Eyes of the Dragon... (Open Challenge)

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Thunder crashes as rain begins to fall outside the gates of Forumscant.

There stands a man, a man of dark origin and darker power. From under the brim of a black leather undertaker's hat, his unblinking, icy gaze is focused on nothing but what lay in front of him.

Behind him is of no concern. That way lay only broken bodies and shattered souls.

The beginning of his ascension is in his grasp now. His elaborate plot to become fully corporeal has finally come to fruition during the Jade Behemoth's competition. Death Incarnate has at last been made mortal. His power intense enough to leave even the Mad Old One wary of his intents, the incomparably unique extradeitous being known only as the Last Rider stands in the midst of what is soon to be a battlefield, focusing on only one thing. In the cold, unerring way that only this entity can be focused.

He is the shadow of death. He fears no man. He answers to no god. He bargains with no devil.

Redemption is at last his for the taking. The only thing standing in his way...are the foolish opponents before him.

The wind blows the Dark Phenom's leather duster up slightly as the rain dies away. The sky remains dark.

A bell tolls.

In the distance, a vulture caws. The Last Rider awaits the opponent he is certain is there. The first of many.

Once more, a bell tolls.

It has begun.


[Open challenge to any--and all--who want a shot at the Dark Phenom. Timeline is considered post-rumble]
 
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Should anyone step up to this challenge, I shall ref this battle.

Unless of course someone has an objection.
 
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I'll step up. It'll be good experience going up against a great writer, though it's almost a guarantee'd loss for me >_<. And on that note, my posts may take a little while since I'll have to go over them repeatedly to try and get on par with Pride's standards.
 
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((Not a problem. I could use the exercise, either way. Heh. Let's get a venue and then I'll commence with the smacktalk phase.))
 
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The venue is the main street in the centre of the Forumscant capitol. Various citizens are watching from the streets and in highrise buildings in fear of the Last Rider.
 
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I fear not the reaper, for I have a reaper of my own.
 
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Ash to ash...

[The bell tolls across the darkening sky...]

...dust to dust.
 
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A figure stood at the top of the administrative tower, its grey cloak sweeping in the wind, its omnipotent eye making sure those below would not befall any harm. A heavy sigh escaped its lips as it turned back inward and went inside. Cucumba had made his way in between dimensions to meditate. Majin_You was off tracking down renegades of Forumscant, wanted for leaking ForcePit materials. Sonic and Karrde were out scouting new nations to bring under Forumscants wing of protection, and Pain's footsteps echoed throughout the administrative tower as he widdled through the floor with his paces.

"'Hold down the fort,' they said. It's not like anything ever happens anyway." sighed Pain, who would much rather be off doing nothing elsewhere instead.

He walked into the main administrative chamber looking for something to occupy his attention, at least until his superiors returned. The gigantic monitor in the room on the far wall clicked on and a female voice softly spoke, "Good evening, Pain."

Lazily he strolled over and sat down on the over sized sofa in front of the equally over sized monitor. "Show me who's currently fraternizing in my city."

"The city does not belo--"

"Just show me." interrupted the bored admin.

The monitor obeyed with a dull hum as it split into several smaller screens, a different location on all of them.

Pain looked at the first screen. Looks like Overlord is making yet another desktop display shop. His eyes shifted to what looked like a heated debate on another screen. Kurt and Spunky are arguing at the help desk, no surprise there. A monument of himself caught his eye next. What the hell? Someone made a shop dedicated to "Pain memorabilia", that's a little weird... ace005, huh? Bright neon XXX signs on another display alerted him to what he already knew was bound to happen. Kidboy is trying to open up another self made sex shop in the Force Pit again, ugh. Lastly, a vibrant color scheme he recognized immediately caught his attention. VivaLaPineapple is handing out more of his wallpapers at the art emporium, I should try to get my hands on one before he runs out like last time. He spoke to the monitor, "I'm going out."

"Sir, may I remind you, you are not permitted to leave the tower unless an emerge--"

"Monitor off." he interrupted again.

The admin got up and walked back towards his designated living space, disappointed that he would be unable to leave. Before he could get through the door, however, the speakers jolted on with an alarm he had heard many times before.

"What's the problem?" he spoke as if to the air itself.

The alarm stopped and the same female voice from the monitor replied, this time over the speakers, "Unknown disturbance at the corner of Off-Topic and ESF Chat."

"Probably another ban evader, at least I can get out of this prison now. Computer, lock the doors behind me. I'll be back shortly."

"Affirmative, sir."

Pain quickly collected his forearm sword, his Bansabre, and an IP-Scouter and made his way over to the elevator. "Ground floor." he muttered. The elevator shifted upwards then slid downwards in compliance at a comfortable rate of speed. A soft and comforting humming sound accompanied him inside.

After several seconds the elevator reached the ground floor. The admin quickly made his way out of the building, the doors shutting behind him with a loud metallic thud as the locks clicked into place and the force field powered on with an echoed whirring noise.

As he walked down the city streets many civilians recognized him, and as usual he was met with the usual barrage of questions.

"When is 1.3 coming out?"
"Will you let me be a Beta-Tester?"
"Can you help me with EVM?"
"Why can't I play with Half-Life 2?"

He ignored them all, focused on the more important task at hand. As he approached his destination, the one the computer had specified, he stealthily reached up to his ear and attached the IP-Scouter, and with a push of the button it flicked on. He looked around for anything out of place, and soon found a very shady looking character. He walked up to the man and grabbed him by the shoulder, "What's your name?"

"Omnius, what's it to you?" said the suspicious character.

"That poses a problem. You see, you should still be banned, Zeonix." said the admin, his grip still quite firm on Omnius' shoulder.

Shocked that he had been found out, he tried to run, but his executioner would not let him budge. As he looked back, an expression of horror fell upon his face as he saw Pain draw his Bansabre and flick the switch. The black blade propelled three feet outward with a rumble of power which could only spell doom for the poor soul. He screamed for help until he thought he would collapse a lung, but his plea's fell upon deaf ears. The other forumites in the area knew better than to get between an admin and his duties. As Pain led his blade through the flesh of the would-be ban evader, it lit up in a brilliant display of light and smoke. The screams ceased as his clothes floated harmlessly to the ground, the only remnants of what had transpired.

As he flicked off his sabre he looked up to find several forumites gawking at him. "Move along, nothing to see here." he said in an official tone.

