Yu-Gi-Oh! Ties That Bind (IC)

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Your angle or yuor devil
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“You’d better make it at least as far as I do… I still have to get you back for those glasses.”, Alva answered the boy’s unsure statement with an encouraging one and a smile. The glasses were just water under the bridge to him now, and he wasn’t going to give someone so apologetic and seemingly timid a hard time. When he started to apologize, Alva simply shook his head. “I was just teasing, really, I have a spare.”, he reached into a pocket inside his coat and pulled out a second pair that looked just like the first, barring the fact that this one wasn’t smashed beyond repair.

“My name’s Alva. Really, you don’t need to replace anything.”, the boy shook his head, and didn’t take the paper. “They’re cheap enough to replace anyway, not prescription. If you want to make it up to me, just do well in the tournament. Good luck, Ok?”, he re-stated, giving Jack a thumbs up, before walking away to the counter to get himself registered.




The time for his first duel came around, and who should he be facing but the boy who’d bumped into him previously, Jack. While it appeared Jack had been a participant in the first round, This was technically Alva’s first… something about a by-round, whatever that might be. Still, he was pleased that he got a chance to duel the boy… after all, this was how he’d repay him, right? A riveting duel. Alva gave him a smile, and held his hand out to shake. “So we get the opportunity to duel! Lucky us, huh?”, he remarked, then took a seat, getting his deck shuffled and prepared for their upcoming match.

Jack just weakly smiled back as he shook Alva’s hand. He had won his first round, though that didn’t really do much to bolster his confidence. A year or two without playing and then entering a tournament wasn’t really something he put high hopes in. Jack sat down opposite to Alva and placed his cards on the table.

“Yeah, lucky us. I just hope I’m not going to get beaten black and blue as payback here.” Jack was really only joking, though he did suspect that, just maybe, there were some small bits of anger that were going to come back to haunt him here. “If you’re ready, would you like to go first?”

“Don’t mind if I do!” Alva replied, then drew his opening hand. From the moment he saw his opening hand, a plan formed. The first turn he would set up, and from there, he would work his way to victory. Using “pre-preparation of rites” he set his hand up to summon his trusted Doriado when the time was right, then used his Rogue of Endymion to set a spell he’d use later in combination with Doriado. He then played a face-down, and “Magician’s Left Hand” to prevent pesky traps from tripping him up later, and ended his turn.

“Alright, let’s see…” Jack’s hand wasn’t ideal to him, but, with any luck he thought it should be enough. First he summoned Shadowknight Archfiend and set two cards. “I’ll have Shadowknight Archfiend attack your monster. Though, the damage you take is halved because of Shadowknight’s effect.” The Rogue of Endymion was destroyed easily enough. Now Jack just had to hope that whatever came next wasn’t enough to deal with his Archfiend.

The loss of his Rogue wasn’t all that surprising, all things considered, its attack points weren’t the highest, but it had served him well in helping set up the board. All he had to do now was draw one monster… any monster, and his plan would begin to unfold. Thankfully, he did just that. He drew Aussa’s familiar, and used it as a tribute for his Doriado after destroying one of Jack’s face down cards and activating the card Rogue of Endymion had sacrificed himself to put on the field… “Possessed Awakening”. With this card, after he summoned the Elemental Mistress Doriado, it would gain 300 attack for each attribute of monster on his field. Under normal circumstances, a measly 300 attack boost wouldn’t help much against a powerful monster with 2000 attack, but Doriado’s special ability allowed it to be five elements at once! That meant that its 1200 attack became 2700, more than enough to destroy Jack’s fiend… it was all downhill from here, Alva had set up his board uncontested, and he’d only gain more momentum from here.

Jack’s turn began and the card he drew would do little to stop the powerful ritual monster on Alva’s field. He could beat it, with a few specific cards he needed to draw. But, if things went more in Alva’s favour from here, the duel was practically already over. He just had to set another Shadowknight, way weaker in its defence than its offence and certainly no match for Doriado and hope that whatever came next turn would go better for him than the past one. A small smile was already tugging at his lips, Jack didn’t think he’d make it past the first round, so as far as he was concerned he had already surpassed expectations despite the almost assured loss here.

Another turn came, and he pulled another Rogue. A monster that once had a paltry 1500 attack now rose to a frightening 3000 with the aid of Doriado and his awakening spell. With only a face-down card on his opponent’s field, it seemed he’d just have to cut through Jack’s defenses and win. And so he did. The turn after was another face-down card on Jack’s field to remove before damaging his life points, and the final turn for Jack saw him play… nothing? He wondered if his opponent had managed to pull a poor hand, but to have mercy now and not finish things would embarrass his fellow duelist. He finished the duel with an attack from his signature card, “Elemental Mistress Doriado”, and just like that, the duel was over. “Thank you for the game.”, Alva said, holding out his hand to shake Jack’s with a friendly smile on his face. Despite the merciless dueling, his face hadn’t betrayed even a single shred of animosity for the events that had transpired before the duel… it was nothing personal, just another fun duel to him.

“You’re very welcome.” Jack chuckled a little while he picked up the cards on the table. All things considered, he did quite well and he was actually pretty happy with how things had gone, even if the duel ended in a very decisive defeat on his side, “I’d say that I wish you luck for the next duels but, honestly, I don’t think you’ll need it. You’re pretty good.”

Alva began to clean up too, reforming his deck, and slipping it back into the shimmering, rainbow-y box he always stored his cards in before slipping it into the quite contrasting black coat he wore. “Ah, thanks.”, Alva replied with an embarrassed chuckle. “Though I think it could have gone the other way if we’d both drawn different hands… something tells me I got pretty lucky there.”, he stated, before rising from the table. “I don’t know how this tournament is structured, but I hope you place well. I suppose for now I’m going to figure out how the next round will go.”, Alva explained, giving Jack a slight bow of his head before turning and leaving to do just that.
 

The Dapper Mog

Edgepeasant
Original poster
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The shop tournament was progressing quickly, as expected, with a few standout duelists and performances. Next was Masaru versus Mika, the young woman the boys had befriended.

t was the semi-finals and Masaru could feel his heart race in his chest. Across from him was Mika. She had made it.

"I knew you would make it to the finals." said Masaru with a smile on his face. He was nervous, yes, but excited too. "Just because we're in an alliance doesn't mean I'll make it easy for you. I'm going to give you everything I got!"

Mika was legitimately surprised she had made it passed the first round. Yet here she was, up against one of the boys she agreed to ally with. Masaru was nice, but she recognized the fervor in his eyes. She nodded contently, smiling wide.

"Y-yeah! I'll do my best too!"

