― Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis
If ShadoWeaver’s siblings had eyes to roll and breath with which to sigh loudly, they would each have done so with exaggerated gusto and exasperation.
“Leave us alone. Or at least leave me alone. Bother the others if you must.”
“I’m with IceDancer,” FireStar’s harsh voice grated against their minds. “I have better thin…”
“QUIET,” commanded ShadoWeaver in a tone the others had not heard her use in centuries. Taken aback, they ceased bickering.
“This is no game, no trick. I found what we’ve been looking for since we were brought to this wretched place. Just reach out and feel it.”
The Opals followed their sister’s suggestion. Annoying and self-serving as she might be, they each knew that ShadoWeaver was often the first of them to key into a new discovery or sense subtle shifts in elemental energies across innumerable planes.
“I don’t!” PathFinder, sensing nothing out of the ordinary, suspected that despite her protestations otherwise, this was another ruse cooked up by his sister to torment him and amuse herself.
”I do,” MoonBeryl’s honeysuckle-poison voice seemed to salivate with anticipation. ”I do!”
“What are you talking ab…
“Simpleton!” FireStar laughed. “I will show you.”
PathFinder, directed by the others, began to gain a sense of… something. An energy, just out of reach, waiting to be tapped.
“What does it mean?” MoonBeryl asked in a whisper, as if afraid a louder voice might quash the potential at their proverbial fingertips.
Gleeful, with a sense of hope she had not felt in ages, ShadoWeaver replied with a word that made all of them tingle with desire and hope.
“You don’t want a drink?” Sapphire asked as she reached into a small cooler.
“Eh…” Jewell responded with a shrug. “I don’t know. I feel a little bit off.”
“Off how?” Ishmerai looked to his lady with concern.
“Like… uneasy. Like anxiety is creeping in my chest. I don’t know. I’m sure it’s nothing.”
“Maybe it’s just something you ate.” Sapphire countered as she opened a Badsider.
Jewell snagged the bottlecap and tossed it at Sapphire’s head. “It’s not just something I ate,” she protested after just stating it was likely nothing.
“Ow! Hey…” the blue haired young woman reached for a small pebble in the sand as a weapon.
After that, things just got silly.
Later though, the topic resurfaced. They had tromped back to the Little Elfhame penthouse for some peace and quiet after a long day at the beach, cheeks freckled and red. Despite her smiles and normal raucous laughter, Sapphire had struggled to shrug off a feeling of unease during the latter half of the afternoon. She had blamed it on Jewell getting in her head, but as she settled into the kitchen to try and whip something up for dinner for the three of them, she couldn’t avoid the knot that had slowly formed in her stomach and now was sunken there like a burning piece of cold iron.
She stared down at the tableau of fresh vegetables without seeing the crisp green of the lettuce cut minutes before from the patio container garden Jewell had somehow managed not to kill, trying to sort out what could be wrong.
“Hey kiddo, what’s up?” The knife in her hand went skidding across the counter when Jewell came up behind her. “You communing with the lettuce or something?”
“Don’t do that,” she admonished, reaching for the knife with a glare over her shoulder at Jewell before she started chopping.
The faerie shrugged, reaching over the girl’s shoulder to snag a green bean and stick it in her mouth before she leaned back against the opposite counter. “Sorry. You’ve just been kinda odd since we got home.”
“Odd how?” she asked, gruff and defensive.
“Oh you know,” Jewell stepped closer again to steal another green bean even as Sapphire swatted her away, “not running your mouth non-stop.” She poked at the girl with the green bean and nimbly avoided the second swat, retreating to the other side of the peninsula this time and taking up residence on a bar stool.
“I’ve just got something on my mind.”
“The cute guy you beat in volleyball?”
“No,” though Sapphire couldn’t quite maintain her scowl. He had been really cute. “I just feel…” she ducked her head and muttered, “I guess I just feel a bit uneasy. I don’t know why though.”
“Oh-ho!” Jewell crooned victoriously. “Hey, maybe it’s something you ate?”
“Shut up.” Sapphire threw a green bean at her.
“You shut up.” Jewell threw it right back.
By the time Ishmerai emerged from his room, Jewell was dashing out of the kitchen, wielding a green bean while Sapphire chased after her with a knife raised high.
They didn’t get back to discussing their shared apprehensions until late that night when they were both heading to their rooms. “Hey,” Jewell touched the young woman on the shoulder, “I’m sure whatever it is, it’s no big deal. We’ll figure it out.”
Sapphire smiled at her, “Yeah, I’m sure there’s no use worrying about it. We can handle whatever comes our way cause we’re tough af. ”
“Yeah yeah yeah,” Jewell rolled her eyes at the expression. “Night Lil Blue,” she leaned over and gave a messy smooch to her cheek.
“Ugh,” Sapphire used her shoulder to wipe it away. “Night J.”
Neither of them felt so tough when they woke up at 2am in a cold sweat, hearts still racing as their nightmares dissipated around them, broken into countless pieces by their conscious thoughts.
Just like the Opals.
((Based on this playable))
- Gren Blockman
- Expert Adventurer
- Posts: 707
- Joined: Thu Jun 19, 2008 9:00 pm
- Location: The forest, the woods, the trees
Gren had been more paranoid than usual that morning as he had woken up and took a trip to RhyDin City. He had been used to weird shadows and evil thoughts being planted in his brain by ShadoWeaver, but today everything seemed more off than usual.
It’s Friday the 13th, and it’s a full moon tonight, he thought. That’s why you’re so jumpy.
You are right to be anxious . . . considering YOUR IMPENDING DOOM IS NIGH! HAHAHAHA!!! ShadoWeaver mocked him from his grey Ranger’s cloak inside pocket.
“Shut up shut up shut up!”, Gren hissed. “Aw man, why couldn’t Matt have beaten me last week?” He lamented. “I just gotta keep cool here. Keep my head down, and before I know it this day will be over.”
Walking down a street in the Old Market District, he heard an unfamiliar voice call out to him. “Watch yer head, buddy!”
Gren reflexively ducked and turned his head to see a ladder tied to a rope sailing overhead. He glanced back to see a black cat leaning against a wall with one paw, while the other was holding a cigarette in its mouth.
“Those idiots up there are trying to paint the side of this building. It’s been chaos ever since they started.” The black cat said.
Gren blinked then gasped. “Hey, wait! I just walked under a ladder! That’s bad luck!”
“Whatta ya talkin’ about? You about got creamed, pal. It’s a good thing we crossed paths.”
Gren look became even more horrified. “I just . . . I just crossed paths with a black cat! Oh no, this is bad, this is really bad!!!”
The black cat pulled the cigarette out of its mouth and tilted its head to the side. “You humans are a real trip. Yer always superstitious about one thing or another. It’s just another day. Suck it up, buttercup.”