It was then Pain realized they weren't looking at him. They were looking past him.

"Out of the way small-fry, or you'll find yourself under my heel." A voice spoke, to the point.

As he turned he was greeted by a wall of a man. Almost seven feet tall with an equally massive frame, he wore a leather duster and hat, both black. An aura of purple mist seemingly attached to him.

"Can I help you with something?" he asked the dark figure, unamused.

Without uttering another word, the giant of a man swung at his obstacle, knocking him flat on his back. He followed by making good on his word, stomping down on Pain's face with a sickening thud, cracking the pavement below in the process and detonating the IP-Scouter still attached to his victims head. The civilians in the area screamed and scattered as they saw their protector taken down in one blow. The unidentified assailant walked forward as if nothing had happened.

Still dazed from the blitz attack, Pain got up, Cucumba's words ringing in his ears. The Last Rider still roams the earth and it is likely he will come to Forumscant in search of me. He wants only for my death and will likely stop at nothing to reach that goal. He is Death Incarnate, if you see him do not engage him alone. Retreat and seek out the rest of the administrators.

"Is this the guy?" Pain muttered to himself, still disoriented from the boot to the face. "He's headed right for the administration tower..."

In an attempt to discover the truth he opened his mind to his attacker. He was met with a rather severe psychic feedback due to the immense power contained within his foe, but he had attained the information he sought. This man was the Last Rider, and with the other administrators gone, he would have to handle this by himself.

He pointed a finger at the Phenom as needle thin shards of light found their mark in Pride's back, a squirt of black blood following each one. The Last Rider kept walking forward, ignoring the insignificant volley. Pain was going to be hard pressed to simply keep his attention.

Three figures materialized before the Behemoth, each one with a look of determination in their eyes. Suddenly everything looked wrong, up was not up and the horizon was skewed. The Dark Intruder stopped in his tracks, slightly puzzled as to what it was he was seeing. His eyes rolled back into his head as he searched for answers.

Pain took the opportunity to make a decisive strike as he ordered his trio of clones to attack while he came up from behind. He could see his copies of light futilely strike the Phenom, as they lacked the power of their master. Wielding his Bansabre once more he was determined to draw more than a few drops of blood with his next assault. As the blade ignited in its signature black blaze, Pride's eyes returned to normal with new found knowledge behind them.

The admin rushed in and dug the sabre deep into the Behemoth's side, a rush of black goo and smoke flowed over the blade and sizzled. He had never known a foe to be so naturally resilient that he couldn't slice them in half with a single strike.

Pride turned and struck hard once more, smashing his attacker fiercely into the ground, at the same time, the orientation of the environment shifted back to normal and the clones dissipated. He looked down to find the sabre still stuck in his side. Taking hold of it, he flung the weapon atop the ESF Chat building. Pain was already on his feet, however, and had his hands placed firmly on the Last Riders chest. A bright light came forth from behind his palms as the Phenom was propelled into a pillar of the Off-Topic building, obliterating it.

Without missing a beat, the monster of a man was back on his feet. A black burst of smoke enveloped him as his appearance shifted. Motorcycle parts seemingly materialized on his body as pieces of armor. Tire treads over his shoulders as a sort of mantle, rings of steel on his arms and legs at the joints while his chest donned what seemed to be engine parts in a type of protective cage. All the while the same purple mist accompanied him. As the wound vanished he spoke again, straight and to the point, "Veken. You have committed genocide and I'm going to grind you into dust for it."

Pain knew this was no idle threat, yet he was taken aback that the beast in front of him could possibly know that name. He had never told anyone of that, not even Cucumba. He himself knew that he had not done what he was being accused of, however there were extenuating circumstances which could shift the blame onto him. Either way, the mere fact that Pride knew of this sent a chill down his spine. He knew he was no match for the Behemoth in terms of strength alone, he would have to either out maneuver or out smart his adversary.

He drew his forearm sword and vanished. The slippery admin tried to position himself behind his would-be murderer, yet much to his shock, Pride's stare was still on him. Before he could move away the Phenom grabbed him and ripped him out of his invisibility bubble. The resourceful admin kept his head on straight and quickly placed his hand on the arm that binded him. With another brilliant spectacle of light, Pride was forced to withdraw his grasp. He wasn't in the clear yet though, the Phenom was still right on top of him.

A massive fist came down towards Pain's head, who quickly raised his sword to deflect the strike. Even though it was a glancing blow, it was still hard enough to cause the ground beneath him to crack and give way. Another fist came down, once again it was deflected, and once again the earth beneath groaned. He knew he wouldn't be able to keep this up forever as the Phenom delivered yet another heavy handed blow. The admin attempted to block it but his knee's buckled under the sheer force that Pride delivered. One final fist came raining down upon the defenceless Sentinel. He wouldn't have time to raise his sword to deflect it, and this hit would likely be enough to knock him unconscious or even kill him. With no other options he placed his hand on his own chest, a spectacle of light came forth once again from behind his palm as he blew himself clear of the fist which would spell his doom.

Pain groaned and wiped the blood from his mouth. Though he had saved himself from imminent death, his weapon now lay at the Last Rider's feet. Taking precautions for what he feared he might have to do, he flicked on his administrative wristband and spoke into it, "Evacuate." Alarms sounded throughout the city as civilians scrambled out of the buildings and flooded into the streets to find their designated underground bunkers.

The Dark Intruder would not stop for anything. A single purpose in his mind. He would make Pain atone for the crimes he was responsible for.

The Last Son of Light was running out of options. His face contorted into an expression that could be confused with one of anger as his eyes flared with light. An implosion of darkness enveloped him for a moment, only to be opposed by a magnificent light now originating from his body itself. Pain didn't have much time now, his body wouldn't last long under the immense strain of this technique.

In an instant he was under the Dark Phenom, his fist already on course towards Pride's chin. It connected, but nothing happened. The Last Rider did not budge, he only looked down with a steely glare. Impossible! thought Pain. He jumped back as another implosion of darkness followed, this one dwarfing the one before. He could hear his muscles rip and tear as his flesh tried to cope with the enormous power he was taking in. As the darkness was lifted a much more pure and powerful light flowed from Pain's body.

