I Am Warpath

by

I_Am_Warpath_Official

On Your Mark! Get Set! Nightmare Fueled, Start!

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A note from I_Am_Warpath_Official

Here is the chapter early! I hope you enjoy it! This one is pretty long. 

 

Drones descend upon the Summit of Apophis. Cameras circle around all angles of the pathway. Sinners Plains bustles with large camps and patches of vendors and gatherings. Nightmare Fueled has attracted half the population of the first floor. Bustling cliques of various types of people mingle with one another, eating and drinking their hearts out. Massive view screens held by flying machines hover across the plains, showcasing all the different participants and their horrors as they prepare themselves for the much-anticipated event. Montages of fights from each horror play captivate the audience as they wait for the race to begin. At the bottom of the pathway, a large gathering of teams waits for further instruction. Other masters surround team Royalty. Some have already brought forth their horrors, while others have opted to wait to make a move. Twelve pillars all lined up next to one another stand at the tail end of the track. Lulu has already taken her spot.

“Today’s the day, team! We must win this. You hear me; Lulu, give it all you got!” Claire says excitingly.

Lulu gives her a glance from the side and takes in a deep breath. She begins her summoning ritual for Syphon. Her eyes roll back into her head; the whites reflect the artificial light cast across the first floor. One of the contestants looks over at her—another young woman wearing a sporty outfit and skinny jeans with cut-out gloves.

“Ew. I’d hate to have to look like that the whole time.” the lady scoffs at Lulu.

Lulu turns her head slowly and sends her blank gaze right towards her. Syphon’s rift opens up next to the women. He glares at her as he emerges from Oblivion. The woman looks the other way rolling her eyes. Syphon makes his way over to Lulu and leans against the pillar.

A man dressed in a combat uniform with sunglasses approaches all the contestants. He sighs and holds up a clipboard. Jacky turns to look at the man. The other participants quickly come to a hush. All the cameras focus on the man and broadcast his voice for all to hear.

“Alright, listen up! I will now begin to explain the rules of Nightmare Fueled.” The man sounds tired and bored. “Ok, First off, my assistants here will hand out red flags to six of you here chosen at random. You must cross the finish line with a red flag; if you do not, your journey ends here. Nightmare Fueled is a no holds barred event. Anything goes. Once the race starts, do everything you can to obtain a red flag. For those of you who have a red flag, your mission is to survive and make it to the finish line.”

The flags are passed out to six of the participants. Lulu looks around, waiting to see if she gets a flag. However, she doesn’t receive one; the woman from earlier gets a banner and smirks at Lulu.

“Sorry ugly. Looks like you’re not so lucky.” The woman sticks her tongue out at Lulu and turns her attention back to the announcer. Syphon lets out a stifled growl.

“Now, the path before you isn’t exactly smooth and easy.” The man lets out a big sigh.

“Behind me here, you may notice foliage, rocks, and other obstacles on your way up Apophis. Though I am not obligated to tell you about the surprises ahead, I am to inform you that the path is challenging. Stay on your guard. This is sudden death. Listen closely.” The man clears his throat.

“If your horror succumbs to a fatal accident during the event, you will die. If your horror falls in combat, you will die” The man looks up from his clipboard, ensuring that everyone is listening. He sighs once more and slowly looks back down at his clipboard.

“If you fail to pass the finish line with a red flag, you will die. Any questions?” The man looks up at the contestants and waits for a response. One of the masters raises his hand; he looks nervous.

“Something isn’t right. My horror can’t even extend that far from my spirit. How am I supposed to compete with the others?” A few more participants also nod in agreement.

“Yeah! What the hell! This isn’t fair at all!” One of the other masters yells. The man sighs and looks at them.

“Then have your horror carry your ass with them. I don’t care how you manage to keep in the race. Anyone who can’t pass the finish line dies. Those are the rules. If you can’t keep up, then it just sucks to be you, dude.”

