The Ratings War II: Set the World on Fire

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Well, Toughie's here.
Deadline is Sunday for this round. Afterwards, Toughie wins by default.

I really do not condone putting a deadline on Mshcher, as she is trying to keep her job. I would rather that you put the round on hold and move on. That being said, perhaps there is no other way. One can not stall this too long in any event. Sadness..

I don't mind deadlines, but just make sure to be consistent. I mean, look how long the last couple rounds have taken...

Revenent:
I don't mind deadlines, but just make sure to be consistent. I mean, look how long the last couple rounds have taken...

For good reasons though. This is still an RP, and should not put further pressure on someone who already has an assload. That's my point. Nevertheless, like I said, might be no other way. Can't be stalled forever.

I concede the match and withdraw from the game. Sorry I kept you waiting so long, but if Toughie's back, then he should be able to advance. Honestly, I'm relieved that he's here to move forward so I can back out.

mshcherbatskaya:
I concede the match and withdraw from the game. Sorry I kept you waiting so long, but if Toughie's back, then he should be able to advance. Honestly, I'm relieved that he's here to move forward so I can back out.

What? We won't be getting another wonderful novel? Disaster! Tragedy!

I'm serious. I was looking forward to that. Alas...

... Does anybody still want me to post my story

I feel dirty on the inside right now

Zemalac:

mshcherbatskaya:
I concede the match and withdraw from the game. Sorry I kept you waiting so long, but if Toughie's back, then he should be able to advance. Honestly, I'm relieved that he's here to move forward so I can back out.

What? We won't be getting another wonderful novel? Disaster! Tragedy!

I'm serious. I was looking forward to that. Alas...

Same here.

SargentToughie:
... Does anybody still want me to post my story

I feel dirty on the inside right now

I would recommend you do, or neither of you advance.

Damn it! The one I was looking forward to the most. Guess it was bound to happen. I shall still grieve over the moment.
Yeah, do post it Toughie. It's for enjoyment, after all.

Toughie, you'll need to post your entry, or it's a double-forfeit.

Chapter 2

After the booming voice had declared his victory, Julian was expecting for something climactic to happen. He expected for the world around him to get blurry, and for him to be taken away to a different area to fight a new foe.

No such luck

Julian remained in the dark crypt, surrounded by rotting walls and a gloomy atmosphere. In the disappointment of the moment, Julian spoke out loud to himself.

"I am really growing to hate this place"

His words echoed through the empty halls of the mausoleum. He sighed as he listened to his voice grow more distant as they rang through the area.

"hate this place... hate this place"

The dismal feeling of the mausoleum seeped into Julian's soul, and he suddenly wanted nothing more than to leave this place and never return. He rose his head as his mind fell upon a rather unique idea. What if finding a way out of this place was the next trial that he had to endure in order to continue in this tournament? That would be the only logical reason that he was still here. With this in mind, Julian set out to explore the Mausoleum again; determined to find a way out of this damned crypt.

As he made his way around the corridors, Julian came to realize that the area in which his previous battle had taken place in was only a small section of the Mausoleum. He came to this conclusion when he turned a corner and faced a large door.

"Does this mean that we fought in a maze? Well... whatever works I guess"

The young warrior hesitated, not eager to see any more of this damned Mausoleum than he had to. But regardless, he mustered his courage and pressed open the door. As he stepped through the threshold, Julian came out into a room that changed his entire opinion about this place he was in.

The room that he was now in showed even more blatant signs of decay than the maze did, but it also held signs that it was once something far greater. A pair of massive double doors revealed what Julian assumed to be an exit, on either side of it was a banner that hung from the walls and fell the whole way to the floor. Time had laid assault on these banners, reducing their colors to a dingy red, and beaten to the point that they looked as though they would fall apart at the slightest tug.

The remaining parts of the room also had a strange feeling of lost luxury. A large staircase led up to a grand throne, which caused the room to resemble what Julian would expect a king's audience chamber to look like. There were also several smaller doors in neat columns resting against the left and right walls of the chamber, one of which led to the maze that Julian had just came out of. The chamber as a whole had a gruesome sense of loss and defeat, turning Julian's opinion of the Mausoleum from a feeling of broad disdain to a great scholarly interest. He made his way to the center of the chamber, continuing to verbalize his thoughts

"This place... did they turn an entire castle into a giant tomb?"

