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Thread: Round Two - [Bard - vs - Gladiator] Judge - Omac

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    Default Round Two - [Bard - vs - Gladiator] Judge - Omac

    ROUND TWO- Stage Fright
    Bard (Koti) VS. Gladiator (Mystress of Shadows)

    Judge: Omac



    Step out under the dark light as the surrounding curtains trap you inside. There is nowhere to go. There is nowhere to hide. The stage itself consisted of maybe twelve feet, max. Every prop, microphone, or loose wire in the stage is simply an illusion. All except for the spotlight is shining on only you and one other. You try to look away from that dark blinding light to find the audience filled with shadows, each of them wearing questionable masks that represent different emotions. They laugh, and they cry, and they rally at your mistakes and victories. They like it when you mess up. They like it when you feel pain. They like it when you die.

    The spotlight shined down on the demon Kozzar. To some, he resembled a slice of toast in a slick suit and devilish horns. To others, he was quite human and yet had lifeless grey skin. His hair was orange, smelling like butter and death. It was the most notable feature because it was also on fire as it symbolized his obsession with a good show. He danced across the stage with a wave of his hands to the tip-tapping of his feet. He was wearing tap shoes, at least in his human form. For those who saw him as a large slice of toast, he looked like he was leaping from place to place leaving crumbs in his wake. In a way, it was quite adorable seeing a slice of toast try to dance. On the other hand, both human and toast aspects of him had blood dripping from his eyes as he stared at each competitor with a smile. Cute? Not so much.

    Finally, he turned around to face the audience as a microphone floated beside him. “Welcome one and welcome all to the show of a lifetime. Get it? Because this fight will end a life, yes yes indeed!” He started to kick upwards as three more of him appeared next to him, as they all started a kickline. “Do you hear that sound? Oh, that beautiful sound!” He began to sing hit numbers from various Broadway shows, starting with Beetlejuice and ending where he started with more Beetlejuice. The audience cheered with each song while the competitors were forced to watch in anticipation Finally Kozzar looked to them, “So if you wanna give into Decay, all you gotta do is say his name.”

    Kozzar disappeared as the spotlight turned to Bard and Gladiator. There is no more time to prepare. There is nowhere else to turn. It’s time to fight.


    --------

    By dice roll, Gladiator will go first. There will be a judge post after the second (two posts each) and fourth round (four posts each). You will have five posts in total. We want this done in a timely manner, so I will be more strict with extensions, limiting it to one each. Exceptions in specific cases may apply. Here's to a great battle!
    Last edited by Omac; 03-10-2020 at 02:39 AM.


    The seals have been broken...
    The Purgament has begun...
    Decay is Coming

    Spoiler: The winner is... 

  2. #2
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    Default No Hesitation

    Death doesn't discriminate
    Between the sinners and the saints
    It takes and it takes and it takes
    And we keep living anyway.

    - Wait for It, Hamilton



    Was it by luck that his plan to shatter the ice succeeded? No. Luck doesn’t exist. There are only the strong and the weak, and the strong survived while the weak perished.

    As though to echo this despairing rule of life, Scherazade leapt from the heaving ice, only for her left leg to be caught in the vice of the kraken. This would be her death, Marcos realized. As she was dragged to the sea, he shouted out one last time, keeping his promise to her.

    “Meu nome é Marcos.”

    A name to carry to her deathbed.



    Arriving at a new scene, Marcos could remember a bit more about himself. Most notably, he remembered what allowed him to become a showman instead of a slave. He remembered the crack of the slaver's nose under his first punch, egged on by the persistent hackling of his work. He remembered the smirk from Osei that would change his life. At the time, he hated how that smirk looked down upon him, but the smirk was one of potential, not contempt as Marcos soon learned.

    None of that mattered in the current moment though. The bright, violet light momentarily blinded him as his eyes adjusted to the dim surroundings.

    A stage. Well, isn’t this familiar?

    It wasn’t. For Marcos, the arena was the stage, and nothing else could take its place. The taste of dirt, sweat, and blood, the roars of the audience as someone lost a limb. That was his stage.

    The shadowed figures in the audience appeared to jeer at this thought of his, their masks reflecting varied emotions. It seemed this stage would become his arena now as the same bloodlust from the previous battle took shape yet again.