The man looks around to see if there are any other questions. Another assistant wearing the same uniform approaches the man. He whispers something into his ear. The man nods and addresses the crowd once more.

“We’re ready to begin in five minutes. If you haven’t already summoned your horror, I’d do it now.” The man turns to walk off into a small camp only for staff and team members; there, a monitor for each team records a live feed of their team member and horror so they can watch along from the sideline.

A screen with a ticker counts down to the start of the race. A drone flies down in front of the contestants recording their every movement and watching their horrors intently. Multiple horrors emerge from Oblivion alongside their masters; the sound of spacial tearing from rifts and portals deafens the noise of the large crowds and camps nearby. Lulu takes in another deep breath.

“So it seems some of the team members selected aren’t even capable of racing. Some were built for this, and others were screwed over for sure. Why?” Jacky asks. He takes his seat with Claire and Lala. Jacky’s handler turns to face him.

“It’s possible that they have been all used up, to put it bluntly. This is what I meant by performance, along with winning. Sometimes events like this appear either on schedule or at a moment’s notice. If the committee sees that a team isn’t attracting enough attention, regardless of whether they are winning matches, they might be put in an unwinnable or nearly impossible situation. It’s their last chance to prove themselves. If they win, they might get the attention required of them. If they lose, then the committee gets to refresh their roster.”

“I see. Cruel, but I understand. That also means horrors that show great potential are allowed to shine. That’s why six masters get to walk away with their lives today and not just one. Interesting, I guess” Jacky crosses his arms and rests his leg atop his other.

Sitting next to team Royalty are the other teams, including their handlers. Lala notices a small girl hugging her knees to her chest. Next to her, an older man sits patiently. His face appears full of wisdom; his ethnicity bewilders Lala. Lala leans over and cautiously stares at the little girl. She couldn’t be any older than seven to eight years old.

“I didn’t think masters could be so young. How are you holding up?” Lala approaches, sitting down next to the girl. She doesn’t acknowledge the advance, her silence puzzling Lala. The older man turns around and smiles at Lala’s friendly attempt.

“This here is Miun. I believe she is mute. I had never heard her speak before.” The man sounds very old but joyful. “You may call me Miata.”

“Sorry if I’m being rude, but I’ve never seen anyone like you before.” Lala nervously makes eye contact with the man. He smiles and lets out a light laugh.

“Oh, sometimes I forget my age. I am from a place quite far from here. A place that no longer “exists.” When I was a young boy, war broke out across my homeland and the neighboring empires. The war was very damaging to the world environment. The Weapons used during the time endangered the whole world. As a last resort to stop all conflict, powerful weapons obliterated all territories involved. Billions of lives were carried from this world. Luckily for me. My family managed to escape our home and traveled across the ocean to this place.” The man gestures all around himself. “Not exactly what I had in mind for my future. The discovery of these horrors was very new but already implemented in these death games. I was given a choice to enter the chambers of Oblivion or die with the rest of my family.

“I’ve spoken enough; there’s an event taking place soon. Go back to your section. Miun, say goodbye to our new friend.” Miun hasn’t acknowledged that anything had occurred around her.

Lala nods to the man. “It was nice listening to your story, mister. I never even knew such a thing had happened.” Miata smiles.

“Only a handful of people remember such a time. I’m much older than anyone would think. What had happened was centuries ago.”

“You’re really old! How have, I mean, I just.” Lala is confused.

“We’ll save that story for another time, young girl.” Miata closes his eyes and nods his head downward.

Lala shakes her head a few times and returns to Jacky’s side. Jacky watches as Lala returns. He had been listening in on her conversation.

It’s been a very long time since I saw someone like him. His story checks out, but it’s missing a few details. The realms he speaks of; were never destroyed. One day hundreds of years ago, a new continent appeared in Oblivion. It was pretty small compared to other landmasses, but people like him lived in human cities. It makes sense now. Whatever force that brings us here was used to take those nations and shove them into Oblivion; they continued to fight and struggle for control. Many horrors hunted the humans down while others made pacts with them. Eventually, things calmed down. One nation was left standing atop the rest. A different kind of horror rose above the other empires. I would steer clear of that man. His horror isn’t anything you have seen before. They call themselves Oni. They are compelling. If I had to tangle with an Oni as I am now, I might not make it out alive.