The curious warrior stepped up to one of the large windows that remained on either side of the rotting banners. They stretched from Julian's waist to several feet above his head, and wide enough to allow Julian to jump through them if he were feeling especially foolish. He placed his hand upon it and puled away a thick sheet of dust, then leaned his face closer to the window and looked through it, only to freeze in place, stunned to the point that his jaw would have fallen to the ground if the only thing keeping it on his face was it's desire to remain.

The outside of the castle revealed an entire city, an entire kingdom that shared the castle's depressing and abandoned atmosphere. Julian was reminded of a book that he read a few years ago, something about a gravity manipulating alchemist that fought to free his empire from an obviously superior force.

"We don't go to Ravenholm"

Julian heard a feminine chuckle, and several clicking footsteps as they approach him. He had to force himself away from the sight of the dead kingdom in order to give attention to whoever was approaching him. The lady that he saw stuck out more in that castle more than anything that Julian could imagine. She was an aging lady, and she certainly had a unique air about her. She stopped advancing some distance away from Julian, an air of confidence carried her with the way she stood. She looked at Julian, speaking with a polite smile.

"You must be Julian Arrowind... my enemy"

Julian's body rotated, taking a basic stance that would allow him to react if sher were to take sudden action. Julian did not expect this lady to act, but his instincts and natural reflexes decided to leave nothing to chance.

"Enemy? Who are you?"

"I am the misfortune teller, madame Shcherbatskaya"

"That's... quite a mouth full"

"I am aware of that... now if you wouldn't mind"

The misfortune teller lifted her arm, revealing a set of Tarot cards
"You and I have a rather important piece of business that we should attend to"

A smirk came across Julian's face as he came up with a response
"What? Are you going to tell me that I'm going to stub my toe next Tuesday?"

The misfortune teller's response did not change as she responded, thumbing though her cards at the same time
"First off, it's next Friday... not Tuesday. And secondly..."

Julian failed to come up with a comeback to her sarcasm before she held out a single card. Several rays of light suddenly erupted from the card, and when they subsided, a typical midevil Jester stood in front of her.

"This is my combat style, and the only weapons I need are my cards... shall we?"

Each of Julian's hands fell onto their respective blades as he prepared for combat.

"So... she fights by using her tarot cards? Makes me wish that I knew more about all that celestial mumbo-jumbo"

The young warrior removed both of his blades from their sheaths, readying them for action.

"Alright then, let's get this fight started"

Julian charged, swinging both of his blades at the Jester, who by simply cackling and leaping out of the way. The Jester then proceeded to dance in a tauntingly annoying way, attempting to antagonize Julian into attacking again.

It worked

Julian rushed the Jester once more, only to be met by a graceful step back and a kick to his left arm. The Jester then began to frolic around Julian in circles, but something strange happened, he suddenly tripped on his own feet and smacked into the floor. Neither questioning how this happened nor caring, Julian dove forward and sent one of his blades into the back of the Jester's neck. Without warning however, the Jester suddenly exploded into a large cloud of smoke, Julian's natural reflexes took over again and caused him to leap back a few feet.

This was actually fortunate, as not a second later a massive fireball crashed into the floor where Julian stood just a moment ago. The smoke dissipated away, revealing madame Shcherbatskaya was holding up another card

"Damn, she can summon henchmen as well as use powerful magic... those cards are trouble"

At this point Shcherbatskaya had already summoned another minion, this one was wearing full body armor and wielded a longsword in his right hand. This new warrior took a stance with his blade out in front of him. Julian led the attack, charging at the warrior and attacking with both of his blades in a spin attack. But the warrior simply stepped out of the way of the first one and pressed his own blade against the second one. He then pushed it away and brought his blade over his head and slashed downward. Julian responded to this attack by placing both of his blades over his head and pushing back against the warrior. It was at this point that Julian saw Shcherbatskaya out of the corner of his eye, she was thumbing through her cards again.

"Not a chance!"

Julian ducked out of the clash and turned to the side, but he only took a few steps towards her before the warrior got in his way again, slashing at his side. Julian had no choice but to block the blade, he watched over at her as she raised another card into the air and it began to glow. Fortunately, at the same moment that her card began to glow, the warrior lost his footing. Julian struck at his neck and got swarmed by another cloud of smoke as the warrior vanished. Overhead, Julian saw several orange swords raining down towards him. He rolled out of the way and took off away from the combat area.