    Is this that woman’s doing?

    No. The judge of this battle presented themselves, the spotlight highlighting his strange orange hair and deathly grey skin. A salty, savory scent filled the isolated room, followed by the scent of decay. This was most definitely not the woman from before. The woman had been poised, graceful, and deadly without ever speaking or moving. In contrast, this man with his dripping eyes and spontaneous tap dance, was dangerous in a whole new sense.

    Marcos did not waste his time analyzing the demon, choosing instead to examine his surroundings.

    “Do you hear that sound? Oh, that beautiful sound!”

    The arena was small, tiny even. Three walls bound the area, the fourth a window for peering gazes to judge and enjoy through. Curtains framed the arena, awaiting the time to close on the loser’s death.

    “Popular! You’re gonna be popular!”

    Marcos also took note of his opponent. She, too, was strikingly small. A stout dwarf with a rapier at her side. He couldn’t help but frown. Didn’t the last battle prove a small lady with a sword was no match for him?

    “Even the darkest night will end and the Decay will rise!”

    Remembering once again the words of the veteran fighter, Marcos dashed this thought from his mind. A moment of underestimation, a moment of hesitation is all it takes to lose your life. This woman could be much more capable than the pitiful thing he fought before.

    “So if you wanna give into Decay, all you gotta do is say his name.”

    The ridiculous show finally came to an end, allowing both fighters to move once again. Marcos lowered his body, entering his preferred orthodox stance with the left hand forward and the right protecting his head and chest. He studied his opponent, watching for any sudden movements as he spoke.

    “May the best fighter win.” The words, which may seem sincere when written down, carried a chilling ferocity. It carried malice. Marcos’ tone reflected the smirk on his face as he faced the dwarf. Yes, this arena was strange. It was filled with the unnatural. Nonetheless, it was still an arena. Marcos would not allow the unfamiliarity to distract him from his goal, just as he had not faltered under a frozen tundra.

    Just as Marcos finished his sentence, he slid forward, left foot leading and right following, feinting a seemingly powerful left hook downwards towards his opponent. His large figure coming towards the small dwarf after a menacing sentence should be startling and fearsome. Without a strong mental state, it could throw even seasoned fighters off their rhythm.

    No hesitation.

    Marcos would watch for his opponent’s counter strike as he feinted forward, ready to use that momentary opening to his advantage. Even better, the little dwarf had few places to run in this enclosed space. This was a much better scenario than the expanse of slippery ice from before, and he would be sure to utilize that.



    *Meu nome e Marcos. - My name is Marcos.

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    Her face, twisted in both surprise and horror, matched the feelings as the rapier dug through the flesh of her opponent. The whip had been too slow, weighted down by the chains, allowing Bri time to land her hits. While she had been ready to kill, she wasn’t mentally ready to end the life of another human.

    Bri could still smell the blood in the air, more poignant than the butter that bubbled around them. She didn’t dare look up, eyes fixed on the crimson fluid dripping onto her hands. It felt warm like jelly, running free and slow, her rapier keeping it mostly held inside. Bri tried to close her eyes, but in those moments, she couldn’t even breath if she wanted to, the world having stalled around her.

    There is a fine line between being willing and ready, and being willing to commit the act.

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

    Everything was awash in a blinding glow, the scent of wood and that slightly dusty musk filled the air. Her mind went back far to her past. Back far to the first time she had been in the spotlight, that burning heat from the lights and the cold piercing gaze of the audience. She looked forward, spying the ghostly images seated in the audience. Was it the light washing them out, turning normal humans into shadowy monsters to judge her? Did Kozzar lie, and she was to be judged, the stage a mockery of her profession. Would she be deemed unworthy and killed by a violent mob of those before her?

    ”This sick bastard lied! He wasn’t…! Bri began to rage against the demon being, her body unable to show her rage, before a third light appeared. Having been wrapped up in her own tempest of emotions, she had failed to notice the other person there. The man was tall, if she could call him a man. More feline in nature, he stood much taller than her, possibly a head taller than her previous opponent.

