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This article, Competition is Fierce: Know Your Enemies, is the property of Zicoihno, and you are forbidden from editing it without his consent. If you would like to use this article in any way, see here.

The first rounds are wrapping up, but some new faces are about to enter the stage. Team Vista has encountered a number of future opponents, not kowing what the future holds concerning them. The committee, who see this hell fest as more of a game, have called for Mari to keep an eye on Sanjo. The Hell Tournament is really warming up.

When I Think Back...

[Note: Xena Flashback]

It was night time, the the night breeze blew over the grounds of the Military HQ. Frogs crickets echoed in the night and the crescent moon shined radiantly. Normally most commissioned officers would be home already, but due to a big meeting, many were just leaving. But two, in the Supreme Commander's office, were thinking back on old times, reminiscing on the amusing parts of the past.

Xena leaned back in her seat, setting down her drink. "You know how it is, old man." she remarked, taking a sip from cup. Raimo laughed alittle. "It would seem so Xena-kun." Xena rolled her eyes at the statement. "Can you not call me that anymore!" Xena commented loudly, folding her arms with a pout face. "I'm no longer a child." Raimo had always treated Xena kind of like a daughter, she had a good relationship with his family.

"Hahahaha..." Raimo laughed harder. It was amusing to mess with her, they both like annoying each other. "That makes me think back to how you first entered into this life. Oh boy." Xena narrowed her eyes at him, this was not a fun topic for her. "Oh can it. I don't need to think back to that." the young Commander replied, with a serious tone. Raimo leaned forward in his seat, pointing at her. "You were so different back then."

"Not that different." Xena replied sharply.

"Oh no. You were very shy." Raimo said, before breaking out into laughter again. Xena didn't mind much, but this was not any fun. Her past was not the best one either. Though she was very indebted to Raimo, she had learned alot from the great mage. Raimo exhaled softly, he leaned back in his leather seat. "I can remember it...like yesterday....."


21 years ago....

The night was cool, the moon shined lovingly upon the koi ponds of the Vista Manor. It was the home sweet home of the House of Vista. The atmosphere was very peacful, it was family time as well. In a large well lit room, sat Raimo, on the ground, sitting criss-crossed. He looked much younger, lighter build, only a small goatee for facial hair; midlength jet black hair with no gray at all. He was holding up cards. Across from him was Ruzana , even more beautiful lookng and much younger, sitting seiza style.

In his mother's lap was a 3 year old Sanjo , giggling as he's mom tickled him for every question he got right. Seems Raimo was testing the boy's genius with some photo card trivia, usually something 7-8 year olds would do. Ruzana smiled as she tickled his tummy, he laughed in response. Both parents were immensely enjoying playing with their first, and then only, child.

"Alright Sanjo-chan, here's another one!" Raimo said excitedly, he whipped out another card. The toddler stared at the card for a moment. "Raimo, how about you give him a break?" Ruzana remarked, she scruffled his hair playfully."I'm sure my Sanjo-chan is hungry for dinner." The boy giggled in return to his mom's affection. Raimo shot a finger up, to emphasize his words. "Battle waits for no one and not for their stomach either. He hasn't said anything about food anyhow." Raimo remarked.

Ruzana sighed, "He's 3! You have him distracted." Ruzana knew her husband too well, he could overdo things some times. "If he wants to stop, then we'll stop." he replied, as he shrugged. At this point in time, Raimo was not the Supreme Commander. The young woman sweat-dropped comically. That wasn't what she was saying.

There was a knock at the door. "Come in." Ruzana called. Jeeves, the head butler, stepped into the room. Raimo smirked, "Oh what's up Jeeves?" he asked, seeting down the photo cards. "There's a small girl asking to see you." He cocked an eyebrow. "She said she met you in market place and you told her to come here, if she wanted to?" The bulter wasn't too sure what to say.

Raimo nodded, "Let her come in...." The butler opened the door, once more, revealing a young girl no older then 11. She had dark skin and short black hair. She was wearing some plain fitted shorts with a worn-out t-shirt. The girl had a plain look in her eyes, not something to see in a kid. She seemed rather univiting to say the least. Ruzana noted that the girl was quite cute though, just kind of dreary.

"So you decided to come?" Raimo asked rhetrorically. She uttered no response to his question. Raimo looked over to Ruzana. "She's not much of a talker." Ruzana nodded in agreement, "I could see that." she replied. The toddler in her lap fidgeted, trying to get better look at the strange person who had entered the room. "She said nothing but what I told you sir." Jeeves commented, stepping back alittle.

The girl stared intently at Raimo, then trailed off to Ruzana; then set her eyes on the toddler. Her eyes softened at the sight, she had still yet to say a word. Raimo scratched his head, "What's your name girl?' His question was very straightforward, earning him a glance from his wife. She looked down for a moment, as if she was pondering something of great importance. "Xena...Xena Daniels..." the young girl replied, apprehensively.

