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View Full Version : Kalena Eirwen vs Wildfire



Lobotomizer
07-31-2014, 06:42 AM
As always, comments and critique is welcome. May the better writer win.

Morning in the household was a quiet affair. Each person did their own, only occasionally interacting with one another when they had to.
Tersha, in particular, was pacing around with nothing in particular to do. On occasion the blond young man would turn his head to the direction of the kitchen, where the smell of meat and dough wafted into the air in a tantalizing combination of flavours. Pancakes, he mused. Bacon, too. Always could count on Alicia to cook something appetizing.

He motioned toward the kitchen, perhaps to just take a look at her progress, but just as he closed onto the living room he could hear muffled voices, barely
masked by the sizzling of flame. Not the normal kind; no, it was that of someone almost shouting...and it came from Kalena’s room.

“You’re not fine Kalena, you can hardly walk, let alone swing an arm!”

“I can fight! What use am I if I cannot?”

Almost immediately after Tersha let himself in did he regret doing so at all. Kalena was sitting at her bed as usual, but in front of her stood Jeff, who was by all accounts, far more livid that he would normally be.

“Hey, wh-”

“Tersha!” Jeff spun around, all too eager to throw his assistant into the argument, “you tell her!”

“Tell her what?” Tersha asked half heartedly, all too ready to withdraw from this mess.

“Look, listen,” Jeff gestured with clenched fists, “Our dear Kalena has just got an invitation to play gladiators. And she’s accepting it despite, oh I don’t know, the fact that she can’t even walk on her own!”

“I can!” Kalena interrupted, gritting her teeth in frustration, “it is my task to fulfil, what business do you have to stop me?”

“I’m stopping you because you’ll kill yourself!” Jeff shouted in return, before quickly turning back to his assistant, “look, you’ve got to convince her. I didn’t raise her to be that way!”

“Raise her to be what?” Tersha shook his head, refusing to pursue in the matter,“look, just let her do what she wants.”

“Tersha!” Jeff sucked in a breath, horrified at the blatant defection.

“Tersha,” Kalena nodded in his direction, clearly in agreement.

“Don’t ‘Tersha’ me!” he scowled, “why don’t you think about it for a second?”

Jeff opened his mouth to speak, only to freeze for a moment, looking into the other’s expression briefly before realising what the other was implying.

“....Fine, fine,” he muttered, finally withdrawing the room without another word.

___________________

That was ten hours ago. Kalena was given allowance to leave, if only so on the grounds that she would simply cut her way out if she weren’t. All that was left was to await her opponent in the secluded outskirts of town,as promised by the nameless challenger.

She paused to breathe in the fresh evening air. It had only stopped raining a few hours ago, and the fresh scent of it remained in the air, affording her a slight sense of solace. and calm.

She already knew. What she was doing was foolish. She was fatigued even the moment she left her bed. Old wounds continue to ache, and her calf where a laser had burned through impeded her movement with a dull throb, and a searing pain when she tried to run. But still she had to. The past two months of inactivity have plagued her, as well as the death of her closest friend. Deep down, she knew that if she could not distract herself from the past, she would soon collapse from grief and regret. That was perhaps, the driving force that pushed her to fight in such circumstances.

Her hand gripped the handle of Adelaide, the sword of truth that had accompanied her for so long. And then there was the sinister presence she’d felt haunting her ever since she recovered. As if something was there, watching her. At times she would hear a distant snickering, so similar to the laughter in the cathedral, only for it to disappear as if it were nothing but her own imagination. Only the constant companionship with her blade allowed her sanity to be kept intact.

“Bless the heavens, I’d never thought you’d actually show up.”

Her head turned slightly, her vision greeted by a man in the distance, steadily striding forward without a hint of hesitation, “Kalena Eirwen, The “hand of justice”, they called you. What a blessing it is to see you in person.”

His tone was half praising, half mocking, as if he had meant to be intentionally abrasive.

“Stay your tongue,” she replied in a quiet voice, “ I have no need of praise.”

“Of course, the hand of justice would say that too. Such modesty.”

He stopped when he was just a few metres away from her, and she finally saw him in detail. His appearance seemed fairly unremarkable at first glance, but he donned a mask that covered the lower part of his face, and an imposing greatcloak that made him seem larger than he really was. Flickering cinders seemed to rise from underneath, lighting his figure a dim orange.

“Allow me to introduce myself,” he bowed mockingly, “the name is Wildfire.”

“Another man hoping to ride upon the coattails of the system’s fame and fortune, “ she accused bitterly.

“So what if I am?” He raised his head, emanating a grin that even she could see in his eyes, “Will you stop me? That is, after all, the sole reason why I came to you. I want to know just how strong you are, how...truthful your ‘justice’ truly is.”

She backed into a preparatory stance, her gaze a cold determination, “your arrogance bears an unsightly mark.”

“I wonder.”

There was no warning. It took only half a second for her opponent to spring into a leap, lunging at her to place her directly into his range, She swung her blade
in front of her, letting his fist impact squarely into the flat of the metal. He recoiled, and was forced to pull back as she swung right at his neck, almost managing to decapitate him.

“Already looking to kill?” Wildfire teased, circling around her with deliberate footsteps, “is that what you do? Murder those who disagree with your views?”

She made no response, merely closing the distance between them with a single stride, but he was just as quick, stepping in just as she did while swinging past the thrust from her sword. He retaliated with a knee into her abdomen, followed by a crushing blow with his fists that she only managed to block with her other arm, causing her to stumble from the sheer force. Throbbing pain shot up her injured leg, and it was all she could do to stay upright.