Masaru won the coin toss and decided this time to go first. He played Soul Absorption, followed by a Gold Sarcophogus, exiling Necroface. As a result, he gained 500 LP from the spell card hitting the grave, then after each of them banished 5 cards from their library each, Masaru gained an additional 5000 LP. Next he played Gravekeeper's Servant, and played a sub-par Bazoo the Soul Eater. It might've looked scary, but Masaru knew it was still fragile. Still, he needed to play with what he had. His single card in hand was D.D Scout Plane (edited)

Mika's eyes were wide at the impressive start. Her opponent had gained over 5,000 life points from a single move! What's more, he had a fairly imposing monster on the board and a defensive spell to boot. She swallowed hard as she looked down at her hand, trying to compose herself.

"I'll start by playing two cards facedown and summoning Amazoness Fighter! Then, I will equip her with Amazoness Heirloom. Now when she battles a monster, she won't be destroyed once per turn, and if she attacks, the monster she attacks is destroyed after the battle!"

Her excitement was building back up as she flipped the top card of her deck into her graveyard.

Already on the back foot, Masaru didn't try to make it obvious Gravekeeper's Servant played a big part in winning. He was already on the back foot, but he had to try. He placed his D.D Scout Plane face down. He had no idea how he was going to beat Amazoness Heirloom

Mika hadn't considered caution, she was in control of the board, and with her heirloom equipped to her fighter, it was all looking up.

"Okay, I'll summon Amazoness Trainer, and thanks to her effect when she defeats one of your monsters in battle it's returned to your deck and she gains 200 attack. then a direct attack from the fighter."

Mika's smile remained, excited that she was holding her own, even when he still had so many life points to burn through.

Necroface entered his hand from the Gold Sarcophogus but it was still fragile. Masaru looked less confident now. Trainer would be a huge problem if he didn't deal with it fast. He didn't want to disappoint Mika either. She deserved the best his deck could offer.

"I draw." he said. This time he drew a decent 1800 atk monster. "I play Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer. When it deals Battle Damage, it allows me to exile up to 2 monsters from your graveyard. Go Kycoo, ghost banishment!" He barely got over Mika's Amazoness Trainee at 1700, and he exiled her Swordswoman in her graveyard. "I gain 500 life points from Soul Absorption. I end my turn."

Mika's trainee was toast, but she still had her herloom equipped fighter on the board. However, her swordswoman being banished was a loss. Still, she could do this.

"I will draw...okay, I'll set a card and attack your Ghost Destroyer with my fighter. Thanks to her ability, I won't suffer any damage either. Okay, your turn."

At this rate, it would take a long while to get through his life points, but now she had a decent defense too.

"I draw..." Masaru drew a level 5 monster, DDM Different Dimension Master. He felt lame for passing the turn to Mika. He didn't want his other monsters to be destroyed for free with Amazoness Heirloom either.

Mika blinked a couple times as the turn switched back to her so quickly. She drew her card and shrugged. It was another monster, a big one too. This would help take his life points down!

"I'll summon the unfriendly amazon, then attack with both monsters. That's another 3,300 down. That's my turn, though."

Masaru blushed from embarrassment and set the card he drew. It was D.D Trap Hole, a useless bluff in this circumstance. It was a card he thought of cutting many times. "Back... to you."

Mika couldn't help but feel a little bad for her opponent. He must have wound up with a tough draw for now. Still, it would be a disservice to him to go easy. She drew her card and frowned as she looked down at her field. Oh no! She hadn't considered the consequences of playing her unfriendly amazon with only her fighter on board.

"Oh drat! I have to sacrifice my fighter for the unfriendly amazon. I hadn't even thought about that..."

Mika frowned, but cheered up a little when she realized her opponent was still wide open. At least she could still get some more damage in.

"Oh well, I guess I need to just keep chugging. I'll tribute my amazon to summon the Amazoness Queen. She's tough and protects my other amazons. For now though, she'll just attack, and then I'll and end my turn."

"Okay..." said Masaru. Mika would have a commanding lead if she hadn't played the Unfriendly Amazon. He closed his eyes and he thought of the sun, trying to clear his mind of negativity. He would still give Mika a duel she'd never forget. "Draw." he said with conviction. He played Soul Release straight away, not realizing he could've combo'd it with Necroface in the grave. He had been too excited. A wide smile was back on his face again.

"Soul Release allow me to exile up to 5 cards from either of our graveyards. I choose your 5 Amazons, which means I gain 2500 life points."

He would at least put on a show for Mika, even if he lost. "Next I set a card." It was the Necroface he should've waited to be killed, but there was no turning back now.

Mika furrowed her brow as her opponent not only banished 5 of her precious monsters, but also gained himself another 2,500 life points. This guy was turning into some kind of immortal. She needed to find a way to put a stop to that. She had the means in her deck, but she had to draw them. For now, she just had to keep moving and keep swinging.

"Okay, I draw. I got another monster, so I'll play Amazoness Chain Master and continue the attack. I'll attack your facedown monster with my chain master."

The attack wasn't strong enough to defeat his necroface, which cost her a few lifepoints. Fortunately, the queen was powerful enough to handle it.

"Drat. Okay, I'll attack your monster with my queen. Your go."

Masaru drew another card, but said nothing. If she wanted advice after the duel, he'd give it freely, but this was a serious match. For her to experience a true victory, she would need to learn on her own that attacking with the more powerful monster against a facedown was optimal most of the time.

He played Bottomless Trap Hole, which felt like it was too late of a draw and played his D.D Warrior face up to absorb some damage as his defense was only 200. None of his continuous banish cards came up this game. "I attack Amazoness Chain Master." Masaru said. He had forgotten about Amazoness Queen, and had only done 300 points of damage.

Mika observed her opponent, noting the new monster he played and their ability. His monsters were pretty dangerous even without high stats, if this guy got banished he could just come back. For now though, he wasn't a terrible threat. She couldn't help but smile when he attacked her chain master, thankful that she had her queen on board.

"Luckily for me, my queen protects her. My go?"

With that, she drew her next card, smiling as she played the mystical space typhoon face up, pointing at his soul release card.

"There we go, I'll destroy your soul absorption. No more life points for you. Then, summon Amazoness Scouts, and I'll attack your survivor with my queen. Since you're open now, I'll swing with my other monsters directly on your life points. You're turn."

Even Masaru didn't realize at the time that Soul Absorption wasn't the right target. Over the course of the game, Gravekeeper's Servant had been gradually milling her deck down. He buried his face in his elbow temporarily. It was Different Dimension Gate. If he kept it in his hand with D.D Warrior, he'd be able to combo and take care of her Queen.

