Cold air lashed against my skin. My throat became sore from the thin crisp air; I was choking. This imprisonment wasn’t long, but it felt like ages had passed there. They called them the Chambers of Oblivion. Earthly reality combined with horrific hospitality. Oblivion was welcoming of guests so long as you were worthy. Some stay forever; others can barely even remember their visit. I only caught a glimpse of the gray sand that washed over the eternal land like an ocean. The sky was fuzzy like screen static, or was the sky filled with many small carrion crows? My head was pounding; the pain was rending my brain apart. My body was frail to the touch; my bones felt like flaccid noodles; it hurt to stand. Then he invaded my body. The black silhouette of one of those horrors washed over my vision as his presence put immense pressure on my essence. He made himself at home in my being. That thing Curled up around my soul like a snake brumating in a hole. At first, it made me sick; now, I feel filled with purpose. This curse isn’t mine to bear; this world will suffer, not I. The biggest of dreams requires immense sacrifice. Unwillingness to act will bring nightmares rather than triumph, anguish over accomplishment, and infinite torment.
This is a moment of sacrifice. My dream will sink deep into the core of this earth if I can’t cast aside relationships for my goal. How much am I willing to let go to move forward? Willing to destroy to rise above? I’m ready to sacrifice it all for my dream.
The other masters watch in awe as Wolf King Dosuleius tears apart his former companion. Savage Fang may have been a formidable opponent to some; against the crushing pressure of Dosuleius, he stood no chance to come out alive. Dosuleius impales the horror onto his spear and raises his body high above for all to see. Blood flows down the wooden shaft, sinking into the grooves of its design and dancing down to the claws of the Wolf King. The black fur on the back of his hand drips with cherry-colored blood. Deacon lets out a breath of fresh warm air, relieved of the decision’s weight upon him. Helia keels over the pillar, grasping her chest. Deacon closes his eyes and takes a deep breath through his nose.
“Spectacular display!” Fascinated by the bloodshed, cheers erupted across the stadium; Anders addresses Deacon. “Excellent work, cowboy! Good shooting! Go ahead and make your way up here alongside my friends and me. I’ll be happy to announce the first member and new team captain of team Sacrifice!” Anders puts his right arm around Deacon and grins; his one canine catches the stage light.
The timer reaches 108. Other than team Royalty, each member of each team summons their horror. As the horrors gathered, their names appeared for the audience to see. Deacon’s actions have forced a blanket of distrust amongst the other masters. Helia and her savage Fang were the first lessons taught to the masters; they will not make the same mistake.
The mighty Oni of Miata takes form in the arena. Jordan’s Delirium Nela raises her blades defensively. Miun puts her head on her knees and starts to sob. An angelic form takes to the ground floor. Angel wings burst from her horror. A human-looking woman wearing a long crimson dress and a blank white mask stands before team Blades. Tiger leather adorns the horror’s body; the black and orange stripes pop in the stadium lights. Two long Nodachi swords exceedingly long spring from bamboo hilts. The Oni’s figure is lean; only a tiger-striped leather loincloth covers his lower half. His dark green skin, with yellow tusks jutting from its bottom jaw. Delirium Nela gestures to both Miata’s Oni and Miun’s horror.
“Silent Harpy. If one of us wishes to leave this place alive, it would be in our best interest to defeat Sasaki first, no?” Nela’s voice vibrates softly.
Silent Harpy looks to her master Miun and then back over to Delirium Nela. She nods slowly and turns her gaze to Sasaki, Miata’s tall and menacing Oni. Meanwhile, in another arena, a new fight has broken out—the roar of the crowd echoes throughout the stadium. Sara and Reedon have begun batling in their arena. The same horror, who was first to cross the finish line in the previous event, is pulverizing a much smaller horror. Its body is plump and round. Bright blue cysts bulge through the horror’s flesh.
“That’s right! Hahaha, this is fucking fun as shit! Kick that little runt around like a soccer ball, Jointlock!” Sara yells to her horror.
“Finally, someone embraces the fun!” Ander gestures for the audience to cheer. Deacon crosses his arms and looks down to the last arena.
“That...arena there...is...the last...to...act.” His words sound heavy.
Anders disappointingly looks down at Team Royalty’s in action. Anders and Deacon pay close attention to Jacky, who has been silent and contemplative. Claire watches from the sideline. Lulu looks at her sister with tears welling in her eyes.
“I would rather die fighting against that jackass up there on stage than killing my only sister and the only person I consider a brother. Dammit, Jacky, are you even listening to me!”
Jacky ignores Lulu. His eyes are closed, and his chin is tilted slightly to the floor. His hands are in his pockets. The fight from Jointlock causes a stream of wind to flicker the edges of Jacky’s coat.
Jointlock picks up the lesser horror and headbutts the little guy. Blue liquid covers her face as Berry Bomb’s flesh squirts blue juices profusely. Her long tongue licks the blood from the skeletal side of her face; she grins as the bloodlust excites the horror. Steam burst from the tube on her temple.
“This is so much fun! I can see why other horrors relished in beating you so easily.” Jointlock’s voice is metallic and filled with amusement. “This is what you get for making me do all the work! First, Ashton couldn’t cut it, so he died miserably because you couldn’t even kill an earthling animal even if you wanted to. Second, I had to save your ass in every match up to this point. Useless horror…!”
Jointlock takes a dagger and shoves it into the horror. One of the cysts explodes blue juice all over Jointlock. She looks down at the blood and laughs hysterically. She takes her other dagger and pierces the fleshy horror, and hoists him above her. She rips the cunning blades from his body and lets him fall. Before he reaches the ground, she kicks him up into the air above her head. Jointlock repeats this for several minutes. On the last launch, Jointlock grabs Berry Bomb on the way up and slams him into the ground with so much force that his upper half explodes, sending different shades of blue organs everywhere. Jointlock lets out a maniacal laugh. Sara begins laughing as well, finding enjoyment from the slaughter. Reedon’s eyes expand and open wide. His body decays into a black smog; bones fall to the ground and sizzle with black tar before completely disappearing.
