Authors: Mark Brandon Powell
Everyone here knows you are going to be the one that carries us through this.
So please cheer up.
Vargas was caught off guard by her kind words and flushes his doubts and fears out of his mind. He is a mage of lightning and apprenticed under one of the highest regarded sages alive Seleaf Mativ. He has to believe he’s good enough so he can be, and deserves to be.
They arrive at the Bastion Coliseum and drive up to the participant drop off at the front doors.
There are physical flashing signs and digital advertisements everywhere, and the hum of conversation and flow of people feels almost the same as back in Pharis, just more frantic.
Coach Hillborn tells everyone they have an hour before they have to register and to have a look around while he parks the bus.
The girls run off into the building and start to look for places to shop with Amber begin dragged behind them. Vargas takes him time and walks up the small staircase into the main lobby. It is one big circle with stores lined up all around the outside of the Coliseum with gambling machines in the inner circle. At the center of it all is the Coliseum floor and seating, which is where he’s going to be participating.
As he walks around digital advertisement pop up and are personalized to him with the data from his purchases in his digital wallet stored in his HaLO. He ignores most of them until one in particular catches his eye.
It reads ‘
Would you like to know your fate, or perhaps just how you will do in the tournament? Find Fortune now!
He stops and looks at it with a surprised look because he hasn’t yet registered for the tournament, so how did this advertisement know he was going to.
“Well my friend that is the magic of Fortune.” Says a voice from behind Vargas with a strange accent.
Vargas quickly turns around to see a short caramel skinned man with teeth of silver smiling at him. He couldn’t place the accent, and didn’t know if he wanted to. The man was rapping his fingers on a crystal ball, with a confidence behind him that made Vargas want to listen to what he was going to tell him.
“Now that you have finished deciding on whether you were going to listen to me or not. My name is Fortune, and I know you were participating in the tournament Vargas because that is what I do.”
“Ok…” Vargas thinks to himself. There is no way this guy could have known his name. “You’re a weird one but sure I’ll bite. What can you tell me and how much does it cost?”
“I will give it to you now, and you can pay me later. I know you’ll be good for it.”
“Alright, I guess. What can you tell me?”
“Sacrifice is not the only way to power, beware the lure.”
“Is that it?”
“That is free advice for the day, yes. It may not sink into that adolescent head of yours until it is too late but I have given you your fortune. I will give you one other piece of advice, the other boy I came here to see today will be strong, keep an eye on him, because he will be an ally.”
Vargas confused slightly tilts his head, “And who might that be?”
“That is for you to decide.” Says Fortune with a shinning smile.
Bailey Jacobs, the team captain, yells across the room at him. “Vargas!”
He turns and looks over at her annoyed that she would be yelling at him like that. Who did she think she was, his girlfriend. “What do you want?”
“What are you doing over there?”
“Can’t you see I’m talking to...” Vargas turns his head back to where Fortune was, only to see that there is nothing there. The booth and small tent that was behind Fortune was all gone.
But there is a message waiting to be read on his HaLO.
It reads ‘
Advice when most needed, is least heeded
Bailey walks over to him and gives him a funny look.
Vargas finishes what he was going to say, “Well I was talking with someone and it looks like they aren’t here any longer."
“You’re not going all loopy on me are you? I need you to at least be able to swipe your HaLO over the check in reader. Think you can do that.”
She remarks sarcastically.
“Yea yea, I think I can handle that.” He replies letting the comment go. There were so many things he could toss back at her. How she was a rich kid with no skills, or how her father paid for her to be the captain over him. This wasn’t the place to be petty. He can show his skills in the arena and that will work just as well, team captain or no.
Registration had finally started and they walked over as a group. Being first in line to get themselves set up as the Pharis Magitecks. Their placements were all set up and they all swiped their HaLO’s over the registration scanner. The receptionist tells the group that they will all need to take all of their possessions and go to the rune scanner to register their belongings.
Vargas walks through the scanner and has no problems getting through because he doesn’t use runes. They slow him down too much, so he just doesn’t use them.
Bailey, on the other hand, was the only one of the group that had trouble getting through the scanners. She is a technology specialist and uses tech to augment her spells. One of those was a rune pistol she uses for long range attacks. The two Paladins that were doing the scanning told her that she had to check all of it in and use what would be provided.
She questioned why, and they went on to explain that the Captain Commander, Tyler Hemlic, is going to be presiding over the tournament today. He made the change because he wanted to. This news made Vargas’ ears perk up a bit. If the Commander of the Paladins is going to be here for this, they have to be looking for recruits. Why else would the highest ranked Paladin in the Order come to a high school event.
This could be the chance that he was looking for when he joined this MMA team. The Paladins get a good salary, do good work that he could be proud of and he could get recognition for it. Perfect! Vargas starts running through everything in his head that he can do to give himself a shot at winning. With everything he knows this should be easy.
The tournament is about to begin and right before the ramp headed for the main floor where the opening ceremonies are about to be held are a few tables filled with runes. All shapes and sizes as well as holders for them for every place they can be held. There is also a table with rune pistols of all different types.
Vargas looks over at Bailey and can see the drool building in the corners of her mouth over everything that is in front of her. She frantically goes back and forth amongst the different options, finally settling on roughly the same setup she had before everything was locked up in her storage box.
The stage is surrounded with students from all around the continent. Center stage is the Astrum government insignia, a red arbor shape with a white shooting star traveling across it from the lower left toward the upper right surrounded within a circle filled in with stars. As Tyler walks onto the stage the crowd of high school students goes silent.
