Chapter One: A Match Made In Hell

How did I get here... And who the hell are all these people? I looked around to see various people of clearly different cultures standing around the room. There were eight others in the room, and most of them seemed to be associated with one other person standing there... But that would make me the odd one out... That's strange...

"Die!" Shrieked a woman's voice from behind me. Luckily for me I'm skilled in sneak attacks, so I knew just how to avoid my demise. I grabbed my assailant's wrist and tugged it so she went flying. You know, she wasn't very strong-looking, more like one of those frail and gentle to a fault type of people, it was no surprise she failed so miserably in her attempt. I extended my sword and placed the blade on her shoulder.

"Heh, pathetic..." I mumbled, "You got nerve, girl, attacking me from behind like that. Normally I would've killed you on the spot. But I'll let you live... this time..." I then took my sword back and looked at the others in this strange place, all of which had looks of disgust and confusion.

I looked at the girl again, who was attempting to get back on her feet after the failed attempt. Something about her seems familiar... But I've seen plenty of women before, so there's not really much to take out of that. Its these other people who look and dress like no one I've ever seen before that have me confused. I was especially intimidated by the eldest man holding the gigantic axe. Seeing as the least threatening person here just tried to attack me, I'll take it I can't safetly assume any of these people to be an ally, if I take it for granted I'll end up dead...

Everyone seemed to be communicating in small groups of two, everyone except for me and the girl, at least. Do these people know each other? And I still have no clue where in the world I could possibly be...

Slowly, everyone seemed to leave the room to explore their surroundings. Everyone went off in pairs, leaving me standing alone with that girl not far off, giving me a death stare. I decided swiftly that hanging around near her wasn't going to prove beneficial, so I walked away with the intention to explore this new and unfamiliar place.

I walked down a flight of stairs, double checking behind me that the crazy girl wasn't following me still... Man she gives me the creeps. I reached the bottom and discovered an egg shaped machine that was displaying some sort of rules, but I never was big on reading or following the rules so I ignored it. I kept walking only to find a dead end, and the seemingly youngest of the strangers, those tribal-looking ones. I approached them carefully, boasting my blade to assert the fact that I could cut them to pieces if they tried anything funny.

"T-this isn't our country!" Cried the boy to the taller girl... It didn't take a genius to realize that he was out of place. He looked at me, with horror in his eyes, and begged, "Did you bring us here?"

"Ha! That's a good one, kid, as if I know what's going on." I laughed, rolling my eyes. This is all new to me too, so let's not go pointing fingers left and right." I growled. We're all confused, but this kid isn't thinking rationally at all. "And just who are you?" I demanded of the girl accompanying the little brat.

"My name is Eluca, and this is Zhamo. We don't know why we were brought here, we just know that this place is unlike anything we could have seen or imagined... This is like nothing on earth... yet we ruled out the possibility that the world ended...

"Clearly... Seeing as we're not dead..." I grunted in a matter-of-fact tone.

"Though I still find it strange that everyone seemed to stop moving just moments before we came here..." She hissed back at me, scowling.

That happened to me too... This is too weird to be true, there is no logical rhyme or reason right now. Just 10 people from clearly different backgrounds brought together.

I ignored the lack of reality in our predicament. I think I can trust that these people have no intention of hurting me... Yet... "The world froze for me too... I don't know what's going on here, but I can't shake the feeling that we're being watched..."

Eluca nodded, "Yes, I too get that same sensation, I feel a dark presence in the air..."

"Eluca... I'm scared..." Zhamo whispered, seemingly trying to avoid my overhearing. "This can't be good, there is no where to go... I've never felt so trapped before..."

"Well I have a bone to pick with whoever did bring us to this place... Maybe they can let me out." I said, smirking.

"How can you actually be so calm?" Zhamo cried, "You don't even know where you are!"

"And exactly what good is being scared going to do us? None! So even if you are helpless, at least try to act capable. Try to make use of yourself and don't whine."

Eluca glared at me, "I don't agree with his wording, but the man has a point. This isn't the time to be a sitting duck, we need to take initiative."

"Damn straight we do..." I hissed, "This situation isn't going to revolve itself, so unless you have anything important to say, I'm out of here."

I don't know what's going on here, nor do I know any of these people... Except for Escher... I wish I could finish him right now, but I should probably assess the situation first. Standing here is going to do me no good at all... And waiting for him to come back is equally as pointless...

I made my way down the stairs opposite of that demon and found myself in a very similar room where I saw four of the others. I figured it would be wise to talk to them and see if they know what's going on here. I made my way over to the eldest of everyone, and the woman who appeared to be his wife. However, when I tried to talk to them I was greeted with ignorance...

