Open Chronicles Bloodied Fists

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Mischa Ven'rohk

Mischa lay on the bed of her room at an inexpensive inn. The meager room big enough only to accommodate the length of the bed. Her armor and her shield in a pile beside the bed. The door left open. Unlocked. She did not care for privacy. Even now. The occasional footsteps of humans and others walking up and down the hall. She did not see, for her back was turned to the opening.

She lay curled on the bed, clutching the hilt of the Lightbringer and holding the sword close to her body.

"Please...send me a vision...speak to me, if you would...anything..."

The Great Holy One merely observed. Its presence in the back of her mind.

She had come to Elbion at the Great Holy One's prompting. And here it was that she first failed. It had sent her a vision, the guidance for the next step she must take in her journey, and she had failed. She did not gain the trust of the man the Great Holy One had shown her, and now she never would. She did not know if she had misinterpreted the vision or not, and the Great Holy One had been passive ever since.

Her voice a mere whisper. "I'm sorry."

The Great Holy One merely observed.

It would offer her strength. That which her frail body could never achieve on its own. Strength in exchange for service, for the deeds It desired her to do as relayed by the visions It sent. But what now? Now that she had failed and it had been days since without another vision? Now with no guidance on what It wanted of her?

"I am worthy...I can be worthy...please...I...I want to return home. I will do as you ask. Just...just show..."

And Mischa lay there on the bed and thought of her father and her tribe and wept until sleep finally found her.

* * * * *​

She found menial work for a few days. The barmaid had fallen ill at a large yet dilapidated tavern called This Ain't Falwood. Yer Drunk. Mischa hated the name. The irreverent joy and stupor of the patrons grated on her tense nerves. And she hated the boisterous elven barkeep. But she needed the work because she needed the damnable coins because she needed meat to eat and a room to stay.

Mischa kept to herself. Took the orders of patrons dutifully and didn't respond to snide remarks about her being an orc and wearing full plate yet working at a tavern. She cleaned the bar counter and the stools and the tables and the chairs and the outhouse latrine and helped the barkeep bring in new shipments of barreled drinks. She quelled a few fights before they even began by simply intimidating the would-be brawlers. Not from her size or stature, no, she was always shorter than the humans in question.

The look on her face. In her eyes.

She had nothing to lose.

And she was ready to die fighting if need be.

As it happened, another orc had been watching her. Seen her do this twice. And he took interest.

* * * * *​

Night was falling.

The hearthfire had been lit and the crowd within This Ain't Falwood. Yer Drunk was only getting bigger. The evening barmaid had arrived. It meant then that it was time for Mischa to go, her day of work finished. A routine. She collected the small payment for her work from the elven barkeep and gathered her shield and her sword from behind the bar and started across the tavern floor toward the exit.

When she felt a large hand placed on her shoulder from behind.

She turned around. Looked up. A big orc stood before her, his arms nearly as thick as her body. A certain pang of fear gripped Mischa's heart. That feeling of weakness, toxic to her being, to everything she needed to be if she were to have any hope of rejoining her tribe.

The din of conversation and drinking about them in the tavern. Yet the orc's voice and words were clear. He said, "Mischa. That is your name?"

"Yes." She did not dare show her fear.

"My name is Makgraw. And I know what ails you."

Those patrons around them. At tables and at the bar and drinking and talking and coming and going. All seemed distant. It seemed only that she was there with this orc named Makgraw. Separate from the world about them. "What ails me?"

A look of compassion. Firm, but compassion. "Elbion is not a place for orcs. This city perhaps above all others. We orcs have a need. Humans and dwarves and elves may also have this need, but none so strongly as an orc. Do you know what I'm talking about, Mischa?"

Makgraw didn't need to say it. Mischa knew. And she said, "Yes."

Makgraw smiled. "Good." He glanced around. "This work. This city work. This work of humans and mages and all else. It separates us from a natural calling. And it has taken a toll on you." He leaned in closer to her. Said, "You wish to engage in an honorable fight. Your orcish blood demands it."

Mischa closed her eyes and inhaled sharply through her nose and clenched her sword and the handle of her shield tighter. Thoughts of the near-brawls in the tavern. The honesty in wishing that the drunken humans did not back down from her. An exhaling and opening of her eyes.

"Yes. I want to fight."

Makgraw nodded. "There are others like you. Not just orcs, but humans and dwarves and elves, as I've said. We come together, each with their own reason, to fight with only our fists in private and to witness others and to be surrounded by those like-minded." And he pointed. "All you need to do is walk through that door and go down the stairs to the basement."

The big orc pointed to the door in the corner of the tavern, behind the bar counter. A door which Mischa had noticed many people entering and leaving but which the barkeep never asked her to go and clean, and so she never did. And as she looked upon the door--

A vision from the Great Holy One. The door. Opening. The stairs down. A ring of people. Watching. A Monolith. And pain. Pain, pain, pain, pain, pain, pain, pain, and yet more pain. A hand offered. Her own hand, bloodied, taking hold of it. And a sense of wondrous joy.

