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Old 04-07-2019, 09:02 PM   #1
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From the outside the steel and brick building looked like any other in Sennou no Shi. But once one pushed open those iron double doors, descended down three flights of stairs, and signed the guestbook, what wonders did await! A grand marble ballroom opened up, with finely crafted oaken tables stretched from the registration desk all the way up to the finals stage. Rows of crystal chandeliers lit up the otherwise windowless area with a golden, almost heavenly light, and somewhere a group of musicians were strumming out festive tunes.

The clientele, on the other hand, could have used a bit more polish. Not counting the vendors or staff about 50 entrants idled around the expansive room as they waited for the brackets to be revealed. The group consisted of an eclectic group, though most were men in the 14 to 26 demographic. In each of their hands they held a small box of immeasurable power.

Bouncing from one foot to the other to calm his nerves, the young Noburo watched the projector screen with rapt attention. His comrades stood behind him, bickering over the schedule.

“You can't honestly be suggesting we miss lunch to play a card game, are you?” Ryo snorted. “I'm fine if the brat wants to stick around, but the rest of us aren't going to last one game-”

Muneshige pointed a finger at the man's nose and snapped her fingers in agitation. “Being on a team means supporting each other through thick and thin! And occasionally missing lunch, if needed. Your marriage is never going to last with a crappy attitude like that!”

“Little one.”
The hulking Inabune stood a head taller than most of the others in the room and she had to lean in close to talk to the small, distracted child. “I am confused about what this one does again. You flip it face down, and then...”

Noburo broke out of his trance and hurried to explain the rules of the game to his comrade again. It was slow going, since he only learned last night none of them had been practicing with the decks he gave them. And after all that work he spent matching their personalities to the proper archetypes! But it was great they were playing along, so he didn't dwell on it. Back on the Brigade of Light campus he could only play with the same group of people over and over. Here in Iron Country who knew who he could run into!
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Old 04-09-2019, 07:14 PM   #2
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A young woman stepped across the makeshift stage, made up of a few pallets of wood stacked on top of each other with a rolled rug over the top. She was smiling broadly as she adjusted her glasses, speaking into a microphone that hissed with static and popping feedback.

Alright, alright, alright! Here we are again, back in the City of Kings! Is that Nagako Gaho I see there? Didn’t you just win the Fire Open? Incredible! Now, as you all know...

She started her marketing spiel. This tournament could seed you into even greater competitions in the future, but it swiftly became obvious that the primary point of this particular gathering was to try and promote the newest Flash Step Combat rules variant that wasn’t exactly catching on. There was less than enthusiastic applause at the promise of a Flesh Step starter box for anyone who made it in the Top 10. More exciting, however, was when the projector screen flipped over to reveal the brackets.

Okay! You should all be wearing a number to help you identify your opponent. We, uh, couldn’t fit enough tables in here for every body, so just play on the floor if you have to!

A tall man suddenly approached the Brigade, hair tied back in twin braids as he adjusted his faux-mustache glasses over his face. He was...a little old to be playing a game like this, but he was smiling broadly. “Would one of you happen to be number thirteen?

He thumbed the piece of paper emblazoned 12 pinned to his casual robes. “I’m Kagero, by the way.
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¤Hyuuga Yuu, Genin of Leaf.
¤Sanada Ema, Chuunin of Leaf.
¤Gushiken Ren, Chuunin of Mist.
¤Hikoboshi no Natsu, Miko of Wind.
¤Sajime Sahori, Jounin of Stone.
¤Kiku-ichimonji Jun'ko, ronin samurai.
¤Hatsuyuki Shiro, renegade shinobi.
¤Keisei Ranko, The Prince of the Keisei.
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Old 04-09-2019, 11:47 PM   #3
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Three pairs of eye turned towards the boy, who was still tracing the brackets on the screen with his eyes and muttering under his breath. This was no good, he'd have to face that token spammer from Stone early in the...

“Oi, brat.”
Ryo flicked the kid in the ear, immediately breaking him out of his card-game induced trance. “This guy's got your number.”

