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Tournament Finale: Free For All

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  • And as though he had knowledge of Herc's pre-emptive defenses against his attempted ambush, Aariv changed direction, now beginning to burrow a path underneath Herc. First forming a ring underneath the plate before then digging his way to the center. However, Aariv paused before moving forward, as though he were apprehensive for the first time in his decision making. Unbecoming of someone like Aariv who was always thinking ahead, or had fast solutions.

    What am I doing?

    Aariv asked himself as he was stuck with his hands underneath the slab of earth. This was not his forte, the realm of pure unadulterated strength. This was the specialty of Benhail, of Hercules himself. Not of Aariv. But... he felt compelled. Half of his own volition, and half the puppet strings of fate themself.

    I'm left with no options. I cannot surprise him with deftly woven spells, or even through turning the entirety of this arena against him.

    The ground beneath Herc would begin to shift slightly, and ever so slightly elevate inconsistently. For every two inches it'd raise, it'd lower one.

    As the abyssal artifact in the distance shattered and as Aariv's eye returned to the mask. His returned eye glowed white contrasted with the other red one. Whatever it had witnessed out there, it had returned with it. A vision? A premonition?

    He could see himself, slumped and broken on a golden throne in the realm of the god of reality. Below him, a gathering of some of the most powerful beings in existence. Friends? Foes?

    The walls of the realm shattered, before it standing a being ageless from the cycles themselves. Its hand reaching in and taking all.

    Five knights kneeling as he could see his Mother rise behind them.

    Titus being consumed in the wastes of time by one of them. The Harbinger.

    Aariv being run through by his own mother, sliding down the steps to the throne and left to die as she takes the cycle for her own.

    Warmaster, standing side by side with Keidos as one of the Knights stepped forward. The Destroyer.

    The God of Reality, handing the queen piece from a chess board to Aariv. Mouthing an incomprehensible condition. But the King on the board is not in check.

    More and more the ground lifted from underneath Herc, Aariv began to gain ground from underneath. As though something abnormal was fueling this newfound strength.


    • Herc's Stone-Sense felt perfectly well where Aariv went, but Herc took no action. Aariv was still beneath the plate, perfectly under Herc's metaphorical thumb, there was no need to pre-empt the man. He would make his own move first, and then Herc would counter appropriately.

      When Aariv moved to the center of the plate, Herc was confused. He looked down with a furrowed brow, mumbling to himself. "He needs to blast through more rock from that position so what is he....."

      And then Herc felt it. It was subtler than even a thrown pebble on hardpack to everyone else, but to Herc's senses, it was as drastic as a volcanic eruption. It wasn't a clean lift at first, more a struggle that occasionally showed progress. But as time went on, the lift got faster, and higher. Herc flexed his hands, forcing the plate to dig into the surrounding rock and stone, to hold Aariv in place......but each time, the artificial brakes were ground away by Aariv's motion. Herc was slowly lifted with his plate and soon enough even the other fighters would be aware of the fact Herc's plate was moving, and decidedly against his wishes.

      "This isn't impossible, his brothers have done as much before......but this is Aariv, he simply doesn't do this! Where is he getting this strength from!?"
      A Shadow is merely Darkness in the presence of Light

      Thanks Kid Buu for this awesome sig!

      The Emperor Protects


      • On and on the plate moved further up. Underneath it, Aariv struggling against the limitations of his own body. Eyes closed and face noticeably heated. Body struggling to uphold the mass above him. Head weighing down as the plate begins to push down on his neck. Arms and legs shaking ruthlessly.

        The ground below Aariv gave way to an opening. Magma rising from the ground in the form of geysers. Coating his armor completely. And yet, his resolve to holding up the plate had not changed. From his palms erupted the seeds planted so long ago. Vines and thorns that snaked throughout the entirety of the mass of dirt and stone. This mass and Aariv. An extension of himself. Holding it up, protecting it against the magma from below. Actively protecting it through being the proactive first-line, rather than observing and passive from above.


        • Shigo Seikatsu's mind bent and contorted under the stress of his experience, the gravity and magnitude of his thoughts and visions crushing and condensing his many lifetimes of experiences into a blurred image of a man. He was lost.

          Where had he gone to? He wasn't sure. It wasn't the iridescent tunnels that led to a new experience... nor was it that feeling of rebirth before surfacing with new and yet old abilities and memories, with the lingering aftertaste of a life lived right before it. No, this was somewhere different altogether. It was frighteningly alien.

          Like a scared child being pinned down in the darkness, unable to move, frightened of what is holding him and beginning to suffocate, tears streamed down his face. His physical body was technically unconscious and yet the physical reactions that were drawn forth resembled those of someone who would still have their faculties intact. Such was the enigmatic split of his current condition. His body could only reflect the utter terror and confusion that tore through his... his, his, their, whose, what, where am I? What? Why, why, why, why, why, wh-wh-w...

          "Shigo, are you this scared to die? You poor thing. How you have lied to yourself."
          "Why is this happening to me? Please help me."
          "I can't help you, boy. I am you."
          "What? What is your name?"
          "You wouldn't know it. That's not important."
          "But I'm scared..."
          "Of what? Dying? I thought you'd done that before."
          "I mean... what is this power?"
          "One you shouldn't have meddled with. Now I have to get involved."