Mischa gasped quietly at the visceral feeling of the pain from the vision. But it was banished as quickly as a nightmare when the vision blinked away.

The lively tavern around them, her and Makgraw.

And the big orc said to her, "Come. It will be good for you."
 

Teodron

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Teodron didn’t go out much. Not because he didn’t enjoy it, but because he was often too busy—and because he had few friends—to actually have the time or inclination to do so. He didn’t mind much, although occasionally he longed for even a few nights of fun where he didn’t have to worry about class, or the mystery surrounding his mother’s disappearance, or the shocking amount of dark magic he’d encountered at the college. It was a lot for anyone, especially someone who wasn’t special, or strong, or particularly well suited to intrigue or combating the forces of evil.

Indeed, he was nearing the end of his rope. He certainly hadn’t come to the College of Elbion to do much more than study, and maybe see if he could discover anything further about his mother. Now it felt like he was drowning. And that wasn’t even getting into the lives he’d been forced to take to keep himself and others safe. It had been necessary, the right thing to do even.

But their eyes still haunted him at night.

Maybe people noticed the change, or maybe not: it wasn’t as if he was really friends with anyone at the college. But even the few people he was friendly with seemed to evaporate. Other than seeing folks in classes and meeting with professors, he was feeling increasingly isolated. The worst part was, he knew it was partially his fault for not opening up to people, and yet he couldn’t seem to do anything about the problem.

It was making it hard for him to focus on his academics; thankfully, he was such a diligent student that he could afford to do poorly for a bit. However, some of the professor gave him odd looks. Few had thought someone with dwarven heritage could succeed here, and though he’d initially proved him wrong, this stretch might ruin what little goodwill he’d built up. There wasn’t much he could do about it: he didn’t feel as if he could talk to anyone, given the sheer amount of conspiracies he was worried there were at the college.

It was the end of alchemy class—which, although Teodron wasn’t particularly skilled or interested in, at least he enjoyed Professor Ryver’s admittedly rambling lectures—and the half-dwarf quietly packed up his supplies. However, he heard the rest of the class joking, glad they were done with classes for a while..

Then a girl piped up. “It’s the end of the day, and we don’t have classes tomorrow or exams coming up or anything. So let’s have some fun for once.” There was an excited chatter of agreement and they quickly hashed out plans to go hit a few taverns.

Teodron was just about finished gathering his things when he noticed movement in the corner of his eye. The girl who’d suggested the excursion and made the bulk of the plan—her name was Roselia, or Rose to her friends, Teodron knew that—was hovering awkwardly over his desk. “Would you like to join us?” She seemed hesitant, as if she wasn’t sure how he’d react or was only inviting him to be polite.

It was also awkward for him; he paused, unsure whether to accept or not. But in the end, his need for a degree of normalcy and his loneliness won out. “I would love to. Thanks for the invite.” The words were stiff, as if he hadn’t interacted with people in a while (which was true enough), but his tone was earnest and kind.

She smiled, seeming relieved that he’d said yes. “Great! Come along then.” Then she was off.

Although he trailed behind, making agreeable noises whenever someone remembered to talk to him, he still felt a part of the group for once. It was refreshing: for too long he’d been isolating himself, and he’d almost forgotten what it felt like to just go out and be with people. With each passing instant he felt more like his old self. Oh sure, he wasn’t chatty—and he didn’t know his classmates well—but he’d occasionally interject with a casual comment or observation.

By the time they arrived at the first tavern, he was even making a few cautious jokes. Then they ordered a round of ale for everyone. While he usually didn’t drink, tonight was an exception in more ways than one. Still, he only had one tankard. Given his size, he got drunk pretty quickly.

Then they moved on to the second tavern, and he had to do it all over again. Then the third, and he was starting to feel it a bit. It was a pleasant warmth, though when they arrived at the fourth tavern he begged off the ale. The group was significantly drunker, on average, than he was, so they booed, but accepted it.

Settling down, he examined the latest watering hole. It was called This Aint’ Falwood. Yer Drunk of all things, and it catered to a more mixed clientele than the others; they’d wandered farther and farther from the college, and the taverns had gotten progressively less fancy. Of course, they were students, so the first one had been pretty inexpensive to begin with, but this particular pub had some pretty rough looking decor and characters. Unlike the first three, which were favorite haunts of the mages, this one was a little bit out there.

Indeed, there were even orcs here. That was unusual, but not completely unheard of or unseen in Elbion. Teodron found himself watching one of the orcs. Weirdly, they were wearing full armor. Even weirder, the orc looked familiar.

Then his hazy mind realized why she looked familiar and his jaw dropped.

