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Owning and operating a nightclub meant you were the first one in and the last one out. Closing was tedious--correction, closing properly was tedious. Cleaning up after a night full of booze, drugs, and many other vices was very time consuming. Most of the time Ryker had help, but not tonight, as considerate as he had felt he was now regretting that decision. If uninterrupted, preparing the Club for the morning shift would take him a couple hours. So as soon as the last person stumbled out the front doors, he went to work, picking up every bottle and glass, disposing of them properly. Glass wear went into the sink behind the bar and bottles went into the trash. Once that had been accomplished, out came the washrag, wiping up the tables and bar top with a combination of bleach and soap. Then came the chairs, placing them neatly atop the tables. Last but not least, sweeping and mopping, which was probably the most time consuming out of all the other tasks. People were messy.

But before he could truly close for the night, Ryker had to enjoy a vice of his own. Taking a seat at the bar, he would withdraw a nicely rolled joint from his jacket pocket. Placing it firmly between his lips before lighting it. It didn't take long before a majority of the club reeked of potent cannabis, as plumes of smoke were exhaled from his nostrils only to forever linger. "What a night." A sigh of relief escaped him as his eyes slowly but surely glazed over.

@Voldemort

 

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At speed, Arthur had traveled after his first round fight at the Feast of Blades, following a vision bestowed in his dreams that lead him to Absalom. The mage flew across the land, standing atop his broom while he followed the various landmarks that he’d never seen before except for in his deep sleep. With the aid of his broom, the two-day trip on foot was covered in less than one, even allowing the black mage regular breaks to replenish his magic and enough time to make a hearty lunch of Cassoulet.

Much later that evening, the mutant walked the neon-lit streets of the arcology, meeting the odd stares from strangers with an eerie, predatory look of his own. His eyes staved off attacks as Arthur made his way through mysteriously familiar places. They were narrow pupils of the darkest black, set upon an ocean of luminescent orange. His wolfish irises were round and large, covering the majority of his visible eye though white sclera slightly peaked out from the outer edges of his eyes if one looked from a different angle. 

Turning down a particular avenue, Arthur entered the Fatal Seduction and followed the smell of cannabis smoke. As Ryker was spotted near the bar, the mutant was suddenly struck with the oddest sense of Deja vu. He knew that he’d never seen that man, and had never been in this building, and yet he felt that he had. 

“Hey,” the mage called out, getting the club owner’s attention. He dropped the rucksack and broom he’d been carrying onto a nearby table, undoing the golden chain that kept his black half-robes wrapped around his body like a cloak.  Arthur tossed the article onto the table as well, leaving the mage in an olive green BDU shirt that was open in the front and wore a white tank top underneath. The occult tattoos on his barreled chest lightly peaked from the low collar of the shirt. Below, the mage sported a pair of gray shorts and white sneakers. His animalistic eyes settled on Ryker and slowly began to step towards him, speaking before the club owner could tell him they were closed, “I don’t know why I’m here so don’t bother asking, but I’m gonna need you to tell me about that giant hole in your ugly fucking city....”

The mutant stopped as if considering his words and added, “Then when I call upon you, you’ll guide me there.” 
 

@Better Than Gore

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"Did Miguel lace me again?" Yes. It had happened on more than one occasion. Ryker's gaze fell upon the joint betwixt his fingers, contemplating whether or not it could have been tampered with. That was really the only possibility, otherwise there may have actually been someone in his establishment demanding to be taken on a tour. Ryker stared at it for a good moment or two before returning Arthur's stare. Then it dawned on him, it unfortunately wasn't some psychedelic experience, Arthur was real"Well, this is officially the last time I volunteer to close." Ryker sighed and shook his head in disappointment before taking another hit from his re-appropriated cigarette.  

"You must be referring to the Sarcophagus. It's supposedly ancient and alien in nature." Ryker made sure to express the word alien exaggeratedly with his hands. Or at least that's what all the stories foretold. Why they decided to build an entire City just above something so mysterious was still a mystery. He personally thought the Matriarch must have been touched in head to come up with such an idea.

"Do I look like a god damn tour guide to you?" Rhetorical question.

