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Chapter Eight - The Third Match
Finally, there was a purple glow shining ahead of the king and queen. It was faint, but they could somehow still see it through the heavy fog.
“We’re almost there,” the king whispered.
“Are you ready,” the queen asked him. There was a hint of fear in her voice.
“We have to be. This is for the Rosakel Empire. This is for Avelaide.”
The royal duo stepped into a clearing. The fog slowly retreated from the clearing and they were left in front of an opening to an eerie cave. The light was nowhere to be found.
The crowd was well rested and energetic as they filed into the stands of the meadow field. The midday sun blessed its dazzling rays upon the stadium, causing the fresh dewdrops on the grass to sparkle like precious diamonds in the sunlight.
Oritira seemed to be here alone, though anyone that had seen her before knew her snakes were somewhere in the grass closeby.
Audhild was on the other side of the stadium examining her ring. “I’ll show you just how strong I really am…”
Audhild swung her sword in a wide arc in front of herself. “I got this.”
Meanwhile, in the judge’s box, Aki and Byrre were arguing. Rehela tapped Aki’s shoulder. The prince glared at the advisor before standing up to address the crowd.
“Welcome to the third match of the Tournament champions,” Aki announced with a smile plastered on his face, “Today, we have brought you to the meadow field where the new kings are crowned after one dies. This place has survived countless wars throughout this plane and was once the refuge place of our runaway princess where she hid from the forces of the abyss and founded this city. This makes it a fitting place for such a glorious battle.” Byrre was about to elbow the prince again when he quickly changed the topic, “Soooo, without further ado, let’s introduce our champions! Oritira, a mysterious mage of the natural world, stands next to me on my right. On my left, stands a powerful, wandering knight, Audhild.”
There were loud cheers for both of them. After Oritira’s name a loud dog howl overpowered most of the cheering: It was clear who Kumo was rooting for.
“Let the third match of the tournament begin!”
@DrakeGladis and @SpellPiper2213
Your match will be written over the course of the next hour! Good luck to both of you.
The Third Match (End)
Kalthor, I’ll show you how strong I really am
We’ll see about that, the lich’s voice replied in the knight’s head
Audhild charged at Oritira cautiously, remembering what happened to Meka when she charged at a mage. The druid backpedaled to keep her distance from the knight. Oritira raised her staff and blue, glowing snakes sprang forward in front of her.
In one swift motion, Audhild killed all the snakes, spraying blood into Oritira’s eyes. Audhild advanced forward and then lunge quickly at the distracted elf. The blade left a gash in Oritira’s arm.
See? I told you I’m good enough.
Never think a mage is finished. Ever. Kalthor’s voice rang in Audhild’s head. Just as he said that, Oritira, still wincing in pain, tapped her staff on the ground twice. Audhild was about to step forward and finish the fight when the grass started to grow at an unnatural rate, wrapping itself around Audhild’s body.
Then, thicker vines started to burst from the ground. They further constricted the knight to the point where she could barely breathe. More vines peeled off the girl’s armor plate by plate and ripped her sword out of her hands.
What should I do? Kalthor?
You signed yourself up for this…
Audhild’s ring started to light up. But instead of the golden light she was used to, a malevolent purple light expanded in front of her, causing the vines to wither up and die.
What? What is this?
Oritira, still clutching her bleeding arm with one hand, summoned more vines to attack the knight. However, the moment they entered Audhild’s sphere of life, they burst into purple flames and vanished into the air.
“What are you doing?” Oritira shouted, “Is this some sort of joke?”
“I- I don’t know!” Audhild yelled.
“Just drop the ring! I’ll let you pick up your sword, but that’s clearly abyssal magic.” The druid was visibly shaking.
Aki turned to Rehela in her seat, whose eyes were closed in concentration. There was a dangerous golden glow around her. Horrible thoughts started to engulf Aki’s mind.
Audhild nodded. She tried to take the ring off, but it was stuck to her hand. A violent ball of light blasted straight into the sky.
“Should I call the match off?” Aki asked. Byrre held Aki down and shook his head.
Oritira sighed. She summoned a flock of birds to intercept the ball of light. All of them plummeted straight down, unmistakably dead.
“Whatever you’re doing, stop it!” the elf shouted.
“I don’t know what I’m doing!”
“Why would you be using magic you can’t control?”
