Dreadlords War Games

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Elouise Libelle

Swarm Witch
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Vel Kurez.

The city had been a ghost since the revolution. While the main battle had raged in Vel Anir, splinter forces of the revolution had sought the weapons stored in this academic bastion. Some such weapons, however, were volatile.

Now the buildings crumbled and the arches hung bare and skeletal against the sky. Great craters marred the streets where subterranean stores had erupted, and jagged rivers of stone liquefied and just as rapidly frozen lay in place of some major roads. In the residential district the shadows of those too late to flee had been permanently burned into the cold stone walls.

It was a graveyard of twisted rock and metal, dust and ash, and it was the perfect place to hold the War Games. Two teams of soon-to-be graduate dreadlords competing against each other in a game of tactics and (in true academy fashion) raw violence.

The red team started at one end of the city, where large warehouses now stood like struggling skeletons. Their walls sagged and roofs continued to collapse, and the floorboards were at constant risk of snapping underfoot. The blue team started at the opposite end, a more open area with charred husks of trees, blackened wide streets, and rows of quaint houses now empty.

They would both move to the city’s center: it’s industrial and magical manufacturing heart. It’s beating had been stilled, and though no magic currently glittered across the unfathomable structures it was clear that great and dangerous power had lingered.

They sought a simple metal orb. It was large as a man’s head and heavy enough to be burdensome. What the apprentices had not been told, however, was that the orb immediately and completely nullified magic on contact.

All the apprentices had been told was that they were to find the orb at the city’s center and return it to their starting camp. Only one other rule had been added this year: do not intentionally kill your opponents.

Elouise saw the entire city at once. A legion of inconspicuous black and white moths had settled themselves across the blackened stone and fading wood. Through the million extensions of herself she saw, heard, smelled, tasted, and felt the city.

She was, of course, not in the city herself. She sat comfortably in a manor just outside its borders. A plush chair where she sat with hands folded, milky eyes open but seeing nothing on their own.

“I am ready. Proctor, please feel free to begin.”

A large man nodded, stepped out onto the balcony, and with a grunt of effort sent a shimmering rose-colored flare rocketing into the sky. The blaze hung in the air for several seconds above the city before imploding with a deafening boom.

The games had begun.



War Games Rules
  • Players holding the orb are slowed by its weight and cannot use magic of any kind while in contact with it.
  • The orb itself is unaffected by magic of any kind. It does not confer magical resistance to the carrier.
  • The game ends the moment the orb is brought to a team's starting location.
  • All actions are observed by Elouise Libelle, and proctors may intervene if they deem it necessary.
That's it! Have fun kids. Try not to murder.
 
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TEN MINUTES PRIOR

Vance paced back and forth over the dirt and dust. His arms were crossed over the red padded armor they’d been given. It was little more than dyed leather and wool, the only additions he was permitted being the thin lines of copper fastened to the outside. His sword hung in its scabbard on his hip, each had been permitted one weapon.

“Are they going to get this going or what?” he asked impatiently to no one in particular. The red team had been placed beneath the overhang of what had once been an impressive building. Stone and twisted metal hung from the jagged edges of walls and littered the floors, and the winds of time had dusted the entire place with ash and gravel. There was a gentle but unyielding moan of wind through broken windows.

There had been a few exercises that had been kind of like this in the past. Setting up teams in large fields to acquire some objective or suppress their enemies, putting a bunch of them in the woods and expecting them to forage their way out. Somehow this felt more real, though. The playing field was large and treacherous, and they weren’t kids any more. The two teams were filled with soon-to-be graduate dreadlords. The fact that they couldn’t kill on purpose further drove home to the fact that things had become much more serious.

“What’s the plan?” asked a voice behind him. It was quieter and smaller than Vance would have liked. That was the problem with team games: others held you back.

“That plan is that we get to that orb as quickly as possible and blast anyone in our way.” Everyone always wanted to overthink these things. They would need strategy, sure, but the best way to start off, when the teams were still separate, was speed. Get to the position first, secure the objective, storm the enemy before they have a chance to react.
 

Eleanor

Red Dead Dreadkid
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Eleanor had been placed on the red team for this little exercise. She had always loved these things, but that had been before the rebellion and the no murdering rule. She wore the red armor that everyone on the team had been given so they didn't kill their own teammates. Purposely. Her set of throwing knives had been allowed as her single weapon and now they hung off her belt.

She rolled her eyes when the teammate asked what the plan was and smiled when Vance answered. That would have been her answer as well. They weren't worried about the other team right now. No, they just needed to get to the orb before them and worry about them after.

