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Everything posted by Blurble

  1. Nope, it was not. I said I'd have 40 chapter and an epilogue then I said that actually it would be 41. So that's something like 1 and a half to go.
  2. Yeah, Lydia was pretty explicit about not giving a rat's tail about Edward. Remember the part where she banished him from the kingdom? Maturing isn't something that happens all at once. Obviously Mel and Edward didn't just magically turn into extremely mature responsible people. They're taking baby steps. But I disagree about them not maturing at all. There's progress that they make. Edward might have been a bit of an idiot leaving the kingdom in Lydia's hands. And that is mostly because he never really appreciated what being prince meant. He just saw it as a burden, he was too immature to accept the responsibility. But then that more than anything else is proof that he grew because his perspective on that is CLEARLY different by the end of the game. He shows a much more explicit change in attitude than Mel does. Mel is much, much more reluctant to open herself up to people. But you can tell that she's slowly changing that too, starting with Edward and working from there. It has its ups and downs- after the beginning of TLO (and in my opinion as a response to her grief and disappointment over this even if she doesn't openly acknowledge it) she has a major regression, retreating back almost to her early LOT-self. Again, though, I think that's a response to what happened. Even thought when describing it she claims not to have cared I do not think Mel is honest about her feelings at all in fact I think this is explicit in canon. In any case I suspect TDP is going to be the big moment for her. (As a shipper, though, I desperately hope her "moment of self-sacrifice" does not involve her giving up being with Ed. That would deeply, deeply tick me off.) Wow, I disagree with practically every aspect of your analysis of the characters. Mel was a thief out of necessity- not exactly "out of control", that implies a kleptomaniac or something. And she's a thief for a tiny fraction of the series. Ten minutes in she's already practically retired- training to be a spy, remember? As for raging, I'm not sure if that was intended as a intensifier of "out of control" or if it was meant as another personality trait, in which case I have no idea what you mean, since other than in regards to nobles Mel doesn't lose her temper ever, and even with nobles she has one small outburst at Ed from which she is quickly conciliated, and an ongoing feud with Lydia for which anyone could be excused. Edward: I guess he's rich, although I'm not sure how it's relevant since it seems to all be tied up in his college funds (I didn't exactly notice him helping monetarily on the quest). Stuck up I cannot think of a single piece of evidence for. He gets tired of people sucking up to him as prince, if that's what you mean- but wouldn't stuck up be expecting people to suck up to you? He's the kind of person who actually feels relieved and happy when people (aka Mel) treat him with less respect. And certainyl he's constantly the voice of "be nice, help people" throughout the series, which doesn;t impyl stuck up ("C'mon, Mel, we have to help them!" "No, Edward, we don't." "B-but... *puppy eyes*" "Ah! Stop looking at me like that! Fine, I'll help them!" ...that's half the dynamic of their relationship right there). As for dumb-at-times... I guess it depends on what you mean by dumb. Short-sighted? Sure. He's a teenager. He makes stupid mistakes. But I actually got the impression that IQ-wise he's pretty intelligent. (Just... a trifle overconfident. See "makes stupid mistakes". And I really don't think that's a crime in a teenage character. It reflects a reality.) Lydia: Egoistic? Sure. Spoilt? Definitely. Obsessed with Edward? Uh... no. also, sorry for the super long rants. I... kinda really adore Ed/Mel. -cough- So. Merged Post. ~Mopiece
  3. I like Mel for her flaws! Including her selfishness and judgmental-ness. It's not as if she hasn't been maturing and expanding as the games progressed. She's not selfless like Rhen. She's not Ean, either, who's not exactly selfless (he whines occasionally) but does seem sometimes to... lack a spine? I dunno. I forgot most of the characters from Av2 because they all bored me. There's something refreshing about a main character who doesn't automatically leap at the prospect of a side quest, like most RPG characters- you lost your wallet? let me find it and return it to you! your daughters keep disappearing? oh, that's a problem, let me solve that for you (hello, rhen darling, you're kinda supposed to be SAVING THE WORLD. I love you anyway but seriously 9_9) Simultaneously it's not like she's just completely amoral... she has her priorities, she also has her principles... As for the inverted-snob business. Yeah, okay, I found that... a bit exaggerated and cliche. So I had to make up a rather terrible backstory to justify it. By the time I was done I rather understood exactly why mel felt that way, pity it was all in my head, not canon (she escaped from an orphanage- inherently implying something that needed escaping from. I just made the orphanage be run by really, really cruel nobles, tada.) As for the facesets- okay, there I totally disagree. I adored the facesets in 3-1, 3-2 (the new ones in 3-3 disappointed me by not being similar to 3-1, 3-2). For example I think this was the best Te'ijal, art-wise, of the three faces we've had of her so far.