The shock immediately burned through the buzz of the alcohol: it was that crazy orc who killed her friend and had been sent by some mysterious and potentially nefarious being to follow him. After she’d left the store, Teodron had prayed to Metisa that he would never see her again. And yet, here she was, once again strangely in his life. It couldn’t possibly be a coincidence, not given the forces involved.

Or maybe she’d just stuck around Elbion and this was just serendipity. But Teodron wasn’t going to take that chance. Maybe it was the alcohol—or maybe it was being tired of being reactive and not active—but as the female orc was approached by another, much larger orc, the half-dwarf found himself standing up.

Luckily, none of his fellow students was paying too much attention to him, though a few gave him a curious look. “Need to use the outhouse,” he found himself saying and they nodded and went back to their carousing. Teodron picked up his bag. For once he was glad he was basically beneath notice.

Then, before he could think too hard about what he was doing—and the fact that he had no supplies, no spells prepped, nothing but his innate knowledge and slightly clouded wits to protect him—he crept as best he could without being too obvious about it until he could keep an eye on the female orc. Wherever she went from here, Teodron would follow, and hopefully get some answers as to why she was still in his city and what designs she might have. And maybe he could stop her from hurting anyone else, as the case may be.
 
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Mischa Ven'rohk

So enraptured was she by what Makgraw had offered that Mischa did not take notice of anyone but him. Only him, and the door that he had pointed to. All else faded to a blur of disregard in the peripheral of her vision.

Makgraw had prompted her, but did not move. He waited for her.

And Mischa made her decision.

She walked across the tavern and Makgraw followed and they weaved past patrons and tables and those dancing and those singing and they went to the door which seemed the only spot devoid of people and activity. A little knowing nod from the elven barkeep to Makgraw and from Makgraw back to him.

And Mischa pushed open the door. Descended the stairs down.

* * * * *​

The air warm and stuffy, even without a large hearthfire. Magical etchings on the walls and on the pillars of the basement provided light, yet it remained dim for the most part. Save the very center of the basement, where the largest of these magical etchings shined down a column of bright white light from the ceiling, making the surroundings darker by contrast.

Mischa walked down the stairs. A gathering of a couple dozen figures, all in a wide circle and facing toward that light in the center. Shadowed figures of varying height and builds stood witness. Watching. Gruff cheers and calls of encouragement.

And a loud and unanimous 'Ooooo', followed by the smack of a body hitting the wooden floor.

Two people were fighting as Mischa reached the bottom of the stairs. An orc, nearly as scrawny and runty as her, and a human, both male. They were both students at the College, but that she did not know. They wore nothing more than trousers, their fists both bloodied. The human had been knocked to the ground, the orc was giving him some space, and the human found his feet again and though he stood with an unsteady stance brought up his guard and the fistfight continued.

"Here," said Makgraw. "Straight ahead, Mischa."

Makgraw walked past her a few paces and pointed. And there straight ahead from the stairs and along the wall and by the far corner sat a big orc like Makgraw on a stool. Behind him, some tables and crates and a few barrels. Items. Weapons and armor and clothes, some placed neatly on the tables or in the crates and barrels, or simply left on the ground beside it all.

The sitting orc regarded Mischa as she approached. He was old, his beard gray and one eye faded, but still he had the brawn of a human male in his prime. The sitting orc said, "Fists only. Place your armor and weapons here."

Mischa nodded. Her heart pumping with a mounting excitement as she placed her shield and her sword on the table. The vanishing of the Great Holy One's presence once her hand left the hilt. It did not bother her. Not this time. For not only did the Great Holy One direct her down here, but this...this could finally be the chance. To take on a fight such as this, a fight like the many hundreds of Umrogks she had participated in back with her tribe, and to win. To emerge victorious using nothing more than the strength of her meager body.

Another 'Ooooo' from the crowd.

The old, sitting orc spoke as Mischa worked to take off all the sections of her plate armor. "Both fighters agree to a fight. One fight at a time. Saying 'yield' stops the fight. Getting knocked unconscious stops the fight. Fights go until one or the other happens. Cheering is allowed. Judging is not. You disrespect a fighter for saying 'yield' or getting knocked out or any other reason, you're not welcome back."

The old orc regarded Mischa once her armor was all off. Her arming pants and doublet worn and stained and faded and a mere shadow of what nobility and elegance they may have once had. He said, "No shirt. Do you have chestwraps under that?"

Mischa blinked. Said, "No."

Makgraw stepped past the old orc on the stool and rummaged in a crate beside one of the tables. Pulled out a few thick and long strips of cloth. Handed them to Mischa.

The old orc made a motion by his own chest. "Keep those wraps tight and secure. Face the corner for privacy and get them on."

And Mischa did so. She turned and walked the few steps to the corner and Makgraw and the old orc both looked away and she took off her arming doublet and tied the chestwraps about her small bust and some up and around her neck to secure the others and knots were fastened in the back and she tested moved her arms and her chest and her neck and adjusted as necessary until it all felt as comfortable and natural as could be.

"I'm ready," she said as she turned and stood before Makgraw and the old orc again.

