.

Adelaide did not reply. Without warning, she hefted Kalena by the collar and slammed her against the rugged cavern walls with surprising strength, given the personified sword's stature. With the same hand she pinned Kalena down with equal force, to which even the latter could not struggle out of.

“My foolish master, why do you run from reality so?" Adelaide questioned, her lips curled to a near snarl of frustration, “it was you. The one who caused your companion’s death.”

The struggling stopped, replaced by a look of confusion, and then finally, tears. Tears that began as miniscule droplets, and then flooding down the swordswoman's cheeks. Only when Adelaide knew her Master understood did she release her grip, if only slightly.

“You let yourself be provoked, directed your anger at your opponent, and when your rage and recklessness caused you injury, you allowed it to further fuel your emotions, abandoning your rationality for the sake of senseless violence…”

There was a pause as Adelaide allowed her words to sink in, “do you understand your folly?”

“I...I’m sorry...I...I…” Kalena could say no more, choked by her own tears and sorrow. Adelaide watched her sob, her expression of pleading regret, and a pang of guilt hit her. But it had to be done. It was that thought that made her suppress all emotions.

"You were always easily taken by your emotions, Kalena...but as much as you have lost today, you still have time to make amends. Your anger, your hate, all that which poisons your mind, cast them aside before they consume your thoughts."

Adelaide’s fingers loosened, letting her master sink onto the floor, the latter now devoid of strength to even stand on her own.

“I speak to you as a friend. Please...consider your past actions one more time.”

Adelaide turned away when she was finished, finding it hard to even maintain her gaze, let alone keep her emotions bottled. Instead she simply stood and waited, till the choked sobbing grew muffled, gradually replaced by the same serene silence that resonated throughout the cavern. And when she decided she had given her master enough time, she closed her eyes, and dispelled the sanctuary with the fading power she had left.

Once more, Kalena was alone.

_________________

When Kalena’s eyes opened once more, she was no longer in the ravaged cell, but a flat plain lined neatly with dirt mounds paired with a lump of roughly carved stone planted atop of each. A cemetery, in the middle of what seemed to be a cathedral, built with towering spires that faded into the far distance. The skies were a faded dark, casting a ceaseless gloom across the lands. In line with that, the cathedral's exterior were of a crumbling stone in desaturated colours, painting the scene in a dreary outlook. Even the majesty of the intricately carved statues, or at least those unscathed by the passage of time, could not cast away the dark atmosphere, hanging above not unlike a sickening miasma.

Kalena noted all of this with a bitter smile. It was almost as if the land was reflecting the state of her mind. Dark. Depressing. A crumbling shell of what once stood with glory. A theme befitting the stage for what might be her final battle in this accursed tournament.

Time passed, and it struck her that she would have to search for her opponent. Still, the swordswoman continued to sit on the ground, staring at the spires with listless eyes. She felt as if whatever purpose in life she had was wrenched from her very soul, leaving little but scraps of shattered ambitions. She cursed herself, over and over, for all the hatred and rage that she let loose. Why...why did Corvon have to die by her hand, her folly?

There was no answer to that question. Only, she knew she had to complete the tournament. To finish what she had started. With that, Kalena finally stood, only to notice a severed limb by her side, gone unnoticed while she was distracted by her own thinking. It still appeared fresh, and surrounded by crimson blood that had coalesced into a shallow pool. How or why it had been transported with her, she knew not. She picked it from the ground, and instinctively turned to her left arm, a stump from where hardened blood met flesh, sealed by several runes that stopped all bleeding. It seemed almost as though she had never been injured in the first place, as if her arm had been intact all along. And yet simply attempting to move it told her it was not so.

Her gaze drifted to the runes encircling her arm, and then her limb. Perhaps it was in a moment of whim, the faintest of hunches, that she decided to connect the severed limb to her arm. Like the teeth of gears interlocking one another, everything seemed to click, and the runes shimmered for a split second before absorbing themselves into flesh, weaving skin and muscle together with machine-like precision. In half a minute, there was only a faint scar that indicated there was a wound at all. Kalena felt her eyes moisten once more as emotions surged; even in the heat of battle, Corvon managed to ensure her injuries would not go untended. Such was the concern he gave for her, and yet she returned nothing.

Appearance-wise, it would seem she was largely unscathed, but Kalena had no feel or control over her left arm, as if the two parts were simply merged together by a strong adhesive. But simply the knowledge that it would heal was good enough for her.

Kalena closed her eyes, suppressing her emotions till her expression became that of a deadpan one; she would only allow herself to grief when everything was over. And then she moved on, her footsteps slow and deliberate as her eyes darted about for any sign of danger. Everything seemed dead, motionless, but then in the corner of her eye she saw a flickering shadow grow in size, creeping behind her with all the silence of a stalking predator…

Her head turned back sharply, back arching as she formed a tense defensive stance. But all that she saw was a gravestone, cracked and worn as with the others. There was an eerie moment of silence, after which Kalena finally relaxed. The shadow had disappeared without a trace, as if it were a figment of her imagination.

Nerves, she assumed, but as she continued to forward more shadows seemed to gnaw at the edge of her vision, creeping, spreading. At every moment Kalena turned her head side to side in search for this phantom-like enemy. Where was it? What could it possibly be? Her paranoia and anxiety grew to the point where she had to carry her blade at the ready, if only for comfort.

And then the creeping darkness was gone. Stopped, with no sign of returning. Nothing but her rapidly pounding heart indicated it had been there at all. A grimace spread across Kalena’s face, and she quickened her pace to the main building. Whatever the source of those visions may be, escaping it would be best, she thought.

Her passage to the main building was unhindered after, and with a firm push, the stone carved doors opened into the vast interior of the cathedral. It was only then that the grandiosity of the establishment was seen. Stone statues lined the carpet laden path, accompanied by candle stands that lighted the walls a dim orange hue. The same walls were painted upon mural after mural, of ancient figures portrayed in a most regal manner, telling tales of fantastical myths and legends. Though decay had long washed through the cathedral, the sight was still breathtaking; the cathedral was not just a building, it was built as a work of art.

But at the same time, Kalena could feel an unexplainable sense of loss. The cries of a once prospering civilization, its history buried under centuries of degeneration. It was as though the interior itself was alive, whispering in sorrowful tones of how grand, how magnificent it had used to be.

The halls invited several passageways at its sides, all of which Kalena ignored, preferring to head into the central area where her opponent might most likely be. Eventually the passageway came to an end before a pair of giant, metal doors, etched and engraved upon with designs of minute detail, sometimes inset with a number of jewels that glimmered faintly under the thick layer of dust that settled.

Slowly, the swordswoman placed her hand upon the face of one door, icy cold to the touch, and pushed. Where she had expected more resistance, the towering metal seemed to glide open without much persuasion, almost weightless.

Beyond the doors were a pitch black darkness, only to be warded off by a burst of light as line after line of candles erupted with miniature pillars of flame, just enough to light up most of the interior dimly, yet not enough for everything to be in clear vision. There was nothing to suggest what lit them; like those in the halls they were made and kept aflame by an unseen power, unexhausted by time or wind.

It was what could only be the the central place of worship. A spacious hall, lined with rows upon rows of benches with adorned candlestands between each. Windows of stained glass filled the walls, each with a telling picture. As if to accompany those, the ceilings were painted upon angels among skies, paired with writing of an ancient language. All of that followed a simple altar in the form of a cross, crafted from pure silver. But in this scene of grandeur, hints of unrest could be found; benches and candlestands were toppled upon each other, and lavished decorations were strewn about the altar, torn and broken.

