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A note from I_Am_Warpath_Official

Enjoy!

The sound of heavy footsteps parts the sand beneath the Wolf King’s feet. The fur upon the King’s shoulder begins to grow stiff and tangle linearly. He reaches up to his shoulder and pulls a spear from his flesh. He tosses it into the air a few times and breaks into a sprint, the sand kicking up behind him. Coming to a slide, he launches the spear towards Wise Speaker. Wise Speaker raises his hand and stops the spear moments before it hits him. The spear spins around to face Dosuleius; Wise Speaker lifts his hand into the air and sends it back towards the wolf king. Dosuleius catches the pike and lets out a mighty growl. His fur stands up, and his eyes flash red. He throws the spear once more; this time, the spear sends all the sand behind Dosuleius into a wave of destruction, consuming all the horrors of the previous battle’s lifeless bodies. Wise Speaker attempts to stop the spear with his technique. The spear slows in place; it inches closer and closer to the horror as he struggles to keep the spear in place. Before Wise Speaker can entirely stop the spear, another spear splits the first in half and takes off the ancient one’s arm.

The limbed hat of Wise Speaker floats down to his arm and re-attaches it. Dosuleius walks towards his opponent, another spear in hand. Wise Speaker’s face peers through the rest of his yellow robes. Underneath, an expressionless face made of silver and ash locks its gaze with the menacing Wolf King. Dosuleius drags the tip of his spear in the sand.

“Tell me, wise one. Did you predict your demise? Did you know today will be your end? Forever…” The wolf king’s voice is unnaturally loud and deep. He stands a few feet higher than Wise Speaker; however, both horrors are more prominent than any horror on Apophis.

“I know everything. You are Wolf King Dosuleius. Conquer of the Ancient Divide. You are underestimating me.” Wise Speaker’s voice is the combination of three distinct voices intertwined.

This just got even better. They both intend to permanently exile the other.

Care to elaborate?

Dosuleius mentioned it would be Wise Speaker’s end. The rules here on the Warpath have always been odd. When a horror “dies,” their master also dies. What happens is the souls of those masters are consumed by their horror. Most horrors are like this; when their masters die, they consume their essence into their own. I am known as a possession horror. You must die of natural causes for me to take or absorb your essence. If you perish before your time, I will not be able to collect.

Just get to it already. I already knew this.

When horrors “die,” they are sent back to Oblivion. It’s different this time around. Apophis was summoned here just like a horror. But technically, they are not on earth; this battle is taking place in Oblivion; therefore, any horror that is exterminated there will permanently cease to exist. The souls of those humans will not be consumed by the horror itself but instead spread throughout Oblivion.

Would that be a problem? If a horror cannot take the essence, then Oblivion claims it for itself?

Sort of. Every master hasn’t died up there. You could say it was the birthing of their new existence. Their essence will float around with the essence of others for centuries until enough energy is combined. A new horror will be created. This is one of many ways horrors come to being. Some of us come into existence in many ways. Some are common, and others are infrequent. Some methods can be measured and can predict the power of a horror. For example, take Syphon. He is from a layer known as “The River of Nightmares.” His kind feeds off the nightmare essence of all living beings here on earth and, of course, on other worlds. Once enough nightmare essence accumulates, a horror is born. This is a common occurrence in Oblivion, the most common. The older the horror lives, the stronger it will become. Rarity doesn’t always equal power, however. Horrors created off the essence of human beings especially are born weak and do not evolve very well throughout their lives. I’m getting off track. Let us continue to witness this power struggle.

Now, wait, for once, I’m more curious. Could you tell me how these two came along? They’re so strong; I want to know.

I do not know myself. I can tell you that both are much older than I am. So much older that they could have come into existence in a way I’m unfamiliar with. I could guess all day, but I do not have time to speculate.

 

Wise Speaker raises both hands quickly and sends a shock of force towards Dosuleius. Dosuleius is thrown back through the air. He lets out a roar as he sticks his landing. A storm of sand weapons overshadows Dosuleius. The Wolf King raises his shield and hunkers down. His red cape hardens into bronze and encapsulates him in a protective half- sphere. The sand pounds on the armor intensely but does not penetrate the King’s defenses; robust snarling builds as the assault dies down. Dosuleius charges Wise Speaker. A beam of sand presses against the bronze shield. The sand slows Dosuleius down; he struggles to push through the horror’s ability. The Wolf King opens his mouth wide; his jaw makes an audible crack.