It was pretty much game over for him. He passed the turn without playing anything.

Mika's fingers casually drew the top card of her neck, not realizing how thin it was becoming. The continuous attacks had been reducing her deck quite quickly, and now with yet another monster, all she could see was the damage numbers.

"Another monster! Okay, I summon Amazoness Blowpiper, and now I'll attack with all my monsters. At this rate, I'll get through your life points in no time!"

Mika blushed a bit when she realized how excited she was getting about winning when he was up against the wall. It wasn't exactly sportsmanlike of her.

"Uhm, sorry. It's your turn, though."

Masaru looked up from to Mika as he noted how low his life points were, but when he saw Mika blush he mustered his resolve again.

"We both said we were going to give it our all, right?" said Masaru. "When all this is said and done, we'll still be friends, no matter what. And you shouldn't have to apologize. I should. This has been one of the greatest duels of my life and I'm not smiling."

He smiled widely, and drew his last card without caring what it was, as the outcome mattered less than the friendship he had with Mika. "I set a card." he said. "Your move."

Mika's smile returned, thankful that her opponent was a nice person and not one of the rude people she had often had the displeasure of playing against. She nodded as she began her turn, drawing a card, ready to win this duel.

"Okay, here we go, I'll attack your facedown monster with my chain master."

When the monster was flipped, her heart sank.

"Needle worm? But...but that means..."

Mika looked to her deck, a sullen expression overtaking her face as she flipped the last four cards one by one into her graveyard. No cards left to flip, that meant that even though he had no monsters, she couldn't attack.

"That means I lose..."

Masaru stood up from the table to walk to her side. It had been a stressful duel, but somehow, he had won. The victory felt bittersweet, though. It felt like he had cheated the win. Mika looked like she was about to tear up like he was, and offered her a hug. "It was a great game, Mika." he said. "I look forward to many more, and I hope I will make you proud during the finals."

It took a moment for Mika to recover, but she managed a smile when Masaru offered her the hug. Gladly, she accepted it, and nodded as she returned it, then picked up her cards.

"Yeah, it was a great game. I'll be rooting for you, Masaru."

Her smile broadened as she stood and pushed in her chair, stashing her deck back in its proper box before looking over to the other competitors. Win or lose, she was glad that she had managed to make a couple friends here today
 

foodforpigs

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Masaru couldn't believe that he had made it to the Finals. He was at his most nervous now, and it started to grate on him a little. He hadn't eaten yet, and was thinking over just how narrowly he had won over Mika. It should've been Mika, not him, here now. When he discovered that it was Alva he would be facing, he was even more on edge. He was a member of the alliance, and while it had been formed just this afternoon, Masaru didn't want to disappoint him either. Mika would be watching the duel with great interest too, as well as the other competitors and Yugi Moto himself. It didn't seem real. How would he deal with the pressure?

"Hey." Masaru said to Alva, trying not to let his nervousness and guilt show. "Who would've thought? The alliance made it up to at least semi-finals after all. You should've seen Mika duel. It was incredible."

When Alva learned it was Masaru who'd made it to the finals, he expected no less. After having taken a look at his deck earlier, he knew what a strong contender he'd be. Still, despite the challenge ahead, he was pleased his fellow alliance member had made it to the finals... whoever won, they'd still be working together in the circuit. Despite that, he wasn't going to just roll over and give Masaru and easy duel either... He deserved the best Alva could offer, as a fellow duelist.

"I bet. I knew I would have to face one of you two. Still, don't expect me to go easy just because we're in the alliance together! Whoever loses here has to work extra hard to make sure our team wins the tournament!", he warned, before taking a seat at the table with the boy. Despite this being the finals... he wasn't nervous at all. Alva had always been cool under pressure like this, and he'd always taken losses and victories with grace. Whatever happened here, they'd have a fun duel.

"You bet." said Masaru. His deck needed work, he knew. He didn't think milling another player could feel so bad, but it was to power his signature Helios monster. Masaru wished there was support for a card that he loved.

Yugi Moto hushed the crowd and instructed everyone to keep their distance from the table. When Masaru drew his starting hand, it looked rather bricky. Gren Maju Da Eiza was an inclusion that hadn't worked at all in his deck. Maybe in another it would be. Next was Helios Duo Megistus, which was difficult to summon without Helios - the Primordial Sun. D.D Scout Plane was a worse D.D Survivor. Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer was decent with an 1800 ATK, which was merciful. By far the card that had the most potential was Macro Cosmos.

They sat and Yugi Moto flipped a coin. He pointed to Alva, who would start off the duel, then raised his hand in a judges salute. "Begin!" he said.

Alva drew his cards and took a moment to look over them... Two Eda wasn't optimal, and at this stage in the game his board might not be developed enough to use the trap in his hand, or the Dwimmered Path, but Pre Preparation of Rites was a good first turn pull. Sadly he had no options to set up his board right now to welcome Doriado, but this was a good first step. He played pre-prep to get Doriado set up in his hand, then Played Eda and set an apprentice piper to ready his board to get more monsters on field. Unfortunately Eda wasn't the BEST target for piper, but he'd have to make do. He set his trap, and passed turn to Masaru.

Masaru saw the Pre-Preparation of Rites and realized that he was jealous. No cards in his deck were able to tutor for his boss monsters so easily. He drew a card - Different Dimension Gate, which worked well with D.D Scout. Next he summoned Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer.

"Go, Kycoo, target his face up Eda. Ghost Banishment!" It just went over her ATK.

"I set a card." He continued. It was Macro Cosmos. He'd have to wait until the last possible moment to bring out Helios - The Primordial Sun, as it was the only stepping stone for Helios Duo Megistus, which was nowhere near as strong as it needed to be without any banished creatures.

A monster with strong ATK... he could have flipped piper and brought out another Eda, but such a move would be useless right now. He let Masaru's monster destroy his first Eda, and chose not to respond... he'd have to conserve his resources for now, seeing as how he didn't have anything critical in hand to get his plan moving along. That facedown was worrying too, but for now he'd have to play defensively. He drew Witch of the Black forest, but decided to play his second Eda instead. With her on the field, he could place Hiita face down for more defense Masaru would have to work through, and if he was lucky, perhaps he could set up his grave as well.

Then it occurred to him... if he flipped his magician, he could get the witch on board, then sacrifice eda and the piper to get his Nefariouser Archfiend Marmot on the field, who could bring Eda back. He could then use his trap to bring the OTHER Eda back, destroy Masaru's monster, and go on the offensive! And he did just that... a frightening 6100 damage in one turn... he'd somehow turned a weak hand into a strong position, but he couldn't get ahead of himself, Masaru was in the finals with him for a reason. "Your move.", he said, passing turn.

