Artorius Collbrande is the head exorcist of the Abbey and the main antagonist in Tales of Berseria. Ten years before the story began, Artorius stumbled upon the village of Aball, alone and depressed. There, he met Celica Crowe, with whom he fell in love. He took the name Arthur, and settled down with his wife and her younger siblings. He would later lose Celica and their unborn child during a Daemon attack, the two becoming the malakhim later known as Seras and Phi.
As losing your wife and unborn child is wont to do, this puts Artorius into a genocidal depression, focused on preventing all of humanity from experiencing any emotions at all. To this end, he sacrifices the entire village of Aball, killing his brother-in-law, Laphicet, to turn him into a vessel for Innominat, a previously unknown god. He also turns all the villagers into daemons, and his sister-in-law, Velvet Crowe, into a Therion, a special type of daemon that feeds on despair. Velvet is then thrown into a maximum-security prison.
While she struggles to survive, Artorius uses Innominat's power to expand the ranks of the Exorcists, rapidly becoming a hero to the people by driving back the Demons. He eventually takes full political power, usurping the throne as the world's new battle-pope. While he is successfully able to enact his plans, he is prevented from expanding Magic Communism outside of his capital due to Velvet's interference.
He then separates Innominat from the planet, creating a massive fortress in space to set the final showdown with Velvet. He loses, and dies lamenting he couldn't save everyone.
Tarot Battle Royale (by Leolab)
A siren resounded through DFederal, drawing the notice of the several of the newer residents. The announcement that followed, however, drew the attention of everyone. A battle was to take place within the city itself, a full twenty-two people fighting for the chance to live in luxury. Darth Bane, one of those potentially lucky souls, slams Palpatine’s head into a wall one last time before striding out of the alleyway he had been calling home. He finds himself in a grey, featureless room instead of the streets, surrounded by a slate of colorful characters. He takes stock of his foes, some faces familiar and others seemingly far too young.
Taking similar stock is Kai Leng, the arrogant ninja holding back a sneer. If his foes were of this caliber, he should have no problem taking the top. The organizer this time must be insane, including not only a schoolgirl but the fool sleeping against the corner. Or they might just be allowing him to finally get his due. He smiles as the door opens, letting in a man in an orange mask with blue detailing.
“I’m Leo, your host this time,” the man says without preamble, “And most of you should have had the rules this time directly implanted in your minds. Try not to get too distracted you don’t hear the district change announcements. Let’s start.” And at that, the man snaps, teleporting all of them to random points in the sewers.
Kai Leng appears next to the cookfire of a man in a leather cap and a maille shirt under a cloth tunic, damp and dirty. The other man jumps, startled at the sudden appearance, but smiles at his visitor.
“Hail, Kai,” Diarmuid says with a smile, “I wish you good luck in your fight.” The Irishman toasts to his unexpected guest, general good nature unaffected by his surroundings. Kai returns his politeness with discourtesy, and kicks his fire out.
“I have no need for encouragement from someone so low,” he sneers, and draws his sword, intending to cut down the man as practice. Diarmuid, however, dodges the blow while picking up a small spear next to him. A series of slashes from the ninja are dodged with relative ease, while a pair of swipes from Diarmuid’s spear find their mark, leaving long, gashes on the arrogant man.
Kai Leng lashes out with his palm blaster, firing at the floor to create an escape route. The spearman had gotten a few lucky hits in, no more. He simply had larger fish to fry; he wasn’t fleeing a losing fight. Like everything else he has done, however, Kai Leng made a grave miscalculation. The floor crumbles under his feet, sending him plummeting into an abyss.
He eventually slams into the ground, the impact knocking the wind out of him and sending more blood through his wounds. He gets up and looks around, seeing the rows upon rows of people in illuminated tubes. One behind him starts to shake, and he turns to watch as a man with an owl mask slams his head into the glass repeatedly, eventually breaking it open. The fluid within pours out as the man leaps out of his tank, knocking Kai Leng back to the ground.
Stunned and weakened from the wounds Diarmuid gave him, he can only watch in horror as the Owlman, crazed from repeated confinement and deaths, scratches at his cybernetics. The insane man’s fingers get under Kai Leng’s mask and pry it off, opening his face to the continued scratching by the screeching warrior. As he convulses from the pain of having his skull worn away by human fingers, Leng remembers one of the many rumors he had heard on the DFederal streets. A place known as “OCity” under the sewers, a place of madness and death. Those who entered were killed and returned aboveground, their memories erased save for the terror.
His last thoughts as the fingers finally scoop out his brain were a curse towards Leo, for sending him so close to such a deadly place.
As soon as he appeared in the sewers, Tal fell back on his usual plan when things go wrong. He simply ran like mad, ignoring the disgruntled grumbles of his Spiritshadow. He vaults and sprints through the pipes, barely missing the denizens of DFederal’s underground. He stops short just before an intersection spews a gout of sewage, narrowly avoiding being swept away like the large, blue-skinned person who was running ahead of him.
Another pipe takes him to a large, circular junction, which has two other entrances aside from his own. Footsteps in both of them come to a halt, as a red-haired teenager with blood trickling out of her mouth appears in one and a man with an eyepatch stumbles into the other.
“Blood and ashes,” Mat mutters, “Of course the dice stop now.” He throws a knife at each of his opponents as he finishes, the first cut down by a ray of light from the child and the other simply stopping in midair in front of the girl before plopping into the murky water. Tal immediately retaliates with a Red Ray of Destruction, but his attack fizzles out before hitting the older man. He then yelps and ducks, barely dodging Miu’s punch, and tries to sweep her legs out from under her.
The vampire leaps back and thrusts her hand out towards Mat, who feels his medallion grow cold has her attempt to pull him off balance fails. He lets another knife fall from his sleeve into his hand, and catches the boy with the other, halting the youth’s attempt to charge him. He throws him at the girl, but to his surprise the youth cocoons himself in light.