Gren backed away from the cigarette smoking cat. Behind him was a hot dog vendor with his cart. “Hot Dogs! French Fries! Hot and ready to serve!”
Gren bumped into the cart, causing the salt shaker to tumble and spill on the street below. Gren jumped, his gaze falling to the pile of seasoning lying on the ground.
“Quick, buddy, throw some over your left shoulder.” The black cat offered.
Flustered, Gren quickly grabbed a handful and threw it over his right shoulder in his haste.
“Heh. Well, you’re really screwed now, ain’t ya pal?” The cat said.
Gren yelped and took off down the street. The black cat wandered up to the hot dog vendor, watching Gren run away. “DON’T RUN INTO ANY MIRRORS, BUDDY! Sheesh, what’s with that guy anyway?”
- Posts: 20
- Joined: Wed Aug 17, 2005 12:50 pm
- Location: Rhydin Public Library - Strange And Magical Creatures Division
Some dream I made up
Though I guess it’s reality
― Plowed by Sponge
Running across Westbridge and into the Old Temple District, Allyse Mayworm shivered as a brisk breeze rushed past the river. She didn’t, as she normally might, stop to enjoy the reflection of Rhydin’s moons upon the water or see if she could spot any unusual creatures near the surface. Instead, she simply ran as fast as she could. Turning left down an alleyway, she hastened past Bak’d which, in preparation for fulfilling its standard slate of morning orders, was already releasing heavenly smells at this early hour. Her stomach grumbled when she didn’t stop for a freshly made sourdough baguette and it complained again much more loudly when blocks away, the Rhydin Public Library came into view.
Darting toward the rear of the building, she skidded to a halt by the back wall, hastily looked around to ensure nobody was watching, muttered a phrase under her breath and reached into the wall. Once her hand found an elongated handle, she turned it and walked through the section of “wall” which was really a nearly undetectable illusion spell. Passing through a doorway, she stood in what could otherwise pass as the entrance to a small cave. Her footsteps echoed through the stone tunnel as her sneakers scraped across the dirt floor. This was a mostly secret entrance into the Library; only a select few knew the passphrase or even that the illusion spell had been put in place. She had first learned about both upon her promotion to Master Caretaker the previous year. Prior to that, she’d entered the Library though one of the public accesses, just like everyone else. She spared a glance back to make sure the door had firmly shut before sprinting down the tunnel.
On a normal day, Allyse liked to take her time walking through the tunnel. She often pretended she was an explorer – the first to find the tunnel – and imagined where it might lead…treasure, a crypt, remnants of a previously unknown ancient civilization. She always enjoyed the imaginary journey but today, no such thoughts entered her mind as she ran. Following the uneven path through a series of turns as it descended deeper underground, Allyse arrived at another illusory doorway that provided the most direct path to the RPL’s sub-basements. It was here, in the sub-basement which housed the Rhydin Public Library’s Strange and Unknown Creatures Division, where she spent the majority of her life.
Once through the doorway, Allyse entered a cave of a different sort, one diametrically opposed to the natural stone of the tunnel. This was a cave of bureaucracy. Of dirty white walls and scuffed linoleum-tile floors. Of evenly spaced overhead lighting and dingy window-blinds. Of zero imagination. She burst through a doorway and into a stairwell, calculating that she could reach her workplace at least three minutes faster than waiting for the infernally slow lift. Bounding down the stairs three at a time, she reached the sub-basement. She hastily punched her access code into a control panel embedded into the wall, cursed when an alarm began to chip warning her that the code was incorrect, entered the code again, submitted to the optical scan and pinprick blood test and nearly screamed with impatience during the four long seconds it took for the analysis to complete and the door to slide open. She nearly bowled over a small water cooler when she rounded the corner too sharply and she didn’t apologize to the grizzled old dwarven janitor Grothak Rockhammer…or Grothak Rockslayer…or Grorock Hakhammer…or Hakrock Slaygro…or whatever his name was (who had time for names, anyway? Creatures were so much more interesting) when she kicked over his bucket of mop-water as she rushed into her lab.
The dwarf seemingly paid her no mind and continued mopping while Allyse, after a deep breath, snarled, “It’s three in the morning! Just what the hell is going on in h…”.
Her mouth dropped into an “O” shape and her eyes bugged when they set upon two unconscious Caretakers behind the glass-paned wall separating the lab from where the creatures were housed. That housing area was dark as, given the hour, most of the creatures were asleep. Allyse thought she saw pulsing light from a back corner but chalked it up to the bead of sweat that suddenly dripped down her forehead and into her left eye.
She didn’t even notice the Caretaker Intern until the mousy girl spoke.
“Ah…hello Miss Mayworm.”
Allyse whirled around to face the Caretaker Intern, mouth still agape. Softly humming an old tune that only he recognized, focused on nothing else but his job, the janitor moved his mop around both women as if they were stationary desks or pillars.
Allyse jabbed a finger at the window, spitting out the words as the exercise caught up to her and she began to gasp for air. “What. Happened?!”
“Ah…well…ah..,” the Caretaker Intern stammered. “The creature…you see…the creature…”
Allyse glowered. Interns were so obtuse. “Which. Creature.”
The Caretaker Intern winced as she said, “Your creature.”
Allyse scowled and stalked over to an array of controls that would allow her to enter the creature-storage area. Several viewscreens resided over the array. Fed by a host of cameras inside the lab, they offered numerous views of the caged creatures from several different angles.
“Ah…Miss Mayworm? Ah...well…I wouldn’t do th…”
As the janitor righted his bucket and began to squeeze out his mop, Allyse made a conscious decision not to throttle the life out of the Caretaker Intern. Instead, she asked, “Why not?”
The Caretaker Intern pointed to the intercom.
With a sigh, Allyse stepped between two pools of unmopped water and keyed the intercom. A half-second later, with an instant-headache from a high pitched shrieking, the likes of which she’d never heard before and which pierced her brain like a hot needle might easily slip through an eye, she disengaged the intercom and shot a death-stare back at the Caretakern Intern who had her hands pressed to her ears and her eyes squeezed shut.
For his part, the janitor paid no notice and continued mopping the floor.
“Why. Wouldn’t. You. Warn. Me?” Allyse asked, her voice a mixture of pain and anger.
The Caretaker Intern, whose hands remained over her ears, didn’t hear the question and thus didn’t answer. A moment later, when she dared to open her eyes, she pointed at the two Caretakers on the other side of the glass.