"I can't win like this, I need a plan!"

Julian ran through the nearest door, and found himself in what once was the royal dining hall. The misfortune teller apparently did not see where he went, so Julian took the opportunity to duck behind the counter and mull over the battle. It only took a moment before Julian saw a flaw in her attack that he could exploit. In both conflicts, the minions lost their footing, or flinched, when she used a second card. And both times he "killed" a minion, they exploded into a cloud of smoke.

"Okay... I can use this!"

As he began to put a plan together, he heard the door open behind him. He peered over the counter and saw the same warrior as before enter the room with the misfortune teller herself. She spoke as she entered

"Julian, you disappoint me... I did not think you were the kind to run away and hide"

Julian's temper flared a tad, but in order to win this fight, he had to confront her. He rose from his hiding spot and stepped out into the open.

"Who said I'm hiding?"

The warrior stepped up in front of the Shcherbatskaya, guarding her while she spoke

"Ah, there you are... I believe that we have a battle to finish"

Julian readied his blades again, advancing slowly
"Then let's finish it"

"Very well"

the warrior charged, meeting Julian's advance with a strike at his stomach. Julian side stepped the attack and tried to rush past the warrior and attack Shcherbatskaya, who was looking through her cards again.

"Good, now I just play the waiting game"

The warrior got in front of Julian again, blocking his rush a second time. Julian then ducked and kicked at his knee, causing him to flinch long enough for Julian to strike at his arm, an attack which the warrior blocked with the shield that rested on his left wrist. Julian noticed that Shcherbatskaya had now chosen a card and was now lifting it. In Julian's mind, it all came down to this, he had one chance to pass her defense and strike. If he failed, she would alter her fighting style and be more cautious. Which would mean that Julian would not get another chance to strike her down.

She raised the card and it began to glow, causing the warrior to stagger. Julian plunged his blade into the warrior's face and braced himself for the explosion. When he was trapped in the smoke, Julian could hear something move behind him. He rushed forward towards Shcherbatskaya at full speed, dodging a massive hammer that crashed into the floor behind him. Julian closed in on Shcherbatskaya as quickly as he could, and before she could react he smashed the bottom of her chin with the pommel of his right handed blade, while striking her wrist with the pommel of his left handed blade, causing her to drop her Tarot cards in a pile on the floor and stagger back, falling to the floor.

Julian than planted his blade in front of her face while she laid there, unarmed

"We're done"

her look of pure surprise only lasted a moment before she started to laugh

"Okay, Okay... you win"

Julian smiled, he put his blades away and offered her a hand, which she pushed away before standing on her own.

"You did well, I'm surprised"

The two of them paused for a moment while a booming voice speaks again

"Winner: Julian Arrowind!"

Julian had a small celebration in his head before turning away
"You were a good foe madame Shcherbatskaya, I will remember this battle"

He began to walk away, stepping towards the door before Shcherbatskaya spoke up again
"Julian Arrowind, you will fly very high... but be careful that the fame and power that you will soon have does not crush you"

Julian let out a confident laugh before stepping out of the room. Ready for his next fight

SargentToughie:

I did. Never played them...

SargentToughie:

Grammar and Spelling: Much improved. A noticeable improvement, just a few here and there. Don't get complacent though, unless you have a spell checker. then you can get complacent.

As for the actual content, well, it was good, but it lacked a certain something that your first one had. Maybe it's the overabundance of fighting. I have nothing against fighting in these posts, it is the Ratings War after all. I just felt that your last one was more interesting. Don't worry too much about pleasing me though. Even if you write a bestselling masterpiece that is loved the world over, I will still tell you to sharpen up.

And Mscher, I understand that you are overworked, and I wouldn't dream of asking you to sacrifice a job for an RP, but take it as the sincerest form of compliment that I am damn angry I'm not going to be able to read another one of your Ratings War posts.

Alright, we have the finalists. Expect an announcement on the finals later tonight.

