“Are they going to kill us, or what?” Phoenix asked. It had been three days since anyone had spoken to them, or at least as far as he could figure. They had been fed 6 times since they got here, and his stomach knew they weren’t getting three meals a day. The guards, always the same four, would come in, and one would unchain Zanrith’s left arm, while the other three held him down. The first guard would then wrap the chain around Zanrith’s neck. They would repeat this for both hands on both prisoners, then two guards would bring the food trays in, and levitate them near the bottom of their ribcages. They would eat, and then their chains would be readjusted, and the guards would leave.
Zanrith only sighed. “Not if you make them think death would be nice.” He had been interrogated by the hooded man, who they learned was none other than Lord Doom himself, two more times since his first failed attempt. Zanrith had given nothing more away to him, but he knew that, by failing to detect the false reality, he had crushed their best, and probably only, chance to escape. Phoenix wasn’t in much better spirits, but he was certainly more talkative. Perhaps he’s hoping no one will volunteer to guard a motormouth, he thought with a smile. Then he sighed again. Their chances were so slim, they weren’t even worth joking about. They were Riders, captured by Spellcasters. Never before had anyone in their position ever escaped or been rescued.
“I’m not saying it would be nice, just a little bit more interesting.” Phoenix replied.
Zanrith raised an eyebrow and turned his head to face him. “And how, exactly, would death be more interesting?”
“Well, for starters, we’d finally learn what happens after.” Phoenix told him.
“And what if it’s nothing? What if death’s it?”
“Well, I suppose it’d really only be interesting at the moment it happens.” Phoenix amended.
They looked at each other for a moment, before bursting out laughing. Not because it was a good joke, but because they both knew Phoenix was right. It therefore didn’t take long before they calmed down. Once they did, Phoenix let out a long, low whistle. The air seemed to thicken a little, and Zanrith noticed that he no longer heard anything else. He blinked. “What did you just do?” he asked.
Phoenix grinned, obviously pleased with himself. “Just a little trick I learned from Jinlon.” He began worming his arm around and around. “You see, sound travels on air, but magical scrying can hear it even in a vacuum. I can normally manipulate air, thanks to Tempest, but Jinlon taught me a little magic.” he told Zanrith. “You see, by using the right whim, I can manipulate sound on both levels – air and magic. I just needed a little positive energy. That’s why I’ve been trying to tell jokes this whole time, so you would laugh.”
Zanrith was stunned. “Jinlon taught you this?”
Phoenix chuckled. “I was trying to be modest. He taught me the underlying principles, like how to focus magic into my Dragonic powers, but I’m the one who actually developed the technique. We’ve got about 15 minutes before this wears off, so lets talk escape. Now, I’ve been extending my mind in my sleep, and if my math’s right, which it normally is, we can absorb enough energy from the guards to knock them out and break our chains. Once we do, though, we’ll be completely on our own. We won’t have enough time to recoup more energy before the guards on the floor above come charging down on us. So, I really hope you’ve got something for the second half.”
Zanrith tried to put his shock at Phoenix’s ability aside and rack his brain for a solution. “If we could only bond to our dragons, just for a minute, we’d have power enough to destroy this tower. As it is, we’re powerful, but there’s no way two people can fight their way through like this. Without our dragons, our senses would be normal in battle.” He sighed. “And there’s of course no way to bond with them...”
“Maybe we don’t need to bond with them.” Phoenix blurted. Zanrith could see his mind racing.
“But I just said–” he began.
“Tell me, Zanrith, when we meditate, how is it that we can sense things beyond our ordinary human perception?” Phoenix interrupted.
Zanrith thought for a moment. “By tapping into the web of the life energy of all the organisms around us. We can focus, see the web, and observe the beings within it.”
Phoenix shook his head, panting. “No, that’s not quite it. It’s more like cracks on glass. Every time they hit a weak point, they make a new split, gaining more power.” He looked at Zanrith with a gleam in his eye. “Don’t you see?” he panted. “We don’t observe the flow of energy, we can’t observe it, that’s not within ordinary human perception. We form bonds with the organisms around us and borrow their senses. That’s how we increase our perception – by borrow other being’s. And it’s the same with our Dragonic senses when we bond with our dragons – we’re borrowing[i/] our dragons’ senses, using them to augment our own.”