Ella was ready. She just wanted them to start the damn thing already. "If you are scared, we can always incapacitate you now. I won't be dragging your ass along if you can't keep up," she sneered at the initiate who asked. There was no time for weakness here.
 

Zael Castomir

Fire Warrior
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TEN MINUTES PRIOR


"You are some sorry motherfuckers," Zael said as he walked in front of his team, the blue team. He wore a half-grin that made it difficult to tell whether he was being good-natured with his jest or straight serious. Both, likely, depending on the individual he was looking at. "But that is okay. Because I'm here. And if I'm here, you're on the winnin team."

Zael planted the talon of his poleaxe into the dirt. Yeah, he reckoned the poleaxe would be the best weapon for the outing, much as he favored his trusty bastard sword. The poleaxe brought a whole host of versatility, and he had didn't know what to expect from the other team. There hadn't been any forward indication of who was going on to which team, so best to be as prepared for anything and everything as possible.

"Now..." Zael said, his accent stretching out the word. "Soon as I get hands on that orb--and I will get hands on that orb--I'm tossin it back. Somebody had best catch it."

Carry the damned thing himself? Naw, that wasn't the winning strategy. Why would he keep his hands full of some orb when they could be on his weapon, and he could screen the designated mule? That was what was going to win the game. Not the carrying of the orb itself, but how well it was defended.

"And it better not be you, Bull," Zael said, singling out the hands-down creepiest fucker of the lot. Zael spoke as he was taking off his blue padded jacket. "In fact, if you don't stay far from me once that flare goes off, I'm gonna 'unintentional' your ass to the dirt under the infirmary. Hold this." And he threw his jacket into Bull's face.

"Aren't you supposed to be wearing that?" said Sieglilly, a tiny speck of a girl who had no arms below the elbows and used telekinesis for everything.

Zael twisted his torso, stretching his lower back, left and right and left and right, "Still got the blue pants on, ain't I? But don't you worry bout me, Sieg. I'm full of surprises."

As the time continued to count down, Zael was ever more thrilled to be on the opposite team from Vance. Damn if he didn't enjoy his duels with him. And here they were again, another ready to begin. Here's to hoping that neither of them were weighed down too heavily by their teams.

Vance Calgrave Eleanor
 

Everleigh Ebersol

Cutest Weezing You’ll Ever See
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|| 10 Minutes Prior ||

Everleigh was standing slightly away from others in the blue team, looking down with a slight frown at her weapon that she had agonized over: a tomahawk. Her usual repertoire of weapons were only useful in the sense that she could sneak up on someone. In a game such as this, Everleigh wasn’t sure she could do something like that. And with the team she currently had… she glanced over to listen to Zael babble to Sieglilly. She absently wondered what team the majority of proctors were betting on.

At least she had very good aim, and with this axe only being two pounds, Everleigh was sure she could make it fly as much as her largest flat steel blade. She tossed it up in the air, watching it spin and then easily catching it by the handle, understanding it’s weight and the limitations it possessed. At least if anyone tried getting close to her she could use it to block and slice.

Everleigh inhaled, eyes growing violet, and with her exhale she licked at the edge of the tomahawk and it’s pronounced spike. A solid mixture of hyaluronidase and post- and pre-synaptic neurotoxins. Nothing to kill— just enough to paralyze, put the unlucky person into a daze, and cause a whole lot of pain.

Should we only have one person who carries it?” She asked, flipping her long braid over her shoulder; her dull eyes back to normal as she looked around the charred remains of trees. “Even if we give it to the fastest, towards the end they’re going to slow down. You can’t pump your arms— oh, actually, depending on certain things, I think I could carry it quite a distance without slowing down too much.” The tomahawk was still in Everleigh’s hand as she moved it around as she spoke to her teammates, an idea forming on what to do to carry such a cumbersome thing.

Eleanor Vance Calgrave Zael Castomir
 

Liza Newcastle

Useless
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Liza stood a short distance behind her other team members, idly kicking at the stones that lay scattered around. Her red armor was covered in a fine layer of dust, and she bore no visible weaponry. Liza was clumsy at best with most weapons, and had decided to forego bringing anything that might cause her to become a liability to her team.

"So... What's the plan?" she asked quietly. The perfectly reasonable question -in her mind anyway- was met with the usual angry responses and threats. Ohh! So it seemed like the plan was to not have a plan. Of course! Why hadn't she thought of that? Surely that was a better strategy than anything the other team could've come up with.

