Tournament of Champions 5!!!!! (The Game Has Begun!)

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  • edited June 30

    Chapter Twenty-One - The Twelfth Match (Part 4)

    Kumo’s eyes glowed with an abyssal fire. His fur stood spiked, radiating with abyssal energy, and the once sweet dog bared its fangs, ready to kill. A sword of pure dark energy formed in Kumo’s mouth. It was at least twice as long as his original sword, but Kumo wielded it fine nevertheless.

    He charged once more at the hydromancer. Claire reached her hand towards the sky. The inky fluid slowly started to rumble louder than thunder, before pouring down in streams of shadows. Claire’s eyes widened. This was power she had never felt before. This was power capable of stopping Tibarro from torturing her any longer.

    Claire winced as Kumo’s sword grazed her arm. Kumo made a U-Turn before turning away from Claire and her shadows.

    Claire flicked her hand once more. The shadows started to chase after Kumo like wolves chasing prey. Once again, Claire felt powerful yet somehow, so incredibly peaceful at the same time. Claire marveled at her powers for a moment before stirring up water from the puddles of ink on the floor. They oozed upwards and lashed at Kumo, attacking the dog from all angles, but the liquid simply evaporated upon touching Kumo’s fur.

    Claire laughed maniacally, allowing her voice to echo a thousand times throughout the plaza. Kumo snarled back at her, adding to the chaotic noises. Kumo dashed towards Claire again.

    A stream of shadows lifted the hydromancer into the air right as Kumo closed in, then another shadowy fist pummeled the dog to the ground. More claws of darkness erupted from around the dog, and tried to grab Kumo. The dog barked loudly and grabbed his sword again to slice the shadows away. If the audience could’ve seen it, Kumo showed years of practice with every stroke, cutting the shadows to fine ribbons every time without fail. Even despite that, as Kumo took out one shadow stream, another appeared upon Claire’s direction.

    Kumo jumped up and landed on one of the streams of dark energy. As it circled back closer to Claire, Kumo leapt towards her again. More shadows grabbed at Kumo from behind, one ripping his sword out of his mouth. Another wrapped around his neck, but he continued descending on Claire from above.

    Claire gasped as jaws as unforgiving as Tibarro’s closed around her throat. She started to close her fist to strangle Kumo, but suddenly she stopped.

    The abyss was just too alluring. I’m sorry for what I've done, Kumo.

    Claire’s hands fell open in resignation as Kumo ripped out her throat. Black, inky blood sprayed everywhere. Then, the inky ceiling collapsed down on the dog and dead girl.

  • edited June 30

    The Twelfth Match - Winner!!!

    The audience gasped as blood stained the surface of the pond. Then Kumo drifted up unconscious followed by Claire’s mangled body. The sight of it caused Aki to throw up into the lake.

    A few seconds ago, Kumo had been dragged underwater along with Claire, then this?

    Rehela jumped into action, running along the remaining bridges to the bodies. She pulled them onto a floating bridge. After muttering a few spells, Kumo woke up. Promptly upon seeing Claire’s body, he fainted again. Rehela sighed as she muttered a series of spells, bringing Claire’s body back together and bringing her back to life. Then she woke up Kumo with a little flick.

    “What just happened? I- I was in some d-dark place fighting Kumo, then…I was…dead?” Claire tried to recall.

    “You were in there for a few seconds.”

    “I was?” Claire asked, “I just remember feeling peaceful. Powerful.”

    “Kumo?”

    Kumo whined a little bit.

    “He says he doesn’t remember either. He just remembers a great presence. Something large. Something terrifying. Like feeling scared, yet somehow peaceful at the same time.” Oritira said from behind her.

    “How did you get here?”

    “Vines.” Oritira pointed to an arc of vines that connected the recovering champions to Aki’s judge box.

    Aki called over, “Rehela. They’re terrified right now. We can’t ask them what happened now.”

    The healer nodded.

    “We have our winner!”


    @Arceus8523

    This was a difficult decision, but eventually Kumo came out on top because of his participation with the world and really trying to understand what happened with the Abyss. However, both Claire and Kumo were tainted by the abyss in many ways, though they don't remember much. Maybe it affects them. Maybe it doesn't. We'll see!

    @Arceus8523 Congrats on your victory! You may now make a new champion card with max CMC7 or a new signature card.

    @feralitator Unfortunately Claire had to lose today. I'd love to see any remaining stories for Claire and how they play out. Congrats on a solid run

  • Another post will come out soon about details about the next round! It may look a little different, time wise.
  • @Usaername @Tommia @Lujikul @Arceus8523

    You four are the semifinalists of the ToC. Congrats on making it this far! So now, the decision is up to you. Please respond here as to which option you prefer.
    -OPTION A: Finish up the tournament and matches as quickly as possible. Start the semifinals in a few days.
    -OPTION B: Give us 1-2 weeks to continue developing our individual stories and then start the semifinals with a strong pace. I will continue developing the ToC story here too.
    -OPTION B AND A HALF: Basically option B, except sometime in those events, you will be put in one specific situation (and the tournament won't die this time)
    -OPTION C: Take as much time as possible (preferably finish before summer break ends) and undergo many different encounters.

    Personally, option B and a half works best for me, but I want to see what is really the best for y'all.
  • I think B or B and a half. I want a little time to write out more character development for Kumo and figure out my entry card for the round and the likes. However, I also don't think we should have a multi-month hiatus before the next round like last time. There's also only four of us left actively competing, so we probably don't need the same amount of time to do interactions and lore pieces as were needed in the past when we had double that, and quadruple that.
  • Thank you Arceus!!
  • B and a half would be great for me. I'm about to be done with my job for the summer, so I'll have plenty of opportunity to be able to focus on writing more.
  • Okay, based on the responses we've gotten, I'll do option B and a half, except with an interaction event that doesn't require much forced writing. I will be on a vacation for the next week, so my posts will be less frequent, but I highly encourage you to continue posting new stories to get ahead in the competition.
  • Let's give y'all till July 15th to continue updating stories. At that point, I'll have a short event with a short response needed, maybe even smaller. I will post a story segment of my own sometime before that but I HIGHLY ENCOURAGE all of you to do so as well.
  • Story Segment 8 - Farewell

