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Thread: Round One: [Nomad-vs-Gladiator]-Judge bluemoon

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    Default Round One: [Nomad-vs-Gladiator]-Judge bluemoon

    ROUND ONE: Glacial Arena
    Vaidia (Nomad) VS. Mystress of Shadows (Gladiator)
    Judge: bluemoon





    The stage is set, an unforgiving frozen wasteland featuring an expanse of the purest white for as far as the eye can see. The beauty is unseen, as there is no life there, only snow and ice, the inhabitable arena offering little for survival for man or beast. With temperatures below freezing, the cold air whistles, forming small eddies as it circles, causing anything it touches to tingle and sting.

    In a gust of wind, a lone figure emerges, a dark cloak billowing out around her body as her ebony strands take on a life of their own--the snake-like tendrils coiling about her head as she faces the building currents. She raises her arms and a groan can be heard as the thick ice cracks, water bubbling outward as the surface buckles and transforms. Stalagmites form, pushing upward amid patches of icy blades, the virgin landscape losing its appeal as it is reconfigured.

    Mistress Moon lowers her arms and the surface refreezes, knitting together around the cracked and fragile layers of ice. Beware those who fight there...the arena is as deadly as any opponent bearing arms. Care should be taken with every step.

    Let the games begin!

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

    bluemoon will post after the first and third rounds and you must wait for those posts. (aka, she will post after you both made a post, and after you both made 3 posts).
    You will have 72 hours to respond between each post.
    By the flip of a coin, Vaidia (Nomad) will go first.
    Last edited by SikstaSlathalin; 01-21-2020 at 06:46 PM.


    Xbox One Gamertag: Free Today56 just say who you are first.
    But will you prove strong enough?



    Spoiler: The Stories I've written 



  2. #2
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    Default The Drop of Honey

    There will always be stories…

    Like silk being spun into thread, she was once again, darkness and light pulled into being to create that which was her.

    When she was a girl (the memories blossomed into her like a great warm blossom of color, the first rays of sun stealing away at the cold of night) she often spent hours with her mother and sisters, working away at a great tapestry. She often complained of sore fingers, her hands aching to hold something more concrete than the allowed threads, assisting in the great weft and warp of what would soon be a work of majesty. But she remained for the stories, words warping and wefting her imagination into far more splendor than anything the thread could make.

    Scherazade was, once again. She felt the sensation of her body before she felt the environment. There were rasping fingers, a thrill of pins of needles, and great whooping leap within her gut, before she came to be. Her mind ricocheted about in a flurry of memory, before the more reasonable side pushed that aside to assess where she was. Deal with the present, before voyaging into the effervescent clouds, as tempting as was to reach for the light.

    The cold came next, biting into her like a lash from a whip, but it was not a pain she recoiled from. In fact, it was like a blessing in her mind, for it was the first true sensation she had known since… Scherazade paused, finding her mind blank, which was an uncommon occurrence, for her mind seldom stopped turning, as relentless as the wind that shifted even the mightiest desert dune.

    The first memory she had was of darkness. Or perhaps it was the last? Time was fickle, and sensations twisted about in a harried flurry of truth and lies. Fear and desperation. Bravery and defiance. All without a home, drifting from the grasp of her normally keen mind, like trying to grasp air--

    --(part of her mind chided that comparison. Smoke proved air could be held, at least for a time. another warm ember of a memory, of time spent experimenting as a child with the elements, stealing away books of science and speculation to ready hidden amongst the trees of the palace-- she was always good at hiding and spying)


    The wind here even more unrelenting than any place she knew. The many silken robes she wore whipped about her body like a dancing flame, twisting and knotting around her limbs in one moment, and then lashing out in the next. Scherazade took in the surroundings around her, and could not keep a small smile from creeping onto her face.

    “Beautiful…” She whispered, but the word was quickly stolen from her lips by the wind. She knew what this place must be, although she did not know how she had gotten here. It was something from the great many stories she had read. Snow. A great field of it, shimmering like an unending field of silver. The girl (woman? she could not recall her age) reached down into the snow, feeling the cold cut into her hands, before throwing a heap of the snow into the air, laughing softly as it rained down around her like a great rain of diamonds. The laugh died in her lips, a sudden feeling of deja vu over taking her.

    She was a prisoner. That was something she was sure of. The second memory was of that. Of being contained within a jail cell, even though there was nothing to indicate that but the cloistering darkness. It was simply a fact she knew, like how sunshine meant day, and the twinkling firmament of stars meant the night. (and there was also ineffable Pain, but what was pain if she wasn’t currently being? Pain in a dream or nightmare would always fade as when waking took its toll.)

    A great cracking sound interrupted her reverie, causing one hand to reflexively slip to the sword at her side, although she did not know why such reflexes existed. Her numb fingers fumbled with the blade for a moment, loosening it in its scabbard, before looking to where the cacophony originated from.

    There was a strange figure that had appeared, another woman that gave her a strange feeling, much like the cold of this place did. But she had dealt with strangers and the strangests before. Scheherazade raised a hand to great this person, before seeing just what crashing sound came from.

    The third memory was of her Jailer, the one that wore a corpse's face. She had seen death before, and it did not dare present itself as handsomely as this specter did. Therefore she knew what the visage was: a Lie, wrapped in dread finery. An Enigma to be decoded, for lies often were forged from fractured truths, and perhaps at the core of it would be the answer of why this all was.