    Unlike her previous opponent, this man carried strength in his body. Ignoring Kozzar and his strange musical rendition, she studied her opponent. He was built like a warrior, the scars she could see speaking to fights, and the look in his eyes, what little she could make out of it, were calculating. He was sizing her up, not as a joke of a warrior, but a threat. One that brought a small amount of pride to her. The man looked like he could easily break in half if he got a strong enough grip on her, and his scars proved that he wouldn’t hesitate to do so. His look and appearance were those of one who has killed to get to where he needed to be, and would do more to protect what was hard-won. If she wasn't careful in this fight, it would be more one sided already. She felt somewhat cheated with her opponent this time around. While they both held the advantage of height, the Jester only held range as her weapon.

    Bri looked away, feeling that wash of guilt of the Jester. The woman she had killed for her own survival. Was she ready to do it again? Take another life to secure her own, just to continue this strange game she was forced into by this bastard Kozzar? The man besides her in the light as well, would he accept surrender if it meant sparing his life? Going by the scars on his body again, she knew that answer in her heart. Nothing would stop this man from survival, and only the end of his life would stop him, and she couldn't even be sure of that!

    ”No, now’s not the time to think like that. It’s time to take the stage, and put on a show. Kozzar you bastard. I swear to those that you’ve taken that I’ll play your bloody game, and when I win, I swear I’ll shove my boot so far up your ass you’ll taste leather for the rest of your short life when I’m done with you.” Bri raged as she stared at the grey man in the orange suit, glaring pure hate into his eyes. This demon would pay in blood and flesh for these twisted games.

    “May the best fighter win.”

    Her opponents voice snapped her attention back to the stage, having been wrapped up in her hate even after Kozzar had vanished. She quickly turned to him, surprised by how suddenly he took flight, clearing the distance between the two of them with ease. She blinked in surprise, more so the speed in which he moved, but not from his intent. Bri wasn’t ready yet, still seething from Kozzar and trying to push away the guilt from killing the Jester.

    ”The show must go o-Oh Shit!” Bri panicked, having to scramble, to safety. She dove to the side, tucking into an awkward roll and scrambling to get her feet beneath her, stumbling awkwardly. A slightly twisted smirk came to her lips as her eyes passed over the audience.

    “Should we not let these fair folk know who the players are?” Bri questioned the fighter, managing to stand and rest her left hand on the hilt of her rapier, her left swinging wide across the audience. If this man was going to play mind games, she would as well.

    ”Sorry Pussycat, the stage is for the actors. I’ll play you off and show you your place is with the audience.” Bri hung onto that idea. Now was not the time to wallow in anger and guilt. She was taught better than that.


    "Even Dreams, can be a nightmare"
    Spoiler: Click it, I dare ya! 




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    Default More Dangerous than a Lie

    A half-truth is even more dangerous than a lie. A lie, you can detect at some stage, but half a truth is sure to mislead you for long.
    -Anurag Shourie, Half A Shadow


    Marcos’ choices in actions could appear strange, confusing, and contradictory to an outsider. At one moment, he announces his presence to his opponent or holds true to his word. At another moment, he is harsh and cruel, tricking his opponents into moving to his rhythm. The odd dichotomy of selective honor and fearsome bloodlust would not make sense to anyone who was not familiar with him or how he fought to survive.

    He was a gladiator.

    He fought for the right to exist, for the right to draw breath. He fought to experience the world, to indulge in intoxicating ecstasies. He fought for glory. It did not matter who he had to go through in order to achieve that goal, and he always won; it was either that or death.

    He was a fighter and a showman.

    However, even in the midst of violent bloodshed, even in the midst of stealing the life of his opponents, Marcos enjoyed the fights in a profound way. Ending a fight within moments by attacking an unaware opponent displeased him. There was no ebb and flow, no moments where the fight became an intricate dance, no split second thought that he could lose this one. The climax was bland, if not bitter. The audiences he performed for resounded his belief as they adored the struggles more than the short and sweet victories.

    Ah, but all of that only spoke of his motivations and why Marcos does what he does. In the end, all it came down to was that he enjoyed losing himself in the struggle more than triumphing, but triumphing was also the only acceptable option, no matter the cost.



    The dwarf acted in one of the two most predictable fashions, opting to ignore the third and potentially most effective option. In a panic, the stout woman scrambled away from him, causing Marcos’ deadly smirk to shift to one of amusement.