Raimo narrowed his eyes at the girl. "Daniels? That's a noble family...but...those clothes say otherwise. Is she illegitimate?" He deduced that the girl was the illegitimate child of a nobleman, given her name and clothes. He could not let her go on like this. Raimo looked back at his wife. "Are you serious? Well it's the right thing." Ruzana replied, she knew exactly what was on his mind.

She stood to her feet, and took little Sanjo's hand. "Come on, Mommy is gonna get you some ice cream." Ruzana said, in a soft tone. The toddler's face lit up. They walked out of the room. Raimo stayed at the same place. "Alright I can't let you live your life like this. You can live in the Academy dorms, a single room. Through training you will become strong. I see potential in your eyes Xena-kun." The words brought a slight smile to the girl's face, faint, but there. This had been the first time in a long time, that someone showed real concern.

"T-thank..you" Xena stuttered, twidling her thumbs.

The next day, Raimo had some explaining to do.

"So...you brought a random girl into the Academy? What's your explanation for this?" an elderly man said. He was sitting at a large wooden desk, in a well decorated office. The old man held a pipe to his mouth and slowly exhaled. Raimo sighed, "It's alright, she will be fine. And I find it to be a wise idea." he replied cooly, hands in his pockets. " How is it a wise idea?" the old man inquired, he let out another puff of smoke.

Raimo smirked, just the question he wanted to hear. "She has potential, and a lot of it. I could tell just by looking at the little girl." The words did not pierce the old man. "We all think alot of things. I hope for your sake, this goes well." While hidden potential was nice, Raimo had never really seen her do a thing. so it was somewhat of a reach. " I promise you, it won't go wrong." Raimo remarked, he turned to open the door and leave. "Don't do anything stupid, brat." the old man said sternly. "I won't, dad ."

His Name is Claude

Back in the Pergrande Kingdom, the tournament entering into its' final set of intial fights; the end of the first rounds drew near. Keeping their wits about them, Team Vista made sure to watch their backs. They decided to go watch the match of the day, one that they had heard lots about, except for Zeo bowed out of coming. The stadium was once again full, the announcer at the center of the ring; the atmosphere set for combat.

"Heard alot of talk about this match." Richard said, taking a seat. Their seats were not too far from the action. The young man leaned forward in his chair, hands clasped together, staring intently down to the center of the arena. Earlier they all had heard plenty about this matchup, more specifically about one of the teams in it. Megan stepped onto the stage, smiling like always, she took in a deep breath.

"Are you folks ready!" she shouted, in response, the crowd's cheers amplified. The noise level becoming more then annoying for any sensible person.

"These guys must be something." Drake remarked softly, he turned to look at Richard. " It's obvious isn't Richard?" Richard cocked an eyebrow at the question. "What's obvious?" Sanjo turned his attention back to the center of the arena. "This is gonna be our number 1 group to look our for...I just have that feeling." Sanjo added. Richard's eyes lingered on Sanjo a bit. He smirked, figured that Sanjo was being pretty causious nowadays.

Lana sat back in her seat and crossed her legs. Lana was not too interested in today, but knew this team would be worth watching. Though she wondered why Zeo decided to stay in his room, and sleep more. The crowd started getting louder, and the group turned to see the source of all this cheering. Out of the tunnel came a group of 4 fighters. A slim black-haired man, a lovely young woman with two large bells tied to her hair pigtails. Another dark haired young man, who caught Sanjo attention as the guy from yesterday in the hall.

Then coming in last, was a very tall and muscualr man. He had an eccentric hair do, but his face was stern and instilled fear into most. The crowd continued to chant, phrases such as "Kill'em dead!", "You guys rule!", and "Team Destroyer". The group walked to the side of the ring, waiting for further instruction. They all seemed rather apathetic.

Sanjo narrowed his eyes at the tallest one, he rubbed his hands together out of boredom. "This guy...well...he's no normal mage" Sanjo pondered, he kept his eyes towards the arena's center. Megan had just finished her list of useless annoucements, "Alright are you guys ready for some bone crushing action!" Her statement caused the cheers to return. Though everyone in the stadium had their eyes on the tall man.

Already on the ring stood a team ready to face this Team Destroyer. The teams began to converse on how to situate the fight. Meanwhile, Richard was deep in thought. Sanjo turned to his friend, patting his back to get his attention. "You ok?" Richard shook his head at the question. "I'm fine, but I know that man's face. And it doesn't give a me a good vibe, I just can't match a name." Richard replied, stroking his chin.

