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  1. #1
    Supreme Overlord

    EXP: 87,413, Level: 12
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    Level completed: 81%,
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    Max Dirks's Avatar

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    Name
    Max Dirks
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    Semi-Finals: Fanatic Knights

    Revenant v. Arden

    Round 2 will begin on 3/16 at 12 AM EST.

  2. #2
    Member

    EXP: 3,250, Level: 2
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    Level completed: 42%,
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    Arden's Avatar

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    Arden Janelle
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    The top of the food chain is a lonely place. For centuries, Arden Janelle had been an alpha predator, the hound at the head of the pack. No one in Scara Brae heard the name Silent Swordsman without a shiver running down their back. Try as he might, to turn a leaf and lend a hand to reshaping the world to be a better place for all he could never quite escape his past.

    “It’s a good day to die,” Leopold muttered under his breath to Arden’s left.

    The swordsman flinched, the pious words pulling him out of his reflective daydream. He scanned the horizon, a barren hinterland between the northern mountains and the southern woodland barony. No sign of the enemy raised his hackles. No hint of conflict moved his hand instinctively to the hilt of his blade.

    “I wouldn’t hedge your bets just yet old friend.”

    “You’ve heard the stories, right?” The merchant raised an eyebrow, trying to hide his growing sense of dread with an inquisitive expression.

    “You’ve never struck me as the sort of man that believes in fairy tales.”

    “Flaming demons, Arden. Flaming bastard demons here on our island.”

    Of more importance than the nature of their would-be conquerors was the rumour of whom lead them to war. It had been less than a year since the war mongered William Arcus had returned to the city and he and Ruby had given him a more than formidable warning to never return. He remembered the sun on his back and the stares from the other patrons of the quaint little tea room in which the bittersweet reunion had transpired. The smell of the furnace and the sound of hammers ringing as he had forged the man his trinket and bid him on his way a song of dread in his heart. He knew what that artefact could do, and yet it paled in comparison to the destruction the former captain of the Ixian Knights could unleash.

    “You stand amongst the finest men and women of the Scara Braen military. We will triumph here today and prove to the world that we are done being pawns in other people’s wars.” He didn’t quite believe his words, but they carried weight enough to ease Leopold’s worries. The merchant loosened up and continued scanning the battlefield through the green tinted lens of his steampunk marksman goggles.

    Behind the duo a thousand men and women stood stoic and lifeless. Statuesque, the Knights of Brae and the contingent of archers and pikemen at the rear fought against the rising darkness within. They had fought men and monsters metaphorically, cruel people who used blades to carve legacies in time. But to stand against true creatures, feral flame hounds and titanic ogres wreathed in conflagration…nothing could prepare them for this, not even the unbreakable, unshakeable faith in their duty. The growing silence was broken by the sound of vomiting and whispered prayers. Vows to defend the queen and return home safe to families permeated the dull roar of the dancing breeze that covered the plains ephemeral. Companions patted shoulders and pulled back hair until the line fell once again into a steel bulwark of defiance.

  3. #3
    Senior Member

    EXP: 113,151, Level: 14
    Level completed: 62%, EXP required for next Level: 5,849
    Level completed: 62%,
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    Revenant's Avatar

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    Name
    William Arcus
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    Revenant
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    “Insignificant worms, barely worth the effort to consume.”

    William glanced at Kharas, the armored monstrosity who’d titled himself “the Warlord of Blood.” True to his namesake, three lines of the stuff slithered across the vampiric warlord’s armored form and disappeared into the shadowy depths surrounding the man. The blood’s former owner, a withered goblin warrior, hung limply in Kharas’ iron grip. The creature continued its feeble struggles, despite Kharas’ claim, but no force it could muster could free it from the Warlord of Blood’s transfixing spikes. William watched without emotion as the goblin’s final defiance faded away to feed Kharas’ ever present hunger. Finished, the warlord simply dropped the husk to be trampled into the mud by the army at his back.

    “Fortunately the advance scouts report that the armies of this island have marched out against us and that we shall meet them soon,” Kharas reported. William grimaced. He knew well who it would be leading the men of Scara Brae against his cult fanatics and wasn’t eager to engage in that meeting. Circumstances had forced his hand in returning to the island nation that he’d only a year before sworn to never return to. And now he was not only coming back but had brought a small army with him.

    He’d tried to make the landing and advance as stealthy and with as little fanfare as possible, not wanting to rile up the island’s defenders. Cultists and demons alike had been practically frothing for bloodshed by the time their ships had made landfall so William had ordered them to disembark on Scara Brae’s southern shores, in the midst of the island’s native goblin tribes and well away from the island’s port cities. His hope was that the army could sweep in quickly, find and obtain what they were here for, and then depart without encountering much in the way of resistance. He had his honorable reputation to think about, after all.