"What do you want?" said the man. The intimidation he presented was unbearable.

"Uh... Nothing, I'm sorry, sir." I managed, despite my voice shaking, I had no intention of getting on this giant's bad side, so I moved on to the other "pair"... I find it strange that everyone here is in pairs... Only me and that fiend seem to be alone... Does this mean Escher and I are a pair?... I shudder to think about what we need to be in groups of two for...

The young man looked my way and greeted me, "Hello, my name is Ayuta, and this is Princess Mana." He seemed much friendlier, and the girl with him looked very gentle.

"My name is Musiea, nice to meet you." I smiled back, I didn't feel like I had to worry about these two.

"Hello, Musiea. Do you happen to know anything about why we're here? We were going to ask around... but no one here seems very personable." Mana frowned.

"I'm sorry," I replied, "but I'm still trying to figure that out myself."

Ayuta gave me a look of disappointment, "Don't worry about it... I just worry because it seems everyone here seems to be a skilled fighter of some sort... I mean that man over there is enormous. And that girl with the double bladed sword... and that man who you tried to kill... I'm but a mere stablehand and she is a Princess... it seems that we were brought here to fight, yet we are certainly not prepared for battle."

"Yes, it seems... strange..." Mana added tearfully, "I wish we were back home... I have a betrothal, and my mother and my father must be worried sick... I want to know what's going on..."

"I wish I could tell you..." I replied, I sympathized with her... She's not the only one who has those she's worried about back home. I wonder how the children are doing... Alone, scared, with no one to protect them... I blame this on Escher... If he hadn't come along then I wouldn't have to worry about the well being of the orphans...

Ayuta gave a dirty look to something behind my back, "Don't look now, but that guy is back... Don't go near him you two..." He grabbed his swords, and for someone who claims to be a mere stablehand, he looks like he'd be rather skilled, judging by how he held them.

I turned, and there he was, Escher, he seemed to be attempting to talk to the intimidating man, with about as much as success as Ayuta and I.

"Don't think I won't cut you down right here on the spot, old man!" He hissed, sword at full extent, pointed at the man's nose. Is he a moron? That man could tear him apart, I mean the size of his axe alone should be enough reason to leave him alone.

"Firstly," the man responded, "Our names are Olgar and Vahti. Secondly-" He was cut short by a terrifying voice...

"Warriors of the world, come to the main hall at once. Do not disobey."

Olgar glared back at Escher and continued, as if that eerie voice didn't just summon us all... "What's your name, boy?"

"The name is Escher... Learn to fear it old man." He laughed, grinning that hideous grin.

"Well, Escher, I'd be careful if I were you... You may be in over your head." Olgar warned, smirking, "But if you're as good as you say you are then I look forward to seeing you in action."

"You sound like you know something... Care to share?" Escher hissed, staring the older man down. Of course the most foolish of us all gets the man's attention...

"That will wait for a later time, for now, let's return the to the main hall, shall we?" Olgar replied, "Just don't do anything foolish until you know more, you look like the type who will act prematurely and cause problems for themselves... Don't let that be your downfall."

"Ha! Whatever old man, say what you will. Just don't get in my way or I'll cut you down."

It seemed everyone was finally gathered in the place where we all stood initially. I want to know where that voice came from... That must've been who brought us here... Oh well, just one more person for me to hack away at...

"Welcome warriors, I am The Agent..." Said the terrible voice, where was it coming from? I didn't like this one bit...

A cloud of black smoke appeared and our from it a monstrous figure, like nothing I've ever seen before. I would be lying if I said I wasn't slightly frightened by it. From the whole dark armor to the skeletal face... If this is a human, he's put a lot of time into this costume...

"Escher and Musiea...

Zhamo and Eluca...

Garrick and Alto...

Ayuta and Mana...

Olgar and Vahti..."

The room seemed to shake with each word he pronounced. I could see the fear in Zhamo's eyes, all of the girls were horrified. The only ones who seemed unfazed were Olgar and Vahti... I have to hand it to them, they're more impressive than they look, that's for sure...

I made eye contact with that crazy girl again, then both of us looked away... I'm presuming that's Musiea... But why would I be lumped with that? Ugh...

"Each of you has been summoned here to take place in a tournament. The prize for victory? Immortality and eternal youth."

My eyebrows perked up, eternal life AND youth? Hah! Now he's got my attention!

