| Nathalia |
“Welcome to the first monthly Certare!”
The voices of the crowd boomed throughout the whole arena. The flame intensified and the center stage floated about ten feet from the ground. There were two rules for the duel to stop: Admit Defeat or Fall.
The jumbotron centered on Damek Cross. He was a burly guy who seemed to have overdosed on steroids. His opponent, Oberon Woods, was his total opposite, thin and lanky, with long brown straight hair on his back, and was standing proudly with a cold smug look on his face. Damek Cross was the Goliath in this fight but Oberon Woods didn’t seem to mind.
Damek Cross lunged, his fist fully concentrated with mana, and was aiming for Oberon’s jaw, but Oberon disappeared from his spot, only to materialize at Damek’s back. It was all a matter of seconds, Oberon had his hand on Damek’s lower back, his hand glowed for a moment, then suddenly Damek was flying out of the circular ring.
The audience went wild.
“O-be-ron! O-be-ron!” They chanted. Oberon Woods of Sagittarius won in just a snap of a finger.
I didn’t realize that I was already standing up, appalled at how swift the match was. The thunderous cheer of his guildmates was overwhelming. He grinned and bowed with finesse.
“Well, that was disappointing.” The Ilwani host commented. He announced Oberon Woods as the winner then called for the next fight.
Lucinda Mallum of Leo and Yasmine Cane of Aquarius were circling each other, assessing and taunting, trying to take a feel of each other’s weaknesses. Both of them had their guild marks painted on a part of their body, Lucinda on her whole right cheek, Yasmine at her exposed back.
I sat at the edge of my seat, a grin slowly appearing on my face. The excitement of the Vulgari around me was clearly affecting me. I felt my pulse quicken when Lucinda began her attack, with grace like that of an assassin’s she slashed both of her swords in swift accurate motions, Yasmine blocking her attacks with her long golden metallic spear.
Lucinda kept on attacking while Yasmine remained on the defensive. The fight had taken them dangerously close to the edge of the arena, the latter quickly looked down at the fall that was awaiting her. Lucinda sneered and appeared to be saying something to Yasmine. Yasmine, however, took the chance of Lucinda’s distraction, to deliver a tenacious punch to Lucinda’s solar plexus, taking the breath out of the sword woman, and sending her back to the center of the arena.
With the speed of a panther, Yasmine leaped to Lucinda, her spear posed to impale her opponent’s guts, but Lucinda parried with one of her swords only that the mana surrounding the spear was too much for her that her sword was successfully dispatched out of the arena, nearly injuring one of the audience. Lucinda grunted and huffed. She jumped backward as to prepare for another attack. This time, it was Yasmine’s turn to smirk.
Yasmine spun her spear above her head in a rapid, complex, and intricate manner, taunting Lucinda. From there on, their movements were a blur, a complex dance, in which both of them weaved their weapons in breakneck precision. Lucinda breached the fluid exchange, landing a solid gash on Yasmine’s left arm.
A collective wince was heard from the audience. Blood gushed out of Yasmine’s arm. She ripped the bottom of her shirt and wrapped her arm promptly. Her exposed midriff created cheers of approval from the male crowd.
They went again, faster, and agiler this time. It was breathtaking to watch, two proud fighters never succumbing to defeat. The crowd was on their feet, gaping at the spirit of the two, gaining their resounding respect. Yasmine fell on the ground with Lucinda pointing her sword at Yasmine’s heart. Yasmine closed her eyes and nodded, admitting defeat.
The Ilwani host came back to the stage when it returned to the ground. “Now that was exciting! What a fight.” The audience roared in agreement. “So for the next duel, may I call on Jade Lynx, guild master of Taurus and Cassandra Hague, guildless.” Jade Lynx went up the stage, unsmiling, and whispered something to the host. He frowned and the sound of microphone feedback reverberated in the arena. “Oops, sorry about that,” he chuckled. “It appears to be that Cassandra Hague will not be able to join us today.” He said with fake sincerity. I clenched my teeth.
“Boo.” The crowd echoed.
If only I could fight for Cassy I would but that would be cheating and she wouldn’t like that too.
“Jade Lynx wins by default!” The host announced, raising Jade’s arm. The people gave her a series of applause but Jade was apparently not pleased. She descended the stage with a dark look and I caught her glaring at some of her members who made it to the event.
