This post opens the second round of the Member's Choice Tournament!
We have Nine participants who fought tooth and nail to win the previous round and are still fighting to see which fighter is the best! We wish all of our contestants the best of luck! The winner contestant moves on to the next match, the losing member will be given a consolation prize. In the event that this match does last until the end date, the members will decide which members moves on. There is a 3 day [72 hours] time limit between posts.
Something strange was happening above the Coliseum. Black clouds were gathering at an unusually fast rate, what on earth could be going on up there? Fear not, you wont have to ponder for long. After completely smothering the sky, the black clouds would spontaneously burst into a dazzling shade of gold! The golden clouds would begin to stretch and churn before finally bursting to reveal a magnificent tangle of golden circles with strange text in an unknown language swirling around them. The entangled circles spiraled upwards to create a mountain of sorts, and on top of this mountain sat a knight in golden armor upon a jewel encrusted throne. The knight looked down to the arena below, and spoke down to the combatants within. They would not have trouble hearing him, his voice was booming and clearer than a mid-day spring.
"Greetings, salutations, hello! I couldn't help but notice that you are having a little battle royal down here, and well I just had to come down and tell you that you're doing it all wrong! This arena you're fighting in, it's so...straight forward! Just looking at this environment of yours put me to sleep! And so I have decided to help you! From now on, every round shall be under my watchful eye! Each of you shall now fight in distinct arenas of my choosing! Isn't-That-GRAND!? Yes, yes it is! So be prepared, and preform well! I shall be watching!"
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The Knight's Throne shall remain in the sky for the rest of the tournament. Each match shall now have a unique arena.
BLACKOUT AND AERYNN YOUR ARENA HAS BEEN CHOSEN!
Only moments after the two combatants would enter the normal battle arena, the entirety of Olympus Coliseum would fade and be replaced by a Massive Cavern. Do not fear about not being able to see, for the entire room is illuminated by the strange blue lights that hang from the ceiling. Thank goodness too, for several stalagmites have grown out of the cavern ground and it would be rather easy to bump into one in the dark. Try not to let the faint sound of chattering from above distract you during the fight by the way.
By some twist of fate she had made it. Aerynn peered out between the cracks of the door to the Coliseum, readying herself for Round Two. She had not thought she would succeed, not after her last battle had left her bloody and broken on the arena floor. It was that final stand, that one act of defiance that said she would not give up, that despite the odds stacked high against her, Aerynn could still find the willpower and drive to continue the fight.
They had rang the bell shortly after, putting an end to the battle before Wander could truly render the aegyl incapacitated and unconscious. Aerynn did not remember much after that. Only that she was falling, her strength vanquished at the mere toll of a bell. She remembered being carried off the field in the arms of that brawny man who had encouraged her from the beginning. Hercules, she found out later. It seemed he had taken a shine to her, bringing the battered aegyl to the infirmary where she had spent near a week recovering from her injuries. When he gave her the news of her victory, there was no joy or happiness. Just a simple nod, an acknowledgement of her achievement. To say she was not surprised would have been bearing false witness, for she did not expect the judging to end in her favor, but Hercules had assured her that despite the aegyl's unpopularity with the crowd, the judges were neutral in such regards, and throughout the fight Aerynn had simply garnered more points. Aerynn accepted it. There was nothing else she could do.
And so here she was watching the field, listening with half an ear to the knight in the sky as he remarked of boorish environments and declared proclamations to rectify such grievous foresights. Aerynn did not care. The news did not excite her, nor did it make her nervous or apprehensive.
Yet there was still some unrecognizable sensation inside her that set her feathers rustling and put her skin on the verge of crawling. Her limbs were restless, but it was nothing a shake or shiver could dispel. She knew; she had tried. It was something she just could not explain. It was not trepidation or fear, anticipatory jitters of the fight at hand. This had nothing to do with that. At least, Aerynn thought so. It was something, though, and it was unnerving her.
The aegyl pushed the thought to the back of her mind. They were calling her name, and she had run out of time to contemplate such matters. Whatever it was, she would figure it out soon enough.
The doors opened in front of her, and Aerynn ambled her way out. She could already hear the jeering, far louder than when Wander had knocked her near senseless. It seemed the crowd disapproved of the judging. No matter. The aegyl did not let it affect her. She was not here to make friends, as she had told herself time and time again. The crowd's approval meant nothing to her.
It was why she had abandoned the intention to correct the announcers per Hercules' suggestion. She had simply meant to clear up falsehoods, for Aerynn did not enjoy being mistaken for something she was not, but that was when Hercules explained to her the World Order.
"There's only one contestant here from Thebes. The rest hail from other worlds, like yourself. But unlike yourself, they're human, mortals—"
"I am mortal," Aerynn had interrupted.
"The point I'm trying to make is you're different. You have wings. Olympians don't understand that. They don't know you're from a different world. They can't know. It would disrupt the World Order. I hate to say it, but while you're here, it would be in your best interest to play the harpy."
"But I'm not."
"It won't be so bad. Everyone loves a good villain."
And that was that. Aerynn walked out onto the Coliseum grounds a harpy, a villain, which did not offend her. She had been mistaken for a villain before; it was easy when you were no hero, either.
It was only a few steps before the arena shifted, the ground tumbling beneath her as darkness rent the sky. Aerynn waited until the metamorphose had finished, finding herself in a Massive Cavern as per the knight in the sky's bidding.
Well, this was different. Aerynn looked about herself, examining the new environment that had been chosen for her and feeling a slight disgruntlement at the decision. Her wings twitched and a shiver ran up her spine, her mouth drawing into a thin line. What better place for a winged girl to fight than an enclosed room, of all places? Alas, there was nothing she could do. The decision had been made, and all she could do was accept it. Aerynn did not think she could oppose the knight if she had wanted.
She walked forward, feeling her boots squelch against the muddy ground. Despite the dryness of Athens, this new place seemed humid and moist, and cold, so very cold. She could feel the temperature drop to chilling temperatures, reminding her of the time the ice queen Elsa had turned their hotel room into a veritable icebox. The thought caught her off guard, and Aerynn wondered for a instance if the queen had found the courage to watch her match, or if she had instead sought shelter aboard Judge Zargabaath's ship to remain in isolation. A shiver took hold of her body, a body suited to more tropical climes, and the thought passed. Elsa's self-confidence was not her concern, and the aegyl was cold. Aerynn could only hope that once the battle began and her blood was pumping she would warm up to her new environment.
A soft blue glow shown from above, casting ambient lighting and guiding her throughout the cavern. Never before had Aerynn been in such a place, and her wings ruffled at the mere idea that she could not see the sky above her, but as she gazed towards the ceiling her shoulders relaxed and and the tension in her neck eased. Judging from the height of the lanterns above, it was not that impossible for flight to be entirely restricted from her. There were rocky mounds littered across the ground, some small, others large—stalagmites, though Aerynn did not know the word for them. The aegyl paused, a light chatter echoing from above, but Aerynn paid it no mind. The sound of a voice was reverberating throughout the cavern walls.
