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Duelists: Ernest vs Mahri

Duel: Traditional 3 rounds with final defense, 15 minute posting limit.

Stakes: Auto-hit to the winner.

Judges: Kharnus, Dezerae, and Brennia

Larket’s Towering Tenements

Stone tenements rise high on either side of the street, made of granite, the gray stone covered by trellises of ivy. The vast majority of Larket's citizens live here, with its convenient, central location and moderate rents. A steady stream of humanity flows in and out of the iron gates, running up and down the stairs, laughing and talking. It is almost as if this is a smaller city inside Larket itself. Harold, the designer and overseer of the construction of the tenements, has an office on the ground level, where he still offers his services. The street runs into the town center to the east, and off into a quieter part of town to the west.

Environmental Challenge

The Larket Academy of Magick has been charged with magically setting the battle arena for all the duels across Larket. Headmaster Percival is the officiant of the duels. Today’s duel takes place in Larket’s Tenements. The top three floors of the tenements have been emptied and restaged by the Larket Academy of Magick. The families who lived there have been invited to stay in Fort Freedom for two nights as their apartments are used to stage an interesting duel. Floating bleachers hover around the outside of all four sides of the tower’s top three stories. Two flying carpets ferry people to and from the bleachers and ground. The windows of the top three floors have been blasted wide open to give a full view (save for support beams which remain intact). There is no glass. New furniture has been placed throughout every room in the apartments. Interior doors have been removed and their frames widened into larger archways. Two holes have been cut into the top two apartments’ floors and a fireman pipe runs through all three floors. Bedside tables crowd the bottom of the fireman pipe. Why? Well... the floor is lava. Duelists are encouraged to jump on furniture, leap on the fireman pole, run on the wide window sills, hang from chandeliers, but Do. Not. Touch. The. Floor. The floor is literally lava. You will get burnt very very very badly.

Optional Introduction

Ernest || Ch-clink. Ch-clink. Ch-clink. The sound of spurred boots ringing against the stones of the road echoed between the tall buildings as if amplified to carry further. A soft breeze accompanied the undead cowboy as he strode onto the main street between the tenements, a malevolent spellbook held in the crook of his arm, a crossbow spinning idly on his finger, an old orcish war-melody on his lips. The longcoat which flowed behind him with the wind glowed faintly blue around the edges, as did his hat--at this hour in the night, the effect was one that rendered him almost ghostly, ethereal in appearance. It was all for show, of course, but it looked DARN GOOD. Ernest flung the crossbow into the air, still spinning, caught it behind his back and tossed it up and forward over his shoulder. Then, shifting the book to his other hand, he caught the falling crossbow, continued its spin, and tossed both items into the air, letting them cross paths in front of him before catching them both in the original hands. The weapon's spin reversed quickly, and then it disappeared into a holster at his hip in a motion so fast you might swear there was supposed to be something in the middle there. Should his opponent be here, he'd cordially tip his hat to her and begin flipping through pages in his book.

Mahri walks down the street lined by the tall buildings of the tenements. She notes the ivy, the stone and wonders how the area will be changed for this fight. The lycan curls her fingers into her palms several times, takes a couple deep breaths and waits. Silver eyes surveying her opponent. Mahri didn’t have fancy weapons besides a dagger sheathed to her thigh and her own two hands; as well as a particular set of skills in druidry. Skills that she’d learned over… Well, lets not get all cliché here. The wolf watched the fancy weapon and book work barely stifling a yawn at the display. The blue glow? Well, she’d seen scarier things in her time. Much, much scarier in fact. Should the queen be present with her progeny, they would receive a respectful incline of a dark head in respect.


Ernest is perched precariously atop a couch which, for some reason, isn’t being affected by the lava beneath him. As he surveys the situation, he realizes that this particular event is going to be much trickier than he had initially considered. Still, things could be worse. The walls were more open now, which meant his crossbow could be brought much more fully to bear, and especially given that mobility would be severely limited by having to climb over and stand atop of various forms of furniture--dodging could be made more difficult. Instead of actually picking a spell from his book, the undead instead slipped the device into an inner pocket of his longcoat and snapped two crossbows back into his hands with the same speed he’d used to holster one of them down below, only now he had helpers--a small spidery hand was riding atop the repeating-mechanism of each crossbow. As soon as his weapons were ready, Ernest fired them both towards Mahri, aiming for her center of mass, each one just slightly off as a test to see which way she might dodge. Not particularly substantive, but very helpful, the little undead creatures brought to life with Ernest’s limited knowledge of necromancy did their jobs immediately and reset the crossbows in the same moment that he’d fired them, essentially allowing him to “fan the hammer” while dual-wielding. Crossbow bolts flew from his weapons at an absolutely absurd pace, the man tracking Mahri as she moved in an attempt to provide constant pressure and perhaps force her into the lava below--well, or turn her into a pincushion. Whichever worked, really.