    This seems familiar, Marcos mused, momentarily thinking back to his fight with Scherazade.

    However, in her fervent attempt to escape the razor-like blades adorning Marcos’ wrists, the dwarf had fallen directly into his trap. The strike was a feint, an attack designed to switch at a moment’s notice, sacrificing power and accuracy in return. As she tumbled to the side, Marcos twisted his feet and hips to immediately follow her, drawing his left fist back to a guarding position. His right foot slid forward, taking the lead into a southpaw stance.

    His opponent’s tumble gained her enough distance to rise and address Marcos, but as the words escaped her lips and her arm swept across the audience, Marcos was already upon her with his next attack, his agility granting him the advantage in this circumstance. Now in a southpaw stance, a reverse of the orthodox stance from before, he led with a right jab aimed at her neck. It did not matter if this strike hit or not as it focused more on gauging distance and direction and catching the dwarf off guard.

    Between this strike and the next, Marcos became more amused at the similarities between the previous opponent and the current one. They both ran. They both did not immediately draw their weapon. They both chose to appeal to Marcos through words rather than attacking. It did not end well for the first lady, and it wouldn’t end well for the second. Why was he paired against someone he had already proven he could defeat? The only conclusion he could come to was that he did not kill his first opponent with his own hands. Whatever the case, all he had to do was vanquish them once again.

    “Fight, princesa!”

    Marcos' voice continued to command presence, booming with his bloodlust and rich in a deep, Brazilian accent. Poised, yet deadly, resembling the feline creature he took the form of. These words acted as a transition from taking the initiative from the woman who chose not to act to taking even further initiative of his own.

    By the time the first strike had concluded and was being drawn back, a second attack thrust forward as a left straight aimed towards the center of her mass, her heart and abdomen. He did not conceal his movements this time, but the rapid succession of attacks would be extremely difficult to deal with, especially as the dwarf had opened herself up by gesturing towards the audience.

    Marcos wanted her blood. She would either have to fight, or die by his hand.



    *Princesa - Princess

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    Bri should have known it wouldn’t work as well as she hoped, but not this badly. The man had given her no time to plan fully, to come up with a course of action against this man. The second she had managed to plant herself upright, he had turned on a dime, planting his feet and driving his strength into the ground. He launched himself at her, demanding a challenge of strength, his bloodlust and demand clear as he commanded her to fight. She swallowed as her eyes locked on him, her body locking up like a broken cog as she began to run through her mind what to do, trying to think of what to do. She clenched her jaw together, forcing her body to breath in as she had to remind herself to take the moment in, and respond in call.

    To take a moment, and just approach things as they come, like the creed her family had lived by when working.

    ‘A lot of hurry to go nowhere, yet no time to loaf around.’ A creed to the life of a smith. When working a blade, you didn’t have time to sit around and just ponder things. You always need to be working, to be ready for the next step, but work slow and carefully, or you ruin the work. Just like in music, playing the same pieces over and over, learning the rhythm and pacing. There was no rushing to the best part, to the favorite spots in your music, but you couldn’t just lollygag on the slow parts because you know them. A song demanded your best at all times, the blade required your absolute attention. Let your eyes wander, and you’ll ruin the piece.

    “Fine, so the climax, it is then!” Bri challenged the feline opponent, a huge smile upon her lips. She knew that she was at a disadvantage here. Anything that she pulled out for a leg up would be taken down from his size and strength. If she wanted a true advantage, she would need more than one clear opening. Once she went on the attack, she would have to press hard, an unrelenting onslaught. The moment her opponent got the second to even breath, she was truly done for. He would end her without a moment's hesitation.

    Keeping on the offensive like that would be a nigh impossible demand for her, especially against one who was trained as a warrior for their life. She was a bard, so surprise would have to be her ace, and like a deck of cards, she would need a royal flush for this battle of strength. She gave up an advantage trying to drag the man into her domain, as he wouldn’t care until she was dead.

    That’s why she waited, her hands gripping on the sheath and hilt of her weapon. They were like a duet of a song. If one was too fast, the rhythm would be over, and the song would fall flat. Too slow, and they would never be able to really pick it up. She needed to answer at just the right time, on the edge of a razor blade. It was that very thin line any musician walked. You only had one moment to grasp your audience, to get them on that hook. Let them get to ansty, and they would get stuck on that note, or miss the beauty of the beginning. Start it before you had their focus, and they would never follow the flow, ignoring how one melody built into another.

