Three contests have been waged, three warriors walked away victorious while another three were defeated. Mei Fong of the Crimson Phoenix and Hangul of the Nura clan were the final match of the quarter-finalists. The masked warrior towered over Mei, but her twinned blades were lit aflame, and her determination only continued to grow.
Mei Fong and Hangul stood at the center of the dimly lit room, dangling iron chains from the ceiling with a large opening for the light to break through and illuminate the arena. Mei already summoned her flames to her side when the elven moderator signaled the start of the match. She charged first toward her foe, hoping to defeat him in a single stroke. The flames grew larger, enough to engulf anything by the fire. The entire half of the arena became a column of the orange blaze, a loud roar echoed deep within the underground chambers. Mei stood and waited for the flames to quell, but instead of the ashes of the fallen, Hangul stood unharmed. In fact, it almost seemed as if the warrior grew in stature with the flames.
Hangul gave a small chuckle as the flames died down.
“I must apologize, I did not mean to show disrespect. Fate was unkind to you, milady. I will defeat you now.”
As the last of the flames faded, Hangul seemed to continue to grow in size, whereas before he was close to seven feet tall, now he stood nearly ten feet. His arms and legs grew to match the size change, his muscles became well defined and massive. The white mask he had worn fell off to reveal a wicked one with small horns and a dark reddish hue. His yellow eyes were fixed onto Mei Fong, who had already braced herself for whatever onslaught awaited her. Hangul roared and galloped through the arena with both fists in the air, Mei barely had time to react to their speed as they impacted the stone floor. While she dodged the initial impact, Hangul did not falter and carried the momentum with a backswing, which she blocked with both blades, but the force sent her backward to the edge.
“As a seedling from the depths of the Nine Hells, fire does not harm me. In fact, it empowers me. The more flames thrown at me, the more I consume, turning it against you.”
“You want more flames, you will have your wish.” Mei Fong sighed. Her tactics up until now where only a measure of her real strength, channeling the flames of the Crimson Phoenix, but this was no longer a place one could expect to hold back. Not anymore.
By a large force, she slammed the blades into the arena; she brought her hands together to form a meditative posture with her eyes closed. The surrounding air began to feel warm, creating a wind from the temperature change. When Mei opened her eyes again, they were filled with an orange glow, unlike anything anyone has seen her display since her arrival at the monastery. Her hands and arms became part of an intricate dance, molding her ki as trails of flames sparked at her fingertips.
“About time,” Beren remarked.
“It has been many years since I’ve fought against one from the Crimson Phoenix clan, there are not many of you left. It will be my honor to defeat you.” Hangul smirked and cracked his oversized knuckles in anticipation.
Mei Fong readied herself and beckoned the enlarged demon forward. The oversized half-demon lunged forward at Mei with both fists raised to deliver a massive blow, but she merely deflected the weight of his attacks to create openings of her own. A flaming uppercut to the chin with a sharp right kick to follow it. Hangul tried to claw at her but was met with a series of powerful, thunderous kicks to the chest. Each impact was loud, and flames would jet from her feet, sending Hangul to the other side of the arena. The flames began to emanate from her hands and legs now, almost like a mantle of its own.
“There it is, the legacy of the Crimson Phoenix.” Beren smiled.
Hangul came back to his feet, covered in smoke but nevertheless unharmed. Large spikes began to emerge on his back and parts of his arms, possibly a reaction to the flames, or perhaps he was excited about the match. It is hard to know except for the half-demon.
“Time for me to become the real Demon of the Nura clan,” Hangul promised.
“Then come,” Mei Fong provoked. The flames instantaneously became a cloak with wings of fire burning behind her.
The sound of bone cracking and muscle twisting, the shape of Hangul continued to evolve and warp until there was tiny left of a humanoid form and only the primal visage of bloodlust. His horns were long and curled to the back of his head, he stood at least twelve feet tall now, he even had a tail too.
“Ah yes, the Coat of the Phoenix is what I believe your people referred to this technique. I shall savor defeating you.” Hangul’s tail lashed and broke pieces of the stone arena.
“I must prevail, for the honor of my clan and those who unjustly slain. I will become the Mantle.” A jet of white flame emerged from Mei’s right hand, almost in the shape of a blade.
The audience stood in awe of the two’s display, but Beren only continued to smile. “She is indeed, full of surprises. Not just the Coat of the Phoenix, but the White Blade of Heaven, too? That is a true heir right there.”
Mei took the flaming blade and took her stance, ready for the raging demon. Hangul charged, but faster than before with those insidious claws. Her memories of her mentorship under the great masters in the monastery of her youth, the lessons she learned, and the ancient texts should found across many abandoned ruins. There was one technique, one cut that could break any guard and shatter any defense. The divine cut, she thought. She let her body move on its own, embrace the flames and promise of victory. The divine light of righteous would be her guide, so she believed. It finished in an instant, the half-demon was engulfed in white flames and screamed while he burned. Once silence fell, Mei, looked over at the remaining three warriors, knowing that she would face them all soon. The elf moderator declared Mei Fong the victor and informed them that there was a short recess to allow them all to recuperate.
The four of them were escorted out of the flame ridden dungeon and found themselves back in the lonely tower in the middle of the mountain peaks. Shiro walked off on his own to bask in the icy winds while Beren, Jade Tiger, and Mei rested in the lobby.
“For what it’s worth, I wish you well and that we shall have an honest fight.” Jade Tiger extended his feline hand to Mei Fong, she smiled and gladly shook it.
“Just try and not use that white flame on me, if possible.”
“I cannot hold any promises, but an honest battle, you shall you receive.” Mei smiled.
“Speaking of honest battle, I think it’s time you told us the truth.” Jade Tiger glared over at Beren.
“Where do I begin,” he sighed.
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