You talk too much.

A loud siren signals the start of the race. Many horrors spring into top speed, and a few fall behind. Syphon shattered the ground at his feet and took the lead instantly. A large grin appears on his face.

“Here’s the plan, Lulu. I take a good lead on the others; then I set up an ambush waiting for someone with a red flag. I should be able to land a solid attack, take the flag, and make for the finish line!” Syphon comes to a halt near a big rock next to a patch of trees.

After a minute or so, Syphon spots a red flag hanging from the fist of a bulky horror. Light transparent crystals illuminate the horror’s body. Its eyes are glowing red, and its legs come down to a single sharp crystal. Its face is featureless and bears no expression. Syphon jumps off the top of the rock and lands atop the horror. They roll around on the dirt pathway; the horror responds aggressively, slashing at Syphon with its tapered leg. The edge sliced Syphon’s chest. He lets out a growl and retaliates against the horror. He grasps the arm that the flag is held in and restrains the horror. Syphon pulls with his entire body and rips the arm off the horror. He takes the flag. Tossing the severed limb and off to the side. Syphon uses his vanish to bolt up the path.

“Hahaha! I’ll be taking this!” Syphon laughs hysterically.

A contestant a few pillars down from Lulu winces in pain. Jacky looks around to see which team is watching that horror. He spots them, one member shouting curses at the monitor. Jacky focuses back on the event and watches closely as another horror with a massive hammer passes by the crystal-like horror but not before turning its head into tiny shards across the dirt path. A skinny man a few pillars away from Lulu screams in agony before he ages rapidly. His essence spills out into the air around him—another team furthest to the left of team Royalty cheers.

“Way to go, Gin! Take out any competition you can!” A young man hollers at the man next to Lulu.

“Dirty move, but you gotta do what you gotta do.” Jacky continues to look around at all the other view screens broadcasting all the other horrors.

I would have done the same. Better to get rid of whoever you can before it comes back to bite you in the ass.

I know you would.

Jacky notices another fight taking place on the screen in front of Miata. Miata looks over to Jacky and squints at him. Jacky whistles to get his attention.

“Which one of those up there is yours?” Jacky gestures to the pillars.

“The pillar furthest away from us. On the other end there.” Miata points to a young man dressed formally. Black dress shoes on his feet shimmer in the light; they appear shined.

Jacky observes the horror the boy is controlling. A feminine-looking horror with gray plated skin stands before another horror. Along the top of her face, she has no eyes. Her mouth is small and appears to be the only facial feature she bears. Spiraling horns sprout from her temples, twisting and turning solid silver with a slight glimmer. Her arms are giant curved blades extending almost the entire length of her frame. Her legs are curvy and thin. Her feet appear to be elongated bones; they are white wheels connected to pulsating nerve endings, exposed veins, and bright red flesh. Her head twitches back and forth. The horror that stands before her is a bipedal creature with a frog-like form. It has giant horse-hoofed-like feet. Its face resembles that of an obese man with no neck connected to the large torso, its sickly and grotesque appearance is off-putting to the crowd. Its eyes are soulless and unnerving. Sitting on his shoulder is the man who complained earlier. His horror sets him down off to the side and readies himself.

“Looks like he did have to go with his horror. What a huge disadvantage.” Jacky laughs to himself. Lala looks confused at Jacky.

“Why would he be at a disadvantage?” Lala says.

“You’ll see.” Jacky leans into his chair and rests his hand on his cheek.