    “Just remember, you asked for this.” She spoke more for herself than anything else.

    Bri shifted her body, twisting her left side back as late as she was willing. The jab just barely missed connecting on her neck, instead hitting her side and nearly dazing her body. She had been late on the beat, wanting to stretch out that one moment she had, that Bri knew her neck would have been shattered if the full force had hit. With that though she lunged into his drive, lowering her body to add more force into her strike.

    Her right heel lifted forward, allowing her toes to drag across the ground as she planted herself like the point of the blade. The man before her was a wall of strength, but all she needed was to find the one chink in his armor, impossible as it was. Her body lowered down, straight from her back left leg all the way to the crown of her head, a straight line of defiant will. Bri clenched her teeth, readying her body for any blows that might rain down. She needed to live in the moment, become one with the movement, to get lost in her song of movement. This was no more than perfecting her music, to hone all her attention into her wants and needs, and push through, ignorant of discomfort or pain.

    The man had his chance to make his challenging call, now it was her turn to respond in kind, and she wasn’t going to waste it. Bri put all her force into her movement, drawing her blade as she tightened her grip upon the sheath, aiming the butt of her hilt to ram into just below her opponent's stomach, where it would be at its softest, or so she hoped. If she could catch him there, drive the wind from his stomach, it would give her the best chance. For there is one bonus she had over him, yet also her bane.

    She was much shorter than him, so she would have to keep close in range. That’s the smallest window of advantage that she had. He might have close range combat, but even that had its limits. With her shorter reach and size, she could push into his guard, keep him on his toes, and keep him from swinging with his full strength, even if by the minuscule bits. She would have to bet her life on those precious differences.

    As they say, music is but a fleeting mistress, giving both joy and sorrow, dragging you by the guts for those brief minutes. To tease you along, then leave you empty and wanting more. A fleeting reprieve from life. That’s what she needed to prove to this man, and to those who dragged her along.

    She was the greatest song, one that grabbed your heart and pulled it out to lay bare, and wanting more. Regardless of what challenges might harm her, she would prove herself, regardless of her opponent or challenge that Kozzar would place in front of her.


    "Even Dreams, can be a nightmare"
    Spoiler: Click it, I dare ya! 




  6. #6
    Give into Decay...
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    Strike! It was an astonishing experience for the audience as the two opponents roared into each other. The blood splattering, bone-shattering sounds of defeat were upon them. Some of them clapped, some of them cheered. Together the audience whispered about which was their favorite. They discussed who was more likely to win and some were even taking bets. For them, this was nothing more than a show.

    The curtain fell and the stage faded from view. Kozzar stepped out into the remaining spotlight with an expression of pure celebration and the stance of showmanship. This was his show and he wanted to make that clear. "What a wonderful show that was, yes yes! We're going to take a short intermission and then we'll be right back. Discuss it over among yourselves. The second act is upon us!"

    The crowd discussed the fight and they discussed the fighters themselves. Despite not knowing where they were the Bard and Gladiator could still hear every spoken word. The chitter-chatter ranged from gossip to betting to full-on insults. All harsh whispers that echoed through the darkness. In a way, it carried a sense of irony as all stage performances should.

    "I heard she used to be a waitress," one spoke.

    "Well I heard he used to be a slave!" they continued.

    "Yeah? Well, I heard they both have immense mommy issues!" They laughed. They all laughed.

    Despite the gossip, rumors, and otherwise offensive comments there was one constant whisper. It was much softer, yet held a narcotic tune. "Just give in, just give in…". It was so quiet that it should have been drowned out by the other chatter, but instead, it echoed farther. "Just give in, just give in." Almost as if pulsing in their heads and only they could hear it's call. "Just give in…"

    Kozzar returned to the stage front. "Welcome everyone to our second act! I assure you it will be just as thrilling and dangerous as our first. No, I guarantee it will be even better! I swear it on their lives." He laughed faintly and then shifted behind the curtain as it began to rise.