"I... Nevermind..." Liza grumbled and resumed kicking at the dirt. Their plan didn't really matter to her anyway. It wasn't like she was planning on fighting. Her plan was to merely follow her teammates lead and support them to the best of her abilities while avoiding any actual fighting or confrontation. After all, she was really just there to cheer on her teammates and collect her participation award.
 

Zael Castomir

Fire Warrior
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Zael whipped a hand over to point toward Everleigh when she spoke up. "Excellent goddamn question."

While the eyes of the other initiates were on her, Zael was watching them. Assessing them. Team game, you had to. Proctors loved doing that, taking all the initiates out of the cozy confines of the familiar with exercises like this. Hell it was the same for Zael. Not like he could carry the whole team on his back.

Everybody wanted high marks. And if they didn't they were idiots, and we don't count them. So even though everybody wanted high marks, not everybody wanted to do what it took to get high marks. You had your laggards here and there, getting by on flukes of fortune or whatnot. Easy fix, at least after the team game was done. Someone costs them the game because of bull-headed incompetence, Zael would make sure to shine 'em up nice next spar, or whenever a better opportunity presented itself. Call it a hedge against the future should they be teamed up again.

So far though, no one sneered overtly at Everleigh's suggestion. Zael did half-wish that Bull had, though. Give him more of a reason to reconfigure Bull's troll-like face.

"Hear that?" Zael bellowed, that half-grin breaking out across his features again. "Keep that orb movin. Toss it if you need."

Then he stepped forward to Everleigh. Rested his poleaxe on his bare shoulder. Said to her specifically, "You catch that orb, you run like hell."

Easy. Zael bursts his way to the center of Vel Kurez, tosses the orb to Everleigh, she hauls it quite the distance, and even if Vance manages to catch up (who else would it be?) and wrests control of it, the orb would be that much farther from the Red starting zone.

Everleigh Ebersol
 
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Vance wore his trademark smirk as Eleanor shut down the other initiate. The dance, disastrous as it had been, had in fact smoothed the awkwardness between the two redheads just a bit. He wouldn't say he was comfortable around her, but he could at least look at her and converse without stumbling over his tongue.

They spent the next few minutes going back and forth about what to do, with Vance sticking by his original idea of "get there first."

"I'm sure the others will never think of that," drawled a sarcastic voice from their team. Aliana, a silver-haired girl with eyes of total blackness, reclined lazily against a wall that looked like it was one feather's touch away from collapse. "I, for one, would like a bit more forethought than 'go fast.'"

Vance ground his jaw in impatience. "You think the others are gonna play by your rules? You can't plan for a fight, Ghoul, you react as it happens."

The nickname was clearly not appreciated, and Aliana pushed herself from the wall quickly enough to send an ominous sprinkling of dust down its side. "You cocky ba-"

B O O M

The sound shook through their bones and rattled the foundations of the warehouse enough to drop bits of decayed wood around them. The sky was washed with rosy hues that spread out and faded to the horizons, and Vance cracked his neck to the side and rolled his shoulders in preparation. "GO!" He took off out of the half-collapsed building and down a dusty street.
 

Everleigh Ebersol

Cutest Weezing You’ll Ever See
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Everleigh wanted to point out that at least on the blue team, they had limited options in who they had to throw it to. Sieglilly wouldn’t be able to carry the orb at all, and even if they had even numbers on each team, blue team was already at a disadvantage on the number of hands. Odds were against them already. How exciting. Everleigh had to cover her mouth momentarily as that wolfish grin appeared briefly.

Throw it to me first,” Everleigh agreed, looking around at the other blue team members before her dull eyes rested on Zael. She raised her thumb to her mouth, biting the skin until blood bloomed just enough to form a few drops. Eyes glowing violet once again, she stuck her thumb in her mouth. Nothing like mercury to get the heart rate up fast and the adrenaline pumping. “Just make sure you do everything to get to that orb before the other team does,” she said pointedly to Zael, rubbing her thumb on the blue light armor.

Zael was faster, that much was known, especially with his magick at hand. But Everleigh planned that if she were to get surrounded, a blast of white phosphorus could give her a wide berth and allow her to keep running. Or she could stab them with her tomahawk and watch them crumple up on the ground like wailing babies.