The coliseum seating filled to bursting and looks alive with the number of people that are pouring into their seats with the start nearing. The displays around the coliseum light up and focus on Tyler's face. The coliseum goes silent.
"People of Eden, I would like to extend my personal gratitude for your attendance today. My name is Tyler Hemlic, I am the Captain Commander of the Paladin Order and I will be your Master of Ceremonies here today. We all have been given a great honor here to witness the first official High School Mixed Magical Arts Tournament. Our gracious host, The City of Bastion, is to thank for these glorious and luscious facilities. Today we shall witness the preliminary matches for the main tournament which is going to be held in New Atlantis. The points system will be in effect today. There will also be extra points awarded to schools that participate in the two surprise additions. One on one matches, and a free-for-all match. The extra matches are voluntary but could give as much points for the winners as the main bout. Students you will need to choose wisely. You will be receiving a HaLO prompt momentarily that will allow you to register for one or both of the extra challenges today.”
Extending out his left arm with his index and middle finger out, waves his fingers around in a circle, then swipes to the right. Vernon could tell he was using some kind of overlay command, and receives a message prompt. Tyler is softly saying a prayer over the ground as Vernon opens the notification. Three options appear in the middle of their vision;
None; One on One; Free for All.
Vargas, without hesitation, signs up for both and hits ok. This is what he needed. There isn’t anything better he could have wished or hoped for than what is happening right now. He has to push himself to stand out, and he knows how to do that. There aren’t any rich kids he has to worry about for these.
Tyler starts talking again, ”With that settled, we can begin the setup for the one on one matches. We will have four separate tiers going at the same time on this floor. They will be separated off, and walls added in just for this round. Once completed, the top four will face off to determine the winner. We will then continue onto the group matches, and then to conclude the tournament today will be the free for all. May the stars guide you all, and let the tournament begin!"
The officials bring out a shield generator to split the coliseum floor into four roughly equal parts. They also split the rankings so he didn't have to fight his teammates in the early rounds if they also opted in. During the registration, the form had a listing for your team mates, starting with the team captain.
Vargas got put into group three since he was third seat, and he sees that Bailey also opted into these rounds and she got put into group one. Her group set up quicker than his, and he decides to look over at their first match. He sees Bailey waiting on the sidelines, and before he can look back the fight was already over.
A black haired boy had moved behind his opponent so fast that Vargas couldn’t see it happen. What he did see was the massive cylinder of ice that was thrusted at the opponent and broke through the shield in between groups one and two. He looks at the boy and their glances connect. He can see concern in the boys icy blue eyes and on his face.
Vargas has a smirk grow across his face and nods in an approving manner. The boys face relaxes and he can see relief. Vargas knows this kid will be the one to beat in this tournament. Before he can wrap his head around it, he’s called up his first match.
Every other school had set up the teams in regards to strength not clout like what Pharis had done. This made things very easy on Vargas, it was almost pathetic. Blasting though each of his rounds with such ease he didn’t even have to use or rely on anything Master Sel had taught him. The one silver lining to it all, is he was finished so quickly he could watch all of the other matches, and look for openings in the winners fights.
With the first set of one-on-one matches complete it was now time for the real fights to begin. His fight was against the boy that he locked eyes with from group one, Vernon Douglas.
The official walks over in between and looks to the left and right at both boys, and asks if they are both ready. They both nod, and the official raises his right hand and then quickly brings it down shouting begin!
Vernon boasts, “You'd better be ready.”
Vargas remembered the way he opens and needs to be faster. His burst of wind magic behind him followed by a physical attack. It was time to use the first technique that Master Sel had taught him. Focusing the flow of his magic over his nerves, charging them, and giving him a quicker reaction time. This now simple technique had taken him a year just to figure out how to even feel his magical flow.
Vargas yells with a smile on his face, “Try me!”
Wind gathers beneath Vernon’s feet as he bursts forward, clearing the distance quickly.
Vargas can see him this time and lays down a lightning wall spell onto the ground. He creates an arc of lightning at his feet and floats backwards across it, to avoid being hit by either Vernon or his own spell.
Vernon passes over the spot he touched which creates a wall of lightning with him right around him. He passes through and gets covered in electricity, hitting the ground his body was writhing as he rolls to a stop. Vargas moves quickly by gliding over to where his opponent landed and thinks to himself he might be able to intimidate this guy off of his game plan. Mental games were something he was told were critical in winning a fight before it gets started.
Standing over Vernon, he looks down at him and says, “You have quite a bit of speed, but you’re not faster than I am, I can ride lightning. I saw how you beat your other opponents. You use your speed to close the distance, and your strength to overwhelm. Sadly, you won’t be able to be so predictable against me Rune Master Vernon Douglas. You’ll have to do better than that.”
Vargas finishes as he gathers magic into his hand forming bolts of lightning into two bluish purple spheres, as they form and grow streaks shoot from his hands to the ground.
Vargas releases the spell, and Vernon barely wind bursts away from the blast, sliding away on the ground. Getting up Vernon brushes himself off. Vargas sees him glancing down which must be to his overlay, and does the same. His readout shows his current mana reserves and luckily he hasn’t used enough to register.
His opponent doesn’t seem to be deterred by his attempt at intimidation. Vargas sees Vernon’s runes flare up as he slams down his palm to the ground. Ice flows out in all directions covering over half the two hundred yard coliseum floor. Vargas' feet get caught within the thick ice, just over his toes and up over the back of his heel.