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Running the Gauntlet: The Legend of Isabel (a tale from the world of Yoso)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by FlamingRuby, Aug 4, 2011.

  1. FlamingRuby

    FlamingRuby The magic of Pokemon

    Rated E10+ for fantasy violence

    Running the Gauntlet: The Legend of Isabel

    Episode 0: The Legend Begins

    The evening star is shining bright, so make a wish and hold on tight...there's magic in the air tonight, and anything can happen... a brown haired boy sang to the crowd of children seated on the hill not far from a town, adding a small flourish on a bow-shaped harp for effect. The children buzzed with excitement as the boy then played a soft and quiet melody they recognized as the song of Marista Laire--a sign that the red, white, and gold-clad minstrel had a story to tell them.

    "What tale will you tell us tonight, Sir Brock?" a boy asked when the last note echoed into the twilit sky.

    "Before I tell you, some context is needed." the minstrel replied, acknowledging a Persian as it plodded through the grass and laid down in a patch of flowers. "You know that each year, the city of Madari hosts a grand tournament in which mages from all over Yoso compete for glory, honor, and a very special ring."

    "The Gauntlet of Illusion..." a girl mused.

    "The task is simple: defeat ten of Yoso's finest mages. Many try, but only a few receive rings." Brock continued as he played a soft improvisation in E minor. "Our story concerns the statue just outside the Arena of Illusion--it commemorates one girl's triumph over the Gauntlet many years ago."

    "But millions of boy and girl mages go through the Gauntlet every year, and they all train for years before they enter!" another boy protested. "So why does SHE get a statue?"

    "That's because she was only an apprentice mage when she won, and at the time, an apprentice running the Gauntlet of Illusion was unheard of." the Persian replied as she swatted away a Venonat from her pale yellow fur.

    "So what spurred this apprentice to take on some of the best mages in Yoso?" another girl asked.

    "It is there that our tale begins..." Brock replied, playing a long flourish to herald the beginning of his tale...
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2011
  2. FlamingRuby

    FlamingRuby The magic of Pokemon

    Episode 1: Isabel's Decision

    Now, Isabel was from Sindura, and so went to Aventia Lodge to study and hone her magical powers. Brock narrates via voiceover as we see a black haired girl clad in a black and red robe studying a book. While she was no prodigy, her softspoken demeanor made her well loved and well liked.

    "Are you quite finished studying and ready to practice?" a soft female voice asks, startling the girl from her studies.

    The girl looks up and smiles when she sees a small white humanoid being hovering before her. "Oh, Sophia, it's just you. I was making sure I had the incantation to Leaf correct before we went to the practice arena." she assures the Kirlia before her as she brushes aside the long braid her hair is tied into.

    "If you're ready, then come with me." Sophia replies. Isabel nods, puts the book away, and follows her familiar down a winding corridor and a long flight of stairs, ultimately arriving in a large and open circular room ringed by dull marble benches. Training dummies of various sizes dot the room. "Now, can you show me Leaf by attacking a training dummy with it?"

    "Okay!" Isabel hurries over to a small training dummy shaped like a Squirtle in one corner and focuses her thoughts. "Slash away with the earth's fury! Leaf!" With that, green energy and leaves appeared from her hands, which proceeded to slash at the training dummy.

    Some applause got Isabel's attention. "Well done, Isabel and Sophia--it seems you have the basics of Leaf down after struggling with it all morning."

    Isabel blushed as her teacher--a deep brown haired man clad in the magnificent flame patterned robe of a high mage of Aventia--entered the room. "Sophia bade me come here, Master Taleron..." she stammered.

    "Whatever your familiar did or did not tell you to do is none of my concern--what matters is that you succeeded in casting and controlling the spell." Taleron assured his pupil as the three of them started back upstairs to the lodge's main square. "Come--it is nearly noon, and I'm sure you're hungry."

    No sooner had Isabel, Sophia, and her mentor Taleron arrived in the lodge's square, did they find a great crowd gathered by the message board. Brock narrates as Isabel gasps at the size of the crowd of apprentices, mages, and high mages gawking at one particular message on the board.

    "What's going on?" Isabel asks Taleron.

    Taleron carefully steps through the crowd to get a closer look at the message. When he returns some seconds later, he replies "It is almost time for the Guantlet of Illusion, and the archmage has sent out a call for all that wish to compete this year."

    "Can I compete?" Isabel pleads. "I see so many mages here with the Ring of the Illuminated Victor on their fingers, and I feel I am worthy to wear it too."

    "You do have the talent and skill, but you are yet an apprentice, and not many apprentices run the Gauntlet, Isabel." Taleron cautions as he and Isabel walk around the large crowd. "To earn the Ring, you must defeat ten of the strongest mages in all Yoso--mages that have trained for years in their art. What few apprentices that have tried, return soundly defeated."