Alright.
Lorum applauded, the honorees deaf to his approval. He opened his mouth and spoke:
"Come".
In the swamp, the demon vanished.
In the city, the soldier disappeared.
In the mausoleum, the swordfighter departed.
In the heap, the magician left.
All four men found themselves in a new environment: a forest, lush and filled with Earth wildlife. None of them could see the others.
"Welcome to the endgame," they all heard."
Lorum gazed upon the battlefield as the demon and the swordfighter approached one another.

The Sorrow:
In the swamp, the demon vanished.

Oh well. So much for The Lyre's Big Sting.

Damn, screwed up by a single sentence of canon...

So I'm up first... and I'm up against Khedive?

This is going to suck... Because I'm quite certain that Mischer would have easily swamped me if she had not backed out

I've really got to step it up a notch if I want a prayer's chance in hell in these last few rounds in general

Lord Krunk:

The Sorrow:
In the swamp, the demon vanished.

Oh well. So much for The Lyre's Big Sting.

Damn, screwed up by a single sentence of canon...

Not necessarily. Lorum watched one battle at a time, so there was obviously a bit of time between Bartleby's last story and his being teleported to the forest.

Revenent:

Lord Krunk:

The Sorrow:
In the swamp, the demon vanished.

Oh well. So much for The Lyre's Big Sting.

Damn, screwed up by a single sentence of canon...

Not necessarily. Lorum watched one battle at a time, so there was obviously a bit of time between Bartleby's last story and his being teleported to the forest.

Even so, I'm a bit lost here. Unless I can collaborate with The Sorrow to work The Lyre into the story, I fear that I'm either going to be lost, or wind up de-railing the thread (like I did with DMHBKBN, sorry guys).

A forest eh? ... I can dig it.

As for the Lyre's sting, I really wish there was a way to keep it going (it was a clever idea and I wanted to see where you'd end up going with it) but I think I echo the same fears. The teleportation aspect of the game makes it impossible for characters to interact on an individual basis which means all story has to be established in fights. So, we'd either have to write The Lyre into the plot of the RP itself or revive him as a competitor; the first of which risks derailment and the second of which is unfair to the other competitors.

It's a shame but I think the sting has reached it's end.

Khedive Rex:
A forest eh? ... I can dig it.

As for the Lyre's sting, I really wish there was a way to keep it going (it was a clever idea and I wanted to see where you'd end up going with it) but I think I echo the same fears. The teleportation aspect of the game makes it impossible for characters to interact on an individual basis which means all story has to be established in fights. So, we'd either have to write The Lyre into the plot of the RP itself or revive him as a competitor; the first of which risks derailment and the second of which is unfair to the other competitors.

It's a shame but I think the sting has reached it's end.

I know. I did have a big idea to add a little twist to this story, but as the story progresses, it makes it even harder for me to keep it going. I suppose that's what I get for improvising.

EDIT: I have an idea, but not for this RP. But I'll need a bit of help getting my idea off the ground.

Hang on, I'll PM you.

On another note, could i put a note requesting that the next RW have down-time where characters can interact or at least aside fiercely?

I cannot add

a) How much easier it will make writing my own characters twisted tale.
b) The increase in character it instills in everyones creations.

Oh... and can their be an oil refinery level? No reason.

Again, why not just make it take place in the time between the end of the Clockman fight and Lorum beginning the semifinals?

Revenent:
Again, why not just make it take place in the time between the end of the Clockman fight and Lorum beginning the semifinals?

I'll look into it, but I'll have to speak to The Sorrow first.

The plot thickens, and a lot more forethought is needed.

I'm Back!

And boy did I have fun, I feel sorry that you guys don't get to do awesome stuff like I do.

That was a jape, a sardonic one at that, whatever glee I might've had during the trip to NYC was balanced out by the long flight delays, the longer flight delays, and the jet lag.

My head hurts and i'm hungry, and I have no idea what's going on. If anyone is willing to take the time out, i'd like for them to take it out and give it to me.

What's happened?

*Takes the time out and carries it to Crowghast*

Let's see, you left after my fight right? Oh, I'll just give you the scoreboard for this round.

Ultrajoe vs Crowghast = Crowghast
Zemalac vs Khedive Rex = Khedive Rex
The Sorrow vs Qayin = The Sorrow
Mshcherbatskaya vs SargentToughie = SargentToughie

All remaining competitors have been transported to a lush forest full of earth wildlife. Right now I'm fighting Toughie.