Miu dodges him, unsure of what such a massive blast of light would do, and Tal slams into the wall, nearly knocking himself out. Miu, seeing the opportunity to incapacitate the youth, throws another punch with one hand while using her telekinesis with the other to pull the knife out of Mat’s hands. Splitting her attention allows Tal to attack, however, and in his panic lashes out with a Violet Unraveling. Miu disintegrates without a sound, and the knife she had intended to catch flies through the space where she was and into Tal’s throat.
Mat, horrified, runs towards the boy, but arrives too late. The child, barely fourteen, had already bled out in the filth and grime of the sewers. Mat grimaces and closes the boy’s eyes, trying not to liken him to Olver and failing. He sets the boy’s body down on one of the ledges above the water and runs off, hoping that no one had noticed the brief but deadly fight.
As Mat’s footsteps fade from the junction, Haar steps out from behind a corner with a sigh. He walks through the battlefield, yawning, and takes a different pipe to the other man, hoping to avoid combat. In the dim light, he notices iron rungs leading up to a small round metal plate. He lifts his axe up and pokes it, revealing the light of the slums above him. Yawning again, he settles into a nook across from the cover and falls asleep, intending to nap and let the district change be his alarm.
A few junctions away, Yukie also sprints through the pipes. Unlike the dead Tal, however, she was looking for an opponent instead of fleeing. She feels a presence behind her, and swiftly draws her katana to shatter the icicles raining down on her. A flurry of slashes deflects those about to hit her, and the rest crater the steel floor around her. A woman in a heavily modified nun habit, almost a cosplay piece, crystalizes out of the shadows, confident smile on her face.
“Patterns in the ice / melt away beautifully / and fade with cruelty,” she says, and a runic circle appears over her hand. Yukie coats her sword in her fighting aura and bats away the long, spear-like icicles that threaten to gouge her flesh and chill her blood. As she defends, however, she notices her foe running towards her, whispering another poem.
“In a silver world / act with ice-cold precision. / Leave nothing to chance.”
The assassin materializes a katana blade of ice and launches into a series of attacks, fast enough that she seemed to be wielding three swords instead of one. Yukie moves faster, however, and is finally able to strike back. Her foe freezes the air in a makeshift shield, dampening the blow enough that she can catch it with her ice and retreat. Yukie pursues, realizing only as she brings her sword down that this was Fiona’s plan.
The nun manipulates the ice in her blade skillfully, softening it just enough to capture the swordswoman’s katana. Freezing it back to solidity, she wrenches it from Yukie’s grasp and throws it at the wall. Unperturbed by the loss of her weapon Yukie punches, almost faster than the eye can see. Fiona deflects it with similar speed, and strikes back. The pair trade blows, each one thrown with enough force to kill, and destroy the pipes around them while looking for an advantage.
They leap back to a neutral position, a fierce joy in their eyes at being able to fight to their fullest, a pleasure Yukie was denied upon her entrance to the city. Fiona breaks the stillness first, with another of her senryu incantations.
“With my wish fulfilled / I prostrate as it plummets/ That shower of stakes,” she says, sending another rain of icicles down around Yukie. The youth dodges and deflects the scattering spikes, sending one down a connecting pipe. It misses a man in an eyepatch by a hairsbreath, nearly throwing his newly-reclaimed hat off with the force of its passing.
Mat curses his luck, annoyed at being nearly killed yet again. First the battle against two children, and now a random icicle from nowhere. Even in this place, the world seemed to simply want to make his life miserable. As if laughing at his recollection, Mat once again stumbles on a pair of his opponents, one a man in a blue uniform and the other a young girl in a black one and a plaid skirt, of all things.
“Oh not again,” Mat groans, again throwing a pair of knives. Just like the last time, one is incinerated by the man in the blue uniform and the girl simply dodges it.
“Do you always greet people by throwing knives?” Queen asks, fixing her skirt.
“Only if I know they’re trying to kill me,” Mat says, hoping his light smile was charming enough to get her to back off without using one of the other knives in his sleeve. She wasn’t his type, but he didn’t want to kill another woman if he could help it.
“Well, we’re not,” Roy interjects, “at least I’m not.”
“I also do not wish to fight,” Queen says primly, “And I believe that we should, at this stage, ally with each other.”
“I agree with the girl,” Roy says, and the two look at Mat.
“All right, all right. You’ve twisted my arm,” he says, throwing his hands in the air. It might not be bad to have some friends. And if they have to kill each other later, well… they’d get to that when it happened.
“First thing’s first,” Roy says, sounding more relaxed than he looks, “Information.”
“At least two of them are dead,” Mat says with a frown, “We fought.”
“Three,” Queen says, causing the two to look at her before she continues, “If I only remember nineteen people from that room, that means three are dead.”
“Look, lass, I don’t think a bad memory is proof of anything.”
“I forget the dead. Part of the Crystal’s blessing.”
“Burn me, girl, that’s no blessing,” Mat says with a scowl.
“It can be, at times,” Roy mutters, before realizing they had all forgotten something fairly important when making allies. “I’m Roy Mustang,” he says, nodding towards his new companions.
“Matrim Cauthon,” Mat says while tipping his hat.
“Queen,” Queen says while adjusting her glasses.
“And I’m Aoi Kamishiro, and it’s hunting time!” a teenager wearing a nun costume shouts as she charges at the dumbfounded trio, a dagger in each hand. Queen materializes her blade and utilizes Justice Guard, parrying the strike and hitting her point-blank with her repost. Aoi leaps back, only for Roy to snap his fingers and explode the air behind her.
She falls to the ground, dead, the Killsight having done its work.
“Guess that makes four,” Roy says, looking incredulously at the dead woman.
“Oh. Was she one of them?” Queen asks, dismissing her sword into thin air while fixing her skirt.