    But the goblins had proven far more defensively capable than he had first imagined. The cult hadn’t taken any real losses to their number but their advance had been slowed significantly enough that news of their arrival had made its way to Scara Brae’s defenders. William found the whole ordeal less than pleasing.

    “They appear, Domnus,” Kharas said, his voice dripping with a wicked eagerness. Sure enough, the rigid lines of Scara Brae’s gleaming defenders spread out in a wide swathe across the valley as the lead elements of William’s army marched over the lower rise opposite them.

    “Shall I signal the juggernauts forward to advance positions?” Kharas continued, turning to make the gesture that would carry out the order before William could confirm his intentions. The revenant answered with a lazy backhand which didn’t quite send the hulking warlord sprawling but definitely knocked him off his balance. Kharas righted himself in an instant and snapped his gaze at his leader, twin points of cold witch light burning hatefully from the depths of his helm. Bloodstained hands twitched in anticipation as they reached for the hafts of the jagged axes hanging loosely from Kharas’ belt. Opposite him, William kept perfectly still, in complete control of himself, and stared the warlord down.

    The stalemate was broken by the braying roar of the siegebreaker beast at the other end of the column, a roar so loud that it shook the very ground beneath the two men. With that hideous sound the spell was broken and Kharas, remembering his place in the cult, tore his eyes from William and dropped his head in submission.

    “We will advance and conduct our lines according to your standard orders, Domnus,” Kharas said.

    “See to it,” William finally said, letting the tension flow out from between them. “While you do, I will ride out to see if their leaders will have words with me.”

    “A trap, my lord?” Kharas perked up, his moment of defeat forgotten with the thought of delicious treachery.

    William smiled in reply as he turned to stride out into the field between the two armies. He walked confidently and alone, but his smile faded as soon as he was away from his forced. He had no wish to see the defenders of Scara Brae gutted and consumed by the fanatics and demons as the goblin tribes of the south had so recently been.

    Perhaps Arden will see that this sacrifice is a better opportunity, he thought as he walked out in front of his lines. But he dismissed the thought almost as soon as it occurred. Knowing Arden, there was only one way this could end for the two armies. In less than an hour it would be likely that both sides would be drowning in blood and fire.
    "I have looked upon all that the universe has to hold of horror, and even the skies of spring and the flowers of summer must ever afterward be poison to me." - Call of Cthulhu

    David vs. Goliath: History's first recorded critical hit.

  4. #4
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    EXP: 3,250, Level: 2
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    Level completed: 42%,
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    Arden's Avatar

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    Arden Janelle
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    “You were right…” Leopold mused, scanning the horizon and the torturous array of shadows that moved against them.

    Arden wished he wasn’t. He had come to know William Arcus well during his time amidst the ranks of the Ixian Knights. His fiery moniker and demon hood were not just symbols of his strength, they proclaimed his temperament and soul to any who met him.

    “The man wouldn’t know subtlety if it slapped him in the face.”

    “I’d like to slap him with something a little harder than discretion.” Leopold stopped musing and set about firm, decision action driven by growing rage. Thoughts of his father came to mind, lessons on ‘fighting for what you own’ and ‘never giving up’. He wasn’t sure the old man had meant it literally, especially when there was no profit in it.

    “Oh, I thought we’d agreed?”

    “You really, really thought I was going to let you have him all to yourself?” The merchant raised an eyebrow.

    “He’ll tear you in half and leave nothing but ash.” Arden’s matter of fact tone put Leopold off. “No offense.”

    “Oh, non-taken.” He conjured his sabre from a purple whorl and summoned the shaft of his partisan into his other hand. He clicked it together and set the butt on the dancing grass. The breeze carried the scent of burning wood and scorched flesh, which did little to appease the nerves broiling in the ranks of the Knights of Brae. “Can I at least stab him before you do your…” He smirked. “Thing?”

    Arden tensed. Out from the battle lines of the would-be invaders strode an imposing figure clad in malice. The oni coiled around his heart writhed and raged, forging his resolve and clenching his fists into white balls. Leopold scanned the horizon for the cause of the distraction and grit his teeth when the lone figure turned into someone recognisable.

    “You may get your chance sooner than expected.” The swordsman raised a hand, a signal to tell the men and women behind him to hold their ground.

    “What the fuck is he doing?” Leopold’s Scara Braen twang echoed the sentiments of the knights, each one of their gazes transfixed on the creature as it approached. Though William was not always ablaze with his true form, everyone had heard the tales of ferocity clad in charisma. Of the traitor in their midst and what they had lost for his ideals.

    “I bet you a bottle of Radovan he comes to parlay.”

