Beyond the mouth of the cave the spirit-blizzard raged. Within the cave a miserable figure huddled up against a curious flame. The flame was green, and came not from coals, wood or other fuels, but instead issued forth from the sockets of a beastly skull that had long since had lower jaw, teeth and fangs removed. A wet sneeze came from the owner of this fire. Perhaps he was a great hunter, but wrapped up in furs and a pelt of a fuzzy tiger-like beast he looked more like a sick child looking for his mother.

“Never should have come to Nortrieln” the hunter complained.

Another sniffle sounded.

“You’ll find grander prey, they told me. The finest hunts! Well, I did, but…”

A painful cough forced its way out from the hunter.

“There’s no end to these relhs spawned winds! It’s no place for an orc to live!”

The hunter was indeed an orc, beneath the furs and cloakpelt was a greenish being with bulging limbs covered it what looked like the lines of muscles. Yet, he even had these lines on his head. Rather than muscles, they were the lines of his exoskeleton, for in the world of Kigan, the orcs are insectoids!

No matter the dimension, mages cause all sorts of trouble and problems. The race of orcs was just one of the things unleashed upon Kigan before the Great Prohibition.

This orc had what looked like fierce tusks, but these were actually a kind of mandible and indeed an orc’s lower jaw is actually just their two mandibles. As it was, the unfortunate hunter Bonestripper Cugog was rubbing his manibles trying to keep warm. Of course it was mostly just done on impulse the only true warmth Cugog was gaining was from his skull’s fire and from his body enhancing skill.

A bit though, that his body had a fundamental incompatibility with cold.

In spite of being an insectoid, Cugog as his kind do, had a pig-like nose, and from this was streaming various fluids. Without a care for his fur clothes, he would wipe his freezing nose now and then.

“Oooooh, when that blizzard lets up I’m gonna go to underground. Hunting in Holn, that’ll be the life!”

Cugog stopped his sniffles and grabbed his axe, a mighty thing in the shape of two dark beaks, as he sensed the presence of something at the mouth of the cave.

Blocking the mouth of the cave was a mound of hair! It was actually a kind of flesh eating bovine! This bull had long drooping locks of steely hair, yet the shadowtrample catogulu has no horns to speak of. Instead its hooves carry the strange power to tread on shadows, catching the shadow’s owners in place or even wounding them. A deadly predatory bovine to be sure!

Tension threatened to edge out out both hot and cold from the cave, and an air of bloodshed arose from the bodies of the two hunters, man and beast. It was Cugog who eventually lowered his spear.

“This is no weather for us to fight a life or death battle” he stated.

He pointed to the side of the fire opposite himself.

“I’ll share my flame beast, rejoice”

The fighting spirit from the catogulu lessened. Though it was a beast, it was somewhat more advanced than many and while it could not grasp the speech of higher willed beings, it understood the intent. It was however wary. Cugog however cared not for its worries. He settled down before his fire again. Of course, his weapon was not far from his grasp.

The howl of the blizzard and warmth of the fire won out over the catogulu’s wariness, and soon it had taken a place opposite Cugog.

Sneezes and snuffles came from Cugog and the orc could have sworn the catogulu was snorting in bovine laughter at his condition, still he ignored his uninvited guest and pulled out dried meat, made with the smoke of his obscure fire no less. There was something about the fire that always gave the meat a nice edge to it. As he was about to dig in he felt a hungry gaze on him, his mandibles froze half open.

“Give a slice of the leg and some will take the boar. Do you still have dignity, looking so pitiful beast?”

With a snort the catogulu turned its head from Cugog, but moments after it did, it twisted that head to avoid something slapping into it. Before it could get truly angry and ready for battle, it spotted some of the dried meat on the ground. It let out a low bellow of approval.

“Away with you best, I don’t need the favour of a beast!”

So the time passed as man and beast shared a meal.

Cugog stared out into the savage blizzard, thinking of a warmer home and youth. A part of him almost worried about the future, but he was not that kind of man, and soon enough the thought vanished as snow melting in dawn.

“Hardship makes foes of friends and friends of foes, but what foe and friend remains when it passes?” Cugog mumbled repeating a mentor’s words.

In time, the blizzard passed and in a little cave, a pair of hunters were sleeping huddled together before the flame of a hunter long hunted.

Sunder…

???…

Middle Myriad Era…

A landscape of ruin, swirling dust and shattered stone, in the distance, broken statues from the smallest bugs to a great titan that cast the shadow of his remains upon everything. The broken statues of man, beast and monster were not only strewn across the ground but hung in the air, all looking to the sky, all shocked at what they saw!

But of what they had seen, nothing remained, only a blank sky behind the broken torso of the titan.

