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

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  • edited February 25

    The Apple


    (Night time)
    (Image by aggamotto's eye - Tumblr)

    Dear Journal, it has happened again. Ever since I got here, I have been plagued by the same dream. I awaken in this magical lands. A land where trees blossom not sprout, a land where the waters sparkle like a diamond glass, their beauty undenied. I find myself at the age of nine, dawning my old cleric garbs from my time in the temple.

    Time and time again, I find myself wandering to an apple tree, and time and time again, the apple falls in my palm. It is almost like an instinctive urge that I find hard to scratch, I go to take a bite. It is then, that the apple begins to rot, maggots crawling up its ichor black flesh. I drop it instinctively as it begins to desecrate the ground, quickly turning the surrounding into a dark mush, in which I find myself suspended it.

    "Nimbu Alkalesh. When you first opened me, I offered you power, and power you got. So why do you not join me? Why do you not embrace the power of death, the power I have given you! -
                                     JOIN ME!
    JOIN ME!         
               
              "help me Nimbu, please help me"
                                 
                                JOIN ME!
    JOIN ME!
                             "If only I was stronger"
          JOIN ME!                                    JOIN ME!

    - And with each dream I find myself inching closer and closer, just for Narish's light to break through bathing me in golden light.  She always tells me the same thing, but this time it was different. 

    > "Nimbu you have to help them"

    < "But how, how can I help!?"

    < "You always say this,  I have healed the sick, helped the downtrodden and exorcised the lands of most of their evils."

    > My child, all will be revealed with time. As you have noticed, there exists other worlds. Each of those worlds has its own keeper of light. You have me, Theros has Heliod, Innistrad Avacyn and these lands have Friyena. Right now Friyena needs you, she is in danger and needs you."

    < "But why me, Why not any of your other followers? Why the one person who tainted your ways"

    > "All will be revealed in time my child. For now you must do what you can to help these land. They need a champion, they need balance"

    And then I wake up.  

    *Book closes*

    I have to survive this tournament, so I can get  the power I need to save these people. I need to find what Narish meant by balance. For now I must focus on placing more wards on myself and my guards. I must not underestimate my opponent, besides there was definetly something wrong with three contestants here, and that ninja was one of them.

    Nimbu spent the following hours preparing the runes for the wards and insctipting them in her arms and back, and doing the same to the zombies. After she was done, she spent most of her midnight training her control of her zombies as they pulverized the dummies in the training ground.


    (Story cards)

  • I'll resize and add links in my free time. I'm a little busy and I wanted to finish typing it.
  • edited February 23

                                                    Chapter 5

                                             Audhild's Message

    HAREEL'S HEART POUNDED AS HE paced his quaters. As well as the duel, he was thinking about the Burden. They're voice had been echoing around in his head for hours.
          "I am the burden......"
          "Are you ready......"
          "I'll be back..........."

         He had so many questions about everything, but he needed to focus on the duel. His room wasn't good enough to practice, but he was too tired to go anywhere. He tried to get some rest, as his eyes were shouting at him to close them.

             Eventually, Hareel got up and went to look at the castle. First, he went down to the hall. The silence was eerie and reminded him of the Avelaide woods. As beautiful as it was, he realised it wasn't going to help get his mind off things. 

    He went to look at the stadiums, but the guard didn't  let him in.
    "Why not?" Hareel asked.
    "Champions are not permitted to practice in the stadiums."
    "I'm not practicing, I'm looking!"
    "We don't know if that is true, sir. You may freely explore the market, castle or the woods."
    "But-but.... I'm a champion."
    "As I said before, this isn't a practicing area."
    "Urrrrggghhh!" he shouted in frustration and kicked the ground.

             Hareel entered the training grounds with his bow. He had realised that exploring wouldn't work and he would have to focus on the duel. Th anger pulsed through his veins as he shot the arrows.

    "Sometimes, taking breaths helps." 

           Hareel spun around. A person leaning on a wall, was looking at him with a grim face.
                                  *****************************************       

    "Why are you so angry anyways?" asked the person, who was one of the champions. Audhild, she was. Hareel had had a brief talk with her at the feast, but apart from that, he had no idea who she was or where she was from.

    "Because......." He couldn't tell Audhild about Burden. That would ruin everything for him.
    "Because I feel lonely and homesick." Hareel hated lying, but that was the only thing he could do. 
    "You can solve that. Think about here, now. Not your home," she said, "It's good to think of home, but use it to drive your actions, not restrict them."
           "Why do you care?" As soon as he said it, he felt bad. Audhild was trying to help and he had lashed out.

    "Okay, okay, I'm sorry. Just curious, that's all."

    Hareel nodded blankly. His mind was in two places at once. He was wondering why Audhild was asking so many questions, and thinking about how much his arm ached.

    Suddenly, Audhild looked at the sun and said, "Oops, I've gotta go. Good luck."

    "Yeah. You too." Hareel replied half-heartedly. 

    As he left, Hareel realised: Audhild was right. 

    Deep breath in. Deep breath out.

    ---------

    (
    Thanks @SpellPiper2213 for working with me!!!)
  • I had to revise some of my cards in my recent entry so they don't contradict their own effects. I also made minor corrections during my break.
  • edited February 23

    Oritira had watched the two matches for the day. It was both insightful and productive, allowing her a greater grasp on the rules and how she'd be engaging. However, the speed at which the matches were being held brought a bit of panic to her. Her match was next up, and she hadn't gotten any training in! She slept in the training area, but she should also use it for what it was intended for. She got up from the stump she was on and headed over. While there, she saw Claire practicing her work. The hydromancer was doing what she did best, working with water to batter and restrain. An interesting combo for sure, and one well worth adopting.

    Oritira's opponent, Alhuild, seemed to be best at melee based on her weapon of choice, so staying away would be a good idea, as would not letting her move. Besides, wasn't swordplay at least partially in the footwork? Either way, Claire also might be someone sympathetic to the plight of the wilds here, and it'd be one of the few chances to train with someone doing magic. Oritira herself could use water a little, but with nowhere near the practiced ease of Claire. All this resolved in her taking a chance. Still wearing her normal, serious face, she approached the busy water-wielder.