Sanjo tilted his head in question. "I'm a bit lost here." he asked, cautiously. Richard sighed, but Sanjo was rarely confused, so he could bear with it. " Sanjo, what do you think is the greatest benefit of working for the Magic Council?" Richard asked, with a serious tone. Sanjo cocked an eyebrow, "I'm not playing the guessing game." Sanjo just doesn't do that stuff, he finds it annoying. "Information." Richard continued on, "That's the best part, you learn alot fo the hidden info of the world of magic. I know names you never will, though you probably don't care anyway. As they say, 'knowledge is power'."

Sanjo found Richard's words to be very true, a logical thing to say. Lana was still just watching the fight about to start, uninterested in their conversation. Suddenly the tall man stepped onto the ring, alone, and layed his hands to his side. Megan eyes widened in shock. "So is that how you want it? Alright, this should be interesting." Megan turned tot he crowd, raising her microphone to her mouth. "Alright folks. It seems the team captain is gone do it alone. Claude vs Team Ikio!!!!" she shouted.

"So his name is Claude huh." Sanjo thought, he leaned forward in his seat to focus on the battle.

Claude just stood there, people were chanting the name of his team. They had become quite popular. " Hey! Don't think you have this in the bag!" one of the men shouted towards Claude. The man smiled slightly, as he pointed his finger at them. "That's alot of talk for trash. Come at me." Claude remarked, tauntingly. Three of them rushed at him at incredible pace. But he was unfazed and his teammates had dissappeared.

The dashed towards him. One had taken out a battle axe. The other two going in with brute power. He eyed the approaching enemies, waiting to counter. Two of them leaped into the air towards him, as they were about to attack they were caught. Claude had suddenly caught them by their knecks, and squeezed hard. The two squiremed in pain. Like nothing Claude was holding two large men by their necks, suspened from the ground.

The one with axe looked in shock. "You bastard!" he cried. "Oh my, it seems Claude has gotten by the necks, literally!" Megan exclaimed. Sanjo noted how corny she could be, sad he would have to keep hearing her voice. The two tried to struggle, but Claude just tightened his grip in return.

CRACK!

He suddenly dropped their lifeless bodies to the ground. In an instant he had broken their necks and ended their lives. The man with the axe and his leader trembled in fear. The crowd went wild at the display of cruelty. Megan fueled the cheers with commentary. Lana watched intently, feeling the same thing Sanjo did from this man. "So this is the game of Hell Tournament. Cruelty is what makes money...despicable." Lana remarked coldly. Claude turned his attention back to the other remaining enemies.

The man before him swung with his battle axe, ready to kill. Claude simply backstepped and grabbed the blade easy. This prompted Sanjo pay even more attention. In an instant he shattered the axe, with his bare hands, like a glass bottle. He then lunged forward to deliver a solid punch to the awe-struck man, sending him flying out of the ring and into the wall. The crowd's cheers kept going. Claude looked over to the team captain.

"So much for that? You shouldn't send in weaklings so quickly." he said, with a smirk. The thought of being lectured by an enemy sent the other man in a blinding rage. He ran towards Claude, his right hand glowing. Suddenly Claude appeared before him and launched his fist into his gut, and through his whole torso. The blood flew like water. The man coughed up a mound of blood onto the ground, and shuttered at the his enemy's hand cutting through his stomach.

The crowd gasped. "Claude has punched through Ikio's stomach folks! Look at all that glorious gore!" Megan commented, smiling like a school girl. Claude pulled his fist from the man's torso, the man fell to his knees both coughing and in tears. The sight of a grown rough man crying would stir any person. He cursed Claude as he fell to the ground completey. Ikio lost his life that day. The crowd's cheers echoed.

Claude had made short work of Team Ikio, killing all of them. He slowly walked down the steps, but then haulted. He turned to look into the stands. He spotted his target. He pointed his finger, and straight at Sanjo himself. Sanjo's heart skipped a beat, a random challenge seemingly. Claude just smiled a little, as he glared at Sanjo for but a moment. Sanjo clenched his teeth, "Bastard thinks he can intimidate me?" Sanjo was a calm person, but did not like anyone disrespecting him.

Sanjo quickly composed himself as Claude had left. He was surely to be the Wizard Saint's greatest challenge in this tournament.


Claude walked down the hallway, his hands at his side. It had been an interesting day. Not because of the sorry fights, but that he caught of glance of his future opponents. "That Vista kid will be interesting to fight. But I need to make sure that is taken care of." Claude was deep in thought when a man stepped into his path. Claude narrowed his eyes at the figure.

"What do you want, Marx?" Claude asked sternly. One couldn't tell if he wasn't happy to see the man or he just didn't care about him. The chairman gave a wide smile, one that could send chills down most people's spines. "Oh just checking on the favorite of the tournament....Got your stuff settled?" Claude didn't bother to answer the last part, but had his own words to say. "I'm not interested in your twisted agenda, so keep your crazy plans to yourself." His tone was serious.