    (there was also a question of language, for the jailer spoke to her in words she did not recognize but understood all the same. being the daughter of the Sultan meant she meant a great many people from a great many lands, and she persisted in learning ways to communicate with them to learn their own stories (for this was when she was older and far more patient), stealing away books and spending hours over one night to be able to have a simple conversation the next, and it was so so so so unfair that this strange shadow of a shadow could simply say understanding, and thus make it be

    and how could they trust what was said by the other, would be true?)


    It was like watching blood escape a wound near a main artery, and having that moment before gravity took hold stopped in time. A great jutting of water came from the ground where it broke-- was broken-- where it instantly froze in several menacing stalagmites that defied the logic of time. If she were caught over one of those unaware and on idle feet, she would likely meet a lonely and poor end, and it would be her actual blood spilled.

    The reality of the cold settled from the awakening, becoming a menacing player in this terrible play of lies and darkness. The chill sapped and stung. Scherazade knew she would need to finish… whatever needed finishing, before she died (she would not, and could nor, for she was she). Seeing no other option, and being a girl woman well raised, she began to make her way toward the ice bringer, intending to discern the depths of what she was meant to do.

    The rest of the memories from before came after that, like she was blind and her mind was a patchwork quilt explored by touch, each slow and cautious moment bringing a rush of new sensations, a wafting of nostalgia like the hint of a woman’s perfume left behind in room long after she had left. She knew her name, and who she was, that she lived a life of luxury in the center of the world, and all things revolved around that, but that was not the end of her story. There was a gap between the girl who played hero and the one she was now, a great tear in the tapestry of herself, the frayed edges like razors everytime she dared to try and touch them.

    “Hail, stranger!” Scherazade called, her voice a clarion about the seething hiss and whistle of the winds. “And Peace! Tell me your name, for I wish there to be something more strangeness between us.”

    (...but there was always the final memory, nestled away in an impossible shawl, one that the fumbling fingers of her mind could not grasp, but she felt the scars from it on her all the same. perhaps this was but an extension of that final memory, a final vision of delirium. there was pain with this phantom memory, one that she knew to be real, and it haunted the idle corners of her mind, vanishing in a whisp as soon as she tried to make it known-- there was something important she needed from that forgotten fate, some silent scream of warning ripped from the throat, words now unheard.

    a story left unfinished, and threads left shorn.)
    Last edited by Vaidia; 01-24-2020 at 06:06 AM.

    Thanks Nara and Karma for the wonderful Avatar and Signature set!

    When all else is gone, the bones always remain...

    Spoiler: VAIDIA'S CHARACTER THEME SONG WORKSHOP 

  3. #3
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    Default To Sleep, Perchance to Dream



    To die, to sleep -
    To sleep, perchance to dream - ay, there’s the rub
    For in this sleep of death what dreams may come…

    -William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 3 Scene 1

    This quote would come to Marcos while surrounded by the cold stone of his cell. At least, it would have if he had ever learned to read.

    Indeed, this quote suited the situation well. To die in battle, disgraced and tossed aside, yet left to dream, if this could be called a dream. It was akin to a blue flame being lit beneath him with nowhere to run and no way to fight.

    Images of a ghastly specter proceeded towards the front of his mind, an impish creature whom he couldn’t tell mockery or pleasure from. This specter, with the nightmarish black cloak, the glinting skeletal scythe, and the skulls clacking with his every move, could only be death, Marcos surmised. It is with this knowledge and a shiver down his spine that he concluded this:

    My story is not over yet.

    Marcos released a low growl that rumbled deep within his chest. Within his eyes, a cold, dull flame ignited. He had accepted his fate, whatever it may be, just as his younger self struggled to all those years ago.



    Upon awakening, the first thing Marcos noticed was the sharp chill in the air and the unforgiving wind that carried it. However, there was no biting of the skin, no wish to cover himself with cloth for protection. His fur dampened the wind against him, but the chill posed a danger if he were here - wherever here was - for too long. The tropics wouldn’t prepare someone for the cold.

    Soon after, his eyes adjusted to the bright setting. Startling white snow and ice greeted him with thousands of shimmers. Snow and ice. As far as Marcos could recall, this was his first time encountering it.

    Deadly.

    This was his initial instinct. Bitter and freezing with no sign of vegetation or civilization for miles on end, this frozen wasteland was just that. A deadly wasteland. Furthermore, it seemed like the only other creature here, a young woman, failed to understand this as she tossed the snow in the air with a giddy laugh.

    That’s right. Something else existed in this wasteland. A woman dressed in dim red and dazzling gold with a sword at her hip and naivete across her face. How little of the world must she know to deem this place safe enough to relax? What type of world did she live in where she was oblivious to the immediate dangers around her? Judging from her clothing, a comfortable one.

    Marcos advanced, noting how the layer of snow across the ice provided him a fair amount of traction under his paws. The crunch and the chill was unfamiliar, but not unpleasant.

    A gust of wind whipped through the area, concentrating at one location to reveal a woman dressed in a dark cloak. The gaze she held, the controlled movements within the rippling wind, the blatant aloofness at the snow, it all screamed secrecy and power. Along with this presence, however, was a familiar instinct. Marcos’ pupils dilated as his fur rippled down his back. This feeling. This sensation. They - he and the woman in red - were now being watched with rabid anticipation. There was a controlled bloodlust in the air even as no one spoke, even as no one acted on it. The familiarity of the situation was overwhelming.