Darth Bane stalks through the pipes, the narrow confines unpleasantly similar to hit time on Apatros as Dessel. The area he wanders through is pitch dark, the only available illumination his red lightsaber. His rage boils, hatred of the system that kept him down first as an illegal resident and then as a homeless Sith rising to form a sweep of power, rippling the sewage away from his feet as he walked. His Force-enhanced senses picked up the sound of another stepping delicately through the pipe ahead, moving in his direction.
Bane glares as he sees a flame flicker, and a young girl peers incautiously through the darkness, wearing a long, blue gown and a pair of gloves. As she moves her flaming hand across her face, Bane recognizes the girl: Azaka Kokutou, one of the other homeless residents who wandered the alleyways of the blue collar district. And one of his opponents in the current fight.
The girl stops, evidently noticing his lightsaber, and the man shoots his hand forward, fingers twisted into a claw. A half-dozen bolts of blue lightning arc out and strike the girl, and she barely has time to scream before the Dark Side fries her from the inside out. As she falls, the crashing of a gong roll through the sewers, followed by an announcement.
“All right, Tarot competitors. Five of you are dead, so now it’s time to get to the Slums. You have ten minutes to leave the sewers and get to the slums. Everyone else… try not to get in their way.”
Bane meets the eyes of one of the sewer’s residents, who appeared to be drawing the vestiges of his lightning into himself, and the man takes a step back through the broken hole that counted as an entryway in this section of the city.
Bane himself growls and thrusts his palm upward, straining as the steel and concrete above him buckles and cracks.
Elsewhere in the sewers, Fiona and Yukie pause their battle upon hearing the announcement and look at each other. An unspoken understanding sparked between the two swordswomen, and Fiona taps the ceiling with her sword, adjusting its shape to send it through each and every minor flaw in the pipe and the surrounding earth. An entire stretch of ground slowly but surely freezes and warps, before the nun draws her blade back, nodding at the younger girl.
Yukie returns the nod, and closes her eyes for a second, concentrating her fighting spirit into her blade before opening them and striking upward, a movement so efficient and swift even Fiona could barely follow it. The ground above them shatters and launches miles into the sky, and Yukie wastes no time in executing a series of leaps up the broken steel, earth, concrete, and asphalt.
“The nameless deceased / have but a single purpose / as a stepping stool,” Fiona says, and the incantation creates her own footholds to leap up herself. She lands to see Yukie staring at her with a cramped attempt at a smile on her face.
“I am Yukie Mayuzumi, of the Mayuzumi sword style,” she announces, “Would you do me the honor of continuing this bout?”
“Fiona Annabel Kousaki,” she replies, “Self-taught. I suppose I can play with you for a while longer.”
She flips forward, and makes an ice platform at her feet to launch a strike from above. Yukie parries it, and barely leaps out of the way of the razor-sharp pillar of ice that would have cut her hands off. She bats away a sweep intended to hit her legs, and strikes back. Fiona leaps back while parrying one of the seeming five blades coming at her, narrowly avoiding decapitation. The soft tapping of steel on ice lost itself in the cacophony around them, other warriors either replicating their stunt or simply leaving through actual manholes.
Fiona snatches one of the many pieces of rubble now coating the DFederal slums and slings it at Yukie, who shatters it in midair with a swing and hits it with the flat of her blade on the return, sending the pebbles back fast as bullets. Fiona makes a swift wall of packed snow, the pebbled that would have hit her sinking harmlessly into the moisture while letting the ones that wouldn’t slice through the cardboard shanties behind her.
Yukie, sprinting behind the makeshift projectiles, brings her sword around in an arc, scattering the snow in a burst of wind. She freezes, honed senses momentarily overwhelmed, but her reflexes allow her to parry Fiona’s flurry of thrusts at her face. She leaps back, with the nun hot on her heels. A split second later, and the two have their swords at each other’s’ throats. Fiona disengages first, sliding back on a sheet of ice. She readies her blade, now stained with a speck of red, as Yukie brings her own spotless steel to bear.
The sounds of their continued clash even reach the sewers, as well as the desperately running Hitomi Hitoyoshi. The red-haired girl she was chasing pauses her flight, swinging the broken blade extending from her shield. Hitomi ducks and sweeps out with her foot, her perfect Savate strike only throwing the girl farther back and breaking her momentum. Len flips through the air, and extends her fist to touch the ground before extending her sword, sending her sailing aboveground as the gong reverberates through the sewers once more.
Mere moments later, a blue-skinned man in similar-colored armor appears before her, seemingly out of thin air. He sighs before drawing his curved, red sword and pointing it at the diminutive woman.
“I’m no longer his representative, but I can’t even retire,” he grumbles as he squares off, before simply extending his arm and incinerating his target in a gout of fire.
On the surface, Haar and Siegfried swing themselves into their saddles, the latter riding off to find a fight while the former lifts off, flying above the war-torn slums in the center of DFederal. As the city shudders below, the gaping wounds in its streets bleeding raw sewage, Haar – and his dragon – yawn and close their eyes.
Nothing’s better than the sky for a nap.
His shadow passes over the trio of Mat, Roy, and Queen, picking their way over the rubble and chaos. Even those not in the competition were being swept up in the violence, as the now-charred Irishman shrieking about God had decided now was the best time to attack three strangers with a flamethrower.
They hear maniacal laughter in what was left of the alleyway next to them, and peek in to see a white-haired man, naked save for a loincloth, hitting a giant spiked turtle with his throne, while some creepy blue-furred elf lay collapsed in its own blood, twitching with pink froth gushing out of its lips. The man teleports his throne over Bowser’s head and sits in it, finally crushing the Koopa King’s head and putting him out of his misery.
“He dared call himself a king in my presence,” he snorts, reveling in the slaughter, “And who’s this? Three more sacrifices before the mighty Algol?”
He gets up from his throne, facing the trio with a snarling smile on his face. He wastes no time getting into combat, shifting his hand into a cannon and launching magic at the group. Queen and Roy, acting as one, shove Mat forward while rolling out of the way.