Marx chuckled lightly, that statement was amusing to him. "If I hadn't done anything, you wouldn't even be here." Marx replied, a tone of amusement in his voice. "At least listen to what I have to say to you." Marx could, well at least somewhat, tell that Claude had his own plans in store. It was a case of two untrusting men interacting, their own agendas on their minds.

"Beware of your companions?" Claude remarked synicallly.

" Not as much you, as the other competitors. I could imagine them trying some underhanded stuff to mess with the other fighters. The tournament hasn't been fair in a while." Marx stated, stuffing his hands into a pockets casually. Claude turned to walk away, he suddenly peered over his shoulder. " If anyone messes with this stuff...well...I'll kill'em." Marx raised an eyebrow at the statement. "As the chairman, I'd hope you all value your lives. "

Marx pulled out a lighter and cigarette as Claude took his leave. He lit it and set it in his house, taking in the rich scent of tobacco. "With Mari watching that 'guy', I can really enjoy this tournament." He wasn't too interested in Claude's threat, since he knew he wouldn't lose his life. And he could care less about his fellow board members.

Tournament Hostilities

Out in the forests near the stadium was a peacful atmosphere. Here one could be at peace, even though a brutal tournament was underway.

"...398,399...400!" Richard pushed off the ground, ninja-stye, and landed on his feet. He wiped some sweat from his brow. He had figured he should get some routine training in, so he decided to do some physical drills today. Push ups were easy for him anyhow. Richard looked around, as he took in the beautiful nature surrounding him. "This could almost make me forget there are people out to kill me for money and fame." Richard with an amused smile. He walked over to a branch and took the t-shirt hanging from it and put it on.

The sounds of nature were in full ring, it really soothed the soul. "That's enough exercise, a nice walk will do." Richard went on his merry way. Though he had the tournament on his mind as usual, and two major questions to be exact. What did they say to get Sanjo here? What were the committee's true intentions overall? These two questions were the center of his imagination, he figured he would demand answer from Sanjo at some point.

"Interesting series of days. First, I find out theres mage tournaments. Next, I'm in a giant nation and in some big time tournament with some interesting characters...." He cracked his knuckles, as he walked." ....and Zeo, who was Hades before, is our ally; I feel like I can really trust him." Richard shook his head at all these strange developments. Though deep in thought, something enticing caught his ear.

"Singing.....?" he thought for a moment.

Richard swore he could hear a voice, a female one, simply singing a tune. Compelled to know, he made his way to find the soucre. As he headed east, the singing got louder and clearer, much to his delight. "What a beautiful sound." Richard thought pleasantly. Whoever it was, she could really sing a tune. It sounded like one of those old folk songs from ages ago, his grandma used to sing them to Richard and his siblings. As he got closer the sound got even more delightful, and Richard had to know who it was.

He pushed through bushes and such as he trudged through the forest. He came upon a small clearing. To his amazement, it was a mini waterfall. In a forest like this? It was like a work of art. The water poured rapidly down a small rocky mound, presumably connecting to the rivers. On top of it though, that was the real treasure. A green-haired one, apparently.

On top of the rocky cliff type feature, on a dry rock, singing aloud, was a Ritza Reznov. She was wearing simpler clothes. As if she had been training herself. Her face was serene and at peace, as she sung her timeless tune. Richard could now properly make out the words, a song about "forgotten heroes" seemingly. "That's the chick from Team Skull. Oh dear, she's not too tolerable though." Richard thought, his eyes still fixated on the singing figure.

Ritza's singing and the enviorment went together almost perfectly. It was like some kind of movie, just the girl in question was not a sweetheart, at least not to men. Richard moved in closer, but doing his best to stay quiet and avoid unwanted detection.

SNAP!

Richard's foot had landed dead on a big fallen branch, oh how unlucky. Richard sweat dropped his bad luck, not what he wanted to happen. Ritza's eyes suddenly shifted to his general direction. "Who's there?!" Ritza shouted, still sitting. The young mage chose not to respond to the inquiry, he was not in a mood for confrontation. "Let me just get the hell out of here." Richard turned on his heel,only to see Ritza standing right in front of him. Her face was stern and not happy to see him of all people.

Ritza glared at the silver-haired man. "What do you want?" She raised an eyebrow quickly. "Don't tell me you were trying to spy on me....pervert." Ritza added, slyly. Richard was silent for a moment. The world's longest sigh could not do him justice right now. "Very funny. I heard some singing, so I decided to find the source...nothing else." he replied calmy. "I'm guessing it was you. You're pretty good."