Msh dropped out last round because of real-life obligations so there isn't a misfortune teller version of the fight between her and Toughie but apart from that you should go back and read everyone's fights. I could give you a short summary here but ... the time is leaking; I should really go put it back.

*wanders off with the time*

*Runs over and jerks the time away, sticks tape onto it*

No, I left sometime before your fight, I pretyped the E-mail and sent it when it was time... or something, i'm a little fuzzy on the details of my own disappearance.

Sorry I didn't get the mink coats, i'm sure Mshcherbatskaya would've loved them. Anyway:
Congratulations on success Khedive, once more! Give me an encore. I do believe that it would be prudent to read everything that has happened.. but... urg. There's so much of it. And i'm so lazy, and i'm so hungry.

That was another jape.

Well, good luck with Toughie, and by "forest", "earth wildlife" and "remaining competitors", I do hope that means Tanner is sitting under a tree eating squirrels. My worries aside, I think the time would be better if it were with me.

*Tucks time into shirt pocket, drinks coffee*

Khedive Rex:
Ultrajoe vs Crowghast = Crowghast

Wait, Ultrajoe lost?

When did this happen?

Or am I just unobservant?

Lord Krunk:

Khedive Rex:
Ultrajoe vs Crowghast = Crowghast

Wait, Ultrajoe lost?

*Ultragrumbles* Yes, i lost. I understand and accept why it happened even if i don't enjoy the fact.

Just hurry up and get this over with. I have pride to salvage, an ego to heal and minds to blow.

Ultrajoe:

Lord Krunk:

Khedive Rex:
Ultrajoe vs Crowghast = Crowghast

Wait, Ultrajoe lost?

*Ultragrumbles* Yes, i lost. I understand and accept why it happened even if i don't enjoy the fact.

Just hurry up and get this over with. I have pride to salvage, an ego to heal and minds to blow.

Oh, I remember that too. Sort of. I hope I didn't make an ass out of myself on account of unexpected victory.

I do that sometimes.

Aside: Joe seems busy, what with all the salvaging, healing and blowing.

How does he manage?

Oh? There's actually a game out there called the ratings war 2

I thought the escapist election was the only RP that was running at the time, who knew?

Who here is actually ready to post their story?

*raises hand*

SargentToughie:
Oh? There's actually a game out there called the ratings war 2

I thought the escapist election was the only RP that was running at the time, who knew?

Who here is actually ready to post their story?

*raises hand*

I agree. I have started to hate this election. Every RP seems dead now because of it.

SargentToughie:
Oh? There's actually a game out there called the ratings war 2

I thought the escapist election was the only RP that was running at the time, who knew?

Who here is actually ready to post their story?

*raises hand*

I can finish writing mine by the end of today. If yours is finished, post it and I'll be quickly behind.

As for the election, I've decided not to participate. I'm not even reading the thread anymore. It's just ... not as fun as last time. There are twice as many rules, four times as many people and half the depth. Unfortunately, it appears to be a perfect representation of the general trend of The Escapist of late.

Anyway though, we've put this off far too long. Mine will be done later today. You should post yours as soon as you get the chance.

chapter 3- trial of willpower

Julian clutched his head while his head swam. This was the sensation that he was expecting to receive after his first battle. A feeling that he was overwhelmed with dizziness while the textures and layout of the world around him changed. The sensation lasted for several moments before Julian returned to his senses, and when he did, Julian realized that he was no longer in the King's mausoleum, but a forest.

The trees grew several feet above Julian's head, their branches reached outward towards one another, leaving cracks of sunlight to shimmer through and bathe the forest floor in a pale light. Julian paused in surprise of this sudden change of scenery, seeing as how he had spent the last several hours in a dead castle that was cursed with a blanket of everlasting darkness, his eyes cried in resistance to this much brighter setting. Once they had adjusted themselves to the point that Julian was no longer squinting in agony at the sight of the forest, he set out to explore the area.

The forest was rather typical, lush plants had emerged from the ground, and wildlife was as plentiful in both numbers and diversity as Julian had expected. He had never been in a forest though, So Julian took this time to analyze as much about the terrain as he could. he first decided to do this when he remembered one of the most basic lessons when it comes to fighting in unfamiliar terrain.