Again he charged at the monstrosity before him. Their fists met, Pain could see he was now on par with the brute's power. Hit for hit, they exchanged blows, neither one giving an inch. Pain was shocked that the being before him did not only possess massive amounts of brute strength, but speed as well. Every swing he took was blocked while he scrambled to defend himself against the oncoming strikes. They were now on even terms, as if two sides of the same coin, but how long would he be able to keep this up? The admin could feel his body strain to keep up the pace, every part of him was in agony. Every second that passed would make him that much weaker.

Then it happened. Pain fumbled in his agony and the Phenom took full advantage. He grabbed the admin by the neck and rammed him through a second pillar of the Off-Topic building. His grip was still very much planted on his victim as he kept him pinned down and brutally and repeatedly fed the admin fist after fist. As the light faded from Pain's body, another being appeared, as if out of the light itself. Then another, and another, until Pride was surrounded by a half-dozen figures.

"Stay out of my affairs, Jotun." spoke the Last Rider, knowing full well they did not possess the ability to speak.

Unshaken by the warning, the Jotun attacked, forcing Pride off of his bloodied punching bag. As five of them launched their offensive, the sixth picked up its summoner and brought him a safe distance from the raging battle.

Viciously they slashed at the Dark Phenom, pushing him to the center of the Off-Topic building. Whenever Pride swung at one it would vanish into the light, only to appear once again in another position. Eventually he stopped swinging all together, their attacks were meaningless to him. Pain looked on and realized that the Jotun would not be able to quell the Last Rider's desire to annihilate him. With a single thought he ordered them to destroy the remaining support pillars of the Off-Topic building and retreat back to their homeland. They obeyed, and in a matter of seconds the building was crumbling down on top of the Phenom.

After seeing the raw power that was under his enemies control he knew it would not delay the Dark Intruder long. He got up slowly, still aching from the Torrent technique he had used moments before, blood streaming from his mouth. He knew if he tried to use it again he would surely die, which left him with a single option. The rubble shifted, he knew wouldn't have much time to pull this off.

He began to concentrate intensely as his eyes lit up instantly and became engulfed in white flame once more, the crimson life still pouring from his mouth. The light in the sky went dark as a tiny black ball of massive energy throbbed in his hand. The only thoughts in his head, If I don't stop this monster there is no future. The lights of the entire city flickered as Pain drew in every last ounce of power he could find. With a furrowed brow and contorted face he increased his concentration once again, pouring as much of his own energy as his broken body would allow into his last hope. As his hand began to shake ever more violently from the sheer amount of power he held, he called out to the Phenom very uncharacteristically, "You'll reach heaven tonight, BASTARD!"

Pain released the Astral Reaper and collapsed to his knees, utterly exhausted. It tore through the air at near light-speed and yet it seemed as if in slow motion. The only thing in it's wake were the hopes of the city as it drew nearer to the Last Rider, who was still negotiating the rubble of the building that was previously Off-Topic.

There was no sound. Time stood still for an instant as the blast made contact with the gargantuan beast. Dust and rubble compressed into a singularity as the Last Rider was obscured from view. Not but an instant afterwards an enormous explosion occurred, flattening the surrounding buildings into a crude parking lot.

Pain looked at the destruction he had wrought, he knew his last hope had failed him.

A bell tolled.

From beneath the rubble, Pride sat up.

"My turn."
 
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High in a tower overlooking the city, a young girl looked down from a balcony. Her jade hair blew in the slight breeze. Barely of age, a terrible understanding shines in her eyes.

Behind, her mother stands over her, looking in the same direction. Towards a billowing, fiery smoke rising from the downtown districts of Forumscant. The distant sounds of heavy weapons fire and the rolling thunder of explosions reaches their ears.

"Daddy will protect us from him," the girl says. "Won't he, mommy?"

"Of course," Mephit answers. "Hasn't he always?"

The child hears uncertainty in her mother's voice.

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Around the Last Rider, there was only carnage to behold. He was surrounded by high rise buildings, some intact, the faces of others annihilated by his onslaught. Throughout the city street on which he stood, tanks and other military vehicles lay shattered to oblivion in his wake. The broken bodies of Forumscant law enforcement and military personnel littered the street in either direction as far as the eye could see. Blood ran red into the cracks of the spiderwebbed pavement, sealing the foundations of the city with the dying breaths of its occupants.

This force had been dispatched to attack him, but had not succeeded. It did not matter; they were not meant to succeed. This was desperation, a move made out of fear. A tactic meant to delay the Last Rider's slow, deliberate pace toward the tower.

In the carnage of shattered steel and glass, of burning fuel and bleeding bodies, the Last Rider again began his deliberate walk before he was once more interrupted.

A man blinked into existence in front of him. He wore a ban saber; one of the Admins of Forumscant. A new face that the Rider had not known thus far.

"You'll go no further," announced Pain.

When he began to take a step, the Admin pulled his weapon-a pitch black ban saber, a weapon designed by Cucumba himself. Carried by the Administration of Forumscant for the purpose of discipline, the weapon was a sign of authority that often instilled fear and obedience in all who were threatened with it.

The entity known as the Last Rider found it to be a meaningless toy, and knowing it posed no threat, the dark one began to step forward.

Pain knew who he was dealing with, but despite tales of his earth-shattering power, the Last Rider emanated no notable energy signatures. To Pain, he seemed to possess no conventional powers at all. But the Last Rider's power, as he had been told, was not conventional by any means. The carnage around the two was a testament to his secret, destructive force. His mission was simple; to delay the Last Rider as much as he could while the rest of the city was evacuated. Hopefully he would be able to last until Cucumba returned from wherever he had disappeared to after the rumble's close and the destruction of the fight club arena.

Some thought perhaps the Jade Behemoth was already no more. Others still thought he had abandoned Forumscant after the Rider had taken the rumble. It had been difficult keeping the population under control with their beloved hero's disappearance; but now the Last Rider had come to seize the day and the rumors had proven to be somewhat true. Cucumba was nowhere to be found.

Pain stepped lightly around his opponent, sizing him up. Plenty apparent to the Admin was that the Last Rider was clearly at a massive physical advantage. Seven feet tall, and even though a leather duster with spiked metal shoulderplates covered his physique it was no secret that he was a monstrous specimen. From under the brim of his black leather hat, eyes that had seen each death in the history of creation looked on, cold and unyielding.