    "I think I can be the first to succeed!" Isabel retorts.

    Taleron sighs. "Very well--I can try to convince the Archmage to allow you to compete, but it would be a miracle if she said yes." he warns Isabel as the two of them enter the mess hall.

    Taleron went before the Archmage that afternoon, and made his case for Isabel to run the Gauntlet of Illusion. Kissa narrates as we see Taleron in the archmage's chamber, speaking as a hooded woman listens. But, despite her teacher's efforts, the Archmage denied Isabel's request...

    We fade to Isabel's chamber later that day, where she is shocked at Taleron's news. "She said no? Why?"

    "While she does not doubt that you are a very talented apprentice, her main concern is going up against someone far stronger than you." Taleron explains. "She's afraid you could get very badly hurt--or worse, killed."

    Isabel swallowed hard at this--she had heard stories from minstrels about apprentices that had died running the Gauntlet. "But I really want to run the Guantlet, even though I understand the risk involved."

    "I'm sorry...the Archmage has spoken, and her word is final." Taleron sighed. "You can still study the mages we'll see there from the audience." he assures Isabel before leaving her to sleep.

    Sophia flies by Isabel's bed, concerned by her master's glum face. "Taleron did what he could...we'll just have to watch the spectacle again this year..."

    "I know..." Isabel sighs before a bag gets her attention. Maybe if I travel to Madari in disguise, I can compete without the Archmage nor Taleron knowing!

    Inspired, she eases the large bag to the floor with a thump, startling Sophia. "Goodness, do we have to make so much noise this late?" she asks as her master dashes abut the room gathering supplies.

    "The caravan of competing mages leaves for Madari tonight, so if we stow away aboard one of the coaches, they'll think we're just another mage that is going to compete!" Isabel explains as she makes sure her clothes, some food, her bow, a few other items, and a long navy cloak are accounted for.

    "But what if we're discovered?" Sophia protests as Isabel's belongings fly into the bag.

    "We won't be--I know a good place to hide." Isabel assures Sophia before tiptoing from her room, winding through the left wing hall, through the square, and to the front gate of the lodge, where a line of coaches is waiting. Once sure the Archmage is distracted making sure all the competing mages are accounded for, she climbs into the supply coach with Sophia, where a number of boxes obscure both of them.

    The caravan departs the gate a few seconds later as Brock narrates over a harp interlude. And so, Isabel and Sophia stowed away on the caravan to Madari. But Isabel had no regrets about defying the Archmage--if it meant she had a chance to prove herself in the Gauntlet of Illusion, she would take it!
  3. FlamingRuby

    FlamingRuby The magic of Pokemon

    Episode 2: Isabel's Arrival

    Isabel wakes up some time later and motions for Sophia to follow her as she wraps herself in her cloak. The journey to Madari went without incident, but as Isabel had never been to the grand city, it wasn't long before she got horribly lost. Brock narrates as Isabel and Sophia wind through various alleyways lined with stone buildings and crowds of people.

    "Are you sure you know where we are going?" Sophia asks as Isabel stops to rest by an empty stall some hours later.

    "The Grand Arena is not far from the town square." Isabel explains.

    "Do we look like we're anywhere near the town square?" Sophia continues. Isabel looks around, but all she sees are entrances to other allyways and the empty stall.

    Just then, the notes of a lute get her attention. "A minstrel performing...we can't be far from the town square." With that, she darts down another alley.

    The duo arrives at the town square some seconds later, where a female minstrel clad in a blue, purple, and white tunic-like outfit is strumming a quiet melody on a lute. "There was once a gardener's son--let's call him Rylan--who wished to marry the princess of the land--who we'll call Mariana." she begins. "Mariana loved Rylan in turn, but her father the king was not happy. He actually wanted Mariana to marry the son of the high chamberlain, who we'll call Faramond."

    Isabel led Sophia to get a closer look as the minstrel continued. "The king's advisor proposed a plan--both suitors would travel to a distant land. Whoever returned first would win Princess Mariana's hand. The king agreed to the contest, and gave Faramond a strong and spirited Ponyta to ride and a large bag of gold. Rylan, however, only received a large bag of pennies and the oldest and lamest Ponyta in the stables."

    "But that isn't fair!" a man spoke up. The crowd murmured in agreement.

    The minstrel smiled and played a quiet interlude. "Faramond set out to the west, but that night, Anima--in disguise as a beggar--appeared to him and requested some food. Faramond shooed Her away and rode off. Rylan arrived some time later and Anima asked him for food. Rylan invited what he thought was a beggar aboard and assured his passenger he would do what he could to find food. " She then played a triumphant strum. "Anima revealed Herself to Rylan and promised to help him on his journey as thanks for his kindness."

