In the middle of the ocean sits an arena. A circle of limestone tiles, roughly forty meters across, that has over the years witnessed the bloodshed of a thousand battles. The arena has watched men die and watched men learn what it truly means to live.
On a calm Sunday evening, in the twilight of June, the arena watches as two men wait, silent, for the chaos to begin. Figuratively, of course. Arenas are not sentient, and are severely lacking in eyes, meaning that they struggle to watch things. But, I digress. Our story begins with two men standing on opposite sides of the arena.
I suppose it would be wise to describe the two men. The men standing on opposing sides of the arena are, despite their similar circumstances, extremely different. This difference is apparent at a glance. On the northern half of the arena stands a gargantuan man. His arms, cannons, his demeanor, calm. Across from him is his opponent, a man of average height and a lean build who looks like a twig, ready to be stepped on. Needless to say, the twig man is terrified.
The goliath is named Marek Kysely. He is thirty-five years old, speaks two languages, has brown hair, hazel eyes, weighs 146 kilograms, and enjoys long walks on the beach. He is also one of the most dangerous men alive. Kysely sports a black leather vest, black jeans, black steel-toed boots, and a black tattoo on each shoulder. On his right shoulder, rose petals. On his left, clouds and lightning.
His head is covered by a steel helmet. The kind of helmet that templar knights once wore. As you can guess, the helmet is painted black. Partially obscured by the helmet is a bandana wrapped around his throat. The bandana’s color, I feel, needs not be explained.
Attached to each of Kysely’s wrists is an oversized ball and chain. The kind that, once upon a time, were used to keep convicted criminals from running away. The weights weigh around thirty kilograms each and the chains are around twenty-one meters long. Most men would be unable to even move with the weights chained to their wrists. Kysely’s chains are not for imprisoning him. They are his greatest weapons.
When our story begins, it has been fourteen months since someone called Kysely by his real name. Terrified onlookers have called him many things. Monster. Giant. The Black Knight. The Big Scary Guy. However, one name stands out above all others. A name given to Kysely by the organizers of this fight. Heavyweight. A fearsome name for a fearsome man. The name of a warrior. In reality, Heavyweight doesn’t care what people call him. He doesn’t care about a lot of things, actually.
Heavyweight’s opponent is named Maoilios Lupei. His friends call him Mao. The Tournament staff call him Helios. He, unlike his opponent, actually cares what people call him. He cares about a lot of things, actually. He cares about his looks, so he sports a well-groomed beard on his chiseled chin. He cares about his clothes, so he wears an expensive custom-made space suit. Most importantly, he cares about his reputation. Over the years he has strived to portray himself to the masses as fearless, classy, and charismatic. So, despite his immense terror, he waves to the crowd, basking in the glory of his false bravado.
His suit is sleek, light, and shiny. It is made of interlocking orange plates, with white trim around their edges. Said plates are crafted from magically strengthened woven carbon, making the suit light and flexible while still retaining its durability. Attached to the suit’s shoulders are two guns, each pointed towards the sky. Attached to Helios’s wrists are small flamethrowers and attached to his boots are small rockets. On his back lie two cylindrical generators that power the suit. Finally, he, like Heavyweight, wears a helmet. Unlike Heavyweight, his helmet leaves a clear screen over his face, showing his dazzling good looks off to the entire world.
It would take the average person a dozen lifetimes to earn enough money to afford Helios’s suit. This greatly contrasts Heavyweight, whose clothes seem shoplifted and whose helmet and weights look homemade.
Despite the expensive weaponry he wields, Helios is still nervous. He knows, deep down, that his destiny hangs on whether or not he can win this fight. Heavyweight stands completely still. He knows that he will win. There is nothing more terrifying than seeing a man who is free from fear.
A bell rings, shattering the silence of the arena. The guns that rest on Helios’s shoulders lower and take deadly aim at Heavyweight. They shoot blasts of fire, hot enough to vaporize most men. Heavyweight just stands there. He doesn’t run, doesn’t try to protect himself, he just stands there, accepting the onslaught of flame. His vest caramelizes on his chest, his jeans light aflame, the bandana incinerates, and he still just stands there.
And he is absolutely fine. When the smoke clears, Heavyweight, minus the vest and bandana, is almost exactly as he was when the battle started. The only sign of any injury is a small trickle of blood emerging from his throat and dripping down onto his chest. He grabs the middle of one of his chains with his right arm and raises it skyward. He spins his arm, swinging the weight in a circle. Then he releases it, sending the weight flying towards Helios.
Helios, despite his name and weapon choice, is frozen. The shock of realizing what he’s facing breaks him, leaving him immobile. Then, right before the weight hits him, something happens in his brain. The wires in his mind click together, and his fight or flight response activates. He decides to try a little of both.
