Prologues & templateEdit
Lloyd Kumar walked in to a room. He had no idea where he was or how he got there, just that he woke up one morning in a strange place where time never seemed to pass. Shortly after waking up, he received an invitation to dine with others, along with directions.
Setting his current book - a godsend that saved his sanity - down at a table, he went up to the buffet table to get some food. After eating and reading for a while, he heard a familiar Welsh accent hail him.
"Cadwalader! It's been a while."
Cadwalader Owain Jones, who earned the epithet "Cadwalader the Cunning" for his skill as a general, sat down across from him. The two had fought both side-by-side and against each other in the many wars that raged across England, and had become something akin to friends. They conversed about old times, but quickly turned to the matter at hand.
"Do you know what's going on?" Lloyd asked.
"Well, this seems to be a gathering of military minds, great and small. Though you seemed to be too absorbed in that book to notice."
Looking around, he did indeed see generals from all walks - from the great minds like Markus Thaowan and Monty, to more questionable ones like James Evans, Adam Lazarus Edgington Moore V, and Austonio Machete Michelangelo Rasputin Elder III.
"And those guys on the balcony? What do you make of them?"
It was Cadwalader's turn to look around, eyes darting from figure to cloaked figure on the top balcony, seeing figured cloaked in black and blood with trims of varying colors.
"I don't know, Lloyd, but one of them seems ready to address us."
Indeed, one of the figures in a blood-red cloak with a green trim had walked up to the front of the room. As if on cue, everyone else fell silent. Looking at the balcony, Lloyd saw the cloaked figures taking places near the railing.
"Greetings," the man said, "you may call me Leo."
Lloyd glanced around, seeing no recognition in any of the gathered generals. He turned back to the speaker attentively, curiosity growing.
"I've never been good with pleasantries, so we'll skip to the point. You are gathered here because we wish to see some of the worlds siege experts in action."
Lloyd and Cadwalader looked at each other in surprise. Out of the men gathered in the room, he would only consider a few as "experts". Then again, he was always a little arrogant.
"Each of the men standing above you has selected one of you to sponsor. Now, as to how this will proceed..."
Lloyd thought several of those had rather poor judgement, but he wouldn't say that aloud. Not when he had no idea how he got here.
"First, each of you will be questioned to gain ratings in certain areas. Afterwards, we will give you the opportunity to assemble armies. Third, we will have a series of sieges, one person attacking and one defending. Each general will go against each other general twice, as an attacker and a defender. If you are not up to this, leave now. You will not be harmed."
A vast majority of the generals left the room, leaving only 10. Lloyd couldn't put a reason to why he stayed; he just had a feeling it was in his best interest.
"And for those of you who stayed, please enjoy yourselves while not in combat. We have an expansive area for you to live in; you will not age here, nor can you be killed outside combat."
"An unexpected bonus," Lloyd muttered, "Not dying is always a boon."
"Oh, and one thing I should mention - each of you has a mental link to your sponsor. We can communicate with you via telepathy and note where you are."
The man looked right at Lloyd.
I trust you will not disappoint.
Lloyd turned pale.
I think you'll like our library. I'll leave directions for you in your room. But first, questioning. Your's is the second room on the right.
The generals disperse, each given instructions on where to go.
Markus Thaowan walks into a small room in a Library. Like the others, he has no idea how her got here, just that he was expected to fight in sieges. He spots the door just as Lloyd opens it and leaves, tossing Markus a lazy salute.
"I thought you called us in here, Lloyd?" he asked accusingly.
"I've been called to fight. Not unexpected that I'm first, but still at bad moment."
Markus nods, and continues in to the room, taking a chair at the large, circular table, scanning around at the nine other generals, and that odd cat of Austonio's. Cadwalader stands up, and begins to speak.
"Thank you all for coming. I'll make this brief - Lloyd and I thought it best for all of us to work together when we're not besieging each other. None of us knows how we got here, or even where "here" is..."
Celina stands up quickly, saying "I'm fighting, too. But I agree. I must hurry."
She leaves the room.
"Back on topic, we need to figure out what the hell is going on," Cadwalader continues, "Though we need to be careful. This library should make a good meeting place, since we need to seem to meet by chance."
"I agree," Markus said, "After all, they can find out where we are quite easily."
"THERE ARE NO GODDAMN BEES, NICHOLAS!"
Everyone turns, somewhat stunned, to Austonio, who is yelling at his cat.
Christian Kenway left the library room about 30 minutes later, realizing that Cadwalader was right - they did have to work together. As he left the library, he saw Lloyd walking towards him from the direction of the dining room. He nodded towards Christian, and continues walking towards the library.
"You remember anything?" Kenway asks.
"Nope. I guess they don't want us telling. And perhaps they don't trust us to keep our word."
Lloyd continues into the library. Well, fine. Kenway thought, I guess "cooperating" doesn't mean "friendly."
You're up, Tian. said the voice in his head. Leo's waiting in the dining room.
Christian Kenway, slightly shaken by the use of his old name, continues to the dining hall, passing Celina as she makes her way back as well. They nod to each other as they pass, each wrapped up in their own thoughts.
Kenway enters the dining room, seeing Austonio prancing in through the other entrance, giggling uncontrollably.
"This will be so... much... FUN! I can't wait to burn your troops alive!" Austonio says, barely able to contain his glee.
Leolab, still in his robe, gestures to each of them to enter separate corridors. Christian Kenway walks through his and finds himself on the field of battle, in his tent.
Cadwalader was rifling through books in the library, waiting for Lloyd to show up. He hadn't had a battle yet, but he wanted to pick Lloyd's brain about what little he could remember. He turned as Lloyd walked into view, trailing James Evans and the odd guy who went by "Master".
"Lloyd! I've been wondering about your memories of the fights."
"I've only been able to remember the fact that I was in a tent," Lloyd said. "Oh, and Cadwalader, I had an interesting new revelation on our hosts," Lloyd said, "Evans here confirmed my observation, as did this guy. What's you're real name, anyway?"