"If you know more about what's around you then your foe, then the tides of victory will be tipped that much in your favor"

Even though he was trying to remain analytical, Julian had to pause in order to admire nature's true beauty. The massive trees, the smallest insects, and everything in between, they all blended together in a harmonious existence that made Julian feel alive and healthy for the first time in maybe his entire life.

However, his moment of spiritual bliss was cut short by a strange sounding voice behind him.

"You must be wondering why this place is the way it is, well... I shall teach you"

The voice came from behind him, so Julian turned around to see who had spoken. The being he saw was one of the strangest beings that he had seen in a very long time. He was wearing a white suit, and was playing with a golden ball that rested in his hand. He looked down at Julian, because he was currently resting on a nearby tree's branch as though it was a bed.

This being then stood up on the branch, and threw the ball down into the ground below him. As soon as the ball hit the ground, the tree that he was standing in began to sink into the ground. It was only a couple of seconds before the being stepped off of the branch onto the ground in front of it. He held out his hand as his ball returned to his hand, he then took a few more steps forward and smiled.

"You see, back when this world first became the home of living beings, the beings that lived here were the purist ideas of what should exist. These...Spirits... would stroll about this earth, dancing and singing, and just generally having a good time. Tragically, this magnificent party was cut short by a few hundred centuries when one of the spirits accidentally created this annoying little thing called gravity. Not prepared for this power, all the other spirits smashed BAM into the ground. Their energy then seeped into the earth as they died, and granted the world the trees, and the rocks and mountains... and just about everything else that this world has in it"

he paused to inhale

"So you see, the reason that this lovely forest is the way that it is, is because an idiot killed off his entire race... don't you feel good right now?"

By this point, Julian has stopped listening

"That has to be... the dumbest thing I've heard in my entire life"

The man in the suit gasped mockingly, clutching his heart

"Oh! I'm hurt, I'm hurt that... that you think I'm concerned about a mortal's opinion of me... epically one that's still a child by mortal standards"

This angered Julian, he took a step forward
"Okay, Just who are you?"

The strange man flailed his upper body, ending in a sarcastic bow
"I am what you would call a daemon of chaos... call me Bartalby"

Julian crossed his arms, annoyed by this being as he stood up straight again
"Fine, You can call me Julian... Julian Arrowind"

Bartalby simply shrugged at this, clutching the golden ball in his hand

"Whatever, so are you part of this tournament as well, Julian Arrowind?"

"Yeah, and that voice said that we're getting close to the end"

Julian's hands fell onto the handles of their respective blades as he continued
"So what do you say we get this over with?"

Bartalby rubbed his forehead at this, sighing heavily
"You still have so very much to learn though..."

He looked up after this, sticking out his upper lip and rolling up the sleeves of his suit
"Still... if it's a whoopin' you're a-wantin'... we can play your game first"

Bartalby stood up stiff and took the stance of a baseball pitcher. He winded up his arm and held the ball as though he was going to pitch a fast ball. Yet oddly, he gave his arm a full circle swing and tossed the ball underhanded at a nearby tree. Julian expected the ball to smash into the tree and fall to the ground, needless to say that he was stunned when the ball continued forward, and actually took the tree with it.

The tree began to change course and rocket towards Julian, who kicked out of the ground and forced himself out of the way. As he rolled across the ground and recovered, Julian realized that the ball was already back in Bartalby's hand.

Julian barely had time to gather his wits before Bartalby tossed his ball as though he was bowling, and as soon as the ball met the ground, it began to rend the earth around it, forming a massive shock wave of rock that roared towards Julian. He rolled out of harm's way for a second time, however, this time he fell onto his side instead of recovering.

Julian rose his head, he saw the golden ball swiftly float back towards Bartalby, and a basic idea formed in his head. All he had to do was strike while the ball was out of his hand, and the Bartalby was over!

Julian's mind fished and swam for various schemes on how to part Bartalby from that golden ball of his. Something that he had already established in his mind as hard to do. Regardless, he knew that he had to s=come up with something, or his time in the tournament was up. At this moment Julian was returning to his feet, and at the same time he heard a light smack as the golden ball loyally returned to the hand of it's master.

Julian began to back away, are relied on his training for when dealing with an obviously superior foe.

"At times, a tactical retreat and a plan will guide you to victory"

It's helped in the past, and Julian's hope was that it would help now. He shot one last look at Bartalby before he spun himself around and rushed into the forest. For a brief few moments, he could hear Bartalby yelling after him.