    "Uhm. Excuse me Claire? It is Claire, right?"

    Claire turned to see the druid standing behind her.  "Yes, that is my name."

    "I was wondering if you'd be willing to train with me. It's quite nerve-wracking to see that I'm next, and I feel like I could use the practice.\

    "Sure! I was actually hoping that I could train with someone else before my first round as well."

    "Alright. Uhm. Have you fully recovered from your hangover?"

    "Yes. Kumo woke me up with a glass of water this morning, and the hangover disappeared after that. Also, apologies if I acted very strangely last night, drinking alcohol does that to me..."

    "Good..." A flicker of a smile crosses Oritira's face. "Tell me when you're ready."

    Claire backed off a few paces, then gave a nod.  Each of the two natural casters channeled their element, Claire pulling water from the pond and Oritira causing the plants around her to stir and come to life.  They stood off, staring at each other, waiting for the first to flinch.

    Oritira broke first. Darting to the left, she pulled roots up to trap Claire in place.  Claire's response was a spear of pondwater aimed at her chest.  Neither of them was pulling punches, but neither were aiming to harm.  Magic and elements fly.  In a flurry of motion and sounds, Oritira found herself hanging upside down by her leg from water, with her head in a orb of the same.

    "I surrender" she mouthed, and got dropped promptly.  Getting up, she nodded her respect and assumed a ready position again. "So why exactly are you here Claire? Do you have a cause?"

    "I'm here to test my skills. I need to know that I'm strong enough to get revenge on the man who murdered my father."  Her face was dead serious, no hint of weakness, just a focused stare.  She moved first this time, sending a whiplash at Oritira.

    "Well I suppose here would be a good place to test yourself... these are some of the best fighters around. Especially if your father's killer uses a sword or stealth tactics." Oritira ducked the whip, sending out a vine of her own and successfully pulling Claire onto her back.

    Rolling over onto her side, Clair severed the vine with water. "It seems so... How about you? Why are you participating in this tournament?"

    "I'm fighting because of a number of reasons. The biggest by far though is because I want to get to a place where I can ask for some relief for nature. As civilization spreads, nature is destroyed and the animals in the wild are killed off. We're facing extinctions on the islands and if growth continues like it has been, we'll lose the few wild places left." The passion in Oritira's voice is palpable, and she redoubled her efforts.

    "How very strange. You might have been able to tell, but I'm from a different world, and where I'm from it's civilization that is struggling to survive. The only place for people to live is on a single small island surrounded by oceans on all sides."  Claire continues to struggle against the onslaught, deflecting some of the assaults with water flows.

    "..... did civilization take over the island entirely? Or is it more that the island is big enough but Humanity doesn't have enough of a grasp on it?"

    "Civilization took over the island entirely. There just isn't enough resources for humanity to actually thrive."

    "So you have the worst of both worlds. And you can see why I'm fighting, can you not? I don't want these islands to become the same as yours.  I want nature to have it's spot here restored!"

    "I can understand your motivations. Much like how people from my world need to fight off giant sea monsters to protect humanity, you want to protect what is left of the wilds from civilization."

    "..... kinda like that, sure.  And to do that I have to win."

    This time it was Claire ending up tied up with vines, unable to move.

    "Yeah... ok.  You can let me down now."

    Oritira does so. "Some of us participants have agreed to try and avoid killing people.  Wanna join us?"

    "I won't hold back whatever the case, but I will try to avoid killing.  There's only one person I want to die, and that's my father's murderer."

    The sparring continues for a few more hours as night falls on the area.  Eventually, it becomes meal times, and the two part fairly amicably.
  • edited February 23
    Thank you @feralitator for working on me for this post!  If you want any edits (perhaps Tibarro's name removed) I'll be happy to do it.
    Tangletrap Vines
  • edited February 23

    𐊀S W̸̨̛͊h̶̜̠́e̸͚̿͘n̷̡̪̦͊̉̀ ̵̤͙͔̈́̄͑D̵̜̝͖̾͆r̸͔͔̎̈́̍e̶̢͔͓̊ạ̴̛̩͎͗m̵̜͚͂s̴̞͂͠ ̸̭͍͂B̸̲̿́e̷̩̳̊c̷͓͙͘ó̸͓m̶̦̬͆́͊͜e̸͍̺̾͝ ̴͖̗͙̀N̸̪͛ḭ̵̌́̎g̴̪̈́̽ͅḩ̴͍̉͝t̷̤͛̌͒m̸̪͒̀̚ͅa̶̖̰͐͜r̵͖̰͒̑͛e̵̼̯͊̐š̶̢͎̯̏̍


    As Mia's mind drifted to sleep, her power reserves drained for the night, Michio was left alone to sleep, to dream. The training ended towards the edge of town, so Michio decided he would venture into the woods, to practice leaping from tree to tree. He was still lucid, after all, and his mind was strong from his frequent mental training. "Why not?" he thought. "You can never be too practiced in the basics."


    Little did he know that there was a good reason why not to. Unfortunately for him though, he wasn't aware of the risks.


    It had been a good while since the ninja had gone freerunning without Mia's assistance. With her, his motions were much more fluent no matter the path he took, and wallrunning was quite literal compared to the kind he'd been trained in. Here, he was practicing the basics, chaining jump to jump, soaring through the treeline with the grace of a bird flying through air.


    But all birds have to land at some point. Their wings give out, obstacles obstruct their path, the wind whips too fast... and when they fall, they are no more safe than prey in the forest floor.


    Michio didn't know how far he had leapt before he eventually reached a clearing under the cover of the tall, thick trees. This was quite an unusual sight; ruins in the forest? But he was lucid, in control. He had wanted the forest to go on forever, and he was hit by a gut feeling; "Whatever this is must be important."