But else something caught Kalena’s eye. Above the altar was another large pane of the same stained glass, but what was painted on was not an angel, or anything that matched the surroundings. Painted on was the head of a bald man, an avuncular smile on his lips. Nondescript at first, but the very smile seemed to send a chill down Kalena’s spine, as if the man was distinctly out of place, that his very head should have not been here at all.

But for a moment, that smile seemed to twist itself into a mocking smirk, and everything began to crash upon Kalena.

The candles flickered out, bringing the area into total darkness. All at once, Kalena felt her mind assaulted by a dozen incomprehensible screams, emotions that weaved between fear, despair, sorrow, and finally anger. And in the midst of it all, she could hear the distant voices of people, in a language she could not hear, yet understood.

“What...what is happening?”

“I can’t...I can’t take this, my mind…”

“I can’t trust anyone anymore, I just...can’t!”

“Heed my prayers, o’ Zin of purity, save us from this chaos!”

“Zin...Zin has abandoned us!”

Kalena felt her legs buckle, and she fell to the ground. But she barely noticed the pain as her knees met stone. All she could hear were incessant cries of prayer and bloodshed, some which she could almost discern as her own voices. It was as though she were experiencing a living nightmare, grinding against the corner of her mind that kept her sane.

Finally after what seemed like an eternity, the screams halted, and Kalena collapsed to the ground, her breathing laboured from exhaustion. All but simultaneously, the candles were relit, bringing the place back to light. Her mind was silent once more, as if nothing had happened prior. Cold sweat dripped from her forehead, and her heart pounded quicker than ever. What had happened, she could find no explanation.

Her head raised to the same painting of the bald man. The smirk had not disappeared, only grown deeper, as if he were laughing at her very being. She was being toyed with. By whom or what, she could only guess. Not her opponent; in the brief time she had seen the gladiators none displayed such power. It might even be the host’s doing, scrapping for whatever entertainment he could bless his audience with.

A brief bout of rage took ahold her then, but she suppressed it, firmly reminding herself of Adelaide’s words. With shaky legs she righted herself up, lifting a candlestand with her working hand and locking the shaft between two fingers while it rested against her palm. With one deep breath she took a step forward and swung her arm forward, letting fly the stand as she would with a javelin. The metal whistled through the air, crashing into the forehead of the bald male and shattering the glass into hundreds of shards, all of them glistening under the candlelight in an almost mesmerising fashion. Only the smirk remained of the window painting, which brought her some amount of satisfaction. With no lead as to what the source of the visions may be, that was perhaps the only action she could make do with, though she swore there was faint laughter in her ears that quickly faded to silence.

But the slight smile on her expression vanished when the silence was broken once more by the distant sound of metal, striking against stone. The same sound resonated through the cathedral, over and over, till it struck Kalena that they were really footsteps made by metallic footwear of some sort; her shattering of the window had not gone unnoticed.

Slowly and silently, she lowered herself to a crouching stance, drawing her sword in anticipation for immediate conflict. The sounds grew larger in volume, and as they did, her heart raced ever faster. It was the anxiety of waiting for the unknown, a primal fear than even her experience could not easily ward off.

And finally, the sounds stopped.

“Query: Is there anyone present?”

The robotic voice was close to startling Kalena, but the lack of hostility was enough to make her relax, if slightly.

“There is,” she confirmed, nodding though she knew it would not be seen.

“Statement: Ah, good. I had thought I would be wandering these accursed halls for an eternity.”

There was more clanking of metal, and her opponent gradually came into the edge of her vision.

"Query: That sound of shattering, it was you, wasn’t it?”

“Yes…” Kalena said no more, reluctant to admit her real reasons.

“Concurrence: Alerting your presence for us to find each other...It was good of you to do so.”

There was a pause as her opponent glanced about the dark vicinity. She almost imagined a frown crossing his face, if she could see it properly, “Observation: Something is wrong with this place. I can hear voices, hallucinations attacking my vision. I don’t know what’s behind it, but I was afraid I might lose my sanity long before we met.”

He approached closer into her sight, and she was finally able to scrutinize his appearance. It was a man, clad in a jet black metallic suit that covered the entirety of his body, leaving nothing exposed. Streaks of green light flickered ceaselessly in a sickly manner. Even more noticeable was the condition of the suit. Dents and cracks filled every visible part of the suit’s surface, all of which appeared recent.

“You are…” Kalena spoke with hesitation, a frown forming on her lips.

“Query: Injured?” The android briefly glanced at his own body, and returned to her nonchalantly, “Affirmation: Yes, a result from my previous fight.”

There was a short pause, before the pulsating green eye swivelled toward her limp arm, “Observation: And you have not left unscathed either; your arm, I can see...”

There was a silent nod, and the android paused,

“...and your companion?”

Kalena stiffened visibly at those last words, and that was all the answer he needed.

“Statement: you have my condolences.”

“I-it is fine,” she answered, though her expressionless face belied the quivering in her voice. Visions of Corvon's face flashed through her mind at that very moment, and she lurched. Part of her felt compelled to collapse from the mass of emotions that surged, and only the presence of her opponent stopped her from doing so.

"Query: are you fine?"

she nodded, not trusting herself to speak more. She blanked her mind of further thoughts, but the feeling of dread and nausea remained, haunting her.

The android noticed her vexed expression, and shook his head, realising that he may have tread where he should not have, "Opinion: we seem to be not too dissimilar. Pointless losses incurred in a pointless battle...at this time I wonder if it was worth it all.”

“Then why?” She blurted out, unable to contain her emotions further, “Why do you willingly engage in such bloodshed?”

There was a period of silence as the android studied her carefully, “Response: I could ask the same of you.”

“I...fight to rid this land of the system. If I have to partake in the very same act, to rid those who revel themselves in slaughter, then so be it,” She answered, clenching her fists tightly.

“Observation: You contradict yourself. How will you be any better than those you claim to fight against?”

Kalena swallowed, feeling his words strike old wounds, more so that they were truth, “I may not be, but what must be done has to be done. Once, I have stained my hands in blood so that others will not; I hesitate not to do so again.”

The android said nothing, only gazing at her with his one eye, which she returned steely. Finally he broke off, instead staring into the stone ground, “Response: You mean to say the ends justify the means. I would disagree, but I have little right to do so.”

“Why do you say so?” She ventured, finding his words peculiar.

The android raised his arm, “Response: because i have done the same. Maybe i had no power to stop it from happening, but that fact only soothes the conscience.”

Both remained silent for a short moment, until the implication behind his words hit Kalena.

“You...seek the same goal as I do.”

The android shook his head, “Clarification: I used to. But now that I bear the sin of a murderer, what right do I have? I should have rightfully died with him, but even death was too sweet a fate for me.”

Even in his monotone voice Kalena could detect a sense of loss, regret, and it dawned upon her that they were almost similar in nature. In goal, in situation, only Kalena herself was blessed enough to have her sword bring her mind back to reality. Now was the time to do the same for her opponent. And to prove to herself that she had not lost sight of her goal.

“I believe we have yet to introduce ourselves. My name is Kalena Eirwen.”
“Response: You may call me Bl.An.C.”

“Losses will be incurred, Blanc, but that should not stop you,” Kalena spoke, staring at the android with renewed determination, “earlier you disagreed with my ways; allow me to show you that for all that I have done, I have not completely strayed from my path.”

