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The Neverending Challenge

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Please fight me! I am open to any style. T1, UFS, Narrative, or just plain talked out. Accept my challenge by posting here or sending me a PM!

~~~

Michael Commager stood on one of two hills separated by a grass valley. The valley was a quarter mile, a perfect bowl, all around nothing visible but the green of grass, the blue of sky, and the white of clouds. Morning sunlight filled his half of the valley, the west half. There were picturesque clouds in the sky that did nothing to blot the swelling daylight.

A white tunic clung to the golden band around his neck, the diamond of white satin fit to his torso coming to a skirted point between his knees. His bare feet were spread shoulder length apart. There was a red sash tied around his waist, a perfect trapezoid affixed to his abdomen. The trapezoid was gilded in natural edges of red gem, its center a ribbed tortoise shell pattern of the most matte obsidian. A wooden switch was tucked at his left hip beneath the sash; it was both subtly warped and endlessly reliable. One end of the switch was slightly bulbous and the other a flat end. On the bulb was a perfect triangle of three gems. One was red, one was blue, and the one nearest the pommel purple.

There were other gems on the man. Two, to be exact, nestled one beneath each earlobe as if dangling earrings except not. The one beneath his right was red, a deeper crimson than the one on the switch, the one under his left as black as imaginable.

Michael's arms were held to his side, elbows bent at a 90° angle with flat palms facing upward. His eyes were closed and he breathed solely through his nose. He meditated, yet to be activated from a seemingly impenetrable slumber.

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OOC: LETS GO

---

James Eredas stood on the other hill, his entire form swathed in a worn travelling cloak. The cloak would be removed as soon as the owners of the two characters about to engage in mortal kombat decided on the rules of engagement. For now, the Daemonslayer simply stood on the hill and looked over at Michael, his expression mysteriously polite. From under the folds of his cloak, James revealed a small electronic phone, whereupon he tapped a few buttons and sent Michael a message. He was here. It was time to duel.

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*bvvt* *bvvt* *bvvt*

A sleek but outdated flip phone vibrated on a granite countertop onworld, somewhere in Aspyn. The owner of the cellular device was far away. He had entered another, possibly dreamlike dimension. It was strikingly perfect for two types of fighters. Himself and, perhaps, another man he mad met once. One both valiant and brave, into whose flames Michael himself scarcely dared tread even when on the same side.

Sir, said Tori. Someone has arrived. Can not confirm total facial visual, but it appears that Master Knight of OFM, James Eredas has emerged.

Michael had once been a highly clandestine agent. Others hearing Tori's voice would be tantamount to treason if he allowed it on planet in his splinter cell days. Now he was a Peacekeeper though. Somewhat of a celebrity. Not that he liked it— he spent as much time outside of the limelight as possible— but now many of his more obvious attributes were public knowledge. He didn't bother shielding Tori's voice, so Eredas would hear her alerting Michael to his presence if listening keenly.

When James once saw Michael on an overcast day in Last Chance, the younger possessed instead of a right eye a crimson gem, scarred flesh marring the facade around it. Now his flesh was as if nothing had ever happened. His body was as if none of the horrid things that had ever happened to him actually were. His image had already been projected into the boy’s head, but now the boy’s soft eyes opened and saw Eredas. Michael smiled. Not arrogant or exhausted, but pleasantly. The only reason to come here was to fight good fights; and this one promised to be good indeed.

“Master Eredas,” he said, hair waving in the swelling wind, a leftward grin on his face. “So today is the day.”

Half of Michael wanted to sit down and trade war stories with the man. Half of Michael wanted nothing more than to plunge a blade through him in an open field. Commager was a holy man on Valucre simply because he was somehow genetically, inevitably beholden to the protection of the planet. Outside of Valucre he could express his most primal urge, the primal urge that fueled him in the blinding heat of battle. The urge to kill. This was no secret here in this realm. The Universal Colosseum realm was where men came to kill and die. Consequently, it was subconscious he whetting stone on which Michael had sharpened in his dreams.