Pain knew why he was chosen for this sacrificial deed. His abilities to bend light to his will made him the ideal candidate to stall the Godless Reaper. The tales of the destructive force exhibited in the Royal Rumble were still fresh in his mind, and he knew perfectly well that any blow from the rapidly strengthening Rider could be potentially fatal. He would have to be at his best.

Tall buildings surrounding them on both sides, both fighters looked at one another. It was the Last Rider who struck first.

Raising an open palm, a momentous light grew from the Phenom's hand. With horror Pain could make out the screaming skull of a lost soul in the center of the purple flame. In a moment the swirling violet mass blasted towards the Light Warrior, with speed and purpose all too clear.

The screaming soul blast burned clear through the chest of it's target, slamming into an unknown point aways down the street and detonating with horrific, ground-rumbling force.

As the light copy he'd blasted disappeared in a flash of white, the Last Rider sharpened himself. Looking around quickly, he knew that he had been deceived by his opponent. How many more variations of the same trick could Pain manage?

It was not until the Last Rider looked up that Pain decided to strike. From a rooftop, Pain leapt, black ban saber unleashed and prepared to strike.

From another rooftop, another copy leapt, equally eager to draw blood. And from a third area across the street, yet another copy descended into the fray.

The Last Rider, for all his supernatural strength, could not detect a difference between any of the three Pains flying toward him. All held a ban saber, all seemed equal in their physicality. Silently damning the decision to render himself unto the physical world and limiting his supernatural senses, the Last Rider reacted with shocking precision. Three quick screaming souls flew from his outstretched hands, soaring upward and finding their marks with ease. Again, each copy died in a shattering of luminescent white light, leaving no trace. None of them had made it even halfway down.

The real Pain had already accomplished his goal, however; the Rider had been suitably distracted. With quickness unparalleled, another Pain ran out towards the Rider, who still stared skyward. Ban saber unsheathed, he let out a biting battle cry as he took a mad dash toward his opponent.

The Last Rider began to lower his view to ground level but he was already too late; Pain's ban saber was already whipping in a flurry. The first slash burnt across the Rider's chest, what would normally be a halving blow to most other beings causing notably less damage to the Phenom. The blade passed through his body, damaging all it touched, but it did not cut cleanly as normal; undaunted Pain's single-handed swordplay continued. The Light Warrior spun, ducked and dashed around the larger opponent with stunning quickness, laying slash after slash into the Rider's body.

More disturbing than the distilled potency of the saber was the Last Rider's reaction. Grunted slightly with each swipe, Pain found that his target made no noticeable outcry of pain or rage. Though each slash drew misty squirts of viscous blackened blood from the Dead Man, he gave little indication that the cuts were anything but superficial.

A lesser man would have been cut to ribbons. But Pain had known ahead of time that the Rider's unique necrobiological makeup would react differently to all manner of attacks. The only fatal flaw of the being that the Admin could hope to exploit was the fact that it had been designed to emulate human form.

Could he bleed to death? Could he be blinded? Could he be reasoned with?

Pain's final slash was a furious uppercut that crossed the face of the Dark Phenom with a glancing blow across the eye. Finishing the impressive flurry with a roundhouse kick to the face, the Light Warrior sent the charred and scarred Rider reeling.

Taking only a single step back before ceasing to stagger, the Last Rider quickly recovered. The monstrous fighter stared straight at Pain before the Light Warrior made another assault, dropping a second powerful roundhouse kick into the behemoth's jaw and sending him back another single step.

The Rider's leather hat, sliced by the saber, flew off after the kick, turning to dust as it fluttered in the air. Now Pain stood a few feet from the monster, and with no brim to hide his gaze, the Last Rider's menacing face was a scowl that instilled an irrational fear in even the resolute Administrator. A blackened swipe of charred flesh marked the Phenom's face where Pain's blade had swiped.

The subtle purple glow radiating from the Grim Warrior's figure was barely detectable, but his furious expression told Pain that a brutal attack was coming. Unable to sense the Dead Man's soul energies charging, the Admin had to rely on gut instinct.

A screaming beam of violet souls blasted forth from the Rider's cupped hands with a sudden shockwave. Pain quickly leapt to his right, commando rolling out of the way, regaining his feet in time to catch a fleeting glimpse of the raw power with which he dealt.

This latest attack was a menagerie of the screaming projectile souls, skull-like formations writhing on the head of the powerful beam. It had erupted forth like violet hellfire, with next to no warning; it's shockwave carried large vehicles, civilian and military alike, from the ground and sent them hurtling like children's toys. Windows of nearby buildings shattered at the inaudible screams of the passing beam. And in a split second it was gone, in its wake a smoldering streak of molten asphalt and obliterated debris.

Pain would have been awed but his instincts knew better than to be distracted with such a dangerous opponent. He was already up on his feet and running by the enemy, pushing as hard as his legs could carry him.

Whirling, the Rider unleashed a double fisted barrage of the screaming skull projectile blasts, each erupting from his palms like a flaming comet across the skies of hell. Pain ran up the undercarriage of an overturned tank, splitting into many light copies of himself and leaping in as many different directions as he could manage. The Last Rider was undeterred by the multiple new targets.

One copy dove into a nearby storefront, which was quickly obliterated. The glass and tile were sent flying outward in a series of brutal explosions.

Another tried to hide behind the overturned tank's far side, but another screaming skull blast found its mark and obliterated the vehicle.

Another had leapt onto a fire escape, the length of which was immediately saturated with blasts of purple soul energy. The building's wall quickly gave way under the barrage, crushing the copy on the way down and burying two others.

When the firing finally stopped, the entire cityscape before the Last Rider had been shredded. Small impact craters marked where each of his dozens of blasts had found their marks; vehicles were obliterated, buildings were left in shambles, and the bits of the intact sections of the street were now laced with potholes.

Looking on, the Rider searched with human-like eyes for a sign of life beyond the smoke and soot.

Instead, he heard a cumulative grunt from what sounded like another half a dozen copies of Pain. An SUV erupted from the smoke, hurtling through the air in defiance of the laws of physics.

Standing his ground, the Last Rider admired the resourcefulness of the Light Admin. They were wise to send him; he would delay him, undoubtedly.

In the moments that the massive vehicle hurtled towards him, the Last Rider entertained a brief notion. It was all too clear that this trickster of a warrior had been sent to delay him, to buy time until Cucatoth's whereabouts could be determined. The people of Forumscant were mortal fools, and the Rider knew they feared his dominion and the destruction of the city more than anything else. But neither of which were his actual goals.