The one who went by Master remained silent.
"Fine then, I'll just call you Billybob. So, as I was saying, Evans and Billybob also confirmed my observation that our hosts have their own little hierarchy."
"Yeah," Evans says, "There's a simple way of telling the biggest division: it's in the color of their cloaks."
"The lowest ranking have light grey ones, while..." Billybob said, trailing off. "I'm up next. I'll catch up next time."
"Anyway," Lloyd said, "The other thing about the light grey cloaks - they are all called 'Anons'. There are more of them than any other type, but there are also ways for all types to check who they are."
"Above those are the plain, dark grey cloaks," Evans continues. "Those seem to be called 'Users'. 'Users' have a specific name, though most have nicknames."
"Then there are 'Users' with a yellow trim on their cloaks, and ones with a purple. We haven't been able to tell what those can do yet," Lloyd says, "And then there's the few with dark red cloaks. As far as I can tell, they have the power to banish 'Users' and 'Anons'. There are also two types of trims: blue and green. Green seems to have more authority than blue, but those five have their own hierarchy."
"And there's one group that seems to be outside the norm - there are two people with blue cloaks and an orange trim. It's an awful color scheme, but neither of us could determine what it means," Evans added, and pauses, staring off into the distance. "Well, I'm up. See you around."
"Okay," Cadwalader said, as Evans walks out. "I'll let everyone else know. Though why am I the information distributor?"
"Because no one else wanted to do it," Lloyd replies. "And there's something else I want to confirm - I'll let you know if it is what I think."
Receiving his mental summons a few moments earlier, Markus Thaowan trudged up the corridor towards his eventual confrontation with the woman walking next to him. He'd been up for most of the night, trying to figure out exactly what the hell was happening, and how any of the small scraps of information he and the others had found fit into anything. More puzzling still was the message he'd received from Lloyd earlier - to meet in the library with Cadwalader after his fight. Trying to clear his mind of the trouble, he tried to make small talk.
"So this is your second time?"
"Yes. I can't remember the first time, except for being in a stone room."
They passed the scoreboard, where each person's attacker and defender points were kept.
"You lost that time, right? Do you think you lose your memory only when you lose?"
"No. Lloyd lost his memory also."
They arrived in the entry hall, the oppressive air cutting off all further attempts at conversation. Leolab was standing there, impassive. He gestured to the two hallways, and each entered.
6-7 "So I've discovered what the yellow-trimmed cloaks do," Lloyd says, addressing the three in front of him. "Since you four seem to be the sanest among us, I can actually show you rather than just telling you."
"I'm honored," said Ryan, smiling.
"Let's save the pleasantries and get going," Cadwalader says, "I'm supposed to be up next."
"Then perhaps we should just inform you of the outcome," Markus says, "I doubt our hosts would like you to be late."
Cadwalader reluctantly nods in agreement, and as they leave the library, Markus and Ryan follow Lloyd, while Cadwalader goes off in the other direction.
The trio reach what seems to be a dead end. Lloyd walks forward and fiddles with the wall a little, and it opens.
"I saw Leo doing that the other day."
They walk in, and see several branching hallways and a small room. In that small room, there seems to be a sort of gathering going on.
"The red cloaks can kick people in and out, but the yellow-trimmed ones can, too." Lloyd whispers, "They seem to be kinda like bouncers for that particular area."
"And I think I can see how they recognize each other," Markus whispers back, "See how they gain little icons on their chest when they enter this area?"
"Looks like they have a manatee fetish," Ryan whispers.
"Though what's the purpose of that room?" Lloyd asks, "It doesn't seem to serve as anything I can recognize."
"Perhaps it functions like a pub or something - they just relax and talk there," Markus says.
"It's a shoddy pub then. No rum," says Ryan. "Anyway, I'm up. And I think they know we're here."
The three quietly exit. Lloyd closes the wall behind him.
Inquisitive as ever, I see.
Lloyd goes pale.
Celina entered the library with Christian Kenway. Lloyd had been absent from their previous meeting, in which they were divided about whether or not to confront their hosts directly. Celina wanted to advise a more cautious course of action, while Kenway wanted to initiate a confrontation.
"Well hello there! I've left Nicholas in my room. He won't stop his gibberish about the bees," Austontio says, popping out of Jove knew where. Celina cringed inwardly. Austonio was a wild card - he didn't take a side in the meeting.
The three navigated the labyrinth of bookshelves, using the symbols they'd agreed upon to wind their way through the maze to Lloyd.
"How does he find his way in here, anyway?" Kenway asks.
"I don't think he does," Celina replies, "He relies on his host to guide him."
They pass a through doorway and see Lloyd reading at a table.
"I'd just burn it all! It'd be much easier to navigate then. And the fire would look nice." Austonio says, "Maybe the fire would kill off the bees tormenting Nicholas."
"Will you shut up about your fucking cat, Austonio?" Lloyd says. "And if you try to burn any of this, I will eviscerate you. Since we can't die here, you would go even crazier from the pain."
"Anyway," Celina says, "we need a tiebreaker on the issue of..."
"We're just going to sit and wait. We don't know enough about them to make a move. And you two are up next, right? Go. And piss off, Austonio."
Slightly disconcerted by his abrupt dismissal, the three leave.
Lloyd leaves the library and makes his way to the dining hall, book in hand, hoping that some food and drink will alleviate his raging headache.
He sits down, starting to eat, when Christian Kenway sits down across from him.
Lloyd looks up, and finally realizes why he looks so familiar.
"You fought under my command during the Red Turban Rebellion, didn't you, Tian?" he asks.
"Yeah, I did. It's what inspired me to become a general." Kenway replies. "Anyway, Yao and I discovered something."
Lloyd perks up. "What is it?"
"Well, we've found a way to that upper balcony. Thought you might like to see it."
