Chapter 3: Round 2 - the territory of a spider - 1160 words
An arena opened before Icarus, as he walked forward with a wide gait. His fake eyes flashed in different shades of red, making him nearly blind to his surroundings. He didn't see his opponent on the other side of the stadium, the man's frame carried with polite elegance. His own anger made Icarus inattentive - and no wonder. He was fuming.
Icarus had won the previous tournament round - but only barely. Disgusting. The judges were biased. The Collective was biased. And why wouldn't they be? Just like back at home. No one was different, not here, or there. The existence of a wyfex was a disease that blighted everything around them.
On the other hand, docking the final scoring was understandable. Threatening the audience likely wasn't a judging criteria by itself. Not that Icarus would ever admit such - but the hooded hoodlums had learned at least one lesson from it. The coliseum was eerily quiet, a crowd conspicuous by its absence.
Dalv, Lord by title, Blackhand by blood, watched as the bipedal creature opposite of him kicked around the stuffed animals on the ground, cursing the skies above. Almost instinctively, the vampire glanced at the three stuffed animals beside him. His red eyes narrowed, as his gaze shifted back to the creature through a quick scan of the large pile of glass sheets next to it. A peculiar being. Dalv had heard of these things, once partially alive, and over time, not. Something sharp about glass had risen in the conversations around the tournament, its wielder called...
"Sir, wyfex, uh... Icarus, sir?"
Icarus turned around in a single movement, vigorous and outright hostile. A small person cowered before the wyfex. He didn't recognize their race.
"Please be careful with the plushies," they squeaked, "your task is to defend them."
Defense wasn't his style. Icarus snapped his jaws at the unlucky assistant, and they promptly fled. The wyfex shook off the remains of his undirected ire, and turned his false eyes to the other side of the arena.
The man answered to the wyfex's static-ridden gaze with a deep, deliberate bow. Icarus spun around in place, as if he was looking for a place to hide.
Ugh. This guy gave him the creeps - and then some. Not only was he human by looks, Icarus could feel something under that polished, pale hide. And, to top it off, he was...
The wyfex shook his head and stuck out his jointed tongue at the term. Ew. But that's what Karmen would've used.
Out of that disgust, a bright green head of a snake lifted its beautifully repulsive head. It coiled its vibrant body around Icarus' ribs, and sunk its fangs into his artificial heart. The wyfex's eyes shifted back to his opponent, prickling at the man's strange aura like thorns.
This was just the type of bloke Karmen would make friends with, wasn't he? Just like the two, grossly thin beanpoles. Just like the countless others Icarus didn't remember the names of. Someone who'd steal his better half, if given the chance.
The buzzer's piercing signal announced the permission for the wyfex and the vampire to begin. Making no attempt to shield the plushies assigned to him, Icarus stepped over them, his stride nonchalant. Dalv braced for whatever he'd have to face. Ill things circled the name of Icarus in speech through the grapevine. His approach, however, seemed like he would fight fairly.
The sound of a hundred shattering windows broke Dalv's focus - and while it was only for mere blinks of an eye, it was all Icarus needed. When the vampire lifted his eyes, recovered from the temporal setback, his time was already spent. The wyfex dashed forward like he was shot from a rifle - but not on his own feet. Six spindly, translucent legs jutted out of his upper back, connected to a mass of glass shards, enveloping Icarus' chest like a tight vest. Propelling him toward his target with only accelerating speed, their movement accurately imitated of that of a spider.
Defense wasn't what Icarus preferred. He'd do it if he had to, and if he had the right motives for it - but being told to protect something?
The masked wyfex straightened his arms in front of him, and constructed a plow of shards, able to rip and tear into pieces almost anything that would stand in its path.
And Dalv was slotted neatly into that specific category, placed conveniently right between a rock and a hard place. If the way wasn't made for the wyfex, Icarus would make it himself.
The chaotic ordeal was over just as quickly as it had been pushed into motion. Dalv was able to dodge the wyfex's attempt to break the rules - and get disqualified. While he skirted the attack's outline as smoothly as one could within such strict time frame, he couldn't avoid everything.
In his wake, Icarus dragged scattered glass shards. As they followed him all the way through his reckless strike, they didn't discern flesh from stuffing. As if it was a final insult, the stray makeshift blades cut open the side of the man's face, slashing along his cheekbone. The swipe's suddenness sent him down to his right knee.
Dalv lifted his eyes just in time to see Icarus out of his arachnoid crystal chitin, tearing off the head of one of the stuffed toys with his teeth like a rabid animal. The wyfex tossed the mangled remains of the plushie to the pile with the rest of its kind - a small mound of mauled stuffing, sharp shards sticking out of it like sewing needles from a pin cushion.
The buzzer rang again, withdrawing its previous permission to act. Icarus had removed the vampire's delicate wards from the equation, while keeping his own in mostly pristine condition. It wasn't exactly defending, as the assignment given had clarified - but the wyfex couldn't have cared less. He did what was told - and struck down a fabricated threat to his mate to boot.
Icarus walked past Dalv to return to his side of the stadium. When the vampire attempted to get up from his slumped position, the wyfex crouched next to him. Through its opened jaw, a teal and green gas flowed out, spit like a smug jeer - right at his face. The vapor embraced his whole countenance, making it impossible to not breathe it in. As Icarus swiftly stood up, Dalv stayed on the ground, coughing out the wyfex's crux in his lungs. The gaseous life force clawed at his throat, its feel grainy, with something heavy and acidic lingering in its trail.
In the middle of the arena, Icarus lifted his arms. His wordless command was defiant and bold. He yearned to hear the outcome - what he deserved to hear. They'd have to heed it, whether they wanted to or not.
And so they did.
The Vessel reigned victorious - just like a disciple of a god should.
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Always so cool to see how you bring out Icarus' edginess (he is the edgelord of glass and grump) and apply it to things like defending plushies; somehow he still gets to destroy a bunch of stuff in a wickedly cool manner, intimidate the audience, and not get disqualified haha ^v^