    When Navor came to, the audience was already cheering. The last time he had heard this noise, he had been able to raise his fist in triumph. Now, though, all he felt was disappointment as he looked up to see Cedric and his squire enjoying the glory of victory. 
    Not that they don’t deserve it. Navor thought to himself. The squire has shown exponential improvement in his skills. I didn’t expect him to be as much of a threat as he was, and that underestimation lead to a loss. Cedric is quite a formidable foe as well, he stood his ground longer than I honestly expected. Navor shook his head, and stumbled to his feet. He turned to the pair, and summoned his manifestation to hold out a hand to each of them for a handshake.
    As the duo accepted Navor’s gesture of sportsmanship, Navor addressed the squire. “That was one hell of a fight you gave me just now. I could tell you were inexperienced at the beginning of this tournament, but you’re really getting to be a quality swordsman.”
    “Thank you! That’s no small compliment coming from a knight of your skill.” The squire responded. Cedric was quick to cut in with a comment of his own. “Well, of course he is! He’s my protege, after all!” He smiled at the squire. “I’m quite impressed with how well he’s been taking to my training.”
    “Well, Kumo did help a lot, Cedric. Share the credit a bit. Or do you not want to say that a dog is a better teacher than you?” The squire retorted jokingly.
    Navor looked on as the two continued their friendly jabs, and soon began to celebrate their victory. The squire had certainly come a long way from the jittery, nervous boy Navor had first known him to be. Him and Cedric had truly grown close. They worked well together. 
    Better than I work with myself, it seems. They have someone to watch their backs. I’ve always said that often, the only person you can trust to cover your blind spots is yourself. But I think a second perspective rather than an extension of your own mind might give a better advantage. Plus, it’d be nice to have someone to talk to sometimes.
    Navor stumbled away from the duo to get patched up. He needed to head back to the castle. It was his last night in contestant housing, and he needed to pack his things.

    ————————————

    Navor woke with a start. Glancing around, he could see that it was still entirely dark. He searched for the source of his rude awakening, but his eyes hadn’t adjusted to the dark yet so his vision was limited. One thing that he could see was that the curtains on his window were flapping into his room with the midnight wind.
    Wait a minute… The window’s open… Damn it!
    Just as Navor realized what was happening, he became aware of a presence in the room with him. He glanced to the foot of the bed, and rolled off the mattress, grabbing Sunsinger from its place beside him to block a blow from a figure that dashed at him from the shadows. Standing up, Navor faced his adversary. It was a dark facsimile of a knight, its entire body comprised of a smoky substance. 
    A manifestation! They’ve found me! Navor thought frantically as he brought Sunsinger up to block the figure’s next strike. I should have known entering this tournament was a bad idea! It’s led the order straight to me! I’ve got to get out of here, and quick!
    Navor continued to stay on the defensive. While he protected his main body, he snuck his manifestation through the shadows, until it rose up behind the figure. With one clean slash, Navor’s manifestation sent the attacker’s manifestation’s essence careening back through the window back to its summoner. You’d think they’d see that one coming. The order must not have sent their toughest fighters.
    Navor wasted no time grabbing his pack and heading for the open window. He didn’t bother with his armor, knowing that he had no time to don it. If there was one, there would be others close behind. Navor leapt out the window, grabbing hold of a branch from a nearby tree, and swinging off of it down to the ground. He hit the ground running, going as fast as he could through the forest. He regretted not being able to say goodbye to his fellow contestants, but as it was that wouldn’t be possible.
    Navor ran. And he ran. He kept running until he eventually burst out of the darkened forest into an open area.
    What the hell? This is the training grounds at the old housing!
    As he realized this, a splitting pain crossed his head.

    Y̴̡̓o̷̧͚̗͛̉ṷ̷̥͋͝ ̴̛̯͉̪̉̀d̵͙̂i̶̼̊̓d̴͚͖̬͗̚ņ̴̛͓̤͌̂’̸̡̮̯̓̈́t̷̟̰̐͆͑ ̸̫̹̅͆͝t̷̩̲̓ḧ̴̯̭͜i̴̠͒̽n̷̖̤̠̅̆k̵͖̉͗͗ ̷̙͍̀̾I̷͇͖͈͛̔͝’̸̨̻̜͗d̸̺̦̱͝ ̷̢̇l̸̨̰̇̀̀ȇ̶̺̝̲͝t̵͕̹͋ ̶̨̠̿́y̴̹̻͇͆͝o̵̢̭͋͝u̴̬̒͌͜ ̵̻̉̊g̵̘̩̎̈e̴̛̩̣̭̍ṭ̸̼̿͝͝ͅ ̴͍̈́̔a̷̯͑̈ẉ̶̩̩́̓a̸͉̻̳̽̋̉y̸̥̠͛̏͝ ̵̻̞̈́͆t̸̓͜͜h̵̜̀͠ȁ̵̹̣̫̔͘t̶̯͚̏ͅ ̸͚̪̞͌́́e̴̹͊ầ̵̼s̴̭̳͑y̵͕̦̰͗͑͘.̸̧̺̱̈́̂

    Navor whirled around, but saw nobody. 

    O̶̠͔͋̃̍h̵̰͖̎͛,̶͈̝͙͋̈ ̸̢̠͇́́͘Î̸̞̔̽’̶̘̭̦̓͊m̶̢̭̭͘ ̶̗̺̺̊ṉ̵͔͗̚o̶̤͛͋̀ṯ̶̪̝́̐̎ ̷̮̉͒á̶͉̎c̴̻͙͝t̷͓͎͌u̸̥̰̬̅͂ȁ̶̲̓̂l̷̡͐ļ̵̃y̵̥̐̕͘ ̸̧͇͋͋h̵̑͋̽͜ͅȇ̸̜̠͕r̶͍̓e̶̯͌̏.̵̩̜̄ ̴̘͉̒͑͝B̴͎̳͎̿̂ű̵̘̪̑t̶͕̳̽́,̵̺̻́͂̾ ̷̻̞̇I̶̧̐̈́ ̶̛̼̣̑͠d̸̡̠̮̆͠ĭ̵̤̐̈́͜d̴̖̱̙̾͠ ̷͚͎̤̔́̔ś̶̬̰͎͘͝ẻ̶̞̉n̴̖̄͗͝d̸̗̈̔͐ ̴̡̣͘ş̷̠̍͑ô̵͙̰̼͆̓m̷͖̅̓é̸̡̳̹̒o̵̳̼̙͗ņ̴̮͕͐͌e̶̯̦̍̚̕ ̸͍̠̆Ì̴͍͎͙̉ ̶̝̑b̶̗̾e̸̤͗l̷͈̰͇͌ì̸̡̹̱e̷͈̻̘͑v̸̜̯̗̐̉ę̵̦̹̏ ̴̰̫̑̀y̵̩̪͊̓͝ͅò̵̖̰̋ú̶̪̦̑̋ ̶̡͓́ạ̶̈́̅r̸̘̈́̐͝é̵̟̜͆ ̵̛͈̮̜̎͛q̵̛̲̬͌̕ǔ̶̖̳̗͝i̵͎͚͑͌̉ͅt̷̨̡̼͒̑ê̶̜͉̖͑ ̷̛͈͇͚̅̎f̶̺͕̯͌͝a̴̳̎̇̆m̸̠̅͗i̷̻͚̅̋l̵͉̹̀͜í̶̧̓a̴͙̯̎r̶̢̙̒̇̎͜ ̸̢͉̩̏̕w̸̧̪̗̓͋͋i̷̼̬̔t̷̰͒̇h̵͙̑.̶̥̹͛͘ 