"Go on your own. I've got a crappy headache."
Kenway leaves Lloyd to his food and books, nodding to Cadwalader and Markus as they get ready for their fight.
Kenway jogs to Yao Long's room, and informs him of the situation.
The two go to the entrance Yao found, and sneak up to the balcony. They creep past one of the grey-cloaked Users. They retreat behind a pillar as one of the green-on-red cloaked Bureaus walks up the way they came.
"I think I'm going to lose this one, Leo," the User said.
"Yeah, Beast, you probably are."
"Just my luck, going against you."
"Look on the bright side. You're going up against Drayco at least once."
The two cloaked figures continue conversing while walking towards an observation deck, while Kenway and Yao creep towards an opening on the other side, where they see some machinery. Lloyd and Ryan the Dreaded walk up to either side of the machine, and it glows white.
Lloyd and Ryan both collapse.
"What's that?" Yao whispers, pointing at two small, vaguely iridescent streams going from each body into the machine.
"I think that's how they get us to fight without remembering anything. Let's look at the other side."
They creep along the catwalk as the iridescence vanishes.
On the other side, they see clones of Lloyd and Ryan being teleported, and they see tubes containing clones of Billybob and Kenway moving towards the machine.
"This is kinda creepy," Kenway says. "I think we should get out of here before they spot us."
The man known as Master stormed out of the dining hall. No one respected him. Not only did he only find out about the meetings by accident, but everyone had followed Lloyd's lead and had started calling him Billybob. He swore he would show them all, but all he had to show was a tie. Against the general considered one of the poorest of the lot. And they even liked him better.
"Oh, if it isn't the emo general," Austonio said, popping out of nowhere. He had no idea how Austonio did that, just that it was as disconcerting as the fact that he'd made a nest on his head for his cat. Out of his pants, no less. The man known as Master was trying very hard not to look down.
"What do you want?"
"Well, Billybob, I think Nicholas has an interest in you. He says that the bees might be coming from your room."
"Not the goddamn bees again," someone mutters. The man known as Master turned to see Yao and Kenway entering the dining room. Glaring at Kenway's back, he turns back to Austonio.
Then he gets up from the floor, head spinning.
"WHAT. THE. HELL??"
"Oh, you deserved a slap. It might just help you get over yourself. But maybe this will help," Austonio says, grabbing a potted plant and upending it over his fellow general.
You're up. And stop embarrassing me.
Great. Even my host hates me. Master thought, grumbling as he headed towards his fight. I have to win this one.
Bloody wonderful, Lloyd thought, our hosts can change our goddamn reality.
Thought you might find that interesting. The door's still there, the combination's the same. Just not where you thought it was.
Leo's gleeful taunting did nothing to lighten his mood.
"Fucking shit. He changed where the fucking door is," He says aloud. He's led five people to where the door was. They had decided in a meeting last night, where Yao and Kenway revealed their discovery, to explore their hosts' area a little more thoroughly.
"And you know this how?" Cadwalader asked, confused.
"He told me. Motherfucker's taunting me. Why the fuck did my host have to be the one who runs our damn tournament?"
"Lloyd, calm down," Markus says, "It'll help your thinking."
Lloyd breathes deeply, trying to center himself, drawing on the Yoga he practiced as a boy. Calm, he turned to the others.
"Okay, so he said the combination's the same. That means you press a brick around my eye level, and the door should open. Let's start by looking here. Yao, Cadwalader, take the left wall. Kenway, Markus, take the right. Ryan and I will try this one."
"I'm up, Lloyd. Good luck, and remember to post watch," Yao says.
"Good luck to you, Yao."
“What the hell happened to Billybob?”
“Do we care?”
“Not about him – anything that happens to him might happen to us.”
Lloyd, Celina, and Cadwalader are sitting in the mess hall, trying to figure out what happened to Billybob. As Celina pointed out, they didn’t care as much about Billybob himself – they were more interested in what power their hosts had over them.
So you’ve noticed, have you? Well, I’ve left a clue or two in his room. Lloyd sighs. Out of all the hosts he could have gotten, he had to have the one that ran this tournament.
“Well, Leo says he left some clues in his room. And I’m up next, so you two go and check it out.”
“Good luck, Lloyd,” Cadwalader says, getting up.
“He won’t need it. He’s up against Evans, after all,” Celina says. “We’ll let you know about our findings when you get back.” The pair walk away, leaving Lloyd to his wine.
“Hope you can command after that glass, Lloyd. That’s some strong wine,” Markus says, taking his own seat. “It knocked me for a loop.”
“I should be fine,” Lloyd says, draining his glass. “I’m up now, anyways.”
He walks towards the entranceway, stumbling slightly.
Yao Long, Markus Thaowan, and Ryan walk down a hallway which appears to be a dead end. At the end is a makeshift camp, where they had been alternating watches to ensure the entrance didn’t close and switch places while they weren’t looking.
Christian Kenway rose from the mattress, nodding at Markus. “Well, I’m up now.”
“So that means I take this watch. Good luck.”
“I’m against Austonio. Yao and Ryan will need it more.”
Yao Long and Ryan enter the passageway, marking their route. They turn right, feigning nonchalance. They see no one in the hallway itself, but pass rows of small rooms. They step into one of them, the one that seems to have been used the least recently. The door says “Sample Battle: Cervantes (Soul Calibur IV) vs Dante (Dante's Inferno)”
There were three large, illuminated displays. One displayed information about two entities.
“I think this is about the ‘Cervantes’ and ‘Dante’ mentioned outside,” Yao says, looking at the information. It seemed sparse, but that was likely due to the fact that no one had used it. The second screen showed declarations of support for either side, while the third… the third contained a recording. It was a battle between two fighters. Everything about it was undeniably real.
“Can they create people at a whim? Do they do so specifically for these things?” Ryan says, “That’s kind of sick, even for me.”