Masaru watched as Alva swarmed the board suddenly, destroyed his monster, and hit him for a massive amount of damage. Frustration was starting to cloud his mind. Alva's deck was a lot more synergistic than his. It had better combos than his, and stronger monsters than his. He drew his card. Masaru's eyes widened as he saw the card that could be his salvation.

"Reveal face down card: Macro Cosmos! When this card is activated, it allows me to Special Summon Helios - The Primordial Sun from my deck! Next, I will play Gold Sarcophagus, banishing Necroface from my deck. Necroface banishes the top five cards of each of our decks into the banish zone, increasing the power of Helios. Next I will Tribute Helios to bring out its second form. Come forth, Helios Duo Megistus! Its attack is equal to the number of banished monsters x200."

Masaru realized it was only 1600 even after all this. It needed more attack. "Next I play D.D Scout Plane and play Different Dimension Gate, banishing the Plane and your Nefariouser. That brings my Helios Duo Magistus to 2000. Helios, attack his Witch of the Black Forest. With Macro Cosmos in play it gets banished instead, so you don't get its effect, and Duo Magistus becomes even stronger."

He was fully into the duel now. "At the end of my turn, my Plane returns. Your move."

This was why Masaru had made it to the finals... just like that, he'd destroyed Alva's winning position, and gotten a strong monster on the board. His strongest monster was gone, and Masaru had lost nothing from it, considering his plane returned to the field at the end of the turn. Right now he had plenty of LP to fall back on, but if he didn't pull something to get out of this losing position, it'd only be a matter of time before Masaru's monster got too strong for him to face. He took a deep breath and placed his hand on his deck. "That was a good turn, but don't think things are over just because you got Helios on the field... I draw!", he closed his eyes and pulled the card. It had to be something playable... there were a few options in his deck he could work with, but whatever it was, he had to stop this solar monster from getting even stronger.

Fuh-Rin-Ka-Zan. Alva smiled. He'd trusted his deck and it had delivered. He flipped his Hiita Face-up and sacrificed his Eda to summon his key monster. Elemental Mistress Doriado. Unfortunately he had nothing on board to increase his monster's ATK points, but with the trap he played, he wouldn't need it. He used Doriado to destroy Masaru's plane, knowing it would come back, but taking the opportunity to get some damage in anyway, before passing his turn.

helios.jpg ElementalMistressDoriado.jpg

Masaru saw the face down card and frowned as he drew his card. He had read the cards that were banished in Alva's zone. One of them was Fuh-Rin-Ka-Zan. Alva had summoned Doriado for a reason. What were the chance Alva had another one? Was he bluffing?

He switched his Plane to defense mode, and looked Alva in the eye, but Alva had a great poker face. Masaru knew that it didn't matter if he held back his attack. If it really was Fuh-Rin-Ka-Zan, it could be activated on Alva's turn too.

"It is time to see which is strongest. Go, Helios Duo Megistus. Attack his Doriado!"

"Not so fast! I activate my trap! Fuh-Rin-Ka-Zan! And with it, I'll destroy all your monsters!", he stated, flipping the card face up and showing it to Masaru. He hadn't won yet, but this one card had dealt a heavy blow to Masaru's strategy for now... if he had another strong monster like that in hand, he wasn't sure if he could face it... but he trusted his cards to pull him through.

Masaru had expected it somewhat, but it still hurt. It was a lucky card, but Masaru had been luckier with Gold Sarcophagus. He could feel his morale start to crumple. None of his monsters would cut it. He played a face down Morphing Jar #2 but it was lackluster and only bought Masaru another turn. With the defeat of Helios Duo Megistus, he had forgotten all about the utility of Necroface, which came back with Gold Sarcophagus, but it had only been a recent addition to his deck. He wasn't thinking straight at all. He had played it face down when he should've played it face up to at least fight back with a high attack monster. The duel was lost shortly after.

Next turn, Masaru set a card, and of course the plane returned... Alva drew his Rogue next turn, and set up "Possessed Partnerships" by returning a piper to his hand with his spell just to discard it for cost. If his facedown had strong defense or a dangerous effect this might be a risky play, but... Alva was close. He attacked the scout plane once more to bring Masaru to a critically low 450 LP before attacking the face down... just what he feared. A Morphing Jar. It was a setback, sure, but thankfully his deck provided him with replacement monsters. Monsters he used in combination with the spell he'd set earlier to close out the game.

Alva reached out his hand to shake, but could tell Masaru seemed disheartened. "You played well, you know... if I hadn't pulled that trap when I did, I think that things could have been different. Even if you didn't win it all, you still qualified, you know. That's nothing to sniff at. With you on my team, I'm sure we'll go far.", he stated, trying to encourage the defeated duelist. Alva wasn't gloating, he simply held out his hand to Masaru for him to take, and offered him a reassuring smile.

Masaru took it and mustered a smile, though it was hard for him. It had been a learning experience. "I promise to work extra hard to be on the team and, I think, I'll shelve this deck. I love Helios, but my deck has too many inconsistencies. I'll build another deck and become even stronger." He then took Alva's hand, and raised their hands up high in the air and pointed at Alva with his other hand in a form of recognition for Alva's victory over him in the final match, in front of the other players at Kame Game.

"That's the spirit. Even if you lose, you can always get better!", he replied, happily taking Masaru's hand and standing with him as they celebrated the duel. This was the first time that Alva had won a tourney as significant as this, and he couldn't help but smile as the crowd reacted.
 
Last edited:

Quake

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Wiley Barrow

Collab with: @The Dapper Mog

Wiley shifted in his seat, clearly nervous. As luck would have it, he was the first duelist to kick off the competition at the Black Clown. Across from him was none other than the last person he wanted to face: Claude. Wiley gulped, steeling his resolve as the duel began. Maybe this duel was a blessing in disguise. If he could beat Claude right now, it would only do wonders for his self confidence going forwards. Actively working to avoid his opponent's glare, Wiley reached for his deck, drawing his first five cards.

“Alright, kid!...” Claude began. “...I’m about to show you why nobody around here disrespects me!”

The duel had begun.

Wiley browsed his hand, searching for a play pattern that would lead to victory. Unfortunately, his hand didn’t have much. The boy played a Gravekeeper’s Guard facedown, placing an Allure of Darkness face down behind it. All he could do for now was hope his facedown spell detered Claude from blindly attacking.