“Ah…they dropped to the floor the second they walked in.” The Caretaker Intern took a step back as if the extra foot of distance would somehow absolve her of any blame in the entire matter. “Ah…you should…Miss Mayworm…you should check the monitors. Its monitor, specifically. It’s the one making that noise. It’s screaming…”
With a frown of distrust, Allyse turned toward the control panel and called up the image feed that focused on her years-long-pet project: the Jigglypuff. She’d put that creature through a lot over the years, not the least of which was making it battle for opals in the Outback where, for reasons unbeknownst to her, it inevitably swallowed them upon winning possession. Those opals were why its normally pink skin had turned grey and why, occasionally, that same skin flushed with color when it dueled, be it green, blue, black, red or yellow. Truth be told, between that and the other experiments she’d performed on it, she was surprised it still lived.
Nothing in her experience, though, prepared her for what she saw. The creature’s mouth was wide open. Its body shook from the violence of the screaming. Its eyes were shut so tight and fluttering so fast it seemed like someone was pulling them taut from inside its head. Biologically, according to the vital signs embedded into the image, the creature appeared to be in a deep sleep. Quite likely, it was currently ensconced in a vivid dream. Physically, though, something else entirely was transpiring.
Instinctively, Allyse shielded her eyes from the rapid pulsing which was made all the worse as the glass reflected the action on the monitors. The creature’s skin was changing color so quickly she couldn’t keep up; it was like watching, instead of hearing, an incredibly fast electronic drumbeat at a rave run amok.
Although it had only been a few seconds, she feared that watching any longer might drive her mad. She slammed her hand onto the control panel, blacking out the monitors. She stared into the lab, at the creatures in their cages.
Only then did Allyse realize that none of the creatures were actually asleep; like the two Caretakers, they had all been rendered inert from the Jigglypuff’s screams.
Only then did panic set in. Only then did her stomach sink with true fear.
Allyse screeched at the Caretaker Intern, “Don’t just stand there! Call someone!”
The janitor continued his mopping as the Caretaker Intern shrugged and answered, “Ah…I did. I called you.
....shards... ice and fire, shadows grow... elements unleashed....
Murmuring while he slept, Doran turned and twisted in his bed, his fingers clutching the sheets as though his very life depended on it. Suddenly his eyes flew open and a sharp gasp escaped his lips. A glance out the window told him that it was still night, as moonlight shone down to blanket the room. The youth swung his feet over to sit upon the edge of his bed, rubbing his eyes to try and drive out the dream, the disturbing vision that had woken him.
But why? What could it mean?
Rising from bed, he put on moccasins and a robe, and slipped out of the room, treading softly down the hall so as not to wake anyone else at the manor. Once outside, he headed out across the fields, following an unseen path he knew by heart. Soon enough he had reached the copse at the fields' edge, and started up the spiral stairway to the tree house above. The door opened with a faint creak, and he entered quietly, not wishing to disturb the young woman sleeping within.
"Doran? What?" Not quietly enough, it seemed, as Sylva stirred and turned to look up at him.
"Sorry, Sylva. I didn't mean to wake you, I just..." His voice trailed off as words and excuses failed him. "I couldn't sleep. I had a dream."
Sitting up with the sheet held close to her chest, she looked at him with equal parts curiosity and concern. "You? What about?"
He shook his head and sat at the edge of the bed, "I'm not sure. It almost felt like I was feeling echoes of other dreams, other visions. I can't really make any sense of it. There were flashes of color, elemental forces. Shards of glass scattered all about." He shrugged helplessly. "It was a dream, they have their own logic. I just-" He paused for a moment. "I just didn't want to go back to sleep alone."
With a smile, Sylva scooted over to make room, and Doran crawled in beside her, letting her wrap her arms around him as if to keep him safe.
Together they drifted off to sleep, but in the depths of Doran's dreamscape, the light of five shining stones glittered in the darkness.
She did not soar. She did not float. She did not glide. There was no exhilaration. No release from earthly bounds.
For Eden, there was only terror.
Wind buffeted her from every direction. The air was too thin. Was she even breathing? She could see the city stretched out beneath her. But something wasn't right with it. It glimmered and wavered. Light captured and reflected in a dazzling display of colors. She almost couldn't look. Blinding prismatic light. As if something had exploded.
It was all wrong. Like the city was captured inside a crystalline prison. Where was Nat? Was he trapped in there? Too far. How could she save him?
This wasn't the usual dream.
The freezing winds ripped across her wings, but still she hung there, suspended in the skies so high above the city. Each gust blew icy shards against her, cutting tiny slashes into the skin of her face and neck. The sound of her scream was torn away and swallowed before she could even hear herself.
But she could hear something. A voice.
"You're too low. Higher. Come higher."
Eden shook her head, against the thought, against the sickly sweet voice.
"Above the clouds. Higher. To the stars!"
She could feel herself rising, the city falling away beneath her, the winds lifting her up and up. Higher and higher. She couldn't stop herself.
The clouds drifted past and fell beneath her feet. Until she could see the curve of the planet. Until she could see the way the light skipped off the atmosphere. Until she was surrounded by darkness.
And then finally, she could begin to see the stars.
"This is where you belong."
Eden screamed herself awake.
Somewhere beneath her was the bed. She could feel her wings, gently flapping, brushing the ceiling as she floated in the middle of Nat's loft. Her eyes widened in fear.
The moment before she crashed back down to the floor, she felt only one thing.
We may be picking up the pieces here on after,
We are fragile, we are human,
We are shaped by the light we let through us,
We break fast, cause we are glass.
Cause we are glass.
Hold on a bit longer.
The words roused her with a jerk from the depths of a dreamless sleep. It was a voice she hadn’t heard in nearly two years with one exception.
“Kenji…” She murmured, rubbing sleep from her eyes and kicking the knot of blankets off of her legs. Beside her, Charlie slept soundly. Jin furrowed her brows at him and slid out of bed.
Warm feet, a frigid floor.
Where were her slippers?
Unable to find them with a shuffle of feet, she instead shambled out of the master bedroom. The floor to ceiling windows of the New Haven apartment welcomed her to the living room, tinted against the glow of the city at night. This high up, she could see nearly to Seaside, but she didn’t linger long in passing.
Hold it together now. You've it in you to get through this just fine.
Jin stopped short, head tilted, ear quirked.
It was an echo, a memory. The words scratched at her consciousness through the lingering fog of sleep. As she pushed her feet into motion once more, she stifled a yawn with a cup of her hand. Around her wrist she still wore the same inscribed leather cuff that had always kept the blue rock safe and sound against the inside of her wrist during each of her possessions.
That was quite the word for it.
Don't even think about it…
Not you too…
Vigorously, she rubbed the heels of her hands against her eyes and shook her head out. Maybe if she shook it like an Etch-A-Sketch, it would rid her of the encroaching voices.
Out of sight, out of mind. There there, let them take care of it.