Mahri had more stable footing on a table but that also meant she was closer to the heat of the lava. Sweat trickled down her forehead and she blinked to clear the sting from her eyes. This is okay, however, as fire was an element she could work with. The druid didn’t have as much experience beyond lighting an occasional cigarette, but she’d make due by tapping into the inate magics within and directing it towards the lava, readying the liquid fire to take form as soon she released it. Keen eyes caught on to what Ernest was doing with those two crossbows and as soon as the first two bolts are loosed, the wolf released the magics and two spheres of lava spewed upwards catching the first bolt, the second and falling back. Mahri had not anticipated the rapidity of the next round which were quickly behind the first. Cursing, the woman sprung, diving towards an armchair but not quite fast enough as a speeding projectile pierced through and through the flesh of her upper thigh. Black pants glistened darkly with the flow of blood from the wound, the injury making her landing off so that she had to grab the back of the chair to steady herself, one foot on the seat the other on an arm. Quickly, the lycan sent another jet of lava towards the undead cowboy, aiming for the hands which held the crossbows in their grasp.

Ernest hadn't quite anticipated his opponent to be a user of magic, but fortunately he was extremely quick with his hands. Slamming one crossbow back into its holster and, in the same moment, brushing a desiccated finger against a rune on the outside cover of his book, he shouted a quick command which activated the runes on his jacket and hat, turning his body around so that the lava would crash against the barriers that sprung to life a scant inch above the surface of his clothing. While this prevented his jacket from being burned away, the impact of the solid rock was enough to send him reeling. Fortunately, the finger on his book was able to switch to another rune, and an equally swift command spell forced the wind below him to carry him back up to solid footing--but now the couch was being eaten by lava, and he was forced to leap onto a nearby table. He checked the magazine of his current crossbow--empty. Perfect. The book was yanked from its pocket and a bookmark selected. The helping hand leaped onto the pages and placed its fingers in a particular arrangement, touching a series of spell sigils and rune recipes. Ernest once more voiced his command word. For a brief moment, the lava--which was still stone--found runes carved into it which flared to life. Aside from this effect, visibly, nothing happened. Invisibly, a small dome of force was formed inside the rune circle, laced also with the same animating energies which had made the hands ambulatory. The effect would be of an invisible hand reaching out--just briefly, before the lava’s liquid surface eroded the runes and caused the spell to fail--and attempting to latch onto Mahri’s ankle, to hold her still. Simultaneously, the hand on his crossbow had darted into his sleeve and returned with a crossbow bolt that glowed an ominous orange color, swiftly loading it into the weapon. Hoping that Mahri would be immobilized just long enough, Ernest fired, hoping to inflict her with the Curse of the Cannibal’s Eden--an illusory curse which caused every surface the target sees to smell like and appear to be made of rotten, rancid meat.

Mahri’s already moving, deciding that staying in one place while the lava ate furniture for dinner was probably a bad idea. While Ernest is calling chants and fingering up his book, the wolf is making her way to a more solid windowsill. Granted it’s a slow limping process full of grunts and grimaces, it also means she’s not quick enough to avoid the grabby magic hand. She’s on a granite table top with one foot on the sill and about to step off when that ankle is grasped. A glance shows nothing but she can’t pull her foot free either. “Son of a --” she didn’t get much further than that, bending down to try and physically remove the force, whatever it was, meant that the cursed bolt sliced through her shirt and nicked her shoulder. That’s enough though and her vision blurs, bile rises when the assault of putrid flesh hits her nose. “Bloody hell!” Blinking through tears, her heightened senses reeling, the wolf remembers the vines hanging from the building. This just will not do. Though magots writhe on every surface of bubbling green meat, the druid latches to the feel of greenery, pulling it, growing it to thick snake-like stalks that twist and slither over the surface, looking like undulating intestines rather than the vegetation they are and making their way over available surfaces to the necromancer. Wickedly curved thorns sprout from the once innocent ivy their tips dripping with acidic venom. Their only goal is to wrap around and immobilized Ernest and crush or close the book in his hands, dragging it away to be pulled beneath the swirling glow of lava. If any of those spines were to pierce the undead, the venom would slowly eat it’s way through clothes and what’s left of flesh and bone.

