The First Exchange
Uriel looked on as the two earliest arrivals had their exchange. He was commended as the greatest observer among the seven archangels and was determined to use every bit of skill to get a first impression of the two teams.
It was clear from first glance that there could not have been a more differing pair than the two groups before him. One was comprised of strong, regal, proud warriors; their movements, heavy, and their speech even more so. They had a tough demeanor that showed clearly in their faces, save for Dorian and Rigel; whos faces lay hidden under their helms. It was clear from their armaments that they preferred to fight battles head on, and were quite good at it. As Uriel watched the Voltirin Champions, he could not help but be reminded of the old Viking people that once lived in the Mortal World so long ago.
The same could not be said, however, for the group next to them. They were not muscular in any sense. In fact, they looked more like children than anything else, though their eyes were keen, cunning; they were filled with knowledge, and seemed to echo a secret that only they knew. But in the midst of their subtlety was a cold demeanor. They seemed distant, and conversed in a mischievous tone that was quite unnerving. Indeed, their portrayed innocence coupled with their cold pallor sent a shiver down Uriel’s spine.
Finally, it was Merit, who spoke up,
“What is this place?”
Silence followed his question, as every single being in that room finally took notice of the presence from afar. Lord Rigel spoke next.
“What?! You mean to tell me, you came all this way without knowing the reason? What happened to the Neon’s cleverness that they prided themselves of so much?” a sense of mockery in his bellowing voice.
“How strange it is, to be reprimanded for ignorance by a fool like yourself” Merit replied coldly. His voice was even, and yet his ridicule reverberated with every word he uttered.
“Would you care to repeat that?” Lord Rigel said angrily, clenching his fists, his hands taking on a war hammer-like form.
Merit quickly drew his pistols with expert speed and quickly pointed it at Rigel who was slowly advancing towards him. Uriel could sense the beginnings of a fight breaking out, even the hidden actions of the teammates could not fool him. Lady Lilianna’s subtle reach for her bow, Lufia’s slow movement to open her umbrella, he could see it all, only Dorian and Cypher restrained themselves, but unknown to Uriel the two were already at war; the war of the mind. And though it was inevitable for each one of them to fight each other now was not the time.
“What a bother…” he thought as a light engulfed him and in an instance appeared between Merit and Lord Rigel, the two halted in their tracks from the mere sensing of immense power barring their way.
“That is enough.” Uriel said “You will all have a chance to have your say with each other on the field. Now is not the time for drawing of weapons, but of rest. Please, allow me to show you to your quarters while we wait for the rest of the teams to arrive.”
Rigel showed little more than open rebellion towards Uriel’s statement, but under his elder brother’s glance he had no choice but to desist. Easing up his grip, his hands reverted back to their normal forms, and followed his siblings to the hallway gestured to by Uriel.
The three Voltirin siblings found themselves in a huge room large enough to fit even someone the same size as Rigel. The walls were white as marble, yet shown as brightly as if they were made of diamond. The ceiling seemed to glow as if the light from the stars was lightly seeping into the room, so that it was the only necessary source of light. The windows revealed far green countries outside, lush and fertile. The beds were so soft that one would have thought they were taken from clouds and the support was so that it felt as if you were sleeping on air. The three quickly took in the room, then retired, leaving Uriel outside.
When Uriel returned the Neon Champions had now reverted to their calm selves. He led them to a room on the opposite side of the sanctum, which was almost perfectly identical to the room the Voltirin were in, except that the view outside was of white shores. Uriel left them in and Avalon retired to his own quiet. But though most were resting, the siblings of Voltirin were wide awake discussing what had transpired.
In the Voltirin room, the siblings argue over Rigel’s behavior.
“Patience is a virtue little brother…one that I prize more often than not” spoke Dorian his authoritative gaze over Rigel.
“I see nothing wrong with what he did Dorian.” Lady Lilianna interjected. “Father would be more ashamed had he stood back and let that insolent bastard call us fools.”
“There is a time and place for everything.” Dorian replied. “We shall settle our qualms on the battlefield. We are still nobles of Voltir and must act as such.”