This time he swiftly lifted his arm, bringing forth a whirlwind of cinders and flame. The intense heat wave washed through her, stinging her with a pain that enveloped her body. She cut her offense short, rolling back before the fire could truly burn her flesh. The flames met for but mere seconds, but already her skin itched and stung from the heat.

“Fire cares naught for anyone’s will; it moves regardless, alighting its surroundings as it deigns fit,” Wildfire gestured to the surroundings with flaring eyes, where lingering flames had already appeared around them, torching the grass underneath them, “I am that fire. What is your justice, your false, hypocritical words worth in front of my being?”

“Can you truly call yourself any better?” She challenged, “you fight for the most shallow of reasons, with little thought or motive. Your arrogance is baseless!”

“That I follow my instinct and live unhindered by pointless concepts such as your beloved ‘order’ and ‘morality’ is good enough!” Wildfire roared, “can you say the same for yourself?”

“I-”

She faltered for moment, and that was the time where Wildfire chose to attack. He sprung forward, twisting his body and putting all his power into a single side kick against her abdomen. She crashed into the ground, desperately attempting to stand while gasping from a lack of breath. But no sooner had she gotten to her knees did he reach her, throwing a punch that knocked her back onto the ground. A crushing stomp only just missed her as she rolled away, but Wildfire had no patience for cat and mouse. He whipped his arm upward, spewing forth a tongue of flame from within his coat.
The searing heat that hit her was unbearable, but her hardened instincts reigned over pain and panic. She rolled further away, smothering the flames on her as best as she could. The pain soon subsided to a throb, and she picked herself off the ground. Wildfire had not moved a single step, only watching her in bemusement.

‘Pathetic,” he said, brandishing a lick of flame from his hands, “Your title is a sham, Kalena Eirwen. A crusader of justice, is that what you truly think you are?”
She opened her mouth to respond, to reject his words, but nothing came out. What could she say? Subconsciously she agreed with him, every fiber of her being. She had unknowingly lost all resolve, her motivation. And it showed in her thoughts.

He advanced, closing the distance within a mere few strides. His fist swung at her with the same reckless force, and she found herself only just able to step back to avoid the blow. She swung to cut his arm, but he was quick to withdraw, only coming back with a knee to the stomach. She stumbled back, barely able to regain balance before she had to retreat again. Had he become faster? It seemed to be, but she could not focus enough to tell. Her mind was too preoccupied, with his earlier words, questioning her motivations, her determination. And most frustratingly, she could not bring herself to reject it. Was everything she fought for truly a lie?

Such liveliness...

She balked as those words entered her mind, foreign in voice and tone. That only gave Wildfire an opportunity to strike her whilst her sword hand was too far to react.

Don’t you wish you had his vigor, his conviction? Oh, but you have nothing to stand for...

She barely blocked the strike with her left arm, but even as the blow glanced off her arm jarred from the impact. She thrust at him, teetering on her toes to follow up with a a wide diagonal swing. But all it did was to simply keep the other at bay until she made a mistake. And when that opening did come when her old injuries protested at the exertion, he rushed in with all the speed and power of a raging animal, sending a flurry of devastating blows.

So fight...fight to survive, Mortal!

There was a ringing laughter, filled with mockery and bemusement, and almost at once she felt her arms jerk and pull, repelling every blow that her opponent afforded. All the while the laughter continued in her mind, grating on her sanity. Confusion and fear took ahold of her mind, and even though she wanted to scream her mouth refused to open for her to do so. All she could do was to watch helplessly as her body moved without regard for her will, in a twisted dance that seemed to mimic her fighting, but her movements stilted and sudden, not unlike a puppet.

She watched herself duck and and move, her arms swings deflecting every blow that came her way. And when an opening came, her sword arm shot forward, cutting Wildfire’s offense and almost threatening to disembowel him each time. His flames flickered and danced with his attacks, but then she only cut him off with inhumanly accurate swings. But once, Wildfire grew impatient, and from between her strikes he snuck in a single blow to the chest, laced with a snarling whirl of flame. The strike connected, but the flames dissipated almost immediately on contact, and for his actions he was met with a swift slash in retaliation. When he dived backward to retreat, he noticed that his arm was no longer attached.

“You...little shit…” He snarled, his rage fueled even further by the loss.

At the same time Kalena felt the pressure on her limbs fade, and almost collapsed as all feeling began to return to her. The laughter, too, faded, but with it etched a warning.

Live, it told her, death would seem sweet to you now, but what fun is a toy easily broken?

She gritted her teeth,. Why? Why did it feel she was being toyed with? Was the present not grievous enough, that it had to be compounded by the feeling of helplessness, by the control of another whose identity she had not even the slightest clue of? It was frustrating, and vexing all at the same time, and even more so when she realised she had no chance; if it were not her, then the same presence would do it for her.

Her vision seemed to blur at that, and she furiously wiped her eyes. She had to fight.That was all she could concern herself with. Fight, and survive.

“Adelaide, please,” she murmured, clutching the sword of truth ever tighter, In return she felt a faint feeling of reassurance, as if Adelaide’s form was beside Kalena, giving her master all the support she had.

Her eyes drifted to her opponent. Wildfire was no longer in a mood to gloat and jeer. His eyes, so seemingly condescending before now shoned with a burning hatred and fury. And then he moved. A dash on inhuman speed that brought him close within mere seconds. But sKalena reacted just as quick, striking her blade down into the ground and swinging forward, beckoning a wave of spikes that intercepted his path. He barely managed to step away, but that moment of inattention gave Kalena the chance to step forward for a thrust, catching him in the upper torso.

