Contestants: Xadian Night-Shade and Fenix Fire-Slayer.
The room was thirty feet square, with half of it in darkness and the other half lit by burning torches. Xadian was standing in the darkness, which was shifting around him, as if happy to be with him. His pitch black eyes and hair offset Fenix's own, which were a deep red. As they stared each other down, the flames and shadows jumped, dancing and spinning. The torches did nothing to penetrate the darkness around Xadian, which simply grew darker as the tension between him and Fenix rose. They seemed to be fighting an internal war, the expressions on their faces growing darker and darker. Neither one wanted to make the first move.
Finally, Fenix's hand leaped to the side, hanging over one of the torches. He grasped something in the fire, pulling it out. A sword slowly emerged from the flames, which were still dancing on the blade. It was a scottish claymore, and was six feet long, almost as long as Fenix was tall, and a good inch taller than Xadian. It couldn't have weighed less than fifteen pounds. The flames crawled up the blade until they were centered around the tip, so that a trail of fire was left when it was swung through the air.
Xadian's sword, which had materialized in his hand from the darkness around him, was a more reasonable four feet long, and was a typical katana,with a slightly curved blade and an engraved disk separating the hilt from the blade. It was engraved with vague shapes that suggested shadows within darkness. There were shadows dancing along the blade itself, so that there was almost more shadow than metal. There was also a black diamond set in the blade, which was engraved with runes in some ancient language that the world had forgotten. It was known as a ShadeSword.
Both weapons enhanced their wielder's powers, almost to the point of insanity. The arcane magic in them acted as a focusing lens, projecting their power more fully onto this world than they would have been able to alone. The weapons had been forged by the Ancient Makers at the beginning of time, then requisitioned when Troso the Great had formed the Vampire council. Now, with almost all the Ancients and Old Ones dead, they were all that remained of an eon where power flowed like water throughout the world. There was one for every position on the Vampire Council, and were the ultimate symbol of power.
Xadian attacked, leaping towards Fenix with his sword thrust out to skewer him. Xadian was fast, mortal eyes wouldn't have been able to follow him. Fenix, however, sidestepped and his hand flew out to catch Xadian's. He threw Xadian into the wall and slammed the blade of his sword into Xadian's shoulder, pinning him to the wall. He stepped back for a second. Xadian tried to grab the hilt of the sword to pull it out but it remained just out of his reach.
Fenix backed up a step or two to get a running start, then kicked the hilt of his sword, embedding it deeper in Xadian's shoulder, almost to the handguard. He stepped back again, raising his hands. He moved them through the air and a series of fireballs formed in the air around him. They started spiraling through the air, forming a cone of fire with the tip directed towards Xadian.
Despite the sword embedded in his shoulder, Xadian didn't scream. He never screamed, he just came up with more inventive ways to kill people. Keeping in step with this, he jerked forward, tearing himself from the wall, the sword still embedded in his shoulder. He grabbed the hilt and pushed it away from his body, until the sword fell to the ground. He didn't pick it up. It was linked to Fenix's position as a Lord, and if anyone other than him tried to pick it up, the fail-safes would activate. At best, it would burn the offender. At worst, it would kill them.
Instead, Xadian held out his hand and his sword appeared in it. Fenix's cone of fire began to fly through the air, still spinning. Xadian raised a wall of shadow in front of himself, blocking the cone. The cone hit the wall and stuck there. Xadian stepped back, leaving the wall standing for a minute. He began to prepare a ball of shadows, but a noise interrupted him. The wall started to vibrate and break apart. The cone was still spinning.
On the other side of the wall Fenix had retrieved his sword and was moving it through the air. The ball of fire on the tip left lines in the air. He traced a circle and then geometric shapes inside. It was a mandala, a circle with magical power. He stepped back and jumped through the circle. When he came out he was on Xadian's side of the wall. His sword already coming down on Xadian's neck.
Xadian reared back, his sword flying to parry. The force from the connecting strikes almost threw him to the ground, knocking him off balance as it was. With his sword down and him teetering on his feet, nothing stopped Fenix from punching him, so hard that he flew into the wall and knocked his head into it. It was hard to daze a vampire, and Xadian was known for being able to take hits, he was a descendant of Troso after all. But he slammed into the wall at what seemed like a hundred miles an hour, and it would be hard for even him to come back from that. He stayed on his knees for a few seconds, trying to glare the spots circling his vision into going away.
Fenix, as opposed to his usual, “if they're down, kill them”, attitude, let Xadian rise to his feet again. They stared at each other for a second, like they had at the beginning of the fight. Then, Xadian relaxed. In an instant, the shadow wall separating them from the rest of the arena disappeared, and the fire cone,which had been acting as more of a drill for the last minute, zoomed through the air and into Fenix. It didn't hurt him, of course. He was the Lord of Intense Fire. But it still surprised him, and opened him up for Xadian to punch him. Fenix was big, and he was strong. But his punch seemed like nothing compared to Xadian's. There was a sound like a gunshot and Fenix flew all the way across the thirty foot room and into the wall, almost going right through it. As it was, he left a dent in it the size of a car. He was out for about as long as Xadian had been, but Xadian returned Fenix's favor by waiting for him to get up. Then, the black orb of shadow that had been orbiting his hand flew across the room. It was the size of a marble and went so fast Fenix's eyes could barely follow it. He threw himself to the side and it, unlike Fenix, drilled right through the wall, leaving a hole clean through. The wall was a lot thicker than it looked, at least a foot.
