Duel:Emrith v Grailan, Match 8 of the Inaugural Warrior's Guild Tournament
Duelists: Grailan vs. Emrith. Duel: Traditional 3 posts each, with final defense. 15 minute posting limit. Stakes: Autohit post. Judges: Latulepi, Tristram & Xunzyr
Snowless Training Yard
Leone said, "Welcome to the Final Round of the Inaugural Tournament of Warriors! Here we gather in the arena of Frostmaw to watch two noble warriors do battle. The arena's orbs have been tweaked and turned to precisely the right calibration until the scenery is wholly alien. The arena has been transformed into...an arena? Or so it appears at first glance. Rather than the smooth, ashy sand of the training yard's usual groundcover, the floor is packed earth, cracked and veined with tiny fissures. Wider inspection will yield a matrix of hexagonal plots, half of which suddenly heave upward to the sky into the fascimile of a mountain range. The other half plummet well below their starting level, forming a barren fjord that threatens to swallow competitors whole. But these are not the only changes, nor will they be. The hexagons are constantly rearranging, morphing, changing from minute to minute and second to second. Towering pillars of basalt soon crumble into a muddy riverbed before thrusting up into craigy cliffs in the next breath of a moment. Whatever the arena decides to do next, the contestants better watch their heads for falling debris, bottomless pits, raging lahars, and fonts of lava. Good luck to both Emrith and Grailan!"
Emrith glances quickly around as the landscape first forms, then reforms before his eyes. This is truly a dangerous and ever-changing environment, and the elf will have to stay on his toes in order to avoid being pulverized or melted by rocks or lava. He is garbed for speed, wearing a mix of light chainmail and leather, with his customary sable cloak, unclasped for the moment, spilling down across his shoulders. Twin shortswords, Heleg and Nahr, rest in custom-made scabbards upon his back. A belt of steel links set with studs rings his waist, and sprung-looking boots appear on his feet. His hands are bare, and his face is unprotected. His keen elven eyes settle upon Grailan, and immediately the spell-blade breaks into a sprint. He does not charge toward the man, however, but angles to his right, keeping Grailan on his left and unlimbering the whip with his left hand as he runs. He passes within ten feet of the undead dread-knight before tossing the whip in a haphazard loop, enchanting it with fire as it sings through the air. Immediately the steel begins to melt, just seconds before it will hopefully come in contact with the knight, wherever he might be running to. Molten metal is only the first of the elf's gifts, however. The ground rumbles, and Emrith leaps into the air and heaves himself forward just as a pillar rips out of the ground behind him. Using the newly-found spire of rock as temporary cover, the elf uses all of his considerable speed, whirling a hundred and eighty degrees and then quickly side-stepping around the tower of stone while his left hand once more blurs into action. From a pouch beneath his cloak he takes a vial made of green glass, and as his left shoulder breaks cover, he tosses the container overhand in the direction of the last place he knows Grailan occupied. Such devices are rare and hard to come by, but they are rather simple in their execution. Various oils and salts, packed tightly into a vial and stoppered, then enchanted so that concussion will make them explode with terrific force. Emrith is still protected from shrapnel as his tiny ensorcelled grenade explodes. The bang is terrific, and the hell it wreaks upon the twisted pillars and crags might be enough to send Grailan from whatever perch he has found toward one sort of doom or another.
Grailan stood at the area opposite Emrith; he was clad in telltale and distinct attire that betrayed not only his race, but his vocation of some sort of damned sentinel. Layers of black platemail armor overlaid equally dark-hued chainmail, and the former was decorated with skull-engraved pendants, medallions, and general aesthetic accessories, which gave the undead a very imposing, if morbidly stalwart presence. His hooded cloak was not cowled over his shoulders as usual, but rather this time they were bunched in the grasp of his left gauntlet, which opened to allow the garments to flutter upon the idle breeze of a gentle wind to the ground. His left held an obsidian handle, attached to a pair of long, twisting chains that connected its end to the top of an excessively large and steel skull on the ground, with sharpened spikes that protruded from its surface. Dull, dead grey eyes affixed to the swift elf as he burst forward in monkey-like antics, and never once strayed despite that the half of the arena that the dread knight occupied abruptly plummeted into a barren fjord, which concealed the male from sight for the most part, trapped between two sheer gorge edges. But the man's expression never changed from it's solemn state of grim resolve, nor did his eyes stop their tracking of the elf movement. When Emrith leapt, and tossed his whip, the arena abruptly changed again; it flew back upward and took on the appearance, in this third of the area, of a dense jungle. It also put the man in the direct path of the firey projectile. Despite his appearance, he moved relatively fast for being so armored -not so fast as a nimble elf or an unarmored human, but enough to narrowly pull himself beneath the oncoming weapon and push into a gait toward Emrith. As ther vial was tossed from behind cover into the dense jungle, it was shards of bark and trees that impaled the undead in bloodless, but ineffective injuries, not slowing him as he pushed through the rain of debris. His hand came overhead, holding tightly his handle, and so too followed the skull-shaped flail with enormous added force with the augmented might of his undead capabilities. It came careening downward toward Emrith, aiming to destroy him and everything that was in its path on the way.