    The curiosity of mortals has always been perplexing. Michio had learned how to identify traps in the monastery, and yet, it's in the nature of these creatures to investigate things that are new or unusual to them. If there is something that confuses them they have to understand it. If something is, they have to prove that it is, rather than accepting what is and what isn't.


    The ruins were littered with bone dust, moss making it's way up the abandoned structure and down the single thing worth noting, a staircase leading down into a clearly manmade tunnel. Stone bricks lined the walls and eventually the roof, lined with carvings that the ninja couldn't understand. Wisps, strange figures, waves of smoke...


    So much time spent in contemplation, tracing the carvings of the walls and being fixated in whatever history this place held. It was a fortune most ill that he was so captivated by the past that he wasn't in the present. The symbols served not as a recording, but as a warning. Perhaps he was too "busy" to perceive it? Mortals... it was too late now...


    Michio began to feel a creeping chill run up his leg, and while he kicked at it, it would dissipate. He drew his sword, an heirloom passed down to him from his late father. "Red Star" its first wielder had named it, for when soaked in blood, the reflection of the sun off its surface still came through. But it had only taken one life since Michio's time with it, the life of Commander Kawasaki, that Hondan scum. It wasn't a special sword, just really, really well made, and the only value Red Star held to Michio was a reminder.


    As he plunged that sword into the dark, inky tendril clawing up his leg, voices rang in his head. Talk he had overheard about The Abyss. Voices calling him an outsider that didn't belong here. The creeping sensation that they were right. And yet, a siren call as well, to drop his sword and allow himself to be taken.


    "No! I won't fall for your ruse. Off foul creature! Off-"

    As he looked down, he thought he saw something of familiarity in the thick smoke and tendrils, something gripping at his mind now.


    And once more, the mortal mind fell into its habits. Michio was easy prey-



    "Dad! Wake up!" Mia slaps Michio in the face as he lies there for a moment, staring up blankly. "...dad?"
    "Did you see that... Mia?" Michio was having a hard time taking himself out of his stupor. It felt like his mind had just been lulled away, and he was trying to recuperate.
    "Yes, but you feel feverish. Are you sick?"
    "I shouldn't be... but I have a terrible pain in my head."
    "I think it had something to do with that..."
    "You're right, I think it did too."
    "I'm taking you to medical."
    "I'm not arguing with you on that. And then we need to figure out what it was that we saw."
  • (This takes place before the first match.)

    "No one dies this time! No one!"


    Ergun sat on the edge of the bed, fully clothed. With, measured, rhythmic strokes he ran a whetstone down the length of his father's longsword, the scrape of stone on steel and silver sharply piercing the calm night. He closed his eyes momentarily, pausing, and exhaled. How young and naïve some of these people are. He shook his head.  Mercy is weakness. It is kill or be killed. Ergun stood, sheathing the blade. He pulled on his long cloak and headed for the door. 

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    "This will not go unpunished!" A heavy, middle-aged man wiggled in a rough hewn wooden chair, coarse hempen rope binding him to it by the wrists and ankles. "You can't-" He clapped his jaw shut as a rugged hunting knife was pressed to his flabby throat. "Hrmphlp"

    "That's not how we do this." Ergun pulled the chair by its back onto its two back legs, nearly toppling the man tied to it. He pulled himself close, dragging the jagged blade across his captive's fat cheek, drawing a thin line of blood. He pulled the now bloodstained lion's head medallion from his pocket and dangled it before the man's face. "I found this next to my father's corpse. Look me in the eye and tell me house Leoras had nothing to do with it." He swiveled the chair around to face him. "Can you do that?" He gazed calmly into the man's frightened eyes.

    "P-p-pre-pre-preposterous! Suh-s-simply preposterous! Where o-on earth d-d-did y-you-" The man begun panickily mumbling, eyes wide and clammy skin slick with sweat. 

    Ergun sighed. "I'll make this easy on you, Albrin. Don't take me for a fool." His blade bit deeper, the nicked and well worn edge of the knife nearly vanishing into the blubbery folds and rolls of the man's many chins. "Who ordered it?"

    "I-I-I don't know! I told you I d-d-don't kn-know!" He continued to stutter, spittle dribbling from his wavering jaw and eyes open and rolling in a panicked frenzy like a horse's. 

    Clicking his tongue, Ergun set the chair down, sheathing his knife and reaching into the shadows behind him. "Albrin, Albrin, Albrin." A prolonged metallic scraping and clattering could be heard as he dragged the tip of a long, heavy chain into view. "You don't need to play dumb. You tell me who did it, and I'll let you go. I don't want blood." He stood and dragged the chair across the floor with a grating scrape of wood on wood. "I only want justice."

    Albrin closed his eyes, fervently murmuring something under his breath.

    "No need to pray." Ergun roughly set the chair down once more, propped up in a rusty metal bathtub with stumpy clawed feet. "You tell me now, or prayers will not help you."

    The man's screams could be faintly heard a mile away. "Please! It had to be done! It had to be done!"

    As the sun rose anew, the citizens of the small farming town were greeted with a gruesome sight. Vultures picked at the mutilated remains of a fat man, nailed by the hands and feet, spread eagle on a bloodstained barn door. Several people vomited onto the ground, while children cried and women averted their gazes. Albrin's eyes had been gouged out and rested in his slack-jawed mouth, crimson blood running from it in now drying rivulets. His entrails ran from his shredded abdomen and layers of bloody lacerated fat, coiling up and around his thick neck and partially hanging him from the doorframe. Flies buzzed about him as a thick pool of dark blood formed at his feet. On the barn door behind him, in the man's own blood, a crude rendition of the lion's head symbol was drawn. Beneath it, in blood as well, was written: Justice is blind.
  • edited February 24

    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.

    W̵̥̃ȩ̵̇l̵̲̅c̴͉̆ǒ̸̲m̴̽ͅe̸̻̕

    —--------------

    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.

  • Chapter 4: Dreaming and Waking

    (apologies for interrupting the match)

    Miyan opened his eyes, and an ocean of inky blackness looked back. He stood on an obsidian beach, and as he shuffled his feet, they were cut easily, spilling dark crimson blood between the razors. The beach seemed to stretch on infinitely in either direction, as did the ocean, an endless expanse of pure darkness so vast that he could not make out where the sea ended and the sky began. 