“Oh. Oh!”
Noboru's attention turned towards the man self-identified as Kagero and gave an excited smile. “I'm thirteen!”

“No, you are Mutou Noburo.”
Muneshige leaned closer to the braided Kagero and pretended to whisper. “Call him Nobby, it gets him all flustered.”

“No, it doesn't!”
Noburo sputtered while he tried to simultaneously bow to his elder and find his deck. “A-anyway, Mr. Kagero! It's an honor to be your opponent! Let's have a good match!”

The rest of the Brigade split up as their matching numbers were found, leaving the young samurai-in-training all by his lonesome. No biggie, no biggie! He was hoping to win fast so he could watch his friend's matches. After all he was likely going to last the longest. Mr. Sato would probably be all grumpy after losing and would need to be cheered up, of course! Still wearing his smile the young boy put his deck down on the table and shook hands with his opponent. Today would be fun!

Not even seven minutes later Noboru had lost both games of the best of three. It hadn't even been close either game. A look of bewilderment was plastered all over his soft features. How had he lost so soundly? Kagerou wasn't even playing a tier one deck! Well, neither was Noburo. Chumping out early in tournaments wasn't uncommon for him and his unthemed 'here's a bunch of cards I like because they look like good guys' deck.

“G-good game!”
He offered his hand again to the gentleman. “I've never lost like that before. You're really good!”
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Old 04-14-2019, 05:06 PM   #4
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Good game, Nobby.” Kagerou took the boys hand and gave him a firm shake.

Kagerou didn’t always have the time to make the rounds for tournaments like this - - it was just happy luck he happened to be working on an assignment in the country, and not at all the result of a few weeks of careful subtle influence in the missions office. It wouldn’t do to admit to any additional corruption there, no matter how innocuous his schemes might be. But he was here, and he was excited to see what the higher echelons of the game had evolved to during his time apart from it. There wasn’t some magical database where he could keep track of the metagame, so to speak, so it was all based on word of mouth.

And because it was an elimination tournament, he wouldn’t learn anything by playing through the Loser’s Bracket. Even if he had wanted to go easy on the kid, it wouldn’t have made this trip worth it just for some good feelings. But, he couldn’t help himself - -

I like to play with some of my favorite cards, too, but in life and in games, sometimes you have to work with people you don’t get along with as easily, right?” He tapped his finger down on one of the keystone cards of his strategy as he was scooping up his playing field. “Kaneko isn’t exactly a best girl, but she synergies so well with some of my favorites that I include her, anyway. You have some experience with this, yeah? With your motley crew, there. Even if the pieces don’t seem like they match up, when you see them for their hidden strengths, it gets easier to get along.

He shrugged and absently shuffled his deck before tucking it away into an inside pocket of his robe. “But don’t let an old man tell you how to play. I just got a lucky opening hand this time.

Okay, okay, okay, which one of you handsome gentlemen are moving o---sir, you’re not supposed to wear a mask in here.

This is my face.

That’s so obviously - - whatever, if the samurai didn’t say anything. Who won? You? Good, good, let’s move on now, these things always go long.

Thanks for the game, Nobby.

NOBURO HEADS TO THE LOSER'S BRACKET.
KAGEROU MOVES ON TO ROUND 2.
__________________
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¤Hyuuga Yuu, Genin of Leaf.
¤Sanada Ema, Chuunin of Leaf.
¤Gushiken Ren, Chuunin of Mist.
¤Hikoboshi no Natsu, Miko of Wind.
¤Sajime Sahori, Jounin of Stone.
¤Kiku-ichimonji Jun'ko, ronin samurai.
¤Hatsuyuki Shiro, renegade shinobi.
¤Keisei Ranko, The Prince of the Keisei.
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Old 04-15-2019, 07:46 PM   #5
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The day marched on. Soon a wide field of many became a wide audience of many. Lunch was served, two cheaters were caught, and someone got in trouble for bringing in a beer. Nonetheless time flew right by and as the evening hours set in the stage was being set for the big semifinal bouts.