@Voldemort

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The mutant watched the other man, noting the look of dumbfounded confusion upon his features. He didn’t blame him, of course. He was a total stranger and had done nothing but talk nonsense since he arrived. As far as Arthur knew, Ryker probably thought he was druggie that he’d have to escort out of the building. That said, he wouldn’t have been totally wrong either. Unless Ryker agreed to guide him to the ‘hole,’ Arthur would have be escorted and by force. 

“It wouldn’t matter. Fate would have led me to you regardless of where you were,” Arthur replied matter-of-factly, not budging an inch as the other man spoke to him. The mage listened to the stranger, his eyebrows arching curiously when Ryker named the hole which had previously only existed in the dreams of the burgeoning clairvoyant. 

“So that’s what you people call it,” the mutant said, seemingly speaking more to himself than to the other man. He looked away for a second, staring off into the distance before returning his gaze to Ryker. “Why? Is there some king buried down there?” 

Arthur waited for a response to his question, but his eyes narrowed dangerously when the stranger asked a question of his own. “Yes, you look like the man who’s going to take me to Sarcophagus. Do the healthy thing and agree. Otherwise, you’ll have to call off work tomorrow to lick your wounds.”

@Better Than Gore

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Arthur spoke of fate. "Who are you?" Ryker added in before Arthur continued. It had been quite sometime since an outsider stumbled upon Absalom, let alone actually stepped foot inside. "Couldn't say, nobody has explored the entirety of the Sarcophagus and lived to tell the tale." At this point Ryker was just feeding into the superstition surrounding the crater, all anyone had to go off of was tall tales. Some believed an ancient alien civilization crash landed and inevitably died off, only for their technology and weaponry to be scavenged by those brave enough to step foot inside. There were many variations of the story, of course. Most believable was that the technology helped contribute to building their beautiful City.

"Now you're starting to piss me off." Ryker clenched his jaw. Taking a final hit of his joint, it would be flicked onto the floor and snuffed out via boot heel. "Tell you what, if you manage to beat me in say... hand to hand combat, I'll accompany you to the Sarcophagus." It was at that very moment that a shuddering chill crept up his spine. A chittering like noise broke the silence of their stare down. It was starving.

@Voldemort  

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“I’ve decided to keep my identity to myself for now,” Arthur declared in that same unbudging tone, not relenting even for a second. “If it’s any consolation, I don’t know your name either and you can keep it that way if you’d like.” 

Arthur paused for a moment, pondering on the revelations that Ryker revealed to him. The hole was the ruins of an ancient space-faring vessel, very much unlike the spelljammer ships fashioned in the plane he originally called home. The thought of it boosted the mutant’s thirst for adventure exponentially. He could barely contain his anticipation; the wolfish smirk and excited tremors of his body betrayed his otherwise calm demeanor.

His excitement only growing further when Ryker spoke his challenge.

“A little sport, huh?” Arthur replied with a deadly smirk, his eyes narrowing just before he burst into action. Before Ryker could reply, the mutant stepped forward with his right foot, stepping slightly offline so that his foot achieved the outside angle on Ryker’s left foot. Simultaneously, his right hand lashed forward in a jab-like thrust, but Arthur’s fist wasn’t balled up and his fingers were instead extended. The mage aimed to drive his index and middle fingers into Ryker’s left out. The attack wouldn’t permanently damage his newfound opponent, but it wouldn’t be what anyone would describe as fun either. 
 

@Better Than Gore

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Arthur closed what little distance they had between each other in the blink of an eye; Ryker had little to no time to react, so he let basic instinct take the wheel. Ryker needed to reopen that gap so he could act accordingly, so he preformed a go-to Muay Thai fundamental known as the teep, or front push kick. His forward right knee rose and the remainder of his leg lashed out, simultaneously moving his hips and shoulders backwards to add a little more oomph to the attack. Ryker's foot aimed to make contact with Arthur's abdomen. There wasn't enough force for it to hurt per say, but certainly enough to stop his momentum and leave an opening for Ryker to follow up if Arthur's advance continued. Assuming Arthur didn't reconsider his approach, Ryker was ready for him this go-round with a hand combination. Starting with a basic left jab.