He couldn’t have been more wrong. Claude’s Goblin Elite Attack Force came down swiftly, declaring an attack on the facedown Guard. It’s effect activated, and both monsters were removed from the field; Guard to the grave, and the Attack Force back to Claude’s hand. With no other actions made, the first set of turns came to an end.

“Hmph. Lucky play.” Claude grunted to his opponent, scanning his own hand.

“Alright then. I’m sending my Gravekeeper’s Commandant from my hand to the Graveyard to add Necrovalley to my hand,” Wiley narrated his actions as they occurred. Slotting his deck’s signature field spell onto the board, Wiley would summon the Gravekeeper’s Assailant next. Glancing at Claude’s empty field, Wiley turned to the battle phase, attacking Claude directly for 2000 points of damage. Assailant was a fine card on it’s own, but paired with Necrovalley he now possessed an actual threat. “I end,” Wiley whispered softly. His attack had been solid, but the young duelist was still quite nervous. His hand possessed zero defensive plays, and a monster with a greater attack stat could easily take control of the board.

“I think i’ll just get rid of that assailant. I’d rather not lose my monsters to it’s effect.” Claude sneered, pulling a card from his hand. Tribute to the Doomed came down from Claude’s hand, sending the Assailant to the Graveyard. Wiley winced. His board was empty now, apart from his Allure of Darkness masquerading as a trap. Wiley knew Claude wouldn’t care about it, and a direct attack for 2200 from his Goblin Elite Attack Force proved it. Glancing over at his Life Points, Wiley could see this duel quickly turning into a nonstop trading of blows every single turn until a victor was decided. If that was the case, his Gravekeepers stood no chance.

“Lucky for you, my goblins and orcs have to rest between attacks, so my elites switch to defense mode for now. But I don’t think it’ll matter.” Claude chuckled, crossing his arms cockily.

As the Attack Force shifted into defensive position, Wiley began his next turn, summoning the Gravekeeper’s Recruiter from his hand. With a boosted 1700 attack, it was more than capable of taking out Claude’s monster and did so in quick fashion. Wiley ended his turn quickly, anxious to see if his Recruiter would follow the duels pattern and be wiped out next. If it was, he had a chance to generate a larger board presence in the coming turns.

“Psh, whatever. I have plenty more monsters where they came from.” Claude played another from his hand, another huge orc monster.

A Tardy Orc came in from Claude, and Wiley did his best to stifle a smile. The Orc was no joke, but it’s effect meant no attack was coming this turn. Wiley shuffled his hand nervously. If no major plays happened, he would have a chance to take advantage of the Orc's non-existent defense stat. Following an extra facedown card, Claude’s turn was up.

Summoning his second Assailant to the field, Wiley activated it’s effect on attack, switching the Tardy Orc to defense and destroying it immediately. Gravekeeper’s Recruiter delivered a second blow, knocking Claude’s lifepoints down to 4300. Halfway there, Wiley assured himself.

“Oh you lucky punk. This thing isn’t over here. Here’s another one!”

Goblin Elite Attack Force came down a third time, swatting the Assailant off the field along with 300 of Wiley’s life points. Claude’s deck was no joke. As time passed, Wiley wondered how long his deck would be able to hang with the outrageous stats Claude's monsters seemed to possess. For now, he had to just keep on playing smart.

“I summon the Gravekeeper’s Nobleman,” Wiley stated. “My Recruiter attacks your Goblins... and now Nobleman hits you directly for 1500.” 2800 points left.. C’mon Wiley!

“I see you’ve caught onto the weakness of my orcs. Don’t worry, I’ll just have to switch up the strategy for now.” Claude’s mischievous grin formed slowly, his eyes practically burning holes into his opponent.

A Giant Orc came down from Claude, but no attack was declared. Wiley cursed silently to himself. He had hoped for another attack that would allow him to respond with his own heavy blow next turn. Instead, Claude’s latest monster now functioned as a great wall; it’s 2200 attack dwarfing the two keepers on Wiley’s side of the field.

Wiley’s turn came, and he quickly shifted his monsters into defense position. If an attack was to be made, he needed to preserve as many of his Life Points as possible. A Gravekeeper’s Ambusher was set face down, followed by the activation of the Allure of Darkness card that had sat silently for the past couple turns. Banishing a Gravekeepers Heretic to keep his newly replenished hand, Wiley set a trap card face down and ended his turn.

Claude’s second Tardy Orc came down and both duelists could see the control of the field was beginning to shift. Following up an attack from one of the Orcs onto the Ambusher, the turn ended. This pattern would repeat for another turn, with a third Tardy Orc being played alongside a Witch of the Black Forest the turn after that. As Wiley watched his board slowly crumble away, he could sense any chance of winning slowly begin to fade from his grasp.

“You see, scrub? This is what you get when you mess with me! The overwhelming force of my monsters crashing down around you!” Claude chided the boy, unknowingly doing his best impression of a comic book villain.

C’mon Wiley, you can do this! The boy told himself. As long as Necrovalley was on the field he had a chance. It all came down to drawing the right cards. Wiley had hoped his additional draws the turns before would have provided answers, but they had been less than ideal. Adding two more facedown cards onto the field, he prayed he could buy a couple more turns. Please, please, please!

Then like an answered prayer, everything changed. Momentum shifted as Claude’s monsters began their attack. The first Orc destroyed his face up Nobleman and Wiley recognized his chance almost immediately. “My Nobleman’s effect activates!” he practically shouted, quickly lowering his voice out of embarrassment. “I mean,,,.uhm, I can now summon a Gravekeeper from my deck in facedown defense position.” Setting a card where the Nobleman had once been, he anxiously awaited Claude’s next actions. He prayed the bully’s arrogance would get the better of him.

It did.

The second Orc’s attack fell to a Dimensional Prison, and when the third and final Orc’s attack was made on Wiley’s latest summon, it was Claude who was met with damage. 100 points of defense had been the difference, but it had been enough. Wiley’s trump card, Gravekeeper's Visionary, now blessed the field. Logging a respectable 2300 defense points and a staggering 3900 attack, Wiley could see his victory within the next few series of turns.

“W-wait! How the heck did you get such a strong monster?!” Claude asked in a panic, seeing the end of this duel rapidly approaching, and not in his favor.

“My turn! I activate my face-down spell card: Solidarity! This boosts my Gravekeepers attack by 800.” Following the spell’s activation, Wiley began his attack, targeting Claude’s Witch of the Black Forest. Unfortunately, he was quickly met with one of Claude’s own trap cards, Destruct Potion. As Wiley watched Claude’s life points rise, he wondered if he’d accidentally gotten ahead of himself. Perhaps his intense desire to win had clouded his judgement. Should he have summoned another monster instead before he attacked? Calm down, he told himself, nullifying the Witch's effect with a Solemn Strike. No mistakes, not now! This duel’s mine to lose!