They were calling the other contestant's name.
She had taken too long. Too late Aerynn realized that she had spent more time examining her surroundings than setting herself up to attack. The aegyl had to think quick. She knew nothing of this contestant, which set another curious tremor through her spine. Despite watching all the battles, despite taking elaborate notes in her journal so that she was educated for her next matches, they had paired her with the one fighter who had received the bye in the previous round.
An unfavorable arena, and an unknown fighter. Surely, despite the judges' voting, they had not meant for Aerynn to pass this round. Still, she had to try. Spying a rather large mound ahead of her, Aerynn fluttered to its peak, where she settled with knees bent and her naginata clutched close to her body. Black wings curled around her, and within the dim blue glow that emanated above, she managed to obscure her body to nothing more than a muddled mass atop a tall stalagmite near the center of the arena. There she eyed the cavern, searching for movement, for any sign of her foe. She was not about to be caught off guard, and the aegyl deemed it was more prudent to hold a bird's eye view over the enclosure than to wait for her opponent to sneak up on her. Aegyl eyes were sharp, and with the ambient lighting that fell down around her, she could see much of her surroundings. It was possible that she was making a fool of herself and leaving herself open for attack. It was true that some fighters relied on projectiles, but Aerynn was sure that with her vantage point, she would see her opponent before he could see her, and she would judge what to do from there.
Perched on the stalagmite and obscured from view, Aerynn sat and waited, keeping her eyes sharp and her ears keen, watching for movement, listening for the squelching of boots, anything that would give her a clue as to where her foe may approach.
Aerynn used! 1. Conceal, Don't Feel!: Aerynn used the dim ambient lighting and her black wings to conceal herself in the arena! It will be harder for Blackout to see her, but if his eyes are perceptive and he finds a huddled mass on top of a random stalagmite strange, he'll probably figure it out! Effectiveness: As well as you want! But don't be a jerk! D: 2. One Jump: Ahead of the bread line! Aerynn is referring to events in this post that haven't actually happened yet! Keep your timeline straight, you're getting ahead of yourself! 3. Daria: Aerynn has accepted her unpopularity and has resigned herself to be referred to as a harpy (read: brain) in order to protect the World Order! Excuse me: You're standing on my neck.
The crowd booed as the young seventeen year old limped off the platform and into the lobby. The boy donned an unusually large coconut that covered his face; no facial features could be seen. The closest thing one saw was the dark hair that grew slightly on the back of his neck. One could assume the chap was a brunette by that. Wiping the sweat and tears that poured obnoxiously out of the coconut holes (three being there, to give access to eyes and mouth), the cocomage fell down to the ground, letting his tropical staff rattle on the floor as the grip was lost. The coconut head glanced upwards to the clickety clack sound of a satyr marching. A pink pudgy one, the creature appeared to be; seeming as if the beast had gone through puberty at age four. Itching its butt, the satyr yawned before addressing the fighter, “Sorry we had to put ya against a nemean lion, kid. That’s what happens when we have an odd number of ya kids duking it out. Even with the by, doesn’t get you full access to the easy route. I do have some good and bad news for ya, though, boy.”
On the ground, curled up in a ball; the bleeding teenager, who’s body had tons of visible soon-to-be infected bite marks, rotated his round coconut covered head to make eye contact with the hooves of the satyr. “Umm… Yes?”
“You are paired up with somebody who won’t bite you… I think.”
“Oh, goody!” an enlightened tone echoed from the coconut.
“But you’re up next.”
Standing up instantly, fumes seemed to burst from all three holes; the boy, to Phil, making a funny dance move where he squatted and acted like an ape. An eyebrow rose at the angered reaction, but the cocomage did not give a fuck. “You have to be fucking kidding me!?! I just got torn the hell up out there! And you want me to go do it again? Fuck this, I’m out.”
Clearly not understanding the child’s obscene language, the satyr replied, “So you’re a poor sport, huh?”
“I’m a smart sport.”
“Whatever; I got two words for you kid.”
“And what the hell would those be?”
”I’ll take the annoyance’s place if you will. The audience doesn’t seem to be particularly fond of the boy.”
Both satyr and human turned their heads toward the direction that the voice was coming from. A cocked eyebrow was given from the satyr to the darkness. Stepping out of the darkness, a dark haired man carried a sword, with his dual pistols [Only one gun may be used at a time, however. Yazoo approved of me bring both in.] at his holsters, with the handle of a combat knife barely visible at his pocket. With the intimidating figure, the satyr stroked his gruff before speaking. “That’s against the rules, I think. But, fighting is better than no fighting… So why not? What’s your name, kid?”
Despite being called kid, the man shook the thought off and underhandedly tossed his dog tags over to be caught by the puny hands of the satyr.
<:- SEC- 8385 -:>
<:- BLACKOUT -:>
The man nodded in response. Question was, why was the soldier there?
See… What did I tell you…? A key blade wielder…
At Fear’s inner whisper to the intellect, Shiro mentally zoomed in on his focus, Namine, as she fought the dangerous Titan. The petite and non-threatening girl proved her strength to the man as he sat in the crowd. Keybladers had a power that was surely unseen; a power of will, determination. They could not be easily broken, not even by the fangs of a dragon.
There are two in the tournament… Namine and another female, Xion… Your mission is to enter the tournament, with consent or without… It is time to prove your strength… Make your name known to the keybladers… Blackout…
”IN THE BLUE CORNER, WE HAVE NIVVY THE COCOMAGE,” the announce spoke, before being interrupted by a large mass of booing. Suddenly, a body was thrown from the dark hall, onto the arena, skidding across the sand. The crowd gasped at the sight of Nivvy the Cocomage’s blood streaks that the boy had made. ”BEING REPLACED BECAUSE THE KID IS A QUITTER. BY NONE OTHER THAN THE SEC SOMETHING… BLACKOUT!” Instantly, as the figure of Shiro stepped outside onto the platform to face his opponent, the audience roared in excitement. Having had noticed the knight in the sky, he knew it wouldn’t just by one’s typical arena match. Instantly, he felt his leather’s jacket advantage as the arena started to shift right before his eyes. However, it wasn’t suit for the winter, so the cold breeze hit him hard. It was his first time where he felt low temperature. It was beyond strange for the man, but due to the fact that he was meant to fight someone, he dismissed all thoughts about the freezing cold until the battle was over.
Question was, who was he fighting? The man hadn’t left the lobby before the other contestant was called out, so he was lacking a name of his challenger. No worries, though, as once a face was given to his temporary foe, he would be able to recognize him/her. After all, he had been in the audience for all fights; observing. Shiro was an analyst, able to store a lot of information, battle tactics, and signature abilities of his opponents into his head. He knew if he were to be outdoing the dragon in battle, a couple bullets to the mouth was more than recommended. Instantly, he knew an aggressive opponent was not his match. Oh interesting. What was presented to the aegyl as she walked into the white room was a man in white. Sitting in a white chair, in between them a marble table with a chess board atop. The man was none other than Shiro Utuago, smirking at the woman as she entered.