“Okay, would you stop that?”
“I’m imagining things.”
You’re a terrible liar.
Scowling, Jin stopped at the barely cracked door of Kenji’s room and leaned her ear to the edge to listen. There was a shuffling that usually meant he was awake. He was such a calm baby though so it could be a bit before he cried out.
So sentimental. I never took you for the sort.
IceDancer had told her that once upon a time. Years ago. It may as well have been an entirely different lifetime. She was retired now, coming out sparingly for tournaments and spending the bulk of her time not in the training rooms of the Outback but rather in the dance studio or at home with her family.
How far they had come in a few scant years.
Some things are meant to be left broken.
She set a hand to the bedroom door and gently nudged it open. A widening wedge of light spilled across a floor strewn with plush toys and little origami figurines. Movement in the crib but no sound, tiny feet kicking at the air. Only one sock.
She went to close the door.
Seriously? The answers you want are at your fingertips and you’re just going to give up like that?
Perhaps it’s better if she doesn’t know…
She has a right to know! Oh, you’d rather keep her in the dark, let her play the part of Ice Queen. What was that about conceal, don’t feel? What a joke.
Says the one who got himself locked in a box.
Jin felt a creeping itch at the edge of her periphery but when she turned her head, there was nothing lingering in the shadows. With a frown, she stepped into her son’s room.
The heat hit her first, followed by a wave of arctic cold.
Are you going to lock me up too?
She rushed to the crib’s edge just as Kenji let out a cry.
“Shh, shh, shh, baby. Mama’s here.” She reached down to scoop him up and found his skin frigid, cold to the touch in a way she hadn’t experienced since…
Kenji’s lip quivered, big blue eyes wide upon the looming figure of his mother.
Someone had to do what you can’t.
Curling her hands around him, she cooed soft, soothing sounds and picked the cold infant up to hug him against her chest. Behind her, the light from the hallway dimmed with the lithe silhouette of Charlie Nine in the doorway.
No one asked you to get involved. Or to eavesdrop.
“Are you hearing it too?” She asked him, lifting her voice over the rising tears of her son.
You need to be prepared to lose.
The light in the hallway blinked out. The eyes of the figure before her flared ember red.
Because nothing is forever…
In her arms, Kenji’s cries became screams just before they abruptly cut off. Glass shattered.
That wasn’t glass.
Her arms caved in, grasping at splinters of what had been. Icy, sharp fragments of what was and never would be again.
Embers sparked, flame roared.
Close your eyes.
The fire overtook her.
Jin awoke with a start.
Don't you hear the battle drum
And you know you won't be heard
Makes no sense to spread the word
Now let your light shine down on me
Don't you ever set me free
Will all of my dreams be fading away
All of my fears be here one day
Do I have to see the stars falling down
Don't let my dreams be fading away
Runt snorted awake, back against the tree, hunting spear in his hand. The moons were still up, so he hadn’t slept long. His stomach had the sickening feeling of dropping down a mountain too fast. No matter, he was awake now so he would try and find something to hunt.
Runt tossed and turned, waking up with a start. His stomach had dropped again, but this time he remembered looking into the stars and seeing them glitter just before he woke up. It was like he had fallen off a mountain cliff while gazing up into a sparkling sky.
Arabrab was meandering about slowly, almost as if he was on a long pilgrimage to the homeland of his people. The moons pock-marked face stared benignly down at the Badlands between Cadentia and Rhydin. Lillthinia slept under a pile of blankets nearby, but Runt was busy looking up at Arabab and his court of stars. Normally, he slept well after one of the floating Chain Fights. The small halfling, supposedly an assassin, had focussed on his thighs and knees but they would heal after a week or two. It’s why he told Mallory he was gone hunting for so long. Despite the gruelling battle, tonight he had woken up three times to the same stomach-dropping feeling of falling off a mountain and watching the stars fade away just before he hit the ground. This last time the stars looked different like they were moving to form some other strange constellation. When he had awoken, the icy fire of his ancestors was running through his veins. What did it mean?
Runt stood at the edge of a snow-covered mountain. He looked down at the white landscape stretching below him like an endless glacier. Rhy’din sat at the bottom of the mountain, Kaiju lake frozen over in the icy weather. Suddenly, he was falling; back to the ground and eyes to the sky. The stars above him sparkled in colours of red, green, blue, and yellow. Within seconds they too were falling like vibrant, precious snowflakes.
Then he was standing in the Outback, the ground beneath him now stained glass instead of dirt. Isejotuni were chanting, summoning a great wintry storm as they smashed their battle-axes into the ground. The colored floor shattered into radiating bursts of red, green, blue and yellow. The cracks became black like a spider web coursing through broken gemstones.
Runt roared angrily, wielding his ram-headed mace at the frost giants crowding into the Outback. They were yelling as they converged around him, rushing at him from all sides like ice battering against a lost ship at sea. White bodies tattooed with the blue histories of his ancestors fell upon him, crushing him against the ground. He fell through the broken stained glass floor and landed in a sea of gemstones. Waves of colored gems and broken glass rolled beneath him, crashing over him and finally burying him beneath their oppressive weight.
The summer heat had finally given way to the cooling, fall breeze. Despite the more tolerable weather, Runt hadn’t slept well in over a week. The giant sat cross-legged in the middle of a small clearing while a warbler sang prettily in the background. Gently he reached into the pouch hanging from his belt and pulled out a small, pretty green stone. Runt furrowed his brow at it. It was a gift for Clan Simon; but his dreams demanded answers. The Hun-Jarl had been confused when he asked to study it, but she gave it to him anyway along with a few courteous words and a stern warning.
He didn’t know how these stones worked, only that one of them - the red one - had helped him in his battle against the dire wolves. This green stone was his, he had won it in combat, but it did not speak to him. It did nothing for him. But he knew in his heart that he was tainted by its magic and it had cursed him in his dreams. Runt was convinced that if he did not master the stone it would steal away his rest, his strength and his peace of mind.
Song Lyrics: All of my Dreams by Dreamtide
- Legendary Adventurer
- Posts: 2395
- Joined: Thu Apr 13, 2006 5:26 pm
- Location: Little Elfhame, Old Market
“Nothing’s ever a coincidence.” Kheldar mock complained his agreement. The big man seemed to be handling the sleeplessness just fine.
Matt threw the datapad in his hand onto the desk, not caring where it landed or what it knocked aside.
“This reminds me too much of Sanyumato. They’re up to something. But the question is...why are they letting us know? Unless they don’t know they’re letting us know, in which case this is maybe a gift. Or maybe they do know that they’re letting us know, and are doing it out of spite, in which case whatever’s going on may already be in motion and too late to stop. Koy’s rattled. The kids are rattled…”
Matt cursed, sat back in his chair, and sighed.