“...Agreement: I have no objections to such,” Blanc nodded with some hesitation. For a moment he muttered an expletive, and gripped at his helmet with enough strength to dent it slightly. It was over in seconds, but he was left panting, exhausted from the ordeal.

“Warning: This place is grating my mind. We best be done before it gets worse.”

Kalena nodded, and backed off into a preparatory stance. At the same time, a thin mist of dust and particles could be seen rising and encircling her blade, dulling its razor edge. Within seconds she put forth a burst of speed, closing the distance between them in several swift steps before swinging her sword up and at the android's arm. He pulled back, only for her to flick her wrist into a straight thrust at his shoulder, managing to nick the armour before he batted it away. At the same time he moved forward into her range to strike, forcing Kalena to disengage and defend the punch with the flat of her blade.

She swung again, but this time Blanc launched himself back and away from close range. A rectangular box seemed to assemble itself on each of his shoulders, and a cylinder was fired from both, whistling through the air at near breakneck speeds. Kalena, with little time, broke her pursuit and instinctively dived to the side, in between the benches where she would have the most cover. A series of explosions filled her ear, followed by a surge of heat and splinters as the benches were completely dismantled by the impact. She recovered to find Blanc standing before her, poised for a straight punch. She attempted to cut him off with a swing, but it was batted away, leaving her guard completely open. The metal fist struck her square in the abdomen, sending her crashing into a bench. He pursued her with ferocious speed, only to hesitate for a split second as he raised his fist, giving his opponent ample time to aim a strong kick to the chest, forcing him to stumble back from the impact.

With enough space, Kalena kicked off from the ground, twirling her body to deliver a quick thrust to the torso. But for one reason or the other, it went far off, giving Blanc opportunity you grab onto her forearm and strike at her wrist. Her blade clattered uselessly onto the ground, and with it, her main form of offense.

A scuffle ensued as Kalena wrested her arm from his grip, elbowing his helmet in the process. The recoil gave her precious few seconds to reach for her weapon, only for Blanc to crash into her in a bid to knock her further from her blade. The two landed onto the ground in a messed heap, each attempting to overpower the other with brute force. A punch was thrown at Kalena’s head, which she grappled against with her free arm. Another struck her stomach, leaving her reeling for air. She struggled, pulling back her leg to deliver kicks strong enough to stun her opponent.

And then it happened. Where she once saw herself battling the android in a messy melee, Blanc convulsed, and his form twisted to that of a writhing mass of metal and flesh, no longer remotely human in appearance. She could hear herself scream, but her cries were muffled by the vicious snarls of the abomination, snapping its jaws of fused flesh and metal wherever it could find exposed flesh. Pain shot through her mind as her right arm was torn apart, forcing her to she struggle relentlessly to remove its grasp on her. Her limbs, her head, her body, anything she had available she struck against the beast. Finally, it gave a massive, hideous screech, backing off as black blood flowed freely from its orifices.

Her vision faded out then, and the next she could remember was finding herself backed against a bench, sweating, panting, her heart pumping furiously as fear gripped her mind like a sickening disease. Her opponent fared no better, having collapsed onto the ground, grasping his helmet in visible pain. No longer was he the grisly horror seconds ago, and her left arm was unscathed saved for minor bruises.

“Expletive: F--k, It’s messing both our minds…!”

Blanc pulled himself upright at that, shaking his head profusely, “Analysis: Whatever it is, it’s altering our senses, luring out our primal instincts. We’ll kill ourselves long before we know it.”

Kalena paused, considering his words carefully, “we can only hope to resist its influence.”

“Disagreement: We couldn’t tell the first time it happened, nevermind subsequent times. We have to end it. The host may not accept a forfeit, but even he has to acknowledge a winner if one of the competitors fall.”

She froze, realising the implication of his words,“You mean to say…”

“Suggestion: I was supposed to meet my end in my last battle. I do not mind receiving my true fate now.”

“It is no better than letting ourselves succumb to these hallucinations-” Kalena blurted, but she was quickly cut off by the android.

“Opinion: but it will prevent us from killing each other. If I have to bear the burden of having slain another once, I have no right to live either. This is the only way.”

“And thus you will pass on the sin of killing to me?” She challenged, “tell me honestly, are you not simply running away by doing so?”

“Query: Then what do you suggest?” Blanc asked, almost heatedly so.

“We shall continue,” Kalena answered firmly, “until one of us wins. We will fight by the gladiatorial rules, and show that blood need not be spilt.”

“Opinion: You speak of a idealistic goal,” he replied bitterly, “But if that is what you wish, I have no choice either.”

Their discussion ended there. Once more Kalena lunged for her sword, but the whirring of machines sounded, and she was promptly cut off as a burst of lasers struck the ground before her, nearly skewering her had she not stopped herself. Her attention was diverted to the humming spheres of metal, hanging above with their sights aimed directly at her torso.

'Mockery: Is this what you promised to show?"

Blanc taunted as he closed the distance between them, delivering a powerful punch to the torso. Kalena stumbled, gasping in pain as he followed up with a quick jab that she only narrowly avoided, pushing his fist just far enough for it to go off course, before striking his helmet with the back of her hand once and then slamming her fist into its side. Finally when the android stumbled back from the impact, she pulled a leg back to strike him hard in the torso.

There was little time to tarry. Once more Kalena dashed past Blanc, her path a zig zag in avoiding the numerous lasers that were fired her way by the half dozen drones above. Upon seeing the glint of metal she dived, grabbing ahold the familiar hilt as she rolled across the stone ground. A searing pain tore through her shoulder, but she shook it off, quickly recovering to a defensive stance. One cursory glance told her she had been grazed by a laser, and her right arm was bruised and bloodied from striking hard metal. Her body fared no better; she could feel exhaustion gripping her amidst the fading adrenaline, and her limp arm was without a doubt interfering with her balance. Were her opponent more inclined to kill she would have long been skewered by drone fire.

“You have been holding back,” Kalena accused.

“Reply: I do not fight to kill.”

“Or do you lack resolve?” She interrupted, raising her blade to point at him, “fight with all you have. I assure you I will not fall so easily.”

Blanc gave no response, save for the silent clenching of his fists. The humming from the drones intensified, and they fired once more, straight, wide bore lasers that forced Kalena to sprint to her right. But that was his plan; with one hard kick he sent the bench between them straight at her, knocking her feet from the ground and landing her on the dust covered wood. She hastily rolled away and onto the ground, just as a metallic foot struck the bench where her head was, crushing the wood into a dozen splinters.

Her legs folded and kicked out outward, flipping herself upright just as Blanc stepped forward for a quick jab to the sternum. She coughed, stumbling back just as he caught her with a powerful knee to the abdomen. But stunned as she was, Kalena managed to intercept Blanc’s next swing, slashing against his forearm and knocking it from its intended target. Sparks flew, and a visible gash appeared on the beaten suit. Had she not dulled the blade’s edge it would have been a clean cut through.

Kalena was not about to stop. Flicking her wrist so that the pommel of her sword now faced Blanc, she thrusted it at his helmet. He caught it mere inches from his face, and when he could not wrest it from her grasp, resorted to slamming his helmet against her forehead. A sickening crack sounded as metal hit flesh and bone, but the android was not finished. Silvery wings shot out from his back, and with it an ear-shattering explosion as fuel was rapidly burnt to propel the android forward and straight into the still lurching swordswoman.