    The dark sea seemed to undulate, waves approaching with mounting intensity only to fizzle out as they got close, like a candle that's been extinguished, leaving the surface closest to Miyan as clean and unmarred as a molten hot piece of glass. 

    He turned his attention to the beach once more, and leaned down to pick up a piece of obsidian, but as he readjusted his grip, his fingers were cut, and he dropped the shard, where it sunk into, and straight through, his foot, spilling blood once more. He squeezed his eyes shut in pain and tried to kneel down to grab his foot, in a futile attempt to stop the bleeding, but he lost his balance and fell into the shards.

    But before he hit the ground, he felt something hot wrap around his arms, his legs, and then his neck, so hot that he could have sworn he was being branded. They pulled him back up, and then over backwards, but Miyan never hit the beach.

    Miyan's eyes flew open and he gasped for breath. Sweat beaded on his forehead, and his body ached, his thigh and neck felt especially piercing, thigh where the knife had struck him and... his neck?

    Miyan quickly blinked the deliriousness from his eyes as his brain finished waking up, and he realized that someone was leaning over him. He took a quarter of a second to observe the situation before acting. White hair, small frame, black cloak. Satisfied that he could take this person on, Miyan bolted upright, grabbing the person by the hair and pushing them off the bed, using the momentum of their body weight to pull himself up, from where he slammed the intruder's head into the wall, followed by sweeping their feet out from under them and dropping them to the floor, pinning them to the ground.

    Miyan looked down in shock at the girl he found himself pinning to the ground. She seemed to be about his age, with white hair, pale skin, and wide, dark eyes, in which tears began to well as he looked. Dark blood ran from her nose, and it mixed with the dried blood that was smeared around her mouth. Miyan reached up to the pain in his neck, and his fingers came away bloodied. He opened his mouth to speak, but the girl spoke first.

    "I had to know..."

    "I felt it, and I had to know."

    "You must have felt it too..."

    "Miyan"

    As his name left her lips, Miyan's eyes widened, and he heard it once more in his mind. And at once, the knowledge arrived like a crashing wave, answering his biggest question, yet in its place, hundreds more now filled his mind. Though one thing was for certain. He knew exactly who she was.
  • edited February 24

    The Third Match (End)

    Audhild Wandering Duelist Ring of the PolymatgVS

    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…

    Please! Help!

    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.

    Ring of the Polymatg

    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!”

    Kalthor!

    “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.

    No…no…no!

    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!!!!!


    Honestly, I felt SpellPiper had a large lead in card design and Drake had a large lead in story. Any other "tiebreaker" aspect evened itself out for me, so in the end, Oritira was the more creative character which is why she won.

    @DrakeGladis Congrats! Oritira made her way to the next round. Your interactions with other characters really helped you get ahead! Feel free to upgrade your champion to CMC5 or create a new signature card for the quarter finals.

    @SpellPiper2213 Again, I thought you would win this one at first. Your card design was superior. You have done a great job, so you should feel proud about all the work you put into this. Well done.

    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.

  • edited February 25

    The Apple Part II

    The match between Oritra and Audhild had been enlightening to say the least. Nimbu had seen minor manifestations of the abyss before in her time her time in Avelaide but not to this extent before. Ofcourse she had no idea it what it was until she had it mentioned now. Nonetheless she had always assumed it was some manifestation of evil or something of the likes.

    All of a sudden it made sense. The old man's sick daughter, they disappearance of Friyena and the ring's corruption, this is what Narish meant when she asked Nimbu to save the people here. All the healing she'd done, those wierd creatures she slayed, while they were all helping, this was her true calling.

    The lands, just like the apple, were rotting and they needed a champion. But was she up to the task? For now she was just greatful that she was able to heal Auldhid. She walked back up the stall, her zombies behind her, before leaving to prepare for her next match against her opponent. 
  • edited February 25

    5 ~ A Dark Truth — Part 1/3

    (Thanks to @DrakeGladis and @Arceus8523 for taking the time to interact with Michio and Mia, especially on such short notice!)

    After the third match...

    A lot of time had passed since the "incident". Rehela was easily able to heal the unexpected injury, but Michio still had questions, and his head still hurting from whatever attacked him in his dream. However, Mia had refused to let him out of his room, even on the evening before his match, except to wash and use the closest restroom. She reminded him of Haru a good bit... always hypervigilant when it came to injuries.

    Michio heard the scuffling of contestants coming in, and groaned as his shoulder popped from his stretching. "Will you let me leave my room, please? I'm fairly sure the third match just ended; I'm next."
    Mia was sitting in a chair next to him, folding paper cranes as she always did, and she chucked one at him. "No. Bad. You need to get as much rest as you can."
    "I've gotten too much rest, dear. My joints feel like they've fused together."
    "Don't be dramatic..."

    It was at this point that they heard a scratching at the door. Kumo had grown concerned. He had not seen the ninja in quite some time, which a bit alarming considering the rumors that he had gotten injured. Yes, Michio was talking, so he must have been awake, and yes, Kumo recalled that the ninja called him some sort of demon... but Kumo had to know if he was fine. Besides, it was wrong for one to be boarded up in their room for as long as the man had been.

    "What in the..." Michio seemed confused as he started towards the door. Animals were uncommon in his village, and pets were reserved for nobility, so the sound of scratching was quite unfamiliar to him. Mia stopped him, and headed to the door herself. 
    "I've got it, dad," Mia sternly told her father. "I want you to be well rested for your match."
    "I told you, Mia," he replied, groggy from bedrest, "I'll be fine. I really need to get moving and motivated before it's time to head out; as my father once said, "a still body makes a still mind"."
    "Still got the door."