I would cover your ears, Jacky.

Uh oh.

Jacky covers his ears quickly and gestures for Lala and Claire to do the same.

“Cover your ears!” Jacky yells.

Dosuleius roars with vigorous intent. A shockwave is sent out all around him. Sand builds up in waves high into the sky. Wise Speaker is sent far into the air.

“I can huff, puff and blow down your sand house...little pig!”

Dosuleius’s roar breaches the fluidic barrier blowing warping shards of anomalistic substances everywhere. On the other side, Syphon and Delirium Nela share a look of concern then peer through the shattered wall. Outside of Apophis, the ground rumbles, and many cups the sides of their heads. Blood begins to drip from the noses and ears of those around team Royalty. The masters standing up on the pillars wince in pain. Lulu reaches for her ears and grinds her teeth. After a few moments, the roar of Dosuleius settles. A few hovering drones have fallen into the audience, and some viewscreens flicker and malfunction. Eventually, everything begins to work again. The feed of their battle returns to most of the airships and personal team viewing screens. Jacky takes his hands away from his ears and looks around. He checks on Lala and Claire, who appears shaken up but otherwise fine.

“Ouch! my head hurts!” Lala looks like she might cry. Jacky checks on her.

“It’ll be fine; just sit tight. That battle taking place in there is no joke. I don’t think this floor of the Warpath was prepared for such powerful horrors.”

“No, it wasn’t! Those assholes! They probably think it’s funny or something too!” Claire stands up and yells at the men in uniform.

“This is why we have different floors in the Warpath, right! This is the “beginner” floor.”

Many of the other team managers yell in agreement with Claire. “We don’t deal with horrors of that magnitude down here. That fight needs to be stopped right now before someone gets seriously hurt!”

Claire and the other managers catch the attention of all the men in combat gear. The man with the clipboard approaches everyone on the sideline. He rubs his forehead and lets out a big sigh.

“Listen up, people, relax. We can’t just stop the event. The committee was well aware of the potential danger Nightmare Fueled poses. That’s why Apophis was selected for this race. I can assure you. All of you will be fine. Just bring ear protection next time, alright? Look. You all know the risks. Don’t make my job any damn harder than it needs to be. Besides, you all know what you’re a part of. Where do you think all the most powerful horrors started?”

The man walks away from the crowd as many shout at him from the sidelines. Jacky looks over to the pillars to see if Lulu is okay. She appears to be struggling to keep Syphon in the race but is holding out for now.

“They’re five left up there. Lulu and Jordan are accounted for. The woman Lulu was arguing with is still up there; then, there are those two others I don’t know of.” Jacky Looks around at the other teams.

One man wearing a beanie and a green vest speaks up; his voice is douchy and young.

“Alright! I can’t take not knowing anymore. Who does the big bad wolf belong to? Come on, who is it?”

A member from a team not too far from Jacky stands up. It’s a woman wearing a leather jacket and ripped-up jeans. She brushes her short blonde hair off to the side, folds her glasses up, and tucks one arm into her shirt. She reaches into her pocket, pulls out a case of chewing tobacco, and throws it into her lip. She spits, her saliva dark brown, and eyes the man up and down.

“That man there, all tatted up with the chains wrapped around his waist. Team Wild is our name. You better remember too. We don’t mess around, as you can see.”

The remaining teams shoot a glare over to her and the man who hollered at the rest of them. A man from another group also stands up. He’s young, wearing a black and white vest with cargo pants and boots.

“Since we’re all introducing each other, team Mercy says hello. Our member is the other woman in the white dress and big sun hat. We’re the ones with Wise Speaker. It’ll be nice beating your team in battle, Wild.” The man shoots a condescending gaze towards team Wild.

The man before with the beanie speaks up again. “What about the other two chicks and the kid wearing the dress pants?” Miata doesn’t even look at the man.