    "And then?" Isabel was interested in the story now.

    "Rylan and Anima rode on until they came to another kingdom far away." the minstrel replied, giving Sophia a nod as she hovered onto Isabel's shoulder. "Faramond was already there and staying in the inn's finest room. But Anima led Rylan to a rickety little shack, and transformed it into a house fit for a king.

    The next morning, Rylan heard trumpets way off in the distance and heard the local heralds proclaiming that their king was very sick, and a reward was offered to whoever could cure him."

    "So what did Rylan do?" a girl asked.

    "Anima told Rylan what to do--which is another story entirely--and Rylan followed Anima's instructions to the letter, curing the king." Isabel listened as the minstrel went on. "The king was relieved to be well again, and told Rylan he could have whatever he wished. As per Anima's instructions, Rylan requested the ring of crystal on the king's left hand. This ring was said to grant the wishes of its wearer. The king was a little reluctant to give up the ring at first, but turned it over to Rylan. Rylan then wished for a gold ship with jewel encrusted masts and silken sails. He sailed home the next day, and the king was so impressed with Rylan's ship, he agreed to have him marry Princess Mariana."


    "For a while, everyone--including Faramond--was happy and at peace." the minstrel continues, but the crowd quiets as her song enters a minor key.

    "That means the story's not over yet..." Sophia mused, piqued in what the big twist in the tale would be.

    "But in that city lived an evil sorceror--who we'll call Narka. Narka had heard of the crystal ring, and began plotting how to have it for himself." the minstrel continues as she paced before the fountain of a singing woman in the center of the square. "One day, Rylan set out for another land aboard his golden ship. That same day, Narka caught some shining Goldeens, disguised himself as a merchant, and set up shop outside the palace to sell them. Princess Mariana was enamored by the shiny Goldeens, and asked Narka what they were worth. Narka agreed to sell her one in return for the crystal ring."

    "No!" Isabel gasps. "Don't give him the ring!" she pleads. The crowd agrees and the pleas reach a fever pitch.

    "Mariana didn't know the crystal ring's powers, and so turned it over to Narka." the minstel sighed, as if reluctant to tell the crowd of the upcoming woes Rylan was about to suffer. "Once Narka had it in its hands, he wished that the golden ship turn to rickety wood, its crew catch a terrible disease, and its cargo become Meowths. Sure enough, Rylan found himself on an old rickety ship, his crew all coughing and sneezing, and Meowths all yowling in the cargo hold." Gasps and whispers of protest race through the crowd.

    "To be fair, Mariana didn't know any better." Sophia assured Isabel. Isabel just brushed away a tear--what was going to happen to Rylan now that he was cursed by an evil wish?

    "Rylan knew that someone had stole his ring, and for a while drifted from island to island with no money to his name and no way home." The minstrel's sad melody snapped her back to the story. "He then landed by Thunder Island, where a tribe of Pichus, Pikachus and Raichus lived. Queen Raichu was horrified at all the Meowths, and sent word to Rylan for him to leave. Rylan agreed on the condition that she would help him find a certain ring of crystal, and told Queen Raichu his story for start to finish. Queen Raichu took pity on Rylan and allowed him to stay."

    "I hope she helps him get the ring back..." Isabel mused--Rylan didn't deserve those months of suffering, she thought.

    "Among all the inhabitants of Thunder Island were three Pichus with special gifts--Hitomi, who could see things no mortal could see, Kohana, who could run faster than even the Beasts, and Sima, who had keen hearing." the minstrel continued over a calm interlude. "They were saddened by Rylan's plight, but they also knew who had caused his woes and why. So they prepared a ship of their own and sailed to Narka's homeland. Once there, Kohana and Sima hurried to Narka's castle, with Hitomi staying behind to keep watch."

    "So where in the castle was Narka?" a boy asked.

    The minstrel smiled--her favorite part of the story was coming up next. "They found Narka sleeping in a magnificent bedroom on the third floor, but Sima could hear the crystal ring rattling in his mouth. So Kohana dipped her tail first in oil, and then in pepper before creeping up to the sorceror's nose. Not surprisingly, Narka sneezed--sending the crystal ring flying. Kohana caught it, cleaned it, and lead the way back to the ship. Narka had no clue they had been there." Nervous giggles wafted through the crowd. "On the way back, the three Pichus began arguing about who would take credit for finding the ring, but in all the ruckus, the ring fell into the water, just as their ship arrived at another island."

    "NO!!!!!!" Isabel's cry was the loudest at this.

    "NOW how will Rylan get home?" Sophia was just as worried.

    The minstrel played a sad melody for a moment. "The three Pichus trudged along the shore for a while, until they found a dead Magikarp on the shore. Just as Hitomi bit into the fresh meat, she saw the glint of crystal--the ring!"