Do I just continue with the match?
Audhild advanced on Oritira again with just the ring. Snakes hidden in the grass died as the knight passed and Oritira ran away as fast as she could. The elf sent vines, snakes, and an assortment of other animals towards Audhild, who drew her hand in an arc around herself, causing anything that entered it to wither up.
Audhild’s eyes started to glow a faint purple and her hands started to turn black. Cracks burst through her ash-like skin as she continued to charge at the druid. Random bursts of dark fire flew towards Oritira, who dove out of the way again. Anything the fire touched turned to ashes and disappeared into the wind.
The light on Audhild’s morphed and formed a long sword. Oritira was trembling in a corner, muttering odd words under her breath as Audhild slowly approached. The crowd was silent. Some people were scared enough to leave. Audhild slowly marched towards Oritira.
“Stop! Audhild! This isn’t you!”
Thick vines surged in front of Audhild, but she cleanly sliced them into tiny ribbons of leaves and stems with perfect technique she had learned before. Audhild continued her trance-like march forward. She raised her sword, ready to kill the defenseless elf.
This is what you call proving yourself?
Audhild hesitated. A large bear crept up behind the knight and swung its arm at Audhild’s head. The knight was tossed into the wall headfirst. Oritira gasped. As Audhild struggled to get up, her entire body started to turn black. Cracks opened through every part of her skin, causing Audhild to scream.
Oritira was shocked too. “Did I just…kill someone?”
Audhild’s black hand slowly started to turn to a black powder which was swept away in the wind.
Rehela’s eyes opened in horror. She jumped over her stand and ran over to Audhild.
“Get away from her! All of you!” Rehela shouted.
Oritira obeyed, retreating to an oak tree in the distance. Rehela blasted a golden light at Audhild’s decaying form. Bright rings of light captured the black dust, while the purple magic beat against the walls of the golden cage. Rehela was straining against an invisible force while Audhild continued to disintegrate slowly.
“I can’t do this by myself!” Rehela strained, “I need another healer to help.”
Nimbu jumped onto the field unaccompanied by zombies. “I can help. I have experience with healing these injuries.”
“What are you waiting for?”
Nimbu opened her palm, allowing golden threads of light to attach itself like a puppet to Audhild. Little by little, Audhild’s ashen skin turned back to its normal color and the cracks receded. Nimbu’s golden light shone brightly, allowing the black powder to reattach itself to the knight’s form and the ring reverted to its original form.
Finally, Audhild was back. Both the healers were panting heavily–Nimbu more so than Rehela.
“I thought I was in a match…” Audhild gasped, “What just happened.”
“You died,” Rehela said, “But what matters is that you’re back with us now.”
Audhild looked down at the ring. What had happened to her?
The Third Match (End) - WINNER!!!!!
Still shaken, Aki got up. "The next match between Michio and Nimbu will be hosted at the beach stadium. Good luck to both contestants!"
@Tommia and @Tonysparks
Your match will be hosted tomorrow, so be ready with your stories! good luck to both of you.
Chapter Nine - The Fourth Match
“Sh-should we go in?”
The queen nodded slowly.
Both the king and queen entered the cave. It was dimly lit by torches that lined the rocky walls. There were some portraits that hung crooked on the walls.
“I remember Aki talking about this place once…” the queen mused.
“Yeah…I think there’s some sort of abyssal monument in the middle. I think it was the first place of worship for the abyssal god on the plane.”
“The abyssal god?”
“You see, very few people know about the abyssal god. All we know is that he saw visions of monsters, demons, and immense power, or what we know as the abyss. The abyssal god was the strongest of our gods, so he tried to conquer and control such power so that he could use it against any monsters that tried to harm the world. However, the power eventually consumed him, and it took all the other deities to trap him and the abyss behind the gate of the afterlife, guarded by Terrodus.”
“How do you know all this?” the king asked.
“No one knows this. This is simply a rumor passed through a very select group of people. Very few know about the effects of the abyss and even less know about the abyssal god. I did not know about the abyssal god until Aki told me, and still, I refuse to believe it.”
“How did Aki find out?” the king prodded
“Aki has done his research on the plane,” the queen said, “He knows more history than any of the greatest scholars of Avelaide. When he was a child, he would go to the planar library for years and read the most obscure books.”
“How come he’s like…well…him now?”