The man orders his huge horror to attack. Before the two horrors even make contact. The gray horror swiftly avoids the first strike, dashing towards the man; she leans over forward and holds her blades out in front of her. She slices through the master with ease. The horror behind her melts away into a black sludge. She uses the tip of her blade to scoop up the red flag and presses onward. Jacky looks back over to Syphon. He’s still in the lead. The horror with the two-handed hammer isn’t too far behind. Though its footsteps are heavy, he is pretty fast. His head is cube-like and weighty, and his body is armored and detailed with large leather belts and chainmail. Fur pants and boots cover the lower half. The horror looks like a giant orcish-like Viking. Syphon Looks back, sees the horror, and steps on the gas. He uses another vanish, throwing himself further ahead. He emerges through the treeline and finds himself in a vast desert-like biome. Four suns rest above, torching the sky, waves of heat emanating from the orbs of plasma. The scorching heat scorches Syphon’s skin. Lala appears surprised as she watches the view screen intensely.

“Whoa! How is that possible!?” Lala is amazed at what she is seeing. The live feed follows the horror in the first place. Many of the other team members focus on a more prominent view screen above, plastered to the side of the cigar-shaped airships. Some masters are not surprised. Many other masters are shocked at the change in scenery; something so extraordinary and mythical shouldn’t be possible.

Care to explain this one? Since you like to talk so much.

Oh, don’t be so rude, Jacky; I’m only being helpful. I would be glad too. Apophis was an asteroid that was heading for your world long ago. At one point, it had landed in Oblivion instead. They used the same tools available to them to save this world. Apophis was seething with exciting anomalies. Once you are on the path, you enter a separate space apart from reality and, sometimes, different realms from Oblivion. Those drones can still broadcast what is going on “inside” that realm out here. As Syphon makes his way up the path, unknown locations will stand in his way. I do not know what he will encounter. Hopefully, he is prepared to face even the worst of environments.

Jacky nods his head and continues to focus on Syphon. Lulu grits her teeth. Her nose begins to bleed as her essence strains to focus on Syphon. Syphon Continues to sprint through the desert, the hot sand burning his feet. He pushes onward with no end in sight.

“This is insane. The path vanished before my very eyes. Keep going forward. I have to keep going forward. I gotta get out of this heat.” Syphon looks behind him. The immense Viking-like horror passes through the treeline.

“This guy again!” Syphon yells.

Syphon vanishes once more, sand kicks up behind him. Eventually, Syphon hits a strange fluidic-like force, an invisible wall of sorts. He passes through and into another location. This time-space sets upon the horizon of a moon. Comets fill the space above him, and many giant planets orbit all around. A dwarf star shines bright white light in the distance. Behind him, another horror appears through the invisible barrier. It’s the gray female horror from before. Thick red blood drips from its blades. It turns its head to look behind at the shimmering wall. The Viking horror emerges into the new space covered in lacerations. Its blood painting the surface below. Holding its hammer in one hand, it takes a swing at the gray horror. She ducks and backs away from the hulking monster. The horror looks to Syphon and tilts her head.

“Wanna make a deal?” Her voice is intoxicating and seductive; It has a slight metallic reverberation.

Syphon looks her up and down. The proposal surprises him. Over at the camps, many of the other teams share a look of surprise. Jacky and Miata look at each other. He smiles, and Jacky keeps his serious expression. The gray horror points her blade at the Viking horror.

“You and I should team-up. We can eliminate all the other horrors as they pass through here one by one; then, we can pass the finish line together. This is an amazing opportunity to take out our competition. But I can’t do it alone.”

Syphon thinks on it for a second, then nods.

“Sure, I like switching things up. The name is Syphon.” She looks over at him.

“You can call me Delirium Nella.” She brandishes her blades and lunges for the Viking horror. Syphon joins in the assault.

 

Jacky lights up a cigarette and takes a long drag peering over to Miata; they share a look and grin at one another. Miata takes out an elongated, slim cigar and lights it. The smoke is thick and smells like herbs and spices.