    Master Kosi’s voice rang within Navor’s head. A feeling of dread settled deep within Navor’s stomach. As he turned his head, he knew exactly what he would see. Stepping out of the trees to his left, Navor saw a figure. Although it had been 12 years since he had seen him last, Navor recognized him instantly. 
    Jacks leveled his sword at Navor, a sneer on his face. “You never should have ran, Navor. Welcoming knights into the glory of the Abyss is so much easier when they trust you. Now, you’re going to have to join us the hard way.”
    Navor looked at Jacks with a horrified expression. “How could you say that? How could you do this? This isn’t you, Jacks!”

    O̸̪̥͒h̷̞̣̮͂͗,̵̢̩̈̓́ ̵̨̭̟͋̒̚b̸͉͕̃͠u̶̧̯̾t̷̞͉́̓͝ ̴͔̐͠Ḯ̶̛͓͜ ̴͙͒̇̀t̶̜̹̖̓͛h̷̨̉͠i̸̝̻͂̀͝n̷̤̯̰̄̐̇k̷̘̄̓ ̵̗̰̩̈͘ŷ̷̲̠͚ỏ̸̢̺u̶̢̍̕’̵̜̿̽l̸̢̨̈́̋l̶̪͓̱̅ ̸͇̳͠f̶̤͛͂i̷̩͇͊ñ̶̩͝d̴͙̯̾̿̆ ̴̬̩̜͆͌i̸͖̾̒̏ț̸̀̏̂ ̵͉̋i̶͈̻̙̽s̸̡̙̏.̷̰̤̀̿̐ ̸̝̘̃͌J̵̼̑̍a̵̖̦̋̂͜c̴̛͇̓͐k̴̘̩͌̃s̴͍̪̈̀ ̷̻̂h̷͙̖̮̒̏̃a̶̠̕̕͝s̵̪̓̚ ̷̯̎͋̓b̵̲̹͆̆e̴̫͔̐̀͠ͅe̷̫̍͘͜n̸͓̱̜̍͒ ̷̭̘̺̋a̴͚̩͓͆ ̸̖̦̌̇́s̶̤̈͝ͅt̴͖̍́e̴͇̻͒̀̚l̸̛̥͋͝l̶̹͠a̴̹͌̾̃r̷̻͈̿̄ ̵̫͔̗̎͌͛k̶̢͋̆̏n̵̯̥̑̓͜i̸̤̦̭̽̃̈́g̶̨̼̈̊h̵̨̟̋t̸͚̊̀,̶̹͗̿͘ ̸̝̤̓o̷̡͙͠b̴̠̒͗è̵̝ď̸̬̝̄̈ǐ̶̜̳̺e̶͈̺͌n̵̼͐͋t̴͔̹̊̕ ̴͕͓̒t̵͇̫̂ő̵̮ ̴̣̲̿͜ạ̵͍̃ ̴͙͕͑ͅf̸̻̗̩͒͐a̴̹͒͘͠u̸̦͐͛̐l̸̼͖̒̚ṫ̵̼̳͘.̸̡̱̠̅͝ ̵̨̛̤H̶̖̰̺̓e̷̞̹͝’̵͉̩̈́s̷̲͑͛ͅ ̷̪̠̪̀e̶̼̋̀̐v̴̹̼̪̐ȩ̴̢̧͛̈́̑ň̶͈͖̔́ ̷̜͒w̷̱̿̓o̴̗̎̽ͅr̶̲̳̘̾̐͌k̵͈͎̓͘e̴̢̛͍̭̒d̵͈̹͚͑̍͝ ̷̜͓̱͗͊h̸̞̭͑ḯ̸̻s̵͖͚͉͝ ̵̛̙͝w̷͔͙͑̐a̸̼͎͗y̷̖̬͒͒ ̴̭͈͍̉͊̈́ū̴͍̪̖́̂p̸̞̟̃͋͘ ̴̹͚̈́͐͜t̵͔̺͆̓̈́ͅó̸̰̼̆ ̴̡̣͛m̵̦̎́ÿ̴̪̱̳́̚ ̶̪̅̽s̷̙̲͠e̷̝͙̳͊́c̴̨̞̼̑͘ō̸͙̝n̴̘̠̿̂̇d̴̩̈́́-̶̹̤̞̂͌̆i̵̼̎̈́͋n̵̳̰̗̉̅͝-̴̲̄̌̏c̷̜̳̼̄̈̓o̶̜̩̅m̸̙͖͙̀̓͝m̶͇͈̆̀́a̵͈̿͂ñ̵̰̣̈́̕d̴̗̙̊̎̏!̵̳͈̍

    This is bad, Navor thought, at this rate I’m going to have no choice but to fight him. Gotta come up with a plan…
    “I know that look, Navor. You’re thinking of something.” Jacks said. Navor took a quick glance around, not moving his head, and caught a glimmer of inky black sneaking through the shadows.
    “You’ve always been a crafty one,” he continued, “which is why I’m not going to give you time to think.”