"Oh please, don't try to flatter me. I know how you men are. All you want is to take things from women, never care about us though." Ritza countered, her tone was serious as ever. Richard narrowed his eyes at her. "I have an older sister. I'm not like that, and most men aren't. So ma-" Ritza cut him off quickly. "Don't make up excuses. You haven't done anything yet, but I'm wary of you. " Ritza remarked. "Don't ever try to belittle me."

Richard was confused, she was getting made for nothing. But he could tell she was a bit jaded, probably some sad past stories when it came to that. Richard sighed soflty, this was foolish. "Once again, not all men are like that-" Suddenly he was cut off by Ritza's fist rushing towards his face. He caught her fist quickly, though the full force was no joke.

Shakingly, his hand was holding back her fist. "Damn...she packs a mean punch." Richard thought, her eyes were fiery at that. Ritza clenched her teeth. "You're pretty good..." she commented, still pushing her fist forward. "Now wonder you're on that team." Though Ritza's physical might was great, she could not faze Richard. But he had no idea why she was so pissed wth men.

She swung her other fist around at him, but it was caught as well. They locked grips, causing the win dto suddenly blow hard in response. Both were powerful, but Richard moreso. It was at random. One minute he was looking for the source of some singing, the next he was locking hostile grips with an attractive but 'crazy' woman his age. "What the hell is wrong with you?!" Richard asked loudly.

"My problem?" Ritza sounded almost sarcastic, as if he had asked a wrong or foolish question. The broke away from each other. Ritza skidded on the ground a bit, even with no shoes on, she could easliy move around in combat. "I don't get it. You're all happy-go-lucky cheerful when you were talking to Lana." Richard raised a finger in question. "And now you're all, well you know...." Ritza shook her head at the comment.

"You'd never understand, you're all the sa-" Richard was tired of the repetitive answers. "No, we're not. But I must say you should try to get to know someone before saying anything. We may be enemies, but that much is possible. After all, I'm not here for the prize anyhow." Richard didn't want to send her to the hospital before their teams even went at it. Sadly his response was met by her rolling her eyes.

Ritza turned on her heel and began to walk in the opposite direction. " I don't plan on losing without a fight." she said, not even bothering to look at Richard. He shook his head. "What the hell is up with this place."


BOOM!

A huge boulder was blown to kingdom come. Fragments of it raining from the sky to the ground. Sanjo sighed as he stood up straight, electical discharges surging around his right hand. He was sporting a black fitted tank top and dark pants. He figured he would do some light exercise to keep the blood flowing.

There some new matches coming up, next rounds were today, and Team Vista would be in the action. Sanjo laid his hands to his sides. "That lightining spell wasn't fast as I wanted...." Sanjo didn't want to show too much stuff during this tournament, unless it was a powerful opponent. There were only two names that he was paying mind to anyhow. "Kenshin and especially that Claude. They won't be easy at all." Sanjo was running some battle plans through his head.

Sanjo sighed at the thought of the battles intesifying. He loved a good fight, but he had been forced to come here. That fact alone dragged on the excitement. Sanjo closed his eyes and just relaxed his muscles. Suddenly he heard footsteps and turned to the source of the noise. There standing were 4 figures, they were a fallen team to be exact. They didn't seem too happy to see Sanjo at all.

"What do all you lovely people want?" Sanjo asked sarcasticly. They all shot their glares at the blonde mage. " It's funny how we're out but the great Golden Lion is just fine. This is the Hell tournament...." The man speakng paused for a moment, clenching his fist."....all that matters is power and cruelty!" Sanjo knew there would be some surprise attacks on him, no surprise really. Sanjo suddenly disappeared before their eyes.

Their eyes widened in shock, trying to figure out where he had went. From behind one of the men went hurling into through a tree. They turned to see Sanjo a few feet before them, with a smirk on his face. "I have other matters to attend to, besides weak people." Sanjo remarked slyly. One of the men clenched his teeth in anger and charged at Sanjo suddenly.

Sanjo simply sidestepped and elbowed his neck with thrashing force. Blood flew from the mans mouth as he cringed in pain. The man fell to the floor, it was knock out. Sanjo's eyes shifted to the other two. Sanjo's eyes were different then usual, the intensity burning. They both felt a shrill of ear down their spines, but they charged at him anyway. The two dashed in short zig-zag motion in an effort confuse their enemy. Sanjo dashed and slammed his knee into one of the men, then twirled on his heel and roundhouse kicked the other.

Sanjo smiled, "That's rather sad. Murder attempts should be better then this." The young man's words fell on deaf ears, as his enemies were already defeated.