And the old orc said, "Stand with the crowd then. Give the fighters the space they need and don't interfere. Once a fight is done and you want to fight next, step into the white light. Agree to your opponent and if they agree to you, the fight is on. Um rogg ukar Mot Um'durshar."

Mischa smiled a little. The old orc nodded in recognition. Gestured his head toward the circle of watchers and the two fighters having their bout underneath the light. Makgraw crossed his arms and watched her walk to the outside edge of the circle.

Mischa watched the students. Both of whom were bloodied and bruised and tired and who circled one another with their hands raised and their bodies reeling and the looks of satisfaction and visceral achievement upon both their battered faces.

The old orc had said to Mischa, in Orcish: May you find peace/bliss/joy in your fight.

And that she intended to do. The Great Holy One's vision notwithstanding.

And Mischa watched from the back of the circle, through the gaps of the bodies of those assembled.
 
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Teodron

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Teodron didn’t know exactly what he’d been expecting when he descended the stairs, but a fighting pit was pretty close to the bottom of the pit. As soon as the circle with the fighters came into view, he gaped like an idiot. And someone could’ve knocked him over with a feather when he recognized some of the people in the ring as students at the college. Although he had no idea what any of this was, it filled his gut with dread. This couldn’t possibly be legal—not that fighting for sport was a problem, but this bloody display seemed dangerous—and even if it was, the half-dwarf knew it was wrong.

But he took the last few steps into that dark basement anyway.

Actually, calling it dark wasn’t entirely accurate: magical etchings bathed the room in an otherworldly glow. That just made it worse, as it made everything outside the circle shadowy and menacing, and everything under it far too stark looking. Beyond that, the air smelled of sweat and the coppery sickly scent of old blood.

Quickly, he jerked his head around, and spotted the female orc in the crowd. He stayed where he was, simply keeping an eye on them. The two orcs were joined by a third, and there was a conversation, followed by the female orc handing over her weapon and going off. She came back soon enough, stripped down to her chest bindings. Then she was off again, and soon lost in the crowd.

To the half-dwarf’s surprise, she’d left her sword behind.

He fidgeted then, hesitant and uncertain. The smart thing to do would be to leave. However, this might be his only chance to examine her sword up close. If there was some sort of eldritch being bound to the blade, then there would be some sign of its containment there. Anything would point him in a direction where he could do further research on it. That might help him avoid being detected by it again. And maybe, just maybe he could break its hold on her.

Besides, he was small, usually beneath notice, which supposedly made him stealthy. At least the bounty hunter thought so; Teodron didn’t trust his advice, but he would admit, as he crept through gaps in the crowd and finally emerged near the table covered in gear, that maybe there was some truth to it after all. He reached out an eager hand, fingers almost touching the hilt of the female orc’s mysterious sword.

A hand fell on his shoulder, and yanked him around. Teodron yelped as his face was suddenly presented with the maw of a much larger orc. Said orc’s breath stank, but the half-dwarf was far more concerned with having been caught and the grip on his shoulder than that.

“Seems we got ourselves a thief.” The orc’s voice came out in a distinctly male snarl.

Teodron tried to stammer out a response. “N-no. Not a thief, I just—”

The orc shook the mage, and the half-dwarf tasted blood as he bit his tongue. “I saw you, boy. No excuses. Now, what am I to do with you?” A savage grin spread across the orc’s face. “I could turn you over to the authorities.”

Before the half-dwarf could open his mouth to protest, the orc’s eyes narrowed. “Or you could make it up to me by going a few rounds in the ring. We’ve had far too many humans lately. Would be nice to mix it up a little.”

Teodron gulped, wavering. Obviously he didn’t want to fight: he wasn’t a combatant, and would just himself beaten to a bloody pulp. But he wanted to be arrested even less. He’d be expelled from the college, and, much much worse, he’d have to explain to his family what had happened. Besides, all his excursions and fieldwork had exposed him to much worse horrors than those of this basement. “I’ll fight.” He’d make it through this.

The orc smiled again. “Excellent. Some ground rules: Both fighters agree to a fight. One fight at a time. Saying 'yield' stops the fight. Getting knocked unconscious stops the fight. Fights go until one or the other happens. Cheering is allowed. Judging is not. You disrespect a fighter for saying 'yield' or getting knocked out or any other reason, you're not welcome back. Now go strip to your pants, then with the crowd. Give the fighters the space they need and don't interfere. Once a fight is done and you want to fight next, step into the white light. Agree to your opponent and if they agree to you, the fight is on.”

Teodron nodded and swiftly stripped off his robe and his shirt. Although he didn’t see that he had much choice but to agree to a fight, he knew better than to argue. He shivered when the air hit his much more exposed skin, but the weight of the bodies gave the air a heat that quickly warmed him up. As he stepped up to the circle, he realized he’d lost track of the female orc.

