“You ready, partner?” Exceed said. He had blue armor that looked like Monstroths; deep blue, with white power covering the interlocking plates. Although his was smaller than Monstroths, he was still just as intimidating. Rhazin guessed it ran in the family.
Rhazin, on the other hand, wore a black rode with a emblem on it. Exceed had said it would make them think Rhazin was a master of some Mystic. He wasn't sure of that after he saw the other contestants looking at him nervously. Rhazin was sure it was some giveaway about his ability to use Void. But, he wouldn't argue against the plan. Rhazin focused on memorizing the arena. He would need to know it by heart before the battle began.
“The first match of the Great Race Arena is about to begin!” A powerful voice said, overriding the crouds cheers. Rhazin wanted to find the voices origins, but ignored his curiosity and focused on memorizing the battle field.
The area was covered in sand from the desert, as per Murdos' orders, creating an unstable fighting field. From what Rhazin had been told by Exceed, the battlefield changed every day, to prevent anyone from preparing for their assigned matches. Rhazin had expected to be fighting in some foreign landscape, but he had never imagined he would fight in a desert scene. He couldn't have asked for a better field on which to fight.
“Today's match is between our HighKing, Munito, and his partner Darana, who is a previous champion,” The announcer said, voice booming over the roar of the crowd, “And the challengers, Exceed and Rhazin!” The crowd roared at the mention of Exceed's name. “As you know, Exceed has been competing in the Great Race for four years now. Let's see if he and his partner have any luck this year, alright?” The crowd reacted with a cheer.
Rhazin was ready just as the announcer yelled to begin, though Exceed just waved to the onlookers in the stands. He was an attention-hoarder, if Rhazin had ever seen one.
Across the battlefield, Darana and the HighKing started toward them. Darana pulled a sword out, which Rhazin hadn't seen before, and created a flame in her hand. Rhazin looked to Exceed, who nodded and drew his club. There were no rocks in the sand, so they would have to change up to their backup plan.
Rhazin emptied his emotions and created a Voidgate. It was an odd sensation. As with everything done with Void, it required 'purpose' and 'destination.' In this case, Rhazin's purpose was to move Exceed to another place and his destination was behind the HighKing. The air twisted, giving birth to a black vortex of consuming darkness. Rhazin felt chills run down his back.
“Alright, I trust you,” Exceed said as he jumped into the Voidgate. The man disappeared the moment he came in contact with the gate, causing Rhazin to get another chill. He loved that he had been gifted with the ability of Void, but using it was something he would never love.
“It looks like we have a Void user on the field, my Mounseiken brethren!” The announcer boomed, “This should be interesting!
'Yes,' Rhazin thought as he saw Exceed pop into existence behind the HighKing, 'It will be.'
Exceed smashed his club against the HighKing's head, trying to knock him out. The HighKing fell, alarming Darana of Exceed's presence. The woman tried to slice at Exceed with her sword, but Rhazin had already created another Voidgate between the two. The plan was going perfectly.
Darana immediately winked out of existance the moment her sword touched the Voidgate. Exceed picked up the HighKing, trying to throw him into the gate as well. If he succeeded, then Rhazin could make the pair fall out of the arena and lose the match. Then, they wouldn't have to face Darana in a fair fight.
Exceed flew back, letting the HighKing fall on the ground. What had happened?
Rhazin's question was answered when the HighKing stood and shook his head. Rhazin was still a ways away, so it was unlikely the HighKing would go after him. Not to mention, he still had Darana trapped in his Voidgate. Rhazin thought quickly, he had only a little more time until the Voidgate shattered and released Darana.
Across the arena Exceed stood up shakily and faced the HighKing. Around Rhazin's partner, sand rose in a pattern, causing Rhazin to be truly impressed. To use that small of a mineral required an extremely skilled person in the Mineral mystic.
Rhazin opened a Voidgate and released Darana high up in the air. A split second later, Rhazin was jumping into another Voidgate. Darkness surrounded him as he traveled through the Nullspace and back into the arena. He immediately started to fall from the sky, where he had set his Voidgate to release him. Below Rhazin, Darana fell toward the ground at alarming speeds. Instead of using the Air mystic to slow herself, the woman had taken the opportunity to scout the area.