"Well that's to be expected from the Golden Lion...." Mari was hidden behind a tree, as she had watched the entire incident. This was to be expected, stuff like this always happened with fighters. But she had expected more to take a try at a famous mage. Perhaps they were scared? "Nothing interesting going on though, I don't know what Marx-sama wanted me to see." She shook her head, it wasn't much of a observation session.

Team Vista vs Team Trinity Raven

The arena was full as usual. The afternoon sun shone down on it radiantly. The crowd's cheers were echoing throughout the arena. Sanjo and friends stepped onto the ring. It was time for another match, the second rounds. Everyone was lax as they waited for their opponents. "Alright folks!! let's get ready for another round!" Megan shouted enthusiastically. Across from Team Vista stood an interesting looking trio.

A silver-haired woman, a owl-humanoid, and a guy who realy needed a haircuit. The woman had a sense of killing intent to her, laying her glare upon Sanjo. Sanjo was unfazed, they were not much to him. Richard narrowed his eyes at he owl-looking man. "Man these tournaments really call out anyone huh." Richard patted Sanjo on the shoulder. "Looks like the fun is here." he remarked, a sly grin on his face. Richard could be a real tounge-in-cheek person.

The silver-haired woman turned to the owl-looking man. "Fukuro...why don't you go up first...." she stated, glaring at Sanjo once more. "... they're strong, but anything can happen, right?" Her tone seemed more playful then anything. Overhearing this, Megan was wondering if she was aware of what team she was taking on. Fukuro nodded in agreement, "Why not, I'll start this off."

Suddenly the long-haired man walked towards the center of the ring. "No, I got this one." he said confidently. The crowds cheers continued in the background. Sanjo narrowed his eyes at the enemy before them. "Golden Lion." Sanjo turned to see Zeo walk past him. "I'll handle this one." Zeo said, walking towards his opponent. "Don't do anything stupid, Vidaldus." the woman said. He smiled back, "No need to worry, Ikaruga."

"Alright it's Team Vista vs Team Trinity Raven! Let's get ready for action!" The crowd erupted in even louder cheers in response to Megan's words. Everyone, save for Zeo, Megan and Vidaldus, walked off the elevated ring. The center of the arena once more became the center of everyone's attention. Vialdus' hair swirled around wildly, he began to strum his guitar softly."Let's get it on!" he shouted, tounge sticking out.

Zeo tilted his head in question. "I don't see why you're so excited, as if victory is possible." Zeo's words prompted Vialdus to strum louder. The vibrations began to shake the ring a bit, and the sounds echoed throughout the arena. "Rock on!" Vialdus shouted, as he let out a potent wave of sound waves. Zeo's hair blew back from the force of the attack, but he stood there unfazed.

"Wow, it seems Vidaldus' guitar magic is shaking the arena almost!" Megan announced, her eyes were dead set on the fight before her. "If you think this is power, then I don't know what to say to you." Zeo said calmly. He wasn't impressed at all, and decided to finish this quickly. "Eh? You gotta alot of mouth!" Vidaldus launched his hair at Zeo. "Hair magic huh." Zeo edged his foot, he suddenly vanished and appeared right in front of Vidaldus.

He stretched out his hand, which started glowing. Vidaldus' eyes widened in shock. "Forbidden Magic: Soul Break....." he muttered calmly. Sanjo, Lana, Richard eyed the glowing hand with question. None of them had an idea of the spell just invoked. Vidaldus' body went numb, and his vision began to blury. "What the?" Vidaldus suddenly fell to the ground, unconsious.

Zeo layed his hands at his side. "Soul Break is a forbidden magic, one that temporarily breaks the soul of the victim. It's over." zeo said, as he turned to walk away. The arena was somewhat silent, in awe of what happened. Megan was surpirsed such spells existed. "W-well....Zeo is the winner!" she shouted. Lana folded her arms across her chest. "Well that was fast....as always." Lana wasn't expecting to see a spell like that here.

Lana began to walk towards the ring. "Sanjo, I'm going next. Don't try to stop me." she said confidently, her eyes set on the owl-humanoid. She leaped onto the stage. Immediately Lana requipped her weapons. "Glacier Edge!" Lana narrowed her eyes at her opponent. "I'm warn you now. I won't show any mercy, don't waste my time here." Lana took a battel stance, awaiting her opponent.

Fukuro clenched his teeth in irritation, "As if". He launched himself from the stage, his jet pack giving him propulsion. He began to swirled around widly in the air, keeping a distance from Lana. The crowd gasped as things heated up, some even wondering if just flying around like that was fair. "Well guys it looks like Fukuro is circling Lana, what will he do next?!" Megan announced, her eyes set on the battle.

Lana's eyes followed the figure, as he zipped around her the air. He had been keeping his general distance, so she could be at ease. "Are you just gonna fly around all day!?" Lana shouted, looking up at her enemy. He ascended and turn towards her flank. Fukuro zoomed towards Lana quickly. Lana dashed towards her oncoming opponent. The crowd was on the edge of their seats, as things were getting interesting.