The distance was small, and the propulsion was carefully monitored by the android himself, but even then Kalena could feel her entire body seemingly ripped apart as she impacted the walls. Her vision blurred as pain overcame her senses, but even then she fought back like a cornered animal, striking out wherever she could in a bid to create distance between them.

In that moment, flickering shadows obscured her vision, and when she blinked, the world seemed to twist upon herself. The floor and walls morphed and writhed into grotesque shapes of flesh, and the ceiling turned a lightless abyss. No longer was she facing the android, but a horrific amalgam of flesh that convulsed ceaselessly, teeth like appendages of metal trashed about its exterior. A monster without a definite form, save for the blob atop its shifting mass that resembled vaguely like a head. Fear dominated her mind, obscuring any and all thoughts; all she could feel was an instinctive will to survive. She struggled as it slammed itself against her, striking it down with a hard kick, only to scream in pain as its metal spines tore through her leg. More spikes pierce her being as it collided into her ceaselessly, and it was all she could do to stay conscious, striking against its head with the pommel of her sword whenever she could.

The thrashing stopped as she struck it a third time. The thrashing horror tethered back, gurgling incoherent words that she barely registered. It was vulnerable, she thought, just far back for her to stab it in the side of the head. She only needed to flip the point of her blade to end it right now.

Kill….kill..kill..! Kill!

She could hear herself screaming those words, and yet her hand resisted those messages, moved by a will deep in the subconscious. After what seemed like an eternity of deliberation, she did sucumb to the voice, but no sooner did she thrust her blade her arm jerked at the last second, only grazing the horror before lodging itself deep in the fleshy wall beside her.

And with the sudden squelch, the living nightmare receded; colour drained from the floor and walls as they reverted to their original texture, and the flesh-like horror before her morphed into the familiar figure of Blanc crouched over in heavy exhaustion, though his suit seemed no worse than before save a few dents and widened cracks. Kalena’s eyes darted about in rhythm with her rapid breathing, scanning her surroundings till she was certain that she was truly back in reality. Only then did her mind settle, allowing coherent thought once more.

“You...broke free from the influence.’

The android merely shook his head, “Reply: Only this once; it leverages on our primal fears, and it seems to grow stronger by the minute. My stance to stop remains.”

“We will continue,” came the firm reply.

“Exclamation: Why do you risk your life? Even if we manage to hold on to our sanity, my…”

He trailed off, but Kalena caught him almost immediately, “What of it?”

Blanc hesitated, but when Kalena pressed further he could only answer truthfully, “Statement: This suit...my suit, does not take the notion of defeat well. If it believes that victory is impossible, then it will override my commands...and destroy its opponent with every arsenal available. Or itself, if the former is not possible.”

He clenched his fists and straightened himself. Even through his monotone voice she could feel from his words a sense of desperation, hopelessness, “Exclamation: Do you understand now? There is no clear cut solution; one of us will die, possibly both. And we risk the latter by prolonging this hopeless battle!”

He was right, Kalena knew this well enough. But at the same time, many things compelled her to push forward regardless of how hopeless the situation may be. The need to keep a potential ally alive was one, but most importantly there was the desire to prove to herself once more, that after all these months she still fought, and can fight for what she believed in. If she could not even do that, what right did she have to wield her sword, or even to remain in this world?

“Then all it means is that you will have to win this fight,” Kalena spoke, her voice hardened with conviction, “but you will have my word; that should you succumb to your own suit, I shall try to end it there. Will this be good enough?”

Blanc’s shoulders sagged in rejection. But he could not be given a better offer, and so agreed, “Agreement: I shall follow with your plans.”

So it continued. Kalena stepped forward, twirling her sword into a wide slash, elegant despite her lack of balance from her immobile arm. Blanc stepped back, just enough to avoid connection with the blade. She pursued, pivoting against her toes to deliver a downward swing. This time he sidestepped it, and returned with a quick jab. She was forced to retreat and parry it, but he took the opportunity to close in and disarm her. When she resisted, however, the android could only aim a powerful kick to the abdomen, a move the swordswoman could only narrowly block with her own leg.

Kalena stumbled back from the force, feeling her bone almost shatter, but just as she prepared to fight once more her concentration was broken by a familiar sound. A faint humming, just in the air behind her. Her mind screamed for her to run, but she could barely move before a searing pain shot through her right calf. It buckled, and she haplessly fell to the ground with a choked gasp.

Blanc watched her collapse. But cold as his gaze was, there came a niggling feeling that he could not place. Was it guilt? That he was slowly pummeling someone to defeat in a dragged out battle? Or was it the frustration of having no option?

He lunged forward, bringing his arm back for a crushing blow. Yet in her injured state Kalena continued to struggle. She rolled to her side to dodge, letting his fist strike into the worn stone. And when he raised his leg to stomp on her prone body, she swung her legs outward to grapple it, pulling it forward to force him into a split position. The suit groaned as it was subject to the large tension, to which blanc could only respond by supporting himself with one hand and striking his opponent down with his other.

She had no limb to spare. All Kalena could do was to hold onto his foot, bracing herself for the punishing blows. The first strike grazed the back of her head, but there was no second. Blanc could no longer bring himself to raise his fist, let alone bring it down onto his hapless opponent.

Why? What stopped him? His confused gaze shifted from Kalena to his arm, but no answer came to mind. In the midst of his troubled thoughts he watched her arm shift, and the blade she held pierced the stone ground.

At that moment, when the ground trembled and quaked, he finally understood why he could never land that second blow. He was haunted and chained by the past, afraid of committing the same mistake as he had before. A folly he had only noticed now.

And with a giant roar a pillar of stone burst from where the sword of truth lodged itself, impaled the android with a force so ferocious that he was sent crashing into the wall opposite. Shards of metal from his suit fell in his wake, evidence of the sheer impact from the earthen ram.

There was the briefest of pauses as Blanc collapsed onto the ground coughing, but where his body was battered his mind came anew. He had decided; the past will be the past. He would press forward for a cause worth fighting for, unrestrained by his own fears. Perhaps this was what his opponent wished to convey to him, and if so he bore utmost gratitude to her.

He stood back up, triumphant despite the pain that throbbed at his injuries. But where he spoke to thank his opponent, there came a mechanical voice not of his own, cold and mechanic.

“Damage sustained beyond expected levels. Initiating ‘Last Stand’ protocol.”

“Damn...! Not you, not now!” Cooper yelled at the monitor, but he could only watch calculations flash across his screen without his will, ignoring whatever command he attempted to input. Why did it have to activate at the worst possible time? For what reason did fate have to land its cruel hand?

The dust from the impact gradually settled, but even in the silence Kalena felt wary, an instinctive feeling that told her all was not over. Her anxiety was well founded when she heard the android’s robotic voice echo through the halls, devoid of any human emotion.

A second later, there was a ground shaking explosion, and the dust was blown away by cyan flames. Immediately after she could see something approach her at breakneck speed, so sudden that she could barely go prone before she felt a burst of air pass above her.

“Target locked. Firing.”

There was the grinding of metal, the source of which Kalena had no wish to see. In a split second she pushed herself up, lunging behind the benches just as a violent explosion landed behind her, the force of which almost knocked her back onto the ground.

“Primary weapons offline. Engaging through secondary fire.”

Kalena gasped as a series of humming sounded, and with it a massive array of lasers shot onto the ground, almost slicing into her had she not scrambled forward. The firing continued, pursuing her position with almost deadly accuracy. She was facing all of the android’s available arsenal unfettered, wounded in almost every part of her body and bewildered by the sudden violent offense. Finally in a move of desperation she thrust her sword into the ground, wresting stone from its native land with whatever force she could manage.