    The stage looked quite different now. There were two ropes hanging from the ceiling tied specifically to the shape of their necks. They dripped with a sticky, black ooze that fell deep into the floorboards. The spotlight also blasted itself to the middle of the arena, hiding in between the ropes, as it seemed to simmer with sheer heat. It was going to ignite, spreading the flames across the arena, but not yet, no, for now, it was nothing more than a bland foreshadowing and a dramatic distraction.

    The spectators looked quite different now too. There seemed to be a lot more of them now and instead of cheering or watching in anticipation, they were laughing. There were also some familiar faces in the audience. Namely, both of their mothers, only now their eyes were replaced with the horrific black sludge. There was also that of the Nomad who was covered in ice so much so that she couldn't even blink. Next to her was the Jester, still impaled by that of the rapier. Neither looked to be in pain. They just looked disappointed.

    The competitors were once again on opposite sides of the area as if nothing had happened. Not a scratch on either of them. It was as if the first act didn't matter, but it did matter. It mattered to the audience. It mattered to them as they felt every second of that first round within them. The song and dance. For Kozzar, it wasn't about any of that. He was having fun. The only thing that mattered was putting on a good show and making sure someone dies.

    Kozzar gazed at them and grinned. They were competing to the death. He was toying with them. This was a game to him. "Pussycat better listen to the ringmaster, yes yes. Make the off-rhythm one play their last tune." He looked to the Bard next, "What is it? Cat got your tongue?" He laughed and his wicked merriment filled the stage, joined with the thousands of ever-increasing audience members. They would keep laughing until the first move was made and with the first breath came the spark of silence.

    ____

    There will be a final judge post before the final round.


    The seals have been broken...
    The Purgament has begun...
    Decay is Coming

    Spoiler: The winner is... 

  7. #7
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    Default The Second Act

    "Rage … should not flow freely. It must be directed!"
    -Youpi, HunterxHunter



    Stupid, stupid woman!

    She believed she could dive forward to catch him unaware, aiming the end of her hilt towards his stomach.

    You have a death wish, foolish girl!

    Focusing all her energy into that single attack caused her to drive herself into Marcos’ second strike. Originally pre-calculated to stab her heart and abdomen, the aim shifted to her head and neck as she lunged downwards.

    Esse é o seu fim!

    Marcos grinned as his blade connected with her skull-

    Darkness.

    The curtains shut off the stage from the audience, leaving both contenders trapped in darkness with no sense of space. It wasn’t this sense, or lack thereof, of space that off-put Marcos, though. It was the absence of slicing flesh and cracking bone. He was certain his opponent had met her grisly end a moment before, but he had not seen her die. He had not felt her death.

    “…We're going to take a short intermission and then we'll be right back…”

    Intermission. Second act. What second act? He won, didn’t he?

    In truth, he knew his opponent’s death had not come. That Kozzar, that demon, saved her. That was the only logical conclusion, causing a seed of hate to plant itself within Marcos as he came to a second realization.

    They are toying with us. They are entertaining themselves with our struggles. This isn’t about a battle; they just want pain.

    In this moment, Marcos’ mindset about this battle and any future ones changed. He needed to do much more than win a fight to satisfy whatever these things were. He needed to decimate his opponent, crush them beyond recovery before releasing them from their misery.

    He grimaced in the dark at this thought. Yes, he lived for the thrill and the fight, but he did not strike without conviction. He did not toy with his opponent’s pain if he could avoid it. He was a thrill-seeker, not a sadist. Yet, he would do what had to be done if it meant he could live another day. He would give in to the brutal ‘fight’ the audience wished for, but nothing more.

    “Welcome everyone to our second act! I assure you it will be just as thrilling and dangerous as our first. No, I guarantee it will be even better! I swear it on their lives."

    Kozzar’s words slithered into Marcos’ core, chilling him to the truth of what he needed to do. His life depended on it.

    The curtains rose, revealing a disturbing scene. A dripping noose, the roaring audience, his mother, and Scherazade. For a moment, a look of disdain glanced across Marcos’ face as he noticed each of these facts, but there was nothing he could do about them. They were there to unnerve him, to make him suffer and throw off his rhythm. He could not allow that.

    His death already constricted around his neck. It did with every fight. The audience was no worse than those he fought for before. Their gluttonous gazes were nothing new for him. His mother died a long, long time ago, even though it hurt to see her in such a state. Lastly, Scherazade had lost her fight. She was not strong enough to fight, and this was her death. He would not let it be his.