    "Thank Anima!" Isabel heaved a sigh of relief at the lute's triumphant flourish.

    "The three Pichus hurried back to Thunder Island, where Rylan reclaimed the crystal ring. He then wished for his ship to become just as it was before. Queen Raichu apologized, and wished Rylan well on his journeys." the minstrel concluded over a joyful melody. "Rylan then set sail to his homeland, where he lived happily ever after with Princess Mariana and the Pichus...so ends the tale of 'The Crystal Ring'."

    "Bravo!" Sophia applauded as coins went flying in the minstrel's direction.

    "That inspired me to do well in running the Gauntlet." Isabel mused as she walked towards a majestic marble building. "While I don't have a crystal ring to grant my every wish, I do have the magic I've studied, and I have you, Sophia."

    "Maybe if you win the Gauntlet, minstrels will be telling stories and singing songs about you for years to come." Sophia smiled as her master walked down a plush carpeted hallway to the registration hall, pulling her cloak to hide her face as she saw Taleron at a registration booth, negotiating a mage's entry.

    "Can I help you, young mage?" a young brown haired woman clad in the purple and gold tunic and white leggings of an arena attendant asked as Isabel approached a booth with no line.

    "Is it too late to accept entries into the Gauntlet of Illusion, good lady?" Isabel asked. Lady of Light, please don't let Taleron spot me!

    "Of course not." the woman smiled as she crossed a few names off the list of entries. "We've had a few early registries get scratched for some reason or another, so there's a few openings--what's your name?"

    "I've competed in a few other tournaments as 'The Argent Raikou', so I fight under that name." Isabel lied.

    "Okay, Argent Raikou...you are in the Thunderbolt Bracket, Group C." the woman replied as she scribbled down Isabel's new moniker on the list of entries. "Just follow Brianna down to the competitor's quarters to rest up for your first match tomorrow."

    Isabel grinned as a teal haired attendant led her to the hallway leading to the competitor's quarters. I did it--now I can prove to the archmage and Taleron that an apprentice can run the Gauntlet of Illusion!
  4. katiekitten

    katiekitten The Compromise

    Ruby~! :D It's nice to see a familiar face - I don't believe we talked too much in the past, but I certainly remember you. :3 It's good to see that you're still around~! Your writing is as enjoyable as ever, as well. x3 It's a crime you haven't had any posts, yet. Did you ever finish that long 'fic you were writing?

    A couple little things from what you have up so far:

    Episode 0

    You need a space between the ellipsis and the word following it, and it should be capitalised, in all cases. :3

    Did you mean the word 'twilit' or 'twilight'? Twilit is a word, but it's used more often to describe things lit by twilight, rather than the twilight itself, I believe. :3

    Comma needed instead of the period at the end of the speech. :3 Grammar rule: as you are describing how it is being said, the sentence is not finished - don't quote me on that, but it's the way I use to remember it. xD That is why you begin such sentences without a capital. Here, I finally found a website that explains it.

    Episode 1

    Same thing as before with the speech - I'll just list them below, mm?

    (You need a comma here after replies - check the rule I linked above)

    I'm a little shaky with the tense here, it seems like you're slipping back into past tense. Wouldn't it be 'appear'? The words 'and then' would fit more than 'which' here, you can ditch the comma, and you'll need to switch the tense back to 'proceed'.

    You have definitely subsided here: you need to keep the tense consistent, I'm afraid. It's 'blushes', 'enters', and 'stammers'.

    Tenses again.

    Episode 2


    A note here - I wouldn't capitalise 'her' and 'herself' when talking about Anima - I know why, but it just seems a bit out of place here, as it isn't a 'Her Highness' or anything. Personal preference though. :3 You've had the minstrel introduce her a little out of the blue, as well - is she a character the audience would know? If so, that would make sense - but Brock's audience is unlikely to know, and we certainly do not, so you need to slip in some sort of introduction for her somewhere. You can slip it into Isabel's thoughts, have someone tell her, or even have Brock tell us after being asked by the kids. :3

    From this point until the crowd's cheering, you've lapsed back into the past tense. I'm not talking about the minstrel's story, which is supposed to be in the past tense, but the audience listening to her.

    And you're back in the past. I won't highlight the others, you flick between them for the rest of the chapter - I believe the minstrel's story threw you off.

    As the minstrel's sigh is a separate sentence (since you are not describing the speech anymore), it needs to begin with a capital letter. Tenses again.

    Space and capital needed after the ellipsis.

    Capital needed as the smiling is a separate action and therefore sentence.

    Space and capital after the ellipsis, and speech issue - needs comma, not period.


    The tense choice really bothers me, I'm afraid. It's fine to choose to write in the present tense - admirable, in fact - but you need to keep the usage consistent, which you haven't been able to do. You need to choose a tense and stick to it. As it is right now, it simply doesn't work.