“Okay,” Zanrith began again, “But I don’t see how that helps us–”
“We can bond with each other, like we do with our dragons! We can use each other’s senses, and fight as one!” Phoenix exclaimed.
Zanrith considered it. “Well, I’m open to trying it. It seems like our only shot.”
“Then let’s begin.” Phoenix said with determination. He closed his eyes. “Oh!” he exclaimed, looking at Zanrith. “I forgot, I can’t maintain this silence thing while we’re bonding, so be silent.”
“Thanks for the heads-up.” Zanrith said.
They closed their eyes again. Zanrith cast out his mind like he did when he meditated to extend his mind. This time, however, he stopped it as soon as he found Phoenix. Zanrith tapped into his mind as if it were Stardust’s. As soon as they came into contact, a flood of information slammed into Zanrith’s conscious, almost knocking him out of the link. He pushed on with his mind, not letting himself be swept away in the current. The harder he struggled, though, the harder the current resisted. He focused, channeling his mental energies into a shield to block the surging tide. He pressed on, ignoring all else, determined to succeed. He reached out, about to touch the source of the surge. Almost, he thought.
A sudden sensation from his body jerked him back to reality. He hung by his chains, gasping and sweating. He felt something cold, wet, and slimy on his cheek. Looking at Phoenix, he realized, “D-did you spit on me?”
Panting, Phoenix answered, “Yes. Zanrith, when you were fighting my mind, you weren’t fighting for bonding, you were fighting for control. You didn’t realize it, but you were forcing my mind out of itself. I had to give your mind a message, and it was the only thing I could think of.” He paused for a moment. “I think I know what the problem was, though.”
“What was it?” Zanrith demanded.
“When we tried to link, we began the link at different moments. You began first, so instead of finding my tendril of thought, you instead just kept going and slammed into my mind.”
Zanrith tried to picture it in his head. “Alright, I guess that explains it. So does this mean you wish to try again?”
Phoenix hesitated. “Yes, but this time, instead of reaching out right off the bat, lets try simply pulsing our conscious to signal each other, so we can better our timing.”
Zanrith nodded, and they began again. This time, though, once he sensed Phoenix’s mind, he merely expanded his white aura of awareness to that point. He felt Phoenix do the same with his green aura. Once their minds were in each other’s awareness, he slowly sent out a stem of mental energy, and noted Phoenix doing the same. The two tendrils met each other in the middle, and began coiling around each other. The green tendril met Zanrith’s mind at the same moment the white tendril met Phoenix’s mind. At that moment, their auras flashed and blazed as one, united mint-green aura. Zanrith felt his identity merging with Phoenix’s, and vice versa. They opened their now mint-green eyes. They were no longer two separate minds; they were a single entity, shared between two bodies.
Fully merged, the entity pondered his name. Phanrith? Zanix? Zanix seemed to fit better. He focused, and found that he scarcely needed any energy or focus to sense the puny minds of the guards outside his cell. With ease, Zanix drained enough energy from their auras to put them in comas for a few hours, then channeled that power into his bodies. From there, he pulled Zanrith’s arms forward and down, ripping the chains out of the wall, then ripping off the chains around his legs and freeing the body. He repeated the maneuver with Phoenix’s body. With both bodies, he walked over to the four-inch thick metal door, channeled his energy, and blasted it off its hinges.
He hurried, running them both up the stairs on the far side of the room. Zanrith had almost reached the door when it flew open, and five more guards rushed out of it. Zanrith and Phoenix backflipped down the stairs, landing next to each other, ready to fight. The first guard jabbed a punch at Zanrith’s head so fast no human could ever have seen it coming. But Zanix did. He moved Zanrith’s arm up to block, sweeping the punch away like a dust bunny. Then he sent Zanrith springing into the air, grabbing the back of the guard’s head while simultaneously ramming his knee into the man’s face.