For a moment it seemed as though he was stopped, but he only pulled himself away from the blade, following up with a punch to the forehead. She knocked it aside with her free hand, only to be struck squarely in the chest by a blow with his leg. Her ribs groaned in protest, but she held on, breathing deeply to tolerate the intense pain.

“Split!” She shouted, stabbing the ground in half desperation. At once a swath of earthen spikes beset upon her opponent, driving dirt and grass from their resting place. The displaced earth from the spikes grew and washed over the vicinity akin to a crashing wave of stone and dirt. Her mind strained as she struggled with the vast amount of control she exerted, and it took all her willpower and concentration to persist.

There was a final crash as the spikes stopped as they faded in strength, and only then was she able to bring her attention to her surroundings once more. Wildfire seemed to have disappeared from sight, leaving only the slight flicker of flames behind. She felt a wave of dread pass by her, but by the time she turned her head it was too late. A drop kick to the back sent her flying forward, crashing into the earth and almost skewering herself onto the same spikes she had created.

“Such a showy move, and that’s all you have to show for it?’ Wildfire shouted, glowering at her figure with distaste. Holes appeared in the great coat where he had been pierced, and vaguely she could see the flames that encircled the top of his torso. Had the earth...not done enough damage?

He dashed toward her, yet Kalena managed to scramble to her feet just enough to deflect his fist with her arm. She retaliated with sweep at the legs,cutting him from further attack. Furious, he conjured a flame that whipped at her, and when she dived away to dodge, he took the opportunity to swing at her.
But seemingly against all odds, Kalena had already recovered to a crouch, and when he bore over her it took the swing of an arm to carve his shoulder up, removing his other arm from his body.

There came the briefest moments of hesitation as Wildfire struggled to process what had happened. Why? he was faster than her, his power strengthened by the raging inferno that had sprung from his attacks.

The inferno…

It dawned upon him, in the minute moments of a second, that the air was no longer as heated as before, that he no longer bore the inhuman speed and strength earlier. In his pursuit of bloodlust he’d failed to realise that the faint crackling of flames around them was no longer audible.

“...YOU!”

He roared, furious at the trickery, but it did little to cow the swordswoman. She pulled back her arm for a swing across the neck, only barely missing as he retreated backward.

“Distracting me with that magic show?” He bellowed, summoning a writhing column of flames in place of his arms, ‘your efforts are useless! Just try to kill me, you hypocrite!”

He lunged at her, Sweeping forward with scathing arcs of fire. Kalena scraped the tip of her blade before swinging it upward, beckoning a rugged stone wall that cut off the two.

“Lights...gather!” She murmured, urging her power to coalesce into a long incorporeal blade, shining with a golden white luster.

A thundering sound echoed in front of her, and the wall simply crumbled under the sheer force and heat. Wildfire came bursting through, his face contorted to a mixture of fury and loathing. She prepared to strike back, but at the last moment she could feel a pressing urge to retreat. She let instinct guide her, falling back into a roll. For a moment she could feel a blast of heat emanate from above her, and when she recovered, her eyes met with three identical copies of the same men. Had she pressed onward, she would have been skewered by the others.

Two of them charged forward, and they were swiftly cut apart by the long reach of her transient blade. Yet it seemed for naught; instead of disappearing they merely burst into a shower of spark and cinders, showering her and their surroundings with a intense napalm. She instinctively raised her arms to protect herself, failing to notice her enemy charging toward her. There was a splitting pain as a kick landed against her head, and then another square in the torso that sent her crashing back onto the ground.

“Extinguish my fires, and they will revive ever stronger!” Wildfire bellowed, “you have achieved nothing! You are as every bit trash as those i’ve gone through!”

“Then I shall do it again...for until you fall.”

Kalena barely managed to spit out the words, surprised that she could even move her lips at all She was close. Just a little more...she had to fully sever his body if she wished to emerge as the winner. She hastily picked herself up, sinking her blade back into the cold earth and persuading it to rise once more. But Wildfire caught on long before.

“Give up!” He roared, swinging his torso forward, and with it a raging inferno that rivaled all his previous, enveloping Kalena’s entire body in its flames. She choked a scream, feeling her very body melt from the heat. She fell back onto the ground, desperately quelling as much of the fire that gnawed at her. It seemed like an eternity of rolling back and forth, the only thing that she could think to do at the time, before she felt the sensation fade, and only then did she force herself to stand.

It was a grueling effort for even such a simple action. Her body was battered and burnt, old wounds threatening to reopen once more; a miracle that she retained consciousness at all. Finally, her gaze drifted to the scene in front of her. All around, the grass had been torched to char, and the ground uprooted into an amalgam of mounds and spikes, and in the centre of it all, stood Wildfire. His body was limp, but held upright by the spikes that pierced his body.
Kalena had never intended to quench each and every of Wildfire’s flames. They were too plentiful, too easily propagated. But the assumption had Wildfire commit his final mistake. Had he thought of his own safety, she would have surely been immolated alive.

“Your arrogance...your recklessness...was everything that cost you,” she murmured, tottering forward to retrieve her sword. Her mind wandered, to the words that the man had spoken earlier. It seemed strange, that months earlier she would vehemently cut down those who mocked at her intentions, all that she stood for. But now she felt herself agreeing with him. What were her ideas worth? Had she done anything at all? And if not...just what...

“...what did Corvon die for…?” she spoke out loud with quivering lips, closing her eyes as she felt tears well in her eyes.