Also… make sure you don’t yell who you’re throwing it to,” Everleigh added, thinking of how loud Zael’s voice was. Did he just shout whenever he opened his mouth? Or was shouting just the normal volume? Or did he think that he was the leader and had to yell because that’s what the majority of proctors did? Speaking of loud noises…

With the echoing boom, Everleigh stepped past Zael and began running, dull violet eyes focused before her as she made her way to the city’s center. She started at a fast tempo, after all, there was no point in Zael throwing the metal orb if there was no one nearby to catch it.

Zael Castomir
 

Eleanor

Red Dead Dreadkid
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BOOM!

Everything rattled as the game started. Vance was moving out of the building that was designated as home and she took off after him. She was fast and could keep up with pretty much anyone in their class unless they had speed magic.

She kept track of Vance easily since he stood out as much as she did with his red hair. They both were jumping over obstacles like they had been doing it all their lives. The broken buildings, piles of rubble, pieces of metal sticking up waiting to stab someone...they were easily avoided.

The teams had not been told the exact distance to the center and the orb but she knew it wasn't going to be short. They wouldn't make anything easy on these soon to be Dreadlords. They weren't that nice.

"Vance," Ella spoke as they ran. "I can grab the orb once it's in view with my magic." Little did Ella know that she most certainly could not do that.
 

Zael Castomir

Fire Warrior
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BOOM.

"Here we go, boys!" Zael declared, even while keenly aware of the composition of his team, punctuating it with an eager and excited laugh.

And with that he turned toward the city and burst into a sprint. He jumped into the air, a normal feat at first, well within athletic human measure. Once at the apex of the jump however, an explosion of flame from his back propelled him higher. Feet touched the old and ruined walls of what was once a multi-story tenement, two running steps across it, and he pushed off from the wall. Another propelling burst of flame from his back, keeping him aloft and sending him across the street to the wall of an opposite building. Like a grasshopper from stalk of grass to stalk of grass, he leaped back and forth between buildings, maintaining a high vantage.

Throw it to Everleigh first. Now that was the kind of motivation that got Zael's blood pumping. He loved to see it. He was originally planning on tossing it to Sieglilly. Alright, not really, he was in this to win this, but it would have been a good jest. There'd been a couple times Sieg had rounded a corner at the Academy and Zael had tossed something at her, and every time she'd "caught" it with her TK. Impressive, but he knew Sieg couldn't run for shit. Everleigh though. Everleigh was different. Zael had a feeling she could run as if one of her own poison clouds had turned against her and she had to outpace it.

No sign of the red team yet. No Vance yet. Ah, he couldn't wait to get into a fight with him again! This was almost as exciting as when Edric 's sparring probation ended.

In the meantime...a little misdirection, and a little teasing of Everleigh.

"HEY! EVERLEIGH!" Zael shouted down to her whilst in mid explosive jump. "I'M GONNA THROW IT TO BULL FIRST!"

Zael grinned, and kept going toward the center. Or what he reckoned was the center of Vel Kurez. Not like they were given a map.

Everleigh Ebersol
 
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Vel Kurez was a dump. What had they done here? Weaponry? Magical experiments? Something important, if the revolution had been fought so hard here, and so far from Vel Anir itself. Between the reddish stone buildings and dull wooden overhangs he couldn't imagine an uglier place.

He vaulted over a low fallen pillar, scattering a couple moths. He could feel current running through him, building in time with his eagerness for combat. There was a gentle hum from the metal rods along his armor. He was glad to hear Ella's voice in that it meant she had kept up. He hadn't actually checked behind himself at all, figuring that if his teammates couldn't keep up they weren't good teammates in the first place.

"I can grab the orb once it's in view with my magic."

Fuck. She was right. Vance had, of course, wanted to take the orb himself, but Ella could rip the thing out of the enemy's hands from half a field away. His desire to be the star wrestled with his desire to win outright, and finally decided to confirm Ella's plan with an elaborate: "Yeah!"

Still no sign of the blue team, but the city's architecture was changing. The streets were becoming wider, and the buildings had gone from stacked stone to crafted metal and slate.
 
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Elouise Libelle

Swarm Witch
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Both teams were off with enthusiasm, so it would seem. Elouise expected them to make good time initially, but the closer they grew to the center the more hazardous it would become.

The Red Team, for instance, was headed through an processing neighborhood that had utilized quite a few golem. Left without purpose or direction for a year could have unpredictable effects on some of these constructs.

The Blue Team would not likely encounter mechanical soldiers. Instead, their pathway ran directly alongside fuel channels. The complexity of Vel Kurez meant that not all of the lines had been drained, and leaking aether would make the broken steam lines look positively inviting.