  4. I know they saved the world and all that, but they've been practicing magic for at most a couple of years. It would be a bit much for them to win, no? @sandstorm: You won't get to see Sirona bashed, I'm sorry. Not that I didn't desperately want to bash her some more- I wanted her to at least get it rubbed in her face that Rhen is a very good swordsinger- but it just... Look. Sometimes there are annoying, immature, wrong-headed people. And you wish they'd have this sudden awful moment of realization that they're annoying, immature, wrong-headed. But they won't. And it's better for Rhen to just move on and be happy that she's being successful than to mull over what a b- Sirona was. Which is to say, I felt like an encounter with Sirona might be enormously satisfying for me as a writer but it would make Rhen into a lesser person. Nor would it have flowed well with the plot- Rhen had already moved on. No Sirona. As for Dameon...
  5. Something was trickling down her cheek. It was annoyingly ticklish. Blood? No, too cold. She reached up to wipe it away, but someone stopped her. “Don't,” whoever-it-was said. “It's covey balm. You're still recovering mana.” She sat up, and a wave of dizziness washed over her. She wasn't in the arena. She was in one of the side rooms. So this meant she must have lost then. Oh well. He'd probably not her live this down, but still... “Best person to lose to, I guess,” she said out loud, shrugging. The shrug sent painful little tingles down her spine. “Hmm? Who would you be referring to?” a rather familiar voice said. She turned, and saw Lars sitting up in a bed rather like hers. “...Why are you here?” she asked, confused. “Same reason as you,” he said, and laughed at her befuddled expression. “We both hit the ground at the same time, the judges can't decide which of us went first.” “So... we tied,” she said, slowly. “Apparently.” “That sucks.” “Only a little,” he said, grinning. She grinned back. “Now what?” He was spared having to answer by the arrival of a rather harried-looking attendant. “You can sit up? Great! The awards ceremony is starting any moment now, please hurry along, please hurry along...” They were half-pushed, half-shoved out the door and into the open air. The sun had nearly set, and the arena was lit by countless glowing paper-lamps. They were led into a raised stadium-area close to the Empress's box, which was brightly lit beyond the rest of its surroundings, positively glowing. They sat and waited. And waited. The Minister of Defense gave a long speech extolling the Empress, the competition, the fair, and the empire's sorcerors and swordsingers. Then the Ministry of Finance did pretty much the same, although his speech involved a few lame attempts at humor. When the Minister of Agriculture got up, Lars groaned. “They can't possibly be having every minister in a fifty mile radius coming to talk, can they?” “Shhhh!” Someone hissed from behind them. The Minister of Agriculture's speech was delivered entirely in monotone. Five minutes in, Rhen was already struggling to keep her eyes open. “And with that,” he said, “I am approaching the end-” Rhen began to clap- “of my introduction.” He continued for a good twenty minutes after that. It was agonizing. When at last he had finished, the Empress stood up. A hush fell over the crowd, and Rhen, who had been dozing off, jerked awake. “Everything that could possibly have been said has... been said. So, without further ado... We'd like to announce the winners of the competition. Here they are, the top five- We'll start with fifth place and work up, shall we?” The crowd cheered. “Fifth place!” The Empress announced. “Sorceress Caly Avis!” Two seats over, a woman in dark purple robes stood up slowly. “I- I made fifth place?” She said, clearly in shock, as the applause filled the arena. The Empress talked about how impressive Caly had been for a moment or two before announcing that the sorceress would be receiving an all-expenses-paid luxury vacation to a location of her choosing, and free access to the Royal Library. Caly sat down, flushed with excitement. “Fourth place!” The Empress announced. “His Lord Swordsinger Aivan Regin!” The man who stood up looked rather less happy than Caly had, his sour expression strongly suggesting that he had been expecting to place a bit higher than fourth. He also looked rather familiar. “That's the person that attacked me!” Rhen whispered, in shock. Lord Aivan Regin was awarded an impressive sum of money that made him look bored. He sat down, but not before sweeping an arrogant glance over the other swordsingers and sorcerors seated there. Rhen met his gaze and held it. She'd beaten him, after all. She had no reason to look away. He sneered. Rhen stiffened. How dare he? But actually, now that she thought about it, she didn't care. She'd wipe that smirk right off his face, when she placed higher than him. “In third place...” The Empress announced, and Rhen waited expectantly, but it was some sorceror she didn't recognize. “In second place...” This was it. It had to be either her or Lars, now. “Sorceress Melvira Addens!” The Empress said. The name sounded familiar, and Rhen realized she'd heard Melvira being discussed in school. So she was someone pretty famous. “One of the most likely to be High Sorceress,” Lars murmured to her. It figured. But. Then she and Lars must have tied. It was possible, right? They'd tied the final competition... “Of course our first place winner practically needs no introduction,” the Empress said. Winner? Had she said winner? Or winners? No, it had definitely been winner. “His skill with swordsinging is exemplary, a shining example