Rhazin formed a fire in the palm of his hand and made his body more aerodynamic. Darana came closer and closer to Rhazin and his burning fire.
Darana immediately spun around, only to receive a burning fist into her stomach.
Exceed flew through the air once more, propelled by Munito's Air mystic. It wa the only mystic he was actually a master of aside from Plasma.
“Haha, you've gotten better I see,” Munito said, laughing. He had probably already healed the wound on his head, sadly. Exceed needed to knock the man out and force Darana to go on the defensive, or they would lose the match and be forced to run in last place.
Exceed manipulated the sand under the HighKing's feet and tripped the man. He then jumped up and raced toward the downed man, club in hand. He needed to knock this guy out.
Air blasted him back once more, causing Exceed to roll with through the sand. The HighKing was starting to infuriate him. Maybe he should take Munito more seriously then?
Exceed jumped up once again, ignoring a burst of flame in the air, and ran toward the HighKing. As he ran, he pulled sand from everywhere, causing a small sandstorm. Although it blinded his sight, Exceed knew that his opponent was blinded as well. Now all he had to do was stay straight.
A disturbance in the sand storm near Exceed made him realize the HighKing was trying to aim blindly. Exceed would have laughed, but he didn't want sand in his mouth. He had trained in the desert throughout his childhood, along with Monstroth, to take advantage of his surroundings. The HighKing, from what Exceed had learned, had only had 'formal' training. Sure, the man was a genius with his mouth on the political battlefield, but on the combat front, Munito was just a man.
A stream of Air shot just beside Exceed, causing him to jump. The sand storm lightened a bit, due to his lack of focus,allowing the King to become a visible sillouette in the sand. Exceed, without thinking, struck at the figure with his club.
The blow connected.
Rhazin fell onto the sand, Voidgate closing behind him. He rubbed his side, where he had been kicked.
His initial attack had hit the woman, but she had retorted with a kick enhanced with Air mystics. The flame had barely even hurt her armor. Was she aware of Rhazin's affinity for Flame? Whatever it was, Flame wasn't working.
To the side, Darana landed, using Air to slow her fall enough to safetly hit the ground, and caused a large wave of sand to blow outwards. Rhazin tried to see where Exceed and the HighKing were, to no avail.
A stream of fire flew toward Rhazin through the wave of sand. He rolled out of the way, his cloak catching fire in the movement. He cursed and stomped it out. If he let Darana hit him, he was sure to be put out of the competition.
Rhazin noticed a large cloud of dust a little ways away. It nearly consumed a quarter of the arena grounds.Had Exceed caused that? He was a genius on the battlefield, he claimed, so maybe it wasn't a farfetched thought.
“You are good,” Darana's voice said, bringing Rhazin's attention back to her “But I guess I win.” The woman stood just above the kneeling Rhazin, sword pressed against his throat. Rhazin swallowed hard, causing the tip to sink into his skin a little bit.
“I...” Rhazin started to forfeit, but an idea came into his head. “I think you're beautiful.”
Darana raised an eyebrow and pulled the blade across his throat slightly, causing a drop of blood to roll onto Rhazin's chest. “Excuse me?”
“You,” Rhazin continued, trying not to swallow, “Are the most beautiful creature I have ever seen.” Rhazin eyed her body. Her legs were in perfect shape, as was her arms and torso. Her face, though it wore a scowl at the moment, looked like a seductive waitress, trying to pull Rhazin into a sweet embrace with it's innocence and beauty. “I have never seen such beauty in a warrior. It makes me feel honored to lose to you, Mistress.”
Darana blushed and pulled her sword away slightly. Rhazin smiled wider, taking the opportunity. He opened a Voidgate behind the woman, and shoved her through. As soon as the gate winked out, Rhazin created an intense flame and hit it on the ground. It took a few seconds, but a roughly made glass piece came to life on the ground. Rhazin placed his hand on the glass, using Alchemy to alter it's form into that of a swords.
Darana appeared directly in front of him, with her back facing Rhazin. A large smile split Rhazin's face in two as he plunged his newly made blade into her back. For some reason, Rhazin had missed her heart and let the blade slice through Darana's stomach. It was a pity, but he didn't have time to worry about such things at the moment.
As the woman fell screaming in pain, Rhazin created another Voidgate and popped through it. He loved the sensation of traveling through Nullspace, but he felt a slight regret at not enjoying Darana's screams of anguish. Such a pity.