At the same time, the second and third guards charged at Phoenix. The third guard swept his foot towards Phoenix’s ribcage at a blistering speed. Zanix arched Phoenix’s back, causing him to fall backwards on his hands with his knees bent. The man’s kick kept going, spinning the man and sailing directly into the gut of the second guard. Zanix had Phoenix spin left onto his hands and knees to avoid the stream of vomit, then push off into the air backwards, landing with one foot on the third guard’s head.
Zanrith landed in a crouch in front of the fourth guard, and held himself up on his hands as he swept both legs out to level his opponent. As they turned him around, he tucked them back under his body into a crouch. He then vaulted into the air, flipping over at the jump’s peak, and landing with both feet squarely on the man’s ribs.
Phoenix flipped forward, grabbing the third guard’s head as he landed back-to-back with him, and continued the momentum to throw the man into the fifth guard, instantly knocking out both men.
Zanix stopped for a moment and admired the efficiency of his first fight with his bodies. Five men in three seconds. Not bad. He hurried his bodies up the stairs. Once he got to the top of the steps, he couldn’t see another set of stairs in the room. Zanix heard a small creaking above Phoenix’s head, and rolled Phoenix forward as a set of trapdoors opened up, dumping another ten guards down to their level. Three ran at Phoenix, four at Zanrith, while the other three hung back as reinforcements.
Zanix bent Zanrith low as the four men charged at him. He launched Zanrith forward off one foot. As he flew by the sixth guard, Zanix threw out Zanrith’s arm, socking the man squarely in the jaw. Using the momentum, Zanix spun Zanrith around, letting his legs lead the turn so he fell sideways onto his extended right hand. The spin swept the seventh’s guards legs out from under him, and Zanix had Zanrith continue the spin, but also throw his legs into the air, putting Zanrith into a handstand, which Zanix had him then backflip out of.
As the three men flew at Phoenix, Zanix had him wait until the last possible second before leaping high into the air, flipping forward to grab the heads of the eighth and ninth guards and slam them together. Zanix heard a satisfying crunch through Phoenix’s ears as the men collapsed. Zanix continued Phoenix’s flip to slash a downward kick onto the tenth guard’s head. Zanix further continued the flip to land Phoenix behind the collapsing guard. He then sent Phoenix charging to engage the other three men.
As Zanrith landed from his backflip with the eleventh guard directly behind him, Zanix threw Zanrith’s arm up in a savage elbow strike. The man’s face completely gave way as the blow connected. Zanix rammed Zanrith’s palm forward into a devastating impact onto the twelfth guard’s throat, crushing the man’s windpipe.
As Phoenix neared the other three guards, the thirteenth and fourteenth moved to intercept as the fifteenth began a spell, chanting and gathering his energies. Zanix threw Phoenix into a forward slide on his back, each of his hands grabbing one of the guards’ legs as he passed them. Zanix spun him to get him back on his feet, and maximized the momentum of the maneuver, sending the two men careening into the final guard. Without missing a beat, Zanix formed a cup with Phoenix’s hands and launched a jumping Zanrith through the trapdoor. Zanix noticed through Zanrith’s eyes that the floor was suspiciously empty as he extended Zanrith’s arms to catch and pull a jumping Phoenix through the door. He walked them to the door on the far side of the room. As they passed through, Zanix felt a piercing pain in his mental energy, losing his hold on his bodies. Falling to all four of his knees, he felt his mint-green mental aura begin to divide like a cell, into two smaller auras; one green, one sparkling white. The auras continued to split, until they were held together by only a single thread, which rapidly degenerated into to shrinking, intertwined tendrils. Finally, with an explosive snap, they separated.
Zanrith and Phoenix both woke up, their now normal-colored eyes snapping open. They sat there, gasping and sweating, for a few minutes, until Phoenix finally spoke up. “Alright, that was entirely freaking incredible, but what the hell just happened? Why did the bond break?”
Zanrith thought for a moment. “I don’t know, but I think I know who might.” He walked over to the trapdoor and dropped down it, with Phoenix close behind. Zanrith walked over to one of the guards Zanix had knocked out with his body. He gave him a little energy, enough to wake him up. When he focused his eyes, Zanrith demanded, “Who is casting the spell on the floor above?” The guard blinked, then began to chuckle.