Lana decided to go head on in this battle. Fukuro outstretches his hand to slam into Lana, but she dodges swiftly. With one clean kick, Fukuro is sent flying across the ring and into the ground. Lana sighed, looking back at her fallen enemy. "I hope that's not all..." Lana remarked, cracking a smooth smile. There were more then a few wolf-whistles echoing through the stadium. Fukuro stumbled to his feet, his hand was clutching his side.

Coughing out some blood, he regained his composure. "It's not over, not yet." He launched towards Lana, once more, straight at her. Fukuro stretched out his arm, palm facing Lana. "Judgement Hou!" Lana quickly blocked with her weapons, and blocked a small shockwave type attack, only being pushed back a foot or two. His eyes widened in shock. "How, that's one of my best attacks!" Fukuro cried. Lana ran towards Fukuro and, in an instant, slashed his shoulder.

The owl-man fell backwards, as blood flew in the air. Lana showed no emotion at all. One could hear shouts in the crowd to kill him, but Lana ignored them. He stumbled to his feet, clenching his fist in anger. Lana quickly sent a powerful kick to his gut, seinding him flying across the ring again. Lana was keeping her strength in check, Fukuro could do nothing against her. " I think we can call it over, no?" Lana said, looking over at Megan.

Sanjo raised an eyebrow, this was rather interesting to him. "Lana is fierce as ever, hope she doesn't want to hit me anytime soon." he thought, strokinig his chin. Megan began the 10 second count, as a unresponsive Fukuro laid there. The crowd was cheering Lana's name. "There's no honor in this." Lana thought, her weapons suddenly disappered. She stood still as the crowds cheers kept raging. "I think that's that, no reason to go any farther." Lana turned and walked towards the end of the ring, towards her comrades.

Ikaruga bit her lip, her confident facade could hold no longer. She knew they were outmatched, but refused to give her opponents the benefit of the doubt. "Alright with Fukuro and Vidladus, that just leaves their leader....Ikaruga!" Megan shouted. As Ikaruga calmly walked towards the center of the ring, Megan looker over at Team Vista. Sanjo exhaled softly, as he stuffed his hands into his pockets. He made his way towards Ikaruga. The cheers of the crowd began to elevate, The Golden Lion had entered the fray!

The crowd was cheering Sanjo's name, much to Ikaruga's dismay.

"I'm somewhat honored, you know....That I get to fight the great and handsome Golden Lion Sanjo." Ikaruag said, as she gripped the hilt of her blade. " I hope we can have some fun here." Sanjo smirked, her words amused the young mage. "Someone seems confident. I wish you the best of luck against me." Sanjo replied, taking his hands out of his pocket. The arena was still noisy as ever, and Megan was listening in. Ikaruga arched an eyebrow, "Wishing luck to an enemy? You're an interesting one, Golden Lion." A devious smile crossed Ikaruga's face.

"So now we see it huh. Time to see why Sanjo Vista is powerful." Kenshin Heian said, sitting next to his companion Nami. He was leaning back in his seat, but looked pretty excited. "Kenshin, calm down a little. I doubt he'll do anything serious in this one. She's powerful, but not much against Sanjo-san." Nami remarked, with a small chuckle. Kenshn rolled his eyes at her statement. "Whatever I'm expecting something interesting." Nami waved off her leader's comment, and focused on Sanjo.

Sanjo eyed Ikaruga's blade for a moment. "A swordswoman huh. Alright, this should be fun." Sanjo said calmy. He lifted his hand in the air, and suddenly a glowing rod appeared. As the light disappated, a long saber was in Sanjo hand. "Oh so you're skilled with a blade as well, this couldn't get any better." Then before Megan could say a thing, Ikaruga dashed towards Sanjo. So quick, only the mages in the stadium could register her path of movement. Sanjo quickly unsheated his blade and blocked her side slash one handed.

Sparks flew as they exchanged a few more blows and then locked blades. "You're pretty good, Ikaruga. Show me your power." Sanjo said calmly. She clenched her teeth as Sanjo began to push her back, inch by inch. The eyes of the crowd were glued on the two in battle. Sanjo edged his foot and pushed Ikaruga offf, then, in an instant, kicked her square in the gut. The sheer force sending her flying back several feet. "That all?" Sanjo asked, with a cool expression on his face.

Ikaruga clenched her teeth. She was starting to get annoyed now. She dashed at Sanjo again, but this time from the side. Sanjo quiclkly back-stepped and deflected her first blow and slashed her arm. Ikaruga, fearing for her life, jumped back quickly. She skidded backwards away from Sanjo. She began to pant as she looked at her opponent, Sanjo was calm and spotless. "Damn....."