Her fatigued mind protested under the strain as she drew upon on her ebbing power, but nonetheless solid walls rose and surrounded her with incredible speed, just as the lasers caught up, flashing a piercing red before light and sound was shut from from the earthen tomb.

The walls gave Kalena a moment of peace, solace, but only enough for her to regain her bearings and decide her next move. The outcome Blanc predicted had come true, but there was no possible way she could follow her promise. The suit, unchained by restrictions, was a death trap to approach, and more than she admitted she clung onto the hope that both fighters would finish alive.

“Adelaide...” Kalena murmured, gripping the sword of truth ever tighter, “What am I to do?”

___


“Target lost,” the android intoned, gazing at the tomb with a darting eye, “recovering visual.”

“Is this not good enough?” Cooper remarked witheringly at the screen. There was no response, but it was clear that the suit had no intention of heeding his will.

“Drones: Initiate attack pattern five-zero-five.”

How? Cooper wondered, as he watched the drones fire away at the stone, chipping away layer after layer. How could he wrest control from the suit, so adamant it is to kill both parties? At the very least it had not immediately forced a suicide attack, but it could at any time. He was running on what borrowed time Kalena could offer.

The stone began to crumble apart from the concentrated heat. Where Cooper would have been both panicked and forlorn, he instead took on a quiet determination, pushed forward by a sense of urgency. If he not overcome the programming with his own will, then he would have to force it to stop. One way or another.

Seconds later the stone was carved open, but there was nothing to be found. Nothing, save for a tunnel that centred itself in the rubble, cleanly drilled and wide enough for one person to access. The android only stared at the entrance, its eye whirring as if confused. It was programmed for frontline battle and to deal with frontline targets, and now it faced a situation where there was no frontline battle nor a target to acquire. Matrices containing hundreds of calculations flashed upon its screen, but it was hopelessly lost, unable to find option in such a circumstance.

“Proceeding,” It spoke as it activated its jetpack, deciding to enter the tunnel rather than await its target. It was not deep, barely a few metres in depth, but turned a sudden right angle to become perfectly horizontal. There in the distance was the speck of an object, only visible from its infrared vision.

“Target acquired. Pursuing.”

No sooner had those words echoed through the tunnel did a sudden slamming sound. Pillars struck into the tunnel cutting the android off and imprisoning it in the underground. Faced with yet another situation it was not made to handle, it could only hammer at the stone with fists, each strike only managing to chip the surface. Seeing this, Cooper only doubled his efforts, unwilling to waste what Kalena had started. Just a few minutes, he told himself, that’s all I need to end this.

After what seemed like an eternity, the earth shook once, and with a eruption of brilliant blue flames the android burst from the tunnel entrance in relentless pursuit. There was no more cat and mouse this time; Kalena stood just a little ways from it, her posture erect and defiant. But at the same time her breathing was ragged, and fresh injuries laid upon every exposed part of her body. Her blade hung loose from her fingers, too heavy for her to wield properly in her condition. Perhaps it was safe to say she had lost any ability to run longer, a cornered prey barely able to defend themselves. The battle was drawing to a close.

“I have done all I could, Blanc,” Kalena gestured with her battered arm, toward the wreckage of drones that littered around her vicinity, struck down by earth or blade, “I leave the rest to you...if you still bear the will to fight.

The android’s eye swivelled to her for a moment, studying her before its monotone voice sounded once more, “Target reacquired. Engaging missiles.”

There was a stark silence. Not the humming of machines, nor the grinding of metal. Nothing happened, nothing moved.

“Engaging,” The android repeated again, putting forth a burst of speed as the flames from its jetpack flared stronger. Where Kalena raised her blade to defend, the jet flames spluttered out right within the second. The android crashed, yet true to its unrelenting nature it recovered without word, breaking into a sprint instead. All but simultaneously its legs buckled, and it finally laid rest upon the ground, sparing only one moment to raise a battered arm at the swordswoman before it dropped uselessly.

Eventually, the android spoke once more, in a familiar relieved tone, “Statement: It is done. I...owe you my thanks.”

Kalena watched this all with an expression of mild surprise, and when it was clear that everything was truly over, she breathed a deep sigh. It was over; she could finally be at rest.

And thinking that, she crumpled to the ground, the consciousness she had held on so tightly gradually slipping from her self. The last she could hear was the loud snickering of a man, followed by the melodic voice of a young girl.

“You did well, Kalena...thank you.”

_____

The wreck that was once a cell stood in eerie silence. Spikes of rock still menaced its walls, for no one was willing to excavate the scene or comb for survivors. To anyone involved, the other two that had fought in the very chamber were gone. Dead.

And yet should one walk into the deep underground and uncover the broken arena, their eyes would lay upon the body of one young man, collapsed by a bloodied spike. And should that same person approach further, they would notice, under the dim ambient light, a large bound book whose pages open when it fell. The words written in ink were indecipherable, but the book would intone in their mind, the heading that encompassed the top of the withered pages.

“Death’s Door.”

And so the tournament comes to a close. I had meant this final battle to be the best I could possibly bring myself to write, though I’m sure I will come back to find a mass of mistakes that I’ve unwittingly made. Not to mention that I had not intended for it to be so long. Spanning over 10000 words, I’m afraid anyone would be hesitant to approach such a disgustingly huge monster.

The goals I had for the story were two-fold. One to further both Kalena and Corvon’s background and flesh out their personality, and the other was an idea I had when I began to write the introduction; to hint out a story as to how the place came to be.

For the former, I’ve always worried over how I’ve not given Kalena the proper attention she needed. To me she was fairly emotionless, only letting hints of it at times. There wasn’t much to her at all. And then the past few battles felt just a little out of character. “Would she really do this?” is what I constantly think when I write about her. I still don’t think it’s satisfactory, but i hope I’m making at least the slightest bit of progress. It feels almost queer that Corvon is more fleshed out than Kalena, something which I feel almost obliged to apologise to her for.

As for the latter...it was on a whim that I had decided to hint a brief backstory for the arena. I struggled over how much I should let out without outright telling the whole story. I could of course just say it here, but it wouldn’t be very fun. It would be interesting to listen to your interpretations, so if you do post them I would be rather grateful for the feedback.

Lastly, you have my utmost thanks for reading thus far. As always, all comments and critique are welcome.



May the best writer win!

Tremorfist
01-12-2014, 08:48 AM
My first real CnC, so I can't really do an excessive amount of reviewing, great reads for the both of you.

For a general comment, I may have to go and check on the other parts of the tournament, since it's obvious that there is a decent amount of carryover, makes it a bit more reasonable.

Error:

I'll be blunt and say I have a fair amount of personal bias on this end, cyborgs always kinda get a nerdy love from me, but I really did love your style and very much had a blast reading through it, very fun. Most of the changes I see are -very- little nitpicks or personal preferences, but I really had fun reading it.

Lobomotizer

Same with you Lobo, a bit less on the bias thing, but I really loved your story, with both of which, I actually did kind of go with the endings, both of which I actually really were decided upon the ends. I did love how you wrote both your and Errors character, and just had a ton of fun reading both of them, though they took a while to get through either way, but I can't say much, it was the end of a tournament and it was worth while to read either way.