Slightly disturbed, Ryan and Yao turn to head back.
Celina Lucyna and Cadwalader open the door to what used to be Billybob's room. They find it still lit, still showing signs of habitation. Cadwalader checks under the bed, trying to find some clue as to his disappearance. Celina, meanwhile, is going through what remained of Billybob's personal effects, trying to do the same. Both are keeping their senses sharp, trying to determine if one of their hosts is approaching them.
"Found anything yet?"
Lloyd walks into the room, holding his head.
"Misjudged that wine, boyo?"
"This hangover could kill a horse."
"I've found his diary, anyway," Celina says. "It seems he was contacted by his host far less than we were."
"And? Are you saying this has something to do with his disappearance?"
"Yes... I think that his host disappeared somehow and it affected him, too..."
Cadwalader stood, "Well, it's better than what I've got - which is nothing."
"Then we investigate. Let's meet up with with the exploration team and see if we can use their findings."
"Sounds good. Well, I'm up, so I'll see you guys later."
Ryan the Dreaded is relaxing in the mess hall with a bottle o' rum, trying to cool his nerves after talking with Lloyd and Cadwalader.
"They're crazy, even for me," Austonio says, sitting down across from him. He seems oddly sane at the moment. "I've heard you guys talking about our hosts."
"Oh?" Ryan asks, trying not to re-trigger Austonio's insanity.
"Yes. They need more FIRE! AND BEES! But no, no... not bees. Not the bees...." Austonio cackles.
Ryan punches him in the face, which sends the madman sprawling.
"CAN'T YOU BE SANE FOR ONCE?"
"That would be breaking character," Leo says, accompanied by a user in a red cloak with a blue trim - one of the Admins. "Wouldn't you agree, Drayco?"
"Yes. I think he needs a little more... fire," Drayco says. Ryan can't see his face, but he can imagine the Admin's malevolent smile.
"Anyway, Ryan, you're up. Follow me," Leo says, leading Ryan away while Drayco helps Austonio up.
Yao, Ryan, and James all enter the doorway, and at the junction they turn left, walking opposite the corridor leading to the area they had termed "The Arena". After walking through a hallway for a while, they come across what appears to be a library filled with similar screens to the ones in The Arena.
"Lloyd would love this," Ryan whispers, picking up one of the screens. "It looks like biographical information on all the combatants who have passed through - and transcripts of their fights."
"There's a section which seems similar to Chat, but much more organized," Yao says, seeing a section of screens that were filled with user comments. Something about a "chatmod" - he assumed that was what they called the Yellow-trimmed cloaks.
They saw a grey-cloaked Anon fiddling with the pad, making changes to what was written. Moments later, a grey-cloaked User walked towards it with a Purple-trimmed User. The User handed the screen to the Purple-trimmed one and he touched a device to it.
The screen reverted to its prior state.
"Thanks, Hayden. Rollbacks are useful," the User says.
Yao, Ryan, and James sneak back to the entrance before they hear the rest of the conversation.
Lloyd Kumar, Cadwalader Owain Jones, and Celina Lucyna are gathered in a room, trying to figure out the disappearance of the man known as Master.
"Okay, so our current theory - based off of the diary Celina found - is that something happened to his host that caused him to disappear," Lloyd says, looking over the notes they had gathered.
Very good. That's part of it
"Lloyd, you look like you've seen a ghost," Celina says.
"Well, Leo just confirmed that theory. So... how do we proceed?"
"I, for one, would like to know exactly who sponsored each of us. It may help in determining what happened," Cadwalader says, "And Yao and Ryan mentioned passing a couple rooms in The Arena that may help."
"So we check that out."
Ryan the Dreaded and Yao Long creep into the hallway alongside Lloyd and Celina. Evans and Cadwalader were in the next two fights, so they were reduced to smaller scouting parties. Lloyd and Celina take the right path, while Ryan and Yao hang around chat, noticing Leo lounging inside.
"Looks like they took my suggestion," Ryan whispers, pointing to another one of the green-trimmed cloaks - whose icon was a man smirking psychotically - who seemed to be pouring himself a shot.
Yao and Ryan were keeping a close eye on Leo, intending to shadow him when he leaves chat. He was getting visibly annoyed by a grey-cloaked User, and at one point simply enveloped him in a bast of fire.
The user appears outside Chat, unharmed but agitated.
"Seriously. I try to give him ideas and he goes and kicks me. And he made my guy a drunk." the User mutters, walking back towards the chat, "I think he just hates me." He re-enters the room.
Yao and Ryan glanced at each other. Now HERE was something they could use - their hosts were not as united as they seemed.
Lloyd Kumar and Celina Lucyna enter the area they termed The Arena. Moving silently, they split up and enter two different doors, Lloyd entering the one titled "Siege User Tourney Sign-ups" and Celina entering the one titled "My Resignation"
Lloyd looks at the various screens, which seem to have been updated as their fight progressed. Looking at one of them, he takes out the paper and pen he stole from their library and jots down a list, pairing the Users with their hosts.
Well, you three did a good job figuring things out. I think it's time for you two, however, to go back. Wouldn't want to miss your next battle, would you?
Lloyd's panic that Leo had found them is quickly replaced by a gut-wrenching sensation as he is teleported back to his room.
Shouldn't have eaten...
Lloyd walks to the mess hall, grabs another helping and sits down to replenish his now-empty stomach. Where do they get all this food, anyway? he wonders, gorging himself.
Oh, that's a secret for another time, Leo says.
Celina, looking in much the same condition, grabs a helping for herself and sits down.
"Well, all I was able to find was that someone who went by 'MasterofAwesomeness' - which is a stupid name - had left the wiki around the time Billybob disappeared."
"Well, that was Billybob's host," Lloyd says. "You tell Cadwalader - and we're holding another all-generals meeting after my next fight. I'll be in the library."
"You always are."
Austonio lounged in his library chair, cackling and holding his cat. Lloyd looked up in irritation.