But then he had much bigger issues to worry about, as one of the students had finally won the round; the other had been dragged from the ring, apparently unconscious. As soon as the other combatants had cleared out, Teodron stepped into the center of the room, the lights bathing his pale skin in an eerie glow.

Hopefully his challenger wouldn’t be too tough.
 
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Mischa Ven'rohk

Mischa watched the two students fight inside the lighted circle.

It was just like the Umrogks of her tribe, save only that the Umrogk lasted only three minutes, and these fights could last for much longer. That anticipation. The building clutch of it on her heart. A thing of excitement instead of a thing of dread. It had been many years since she felt like this. Her tiny tusks judged by a shaman of a tribe to have fully grown despite their puny size. Her admittance then into the ritual combat with the other young. Still she retained that excitement for combat, even after she lost her first few Umrogks.

Still that excitement, even after she lost several more Umrogks after that.

And slowly that excitement faded. Beaten out of her by each new opponent and her abject failure to survive the three minutes against any of them.

That dread. Mounting. As the other families of the tribe avoided looking at her. As their spoken words to her became stiff and rigid, distant as if she were an unknown tribesorc from a differing tribe. As she overheard the name 'Little Elf Teeth' spread.

It was the slow and agonizing death of many things.

But Mischa herself did not die. A determined survival. Through Bhathairk and through the Templars and through her journey now under the guidance of the Great Holy One. All she had to do was endure. Push through. Never quit. And she could find the strength she needed. And she could go home.

Respect, then, when she saw the human male get knocked out by his orcish opponent. He didn't give up, the human. Fought until he couldn't anymore. Whatever his reason for coming to this place, and despite the outcome of the fight, he had courage and honor.

Two others from the crowd dragged the human male student from the lighted circle. Cleared out then. This was her chance, as the old orc instructed.

And Mischa stepped into the lighted circle at the same time as...

As...

Her mouth opened. Moving soundlessly. Phantom words.

It was him. The short man. The selfsame one from days ago. The man she had seen in the vision from the Great Holy One then. The one whose trust she had failed to earn. The very same she had made the absolute mistake of telling the truth to. She had lied before, in Vel Anir. An act of necessity, despite the feeling of poisonous dishonor it left in her heart. She should have lied then, to him. She should have been willing to give and do anything. Anything to return home.

Was that...was that the point of the Great Holy One's vision? Was it a lesson? Was she meant to fail then in order to succeed later, to gain the resolve do what must be done at a more crucial point in the future?

Perhaps...yes, perhaps it was a mistake to reveal her true intentions to others. To those who were not kin. For they had no capacity to understand. For all of Marcie's kindness and charity, would she have understood? Would she have understood why Mischa did it?

Was there something Marcie would give or do anything for?

Was there something the short man, here now before her, would give or do anything for?

Was there something either of them would kill Mischa for? Something that was loved so dearly that no sacrifice demanded for the sake of it would be too great?

If not, then how could they possibly understand?

Yes. That was it. Mischa knew it now. It had been weakness to reveal herself in the manner in which she did to the short man. To allow herself to shed tears in front of he who was not kin, he who could not understand. To truly give of herself, to let her wants and her fears and her dishonor be known. Yes, it had been foolish to allow her emotions to overcome her, even if it had been the truth of the moment and her words had all been sincere.

Such could not be allowed to happen again. The Great Holy One had deemed her worthy of another chance, and she would not squander it.

It would pain her greatly. But even the spoken word would need to be sacrificed as necessity demanded. That venerable tradition of her tribe and orcish kind at large would need to be trampled under her feet.

Because anything meant anything. It would bring dishonor and hypocrisy upon her, but therein a contorted measure of ultimate respect for the spoken word. Because anything did indeed mean anything. And here she would need to find the strength to make it so. To live up to what she professed and what she had resolved to herself.

"Thank you," she said quietly to the short man. Words that did not hurt to say, for they were the truth.

Mischa pointed at him. Said, louder than before, "I wish to fight you. Do you accept?"

* * * * *​

He walked down the stairs. Into the basement.

A pause on the staircase. He saw her there. In the lighted circle. Facing down a man even shorter than she.

A hard regarding.

And he walked to the bottom of the stairs and over to the old orc sitting on the stool and Makgraw and he stood eye-to-eye with the latter. Makgraw grinned and greeted him. Said welcome back. Said his name.

He knew the rules. He had been in the underground brawling ring a few times before over the past few weeks. He took off his rough leather and hide armor and his heavy boots and he placed them on the table neatly. He stood there by the collection of armor and weapons in the corner in just his cloth pants and wearing chestwraps of his own. It was unnecessary for males here to wear chestwraps, but he was not questioned.

A slow glancing down at a particular sword on the table.

It had all been arranged. A promise fulfilled.

And he walked from Makgraw and the old orc and toward the crowd around the lighted circle.

He would await his opportunity.
 

Ferelith Scathach

The Blue Wolf
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Ferelith was watching the fights with a smile never leaving her face.