    They want a show. This was the only thought Marcos mustered as he remembered what set him down this path.

    Marcos remembered his younger days and the strife and struggle that consumed them. “This is my home now… Prove strong and useful and it shall always be.” How many times had he heard those words? How many times had he himself spoken those words as he woke each day? The loss of his parents, the whips of the slavers, the exhaustion. None of it mattered. Work hard and fight harder. Prove that you were worthy of existing. The scars littering his body were a testament to his struggle in this. Those who did not struggle died. Osei saw to that.

    Was this meant as a chance to redeem himself of his disgraceful death? Yes, it must be. Marcos would not waste this opportunity whether Osei dealt a hand in this or otherwise. If it was a show they wanted, he would give them the best show he could offer.

    The ice crackled in a great cacophony as the newest woman raised her arms. Our arena is shifting, Marcos realized. Pillars of water shot up from the ice, transforming the landscape to a precarious one full of traps. He noted the numerous fractures and spires in the ice that remained from the feat. Proper footing would be essential as time progressed.

    The shift in the arena, the bloodlust in the air, all of it made Marcos smile. A fight was where he excelled. A fight was where he could put on a show better than any jester or bard.

    The woman in red shouted out, breaking Marcos’ reverie. She’s speaking to the audience? This was uncommon in the arena. Was she attempting to be friendly? He cocked his head to the side as he attempted to process the events.

    She’s not a fighter.

    Marcos arrived at this revelation as she stepped towards the cloaked figure. Why would they place me against her, of all people, he wondered. Am I considered so weak that I must fight a novice?

    No. That wasn’t it.

    “You have a fire in your eyes, kid, and I like that. Let me give you a piece of advice from an old veteran. Never underestimate your opponent. The moment you hesitate, the moment you think you have the upper hand, that is when you will fall. Remember that.”

    Marcos could not remember who advised him of this, but he remembered it nonetheless. This woman was his opponent for a reason. Do not underestimate her because of her demeanor.

    “They expect us to fight, mocinha.” His soft paws traversed the ice towards her while circling towards his left. “To put on a show for them.” His voice cut through the air like a sharp knife through paper, gruff and firm. He spoke with the composure of experience, the hardened face of battle.

    Stopping thirty feet from her, Marcos entered a common fighting stance with both hands raised, his hooded katars glinting in the bright sunlight, and his feet a little more than hip’s width apart. His right arm defended his body while his left lead, ready to strike. He set his center of gravity between his feet as he eyed his opponent.

    “Fight for your life,” he warned, his voice strengthening with every word. He pushed off his right foot, rushing forward as the ice cracked beneath the sudden pressure.

    “Because I’ll be fighting to take it!”

    His eyes focused on two important areas. The first was her sword as her most likely action would be to draw it and either block or dodge, in any order. The second, however, was the center of her torso. His left fist would strike forward like a snake towards a mouse, aiming to pierce any vital organs within the chest or abdominal cavities with his katar.

    He refused to lose the initiative in this battle. He would pressure her, keep her on her toes and always on the defense.

    As his heart pounded in excitement, only one thought remained.

    May the best fighter win.
    Last edited by Mystress of Shadows; 02-04-2020 at 07:01 AM. Reason: Removed a stray word. 2: Format Error

  4. #4
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    The wind continued to gust fiercely, seeming to originate from the undead Spector known only as Mistress Moon. She narrowed her eyes as she was addressed by the woman dressed in billowing folds of cloth, her head tilting in curiosity. The edges of her lips lifted in a wolf-like grin, more reminiscent of hunger than gaiety, the expression not touching her ice cold blue eyes. As the other combatant made his presence known, she shifted her gaze, her body remaining still as the current flowed from her.

    A loud clapping, like thunder, bellowed from the ice around the fighter's feet as cracks began to appear, a widening fissure forming around them. Chunks of the floating mass slipped beneath to a watery grave, creating a suspended arena, large enough for freedom of movement, but diminishing in size as each pause was taken by the contestants. There was a sensation of weightlessness as the surface bobbed, creating yet another obstacle to overcome.

    Another gust blew, this time encircling each fighter and swirling at their feet as it ebbed. It carried a thought, like a soft breath whispered in their heads...to the death...followed by a chuckle, the sound rough and gasping, like the lungs of a life-long smoker. Moon's head lowered and her eyes closed, one more thought pushing into the fighters before they engaged.



    To the Nomad, a woman of beauty and grace, she sent a craving, a thirst so deep it should have been debilitating...and yet it was not truly physical...just a memory lost in the fabric of time. It came with a wave of nausea, a weakness of spirit that was brief, but lingering in thought.

    And to the Gladiator, a beast of great strength, she put forth a feeling of loss, a deep pain centered in the heart...and abdomen. As with the Nomad, the memory was barely physical, mostly a burning sensation that was fleeting.

    As each fighter recovered from her attack, the undead woman turned her back to them, moving deeper into the white expanse. Her cloak continued to billow about her, it's brilliance fading from a deep sapphire blue to silver...then to white. In the next breath of frigid air she was gone.
    Last edited by bluemoon; 01-27-2020 at 05:05 PM.