    When Mia opened the door, she was surprised to see that there was actually a guest... but that made things a bit more awkward. No one really saw Mia or knew who she was; to Kumo, she was a stranger. But that didn't stop her from delightfully turning to her father as she welcomed him in. "It's for you, dad."
    "I told you I could get the- oh- K-Kumo." He was still a bit startled by the sentient dog, but he was bored, so he accepted the company. Hello there, Kumo. Sorry I haven't been around; Mia has been trying to make sure my body's as stiff as possible for my match."
    "No, I've been making sure you've been getting enough rest. Come in, Kumo. I don't know if you can talk or not, but if you can, we can use this to..."

    Mia trailed off as she held up the kitsune mask, seeing someone else peek around the door. Someone rather unkept for a tournament, with an earthly smell to her. It must have been the druid. Michio was a bit startled, not by them coming in uninvited, but by them seeming so poorly dressed. However, he recomposed himself, and-

    "Ah!" Mia seem thrilled at the aspect of their being multiple guests. However, when she saw that Oritira had blood on her clothes, she instantly went back to that demeanor she'd been carrying for the last couple days. "...oh... Oreteya, you're hurt! Um, or was it... Oreeda? Oridera? Oh, forget it. I'm Mia. Please, sit down so I can tend to you injuries. I'll get you some tea. Do you want some as well, Kumo?"
    "No, thank you," Kumo replied with a shake of his head, comfortable being more vocal when Oritira was around; at least then one person would understand him. "Oritira, would you mind letting them know I came to check in on why Michio hadn't been out in a number of days? And for that matter, how are you doing after that match?"
    "It's Oritira" The druid told Mia, "and it's a pleasure to meet you. My injuries are already tended to; that happened after the match.  However, I can't seem to get the blood off of my outfit.  Kumo says he doesn't want tea, he was here to check in on Michio, and why hasn't been out in a couple of days."

    Both Mia and her father went wide-eyed. Kumo could talk? That's either really good, or really, really bad. She just had to ask Michio. "Father?"
    "Yes, dear?" He quickly responded.
    "You know how you said Kumo might be a yokai?"
    "Believing me now? Dogs can't communicate with words."
    "Somewhat..."

    Mia would seem to shake her head in confusion, then speak up as she poured Oritira some ginger tea from a teapot, still hot. "Well, Dad ended up having his head hurt."
    "I'm fine now though," Michio interjected. "Rehela healed me and told me I'd be fine if I just didn't do whatever I did again."
    "You can't be too safe. Anyways, Kumo can talk?"
    Oritira chuckled a bit, gladly accepting the tea. "Kinda? He's self aware, and has the same functions as either of you. I'm not exactly sure why, but his mouth is the wrong shape for speech as we know it, even though he can understand our language. I've only known one other being like him, a drake. He was a good friend."
    "In that case..."

    Mia tried something; she put the mask on Kumo's face. If it was true that he was able to hold conversation, then Kumo would be able to speak to her and her father through it. "Try this, Kumo. You should be able to speak with telepathy through the mask."

    In the meantime, Oritira would now speak to the ninja. "What exactly did you do to hurt your head if you don't mind me asking?"

    Mia telepathed to Michio again. "Um... Dad? Do you think it's safe to tell them?"
    Michio just giggled lightly. "I would have told someone by now if you weren't keeping me cooped up, eating soup all day."

    Michio would clear his throat, then hesitantly speak to the druid. "Well, I had... a very strange dream, you see. To explain the best I can, I was lucid, and practicing my running skills across the forest. However, I came across a form of ruins in my journey, and no matter what I did to push it out and away, it wouldn't disappear. There were strange symbols on the walls, not much to see within, but as I went further down, something caught me by surprise. Some strange, smoky creature that my blade could do little against, something burrowing into my mind. My daughter here woke me up, but somehow, the pain it caused to my mind was very much real. I had to seek medical attention."

    Oritira seemed a bit disturbed. "...black smoke, you say?"
    Finally, Kumo was able to telepath, now audible to Mia and Michio as well and recoiling from the description. "Everyone? Can you hear me?"
    "Loud and clear," Mia affirmed.
    "I wouldn't say loud, but definitely clear," Michio added. "I'm going to assume whatever I saw there isn't good..."
  • 5 ~ A Dark Truth — Part 2/3

    Kumo would seem to sigh. "Far from. I assume you're looking for answers, you as well Oritira." Kumo looked down, and while the kitsune mask covered his face, everyone else could tell things were about to get serious. "I had feared it would reach us here, but I had hoped not so soon. Have either of your heard of The Abyss?"
    "No, I've not," Oritira confessed. "Then again, if it's a human problem I've been well sheltered from those."
    Michio somewhat squinted. "I heard about it in passing... it sounded serious." 

    "It is far more than a human problem, Oritira," Kumo disputed in an uncharacteristically serious tone for him. "It is something that could very well tear the world as we know it apart."

    "The Abyss is... another place, for lack of a better way to put it. It is a place of power, desire, ruination... By its very nature, it is infested with demons, devils, unnatural horrors, and even a god. It is a constant of the world, keeping these creatures prisoner deep within. However, they slip out from time to time, infesting and attacking those in this world. What's worse is that The Abyss... calls out to us. It promises something: power, answers, a long-held desire, and when we give in, it takes us. Corrupts us. It strips away one's very being until they are no more than a husk of their former selves. Eventually, it brings them under, trapping them within."

    "That ring Audhild used was harnessing magic from The Abyss, and when she could no longer control it, it... tried to take her. She has been corrupted, or at least is beginning to be, and if she can't fight it back she will eventually be chained within it, trapped alongside whatever being offered her its power. Michio, there's no doubt that monster you saw in your dreams was an Abyssal horror, escaped from the realm below and into your mind... somehow. For all we know, it may have been the Abyss calling out to you." He pauses a moment to let that sink in. "...so, I might want to explain this now. The reason we are all here, the reason for this tournament, is to bring Friyena home. Without Friyena, we will succumb to the abyss no matter how hard we fight, no matter how hard we resist."