She always felt at home in places like this. Her fight had been a good one, but she still wanted more.

Her tattoos glistened in the dimly lit room. and her stomach had a nasty bruise and a nose bleed. Her hand wraps were stained with fresh blood and a tooth that was embedded in her fist.

She pulled it out absentmindedly as she watched another situation unfold. It seemed a newcomer was challenging another. A halfing dwarf and the orc that had begun working above. Ferelith rarely sat around the bar but she was in often enough to at least know the maid by face even if she knew nothing more.

She sat back and decided to watch. Depending on how this played out she might ask to face the winner.
 

Teodron

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Fate sucker punched Teodron in the gut.

The female orc, the one he didn’t understand and didn’t care to, stepped into the ring at the exact same moment he did. After all the effort it took to convince her to leave him alone last time, he didn’t think she’d let him off so easily in their second meeting. Especially because they were apparently going to fight each other. Granted, he still had his magic and she only had her fists, which put him at an advantage. Then again, the other students had stuck to physical means, so he supposed they frowned upon magical interference. So the half-dwarf would just have to be subtle about it.

Still, he didn’t want to fight at all, let alone her. In fact, he wanted nothing to do with her or this ring: he was about to turn on his heel and leave when his eyes caught the orc who’d forced him into this mess. The male orc shook his head imperceptibly, and mimicked a person in chains.

Teodron gulped, and turned back to the female orc. Guess there was no way out of this. As he waited, palms sweaty, for the female orc to do something (he wasn’t going to start, obviously, wanting to delay the inevitable as long as possible), he noted that she seemed distracted. Maybe that could be to his advantage, though he knew he wasn’t a fighter.

Then she thanked him, and he furrowed his brow. That was odd, to say the least. “For what?” he whispered back at her.

But then she challenged him. And he took a deep, shuddering breath, before bowing to her. “I accept.” Guess they were doing this.

He started taking cautious steps around the outside of the ring, waiting for her to make the first move.
 
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Mischa Ven'rohk

Her challenge accepted. And it marked the first time in all her life that she would fight someone who was shorter than her.

The short man bent at the waist briefly before righting himself. Some manner of gesture. She did not know what it represented. Whether it was a well-wishing or an ill-wishing did not matter. For here they would fight and then whatever reason had brought the short man here would vanish and he would scurry away, so surely abhorrent did he find her presence.

But here, now, in the makeshift ring in the underground of this tavern, their tensions could be translated into blows. All her rage at her diminutive circumstance in life, all her fears of failure, all her yearnings and hopes. There in her closed fists. The illusory feeling that if she could only strike hard enough that all would be made well. The bliss of believing if but for a moment that things presently unreachable could be grasped, that things forever wrong could be made right, that things unchangeable could be changed.

Mot, as the old orc said.

Mischa spread her feet into a wide stance and lifted her closed fists up to chin-level. Turned and adjusted her stance as the short man circled. Some tribesorcs of the Dm'rohk adopted such fighting stances, others were so large and powerful that they did not need to. She had seen the effectiveness of such stances against evenly-matched opponents, but she had never been evenly-matched. Her guard had always been pummeled through, and then she would be down on the ground and defenseless.

The short man adopted no such stance, though. He merely circled and observed, like the larger orcs of her tribe. Did he know something that she did not?

A tinge of fear.

He had the features of a dwarf. How strong were dwarves? She had not fought one before. They were short, yes, but they were thick with muscle. The short man's arms didn't seem as thick though. Was he a runt like her? Had he been cast out too?

No.

Stop.

The short man was not kin. She could not afford him kindness nor caring. Had the Great Holy One not just shown her this? Provided this lesson already? Kindness and caring for those not kin led to ruin. The short man had been right to banish her back at that shop those days ago. Of course he had been. She was no mother nor daughter nor sister nor wife nor relation of any kind to him.

Yes. He would have been weak if he had helped her. Given his trust. But instead he had been strong. And it was Mischa who was weak, for giving her trust so easily and to he who was not kin, even at the seeming behest of the Great Holy One.

Mischa smiled at the short man.

She understood now. The lesson in its entirety. The path forward--this one step before her at least--toward the strength that the Great Holy One had promised.

Mischa inched forward. Keeping her stance wide and her body loose and fluid and her fists up. She approached the short man.

And snapped off a quick left jab followed by a hard swing of her right fist.

* * * * *
He observed. From the crowd he watched her throw the first couple of punches.

He observed.

And he was not the only one doing so.
 
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Ferelith Scathach

The Blue Wolf
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The dwarf bowed and they began to circle slowly. Ferelith watched with an analyzing focus many teachers would see in schools. She was more than merely observing. She was always looking for new moves, better ways to position and better techniques. She was shaken from her focus however as a voice beside her cut through the din.

"Oi! Well, well, well. If it isnt the Blue Wolf of Elbion come to grace us with her presence. Where's Red?" A man asked as he sat next to her.