“You think your little stunt went unanticipated? There’s a team of spellcasters on the floor above, and they’re casting a spell that keeps everyone’s auras within their respective bodies.” He continued his laugh, which degraded into a hacking, bloody cough. “What’s more,” he grunted, “Grisaille Tower is 2/3 underground., and your cell was on the bottom floor.”
Phoenix’s mouth went dry. Grisaille Tower was known to have 100 aboveground floors “You mean to say, we have to go through 199 floors like these?”
“Yes.” The guard laughed one last time before shuddering back into unconsciousness.
Dropping him, Zanrith stalked around the room, and punched the wooden door in rage. “Damn it!” he yelled.
Phoenix sunk to the floor. “How the hell are we supposed to get through 199 floors of this? Even as Zanix, we’ll probably get exhausted. And it seems like we need to get through the next floor without him.” He racked his brain, but could find no solution. “I guess there’s nothing else to it but to do it. We’d better get a move on before their reinforcements come barring down on us.” He stood, and got in position to give Zanrith a boost. After another moment or two of sulking, Zanrith obliged, and jumped through the trapdoor. He kneeled at its edge, catching Phoenix’s hand as he leapt. Together, they crossed the room.
Zanrith motioned to Phoenix, and then set the plan in motion. With Phoenix a few feet behind him, Zanrith charged at the door, and broke it down. He rolled into the room, coming out onto his knees. Phoenix ran over him, using his back a springboard to launch over the guards. When he landed, he made a dash at the spellcasters. Zanrith engaged the seven guards. Without the reflexes of Zanix, all he could do was play defense and keep their attention on him. Meanwhile, Phoenix tackled one spellcaster, disrupting the spell. The sudden shock knocked out the other three, and Phoenix’s fist secured the first. Then, he ran at the guards. As he neared the rear guard, he spun, using all the momentum in his body, to grab the back of the man’s shirt and slam him into another. That got their attention.
Their confusion giving him an opening, Zanrith slid forward on his back, slipping through the guards to stand next o Phoenix. They stood, back to back, as the guards attacked. As the first threw a punch at Zanrith, he ducked, while Phoenix spun around, catching and twisting the man’s arm, breaking his wrist. As Phoenix turned back around, he had to jump over a sweeping kick by the second guard. Zanrith took the opportunity to stomp on the guard’s leg, fracturing it. Together, they each grabbed one of the man’s legs and threw the man into the remaining three guards. They then charged at them, knocking them out and possibly breaking a few ribs.
They stood, panting. “We’d be better off if we siphon a little energy from them.” Phoenix said. “To keep them knocked out.”
“Agreed,” Zanrith said. “Lets start with the spellcasters.” They began to focus their minds, pulling energy from the magicians to induce a coma, and bolster their own strength. Once done, they moved on to the guards. Finished, Zanrith stood tall. “Ah,” he said. “Now that’s better.” He could feel the energy coursing through his body. It was a paltry fraction of his normal prowess, but was formidable nonetheless. Phoenix, too, was feeling much better.
“Alright,” he said. “Let’s re-, um, what do we call this?” he asked.
Zanrith thought for a moment. “Mind-Melding?” he proposed.
“Works for me.” Phoenix shrugged. “Let’s re-Meld, and get a move on.”
For hours, they fought their way up the tower, floor by floor. After each fight, they drained the energies of the guards. By the time the reached their 40th floor, they had gained considerable power. Their meld had been interrupted five times so far, and it was stronger every time it reformed. They had just been split apart again as they reached for the door. This time, they managed to stay on their feet.
“Not again!” Phoenix complained. “This is getting seriously old!”
“Yes, very, but we have to press on.” Zanrith told him, getting into position. The one good thing about this spell was that it left their enemies as blind as it did them. This allowed them to use the same tactic over and over again.