He leaps to the side, out of the way of the weight, and activates his rocket boots, taking to the sky. Well, not to the sky. To a higher part of the forcefield dome encasing the arena. Helios flies above Heavyweight and begins levitating near the top of the dome to stay far from his opponent’s weapons, using his flamethrowers to keep his balance. At this point, I should mention a slightly inconvenient thing about the arena’s dome. The highest point in the dome is only twenty meters above the ground. And, as previously stated, Heavyweight’s chains are slightly longer.
One of the weights flies near Helios’s head, nearly hitting him. Down on the ground, Heavyweight is angry. Well, angrier than normal. He hates when his prey try to flee. He hates a lot of things, actually. Helios, on the other hand, hates the prospect of being hit in the face with Heavyweight’s heavy weights and flies quickly around the top of the dome to avoid them. Heavyweight swings his weights at Helios, again and again. Helios responds by activating his guns and raining fire down on Heavyweight. The paint on Heavyweight’s helm begins to char and falls to the ground in flakes. His chains turn a faint orange from the heat.
One fights from the sky, another from the ground. The two are seemingly evenly matched. It stands to reason, however, that one would eventually falter. A weight comes close to hitting Helios in the face, right as he fires his guns. The fireball impacts the chain. The chain, already weakened by the heat, breaks, sending the weight tumbling down to the ground. Helios regains his confidence. He has finally accomplished something in his battle against Heavyweight. Unfortunately, seconds later, the other weight hits Helios in the foot, sending him plummeting to the ground.
His rocket breaks and his foot shatters. He lies close to Heavyweight. Too close. Heavyweight walks towards him and pulls his fist back. Helios panickedly activates his flamethrowers and remaining rocket boot and is thrown out of the way. The punch destroys the tiles it hits, leaving a small crater. Helios tries to stand up but falls to his knees. His foot is too busted to support pressure.
Heavyweight turns and looks at Helios. Unable to stand, unable to fly. Unable to run. Unable to fight. Heavyweight pulls one of his chains close, throws the weight in the air, and punches it at Helios as it comes back down. As he does this, Helios activates his flamethrowers, using their force to keep him upright. The second he reaches a standing position he is hit in the ribs. He falls to the ground. Again.
Heavyweight walks over to Helios, intent on finishing the job. Helios activates his remaining rocket and slides across the floor through Heavyweight’s legs. He spins around, carefully aiming to deliver a powerful strike. Helios delivers a rocket-powered kick to the side of Heavyweight’s head, creating a loud clang that echoes through the arena. Said kick breaks his foot and only momentarily throws Heavyweight off balance.
Helios tries to fly up again, but Heavyweight grabs him by the foot, holding him down. Heavyweight redirects Helios, causing him to rocket headfirst into the wall of the arena. Then, Heavyweight ends it. He swings the broken chain at Helios, and it wraps around his neck. Heavyweight pulls back, bringing Helios towards him, and punches him in the face.
Helios lies on the floor of the arena with two broken feet and a shattered faceplate. One of his eyes is swollen and releases a steady stream of blood. He struggles to retain consciousness. Heavyweight’s only problem is a charred vest and a helmet in desperate need of a paint job.
Then a bell rings, and the two disappear in a blue light. Once again, the arena is silent. It lies virtually unchanged from the ordeal, aside from a few broken tiles, a bit of blood, and a severed stone weight.
On a tiny rock orbiting an average sized star in a mostly insignificant galaxy, something outstanding happened. Life sprung into existence. Only the second kind in all of existence. That rock, as you may have guessed, was the planet Earth.
While the planet Earth’s inhabitants started out small, they slowly grew to be something great. They transformed into millions of unique species and spread across their tiny world.
One species rose above all others and conquered the lands. Not the strongest, or the fastest, or even the most populous. The conquering species made up for what they lacked in physical prowess with intelligence, creativity, and determination. The conquerors named themselves man.
There are a few things you need to understand about humans. Humans are, at their core, violent little creatures. They are extremely determined and willing to risk everything in the pursuit of happiness. They are creative, rebellious, and insane. Most of all, they are dangerous. They love fighting, more than anything else in the world. In the beginning, as mankind struggled to survive, they fought the rock’s other inhabitants. Then surviving became trivial, leaving them with little else to do but fight each other. And, being humans, they got very good at fighting each other. They invented swords and spears and guns and bows and bombs and thousand other weapons for the sole purpose of slaying one another.
In the year mankind denoted as 2072 AD, a god fell from the heavens, bringing with her magic, a powerful tool that can be used to rewrite reality to the wielder’s will. With this new power, the world descended into chaos. After fifty years of war and fifty years of peace, the worldwide government created a fighting Tournament for the world’s deadliest warriors, wizards, and weirdos.
The idea was simple. Instead of armies killing and destroying each other, mankind would channel it’s destructive impulses into one on one duels. The prize for this Tournament was simple: One wish, magically granted by a god. A prize that most people are willing to kill for.
In 2192 the first Tournament commenced. Due to its success, humanity decided that a new Tournament would be held every three years. Our story begins in 2234, at the beginning of the Fourteenth Triennial Golden Valhalla Tournament. The final Tournament.