Sand started to drift in through the hole, bright yellow sand. From where he was standing, Xadian could see outside. What he saw started him thinking. How the hell did they get here?
Fenix picked himself up, surreptitiously drawing a knife from his shoe as he did so. Xadian approached him, fully aware of the knife, but not letting on that he was.
They circled each other warily, brandishing their swords. Xadian caught a look in Fenix's eye and brought up his sword, even as Fenix leaped towards him, sword outstretched. Their blades clashed and they held there for a second, blades grinding against each other. Fenix brought his knife up towards Xadian's ribs, trying to slide it in under his guard.
Xadian twirled in place, caught Fenix's knife arm, and twirled again, throwing Fenix into the wall. He pressed his knee to the center of Fenix's back, pinning him as he twisted his knife arm.
“Fenix, you know me. Why would you think I'd fall for that?” Xadian said as Fenix's knife dropped from his hand.
“Maybe, because that wasn't the trap.” Fenix smiled into the wall.
Fenix slapped his free hand against the wall, and flames exploded outward from it. Xadian was forced to let go of Fenix and step back to avoid being burned. Fenix twisted around and picked up his sword again. His plan had been reckless, but worth it. Now he had the initiative in the battle, and he wasn't let go of it again.
Xadian was still stepping back when Fenix started swinging, aiming high for Xadian's head. Xadian managed to get his sword up just in time, blocking the strike. But the impact almost jarred his sword out of his hand, and he had to keep moving backwards to get room to attack. He adjusted the way he was holding his sword, switching to a defensive stance. He moved his legs farther apart and held his sword out beside his head in a classic stance, one hand out in front of himself and his legs braced against the ground.
Fenix swung again, a savage blow that would have shattered any weaker blade. But Xadian's sword caught the strike, and he moved in closer, turning as he moved and bringing his elbow up. He slammed his elbow into Fenix's ribs, knocking him back a step. He completed the turn and punched him right in the center of his chest. Another few steps back.
Finally, Xadian brought his sword up and traced twin cuts up and down Fenix's arms, each slice flying faster than a mortal would have been able to follow. Blood started to drip onto the ground.
Fenix moved back again, yelling out a curse. He'd had the momentum in this battle, if only for a minute. And now he was on his back foot again, trying to parry every strike Xadian sent his way. He spotted his knife, still lying on the other side of the room. No help there. He felt his power, growing inside him, and felt the focal point on the tip of his sword, like an extension of his mind. He concentrated and the point grew to envelope the entire sword. He wouldn't have long before the effort drained his energy, but it might be enough. He concentrated.
Xadian swung again. He was swinging so fast he almost couldn't follow the blows, but Fenix's sword was long enough that he could use it almost like a staff, tilting it one way or the other to meet his strikes. Then, almost as their swords met, Fenix's burst into flame. The fire grew until it's tendrils reached the roof. Xadian jumped back ten feet. Even so he could feel the heat, as if the room was an oven. He couldn't imagine how much this must be tiring Fenix, but it didn't matter. If that sword came within three feet of him, it would bake him alive. He'd probably burst into flames himself.
Fenix resisted the urge to drop to his knees. He lumbered forward, his sword dragging on the ground behind him. He reckoned he had about fifteen seconds before the effort of keeping his sword alight left him helpless. He took another step, then another, building up speed until he was running. Xadian kept moving back, but he was already coming up to a wall. Fenix got within seven feet of him, then swung.
Xadian ducked the blow, rolling away. Just coming within two feet of the sword had made him break out in a sweat for the first time in more than a century. If it had touched him, he'd be dead. He moved a bit closer and swung his sword straight up, hitting the underside of Fenix's sword and flinging it upwards. The momentum and weight of the sword took it in a full circle and Fenix, in his drained state, couldn't keep his balance, falling backwards. He hit his head and the flames on his sword immediately went out.
Fenix blinked slowly, trying to regain his senses. He was dimly aware of Xadian standing over him, his sword pointing straight down. Straight at his heart. He feebly tried to move his legs, his arms, anything. He managed to twitch a finger. He sighed and waited for the end.
Xadian held his sword in both hands, the tip wavering slightly. He watched Fenix, wary of any attempts to attack. One of his fingers moved and Xadian raised his sword a little higher, ready to strike. But nothing happened.
For a brief second Xadian flashed on his relationship with Fenix. They had always had each others backs in any fights they'd gotten involve in. They'd been in the same class at the Academy. They hadn't been close at first, Fenix had been a typical bully. But they'd worked out an understanding. It was Xadian who had submitted the recommendation that Fenix be inducted into the Council. He made his decision.
He stepped back, sheathing his sword. He gave Fenix a second to recover before grabbing his arm and pulling him, unsteadily, to his feet.
“One thing. How the hell did this get started?”