To either of you who win, I honestly say you both did masterfully and I hope to definitely read more on both ends in the future :D

Kyra
01-12-2014, 09:21 AM
Alright, here goes my novice attempts at criticism.


ErrorBlender:

Some of the wording you used for detail were very eye catching and helped me sink deeper into the story. Picking up on the imagery you were trying to convey was a big part in how these sort of words can serve you. Being rarely brought up in other stories, the newness or rarity of a word can usually catch a wandering eye over the simple 'the' 'it' 'said' and so on. The only area in your story that threw me off was...

'He said as loudly as he could but as of now, it sounded more of a whisper. “...not in the RHG…”'

The wording of what he said sounded grammatically strange and how he said it was fairly contradictory. Perhaps something to exclaim how the effort he put into making the noise was one that could equal speaking loudly, but the effects of his extra effort only resulted in a murmur. Also...

Blobs of candle and torch light kept the place lit but only barely.

I can understand the message and image you are trying to display for the reader here, but in my personal opinion, it isn't the most effective way to go about it. Light doesn't appear normally in blobs. When we think of blobs, they are single normally floppy and unstable entities of mush. I don't think I've seen a mushy light before. A good way to help yourself with this sort of explaining of details is to look at some light yourself. Turn off the lights in your room and find a flashlight to simulate the candle and torch lights. Looking at a light shining in my room presently, I can think of it more like a 'beam' or a 'stream' as it shines through the crevice created by the space between two curtains. It 'stretches out' across the scape of my room and 'narrowly fills' the general area around it with visible sensation, 'bending' to the very shapes that threaten to block its way.

Overall, a very good read and a great story!


Lobotomizer:

To start, I /loved/ the details you gave for the cathedral. The emotions between both characters and the descriptions of their reactions to the surroundings and mental battles was very impressive and had me hooked! There's not too much else to say on your part, there was perhaps only one grammatical error I spotted, but it's nothing big enough to be worth mentioning.

You have my vote!

GuardianTempest
01-13-2014, 03:06 AM
After a long while I finished Lobotomizer's piece, as long as it is. I had trouble deciding who to pick at first but in the end I chose the mentioned since it had a feeling of completeness and finality. (For the same reason a 7-page comic won over a 2-part animation in some other tournament)

Pardon my commentary, I'm not one to critique those who are leagues higher than me. Trivia: When I first read it I skipped to the end to see how it all finishes, I thought both competitors died to a desperation attack by Kalena.

ErrorBlender
01-13-2014, 04:56 AM
I don't know about you, Guardian but from what I know anyone is fully capable to CnC. It does not matter if they are higher or lower in skill. If you feel something was amiss or something needed applaud, it would be better spoken than kept.

Nikx232
01-13-2014, 12:49 PM
After reading both pieces, I feel that both have made marvelous pieces!
However, I feel that I've enjoyed Lobo's piece a bit more simply because...! (Go read the spoilers you ninnies)

Your piece was written well! I feel that your writing has grown so much over the years, but I digress. The story was very easy to read and moved along pretty quickly...almost a bit too quickly? I feel that the story could have used a bit more history, interaction with the environment, or something that could reflect who Bl.An.C was or what we should be relating to quote unquote. I also feel that you may have fallen back on Kalena's "old personality." It feels as if she has not really changed very much in your story and kept the same motivation through out. (or perhaps that was your intention?)

It's understandable that, for positive light, that she should be strong although Corvon has passed away but I feel as if she just feel back on a predictable emotion. That's where I kind of draw fine line. Your piece, while clean(ish?), didn't have a very strong hook and line to keep my pulling for more. I'm not saying that it wasn't interesting, but when compares to Lobo's piece it loses its shine.

(Getting away from the game of comparisons)

I feel in the "traditional aspect" of wRHG's you've nailed it pretty solidly. You have the action, the emotion, and the use of environment that you experiment with. The writing that you have done up to now has improved greatly over the years and I know that it'll just keep getting better. I have nothing to really point out (other than nit-picking that I'm not going to do [college]) other than the game of comparisons.

Keep up the great work Error. I know you're going places! B)

I liked how he set up the sword to have sentience to talk with Kalena and bring out more of the issue that was the late Corvon. (very nice hook)
Although it was a great set up, I didn't really feel pity or anything really for Kalena. Her best friend/lover died at her own hands! I don't know how to really explain it, but it just didn't move me quite as much as it should have at that moment.

As for the rest of the story, it played out very well. It was very easy to read through and the character interaction was pretty well done. The ending was a bit peculiar. I felt as if centuries had gone by to the point that both were "dead", their years stolen by time...and then came that book. Death's Door...

O_O

Lobo you know more than one way to interest a read such as I. (although I'm pretty derpy in my own right xD)
I had read the Prologue and noticed that his master had given him the Grand Grimoire and when that book fell...Death's Door on that page huh?

I digress, but in all I feel that Lobo has nailed the factor of interest in his story for me. It has hooked me from word to word to the bottom.

I apologize for the short review, but this is as much time that I have for it atm. I hope I could cater to you both equally and fairly and I hope to see more from you both further in the future.

The Strongest
01-13-2014, 02:02 PM
Bah, I don't know that I can really add much. I'll make an effort at it in several moments. Great read, overall, though I'll spoil right now that I think Lobotomizer's took the cake and then proceeded to eat all of it. Brightside: this was a great time to break out the Attack on Titan soundtrack mixes. Darkside: Not really one, besides being more than a mite envious of you two for the prompt that I'm gathering you got.

EDIT:


First paragraph, too much use of the word "he" and "his", I think. It gets stale. And stale is generally bad.

As I'm rereading your piece, I'm beginning to get a sense of sameness in regards to your sentence length and type, in groups. I don't think that this is intentional. I'm also not really sure if this is a problem (or if I'm even correct in the statement I made), but...it is. And it bothers me. So does the fact that you seem to switch between present-tense and past-tense writing. Sometimes it's because they're thoughts, but...not all the time.



I guess a problem with writing with the level of detail that you did throughout most of your piece is that the times when you go softer on the detail, it's really noticeable, and I think the effect of that is too jarring to let the immersion come out unscathed. Your two sentences of Kalena awakening and opening her eyes, if that was what I think that was, that was beautiful. I'm interpreting the two as parallels to further make the point that her time with Adelaide was no time at all. And if I'm completely wrong, I don't even care.

Also, the cave scene had me tear up a bit. So good job, you're on the list of things that have made me do that.

Question, though: Some of Bl.An.C's dialog seems...off. Like there are times where his mastery of the English language seems to be growing less. I'm not sure if you were doing that deliberately, or if they were typos, but it's odd, I think.


EDIT: Are cakes a common prize? Is that why the phrase "Take the cake." is a thing? Did I just suggest that Lobotomizer won my vote and then proceeded to eat it? Because...that doesn't make any sense at all. Going to need to rethink my everything-related-to-cake.

Lobotomizer
01-13-2014, 10:59 PM
Thestrongest: Could you possibly elaborate on the issues you had with my story? I'm afraid I don't quite follow, so a little clarification would be nice.

The Strongest
01-13-2014, 11:56 PM
It's just, the piece goes from this rich, densely (yet still flowing) description of this and that, but then the level of the detail suddenly becomes...less sharp. The one that really stood out to me was when the suit turned into a killbot, and Kalena was narrowly avoiding impromptu piercing by laser. I just felt as if there could have been more description there, among the wooden remains of pews. It wasn't a particularly prevalent thing, which is why, I think, it just stood out to me. Like a when pencil fades. From a distance, it's not so bad. When you're remembering the paper, it's not so bad. But in that moment when you're squinting a bit, it's noticeable. Hope that helped enough. Otherwise, feel free to tell me to try it again.