to us all. Sir Akai Verrins, you are presented with the trophy and Grand Prize of this competition.” She barely registered Akai Verrins standing up to bow. She was in shock. How was this possible? “Honorable mention goes to first and second place in each individual category,” The Empress continued. “In the box challenge, first place Sorceress Melvira Addens, second place Swordsinger Devis Edwidge. In the display challenge, first placw Swordsinger Akain Verrins and second place Sorceror Catlina Murcy. In the survival challenge, tied and therefore in no particular order, Swordsinger Rhen Darzon and Sorceror Lars Tenobor. Congratulations to you all.” She paused. “Of course, everyone who competed here today was incredible. Simply arriving at this competition required great skill. Some of the scores were so close... but, of course, we simply had to choose. It came down to some very hard decisions, and we respect the performance that all of you have put in tonight. The truth of the matter is, you are all winners.” Except for those of us who aren't, Rhen thought, bitterly. “We hope that everyone has enjoyed the magnificent display of skill and talent we've been privileged to witness today. The evening festivities will be beginning right about now. Please take care to leave in an orderly fashion through the clearly marked exits. he winners and honorable mentions are requested to stay for introductions with the Empress.” Around them people were standing up, stretching, brushing themselves off. “So we didn't win,” she whispered miserably to Lars. “I noticed,” he said, off-handedly, and then glanced at her expression. “Wait, you thought we would?” “Well, I-” She began. “Never mind. Forget it.” He stretched. “The evening festivities are supposed to be amazing. I wonder how long we have to wait here?” “Dunno,” she said. The evening wind was starting up again. Desert nights got cold quickly. “I hope it's soon,” she added. --- At last the attendant came to get them, and they were led inside to the Empress. “Good evening,” she said pleasantly, looking up as they arrived. “I see you came together.” “Should we have come separately?” Lars asked. “Not necessarily. The others did, but that has no relevance. In any case, as to why you've been brought here- firstly, of course, because I'd like to congratulate you on your exemplary performance, and to offer you your award as honorary mentions- a rare spell for both of you, from the royal treasury.” She gestured at two scrolls lying on the table. “And secondly?” Rhen asked, then felt immediately that she had spoken out of place. The Empress raised her eyebrows slightly but didn't comment. After a moment she continued. “Secondly, I desired to speak with all the winners for a few moments privately. No, no, stay- it's fine, I can speak with you both together.” She smiled. “I must say, it is rare to see a swordsinger and sorceror on such good terms. The current High Sorceror and Swordsinger have never gotten along, and they've encouraged the rivalry between the two groups consistently. Supposedly the competition encourages the two groups to improve.” Something about the way she said 'supposedly' made Rhen wonder what the Empress thought of this theory, but she felt too abashed to ask. Lars apparently did not. “And does it?” he said, meeting the Empress's gaze steadily. “Oh, competition is always healthy- complacency is never conducive to growth- but there's a fine line between that and a total lack of cooperation and agreement between the two sides at crucial moments.” There was silence. “I-is that all?”Rhen finally ventured, after standing there fidgeting for what seemed like a very long few seconds. “Well, if you want it to be,” The Empress said, lilting her head slightly. “Although I was expecting you might have some questions to ask. The audience with the Empress is intended as another reward, after all- a private audience like this is rather rare.” “Then- then can I ask how we did in the competition overall? Since we didn't place in the top five.” “Well,” the Empress said. “There's a slightly complicated answer to that, thanks mostly to the final contest. Protocol doesn't cover how to deal with a tie. There was one judge who wanted to give you no points at all, but most of the judges were agreed that seeing as you outlasted all the contestants it made no sense to give you less points than anyone else. So you received the standard skill and craftsmanship points, and the points you would have gotten for winning were split between the two of you. Were it not for your tie, it is possible that whichever one of you won might have placed, say, fifth.” “Oh.” Rhen said. “Still,” the Empress continued, “You did very well. Especially for your rather tender age. And youth can be an advantage, too- Youth, good skills working together, talent... After all I have to start thinking about who to appoint High Swordsinger and Sorceror, when the present ones retire.” “B-But I thought the position would go to whoever won the competition!” Rhen blurted out. “Now, whatever gave you that idea?” The Empress said, smiling wickedly. “I certainly never said that, did I? No, the present Highs have quite some time left to go... time enough for them to grow older, time enough for others to mature, as well...” She lingered just a moment over the word 'others'. Then she rose, with a delicate yawn. “And now I simply must prepare for my appearance in the Parade. It has been a delight meeting with you again, Rhen Darzon, Lars Tenobor. I regret not having had the opportunity to formally offer you my thanks, for saving the world. May the Goddess bless you and all your endeavors.”