She turned back to give her enemy one final look, but something caught her eye. The flames which had surrounded Wildfire dissipated at his death, but now smoke seemed to emanate from within his chest, as it it had begun to burn away. She froze, unsure of what to make out of it. Then, all of a sudden it erupted into an enormous pillar of flames, engulfing wildfire’s body within mere moments. The flames writhed and burst, before extinguishing as quickly as they had appeared. Wildfire’s body had been cremated, with nothing but a large pile of ashes in the wake of the inferno.

There was a terse silence as Kalena looked on, half hesitant and yet half wary as to the reason behind the sudden ignition.

And then it happened. At first, a smudge of pink seemed to poke out from the black ashes. And then the speck of pink grew, until it emerged as a hand. The swordswoman watched in horror as the ashes slowly crumbled away to reveal a familiar face, triumphant and leering.

“You...”

“I revived?”

His words had reverted to the same mocking tone, but it no longer held the same arrogance that it originally had. He watched her ready her sword, but he dismissed with a wave of his hand, “the fight is over. I have no care to fight further.”

“...You are no man to speak of honor,” came the stalwart reply. To that he laughed, A loud, grotesque laughter that seemed to be directed at her words, “No, I am not. But there would be no point to kill you now. Do not mistake it for such worthless concepts such as honor or courtesy.”

He turned to walk away, stretching his newly regenerated body, “goodbye, Kalena. This won’t be the last we meet...your goals, your ideals, your guise as a righteous crusader...I will crush them all.”

She lowered her arms, too tired to even call after him or give pursuit. All she did was to haplessly watch his figure disappear into the darkness of the night, leaving her alone in a ravaged land.

How pitiful

The voice came without warning, and Kalena felt herself almost jump from hearing it. A loud guffaw rang in her mind, as if amused by her surprise.

Kill and maim them as you will...but who are you to put down the immortal?

She gave no answer, but she already knew what it was telling her. Like both the presence and Wildfire had told her, her motives were empty, and her methods useless and contradictory. And when that seed of doubt had taken root, she no longer had the resolve to stave it away. So she accepted it

She was useless.

That was all she was.

And at that thought, a snicker reverberated through her mind before it finally faded to silence.

_______________________

Even in sleep her expression was that of fatigue, of sadness. Jeff scowled slightly at that. Women. No matter how hard he thought he could never understand her. She was too obstinate, too reckless for her own good. And now she lay, even more injured than she had been previously. What was in her mind all this while? Was she too fixated on her goal? Impatient?

“I can fight! What use am I if I cannot?”

He shook his head, giving her one last look before leaving the room, silently closing the door behind him.

“How is she?”

He turned to see both his assistants on the couch, noticeably concerned.

“Fine,” he answered roughly, plopping himself onto another couch, “she took a lot of heat. probably had a few ribs fractured...plenty of bruises all around too.”

“Yeah, I was there,” Tersha clicked his tongue, “I’m amazed she wasn’t burned to cinders. Her skin just looked sunburnt when we got to her.”

“...I guess you could call it a blessing from a god huh,” Jeff briefly cracked a half smile,”... though, I was prepared to shoot him down if he hadn’t let himself be skewered. It was close.”

“You two...were watching?” Alicia piped in, raising an eyebrow.

“His suggestion,’ Jeff stuck a thumb at Tersha, “can’t convince that stubborn girl; we decided we may as well stay behind the scenes and save her when it came to that. Had a rifle all prepped up and ready too.”

“Sure, if your shoulder wasn’t shot apart a week ago,” she retorted, “you could’ve brought me too.”

“We would’ve been fine,” he shrugged, “besides, I didn’t want to have dinner late, what with you cooking at all.”

She shot a death glare at her boss, “very funny. I suppose dinner is more important than her safety huh?”

There was a burst of laughter, but it quickly petered out as Jeff reverted to a more serious tone, “at any rate, We’ll watch her for a bit and see if she might need a trip to the hospital. She’s probably fine physically but…”

“..but?”

Jeff shook his head, dismissing Tersha’s question with a wave of a hand, “forget about it. We’ll see when the time comes.”
There was a suspicious look from the other two, but Jeff was too preoccupied in his thoughts to notice. If it was what he’d suspected, then kalena had more issues than simply flesh wounds. And when the time came and his fears truly confirmed, he wasn’t quite sure what he may possibly be able to do.

Kalena...what the hell’s on your mind?



Shadows flickered across the ruins of a church long since abandoned to the ravages of time. All was quiet, save for the wind that blew through the remains of what had once been a stained glass window. Whatever it had once depicted was no longer recognizable, scattered as it was across the stone floor. Wooden pews stood, rotting sentinels there to bear witness to this place’s final purpose. Here, where once hearts and minds battled with their evils, there would be a combat with flesh on the line.

The day’s last dying rays of light burned through the window, casting a glorious display of color across a painfully bare wall. Most of the paraphernalia had been removed, either by looters or through more legitimate means, and it was only during these sunsets that this wall, that once awed even the most cynical of the hopeless, recaptured even an ounce of its former glory. Here, too, the years had taken their toll. Paint had been chipping, exposing the wood beneath. The whole place seemed to sigh that it was nearing its final end, but architects from generations ago had ensured that it would stand, even now in its final moments.

A boot came down, shattering a piece of glass beneath its weight, and with it the brooding silence of the place. Wildfire looked left, then right, scanning the interior intently for the one who was to be his opponent. Not a soul. He had arrived first, it seemed. The burning man inhaled deeply, his lungs filling with smoke that no longer burned as it once had. This place, too, did not have enough of an identity to pierce through the fume.