Continuing the attack, Wiley shifted targets to the Tardy Orc, destroying it and inflicting a heavy 2500 points of damage. Setting a monster face down, he ended his turn. He had to be patient. Claude attempted to play Monster Reincarnation, but a lack of discard fodder rendered it useless. Without any plays apart from what was on the field, the duel was all but over.

Wiley’s final turn began and it saw his Solidarity spell removed by a face down Dust Tornado. Okay, no problem. That’s fine. I have the stats necessary to win. Flipping up a Gravekeepers Priestess and a Gravekeeper’s Spy he had set in the past turns, Wiley special summoned his final monster, Gravekeeper’s Descendant. It was an excessive play in terms of damage, but he had to win. He couldn’t risk a miscalculation that allowed his opponent back into the game.

“My Spy attacks your Giant Orc.” Wiley looked up for the first time since the duel had begun, his eyes fixed on his opponent. He had promised himself he would win, and now this next attack all but sealed the deal. Wiley could feel himself choke up a little. He wasn't just all talk. He had actually piloted his deck to a win against Claude; an accomplishment he had gambled both heart and reputation on.

“My Gravekeeper’s Visionary attacks your lifepoints directly.”

Wiley rose from his seat, hands shaking as he watched the last of Claude’s life points tick down to zero.

“I. WIN.”

Claude was stunned, dropping the remaining cards in his hand to the table. He trembled in shock, which quickly gave way to rage. He stood upright, slamming his hands on the table between them.

“No way! A scrub like you couldn’t have beaten me! You cheated!” Claude shouted, raising his hand to accusingly point a finger at the boy.

Wiley said nothing, calmly gathering his cards up off the table as well as the few that had slipped onto the floor. His point had been made. Any snipes and jabs would only make him out as a gloat and a sore winner.

Claude was clearly fuming, and this was a bad display for the shop, which brought Mr. Devlin over to inspect the damage. He looked accusingly at Claude, whom had been the absolute poster boy for sore losers any time he lost, crossing his arms.

“Now, Claude, everyone loses sometimes. We have cameras that record every duel, we could go back and watch the footage to see if there were any misdeeds done by your opponent. But something tells me that we would just be wasting everyone’s time. Isn’t that right?” Claude’s face turned red as his rage swelled. He picked up his deck and shoved it in his deck box while again pointing at the boy.

“This isn’t over! I will duel you again, and I will mop the floor with you like you deserve, scrub!” Claude shouted in anger before stomping off and out of the shop.

Mr. Devlin simply offered the boy a charming smile. “Don’t worry, kid. He’s just like that. You played a great duel. You earned your win, don’t let him talk down to you.” He flashed him a wink before moving back behind the counter to tally Wiley’s win.

"Thanks, sir!" Wiley smiled weakly, glad to be done with the whole situation. Having gathered up his possessions, the Gravekeeper's duelist returned to his seat to await his next duel. He was glad to have won, but he knew that luck had played a big part in his first win. If he was to keep advancing, he would need to reevaluate his deck sooner than later.
 

foodforpigs

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Morgana's first opponent in the Black Clown tournament was a Red-Eyes Black Dragon user. She had dyed black and red hair and rocked blacks and reds as well. There were no introductions. They knew which table they were dueling at, and the other was merely just a stepping stone to achieving the goal of winning the tournament. Morgana won the coin toss and drew her first hand. No first turn good play. She decided to play her entire hand as a show of force, that she wouldn't back down no matter the hand she was dealt.

"I summon Robolady in Attack Mode."
The girl snickered at such a puny and pathetic monster.
Morgana ignored it, dumping the rest of her hand in a single turn: Machine Assembly Line, Gravity Blaster (equipping it to Robolady) and activating its effect to have it gain 400 ATK, setting a Pulse Mines, and finally activating Messenger of Pace, before passing the turn.

"Time for you to see what a real turn looks like! I draw!"
"First, I activate Ancient Rules. This allows me to summon a Red-Eyes Black Dragon to my side of the field without any Tributes. Next I summon Red Eyes Darkness Dragon from my hand by Tributing the Red-Eyes. Battle."
She entered the battle step and declared an attack. Morgana pointed at her Messenger of Peace that her opponent had glossed over.
"Monsters with 1500 ATK or more cannot attack as long as this card remains face up on the field."
"Coward." her opponent spat.
Morgana shrugged.
"I end my turn."

Morgana drew a card and paid the measly 100 LP to keep Messenger of Peace on the field. The card she drew was Gyroid. This card, once per turn, could not be destroyed by battle. It represented her resilience. She set it face down. She activated Gravity Blaster again. With the combination of Machine Assembly Line, her Robolady was at 1450 ATK, just under the ATK limit of Messenger of Peace. She indicated a turn end.

"Pathetic." muttered her opponent. She drew and activated Cards of Consonance to discard Flamvell Guard to draw 2 cards. The two cards she drew were TWO Dragon Treasures, which she immediately equipped to Red Eyes Darkness Dragon, for a total of a 600 ATK/DEF boost. Next she set Masked Dragon, ending her turn.

Morgana drew a 7 Completed and paid 100 LP again. Everyone knew it as a Bandit Keith card, but she knew it was a good, versatile card. She wanted to change how people looked at Machines in general. Hell Kaiser helped a lot to change that. She attacked with Robolady, thinking the effect of the face down would be negated, but it was a Masked Dragon, whose effect activated in the graveyard, so her opponent could summon another, and making her Red-Eyes Darkness Dragon even stronger. She ended her turn, purposefully not activating Gravity Blaster to stay under the threshold of Messenger of Peace.

Her opponent drew and switched her Masked Dragon to Attack Mode.
"At least this monster is weak enough to duck under your Messenger of Peace. Go, attack her face down!"
Morgana flipped up her Gyroid, which didn't die because of it's once per turn cannot be destroyed by battle effect.
"Why won't your monsters just die already." her opponent seethed.
Morgana shrugged again. "Not my problem."

100 LP and a new draw - King of the Swamp. Her hand was building up again from the rough start. She activated 7 Completed and equipped it to her Gyroid to give it 700 DEF, to make it harder to kill. As it had 1700 DEF, no monster that could duck under Messenger of Peace could get over it, making it a good wall.

Next Morgana attacked into Masked Dragon, expecting her opponent to get another Masked Dragon, but instead she got Black Eyes Chick. Crud, thought Morgana. It telegraphed her opponent had another Red-Eyes in hand. She activated Gravity Blaster to start building up ATK/DEF now, to try and get it strong enough to defeat her opponent's monsters, but didn't know how much longer Messenger of Peace could hold out.