    "There is a prophecy that has been passed to Friyena's knights, and that has has reached the world at large. It speaks of Morkaraktus, the Apocalypse. Deep within The Abyss is a viscous monster called Septhis. It was prophesized that over 100 years ago he was suppose to rise up and break free from The Abyss, to raze the world and wreak havoc upon it. That has yet to happen, but with Friyena gone for 50 years, I can only think that she may have been the one keeping Septhis at bay. I fear we may have been brought here not only to bring Friyena back, but to prepare to fight Septhis in case he does arise."

    It's at this point Michio stood, and he didn't let Mia hold him back. "That is... greatly concerning," he began. "Mia. It is a great thing that you were able to wake me up in time; whatever creature that was, it did call to me. I felt myself being compelled, drawn in as it leeched at my mind. But I knew better than to accept whatever siren call it had for me. I thought I saw something familiar in the smoke, a voice calling to me. But I knew that I was in danger. I didn't realize, however, that my life was truly on the line. Perhaps that's why my head still hurts as we speak; if what you say is true, than it may come back to try and claim me again. It must not have been a physical entity, but from what you're saying... if this Abyss is able to be manifested, able to reach out directly, then... I'm highly concerned to say the least. I know it just might happen again."

    "That is why we must prepare ourselves, why we must repel The Abyss, and not let it touch us. Each person it corrupts is a potential enemy, or a potential prisoner. I refuse to see that happen to any of us. It is a dark force, and we must fight back, fight it within ourselves if need be. Even the slightest corruption can lead you down a dark path."
    "Geez," Mia growled. "We were hoping it'd be a lot more simple than this. Michio, just a simple "save some people, and fight off evil"... why did you have to go and run your mouth, saying "Oh, I'll help vanquish it!" without knowing what you're getting into? Now you angered it."
    "It seems I was right that it would need vanquishing," Michio reassured her. "This just makes things much more urgent."
    "You will have to be strong, stronger than you were in that dream," Kumo said firmly, his voice having a weight to it that made it almost sound like a stern admonishment. "The Abyss puts more than your life on the line. To be consumed by it is a fate worse than death. If you die, you are lucky, because if you don't you are doomed to spend an eternity rotting within, a slave to whatever twisted desires it and the creatures within have."

    "Michio, I know you are better than that. You have a strength, an optimism to you that shines through. You have power, a power all your own, and it is stronger and more dependable than anything The Abyss could offer you. You must remember that." The ninja could feel Kumo's gaze through the mask, the weight of it like someone putting their hand on his shoulder. "Do you understand?" 
    "I understand you greatly," Michio affirmed. "I will definitely need to be stronger; Mia protects me a good deal, but in my dream, her magical reserves had run dry, so she had to wake me. Perhaps I've neglected in my training."

    At this moment, Oritira felt a twitch. Kumo had explained plenty, but it was likely better than she discussed further details about her match at another time. After all, she was overwhelmed, and clearly needed more time to process what Kumo had said than Michio. "I.... I need to go. Kumo, if I could talk with you later? I've got some personal questions. Michio, Mia. It's uhm. Well given the circumstances I can't say a pleasure, but..."
    "It's fine, madame," The ninja calmly muttered. "I have no idea what happened in the arena, so maybe it's better Kumo talks with you about that more personally." He'd sigh as Oritira left the room, setting down her empty glass on the way out, then turn back to Kumo. "Now, since you seem fairly familiar with The Abyss, what sort of extra precautions can I take? I know now that Mia and I will need to train more, practice more, and perhaps create another Masterwork or three of ours, but is there any major step forward we should take?"

    Kumo would ponder for a moment before finally responding. "Just... trust in yourself," he eventually said plainly. "The Abyss claws at your weakness, your doubts... your desires. And it will keep clawing until it consumes you. Abyssal horrors can be fought in the physical world, but the real battle with the abyss is mental, and spiritual. It is a hard-fought battle, and one that has been lost by many, even gods. But what all of them had in common was doubt. If you can trust in yourself, you can overcome anything The Abyss could try to do to 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.

    “He did?”

    “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.

    -------------------

    @Tommia and @Tonysparks

    Good luck to the both of you! I am going to have lots of fun writing this

  • 5 ~ A Dark Truth — Part 3/3

    "Mia," Michio said with some mild urgency. "Let's not overdo it like last time, but it definitely sounds like we need to go back to doing more mental exercises. I've come to a realization; we've become so focused on what we can see before us that we made ourselves oblivious. Had I of thought to ask about The Abyss at dinner rather than just worrying about Nimbu, my morals, and being a respectful patron, we could have started dealing with this sooner. I'll admit, when I left home, I was so giddy to come to a place that's more peaceful that I didn't think to do my research. I was foolish for not doing it when I got a chance."

    "You left your home to come here?" Kumo thought curiously. "Where is your home?"

    "My home world is called Kodenko, but I haven't had a proper home in a while. It's for the best, really. Kodenko was constantly at war. Every corner I turned there was conflict. I was originally a warrior, and before that a simple craftsman, but my struggles there forced me into the life of a ninja. I trained in ninjutsu not so I could kill and end battles, but so I could defuse and avoid them. You could say that was cowardly of me, and I would agree. I have only killed one person in my life, and that was when lives were on the line."
    Kumo seemed further puzzled. "What do you mean by 'home world' exactly? Are you saying you're not from Avelaide? Like an... alien?"
    "Correct. I came here because I heard of a battle that could be won, a battle against this Abyss... but it appears I've jumped out of the fire and into the pot." Michio chuckled a bit nervously now... he'd gotten himself in deep from the looks of it.
    Kumo seemed incredulous, to the degree where he disregarded what Michio had said and his attempt at humor. “Surely, surely you’re joking, right?” He followed up, wondering if he was being led on some elaborate prank.
    "I wish I was. On Kodenko, entire countries were being razed on grudges thousands of years old. I legitimately thought this would be a peace more easily accomplishable than whatever we would have done to bring a few dozen countries to terms with each other. I'm clearly wrong, but I'm here, and lives are on the line."