”Welcome, Aerynn. Care to join me for a game of chess?” the man gestured toward the board game in front of him with a nod. ”My bad. Unnecessary question, as you’re already playing.” A pawn of the opposite side of Shiro’s, the black side, moved, without force, up one space. ”Don’t you remember how to play? You move your first pawn twice.” With that, the soldier in white grabbed one of his own silver pieces and slid it up two spaces.
It was hard for things to get past the analyst. Once his view had adjusted to the dark cavern, his eyes searched for a charging hooligan, hoping to strike the man down. That was not the case. It was then Blackout realized he was going against someone with his IQ, an intellect. Brain running through all the memories of previous fights he had seen, he deducted that his opponent was Aerynn or Olette; however, since Aerynn had made it unlike the latter, it was best to assume that he was facing the “harpy”. Before arriving at the coliseum, the man had browsed through many pieces of literature at the world’s library. He doubted the woman was an ordinary harpy, as other than the wings, the woman bared no resemblance. She was from another world; no doubt about it.
At the realization that he was facing the winged lady, the man scanned the area at the edge of the cavern, focusing on anything with feathers. The lighting was very dim, so it was hard to see. Two masses stood out above the rest, however. One was perched on top of a mound in the center of the arena, while another one was more so in the back, a large shadow behind a chunk of stalagmite. There was only one efficient solution; injure both. If there were better lighting, it would not have taken long for the analyst to figure out which one was living, but since the arena was dark and cold; Shiro wanted to get the battle over with. Reaching for his knife in his pocket, the soldier dashed over to the shadow across the cavern. Strategically, the alarming approach gave the man two benefits. One, it could have let the “harpy” believe that she was caught if she were in the back. Two, it could have gave his opponent the belief that she had “bamboozled” the intellect. Whipping the combat knife out of his pocket, the man threw it at the shadow, [Yazoo said I could use the knife just with the ability] hoping for the blade to penetrate the shadow if she were there. Although, the soldier had to cover all bases. Suddenly, the man spun around, took Valor out of his holster and narrowed his eyes at the high target in the center of the room. Narrowing his eyes, the man put his unoccupied hand to his ear closest to the gun and covered it, as in a cavern, a shot from a pistol would be loud. Pulling the trigger three times, he hoped that one way or the other; he had done some damage to his opponent.
Even with the annoying ringing in his hearing, the man then for cover in case she returned fire. Valor in hand, the man crouched behind a large chunk of rock, trying to focus his hearing on movement, despite how slightly impaired it was.
”I admire the way you hid instead of rushing to Blackout, head on. However, due to this being the first time we met, you had no idea of how keen the soldier’s eyesight is. He is an analyst, after all,” the man in white commented. ”We both know how this ends, Aerynn. We speak no words to each other. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be here, the unspoken words of two intellects midst battle.” With two pawns moved, Shiro frowned slightly at the board. ”Alas, I am out of moves and it seems as if you’re hiding technique had its perks, as Blackout threw his knife at a physical being that was nonexistent. Huh, oh well… Your move.”
Word Count of Post
Action 1: Entered stance.
Action 2: Knife Throw at a big bunch of nothing; since hiding didn’t work, thought it’d be fair to disarm Shiro a bit ^^
Action 3: Clear Shot
As long as it isn't 1-30; it is considered a hit unless dodged.
Therefore, I missed only once. Other two are a hit unless dodged/blocked/whatever.
Clear Shot Lvl1-: The ability requires the Way of the Soldier stance. Focusing on a target, Shiro can fire one of his pistols with what seems to be perfect accuracy, for three shots. With the memory that he has, the chance of hitting is 70%. [Cooldown: 1 post] Activating this ability counts as one action, both focusing and firing the pistol three times.
Knife Throw Lvl1-: The ability requires the Way of the Soldier stance. Blackout throws his knife at a rapid speed with a 60% chance of hitting. [Cooldown: 1 post]
Stance Change-: Blackout changes stances to be able to use different weapons for different strategies. [Cool down: None, the ability to change stances is passive, but requires an action to perform.]
Way of the Soldier Lvl1-: This stance requires the ability Stance Change. Blackout draws one of his signature given pistols, either “Pride” or “Valor”, and his knife, giving him the ability to perform close combat and to shoot at will. If one of his pistols are stolen, dropped, or lost, and he decides to draw another, it counts as one action. In the stance, Shiro is a tad rusty with close combat, but still remembers the skill well enough to defend himself. If knife is unusable, he just uses one pistol and just hand to hand combat.
Upon her perch in the center of the arena, Aeynn scanned the grounds, watching for any sign of movement and listening for any noise that might lead her to her opponent. There was a sound of strange chattering that emanated from above, but Aerynn relegated it to simply white noise. It was nothing she could deal with right now, not when everything hung on the start of this battle, and despite her curiosity, she could not afford to turn her head towards the ceiling. Doing so would have been a fatal error. The blue lights, dim as they were, would have ruined the dark vision she had gained and needed to spot her opponent.
The aegyl was prepared for anything. It was a new environment, a new foe, and she did not wish to leave the decision once more to the judges' hands. While she may have won their favor in the last match, it was not a victory she could accept, and it meant nothing in terms of her standing with the fighting elite. Her battles with Kuja had not been judged, and Aerynn would never know what the result would have been had her fight with Wander not been stopped prematurely. In the worlds, outside of a judged arena, technicalities meant nothing.
Perhaps that was why she felt that shiver up her spine, her restlessness that she could not explain. Did she deserve this fight? Did she belong here? If the match had lasted just a little bit longer, could she have succeeded on her own? It was a question she could not answer, and it left her with a sense of disparity.
But they had given her a second chance. She would simply have to turn things around, defeat her opponent before the bell rang, or be beaten instead. Either way, Aerynn thought it would be a better outcome than to be voted on points that meant nothing in the real world.
Resolving herself, Aerynn kept her eye on the grounds and spied movement, a dark shape running between the stalagmites, his boots squelching through the mud. Aerynn was still as she watched him. A flash of light, a reflection of the blue lights from above, caught her eye. He had thrown a knife, but to what? Aerynn could only make out a dark mass. The man would not throw his weapon away so easily, not in an environment like this, unless he was sure it would hit something.
Aerynn's eyes widened ever so slightly. She had deceived him somehow, though the set up had been unintentional. Blackout had mistaken her for something else, which meant he was seeking her out. And when he found out that dark mass he had attacked held nothing…
And there it was. Aerynn saw him turn—she had expected it—drawing forth another weapon but Aerynn was already on the move. It took but an instant for her to descend from her perch, pressing her back against the stalagmite and contemplating her next move.
At least until the explosions happened.
Instinctively Aerynn covered her ears, gasping in shock as her ear drums pounded inside her skull. The aegyl blinked, shock and alarm overtaking her as she tried to figure out what had just happened. Had he set off explosives? No, there was no accompanying flash of light, and aside from the three blasts that reverberated throughout the cavern, there was nothing else.