“The question is what do we do? Assuming we can do anything that matters at all?”
“Caed took the kids home. Distance seems to have made things easier for them.” It wasn’t an answer to the real question, but one thing at a time.
Frowning, Matt reached out for the coffee mug Jewell had set down on his desk upon her arrival. Taking a sip of the lukewarm liquid, he blanched and spat the coffee back into the mug.
“That’s terrible!” he exclaimed. He glanced up at Jewell and said, “Hopefully your cup is better than that swill.” Stifling a yawn and seemingly unaware of what he’d actually just done, he turned his thoughts back to the important matters at hand.
“I really don't think distance matters...once they’re in your head they’re in. But can’t hurt to try. And given what happened last time, getting out of the city might be the best plan.”
“That was my cup,” she remarked dryly, amused despite the situation at hand. “How do we know it’s them and not something out to get them? We’ve never really made a secret of having them here in RhyDin. I’m honestly surprised we haven’t had to defend them against those seeking to hold them or even destroy them sooner.” Jewell perched on the edge of a chair. “I can check with some friends at the Council for Preternatural Activities, see if the Opals are on anyone’s radar there or I guess if anyone seeking them is on their radar.” Her brow wrinkled, “Mother of Nature, I hate vague warnings and riddles.”
“It’s them. I know them. I know her. They’ve all been in here.” He repeatedly tapped the side of his head, hard, with his right forefinger. “This isn’t my first rodeo. But I will admit this isn’t quite the same. I can’t put my finger on it, but something’s different.”
The faerie shrugged, “If you say so. But if it is them, what do you want to do about it? What is there to do about it?”
“If I was Governor, the first thing I’d do would be to knock on Dr. Vardün’s door. Assuming she’s still working over there. And would speak to me.”
Matt frowned again, “She wasn’t my biggest fan. Especially after…”
His words trailed off as memories surfaced of his heated arguments with the Chief Climatologist. Of his ordering her to participate in the coverup. Of her anger and dismay when he’d destroyed her data to keep the lie intact.
“Anyway,” he said, forcing his thoughts back to more immediate matters, “I’d have her or whoever’s in charge there now start looking into weather patterns. That’s how it manifested last time.”
“Hasn’t seemed abnormal to me, but it’s RhyDin." Jewell shrugged. “It could snow in summer and we could say that’s IceDancer doing something or a local mage had a spell on the fritz, an ice giant went for a walk,” she gestured with her hand to suggest on and on and on.
“Why don’t you give Kal a call and see if he thinks things are normal?”
For a slight little thing, Jewell could muster quite the look. “Kal doesn’t have a phone, so maybe just go ask your weather lady. Maybe the Keepers too. Whatever you want. Even if the weather is off though what are we actually going to do about it? The Opals are our responsibility.”
Matt rubbed his eyes. “Fine, call Jake then,” he said with tired exasperation. “He’s the one that brought those things here to begin with.”
She struggled in vain to suppress her grin, “Also doesn’t have a phone but I can do with a visit. Still doesn’t answer what we should do though. I’m not denying that something is clearly coming. Sapphire is all tweaked out about it. But while we figure out what it is we shouldn’t just sit around doing nothing.”
“Problem is without knowing what’s actually going on, we’re just guessing on the correct course of action.” Kheldar finally chimed in after having listened to the other two. “The logical course of action if the problem is with the Opals doing something would be to split them up, which is the opposite of what we would want to do if something was trying to attack or steal them.” He sighed. “Seems like our best option is to prepare for the worst and keep trying to narrow down the threat.”
“Pretty much,” Jewell agreed. “In that case, though, I have a few ideas…”
- Legendary Adventurer
- Posts: 2395
- Joined: Thu Apr 13, 2006 5:26 pm
- Location: Little Elfhame, Old Market
Notice: The Duel of Fists staff is changing the way they keep their historical rankings as of today.
For years, Duel of Fists has tracked both wins and losses to calculate the ranking of fighters as compared to one another and to determine whether a fighter was fit and strong enough to hold an Opal. Going forward, Duel of Fists will only keep account of the wins a fighter achieves as the true mark of a strong fighter is not how many times they may fall but how often they get back up and punch someone in the face.
The Duel of Fists is also looking to purchase additional training facilities going forward. More information on this search will be released in the coming weeks.
Any questions may be directed to the Duel of Fists staff:
Matthew Algiers Simon
((For more information on this and other rule changes, please see this post here!))
“There is no guarantee that all of us will be there. My holder certainly has no reason to attend,” PathFinder complained, “as he’s not even ranked and MoonBeryl is--”
“That matters not,” ShadoWeaver cut off her brother. “I will be there and IceDancer as well if his holder is to be believed. Our inherent connection to each other should be enough. The power to achieve our goal is there. We must at least see if we can tap into it. We must know.”
MoonBeryl, ever the fan of subtle manipulation, tried to let caution prevail. “They suspect what we are trying to do, sister. They are alarmed. It is too risky. If we tip our hand prematurely, we may be worse off than when we started.”
“They may suspect but they still do not know anything. They are fools, each one of them, and you are all fools as well if you would waste this opportunity.”
“I think we should try it,” FireStar’s voice crackled with lust for power. For freedom.
“As do I,” IceDancer conceded.
While it still took further cajoling to convince PathFinder and MoonBeryl, ShadoWeaver was nothing if not persuasive.
((Yikes! The Opals are up to something. Check here for more information and stop by DQ 99 on Friday, October 18th to join in on the fun.))
- Bailey Raptis
- Seasoned Adventurer
- Posts: 460
- Joined: Fri Apr 17, 2015 9:25 pm
- Location: Can be found many places, but resides in a row house in the Kabuki Street neighborhood
October 17, 2019
I do not know exactly what term best describes my Hollow. A sanctuary? No, that is not quite correct. There is some safety there, in that it is a place that only I, and those I grant passage to, can enter. Though really, that only holds true for your so-called “mere mortals.” Why is that the case? Well, Hollows are little slices of the Hedge that Stolen Ones carve out for themselves -- some use them to store their possessions, some use them as break spots from whatever might trouble them in their more mundane lives, and a few particularly odd Stolen Ones chose to be buried in their Hollows. But the Hedge is not paradise -- far from it. It connects RhyDin, and other worlds I am sure, to Faerie itself. And a connection to Faerie is a connection to the Fae, and trying to bar the door to them is like attempting to stop a tsunami with your bare hands.
There are those who might say a Hollow is a home away from home, but that implies the Hedge, and by proxy, Arcadia, is home. I refuse to believe that, because down that path lies the destiny B-BO1 laid out for me. The more I think of the Lands as my place, the less attached I remain to what is left of my humanity. So if my Hollow is not a sanctuary, not a residence, not a burial ground, and not quite just a storage spot, what, precisely, is it to me?