Morgana's opponent did exactly as she predicted, then passed the turn.

100 LP. She drew Polymerization. She now had enough to summon a Roboyaru, but it wasn't enough, not yet. Even with Roboyaru's attack boost, it wasn't enough to destroy either creature. Activate Gravity Blaster, pass.

"What an embarrassment." said her opponent, setting her drawn card. "Are you going to keep hiding forever? Why wait to face the pain I'm about to unleash upon you?"

Morgana narrowed her eyes and drew her card. "Why wait for pain, when I can give it to you now!"
She moved Messenger of Peace to the graveyard.
"I activate Polymerization."
"Roboyaru is a weak monster." said her opponent.
"Chain!" replied Morgana. "Pulse Mines. When there a Machine type monster on my side of the field, all your monsters are switched to Defense position."
She summoned Roboyaru as her opponent predicted.
"Fool." said her opponent. "My Red-Eyes Darkness Dragon still has more than enough defense points to tank a hit from your pitiful Machine."
"Activate Equip Spell Card, Fusion Weapon. This gives a Fusion Monster on my side of the field 1500 ATK and DEF points. More than enough to destroy your Red-Eyes Darkness Dragon."
"No, impossible!"
"Go, Roboyaru, Energy Lance!"
Her opponent grimaced as she moved her 4500 ATK/2600 DEF monster to the grave.

Her opponent had gave it a valiant effort afterward and they dueled in silence. Her opponent did take out Gyroid out of a need to destroy one thing with Tyrant Wing, for the sake of her honor as a duelist. It wasn't enough, as her Red-Eyes was destroyed the following turn. The rest was clean up. Morgana's opponent left after the duel concluded. No hand shake, no words.
 
Last edited:

Quake

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Wiley Barrow


Collab w/: @foodforpigs

It felt like it had only been a few minutes between Wiley's first and second duel. He had briefly watched his next opponent's duel from afar, and it was clear she was no slouch. Morgana's dismantling of her last opponent had been a sight to behold. Gingerly taking his seat, Wiley smiled weakly at her. He still had nerves, but Morgana had more-or-less stuck up for him when the entire situation with Claude had begun. Thus, he found himself rather grateful.

"Hey, uhm...I just wanted to say thanks..for before. You didn't have to do any of that," he mumbled. "Anyways, lets do this!"

Here we go. Here we go. Here we go. I've got this.
Wiley shuffled his deck and set it down on the table. He had made a few changes to it now, and he could only hope they would pay off. It was his turn first. Drawing his initial hand, the boy set Gravekeeper's Recruiter face down, accompanied by a spell face down behind it . He couldn't attack this turn, so he would play it cautious and try to scout Morgana's hand.

Morgana inclined her head as a sign of dignified respect. "It is a courtesy to be professional on and off the battlefield. I didn't want your first impression of the Black Clown to be Claude." She gave Wiley the smallest of smiles and snorted, muttering, "Little D."

She wiped the smile on her face when she drew her card and looked at the field. His play had been reasonable and safe, not overextending.

"I summon Steamroid in Attack mode. It has 1800 ATK, and when it attacks it gains 500 ATK during the Damage Step. Battle." It ran over Gravekeeper's Recruiter, and it searched Gravekeeper's Commandant. Morgana wasn't too familiar with Gravekeepers, but they were a solid archetype, she heard. "Next I play one card face down and end my turn."

Thee loss of the Recruiter had been unfortunate, but it was an outcome that Wiley had expected.

"I discard my Commandant to add Necrovalley to my hand, which I now play. This field spell gives my Gravekeepers an additional 500 attack and defense as well as locking down both our graveyards. Next, I summon my Gravekeeper's Spiritualist." Spiritualist was a fine monster, even though it's 2000 attack points clearly didn't measure up to Morgana's Steamroid. Fortunately, the machine monster also lost attack points if it was targeted for an attack. I should win this, Wiley thought.

"Let's go. My Spiritualist attacks your Steamroid!"

"Not so fast. Activate Trap. Pulse Mines! When I have a Machine type monster on my side of the field, all your monsters are switched to Defense mode and new cards you summon will also be switched to Defense mode. Now I keep Steamroid alive and on the offensive, and not have it suffer the drawback of losing ATK points."

Damn, Wiley thought. Spiritualist was all but dead next turn.

"Okay. I guess, uh, I'll activate my facedown spell, Hidden Temples of Necrovalley! As long as I have Necrovalley, no monsters can be special summoned except Gravekeepers." Wiley wasn't sure how Morgana's deck worked, but he feared the possibility of a big monster coming and taking control of the game. At least this way he could hopefully buy some time after his Spiritualist was lost. "I end my turn."

Morgana asked for permission to flip and read the card carefully before it went to her turn, again not familiar with this archetype. After she read it again, she raised an eyebrow. This card would be a great problem against her strategy that focused on fusion summoning Roboyaru if it wasn't removed quickly. Fortunately for her, there was a built-in condition to the card her opponent must've forgotten.

"I see." she said. "I draw. Battle. My Steamroid attacks, gaining 500 ATK points during the Damage Step. When your Spritualist is destroyed, you have no Gravekeeper monsters on the field. Hence, by the condition on the last line of Hidden Tombs of Necrovalley, it is destroyed. I end my turn."

There was no gloating or malice in her voice; it was like she was reading a textbook aloud. She had simply stated the turn as a matter of cold fact. There was no room for professionals to verbally call out mistakes, but simply let those mistakes speak for themselves, and move on.

Drat! Wiley had messed up. As he glanced at his empty board he couldn't believe he had made such a bonehead mistake. With such a powerful effect, it naturally made sense his Hidden Temples possessed an equally detrimental downside. Calm down, let's think this through. The boy couldn't afford to keep making simple mistakes like that if he wanted to win. Glancing at his four cards in hand, he had to make the most of his plays until he found his win condition.

"I place one card face down, and summon Gravekeeper's Nobleman to field." Let's try this again. Launching into his battle phase, Wiley ordered his Nobleman to attack, swiftly dispatching the Steamroid and clearing his opponent's board. It wasn't much, but for now Wiley had taken control of the game.

Morgana inclined her head again, having seen Wiley regain his confidence and move on. She drew her card for the turn. Her hand was cluttered with her 2 copies of Messenger of Peace which she didn't need right now, fusion materials to make Roboyaru, Power Bond, and Fusion Weapon. She didn't know what other monsters Wiley had in his deck, but she would do what her deck was made to do.