  5. #5
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    Default

    Strangeness prevailed, but who was there to say she was not strange herself?

    More tales from when she was young, blossoming from within her mind like a bright strand of pearls, resting around her neck like a protective wreath of warmth around her neck

    (she had a necklace of pearls once, given when she was a girl, and worn to the end of her memories, but the necklace was not there now-- lost, perhaps?).

    As the daughter of the Sultan, at the center of the world, with the great many peoples that came through the hall, she learned. When the warp and weave no longer held her interest, she would go to the barracks of the soldiers, sometimes in disguise, sometimes as herself (but hiding). She would watch the soldiers train by the light of day and, when the evening stole their sight, she would replicate their sequences and exercises they did. On the days where there was an interesting master visiting, and she was bolder, she would wrap her hair into a cap (it was always long, a sheet of inky darkness), don clothes of a young boy and spend a day sweating under the sun.

    (She did not sleep much as a child.)

    But now was not a time to revel in the past, even though those shining memories seemed to warm her.

    It seemed she would find no answers from the strange woman, only a twisting upturn of the mouth that carried far more wickedness than the blade of her sword ever could. She did not have time to query further. (time, time, always running, running out of time).

    A third had arrived.

    (an opponent. her opponent)

    If there were stories that existed, Scherazade knew them. And the one she saw before her was as if the very ink from the stories had been pulled from those pages, and were made into a beast of fur and claws twisted into the shape of a man. There were names that existed within her own tongue for such beings, but they all had a sour taste in her mouth, for they were rather literal and crudely wrought. She made an effort to learn the names people called themselves, but it seemed those words were to be stolen from the lies of their fate.

    Even at a glance, it was easy to see the other was a well honed Warrior, both in poise and physical stature. But she looked past that, making eye contact with this feline like being. She saw intelligence there, and a deep set emotion of weariness and sorrow that seemed to resonant with her own self. Was this other like her? Also broken like she? (could there others beyond them, cobbled together pieces of soul and body and memory?)

    How dare they.

    Scherazade did not have time to let her anger go beyond the softest spark of a thought, it whisked away seemingly by the ever more pervading chill, interrupted the menacing and woeful words of the Warrior. It seemed they were to be puppets, like the ones her and her sisters played with, acting out great dramas of the far and furthest lands. She had never pitied the puppets before, but did cry once when her favorite one broke.

    It was time to defend herself.

    Again, Scherazade’s hands moved in ritual toward her blade, one hand resting on the scabbard, the other hovering just above the hilt of her sword. The Warrior was charging toward her, a stark shape of darkness against the white of the Glacier, looking almost more like shadow gliding across the ice than anything of true substance. The tactician in the woman’s mind knew she did not have the advantage by merits of strength, but there was often much more to a fight than sheer power. All the best stories (or, her favorites) were when the weak and meek came out victorious.

    And why not tell a good story?

    The Nomad exhaled, the faint fog of her breath lingering behind as she made her move.

    It was at the last moment she moved, waiting until an attack was committed before adding her own steps into this dance. The exact aim point of the attack would not entirely matter, for her response would be the same. With her own left hand, she would raise her scabbard-- sword and all-- in a brushing block aimed toward the wrist, which would redirect the attack toward the center of the Warrior’s body, and out of line of striking her (she was so slight a thing, it did not take much). In the same motion, she also passed through to start to move behind the Warrior (who was so large and weighted, and moving across ice) with one step and, in the next, pivot into a turn. It was with this turn, she drew her blade

    (the sword was not she recognized by sight. One part of her idly though it must come from her father’s collection, for it was finely wrought of metal that seemed to contain a sea of its own, waves and swirls seeming to move on their own as the blade sang through the air. But the handle felt far too familiar to her grip, it worn to the way she held it

    it was another thread, heavy, missing.)

    (a shame another thought struck whatever force left her here had not the decency of equipping her fully, not with a second blade, or Separ for her off hand. She would make due.)

    from the scabbard. In a completion to her turn she brought a clearing sweep of an attack that she initiated on further retreat. If the Warrior was quick, it would be easy enough to dodge, which is what she intended, for there were too many things unanswered for blood to be shed now and for--

    There was another great crash, an agonized grinding crash of ice that almost made her ears ring from the intensity. Once again the strange Woman became relevant, like rediscovering a worrisome sore. Where the Jailer was one made of Lies, this one was defined by Regret. The ground around them shook and bucked like they were on the back of some monstrous beast, and the once unmarred exapance around them cracked and crumbled until only the area around them was solid, the rest falling into the water-- into the sea.

    (was this once quiet place also a victim to the whims of Lies and Regret? Shattered for nothing more than a theatre play of violence?)

    The wind also changed in its nature, schakeling itself around her like a conscription to malice. A voice could be heard in the spaces between the howling and rushing of the wind, one that proclaimed what this encounter was to be...

    to the death to the death to the death

    But why?

    Again, her mind was steered from such questions, a new sensation outside of the cold overwhelming her a moment-- one that was already not strange to her, but made ever more fresh. An impression from the final memory, as if the thread from her memories had been brought into being, but only as a garroting noose. Scherazade gasped out, sinking down to one knee as the shock of the nausea and fatigue washed over her, world seeming to take to doing somersaults in her vision. A mad sensation swept over her to start shoveling the snow into her mouth, to relieve the thirst she felt--

    But quickly as the breeze passed her face, quickly as the snow melted on her still warm skin, quickly as she rose from where she kneeled, the depth of the sensation was gone, leaving once again a bare feeling of torment, but the wound was far more fresh now. Snow and shattered ice chips clung to the folds of her skirt and pants, as if a great many phantom diamonds has been embroidered into the fabric.