“Oi!” the general yells as the magic fizzles before hitting him, “Just because it doesn’t hurt me doesn’t mean I like it!” Mat unsheathes his ashandarei in indignation, taking a couple swipes at Algol to keep the maniac at bay.
“Better you than us,” Roy says, snapping his fingers and exploding the air in front of Algol’s face. The Hero-King simply manifests the crystalline hilt of Soul Calibur, absorbing the impact before rematerializing his throne and throwing it at the alchemist with one hand. His other shifts into the red blade of Soul Edge, turning aside Mat’s thrust. He then casually manifests Soul Calibur’s blade, warding off Queen’s flurry of sword strikes before the young girl disengages, landing and launching magic at him.
While Algol cancels it out with his own magic cannon, Queen swiftly manifests and slashes a Mana Sphere, sending it at Algol from three directions. He cuts them all down by sprouting silver spikes from his back and arms. An explosion from Roy blinds him before he can strike back, however, sending him reeling for the first time in ages. He hears a sound in front of him, and shoots his ribcage out of his chest to impale the cretin bold enough to attack him while stunned.
His efforts are met with a squelching thud and piercing pain, and his vision returns to see Matrim impaling him on his spear. He twists the shaft and yanks it out, leaving the Hero-King on his knees. Algol opens his mouth in a snarl, intending to praise his opponent, but a snap and a spark from Roy explodes the air within his lungs.
Without those organs, as vital to kings as they are to Hamon users, Algol slumps on the ground, dead.
Akechi Goro laughs, Loki manifesting prominently above him. A group of homeless monks with laser swords gathers around him, having initially mistaken his own beam sword for their own. Now, driven mad by his power, they set about tearing down and ripping up the slums. The low hum of lightsabers flashing is almost drowned out by the screams of the dying, which fall deaf on the manic Jedi’s ears.
Another lightsaber ignites, the crimson color standing out amongst a sea of other hues. Strikes rain out from its wielder, quick as the lightning that sparks from his free hand, swiftly cutting a path through the crowd. The enormous man, emaciated and pale but still solid with muscle, casually slices through the ranks of his most hated enemy until Akechi spots him. The detective makes an exaggerated attempt to attack him, but is unceremoniously cut down by Bane’s superior skill.
A girl in a kimono peeks out from behind a wall after the man passes, the only intact thing left in the street. A red-haired girl peeks out from the other side, and the pair catches each other’s eyes.
“Hey, do you think we can maybe… not?” Len says, giving the other girl a friendly smile.
“I saw what you did with Hitoyoshi,” Susushiro replies, “Do you really think I’d let such dishonor stand?”
“Ah, I guess not,” Len says, grimacing, and places her weapon against the wall behind her. She then extends the broken blade of her sword, launching her at her enemy. She cartwheels in midair, going for an overhand blow, but the girl simply punches the Divine Sword aside. Falling back on her instincts, Len brings her shield up in time to block another punch from Suzushiro, sending her flying backwards. She lands on the wall and springs off, aiming to get close before Suzushiro can react.
A sudden, sharp increase in gravity slams her out of the air, nearly knocking her out.
“You’re not the only one who remembered the other loss conditions,” Suzushiro says coldly, “I merely have to wait here for a minute, and you’ll have lost.” She smiles, confident in her victory, and does as she said. After a minute, she simply returns gravity to normal and walks off. Len rolls on her back, gasping for air.
“Well, I’m at least alive,” she says, groaning as she struggles to her feet, only to see a British male in a beret looking at her sadly, revolver drawn.
“I’m sorry, girl, but El Alamein demands blood,” he says, and fires. His shaking hand did not throw his aim off, and Len falls back, dead.
As she hits the ground, a gong rings out in the slums, followed by an announcement of a district change.
Yukie runs towards the blue collar district, sending a strike at Fiona as she does so. The nun casually deflects it and calls down yet another rain of icicles, which Yukie, too pressed for finesse, simply obliterates with a single sword slash that breaks the sound barrier. Fiona is nearly blown away by the air pressure, but catches her balance at the last minute before hurriedly parrying another strike from her foe. That does knock her off balance, but even that was within her expectations.
“Pushing through the ground / seeking the bright light of day / mete silvery death,” she says, touching the ground as she regains her poise. A forest of spikes erupts from the ground, chilling the air to stillness. Yukie is able to react, jumping over the spikes and using her speed to bounce between them too fast for them to give her frostbite. Siegfried is not so lucky, as the spikes impale him and his horse both, their blood running through the forest of icicles.
Yukie skids to a stop in the blue collar district, looking around for Fiona in vain as the spikes grow ever taller, piercing through even buildings. She hears the sound of ice hitting ice, and barely manages to deflect the frozen spear before it pierces her flesh.
As if that were a cue, she hears the sound start again, this time repeated several hundredfold. Yukie takes a defensive stance, hoping to survive the oncoming storm.
The shards of ice bear down on Yukie, pushing her concentration to the limit. Simply deflecting them could send them back at her after a bad ricochet, so each razor-sharp chunk found itself winding outside the forest of pillars. As she finds a rhythm, Yukie broadens her senses, trying to find the nun trying to kill her. The effort makes her sweat, despite the surrounding ice.
She finally notices a speck of life, and immediately calculates how to send the ice back at her assailant. The speck flares up in surprise as her own missiles find their way back to her, and that’s all Yukie needs. The icicles stop for a split second, and a swing of her katana shears through the ice. For the first time, Fiona’s usual composed face drops in shock as Yukie pins her with a glare before leaping towards her, moving almost too fast for her to react.
Barely in time, she manages to snap her magi in place and generate a new blade. It shatters under the force of the blow, but allows her to leap back. The wind from the passing slash picks her up, however, and blows her through the door of the house across the street. Yukie shakes the thin drop of blood off her sword and dashes forward, intending to impale her foe on her blade. She sees a glint of ice ahead of her and plows through the attack, splitting the shard in half and impaling the figure behind it.