“This is why none of these losers will ever have a life,”
grumbled Ryo as he shoveled handfuls of popcorn into his mouth. “No ability to stay on schedule.”

Next to him in the spectator seating was the large Inabune, who simply sat upright with her arms crossed. Though she tried to use her ‘indoor’ voice, her rumbling tones still carried quite a distance in the grand hall. ”You are still upset they confiscated your alcohol.”

Ryo snorted and grabbed another handful of junk food. “I’m upset because you disqualified yourself for accidentally breaking a rule. Now look who I have to watch play!”

Up on stage, still in her brown clerical robe but with the sleeves rolled up, stood a beaming Chosokabe Muneshige. As the announcer began his introductions Inabune leaned over towards Ryo to attempt a whisper. ”Why does he get to wear a mask? I was told I couldn’t wear my hood…”

“Shhh. They’re starting.”


The tuxedo-clad, grey-haired ‘Master of Ceremonies’ concluded his grandiose intro with a last second suggestion to purchase some refreshments in the lobby before giving way to the two contestants. Muneshige slid into the plain iron chair and plopped her deck down on the table like one would a pile of dirty laundry. “Alright, enough talk, more walk!” She held her bony arm out to her opponent, the man who knocked Noburo out in the first round. “The Brigade of Light doesn’t take kindly to those who hurt our friends!” She looked into the crowd and gave a none to subtle wink towards Ryo, whose face was in his palm. “I hope you’re ready for a shellacking, Mr. Kagerou!”

Last edited by Junge; 04-21-2019 at 01:48 PM..
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Old 04-21-2019, 09:09 AM   #6
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I hope I don’t disappoint.” Kagerou let out a low chuckle, amused at the semi-finals coming down to he himself - - an old guy in a disguise and an off-meta deck - - and this elderly woman, who apparently learned to play this morning. It wasn’t even a question of talent here, since a few of the bigger names in the traveling circuit had popped up on the board.

Nagako Gaho, winner of the Fire Open just last month, was beside himself, pulling on the straps of his headband as he leaned back in a confused rage as he watched the two sit down at the table on center stage. “Don’t let that old lady trick you, Nara-sa, uh, Kagerou! Fire Country forever!

Kagerou rolled his eyes a bit at the woman across from him and then offered a tepid wave down towards Nagako-san. He was a chuunin of Konohagakure, one Shikagerou had shared his love of the bloodless conflict found in strategy games in the past. He was, certainly, not one for espionage or subtlety or tact. He had lost to Muneshige’s onslaught in just a few turns, which had been a large upset. But Kagerou was familiar with Muneshige’s type. She was a born leader, a woman who’s seen the inside and outside of battle time and time again. A card game like this, which reduced the battlefield to colorful cards and simple cause-and-effect, was a trifling pasttime. It was for her love for the boy Noboru that she was even here in the first place - - and her aura, calm and steady, seemed to bring a peace to the table, even with her gentle chiding. “I won the coin flip, so I’ll be taking the first turn.

He drew a card into his hand, glanced at it, and immediately placed it down on the field. For Onmyodo players, the story - - the theme! - - was just as important as the strategy and the rivalries. His field spell, that defined the temple his shrine maidens would be protecting, cloaked the battlefield in an eerie, ghostly mist. A second card placed - - High Purifier Yuri, Summertime Explosion!! and Kagerou gave a pained smile at the Esteemed Elder before him. “They wouldn’t let me swap these out for the standard art cards...forgive me.

The maiden appeared on the field, sharp and as eager for battle as ever - - her eyes cutting through the mist as she awaited the opponent to appear on the field, her standard-issue high school swimsuit outfit a size too small, her swords replaced with pool noodles. “I invoke the contract of High Purifier Yuri, and end my turn.
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¤Hyuuga Yuu, Genin of Leaf.
¤Sanada Ema, Chuunin of Leaf.
¤Gushiken Ren, Chuunin of Mist.
¤Hikoboshi no Natsu, Miko of Wind.
¤Sajime Sahori, Jounin of Stone.
¤Kiku-ichimonji Jun'ko, ronin samurai.
¤Hatsuyuki Shiro, renegade shinobi.
¤Keisei Ranko, The Prince of the Keisei.
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Old 04-21-2019, 07:31 PM   #7
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Muneshige eyeballed the peculiarly dressed character on the card and thoughtfully scratched her chin. “How brazen. I guess she can't be a bride anymore, eh?” As the crowd watched with baited breath for the old woman's opener she shuffled her cards around in her hand a bit, then tapped her foot. Then she smiled and gave the man a quick wave. “I pass!”