    Kumo stood silently for many moments. If the mask wasn’t covering his face, they would’ve seen his expression of disbelief. Still, Michio sounded so genuine about this, so pained about the fate of his home. There was no way he was lying about this. He really had no reason to lie about this. “How… How did you get here?”
    "It was rather strange, really... I was sent an invitation to join, of all things. No one else really mentioned that, so clearly someone must have saw something to me." Michio was still wanting to break the awkwardness of the situation, so he tried again at humor. "Maybe they just liked that I try to avoid killing people?"
    “An… invitation, that made it all the way to another world? What would they have even used to send it?” That was more rhetorical but he was still in awe of this. “If you received an invitation all the way in another world, someone must have chose you to be here. I’m not sure who or what, but they wouldn’t have gone to the trouble of bringing you here otherwise.”

    "Exactly. I still feel like I don't know just what I've gotten myself into at this point, but clearly I was meant to be here. Thank you, Kumo. Now I know my enemy, and I know that this is going to be a lot harder than just saving the innocent and winning a simple tournament."
    "Well, what you have gotten yourself into is a battle quite unlike the one from your home world.” Kumo would shake his head, sighing. “To be fair, though, I’m not even sure some of the natives in this world are familiar with the struggle we’re getting into.”
    "Quite. I would expect the people here to be more vigilant than they are."
    Mia had been deep in thought, and finally spoke. "Well, there's my excuse to start training my body."
    "Mia. You keep forgetting you... um..."
    "Oh... that. Then we'll have to make me a better one!"
    "Right. But how do you think we'll manage to improve upon your bo- ah! Nevermind, that just sounds weird."

    ”You’ll also need your mask back,” Kumo pointed out. “I appreciate your lending it to me. It’s been… nice to find out there’s people out there I can talk to, even its in matters as grim as these in times as dark as these." He'd look down again, and let out one last sigh. "Just… if you’re ever hurting insure, or scared, or worried, please come find me, It’s- just- that’s how The Abyss gets to you and I don’t want to see that happen to either of you. To any of us.”
    "And neither do I," Michio almost shouted. "Now that I know that it threatens all of us, I'll make an effort to meet with the others. You said it's already happened to one of us, and one that seemed just like me too. I want to do all I can to ensure that this doesn't happen again."
    "We can't stop it from happening," Kumo advised. "I suspect Audhild carried that ring to the tournament with her. Even in the best of times The Abyss claws at us. We all fight demons on the inside, whether it be regret, or fear, or anger, or want, or something else entirely. I have demons myself, demons I fear may lead me to the Abyss one day. What we can do, however, is resist its pull. Not by ignoring it, not by getting angry at it, or sacred, or even just upset, but by coming to terms with ourselves. It's a journey all of us are on, and we will each have many trials along the way, but we don't have to walk the path alone. So, if you're going to meet with the others, just... try to help them, if you can, in any way they'll let you."
    "Absolutely. I'll do everything that I can to help. I chose this battle, and I will fight it. Even if we can't face this threat directly, it would be wrong of me to not lend everything I can to the cause."

    Kumo smiled at this. Michio would be a powerful ally who knew directly the battle they were facing. Of course they were here for the tournament, still, but Kumo had known the tournament was announced for a reason, and this was that reason. It was no mere invitation, but a drafting, a drafting of the greatest warriors in the world, and beyond. And together, they were going to fight for Avelaide. With Michio's vow made, Kumo would take his leave.

    "Mia," Michio called lowly, wrapping an arm around her shoulder.
    "It looks like it's happening here too," she said, sighing. "The people need help."
    "Right. We made a promise a while ago, that we wouldn't allow a single person to suffer. Today, we renew that promise; on my honor, I will see this through. We'll bring peace to this world..."
    "...or we'll die trying?"
    "...you know what? No. We're not dying; I will do everything I can to protect these people. I may not know them well, and some of them may be criminals. Some of them may desire victory in this tournament over their safety. But I'll do everything in my power to make sure nothing happens to them that I can prevent."


  • edited February 25

    The Fourth Match (End), Part 1

     VS

    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…”

  • edited February 25

    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.

  • edited February 25

    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.

    _________________________________________________________

    While I can't say that the outcome of the match was completely unexpected, Oritira having a stronger story, Audhild's ring being corrupted definitely came out of left field. It's been a fun tournament thus far, and I look forward to seeing how the characters progress.

    @DrakeGladis congratulations on Oritira winning! I look forward to seeing how she progresses in the tournament.
  • edited February 25
    The Fourth Match - Winner!!!!



    Both of you had excellent stories and great interactions. It was pretty even between you two in that regard, however, Michio eventually won out in card design.

    @Tommia Congrats on your win! I'm very interested to see how Mia and Michio's story continues. You may now make a new card for your champion with 5CMC or another signature card.

    @Tonysparks Unfortunately, Nimbu had to lose. You did a great job with your stories and I loved how you gave Nimbu a distinct personality too. Feel free to post any concluding stories/additional cards you have!

    Rehela got back after healing both contestants.

    "When a competitor loses, do they have to leave?" Rehela asked.
    "You know the rules," Byrre said.
    Rehela smiled at Nimbu before focusing back on Byrre. "Right. And I think it's time we told Aki what's going on."

    Byrre nodded gravely. He stood up. "The next match between Ergun and Syr Cedric will take place in the lake stadium at midnight."

    ------

    @Lujikul and @theirintheattic

    Post any story bits you have lying around, because this match is going to be super close! I will be writing up this match in the evening again, most likely.
  • edited February 25
    @shadow123 that was soo cool. We definitely blew the rest of the matches for this tournament out of the park. I am not even upset if I lost because I know I gave my fans a show. Congrats @Tommia , I would have offered to stay as a spare healer for you guys, but rules are rules.

    You singlehandedly managed to make my day today shadow. I will be spectating from the shadows (no pun intended). I will also drop a concluding statement since Nimbu still wishes the restore Friyena as per her mission from her deity and as a service to her new home.