“Oh, that one girl up there is my twin sister, Lulu! We’re team Royalty! It’s nice to meet you all.” Lala seems excited to introduce herself. Jacky lights another cigarette and offers one to Claire. Claire takes it, and Jacky gives her his light. Miata continues to ignore the one man.

“We’re still missing one horror. That chick talking to Lulu before the race hasn’t shown herself yet.” Jacky says to Claire.

“I don’t really care. I’m fine as long as Lulu makes it to the end.” Claire yells to Lulu. “Which means she better get her ass moving before Syphon gets wrapped up in a fight he can’t win!” Lulu glosses her eyes over to Claire, her blank stare straining with dark purple veins. She refocuses her gaze forward. Blood drips from her tear ducts. She grits her teeth; she’s reaching her limit.

 

Syphon turns to look at Nela. He holds the right side of his head and turns away from the breach in the wall. Nela notices Syphon’s discomfort and speaks up.

“Your master is at her limit?” Her voice is smooth and hypnotizing. “Then let us both continue forward. We can make it in no time if we hurry.”

Syphon and Nela speed off further up Apophis. Meanwhile, in the realm of four stars. Dosuleius and Wise Speaker are both neck and neck in power. Wise Speaker’s robes are ripped and torn. Dosuleius is breathing heavily. The Wolf King glares to his shield, its surface dented and bruised from the constant assault of Wise Speakers sand arsenal. The expression on Wise Speaker’s face is still that of a statue. He brings his hands close to himself and pushes them forward. A large tsunami threatens Dosuleius. The Wolf King lets out a laugh and charges the wall of sand. He jumps through the wave, spear in hand, his shield raised. Blood covers his right eye. Wise Speaker commands the King’s body to halt mid-air. They both struggle against one another. Dosuleius smiles and moves his spear closer to Wise Speaker. Wise Speaker strains his muscles and slowly pushes back on Dosuleius. Wise Speaker throws him off to the side, sticks his palm out in front of him, and sends a few blasts of air into the King’s chest, sending Dosuleius rolling further and further away. The Wolf King growls and stands back up. He pulls another spear from his fur; however, this one appears different. A purely silver pike glistens in the light of the four desert suns. He throws it at Wise Speaker, but it veers far from the target.

“Exhausted, are we? That was your weakest attempt yet. Pathetic dog.”

“Ha., that wasn’t for you. You’re supposed to know everything, right? You’re the pathetic one here. You’ve just lost!”

One of the four suns flashes, a red mist spews and spirals around it. The other three suns also get warped up into the first one. After a few moments, the desert becomes dark, and a large moon appears. It covers the entire sky with its piercing silver light. The silver spear has penetrated through the moon and has elongated itself, matching this new planetoid’s size. Dosuleius throws his helmet and cape onto the ground and grows considerably. He doubles in size. Dosuleius walks over to Wise Speaker. He attempts to stop him using his life force commands, but he can’t hold the massive Wolf King.

“No use, little piggy.” Dosuleius leans down on one knee, picks up Wise Speaker, takes his index finger, and presses his claw onto the forehead of the horror.

Before he punctures his giant claw into his head, Wise Speaker uses his force and tears the Wolf King’s shoulder off his body. His arm falls to the ground. Before Wise Speaker can recover from the fall, Dosuleius bites Wise Speaker in half. He then consumes the rest of him.

“Holy shit! What kind of horror is that!” The man with the white and black vest from team mercy runs his hands through his hair, pulling it hard. The woman in the white dress lets out a shriek and crumbles into ash.

He has already reached his full potential.

Is he already done evolving?

Precisely. When we are summoned anywhere outside of Oblivion, especially earth, We lose a lot of our original form and, with it, many of our physical attributes and sometimes even our power. Even if we go back to Oblivion, we must wait until we overcome this summoning sickness. What you humans call evolving is just us horrors taking back our original forms. Sometimes it takes a while, and other times it can hit us in full force. Dosuleius is very powerful, so it is no wonder he achieved his original powers this early on in the Warpath. He will most likely ascend very quickly now, especially after revealing how far he outmatches the other horrors down here, myself included. Unfortunately for Wise Speaker, he hadn’t recovered fully yet and was overpowered.