  6. wait, what do you have against the av3 facesets?
  7. 1. I always go for the very latest guild he could possibly be in because I'm that obsessive perfectionist type who needs my characters to be THE BEST (okay, actually i download the all-guilds goodie so that my character is THE BEST) but in any case obviously that isn't possible canonically for Lars and since Lars is presumably a perfectionist like me... Time Master. Definitely. 2. I'm annoyed because my browser just crashed and session manager was supposed to save my session and it didn't. not cool, session manager. not cool. 3. no, this is not the last chapter.
  8. They didn't have very long to celebrate their new alliance. The main confrontation over in the center of the field had broken up into a radius of fights spreading steadily outwards. Almost immediately they were attacked from three sides at once. Back-to-back, they faced the attackers. Rhen slashed at anyone who came near, Lars handled long-ranged attacks. It helped that their attackers turned on each other almost as often as they attacked them. Rhen and Lars made their way towards the center of the arena, slashing and timestorming their way through the melee. Every so often the sword of radiance gave a healing bonus, which was helpful. Every so often it healed one of its targets, instead of cutting him. This was... less helpful. Lars usually took care of those incidents with a well-placed spell. Three spells exploded at once, casting a confusing cloud of magic. A swordsinger dashed up, taking advantage of the cover. Rhen swirled and around and stabbed him under Lars's upraised arm. “Got that for you,” she said, grinning. “Thanks,” he said. It was ridiculously fun to be fighting together like this. Years of practice together- before the competition, back when they were with the rest of the party going up against Ahriman- had made them a very good team. They coordinated flawlessly. Plus, of course, Rhen looked amazing when she was smiling in that slightly maniacal way, splattered with blood and wreaking havoc. Okay, also terrifying, but amazing. Lars cast one of the oncoming opponents- swordsinger? Sorceror? Whatever, it didn't matter- into a time portal. Anyway this was fun. The rush of adrenaline, the teamwork, getting out of the center of the arena had been unspeakably hard and not fun. But getting back to the center was mcuh easier with Rhen at his back- “Berries,” she said, popping some into his mouth. Oh right. He'd forgotten his mana was getting low. That was another thing having a fighting party was useful for. But the battle. The battle was fun. The opponents came in clusters, or one or two sneaking up or trying to pincer-attack, and Lars was too high off the thrill to really feel the growing headache of mana-drain, or care that his arms and legs were starting to tire. He wiped away the sweat from his forehead that was beginning to drip into his eyes and cast yet another spell. And prepared to cast another one, only there was no one to cast it at. “Um... Rhen?” He asked. “...I think we finished them all.” She said. “That or they finished themselves.” “...What? That's not possible.” “No, I'm pretty sure it is. I was paying attention.” “But-” “What do we do now?” She asked. “Um,” he said. It was a rather inescapable conclusion. He barely dodged as she turned and slashed at him. She steadily advanced, sword at ready, as he retreated, batting her away with his staff. She lunged and he toppled backwards, clattering to the ground- Clattering? He shuffled back, pleadingly, one arm raised. “It's not fair, Rhen, you know it isn't, I used up all my mana and I'm not a close range fighter...” She hesitated. He grabbed the Aquifolium Extora and drained it. “One sec-” she began, before he finished casting Riptide. Whatever she'd been about to say was drowned in the energy riptide. Funny that an energy riptide looked so much like real water. Pirate John had never appreciated this spell, though. He was already preparing to cast another spell as the magic cleared, but he didn't get a chance. A bright white explosion enveloped him and in a gentle, pleasant, tingly way he felt... all his healthpoints being drained. Slowly, pleasantly, with clenched teeth- it was so very nice, he could just stay and- he cast Cleanse. The giddy feeling dissipated. He felt woozy and weak at the knees. Rhen was smirking smugly. Also, she was brandishing a sword. Well, damn, he thought. He couldn't dodge in time. He couldn't dodge.... --- “You have got to be kidding me!” Rhen exploded, as the sword politely healed Lars of all his wounds. “You were down to your last 100 hp! I would have-” She backed away, as Lars advanced, magic crackling at the tip of his staff. “Not fair!” She yelped. “Completely fair,” he assured