"Vaska. Though the guard would have killed you long ago. Bandit or not, just to shut you up." Ferelith said with a playful smirk as she shook his hand in greeting.

"And Kyla and I are no longer working together. She has her way of living and I have mine." She said shortly.

Her tone telling him to back away from the subject slowly.

He held up his hands in mock surrender. "Ok, Ok, Just strange seeing you alone that's all. Glad to hear your both still around." He said simply. "I usually dont frequent this place anyway, bit of a shit hole, but when I heard The Blue Wolf herself was fighting I couldnt resist....Though..." He said looking her up and down. "I seemed to have missed it."

"Just the first. I have a few more in me I think." She said with a smirk as the fight currently going picked up in pace.
They had stopped sizing each other up and the dwarf seemed to be willing the orc maid the first move.

The Orc obliged him with a quick jab and a hard right. Effective, She wondered how the dwarf would counter as she began sizing up the room for someone to challenge.

If this Orc won...and felt up to the challenge..

Maybe she would oblige her. Her form wasnt bad...She fought with passion..Both good things. The dwarf on the other hand seemed capable, if not completely out of his depth. This would be interesting indeed. Even if she felt it would take a fluke of epic proportions for the pair to have a fair fight.

The dwarf didnt have the fire. Or at least not that Ferelith could see.

So she watched and waited.
 
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Teodron

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Teodron was not a fighter by any stretch of the imagination. Although he’d killed before—unwillingly, and he’d done it to protect himself and others—that had come from desperation, not from any innate affinity for combat. Indeed, he’d been acting more on instinct than on anything conscious. So, as the female orc darted forward and swung his fists in two quick jabs, the half-dwarf was far too slow to react.

The first jab took him in the shoulder and left him off balance. The second, however, slammed into his head. It was only the fact that his dwarven father had blessed Teodron with the hard skull of his ancestors that he wasn’t concussed or knocked out on the spot. As it was, his vision swam for the briefest instant.

And his fury awakened: with a roar that surprised even him, he charged forward, intending to tackle the female orc to the ground. There was no art, no skill to his assault, simply a berserker rage, another blessing from his half-dwarf nature.
 
M

Mischa Ven'rohk

It felt good. The impacts of her fists. A primal and visceral language, spoken rarely. Satisfying in a way that made her blood sing and her heart cheer. Within her closed hands years of tension, building and releasing and resurging and growing stronger and here expelled through brutal contact and with that ancient contract of combat fulfilled came the temporary solace of its banishing.

Those instants. Those split-seconds.

Mot.

But even her solid right hitting the short man's head barely fazed him. A fearsome battlecry from him; a sound most endearing to Mischa despite what had happened days prior. She kept up her fists, intending to guard against counterstrikes.

None came.

Instead, he tackled her about the waist with admirable savagery and they fell to the ground. A mixed cheer and 'Oooo' from the crowd as the back of Mischa's head hit and bounced off the wooden floor.

A breath stolen in to her tightening chest.

Keep fighting. Keep fighting.

Though her position on bottom was poor for generating power in a swing, she arced a right hook up at the short man's head once more.
 
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Ferelith Scathach

The Blue Wolf
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Maybe she had spoken too soon.

Seemed the half-ling had a bit of hot blood in him but the hook shot the orc hand landed must have been a doozy. She had heard it connect from where she sat. Her fight had been one for the ages, and yet she still felt jumpy.

Watching a fight when you wanted to was like hanging around a bakery when you were hungry.
It tortured her, but she couldnt look away while she watched the two fight slowly clenching and unclenching her fists. Part of her wanted it to be quick so she could get back in the ring.

The other part of her wanted to see what these fighters really had in them. It was a conflict of interest but one she weathered all the same as she saw the orc girl try for another right hook to the half dwarfs head.
 
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Teodron

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The blow from the orc beneath Teodron connected, since he wasn't exactly paying attention to his defenses. It made his ears ring, mostly because she managed to hit him in the same spot twice. However, this time her fist lacked the power from before, and he was so lost in rage that he barely registered it. Instead, he just swayed on top of her, then growled and shook the stars from his vision.

Simultaneously, he linked his fingers together and swung both hands in as savage a blow as he could towards the orc’s chest. There was no technique, no thought behind the strike, just the need to exact revenge for the injuries he’d taken. In the very back of his mind, his conscience was screaming at him to calm down, to stop this madness.

But it was drowned out by the screaming he felt that called out for the orcs blood, for her attack upon him and for her earlier stalking.
 
M

Mischa Ven'rohk

It did nothing.

Just like before in this very fight. Just like back in her tribe, fighting her fellow tribesorcs. Her blow seemed only to fuel the short man's battle rage. A thing most enviable. For one's rage to be able to overcome the trauma suffered in combat. It was the struggle of the spirit versus the body. One's spirit could be strong, yet one's body weak, and here failure would be inevitable.