“Well I can’t promise you anything should I happen cross one of them alone in the hallways one night.” Lady Lilianna answered.
“No, sister,” said Lord Rigel, “We shall put those demon loving cowards in their place when the time is right. We shall show them what it is to have an honorable fight face to face with your opponent. None of that weak invisibility will save them from our strength.”
“Do not mistake cunning strategy with weakness brother, lest you prove me wrong in choosing you for this venture” Dorian let forth his gaze outwards a deep though upon his mind; seeing this, the other two remained silent.
Meanwhile, Uriel was chuckling to himself for the first in a long time.
“Hurry my brothers…” Uriel thought “I have a feeling this tournament will be a rather interesting spectacle.” He then looked up at the sky, watching the beams of light pass through and land with a flash at the courtyard outside Avalon.
“The other teams have arrived” spoke Merit. “There’s three more of them” said Merit; detecting the tremors of the arriving team’s footsteps; his hand pressed on the floor to gather more information.
“So it seems.” Cypher replied. ”
“What should we do? Kill them?” asked Merit. Cypher gave a sigh in reply and let himself drop on the bed to rest.
“You’re actions almost made the situation worse, Merit. We do not know who is friend or foe yet.”
“Hmph… As if that old hag could be a ‘friend’.” mumbled Lufia, clearly disappointed with the halted fight. “I could tell the moment our eyes met. They’re hostile savages. They will never be on the same side with us.”
Merit chuckled at her declaration. “Does that remind you of your previous self?” He said, then changed the subject immediately. “The Voltir seems to have met with the newly arrived team.”
“Wha–!” Lufia flustered then agreed to change the subject. “They’re gonna fight? Now should be the right time for an ambush. What do you think Cypher?”
“I think.. I want to sleep.” Cypher replied then dropped his hands on the bed again to make a ‘thud’ sound.
“Oh right, you pointlessly used Artemis’ power before we arrived here.” said Merit. “Still, you’re limiter’s price isn’t as bad as mine.”
“Silence..” Cypher lazily resisted but though he had the most authority in their team, his command held no such thing, the way he said it.
Then suddenly, their minds felt something. It was a sharp but very short pain, like a needle pricking their head.
“Oh? It seems like you all are still alive.” an old voice said directly into their minds. “Congratulations.”
Cypher upon hearing the voice, stood up from the bed; his tire disappearing from his mind.
“You old geezer.” Cypher retorted.
“What, Cypher? you should be glad. This, afterall, is all thanks to you! This is the fruit of your small little life. Now we have confirmed that the interspace travel was a success. Thank you again.” The old voice laughed as his words was filled with sarcasm.
“You!” Cypher clenched his fists but though his anger was great, his rationality had long taken over his feeling and he gave up. Instead, he pressed for more information. “What do you expect us to do here? In fact, why send us here? What purpose?”
Afterwards, there was a long silence in their minds. There seemed to be alot of noise coming from the outside; a battle, it seemed but Cypher took no heed. Even Merit and Lufia who seemed to have a lot to say didnt speak until the old voice came again.
“No real reason.” The old voice laughed once more. “Although if you got rid of every contender there, I heard they are the strongest of their worlds. If you manage to kill them then that would greatly benefit our expeditions to come. I’m not really expecting that much actually.”
“So you really dont have any intention of letting us back there do you?” Lufia replied in question and the old man answered.”Well.. That depends on how well you handle your limited powers. But try to have some fun. I’m sure the contenders there will entertain you.” And with that, the voice disappeared. The noise outside also finished and silence crept into the Neon’s minds. All that was left was the sound of the waves splashing just outside their room until Cypher broke the quiet and stood up.
“Entertain, huh?” Cypher walked outside.
Lufia followed. “Cypher, dont you need to sleep?” but no answer came. That was all that was left of the Neon’s conversation until the moment they would arrive to see what happened outside.