    I do like the story, though, I've always felt you've been a good story teller. It's interesting, and reminiscent of a folk tale, which I enjoy. :3 You just need to iron out all of the little issues above. The characters seem fun, although as we haven't seen too much of them yet, I can't really comment, but Isabel's ambition and rebelliousness is adorable.

    I am part of the review exchange, although I was reading this regardless- nevertheless the link to my profile is here.

    I'll keep an eye out for the next chapter, m'dear. :3
  5. FlamingRuby

    FlamingRuby The magic of Pokemon

    Thanks for the review--normally I keep the tenses fairly consistent, but I'll work harder at that.

    Things will heat up when we get into the Gauntlet of Illusion proper.
  6. Ejunknown

    Ejunknown be creative

    This is a review for the Review Exchange, your status says you are still open. >u<
    My reviewer profile with my fiction links~

    (I'm having to crosscheck with the reviews above to make sure I'm not repeating anything x'D) but with the lyrics... for the sake of being that bit more grammatically correct, I'd put the lyrics in speech marks. I'd also toss up the first two sentences a bit, changing the 'as the boy then played', into the present tense, to make the scene more fluid and flow a bit nicer? 'as the boy switched to another faster/softer/quieter tune', and then place the explanation for their excitement.

    I'd also love it if you added more to the entrance of the Persian - there is not very much actual description in this so far, and this story seems emptier without it, simpler, when it could be so much better. >m<

    I like the introduction, the throwbacks you keep putting in to remind you that Brock is playing the instrument, but the phrasing doesn't seem to come out quite right. There's something about the last sentence of the introduction... it's a bit narrated, and it'd be really nice if you could show the scene, I guess.

    I like this so far. >u<

    Chapter one~

    Because of the similarities to 'human being', while this creature is definitely not human, I'd say 'figure' instead of 'being', to not make it confusing. I'd also have a comma after small, because you are using another adjective. >m<

    Katiekitten has covered tenses, but I have to ask you about 'Leaf'; again, because of the similarities to an actual word used in a different tense, the way you have referred to it, as a god, or a place, with the capital letter is confusing without context. I'm sure we get it later, but to highlight that it is not what we think it is, but something related to story, you need to emphasise it, put it in '' or something? You can also describe her appearance more subtly. >m<

    o__o; huh? If he is mistaken, why did nobody try to correct him, or has a lot more time passed than I thought?

    The way she says this seemed a little odd here.

    Get rid of 'that' - there are definitely tense issues scattered through this, some odd choices of words. >m< It's interesting, though.

    I'm not sure that fits her character as being 'soft spoken'. I'm sorry, I don't think this was introduced well; the way you started it seemed as if this victory was going to surprising, something so startling it'd be put into legend, but if she says she can do it the whole time, it sort of undercuts the tale. D:

    She is even 'shocked' that her request was denied, that people don't expect her to win as she is so confident she will.

    I'm sorry, but this seems like a cheap way to continue the plot. 'oh, I know!' There is no suspense, no time for regret, and although this story is a narrated tale, by Brock, it could do with something more to add to the story. Bring back in the music of the lute, have him increase the tempo, change the sound of his voice, have the expectations and expressions of the children; and as a narrating story teller yourself, would you really tell a story like this, or would you work hard to create a setting, set the scene, while telling it? Currently, I would not pay Brock for his skills as a bard.

    One thing I want to say before I continue. I dislike pausing so many times through a chapter and commenting on nick and nacks, because it does disrupt the flow of the story. That is why I am not commenting so much on grammatical or spelling errors, but plot devices - as interesting as this story is, it can be so much better, so I really hope you take my advice on this, and expand this. >m<

    Now I'm looking forward to the next chapter.

    I like the other minstrel interlude - although it would have been nice if you had described her differently than your first one - but one small thing:

    Who is Anima?

    Piqued 'by' the question/interest of what the big twist in the tale would be.

    The minstrel story does seem like a tangent though, with a bit of a weak link to the story of 'it inspired me to do better'. I was expecting Brock to go on and on about her looks; how pretty she was when she finished with her lute and released her hair with a flourish, sending cascades of the most beautiful, sakura-tinted hair down her shoulders, and how she could almost have been an angel, and he could just feel her under his hand now, the peachy, soft skin, as her beautiful lavender eyes gazed up at him in adoration...

    With a yelp, the sweet music of the lute ended abruptly, the abused player glancing to the left with streaming eyes and a vivid red hand print, eying his violator indignantly.

    "What was that for, my sweet-cakes?"

    Smiling sweetly, the picture of angelic patience, his tentatively named 'adviser' brushed slim hands neatly along her skirt, gleaming brown eyes smiling graciously back up to her mentor. "Get on with your story, Brock."