her. She had only enough time to cast a healing spell before the attack hit. But that was enough. She was still standing. And now he couldn't possibly have much mana left... could he? She took a swing at him. He dodged. She swung again and hit and barely managed catching the full impact of his next spell. It brushed against her leg instead, and suddenly it was shriveled and liver-spotted. She healed herself quickly. She could wait this out. He'd run out of mana eventually. He was pathetic at hand-to-hand combat. Another blast of magic hit her, and she healed herself. She'd have to survive first, though- all this healing was depriving her of a chance to strike back. Damn it, if she'd had the Sword of Shadows he'd be plastered to the ground by now. She struck back, weakly. Speaking of mana, it wasn't like she had an infinite supply either- she'd have to attack. Out of the corner of her eye she saw the other sorceror, crawling weakly to his knees. He was reaching for his staff- She cast a boot-slappin mara at the same time Lars cast Lightning Strike, and the sorceror gave a little moan as he collpased, again. “Thanks,” Lars said. “No problem,” she said. “Where were we?” “I believe I was about to toll the bell of death. For you.” “You can't just change the rules of reality so that you'd actually stand a chance at winning against me?” “Ha. Ha. You know that TimeMaster magic doesn't work like that.” “Of course not,” she said sweetly. “It'd take more than magic to make that possible. A miracle, maybe.” She cast Blade Waltz, he cast Last Hour. They both barely dodged. “Look,” he said, panting. “This could go on forever. But we're both running low on mana and hp... what's the point? Why don't we call it a truce. Declare it a tie. They can't force us to kill each other.” “Or,” she suggested, “I could beat you. And don't think I can't see you preparing to cast Riptide, Lars.” “As if I didn't notice you starting to do your stupid Waltz again.” The magic exploded. Neither of them had the strength left to dodge. “Ugh,” he moaned. “Not so stupid when it hits you in the face, is it?” “It's not like you look that great, either,” he said. He paused. “What?” “Well this is embarrassing. I just have enough mana left for Shock.” “Ha!” She said, triumphantly. “Never tell your enemy how much mana you have left! I have...” She paused. “Dammit.” “What?” He said. She grinned, lopsidedly. “Wanna make a go for it?” “Sure,” he said, magic gathering. “Let the best man win.” “Except it'll be a woman,” she said, staggering through the steps. “Slide thrust!” (Embarrassing A/n: No, I have no good explanation why at that point they didn't just physical-attack each other. I mean, yes, this is a magic competition so you don't get as many points for physical attacks but I didn't state that explicitly in the fic itself and also still. seriously. WHATEVER. let's pretend it makes total sense)
  9. (it does follow the general rules of sun magic, doesn't it? I think I mostly based it on healing characters' skills in general, though... thus it also has stat-ups...)
  10. but my nitpicky swings both ways! it includes praise! and helpful reconstruction! ...fine I'll go pick mushrooms. in a corner.
  11. re: seraphina: The way faces are implemented in Av2 and Av3 seems to me to be fundamentally different than Av1 (note how the expressions, for example, change) what I wish for is the same artist from 3-1 and 3-2 coming back... the transition in styles between characters was jarring in 3-3 but i don't want to switch over to the new face sets cause they're just not as pretty as the 3-1, 3-2 sets.
  12. ...shouldn't the first question be how many amaranthians even live in the same country? Or for large countries the same state/province/equivalent (which, okay, I'm actually suddenly curious to know... at least to know the highest amount- 3 in the same area? is that too large a number?)
  13. it's more scary when they starts sending spam from your account. we still don't know how my mother's account got hacked. but seeing as it was from an address I recognized, and all it said was "check out this link" and a link, I unsuspectingly clicked on it. Since then she's called to have the account shut down (since the link progressed to inappropriate messages that were being sent to EVERYONE in her address book) but that's scary.
  14. Blurble

    Facebook games

    I used to. Then one day I was like- I am wasting so much time on this. This is so pointless. And plus I got rather concerned about how much of my information these programs could access. Things came to a head when I found an app I didn't remember installing on my apps list, and it started spamming my threads. I removed every single app and contented myself to a purer facebook experience. lalala.