  • edited July 10

    Story Segment 8 pt 2 - F̸̼̖̋ǎ̵̻͂r̷̥̐͊ẻ̵̥̓ẁ̶͔̃é̸̮͆ľ̷̻́ḽ̵̚?̸̗͙̽͝

    At that moment, Jacks’ manifestation struck. If Navor hadn’t been as aware of his surroundings as he was, he would have been struck down on the spot. The manifestation’s blade glanced off Sunsinger as Navor spun around to meet it. He sent out his own manifestation, scoring a glancing blow on his shadowy opponent.
    "I don't want to fight you, Jacks!" Navor shouted.
    "Please!" Jacks scoffed. "We both know you won't come easy. And I'm not leaving without you. So let's cut the pleasantries and get on with it!"
    At least some things are still the same. Navor thought, taking up a defensive stance. Jacks' soul may be locked away somewhere, but you can never take his enthusiasm. I just wish that enthusiasm wasn't directed at trying to kick my ass.
    Jacks' sword crashed into Navor's as Navor deflected the flurry of blows coming his way. Simultaniously, the manifestations were locked in a mirrored struggle. Jacks could only keep up the speed of his assault for so long, though, and soon began to tire. Navor took this chance to go on the offensive. He knocked Jacks' next strike aside, and went in for a decisive blow.
    As he did, though, there was a small pop, and Jacks suddenly disappeared. Through his manifestation’s eyes, he could see Jacks' manifestation flicker, before Jacks himself took his facsimile's place, flawlessly continuing the assault on Navor's manifestation. Navor stumbled as his slash cut through thin air, and the momentum of the swing carried him to the ground. Seizing the opportunity as Navor momentarily lost concentration on his manifestation, Jacks raised his sword, and brought it down in a sweeping arc which Navor was only barely able to roll over and block.
    "How the hell?" Navor exclaimed, trying to focus on stopping Jacks' blade from reaching his armorless chest.
    "I simply brought myself to my manifestation's location. You'd know how if you'd stuck around the order a bit longer." Jacks responded with a devious grin. "And that's not the only thing I've got in my bag of tricks."
    Suddenly, the shadow cast by Navor's raised sword arm began to ripple. A split second later, a shadowy blade burst upwards, stabbing through Navor's hand. Navor's strength faltered for a moment, and he stopped pushing back against Jacks' sword as he wrenched his hand off of the dark sword. Navor swiftly rolled out of the way, hearing the thunk of Jacks' strike hitting the ground half an inch behind him. Navor staggered to his feet and stepped back a bit, trying to think of how to counteract Jacks' unknown tactics. 
    He didn't have long to think, though, before Jacks' manifestation stabbed upwards from another shadow. And another. It attacked from any and every available shadow, and the moment Navor dodged one another strike shot upwards towards him.
    You know, it's actually probably good that I didn't grab my armor. There's no way I could maneuver around this assault with that clunky stuff on. Navor thought as he regained his footing. He sent out his manifestation, hoping to distract Jacks enough that the shadow attack would let up a bit. It seemed that Jacks hadn't expected Navor to go on the offensive so quickly, and Navor's manifestation was able to score a solid hit. This was enough to make Jacks' manifestation falter with its sword arm still stuck out of a shadow. Navor reached down, grabbing hold of the manifestation's wrist, and yanked it up out of the ground. The manifestation's face of shock mirrored Jacks' as Navor brought it fully out of the shadow, and stabbed his sword into the apparition in one fluid motion. This proved to be too much damage for the manifestation to take, as it dissipated into smoke and trailed back to Jacks. It would be a minute until Jacks would be able to resummon his soul, and Navor decided to press his advantage. Navor and his manifestation converged on Jacks, who could only hold off the two of them by himself for so long before they backed him against a tree.
    "Stand down, Jacks. You've lost." Navor said, pointing his sword at Jacks' neck.
    Jacks smirked. "Or what?" He said, pausing to hack up some blood. "You'll kill me? I know you, Navor. You don't have the guts."
    Navor pushed his blade even closer to Jacks' neck. "Perhaps you don't know me as well as you think you do." Navor said.
    But his voice wavered, and Jacks' smirk grew into a grin. "Ha! I knew it. You act tough, but you won't be able to do it. You can't bring yourself to kill your old friend. An admirable sentiment, but ultimately, it's me or you. The Abyss has shown me that much. So, what will it be? Me, or you?"
    It was at this moment that Navor had an epiphany of rationality shine through the emotions Jacks was instilling into him. If the Abyss taught him to think like that, I doubt it leaves him much room for him to have his own interpretation of things. In fact, I think I've seen those moves he was using earlier, out at the Castle Persill training grounds. The Order is many things, but apparently it isn't that creative. Taking this to its logical conclusion, it probably isn't particularly adaptable either. Navor closed his eyes, and began to concentrate.
    Jacks scoffed. "What the hell are you up to now? You've got me dead to rights, it's time to make your choice."
    Navor could hear Jacks start to speak again, but the scene quickly set into an awed silence. What Jacks saw was Navor's manifestation, holding its solvery white blade, which appeared to be growing brighter by the second. Despite his instincts, he couldn't seem to look away.
    "I suppose it's been a while since you've seen this one." Navor said. "I doubt the Abyss has allowed you to continue practicing your own creations."
    The light from the manifestation's sword rapidly grew into a blinding flash which burned itself into Jacks' vision. "You used this against me the day I made the decision I regret most in my life- reccomending you for advancement in the Order in place of myself."
    As Jacks reeled from the blast of light, Navor turned away from him. "And, to answer your question, me or you? Neither. I'm going to find a way to get you back. You can count on it."
    With that, Navor ran. He hated the idea of running away, but he knew that Jacks was right - if he stayed, he would either end up dead or having killed one of his oldest friends.

    R̴̦̘̈͠ṳ̶̈́n̴͙̿ ̸̨́̍a̸͈͐ͅl̸̏͑͜l̵̰̮͆ ̴͈̰͆̆y̷͖͚̑o̷͂̓͜u̷͙͕͑̆ ̷̛̫̋l̸̼̩̒̅i̸̬̹̅k̴̳̃̾ē̵̠,̶͈̈́͛ ̴̰̈Ǹ̸̯a̵͖̯̒v̷̘̍̕o̴͖͔̎r̸͍̀͘.̶͖̻̈́̔ ̴̡̳̋Ẅ̷̧́͠è̴͈'̴̣̱͒l̵̘͛ľ̷̖̯ ̷̨̪̽̔f̷͇̅͊ǐ̸̯̖n̷̙̦͑̒ḏ̴̎ ̵͍̒y̷̦̙͛o̸̙͕̐͛ű̶̜̠ ̴̹̼̿̓a̷͇̳̚g̵̭̿á̷̩̎͜i̶͔̎̃ͅn̸͓̮̏.̶͇̪̀ ̵̗̞̈̿Ȃ̸̫n̷̪̊̀d̴͕̀̕ ̴̯͚̑w̸͍̟͌͒h̵̥̉̔è̸̢̙̏n̸̲̿ ̵͚̀w̶͇̗͝e̶̝̅ ̸̠̌ḓ̴̀ó̴̟̱̽,̴̭̤̍̽ ̷̝͑w̷̖̐͛e̶͕̊͝'̸̺̼̀ḻ̶̘̂́l̸͉̉ ̵̠̭̀̍s̴̲̰̽e̸͓͛n̴̤̪̽d̸̹̮͆͋ ̴̫̂͝m̷̄͝ͅo̶̮̔ŗ̸̗̈́e̴͉̋͒ ̶̜̂t̴̡̗͛̓h̸̖̚͜a̴͇̬̅ṋ̷́ ̸̭̽t̵̠̣̾̒w̸͔͐̂ȯ̸̬͖̚ ̷̠̖̕m̴̬̀͝é̴̥̤ǹ̴̥̻.̷͗̋͜

    Master Kosi's voice remained in Navor's head, although it was slightly fading as he got further and further away from Jacks and the city.
    I'm sure you will, Navor thought, and when you do, I'll be ready for whoever you send.