Her moment of victory quickly turns into surprise, as she sees she’s impaled an ice sculpture instead of Fiona. A sound of rushing wind behind her causes her to let go of her blade and turn, catching Fiona’s hand in her own as the nun assassin tries to slash her from behind.
As the superhuman struggle continues, a young girl in a poofy dress makes her way past, exuding an aura of harmlessness. Hanakamakiri places her hands together under the sleeves, trying to betray no hint of her actual skill. She barely dodges out of the way of a grey man in grey clothes, the only defining feature the massive red lenses on his mask, as he approaches a heavily-muscled man in black robes.
“Lord Bane!” the Sith calls out, causing the man to look towards him. And towards her. Hanakamakiri immediately suppresses any hint of bloodlust, needing to remain entirely harmless if she were to get her target.
“What?” he growls, overlooking the frilly, weak-seeming woman in favor of the one trying to get his attention.
“The slums were nearly leveled, my lord. If that devastation were to come here…” he starts, clearly nervous about the battles to come
“Then what? You are Sith. You grow strong, feed off the weak, and make your way to the top. That is the way of the Dark Side.”
“We might not be strong enough to survive…”
“Then perish,” he snarls, not even moving as he grabs the lesser man in a force choke, “A Sith does not cry for help. He takes what he wants!”
His tirade is cut off, however, as he feels a blade sink into his shoulder. Hanakamakiri, having failed her one chance, kicks off of Bane’s back, pulling her claw-blade out and trying to flee. Bane, however, simply holds her fast in the air with the Force. He sends Force Lightning into his own wounds, using the heat to cauterize them, before turning to her.
“This is it,” he says, exulting, “Trickery, deception, making a foe drop their guard… You know power, girl. But you missed.” He ignites his lightsaber, holding it before his helpless foe. “Come find me after this fight. I will train you. Shape you, give you the strength to not miss next time. You will be a warrior like no other. But you are not yet there.”
Bane caps his soliloquy with a flick of his wrist, throwing his saber and impaling the girl, before yanking it back with the Force. He catches it and turns, striking the Sith Assassin down.
Overhead, Haar naps peacefully in the sky, his black dragon sharing in the simple pleasure of ignoring everyone else. That, like much else in the city, was broken in short order, this one by a blonde twat riding a blue dragon, shouting something incomprehensible and holding a sword.
“Up and at ‘em, partner,” he says, patting his dragon on the neck, “No shortage of idiots with swords.”
His wyvern roars in response, and he draws his axe as he flies over the rube, unaware his friendly greeting was taken for a threat. The wyvern then pulls into a dive, plummeting down towards the boy, who holds his sword up to block. The axe rends through the magic steel, Nihil disabling the magic holding it together, and digs deep into the youth’s shoulder.
Momentum pulls the idiot out of his saddle, sending him plummeting to the earth as Haar’s wyvern spins into a roll, its talons and teeth opening the blue dragon from belly to neck in an instant. After another couple rolls to shake the blood off, the pair climbs a little higher, hoping to continue their nap.
Yukie narrowly dodges a boy falling from the sky, not able to spare a thought for the new red stain on the ground. Her duel with Fiona continues yet on, seemingly without end. She tenses as Fiona draws a breath, intuition telling her what came next would be bad.
Fiona strikes at Yukie without pause, the usual rhythm broken in an unending hail of slashes and thrusts. Yukie blocks and defends, knowing that when Fiona did need to pause and take a breath, it would leave her vulnerable. She just had to be patient and wait for her chance. Surely, after the next flurry the woman would disengage to breathe.
Fiona just keeps attacking, the breathless rush abandoning subtlety and tricks to overwhelm with pure, unrelenting violence. Her continual strikes, coming fast enough that not even her opponent could react, were finally interrupted not by her need to breathe but by a pair of fiery slashes coming from her right.
Artorius continues the attack by slicing at Yukie, before intercepting Fiona’s next strike with a kick. The nun kicks back again, sending yet another a rain of icicles at her foe. Yukie, now needing to defend against two foes, also falls back slightly, taking stock of the situation. She and Fiona throw a glance at each other, and wordlessly commence their joint assault.
Artorius, unable to utilize his dominant hand, struggles valiantly for a few seconds before being impaled on a blade of steel and one of ice. The swords, moment of harmony over, once again aim at the throats of their foes.
Two men and a schoolgirl pick their way through the broken buildings and broken people, Roy and Mat looking around in horror while Queen has a detached expression on her face. She steps around a pair of corpses, who had gotten on the wrong side of one of the intermittent icicle showers. One man in Greek armor lies bloody on the ground, seemingly about to gasp his last breath. Queen kneels in front of him and casts Cura on him. The man gasps in air and faints in relief as she gets up and continues on.
“You’re too used to war, Queen,” Roy says, “What kind of life have you lead to know this devastation at such a young age?”
“This isn’t devastation. The city’s still here,” Queen says, leaving Mat and Roy speechless.
“That’s not a very normal standard of war damage,” Mat says, tossing a knife as he rests his ashandarei on his shoulder, “Though I can’t say you’re wrong. If balefire was used here…”
“It’s also getting less ruined as we get farther from the slums,” Queen points out, “As the field thins, I think it’ll probably return to the usual style of urban warfare.”
“Quick ambushes and retreats,” Mat nods, understanding perfectly as they continue their stroll.
“Fighting in a city is never good,” Roy says, grimacing, “Even if you win, you’ll never live there peacefully.”
“Peace would be nice,” Queen says absently, “Would be a change from either losing a war and forgetting everyone I knew or winning and accidentally starting the end of the world.”
As the two men try to figure out how to respond to their companion, none of them notice a parasol dashing back around the corner. Suzushiro holds her breath as she creeps off in the other direction; she knew when she was at a disadvantage. After feeling she’s finally far enough, she leaps back from a flash of light, as a heavily-wounded man stabs a glowing spear through the heart of an older one.