Once they cleared the room, Phoenix felt a peculiar sensation that he couldn’t quite place. Ignoring it, he re-Melded with Zanrith. Zanix charged into the next floor with both of his bodies, sure that he was prepared for anything. Then he saw what was waiting. Over 70 guards were standing, waiting for him. He skidded both bodies to a halt. For a brief instant, everyone just stood there, Zanix watching the guards, the guards watching Zanix. Oh, shi- Then the guards attacked. Zanix had to use all his formidable concentration on his two bodies to keep them alive. He sent them spinning, flipping, and sliding amongst the guards, dodging seven blows for every one they landed. Zanix was forced to have Phoenix stop the arm of a guard whose sword was about to cleave through an occupied Zanrith. He then had Phoenix flip the guard into the path of another guard’s blade, and then spun him around the guard to knock out the second with his fist.
Then more guards attacked, and Zanix resumed his elaborate dance through the mass of guards. He managed to kick one guard in the head with Zanrith as he spun him over the heads of the guards, and break the legs of another when he had Phoenix dodged and accidentally stomped on it. It took what he believed to be three hours to finish off all the guards. By the end, Zanix felt spent. Even with his vast stores of energy, he was about to drop. The intense mental strain of fighting with both his bodies at their max was like trying to outrun a sunbeam. And now that their adrenaline supplies had run out, both bodies were dangerously close to passing out. He could feel his grip on them slipping. It was a curious sensation, but he didn’t have time to reflect upon it now. He forced his mind to focus, sensing all the energy in the room. Trying to drain energy while maintaining control over his bodies was like trying to walk a tightrope with a mountain in each hand. He could feel the elaborate fabric of his joined identity auras tearing, unraveling.
With all his remaining mental strength, he focused on the body of one guard, and drained his energy. He repeated this on every guard in the room. This should have been enough energy to level a mountain. Instead, it upgraded his bodies’ condition to sweaty, exhausted, smelly men. He couldn’t hold them together any longer, and his aura slowly slipped back into two.
Phoenix slumped on the ground, barely able to hold his head up. He looked over at Zanrith, and saw that he was in just about the same shape. With an enormous effort, he rose to his feet, and stumbled over to him. “You okay?” he asked. Zanrith just glared at him. He was too tired to even roll his eyes. “You know what I mean.” he snapped.
“Yeah,” Zanrith groaned, “as much as can be expected, I guess.” He pulled himself into a sitting position, panting. “This isn’t gonna work like this. Not anymore. We’re too spent. I doubt we’ll have much time to sit here and recover. So, got any other bright ideas?” he asked.
Phoenix tried to think, but he felt like there was a monkey banging cymbals together in his head. “Well, as far as I can tell, Melding does two things: increase our fighting capabilities, and share/boost our senses. The fighting thing really stems from our increased senses, which gives us much better reflexes. Then, since we’re one mind, we’re able to boost these things again by processing the information incredibly fast.” he said.
Zanrith waited for a moment. “Well? Is that it?” he demanded.
Phoenix thought for a few seconds. “I think...maybe we don’t need to Mind–Meld to boost our abilities.” he said cryptically.
“What do you mean by that?”
“Perhaps,” Phoenix said, “we can do a different type of meld...one with just our senses and reflexes...I guess it would be more of just a-a Battle–Meld.” He looked at Zanrith. “The thing is, I’m not sure how to do that.”
Zanrith considered the idea. “You’ve got a point there. To isolate those auras...could take days, even at our full strength, let alone in this condition.” He groaned, and got his feet under him. He remained squatting there for a moment. “However, there’s really no other option.” He staggered to his feet. “Let’s give it a shot.”
Phoenix nodded, closed his eyes, and began to concentrate. His eyes snapped open. “Zanrith,” he said, “Let’s do it in this order: sight, hearing, smell, touch, taste.” Zanrith nodded. Phoenix resumed his focus.
Last edited by Wallaceman105
on Sun Apr 09, 2017 8:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
XYZ Dragon Cannon wrote: DFB3636 wrote:
Zanrith wrote:Make the extra deck great again, too many pendulums are entering our decks!
Just build a wall of floodgates.
And make the OCG pay for it!