Light danced around the Avelonean courtyard as the Champions of the Torus Universe Stepped out. the first to Exit the Light was Lord Edvard Von Kreiger: Arch-knight to the planet Kolrin; He was a tall man proud in face and in stature; His blood red eyes puncturing the very heart of the sentinels on duty that night. He held in his right hand a Long scarlet spear; the spear seemed to have a living aura around it; sucking up any ambient energy that crossed its way. He wore an armor with the same hue and aura as his spear, although; it seemed to possess something unnatural about its aura, it seemed to the sentinels; that the armor had a malevolence hidden within its interior.
“Something’s not right, I feel something in the air and Fengar feels it as well” said Edvard; examining his spear.
The second was Sir Haggart, a giant; not of the same height as Rigel, but of larger girth. He wore only a loin cloth and a few metal bands around his arms; He held in his hands a great hammer Larger than his body. The sentinels on watch were surprised by how strong he was, but what surprised them the most was the foul odder that emanated from him; the smell was unlike any other, more foul than the darkest pits of Du Terrion: Vault of the devourers.
“Ohhee!! Edvard what is this place?” spoke Haggart; with a mouth full of food.
“This dear Haggart is Avalon, our future home” spoke Edvard; covering his nose.
“Not bad, but how’s the food”
Two minutes passed and as the light faded the noticed they were missing a comrade.
“Where is Endusel; didn’t she ride the Kronos with us” questioned Edvard; then out of the corner of his Eye he caught the silhouette of being, although he could not make out his features from the smoke he knew the instant the being’s power mingled with his.
“DORIAN!!?? what are you doing here” questioned Edvard; drawing his spear.
Dorian was silent, but his eyes were ablaze with wrath; his hand gripping the hilt of his sword until it rattled within its sheath. Taken back by the sight Edvard cautiously raised his spear; trying to keep his composure, but against the wrath of his adversary Edvard felt his courage waver. I silence, albeit a short one ensued, broken only by Haggart’s voice.
“We shouldn’t have come”
“We’re so deal with it!” snapped Edvard, before returning his attention towards Dorian. “And while I’m here I wouldn’t mind finishing you off first!” charging Dorian with his spear, Edvard closed the distance, but before Edvard could react Dorian was suddenly at arm’s length from his left side; then with a flash of light Dorian unsheathed his sword, momentarily blinding the fat giant.
Feeling a great surge of power, Uriel alerted to the violence made haste from the Sanctum to the source; dispersing the numerous tomes in a great burst of wind.
Catching his comrade in mid-flight Haggart toppled to the ground; great waves of pain shooting up his arms from the force of the impact, and as he looked upon his commander disbelief shot through his eyes: Edvard was in a state of shock; His eyes had a Mad haze to them, he spoke in different inconceivable languages, and blood was pouring from the stubs that where now his arms.
“You monster!!” shouted Haggart; as he charged toward Dorian, but as he homed in a great shadow fell before his feet, and as he looked up Rigel appeared from above and with one swing from his mighty hand; obliterated the ground where Haggart stood.
When Uriel and the others arrived they were greeted by a scene of horror; Edvard’s body lay bloody and broken on the ground, Haggart’s body had to be scraped from Avalon’s walls and trees, and Enduseld’s body lay hanging nailed to a tree by one of Lady Lilianna’s arrows.
“What is the meaning of this” asked a sentinel; starring at the three Warlords as they were returning to their quarters.
“Do not ask what you would regret knowing” replied Lilianna descending from the steps to the ramparts.
“For this is our business and not of yours” continued Dorian.
The sentinel lashed a questioning gaze to his superior, but Uriel; who as an arch saw most things in the world; knew what they meant and withheld any comment.
As he stepped foot on the courtyard, Cypher could feel an immediate change within him. The sight he beheld was a carnage. It was indeed a rare sight even for the younger sentinels who would’ve aged so much more than the contenders. But for Cypher, it was not. In fact, it was too much of the opposite. Suddenly, his mind was filled with dark bloody images of a dead person in the midst of the same carnage. Then a voice spoke from within him. It was Artemis. “Look Cypher, it seems that they’ve been having fun.” The demon’s voice was cold and cunning. “We shouldn’t be missing out.”