Exceed laughed energetically as he placed the HighKing outside of the arena.
It had taken a while, but he had beaten the old man without killing him or endangering his life. It was now time to help out Rhazin, though.
“..seems like Darana is out!” The announcer said hysterically. So, Rhazin had beaten the woman? He was more promising than- “Someone call the Medical Corps, she will die if nothing is done!” Exceed froze. What the hell was going on!? He ran up onto the stage, only to see a distant female figure laying in red colored sand. Rhazin was no where to be seen.
Exceed ran toward Darana. He needed to keep her alive until the Medical Corps arrived. He wasn't a master yet, but even a little could help.
He reached the fallen woman, pulled out the roughly made glass blade, and pressed his hands against her body. One hand went over her left breast and the other went to her forehead. Plasma worked best this way, though it didn't stop his cheeks from turning slightly red.
“Hang on,” Exceed said, anger and sorrow mixing in with his emotions, “You'll be fine.” The woman had lost a lot of blood, making it hard for her to speak up. She managed a thank you between coughs that produced blood. Exceed pumped as much of his Plasma mystics into her as he could.
The Medical Corps finally arrived, only to split between two teams. One team had only three people and they headed toward the knocked out HighKing. The other team, composed of five men, headed for Exceed.
“How is she?” one of the men said as he kneeled beside Darana and took Exceed's place.
“Alive,” Exceed said simply, trying to keep from shaking. He knew this was a deadly event, but he had never seen someone killed before in his four years running. The ones who did die were killed by things on the actual race, not in the arena.
Around him the crowd yelled for Rhazin, but in no way good. It seemed he had made enemies, though Exceed couldn't blame them. He wiped the blood on his hands onto his armored leggings, trying not to think about it. He needed to find Rhazin.
Rhazin sat in a dark room, shaking violently. He had messed up.
On the wall in front of him was a message in blood. Rhazin's hand shook as he gripped his finger. It no longer had any skin on it...
I will win. I will kill. I will haunt. I will destroy. I will sever. I will conquer. I will rape. I will slaughter. I will abolish. I will cause suffering. I will pillage. I will wage war. I will annihilate. I will...
The wall went on like that, covering the entirety of its surface. Rhazin shivered. The Darkness had taken him without a fight and nearly killed Darana, who had no intent to kill him. Why.... No, HOW had that happened? It made no sense. The last time that the Darkness had taken over like this was when he had been almost killed. Had the Darkness reacted to the intent to kill or being in danger of death?
It mattered not. Rhazin stood shakily. Even if everyone hated him, he had to find out if Darana was ok and continue the Great Race. After all, it wasn't only his innocence he had to race to prove, but the plan he had made with Monstroth to save the dying world.
Rhazin would save this world.
He created a Voidgate to the arena. He could claim he was in his Nullspace instead of leaving the arena. Taking a deep breath, Rhazin stepped into the dark vortex...
… and into the bright arena.
In every direction was screaming people. They yelled for Rhazin to be executed, disqualified, and other things.
“What the hell happened!?” Exceed yelled. He came running toward Rhazin, seeming to be angry and confused. “What happened to the plan?”
“I'm sorry, but I did warn you,” Rhazin said, trying to remain emotionless. Exceed nodded but still seemed upset by what had happened.
“Darana is fine,” Exceed said, looking toward a red patch of sand, “And we have been declared winners.”
“Good,” Rhazin replied, walking toward the exit. “Did you take out the HighKing?” Exceed said that he had. Rhazin felt worse, then. They could have won without him doing that to Darana.
“Come on, Darana will want your explanation,” Exceed said, placing a hand on Rhazin's shoulder as they walked out of the arena and away from the roaring crowd.
“I don't plan to give it,” Rhazin said, causing Exceed to grip his shoulder tighter.
“Because she won't believe me.”
“We could still-,”
“Exceed,” Rhazin interrupted, “think on how long it took to convince you. Now, add the fact that she probably is angry at me and will get mad at an excuse.” Exceed's mouth shut, signaling his acceptance to Rhazin's logic.
“We can head out anytime today,” Exceed said, changing the subject.
“Good, then we head out immediately!” Rhazin said.
The true Great Race had just begun.