SaulMurphy
01-14-2014, 12:03 AM
Ok, in the course of 4 days, I've sat and read these stories. Not because I'm a slow reader, but because inbetween economics class and recallibrating my graphics card, its been hell. Anyways, as my personal Bropinion, I would like to say this: I loved Error's end more. I don't know why exactly, but it touched me in a non-creepy sort of way. While I believe Lobo did write a fine piece, and as I saw the end and the finality I felt dwarved by the amazing writing. But because both stories was so epic, I chose Error, against popular belief, only due to liking it more while reading it... silly reason I know...

Hewitt
01-20-2014, 11:53 PM
...

GuardianTempest
01-20-2014, 11:55 PM
Only when it reaches 10 or 11, I think we're already running out of Lounge members and I'm kinda excited to see how far the tie can go; at some point the balance will shift.

EDIT: I think we're out of voters.

Hewitt
01-21-2014, 12:13 AM
...

ErrorBlender
01-21-2014, 02:38 AM
1 and 3 seem okay with me. Either of two, in any combination is fine.

Triss
01-21-2014, 03:12 AM
I see 3 ways to settle this:

1) I redo the polls and make it public. But alongside the votes, the voters must list their reasons otherwise it won't count.

2) The Finals goes into overtime. Another round, another theme. Please, don't make me do this XD

3) Judge's Call. Me and acute will ruminate over the winner. Might overlap with method 1; participants and observers can offer their inputs to the case.


Oh and I'm sorry for bringing this up now, but I'm partially inclined to not accept anything short of a TWO-point lead. I feel that if a single point more happens right now, it'll be because of a certain bias against the tie. So a ONE-pt lead will be negligible at this pt. Are you guys fine with that? If you are, kindly pick which of the 3 choices above would you prefer we settle this.I think 1 and 3, combined. So basically we do the things like no 1, and the judges pick one of the users. The selected user gets +3 vote bonus.

devi
01-21-2014, 03:18 AM
I think 1 and 3, combined. So basically we do the things like no 1, and the judges pick one of the users. The selected user gets +3 vote bonus.

And we would need someone who has not voted or has barely looked at it. SOMEONE who knows why he/she is actually voting.

GuardianTempest
01-21-2014, 03:21 AM
Before any further action is taken though, we need someone to tip the scales, someone who doesn't actually frequent the lounge yet has the patience and (probable) skill for literature.

...WWhiteSShadow, I'll go get him.

ErrorBlender
01-21-2014, 03:38 AM
Even if someone does tip the scales, they'd need to be two people.

Smile
01-22-2014, 06:32 AM
I feel kind of bad for liking Lobotomizer's entry more because I was called here to help finish this battle lol. I can choose to not vote and let ErrorBlender win, but I feel like this would be very unfair for Lobotomizer.

I'm going to speak here as a layman. I don't write, nor do I know how to write. If I'm talking garbage, then please call me out on it lmfao. What's worse, these stories would be the only ones that I've ever read that was made in the tournament.

Anyways, it looks to me like Lobotomizer has better writing skills. I didn't notice the weird, "She... She... She..." that you see when you read three sentences back to back that all starts with the word "she" (or something else) on his entry. I also felt like Lobotomizer delivered the theme better than Error did. Error's version sort of just hinted that there were voices that urged them to kill, but then the characters proceed to act as if they actually weren't affected by those voices by casually brushing these voices as just voices, instead of being carnal impulses. Lobotomizer showed it better imo. Kalena was told to control herself, so she managed to not dwell on those voices, while Blanc periodically shows brief signs of murderous intent. He made the theme a big part of the story.

I also think Lobotomizer portrayed the characters better. Basing from the stories, I'm assuming that both characters are supposed to be in it for a greater purpose, other than just duking it out for senseless violence, and Loboto adding a bit more substance and dialog to the story made me like his portrayal of the characters better.

So I'm going to vote for Loboto.

EDIT: OH MY FUCKING GOD THE POLL'S CLOSED I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS I READ THOSE STORIES FEELING LIKE IT WAS AN OBLIGATION ONLY TO FIND OUT I WAS TOO LATE JESUS CHRIST DEVI NEVER EVER FUCKING DO THAT TYPE OF SHIT TO ME EVER AGAIN OH MY GOD I EVEN MADE A HUGE AMOUNT OF EFFORT AND AUDACITY TO MAKE THIS POST.

CHRIST NEVERMIND EVERYTHING I SAID ERRORBLENDER WINS.

ErrorBlender
01-22-2014, 06:41 AM
Thanks Smile. All we really want is CnC or stuff like it :D then votes come next. Its nice that you came up and did it, I'm sure Lobotomizer would appreciate it as well.

Smile
01-22-2014, 06:46 AM
Thanks Smile. All we really want is CnC or stuff like it :D then votes come next. Its nice that you came up and did it, I'm sure Lobotomizer would appreciate it as well.

yeah but... devi went to me asking me to vote here yesterday and I felt kind of bad for not doing it so I made it a point to do it today. I read your stories even though my eyes are a bit sore from being on the computer a long time.

Sorry I'm just kind of venting my frustration at this point, so forgive me for telling you stuff you don't really need to know lol.

GuardianTempest
01-22-2014, 06:46 AM
I think the mods can manipulate polls one way or another, but even if the vote for Lobster did register, Error wins by an extra point.

IMO it all falls to the judges now.

Smile
01-22-2014, 06:47 AM
I think the mods can manipulate polls one way or another, but even if the vote for Lobster did register, Error wins by an extra point.

IMO it all falls to the judges now.


Oh and I'm sorry for bringing this up now, but I'm partially inclined to not accept anything short of a TWO-point lead. I feel that if a single point more happens right now, it'll be because of a certain bias against the tie. So a ONE-pt lead will be negligible at this pt. Are you guys fine with that? If you are, kindly pick which of the 3 choices above would you prefer we settle this.

so yeah there's that.

ErrorBlender
01-22-2014, 06:49 AM
yeah but... devi went to me asking me to vote here yesterday and I felt kind of bad for not doing it so I made it a point to do it today. I read your stories even though my eyes are a bit sore from being on the computer a long time.

Sorry I'm just kind of venting my frustration at this point, so forgive me for telling you stuff you don't really need to know lol.

Thanks for pressing on to read them Smile. :) Really, the comments make it worth the wait.


I think the mods can manipulate polls one way or another, but even if the vote for Lobster [I]did register, Error wins by an extra point.

IMO it all falls to the judges now.

I recall Hewitt saying he needs a two vote lead. If Smile's vote is registered, I'd only have a one point lead and it would lead to 1 and 3 in the choices Hewitt had made.

Hewitt
01-22-2014, 07:24 AM
I am willing to accept Smile's vote for Loboto simply because he actually came here to talk about why, showing that he actually did take his time to read something even if it was against his will, as oppose to some 2 strangers who just came probably because they needed to resolve a tie situation. The justification is that this battle actually sat for a long while before people started voting on it, so I would say it is within the time frame.

But once again, I wanna hear from both competitors on this.

If smile's vote pushes through we will go into overtime...

ErrorBlender
01-22-2014, 07:25 AM
Its fine with me to add Smile's vote.