This, to her shame, Mischa knew well. She had been here before. On the ground. Raging spirit trapped within a failing body. Being beaten.

And the double-handed strike to her chest like the driving of a stake further into the dirt. The reflexive tightening of her chest made worse. It was now as if her lungs refused to accept air at all. A momentary and instinctual panic as she struggled for just a single breath. A meager defense of arms in front of her chest and face, child-like in a way.

The tiniest loosening of her lungs. And finally she was allowed air.

That most basic of needs satiated as best could be in the moment, clear thought came again. She had to get off the ground, or at least be the one on top. This much she knew and had witnessed between opponents of mostly equal size. She had not before been able to shake any of her own opponents off, but the short man was her size. Shorter, though perhaps heavier, but her size overall.

She would not be able to throw him off. Especially not now, not with the shortness of breath limiting what strength she had.

Mischa reached up and grabbed the side of the short man's face and pushed and twisted her body all in an effort to get him to tumble off to his left. She would likely roll with him if she could manage it. Perhaps try to disengage if he did not keep her caught with his legs.
 
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Ferelith Scathach

The Blue Wolf
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Ferelith was growing bored. She half wanted to just punch somebody in the crowd and get a brawl going..
but alas she wished to return and doing such a thing would keep that from happening.

So she continued to watch with an almost glazed expression.
The dwarf had won the upper hand driving a devesting blow to the orcs chest.

The girl tried to get free but it seemed the end was in sight. Ferelith watched with a new idea beginning to form in her head.

Perhaps this orc wasn't one to fight.
She had heart, but no way to use it..Her body was what was failing her.


Not her spirit...Maybe she was one that needed some help. The body could be taught. The spirit could not...
So she watched and waited.
This Ferelith and this orc were going to have words after this fight.
She had her interest now in the very least and that was saying something to the girls benefit. Ferelith had been small. Still was in fact. She knew the struggles, and Ferelith knew how to overcome them. Many wished she would train them.

She had been mobbed by people with offers to pay her after her first fight where she knocked out a 7 foot tall male orc in his prime, but she had turned them all down, but this girl was different..her heart hurt for her even if she'd never admit she had such an organ or feelings at all for that matter. Watching the fight memories passed through her mind.
She had been there before, and seeing someone else there as well..
It hurt her.
So she watched silently.
Her fighting energy gone as she waited for the fight to conclude.
 
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Teodron

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This fight was proving that Teodron could be far more brutal than he had ever realized he could be. Indeed, the fact that he'd been forced into this had been completely forgotten as soon as the first blow had been struck. There was still some lingering pain in his head, but the fury coursing in his head made it easy to ignore it. In fact, it made it easy to ignore everything.

His anger prevented him from thinking at all clearly. Indeed, all he could think about was how to inflict as much damage as possible to the orc that fought to get out from beneath him. The fierce triumph he felt when he saw her struggling to breathe sickened him, but that too was subsumed by his rage. His vision had narrowed, as had his mind. All he could see, all he could focus on, all he could think about was the orc and how he needed to hurt her.

So he punched down with his right fist, this time aiming for her gut. But in his anger, he'd completely neglected his defenses. Which meant that when he suddenly felt hands on his face and the orc bucking beneath him, he didn't do anything to stop her. Next thing he knew, he was tumbling off to one side, slamming into the ground. Snarling, he twisted so he could kick at the orc with his right foot; if he couldn’t stay on top of her, at least he’d make her pay for throwing him off. However, in his confusion, he wasn't aiming at anything in particular, just her body.
 
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Mischa Ven'rohk

The gut punch landed square in her stomach while she was guarding her chest and face; she had not braced for it. The soft flesh and untensed muscles providing scant protection to the organs underneath. The blow robbed her of vital strength. Brought on a stirring feeling of nausea.

But, to her utter surprise, Mischa had enough strength to force the short man off of her. A brief moment of amazement. She'd never been able to do that before. And though her chest and back and gut ached she lay there for a critical moment staring up at the ceiling of the basement and the light shining down from the magical etching and enjoyed a fleeting smile. That tiny little victory in and of itself.

The fight. Not over.

She scrambled up to her feet. The kick caught her in the right shin and she yelped and some in the crowd drew in some sharp breaths and one man said, "Oh, damn."

Mischa stumbled away for a bit of distance, favoring her right leg. She turned and faced the short man and brought up her fists once more and stood as steadily as she could and regarded him.

"Zur um'regar," she said in orcish.

She stood her ground. Waiting. Tensing her arms to punch when he came close. Readying her upper body to bash his head with her own if he tried to tackle her again. Either way, it was best to let him come to her. Her right shin didn't feel right.

Still, she meant what she said. An orcish phrase and way of thinking.

To our end.

For the end of a fight was the end of Mot for both involved.

And here. Finally. Fighting an opponent to which she was matched evenly.

Mot was hers to enjoy at last.