Kaladin collapses as Joseph falls, his soul killed. The older man was cunning, and guileful foes put Kaladin at a disadvantage. The strange power he wielded had forced Kaladin to use up almost all of his spheres, leaving him with almost no Stormlight. As its glow left him, a gong rings out, announcing the district change.
He fumbles towards his sphere pouch before Syl, shifted back into a Spren, stops him.
“Let’s ask her for help,” she says, pointing at the still frightened Suzushiro, “I like her.” He nods and pulls his bruised and bloody body to rest against the wall as Syl flits over to the girl, requesting aid. Suzushiro walks over and closes her parasol, holding it out to Kaladin with the tip facing the ground.
“I have taken an oath not to touch a male other than my fiancée,” she says, “but you can at least use my parasol as a cane.”
Kaladin grabs hold of the wood and pulls himself to a standing position, too injured to do more than nod in thanks.
As they step into safety, however, the pair spot the three that Suzushiro had tried so hard to avoid. Kaladin inhales Stormlight from his last two spheres, healing his wounds and Lashing himself and Suzushiro in opposite directions, soaring over the massive explosion that nearly killed them both. He lands on the side of a building, while Suzushiro kicks off of the lamppost she had been Lashed to and throws a punch at Queen, who blocks with her sword and fires off Thunder ROK with her free hand. The ball of lightning hits Suzushiro sqare in the stomach, dropping her to the ground where a swift sword stroke finishes her off.
Kaladin, meanwhile, struggles to make headway against Mat, the Sylspear not damaging the power-wrought ashandarei. Mat the slams the butt of his spear into Kaladin’s chest, causing him to gasp in pain and let a little Stormlight leak out. A well-timed explosion from Roy sucks out the rest, leaving him ripe for a stab from Mat. The bridgeman dies, lamenting that he hadn’t more Stormlight.
Across the district, Haar swoops down alongside his dragon, touching ground for the first time in hours. He lands outside a café and enters, ordering food for both him and his wyvern. He then steps outside, looking for a place to sit, before approaching a blonde teenage girl and an elementary-schooler in a mouse-eared hoodie, and motions to the empty seat at their table. They nod, and he takes a seat as his wyvern lumbers up next to them.
“Hi,” he says, breaking the ice, “I’m Haar. New here.”
“Ayaka,” the blonde says, “and the short one’s Parcel.”
“Your part-time job doesn’t let you afford this,” Parcel points out tonelessly, and Ayaka simply pats her head in response.
“And I still don’t get how yours does.”
“Our pay is based on our wins, remember?”
“So if I do well now I can just sleep and be fine?” Harr interjects, hoping for a ticket to luxury.
“No. You don’t work, you don’t get paid. And have to pay more for school, if you’re a student,” Ayaka replies, grimacing, “I just wish any of the schools had dorms. “
“I keep telling you to sleep at my place. The mansion’s too damn big, and after his fight finishes it’ll just get bigger. Got to be better than your hole in the sewers,” Parcel says, trying once again to get the stubborn girl to sleep somewhere proper.
“Ah… If you live in the sewers you might not have a house,” Haar says, “The others kind of destroyed most of the system.”
Ayaka gasps in horror, turning pale, while Parcel gives a triumphant smile.
“Now you have to find somewhere else to sleep,” she says, “And I have a spare bedroom. Or more like ten.”
“All right, you win,” Ayaka says, grinning at the younger girl through a mouthful of burger, “Still wish they’d kept the dorms from Operation Zodiac.”
“Operation Zodiac?” Haar chimes in as he tosses another cut of his steak to his wyvern, “Sounds like a pain.”
“Ah, right, you’re new,” Ayaka says, “So here’s how things work…”
Queen hangs back as her allies walk ahead of her, and looks around. She could no longer remember most of the other competitors, and as she had predicted the wanton property damage and general chaos that had defined the early stages of the competition died down considerably. With that in mind, an alliance was now a liability. With no way of knowing when she would be betrayed, the logical option was to betray first.
That in mind, she summons her sword as Mat turns to ask her why she had stopped. Queen uses Speedrush, appearing directly before the man and slicing him open from hip to shoulder before he could so much as shout in alarm. Another Speedrush took her to Roy’s side, where she repeats the maneuver. She fixes her skirt and dismisses her sword as the gong signaling a district change rang out once again, her former companions already forgotten.
Elsewhere, Yukie parries yet another series of strikes from Fiona, grimacing at the effort. She immediately pivots her sword to block a razor-sharp pillar of ice that threatened to gouge her side, and lets go of the handle to punch Fiona back, the nun vulnerable from her leap to strike overhead. Fiona flips in midair, launching horizontally off of one of her ice platforms aiming a slash towards Yukie’s neck with one hand while using her other to call down an icicle from above.
Yukie, however, was simply no longer there. The younger girl sprints towards the boundary to the wealthy district, aiming for safety before continuing the fight. Fiona indulges her, also sprinting to safety, and parries another strike as she crosses the line. A follow-up punch catches her unaware, and she ends up flying through the air again. She rights herself, and sends a flurry of ice spears behind her to destroy the house wall before it hits her.
A path of ice underneath allows her to slow her momentum, skidding to a stop below the large chandelier, shaped like an A without the middle bar. Yukie pursues, not letting her foe catch her breath with a furious series of slashes and stabs. As she keeps up her assault, however, she sees the blue circles indicating Fiona’s magic appear and disappear. She draws back, not sure what her foe was planning, and evades the pair of icicles that would have split her head in two. Fiona sides in under them, preventing Yukie from continuing her attacks by launching a rush of her own.
As before, she strikes without even pausing for breath. Yukie, however, has formed a countermeasure. Instead of wasting her energy seeking an opening, she instead stores it, compressing her muscles and fighting aura into as small movements as she possibly can. After the gong finally sounds again, signaling ten minutes since Queen had killed her comrades, Fiona finally makes a low dash back, gasping for breath.