Her ears were ringing, and it was all Aerynn could do to stop herself from gasping at the pain. She was sure if she removed her hands her ears would be bleeding. Sitting with her back against the stalagmite, Aerynn took a moment—she had to take a moment—to analyse the situation. She was up against someone who seemed not to care to bring the entire roof down around them, but he was also daring, confident, stupid, or all three. Aerynn had seen the knife thrown, and she understood very well that Blackout was willing to discard a weapon on a mere hunch of where his enemy lay.
Or perhaps it was all a ruse and she was dealing with a greater threat than she gave credit, but with the evidence presented, Aerynn was not yet ready to reach that conclusion.
She had to move. Whether or not he understood setting off explosives would render their hearing useless until the ringing stopped, Aerynn understood they were meant for her, and it was only a matter of time before he would come investigate to see if his attack had reached its mark.
There was another stalagmite a few feet away, and Aerynn shuffled her way behind it as quickly and quietly as she was able. There she waited, watching for movement beyond the rocky mounds and developing her own silent game plan of what to do when she saw him approach.
She hoped the ringing would stop soon. It was much less enjoyable than the ceaseless chatter from above.
Aerynn used: 1. Keen Eye: Aegyl eyesight is sharp and perceptive, and Aerynn was able to detect Blackout moving about the arena, as well as detect his actions. Passive ability. 2. Descend: Aerynn descended from her perch to seek cover behind her stalagmite. Though Blackout managed to roll two hits with the dice, Aerynn was able to dodge the attack through her quickness and judgment of the situation, making the move before Blackout could draw the weapon, aim, cover his ear, and fire. 3. Hide: Aerynn hid behind another stalagmite, biding her time and waiting for Blackout to come to her. Duration: Until she's found out!
"Mm," was all Aerynn said as she took a seat across from the man in white. She gazed at the board, then gazed at him, narrowing her eyes at his words. "I know very well how to play," she said, even though she had never played chess before, yet somehow, here, in this white room, she had. "And I would appreciate it if you allowed me to move my own pieces, rather than moving them on my behalf."
She did not know the first pawn's movement had truly been her own, manifested itself onto the board before she had sat down. She examined the pieces. She had hid once, and the pawn moved one square. Blackout had attacked, and so the man in white moved a pawn into a position better aimed to strike. Aerynn had dodged, she was safe, but she still ended up hiding in the end. The aegyl picked up a pawn and moved it not one square forward, but two. Despite her actions in the arena, she could still move her pieces as she deemed fit.
"This Blackout," Aerynn said as she moved her piece. "His eyesight may be keen, but it still failed him." She set her piece down and looked at the man in white, her cerulean blue eyes peering at him, the eyes of an aegyl. "I wonder, did he analyze the possible effects of three miniature explosions within an enclosed cavern?"
Failed him…? How so…? An eyebrow of the man in white rose in response. Indeed, the soldier’s assault had been avoided by the aegyl, sizing her eyesight to the analyst’s. Interesting how the creature managed to pull it off, but the woman had; expressing that her intelligence was worthy to compete with the man’s own. Not that he had expected her not to, but every time the two would contest against one another; there was always surprise and respect exchanged between the two. No matter how many times the two fought with the pawns of a chess board, Shiro would always send his admiration to her via the unseen transition between their locked orbs. ”You don’t say...?” the man commented as he stroked the stubble on his chin, examining the chess board.
Of course!? Why hadn’t the intellect seen it before? Smirking, the analyst met eyes with the woman’s once again, saying, ”We all make mistakes. Correct me if I’m wrong.”
What had he done? The ringing was becoming unbearable as the obnoxious sound echoed throughout the cavern. Not only they could barely see, but now they could barely hear? With Valor in hand, the man contemplated on setting the gun away as more firing would most likely only cause the permanent loss of each other’s’ hearing. Also, another effect of the blasts were to become very obvious in the next moment. The dim sound of fluttering amongst the unseen corners of the cave were just the start. Although hearing was impaired, not much went past the soldier. Instantly, the fear of a great man [Batman reference? ;D] would swoop down from above in a cluttered crowd before the aegyl and fear itself.
Tiny winged beasts flew in a gigantic mass before separating, scattering around in a panic. Midst the frenzy, the intellect swallowed his urges to examine the beasts and merely added it to his mental list of what was going wrong with the battle at the moment. He had missed to his knowledge, his hearing couldn’t be worse (or if it could, may Kingdom Hearts not let it get there), and there was a swarm of bats annoying the hell out of the soldier. If he could shoot them all down, he would, but there was no time for that. The battler had to focus on the fight with his unseen target.
Where was she?
”As you know, the knight moves in a unique ways. Mind if I move my own?” the man had asked rhetorically. Of course the intellect would slide the horse down the board in an L shape, as it was his move after all. ”Let us hope mistakes will not be common in this match. You are my first opponent that was on par with my intellect; and personally my favorite out of my entire recollection of duels.” With that, the swordsman moved his knight.
With the two hiding in shadows, there was going to have to be a better way of combating one another than searching behind every chunk of earth. They’d have to play cat and mouse, a game that Blackout was indifferent about. However, the mouse was as smart as the cat; so it wouldn’t be that easy. The strategy would involve swaying an intelligent mind to think intelligent. Therefore, resting Valor quietly on the floor after shuffling silently to a new position, the man felt around on the ground for a medium sized rock. Using his soldier strength, the man lifted the rock with ease and chucked it at the ground hard right below him, creating a loud thud amongst the screeching and fainting ringing. A smart tactician would know that the first noise would be a decoy, so Shiro’s intention was to convince his opponent to think that the next sound coming her direction would be him. Henceforth, the man felt around for another chuck, expanded his arm, and threw it hard to the other side of the cavern, creating an alarming noise that would come to anyone as movement. Seconds after, hoping that his opponent would rush the decoy of his decoy, the man grabbed Valor, raised his head, hand, and gun above the stalagmite and pulled the trigger as the weapon was pointed to where he had thrown the second rock. It was the strategist’s intention on having her believe the first rock was a decoy, and the second being himself. Clearly, not the case; it was a Win-Lose, no matter what. If Aerynn fell for such trick, she’d be given respect for being smarter than just rushing the first noise, as any aggressive Neanderthal would. If she hadn’t and went for the first noise, no respect would be given; however, he would have wasted a bullet. If she didn’t go for either, her hearing must have been really messed up or she was really passive; something that he didn’t care about. Hoping it wasn’t the latter, due to the fact that a battle with a passive fighter would be unnecessarily long, the man waited for his opponent’s move.
”Early moves aren’t that crucial, as you see; none of us were injured prior, despite our hearings. Perhaps playing this early mind game wasn’t the best play, but alas, what done is done. However, I hope you appreciate the fact that I tried. Your turn. As you know, I always look forward to see how you react to such.”
Word Count of Post
Action 1: Threw a rock at the ground below him; hoping to trick her into believing such was a decoy.
Action 2: Threw a rock at the ground a good distance away from him; hoping to draw her out to believe that such was the actual him.