    End of Navor's final story segment. Thank you for reading! It's been fantastic participating in this with everyone, and I can't wait for the next one! Good luck to everyone in the semifinals! Here's a bonus card of Jacks to end things off:




  • edited July 10
    Been away from my computer due to travel for awhile but this is such an amazing closing segment @Aggroman15 ! Well done. I should have a new story posted by tomorrow night since my flight is early tomorrow morning.
  • 8 — Of Dreams, Unto Nightmares

    Shortly after the match with Oritira...

    While his injuries were few and far between, Michio still rested in the medical tent. He figured that it would not only give him a chance to relax himself after receiving healing, but it would also allow him to talk with Oritira once she woke up. For now, however, Michio needed to think on things. While Mia had been able to use her powers without her mask now, she was clearly straining. She needed all of the help she could get.


    Mia gave Michio a distinct look as he lay there in contemplation, as much to say that she knew what he was thinking and didn't approve. After a moment, she spoke up. "Don't worry, dad. I'll be fine. I just need more practice."

    Michio chuckled hesitantly in response before sighing. She knows me too well. But really, practice will only get us so far. I can't overstate how hard against the grain we're pushing right now. "Mia. Something's really been worrying me. That incident in the arena could have gone a lot worse. Our dream magic..." Before finishing his thought, Michio had a question he needed to ask. "Mia. What happened before you lost control of the swarm when we were practicing?"

    'I can't say for sure off the top of my head, but..." Mia slumped down as she made a confession. "I... kind of got desperate."

    "You?" Michio seemed shocked. Mia had seemed fairly collected when things weren't going completely out of control. "You got desperate?"

    "Yes."

    "How about in the arena?"

    Mia sighed. "The same thing, actually. Both times, but especially with Oritira."

    Michio groaned a bit to himself. "We need to get you to stop panicking somehow."

    "I really don't think that's going to happen."

    "Well, that's... about what I expected to hear. So... what are our options, I wonder?"

    Mia shrugged. "Just get better?"

    Michio couldn't help but giggle a bit, but he was trying not to. "Just getting better isn't an easy solution, nor will it be quick enough to improve in our supposed time frame. We could create another masterwork, but it will likely draw on what little power we have left."

    "Probably not worth it. All of the masks broke. Well, except one."

    "Drat, you're right. What could possibly be the solution then...?"

    "You know... I did have one thought."

    "What is it, dear?"

    "...I've been holding myself back a bit."

    Michio started up as though he saw a ghost, staring Mia in the eyes. "Really?! How?!"

    "...I hate to say it, dad... but I kind of feel like I'm trying too hard to not kill anyone."

    "How is that a problem?"

    "I want to be honest with you, dad. Killing people is sort of a reality of this tournament."

    "I know that much. But I don't want what happened to Meka to happen to anyone else. I made a vow-"

    "I didn't."

    "...oh... I suppose you have a fair point."

    "Dad. I really appreciate what you're doing. I love you for it, but... I think restraining myself isn't going to help me."

    "Please tell me it's still my daughter I'm talking to."

    "Daaad... I'm being serious. Every time I lost control? It's because I was trying not to injure anyone. I've been trying to force the swarm to do everything to stop death from happening. It takes a lot of effort, you know? Just to hold back? Just think. If we end up against Miyan-"

    "I think you've said enough. And you've made a fairly good point."

    Mia was starting to tear up a bit at this point. "I just know... holding back... I'm sorry. I've just been thinking about mom."

    Michio stood up and embraced Mia, hugging her tightly. "That was an extreme case. Hopefully things won't always be that bad, but you're right. I'll hold my vow, simply because I have a promise to keep. But if you feel it's necessary to keep control, to let it out, do so. Don't let yourself lose control again, and don't let me tell you what to do. You're an adult. Just don't go tapping into the Abyss, okay sweetie?"

    "If anything, I'm going to show that ugly monster what for."

    "That's the Mia I know. Leave the "not killing anyone" part to me then. Seems ironic to say when I'm the one with a sword..."

    "And I'm using a staff, yeah? But I also have the swarm."

    "Fair. And I saw first hand what it can do when someone's not holding back now that you mention it."

    "Good. Thank you... for understanding. I didn't want to tell you, especially since you're my dad? But..."

    "It's a good thing you'd told me. Any little bit of progress helps, dear. We have healers here, but I doubt they're able to do anything if we lose ourselves completely to the Abyss."

    "So we just have to make sure that doesn't happen!"

    "Absolutely. Now, let's go check on Oritira..."



    Later, Michio will decide to part with his last mask. Mia will form it into a new kitsune mask, and the two will eventually use it to act as a sort of conduit for their bond. From this point on, both of them will share their powers, acting more together than ever before.

  • Pretty cool card Tommia
  • (Immediately after Kumo's round 2 match.)

    Kumo ran.

    He didn't seek comfort, he didn't try to explain what little he knew of what had happened, he didn't even pack his bags or gather supplies. He just ran. He ran out of the stadium, away from Oritira, away from Rehela, away from Aki, away from Claire, away from everyone else.

    Kumo didn't know what had happened to him, or to Claire. However, he knew he had killed Claire after expressly agreeing not to. He knew he wasn't in control of himself, and he knew that he couldn't remember anything except a pull under, darkness, and then... peace. Terrifying peace. Kumo didn't know what happened while he was under there, but he knew enough about the Abyss to know it had been involved, that it had taken him.

    He ran out of the city, into the woods. He didn't go back the way he came; he just ran. He needed to get away from this place, away from the Abyss, away from his friends. His thoughts were hectic. He hadn't properly processed any of what had transpired, but he knew he couldn't stay. He had always championed the idea of inner strength, of standing up against the Abyss, resisting its temptation. Yet, it took him so easily. He had hoped for that power, the same power from the first round, to help him again, but it was gone. And even if it wasn't gone, would it have even helped him? If the Abyss was so strong that it could take him without warning, what was to say even the might of Friyena herself could help him? He had to face it: he was weak and had always been.

    Kumo's thoughts went to the tournament he had left, of how little he had fended for himself. Sure he had come all the way across Avelaide to join, but that was relying on the kindness of strangers. Sure he had made it to the quarter finals, but that was a fluke; the first round was practically handed to him on a silver platter, and the second was shrouded entirely by the Abyss. It wasn't his victory; it was the Abyss'. He was fighting a war, and he was losing, because he was weak. Sure he had defended the Rosakel empire form the largest Abyssal attack in years, but that was only because of Aki's direction and leadership, and the aid of multiple other trained, capable, independent knights.