"But you are not yet ready to fight... Each team must work together and find two rings to continue on to the first round of battle. You are to remain with your partner at all times. Likewise, you cannot refuse to fight or fight prematurely, or you will be eliminated."

Seriously? We have to play scavenger hunt first? On the other hand... I doubt it would be beneficial to deny this thing what it wants...

"Why have you brought us here?" Zhamo cried, "Why do we have to fight?"

If you want to know why you fight, you must first fight. It's that simple. The answers will be revealed for those who earn the right to know.

Eluca shook her head, "This whole thing seems a little strange... You wouldn't just go around offering this sort of thing... Where are we, and what is the place built for?" She demanded.

"Who cares why we fight?" I intervened, "With a prize like that, that should be all the reason you need to fight!"

"That's the other thing..." Said the knightly looking guy. "Immortality sounds like a heavy promise, I don't think I can trust you. Who's to say I can't just take you out now and get home?"

Olgar gave him a look, "Do not be foolish, know when you are outmatched." He warned the knight.

"Yeah, Garrick..." The girl accompanying him begged, "This thing looks strong."

Garrick, I presume, laughed, "I'm not going to let some shady figure like this tell me what I can and can't do!"

"I take it you do not intend to fight in the Arena?"

"Oh I intend to fight, all right..." He laughed, drawing his mighty sword, "I'm just gonna fight you!" With that he lunged at the giant figure, I have to admit, it takes nerve to assault a mysterious entity like this...

The attack, however brave or foolish it was, did not faze this Agent creature, who simply back handed the the warrior, who went down in one hit.

"Those who do not obey the rules only face death..."

Almost immediately, as if on command, a huge cloud of darkness appeared before the man. And from it, a figure that can only be described as the Grim Reaper crawled out. It was boasting about four weapons and merely slashed the poor fellow with it's scythe, and with that he disappeared into a dark mist... Now I was terrified... These are clearly not human beings we are dealing with. I can honestly say that I'm worried about our fate... I can't die here...

"GARRICK?" Screamed that pink haired knight, I guess I can sympathize with her... that was terrifying... In addition to that outburst I heard Musiea and Mana gasp in horror. Again, the only one's who seemed at ease still were Olgar and Vahti... What is it with these two?

"Now... if everything is said and done, I will open the first door. Good luck my children."

And with that he retreated into his cloud of darkness. I hate to admit it... But I was getting worried there for a second... I'm glad he's gone, I was starting to think that was going to be the end... I don't care what these other people plan to do, I need to stay on this Agent guy's good side and win me that immortality... I can't keep that promise I made with this condition nagging at me and eternal life would certainly make things easier...

"Garrick... You can't be gone... What about always being there for me?..." That other knight was still going on? Obviously her friend is gone, I mean when something like that happens, nothing is going to change that fact. His death didn't faze me, but the Agent's words did... obviously there is something important about remaining with your partner, so as much as I don't want to, I'm gonna have to tame this Musiea girl and make her help me.

Crap, he's coming this way. I don't want to fight anyone just because this thing told me too, I don't want to stay here, and I certainly don't want to be partners with Escher... That Agent creep may have made it clear that we need our partners but I don't want anything to do with Escher... But then again... the children need me... I can't let them down! And if that means working along side this terrible human being, then so be it. I vow to make it back to them.

"Well, well. It looks like you and I are gonna get to know each other pretty well, hehe" He scoffed. That awful smile... I can't stand it!

"I know everything I need to know about you already... It's so nice to see you again, Escher..." I hissed, he seemed a little taken back by my knowledge of him, but nonetheless he remained proud.

"So you know of me, eh? I guess my reputation proceeds me." He grinned, he's an egotistical madman. I want so badly to give him what's coming to him...

"Shut up, I'm not impressed, intimidated or frightened by you. Your 'bad boy' act is childish and you're just a monster!"

"This pup's got a lot of bark! You're a feisty one... I like it!" He smiled, winking at me. It's almost sickening being talked to like this. "So how does such a goody-two-shoes like you know about someone such as myself?"

I felt like at this point my best bet was to ignore him, "That's not important... Let's go, shall we? I have no need to make small talk with a monster like you..."

"Aw come on, just give me a chance, I'm sure you'll grow to love me." He laughed, "And don't you worry, I'll take good care of you. I specialize in watching after useless woman like yourself." He put his arm around me, and I grunted, pulling away.

I couldn't contain my frustration any longer, I was done here. So I took a deep breath, crossed my arms and looked the other way. He seemed to take this as a signal to get going, so he opened the door, grabbed my arm, and pulled me through the door. This was going to be a long tournament...