Action 3: Bang! Bang! Shiro fired one bullet towards the direction he threw the second rock.
Crouched beside the stalagmite in her new hiding place, Aerynn waited. It was all she could do. Her ears were still ringing, and she had no idea where this Blackout character had scurried off to, if he had scurried anywhere. She did not know whether he had taken cover as she had or if he was now sniffing her out. From what she had seen thus far, she was sure it was the latter. Blackout was the type to take matters into his own hands, to instigate conflict and be the aggressor, to make a move even if it was based on a mere hunch.
Aerynn was calmer, more defensive. She preferred to bide her time, draw her opponent to her, whereas Blackout had attempted to flush her out. No, she had no need to go anywhere. She would stay where she was and wait for him, her naginata clutched close to her body as a cold shiver enveloped her body. And then, when he was close enough, she would strike.
It wasn't until the bats stormed the cavern's exterior did the aegyl change her mind. Blackout had seen her, seen what she'd done—conceal herself on a high perch, and flee the moment he saw her. She knew very well that she made no disillusions of her preferred tactic, else she would have rushed him the moment his knife had left his hand. If Blackout was smart, he would be forced to come to her, or force her to draw her out. It was time to change the rules, to catch her opponent off guard and employ a strategy he may not expect from a petite girl with wings.
Sheer brute force.
Unfurling her wings, Aerynn launched herself in the air, flying within the mass of bats and losing herself in their swarm. She knew where Blackout was, or at least had an idea, but no matter. If he had moved she would find him.
There was no hindrance in her flight. Bats were precision flyers, and the squeaks of their echolocation filled her ears, accompanying the ringing that was still prevalent from the earlier explosions. They flew alongside her, almost guiding her to her prey. Aerynn was calm and confident. Despite the cavern's low ceiling, it was enough for her wings. The aegyl was in her element.
She gave him no time to set up his next attack. Soaring through the cavern's interior, her eyes sharp and keen, she saw him through the dim light and the shadows of the bats surrounding. He was crouched, his eyes to the ground, avoiding the swarm that flew above and around him, leaving him completely open to attack.
As if on cue, the bats dispersed, leaving The aegyl an open path to her target. With a great flap of her wings Aerynn dived, raising her naginata up in preparation for her strike. Whether of not he saw her was of no consequence. It was too late to stop her now. A naginata was not a piercing weapon, but a slashing one. In one great motion Aerynn opened her wings, catching herself in her flight and casting a gigantic shadow before Blackout, filling his entire vision with a mass of black feathers. Her attack was quick and merciless, the sword blade of her naginata coming down in a diagonal swipe that reached from Blackout's shoulder all the way across his chest.
She meant to incapacitate him in one fell blow.
Aerynn used: 1. Swarm: Aerynn used her environment to her advantage and took flight within the swarm of bats, once more concealing herself in preparation of an attack and thus avoiding Blackout's. Effectiveness: Very good! 2. Surprise! Slash!: Using Swarm to her advantage, Aerynn snuck up on Blackout and made a diagonal slash from his shoulder across his chest! 3. Freebie!: Because Aerynn interrupted Blackout's post and negated his moveset, Blackout gets one free hit at his discretion. Reserve: One.
"Your flattery is wasted on one such as I," Aerynn said, her face expressionless as she watched him move his knight across the board. They had only just begun their match, but already Aerynn could see openings and advantages. She took the queen, the most powerful piece, and slid it through the opening her pawns had allowed. It was risky bringing forth such a hefty piece into play so early in their battle, but Aerynn had made a big move, and as such it was only necessary her pieces reflect that. Lifting her hand from the queen, setting her move in place, she turned to Shiro, her eyes boring into his, to see what he would do and how he would react to such a brazen display of power.
Who knew that not following curiosity killed the cat anyway? As the great rush of air came the focused soldier’s way, the analyst flashed through his memories leading up to that point; looking for error. He could see himself, his dark blue orbs glancing up at the screeching bats, as he crouched quietly. That was his error, dismissing the thoughts of examining the creatures; as his target was among them. It was as if his failure flashed before his eyes, though it had no meaning; as it was already too late to predict it coming. She was coming; the reflecting light of the blade shown. The soldier’s muscles tensed, reflexes kicking in, as the edge of the naginata ripped through the material of his jacket and shirt; even skin. As soon as the tip of the blade cut and was pulled across through his flesh, the man grunted at the pain. Although it’d be minor, it never felt pleasant; especially since it had been so long since an opponent had managed to actually lay a hand on him. As blood started to emerge from the wound, the man’s thoughts revolved around the pain, how to turn the battle, and how the hell he’d get the red stain out of his shirt. [Everything in this post approved by Boo]
Shiro Utuago watched as Aerynn moved her queen and knocked out his knight off the chess board. Blinking at such, the intellect examined the playing field as he extended his arms, hands holding each other, above the set; stretching. Returning and relaxing his arms to his sides, the soldier in white looked across the table and locked eyes with the aegyl once again. ”That hurt; well played,” spoke the observer of his present self’s reaction. Now what would the white army do next? Well, they clearly weren’t going to stay within the empty room forever, so they had to pick up the pace. The pieces were setting, and Aerynn took the first knight out; they were starting to play. ”However, you left your queen open. Was the knight worth the exchange you made?” Blue eyes staring into purple, Shiro knocked out the queen with his bishop. The two would start clashing amongst the board midst the fight of their present selves.
Now, it had may seemed like a while since the aegyl’s strike on the soldier, but no. His figure was still present in the reflection of the blade; noticed from the corner of his eye. Shiro was just a fast thinker. Instantly, Blackout grabbed the wooden/metal [whatever] section just above the naginata’s deadly part with his left hand. Just as one would pull a rope, the soldier broke the flow of the blade and pulled the weapon towards him, Aerynn being a package deal. With the strength of a trained man, the pull brought the purple and blue orbs within inches of each other in a quick thrust backwards. At that point, the man had very limited options. Therefore, just as the two locked eyes, Shiro kicked his head back with a motion of the neck, and swung in forward with full force; skull colliding against skull.
At that, the gravity manipulator let go of the weapon with its carryon; the man stumbling, feeling the effects of the head bash. Man, did his head hurt. After a few seconds of realizing what had happened, the blue eyes blinked twice. Knowing what was going on, the man took Valor in his right hand and focused in on the necessary targets. With that, one shot went to the right wing, one shot went to the left wing, and the last going towards Aerynn in general; no specific body part. Hopefully he disabled her ability to fly for the match, that single objective in his head echoed throughout his slightly dizzy mind. The man was definitely not over the pain in his skull just yet, plus the blood dripping from his chest was not helping. All he knew was that damn; he fucking hated flying.
Word Count of Post
Action 1: Grabbed the weapon and pulled like a bad ass pulling a rope with one hand; bringing her inches away from Shiro.
Action 2: Ouch was what they’re both probably thinking when Shiro bashed his head against hers in a hard head butt.