"Is there anything you actually want, or do you just want to annoy me?"
"Annoy you? But I consider you one of my friends!" Austonio's overly-gleeful demeanor lent a hint of menace to that phrase.
He was certainly not someone most would like to be friends with. Especially not if they had fire. Or bees.
"YES! You remind me of my old friend, Jordanio Georgio Machete Michel... Michelo... something... something... FIRE!"
"Yes... yes... we had a beautiful friendship. I stabbed him in the eye, and Nicholas feasted on him. Until I burned him, of course. Nicholas was so upset that I burned his food, he sulked for days... and then ran to me when the bees came."
You're up. And try not to let Austonio get under your skin. He's quite amusing. And he's up, too, so you can torture him however you like. Leo said
My host is as mad as Austonio. Wonderful.
Now that's hardly fair. He sounded almost insulted.
"As most of you may not have noticed, Billybob - the guy who insisted we call him Master - is no longer with us," Lloyd says, addressing the collected generals in the library, "Cadwalader, Celina, and I decided to do some investigating."
"We figured out that our hosts have more of an influence on us that we thought," Cadwalader says, "And Lloyd has copies of the list of who is hosting each of us. Our final findings were... concerning."
"What we found," Celina continues, "is that some hosts decide to leave us altogether. If this happens to one of our hosts, the general vanishes. We haven't determined how, and we probably won't."
Lloyd sends around the copies of the list he made, while the generals talk amongst themselves about how to proceed.
"Nicholas wants us to persuade them to stay," Austonio says, seeming sane for the moment.
"And how would we convince them? We can't do anything to them, and they can rewrite our realities here," Markus says.
"Well... we could use FIRE! or BEES!!! Or... or... maybe... BEES ON FIRE!!!!!"
Lloyd massages his head. This is going to be a long meeting...
“It's good of you to come,” Leo says, addressing the nine gathered generals in the mess hall. “Earlier, the only user you interacted with was me. However, many of the users who entered the tourney are now taking an active interest in you.”
Leo gestures to the door, where several other users have gathered, as usual hidden behind their cloaks. “Well, it’s time for you guys to just generally mingle and talk and stuff. The users will answer any questions you have. I’m quite aware of your... general curiosity about this place.”
He waves his hand in dismissal, and the generals get up and start to talk to the users while getting food. Leo looks directly at Lloyd.
Pull up a chair. You can learn a lot more by watching the generals and Users interact than you will from that book.
I don't know whether to hate you or congratulate you Lloyd thinks, moving his chair next to Leo’s.
I see you're getting the hang of the telepathy. And I think this move deserves both.
It's still unsettling to have a voice in my head.
“We’ll talk like normal people, then. And don't look so surprised - I like to mess with you, but I'd rather keep you sane,” Leo says, adding just a touch of scorn to the word “normal”, “But for now, let's examine what’s happening here.”
“Evans’ host doesn't like him,” Lloyd says. The very last thing he thought he'd be doing today was talking casually with Leo. When he wasn't trying to mess with his head, though, his host was fairly good company.
“Yes... most of the generals that aren’t doing too well have hosts that are irritated,” Leo says, “Except for Austonio and Drayco. I think he just put Austonio in to see if his particular brand of insanity is infectious.”
“Kenway’s doing fairly well, though his host seems irritated.”
“He didn't know Kenway was a drunk. He hides it well outside of an actual siege environment.”
“And why is he glaring at you every once in a while?”
“Because I didn’t tell him.”
“Yao and his host seem silent; it’s not that they’re avoiding each other, it’s like his host isn’t even there.”
“Yeah, ST hasn't been here much lately. Yao’s going to go the same way as Billybob.”
“Celina’s host seems to get along well with her, but she's not doing very well,” Lloyd says. He still can't believe he’s having a casual chat with Leo - and doing people watching, of all things.
“That’s because she had bad luck with match-ups. She went against you and Cadwalader first, and you're two of the three favourites.”
“Favorites? You mean you guys actually talk about us?”
“Yes. The tourney’s a subject of much discussion in Chat – that’s what the little lounge you've seen is called - and you, Cadwalader, and Markus are considered the top three.”
“I didn't know we were even a subject of discussion at all.”
“Considering this is a rather large space created for a rather long time - at least a year - there is a good deal of interest in it. Nothing quite like it has been done before on this scale.”
Lloyd pauses at that, not sure if Leo let that slip on purpose or not. They’ve done these types of tournaments before. A plan started to form in his head about how to use that information.
Don’t bother. You can still have your little meetings and such, but while we’re here you’re not going to be exploring the Wiki any more
“It’s what we call this place. And if I’m correct, there’s just enough time for you to go and have your match before your next meeting.”
“Well,” Yao said, addressing the generals before him, “Ryan, James Evans, and I have been exploring the area beyond the wall.”
“Leo says it's called ‘The Wiki,’” Lloyd says, “But sorry for interrupting.”
“Yes, so from what we've been able to figure out, the most common pastime in the... Wiki, was it?” Yao says. After a general nod, he continues. “The most common pastime in the Wiki seems to be creating warriors to fight against each other, much like we're doing now...”
Yao trails off, and gets an expression of absolute horror on his face before he vanishes.
“Damn. He actually did it,” Lloyd says, dumbfounded.
“Who did what?” Markus asks.
“Leo said Yao might be going the way of Billybob soon. And he did.”
“Well, this only makes things more dire,” Ryan says, standing up, “Evans has created a set of notes of the other mundane things we’ve found – like the name for the Users in yellow-trimmed cloaks or the powers and name for the ones in purple. Yao and I discovered something important, though.”
“Our hosts aren't as united as they seem. At least one user has expressed open dissatisfaction towards Leo, and he to the others. We have to find a way to use this.”
“Who was it?” Cadwalader asks.
“From what I saw, it seems to be Kenway's host.”