    Scherazade looked toward the Warrior first, wondering if a similar experience was felt. Next, she tried to find where the Woman was, but it seemed she had vanished. Third, she took stock of the environment again, and saw that there was already less arena now than there was before, the Sea devouring the edges of the rink with an impatient hunger. One that also shifted and moved the ground below them, and it reminded her of being aboard the surface of a ship.

    Both scabbard and sword were held in her hands now, both in upright guard position. Her numb fingers doubted that which she held, but she had no choice but to banish away the uncertainty of reality. She began to walk slowly on the ground, circling slightly, getting a barring for her footing. The slickness of the ice did not feel so different from sand underfoot, both requiring cation and patience when trading upon them.

    “It seems…” Scherazade began at rasp, before clearing her throat, “We seem to be but toys to them, Warrior, for I am sure you have the same shorn memories, and are subject to the same torment of the soul.” She smiled softly, and could feel the skin crack there from the dryness of the air (no no no not that memory, this was real). “I do not like being a pawn, but we must fight. But let me offer you my name, and I hope you will give me yours, so we do not truly die in the cold and beautiful place.”

    The wind sang its song of murder, and the ice gave it thundering lament as more of it was stolen by the Sea. She could hear the crashing waves, the malice of water the most threatening thing of all as it hungered for another soul.

    (the turning sea brought another memory, of the pearls she once wore. they were a gift from her mother, given upon a visit to a seaside palace. it was warm there, and the pearls had then been a gift of coolness on her chest. perhaps that was why the cold did not feel cruel to her, for those had been the final gift her mother had given, a final story to hold onto. some teased her mother had returned to the sea-- but that was not something that drew her ire as a girl. it was another story to be told, spoken by word and immortalized by ink.)

    “My name is Scherazade.”

    Thanks Nara and Karma for the wonderful Avatar and Signature set!

    When all else is gone, the bones always remain...

    Spoiler: VAIDIA'S CHARACTER THEME SONG WORKSHOP 

  6. #6
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    Default A Fool's Folly

    Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
    Or you will also be like him.
    Answer a fool as his folly deserves,
    That he not be wise in his own eyes.
    -NASB Psalms 26:4-5



    Marcos’ strike must’ve been much weaker than he had anticipated, or perhaps the uncomfortable change of environment had thrown off his step. A strong, controlled, and well-aimed blow such as the one he directed at this woman’s abdomen should not have been so easy to redirect at the wrist. And yet, with a violent clang against the metal hood of the katar contrasted with her graceful pivot and turn, this woman evaded shedding her own blood as his blade ripped through the side of her elegant clothes.

    An uncontrollable snarl perked up his lips as he pushed off and rolled to his left to redirect and halt his momentum. In his wake, an audible whiff struck the air as his opponent scurried back in the direction he had attacked her from, her assault landing over a foot away from its nimble target. His snarl melted into a gaze of simple confusion at these actions. A sloppy redirect, an ill-calculated counterattack, and a complete retreat.

    She appears to have some battle experience with her knowledge of redirecting, Marcos thought to himself, but her moves and tactics are as inexperienced as a wolf attempting to fight a demon.

    No matter-

    Marcos’ thoughts crashed down upon him as multiple events cascaded into one.

    Once again, a great cacophony resonated through the battlefield, and once again, the ice beneath their feet transformed. Chunk by chilling chunk snapped and sunk into the murky depths, sending rocky waves throughout the structure. A boat of an arena now, Marcos rested his hand on the icy spire next to him to steady himself, surveying for new cracks or dangers that may have resulted from the shift.

    However, barely a glance passed over the altered land before a startling hiss escaped Marcos, his body tense with fur standing on end and pupils dilating further. A searing pain struck his heart as though something important, something unforgettable and ingrained into his very existence, had vanished into a thorny abyss, leaving a hollow sorrow in its place.

    It does not matter!

    His mind bellowed through the pain, years if not decades of training taking control over his survival instincts.

    It does not matter! Fight!

    His fur settled despite the fleeting wrenching still throbbing in his center. His determined focus returned to his opponent’s form as she appeared fixated on the snow in front of her. A strange woman, this one. Could she have caused this sudden agony?

    It does not matter!

    An unceasing echo within his skull overtook his curiosity, blinding his many questions.

    Fight!

    To the death…

    Yes. An echo consumed his curiosity.

    To the death!

    An echo that was not his own.

    To the death!

    Yes. To the death.

    The woman addressed him, appealing to his shorn memories - memories which he did not wish to seek out in this current time. Memories that, should he seek them now, would only hinder him.

    Stupid woman. Conversa fiada matará você.

    With this thought, Marcos mirrored his foe, sidestepping against her arc as to block her path around him and approach with every passing moment. Padded, clawed paws were akin to snow boots with prongs, providing him a solid enough grip to maneuver short distances on the ice and thin layer of snow, even with the unsteady sway. The woman, on the other hand, wore flat-soled shoes, a death sentence on ice as ice did not offer any resistance to push against like rolling sand did. To slip here, if either of them did, could send them sliding into the freezing seas surrounding them.