@Voldemort

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The battle commenced and the mage was in the thick of it, his attempt at an eye poke eliciting an instant response from Ryker. Had Arthur committed to an attack with more oomph behind it, he would have found himself pushed away by his opponent’s teep kick. However, the best part of throwing a jab-like strike was its probing nature; he was able to pull back his attack as quick as he could throw it. As he watched Ryker follow the familiar motions of a teep kick, Arthur rotated his hips to the right, chambering his jabbing arm again and bringing his tucked left arm across the front of his torso. The motion brought his elbow and lower forearm crashing into the right side of the club owner’s ankle, deflecting Ryker’s kick to the inside and preventing it from landing on the mage’s abdomen. 

Arthur smirked dangerously, his hips rotating back to the left in a snapping motion that brought his lead hand back to the forefront. The mutant extended his right hand, his fist closed now and seemingly attempting to meet fire with fire. Jab against jab where the longer, faster jab would win. Ever the magician, however, Arthur was always looking to misdirect, obscuring his true motives. When the mage’s lead punch pulled short in a feint, Arthur back foot (the left) pivoted to the left, so his toes were pointed away from Ryker. Opening up his hips with the repositioning of his foot, the mutant lifted his right knee and leaned away, swiveling his leg sideways so it was positioned perpendicular to Ryker’s body. 

The move served two functions. First, Arthur leaned away from Ryker’s jab, outdistancing the attack (if the club owner committed to it) as he balanced on his left leg. Secondly, it allowed the mage the snap his suspended leg in a round kick towards the left side of Ryker’s face. Hopefully, the mutant would be able to snap his leg over top Ryker’s extended arm, aiming to drive the rigid bone of his shin into the opening on the side of his opponent’s face in a thunderous blow. 

@Better Than Gore

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Ryker had underestimated his opponent; an oncoming blow to the head made that pretty obvious, luckily for Ryker he would be able to absorb a majority of the blow by practically replicating Arthur's own technique. He wouldn't fully commit to the jab, the very second he saw Arthur's weight shift he knew it wasn't going to land, so instead of fully extending his attacking left arm he simply pulled back. Just in time too, as Arthur's shin collided with the arm, more specifically the forearm. This wouldn't stop the kick, per say, but it would absorb the brunt of it. It still hurt, a lot, and forced Ryker to stumble a bit to his right. Immediately circling, Ryker's right arm fired in the form of a stiff uppercut, aimed to connect with Arthur's exposed side.

@Voldemort

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Arthur grinned with an almost hungry quality when his shin landed flush against Ryker’s forearm. It wasn’t exactly what the mutant wanted but it was close enough. The mage felt the force he piled onto his opponent, and knew that blocking such attacks would prove more precarious with every subsequent kick. Pulling his leg away, it whirled back to its original position, touching ground and swiftly pivoting to the left. Arthur followed Ryker as the club owner circled, keeping his hands held high in guarding positions, and leaving his body open to attack. 

As the club owner swung his arm, attempting to ram his fist into his flank, the mage exhaled deeply and rotated his hips towards the right. He kept his left arm curled as it sailed horizontally from left to right, moving overtop the club owner’s attacking arm and aiming to drive his elbow into the opening at Ryker’s right eyebrow.

The sudden exhalation prevented the oxygen from being ripped from his lungs by the force of Ryker’s blow. Instead, a sharp pain was felt immediately upon impact, a bruise likely beginning to develop in the aftermath of his opponent’s attack. It didn’t faze Arthur, however, as he was more than willing to take a blow to the body in order to land a greater strike to the head.

@Better Than Gore

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Ryker's counterattack was successful; but it seemed that Arthur was always one step ahead of him, Ryker watched as his opponent swung his closest elbow up and over his own attacking arm and aimed to connect with his face. Elbows were extremely dangerous, but not in a traditional sense, they hurt of course, but they were also very sharp. A well placed elbow with enough force would cut more so than bludgeon. There was likely no avoiding it entirely; however, mitigating some of the damage was possible. Ryker rotated his hips with the follow through of his punch, allowing him to transition his weight onto his farthest foot and lean backwards, letting Arthur's elbow whiz past its intended target. Ryker felt the air between them displace as his opponent's attack flew by. It was if time came to a stand still, or perhaps it was just the massive amounts of adrenaline coursing through his veins. Ryker was in trouble and he needed to back his way out of the corner he had found himself in or it might end badly and soon. Upon feeling his punch connect and coming to the realization that his head almost got taken off for a second time, Ryker back peddled, aiming to create a small amount of distance between the two of them in order to reset. Assuming Arthur didn't immediately close the gap, Ryker took to a southpaw stance and awaited his opponent's next move.