In this place so desolately populated only two beings connected their presence.

One lounged upon a statue of a hawk that had lost its head.

One stood alert upon a dog statue floating in the air, all four limbs lost to who knows where.

The lounging figure was all in red.

The alert figure was in black.

Both were the same save for those colours, a pair of lithe knights in armour.

Their armour was a little too bland, a little two generic. They lacked artistry. Neither had a plume and no evidence of the living could be seen in the darkness behind their visors. Sloping metal upon sloping metal. The only thing that really stood out was how delicate the armours seemed because of the shape and size of their owners. Still, one could at least tell that Black and Red were humanoid.

The hawk turned to dust as Red dived at Black, silvery sword shining bright not taken from any sheathe but manifested from the very air. It sang the song of birds as it neared the slit of Black’s visor. Black walked backwards from the petrified dog he was was on, beginning to fall in the sky, thus avoiding the blade of Red.

With a flourish Black called forth his own blade, golden where Red’s was silvery, but both were long and thin one handed swords, bladed on both sides. Black did not aim for a fatal spot but since he was below Red, aimed at the back of his foe’s legs! Would such a blow win out? Red simply tucked his legs away and from the force of that, turned to point his blade at Black who was beneath him, falling as the rain does!

Yet Black was not disturbed even when his back hit against another statue, this statue had been hidden by his own body so Red did not see it. Black rolled off this statue, grasped it with one hand and flung himself up at Red, his own blade aiming to pierce right into the chest armour! Red, equal to Black could use the statues in the air and with effort pulled a statue before himself as a shield. Golden blade sank deep into the statue, but it did not reach Red.

Red landed and sprung from the shielding statue, and as well he did, for Black gave the statue a mighty punch and broke through, freeing his sword and sending it striking forth once more. Flying back from Black, Red’s sword was not idle and instead it twisted in an obscure fashion and a bare tree of silver light spread its deadly branches from the sword’s blade!

Black danced amid the branches that chased him as if his blood would give leaves to their shame. Statues turns to dust as he jumped to and fro yet now and again his armour would be scoured by the light of the silver tree. Red moved not from where he landed, continuing to grow the tree of silver doom. Would Black remain passive, caged like a beast to await slaughter? Nay! As he danced and was scoured he began to plunge his sword into broken statues, the sword glowing gold and gilding the statues it pierced.

Red twisted his head, confused, but then in shock, he jumped, still pouring out the doomtree. A piece of a statue near Red had begun to glow gold and in a moment it exploded sending out a jagged gold branch. This first branch landed a glancing blow to Red! More statue fragments began to explode around Red who had to do a dance of his own to escape impalement. His dance was no less difficult than Black’s! It could even be said to be a bit harder as Red was married to his silver tree, yet he did not stop growing that mighty tree.

So they both danced, each wanting to outlast the other, each taking minor hits, each hoping for that fatal misstep to happen.

It never came, after several rounds, Red could bear no more and directed the branches of the silver doom tree to destroy all statues around him and Black, as a matter of course this freed Black. But this took merely an instant. Black and Red fell to the ground and rolled away from each other, yet they tumbled up and stood facing each other.

A moment’s pause.

The first bout, a low sweep filled with starlight, gold and silver, both chose the same movements and both repelled each other!

The second bout, a blast of an exploding star, gold and silver, again they mirrored each other!

The third bout, a star that devours the light, but no blade swing, a deceitful move, instead fist clashed against fist!

The fourth bout, Black broke his golden blade in the air before him, the sword vanishing into starlight. Starlight covering his hands and arms forming branches in the shape of mighty arms. Red likewise broke his silvery blade but the silver starlight became a new blade a two handed monster with seven blade branches!

Red swept down this blade and Black who had been expecting something even a little bit more similar to his own ways was sundered in twain. There was no blood, but instead Black broke into silvery starlight which flew up into the sky and then it formed great words!

PLAYER ONE: zZzTripleKingzZz WINS!

Then everything went dark, and a board with various metrics and statistics appeared.

In a dark shadowy hovel, a man pulled off a helmet with glowing blue lumps. The helm had covered his whole head, and having removed it revealed a drained looking humanoid, milky in skin with eyes like stars and long pointed ears pointing out from his head. His hair had the touch of midnight to it.

“Eugh, that was almost a perfect mirror match, my poor heart. Right, that’s enough of that for toda… uh tonight, time to browse the Ghostspheres” the man muttered.

The helmet unfold out into a mirror-like screen complete with a vaguely spongy keypad below it.

“What were the odds of that kind of matchup?” he muttered as he pulled a piece of yesterday’s pizza from its box that laid upon mounds of clothes.