    “I’ll not waste good whiskey on that bet,” Leopold snorted. “He can bloody well try.”

    Though doubt washed over the silent swordsman, he waited patiently for the Revenant to come close enough to have ended it all with a flurry of arrows and smiled. Somehow, the look on the man’s face told Arden there was more to this tale than a crossing of swords. He had grown up with Duffy and Ruby, of all people, and new a man ready to mince words when he saw one.

    “Listen to what bullshit he has to spout, do not, under any circumstances let that infamous temper get the better of you.” He concealed his lips to not project their plan to the messenger, but it only made Leopold more disgruntled.

    “If I see even a puff of some from him I’m firing first and asking questions later.”

    Arden rolled his eyes.

    “I thought I made myself abundantly clear William!” His voice broke into a feral bark that pierced the valley’s gale and set the bulwark wall behind him on edge. “I’m not too fond of having to repeat myself!”

  5. #5
    Senior Member

    EXP: 113,151, Level: 14
    Level completed: 62%, EXP required for next Level: 5,849
    Level completed: 62%,
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    Revenant's Avatar

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    William Arcus
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    Revenant
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    “Oh give it a rest, Arden,” William called back. “You know damned well that you don’t scare me.”

    He walked towards the Knights of Brae alone and unafraid. There was no hesitation in his determined march but neither was there any haste. He strolled across the gap confident and secure in his power, letting the men opposite him remember just who it was that they faced. Demons and fanatics be damned, he was William Arcus. He had torn the heart out of a magical conflagration that had threatened to flatten Scara Brae and had made its power his own. He had hunted a building-sized creature through the capitol streets, a creature whose skin William still wore as a badge of honor.

    William finally stopped twenty meters from the front lines. Close enough to be an uncomfortable presence but not close enough to push someone into testing their luck as a hero. He scanned the front line and then shrugged and looked down to idly knock a bit of mud from his boots.

    “Believe it or not I don’t want to be here,” he said in a tone that another would use at the market while ordering bread. “When I told you and Ruby that I wouldn’t come back to Scara Brae, I meant it.”

    He looked up finally and locked eyes with Arden. “What I want seems to be irrelevant, though. Circumstances have put me here just as they’ve put you in my path.”

    “I’m here for the village of Stansford.” He shrugged, making sure to keep his hands well away from the hilt of his weapons, “Or at least I’m here for what’s under the village.”

    “Arden, I’m not sure if you know the place, but it’s a small little backwater with only a couple hundred people living there. I’m not going to beg or barter with you because we both know how well that’d work,” he said with a grimace. “I’m giving you this offer because of the respect I have for you and your knights. Stand aside and send your army home, give me the village of Stansford, and I will keep the cult well away from Scara Brae City.”

    William held up a hand to forestall the hasty reply that he could see forming on Arden’s lips.

    “Two, maybe three hundred villagers for the lives of the thousands of men you have behind you, Arden. Surely that’s a worthwhile trade? You know you can’t actually stop me, don’t you? I’ll get what I want in the end no matter how many of your people you throw in front of my claws. And them,” ” William looked behind him to the horde on the opposite side of the field. “They’re so conditioned and religiously blind that they’ll fighting until the last of them falls dead.”

    Back in the ranks of the cult Kharas watched William and as soon as the revenant turned to them he signaled for the army to begin its advance. A bell tolled an ominous ring and six thousand voices rose as one in a single writhing chant. Seams creaked under strain as the beasts of burden began the plodding movements that would set the juggernauts moving and behind them the forge demons bellowed. The Army of War was on the move.

    William kept his eyes locked on Arden, trusting the slow, rolling movement of his army to add gravity to his words.

    “Retreat now Arden and save the lives of your men.” His words came out as cold steel razors, each syllable a hard, pointed needle stabbing at his counterpart.

    “I will not repeat myself.”
    "I have looked upon all that the universe has to hold of horror, and even the skies of spring and the flowers of summer must ever afterward be poison to me." - Call of Cthulhu

    David vs. Goliath: History's first recorded critical hit.

  6. #6
    Member

    EXP: 3,250, Level: 2
    Level completed: 42%, EXP required for next Level: 1,750
    Level completed: 42%,
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    Arden's Avatar

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    Arden Janelle
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    “We’re not here to stop you,” Leopold spat.

    Arden raised his hand and the merchant relented. He looked at the war born with burning intent. He shook his head to reinforce his command.

    “Hasty, as ever, but my brother’s right.”

    The second the reports came in of sightings to the west of Scara Brae’s capital, the Knights of Brae had petitioned the City Guard and levied an army to defend their nation. It was not until long after they had begun their march had Arden realised at the head of the force was an old flame reborn.