    Best of luck to the remaining champs.
  • edited February 25
    You guys have a large legacy to live up to because me and @Tommia just embodied the word "legendary"
  • @Tonysparks Thank you so much! I had so much fun writing this one, especially with Nimbu's zombie leviathan from the water-sky. You did an amazing job once again, and I really hope to see you again in the next Tournament of Champions!

    @SpellPiper2213 A beautiful goodbye piece. Thanks so much for your amazing participation. Writing for Auidhild was really a pleasure :)
  • The sky leviathan was epic, could you send me the hypothetical stats so I can make a card for it (if you have time that is)

    I also liked the giant raising of a legion. I definetely became a local legend around Avelaide now. Raising a legion is the highest honor for a necromancer, let alone one who is multiclassing a cleric. 
  • edited February 25
    Here I took a crack at it with the images I had to work with. I'm sure I can't capture the magnificence of imagination, but I hope this is close enough.

    https://mtgcardsmith.com/view/dreamborn-levaithan
  • @SpellPiper2213 if you wanted to have a wrap up with Oritira, that'd be possible.  Either way, it was a pleasure fighting you.  I really didn't know what was gonna happen until the very end!
  • edited February 25
    I'll do post combat stuff later. Very good job on the battle, Shadow. While I'd be interested in doing more interaction stuff I'll be busy tomorrow, plus my brain need a break from writing for at least four days straight
  • @DrakeGladis I'm not entirely sure how a wrap-up interaction between Audhild and Oritira would go, but either way, it was a pleasure fighting you as well. I had absolutely no idea how the match would go, so reading it was very exciting. Good luck!
  • (Taking place after Kumo meeting Claire, as a followup to this previous interaction. Special thanks to @Lujikul for co-writing this section with me. As was the case with my interaction with Oritira, Lujikul deserves just as much, if not more, credit than I do for this section.)

    Some people are awoken by the crowing of a rooster each morning, welcoming the sunrise. Some are awoken by noisy neighbors that get up early to seize the day. Some wake up naturally, rejuvenated and healthy. But for one person, waking up is a completely different experience altogether.

    "Up and at 'em!"

    The erupting sound of two metal gloves clapping filled the room, rousing Syr Cedric's squire from their otherwise tranquil sleep. The youth sat up, groaning and pinching the bridge of their nose. "Ugh, is it morning already?"

    "It will be soon. If you're going to be a knight, you must be vigilant. We rise and rest with the sun, active when villainy and wretchedness is least able to hide."

    "Can I at least get five more minutes?" The youth laid back down and turned over in their bed with a case of the early morning grumps.

    "I suppose so if you really want, though I would've thought you'd be excited. After all, today's your first day of combat training!" proclaimed Cedric with more enthusiasm than any living person would ever have at an hour like this one. "I remember back when I was a young squire myself, and how excited I was for my first day. I performed worse than my mentor even thought possible, but it's a day I remember fondly nonetheless." Cedric laughed jovially.

    "Your mentor?" The youth sat up, now very curious. "What kind of person were they?" This was a rare chance for insight to Syr Cedric's past.

    "Her name was Syr Ernesta Fuath. She was the toughest person I'd ever known in life, and a master of defensive fighting. She isn't alive today, of course, but I learned almost everything I know from her. She was tough as nails and merciless in her teaching, but off the battlefield, she was like a different person. She could be rough enough to wrestle a boar, yet gentle enough to soothe a heartbroken child. I aspired to be like her in my youth." Cedric tilted his head to one side, looking at his squire. If the youth hadn't known better, they would've said he was in a better mood than usual. "But enough reminiscing for now. Come, prepare yourself for training, and perhaps we can share stories more afterwards." With that, Cedric vanished, giving them their privacy. 

    Syr Cedric reappeared once the squire had nearly reached the training grounds. "I figured we'd start simple, with holding your weapon. Approach the training dummy," he said as he summoned his own spectral blade. "Hold it like so," he instructed, demonstrating with his weapon, making it look simple, like it was second nature. "This will be how you use it for an overhead swing, a simple but effective maneuver. Practice for a bit, and I'll check in on you in a few hours."

    "You're not gonna make sure I'm doing it right?"

    "I have full confidence in you, for I can sense a prodigy of knighthood in you!" With a bowing gesture, Cedric vanished back into the helmet in the squire's bag. 

    "Well," the youth exhales, looking at the wooden sword they held. "Nothing to it but to do it, then." They took their position, trying to remember to hold the weapon as Cedric had showed them, and began swinging repeatedly, trying to keep the motion controlled. It wasn't their idea of an ideal time spent training, but it'd have to do.

    As the youth was beginning practicing this technique, Kumo was just arriving to the training grounds, having spent a bit more time with Claire than he had expected. The hydromancer was actually trailing him, heading to another part of the training grounds. Upon arriving, he located the squire with little issue, but didn't immediately head for them. He saw they were practicing a basic sword technique, and he wanted to observe how they were progressing. Though the technique wasn't very complicated, the squire seemed to be struggling with parts of it. While their grip was steady, their stance was not, evidenced by how they were nearly slipping over each time they put their weight into the swing.

    Kumo knew exactly the problem: the squire's stance wasn't wide enough, and it was causing their center of gravity to be too high, which was making them almost fall over when swinging a hefty blade like that. He shook his head to himself before walking over. This absolutely would not do. Upon arriving to the squire, he did little in the way of introductions, quickly pushing his ahead against their back leg firmly, trying to nudge it back a few inches.

    The squire had been so focused on their practicing that they hadn't noticed Kumo's arrival, which made the nudging feeling against their leg quite the surprise. "Ack! What're you doing, trying to knock me over?" They stepped their leg back a couple inches as a reflex. "Wait, hold on..." They bounced a little in place, acknowledging the newfound stability. "Turns out you're smarter than I am, Kumo," the squire said with a small smile.

    Kumo chuckled a bit at the squire's reaction, which came out as a small, playful growl to them. He then sat expectantly, watching the squire and prepared to mentor them farther. It appeared they might need some extra advice, at least as long as that ghost-knight wasn't going to be present.
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