    IndependentThe word stuck with him. It stuck with him as something he strived for, every day. What he wanted was independence. He constantly needed to rely on others. He wasn't independent! He was a petThe only reason he was even alive at this point was because the other contestants and tournament runners had been keeping him alive! They was him not as a contestant, and not as a knight. For the sake of Friyena, he wasn't even knighted because he never could truly be a knight. No, he was a dog. A weak-minded, cowardly, dependent dog. He should've realized that long ago, long before he ever set foot onto the tournament grounds, long before he even put an inked pawprint on the application sheet, long before he ever joined the Knights of Friyena to begin with.

    And what of all the people that had helped him, and all the people he had tried to help? Clearly he had failed to help them. He had championed the ideas of emotional strength and suppressing temptation, the ideas of resisting the Abyss, only to lose himself to it the first time it tried to claw at him. They had expected a leader, someone that could live up to their own ideas, and he had failed them. For Friyena's sake, he couldn't even be a dog for them! Good dogs don't attack the people they live with, and that's exactly what he had done to Claire!

    Above all, though, one thought persisted. He wasn't safe to be around any more. That he was sure of above all else. There were parts at him that raised doubt over the other recent revelations, but he had no doubt that his friends, the people he cared so deeply about, who he had depended on, weren't safe around him. He could just as easily attack any one of them again, and without the power of a demigod to bring them back to life. He ran for many reasons: fear, sadness, a desire for true independence. However, in his heart of hearts, he knew he had ran because he couldn't bear to hurt the ones he had grown to care about.

    As with last round, Kumo will not be getting a new champion card, as I'm still happy with where his design sits mechanically. Instead, I wish to portray Kumo's journey with additions to his companion cards. Thus, my official entry for the round:

  • 9 — Interlude: A Harmony, Broken

    Shortly after the fight between Oritira and Michio, many miles away...

    Drip, drip, drip...

    Tears. Black, bloody tears dripped into a pool of more of them, the mourning of an innocent soul twisted.

    Stomp, stomp stomp...

    Footfalls. The forming of a great horror in a village, the cries of the defenseless breaking out.

    The Tournament drew on in the distance, but here, there was no refuge. This place was out of the reach of the warriors, beyond the protection of that splendid cleric. The Abyss was looking for recruits, and it saw an opportunity, opening its jaws to devour hope. It remained unmatched, coursing through the village and taking soul after soul with little resistance. It latched onto the town like a leech and festered like a malignant growth, draining the place of its vitality.

    Just as the place fell quite, however, a battle cry rang from the gates. A single shout, but it fell like a whisper on the wind beneath the monster, who roared with a hideous bellow, like ten thousand screams clashed with nails on chalkboard. Those few villagers that remained fell deafened, but whoever this person was at the gate stood tall.

    "̵̘͐͗O̷̡͆h̶͈̞̯̋̈́,̵͚̔ ̴̮̇ȁ̴̱̚ ̶̼̂͗͜ͅb̷̼̂r̷̥̯̩̊a̶̭͋͗v̷̯̰̙̄͑e̵̻̱̽ ̴͍͐̌̔w̶̹͎̅̉͝a̸͇̦̅͒ṛ̴͙̻̋̎̃ṟ̵̼̽̈́i̴̛͍͍͇̓ò̴̫̤r̷̬̐̓?̸̢̯̤͛̃̍ ̶̞̯̆Ĭ̴͈ ̷̻͕̫̎̍̓m̸̦̟̓̑͒a̷̡͙̍ÿ̴́ͅ ̶̜̠̍̉ạ̸̣̜͗c̴̗͕̬͋̆̀ẗ̷̖̟́͗͠u̶̟̳̐̽͜a̴̙̥̭̍l̴̫̎l̷͚̲̺͒y̵͎̜̾͐ ̴̟̗̬̀̋̐ȅ̶͈̥͇̂̓n̸̥̮͆͑̈j̸̳̹͓́̚͠o̸̤͖͒̎̚ͅÿ̴͔̪́ ̷̝͐́̑c̸̝͝r̴͔̿͐ü̷̜͚̘̚s̵̰͈̤̓h̷̡̊i̸̥͑͠n̶̗̈́̏́g̴̡̹͍͐ ̴̠̆y̵̯͋̍̚o̵̖̖͒͌̌ǘ̷̢̩͂̈́r̷͙̓ ̴̛̦̘͂s̵̈́ͅp̴̞͓̐ị̷͋͝r̸̫͐͌ȋ̴͓̓͝t̶͉̑̉.̶̝̬́"̴̧̮͎̚

    Without warning, the speck below drew her blade and stood in position to strike. "You, monster," the voice from below called out. "My spirit isn't yours to crush. I've fallen on hard times too much for a giant tumor to talk me down. Now face me!"

    "̷͎̙̍͊Ô̸̟͔̇́H̶̯̯̾͌̕O̷͖̼͐̕͘Ḩ̸͖̇̔͠O̸̬̔̒͌H̴̨̳̱̉!̵̪̣͑͌ ̴̗͗̂̈́Y̷̢̠̘͝O̷̠͝U̸̫̥̔̏̆ ̷̛͇̘̮Ȇ̶͚͈̍͗X̴̖̖͍̕P̶̦̿͆͂E̸̝͂C̴̦̼͕͗͗͘Ṯ̸̗̹̀̚ ̷̬̒T̵̛̤͕͈̓̃Ö̶̼̺̭ ̵̤̱̃C̶̩͠Ḥ̸̼̂̂̒A̷̫̪̒̃͛L̶͔̽̍͗L̸̫̅̽È̴̜̾Ñ̵͕̜̋G̶̜̠͎͛̓É̵̹͎̋ͅ ̴̖͛̍M̴͎̟̬̅Ḛ̴̳̻̌̍͝?̸̨̂͐̕!̷̬́͜ ̸̦͕̅̑́Ṱ̷̲͒̂͠h̶̖͉̄̽e̵̘̚͝ ̷͍͐̐̌s̸͕̣͔̽̕c̷̼͎̏̋̆r̵̰̟̿͒͂ë̶̡̙̿a̷̯̘̥̍̉m̴̡̈́͐s̷̘̱̥̎ ̴̯̝͘͜ǒ̸̬̝͆f̸̯͗̉́ ̵̼͔̾̑y̵̭̍̽̀ỏ̶̟͐̆u̸̢͍̿r̷̨̠̈́̒͝ ̷̻͈̟͊͂͝k̷̳̣̪̂i̸̩͙̬͋̏n̶̰̹͚̎͌d̸̮̝́̌͗ ̸̭͝à̸̢̞r̵̬̜̒̅͘͜e̵̢̜̳͆ ̶̧̑̾s̵̨̭̭͊i̵̱̐̏m̵͕̈́p̸͓̱̳̀̓l̸̜̘̟̈́̈y̷̺̮͗͗ ̷͍̈́t̵͎͚̳̅h̵̖̅ě̶͔̺ͅ ̵̢̞̹͛̋̕b̵̙̈́ē̵̬̗̿ṡ̷̝̈t̷̠͍̿!̵̻̔͗"̸̼̺̗̌̈͗

    The warrior stood undeterred by the mocking, glaring at the creature. "So, do you accept?"