“It’s on its last legs.” Wildfire observed, taking another step forward. When he crushed another piece of glass underfoot he looked down, only now the surface he was walking across registering in his mind. “An evenly matched arena, is that what this was meant to be? The stone floors, the wooden construction. The craggy cliff and the woods that lay outside this place’s walls. It was no wonder that it had fallen into disuse, far as it was from civilization.

“I’ll ensure that this place remembers life.”

There were several lanterns left abandoned, too high to be taken, too well-secured to simply fall. Perhaps they still held fuel enough to become useful. Wildfire noted their positions, and then he heard the soft crunch of gravel beneath confident strides. Kalena, his opponent. Some official off in some place had declared that the two of them would be opponents. So impersonal. It hadn’t played out at all like he’d thought it might.

She seemed older than her form should have suggested. Lethal grace and skill in an average body, save for the eyes, which bore a steely grimness to them that Wildfire recognized from a life past. They were the kind of eyes that reflected a heart of stone. Wildfire reflected back on how the clerk, informing him of the matchup, had remarked that he would be facing “The Absolute.” Now he was beginning to understand just what that meant. At her side was the instrument of her titanic will, the Sword of Truth. Wildfire felt drawn to it, sensing the primacy it held, similar to the spirit that had both rescued and imprisoned him.

“Kalena ‘The Absolute’ Eirwen,” Wildfire stated. “I have been offered condolences for being matched against you by the powers that be. I, a relative newcomer unproven as a gladiator, versus such a storied veteran as yourself. Your record promises a significant flare to announce my arrival in earnest. I can feel myself becoming more and more excited. This is not arrogance, I know my strengths, and on burning paper I am well-versed in yours. The transient blade, your brilliance in combat, your refusal to accept defeat, and the sword you carry.”

Instinctively, the burning man felt the flames briefly leap higher, their intense heat registering as a warmth against his face, which was at least mildly sensitive to such a change in temperature. What was it about that sword that he felt threatened by? It went beyond the reality of potential bodily harm. He could feel the burning desire that had nestled in his soul to break free of all bonds grow stronger in the presence of that sword. Perhaps it was its power, to move the earth, an elemental strength that seemed capable of threatening his own. Already sparks began to float, ideas of how best to defeat such a power.

Throughout Wildfire’s poor greeting and subsequent examination, Kalena had sized up her opponent. All gladiators were required to register with the wRHG in order to have their conflicts classified as legitimate battles, rather than the crimes they would be elsewhere, and a part of that registration was the list of abilities that Wildfire had proven himself to at least be versed in. However, Wildfire had two advantages denied to Kalena. First, he was an unknown in these parts. A nobody who had turned up one day, burning his way through a grass field, declaring his intent to register. Whatever intelligence that could be dug up on him pointed out his tendency towards wreaking havoc and being the likely cause of numerous wildfires, which he referred to as extensions of himself. The other advantage Wildfire held was that he was facing a famed gladiator whose exploits could be learned of in any passing conversation about the organized fighting. It was how Wildfire knew that she would continue fighting as if she were still fresh, even as her body relinquished its final breath, and it was also how he had heard of her terrifying instinct. Mind games, it seemed, would be a waste. His belief was reinforced when she shifted herself to a ready position, as he felt himself simultaneously repulsed and pulled towards her blade.

“You are Wildfire.” Kalena had scarcely uttered that first sentence before Wildfire had passed his first judgment. Every word felt measured, like a series of precise cuts through the air between them. Her every breath told of the kind of bondage that he felt so intolerable. So much control, and all Wildfire could think of was the satisfaction he would derive from breaking it.

“You grow stronger in fires, you spread fires, in many respects a fight against you is as much a battle with the blaze that you let loose upon whatever arena you step into. I have little doubt that if I do not end this battle within the first few attacks, this building will join whatever other sites you have burned to the ground as ash in the wind.”

Although she couldn’t see his face twist into a grin, Kalena could clearly see the way that the fires reflected in her opponent’s eyes seemed to burn brighter at the mention of the potential inferno to come. Here, she recognized a fighter driven by the need to consume, and in that she recognized the need for her to intervene in a decisive manner.

Wildfire leaped forward, coming down and aiming a low, sweeping kick at Kalena’s legs. It was an attack that Kalena was already prepared for, her chosen response being a graceful spring, carrying her over Wildfire’s still-low form. As she landed, the point of her sword found the ground, and she turned with her whole body, dragging the sword along the ground in an arc before swinging it upwards in a swift slash. Wildfire dodged the blade, but he failed to preempt the thin rod of earth that shot forward from the path Kalena’s sword had taken. The attack knocked him onto his back, and a rush of pain shot through him. He could feel the skin turning black, curling in on itself. All the heat was there, once more. There wasn’t time to feel that, though. Kalena’s blade was coming again, this time aiming a downward slash. Wildfire rolled to the side, avoiding the blade, but receiving a different blow to the ribs as the earth seemed to splash outwards in compact cylinders around the point the blade impacted at. The burning came back, and this time a scream ripped out of Wildfire’s lips.

Wildfire’s screaming turned, quickly, from one of pain and horror to one of rage and exhilaration. The pain’s recession never even registered, Wildfire’s senses all seemed to dull for a moment in fact, and when they returned he felt cold. Two black gloves fell to stone floor, emitting a barely audible sound. Far more audible was the sound of two gouts of fire projecting from Wildfire’s hands, the flames quickly taking to the dry wooden pews. As the fire spread, Wildfire began to stand more tall, his ignition giving him a momentary respite to center himself. No matter how strong she was, she was human, still. And humans burned.