Now, in this dream, Michael lowered his arms.

Tori and Insuma dislodged themselves from their cradles, cycling one foot above his right shoulder and one foot above his left. The way they moved was with such metronomically perfect motion that it took specifically focusing on Michael to perceive that they had moved at all from the distance at which Eredas stood.

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Half of Michael wanted to sit down and trade war stories with the man. Half of Michael wanted nothing more than to plunge a blade through him in an open field.

Surely he could do both at the same time. Michael struck James as the sort of man who could multitask, and banter while he played. If nothing else, Michael's reputation proceeded him, after all, the other man was one of the youngest Peacekeepers in the history of Terrenus, one of the stalwart leaders of the defenders of Last Chance, and James had seen his valor firsthand (if from a distance).

"Peacekeeper," James replied simply, his voice carrying as they closed, now standing at a healthy nine or ten meters from each other. "Today is the day" he went on, as he unclasped his cloak and tossed it to the ground, the weighty broach pinning the clothes down, revealing the Daemonslayer in nearly his full panoply of war. Resplendent upon him was his Daemonbane armor, a custom-wrought set of protection that glittered darkly in ebony and crimson. It was crafted of enruned steel, enchanted silk, and inlaid with carved dragonbone, and carapace of monsters. A living armor, one that changed constantly as it was decorated with trophies and engraved with the echoes of battles. The same level of craftsmenship extended to the rest of his wargear, the snarling face of an ancient beast adorned on the buckle of the mighty warbelt around his waist, the length of dragonscale that adorned and studded his long armored skirt, to the ornate winged helm nestled under the crook of his left arm, and even the flex of the fingers of his reinforced and armored combat gloves.

His left hand rested upon the hilt of a longsword belted to his side in its sheathe, in his right lay a bronzed spear of great length. It was the latter weapon which he then pointed at Michael, "Unless you wish to reschedule, of course" he added, teasing the younger man. They both knew that wouldn't happen, with the battlelust in the air high in anticipation of crossing blades with a strong opponent. Both of them had looked forward to this for a while. It was simply the Daemonslayer's way however, to jibe at his opponent.

"First to yield loses?" he suggested.

Edited by Fierach

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Eredas was far away, but his voice was still loud enough for Michael to hear. From the light refracting off his golden necklace coalesced a softball-sized node of light. It was a barely luminescent orb that rose from him and headed not for James, but to hover about 200 meters above the basin. 
Now the black and the purple crystals moved in the same nature as their predecessors to hover before and behind his head; now his mind was in the crystalline crosshairs. A visible corruscation of the crystals’ respective colors filled the square around his head. Each quadrant represented the infusion of a different attribute into his body. (1) Though Michael’s lips didn’t move, his voice came from the orb. This time there was, instead of an unafflicted tone, moxy in his voice.

“Let’s do it, James.”

Although there was the subtlest smirk to match on his face, the Bastion’s feet didn’t move. The sunlight splashed enchanted hues across his face, quadrilaterally divided into the colors of the crystals; but he didn’t step forward. His reputation certainty appeared to have preceded him here.

Instead he tucked his thumb into his left fist, hanging naturally next to the end of the hilt that protruded from his sash. Without anything seeming to have gathered there, Michael flicked his thumb at the Master Knight and a coin of golden light shrieked through the space between them in 6.05 seconds. Unaddressed, it would zoom right into his solar plexus. Upon impact it would feel like a strongman’s uppercut to the Daemonslayer’s immaculate armor. (2)

These days, unlike the last time Eredas saw him, the crystal that had once been embedded in his eye now hovered freely. Instead of him being in control of its sight enhancing capabilities, now the master war AI known as Victory controlled it and projected the schematics into a small fragment inside his head. Today, as the coin of light devoured the space between them, Michael watched with blue eyes gilded with sterling experience; gilded with intention.