No. He knew that the time had come, and that he must face Cucatoth soon. It was the only way. The only way to ascend.

Knowing this, the Last Rider saw no reason to rush this battle. At any point the Phenom was able to soar into the sky and obliterate the entire district of the city in which they stood, certain to destroy his opponent. But this young mortal and his noble cause, along with his bravery and cleverness, made the Rider eager to see where the battle would take them.

When the SUV finally came on its downward arch toward the Dark Intruder, he waited. It wasn't until the last possible moment that the Phenom reacted, purely for dramatic purpose. Charging energies into both his fists, the Rider literally tore the SUV in half in midair. In an explosion of violet light he threw a monstrous double ax handle smash, destroying the vehicle as though it were paper. The pieces soared off to either side of him, smoldering and molten.

He continued to look toward the smoky destruction that he had wrought along the street up ahead. He expected Pain to come barreling out for another attack run, or perhaps another flying vehicle to be flung his way, but neither such thing happened.

Instead, the cold bite of a massively weighted metal sword dug into the Dark Warrior's shoulder and neck, sending viscous black blood flying in a brutal spray. It was the blade of the Admin's massive metallic blade, a weapon that had seemed so impractical and decorative that the Rider had not even paid it heed earlier.

More than half a foot into his neck, the sword reached deep enough that it had splintered into the Last Rider's shoulderblade. Grunting from the effort, Pain removed the massive sword and swung it the other way, bringing it low. A spinning slash later and the other side of the blade had found its mark, digging deep into the Rider's unprotected midsection through his leather duster. Without bone to stop it, the massive sword's weight and Pain's strength had sent it deep into the Rider's left side. Black blood poured from the wounds and ran the length of the Rider's duster, pooling at his feet like an oily black mass.

The pain of these blows was undeniable even for the Last Rider, but his grunts of exertion were not the howls of terror Pain had hoped to illicit from his opponent. Still, he'd struck an undeniably effective blow; the black blood coating his blade and pouring from the Phenom's wounds was evidence enough of that fact.

The two stood for a moment, a length of time indeterminate to them both. It was then that the Last Rider reacted in a way that quickly melted Pain's steely determination.

Throwing back his length black hair, the Rider revealed eyes rolled deep into the back of his head. Then, in a shocking move, he grimaced a scowl of fury and grabbed hold of the massive blade.

With a mighty heave, he swung, flinging Pain helplessly into the car door of a civilian truck. Smashing through the passenger side and ramming out the driver's side, Pain fell to the ground in a heap.

This one did not turn into a silhouette and vanished. The Phenom had found the true warrior whom he was engaging this time.

Struggling to even look up, Pain saw the Rider tear the mighty sword from his side, letting what was easily a gallon of that horrid black sludge fall from the injury.

The huge sword landed near Pain's crumpled form with a clang on the asphalt's remnants.

For a moment, Pain had hope. The Last Rider looked to be mortally wounded; black blood pouring from his frame in buckets, burnt scars from the ban saber lining his body and clothes, one jagged char mark running up his face.

Then the bell tolled.

A burst of thick black smoke and the Rider had suddenly changed his appearance. Gone was the duster, as were any signs of serious injury. He was now laced in steel and rubber, the powerful parts of a motorcycle intertwined along his body as armor. Pain could see spaulders made of steel with spikes jutting out of them on the Phenom's shoulders. Motorcycle spokes formed in the shape of a rib cage around the Rider's form-fitting black clothes. At every joint, knuckle knee or elbow, a spiked metallic adornment lay.

The menacing form appeared to be almost wholly unaffected by the injuries Pain had inflicted, though the char mark on his face remained in a less severe form.

The Admin held hope that the Dark Warrior, if able to be wounded, could be defeated. But slowly, the injury began to repair itself. Around the warriors, the skies filled with the spectral remnants of those who died in the battle beforehand. Intently, the spirits looked on, eager to give themselves unto the Hero of the Dead's cause.

Pain slowly began to get to his feet. He could not quit now.

"Leave now," the Dead Man's growling voice intoned, "or be destroyed."

No, he couldn't quit now. No matter the cost.
 
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Due to the significant changes to the body of either story I am disregarding the apparant similarities within each post regarding abilities and considering them as sheer coincedence.

Now...

As most everyone knows I judge on three things when I ref; flow, creativity and descriptiveness.

Flow - Both stories had their moments of choppiness, I won't lie. A few gramatical errors here and there, but that's of little concern when there aren't alot of them.

Creativity - Both of you went all out with your creativity, although Pain's was better when it came to the storyline, unfortunately his long introduction slowed the pace down quite a bit depsite it being rather indepth, but it was overdone.

Descriptiveness - The description in both stories amazed me. Both of you have, as expected, a deep understanding of what needs to be written in order to descrbe the feel of a scene and I am incredibly impressed with both posts.

But...

Unfortunately like all good things there is only one winner.

Round 1 goes to Pride.

Both of you have skills that equal up via different areas and both would do well to work on these strengths. Pain, your creativeness is good but it is too slow and dull, try to spruce it up a bit, unfortunately Pride's starting paragraphs were better than yours. Whilst they weren't as in depth as yours, they still kept his story alive rather than having it hibernate for a while.

Pride, I've noticed you have a habbit of repeating things that really don't need to be done as much as you do. About half way through you mention that Pain was slowing your character down, and the very next paragraph your repeat it, only in different wording, I believe it was also stated at the start. It was one of the choppy points I found in your post.

To both of you, your stories flowed well but had little choppy bits at times, Pride I won't lie, yous were fewer, but worse.

Please take the advice fella's and good luck in Round 2!
 
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Pride once again began his slow deliberate pace towards the tower and towards the Light Warrior. Each step symbolizing the doom awaiting the poor soul who ignored his warning. As he drew closer he could see Pain formulating a new strategy. He gave the Admin credit once more for his resoluteness and loyalty, any other man would have surely fled by now. Pain's eyes flared with light, Pride wondered what trick the admin would try next. The Sentinel raised his open palm towards the sky, the light in his eyes flared out again.

The Behemoth wasn't about to be delayed any longer. A trademark screaming skull faded into existence in Prides hand as it erupted in violet flame and ripped through the air at its target. As he looked on he noticed something different. He was absolutely sure this was not an illusion and yet Pain made no attempt to get out of the way, he only kept his hand extended in the air, undaunted. Perhaps he had given up and accepted his fate?