Smile
01-22-2014, 07:42 AM
I am willing to accept Smile's vote for Loboto simply because he actually came here to talk about why, showing that he actually did take his time to read something even if it was against his will, as oppose to some 2 strangers who just came probably because they needed to resolve a tie situation. The justification is that this battle actually sat for a long while before people started voting on it, so I would say it is within the time frame.

But once again, I wanna hear from both competitors on this.

If smile's vote pushes through we will go into overtime...

<3 <3 <3

Also, if the polls are redone, can we just quote our explanations that we made here? Because I don't think I can add anything more to what I said. I felt like an elementary science teacher trying to teach a rocket scientist how to make a rocket while making my explanation lmfao.

Hewitt
01-22-2014, 07:45 AM
I can't reach loboto right now, but I kinda got this vibe from him that he would've wanted 1 or 3 as well. I do not wish to drag this longer than it has to be so, I'll just go ahead and accept Smile's vote, and the decision to let us judges take care of it. I ask that the participants wait awhile while we sort things out. Since this is so sudden: I'm going to find a 3rd party wildcard judge so me and acute can judge this thing fairly. Worst case scenario, we'll have a champion next week. Best Case? The day after tommorow or this weekend.


In the future, while I appreciate Smile's cnc, I'm going to severely frown upon rallying in future events. This isn't targetted towards Smile per se, but the magical +2 strangers who suddenly appeared after I just made the announcement of a possible tiebreaker (or rather the people who goaded them to vote like devi and GT). While there is now no way to verify if they were legit, I do know that they suddenly just appeared out of nowhere when it was clear that this event was coming to an end. How those people decided which moderately long reads were better is beyond me. Either way, disregarding or taking those +2's into account, we still have a 1-pt lead situation.


Sorry for the inconvenience.

Crank
01-22-2014, 01:59 PM
Hm. Thought his ended the 24th.
Damn.
I'm smack dab in the middle of a long day, so no promises on me reading these both today and leaving an intelligent reason as to why, but if not today you can expect my two cents tomorrow, even if the judges have already decided and they're just going down a wishing well.

EDIT:
v Heh, didn't say it as an egocentric thing, just brought it up in the off chance you were still considering holding out for a few people

Hewitt
01-22-2014, 08:11 PM
Let's hope you fare more than Azure, Crank.

Also I finally got hold of Loboto, so he knows this is going down legitimately as well.

And apologies in advance for not making this Finals poll public. Acute screwed up but I only noticed it like halfway in and just didn't bother. What I didn't expect though was that this would end in a potentially epic tie (not as epic as my 11-11 though winkwink)

Crank
01-23-2014, 05:52 PM
Alright, so my scrolly bar ceased to exist when I opened Lobotomizer's battle, So!

Your place in the final is diffidently well deserved, both characters felt very strong in their week state and well defined. The actual battle created a good visual in my mind, and I enjoyed the reoccurring personification of the environment. There were a few words that were repeated here and there and I think I stumbled upon one awkward sentence where Kalena was speaking. Him/her had their moments, although your variation was good, but a few more the swords-woman/defined description would've helped a couple times. The last thing eludes me. Give me a minute.

Alright, got it. Watch out when you go into a character's head and go italics. Those are thoughts, right? There was a time or two it was missed entirely, or carried over into the actions. I've actually got an example of this one!

Corvon said it was magical, it drew essence from you every use. I can vouch for that since I’ve held and used the blade against the Saint. She will give in to fatigue at some point and with her current condition it may not take too long. The android thought. He felt a bit of strength leave him. His power waned and the suit’s energies were nearly depleted. It may not take too long for me either.

Corvon said it was magical, it drew essence from you every use. I can vouch for that since I’ve held and used the blade against the Saint. She will give in to fatigue at some point and with her current condition it may not take too long. The android thought. He felt a bit of strength leave him. His power waned and the suit’s energies were nearly depleted. It may not take too long for me either.

Bonus thing! Just rereading this for this, it felt a little choppy. I get the idea of wanting to break things up, but watch for too much stop and start.

The android thought. He felt a bit of strength leave him. His power waned and the suit’s energies were nearly depleted.

The android thought. He felt a bit of strength leave him, his power waned and the suit’s energies were nearly depleted.
Period just seems a tad long there.

Anyway, great piece!

I was not, in any way, shape, or form surprised to see you at the finals. Extremely nicely done. It was true that your piece was rather long, but it was easy to get though with how easy you made it to be immersed in the story. I never saw Kalena as emotionless, more less reserved and very duty bound. She was always easy for me to connect to because of that to be honest with you. This time though, powerful emotions were prevalent and they felt appropriate for the loss she was dealing with. All characters seemed 3D, although I did find myself questioning Bl.An.C.'s mockery, but I feel like we're all entitled to a character mistake or two. The only negative that really stuck out to me was the fact that 'I's were split between capital and lowercase. It was odd to see, especially at your caliber so consistently.

Alright fine, there was another thing I was thinking of before, but slipped my mind when I typed 'The only negative' part. I'm too lazy to go back and change it, so I'll just write a couple sentences explaining, and apparently contradicting my laziness. Please ignore the lacking logic. Anyway, when the story shifts to Bl.An.C.'s perspective, I would've liked to see more of a transition to the man behind the suit. It felt like a sharp turn without it, so I think going through the visor or something to actually show his human side before just dropping his human name would've been nice.

Liked the ending by the way! I'm looking forward to what's next, as well as seeing if my gut's right about it!

Yee of little faith. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

All things considered, I've got to give Lobotomizer my edge. Very well done to you both, I'm sad I'm late, but still glad to see the climatic finale the two of you told!

ErrorBlender
01-23-2014, 09:14 PM
Thanks for the CnC :) Hooray for CnC :D

Anyway, about the italics Crank. It was a bit of my own ignorance that I didn't read into my work that much when placing the italics. They were transferred from Google Docs and I was too excited to post it up and I foregone rechecking the thoughts and actions that followed them.

Thanks for the CnC too Smile. You noticed that the voices or whispers in their heads were quite passive and did little to affect their mental state which Lobo did well in. I was trying to make a point that despite the two brawlers nearly out of their minds and their bodies literally out of shape, they still had their iron will intact. They shrugged it off a bit too much I suppose and that is my mistake. Bl.An.C. and Kalena to me were characters that drew strength from their will to do things and so I thought that the whispers would do little to a moderate amount of effect on them.

Thank you too, [B]Saul. Well, I must ask though, how is mine less creepy than Lobo's? xD

Ah, my repetition again. I'll look into my sentence structure but can you share how? It bothers you? I'm not really sure what you mean about it, TheStrongest.

Thanks Nikx232. I'll get a stronger hook then. Also, I felt that Kalena would be in deep denial for the battle and in doing so, retained her usual composure albeit slightly more violent, unable to make sure if she really was the cause of death and then make her accept it later in the battle. I don't think I portrayed that well but I hope I did.

GuardianTempest, if you have a comment, don't be afraid to leave one. Higher calibers or lower calibers or whatever, a comment is a comment and it helps. :D

Kyra, thank you. I'll look into the aspects of the usual things in life like candle light. I understand that it isn't really blobs but, I don't know, it seemed that they were blobs to me at some point. xD [Or my memory is fuzzy and it affected that.]

TremorFist, thanks to you, it started the CnC line [or atleast you were the first to CnC :)] I hope your bias didn't affect your voting though but thank you for your comment. It helps. It really does.

Thank you all. I hope you keep CnCing others as well. :)