Taking her chance, Yukie unleashes all her stored energy in one swift strike, moving so fast that not even Fiona can track her movements. Her simple forward charge leaves a wake behind her, only halting when Fiona’s length of ice wire slices through her neck and arms. Momentum sends the pieces of her body slamming into the wall in front of her, and her katana clear through the rest of the mansion and impaling its owner as he entered through the back door.
“A valiant life / shining brightly like the sun / cut by silver strings,” Fiona says, eulogizing her opponent before breathing a sigh of relief. She lets her sword melt, stretching after nearly two hours of continuous combat. She is about to close her eyes when she looks up, spotting Haar and his dragon circling the area. She grimaces as she mutters the incantation to form her ice platforms, the words matching her profession but not her current mood.
“The nameless deceased / have but a single purpose / as a stepping stool”
The shock of an impact on his armor shakes Haar awake, and he sleepily swipes at Fiona, who simply lets her blade break as she falls, using another platform to leap over the dragon and re-forms her sword to strike the beast’s neck. Haar’s axe intercepts the blow, shaking the pair fully awake. Again she flips and bounces off of a sheet of magic ice, and aims another strike at Haar. Barely making it past his guard, it rings off his armor.
A sharp pain runs through Fiona as Counter activates, nearly throwing her out of the sky entirely. She freezes the cloud below her, getting her bearings back as Haar wheels around for a counterattack. Fiona parries the blow, once again flipping through the sky and leaping off another platform to strike back. Her blade meets his axe, and her eyes widen in surprise as her ice spears fail to materialize before momentum brings her past the pair. She creates a wall in midair, which she uses to change course to the side as Haar, flying upside down, slams his axe through it. He wheels around for a follow-up and strikes again, the force behind it throwing Fiona away despite blocking it.
Another series of ricochets brings Fiona in range once again, and she brings her blade once again into a slash. Haar leans back in the saddle, avoiding the blow, and slams his axe into her unprotected back. The gong rings out as her lifeless body falls, signaling the final district change.
Haar follows into a dive, knowing that he could no longer avoid combat. He pulls up before hitting the ground, flaring his wings before the enormous, muscled man staring down a petite schoolgirl. The three pause, each taking stock of their final foes. The wind blows dramatically between them, as their stare-off continues, until the second gong rings out. Taking that as their cue, they all move at once, a whirlwind of light, steel, and fangs.
Queen opens with a Speedrush, hoping to kill Bane before he could pull out any of his tricks. As she appears in front of him, however, the larger man is already bringing his lightsaber down. Queen immediately rolls to the side while charging up Thundaga SHG, and lets loos a barrage of lightning at Bane once she lands. The Sith Lord catches it on his lightsaber, and redirects it to blast at Haar while he returns fire with his own barrage of lightning.
Queen swiftly casts Wall, and the torrent of Dark Side energy breaks the magical barrier but goes no further. Haar dodges, directing his wyvern to stall Bane while he slashes at Queen, but Bane lets loose a powerful Force Push that sends him careening towards the teenager. Queen leaps back, letting loose a point-blank gust of wind that Haar’s wyvern uses to right himself. Bane takes the opportunity to stab forward with his lightsaber, aiming directly at Haar’s heart.
Luckily for the wyvern knight, both Miracle and Counter activate, forcing the deadly blade off-course and causing a spurt of blood to erupt from Bane’s side. Haar’s wyvern flaps his wings, sending Bane off-balance while gaining distance. Bane, noting the retreating Haar, instead grabs Queen in a Force Grip. He squeezes the life out of his more dangerous foe as he sends his lightsaber towards her to finish her off. Before it hits, the girl falls limp, red mist leaving her body.
Bane sneers and lets her fall, noticing the glyph on the ground too late. As Queen touches it, she vanishes. Instead, a massive, armored knight on a six-legged steed appears in her place, kicking the ground and sending the other two reeling with its mere presence. Odin immediately fires off Moonring Blade, which Bane dodges. Haar takes a glancing blow, but with Killstrike that’s all that’s needed.
Haar drops out of the sky, dead, until Bane catches the corpses with the Force and throws them at the rampaging knight. A single strike from his sword sends them sailing through the air, shattering the windows of a mansion. Bane rips pieces out of another mansion, throwing them at Odin, who either dodges the rubble or smashes them with his sword. Bane keeps the assault up, hoping his foe tires first.
Odin takes an opening, however, and fires off a volley of Moonring Blades. Bane deflects the strikes that would have hit him with the Force, and lets the rest slam into the mansion behind him, reducing it to rubble. Rather than letting it fall, however, he redirects the avalanche of stone and brick towards his enemy, hoping to get at least one hit in.
Odin, defying all his expectations, instead rides along the stream of rubble, an orb pf magic glowing at the tip of his sword. He disrupts the path with a single gesture, sending the knight into the air. As Odin falls, however, he lands on a piece of rubble and lets loose his ultimate attack, Zantetsuken.
Before Bane can so much as blink, Odin has crossed the several meters of air between them, swinging his sword. The Sith barely has time to feel surprise before the massive chunk of metal shears through his body, tearing him in half. A second later, Odin also vanishes, leaving both Queen and Bane dead on the ground.
A few minutes later, Queen, now alive again, stands outside the grounds of her new 92,000 square-foot mansion, next to the man in an orange mask who had sponsored her entry into the city.
“Congratulations on your victory,” Leo says, gesturing at the home, “It’s yours. On the opposite side of the district from where you wrecked things as Odin, and about ten minutes’ walk from DFederal North, which has facilities for students your age.”
“Thank you, though I’d also have thought you’d be able to fix the damage with how easily you made this home,” she says, adjusting her glasses in disapproval.
“That was the original plan, but well… one of the bureaus requested it. I may have stepped down from their number, but it’s still helpful to have him owe me a favor. Especially if I don’t need it for a bit and can watch him worry about what it’ll be.”
“So even here there’s politics,” she sighs.