Please tell me you still have a lot of “recovering” to do. We can’t beat horrors of that level yet.

I can assure you that I have much more to offer than what has already been seen. I would still be considered a relic amongst these other horrors. When I fully recover, I will compete on that level. Just keep patient. Remember though. If at any point you feel we need the power, you could always sacrifice some of your life essence to force a few stages in my “evolution.”

I’ll keep that in mind.

 

The drones holding the view screens capture Wise Speaker’s final moments. The audience behind in Sinners Plains cheers with excitement; the bloodshed captivates them all. Dosuleius reaches up to the handle of his spear. The moon is very close to the ground floor of the realm. He pulls the spear from the moon, and it dissolves into a cloud of silver dust. The spear is absorbed back into the wolf king’s flesh, returning to his original size. He looks at his severed arm. He flexes the wounds’ muscles; the blood ceases its flow outward. Dosuleius picks up his armor and shield and dawns them. He makes his way to the fluidic wall. His feet crush and shatter the broken shards of warped glass lying in the sand.

 

Syphon and Delirium Nela have made it through a few different and exciting locations before reaching the final stretch. The top of Apophis taunting the horrors. Syphon looks over his shoulder and watches the crowd mingle in patches across Sinners Plains. The path ahead is bare and made of smooth gray blocks of stone. Spots of grass and weeds poke through the seams of the pathway. Few small clouds pass overhead quite close to the horrors. A few drones with cameras fly side-by-side, capturing Syphon’s and Nela’s final stretch. Two big blue poles with yellow flags mark the end of the race; the crowds below cheer as the two horrors approach the finish line. Standing past the finish line are a man and a woman in combat gear; the two humans notice the horrors and attempt to stay expressionless and professional. Next to them, a feminine-looking horror standing roughly ten feet tall twirls a red flag in her fingertips. The horror is of humanoid shape. Charred flesh makes up one-half of her face. Her mouth splits open three ways, with thick maulers covering the surface. The other side is skeletal. The eye sockets for this side appear to have been filled with two dark brown metallic spheres. They rotate and swirl with rough and rusty cogwheels. A small black pipe with various tubular lining blows steam from her temple. Her hair is crimson and braided. She is armored in heavy leather; patches of her attire are stitched and skin tight. She cracks her neck and tilts her head off to the side. Syphon cannot tell if the horror is smiling or not. It speaks up. The voice is relatively smooth and deep for her appearance.

“Finally. Some company. I was getting bored conversing with these disgusting puny humans.” Her head twitches and sets back into a motionless pose.

Although she doesn’t have eyes, Delirium Nela turns her head towards the horror. “I didn’t feel your presence pass by myself earlier. How did you pull ahead?”

The horror chuckles and throws the red flag in a container next to the two human guards. Her one arm twitches in a weird mangled manner then snaps back into place. Syphon and Nela approach closer and pass the finish line. They both drop their flags into the bin.

“I would never give away my secrets. What fun would it be if I faced you at a later time, only for you to have the story spoiled...spoiled...spoiled.” Her voice pitches up and down like a computer glitch; then, the vocals return to their serene nature.

“This means we’re only waiting on a few more then.” Syphon looks back down the path.

 

Jacky looks at Claire and Lala. He audibly sighs in relief. Lala smiles and jumps in joy at the sight of her sister’s horror making through Apophis in one piece. Claire is at ease. She wipes her forehead and scratches the back of her neck.

“Alright, alright! I guess we’ll just stay seated here until that last horror makes it to the end.” Claire looks around at the other teams.

“Less made it through, then there are flags, huh?” Claire says

“It appears so. More fighting than was necessary took place. I’m sure that was to be expected, though.” Jacky relaxes in his chair.

“I’m so happy Lulu did it! I knew she could!” Lala, still full of joy, runs and jumps in place.

 

Wolf King Dosuleius turns the corner. Sypon and Delirium Nela turn towards the beast. He’s dragging himself forward. Blood drips from his shoulder socket. One eye is scratched and swollen shut. His breaths are heavy. All three horrors make way for the wolf king and allow him to finish the race. The two guards look at the horrors. The woman speaks up.