If the teams could pass these hazards in good time, they should be well into the city's center and near the orb.
 
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Everleigh Ebersol

Cutest Weezing You’ll Ever See
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If Everleigh was the cautious type, she would be wishing she had been placed on red team. They didn’t have Bull for starters. Or a girl without hands. Or a hyperactive firecracker who shouted all the time.

Her face was unreadable as she ran, and she had to admit, with Zael leaping over her, it did make her run even faster. She didn’t want to keep up with him. She wanted him to keep up with her. Even if it meant catching her breath would take longer and her mouth may be too dry to produce much saliva.

This is exactly why girls don’t like you,” Everleigh called back to Zael, “if you want to make me lose, you’ll have the shits for a whole month.” She threatened in a sing-song voice, looking over at Zael with the most innocent and cheerful expression as if she had gotten a puppy. Sure, she shouldn’t poison people to death anymore. But she would do everything in her power to make sure that anyone who messed up would have to wear a diaper for a full thirty days.

There wasn’t more time for the banter—or threats— as they got closer to the center. Or rather, approaching a hazard. She sucked in air through her teeth, dull violet eyes narrowing. The blackened streets had caused Everleigh to think of a fire, but continuing down this street, a sound made it’s way to her ears. Or rather, a symphony of sounds. The hiss of steam, but also, that shrill scream after a pop that reminded her of air escaping through a lobster when boiled.

Everleigh looked up, knowing she’d find the hyperactive firecracker in the sky. Well, looks like he might get to the orb before her now.

Zael Castomir
 

Zael Castomir

Fire Warrior
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Small plumes of dust and ash skipping down the buildings with each of Zael's wall-running footsteps, large curling clouds blown out with each of his propelling blasts of fire. Vel Kurez was a hell of a trash heap. Zael didn't know the history behind the place, nor did he care. He could surmise it, crudely, if he needed to: some people fucked up and got fucked up. What was left was an entire city pockmarked with craters, buildings riddled through with damage as if a legion of catapults had unloaded on them for a fortnight, and strange veins of re-hardened stone crossing through streets and property alike that definitely had catastrophe written all over them. At least it didn't smell like a tannery. Tarrow had one, and if the wind blew just right, it fouled up the whole village.

Everleigh called back to him from below. He replied, "Their loss, my gain!"

Zael had another quip for the threat of dysentery--and it was a good one, another tease for his alliteratively named teammate--but right as he was getting ready to say it his feet touched the side of another building. This one crumbled inward as soon as his weight was on it. The wall toppled before Zael could even think of leaping off, and inside the structure he fell, disappearing along with the chunks of rubble. A cacophony of loud thuds and slams from the bricks hitting the ground inside the structure. Dust puffed out through shattered windows and a doorway without a door.

Yet, within seconds, Zael came running out of the building. He'd a few cuts and scrapes, splotches of dirt or soot all along his face and bare chest and arms, but that was all.

"No red team in there. I checked. You're welcome," he announced to the Blue team as a whole.

He was among the pack of the Blue team now. Sieglilly was running in that funny way she did, her half-arms splayed out as if she were a goose and she were angrily waddling after the object of her avian ire. Bull, that nasty fuck, ran as if he lacked a skeleton, this on account of his off-putting flesh magic that allowed for him all manner of disturbing contortions of his own body.

Ahead, there was a hissing sound. Getting louder, as they approached, seeming to come from the ground itself. Little did Zael or the Blue Team know, pipes and conduits of aether under the streets were ready to burst.

One of Zael's eyes squinted in apprehension. "You hear that?"

Everleigh, leading the pack, might find out firsthand what that noise was.

Everleigh Ebersol
 

Tarkas Verik

Captain Verus to you.
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War was the answer to the question of peace.

Tarkas knew that better than anyone else. To achieve anything, there had to be conflict of some kind. Even an action as simple as chopping down wood was a conflict. Conflict against self, the elements, the wood.

But conflict against the enemies of humanity was different. Quite literally the world outside the walls of Vel Anir wanted to kill them. From the conquering Empire of Amol Kalit, to the Legions of Raiders, to vengeful Elves.

They all wanted Vel Anir to be subjugated, burned, or conquered.

So that is why the Defenders of Vel Anir had to be put through every horror and every trial to make themselves better.

Iron sharpened iron.

He sat with the organizer of the event, Elouise, while she used her magic to see the goings on of the event. He sat near her, hands clasped together in contemplation.

Tarkas breathed deeply, anxious to hear the updates.

"Care for tea, ma'am?"