  15. There was no time to think. She had to fight off, without using any magic, three other sorcerors and one swordsinger that had approached in the time that she'd been dealing with the first one. Then she staggered to the side, weak and woozy, and whacked herself with her own sword. A light glow seemed to fill her. When it faded, she felt about a thousand times better, physically at least. Mentally she was still in agony. She had never been a healer. She had never fought healer-style. She had no idea what strategies to use and she was going to die and then she was going to be out and then she'd never be High Swordsinger and Lars would never stop laughing at her, ever. Dammit. “You stupid, stupid sword,” she hissed. She tried, once again, to call the sword's power into her, focusing the way she always did when she was probing for a new spell. Her nonexistent ailments disappeared. ...It wasn't like she couldn't see how, say, in a party of fighters this sword would be pretty awesome. But when fighting alone- She bit her lip and tried again. A faint tingling told her nothing had happene- Wait. Okay, she felt a bit stronger. She tried it again. Yeah, definitely a very slight difference- Agh! She didn't have all afternoon to spend giving herself tiny strength powerups! She tried, again, to focus all her inner calm in a very pointed manner at the sword's core of power, yanking, tuggi- WHAM. A blast of magic hit her, almost straight on. She tumbled painfully backwards and hit the ground with a loud thump. Pain burst like bright flowers of fire in her chest. She coughed blood. “Oooh... owww...” she whimpered. Only sheer survival instinct helped her roll herself sideways, aching ribs and all, as another blast of power came hurtling in her direction. She scrambled for her sword, which had slipped from her grasp. Through her headache she found the power, focused... A weak healing glow surrounded her. Much weaker than her previous attempts. It was hard to heal when she was hemorrhaging blood. She felt a sudden burst of admiration for Dameon, for being able to do this so consistently. She wiped her mouth and staggered upwards, to confront her attacker. It was one of the older swordsingers. She waited, dancing around him carefully, eyes locked- and then she lunged. He dodged easily and whacked her back with his sword, so that she had to bite her lip not to scream. He chuckled. It was such a nasty, supercilious chuckle. She felt the heat of the battle and the general fear and excitement cool into something like hate. “You seem to be a bit out of your league,” he taunted. She healed herself again, watching warily. “Pity no one taught you your place, slave brat.” Her eyes widened. “A swordsinger is the property of the Empress,” she managed. “And a slave should recognize that some are 'property' and some are 'of the Empress' and understand the difference,” he said. He was goading her. She realized that, somewhere in the back of her mind. He was goading her because he wanted her to make a mistake. But she was going to Blade Waltz him into the ground. She danced back, gaining space, and then stepped forward, back, the basic square-dance steps, the Sword obediently supplying power as it- it- she was already lunging forward, the last step, the sword swinging, whooshing down... with no power to accompany it. The blade waltz spell- and although it hadn't been her very favorite she'd used it enough to know it in her sleep- hadn't worked. She had only enough time to come to this realization when the blast of powerful close-range magic caught her, straight in the chest. Because it was so close-range, she wasn't hurled backwards. Her knees buckled underneath her. She couldn't breathe. The air had been knocked out of her, and the pain... the pain... She felt like she was about to black out. No, she knew that she was about to black out, and all she wanted to do was let it happen, let sweet unconsciousness take over, let some attendant heal her whole and let her watch, from the sidelines, as... as this smug arrogant little bastard gloated over his victory- as this smug, arrogant... as... the world had faded to a sort of hazy, painful white but she managed to tighten, just barely, the numbed fingers of her sword-hand and power flooded through her so fast she gasped, racing down her veins and bones. She lay twitching for a moment, as feeling rushed back into her. “I take it back,” she whispered, hoarsely, “you are a marvelous, marvelous sword.” The sword hummed in answer. She could hear the swordsinger approaching. Checking if she was dead. She lay still, breathing steadily. Just one more second... Just one more second... She staggered upwards, the power gathering, almost without needing to be gathered, and struck, as hard as she could, taking some small measure of satisfaction from the surprise in his eyes- As a bright radius of light exploded- The Sword of Radiance had only one attack spell but damn if it wasn't a marvelously effective one. ...and way too costly, mana-wise. He'd crumpled to the ground and was groping blindly for his sword. She jabbed hers down an inch away from his fingers and leaned over. “What was that you said about knowing my place?” She whispered, and if it wasn't the perfect comeback it still felt delicious to say, as she helpfully stabbed the last few health points out of him. “And that's for