The Chromo Gyamdre is drawing to a close. Jade Tiger and Mei Fong learned some bits of Beren’s past and his ties with the Golden Spear clan. The next round of combat was about to begin, Mei Fong and Jade Tiger prepared themselves for their turn while Beren rested and waited for the call against the dreaded Shiro of the Black Frost. 

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The waiting room was octagonal in shape, red beams crossed over the ceiling, and there were several lounge chairs with benches for the contestants to rest. Jade Tiger and Mei Fong sat at opposite corners of the room, checking their equipment and weapons. Out of mutual respect for each other, the two decided to prepare separately. A distant gong sounded the beginning of the semifinals. Shiro, the Black Frost, emerged from an undisclosed hallway and met the trio in front of the elf moderator.

The elf greeted each with a stern, emotionless face.

“Greetings, as you are aware, the victors from these remaining contests will advance to the final round. Items will be permitted, so I suggest you prepare what sort of trinkets you have. The rulings will remain the same, you are declared the victor if you knock your opponent out of the arena for an extended period of time, if you knock your opponent unconscious, if your opponent surrenders, or if your opponent is pronounced dead. The Chromatic Lords are beyond these halls, they shall observe you while you continue your bouts. Good luck, and may the gods be with you.”

The four warriors nodded with understanding. The elf bowed and escorted the through the red arched hallway. Whatever magic the tower possessed, space seemed to always twist and extend the further they went down the corridor. After several minutes had passed, they emerged to an enormous octagonal room, at least four times larger than the previous room.

Sitting opposite of the entryway, the five Chromatic Lords on a raised dais. In front of them, a white, marbled square rested with another elf moderator standing at the center. The moderators both wore dispassionate faces; confined and bound by a sacred duty that none could escape, Beren thought.

The Red King rose from his seat to address the warriors, the moderators, and his fellow lords and lady.

“The stage has been set, destiny awaits one of you. There is no fairness in war, while you shall be granted a measure of it, we five, hold the final say. To wield a mantle means more than your fighting prowess, it demands a commendable spirit. We shall test your spirit here before the mantle itself decides whether you are worthy or not.”

The giant armored knight sat down, and the sound of another faraway gong signaled the first match: Shiro, the Black Frost, and Beren, the Lost Son of the Golden Spear.

The two meet in the middle of the arena, Beren could feel the gentle cold breeze as if they were back in the mountain peaks from earlier. The young man’s demeanor had shifted considerably since he entered the platform, determined would be a word. Mei Fong and Jade Tiger now knew the truth of Beren’s heritage, but none were prepared with that was uttered next.

“It’s been a while, I had hoped to find you again,” Beren began.

“Do we know each other?” Shiro twirled his dark hair, while wisps of snow and ice formed along his fingertips.

“I was younger back then, but I can never forget a face. Especially one as smug as yours. We met along ago, near a small village with a monastery, it was midsummer when I passed through the entrance and found you among a sea of dead bodies.”

There was a long pause before the very air became trapped by the golden aura emanating from Beren. A swirling whirlwind of yellow light began to blossom to the point that it covered half of the stone arena. It stopped until it met Shiro, where a dark mist began to pour from the dark-haired warrior.

“I remember now. A lone warrior in a black cloak, wielding a spear made of light. But there was more to it, I felt it then, and I feel it now. Last time, I was caught off-guard, but now that I recall our last encounter. I won’t make the same mistake, especially when I mastered a technique to overcome my weakness. I shall kill you, for the humiliation you brought to that day. I wish to know what secrets you acquired from the Crimson Phoenix that faithful day.”

Mei Fong’s heart skipped a beat. What did he say? The memory of that faithful day returned, the figure in a dark cloak, and destruction that was left to her beloved monastery. The image of the broken bodies of her fellow students and masters. Everything she knew and loved was snuffed by the flames of hatred and vengeance, it led her here to this tournament and into the lives of Beren and Jade Tiger. Now, she wanted answers.

Beren remained silent but shifted his posture, poised to strike the Black Frost. Shiro smiled, shards of frozen air encircled him like a barrier. Beren charged forward, his right fist charged with energy and golden light which was met by a frozen claw from Shiro. Several blows were exchanged between the two before they broke off and landed on opposite sides. Beren noticed quickly that ice began to form on his arms, legs, and shoulders.

Shiro turned with a sinister smile. “A gift, the Curse of the Black Frost. By the end of this contest, I will carve out your frozen heart.”

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