It was but a few moments later that Wildfire was surrounded by a roaring blaze. He could feel his strength growing with every moment as the temperature increased further and further, still. Looking out from the ring of fire he had created about himself, he saw a vision of the entire church ablaze. It was beautiful, and now he was going to make it a reality.

Wildfire’s figure was wholly obscured by the flames, his clothing allowing him to blend in as a shadow amongst the burning material. From the outside, there was no indication of Wildfire’s intent, save for a maniacal laugh. In the midst of that, Wildfire burst out of the blazing ring, flanked by two others like him. Each of the three figures was identical in appearance, faces obscured by thick smoke and flames licking out from the collar. The speed at which they moved meant Kalena had only the briefest of moments to respond, and from the depths of her experience and intuition she struck, a wide attack aimed to attack all three at once. As the blade made contact with the left-most of the trio, however, flames exploded out from the decoy, forcing Kalena backwards and causing several more of the pews to catch fire.

Unaffected by the searing heat, Wildfire and his remaining duplicate continued their momentum forwards, one attacking high, the other low. As they emerged from the fire of their former compatriot, Kalena angled another attack, this time specifically attacking the higher of the two, not having enough time to reposition her blade to strike at both in the same movement. This time, she found the true one, as Wildfire practically threw himself onto the blade. However, his double was given a clear strike, erupting into an inferno about Kalena’s feet, once again forcing her to quickly move back to avoid the inferno, her blade sliding out of Wildfire’s torso as cleanly as it had entered.

At this point, Wildfire had succeeded in setting a large portion of the church’s ground elements on fire. The heat was rising throughout the whole building, improving his ability to fight that much more. Sighting his opponent lingering outside of the blaze, her eyes quickly adapting to identifying Wildfire in the camouflage provided by his fire, Wildfire dashed out, intending to quickly land a series of blows upon her before she could recover from the fire.

Unfortunately for Wildfire, she had already recovered from the expected growing fire. Waiting for an ideal moment, Kalena touched her sword to the ground, twisting a piece of the stone floor to destabilize Wildfire’s balance, greatly slowing his forward momentum and leaving him open to an attack. Wildfire was faster to recover this time, however, and rather than allowing himself to be struck again, he leaped to the side, away from Kalena’s searching weapon.

With her off hand, the Absolute made a decisive slashing motion, accompanied by an incantation in a tongue unfamiliar to Wildfire. In the instant it took Wildfire to wonder at the meaning of her words, a transient blade formed and came for him, cutting through his jacket and allowing more flames to lick out. Only the heat had afforded him the speed necessary to avoid being cut down in that instant. Wary of this new tool, Wildfire planned to take a few moments to examine this weapon.

He didn’t have those moments.

Kalena, aware of the time-limited nature of her weapon, quickly leapt forwards, the Sword of Truth scraping along the ground to project a slab of earth out in such a way to provide her a landing point that would allow her to fight from above the flames Wildfire had spread. From this vantage point, she attacked with both blades in a fluid pattern, the transient blade following behind the Sword of Truth. Having heard of the transient blade’s destructive potential, Wildfire was quick to withdraw further into the fire, utilizing the burning zone as a buffer. The pews burned quickly, however, and while the fire was quick to flare up, it was beginning to burn down just as quickly.

The transient blade dissipated, Kalena unable to secure its usage for any longer, and as she considered the Sword of Truth, having adapted enough to the sight, now, to identify Wildfire’s position in the inferno, she was struck by an instance of inspiration. With both of her hands, Kalena planted the Sword of Truth into the floor, breaking through slightly. Taking a moment to gather the will necessary for what she had in mind, Kalena twisted the blade in the stone. Several of the pews were launched into the air as slabs of earth projected upwards at an angle, makeshift artillery that simultaneously began the task of containing the blaze.

Wildfire immediately saw what was happening: he was being contained. From the growing heat he called out to Kalena “The only fires that are contained are those that are planned to die. I will not allow you to put me into a tomb. I’ll bury you in fire, first!”

From the flames surrounding him, Kalena’s opponent mustered the strength to project a cone of fire against the wooden wall, the flames quickly taking and spreading from there. Another cone, and from another point flames began to spread, the roof quickly catching fire, burning embers drifting down like snow colored orange, red, and black. The one who the third burst of flame had been intended for was the same to interrupt it, as Kalena suddenly appeared through the tongues of flame, cutting through the air with the Sword of Truth. Wildfire was in his element, however, and with the fire burning all around him, he moved to the side, throwing a stiff punch into Kalena’s side as she landed. Rather than falling into the flames, however, Kalena maintained control, acrobatically leaping with the motion she was already taking to escape the fire, though she was still near it.

When Wildfire burst through the flames, intending to attack, he found her where she had landed, channeling her will to do just as Wildfire had feared. As Wildfire landed, a dome of earth slid closed about the two.

The roof finally gave way as its support turned quickly to embers. In a crash, the burning timber fell to the ground, but the two fighters were unaffected by it, trapped as they were within a tomb of stone. The only source of light inside was what fiery material had been entombed alongside Kalena and Wildfire. Her gambit was clear. On the one hand, she had locked herself into an arena almost entirely consumed by Wildfire’s blaze; but on the other hand, there wasn’t enough air for Wildfire to sustain his fighting for long. The fight, in effect, had been put on a timer that was very rapidly ticking down.
Wildfire made his move first, dashing forwards to strike at Kalena with his leg in a swift swing, throwing his entire body into the movement and landing on the same leg to launch another attack, this time coming from his elbow. Kalena ducked under the kick, and as the second blow approached, she counterattacked with her sword, the blade scoring a deep hit into Wildfire’s arm. Fighting through the pain, Wildfire used his proximity to as much affect as he could, connecting a powerful blow to Kalena’s abdomen, followed by another to her torso, knocking her away.