 

Spoiler

1) Prep: infuse crystals

2) Quickdraw attack: shooting coin of light (241 mph)

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As James closed in on Michael at a brisk pace, he caught the glint of light from his fingers. The Daemonslayer didn't know what the Peacekeeper just threw at him. All he had to know was that glint of light likely wasn't anything beneficial to his health. For a man of the battlefield, that much was enough, James reflexively spun his spear forth in both hands in a center grip, creating a barrier of whirling steel to deflect the projectile and send it flying wide, assuming that it did have such a mass.

The maneuver done, James halted, smoothly slipping into a stance as if to throw, with his right leg back, spear held in his right hand pointed at Michael, with the way forth guided by his left, pointing right at him.

"Powers already? No stomach for getting your hands dirty, Peacekeeper?" James called out to his foe.

Spoiler

Prep: Physical Attack Prep

Quickdraw: Defense with spear

 

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The node of light in the center of the valley didn’t move as Eredas passed beneath it. In fact, besides flicking the bean of light and a wan smile, neither did Michael. Although he was only twenty-three years from Gaia’s womb, Michael held himself well. It wasn’t with uncertainty or overcompensation. His half exposed torso was mostly toned, but the gentleness in his diplomacy shone in his posture. There were 30 meters between Eredas and Commager when the Master Knight swatted the light aside. Still though a gentle chuckle succeeded by his voice came down from the point of light now above and behind James. 

“This is a neverending thing! I have to pace myself, Mr. Eredas. Just feeling out the waters.” Now, as Eredas leveled his spear, the parallelogram on Commager’s abdomen illuminated and he set his feet. His eyes narrowed as he staggered his loose fists before him. It seemed, even at this distance and with Eredas' ranged weapon, that Commager was refraining from arming himself.


“Sir, crystal infusion at 30%.” A quiet feminine voice updated Michael. (1)


Though he was not armed, it appeared that in a moment of red light he would be armored like his opponent. It wasn’t a Sailor Moon montage by any means, but the dragoon armor emerged from the plate efficiently and quickly. Frilled in crimson light that seemed to respond to the crystals above his head, the obsidian grew outward. Like obsidian glass, the abdominal plate poured into the chest plate, chainmail spilling into the spaces beneath his arms, grates of armor sliding from front to back to cover the spaces between and beneath his ribs. Two armored pleats fell from the hips of the sash, thick black slacks extending beneath the white. Oddly enough, though, Michael’s calves and feet beneath the armor remained bare. (2)
 

Spoiler

1) Gathering Prep: crystal infusion

2) Summon armor

Stored preps: 1

 

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Well that was something. James knew many who had summonable armor. All possessed great magical power, or great wealth, or both. As advanced as his wargear was, the Daemonslayer still meticulously cleaned and polished his own armor, and maintained it diligently. 

He seemed to relax his pose, planting his spear into the dirt at his side as he held out his left hand, a flame forming in his palm. "Perhaps I should let you finished getting dressed then? Fine armor. Shame it won't help you much"

He only seemed relaxed. James was building up power himself, evidence of which was even the simple display in his hand. He remained ready to spring into action at any moment. But perhaps he should be sporting.

Spoiler

 

Stored Prep: 1 Physical Attack Prep

Gathering Prep; 1 Powers Attack Prep

 

 

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Sir, came the pleasant buzz in the back of Michael’s head. Judging by its interaction with the light projectile, that spear appears to have magic bouncing augmentations.

Wonderful.

Michael was already grinning his leftward grin, so there was no shift in his demeanor. His patience had mounted alongisde a tempestuous mental and physical severity in recent years to create a man who embodied both incredible calm and the monstrous storm to come. Early on it had been perhaps deniable, but now the four-part glow on his face shone with increased brilliance since the crystalline alignment’s fulmination.

Michael didn’t speak, only smile down at James— Eredas coming up the hill providing him the high ground— as his armor took shape and he tucked his thumb back into his fist. Indeed there would be few, if any war stories traded here. It wasn’t a lack of respect that dictated it, just focus.