"What? Are we done playing your game already?"

................

After ducking under and dodging around seemingly endless trees, Julian slid to a stop and hid himself behind one of the thickest trees that he could find. He then used a relaxation technique to calm his breathing, and began to think of a plan

"All I know is that his ball is his primary weapon... and there's no promise that getting rid of it will leave him totally defenseless, in fact-"

BOOM

Julian fell forward and pressed himself against the ground as the tree that he was hiding behind exploded into thousands of tiny splinters, he rose to his knees and looked over to see that Bartalby had violently transformed the once tree filled area into a clearing in the middle of the forest.

"Ah, I had feeling that you were somewhere around here"

He slowly began to step towards Julian, bouncing his ball on the ground as he walked

"Now, shall we begin your tutoring?"

"Tutoring? what are you-"

Bartalby threw his ball into the ground at Julian's feet, and before he could respons, his feet sunk into the earth as though it was quicksand. It stopped with his feet being buried just above the ankles. Bartalby stood back, as his ball returned to his hand.

"You see, Julian Arrowind, while I was looking for you, I realized that I had heard you name before"

He bounded the ball up and down on the ground, keeping his distance from Julian.

"you are the son of two supposedly Talented fighters, and your whole life revolves around surpassing them, proving to the world that you're some kind of hero... or something like that"

He grabbed the ball again, this time however, he clutched it in his hand, not bouncing it any more.

"So today I am going to teach you exactly how pointless things like ambition and goals are when compared to the never ending passage of time"

"What!?"

Bartalby began to laugh

"What's the matter? Are you already realizing how pointless these mortal dreams of yours will be thousands of years from now? When the grandchilden of the grandchildren of the people who you hope to impress are dieing of old age?"

Julian's head snapped up
"That's not the poi-"

Bartalby threw his ball into the earth at Julian's feet again, and the ground suddenly closed on his feet, clamping down on them and causing a great deal of pain before they backed off. Julian cried out in pain, kneeling while Bartalby laughs in glee

"Tisk tisk, you see Julian, every time that you deny how pointless your goals are... the ground is going to give you a little hug"

Julian began to pant heavily, not responding as he tried to pull his feet out of the ground. As expected, the earth wasn't budging. He stood back up straight as Bartalby began to speak again.

"Now I have a question for you, how important are your dreams of becoming a hero... How important will you be millions of years from now? when this planet never even exists any more"

Julian lowered his head... this lunatic had a point... At some point, rather that time was before he died, or hundreds of years later, people would stop telling tales of his deeds. Someday, the name Julian Arrowind would not be remembered. This realization crushed Julian under a thousand tun weight as he stared blankly at the ground.

"I... I don't know"

Bartalby tossed the ball gently at the ground where the earth binded Julian again, and caused it to close in on him again, this time it caused even more pain.

"Wrong! I think you do know! You do know that your whole reason for getting up in the morning is utterly pointless!"

These words continued to weigh on Julian, causing him more distress as he come into the realization that this lunatic was speaking about. While still standing up, Julian became lost in his mind. He could feel himself fall into an infinite darkness that Bartalby had created, a darkness that represented Julian's spirits at the moment. Bartalby's words affected him far more then they had at first. Julian came to think about the pointlessness of mortal beings as a whole, how he was nothing more than a single mortal being that would eventually be forgotten and lost to the endless river of time.

Julian was a single mortal, a being that nothing more than a nameless face to most of his fellow beings. He was just a single blade of grass on the lawn of the universe

"Yet... without a million of those blades of grass... without billions of those single mortals, there would be no humans period... It is because there are so many of us that we are so special"

This thought, this single thought, opened the floodgates as Julian's spirit rose, as he began to regain his ambition and will to live. He realized that he didn't want to fight for fame and glory anymore, Bartalby had killed that part of him forever. What Julian Arrowind wanted to fight for now, was to make the human world a better place, to help others.

And so Julian returned to his dilemma with Bartalby and his dark questions. He could win this fight, he would win this fight. He could hear Bartalby asking his bothersome question again, as he had just gotten done with some sort of insane rant about mortality and mindless drivel like that.

"So? What do you think of these ambitions of yours?"