interfering with me in the second challenge,” she said, raising her sword one last time, and realized he was already dead. An attendant was hurrying across the field towards them, which was a sure sign. She retreated to nurse her wounds. She had barely any mana left and she had not fully healed. She fumbled at the drawstring of the bag of wild berries she'd been handed, spilling them out into her hand- When yet another burst of magic just grazed her. A white-haired sorceror was standing some twenty feet away, preparing for another salvo. Damn. She didn't have time to run all the way over for a physical attack. She didn't have enough mana for anything more than a firefly ballad. She started casting it as quickly as possible, but she already knew that it was hopeless. A barrage of bright pink sparks was headed her way. They looked deceptively harmless. She knew they must hurt like mad. They were covering too large an area to dodge. She winced in anticipation of the impa- Gate Exura! -ct that did not, in fact, happen. The universe bent into a sort of hole that the sparks vanished into. She blinked in surprise. “Are you okay?” Lars said, gasping for breath, as he ran up. “Um...” she said, a bit uncertainly. “Great,” he said. “Do you have any healing items? I was caught in a massive explosion, way back in the beginning, three royal sorcerors and a swordsinger duking it out, not pretty. I had to use all my elixirs just getting out.” “You had elixirs?” She said, incredulously. “I only got some bread and berries- oh right, you're a wimp. I forgot about that.” “Hey!” He said. “That's unfair!” Which reminded her. “Why should I give you my stuff? I thought we weren't working together,” she said. “To be fair to the other contestants.” “Oh, well sure, if this was like a puzzle-solving competition or something,” he said. “But this is a free-for-all battle!” She crossed her arms. He sighed. “I knew you'd be mad at me about suggesting we split up.” “Yes,” she said, frostily. “But you're thinking about this all the wrong way.” “Mhm,” she said, lips pursed. “We are by far the two best fighters on this field. Together, we would dominate.” “As usual you are cocky and arrogant.” “As usual you don't want to admit I'm right.” She had to smile at that. A mistake, because it let him know that he was winning. “C'mon, Rhen..” he wheedled. “You know you want to give this arena hell.” “...Yeah,” she admitted. She paused. “I should warn you, though. My sword's only attack uses an enormous amount of mana. And these berries?” She dangled them tantalizingly. “Mine. Get your own berries.” He stared at her reproachfully. She plucked one berry and placed it in her mouth, swallowed with great gusto. He stared at her reproachfully. She popped another one in her mouth. He stared at her reproachfully. “Okay, fine, you can have them!” She said, and sighed. “I guess I'll just do physical attacks. Again.” He grinned.
  16. I have all of two chapters left to write. I hopefully will be fine. And I'm always flattered to have new readers! (Especially since my chapter post looks so long and intimidating)
  17. I made some small tweaks. Slightly less narmy now. I hope?
  18. The hot, midday sun was beating down mercilessly on their heads, possibly trying to fry some eggs for lunch, when the last contestant finished, limply, his presentation. It had mostly involved wilting cacti and it had been painfully clear his heart wasn’t in it. When it was finally over, the empress announced- much to everyone’s relief- a break for refreshments. Vendors passed through the stadium crowds, selling snacks and drinks, but the contestants themselves were hustled off to a side hall- how big was this stadium anyway? It hadn’t existed the week before- and give proper food, set out buffet-style. “Did you have someone interfere with your display?” Rhen asked Lars, as she popped another piece of breaded chicken in her mouth. “Um…” He frowned, thinking. “A little… Not that much, I worked my way around it.” “Well, someone stopped mine. For a full ten seconds I was completely blocked,” she said. “Maybe because you’re not so good at display magic, it felt worse?” He suggested, carefully. “I… maybe. I dunno. It felt really strong, though. And vindictive. He frowned at that. “Anyone have a grudge against you?” “Not that I know of, no,”” Rhen said. “Unless you want to count that teacher I used to work for? It would be lame if she had a grudge against me, though. It was months ago.” “Is she even in the competition?” Lars asked. “Er… no. I don’t think so.” “Then it probably wasn’t her.” He was shifting, uncomfortably, from foot to foot. “What?” she asked. “Nothing, I’m just… thinking whether it might be a good idea not to stand together right now.” “Why?” “People are looking at us funny. It would probably not be a good idea to make ourselves targets.” “Oh, pfft-“ Rhen said. But when she looked around, she could see people deliberately avoiding her gaze. …Seriously? “This is insane,” she muttered. “Just a little, yeah,” he said. She looked at him. He looked entirely serious. She felt a small knot of misery curl itself up in her gut. “It's just that this is a competition, you know. So we should be... competing. It looks wrong if we don't.” He said, trying to explain. “But I thought we could at least- you know, support each other, work together-” “Isn't that unfair to the