    “You stepped onto this island uninvited, and the Queen, though flawed in many ways has it right on one.” The swordsman pointed over his shoulder. “No religion compiles these men and woman to fight. But you slaughtered thousands of Scara Braen citizens.”

    He wanted to go on about protecting his own, but William was not a man to bear the weighty words of piety for long. They shared one thing in common at least; they were quick to temper and had literal fire in their hearts.

    “Those shit flingers are ‘citizens’?”

    “We spent months treating with the Innari. For the first time in nearly a century we’ve seen no conflict and recompense has been called for by the tribal elders.” He had been at the moot himself and remembered the headache long after it.

    “And it’s just like you,” Leopold threw caution to the wind again as it bristled goose bumps on the back of his neck. “To kill so easily for a bauble.”

    “…You won’t put down your arms?” He had no intention of revealing what lay beneath Stansford.

    Arden shook his head. He waited for a dramatic moment then raised a hand with fingers splayed. Harkened to his call, the knights along the front line unsheathed their swords in unison, span them full-circle, and raised their swan motif shields in defiance of the invaders.

    “If I return to the capital with no blood spilled what message does that send to the world?” Scara Brae, at long last, had independence within it’s reach. Arden would sacrifice his own life, and many more besides to break the shackles that bound them to the mainland.

    “Do you think I care?”

    “Somewhere deep inside that volcanic heart you did, once.” He pictured the sight of the Ixian Captains pulling Jensen Ambrose from the iron maiden, and what torturous decisions could have driven William to turn on a man once akin to flesh and blood. He did not have it in him to condemn him anymore. “There is another way this ends.”

    “Immortality gives you false confidence.”

    “Ha,” Leopold snorted. “Strength gives you the same.”

    “Do you really think I’d march ahead an army knowing that I cannot be killed?” His eyes glinted. “William. A lot has changed in your welcomed absence. I am no longer the man I once was. Death hunts me just like any man and I marched here even knowing our encounter was inevitable.” Though he could go toe to toe with the demon, he doubted even his swordsmanship could put an end to the invasion before it truly began.

    “Then why don’t I end your misery here and now?”

    The wind danced over the bough of the valley, turning cold as the sun faded behind a mottled grey cloud as ominous as it was eerily beautiful. The shield wall behind them did not faulted, eyes piercing the ‘messenger’ and hearts beating in common cause. The smell of vomit and worry faded, replaced instead with a tense, spring time prelude to iron and blood.

    “I may not be able to stop you, but you know more than any what together the troupe can do.” He had kept his word. Neither he nor Duffy had alluded to William’s return, as much as he had wanted to shatter his tea cup the day they met, and force feed the broken shards down William’s neck. “So, listen well.”

    He made another series of hand gestures, long established military code for summon the riders. Two horsemen emerged from the battle lines, grey mares and simple saddles carrying the lightly armoured youths to the captain’s side. They nodded and awaited instruction.

    “Ride to Stansford Jack, Jules. Order its evacuation and accompany them to the duchy town. Tell them to return only when I give the all clear in person.”

    They gave one another a nervous glance but were soon on their way with a dust trail in their wake. Arden watched them with a flutter of hope in his heart. All the while, he fought against the oni that wanted nothing more than to lay waste to the plains.

    “You will send half your army against us.”

    William raised a singed eyebrow.

    “The rest will go south to Stansford, which will be empty. You will claim whatever relic you’re after and leave the village exactly as you find it. Our meagre force is all that ould be spared as we reinforced the border between the Innari homeland and our southern territories.” True peace was a myth, just a long standing stalemate between beleagured ideals.

    “Bullshit will he,” Leopold clenched his partisan tighter.

    “We,” Arden too a deep breath, the need to slap his brother rising, “will return to the capital bloodied and bruised but victorious.” That was conjecture, but whatever strength and ferocity William’s ‘army of war’ had mustered would be met with the martial training of a lifetime, and fine steel armour. “Everyone,” he frowned, “I think, gets exactly what they want.”

    The offer lingered, leaving Arden spent and Leopold as irritable as ever. They were near enough the demon but far away enough from the earshot of the frontline to parlay in confidence. Despite William’s insistence the Knights of Brae were here only through religious fervour, he had no doubt even if they did know their plan they would march and fight and die to protect the peace they had only just come to know.

    “Deviate from this, and you’ll see what The Last Song can do to your treasured hope of a future.” He wondered what William would do if history rewrote itself, if the bid for freedom from Cassandra Remi’s thrall had failed and he, like the Silent Swordsman, had remained chained to a higher ideal.

  7. #7
    Supreme Overlord

    EXP: 87,413, Level: 12
    Level completed: 81%, EXP required for next Level: 2,587
    Level completed: 81%,
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    Max Dirks's Avatar

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    Max Dirks
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    Arden advances.

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