“Congratulations! You four have all finished the race. Unfortunately, the other horrors have met their end today, but that’s all according to plan! You may now return to Oblivion. We’ll catch your masters up to speed and hand out the matches rewards and payments.”

Nela turns to Syphon. “Thanks for the help back there. We managed to discard one from any future competitions. Hopefully, we will meet again under peaceful circumstances.”

“Yeah. Don’t sweat it. It was an interesting event.” Syphon claws open a seeping black rift and exits Apophis.

The twitching horror unstraps a dagger attached to her belt and throws it. After a second, she is absorbed into a void, dust and dirt blow from the pathway floor. One of the guard’s hats falls off. Nela crosses her blades across her chest and sinks into the ground floor while Dosuleius crouches down low and jumps into the air, disappearing from eyesight.

 

Down below, the winning teams are all gathered together by the sidelines. The masters have all left their pillars and have rejoined their respective teams. The commissioner from before raises his clipboard and calls out each winning team’s name. Jacky places his hand on Lulu’s shoulder, looks at her, and nods.

“Team Royalty, Team Wild, Team Fear Dead, and Team Blades. Congratulations on winning today’s Nightmare fueled event.”

The man sighs and chews a stick of gum very slowly.

“You will be forwarded the respected rubies to each team’s office. In addition to your rubies.” He looks up and eyes each team to see if they are paying attention. He looks at Lala, who is kicking some dirt on the ground. Jacky taps her shoulder; she sees that the commissioner isn’t talking and apologizes for her lack of attention.

“As I was saying.” He rolls his eyes. “Other than the rubies, you have all been selected to advance to the second floor of the Warpath. You have all been expedited and have been reassigned to progress further. You will all be given one day to gather any belongings you have acquired thus far. Tomorrow, your managers will assist you in getting to the tower. Please arrive between six to eight pm. Don’t be early or late. Trust me. Just don’t be early or late. Any questions?” The commissioner scans the group in front of him.

A few members look around to see if anyone has any questions. Those who participated in Nightmare Fueled, especially Lulu, look exhausted. The man writes down a few things on his clipboard, waves for another soldier to approach him, and hands him the board.

“Good. You’re all dismissed. Remember, between six and eight.” He walks off with the other uniforms.

The other teams share a look then begin to part ways. The young man dressed nicely; Jordan broke off from his group and walked alongside team Royalty. Lulu looks over to him and doesn’t do or say anything; she appears tired, her skin more pale than usual. Jordan puts his hand on his chest and gives a half-smile.

“Uh…hey there. Team Royalty, right? Um, I just wanted to extend my thanks for helping out Nela and me. I’m glad not all horrors have to fight all the time. Yeah, anyways, um yeah.” Jordan nervously laughs to himself. Lulu looks at him and gives a quick smile through her drained expression.

Lulu stops to chat with Jordan. “Yeah, no problem, man,” Lulu says. “What was your name?”

Lala stops too. Jacky nudges Lala to keep walking. Jacky smiles and looks at both Lala and Claire.

“It’s okay. Let her chat alone for a bit. We spend too much time together as it is. She’ll be fine.” Jacky looks over his shoulder to Lulu and Jordan. “Try not to stay out too late, Lulu. We have a big day tomorrow.” Lulu looks at him and gives him a wave.

Jacky, Claire, and Lala continue walking through Sinners Plains. They get into a hover bus transporting people back to the city’s edge. Lulu turns her attention back to Jordan. “Sorry. What was your name again?” Lulu tilts her head slightly.

“Jordan. Um, would you like to sit down, maybe? You look beat. I’m sure some of these food tents are still open. Wanna grab a bite?” Jordan throws his thumb over his shoulder and smiles. Lulu nods.

“Sure. I am pretty hungry. I definitely need some water right now. I feel a little dehydrated.”

“I know what you mean. Delirium Nela is pretty exhausting to keep around for a while.”

Jordan and Lulu find a pitched tent with a small mobile kitchen sitting in its back. The smell of street food wafts through the air. They are seated at a table; small menus are strewed about it.

 

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I_Am_Warpath_Official

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