    Seeing her guarding with her scimitar and scabbard, both gilded with glinting gold, summoned a vicious smirk to Marcos’ countenance. Perhaps there could be a true battle now. A true show. One not drawn out with foolishness.

    ‘Do not answer a fool according to his folly… Answer a fool as his folly deserves…’

    Marcos prepared for his next attack, once again entering an orthodox, centered stance as the woman attempted to be cordial to him, the creature eyeing her jugular. Foolish woman.

    The moaning cry of the wind, the weeping of the waves as it continued to rock the surface beneath their feet, the crystals clinging to Marcos’ fur and his opponent’s clothing, all of it paled in comparison to the malicious form that mirrored the woman in crimson. No longer did the bloodlust soaking the area originate solely from a harsh world or a mysterious cloaked figure. No longer did the battle carry a woeful air of two fighters forced into conflict. Marcos emanated enough bloodlust for the both of them.

    And yet, Marcos held a combatant’s honor. Scherazade. This was his opponent’s name, a name he would remember as he returned her to that grim, smiling reaper.

    Just beyond the scimitar’s reach, he offered a simple response.

    “On your deathbed.”

    His growl was cold and deathly serious, a shadow of the place Scherazade would call a grave.

    In the next breath, Marcos’ left foot slid forward, followed by the right, as a blade struck towards her heart in a familiar left-handed jab. However, the previous jab was pathetic in comparison, it’s main purpose to begin the battle. This one resulted from deadly intent. It was inhumanly fast, and terrifyingly strong as his left shoulder thrust forward. To redirect this in the same manner, at the wrist, would be a miracle.

    Marcos did not finish with a simple jab though. The moment anything connected, whether from a block or otherwise, or the moment the jab had finished striking forward - whichever came first - he would follow up with a slashing right uppercut leading from Scherazade’s left hip upwards to her chin. He would use the turn of his feet, hips, and shoulders to drive as much force into the strike as possible, all the while sliding ever further into her guard regardless of the danger. Waiting until the moment the attack connected or failed before following up should cause the swift second strike to be unexpected and, thus, more difficult to react to. To block this attack with a measly scabbard would conclude poorly for her as the wood could not withstand the full force or sharpness of a katar. Should she attempt to maneuver around his backside like before, she would regret that, too.

    With limited options and a cracking sound as another section of the ice disappeared beneath the waves, Marcos’ blood rumbled with excitement and anticipation to Scherazade’s reaction.

    To the death, his mind echoed.



    **Conversa fiada matará você. - Small talk will kill you.

  7. #7
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    Default

    Sometimes, all that it took to take down a giant was a simple pebble.

    An inch of redirection, well placed, was more than enough to work as an adequate defence. Mechanics of the body, when correctly utilized, could seem like impossible magics. The various fight masters she had worked with as a child made that known to her. What they saw was a scrappy young child with more than enough enthusiasm to make up for a smaller stature, they knew that power would not come from grand gestures, but those more subtle and discreet. She learned it from her dancing instructors as well-- it was subtlety that made the performer, transforming simple motions into something enticing that could only be translated into the awe filled words of poetry.

    Scherazade took great delight in poetry, and how it used words to paint time in the eyes of the beholder.

    (but what of actual magics, and the words spoken that made--)

    The winds continued to howl and conspire, seeming to bode the same ill will the Strangers in the Dark did. It was like a great serpent of chains was wrapping against her, catching one limb with a heavy lead weight in one moment, and giving a sharp yank of escape in the next. Every step became more and more dangerous, the mist from the ocean becoming a freezing coat that settled on them like a deadly veil. The ground became the most treacherous winterscape, waiting for a wrongly placed step to play its tricks. Her clothing and her hair became solid from the frozen ice, clanging like odd halo of chimes and charms.

    Scheherazade swallowed absently, still feeling the phantom thirst teasing at her mind. She took another step as they circled each other, she keeping the distance between them. She hadn’t lost her footing-- yet. It seemed the Warrior had adapted to the situation, using clawed feet to bite into the icy surface. Perhaps she could… [i]no, that would mean putting herself far too close to the sea...

    (the sea, ever so greedy, took more and more, as it did in the past, so it did in the present).

    It was an ill prognosis for a fight. Every moment she spent not acting was another grain of sand gone from an hourglass she could not see the contents of. It seemed her heart was the only thing keeping her warm, beating like an overworked bellows to keep the forge of her resolve stable. The Warrior seemed to wish to keep his secrets, answering her questions with only a growing feeling of menace. It seemed where her heart beat in a furor for her life, the Warrior’s clamoured for her death.

    She would have to become more than that girl, playacting tales of old, basking in the warmth of memories. There was no kindness to a hero when a story was being made, as desperately as words tried to capture the experience, it was a fleeting page, one where ink alone would not suffice. The girl who had regarded the snow with wonder minutes before would be no more, for poets did not win battles with blades as the weapons. She would have to become a figure of legend herself, the slayer of giants. Of demons. She would have to become more than a simple story. The stone that slayed.

    To the death it was.

    She would not let things end here.

    Scherazade had no time to relish or reply to the words of the Warrior. As soon as the husky words parted his lips, nearly stolen by the fickle gusting wind, the next attack was coming. The snarl that followed was not so easy to be taken, a sound as sharp of an abrasion as the cracking of the ice. The fragile distance between them was shattered in an instant, the large warrior able to cover it in a few aggressive strides.