Emrith is poised on the balls of his feet and still scanning the area when Grailan plunges toward him. Only the keen instincts and terrific speed inherent in all members of his race save him from being pounded to pulp by that hideous flail. He bends backward like a willow-branch, and instead of tasting elven flesh, the flail's head hammers the basalt column behind which the spell-blade had taken cover. Rock chips fly, and a particularly large shard tears a groove in his left cheek, eliciting a quick spray of blood and a pained hiss from between parted lips. It looks to Emrith as if the head of Grailan's flail has partially embedded itself in the base of the now-pulverized pillar, and the elf uses this brief moment to his advantage. Supple as grass-stalks and quick as a snake, the wood-elf leans forward and leaps free of the ground, using a brief enchantment upon his boots to shove himself forward the reuqisite foot or two with even greater speed. He lands upon the flail's skull-shaped head and part of its chain squarely with both feet even as he is drawing his twin shortswords. Heleg, the cold one, is in his left hand, while Nahr, the hot one, is in his right. His attack is simple and speedy, dual strikes, one high and one low. Nahr aims to kiss and then sever the chains holding the flail's head to its handle; Heleg's purpose is more lethal...a skewering strike driven up under the dread-knight's chin, hoping to find a crack in his armour long enough to slide underneath it and impart its frosty enchantment to armour and tainted flesh alike. Far from content with this, Emrith yanks both of his swords back, takes a single hop to his right, then drops into flame stance, using both swords in a veritable whirlwind of strikes from near point-blank range, meaning to subject the man and his spiky suit of protection to alternating bursts of intense heat and numbing cold. Such extreme temperature shifts are sure to take their toll... As Emrith attacks, he feels the ground beneath him beginning to shift, turning treacherously squishy. A quick look around shows him that the land around the pair has risen up into a ring of clay-covered cliffs and buttes, hemming them in, at least temporarily.
Grailan was not someone that one would particular desire to be hemmed in a small arena with; undead, he felt neither pain nor fatigue, neither hunger nor thirst. Instead, the grim man's melancholy expression gave way to the fact that all he felt was a single-minded fixation with the defeat of his opponent, and a remorseful sorrow for doing so, but that sorrow did not hinder his actions. The flail's skull was not pulled out as the acrobatic antics of the elf found him perched atop the chain that was stretched taut between Dread Knight and elf, and that dull, dead grey gaze remained as if permanently fixated upon the movements of the far more nimble and far less armored of the two as Emrith dual-attacked first. The chain broke, but more importantly, that sword found purchase beneath the chin of the undead and up into his skull from behind his jaw. This immediately froze the head of remorseful-looking male, before it was ripped from its moorings of neck and shoulders by the sheer yank backward, shattering along the neck yet remaining firmly attached to the frosty weapon. But the body didn't fall. His skull surely shattered bit by bit with the frenzied attack on his armored frame, which resonated within the miniature valley with the sound of blades against platemail, but with their break due to the ground shifting beneath them, it would be revealed that the undead is not out for the count. Unconcerned about the arena as it suddenly lurched and shifted around them into an island of hardened and cracked rock in a sea of molten, fiery lava, the headless Grailan moved as if it could still see; from his belt was grasped a long, serrated knife, while his other gauntlet shot outward in attempt to grasp hold of the elf's neck and squeeze as hard as his augmented strength could, to both choke the life out of the man as well as keep him in place. Anchoring him would be the key objective, though, because the serrated knife was thrust as his very lightly armored chest and gut again and again.
Emrith is caught up by the frenzy of battle enough that he does not immediately notice that the arena has changed once again. He strikes as hard and fast as he can, hoping to do as much damage to the man's armour as possible before he is forced to change tactics. When Grailan's head tears free of his neck and shatters after repeated blows against its former possessor, Emrith is not startled into a fatal lapse; this is an undead, after all, and short of dismembering it completely, throwing it into molten rock or bathing it with holy magic, there is little chance of felling the abomination completely. When Grailan's gauntletted fist lashes out, Emrith does the only thing his instincts suggest: he bends back and immediately sits down. Rather than mud to break his fall, there is unyielding rock, and the "Umpf!" of escaping air is quite audible as he hits the ground. The serrated dagger whistles toward him, but it parts his hair on its first swing, owing to Emrith's diminished body position. Certain that Grailan will not simply continue to shave his blond hair for him despite his inability to see, the wood-elf shoots both legs forward, then spreads them, meaning to clip the insides of each of the undead's ankles with each of his own. Since he is still wielding both shortswords, Emrith is in perfect position for a particularly nasty bit of business. He draws his elbows in so that his shortswords tuck close to his own sides, then lowers his head down, rolls his shoulders, and spreads his arms while lunging to his feet. His trajectory places his head and neck into the fork of Grailan's groin even as both of his swords flick outward, intending to bite into the insides of the undead's knees and drive his feet even more fully outward. The elf's head hits the man's armoured crotch and his eyes immediately see stars; a biting pain in his back tells him that one of Grailan's strikes has found flesh. Emrith, however, is dead set on first robbing the dread-knight of what remains of his balance and then, with that single upward headbutt, tossing him away...into a roiling see of liquid rock boiling merrily away on all sides of their stony battleground.