As the temperature rose, so too did Wildfire’s ability to fight. A string of rapid attacks, dodges, and counterattacks played out as the enclosed space quickly grew hotter, but it couldn’t last, as the oxygen content of the tomb quickly dissipated.

For Wildfire and Kalena both, the situation meant a dramatic decrease in their abilities to fight, Kalena quickly finding herself depleted of air necessary to continue to avoid Wildfire’s attacks, her muscles screaming for oxygen just as her lungs did. Sweat covered her in a slick second skin as her body worked to counteract the mounting heat. Still, though, she fought on, her body refusing to stand down, in spite of its stream of complaints. For every degree faster that Wildfire struck, her mastery of the blade allowed her to strike back or ward away. But between the unbreakable wall of steel and the unstoppable force Wildfire possessed, something had to give.

Kalena recognized the issue first, as the oxygen content in the stone tomb grew less and less, neither of the two seemed prepared to stop their strike and riposte pattern. Or rather, Wildfire’s refusal or inability to recognize the mounting danger of mutual destruction meant that any action Kalena might take to escape the situation would be met with a potentially decisive blow from the man on fire.

Luckily for both of them Kalena succeeded in landing a blow that woke Wildfire up to the danger he was in, her blade carving a deep wound into his chest. For a moment Wildfire sought to gasp in shock, but his effort failed, instead a bit of unimpressive wheezing sounded. Fortunately for Wildfire, he made his next move before Kalena, a sudden flare of fire to force her back, perhaps burning the majority of what oxygen remained. There was enough remaining, however, for Wildfire to utilize the intense heat to fuel his strength, punching through wall of the tomb once, then a second time. The opening, then was large enough for Wildfire to escape, and that was just what he did, his enhanced strength and agility feeling no less as he emerged into the more open, but no less burning ground outside. Turning around, Wildfire fired a jet of fire into the opening he had just emerged from, following up with a second, and a third, burning alive Kalena and any chance of her surviving inside the tomb.

Wildfire walked away from the burning remains of the church. Its beleaguered structure collapsing into a fountain of sparks, embers, and sound. Striding out, Wildfire saw that the sun was taking its time in setting. Remembering the cliff, Wildfire walked out of the woods to look upon the blazing star that he felt so profoundly connected with. The sun’s setting was marked with a glorious display of red and orange hues, stretching across the horizon. A worthy sight to mark the sensation of triumph that Wildfire felt.

As the sun fell, Wildfire suddenly found himself falling, too. The seemingly solid rock he’d been standing on having given way down into a cavern that extended at least as far as to beneath the church. Kalena, Wildfire realized as he struggled to pick himself up from the ground, must have tunneled down to avoid the flames. Straight down, and luckily enough, into this cavern. The fall had injured her, however, restricting her movement to a kind of restrained grace.

That grace brought the sword of truth to the ground, touching it, and suddenly Kalena was propelled at an angle upwards, her blade arcing down to catch Wildfire as he stood. Instead, Wildfire let himself fall, the harsh impact on the cold cavern floor being infinitely preferable to an encounter with the sword that he had little doubt would have cleaved his face in two directions.

But Kalena’s unexpected mobility was difficult to control. Her injured body, for the first time, failing her as she landed wrong and collapsed. Wildfire saw her struggling to rise and leapt up, running to attempt to land an effective blow while she was vulnerable. Instead, Kalena’s use of the Sword of Truth sent Wildfire to the ground, a familiar position by then, but this time, Kalena did not rise again, her weapon having finally eaten through her last reserves of stamina. Her last sensations were of the coolness of the breeze blowing in from the hole she had forced Wildfire to enter the cavern through, and of what a danger Wildfire could pose.

ErrorBlender
07-31-2014, 01:58 PM
This was an epic battle. All I can say. I really have a hard time trying to decide who to vote for. So for now, I'll just give the CnC and return later, when I've slept on it, to whom I vote for because sleeping on it is better.

Lobotomizer CnC

There are only a few errors, such as a couple of spacings and one extra letter somewhere there but nothing extreme. I liked the development of Kalena's character during the fight. It was nicely paced, a bit slow for me but I could follow it anyway.

Not much to say since its a great piece of battle.


The Strongest CnC:

Explosive first battle of Wildfire. I loved every bit of it; earth and fire on a landscape that could use both fully. Nice touch on that. Battle is well paced, easy to follow for me too.

As with Lobotomizer's, I find little to CnC on since they're good already.


Maybe others will find things that I can't see. :D

I'll vote later on.

SJCRPV
07-31-2014, 09:37 PM
My vote goes to Lobotomizer.

I liked both versions of the battle, but, much like ErrorBlender, I can't detect much wrong with them, but I would like to point out a couple of things that ended up deciding my vote.

We'll start with Lobo:


Kalena barely managed to spit out the words, surprised that she could even move her lips at all She was close. Just a little more...she had to fully sever his body if she wished to emerge as the winner. She hastily picked herself up, sinking her blade back into the cold earth and persuading it to rise once more. But Wildfire caught on long before.