    But it was after an attack initiated, and it was where she was taught to thrive. It was not the words of the fight masters that lingered with her now, but the training. A canvas could be painted over, but the underlying sketch always remained. A smaller opponent had the best opportunity to seize the moment in the space afterwards, once an attack had been committed to.

    Another left jab came toward her, and she thought to take it as she had before, but actually carry through with an attack, instead of practicing at mercy and knowledge seeking--

    (a block wasn’t always to stop an attack, but sometimes merely to redirect from rending flesh, and there was greater advantage to control that from the wrist-- move that but an inch, an the rest moves several--)

    But there was different energy with this attack, both far more ferocious, and with footwork driving it forward, and the bloodlust the emanated made it seem as if the blades themselves hungered for her flesh.

    As the left jab came in, Scherazade kept her feet in place, but moved into a different parry this time, but one still based around the same premise of biomechanical control of a weapon. As the attack came toward her heart, she lowered herself slightly, removing herself partially from the left jab. At the same time, she let the tip of her sword drop, while raising the hilt into a hanging parry, one reinforced on the back edge of the blade by the scabbard for extra support. There was a sharp clang as metal met metal, her edge of the sword meeting the weaker flat part of the katar, a new sound joining the song of destruction. An exhale of breath left her lips, breath fogging the steel of the blade, but she did not remain to see it.

    The moment she seized once again was control of the left side. The hanging parry, once the attack was committed, would cause the left arm to cross the body, which would make it much more difficult for a follow up attack to follow once again. Underneath the hanging parry, she had created a doorway which she would use to initiate her actual attack. Her scabbard bearing hand remained behind, wood even biting into the katar’s edge slightly, keeping the left arm pushed toward the center of the Warrior’s body, as well as keeping her balanced on the ice. Her sword bearing hand also moved (or had it stopped from when it made its way into the parry?) as she did now take a warding step forward and to her right. At the same time the blade rotated, rolling out from the parry as she dropped the blade down into slash across the Warrior’s body, likely to hit the neck, chest, or at least the left arm.

    It was not an attack she would get to relish in.

    As quickly as she had initiated her counter to the left jab, the Warrior was moving into another attack. With a great show of force, the guard she had created was broken, like a great battering ram had come against her. Scherazade did not have the means to react uscathed. She could feel the next attack coming through the life line between her scabbard and left katar, but even that was not enough. As the right undercut came toward her, she pulled her attack from true completion, whatever it did end up striking, so it would not do as much damage as it could have.

    She attempted to throw herself back, but the ice caught her foot-- it seemed she was to be the first victim to the tricks of this place-- but she had to move-- and before she knew anything else there was pain, a sharp new sensation to the cold that seemed to thwart the furnace within her but a moment--

    The right hand katar cut her along her left shoulder and arm. That, in combination with her ill placed step, and the momentum breaking her guard, and pushed her several feet away, and she was carried even further by slick ice, almost near the edge of the rink. The scabbard was no longer in her hand, abandoned in her bid to avoid the other’s attack. It seemed that she was able to turn her body just enough to not be pierced by the attack.

    Pain. She looked to her hand, flexing her fingers-- good, it seemed no tendons were cut, even though blood began to trickle down her arm, dripping down onto the ground, boding an ill fate if left untreated. But had she not already met that once? The Strangers in the Dark seemed to have a say in what defined her dying. She doubted it would be this.

    (for a moment, the blood seemed to be black, like ink, but it was a trick of the mind, of the light. The blood on the snow stained it as red as any other time)

    Scherazade looked back toward the Warrior. Her first stone had been cast. This was truly shaping up to be quite the epic tale.

    The woman smiled.

    Thanks Nara and Karma for the wonderful Avatar and Signature set!

    When all else is gone, the bones always remain...

    Spoiler: VAIDIA'S CHARACTER THEME SONG WORKSHOP 

  8. #8
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    Default A Battle of Life and Death

    Better to not know which moment may be your last. Every morsel of your entire being alive to the infinite mystery of it all.

    -Captain Jack Sparrow, Pirates of the Carribean: On Stranger Tides



    Tick.

    Every second slowed as Marcos moved through his motions.

    He sacrificed his defense as he strove forward with lethal strikes.

    The tremulous clang of metal on metal vibrated through his arm and shoulder as the scimitar collided with the edge of his katar.

    Tock.

    Scherazade deflected his blow, directing his left arm to cross his body.

    She allowed him to regain the very defense he sacrificed but a second before.

    He applied enough resistance so his left arm formed a barrier protecting his chest, neck, and head from incoming blows.

    Tick.

    He caught the weak point in his opponent’s guard, below her outstretched and occupied weapons.

    She staggered back, avoiding a lethal blow as the familiar sensation of slicing skin reverberated through Marcos’ katar to his hand.

    Tock.

    A moment before, her blade twisted, aiming to slash him from above as though a mirror to his own strike.

    The attack was targeted in the same area that she helped him raise a defense in.

    However, the attack was interrupted as she staggered, now much weaker than it might have been.

    Tick.

    He allowed her to slide backwards, not chancing the risk of slippery ice to pursue.

    The chilling air stung against the slash along his forearm, not even visible beneath his snow-matted black fur.