    "̶̭͌D̶̞̳̺̓ǫ̵͕͆̊̉n̶̺̙͚̈́'̶͚̟̦̍̓͠t̷̘͎͐ͅ ̵̫͒͝p̴͎̫̅͝l̶̡̰̀̉a̶̲̪̟̅̈̅y̸̢͕͈͒͠ ̸̭̮̹͒d̶̳̚ư̶͜m̴͔̳͑̈́b̸̜͂,̴̢̼͓́̎ ̴͚͚̿͆a̵͙͌c̶̜̠̦͋t̵̼̪͉͑͌i̷͙̒̆n̷̹̈́͐̕g̸̻̈́̒͊ ̴̳̩̪̊͂a̵̡̝͗̍̇s̵̞̔ ̵͔̳̿t̸̨͆͠h̵̼̤͝͝ǒ̷̮̳̽̎ṳ̴̭̽g̴̜̲̪͛h̵͈̑͋̚ ̶̼̿̐̃y̸̧̻̰̔̽o̷͇̺̒̉̕u̷̥͈͎͌̅̅ ̶̝̹̀c̸̮͕̈́͊̿ở̶̥u̷̲̾́̾ľ̵̛̫͚͔͑d̵͇̀͝ ̶̮̦̲̓͊̋w̶̟̱͆͂̐í̸̞̘ṋ̵̓͛̕ ̵̛̘a̷̙̾ ̷̣̞̅d̸̯̩̏͜u̸̖̲̍̀̃e̸͍̽̌̄l̵̛̠̕ ̸͔̑̔͠ȃ̵̼̂ģ̴̪̳̈́͐͠a̸͎̟͂i̶̮̙̯͋n̴͊͜͝ş̷̠͗̀ẗ̵͉͘ͅ ̵͖̃́̉a̴̩̟̅ ̸͔̐̿s̴͖͉̄̕p̵̟̥̔ḁ̴͚̒w̴̠̯͠n̷͈̰͌ ̵͙̲̰̈̋ȍ̵͖̭͙f̴̡͇̤̔͝͝ ̵̟͚̋̽t̷͖͠͝h̶̺̤͐̌̂e̶̡̪͌̋ ̸͓́À̶̠̬̒b̶̧̰̱̊y̴̬͂̒͆s̸͙̈́s̵͙͆͂̂.̷͓̮̹͛͒̒ ̷͚́I̶͖͛̒̄ ̴̹͗k̴̻̀̂̎n̸̹̻̫͌́o̸̰͊͝w̵̧̮̟̽ ̶̯̟͕́̀y̸̢̖͒̊o̶͉̞̓͐ŭ̷̗̝͓̎'̶̻̆̌͝r̸̨͕͋́̚ȅ̸͇ ̴̙̲͗a̸̫͋͛̂f̷̡̫͓͗̈́̓r̴̘̊̉ạ̷̦̤̉͑î̵͎̘͝d̴̘̆͗̒,̵̛̘̪̜̏ ̵̼̓͜͝a̶̙̘͆n̴͕͓͊d̸̗͖̀̋͝ ̸̛̤͈̏ý̵̡o̵̙̮̗̚u̵̧̪̹͑́̕r̶͎͈̫͋ ̶̼͎̈́̓͋p̵̣͗͠ͅl̴̫̚͜a̴̳̥̾͊̚y̷̠̬̝͋̒̿ ̴̙͕͋͒h̵̲̟͐a̶͎͐́͗s̶̙̿̎͜ ̴̡̣̖͝t̵̗͇́̂́ë̶̤́̒̃s̸̜̰̀t̵͎̮̺̍̆̍ȅ̴̹͉ͅd̸̯̖͠ ̸̲̒͠m̸̦̞̣̈́̉̽y̶̬̓ ̵̪̃̀p̵͖̖̉̊̚͜ả̸̪̺̄͝t̴̯̑ì̵̢̮ë̸͈̼́n̴̳̰͝ͅc̸̬̦͎̎e̵̠̊̅̅ ̴̠͚͒̓̈l̸͇̥̏̔ò̵̢n̸͙̳͇̋g̸͚͉̊͆ ̶̨̊è̵̠̺̒n̴̟̿̕̕ȏ̷̢̱̬̍͝u̷̞̐̌͌g̷̹͈̬͒͝h̴̖͑̃͗.̸̡̻͕͘͝ ̸̲̎͘͝Ņ̶̻͋͊o̴̖͐̑w̷̻͑ ̴̹̹̜̿d̴͎͆i̷̻̮͆̐͐ë̴̜!̶̒̚͜"̵̝͒͂̚


    A great arm stretched out like the maw of a wurm to swallow her whole, but with great elegance, she dodged and flipped atop the beast's arm. Her sword shone with blinding radiance, and with a flash, she slashed the arm into several pieces before leaping towards the growth atop the horror. The arm was in disrepair but quickly began to reform; as for the growth, however, it began to spew with inky blood as it was impaled. Another arm reached to slap the warrior off, yet she reacted lightning fast, splitting open the arm just wide enough to leap through.

    As the warrior landed, she gagged from the sheer amount of viscera that had soaked her body, which was just barely covered in a loose, flowing robe. "Eck. You smell of fermented cow, and look of spoiled elderberry jam."

    Without further comment. she crossed her hand and her blade, and the light of the blade grew and grew until it literally erupted from it, firing a beam of light to cut further into the growth. The beam lasted briefly, the blast extinguishing the light of her blade, but it was enough to slice a solid chunk off the growth. The beast let out a hideous scream, locking eyes with the warrior as it shaped its bleeding into nearly hair-thin spiked tendrils. The swordswoman closed her eyes before slicing the tendrils away with perfect timing and positioning, then erupting her blade in flames as she charged at the weakened beast. With a decisive, perfectly placed strike, the horror was weakened enough that it started to lose form, and it was forced to let go of the village.