          The towering form of a man wearing a sash of striking purples interlaced with gold layered atop a snug royal blue robe not unlike something he had seen on ancient warrior-monks of one of his times stood above him. The man was as riddled with scars as Shigo... except they weren't scars. They were angular lines. They were almost etchings in his flesh where lines of great power not dissimilar from the kind that Shigo had combusted in the explosion moments prior. They seemed deeply fused into his body. Shigo did not know who this was who claimed to be him, and Shigo had never felt a greater force than this in his entire existence.

          "Are you ... were you inside of that thing?"
          He shook his head, an icy stare from silver, piercing eyes. "No. I detest repeating myself. I am you. Or rather a part of your soul. I am here to clean up the mess you've made."
          Shigo's sobbing form, having now truly become a small boy, free of his scars and his so-called wisdom rose to his knees, still shaking. "But... did I fail?"
          "You succeeded. This is unprecedented. In all fairness you did not know any better."
          "I still do not understand..."
          "It is not my job to explain your nature to you, only to act in my official capacity of jailer. I'm taking back my skull Shigo, before you really let things go too far."
          Shigo recoiled in shock at this statement. The skull had radiated dark energies of the most insidious variety ever since he laid eyes on it. Why had it followed him? He couldn't let this ... thing ... out. He attempted to struggle.

          "Enough." The man somehow removed space and time from between them with the blink of an eye and grabbed Shigo's head and clasped his temples tight as if he were draining the life out of him.

          And back at the tournament stage as Aariv and Herc battled it out and the restored being that was Abnar Plike reached his hand out to help Shigo only to be met with someone completely incapable of a response - a shell of an existence - a darkness swirled around them. A darkness that seemed more acquired or earned than darkness by nature. A force that awoke all the while something truly evil still stirred within the husk of Shigo Seikatsu.

          The energies quickly swirled around the skull that Shigo had earlier tossed to Ash and had been left sitting on a rock... as flesh began to reconstruct around it. Very quickly, two silvery eyes would pierce the veil of the arena stage and an arcane force would cause reality to silently shudder as the being manifested itself, focusing entirely on Shigo's emaciated body that seemed only capable of streaming tears down its cheeks and twitching.
          Brother! Your crusade IS OVER!!



          • Herc roared as Leyic energy raged around him, driving his fist into the rock, spikes erupting across the outer sections of the plate, following all the way down to where Aariv stood lifting it all. Aariv didn't do things like this, he was a magical caster. Not a brute like Benhail, who could match Herc for strength when pushed. This should be impossible based on all Herc knew of Aariv's capabilities. But then.....Aariv hadn't usurped the Odins before now had he? His old limits were no longer accurate markers.

            This was a new Aariv Leonheart. And as a Leonheart, he was adept at breaking limits.

            Herc smirked even as his eyes gazed into the stone. Stone-Sense didn't let him see as much as feel but after so much time with the extra sense Herc had learned ways to acclimate it into his base senses as well. He could see Aariv beneath him and through the plate, could practically feel like he was in front of him at a distance of inches instead of hundreds of feet. And he whispered to himself. "It seems you are full of surprises, old friend. Time to see what you can do......."
            A Shadow is merely Darkness in the presence of Light

            Thanks Kid Buu for this awesome sig!

            The Emperor Protects


            • Aariv yelled out over the popping and rumbling of the magma he was chest deep in. His tone of voice changing and showing a want to stop the fight altogether, and also one of incredulity. Despite the extra senses, it seemed Herc cared less for what was going on elsewhere on the battlefield.

              "HEY! INSTEAD OF CONTINUING THIS, WHY DON'T WE WORRY ABOUT THE ARTIFACT THAT JUST BROKE. THERE'S A RUSH OF UNNATURAL ENERGY EMITTING FROM OVER THERE RIGHT NOW. WE'D BE BETTER SPENT FOCUSING ON THAT!" Aariv would yell out as he would then shift the Earth over to the side just enough for him to leap out and land on his back, away from the earth bed. Breathing heavily.


              • Herc looked up at Aariv raising a finger as if to make a good point and opened his mouth.....and nothing came out. He shook his finger and turned to face Shigo as he spoke. ".......Yeah that's a good point."

                Herc flashed his hand out and Forge-Fire appeared in his hand again, raising it once more before coming down on Aariv's chest. "Smith's Touch. You are gonna need the extra energy, old friend."

                Walking forward, he settled into a defensive stance as he awaited Aariv to get back up fully. "Shigo always did imply something like this was buried within him. I hadn't expected it to come out now, nor did I expect it to be so.....robust in power. We are both gonna need to be at the top of our game if we are gonna handle this like we need to, Aariv. You haven't exhausted your magic reserves, right? Smith's Touch was never one to always recover fonts of power like that so I can't be sure it did this time either."
                A Shadow is merely Darkness in the presence of Light

                Thanks Kid Buu for this awesome sig!

                The Emperor Protects