“Hahaha! My god, did you see how he just fucking exploded like a goddamn water balloon! What a joke! Seriously embarrassing! I’m so glad it was I who got to kill that loser. The most useless teammate ever!” Sara wipes joyful tears from her eyes. She hops off her pillar and goes to the stage next to Anders. Anders nods to her.
“Welcome to the team, Sara. There’s only room for two more… six remain alive.” Anders looks to both team Royalty and team Blades.
“six...Left...to be buried…” Deacon heaves.
Team blades have engaged each other in a heated battle for survival. Delirium Nela and Silent Harpy have allied to extinguish the significant threat posed before them. Nela rushes from side to side against Sasaki, trading blows. His dual swords clang and slide up the sides of Nela’s curved, thick, cleaver of an arm. Sasaki’s sharp reflexes match Nela’s speed. Sasaki had stayed where he was when the fight began. Silent Harpy gazes at Delirium Nela and casts a strange blue light at her body. Increasing the horror’s speed extensively, the grass and dirt from the arena floor kick up and create a cloud of dust. She whips both her bladed arms and two more blades on each side, of similar design, accompanying her arsenal. Six extremely furious slabs of razor-sharp metal cleave away at Sasaki’s defenses. He loses his ability to defend and finally moves from his position. Dodging Nela has become increasingly difficult. Sasaki dashes backward at an angle pivoting with his swords, avoiding Nela’s blades as they attempt to slice him into meat rings. Nela oversteps and finds herself almost beheaded by Sasaki as he takes the opportunity to strike true. Silent Harpy concentrates on Sasaki’s strong-arm; it glows a bright red and stops in place. Nela darts back to regain her footing. Her breaths freeze the moisture below her chin.
“You both are greatly infuriating.” Miata shakes his head. “Though, choosing to fight me together has increased the chances of survival for the both of you.”
Miun continues to sob into her knees as she concentrates on her horror. Jordan ignores Miata’s monolog; his focus is deadset on winning the match. Delirium Nela engages with Sasaki, furiously combating the horror. Sasaki’s style switches from one of caution to one of aggression. Their blades clash wildly. Sasaki’s attack rips apart the plated grey flesh of Nela. She is losing ground fast. Silent Harpy casts another light upon Nela; however, this one appears yellow and soothing. Her wounds begin to heal rapidly.
“Thank you, Harpy. We can outlast him as long as you continue to support me.”
Nela coughs and rises to her feet. Sasaki lunges into the air and throws one of his swords at Nela. Nela startles and evades the flung nodachi. Sasaki lands on the blade’s handle and springs off it, plunging his second sword into Nela’s shoulder. Nela smiles and spreads her arms out wide.
“That was your first mistake, Mr.Sasaki!”
Delirium Nela wraps her sharp appendages around Sasaki, ripping through the flesh on his back. The tips of her blades pierce into his tough skin; blood coats her weapons a bright red. Sasaki yells in pain and forces himself from her grasp. Lacerations cover his body, dark fluid pools onto the arena floor. The Oni growls, straining its jaw; Sasaki, the wounds are deep and causing severe pain to the horror. He raises his sword and points it at Delerium Nela.
“Little horror, I will make you pay! Stupid horror!!!”
Sasaki’s voice carries across the stadium. His vocals overtake the cheering of the crowd, drowning them out entirely. Sasaki leans into a full sprint, his swords stylistically placed into an offensive stance. He drags his one foot on the ground and kicks up dirt into Nela’s face. Her reaction pulls her blades to cover her head. Sasaki reaches for Nela’s leg, grabs her, and pulls her to the ground. Her back hits the floor hard; breath forces from her lungs. Sasaki stabs the sword into her upper left arm; he pulls the sword at an angle and tears her arm blades off. Tossing them to the side, he attempts to jab his sword into Nela’s skull before that same bright red magic halts his action.
“Harpy!” Sasaki yells.
Nela uses this distraction to swing her other arm around and catches Sasaki in the foot, reaping it into multiple slices. He falls to the ground, dust kicking up off the field. He swings his nodachi toward Nela; if she had a nose, it would lay on the floor along with Sasaki’s “foot.” Nela stands back up and rears back for a killing blow. Sasaki rolls out of the way only to stop at the edge of Silent Harpy’s crimson dress. She wields his other sword and stakes it in between his eyes without hesitation. Delirium Nela looks at Harpy.
“Not ba-” Delirium Nela freezes in place as Silent Harpy’s mask flashes with a bright white light. Her mask fades from her body and appears on Nela’s semi featureless face. Silent Harpy raises her arms to look at her hands; she looks up to Nela. A pale white mask of solid materiel forces its way onto the horror’s face. Delirium Nela cuts down Harpy in an instant. Shortly after Miata whisps away as dust in the wind, Jordan follows behind. Miun is the remaining master in her arena. Nela picks up her severed shoulder. She gazes at the joint, and a bright green light sucks the arm back into place. A burst of yellow light heals the arm as good as new. Miun stands up from her pillar and wipes the tears from her eyes. Delirium Nela’s body accompanies Miun off to the side before a flash of dim light absorbs her back into Oblivion. Miun walks to the stage with Anders, Deacon, and Sara. She slowly walks, dragging her feet as she approaches the stage. Anders gives Miun a quick, nervous look, then regains composure.
“Never seen such a strange one like that before.” Anders looks down to the last arena.
Deacon and Sara glance at Miun, then focus on the last arena. The timer reaches 90.