Action 3: Clear Shot To hopefully stop the flying nonsense. I’m not going to roll for these, as Shiro’s vision is probably a bit hazy and blurry due to the second action of his. So one bullet went to both of his wings, while the last went wherever you choose. I’ll let you decide if they hit or not.
Clear Shot Lvl1-: The ability requires the Way of the Soldier stance. Focusing on a target, Shiro can fire one of his pistols with what seems to be perfect accuracy, for three shots. With the memory that he has, the chance of hitting is 70%. [Cooldown: 1 post] Activating this ability counts as one action, both focusing and firing the pistol three times.
((Note: Aerynn has cerulean blue eyes, not purple, sorry!))
It had not been enough.
Aerynn had not anticipated the padding of the leather jacket, and the slash she had put so much strength and energy into did not have the effect she desired. Almost immediately after her move was finished Blackout grabbed the naginata's haft, pulling her in for a counter. Their eyes locked, dark blue against cerulean hues, before he brought his head back and snapped it forward.
There was only enough time for a panicked thought before Aerynn's forehead exploded in pain. She stumbled back, unprepared for such a basic move that left her dazed and confused. Her head shook, and she blinked her eyes in a poor attempt to dispel the pounding ache that was already beginning to take root, when she saw him raise that odd weapon of his in her direction.
A moment passed, Aerynn frozen in her position as she took a minute to wonder just what he was doing and the nature of the instrument in his hand. A soft blue glow reflected off its metal surface, illuminating the strange but intricate device. There were no sharp edges, and it looked too small to be used as a proper club. The aegyl was too far away for him to use it effectively anyway, so then why did he point it at her?
Never before had Aerynn encountered a gun, and though she had seen its type used in previous tournament rounds—Whatever, specifically—she did not understand the different types and variety, and as such was ignorant to the impending doom against her. It was the last time she would ever make that mistake.
She wasn't sure which came first, the explosion or the pain. All she could process was the fire that erupted in one of her wings, the blood that splattered and the feathers that flew around her in a bloody, black rain. She opened her mouth to scream, the agony overbearing, so much that the stoic, emotionless aegyl actually felt the need to apply voice to her distress, when Blackout moved his weapon and fired a second shot at her other wing.
She did scream then, a scream of pure, unbridled pain that reverberated throughout the cavern's interior, mingling with the echoing explosion from Blackout's terrible strike. Her eyes were closed, her whole body tensed in a fruitless attempt to manage the pain that stormed inside her. Blackout was not done. She didn't see the way his weapon moved again, seeking a third spot to fire upon. She didn't even hear the explosion, her head too filled and focused on the howl of her own voice. She only felt the way her left bicep seemed to rip itself from her arm, the pain hot and searing and bloody.
She was going to die.
In instinct her right hand came up to grasp at her arm, the blood flowing beneath her palm and through her fingers. She forced her eyes open and saw him standing there with nothing more than a grim expression on his face, his weapon still raised and pointed at her. She had to flee.
Through the pain and the shock Aerynn managed somehow to unfurl her wings, her only saving grace being the adrenaline and panic that surged through her body. With a quick glance upwards, Aerynn launched herself in the air, her wings flapping awkwardly as they tried to gain purchase. It was too much; the pain was too great. She managed to soar above him, but she had barely passed over his head before Aerynn faltered in her flight, her wings unable to keep the rest of her elevated. That was no good. She needed distance, she needed a place to rest and collect herself. It would not do if she couldn't run away when she was so vulnerable. With a surge of strength born of desperation, Aerynn flapped her wings hard, forcing them through the pain, her mind making instinctual judgements on how to accommodate the struggle.
At some point she crashed, her wings unable to keep up with the demand Aerynn had forced upon them. The aegyl's feet touched upon the ground and she felt herself falling, stumbling over stalagmites and losing traction on the slick ground of their arena. Her foot caught and she lurched forward, throwing her hands out to catch her from her inevitable crash, when she saw the cavern wall in front of her. Through sheer reflex Aerynn twisted her body, feeling her back smack hard against the rock. There she collapsed, her limbs shaking, as she tried her best to deal with the pain that incapacitated her.
An agonizing moan escaped her as she took a quick respite, before she remembered Blackout was still here and probably hunting her. Gripping her scarf in her teeth, she groaned into the fabric. It wasn't completely soundproof, but it was good enough, and Aerynn needed some form of release from the pain.
Her wings were useless, she realized that now, and accepted it. It was the only thing she could do. She did not bother examining them—there was nothing she could do for them anyway—and so she turned to the wound in her arm. It was not as bad as she had thought, but then, she was expecting the worst. Even if it felt as though the muscle had torn itself from the bone, such was not the case. Just a rather large flesh wound, but it was not so bad that she had lost complete use of the limb. Removing one of her gauntlets, Aerynn unwrapped the bandages around her left arm and bound the wound tight, suppressing another groan from the pressure and pain.
That done, she took a quick moment to gather her bearings.
She was in trouble, she knew that much, but she was still conscious, and therefore still able to fight. A glistening pool of water lay beside her, reflecting the glow of the blue lights above and casting a phosphorescent effect on the wall behind her. Something glittered nearby and Aerynn narrowed her eyes, peering at the strange object. It was a knife. The aegyl crawled over to it on shaky limbs, taking it in her hand and examining it, testing its weight and finding it suitable to use. With the new blade in her hand she sat back, once more taking a closer look upon her surroundings. The reflection of the pool was casting deep shadows around her, and Aerynn realized she must have reached the area that Blackout had first thought her hiding, and with the stalagmites around and the shadows that danced around her from the pool's glow, no wonder he had been so easily mistaken.
Slipping the knife in her body wrap, Aerynn looked back towards the pool's edge. She had taken a big blow, and the pain was phenomenal, but Aerynn could deal with it. It was her greatest quality to continue the fight when all odds were stacked against her. Besides, an idea was budding in her mind.
Removing the scarf from her neck, Aerynn grabbed her naginata and tied the fabric to the end of the wooden haft. Then, moving to the pool's edge, Aerynn stabbed her weapon down blade first into the loose mud, catching it against rocks to hold it upright. She took a step back, making sure the weapon did not fall, before Aerynn moved back to the wall. Then she started the slow, laborious process of scaling its rough surface.
It was a strange sight to her as she climbed. At places it almost seemed as though the cavern wall had bled and frozen. Flowstone, but Aerynn didn't know the proper name for it or how it had formed. All she knew was that it provided a nice perch for her to rest, to wait for Blackout as he came to investigate the place where Aerynn had landed, groaning from pain as she bandaged herself up as best as she could.
If all went according to plan, the light from the pool would illuminate her scarf, positioned behind a stalagmite in such a way that it would appear as if she were hiding there, waiting for him to appear and catch him off guard. Meanwhile, Aerynn waited upon the small flowstone ledge on the wall, in a place where Blackout would not expect. He had grounded her after all. There was no reasonable explanation that an attack should come from above.
Until he came, though, Aerynn could focus on suppressing the pain that seared through her limbs.