I do not have a good answer, just a general definition, and a description of what my so-called neck of the woods looks like. I have seen illustrations of other Stolen Ones’ Hollows, and they tend to follow a pattern: Dark, shady places, usually clearings within copses of trees. A lot of them build cabins from the timber, and shield themselves from the rest of the Hedge by forming its natural vines and brambles into defined barriers. When it came time for me to create my Hollow, though, I went a different direction. Yes, the Hedge has its fair share of old-growth forests, gurgling swamps, lava-blasted mountaintops and snow-covered ice sheets. No one ever said the Fae did not have a flair for the dramatic -- or foreboding. I, however, managed to find a place in the Hedge that was a little friendlier, a little bit more like -- well, never mind that thought. It’s nice, is what I’m saying.
It resembles, in a small way, the beaches of Twilight Isle or São Amador. White sand, waves gently lapping at the edges, a sunny and cloudless blue sky overhead. A little on the hot side, like in São Amador, but I prefer it that way. The area is empty, except for a purple-and-black beach towel, a long aluminum beach chair with a rainbow cushion, and a wooden lifeguard station with a half-set of stairs that leads to the interior. Some days, I rest in there and look out the windows at the ocean, but most days, I sit in that chair or on that towel, sunbathing and napping. Like today.
The line between tanning and sleeping is blurry, and I could feel myself swinging back and forth between the two. My mind raced with thoughts of work. Being in charge of people for the first time ever in my career felt strange, but it also felt good. It meant a lot to be chosen for that position, and each day served as a reminder that I deserved this, that I was good at this, that I earned this just the same way I earned the Talon of Redwin, the Tower of Water, or the Celestial Tower. I might not be the Governor, I would never be the King of the Stolen One Court, but getting all the new servers, hosts, bartenders, barbacks, and bussers on the same page seemed like a pretty big deal to me.
You’re predictably small-minded, Bailey. I should have figured.
I snapped fully out of rest, reached to my side to grab a sword that was not there. The voice in my head chided me, in an androgynous tone - it could have been a high-pitched male or a low-pitched female, for all I knew.
Now that’s just predictable. Come now, I expected better from the heralded Archmage.
“Who are you? Where are you?” My experience with mind-speech was somewhat limited, and it had been nearly a year since I had last experienced it with Malleus at the Fae rave in the Underground.
An irritated sigh sounded in my brain. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, given how little you’ve fought in the Outback, or with your fists. Those that fight for me call me PathFinder.
Speaking aloud seemed a bit pointless, since the Opal clearly was not going to, and so I switched to telepathy. "What do you call yourself, then?"
There we go! Just the sort of question I’d expect from a Fae.
"I’m not Fae-" I tried to protest, but PathFinder just plowed right through.
Fine, fae, lower-case. It’s half-clever. I’m not going to answer it, but I’ll give you credit for trying.
I pinched the bridge of my nose. "What do you want?"
Another predictable question. Fortunately, I’m in a generous mood today.
My hand waved in the air, spinning in circles as my head-speech took on a bored tone. "Get on with it, PathFinder."
So impatient! Fine, I can be blunt too. I want you to challenge Runt for the right to hold me.
The Opal’s request had me laughing out loud, despite my best intentions. I could feel its irritation tickling my mind, and I tried to compose myself. "You do know that I am three ranks away from even being eligible to challenge him?"
True, but Fists is now loss-free. With sufficient motivation, you can make it to Emerald, and challenge him.
"You assume someone else will not beat me to it."
True, but we can cross that bridge once we get to it. Right now, there are certain things we can control.
I finally stood up off of the beach towel, and walked the stairs up into the lifeguard station. Piles of my personal effects (including my sword) were strewn across the wooden floor of the otherwise empty room. My eyes danced across several pairs of high heels, winter jackets, and a candy tin with some edibles inside, finding a pack of cigarettes and a blue lighter. I sighed as I picked up the items, retrieved a smoke, and lit it. "Why in the world do you think I would help you? Or trust you? Anyone with half a brain who pays the slightest bit of attention knows the rumors about your kind. The two friends of mine who held your ilk previously, Eva and Eden, barely ever carried you around. What makes you think I will be any different?"
I could hear the smirk, even if I could not see it. Because I can give you what you want.
"Being Fae? That is not-"
Maybe not, but you do want to be in love.
"Sure, but with-"
Not with her. I clicked my tongue in irritation at the repeated interruptions. Can I finish my thought? PathFinder did not give me a chance to reply before continuing. Not with her. With -
I screamed internally, as PathFinder accidentally (or perhaps it was intentional?) flashed an image of a person in my brain. Or did I bring the image up myself? At any rate, the telepathy cut out at that moment, leaving me alone with just my thoughts, a slow-burning cigarette, and a sinking feeling in my gut.
Runt lumbered laboriously into the Outback, his open hide vest revealing a long stretch of bandage across his chest and side. His face was swollen with bruises, one eye purple and shut. A crack across his lip added to the menacing visage. He carried no sack, in fact, he didn't even have a weapon. There was only a pouch on his hip that clinked as he limped inside. With his one healthy eye, Runt scanned the Outback. It was the first round of the Diamond Quest, and Matt was fighting against Rachael. With a heavy grunt, he dragged himself over to the ring. "MATSLAG MATT SIH-MON."
"What happened this time?" Matt asked as prepared to fight.
Runt thought back to last night, but he didn't remember much. Lillthinia told him he wasn't, in fact, victorious - someone had poisoned him before the fight. "MAUG SLASS," was his answer.
Just as round two got started, the lights in the Outback started to flicker. Runt felt the air around him grow colder. The earthy scent, petrichor, filled his nose. He was suddenly very aware of the earth beneath him and the way it breathed. The Opal inside his pouch started to warm, it was an uncomfortable sensation on his hip. Undeterred, Runt continued cheering on Matt - who seemed very distracted by something in his pocket. The nearby Fern started growing and reaching out towards the pouch itself. He felt the earth vibrate before he caught the movement in his peripheral vision, and turned to snarl at the oversized plant. "GGGRAAARRRGHH"
The Fern responded by sprouting vines at its base, which reached out towards him in a sudden burst. From the pouch, a bitter sense of frustration emanated from PathFinder. Runt began to feel a connection between PathFinder and the Fern, vines, and even the very ground he walked on. He ripped the bag off his belt and shook it violently. He then threw the pouch, with PathFinder in it, on the ground and stomped on it. After trying to crush the stone to bits, he picked up the sack and held it in his trembling fist. He watched Matt run out of the ring towards the lockers as if his pants were lit on fire. Then he saw another fighter go from solid to shadows and back again. His heart raced with anxiety. "DIS IS TO BE MAAT SLAAG! NOT DEVILS ARTS!"