“He wants to be like you! Isn’t that obvious? Aki has looked up to you his entire life, so he gave up learning about such history which you disapproved of and picked up combat skills! How blind can you be?”
“I- I just thought…”
The queen held her hand up. They had been walking for over an hour and they had finally entered an antique room. A ray of sunlight poured into the room from a hole in the roof, illuminating an old statue with its light. Nyrine was standing in front of it with another man.
“The knight of thorns,” Nyrine murmured, “This is it.”
The beach stadium was a more relaxing setting. Contestants entered the stadium in beach attire, ready to splash into the water right after the match was done. Many had bought treats from the seaside market that was set on the roads neighboring the beach outside the stadium.
Mia and Michio stood in the center of the field. Michio was wearing Mia’s fox mask, as usual. The salty waves splashed at their ankles over and over again, and tickled their toes as they receded back into the ocean.
Then, the healer, Nimbu, entered lazily with two zombie guards. The zombies were dressed with royal armor and Nimbu, herself had made sure to dress up properly before entering her match.
“When I win, I need to look good winning,” Nimbu commented, “Don’t I?”
Byrre stood up this time, since Aki was nowhere to be found in the stadium. It was clear they had been fighting.
“Let the fourth match between Michio and Mia Akisaki and Nimbu Al’kalesh begin!”
There was limp cheer from the crowd. Byrre was not nearly as good at getting the crowd interested as Aki, but they were excited to see such an interesting match unfold.
Good luck to the both of you! I am going to have lots of fun writing this
The Fourth Match (End), Part 1
Mia started the match off with a wave of her hand. Lime green pages flew around the siblings in a mysterious spiral, folding themselves into origami birds. Within a few seconds, Mia and Michio were hidden behind their paper army.
Mia pushed her arm forward, causing the paper cranes to speed towards the healer. Michio was definitely hidden among them, but Nimbu didn’t know where. The cranes attacked Nimbu and her zombies from all directions. The cleric blasted gold and black energy into the flock, but it didn’t seem to dwindle at all. Their numbers were just too large.
Then out of nowhere, Michio’s glowing blue blade approached Nimbu. It left a large gash in Nimbu’s left side, which she promptly healed with a few golden threads of magic.
“You’ll have to do more than that to defeat me!” Nimbu laughed. She cast a silver ball of energy towards the direction Michio had attacked from, but the origami birds closed in between them, intercepting the light.
Mia waved her hand again. The birds started to gather around Nimbu and her zombie’s feet. Little by little, they raised Nimbu into the air, spinning the girl in a whirlwind of magical paper. Nimbu closed her eyes to focus, though it was difficult in the swarm of birds. She remembered what Aki had said about the city. This place was once engulfed by war. There were plenty of restless souls calling out to her. Plenty of souls waiting to be reawakened by Nimbu’s call. Her hands lit up, even amidst the paper storm and the ground beneath Michio and Mia started to crack. Legions of undead soldiers crawled out through the cracks. Birds killed by stray arrows flew upwards and attacked the paper cage that trapped Nimbu. The exiled priestess was delivered gently to the ground by her zombie birds.
“What will you do now, fox-mask?” Nimbu jeered.
Michio only smiled. A glowing rock soared out of the water and barreled towards Nimbu. Nimbu held her hand up, creating a glowing barrier which caused the rock to crumble into many pieces upon slamming into the barrier.
“Nice try,” she laughed.
Michio was still smiling. The zombie army started to advance on Michio. Mia was far behind him in deep concentration. Her entire body was glowing with a rosy pink light: dangerous, yet calming at the same time. Michio’s blade extended as he slashed up the zombies that advanced on them. As more died, more kept coming through the cracks.
Nimbu waved her hand and her two main zombie guards threw spears over Michio. They fell down towards where Mia was standing, but Mia’s form simply flickered and disappeared as they hit their mark. Mia reappeared next to Michio. Then, Mia raised her arms dramatically. The section of ground Mia and Michio were standing on extended like a large pillar into the sky. A zombie destroyed the pillar with an axe, but the shards of ground simply reformed themselves into floating islands above Nimbu.
Mia waved her hands artistically again. The ground inside the stadium started to bend. The ocean curved into the sky as Nimbu stared at the world in awe. The ground Nimbu was standing on started to float upwards in a dizzying spiral like a balloon drifting off into the wind.