    The spotlight that threatened to burst their arena into flames was the only worrisome threat to him. However, all it meant was that he would need to finish this quickly.

    Marcos’ gaze locked onto his foe’s figure across the stage, ignoring Kozzar’s chiding quip and goading grin. Every ounce of his being became hyper-focused on his goal, hyper-aware of every movement the dwarf made. He studied where her center mass was, and the motions of her sword hand. If she wished to beat him, she would need to be creative.

    “Forgive me, princesa,” Marcos called out, returning to his orthodox stance, his left leading fist dropping a few inches to match the height difference between him and his opponent. “I can no longer give you an honorable death.” His tone, previously filled with adrenaline, taunting, and bloodlust, was notably somber, speaking of the daunting truth he now believed. His eyes reflected his resolve as he steadied his position.

    In order to please this audience, Marcos knew his tactics needed to change. He needed to show he could dominate his opponent, no matter the situation. There was one way to prove that more than anything.

    “You have one shot, and one shot only before I destroy you.”

    This was his warning and his threat to the dwarf. He granted her initiative, choosing to take the defensive despite his overwhelming power compared to her. As soon as she made her move, Marcos would decimate her using any means necessary. This was her final chance to turn the battle in her favor, or lose it forever.



    *Esse é o seu fim! - This is your end!

  8. #8
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    I’m dead. I fucked up and now I’m dead. At least it was quick and painless…

    Those were the thoughts that had crossed through her mind, the few last precious seconds as she felt cold steel on her head. Bri had been so focused on the moment, that one moment to get an attack in as his first strike just barely hit her, that she had missed the second. She wasn’t even sure that her blow had managed to land when she felt her life ending. The darkness that surrounded her only drove the point home further. She had lost, her soul freed and her body left to rot in some unknown stage full of shadowy people. Not even the allure of applause could distract her from the truth.

    At least I won’t have to listen to that damn Ko-

    ”--going to take a short intermission and then we'll be right back. Discuss it over among yourselves. The second act is upon us!"

    The voice cut through her thoughts, forcing her to stall in the lovable thoughts of the afterlife. The tones of Kozzar were impossible to ignore, and with those words came the jarring sense of reality. She was still alive, unable to move and surrounded by the cloying darkness that had started the entire fight. She had been spared mere moments before her opponent could finish the deed. Only the memory of steel to her forehead was all that remained. Why had the demon saved her? Wasn’t his goal to see one of them dead? Why not let the gladiator take her life, give in to the rich destruction and death that he desired.

    She could hear it, just beyond the folds of darkness. Words taunting the fighters, poking fun at their histories. Mocking her for the time of servitude at being a waitress just to make money for her own goals. Mocking her opponent for his life of slavery that he had escaped. Who were these shadows to judge them, to ridicule their lives for their own dark mirth. Anger bloomed in her chest, gripping the hilt of her weapon tighter, feeling nails dig into the flesh of her palm. She felt a bubbling in her chest, eager to rip out of her lips and rage against the twisted demon Kozzar. Even as the crowd began to insult them, a taunting cacophony of sound, she couldn’t hear it over the sounds of her own screams echoing in her soul .


    “Just give in … Just give in…” Those words tickled the back of her mind, growing like the whispering of air in a cave, driving further and further into her soul. She could remember those words, the same taunting call from her last fight. This time it was a faceless voice that commanded it, no shadows trying to drag her in, growing stronger to drown out even her own screams. It pulsed through her very core, thrumming with the beat of her heart. She wanted nothing more than to shake it off, but not even her body would move, leaving her frozen in place.

    “Welcome everyone to our second act!”

    The voice was enough to break her concentration, dragging her back to reality as the curtain was lifted, showing a packed theater, all enraptured by Kozzar. Bri ignored his words, looking out upon the field, spotting her mother almost instantly. In the sea of nameless bodies, she stuck out like a sore thumb, a look of disappointment clear upon her face. New to the vision though was the body of the Jester, a ghostly image of her own rapier still impaled through her chest. No pain, no anger, just disappointment on her face, mocking her.