When Maddok Blankly and Arabelle Talbot stood up and went to the stage, I was left with Calla Dukes, with only three seats separating the two of us.
There was tension between the two of us. An electric buzzing feeling, a shiver, a common anticipation for the fight to come.
She surprised me when she turned to me. I had been sneaking a few glances at her since the event started while she never paid me any attention. “Scared, baby boo?” She asked.
I scrunched my nose and sneezed. “What was that? Sorry I didn’t quite get that.”
She just raised one eyebrow and concentrated back to the ongoing fight.
My phone vibrated. I was holding it since the duels started, expecting a message from Theo or Cassy.
Baby, we’re coming to your arena now. Zion just finished his fight. Are you still not up right?
Nope. I’m next though. :)
I still couldn’t get used to the light-hearted feeling I get whenever I get a text from him or whenever he does all these crazy little things. He was making it so hard for me to let him go when the time comes.
I saw Lana weaving her way through the crowd, carrying a large bottle of water. One of the facilitators stopped her and they seemed to be having an argument, with Lana pointing at me every now and then. Finally, she was allowed to go. I knew she would win whatever that argument was, she was after all a girl with infinite persuasive powers.
I smiled when she finally reached me, her displeasure at the facilitator still visible. “Oh God, what a horrible man.” She said, giving me the bottle that she was holding.
“You seemed to have handled it well,” I said, smirking. “Thanks for this by the way.” I raised the bottle in appreciation.
She nodded and stole a glance at Calla before leveling her gaze to me. “Don’t let your guard down okay? She’s good. I’ve seen her fight before.” She whispered.
“Yes, you’ve told me that a million times already,” I said, rolling my eyes.
“Just don’t want to tell you I told you so after.”
I placed my fist on my heart and acted hurt. “Ouch.”
She scoffed. “Well, I’ll be going back to my seat now. Break a leg.” She smiled and lightly patted my cheek. I watched her go before settling back down on my seat. The wait was killing me! The current fight was still going smoothly, the two fighters exchanging blow for blow simultaneously, both of them too stubborn to give up.
My phone vibrated again.
We’re here. Do your best.
I combed the audience where the Lupus race was seated. There were only a few of them since their matches were held at the other arena. When I found Theo and his friends, my eyes straight away zeroed on Theo. I bit down on my lower lip to prevent myself from smiling, his presence instantly warming my heart.
He was staring at me with concern, Malik gave me a short nod, while Joon Ki and Zion were grinning and giving me thumbs ups. Feeling a little self-conscious, I suddenly wished that they weren’t here. What if I messed up?
“Are you bitching with the dogs?” Calla asked, snickering. She must have seen where I was looking at.
I glared at her. “Mind your own business.”
“Can’t blame you, those dogs really have it in them, you know. Big...” She placed her hand on the middle of her legs and made a gesture of sliding it up and down. When I refused to show any reaction, she laughed. “You don’t look like a prude so stop faking it. It’s totally okay, no judgment here.” She grinned.
I was about to give her a smart retort when the host announced Maddok as the winner of the match, making me swallow what I was about to say. We were next.
“Well well well! We’re finally at the finale, the moment you’re all waiting for!” The host charismatically announced. “Finale participants, come up here, let’s not make the audience wait.”
Calla jumped from her chair and walked with purposeful strides toward the arena. She leaped to the stage without using the stairs, showing off her agility and prowess.
The crowd erupted into a deafening cheer.
“We love you, Calla!”
I scoffed. It appeared that Calla Dukes has a big fanbase. Just great.
My head spun back to Theo. He nodded at me, his eyes communicating his full support.
Keeping my nerves down, I walked casually to the stage, using the stairs, taking one step at a time. When I reached the top, it slowly rose again to a ten feet height.
“Go, Lia!” I smirked and looked towards Lana, the only person who was cheering me on. She was jumping up and down and waving at me.
“On my left corner, Calla Dukes of Libra! On my right, Nathalia Hague, guildless.” The host performed a weird dance and pointed at the two of us. “Are you guys ready?” he did not wait for our answers. “Fight!”
Calla stretched her neck and shoulders, with me just standing there and watching her. She then proceeded with cracking her knuckles on both hands. After her little show, she poised herself onto a fighting stance.
A slow smile crept across her face. “You’re dead meat,” she said.