“It’s like…I’m in a dream…”
The Fourth Match (End), Part 2
Nimbu shook her head. She had to concentrate. The zombies “stacked” on top of one another to form a ladder of sorts and climbed up towards Mia and Michio. From her vantage point, Nimbu fired an array of spells at the pair with one hand while conducting her army of zombie birds from the other. They swirled around Michio and Mia attacking them from all angles. Michio took center stage, fighting to push back the swarm of undead, ducking to dodge one of Nimbu’s spells every so often.
Mia drew a dramatic line downwards in the air. The piece of ground the zombies were climbing up to the siblings on turned to dust as the zombies fell into the nothingness below them.
“What is this place..?”
Michio leapt off his island to another, slowly making his way towards Nimbu. She fired countless spells at him and directed her zombie flock towards the ninja, but Michio simply spun his glowing blade in the air to deflect any attack that came near him. Nimbu then looked up at the water-sky. She could see her own reflection. It looked so real. Too real.
“In a dream, anything can come true, right?”
She motioned towards the sky. Mia looked up, concerned, as ripples appeared in the vast ceiling of water. Then, an ancient, mangled beast erupted from the ceiling. Nimbu smiled. A giant zombie leviathan sprung out from the ceiling. It was a nightmarish miracle. Columns of water crashed down on the competitors as it burst out of the artificial water-sky.
Mia’s eyes widened. Water cascaded off the hundreds of mini islands, sweeping Michio off his feet leaving him holding onto the slippery edge of the island. Below him was the pit of nothingness where all of Nimbu’s other zombies had fallen. It was the first time where either party seemed to be struggling. Nimbu was laughing, as the salt water drenched her golden dress.
“You battled well,” Nimbu smiled, “Cheers to a great battle.”
Mia took a deep breath, even though that meant nothing for a spirit. Old habits. She launched a beam of emerald light at the beast. As it closed in on Michio, it slowly started to glow the same light. It collapsed into a kaleidoscope of ethereal butterflies right before crashing into Michio and disappeared into the wind.
Mia was out of breath. She slowly started to fade as Michio’s mask glowed. The world started to revert to its original form. Floating islands of sand fell back into the ground and the water from the sky splashed back into the ocean. Michio struggled to stand up, but still managed to somehow. He held his glowing blade right in front of him as he shivered.
On the other hand, Nimbu was left with just her two zombie guards yet again. It was almost like the beginning.
“It’s the mask,” Nimbu told her zombie bodyguards, “Aim for the mask. That’s where Mia gets her power.”
They dashed forward in an uncoordinated run towards Michio as he straightened himself up. He slashed his blade in a wide arc, destroying both of the zombies. Still, Michio was tired he was panting heavily and Nimbu was still ready to strike.
“Looks like it’s just you and me.”
Michio willed himself to get up again. His blade extended into a long whip and he cast it at Nimbu. The priestess held up another lightshield. When the blade hit the shield, the glowing blade’s light refracted, and buried itself in Nimbu’s stomach. She gasped in surprise, clutching her stomach, before fainting with a weak splash into the shallow water.
Michio, tired himself, dropped his blade. He was too tired to continue on as well. The magical dreams had drained enough energy from him. Michio fell backwards into the sand, unconscious too.
Recuperating was the strangest part for Audhild. She couldn’t easily remember anything between Oritira telling her to drop the ring and being led out of the arena. It seemed hazy, covered in a weird purple-black fog. She’d also died for a little bit, only to be revived. The duelist would have to thank Rehela and Nimbu on that account.
The ring was sitting on the table by her bed. Audhild could barely look at it. Whatever had happened wasn’t what Kalthor had told her. There were some strong words to be exchanged with the lich about it, immediately after destroying the damned thing.
Audhild shuddered, thinking of the feeling she’d gotten when the ring’s true effects took shape. She’d felt strong, as though the great duelists of Attyan folklore were guiding her. There was an enjoyment within that purple-black fog, an enjoyment of the strength and power, an enjoyment that had lasted until the purple-black fog started to…
The duelist didn’t want to think about what the fog had done to her after that.
In any case, she’d need a day or two to fully recover her strength. After that, thanking the two healers, then destroying the ring, and then having a word with Kalthor. Heaven only knew if Audhild could look the lich in the eye without lashing out.