    Scherazade landed her attack, albeit barely, but failed to significantly wound him.

    Instead, she lost the perfect chance to return the pressure.

    Tock.

    All at once, time accelerated, the adrenaline fueling Marcos against the deadly winter surrounding him. His growl contorted into a startling, ferocious grin.

    This is what he lived for!

    To fight with life on the line! To exchange rippling blows in a stunning display! To embrace the ebb and flow of danger and triumph!

    This is what he lived for!

    Life or death. The one and only truth for him was fighting to survive. Fighting to survive and fight another day. Fighting to feel this euphoric high as the impermanence of life itself wrapped around their necks in a vicious vise.

    Even more so, the exchange of blows played off far better than Marcos ever hoped for. As fantastical as a gnome and mage battling with witty quips, his opponent not only suffered the brunt of his second strike, but also helped him evade most of her own. He had limited her options, yes, but for her to so splendidly act towards his favor was one of the least expected outcomes.

    “Not very bright, are you?” One of the slavers laughed as Marcos struggled to do the more intricate work he was assigned. “Estás a meter água.”


    He had gotten used to hearing that saying. He got used to being called a fool just as he got used to the searing sting of the whips at his back. But he didn’t settle for it. He strove to prove them wrong, if only to throw it in their faces later.

    In order to rise, like a phoenix from ash, he needed to be clever. He found ways to work faster and harder than his counterparts. He learned by watching the others. He learned by the insults in his ear and the aches and pains thrashed upon him with every mistake. He learned to work in any way possible. He became clever, just not in the typical sense.

    This is what saved him from his own mistakes in past battles, he was sure, more so than any whip-”

    Crack.

    As Scherazade slid back, the glacier beneath them sounded a warning, snatching another piece of their arena. The part she tripped over -

    Marcos’ grin twisted into something darker as he glanced at the ground. They, in their back-and-forth motions, ended next to the same location he launched his first assault from. Between the pressure of his attack, the rolling waves below, and the unstable structure, a crack now lead from one end of the ice to the other. Scherazade stood on the smaller, weaker side, having slid all the way to the water’s edge.

    Ready to snap at any moment, all it needed was a little encouragement.

    His rival was examining herself and the damage done as Marcos recognized this trap. With shifting steps to offset the tilting environment, he approached the crack and steadied himself into a crouching, cat-like posture, prepared to launch himself backwards in case the unexpected happened.

    The freezing air outlined Marcos’ breath in a frosty cloud reminiscent of smoke. It felt like frozen shards in his lungs, stealing away the precious internal heat that his adrenaline and fur struggled to maintain. Soon, the cold would be unbearable for him.

    A fervent clash echoed throughout the area as he struck downwards into the crack of the ice. By now, Scherazade rose with a smile of her own. Marcos met her eyes as his fist raised once more. Even if she sprinted, it would be unlikely for her to reach safety in time, and sprinting greatly increased the chance of slipping and falling.

    “Tchau, mocinha. Você vai morrer.”

    Marcos taunted the woman across the ice and snow, his deep voice bellowing through the sharp wind. Again, his fist sliced downward, colliding with a violent ping. This blow resonated through every bone in his body, from the tips of his fingers, through his spine, and to the tips of his toes. This was not a pleasant strike for him, causing him to grit his teeth as the ice splintered beneath him.

    As the two sides of the ice separated with the aid of the rolling waves, the rocking was bound to escalate, too. Furthermore, if the other chunks of ice were any indication, Scherazade would be in grave danger if the broken glacier plummeted into the murky depths below.

    Not the ideal way to add some excitement, Marcos thought to himself, but nothing makes for a better show than someone fighting with nothing but their fingertips to claw free.

    Even now, he could hear the mysterious whisper in his head, regardless of whether or not it was still present. To the death. To the death.

    Marcos released a low chuckle.

    A battle of life and death.

    Oh, how familiar this was.



    **Estás a meter água. - Literally: You're letting water in./You're leaking water. Figuratively: You're making a fool of yourself.

    **Tchau, mocinha. Você vai morrer. - Goodbye, little lady. You're going to die.
    Last edited by Mystress of Shadows; 02-14-2020 at 06:52 AM. Reason: Edit approved by judge.

  9. #9
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    Default Enter the Kraken



    As the Gladiator’s weapon made a second strike against the fault opening in the ice, the wind picked up in velocity, its wails like a siren’s call, each fighter feeling the beckoning of its blood lust. The sea started to boil...but not due to temperature...the surface rippling as a disturbance rocked the diminishing arena.

    On a trajectory of its own, the small detached ice shelf began to drift from the larger one, the Nomad carried along with it. It bobbed gently, water lapping over and coating the frozen slab. Slowly, the tiny island started to pitch, the massive body of water drawing it back into its depths.

    Then all went silent...the wind...the sea...the voices in their heads.

    Spirals of mucusy black tendrils floated to the surface, the blobs obscuring for a moment the beast which followed in their wake. Thick tentacles emerged, layered in circular suckers, the appendages grasping at the remaining slice of stage. Each arm probbed the icy landscape, searching for a morsel to grab...and bring...to the chitinous beak which waited below.

    A single peal of laughter broke the silence, the air shimmering briefly near each fighter...before it too was gone.
    Last edited by bluemoon; 02-13-2020 at 09:47 PM.

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