Grailan had no intention of giving anyone a haircut. Especially not for free; Emrith was paying for it by being the adversary of the tireless, enduring and armored undead. Despite his lack of a head, for a lack of better words, the undead seemed to realize that Emrith had shifted position and his attack did not sink into flesh and meat of a living being; it was apparent that the dread knight was able to locate where, generally, Emrith was by the sheer presence of the other in his vicinity. The dagger was swiftly and expertly moved and shifted within that gauntleted grasp for the blade to point downward rather than upward from his thumb, and the weapon-holding arm was ascended high in preparation for a swift descent of plummeting stabs. But while he did so, Emrith clipped the armored ankles of the undead's boots, which remained steadfast despite etches now within them before the head hit the armored crotch of the undead. Yet, bloodless and absent any beat in his heart, he did not feel pain. That included the headbutt to his crotch, although the elf began to lift the heavy and armored male with the support of his pushing legs. The royal guard circumvented this outcome with staggered steps forward and away from the other, and the scenery complimented Emrith's attack with sizzles and spurts of molten lava. But Grailan did not continue to stumble into their deadly grasp, instead pivoting on one foot to turn and bring his arm around in a horizontal slash of his dagger level with the elf's neck. His legs straightened in a follow through by throwing his weight immediately and fluidly after, into a bone-pulverizing punch aimed at an elven sternum.
Emrith feels both of his feet, and then his swords, strike their targets. His head rings from contact. And yet, this undead horror simply will not lie down and give up. As he heaves himself forward, attempting to unbalance the dread-knight and toss him into a fiery crematorium from which there will be no return, the elf screams, partially in pain from his bleeding back and partially from sheer frustration. When the fever of battle descends, little matters to the wood-elf besides swift and utter victory; emotions are laid aside and personal feelings rendered meaningless in the face of the simple need to end the contest. In this way, he is as relentless as his foe. The earth quakes, lava spews skyward, and Emrith's eyes, which are as keen as ever despite the haze of pain in which he currently struggles, see the undead preparing to attack again. Thankfully, he is still armed, and not mortally wounded. Heleg comes up diagonally across his body to protect his neck, deflecting an otherwise lethal stroke and eliciting sparks from the clash of metal on metal. The punch he attempts to block with his other sword, but his elven celerity, which has been so trustworthy till now, at last fails him. Nahr is only halfway into parrying position when that punishing strike hits home, sending the elf into a boneless backward sprawl. He loses his grip on Nahr as he falls, but somehow keeps hold of Heleg. Instead of careening off the island into a sea of fire, the wood-elf feels himself tumbling down a sandy incline on his back, further abrading the cut there. He cannot breathe, and he fears he may have broken ribs. Still, he is not dead, and as he takes in one gasp of sand-scented air, his aching body fetches up against an excrescence of sandstone with a thump. He groans, whoops in another searing gasp of hot air, then laboriously climbs to his feet. Sticky wetness courses down his back. His cheek has stopped bleeding, but still stings. His right hand is tingling, his ribs feel like they have been packed full of splinters of hot iron. yet, he comes on. Crunch. Crunch. Crunch. Boots on gritty sand, as Emrith climbs the hill. "This ends. Here and now. This ends. I end you." In his extremity, he has reverted to his mother tongue. He tops the hill, blood-spattered but utterly irresolute, sword in hand and death in his eyes.
Emrith continues his trudge up the hill. Each step is an effort, but the elf's blood-streaked face is set in grim determination. Heleg rises, dips, rises again, showing in its wavering progress the sheer fatigue of its wielder. Mercifully, this part of the battlefield remains stationary, and does not throw up any fresh threats; dimly, the spell-blade sees a fountain of icy water spray into the air far off to his right, and hears the sigh of wind in naked pine-boughs somewhere far behind him. This is a strange and terrible place. He approaches the headless undead, hesitates, then musters the remains of his strength and swings his freezing shortsword in a sweeping stroke toward Grailan's near arm. The dread-knight probably will neither fear nor feel further mangling, but Emrith makes a mess of his arm in any case, shattering a piece of his black spiked armour and bearing muscle and bone beneath with his mighty swing. The attack is accompanied with a whimper from the elf, who feels the sprung ribs on his left side grate viciously as he strains the muscles of his chest and shoulder. He spots Nahr nearby, kicks the sword into the air so as to not necessitate another painful crouch, and catches the weapon with his free hand, which has regained most of its feeling. Then, without a backward glance, he limps away. There are no true winners in a battle such as this, only losers; the only concern of those who survive is to discern who lost more.