Slowly, a mist started crawling out of nowhere, covering the Neon untill none but their eyes could be seen. Indeed they looked exactly like a typical picture of demons in the dark. The courtyard slowly lost it’s light while the stench of the carnage was replaced. It was the smell of impending doom. It was a heavy feeling like a reaper was stalking the halls and you could lose your life by mere chance. Noise also started rambling from everywhere like the moans of dead men. It was a nightmare. Suddenly, a couple of sentinels could take it no longer and decided to sneak up on Cypher. Uriel was too late to stop them.Just before their swords in midswing could reach him, the Noises stopped all too suddenly that it was even more eerie than before. Then in a moment as short as a breath, the sentinels dropped like sandbags.
“Exactly right.” Cypher replied to Artemis, his demon companion. “It’s all just a game after all.”
At this, Lilianna and Rigel took guard; the archer loading her bow while the latter balling his fists. Lilianna immediately locked on Cypher as a target but for some reason, her focus didnt seem to stay on one place.
“What’s wrong?” Cypher spoke. “You’re trembling.”
His question seemed real but all it gave off was humiliation.
True enough, she was. In fact, even Rigel could not hide the small tremors his shaking produced. While the Voltir had ruthlessly killed a group of newly arrived contenders, they had yet to even touch the subject of killing Avalonians. Even Uriel was struck for a second until he found that they weren’t really dead. Of course, this was a fact the Voltir didn’t know.
The sentinels, along with the intense atmosphere were simply a catalyst to induce fear which Cypher manipulated as power. Such was his capability yet of course, it was not perfect.
Because opposite to Fear, there was also Courage.
“Trembling?” Lilianna sounded. “Wrong. It’s excitement!”
Still, despite her words, Lilianna had to force her hands to calm by sheer will before she could shoot a charged arrow at Cypher and even then, as it hit him, the arrow only faded into a cloud which used to be his body.
The other two pair of eyes also disappeared leaving only their voices.
“Stop hiding!” the giant also roared as his shaking ceased.
“You overcame it, huh?” Lufia’s voice replied. “But that’s not the end of it.”
Lilianna shot an arrow at the voice but it hit nothing. Rigel also bashed around him to no avail. Only Dorian was in a calm wait for Cypher. The Neon had the upperhand this time but to him, it was a worthy handicap.
“Fear, is a scary thing itself. It never really fades completely.” Cypher spoke once more, delivering a message to Dorian. “That’s right.”
It resides even in you.
Now Cypher was right in fron of Dorian but as if he was waiting for a reply, he didnt move.
“We’ll see about that.” Dorian complied with a quick draw of his sword, sending a great slash towards Cypher. The youngling quickly got out of the way, counteracting with a spike of shadow which Dorian also dodged.
Cypher then took the spike and it turned into a Scythe.
At first, Uriel thought about stopping them, but at the last second, he decided not to. Thought the two groups could read the other’s strength with one glance, in the end, the only liable scale was the battlefield.
“A small taste.” Uriel thought. “Shouldnt hurt.”
Lilianna and Rigel tried to move in towards Dorian but their Neon counterparts had blocked their path. This time, they were on a battlefield. No one would stop the other.
Every contender was focused on his adversary. Cypher, although his body wasn’t near as muscled as Dorian, surprised him with blows which dealt more strongly than any warrior his size and though Dorian’s strikes were still even stronger, it was also clear that Cypher was faster.
Rigel and Shinra were also excahnging blows, the latter, using his guns and a weird ability that turned or created things gold as a shield to ward off the giant’s punches. Lufia and Lilianna however, were in an immediate deadlock. While the demon princess’ knife-like hair was snaking on to Lilianna’s throat, so was the archer’s arrow on to her own as well.The battles were all too short and unconcluded but Uriel deemed it over; his body splitting to stop each contender.
Both teams were nagged back to their quarters without gain except for Dorian and Cypher who realized what each other hid. They were at similar circumstances, their powers sealed to the same level.
As they arrived back to their own quiet, a lone question crept into their minds.
At the time when both their limiters break; they wondered, in the end, who would be the stronger one?