Julian lowered his head, a small grin crept across his face as he answered

"It's pointless..."

Bartalby leaned forward with a laugh, pressing his palm against his ear

"Oh!? What did you just say? Did somebody just submit to the truth?"

"It's pointless... how many times you ask this question, because you are never going to get me to believe that I mean nothing!

Bartalby sighed in annoyance

"And here I thought that we were making progress, shame"

He threw the ball again, but this time, Julian drew one of his blades and smashed the little golden ball into the ground. The ground where Julian had hit the ball to squirmed a little and settled, and now Julian had control of the ball.

Julian used his blade to bring the ball towards him, not risking either letting go of the ball nor touching it. He had gotten that thing away from Bartalby, and he was not going to give it back. At the sight of this event, Bartalby let out a distressed cry

"Hey! you give that back!"

Julian laughed as he kept the ball nearby with his blade.

"You want it..."

He drew his other blade and pointed it at Bartalby

"Come and get it!"

Bartalby let out another annoyed cry before he sat down indian style, facing Julian

"Fine! so it's a stalemate!"

Julian's heart sank when he heard those words, Bartalby was right, Neither of them could do anything to hurt the other. Julan's feet were stuck in the ground and Bartalby's ball was in the hands of his foe, it was a total Stalemate.

..............

Seconds passed like hours, and minutes passed like days as the two combatants stood there, Neither being able to end the battle for the other. Julian's legs began to get sore from their position, and he noticed that Bartalby was getting sort of fidgety after what seemed like forever.

"I'm so bored!"

Julian raised his eyebrow, but he suddenly came to realize that Bartalby had introduced himself as a chaos daemon when the two met. And they were currently in a forest, the most calm and tranquil of areas that one could imagine being in. With just that thought, Julian realized that he could end the stalemate with him having victory.

Julian's patience began to wane, but he got entertainment from watching Bartalby writhe around in the frustration of not being able to break something. The Chaos daemon was now pacing back and forth, occasionally glaring over at Julian, and the blade that held his ball back, he had the appearance of a frustrated house cat, looking at a toy that was just barely out of reach.

While Bartalby was storming around in frustration, Julian took his second blade and began to cut into the ground, all he had to do was carve the ground around him just enough to free his feet... he paused as he heard a yell come from Bartalby, and looked up in time to see him fall unto the ground, slamming his feet and hands into the ground like a toddler that just got grounded. He then continued his work.

"There!"

He looked down to see that he had cut a small circle around one of his feet, all he had to do was pull up his right leg and it would come up from the ground, taking some of the ground with it. As he began to work on the second leg, he realized that Bartalby was now getting to his feet and turning to face Julian.

"Alright, here's the deal, you give me the ball back and I'll just let you out of the ground, then we'll-"

He looked down at Julian's feet, and saw that he was cutting his way free.

"Well aren't you a clever one... I think I'm in trouble"

By now, his second leg was free

"No kidding"

On the word "Kidding", Julian burst from the ground he quickly rushed at Bartalby, ignoring the pain in his feet from Bartalby's lesson, and slammed the blunt side of one of his blades into the side of Bartalby's neck.

Bartalby got to his feet quickly and yelled out to Julian, who was starting a second attack

"Alright! You win! I forfeit!"

Julian suddenly stops, surprised
"You... you what?"

Bartalby starts to laugh as he brushes the dust off of his suit and rubs his neck
"I'm robbing you of the satisfaction of defeating me the proper way"

Julian lets out an annoyed yell as he hears a massive voice in the sky confirm Bartalby's withdrawal.

"Bastard!"

Julian turns around, no longer facing Bartalby
"You know... I honestly don't care if nobody remembers my name anymore, thanks for setting me straight"

He begins to walk away, he laughs lightly as he hears Bartalby yell out after him
"Oh that's not even right Julian Arrowind! Now who's the bastard!"

Julian left the scene behind, looking forward to finishing the final battle, as well as ending this whole damn tournament.

...............

Bartalby rested a hand on his ball, sighing to himself
"It's a shame you weren't born as one of my kind... you would realize exactly how stupid you are..."

He looked over, content that he had broken at least one last rule before his time at the tournament came to an end, that unspoken rule that you don't simply give up for the sake of spiting your foe.

"Well... that was fun, what next I wonder?"

Only time would tell...

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