@Voldemort   

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The response was seemingly instantaneous from the mutant. His athletic form bursting into action as Arthur’s elbow whizzed by his opponent’s face harmlessly. Arthur swung his hips back the opposite way, pulling his attacking arm to its original position. It wouldn’t end there, however. With his opponent retreating, the warrior mage only knew one response to such shameful behavior. Advance! As the mage retracted his elbowing left arm, the mutant switched stances in a flash, his left foot skipping forward while his right skipped back in a single swift motion.

Arthur transitioned into an orthodox stance, bending his knees as he landed in his new position. The choice of stance switching accomplished two things: it turned the black mage’s right leg into his power leg, and the bending of his knees provided a spring-like effect when Arthur leaped towards the retreating Ryker. Explosively, the mutant charged at his opponent through the air like a human missile. His hips turned to the left in midair and dragged his right leg across in a jumping switch kick. The blow was aimed to connect Arthur’s shin with the left side of Ryker’s head. Arthur wanted to hurt his opponent, hoping to surprise the retreating man with the titanic spurt of activity from the mutant’s fast-twitch muscles. However, if Ryker managed to lift his left arm to defend; Arthur was more than willing to test the sturdiness of his defense once again. With every kick, relying on such a defense became more and more precarious an option. 
 

@Better Than Gore

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Arthur was determined and was proving to be quite the formidable opponent. No matter what he did, Arthur had an answer. Ryker needed to play some offense, which seemed almost impossible due to his opponent's relentless assault. Perhaps it was time to put something into play that would turn the tide and save him from being knocked unconscious so early in their encounter. Ryker's jaw clenched as an overwhelming pain introduced itself, thankfully it wasn't from his opponent's kick, but instead what laid just beneath Ryker's surface. An ear piercing sound emitted from his body as skittering became noticeable once more, it continuously grew louder until Ryker's true potential was evident. Arthur's leg aimed to once again connect with the side of his head and would once more be blocked by Ryker's closest arm, but this time it was reinforced, by what appeared to be bone. It exploded from his arm and intricately weaved itself around the entirety of his arm until it was fully encased. Arthur's shin would be on the receiving end this time around as bone connected with bone.

Hopefully this caught Arthur off guard and would allow Ryker to advance. As Arthur's leg connected, Ryker would immediately burst forward aiming to collide with the Mage and topple him over. Allowing the force of his opponent's kick to adjust his posture enough to lead with the right side of his body. Ryker would likely end up falling with his opponent as they collided, from there his ground game could be implemented and he just might end up surviving for a little while longer. Of course, that was Ryker betting on the fact that Arthur's grappling was inferior to his own.

@Voldemort 

Edited by Better Than Gore

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The mutant’s shin collided with his opponent’s armored forearm in a thunderous display of force. Instantly, an almost electric pain rushed through his leg as his leg swung away from its target and the rest of his body returned to the ground. However, the pain (albeit sharp) was of a short duration as the mage’s rapidly beating heart rushed adrenaline throughout his body. Arthur was in his element and he felt as if nothing could stop him from pushing forward. Even if his opponent decided to push forward, as Ryker rushed the mutant and aimed to drive his shoulder into his body.

Arthur’s reaction was near instant when his opponent adjusted his body to lead with his right shoulder. His body shot low to the ground, his legs widening and his arms stretching wider than before. The mutant looked like a tiger on the hunt, prepared to pounce at a moment’s notice. And pounce he did! Arthur ducked underneath Ryker’s tackling body, and attempted to wrap his muscular arms around Ryker’s waist before clinching his hands in a s-grip.

If Arthur succeeded, he would immediately begin to try to lift Ryker off the ground, unbending his knees and heaving with all his might. Simultaneously, the mutant fell backwards as he lifted, finishing his sacrifice throw and revealing the truth of his technique. An Ura Nage. 

If his technique won the day, the mage would fall backwards onto his posterior and back. Meanwhile, Ryker would be lifted up and over, his rushing tactics adding even more momentum as he moved through the air in a parabola, likely landing upon his head and shoulders. 
 

@Better Than Gore

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