    The warrior extinguished her sword as she ran into the town and searched for any more signs of danger. With none showing, she wiped her blade clean before sheathing it. "Hnnhh... that was an Abyssal horror? Felt far too easy to fight... all things considered."

    The warrior looked to the distance, towards the city so many miles in the distance below. She scoffed at how far she would have to travel on foot; she'd arrived too late to save the town, and everything was destroyed, but at least there were a few survivors. The question is if they had anything to survive off of. It reminded her much of her hometown when she was finally able to come back, but she grit her teeth. She was running low on resources herself, and couldn't afford the risk of tending to these folk when she'd already made enemies of the Abyss. Without saying a word she left, and made her way through the woods...
  • edited July 22
    The clanging of metal rang throughout the empty training field. Blade clashed against blade, with both combatants stepping forward and backwards, losing ground as quickly as they gained it. Cedric grunted as he fought, using all the techniques he knew. He wasn't used to this kind of fighting. He wasn't opposed to it, after all there's no better test of skill than single combat, but he was more accustomed to his sword and shield, not just wielding a blade with a single hand.
    Recognizing that he was tiring, Cedric realized he needed to finished this battle quickly. He pushed the offensive, taking several aggressive steps forward. The clanging intensified as the battle neared its end, and it finally concluded when Cedric's blade was wrenched from his hand and tossed into the air, landing when it skewered the ground several feet away. He put his hands up. "I know when I'm beat," he proclaimed, his brow drenched with sweat.
    "That'll do with training for now," his opponent declared. It was Syr Ernesta Fuath, the knight in charge of training him. "We'll have lunch before we resume."
    The young knight-in-training ate ravenously on his bench, with four apple cores by his side within 15 minutes, and he was beginning work on a fifth. Training under the beating sun was an oppressive feeling at times, and the fruit was refreshing.
    "I hope you've got some meat with that, too. No knight gets by on fruit alone." It was Syr Odio, one of Cedric's fellow trainees, probably there to gloat. He was the most skilled of any of them at fencing, the very exercise Cedric had failed at earlier that day. "You can't grow any meat unless you have meat."
    "It's not meat I need, it's just practice at this point," grumbled Cedric through his apple. "It's not like I've seen you eat anything but meat either, Odio. That's how you go blind young."
    "Whatever, I ain't blind yet!" laughed the young knight as he sat besides Cedric. "Y'know why they've got us way out here, away from the city?"
    "So that you don't drain the restaurants of their meat."
    "So that no one hears the noi- Hey, I don't eat that much. It' so all the noise we make doesn't disrupt people that're just trying to go about their day." Cedric did have to acknowledge there was a wisdom to that. Out here people swung their weapons with more enthusiasm, and were willing to yell and shout more. You didn't get to do that as much in a training hall in the cities. Something about causing disturbances well into the night. "Come on, your lunch is about finished, right? I'll get suited up and give you some pointers." Odio clapped Cedric on the shoulder and got up, sauntering off to prepare for training. Cedric sighed and dropped his apple core, picking up his blade. He wandered over to the dueling area, mentally preparing himself to lose to Odio, like every other time they sparred.
    He waited. And waited. And waited. He grew concerned. It had been over an hour. And where had everyone else gone? It was just him, waiting out in the sun, baking in his armor. "Ugh, was there another group lesson I missed?" Cedric grumbled, and he began making his way towards the building the order had been using as a general hall during their time out here. It was eerily quiet when he stepped inside, equipment strewn about the room. "Hello? Odio? Ernesta? Anyone?"
    His calls were answered with a snarling sound from the end of the room. "Oh gods help me." The thing shambled into view. It was a large Abyssal creature, and if Cedric had to guess, probably a clever one too. It would've had to have been to slaughter a company of knights. Cedric glanced around the room, looking for anything. Of course there was no shield. "Just my luck," he grumbled as he picked up the nearest weapon, Ernesta's hammer.
    "Hey, chump, you missed one."
  • @Lujikul Nice work with your part!
  • Chapter Twenty-Two - Dark Dreams

    As Kumo slipped away under the cloak of night, Aki stayed up. The darkness was eerie. Haunting. It reminded him too much of the shadows that engulfed their city a few weeks prior.

    Aki pushed open the balcony doors, his only shield from the cold darkness outside.

    “I know you can hear me, Friyena.” he whispered, “Wherever you are, we need your help. Please.”

    A small item clattered to the ground behind him. Aki spun around quickly. “Hello? Who’s there?

    The lights flickered for a moment, then everything was normal again.

    As it was the last night of the quarterfinals, Oritira struggled to sleep. She had arranged for outside housing so that she could stay close to Kumo and the others. This was the time when they needed each other the most. Unbeknownst to her, a shadowy figure slithered under her room’s door. It swirled up the bed’s backboard and entered Oritira through her slightly open mouth.

    She felt herself falling. Her path went on and on, spiraling forever into the endless darkness. Oritira landed hard on the cold ground. She walked forwards slowly, tripping on a large metal chain in the process. Oritira followed the ancient chain with her eyes, seeing it finally end up in a black pool. She heard a cacophony of whispers ahead of her. They were calling to her. They were calling her name.

    She saw a girl chained to the ground, not far away from a pile of splintered wood and snapped strings. Oritira opened her palm. A bed of vines propped the sleeping girl up into a more comfortable position.

    “Hello? Can you hear me?”

    The girl didn’t respond. Oritira noticed bands of dark magic swirling out from a hole deep in her chest. Was it a dagger’s mark perhaps?

    “Oritira…oritira…oritira…” a loud voice echoed through the halls. The echo grew louder and louder until Oritira started to scream. More chaotic noises filled her mind. The vines holding up the girl fell away and she fell to the hard ground once more. Oritira felt something shaking her.

    “Oritira!” Aki shouted as he shook her. Oritira snapped out of her dream. Somehow she had made her way out of her bedroom, down many floors, and into a great hall. There was a bed of vines at the end of the hall.

    “I didn’t know you sleepwalk,” Aki chuckled.

    “I don’t”

    “Then how are you here?”

    “I- I don’t know. I just had this dream.”

    “A dream?”

    “I don’t know where I was. It was dark. Very dark. All I saw was a girl in chains. She was suffering but I didn’t know how to help.”

    Aki sighed, looking a little worried. “Go back to bed, Oritira. There’s three hours till breakfast. You can pack and leave afterwards.”

    Aki turned to leave.

    “Aki!” Oritira called just as Aki was about to turn the corner.

    “Yes?”

    “This doesn’t mean anything, right?”

    “It was just a dream,” Aki nodded.

    It’s happening just like Nyrine saw. This was the darkness Nyrine was worried about. I must consult her.

    ----------

    Another part incoming soon!

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