Mistica Chronicles

Welcome to Issue 24

black_shadow Winning Entry

He had been training for months. Today, finally, would be the day he would defeat Lord Kelzo and finally claim his spot among the top battlers in the Arena. March had been looking forward to it for practically forever, and the knowledge that today would be his final battle made the hairs on his multi-hued tail tremble with joy. His stomach knotted, March swallowed down his breakfast, chose his weapons, and then headed to the Battle Arena where Kelzo waited.

As a Tarinooki, March had faced various forms of discrimination and mockery in the Arena, most of them owing to the fact that March was an unboxed – a pet who had yet to taste the power that came from one of the legendary Pandoria Boxes so many owners were buying nowadays. Most pets who faced off against Lord Kelzo needed a Box to do so, but March was determined to be the first – if not one of the top three – who changed those views and showed Mistica that you didn’t need a Box to contend with the fighters of the Arena.

Lord Kelzo greeted him at the door, a light frown on his features as he surveyed his chosen opponent.
“You’re my only fight today? Goodness, have I truly beaten all the decent fighters?” There was an unneeded smugness in his tone that had March’s fur bristling, his teeth setting. The two fighters chose their weapons and healing items and parted, each going to their respective spot in the Arena. There were a few moments of silence as they settled, the lone referee glancing apprehensively between the two before finally dropping the white handkerchief that was the sign to begin.
March surged into the fray, screaming war calls as Kelzo readied Her Sabre.

The fight, for all its building up, was short and rather anti-climatic, in March’s views. Her Sabre fell from Kelzo’s hand as the Stignightus tumbled to the earth, voice rumbling in a wavering moan as his last hitpoint vanished. March’s elation went through the ceiling as he realized what he had done – he had finally achieved his goal! He had beaten Lord Kelzo!
Yet even as he cheered and whooped with glee, Kelzo laughed from his place in the dirt, hooves and claws scrambling in the dirt as he struggled to get up.
“Yes yes, laugh all you want. Celebrate, be happy, little Tarinooki, because mine is the last fight you’ll be winning for a very long time.”

That stopped March cold. He frowned. “What are you talking about? You’re the final fighter in the Arena.”

Kelzo threw back his head and laughed, mockery in its very sound. “Oh, if only that were true! But alas, there is one more. Just one. But he is the strongest of us, the most cunning, the most cruel… the most evil. Fighting him as you are – even with your stats maxed out and the most powerful weapon – is an impossibility.”

“Who is he?” March demanded, his heart pounding now that he realized just how hollow his victory was, adrenaline pumping through his veins once more. “Who is this fighter that you speak of?”

And from overhead, a silky, amused voice answered, “That would be me.”

March’s head jerked up, eyes widening at the sight of the pink creature sitting there. It was angular in build, bug-like with a puff of fur around its neck and a set of white wings with pink hearts on them. A smile sat upon its lips, stretched wide as slitted eyes regarded the pair.

March found himself gulping and backing up under the scrutiny. This warrior… “Who are you?”

The grin seemed to grow, despite the fact that the unknown’s face did not move an inch. “I am Altered, the leader of the Cooties and Lovebugs, as well as the king of the Arena. And you, little Tarinooki, are March.”

March jerked, eyes widening. “H-how…?”

“Did I know your name?” Altered laughed, a thin, reedy sound that had March’s toes curling in the dirt. “Because little March, I know everything. It is just as Kelzo there told you – I am the most cunning of the fighters within these walls. I am also the most vicious, the most merciless. Entering a fight with me is a very short-lived experience for most.”

On any other being, those words would have been considered bragging. Yet March knew that this being – Altered – was not bragging. He was stating true facts. And that knowledge made March want to fight him.

“If it is as you say, Altered, then why not have a match with me?” March called.

Altered stared at him for a second before he burst out laughing, clutching his stomach as his feet kicked, nearly knocking himself off the edge of the arena where he sat. March felt his cheeks heat, and forced himself not to look embarrassed. Behind him, Kelzo groaned and dropped his head into the dirt.

At last however Altered stopped, wiping tears away from his eyeholes. “Y-you shouldn’t joke about things like that, little March. I could easily drop-kick you across Mistica in one move, at the level you’re currently at. Grow a little more and then come ask me again. Maybe I’ll humor you. Or maybe I’ll ignore you. At the very least, I’ll get a kick out of it.” And so saying he shifted, wings opening as he took off, flying into the distance before vanishing.
March left the Arena in a foul mood, muttering curses under his breath while he swore inwardly that he would go back first thing tomorrow morning and challenge Altered to a match.

Yet when morning came round, March was left furious once again. The morning’s headline news, in big bold print, read: ‘MISTICA BATTLE DROME CLOSED FOR UNDISCLOSED REASONS’. The newspaper shook in his paws as rage overtook him; March screamed as he flung the newspaper at the floor, cursing. Now not only could he not challenge Altered, he couldn’t even train! What was he going to do now?