“Ah, yes, Leo did sound annoyed when mentioning him,” Lloyd says, “Though it was more the annoyance one feels for a fly than an actual nuisance. This is good to know, but it’s not an avenue we can use…”
The meeting continued for several hours, going nowhere.
Cadwalader stalked through a hallway, trying to figure out how to navigate around their hosts’ watchful eyes. He’d just finished strategizing with Lloyd in the library, with the man’s wine. If anyone were able to cut that off in a siege, they would have a far easier time. Not easy, by any stretch, but easier.
“Ooh, the patriot enters!”
Cadwalader sighed. Austonio was the very last person he wanted to encounter. “What do you want?”
“What I usually want. FIRE! But since I can’t have that, I’ll settle for being far from horses.”
“Can’t you do that elsewhere?”
“No more than you can be a patriot outside of Wales.”
Cadwalader stopped dead in his tracks. “You have a very odd notion of patriotism. And where the hell are there horses in here?”
“Horses are like really weird bees. They attack just when you think they’re not there. And shouldn’t a patriot be with their country rather than… hmm… here?”
“You seem to forget I had little choice in coming here”
“But you had all the choice in staying… weighing… neighing? Ohh, the horses are near!”
And with that, Austonio ran off, cackling.
Cadwalader watches him run off, bemused. For a madman, he really reads too much into things. He mused, But maybe that’s the point of being mad…
As he turns into the hallway that leads to the dining hall, he hears hooves galloping down a hallway.
Christian Kenway staggers back to his room, completely baked. He was fairly sure that… thing one of the green-trimmed red cloaks passed him may have had something to do with how he felt. What was in that roll, though, was nearly as good as the stuff the Hashashins had given him.
He heard a familiar prancing gait in the hall ahead of him.
“Ooh, and now the copycat enters the scene.”
“Hey Austonio. Wassup?”
“Trying to stay away from the horses. And the bees. But trying to get FIRE! I LOVE FIRE!”
“Ooh, you always do that. Stop it.”
“I… uh… wha..?”
“You always try to act like Lloyd! It’s creepy! Stop it!” Austonio says, with an exaggerated shiver.
“Eh..? No I don’t…”
“Oh, but yes, yes YES! You do! There’s the mercenary part, the name-changing, and even the drinking during planning. But he doesn’t get drunk, oh no. He drinks slowly. Like the bees with blood.”
Shengway takes a halfhearted swing at Austonio, and misses. “I’m hungry enough to eat a horse…” he mutters, and wanders off to the mess hall.
“If you can eat ALL the horses, I’d LOVE IT! I’d even give you some FIRE!”
Celina is meandering down some of the hallways, trying to find something to do; with their hosts watching them, there was little they could do but wait and fight. She hears someone prancing down the hallway and grimaces. There was only one person who walked like that, and meeting him was never fun.
“And noooww… the lying orphan is here!”
Celina took a step back, as if struck. She was prepared for his usual insanity, but this was different.
“Yes, yes… the dominating event. Everyone killed by… by… BEES! Yes, bees on horses. With FIRE!! LOTS OF FIRE!!!”
Celina took another step back, eyes growing wide with horror. The events of that day flashed before her eyes, as the remembered feeling of helplessness soaked in.
“But that’s just one part… What was the other? The bees? Mephistopheles?.. Oh, yes, the army. You always thought they betrayed you by kicking you out. But you made them ride horses! On those weird, creepy creatures! That’s a more basic betrayal of trust than disguising yoursel2f!”
Celina ran off, not wanting to deal with the madman any more than she had to. She also had a past to drown in alcohol.
Austonio watched her go, and then pranced off to find his cat. Nicholas was yelling about some horses this time; he had to be saved.
Markus Thoawan walked out of his room, intending to find something to eat. He chafed at the forced inactivity, but his host's presence effectively axed the possibility of doing something worthwhile.
"Ah, and now I see the man forgotten by his country!"
Markus groaned and turned to face the speaker.
"Austonio, I want to find something to eat. Not be driven mad. And Asaea has most definitely not forgotten me. I'm their top general, after all, and they helped the world recognize me as a Great Captain, after all."
"But no, no, NO! Your country is ENGLAND! Aseas's their colo... colonoscopy?"
"Colony. Yes. Asaea's their colony."
"But we've been governing ourselves for decades."
"And there it is! You're one of the... the... um.. one, two, three.. bee? Oh, not the bees. NOT THE BEES!"
Markus took a step back, startled.
"Ooh, ooh, FIVE! One of the five Great Captains. And England never gives you supplies. You'd think they'd kill ALL the horses and send you the extra food!"
Markus and Austonio walked into the mess hall, slightly bemused.
"Ah, and here we are. Austonio, are you going to try the bee soup?"
"No, no, NO! Not the bees."
"Today's the bee special. Everything is made with or contains bees."
Austonio turned and ran off in the other direction, screaming something about the bees being in his eyes. Markus shook his head and walked towards the tables full of food.
That's really too easy
James Evans is wandering through the hallways. Try as he might, he could not shake the feeling that he was being watched, save for today. Today, he feels like he is being stalked. As he hears a familiar prancing gait, he starts to think his instincts were correct.
"Now the vengeful orphan enters!"
Evans sighed. "And what do you want, Austonio?"
"I was just wondering when you'd start trying to avenge the fire your parents killed."
"I.. uh.. what? It was the Limey bastards who killed the fi... my parents."
"And you're here with two of them! Or are you acting like the horses and lying in wait?"
"There's no Englishmen here."
"Oh, but there are two. Cadwalader and Markus."
"But.. Cadwalader is Welsh and Markus is Asaean... Wales is not England. And neither is Asaea."
"So you're not like the horses. Or the bees. They're fearless!" Evans lashed out at the insult, striking Austonio square in the gut. "Close to home, old chap?"
Evans stalked off, trying to find a bottle of schnapps to kill. Preferably before he tried to kill Austonio.