Aerynn used: 1. Flee: Aerynn got shot and fled! Smart move, you were going to die! 2. Finders Keepers: Aerynn found Blackout's discarded knife and pocketed it. She did this last round too. She's such a thief! 3. Elaborate Set-up for Her Next Attack: Aerynn made an elaborate set-up for her next attack! She tied her scarf to the end of her naginata, then stuck her naginata in the ground near the cavern pool behind a stalagmite. Hopefully if Blackout is gullible, he will see the scarf and attack, but silly fool, there's nothing there! OH MY GOD WHAT'S THAT ABOVE??
Aerynn blinked, watching as Shiro took her queen with a hidden bishop. She had not expected that. How could she have missed it? For a minute Aerynn was speechless as she replayed the previous moves in her mind, wondering where the bishop had came from and how she had not seen it. Shiro had taken her queen. Her most powerful piece, her greatest asset, and the analogy of her wings. She could not see it, not even now, as she replayed the moves in her head. It was simply something she had not anticipated, and it was true, she did not. She had taken his knight, scored a slash against Blackout, but she had lost her queen and her wings because of it. It was a foolish move upon retrospect, but it was not something Aerynn could take back, or regret.
"The queen is not the only piece that will win the game," Aerynn said, ignoring the quip that Shiro had directed at her. Reaching across the board, Aerynn moved her own bishop into a strategic location. While she decided not to take a piece of her own, this was a set up for something far more intricate and deadly.
SHIRO WINNING ALTERNATIVE: IN THE EVENT THAT SHIRO WINS
Watching as the aegyll slid her bishop to a location on the board, the man smirked at the comment of hers. It was true, it wasn’t necessary to win; but who said she’d have the chance to win? Looking at the ongoing battle before them, the intellect believed they wouldn’t have enough time to finish their game of chess. ”Do you know what always surprises me?” he asked, glancing at the pale ceiling above them. Turning his attention back towards Aerynn, his eyes snapped to look into hers, ”That we never get the chance to reach checkmate. Perhaps we just outthink the other too fast.”
It was a hard thump of the heart that followed. Clutching his chest with his hand, he peered down and noticed that his left hand was bleeding, a major cut resting near his wrist. When he grabbed the weapon of Aerynn’s, he must have skimmed his palm over the blade a tad before gripping onto it. Great; another injury he’d have to clean up. That was if he were to have the ability to fix himself up. Aerynn… She was like no other that he had fought. She thought before she acted. The typical opponent he was assigned to determine to defeat wouldn’t have surprised him like she had. As his vision started to become clearer, and his hearing started to ease up on the ringing; he narrowed his eyes across the silent nonexistent waves of the cave pool before him. His eyes locked in on the cloth of the girl’s scarf. Setting his pistol back into his holster, the man put both hands on his backpack straps, slid it off quietly and set it on the ground. Slowly, the man zipped open his pack and withdrew his sword, Gravios. It was time to end the game.
Just before as he was about to moon jump it, the man widened his eyes as his vision became clear. Thankfully he was weakened, otherwise he would have fell right for the trap. That was not her, but a mere distraction to deceive him. If the woman had any form of intelligence, which he knew she did, she would leave nothing to be visible. The analyst would not be fooled so easily, therefore he took the quiet approach. Crouching down, the man maneuvered himself around the gap of water without noise. Eyes becoming more adjust to the darkness of the cavern, he spotted his opponent perched on a ledge. Extending his arm, sword in hand, the man focused on the woman. The battle would end then.
Taking off in a sprint, the man sprung off the ground into a moon jump. The gravity manipulator strengthened the effect of gravity, speeding the process of his time in the air; dead set on his target, the rough appearing inner wall of the cavern right next to the aegyll. Once at target, the man kicked his own pair of feet against the rocky surface, pushed off of it and threw himself at the woman while swinging his sword in assault. Impaling the woman in the shoulder with his blade, the man pushed hard, watching it erupt from the behind of Aerynn. The colliding force immediately took them away the inner wall and had them soar towards the pool. Since the sword was in the woman’s shoulder, there was no need for the soldier, so he let go, letting her clash into the pool of water. Instead, the man took the rough way and hit the hard ground with a bang, right on his shoulder. Hearing the loud disturbing sound of bones breaking, on his right side of his body, the man grunted in pain. However, the man who was so accustomed to pain would not let the pain lose the fight for him. Left arm extended, the man revealed the palm of his shaking left hand to the aqua luminescent blue of the water as the wave of Aerynn’s splash soaked the side that he rested on; his right. His weapons were connected to the gravity manipulator, designed to find themselves back to him and orbit around him like a planet to a sun. However, the gravity would manipulate Gravios to not, but to instead reject it from coming close to him, but in the other direction, to the wet bottom of the mass of water.
Unless Aerynn managed to struggle her way away from his sword, there would be no more fighting. If she did, it would be an extremely painful process of removing the blade from his body, which would weaken her to a fair agree. All the man could do was hope for the prior as he slowly pushed the sword from submerging from the water, closer to the man that it was connected to. The analyst focused on the bubbling in the water, representing the air that was residing in the woman’s body.
”Good game, Aerynn,” the man in white spoke as the battle ended before them. Any man without compassion would have left the room after such sentence. Shiro Utuago, however, was not that man. Therefore, he extended his arm above the board, offering his hand for a firm handshake between two intellectuals. The man admired Aerynn’s tactics and would respect her most out of all beings he had encountered.
The last bubble popped.
Struggling to get himself up, the man found his way and got himself back onto his two feet. Palm and arm still extended, the man called for his sword in the form of orbit rush. Suddenly, the blade emerged from the depths of the water, handle settling in his palm. Throwing it down to the side of him, the man instantly dived into the pool of water, no thoughts dwelling upon his decision. They fought in a tournament. There was no reason to see Aerynn die. He would not live with her blood on his hands.
In a minute or so, two figures emerged from the water on the screen presented to the audience, to see what was happening between the two contestants. The crowd roared in excitement as the two intellects found their way to the rocky shore, only once conscious. CPR would then be performed by the soldier until the Aegyl breathed. The announcer would then call to the clapping audience, ”BLACKOUT WINS!”
Aerynn frowned, gazing over the pieces, trying to find where she had gone wrong, before she noticed Shiro's extended hand. She peered at it, wondering the meaning of this strange gesutre and how she should receive it.
"It is customary to shake hands after a match," Shiro said.
The aegyl hesitated before she took his hand in hers, and sat silent as Shiro pulled her hand and placed a gentle kiss on her knuckles, in such way one would do to a princess upon meeting her. Aerynn wasn’t a princess in his book, but she was one to respect. Respect was hard to obtain from Shiro Utuago. ”The pleasure was mine,” he said.
The figures in white parted ways, leaving from opposite sides of the rooms. Finally, the unsaid things were said.
Word Count of Post
4, for the fact that we had to wrap this up. Don’t hurt me, please.
Action 1: Changed stance to Way of the Swordsman.
Action 2: Stab was what he did to Aerynn with his sword midst tackle.