Now the armor was fully formed around his upper body and skirted at his torso, the slatted helmet closing over his mouth and creating a subtle, pointed visor over his eyes. Four beams of light plunged from each point of the square into the ground, light illuminating the four faces of a square column that consumed the center of Michael’s body in lights of different colors. Only his arms and legs, and the sides of his torso were visible outside the construct.

On the face before James was an obsidian black mirror. The face of the square column to Michael’s right, to James’s left was purple. The one to the back was red, and lastly the one facing to James’s right and Michael’s left a darker, warbling red.(1)

From behind and above James, the orb of light finally vibrated with Michael’s voice. 

“You don’t have to wait for me, Master Knight. My hands are clean for now, but I aim to kill and I expect the same from you.”

This one was harder to see than the last, Michael’s body largely concealed by light, but another coin of solid white blazed from his flicked thumb through the space between them. This one was aimed for the hip on the same side as James’s hand that wielded the spear. (2)

 

Spoiler

1) Gathering: Crystalline Construct completion.

2) Quickdraw attack on James

Stored: 2 crystal preps

 

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James shook his head slowly, the smile on his lips fading away. "If I fought to kill, you would already be dead"

Darkness was no obstacle to the Daemonslayer... and neither was light, he whose unique bloodline and powers granted him the often under-valued ability to peer through what might have blinded others. In contrast to his words, the Daemonslayer’s response would have been deadly if it struck home. James threw himself to his right, twisting around and dodging the latest projectile neatly as even as his hands brought his spear back up, hurling the weapon in response with venomous force.

The spear’s sheer mass and special, piercing properties would make it harder to defend against directly, but James had  no illusion that the Peacekeeper could deal with it. Instead however, it allowed him to close the distance as he dashed forth to get closer, moving at a blistering speed despite his armor, or perhaps because of it. As ornate and elaborate as it was, an experienced eye could tell it was built more for freedom of movement and agility then sheer protection, and the Daemonslayer himself was a physical juggernaut, deadly and unyielding even without any powers. 

Spoiler

 

Stored Prep: 1 Powers Attack Prep

Quickdraw defense: Dodge. Advantage vision.

Prep attack: 1 physical attack prep

 

 

Edited by Fierach

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Michael’s face was shrouded in multifaceted light, the blue glow creeping in from his eyelashes as the construct imbued him with its light. It filled him with its power, even provided a magnifying glass for it. Even though James couldn’t see through it, the Commager behind tilted his chin up in response to the quip, the obscenely confident boy looking down his nose at Eredas. His grin remained. 

The second James threw himself to Michael’s left, the column rotated to follow him with its black face. From it shot a black image so strikingly like Michael it would appear the Peacekeeper himself had fled from the face; but no, simply an afterimage of black raced past the inside arc of the spear, aiming to tackle James and wrap its arms around his neck. (1)

As the two blows traded like lightning, their exchange began. Despite the quite solid appearance of the column, colors only beginning to fade hundreds of meters up, Commager was utterly unhindered by its presence. He danced expertly three swordsman’s steps to his right, hands at his hips, so that Eredas and he had moved diagonal one another.(2)

“You ever fuck a deaf woman, Master Knight?” chimed Commager’s voice from the bulb of light. 

Now, as his feet set and the conversation/battle began, the Bastion laid its left hand across the rightward switch. Dragons of green and gold ribboned out from the point of contact, twisting around hand and switch. Mike had never been one for grunts and growls in lieu of talk, but on the battlefield he was not to be mistaken for anything but ruthless. (3)

Spoiler

1) Expend one prep: stalwart

2) Quickdraw dodge

3) Gather prep: light

Stored preps: 1 Crystalline Construct

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Fast. That was James's first impression of Michael's projection.

His second impression was that even so, it just wasn't fast enough. Though he was caught out having just transferred his spear to his right hand for throwing, the Daemonslayer did not miss a beat, instead lashing out with his left hand with a fierce straight into the center mass of the oncoming projection. His would strike first, for it was not only the direct path, through the arms attempting to throw themselves around him, but he had a subtle extra advantage of reach.