    How would you feel, being up here, the one forced still to fight? Bri challenged the woman, turning her eyes to finally survey the stage. It had changed now, instead of the illusory props and the like, it was barren, save the rope hanging from the rafters in the center. Tied off in a noose the rope dripped a thick black ooze into the center, the light pouring down upon it. She could smell the searing heat in the center, ready to ignite the ooze in a moment. Was the bastard Kozzar planning to burn them alive just like last time? He had already tried to deep fry them in butter, so was it that far of a reach?

    “Forgive me Princeca, but I can no longer give you an honorable death.” Her opponent declared, grabbing her attention. She returned his stare, and could see something much different. Gone was that edge, the gleeful malice that had coated his words before.

    “You have one shot, and one shot only before I destroy you.” He warned her, and his somber tone held true. Bri could see the resolve, that determination in his eyes. He was giving into Kozzar, this no longer being a game to him. The arena had drawn silent, awaiting the moment of bloodlust between them. She could feel his eyes boring into her, watching every muscle movement of hers. There was no way she would be able to easily strike him, and he was going to be prepared for anything she might try in attacking him.

    I can’t fight on your stage… you’ll just kill me She felt that truth sink into her flesh before she looked back out to the audience, eyes grasping her mother's face, the disappointment on her face clear despite the distance.

    But maybe I shouldn’t. I’m not a warrior. I’m a bard, a master of word and flow. Fighting like you got me killed, so it’s time to fight like me. Bri smiled at that thought, looking over to the Jester, remembering the verbal barbs they had traded.

    “Thank you, noble pussycat, for granting me such a gracious turn.” She spoke as sarcastically as she could, words dripping with sarcastic poison. She needed a good move to attack him, and the only thing added was the ropes and light. The man's eyes wouldn't leave her body, so if she wanted to do her move, she would need to buy time.

    And who else was better at that than the bard?

    Bri moved then, her rapier held gently at her side, slowly crossing to center stage. The heat under the light was even more oppressive, drawing familiar sweat along her neck. She turned to the audience, raising her blade up some, watching the light play along the surface of the metal as the eyes stared back at her, hungrily awaiting the possible bloodshed that was promised by the demon.

    “Before the battle begins again, I would like to pay homage to you, gallant fighter, for this opportunity.” Bri spoke loudly, glancing at the man with a wicked smile on her face.

    “Oh brave Pussycat, how sharp your claws
    So strong to overcome your shrunken balls.”

    Bri began, moving her sword in a small dance, just watching the light play across the surface and waver in the air.

    “So gracious, to grant me the first blow
    Your master must have let you go,
    For your smarts, they must be low!”

    She continued, eyes turning to look at him, looking for a sign of anger or betrayal. She was waiting to see if he could keep that resolve of cold indifference, to follow the taunting voice of Kozzar.

    “A new master you found
    The demon that we are both bound.
    You gave away your free will,
    Just to pay his enjoyment bill.”

    Bri danced around the stage, swaying her arms wide and far, her rapier like a conductor's baton, directing her motions and words.

    Nothing more than a piece in his play
    A toy to use until he gets his fill
    To be used, abused, played and slayed,
    All for the amusement of Kozzar and his stage.”

    She could see it now, her best angle for what she needed. Would he know what she was doing, or was her antics enough to bug him, to keep her true intent hidden just enough. Would he bet that she had gone off the deep end, wanting to give one last hurrah before her eventual demise.

    “Oh pussycat, lets bring an end to this charade.
    Give our audience one last hooray.
    Not much left in our time.
    So it’s finally time to shine!”

    With that Bri twisted her body to face his, swinging the blade in a large circle. The light danced across the polished surface, playing like a part of the show. She directed the steel. guiding the reflection of the light, aiming it right into her opponents eyes. As soon as the light had reached, she moved then, her arm drawing back, holding onto as much light as she could before she left the stage light. She couldn’t hesitate, her breath held as she cleared the distance in a few short movements.


    Her blade lunged forward, steel dancing through the air as it split the air, aiming to strike her opponent in the heart, two swift strikes, to pierce his heart through. Would he be ready for her strike, or would her antics had given her that one opening moment, that single slip in his guard to pierce through his defenses and into his heart.


    "Even Dreams, can be a nightmare"
    Spoiler: Click it, I dare ya! 




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