“What a fortunate turn of events. Luckily some horrors understand the intricacies of these sorts of social activities. Some are mindless beasts; some are intelligent beings with goals and dreams of their own. Our two horrors teaming together is a great idea, you know. Working together like this. The chances of both our teams making it out alive have exponentially increased.” Miata blows a cloud of cigar smoke out in front of him.

“Well, it’s nice to be working with you then. Just know that if your guy pulls any tricks, I will remember.” Jacky stares at the older man intensely. Miata chuckles.

“No, Jordan would never be so dishonorable; you have my word. I would hope that girl of yours isn’t the one planning any tricks herself.”

“I guess we’ll have to keep watching to find out, old man.” Jacky takes another drag on his smoke.

Lala watches the two banter back and forth. Sweat forms on her forehead. She looks back to Jacky, then to Miata, and then to Jacky.

“You don’t have to be so intense, Jacky. We can all be friends here, right?” Lala feels powerless in her attempt to join the conversation. Jacky and Miata ignore her for a moment, then Miata looks over to her.

“Of course, little one. I’m an amicable person. I’m open to alliances. Our horrors are already working in tandem; let us reciprocate out here.”

Jacky nods over to the viewscreen and continues watching the race unfold. One of the contestants grasps his chest and turns to ash as he falls from his pillar. One of the floating screens above flashes the final moments of the man’s horror. It had been run through with a spear from an opposing horror. The poor thing was much smaller than the other horror. It was small and covered in black scales: big yellow eyes and a big head with oddly shaped ears made up most of its design. A much larger horror held the spear. This one looked like a giant werewolf wearing a spartan helmet and cape, having a smooth circular shield in its off-hand. It howls and throws the much smaller horror off its speartip. The body rolls a few dozen feet across the dirt path.

Jacky focuses back on his team’s monitor. The large hammer carried by the horror smashes into Syphon. Delirium Nela takes this opportunity to shove one of her blades into the side of him and lacerates his whole body. He howls in pain and swings the hammer wildly. Nela backs off before being struck with the two-handed weapon. Syphon stands up and growls. He ducks down and pushes his shoulders forward. He fires his scales at the horror, and at that exact moment, Nela pulls her arm blade behind her, then she whips it in front of her and uses her other blade to slice off her arm. The bladed arm flew through the air like a ninja star towards the horror. A few of Syphon’s scales hit the Viking horror, bits of his armor fall and float away in the strange space around him. Distracted with Syphon’s projectiles, Nela’s arm blade takes off the horror’s legs. It falls to the ground and lets out a blood-curdling scream, pure agony.

Nela slowly rolls over to it. Syphon walks over to the horror and steps on his hand as he reaches for his hammer. It looks up at Syphon and Nela.

“I….will...remember the both of you. The next time I see you lot in Oblivion...I will not hesitate...to-” His deep gruff voice is interrupted by Syphon digging his claws into the horror’s skull and ripping its head from its body.

All the hovering monitors flash with the exciting moment for all to see. A loud cheer erupts across the massive venue as a large man standing on the pillar falls to his knees. His body begins to turn into a cloud of black smoke. He looks up, his face full of rage. He lets out a warrior’s cry and curses to the heavens. One of the teams seated a few paces to Miata’s right got up from their seats and left the sideline.

“I can’t believe this! Those two fucking horrors screwed this whole thing up! If those two shitty horrors didn’t gank Grefnier! Ah! fuck this!!” The young man pushes an observer out of his way as he, his teammate, and the manager make their exit.

One of the hovering view screens captures a battle in the desert that Syphon had traversed. Four horrors face off in a brawl. One of the horrors, a grand slithering leach with rotating razor-sharp teeth, has latched itself on and around a horror made of flesh and steel. The horror had metal plating and strange cybernetics attached to an almost human-like form. The leach horror drills its mouth into the neck of the other horror and begins sending electromagnetic shocks throughout its body. The leach-like horror continues drilling its mouth into its prey until it completely consumes the upper left portion of the cyber horror. The horror begins to fry as smoke wafts from his body. They both collapse onto the floor.