Ryan the Dreaded sat down to eat. There had been precious little to do recently, and it was starting to wear on him. Thinking of new ways to cause pain grew dull when you had no way to try them out. He heard someone approaching. Someone unmistakeably insane.
Perhaps he'd be able to try his new methods after all.
"Next is the bloodthirsty pirate!"
"Austonio," Ryan smiled, "How nice to see you."
"How many did you send to die for this meal?"
"Not nearly enough."
They continued to eat in silence.
"How many more will you kill before you get a victory?"
Ryan looked up. Austonio looked as he always did; insane, and inscrutable.
"Now, listen, Austonio. I'm growing irritated with this. Now, I have some new torture techniques I've been wanting to try out - Lloyd & Markus are gold mines for those - and you may just be my next test subject."
Austonio just cackled.
"I knew we were friends!"
Lloyd walks back towards his table in the library, and the glass of wine he'd been drinking over the past few hours. He turned a corner and heard an all too familiar cackle behind him. "And finally the Injun mercen..."
Austonio cuts off as Lloyd's punch connects, hitting him square in the jaw. Lloyd follows up with a swift punch just under the ribcage, leaving Austonio gasping. "I don't have the time for this shit right now," he growls, "so it's a good idea to leave. Or I'll ask Leo to send horse-bee hybrids to torture you."
Would you do that even if I begged?
Hell, I might do it anyway. This will be most fun.
Lloyd and Cadwalader walk down a halway, trying to figure out what to do.
"We obviously can't do a thing right now," Lloyd says, "we just need to wait for them to slip up."
"Some of the others are talking about attacking them head on," Cadwalader replies, "If the present state of affairs lasts much longer, I'm inclined to agree with them."
"Attacking would be suicide." Lloyd sighs. "The only options at the moment are wait or die. I'm getting too old for this shit, but I still have a book to finish before I die."
"I have more grey in my hair than black. And even some of that is turning white. In any case, there's nothing we can do right now."
"For now. If we wait too long, though, one of us young people will lead a charge."
"Heh. Well, Leo and the others seem distracted lately. We should have our chance before long. There's one other thing I think we can look into."
"James Evans and Ryan are the most likely to do something drastic. Set them on it."
"Oh, and what the hell is up with Austonio lately?"
"Leo's tormenting him with horse bees. Sadistic bastard."
You suggested it, didn't you?
Lloyd leans back in his chair. "Well, there you have it," he says, addressing the pirate and the Irishman leaning on the bookshelf in front of him, "We need more information if we want to do anything, and figuring out their supply routes will allow us to take a step in the right direction."
"Where should we start?" Evans, the Irishman, asks, "Since out hosts are watching us, we need to do this quickly."
"I think there's a doorway to it in the mess hall across from the tunnel leading to the waiting area."
Ryan smiles at both of them, and claps Evans on the back. "Well, then, we'll go there. Come on, Evans, let's go break this siege."
As the two walk off, Lloyd takes another sip of his wine, not turning at the sound of prancing footsteps behind him.
"Oh ho ho, sending the least missable, are we?"
"Shut up, Austonio."
Ryan the Dreaded and James Evans sneak through the storeroom, trying to find where the supplies are brought in. Eventually, they find a small list titled "Needed Supplies"
"Well, there doesn't seem to be anything here," Ryan says, "Not entirely sure how this -" he cuts off as they hear footsteps approaching. Ducking behind a crate, RYan peers out around the side to spot Leo reading the list and materializing crates labeled with the contents.
Ryan creeps back, and motions Evans forward to take a look. Evans confirms Ryan's findings, and freezes as Leo's hood swivels towards him.
Ryan sneaks back to the mess hall, spotting Lloyd and sitting across from him.
"Like Billybob and Yao?"
"Yes, just like them. Though we found out how they get supplies."
"Leo just makes them."
"Damnit. I should have seen that coming."
I promised you an answer. Not that it would be helpful.
Markus Thaowan and Christian Kenway walk down a hallway to their match. Markus stays silent, waiting for Kenway to start talking. The mad had sought him out just before the summons were given.
"I think our hosts are easing up on their vigil," Kenway says. "I haven't seen them around as often, and I haven't seen Leo in two weeks. This is the longest break between matches we've had."
"And I think we can go exploring again."
"And finding the entrance? They're bound to have moved it."
"Leo strikes me as the type who wouldn't do so, just to see what we do."
"I'll let Cadwalader know after our match, and we can see if the doorway's still there."
"Before we can do anything we need to find the entrance again," Markus Thaowan says, "And for that, the best option is to follow one of our hosts."
"How do we decide which one," Christian Kenway asks, "Leo's out of the question for obvious reasons."
"True... let's each pick a host at random and follow them. And one other thing - I've informed Cadwalader, but we can't tell Lloyd until we find the entrance again. Leo's got some sort of link to his mind, and we can't risk him changing it around."
"Good idea. Let's do it."
"And I tell the man, I tell him- the expansion of the predatory strain of the Apis mellifera is perhaps the greatest trouble we face in the continued expansion of our culture." Austonio theorized as he sipped elegantly on a cup of tea.
"Quite, quite, good sir." Nodded Drayco, his host.
"And he simply looked at me as if I were consuming my own trousers." The man placed the emptied cup on the table between them, before reaching for the pot to pour another round.
"You see Austonio, this is why I like you- you're a man of clarity and vision. These barbarians and sociopaths in your company, they don't understand the burden we men of science carry- is that not right, Nicholas" The host continued, addressing the cat.
Austonio's pet cat wandered up to the nearby empty chair, crawling into its cushion before sitting upright, reaching for his own cup. "Of course, if these brutes could simply piece together the basics of what we were telling them, they would realize that they could minimize the threat of the mellifera if they simply used fire to burn them out." The cat paused to bring the cup of tea up to its shockingly human face.