For as his punch neared the apex, a surge of energy rolled off his fist, manifesting as a brilliant short-ranged detonation of crimson flame, a powerful double-strike rolled into one blow. Had it been Michael himself there, he might have been sent flying. The projection would not fare any better, although it stopped him from throwing his spear. It seemed Michael was using his ample ranged abilities to try and mark and constrict James’s movement.

"Not interested in the disabled. I apologize, if that’s all whom your charms work on"

Ruthlessness took many forms, it was not just savagery or merciless in combat. Until the Peacekeeper got into close combat with James, the Daemonslayer would have to content himself with some verbal shredding instead. The air seemed to grow leaden, and his very presence in the world seemed to swell, evidence that he was welling forth more power for the fight. If the projection had not been shattered by his counter-strike, but knocked down, he'd make to lunge and destroy it with a stomp to the head. If not, James would simply advance again at speed, his spear at his side.

Spoiler

 

Prep (counter)attack: 1 Power Attack Prep. Advantage, reach. 

Gather Prep: 1 Powers Attack Prep

Quickdraw movement or attack

 

 

Edited by Fierach

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It was all just a show. Commager’s dance was so practiced it seemed too perfect; he remained upright, hands at his hips and ready to act. Just behind the black image, the crystal Motra emanated a wave of concussive force.

Indeed, ruthlessness wore many faces. While the image of the Wielder’s smile was in itself friendly to James, it implied intimacy with certain degrees of… deviance. And now within the light column, his entire face and neck, and the flesh crawling down his arms and exposed legs, were consumed with white light. Within the white light swirled patterns of blue and red that made the blazing form visually painful even to behold. In this battle configuration, an unfortunate situation, James couldn’t see the winning grinning Bastion; but he could certainly handle the projection. James struck an undeniably forceful pyrotechnic blow and the clone sprayed apart in liquid form. As soon as it was turned to liquid, much of it rendered vapor by Eredas’ flameful reproach, the concussive wave hit. This blew the cloud of black, infectious smoke and vapor in James’ face exactly one second after the image was destroyed. 

Even as the Master Knight spoke, the black smog was upon him and he would feel the decaying effects of The Stalwart Crystal across every inch of ventilated flesh. It wouldn’t kill him by any stretch, but it would crackle his throat and lips with dead skin and create open lesions on his face and neck, the areas most open to the outside air. It might even eat away his eyelids, blind him if he didn’t act fast. (1) This descendent of Gaia against whom he faced off utilized Valucre’s entire life cycle when fighting, even decay.

“You limit yourself, James!” projected Michael’s voice, the light orb bobbing and hovering lower animatedly, so that its voice could rise over the din of battle. There was no arrogance in the voice, no attachment to the crystal-imbued Michael sending images itself. Even now, on uncertain and uneven ground, it seemed genuinely amicable. “I met one in a hazy trip to Valuriyam, and let me tell you: when one of the senses is missing, it only multiplies the passion that can be elicited from all the others.”

As the light orb moved, so too did the figure in the column. Eredas wouldn’t have to fight closer to the Peacekeeper, for Michael was coming to him. The one shrouded in a column of light and the orb from the skies zoomed for James at the same time. The first drew the switch, and from the point of brilliant contact between hand and switch flashed an incomprehensibly white sun of light. Everything became white in that moment and the column’s faces all opened. Michael pointed the switch directly for James’ right hip while the bulb of light came to hover directly over James’ head. (2)
 

Spoiler

Expend one prep: Crystalline Construct, Motra. +1 Advantage, Area-of-effect

Quickdraw: stab

Stored preps: 1 light

 

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Michael fought like a daemon, with underhanded tricks at every opportunity, a ceaseless barrage of attacks, both direct and indirect.

Luckily, James was Daemonslayer. He was ready for anything.