Another horror entirely clad in yellow robes with a strange tall hat made of various animal limbs is staring down at another horror made up of flowing black silk. Its face is gray and ghoulish; bright red armored plates rest upon each shoulder. It floats similarly to Whisper. It flies like a bullet at the yellow horror. The yellow horror manipulates the sand around him and creates a shield to block the assault. The black horror bounces off the sand; as it attempts to recover, the yellow horror has dropped its sand barrier and has morphed the sand into a bundle of short swords. Four more arms sprout from the monster’s sides, and each hand receives a blade of sand. It throws all the blades at the horror. The black horror uses its shoulder plates to deflect two sand blades before succumbing to the others. The yellow horror crafts more sand weapons and unleashes a hailstorm of blades upon the other horror, shredding it to pieces.

The leach pounces towards the yellow being. It raises its hand in front of the horror, and the leach becomes suspended in mid-air. The horror’s tall hat made of limbs begins to crumble and float towards the leach. The limbs still move and act as though connected to a body. They reach the leach and dissolve into it. Eventually, the leach stops struggling and goes limp. The yellow horror releases its telekinetic grasp on the creature and makes its way through the desert. Before making it to the fluidic wall, a spear passes by the yellow horror’s head and into the next space. Behind him, the spartan werewolf has entered the desert. The intense sunlight reflects off his bronze helmet.

I know those two horrors: Wise Speaker and the Wolf King, Dosuleius.

That’s a mouth full. So, care to explain how you know those two?

Wise Speaker exists in the same realm of Oblivion as I, though far from my mainland. He is known for exactly what you might think. He knows things, everything. Many horrors have sought his knowledge throughout millions of years. Wolf King Dosuleius is known for his conquest of the Divide; they are both ancient and powerful horrors not to be trifled with.

Oblivion is an odd place. You seem to be capable of individuality in the same way a person can. Do you have territories and pass down stories of one another?

We may be monsters to you humans, but we are all self-aware beings capable of acting in any way we see fit. We are similar in that way; however, we are very solitary. We do not have nations or form many pacts with one another. Some of us, like myself, are a part of “clans” or groups of horrors that share blood.

You’ve mentioned your clan before. So horrors have families and such?

Sure, a family, a clan, all the same, right? Though it is very different for many horrors. Wolf King Dosuleius isn’t a king per se. He was given that title from other horrors that passed along his story. I guess you could call him a king of nothing. Oblivion is similar to the Warpath in a sense. Our realm is an infinite “tower” of layers. It is endless, both up and down, and each layer is also vast, almost limitless in some cases. Dosuleius is from a few realms below mine. The story goes that he had slain every horror in his layer, The Ancient Divide. Whoever attracted him here must be a very strong-willed individual, if not a human monster themselves.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to find out which one of those masters up there is the summoner. I wasn’t paying much attention when most were summoned from Oblivion.

Well. They will be revealed soon, by death.

So tell me about the Wise speaker. What’s his deal?

Wise Speaker, he is alright. He’s something like a relic. His mind and soul have witnessed the beginning and end of times for many worlds and realms. He can manipulate the elements and most life forces around him as though it were child’s play. He didn’t necessarily use telekinesis on that leach but instead commanded its body to obey him. I’m not sure how it works, but your world’s rules are not the same for us in Oblivion. And up there on Apophis, things are bound to be even stranger.

So who’ll win? The immovable object or the unstoppable force?

I couldn’t speculate. I do need to warn you, though. This will not be your ordinary street brawl like most of these pit fights are when two horrors like this fight things could go very wrong. They are sporadic, even in Oblivion. I would say to remove yourself from here, but Apophis’s strange makeup should be enough to keep us safe. It is amazing how many powerful horrors, including myself, have all decided to appear here on earth during the same era.

Could you take them on?

There would only be one way to find out Jacky. Don’t worry about such thoughts. Let us enjoy such a rare sight. I’m excited.

 

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