As the blast approached, the Light Sentinel raised his other hand and pointed. A glint of light appeared for an instant on the tip of his finger as needle thin shards of light burst forward making contact with the skull, detonating it instantly and covering the area in thick dust and smoke, obscuring the Phenom's view.

Pride sent several more skulls through the smoke into the fray, each one was met with the same fate. Suddenly, Pain leapt through the smoke, fore-arm sword in hand and charged directly at the beast.

As the Admin approached on his attack run, the Phenom picked up a nearby overturned tank and ripped off the turret. Using it as a club, he swung at the Admin hard, making contact and breaking the illusion, as well as the pavement below. Unamused, the Last Rider kept walking forward, into the smoke screen and out the other side. He knew if he was able to get close enough he would have an enormous upper hand.

The Leviathan looked to his left and saw his opponent, hand still outstretched upwards. He knew he wouldn't be delayed much longer. At this range his crafty opponent wouldn't be able to avoid or counter his blasts, and he capitalized. The Phenom sent three flaming skulls towards his soon to be dead foe. To his absolute shock, the skulls veered off course to the right. Pain had warped the light in the area causing each direction to appear as another. He had underestimated the Admins trickery once again, a mistake he would not repeat.

Pain looked at the sky, night would soon be upon them and he wouldn't be able to stall the Leviathan for much longer. He only hoped he would be able to find some hint as to what, if any, weakness this giant possessed before his disadvantage became even greater.

Pride too looked at the sky, and saw what the Admin had been doing all this time. Above them both was what could best be described as a gargantuan mass of volatile energy, almost the size of a building, but far more dense.

The Light Warrior clenched his open palm into a fist, rays of light escaping between the cracks in his fingers as he swung his arm downward. Sure enough, the energy mass in the sky followed suit. If the Phenom could not bleed to death perhaps he could be crushed.

The mass came down with sickening speed and force, the Last Rider did not bother raising his arms. With a resonating thud, it hit the ground, continuing several feet past ground level. The Admin left nothing to chance as he pushed the energy mass deeper and deeper until eventually the mass ceased moving. As it dissipated, he saw Pride laid flat out on the ground, not moving.

In the distance the Sentinel heard a scream, the same that came from one of Pride's skull blasts. He looked down at the Phenom, he still had not moved. The chilling sound was drawing nearer as Pain frantically looked around for the source. Suddenly he was engulfed in a pillar of purple fire and smoke. The Last Rider was not without some tricks of his own, he had sent a skull blast down through the ground when the mass of energy flattened him.

A bell tolled.

Pride shot up and looked at the heap only several feet away from him. Night had fallen, the Phenom knew his challenger would not be able to stall him anymore.

He walked over to his defeated foe and picked him up by the collar. Out of respect he dusted off Pain's clothes and put out the purple flames that were still licking at his flesh. The giant looked into Pain's eyes, as if to give him a chance to speak his last words.

Pain struggled to speak, "S.. Spend some.. quality time with..."

The Admin paused for a moment, as if to think over the consequences of what he was about to do, then continued.

"The demon of mine..."

With that he reached up to his chest and ripped off the device. It fell to the ground harmlessly, and at first nothing happened. He hung limp in Prides enormous fist for what seemed an eternity.

Then it happened, the black-ash on his flesh seemingly jumped to life and consumed the Admin. Every inch of him turned jet black as the earth beneath them groaned in protest of what was coming. The air went stale and the area went dark. What was once Pain was becoming something else. Pride could sense it was not nearly as ancient as he was, but it was something far more evil and sinister, and its power was rising.

A jolt of enormous power surged through the new form into the Riders arm, forcing him to loosen his grip. A second jolt came forth and Pride recoiled. The black form fell to the earth in a heap, only to levitate several feet in the next instant. The vessel was still limp as the transformation took place, sporadically jerking violently.

Then as suddenly as it had started, everything was calm again. The black form that still floated in the air turned sharply towards Pride and in an instant it was directly in front of his face. It opened its eyes to reveal two brilliant piercing white pupils in the midst of an absolute black sclera. Another surge of immense power rippled outward like a shockwave, knocking over the Off-Topic building and setting the new form ablaze in a slowly burning fire to match it's already blackened form. Though Pride had no time to react, he took only a single step back as the shockwave plowed into him.

The transformation was complete, and the new form spoke in an echoed whisper.

"This is where your sanity gives in."
 
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Pride, you have one week to finish your round.

Pain, you may use that week to retool your post however you like.
 
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Dusk was falling over the silent Forumscant district. In the farthest distance, the Tower housing Mephit and her daughter Maya is breached by the faintest trace of a flurry of echoing grunts. They all are the voice of Pain's many light copies, struggling against the seemingly infallible Last Rider. The Rider's cries did not accompany Pain's distant sounds of exertion, for the simple reason that he was not exerting himself nearly to the level that Pain was. He had no need to cry out.

At the moment, he was winning.

* * * * *

As he stood alone on a pile of elevated rubble, dozens of men charged the Dark Phenom with possessed abandon. All of them attacked at once, and all of them suffered the consequence--as one by one, they were promptly obliterated.

A copy charged head on at the Rider and was destroyed with a partially charged skull blast; two more leapt in from each side and attempted to hold Pride while others barrelled forward. Thrusting his steel-clad boot, the 7-foot Reaper incarnate kicked an oncoming copy directly in the face, sharply jamming his foot downward and crushing the target into inexistence. Quickly, he charged a skull blast in each hand and blasted the two holding his arms into ash, but another had leapt onto his back. With an arching gesture the Phenom pulsed his own impressive power, blasting the mounted Pain copy away with a quick shockwave. Two more respectively received a backhand and a right cross, sending either flying into the now-ruinous scenery along the orange-hued city street. Three approached from the Phenom's left and began to throw their fists and feet in a flurry of flash attacks. Though black blood dribbled from the corner of his mouth, the Last Rider was largely unphased by the copies' physical attacks. He'd learned by now that they were a distraction, just as Pain and his copies had learned that they were only a nuisance to the stronger fighter.

Viciously, Pride snatched the outermost two copies by the throat with either hand and kicked the third in the chest, sending him flying into the masonry on the side of the street. With insane strength, the Phenom through each of the two immobile copies at two others who were approaching; all were destroyed from the sheer force of impact.