Action 3: Moon Jump was used to do such.
Action 4: Orbit Rush to get the blade out of her. Come on, this was to help her. Please don’t hurt me in reviewing. Haha
Orbit-: A passive ability of Blackout, his weapons are magically enhanced to gravitate towards him as planets do to a sun. It isn’t a strong gravitational pull at all and really only is used retrieve his weaponry. It’s a slow process, but a huge area of effect, allowing his gun to slowly make its way to him from a mile away.
Orbit Rush Lvl1-: An ability of Shiro’s that speeds up the process of his passive, Orbit, by letting him focus on the weaponry wanted (only one item he can focus on; using Orbit Rush to pick up his dual pistols would count as two actions). His weaponry returns to him at a faster pace.[Duration: 1 post; Cool down: 1 post]
Moon Jump Lvl1-: An ability of Blackout’s that allows Shiro to focus on his jump, giving him the capability of performing one long jump, though at a slow speed just like one would feel jumping on the moon. [Duration: 1 jump; Cooldown: 2 posts]
Stance Change-: Blackout changes stances to be able to use different weapons for different strategies. [Cool down: None, the ability to change stances is passive, but requires an action to perform.]
Way of the Swordsman Lvl1-: This stance requires the ability Stance Change. Blackout puts everything away to wield his long sword, Gravios. He can either wield it one handed or two handed, however two handed is much more efficient until further practice. (AKA More levels) Due to his past, Shiro is a very skilled swordsman, allowing the man to strike, counter, parry, and block; in multiple ways. All of his strikes have an 85% chance of hitting, if not against a parry or a block; 50% if against a counter. [Added 7/16/2014]
(Reasoning of editing: I took out Aerynn's post. Everything within these posts are fully approved by the both of us.)
AERYNN WINNING ALTERNATIVE: IN THE EVENT THAT AERYNN WINS "Wait," Aerynn said. Something was not right. She perused over the pieces of the board, replaying the moves in her mind, her focus entirely on the chess set in front of them. The man in white made no move to leave, but he watched her as she considered the board. She could feel his eyes on him, studying her, but it was easy enough to ignore.
"You made an error," she finally said, moving distinct pieces back to their proper place. "I had my bishop here, and you had your king and rook here." She moved the pieces back to their original places. "You castled kingside, but in doing so, you passed through check." She indicated the clear line that had her bishop intercepting the move. "That's illegal."
Shiro gazed at the board, taking a moment to ponder before he said to her, "You are correct. That was an oversight on my part."
As soon as the words were out of his mouth the pieces rearranged themselves, and Aerynn could see the events of the fight reversing. From Blackout retrieving her from the water, she plunged back in, floated closer to the bank with the sword imbedded in her arm. She and Blackout jumped out of the water in reverse, until Aerynn was placed back on her flowstone ledge, and Blackout was back among the stalagmites hunting her.
"Allow me to make a proper move, and we can resume where we left off."
Secure in her perch on the flowstone ledge, Aerynn was reaching stages of delirium. Never before had she felt pain like she did now, and no matter how hard she tried she could not suppress the fire that flared within her limbs. She trembled, her breath coming quick and short. She was cold, but despite the chill beads of sweat were collecting on her brow. She had not anticipated the power that Shiro held in the palm of his hand, and to be quite honest with herself, it frightened her.
The aegyl's head shook in a fruitless attempt to dispel her distress. She was still in the middle of a fight, and she could not afford to be so weak, not now, at this pivotal moment. Her eyes searched for the naginata she had stuck in the ground, her scarf hanging limp from the lack of breeze. She could not find it. Had she lost it? Aerynn crawled forward. This was no good, no good at all. If she couldn't find her trap, she would miss her opportunity, and Blackout would become wise to her trickery.
So focused was she on the ground below that she didn't see his leap, didn't anticipate the tackle until Blackout was upon her, grabbing her shuddering body and leaping once more to the water's edge. But there was one difference from his last attempt. He had no sword in his hand.
Aerynn could only afford a shout in alarm before her body struck the still surface of the cavern pool. The water was frigid cold, seizing her body and limbs in a viselike grip. She thrashed, the surface only inches in front of her, but through the icy chill she could feel Blackout's hands wrapped around her neck, keeping her submerged. It was only sheer force of will that kept her from screaming, but she had not gasped when she entered the water, and what little air she had she was using too fast. Her lungs ached, her body freezing, but still she struggled. It was no good. Blackout was too strong.
Consciousness was beginning to ebb away from her. Her vision was growing dark, her struggles beginning to calm. He was going to defeat her, and Aerynn would lose the chance to find out who she really was.
Abandoning the struggle against Blackout's hold, Aerynn's hand plunged into the water beside her, seeking something, anything, that could aid her. Her fingers wrapped around a stone, and without second thought she bashed Blackout's head with her new weapon. His grip weakened, and she bashed him again, and again, until she felt his hands leave her throat completely.
Aerynn surfaced, gasping for breath, water cascading around her. There was movement out of the corner of her eye, and with a glance she found Blackout stumbling in the water beside her. Now was her chance. Retrieving the knife she had hidden in her body wrap, Aerynn pushed herself up and lunged, tackling Blackout back into the water. Straddling him between her legs, she gave him no room to defend himself. The knife plunged down once, twice, three times into his unprotected body, Aerynn holding it there until his struggles ceased.
That was it. He was done. The aegyl stood, knee deep in water, and stumbled to the bank's edge. There she collapsed, resting, her body half in the freezing temperatures, while her back was supported by the bank's edge behind. Blackout made no move to surface.
The arena shifted, the cavern dispersing, the water disappearing. Aerynn found herself resting on her arms, her elbows set behind her. Blackout lay incapacitated before her.
There were no cheers as the announcer proclaimed the harpy as the winner, but she had expected none. She had succeeded when everyone had hoped she would fail. Well, that was not entirely true.
Through the silence two cheers came out. One from Zargabaath, the judge who had taken her in when everyone else had denied her, and at his side, Elsa, the ice queen. Aerynn made no move to acknowledge them. She didn't think she could if she tried.
1. Reversal!: Aerynn reversed time! She pointed out an error in the white room and thus was given a second chance! 2. Bash!: Aerynn bashed Blackout's head with a rock! Duration: Three strikes! 3. Shank!: Using the knife she had picked up from Finders Keepers, Aerynn stabbed Blackout with a knife! Shank! Duration: Three stabs!
It was warfare. Once Shiro had retracted his illegal kingside castle and the game resumed as before, the pieces flew on the board. They had reached the heart of the gameplay, and through testy situations and encounters, one piece to another was silently removed from play.
Until finally, at the end of it, Aerynn had him locked.
"Checkmate," the aegyl said.
Shiro looked at the board, deliberating, hesitating, before finally, he laid his king down.
After years of fighting, a calm eventually washed over the worlds with the death of the previous threats. However, those walls of peace were all crashing down with the warning of a future threat. Though, the warning comes with much skepticism.
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She knows all controls all. Beware of her witchcraft!