Ikaruga jutted up and slashed forward. "Garuda Flame!" she shouted, as she slashed forward. A swirling torrent of fire sped towards a calm Sanjo. He narrowed his eyes at the attack and then just lifted his hand. "Holy Shield" A large round glowing hexagon shaped figure appeared before him. It shielded him from the attack easily, the flames did nothing to Sanjo's spell. Sanjo whipped his saber around, and set his eyes on Ikaruga.

"It takes more then that...to beat me." Sanjo remarked. The cheers of the crowd in the background, he figured he should end this quickly if he could. He dashed towards Ikaruga, in a swerving manner. Sanjo downwards and she parried his attack. Quickly Sanjo twirled his blade and slashed her right arm, she screamed out in pain. He slashed her other arm, blood flew as he kicked her side and sent her flying out of the ring.

Ikaruga landed out of the ring, she was panting in pain. "1...2..3...4" Megan began her count off. Determined not to lose, Ikaruga jumped up and dashed at Sanjo once more in a burning rage. "I won't lose!" Ikaruga cried, losing any and all composure she had before. Sanjo smirked as he side stepped and sent a clean slash toward her. Sajo appeared behind her and lowered his sword. "Maybe be next time...." he remarked.

Suddenly Ikauruga fell to her knees in defeat, covered in blood while Sanjo was unscathed. The difference in power was huge, to say the least. Megan didn't bother waiting. "Looks like Team Vista is advancing to the Quarter finals!" The crowd erupted in cheers. Sanjo looked down at a fallen Ikaruga, and then at Megan. "Ma'am, please make sure she gets proper medical attention...please." With that said, he walked over to his team.

"Well he finished that pretty easy. He's living up to his hype." Kenshin said smiling, this was fun for him. He looked over at his companion. "Nothing to say?" Nami shrugged, "We already knew how the battle would go." she replied softly. She eyed Sanjo walking toward his team and then at Lana. She sighed softly, obstacles. "I think we should get back to others, don't you Kenshin?" Nami asked, getting up from her seat. Kenshin jumped up from his seat." Hell...why not!" They began to make their way out of the row and towards the corridor entrance.

Mari stood from on top of the arena roof, in a criss-cross fashion. "This tournament is heating up." she thought to herself. The wind was blowing hard, and blew her hair in her face. Mari squinted her eyes at Zeo, who was walking with his companions. "Why do I think I know that face....."

In the Shadows

"The Golden Lion, Claude, Kenshin, Ritza of the Divine Wind......these are our pawns." a middle aged man said, leaning back in a leather chair. Overlooking the arena, was the meeting place of the committee. All the members were gathered and seated at the table. At the head of the table sat the Chairman, Mr. Marx. "To be fair, they're not all completely in our grasp yet." Marx remarked, folding his hands beneath his chin. "We did just get intel that Richard Aria and Ritza Reznov met in the forest, for reasons unknown"

"It's not as if we need to worry,Marx. They have no idea what's really going on. Even if they think they're being cautious." a elderly woman replied. Marx narrowed his eyes at her. "It's the oblivious ones that fall first." He let out a soft sigh. "We should be mindful of their skills, I doubt they're so easily decieved." Marx believed in keeping a one up on his enemies, strategy was everything. But his companions were being a bit careless.

The meeting continued on, covering more trivial things, such as money and what not. The committee had ironed out all the details of things, as the quater finals approached. Mr. Marx rose from his seat, "I'll be going now." He made his way out the door and proceeded to walk down the hallway. Marx whistled joyfully and as he strolled down the corridor, with not destination in mind.

"Mari, you can show yourself." Marx said softly. Flashing by his side, Mari walked next to her superior. "So how's it going with monitoring the Golden Lion. Any weird stuff?" Marx asked. Mari took a moment before replying to him. "Well, nothing really. Most exciting thing he has done has been some training out in the eastern woods, but that's about it." Mari lowered the hood over her head. "I'm not sure there's much to observe, sir." Marx's eyes shifted to towards his underling walking next to him, but he didn't care to turn towards her.

"I see." Marx remarked, stroking his chin. " Eitherway, just continue keeping tabs on him. Next is the quater finals, things are about to get interesting." Mari raised an eyebrow. What did her superior mean by "interesting"? Marx suddenly stopped in his tracks. "The battles are about to get flashy. The committee and I are going to get working on that plan. We can't have any screw ups." he said, turning to walk away. "Wait. Marx-sama, If I may. What do you mean by "interesting"." Mari asked, hesitantly. She was nervous, since she should not question a superior.

Marx peered over his shoulder towards her, with a sly smirk on his face. "It's about to get....bloody."

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