The Phenom's patience was rapidly waining. The sun was setting and he had already been dogged for too long by the clever fighter who now sought to overwhelm him with his duplicates.

It was during this moment of clarity that the Last Rider realized what his opponent had been trying to accomplish with his barrage of duplicates; high in the sky, the true Pain had begun to charge some sort of strange attack.

Thrusting a hand outward at the Phenom, Pain's eyes closed and sweat beaded on his brow. The Light Sentinel screamed an outward cry of exertion and pain, and suddenly the golden light of the setting sun was blackened and chalky, like luminescent smoke off the iris of a dying man. The visual distorting was more of his light trickery for sure, and Pride was more than prepared for--

As the Phenom tried to step forward, a white sliver of light had pierced the world in front of him. As quickly as it had appeared a streak of white light and screamed past him. Looking around, the wary Rider could see no opponent save for Pain high in the sky.

Believing the white slash of light to be another optical trick, the frustrated Phenom scowled and wound up to throw another skull blast at his stationary target, but he was quickly interrupted by a flash of white hot pain.

Another blinding streak of light passed by him in a millisecond, carrying with it a strange growling sound. Looking down, the Phenom saw four ragged streaks of white light across his chest, his armored shell sliced as if thread. Pieces of motorcycle spokes and steel plating fell from his chest as black blood began to pour from a ragged, white hot wound. Eyes wide, the Phenom struggled to bring air into his lungs; a second streaking light answered his need, opening white hot wounds into his chest in the opposite direction.

Soon, sparks of light moving at speeds almost invisible to even the Dark Phenom were streaking out of thin air, slashing him with white hot plasma-like claws. The creatures attacking him were immaterial but so potent that they burned and seethed through his considerable flesh with relative ease.

He could get no number on these creatures but before long he found himself backing away from the area where he was being attacked. The streaking light beasts sporadically flickered into and out of existence all around him, leaving him with fresh wounds and shattered armor after each pass.

One bladed claw of light grazed Pride's face as he tried to avoid the supernaturally quick slashes. A black streaking wound opened up on the Phenom's face streaking from his jawline to the cusp of his hairline.

He knew that he had to do something to stop these supernatural creatures from attacking him, or they would likely tear him apart. His wounds were healing, true, but the light beasts attacked with greater frequency with each taste of his supernatural deathblood.

He tried in vain to catch the streaking beasts, to anticipate their blinks into existence, but by now their sporadic attacks had made a pattern all but unreadable.

In the sky, a confident Pain looked on. "Last Rider, meet the Jotun!" he cried out defiantly. "You can't crush what you can't see!!"

The Phenom looked straight at Pain, and his cold gaze bored into Pain's soul in an instant. The light creatures continued to spark into existence around him, rending his armor and outer flesh, but the Rider's gaze fixed on Pain and all other movements in the world were secondary to both fighters.

"Your soul will be obliterated this day," Pride said.

"No," Pain snapped defiantly. "Not today..."

Bringing his hands together, Pain charged a quick technique, not with energy but with light. The area around him dimmed as he brought the light into his body, and flashed with brilliance as he threw forth his open palm and unleashed it back out.

A rain of deadly light shards barrelled toward the Phenom by the dozens. Attempting to fly upward he was quickly swatted down by one of the light beasts; when he landed on one knee and rose to run away, another light beast tore at his thigh and calf, dropping him back down.

The rain of shards was upon him now, and the burned through him with cold, jagged purpose. Though the attack was inaccurate a majority of the shards impacted the Rider in areas all over his body; thin as if a school child's pencil, each shard burned white hot as they passed through his preternatural body. Almost universally, each shard exited the Phenom's flesh on the other side of its impact point, sending countless pints of deathblood out the Last Rider's back and shoulders, arms and legs.

The pain was not over; the light beasts resumed their attack in vicious fervor now, sensing their target's greivous injuries. But neither the Reaper nor the body he wore were strangers to immense pain, and the creatures' intensified attacks only made them slightly more visible.

He began to lash out, trying to grab hold of the streaking light beasts. He appeared to be failing utterly, black deathblood and motorcycle-borne armor spraying from freshly opened wounds with each flash and spark of light.

With a sudden loudness previously unheard of, the Last Rider cried out in rage--a guttural, grinding scream that no man could duplicate. His eyes rolled far back into his head; his devilish countenance twisted into a scowl of fury. All at once, he thrust both arms outward and managed to sieze a light beast in each hand!

The creatures struggled wildly as the Phenom held onto their corporeal, plasm-like bodies. Rolling his eyes deep into the back of his head, the Last Rider charged a blast in each hand, exploding both creatures into dark oblivion.

The Rider stood for a moment, letting the deathblood seep from his already closing injuries. Were he any other man, he would have been killed; but his preternatural body did not need its heart to pump its deathblood, nor its lungs to draw breath, or its spine to move its musculature. All of these were linked directly to the essence of the Reaper himself, each angelic cell anchored to his immortal spirit; his organs only existed and functioned as a byproduct of his deathbody's human design--after the flesh of the fallen angel who had ferried him to the waking world, of course.
Pride peeled off the tattered remnants of his armor, pulling them over his head with one gauntlet-clad hand. He dropped the metallic exoskeleton to the ground and it turned to dust, blown away in the light breeze.

It was only now that his wounds were finally sealing that Pride's attention returned to his elusive opponent. He quickly noticed something--the searing orange light from the sunset had vanished, but not into nightfall. No, not at all.

The landscape was illuminated by an unnatural gray hue. In the sky, a gray sun shined as it lowered to touch the horizon. No, the sun had not yet set--in fact it was still setting. But amongst the rubble of the city block, atop a mound of debris and bodies of fallen innocents, the Last Rider understood what he was now seeing.

All of the light of the setting sun was gone.

Looking high to the sky above, he saw where it now resided; in the palm of Pain's hand throbbed a pitch black orb with a smoky aura, perhaps three feet in diameter. The smoky black mass swirled and pulsed as the sky around Pain darkened even further, the clouds above him spinning.

He had moved several hundred feet away, hovering many meters in the air. Pride knew that his opponent was siezing an opportunity to hit him with everything the Light Sentinel could muster.

In the center of the charge, the color was completely drained out of everything. In Pain's surroundings, all was gray and white; no hues remained in the absence of light.