“Give up!” He roared, swinging his torso forward, and with it a raging inferno that rivaled all his previous, enveloping Kalena’s entire body in its flames. She choked a scream, feeling her very body melt from the heat. She fell back onto the ground, desperately quelling as much of the fire that gnawed at her. It seemed like an eternity of rolling back and forth, the only thing that she could think to do at the time, before she felt the sensation fade, and only then did she force herself to stand.

It was a grueling effort for even such a simple action. Her body was battered and burnt, old wounds threatening to reopen once more; a miracle that she retained consciousness at all. Finally, her gaze drifted to the scene in front of her. All around, the grass had been torched to char, and the ground uprooted into an amalgam of mounds and spikes, and in the centre of it all, stood Wildfire. His body was limp, but held upright by the spikes that pierced his body.
Kalena had never intended to quench each and every of Wildfire’s flames. They were too plentiful, too easily propagated. But the assumption had Wildfire commit his final mistake. Had he thought of his own safety, she would have surely been immolated alive.

Something bothered me in this excerpt. I didn't find it clear how Wildfire got impaled. Now, after re-reading it, I did understand that underlined sentence was what caused it, but still, it's not that specific. There's nothing mentioning how he got impaled, only the result right after. It is also true that Kalena didn't exactly see that, being too busy not getting burned alive, but it still bothers. You could have expressed her intent more explicitly before the event or you could have had the narrative backtrack just a bit to at least tell how the spikes impaled Wildfire.



Now for The Strongest:


That grace brought the sword of truth to the ground, touching it, and suddenly Kalena was propelled at an angle upwards, her blade arcing down to catch Wildfire as he stood. Instead, Wildfire let himself fall, the harsh impact on the cold cavern floor being infinitely preferable to an encounter with the sword that he had little doubt would have cleaved his face in two directions.

But Kalena’s unexpected mobility was difficult to control. Her injured body, for the first time, failing her as she landed wrong and collapsed. Wildfire saw her struggling to rise and leapt up, running to attempt to land an effective blow while she was vulnerable. Instead, Kalena’s use of the Sword of Truth sent Wildfire to the ground, a familiar position by then, but this time, Kalena did not rise again, her weapon having finally eaten through her last reserves of stamina. Her last sensations were of the coolness of the breeze blowing in from the hole she had forced Wildfire to enter the cavern through, and of what a danger Wildfire could pose.

In your case, I found the ending confusing. I had to do a doubletake to realize what had happened. You didn't give enough emphasis on how the constant use of Adelaide was taking a toll on her and therefore, it's not clear that THAT was what caused her to lose her consciousness. It'd be silly for Kalena to lose her senses to a simple imperfect landing.

Another thing in your case, which I'm a bit on the fence about mentioning because it's technically not wrong: your battle, unlike Lobo's was simply the affair. It was just the battle and nothing else, which is what you're asked to do. However, I couldn't help but miss a bit more of an introduction regarding the character or something that would be currently going on in his life. In Lobo's case, he had Jeff, Tersha and Kalena argue about having her fight and in the end, there was also a conclusion to it with them as well. There was none of that in yours and I couldn't help but feel like it hurt the battle.

The Strongest
07-31-2014, 11:20 PM
Cinders
Torching


I'm really glad that we apparently think along the same wavelengths, even down to the "I'm not going to kill you. I have to break you first." thought process. Although since I didn't write in the finals (DAMN YOU, ERRORBLENDER!and me, who failed to beat him) I wasn't quite as sure about what was going on in that cathedral. But that inspired my setting as well (originally I'd planned to just put them back in the same cathedral, but then I realized the earlier point about not knowing anything about that, and I wasn't confident that I could convincingly write enough fuel into the scenario. In hindsight...big wooden beams. Probably would have been fine, fuel-wise).

Some mistakes that another editing sweep might have caught (sKalena sent my thoughts spinning with a character named Skalena. Probably somehow tied to scalene triangles.)

I'm not a great fan of wounds. I think they take away from the potential for spectacle. Tenacity has a lot less spectacle to it than a fully-powered offensive. I liked your fight, but less so the handicap that the wounds put on Kalena.

GuardianTempest
07-31-2014, 11:22 PM
It's a landslide, Lobster wins. I think it's the formatting that clinches it to his favor, followed by the writing style that saturates almost everything in narration/description.

I envy your writing style.

blakphoenix
08-01-2014, 07:17 PM
My vote is to Lobobo-bo bo-bobo. His piece was more interesting simply because it was more than just a battle. I understand this is a writer battleground, but I feel that a story will win over a scene any day. I noticed you both had endings to your battles that seemed a bit too subtly hinted at. I mean, being subtle is a fine art but being subtly subtle is an art in finding and one that most readers don't want to partake in.

Lobo you made a few amateur mistakes that can be glossed over, such as the repetition of words or phrases, but if it wasn't easy to make it wouldn't be an amateur mistake would it skalena? (Honestly the "S" key is nowhere near the "K" key, how did you even? xD)

The Strongest over here just needs to make his next entry one with a decent story to add fuel to the searing intensity of his battles as Deul Bul. (That name is fun to say with a french accent. honhonhon oui oui bagette.)

These fights were on the levels expected of both of you which leaves me satisfied. Keep up the good work so that we may inspire the lesser talented to cultivate their skills too. ^_^

ErrorBlender
08-01-2014, 08:34 PM
Although since I didn't write in the finals (DAMN YOU, ERRORBLENDER!and me, who failed to beat him)


To be honest, I thought you'd have won that fight.

Anyways, yeah. Gonna go with Lobo's piece too. It took me two days to think... or just procrastination.