Knorgoroth’s Master

“I am a mighty mushroom warrior of Goma! Hearing that a Scourgelord has settled in these lands, I have come to slay him! Make way!”

Knorgoroth, three headed beast of disaster and guardian of the gates of the Scourgelord Wraemmemon’s Dimensional Fortress of Doom, stared down with all its eyes at the tiny being before him. It could see the mushroom part, put where was the warrior.

A tiny mushroom, pale and creamy, with a heroic face set on its body below its cap. The face would have made the maidens of many beings swoon, and the sheer justice radiating from it would cause evildoers to faint in fright, except that after a moments shock, both maidens and evildoers would realise it was the face of a tiny mushroom. Arms and legs sprouted from this mushroom, sheathed in armour, but with how small the mushroom was, wouldn’t that only be of use against similarly sized beings?

Confusion filled the mind of Knorgoroth, but it was a little bit comforted when it saw that the mushroom did indeed have a weapon. A plain metal sword with a blade like a leaf. It was twice the size of the mushroom warrior of Goma. It would not have even served as a toothpick for Knorgoroth.

As a beast of disaster, the smallest size that Knorgoroth could shrink to was several small castles. A great mighty head with heavy jowls, with a stiff short neck, this head bearing mighty teeth and seven glaring red eyes that could shoot red flame! Even the tongue of this head was bladed, infact all his tongues were bladed! Flanking this grotesque hellhound’s head were two snaking necks like tentacles, upon which were two heads quite different in manner! It was honestly much prouder of these heads, and it wasn’t at all because of the resplendent manes of orange feathers these heads had, not at all.

One of these heads had a rotating beak, from which Knorgoroth could spew acid that could melt even spirits! The other head was serpentine, with fangs that could transmit a deadly plague that would turn creatures to ice! Indeed this head could spit massive shards of ice!

The fur of Knorgoroth was pitch black and no lesser blade or spell could pierce it, and woe betide any who attempted to use shadowy powers against it! Six legs did Knorgoroth have, each ending in mighty clawed hands. Wounds caused by its claws could not so easily be healed… It only had a single pair of wings, but these orange feathered winds could send withering winds with each beat and could even shoot out feathers like explosive missiles!

To Knorgoroth’s great dissatisfaction, it was born without a tail with which it could cause greater disaster.

So, knowing this mushroom, knowing the beast of disaster, it isn’t surprising that Knorgoroth did not feel like eating the mushroom. It may have been a beast of disaster raised by a scourgelord from a wee pup, but it still understood that eating random strange mushrooms could be very bad, no matter how small, so, laying its heads upon its paws it decided to go back to sleep.

The warrior of Goma waited politely for the beast to move from his path. Of course, such a thing as a beast of disaster moving for a mere tiny mushroom, who would believe it happening.

“I hold no hatred for you guardian beast, but I must still bare my blade!”

Knorgoroth did not even open a single one of its seven eyes, instead it was thinking of that time its master, Wraemmemon, had thrown a lich as a chewtoy for it. It had played with that unfortunate skeleton for eons.

The warrior of Goma grasped his blade tightly with both hand and thrust it up into the sky.

“POWER OF PALEDOOM, GATHER IN MY BLADE!”

Bonewhite starlight spiraled down and sank into the blade which then shone like a star itself!

Half-asleep, Knorgoroth got a terrible feel and thus, rolled over.

“HAAAAAAAAAA”

A tsunami of swordstars sang from the sword, obscuring the sky itself. Knorgoroth felt its hair stand on end as this powerful blow swept past it. With a yelp it sprang up in a fright, but this yelp was drowned out by the sound of the Paledoom Wave crashing against Wraemmemon’s Dimensional Fortress of Doom! There was not even wails of despair from the evil beings within that fortress, instead it was instantly obliterated. Knorgoroth’s eyes almost popped out of their sockets all seven of them. Finally turning its gaze from the place where once there had been a thoroughly grim and uninviting fortress, it looked once more at the mushroom warrior of Goma.

There was a winning heroic smile upon his face.

“Haha! Good reflexes little doggy!” he shouted and raised his blade again.

Many people do not manage in a time of crisis to do the best thing they can do, Knorgoroth rolled over onto his back, exposing his belly in submission to the mushroom warrior of Goma.

“Oho? You wish to submit to me, the greatest warrior of Goma?”

The mushroom warrior did a mighty leap landing right on the belly of Knorgoroth, who deathly afraid of the tiny hero, was quite still.

“I’ve had need of a noble steed, I suppose you’ll do!”

With that said, the warrior gave a mighty and hearty belly rub to Knorgoroth, running back and forth.

“Who’s a good boy? Eh, are you a good boy, are you? Well, you will be now”

As Knorgoroth received belly rubs, it decided that everything was actually fine.

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