As Runts' hands clenched the hide-pouch tighter and tighter, PathFinder turned his frustration on Runt, causing the bag to fall through his hands. "GRARRGHH!" Runt tried to stomp on it again, but his feet seemed to pass right through the pouch. He felt like he was being mocked by PathFinder. Reaching down, he picked up the small sack, but didn't notice that the vines under the Fern had started crawling towards him. They slowly wrapped around his legs and yanked, throwing him to the ground face first. A painful roar erupted from the giant. "GGGRRAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRR!"
Jewell, the Trixie-fae friend of Mallory, approached him - staying but a few feet away. "Hey, um.. do you need help?"
Before he could answer, the vines constricted, sprouting thorns that dug into his body. Runt rolled over, making futile efforts to tear the vines away. "DIS... STONE!" He could hear it in his mind, laughing at him with an air of detestation.
"I..." Jewell wanted to help Runt, kind of, "Throw the Opal away from you, Runt! It's trying to strangle you!"
Runt dug into his pouch, and as much as he didn't like the Trixie-fae, he knew she was right. He picked up the green Opal and threw it, with all his might across the Outback. It clattered harmlessly behind the bar, and the vines stopped growing. Runt tore the vines angrily, leaving thorny scars all over his legs. More of his stitches tore, and blood turned the bandages around his chest a deep crimson.
"Oh.. hey. That worked." Jewell's brow furrowed, grey eyes following where the Opal had gone. Her fingers twitched at her side, but then she looked down at Runt, "Do you need assistance?"
"RUNT NEED NO DEVILS ARTS! NO TRICKS!"
"Ugh whatever," the fae rolled her eyes and turned to walk away and get her drink. "You're bleeding by the way!" she called over her shoulder.
Runt stood up, the adrenaline faded but the color drained from his face. He rocked woozily from one side to the other.
Jewell glanced back, saw Runt struggling, and over to him, offering her shoulder, "Come on. Sit down."
Runt barked a laugh. "TRIXIE-FAE. VENN OF MAAL-REE. YOU BE TOO TINY." He stared down at her, no longer swaying but feeling nauseous all the same.
Jewell challenged him back with a bit of a laugh, "Though she be small.. she is fierce." The fae tried to get him to sit down on a chair. "Do you like.. just heal?"
Runt, feeling anxious and out of his element, brushed Jewell aside. He didn’t want to deal with her. The tournament continued despite all the Devils Arts, so Runt waited until Matt was finished his current round. When the match ended, Runt took a few, heavy steps towards him. "DE GREEN STONE FER CLAN SIH-MON. IT BE DERE!" He pointed to behind the bar. "RUNT NOT KEEP IT."
Matt, focused on other things, quickly countered, "You hold onto it, Runt. Better it be with you than nobody."
Jewell chimed in, "You pick that rock back up, and you hold it. You are its holder. That's how it works. Man up!"
The Trixie-fae had just told him to throw it away, and now she wanted him to pick up that conniving, evil, devils arts of a stone!? He did not want it! It was better with Koy. Runt held back a snarl, and dipped his head down to Matt. "RUNT TAKE IT BACK TO DE' UN-JARL."
Runt didn't wait for Matt to answer; instead, he lumbered over to the bar and reached a long arm over to pick up the green stone. The moment the stone was in his hand it felt like acid on his skin. The Opal laughed at him once more.
So Runt bellowed at PathFinder. "GGGRRRRRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRGGGHHHHHHH!"
Something, a feeling, told him that PathFinder had tried something tricksy. This little stone and its other little stone friends were up to something. He shoved the rock into his belt pouch and laboriously lumbered out of Outback. PathFinder could laugh now, but tomorrow, he would know who his Master was.
- Gren Blockman
- Expert Adventurer
- Posts: 707
- Joined: Thu Jun 19, 2008 9:00 pm
- Location: The forest, the woods, the trees
Diamond Quest XCIX
Ring Odin: Gren Blockman vs Eden Parker. Begin when ready!
Gren moved over to Ring Odin and climbed inside. He bowed for Eden, before he raised his fists in preparation. "Good luck."
Eden smiled brightly and waved at Yeardley, then bounced into the ring across from Gren. "You too!" She beamed her dimpled smile at him.
Ring Odin 1: Eden Parker scores! (LS / JB | 0 - 1, Eden Parker leads.)
A quick step forward for a jab before Eden retreated again.
The punch throws Gren off and his attack didsn't materialize.
Just as Round 2 got started, the Opals attempted to interact with each other. Suddenly, the lights started to flicker in the Outback, there was a spike in elemental energy (for those who could feel or sense such things), and the Opals’ specific powers started to manifest at random.
Ring Odin 2: Eden Parker scores! (JK / FDO | 0 - 2, Eden Parker leads.)
The flickering lights captured Eden’s attention. She looked up and then got out of Gren's way at the last moment. "Eeee!"
Gren went for the flying kick and missed by a mile.
Ring Odin 3: Gren Blockman scores! (SN / LS | 1 - 2, Eden Parker leads.)
As soon as it started, it seemed to ebb and then end with a final sense of something..
Gren recovered enough to land a quick kick and make up some lost ground.
Eden looks around, trying to figure out what's going on, and stumbles at Gren's kick.
Ring Odin 4: No action this round. (FAB / FDO | 1 - 2, Eden Parker leads.)
A little caution as Eden moved around the ring, trying to keep her back protected.
Gren paused and covered his head with his forearms. He then turned into a shadow form of himself, completely black.
Eden stared. Her eyes widened. Then suddenly she shouted, "SOMETHING HAPPENED TO GREN!"
Ring Odin 5: Eden Parker scores! (LS / JB | 1 - 3, Eden Parker leads.)
Jewell looked over at the other ring and.. whatever happened to Gren.
"And Gren is turning into a shadow." Yeardley added that on in case they hadn't heard Eden.
Eden tried to poke at it---the shadow---with her fist.
Gren blinked and raised his head. "What? What happened? AAAAHHHH!!" Looking down, he saw he was a black shadow of himself, giving Eden plenty of time to punch him.
Ring Odin 6: Eden Parker scores! (FDO / FeFL | 1 - 4, Eden Parker leads.)
"Make it stop! Make it stop! Make it stop!" Gren cried, running around in a little circle.
"I'm trying!" And by trying, Eden was chasing after him, swatting at the shadow on him.
Ring Odin 7: Gren Blockman scores! (JB / LS | 2 - 4, Eden Parker leads.)