    ...I went on a tangent there. I hope you can see my point.

    This story has good beginnings, but just needs more substance, Ruby. >m<
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2011
  7. FlamingRuby

    FlamingRuby The magic of Pokemon

    Thanks for the review--we'll really get going in the next episode

    Maybe if I re-do episode 2, I may have Brock go on and on until Kissa decides to delibrately break a harp string (or threaten to do that) Or worse, use Slash at him if he doesn't get back to the story at hand

    I may edit that in, actually.
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2011
  8. FlamingRuby

    FlamingRuby The magic of Pokemon

    Episode 3: Isabel's First Challenge

    Isabel woke up the next morning excited. Brock narrates as Isabel yawns and wakes up inside the simple yet roomy competitor's room that looks out on the town square. Today was the first day of competition, and if anything, she was going to prove herself not just for Taleron and the Archmage, but for the minstrel that had inspired her the day before...

    Oh boy... Kissa sighs in the background as Isabel changes into her disguise--her master can get long winded when describing a character he likes.

    She remembered her long auburn hair and how it spilled down her back like water spilling over hillsides. Brock narrates over an interlude as Sophia flies by the screen Isabel is changing behind. The patterns on her tunic were like blue and purple banners hanging from a white castle wall, with the gold trim signifying that she was a high ranking member of her trade. Her emerald eyes had a playful sparkle that belied her infinite wisdom and knowledge of kings, queens, heroes, Pokemon, wars, and adventures--"

    "All right, enough about the minstrel I saw yesterday!" Isabel snaps as she emerges from behind the screen, now dressed and cleaned.

    Am I going to have to scratch your face? Kissa threatens as a record scrape cuts the harp short.

    Okay! Okay! I'll get on with it! Brock pleads as the children laugh. Just then, an attendant arrived to escort Isabel out to the arena for her first match...

    A knock comes at the door. "Ready for your first match, Argent Raikou?" a female voice asks.

    "Coming!" Isabel runs to the door and opens it, revealing a navy blue haired attendant framed in the doorway.

    "So this is the famous Argent Raikou..." the attendant smiles. "I am Coriana Alfos, your personal escort and advisor while you run the Gauntlet." she begins as the three of them start down the hall.

    "Meaning?" Isabel asks.

    "I am the only one that can speak to you about who you may face in the Gauntlet." Coriana explains. "Lady Elesa doesn't want information being shared among competitors, as the Gauntlet is set up differently for each competitor."

    "Really?" Isabel is impressed. How does Elesa find all these great mages?

    "So if you were to tell another competitor about your match, they may not face off against the same opponent you faced. That, and sharing information about opponents to unauthorized recipients is considered cheating, and will result in disqualification." Coriana cautions as she leads Isabel and Sophia around a corner and down a dark corridor leading to the arena.

    "Okay..." Isabel swallows hard. "Is it true that mages have died in the competition?"

    "Yes, unfortunately." Coriana's face turns sullen. "While all of us on the arena staff and Lady Elesa work hard to keep competitors safe, a few have succumbed to their battle wounds after a particularly brutal fight. Fortunately, no one has yet died in the arena, thank Anima."

    "So Isabel will be healed after every match?" Sophia asks.

    "Yes, Lady Kirlia." Coriana replies as the group approaches the entryway leading out into the white marble arena. "And here we are--the Black entryway of Madari Arena."

    This is it--I can't go back now! Isabel thinks as she hugs Sophia. "Wish me luck, Sophia."

    "Good luck--and Anima be with you!" Sophia replies.

    Isabel next addresses Coriana. "What can you tell me about my first match? Can Sophia help me at all?"

    "You will be facing Silverarm Dawnchild, or the Blue Master, for your first match." Coriana replies. "She is a chronomancer, or a time mage--and as such, can speed herself up and slow her opponents down. So strike early and hit hard before she can slow you down." Isabel nods, pulls up her hood, and steps out into the arena, where the stands are packed with eager spectators. Coriana's last words of advice echo in the distance. "Your familiar can only help you once per match!"

    Isabel stepped out into the arena, where she caught her first glance of her opponent. Brock narrates as a woman in a gold and silver outfit appears in the center of the arena, to the roar of the crowd.

    "Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls! The city of Madari welcomes you to the hundred and fiftieth running of the Gauntlet of Illusion!" the emcee announces. "Marvel and wonder as some of the best mages in the land square off for the prized Ring of the Illuminated Victor!" The crowd roars again. "Both sides have five minutes to subdue their opponent, and the one still standing when time runs out moves on to the next round!"

    A spotlight flashes on Isabel, making her shield her eyes in surprise. "Representing the Black side, we have the Argent Raikou!" Isabel pulls her cloak over her head as she jogs out to the black half of a circle nearby where the emcee stands.