other contestants?” he asked. She couldn't really argue with that, although she was pretty sure there was a perfectly valid argument somewhere to use against him. She wandered off to eat her waffle by herself. Somehow it was less melt-in-her-mouth than sog-pathetically-in-her-mouth, now. ---- They gathered together in the field again. Someone jostled against her, hard. She nearly fell, but when she turned there was no apology forthcoming, just several people standing around, ignoring her. Well then. Their loss. It was not good policy, to act obnoxious in a room full of people who might very well be candidates for High Sorceror or Swordsinger. Unless of course they had already completely dismissed the possibility of her being a viable candidate. She struggled to keep calm and composed. She didn't need to get upset. She didn't need to... Her fingers curled into fists at her side. Oh, someone was going to get it. --- “The next part of the competition is perhaps the most fundamental test of all, shaking away all the pretense, all the formalities, a sheer test of skill and magic. As I speak, the assistants are handing out healing items- you will not all be receiving the same items, and some of you will receive none at all. The intention is to balance out those of you with higher HP, so that the next part of the competition will be as close to fair as possible...” The empress smirked. “Not like that really is possible.” She paused, to take a leisurely sip of wine. Rhen fidgeted, willing the empress to hurry up. It was maybe a bit rude to be mentally urging her monarch to just shut up already, but then, the empress had such an annoying tendency towards the overly verbose dramatic. She said in twelve sentences what normal human beings said in two. “Um, thank you,” she said, as an attendant handed her some bread and fruit. Oh right. Healing items. The attendant just nodded and hurried away. The Empress, in the meantime, had turned to confer quietly with someone at her side... “Where was I?” The Empress continued, innocently looking up. Rhen gritted her teeth. “Oh right. The next stage. The final stage. The idea is really very simple- a free for all battle. You are all armed and supplied. You can do whatever it takes to win. Last one standing- is the winner.” She paused. “We have a squadron of healers at ready. Once you die, you're out. We'll revive you and allow you to watch, but you are forbidden to interfere. And with that...” she shrugged, in a gentle, Empress-like fashion. “Begin.” --- For a fraction of a second no one moved. Then the arena exploded. It felt, like a moment, that everything was happening all at once, but then Rhen's brain began processing in slower-motion... there had been only three major explosions, really, and Rhen was in an area that was almost calm- She pulled back even further from the center of the arena. There was no point going against some hundred or more top sorcerors and swordsingers at once. She grasped her sword tightly. She was ready. She was rea- She whirled around, sword swinging. “Agh!” The sorceress- light blue hair, green eyes, Rhen barely registered it in her shock- staggered backwards and fell to the ground, blood oozing from her upper arm. “Oh god I'm s-sorry,” Rhen stammered. She was about to reach to help the sorceress up when she noticed a slight motion of the sorceress's shoulder. Some instinct- honed by countless, countless battles with Lars- made her leap back, as a whip of magic crackled through where she had been a moment before. The sorceress pulled out the wand she'd been hiding behind her back, and brandished it at Rhen, circling slowly. Rhen didn't wait. Time was always a sorceror's advantage. Another hard-earned lesson. She lunged, and felt the magic pulse through her, as the Sword of Radiance glowed with power- The jolt of the impact made her recoil, spring back, land tensely on bent knees... The sorceress blinked. Rhen paused, confused. There didn't seem to be any change... The cut on the sorceress's arm closed itself up and faded to nonexistence. Rhen stared. Wait, what? The sorceress smirked triumphantly. She raised her wand. Rhen's mind was racing. The Sword of Radiance... The Sword of Radiance was... Her stomach sinking, she realized the inescapable truth. The Sword of Radiance was a bloody healing sword. Or rather, not bloody. Which was rather the point. “Dammit Talia...” She hissed, inconsolable. “Prepare to die!” The sorceress declared, dramatically, fireball of power at the tip of her sword. Rhen slashed at her almost half-heartedly, watched her topple. Clearly not an experienced fighter. Probably specialized in display magic. What was she going to do now? She thought, staring disconsolately at her sword. She was doomed. Maybe.
  19. You're also helpign with Mel/Ed, don't worry =) ...and don't think of it as helping R/L. Think of it as helping me complete R/L so that I can move on to other things! See? Don't you feel better now?
  20. see? I knew it had to exist. thank you.
  21. this story is at the bottom of my list of priorities for this site (secret look at list: Uncertainty Principle, and Little Joys) so it may take a while. if you want to bribe me to complete it, you can write me a fic explaining why Lars knows Rhen's dress size. In fact. Heck. Can I start a contest like that?
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