Several turns of similar development later and soon the First Brigadier was staring down a full board with nothing on her side but a discard pile of removal cards.

In between loud sips Ryo let his disgruntled status be known. “She's not playing anything! And she exiled the wrong card, that whosit-rainbow-miko thing has way more attack power!”

Inabune seemed likewise perplexed but kept her eyes on the battle rather than the snack bar. ”Madam Chosokabe knows what she is doing. Have faith.”

Up on stage things looked even less encouraging. As Muneshige drew another card she let out a wistful sigh and her shoulders sagged. “Another dead draw! I might as well as concede now, eh?” She raised her rather full hand up so only her weary eyes could peak out from behind them. “Well, I guess I'll play this Cemetery Ghoul and pass it to you. This guy doesn't look very cute and he's not in a bikini, but he'll keep me alive for one more turn, right?” She turned and grinned at the audience, who seemed rather disappointed with the progress of the duel so far.

“Be gentle with me, Mr. Kagerou!”

Last edited by Junge; 05-19-2019 at 09:47 PM..
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Old 05-19-2019, 06:28 PM   #8
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Kagerou was smiling politely as he drew his cards and played his turns, wondering if there was some method to the madness - - or, like someone flailing wildly in a brawl - - she had just gotten lucky in her match against Nagako Gaho. As his field slowly grew to an overwhelming force, weaker cards sacrificing themselves down for stronger cards, he felt himself apologizing for each turn - - sorry, I’ll play this - - I’ll draw this one - - this combos into this, you see - - until he was playing his deck completely rote, without considering much the Esteemed Elder’s moves.

He had expected more, from this little tournament in the city of samurai, but all he was finding was casuals beating casuals with jank. While that could be fun, he couldn’t help but feel the slightest bit disappointed with the proceedings.

And then she dropped the Ghoul, and he let out the softest of swears out under his breath, as Gaho fell to his knees in the audience. He had tried to warn him. As one of this bikini clad warriors exploded forward, having a trait that required her to attack every turn she was able, he let out a groan.

Was it on accident? Entirely? A card like that with an exile pile like that was disastrous for the type that attacked headlong into combat.

Interesting strategy, ma’am.” He said, flipping over a sealed card from his ritual zone. “But I find it’s important to keep my units in check, when I have to.

The revealed spell canceled the combat actions of any single card - - including his own - - and he ceased his forced attack, then revealed a second card off the first. “And this will remove that stack of exiles from play, and...

A few more combos later, and he lifted his hands from the table. “And I think that means we’re done here, Madam.
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¤Hyuuga Yuu, Genin of Leaf.
¤Sanada Ema, Chuunin of Leaf.
¤Gushiken Ren, Chuunin of Mist.
¤Hikoboshi no Natsu, Miko of Wind.
¤Sajime Sahori, Jounin of Stone.
¤Kiku-ichimonji Jun'ko, ronin samurai.
¤Hatsuyuki Shiro, renegade shinobi.
¤Keisei Ranko, The Prince of the Keisei.
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Old 05-19-2019, 10:13 PM   #9
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As the game of solitaire unfolded Muneshige rested her saggy cheeks on one first, lightly fanning herself with her cards. The Kagerou fellow seemed quite ambivalent about the whole thing, as if his mind already checked out. Probably because there were all these scandalous lady-cards prancing around!

“My, what a turn!”
Muneshige feigned wiping some sweat off her brow. “Blew quite a load there though, didn't you? I guess it's all worth it, since there's pretty much nothing I can do now...” She clucked her tongue as if resigning herself to fate. “Guess I'll just draw anyway, though! Mustn't give up hope and all that.”