“Yes, but you’ll likely find it won’t touch you much. In fact, with this you’re now the wealthiest warrior in the city. You likely won’t need to worry about more combat, either.”
“Peace, huh,” Queen says, looking again at her new home.
“Ah, I almost forgot,” Leo says, his deadpan manner making the statement seem a lie, “I’ve got a bit of a tradition in these. The victor gets a wish granted.”
“In that case… I’d like for my classmates to join me.”
“That’s doable. Should take a little over a year for the whole class. Ace and Deuce might be coming in a little earlier than the others,” Leo says, scribbling a note on a pad.
In the depths of the sewers, Kai Leng lies in his new hole, the 25-by-25 square placed strategically by one of those running the city near an intake pipe. A wave of raw waste surges through, passing through his home. The water rises over him, causing him to cry out in pain as it sweeps over the gangrenous, bleeding wounds he had received from Diarmuid. His cries echo through the tunnels even once the waste stops flowing, interrupted by the harsh sound of stone scraping as someone outside opens the ineffective door.
“Well, aren’t you unfortunate,” a soothing voice floats into his ears, “I think we can help you out.”
Kai, grasping onto any form of salvation, cracks his eyes open and sees a man in a wolf mask staring down at him as others in similar garb prepare what appears to be a stretcher.
“My name is Alpha,” his savior says, “I think we can work together to get you what you deserve.”
- 22nd: Kai Leng, 8 points
- Woefully arrogant and less than competent, Kai Leng did horribly. He simply did not live up to his ego. Eat shit, Kai.
- 21st: Miu Yarai, 17 points
- Miu fell second because of her general naiveté and lack of proper combat experience. Further, her general mindset of de-escalation simply does not help during a BR when opponents can be far stronger than she is.
- 20th: Tal Graile-Rerem, 19 points
- Tal suffers from similar pitfalls as Miu, and only really places higher because his light-based magic fucks with her vampire shit.
- 19th: Aoi Kamishiro, 31 points
- Aoi, while significantly more capable than Tal and Miu, is also kind of an idiot. Not even the most unexpected Monty Python reference could save her from her own recklessness.
- 18th: Azaka Kokutou, 35 points
- Azaka simply didn’t have enough power to muscle through all the competitors in the sewers, and not enough room to use those powers to their fullest. Also fucking fire in a tunnel is a terrible idea.
- 17th: Hitomi Hitoyoshi, 50 points
- Hitomi was unlucky, as the scenario tests not only pure combat ability but also mobility. Her heelies fucked her up there, and she never made it out of the sewers.
- 16th: Algol, 53 points
- Much like Kai, his ego was far greater than his power. Unlike Kai, this is actually saying something. Regardless, he makes more reckless decisions than his power can handle, and ultimately got shanked for it.
- 14th: Akechi Goro and Len Ese, 54 points
- Akechi likes to showboat and feed his own ego, which is a fatal flaw against stronger opponents. Len simply doesn’t have enough combat experience to make it much farther, and is only able to get this far based on her inherited knowledge and quick wit.
- 13th: Siegfried of the Netherlands, 71 points
- Despite his large arsenal, superhuman strength, and nigh-invulnerability, Siegfried is ultimately just not strong enough to survive his good nature. He does make it this far due to still being a crafty bugger, but from here up there’s mostly schemers and people who can get around his invulnerability.
- 12th: Hanakamakiri, 82 points
- Hanakamakiri is highly skilled at disguise, misdirection, and stealth. While she would have done very well in Operation Zodiac, where keeping hidden is key, this match also has open combat. That is her biggest weakness, and ultimately what places her in twelfth.
- 11th: Artorius Collbrande, 86 points
- Artorius bows out at this point due to his unusable dominant hand limiting his options. He has ample skill and magic abilities, but one glaring weakness does him in.
- 10th: Joseph Joestar, 87 points
- Similar to Hanakamakiri, Joseph’s wits and quick thinking get him far in this match. While he is fairly capable in open combat, he’s ultimately at a disadvantage with his powerset.
- 9th: Suzushiro Shikikagura, 95 points
- Suzushiro’s main failing is that she specializes in one type of attack and one type only. She makes it this far because her abilities allow her to force two of the loss conditions on her opponent – incapacitation or outright murder. She’s reaching the point where others can counter her, though.
- 8th: Kaladin Stormblessed, 103 points
- Kaladin’s powers are practically tailor-made for this match, granting him superior fighting ability, healing, and unmatched mobility. He falls because those powers are restricted by his behavior.
- 6th: Matrim Cauthon and Roy Mustang, 116 points
- Both Mat and Roy have abilities that are simple, but very powerful. They’re both fairly good at gaining allies. All the remaining combatants are also able to counter their special gimmicks.
- 5th: Mayuzumi Yukie, 127 points
- Yukie’s simply too good with her sword. She misses the top four because her skill is fairly narrowly focused on sword combat and speed, while the rest are either good at everything or can metagame.
- 4th: Fiona Annabel Kousaki, 133 points
- Fiona’s gotten this far on her versatility, skills, and inventiveness. She’s smart enough to plan carefully and skilled enough to put those plans into action. She misses the top three because she’s missing a way to metagame.
- 3rd: Haar, 142 points
- Haar gets this far because he can just sleep on his dragon and surprise foes with Nihil. His actual abilities are very straightforward and nothing really special, especially when compared to others below him. He can force a fight on his terms, however, and can throw an opponent’s plans off by just enough to give him a kill shot.
- 2nd: Darth Bane (Legends), 145 points
- Bane has everything necessary to do well in this match: raw power, mobility, intelligence, and the ability to cheat the loss conditions. He misses first due not to any major flaw of his own, but rather a bad match-up.
- 1st: Queen, 154 points
- Queen is an excellent all-rounder, which is exactly what this scenario favors. What propels her to first, however, is her ability to cheat death while making it easier to kill those who would have been victorious.
See "Report" in the battle.