Eden got in Gren’s way as he was running around and he accidentally shoved her away from him.
Eden stumbled back, eyes wide.
Ring Odin 8: Gren Blockman scores! (CH / SP | 3 - 4, Eden Parker leads.)
Shadow Gren suddenly split into five different Shadow Grens, and one of the sneakier ones got behind Eden and drops a karate chop on her.
Eden’s eyes widened as she spun around, not sure who to defend now. "What's happening!?"
Ring Odin 9: Eden Parker scores! (FDO / LS | 3 - 5, Eden Parker leads.)
FINAL: Eden Parker def. Gren Blockman, 5 - 3 in 9 rounds.
Jewell noticed.. like.. there were a lot of Grens over there.
Tripping over Eden's leg, Gren collapsed into a little heap on the canvas, covering his face with his hands. Suddenly, he popped back into Normal Gren. It caused him to stop whimpering and stare at his hands in shock, now that he's back to normal.
"That's kinda freaky." Yeardley commented, watching all the Shadow Grens being all Matrix like, until he was Gren again.
Eden bounced back from Gren, trying to give Shadow Gren some space. When she saw him turn back normal, her eyes widen. "Are you okay!"
"I don't know!" He cries at Eden. He gets to his feet, gives her a hasty bow, then rolls out of the ring quickly, patting himself up and down to make sure he's all there.
"You okay over there Gren?" Jewell was slower to exit her ring, glancing around as well cause the hair on the back of her neck was still raised.
"I . . . . guess so." He says unsurely to Jewell. He ran up to a mirror on the wall and gave his appearance some scrutiny.
Eden bounced out of the ring too, heading back for Yeardley and now Dillon too, hoping she can down some more cherry coke and a cupcake before the next round.
Eden got a dimpled smile from Yeardley. "What did you do to Gren?"
"I didn't do it!" Eden’s brow furrowed with worry, she picked up her cherry coke, looking from Yeardley to Gren.
Ring Nightmare: Gren Blockman vs Goldglo in a dof duel. Begin when ready!
Matt sighed as he entered the ring; he winced as he got into a set stance after saluting.
Gren, still looking a little shaken, sidled over to Ring . . . gulp . . . Nightmare. Wiping sweat off his forehead, he entered and bowed to Matt. "Good luck." Another gulp then he raised his fists.
Ring Nightmare 1: Goldglo scores! (JB / FDO | 0 - 1, Goldglo leads.)
Gren needed a backhand, Matt thought.
Gren started with a punch, but the backhand caused him to flip into Shadow Gren again, becoming a dark copy of himself. His white eyes landed on Matt after the attack, and it was not his voice any more. "Interesting."
Ring Nightmare 2: Gren Blockman scores! (SN / LS | 1 - 1, Gren Blockman and Goldglo.)
At that, Matt tensed. Narrowing his eyes, he replied, “ Is it?”
Shadow Gren threw a kick aimed at Matt's midsection, finding its target. "Oh, most definitely. Hahaha."
Ring Nightmare 3: Goldglo scores! (LS / SN | 1 - 2, Goldglo leads.)
Matt launched a kick at the thing-that-was-Gren.
There was a displeased grunt from Shadow Gren. "Well that was not pleasant. It seems as if this might take some getting used to."
Ring Nightmare 4: Gren Blockman scores! (FDO / JB | 2 - 2, Gren Blockman and Goldglo.)
A cloud of darkness suddenly erupted around Shadow Gren, causing Matt to miss. He stepped neatly to the side. "That is better."
“You ought to be more than used to it by now.”, Matt replied to Shadow Gren’s earlier comment.
"Being free of my 'cage'? Not exactly." Shadow Gren retorted.
"There goes Gren again." Yeardley observed Gren doing freaky Matrix moves.
Ring Nightmare 5: Everybody scores! (LS / LS | 3 - 3, Gren Blockman and Goldglo.)
“I know you better than most. Except maybe Koy. You can't blind me so easily”, Matt said.
Gren’s shadow leg collided with Matt. "Come now, you've wanted to get your hands on me for years, hmm? I know I have. Metaphorically speaking of course. Except this is much more than a metaphor now."
“You had your chance when I challenged last time. You chose not to come. Are you regretting that decision?” Matt asked.
Ring Nightmare 6: No action this round. (FeFL / FeFL | 3 - 3, Gren Blockman and Goldglo.)
Some brief wrestling with Matt, but neither of them got anywhere. "Although I find my current . . . host rather boring and irksome, I do find his body to be rather spry and nimble. Perhaps I'll stay for a while. Settle in. Hahahaha."
“You're not usually this flippant”, Matt observed.
"Having four limbs and the ability to hurt you makes me more . . . impulsive."
Ring Nightmare 7: Gren Blockman scores! (LS / FDU | 4 - 3, Gren Blockman leads.)
"Case in point." A swift kick is aimed at the ducking Matt. "Ooooh. I hope that didn't hurt too much."
Ring Nightmare 8: Goldglo scores! (JB / FL | 4 - 4, Gren Blockman and Goldglo.)
“I wouldn't worry about hurting me.” At that, Matt reached into his pocket and pulled out the red opal which, in the palm of his hand, heated rapidly and potentially caused flames to lick at the thing-that-was-Gren when he grabbed hold.
The fire caused Shadow Gren to rapidly pull his hand back. "Ah! Sister, let me have this victory!"
Ring Nightmare 9: Goldglo scores! (FDO / FeSN | 4 - 5, Goldglo leads.)
FINAL: Goldglo def. Gren Blockman, 5 - 4 in 9 rounds.
Matt leapt atop the-thing-that-was-Gren and flames enveloped them both.
Shadow Gren tried to shift away but the flames were too fast for him. "Aaaargh. Ah well. As they say, it was fun while it lasted. Au revoir. Hahahaha." Shadow Gren rapidly transformed back into Regular Gren, who was covering his eyes with his hands. "Is it over?"
After a few moments, Matt rolled away and the flames dissipated. As for Matt, he looked even worse off than before. He now not only had a limp, but his hand was bright red, as if burned.
Eden watched, eyes wide as the fight between Gren and Matt ended. Still standing in the ring with Kheldar, she backed away a step.
Gren looked up and saw Matt, and flinched back a bit. "I . . . uh . . . sorry about that." He quickly bowed then rolled out of the ring. "Whew . . . thank goodness that's over . . .”
“Gren. No offense. But if I don't win this thing, I'm coming after you. That can't happen again”, Matt pronounced.
"Hey, you do that . . . whenever you're ready!" Gren said that hopefully, more than willing to be done with the Black Opal at that point. He sat down at the bar, took the bar towel and wiped his face off with it, then wrung it out in the sink, before blowing out a long breath and sinking into his stool.
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