Ernest grinned and spun the crossbow once more before holstering it--watching the curse take hold was always very satisfying. And it seemed like she’d moved to a stone surface, which was even more satisfying. That same command word was uttered, and rather more permanent runes embedded themselves in the surface of the granite slab, another invisible hand reaching out to replace the first--but before Ernest could capitalize on this, here came an assortment of very problematic plant life. His finger on the spine of the book touched another rune, and now a different set of runes on his jacket flared up--and so did the undead. Both jacket and hat suddenly, of their own accord, caught fire, surrounding the man in a shell of flame which would burn away any uppity plants that got too close. He glanced out at the heckling crowd, hoping that his display might cause them a bit of pause--who is crazy enough to light themselves on fire?!--but even still, that venom which dripped from the thorns proved to be an interesting mix with the flame, as small droplets of it exploded and showered bits of caustic goo onto his shirt. As he could no longer feel pain, but still had a vague sense of how his body was doing, this didn’t register as good and he was forced once more to move--this time shouting out his command word again while the hand on his book scrambled to touch a different selection of runes and sigils. The wind swept up and below him, swirling around his longcoat and catching both him and the fire in a rotating updraft, carrying him from couch to granite table in a heartbeat while also fanning the flames to increase their temperature. A whirling inferno in a fantastic hat, Ernest intended nothing more than to close violently with Mahri, overwhelm her already-taxed senses with fire, and crossbow-whip her with the butt of his weapon right in the schnoz.

Mahri saw a whirling sack of rotting meat. Holy Hells. While the supped up vines withered with the heat, the sizzle of acid on what Mahri’s senses perceived as meat left out in the sun for way too long had her retching. Because. That. Smell. She could deal with the visuals; that she could get over, but it was the smells that were getting to her. Her mind whirled trying to grasp what it was she was seeing and smelling and quite frankly, the swirling inferno just looked like gobs of coagulated blood spinning in the air over a veritable sea of thick gooey vitreous. Breathing through her mouth to avoid the stench, the wolf took a chance and ripped her foot free, leaving a boot behind so the heat of the lava scorched the bottom of her foot. She’d probably have blisters there at the end but at least she was on the windowsill. A quick swipe of her hand, and the dagger was palmed, drawn and thrown center mass at the whirling dervish while, at the same time, she dropped down, out of the window but not to the ground. No, she’d catch the edge with her hands, using her considerable strength to launch herself back through the window, into the raunchiness caused by the curse and with careful aim, past Ernest to land behind him on a passing dining table. The injured leg buckling under her if she made it that far.

Ernest wasn’t prepared for her to sacrifice a boot or a foot to the lava in an attempt to escape from him, and had to admit that it was a gutsy move. He dug a spur into the stone to prevent himself from sliding off the table into the lava after missing her, and as such took just long enough to regain his balance that the thrown dagger found its mark perfectly. Shthunk. All the way into his chest, between his ribs, to the hilt. Where it stuck. And where Ernest looked at it blankly for a moment, before turning back to face Mahri and spinning his crossbow again, signaling for one of the helping hands to dump another load of unenchanted, mundane crossbow bolts into it again and cock it back. “A dagger to the chest mighta killed someone with a heart to beat,” he rasped at her, a sneer gracing his dry, cracked lips, “but when you spend ten long years cookin’ in the sands of the desert, the soft tissues are the first things t’go.”

Winner: Mahri

Auto-hit Stake

Mahri just smiles back at the talking meat-bag. “Aye, wheel, t’at was jus’ a distraction.” Mahri hadn’t loosed her hold on the ivy/writing intestines and sent the mutated flora barreling towards Ernest, shoving the undead out the wide open window behind him and to the ground below.