The old woman plucked one of the rigid cards up off her deck, then shuffled it into her hand with a flourish. “Oh, no! Good game, sir.” A silent sigh seemed to escape from the spectators. What a letdown of a first game. No drama, no excitement, no...

Two rows of tea-stained teeth gleamed in the lobby lighting. Muneshige began dropping cards like a butcher slamming cleavers into a fresh carcass. It was just one turn, but the chain of effects flew by in rapid fire succession. Counters, parries, discards- every action she declared, even when foiled, seemed precisely calculated towards some unseen goal. When it seemed like every resource finally exhausted itself, the Esteemed Elder pulled out one last trick.

“Using the effect of your High Purifier I pull from your exile, I can copy this instant like this...”
She delicately slide Kagerou's card over to her side as she took control of it. “Then I can cast this from the stack, reactivating her effect, triggering my Fireworks Party enchantment for one damage, and...you don't have any more counter spells, do you?” Her hands, now bereft of cards, were free to clap together in smug satisfaction. “So I loop that, oh, a hundred times? Does that sound about right?”

Ryo glanced up from picking his teeth to look back at the stage as the crowd suddenly starting applauding. “So the old fart finally lost?”

Amidst the cheering, Inabune's voice still carried loud enough to hear. ”Madam Chosokabe does not lose so easily.”
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Old 07-20-2019, 08:48 PM   #10
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One hundred points of damage, out of nowhere, would be enough to fell even a clean board state. It was an impossible amount of damage to weather, especially with his hand emptied. During Muneshige’s impressive barrage of card placements, the man had fretted with the braid in his hair, loosening it and spilling his hair across his shoulders. He gently ran his fingers through his hair as he watched her play her turn. It seemed like it was true - - this kindly old woman was something more sinister under the surface, a hellacious tactician that took no quarters.

The sounds of the crowd seemed to drown away completely until it was just he himself across from the Esteemed Elder, playing this battle of the wits.

I don’t have any more spellcards to play, madam.” He brushed his thumb against his eyebrow and tapped his finger down on the field card he had played the first turn. “But I do have this. By invoking the ritual spell of my home temple, I can discard it to return any one fallen warrior from beyond the grave, even in exile, to defend for one final turn.

He rested his hand on his exile pile, and produced Priestess Jue, the Disgraced, plopped her into the combat field, and then immediately dropped her back into exile. “And her sacrifice protects my life points from any damage that comes from before the combat step.

The man rested his chin against his hand. “Since Fireworks is triggering off of your spell cycle, and my card’s effect is at the top of the stack, she defends me from the festival lights. With our hands empty, that means we end the pre-combat phase.

He pointed at the board. “And now we clash in combat. My Cho, the Unbreakable takes her bonus from my empty hand state, and Wind Dragon Empress can choose any attacker to defend, so that settles Yuri for me, and Wandering Ronin doubles her attack because I no longer have a field spell in play.

It was like he had planned for her surprise turn, which seemed impossible. He sat back in his chair and let out a long breath. “I know you might think of using your Ghoul’s ability to return from the graveyard, but with High Purifier on your side of the field, you can’t join a new yokai card. I believe I’ve accounted for everything, unless…?

He nodded at the single unknown card on Muneshige’s board, face down in the Sealed Temple position. Her deck wasn’t following a tribe or meta he was familiar with, so he couldn’t really hazard a guess what could be there, but he couldn’t let that on.

Even the sennin of the Nara had a reputation to uphold.
__________________
¤Nara Shikagerou, Sennin of Leaf.
¤Hyuuga Yuu, Genin of Leaf.
¤Sanada Ema, Chuunin of Leaf.
¤Gushiken Ren, Chuunin of Mist.
¤Hikoboshi no Natsu, Miko of Wind.
¤Sajime Sahori, Jounin of Stone.
¤Kiku-ichimonji Jun'ko, ronin samurai.
¤Hatsuyuki Shiro, renegade shinobi.
¤Keisei Ranko, The Prince of the Keisei.
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