"Grim Reaper!" cried Pain. "Meet the Astral Reaper!!"

Pride's face masked into a column of fury as Pain released the superconcentrated light attack. The black orb traveled at a slower pace then an energy blast would have; in its immediate wake all color vanished to gray as it gained momentum. Each drop of light and color that became one with the orb hastened its pace, size, and intensity.

Pride, now unprotected and still massively wounded, could only look on as the astral reaper attack descended upon him.

* * * * *

From the tower, still a few miles away from the battle, Mephit and Maya could see little of the actual fighting. Stray energy blasts aside little of the confrontation had been visible at all to them.

But now the sunset on the distant horizon turned to gray, and the now-abandoned district drained of all of its color. She remembered what Pain had told her about his astral reaper attack--"With enough light, it can destroy anything."

The light of the sun had been his true goal; she knew now that he had delayed the Phenom until this point only to utilize the intense light of the Forumscant sunset in his ultimate attack.

Maya and Mephit felt the searing shockwave before the sound of the impact ever reached them.

The explosion of superconcentrated white light engulfed the entire district of the city in a flash. Untold destruction surged, rending buildings and roadways asunder for blocks in all directions.

The explosive force shattered glass within a five mile radius. Cars were rendered into molten slabs of metal; buildings, in turn, crumbled like moist clay; steel bent and twisted as though it were paper.

The skyline of the district in which the battle had begun was all but eradicated. The buildings' warped, molten bases were all that remained.

* * * * * *

The scene was one of post-apocalyptic destruction. Pain had never contained so much light into one attack, but he knew he only had one shot and had to make it count for all it was worth. He was only sorry that it was necessary to cause such horrific devastation in the process.

He never expected to defeat the Last Rider, even with the attack's unheard of magnitude. But it seemed that the plan he'd laid out so carefully had come to ultimate fruition; not even the Phenom could have survived such an intense blast. Especially after already having been injured so severely.

In the center of the wreckage was a crater the length of a four-lane highway. And in the center of this crater, Pain beheld the smoldering body of the Last Rider, laying broken and beaten. The Rider's decorative armor had been all but obliterated; most of his clothes were burnt and charred; black deathblood leaked from multiple grievous wounds all over his body, pooling around his limp countenance in a ceremonial stew of thick gore.

Pain looked at the unmoving body for a long time before he finally took a breath. The cold sweat on his brow was just as much from exertion as it was from tension and fear. No one--save for maybe Cucumba--could have survived such a blast in such a viciously incapacitated state.

"Finally..." Pain gasped. "...it's over."

He turned and began to walk back in the direction of the distant tower when he heard the sound he had been dreading--the ever-tolling bell of the Reaper. The bellow of the deep chime shook the very foundations of reality.

Whirling back around, Pain looked straight at the Phenom's body.

The Dark Phenom rose, but slowly. His face was a mask of pain and anger as he struggled to sit up. But in moments he had risen, and with a supernatural twist of his neck he was staring straight into the eyes of the Light Sentinel.

Pride's face was a mask of fury and anger. Black deathblood flowed from one eyelid, streaking down his cheek; on the other side of his face a hold burned into his face showed clear to cheekbone and teeth; his neck bled his viscous black fluid out in ernest as he struggled to his feet.

Pain looked carefully at the wounds and saw with horror that they were SEALING before his very eyes.

Pride gnashed his teeth with grinding rage as his invisible aura flared, silently sending nearby debris flying from his path. He rose to the edge of the crater, and now stood staring at the Light Sentinel with his deathblood-spattered face. One of his eyes was nearly completely blacked from a ruptured blood vessel within. When the bell again tolled, the monstrous Pride rolled his eyes and stared into the soul of Pain, black deathblood seeping from under his wounded eyelid.

Covered in the black fluid of his making, torn but whole, the Last Rider began a slow, deliberate walk toward the Light Sentinel.

He looked up at the sky and saw with horror that the sun was now completely set, and dusk was upon them. His attack had leveled every light source for five blocks in any direction; there would be no second attempt at the astral reaper, for certain.

With the last rays of sunlight disappearing over the horizon, Pain was nearly out of ideas.

"Impressive," spat the rapidly healing Reaper, black fluid spilling from his mouth. "Not enough, though."

"You're wounded!" Pain shouted. The cityscape was barren enough that the words echoed across the landscape. "I saw you, you sat up in pain! You can be hurt! You're not immortal!!"

Pride grinned. From the rubble, lost souls appeared, purple spirits of whispering light that gravitated towards their master. As they flowed into him a smoky aura billowed around his body, and his wounds began to seal even faster. His viscous black blood found its way back into the wounds from whence it had come; his torn flesh tied itself back into place and sealed into solid muscle once more.

When it was over, he looked nearly physically unscathed. A wisp of thick black smoke burst out from his massive frame and engulfed him. When it disippated a moment later, his hat and leather duster had appeared over him. From under the brim, his eyes were not visible to Pain, and the Light Sentinel preferred it that way. To look into Pride's eyes was to see the death of all things.

"You cannot kill death."

"And you can never destroy the light!" Pain shot back desperately.

From under the brim of his hat, the Last Rider grinned. "Where you are going...

"...there is no light."

The skies darkened more, and the Last Rider slowly stepped forward.
 
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I'm impressed. At both of you.

Pain.. I don't think I've seen you in before just recently but jesus you've got skill. You make me sweat a little having read this.

Pride, as usual I'd expect nothing less than a flawless round from you, but you made a typo, haha.

The round goes to Pride.

Prides detail and settings makes his post alot better than your own Pain, he's had alot of experience from the rumble and because he writes for a living. Well done both of you, especially you Pain - Believe me when I say I was close to giving you the first round.
 
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That post was well worth the wait, Pride. Nice.

Now I get to update my bio with the information that only one person has ever survived the astral reaper ;).

I also took care of updating your xp, so don't add to it again.
 
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Thanks, man. I'll have to update my bio too. Technically this is my first legitimate victory in Fight Club!

Pain, though you lost you should not underestimate your skills. You have a good character who's very flexible and your writing is top notch; as Cuc said my training was probably the difference maker in these judgments, but supposing I hadn't had such experience the result would likely have been quite different.

I also emphasized my mortality in that post--there's nothing less sporting than winning an unfair fight and trying to be proud of it.

Either way, my friend--excellent work. Keeping me on my guard, for sure!
 

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