He sensed the emanation from the crystal, becoming more familiar with them now as they continued to be in use. Manifesting his aura visibly now, a thin layer of flame ignited itself around James's form, creating a defensive film around him, searing away and purifying the corrosive vapor as it was blown into him. It protected him from the worst of it, and what did pass through irritated him with dryness, paleness and an unnatural touch of weariness, but it was not enough to seriously debilitate his hardy constitution. Poison or debilitating gases were a common enough weapon employed by James's enemies, and when lacking more mundane countermeasures to use, he relied on his indomitable aura and innate hardiness to protect him. A more focused attack would breach his aura with serious consequences of course, but a sparse cloud would not, nor would James be staying in it long enough for it to eat away at him regardless, as he kept moving forth, growling. 

"I imagine you've never told Lady Shanti of your proclivities then!?"

As before, the light proved no true obstacle for James's enhanced sight. Putting his left hand back on his spear, James executed a quick pinpoint counter from his right hip, left foot forward, using the length of his weapon to slash into Michael's oncoming switch hand with the spear tip, to wound and redirect it. The Master Knight's aura seemed to intensify in response to the ensuing clash in melee, continuing to draw out power. His footwork paused for only the smallest of moments whilst delivering the strike, but now he was about to show the Peacekeeper what he was truly capable of.
 

Spoiler

 

Prep Defense: 1 Powers Attack Prep. 

Quickdraw (counter)attack. Advantage length.

Gather Prep: 1 Powers Attack Prep

 

 

Edited by Fierach

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There was only silence in response to James as the node of light zoomed in on him from behind, because what came next must be a tidy little secret.

The exchanges boomed past one another almost instantaneously. Had either man been facing off against anyone else, the opponent would likely be dead. Either’s knack for quickly grasping the unknown was uncanny. As the thick smog and bright light coalesced around James, even his masterful sight would blur in the offsetting amalgam while Michael approached. Three factors to one, his sight wouldn’t stand unhindered as the younger warrior lunged in.

Not a demon, not an evildoer, but an unstoppable razor of Gaia’s light with a nasty bite, Michael came in on Eredas, his stance and switch feigned forward too perfectly; too purposefully. Just before the spear hit Michael’s wielding hand, his crystals flaring with light that would permanently blind some in futility against James, Michael released the switch with the hand James targeted. Simultaneously, Michael’s right hand shot up and grabbed the rod of the spear with his right hand as his left hand repositioned with deft speed and skill. As the left hand moved as if to uppercut Eredas in the chin, the right instantly jerked the spear so it’s wielder would be forced toward the moving left hand. Since James had placed his left hand on his spear, lunging for Michael’s left hand and exposing his left shoulder, when Michael jerked with his right hand it would bring James’ face almost directly into Michael’s left fist with devastating economy of motion on Commager’s part.

A perfect line of light zinged into existence with heavenly intent from the node of light behind James’ head down to Michael’s approaching left hand. There was no uppercut, but instead a sword of light that would enter the back of James’ neck, or the nearest space above his armor, and exit his throat to connect with Michael’s wielding hand. All this planned, almost instantaneous after James’ decision to lunge his spear for Michael’s sword hand, would resolve with the Bastion's sword of light piercing Eredas’ throat before the switch even hit the grass, before the man's power was ever seen swelling. As the blood undoubtedly spilled from his opponent, the light dispersing in sparkles around him as the crystals devoured and gathered the light up themselves, Michael’s lips finally moved. His hand presumably still holding the sword lodged into Eredas’ throat, he did a hip thrust to accentuate his words.

“Shanti knows all about my proclivities. She knows about them all night long.”

No, Michael was a daemon of no sort but perhaps Gaia. The Daemonslayer had no domain with monsters of his ilk.

Of course the words and the motions would be nothing without true assurance, so he did none of them until and if Eredas was impaled on his blade; if not the summoning of Michael’s blade and his right hand as a point of leverage on Eredas’ spear, knuckles whitening, were the latest absolutes to work off of.

Spoiler

Quickdraw dodge

1 Light Prep Throat Stab + 2 Advantages: Sleight of hand and Leverage

Gather Prep: Bull Ring

 

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