"This tea is purr-fect, Drayco. Purr-fect. Because I am a cat. Ha."
"An excellent pun, Nicholas of Cage." Drayco chuckled. "If only we could force the others to realize the value and beauty of flame."
Outside, Lloyd and Marcus walked down the hallway talking about Celina’s disappearance in hushed tones, until the sight within caught Marcus' eye. "Is...that Austonio?" Markus asked peering into the dark room. Confused, Markus opened the door slightly, asking the man if he was okay, only to quickly shut the door and continue walking at a quickened pace.
"So wha-" Lloyd began, only to be interrupted by his colleague
"He was shouting something about 'The Goddamn Bees' and looked to be drinking gunpowder, I firmly suggest we not ask and keep moving."
"As good a policy as any with that one." Lloyd shrugged.
Markus Thaowan and Christian Kenway sneak behind their hosts, entering the small section of corridor marking the transition between their area and that of their hosts. At the crossroads, they took the right path, leading towards the area they had previously called “The Arena.” Entering, they see a massive corridor filled with doors, along with an input device on the wall labeled “Search”.
“So now that we’re here, any plan?” Kenway asks.
“Well, a good start is that one place Lloyd, Celina, and Cadwalader went to when Billybob vanished.”
“Do you remember what it was called? I see some sort of search function.”
“Yes. I have that list thingy Lloyd gave us...” Markus takes out the paper and starts typing in the title. The length of the corridor shortens and number of doors lessens as he types, until only one is left. “And this should be it.” They enter the room and take a look around, reading everything they find. As they do so, a revelation slowly dawns on Markus. “By God,” he says, “They didn’t pull us from time. They made us from scratch.”
“Memories and all. None of us existed before this, and likely none of us will afterwards. It explains some of the anachronisms, but… this is just sick and twisted.” Markus turns to the door and kicks it open. “We’re telling everyone. I’m going to call a meeting as soon as we get back.”
The pair hurry out, still struggling to grasp the implications.
All six of the remaining generals gather around a table in the library, looking at Markus expectantly. He had called them all to a meeting because he claimed to have something very important to share. He stood up, gathered himself, and then spoke.
“None of us are real.”
Naturally, this caused quite a stir.
“Please explain,” Lloyd says, “I think we all would like to know exactly what the hell you’re talking about.”
“Kenway and I tailed one of our hosts out of our little area and went scouting,” he says, “We decided to look at that blog you had mentioned when Billybob disappeared in more detail. It turns out we were created specifically for this tournament. We weren’t pulled from time, we were created. Memories and all.”
“Well. That explains some things,” Lloyd says to break the stunned silence, “but leaves some more questions. Were you able to figure out why they made us, and why they decided to give us memories and interact rather than just putting us straight into the sieges?”
“Their entertainment,” Markus replies, “That’s the answer to both. The next question is what do we do now?”
“We fight, of course,” Cadwalader says, “They’ve got no right to treat us like this.”
“And how do you propose we beat them?” Ryan asks. “We’ve spent most of these last few months simply figuring out that they’re pretty much omnipotent.”
“They’re powerful, but not omnipotent. At the very least, they’re not omniscient. They need to be aware of something first, and that may take a while.”
“How’d you figure that, Lloyd?”
“I have a direct link to Leo’s mind. Do you really think I’d pass up such a good information source? After Celina disappeared, Leo implied that her host had left a bit beforehand, along with a little grumbling about his ‘normal life’ interfering with…” Lloyd trailed off, staring into space. “We can fight. We can probably win, depending on our first target. There are a few who can give and take measures of control. If we take one of them down first… we can take their power for ourselves.”
“And do what with it?” Kenway asks.
“Burn ALL the bees! And ALL the horses! And EVERYTHING ELSE!” Austoio says, cackling.
“We’ll cross the bridge when we come to it,” Cadwalader says, “But I think we may be best served keeping it away from Austonio. I suggest we try and take Leo out first – he’s the most dangerous to us right now, due to the whole mind link thing.”
“Agreed,” Markus says, “And everyone else?”
The rest of the generals nod in agreement.
“Good,” Markus continues, “We should gather information first. Let’s send in a scouting party. Tail Leo from chat, figure out his defenses and such. Should be Cadwalader and I – Lloyd would give us away due to the mind link, and we’re the other Great Captains here. We’re the best qualified.”
“Agreed,” Cadwalader says, “And I think it’s best if we go prepare.”
“Before we leave,” Lloyd says, “Give me a list of weapons. Two per person, and nothing too large. I’ll sneak them into the supply list and nab ‘em for us when they’re made.”
The generals all write down their favored weaponry and depart.
<span style="color:Red">0 Months, 0 Days, 18 Hours.</span>
<span style="color:Red">1 Month, <RNG> Days, <RNG> Hours. </span>
<span style="color:Red">2 Months, <RNG> Days, <RNG> Hours. </span>
<span style="color:Red">3 Months, <RNG> Days, <RNG> Hours.</span>
<span style="color:Red">End of Siege</span>
Siege Tourney Report CardEdit
|Name||Total Points||Possible Points||Score||Grade||Battles Left||Comments|
|Lloyd Kumar||22||22||100%||A||7||Great Captain|
|Cadwalader Owain Jones||20||22||91%||A||7||Great Captain|
|Tian Sheng / Christian Kenway||18||22||82%||B||7||Likely to drop rapidly. Over half remaining battles are against a Great Captain.|
|Markus Thaowan||10||22||63%||B||7||Great Captain. Likely to rise rapidly - most of his matches were against the other Great Captains|
|James Evans||10||16||63%||D||10||Very poorly equipped for attacking; still has many battles left.|
|Austonio||8||20||40%||F||8||Shit's crazy, bro.|
|Ryan||7||18||39%||F||9||Terribly equipped for anything.|
|Total Siege Time:||0 Decades||3 Years||10 Months||22 Days||5 Hours||4 Minutes|