    "And representing the White side, we have the Blue Master!" the emcee announces as a black haired woman wearing a long wrap dress with a blue and white checker print pattern and dark fur for trim walks out to the white half of the circle, her marble runestaff making thuds in the earth as she walks.

    Isabel strained to read some of the odd runes on her opponent's staff, but they were in a magical language she had never seen before. Brock narrates as Isabel attempts to read some of the blue runes inscribed on the beautiful staff.

    She is snapped to attention as a large hourglass rises up from a white platform overlooking the arena. "Black side ready?" the emcee asks.

    "Yes!" Isabel replies, to some laughter from the audience.

    "White side ready?" the emcee asks.

    "Let's do it." the Blue Master replies as she brandishes her staff at Isabel.

    "And three...two...one..." the emcee counts down before a gong sounds to begin the match and the sand in the hourglass begins falling.

    The Blue Master begins what almost looks like a dance, tracing a magic circle in the earth all the while. "Obey the sky's will, slow time down!" she commands, sending a purple blob of energy at Isabel.

    Isabel rolls out of the way, but the purple blob is right behind her, no matter where in the arena she runs. Finally, she cries "Spell break, turn into an avenging light! Reflect!", making a green shield surround her. The purple blob impacts a few seconds later, but instead of slowing Isabel down, it bounces off the shield and back towards the Blue Master, slowing her down instead!

    The Blue Master is undetered by the setback, and begins twirling within the magic circle, which begins glowing blue. "Time's current, place me in your whirlpool!" With that, she begins spinning, the blue energy swirling around her.

    "Hurry! She's trying to haste herself!" Sophia calls from the entryway.

    Isabel just charges a blue ball of energy. "Drifting breeze, come down with fury! Blizzard!" The ball ball flies into the glowing circle, disrupting the Haste spell with a wave of snow, making it difficult for the Blue Master to move within her magic circle.

    The Blue Master wades through the snow and begins charging some red energy just as Isabel's Reflect spell fizzles out."Spirits of time, hide her from the guiding hand of Anima!"

    Sophia hides her eyes as the red ball of energy impacts with a bright flash of light. But when she opens them again, she heaves a sigh of relief when she sees that Isabel can still move.

    Brock narrates as the battle rages on. The two mages traded blows for what seemed like hours, but no one felt more battered than Isabel--the required five minutes seemed like hours as she hurled spell after spell at her opponent. Yet the Blue Master would counter her every move by attempting to haste herself, or trying to slow Isabel down. But the real challenge came with a minute remaining in the match.

    When we return to Isabel some minutes later, there is hardly any sand left in the hourglass. Isabel is heaving with exhaustion, while her opponent has only a few burn marks from Fire and Thunder spells. Isabel is running yet again, but this time, the Blue Master has a new strategy. "Land of mercy, loosen tight fights!" The crowd and Isabel gasp as the Blue Master skips and jumps her way into the air!

    Isabel's mind races, stunned at the turn of events. Think, Isabel--you have less than a minute to go, and your opponent is chasing you from the air in hopes of wearing you down...

    "The gods are watching, have faith! Spirit!" Sophia calls, her spell surrounding Isabel in a reddish orange aura, giving her new strength to run.

    Inspired, Isabel charges a green ball of energy. I don't know if her spell is sustained by her own power, but here goes nothing! With that, she aims the green ball at her flying opponent. "Guiding light, shed magic power from above! Absorb!" The green energy ball begins absorbing The Blue Master's magic power as Isabel continues to elude her, until she finally crashes to the ground as time runs out.

    The ringing of a bell signals the match's end. "Time's up! The match goes to Black!" the emcee announces, making Isabel's exhausted grimace turn to a smile. She weakly waves to the crowd and returns to the entryway, where Coriana and Sophia are waiting for her.

    "You did it!" Sophia smiles. "The Reflect idea was very clever too." she adds as Coriana leads the way back to the competitor's quarters.

    "My only complaint is that Reflect takes so much power--I wanted to save some power for attacking too." Isabel explains.

    "Well, you have one opponent under your belt, and you're one step closer to a Ring." Coriana assures Isabel as she leads Isabel back to her room. "Rest well--you've earned it!"

    To Be Continued...
  9. FlamingRuby

    FlamingRuby The magic of Pokemon

    Episode 4: Isabel's Second Challenge

    Isabel was woke early for her second challenge, but her opponent for this match was far different from The Blue Master. Brock narrates as Coriana enters Isabel's room.

    "Good morning, Argent Raikou." Coriana begins as Isabel sleepily climbs out of bed. "Are you ready for your second match?"

    "I guess so..." Isabel yawns as she steps behind a screen to dress. When she emerges in her usual clothes, she asks "What can you tell me about my opponent today?"

    Coriana thinks for a moment. "You'll be facing a rare sort of magic--a minstrel that can sing spells."

    "A Song Mage? Really?" Isabel gasped. "I've always wanted to see one of those!"

    You're not just putting yourself in this story, are you? Kissa asks, making some children laugh.

    I can assure you, this Song Mage is different! Brock replies before we return to Coriana, Sophia, and Isabel walking towards the Black end of the hallway.

    "This Song Mage prefers to make her opponents suffer before she hits hard--so be ready to cast healing magic." Coriana explained before seeing Isabel off to the arena.

    At first glance, Isabel's opponent didn't look very imposing. Brock narrates as the emcee appears in a spotlight. "Our competitors for this round of the Gauntlet have arrived! Representing the Black side, we have the Argent Raikou!" Cheers went up as Isabel took her place on the black tiled half of the Poke Ball that served as the center of the arena.

    "And representing the White side, we have Merim Rainbowwind the Skysinger!" At this, a auburn haired girl wearing a gray single shoulder long hooped dress and black sandals that Isabel assumed were made of Arbok skin stepped onto the white side of the Poke Ball, clutching a flute made of crystal in one hand and keeping the other prepared to draw a dagger.

    "Some fine work on that little blade..." Sophia noted as she admired the bronze accents on the dagger's hilt that wound around and through the green leather and platinum wire.

    "I just hope the Argent Raikou is prepared for sung spells..." Coriana mused as both sides sized up each other.

    "Black side ready?" the emcee asked as the hourglass appeared. Isabel pumps a fist, to some laughter. "White side ready?"

    "I'm always ready to perform." Merim assures the emcee.

    "And three...two...one..." the emcee counts down before the gong sounds to start the match.

    Merim is quick to strike first "Light that sees all, run my enemy through! Diamond Eye!" With that, she begins playing a haunting melody on her instrument, conjuring an eye seemingly made of diamonds in the arena. Isabel doesn't see the eye and is blinded by a flash of light, sending her falling to the ground, paralyzed.

    "Spell break, turn into an avenging light! Reflect!" Isabel groans, forming a green shield around her writhing body.

    Coriana is confused. "Why would she want to cast Reflect before healing herself?"

    "My master is a fine warrior, so I trust she knows what she is doing." Sophia assures Coriana as Isabel casts Esuna, allowing her to get up and retrieve her bow when the blue light fades.

    "Spears of ice, cut through the raging inferno! Frosty Arrow!" Isabel commands as she sends a sparkling blue arrow at her opponent.

    "Flames of passion, give my blade a fire that burns! Fire Blade!" Merim commands before playing her flute again, causing her blade to glow red and make Isabel's attack melt into a puddle. She then lunges at Isabel, cutting her arm and breaking her Reflect shield as she scrambles to get away.

    Isabel whispers the incantation to a healing spell, but not before she hears Merim's flute conjuring an angry red eye. Before she can react, she is engulfed in flames, making her scream in pain.

    "Isabel!" Sophia gasps. She is about to charge an Esuna spell until she hears Merim's flute a third time, this time conjuring a purple eye that fires a purple mist at Isabel.

    Before long, Isabel lay helpless on the arena floor--burnt, paralyzed, poisoned, blinded, and confused, to name a few afflections. Brock narrates as we see Isabel still crying in pain from the many ailments afflicting her. But before Merim could sing a spell that would seal her magic power and render her completely helpless...

    "Heavenly wind, carry my master to the fountain of power! Esuna!" Sophia commands as she sends a ball of blue light in the arena, healing Isabel completely.

    "Thanks, Sophia!" Isabel calls. I have to get the flute away from Merim somehow! She readies an arrow, but then an idea comes to her. "Children that dance on the wind, hear my pure melody! Papillion's Circle!" At this, a rainbow circle of light forms around her.

    "Don't think the fae can save you!" Merim counters. "Conjuror, seek truth in silence--!" But before she can complete the incantation, an arrow knocks her flute away.

    "Hurry, Isabel!" Coriana calls. Not only does she only have mere seconds before the match ends, but Merim is dashing to retrieve her instrument and get one more spell in for her to win.

    "Right!" With that, Isabel charges a yellow ball of energy. "Swirling bolts, gather and strike with power! Thunder!" The crowd goes silent as Merim yelps in surprise as she is engulfed in electricity just as the bell rings to signal the end of the match.

    "Well done!" the emcee smiles as she helps Isabel up. "The match goes to Black!"

    "You did it, Isabel!" Sophia cried as she warped Isabel out of the arena. "We thought you were done for when Merim put all those curses and ailments on you."

    "Well, I would have been, if not for you!" Isabel replies before hugging Sophia. "I just hope my next opponent is a little easier!"

    To Be Continued...

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