"Now then. Let us see how you handle this: Power Bond. This card not only fuses materials from my hand or field for a Machine Fusion Monster, it doubles its original number of ATK points. At the end of the turn, I will take damage equal to the original ATK of my summoned monster. Show yourself, Roboyaru!"

She played Roboyaru from her Extra Deck and pointed at the card. "Since this card's original attack is 1200, it is now 2400. When it attacks a monster, it gets a boost of 1000. But that's not all, I also play the Equip Spell Card, Fusion Weapon. This increases the ATK/DEF values of my monster by 1500, which means its attack is now 3900, and when it attacks 4900. Roboyaru, Energy Lance."

It took 3400 damage off Wiley's life points, but Morgana knew it wasn't over. She knew his Nobleman had an effect to summon a monster from his deck. She didn't know what, but she would not retreat in the face of a respectable enemy. She ended her turn and took 1200 LP damage as the result of Power Bond.

Morgana's fusion had been everything Wiley had feared. Nearly half his lifepoints had been wiped out in a single turn. How he wished he hadn't misplayed his Hidden Temples! Fortunately, his lost Nobleman had given him a chance to respond with a facedown monster and his hand now possessed a suitable response to the massive threat looming on Morgana's side of the field.

"My turn! I summon my Gravekeeper's Descendant, and flip summon my Recruiter. By Descendant's effect, I am able to tribute a fellow Gravekeeper to destroy one card on the field. I send my Recruiter to the grave and I select your Roboyaru!" Wiley breathed a small sigh of relief as his monster's effect went through. "Next, my tributed Recruiter's effect activates!" Wiley searched through his deck, adding a new Commandant to his hand. He had to keep Roboyaru off the field, which meant he absolutely needed Necrovalley to stay active. "Finally, my Descendant attacks you directly and I end my turn."

When Morgana moved her strongest monster to the grave, her face remained placid. She asked for permission to read Descendant again. It worked well with the other monsters Wiley had been using. If you killed one by battle, another one was likely to take its place. They both had an equal amount of LP at 4900.

She drew her card, 7 Completed, which was useless without a monster.

"So, you can activate Gravekeeper's Descendant as many times as you have other Gravekeepers. That changes my turn a bit. I play Messenger of Peace, then I play another copy of Messenger of Peace. This card means that no monster greater than 1500 can attack." Morgana was confident she didn't have to explain why she had to play two copies. With what she could see on board, Wiley could only destroy one of the copies with Descendant each turn with a Normal Summon of another Gravekeeper's monster, buying her at least some time, or so she thought. "I end my turn."

With a pair of Messengers of Peace on Morgana's board and nothing else, Wiley recognized he had a possible chance to steamroll his way to a win. However, first he had to be able to make an attack.

"I activate my facedown card, Gravekeeper's Stele! This lets me add two Gravekeeper monsters from the grave to my hand. Next, my Recruiter returns to the field once more, and I tribute him to destroy one of your Messengers of Peace." Adding another monster back into his hand, Wiley proceeded to activate a Mystical Space Typhoon, clearing the second Messenger. Switching to the battle phase, Wiley would swing once more with his Descendant before ending his turn.

When Gravekeeper's Stele was activated, Morgana couldn't help by be impressed. Her opponent had 6 cards in his hand to her 1. At the end of the turn, he was only down to 5 with his Recruiter.

"I draw. I play Machina Gearframe from my hand. When played, this card allows me to search for a Machina card from my deck. I will choose the only target, Machina Fortress." She let Machina Fortress stay on the table for Wiley to read while she re-read Necrovalley. "Not that it will do me any good with Necrovalley on the field. Do you see why?"

It was a little test to test her opponent's chops, but this was also her way of being friendly. "If I had Gearframe when summoning Roboyaru, it would've been better too, so I could equip it to prevent it from being destroyed once, but that's the game sometimes, isn't it?"

When their small interaction was concluded, she played 7 Completed, raising Gearframe's attack to 2500 and attacking into Gravekeeper's Descendant. "I end my turn." she said.

As Morgana explained her line of play, Wiley thanked the card gods that he hadn't managed to lose his field spell. Machina's Fortress' effect seemed absolutely ridiculous to him, but his control over the graveyards helped keep it in check. What surprised him more was that Morgana was talking to him. Apart from their exchange at the beginning of the duel, Wiley had assumed she was just being nice and didn't take her as one for small talk.

"Uh..Sometimes we're at the mercy of our draws," Wiley replied, cringing internally as he attempted to say something profound. What else could he say? Drawing his next card, the beet-faced boy tried to refocus himself on winning. Losing the Descendant had been a tough blow for him. Without it, he had lost a powerful effect that let him control the field. Morgana's Machina Gearframe was a massive creature, and Wiley could tell he would need more than what his hand possessed if he hoped to pull out a win. Flipping through his graveyard, he silently counted the amount of Gravekeepers he had lost. Five. If he could just somehow draw into his Visionary, it would come in with an additional 1500 attack, and it's effect paired with his hand full of monsters could prevent it from being destroyed. Unfortunately for now, all Wiley could do was wait and pray. Setting a monster face down, he quietly ended his turn.

Morgana looked at Wiley and only after looked at her new drawn card. It looked like he was still focusing on winning despite that he had a massive hand advantage over hers. 5 cards to her 2, and one of those cards she had was a dud.

"I play Machine Assembly Line from my hand." said Morgana. It was the final card she felt she was going to play, but she might as well play them all. She let Wiley silently read the card rather than explain it, since most of it was useless text. She had talked too much already by trying to be friendly, and he probably thought she was trying to get him off his game.

"Next, I attack your facedown with my 2700 ATK Machina Gearframe." No retreat.

Wiley flipped his targeted monster face up: Gravekeeper's Spy. "My Spy's effect activates, allowing me to summon a monster with 1500 or less attack from my deck to the field." A quick shuffle and Gravekeeper's Headman was summoned in face-up defense position. "Additionally, when my Headman is summoned, I can summon a level four Gravekeeper to the field from my graveyard. " Wiley set his second summon facedown. He felt good. He had lost his spy but managed to preserve his life points.

Turns changed hands and Wiley flipped his facedown monster card up, revealing his Descendant once more and activating it's effect to remove Gearframe from play. Next, he summoned a second Descendant from his hand. Their effects had nearly won him the match on their own, and it felt right that they were the ones to end the duel. Wiley knew his opponents last cards was the Fortress, and with Machine Assembly Line effectively nullified by Necrovalley, there were no plays left.

"My Descendants attack you directly."

Morgana gave Wiley another small smile again before it faded back into a neutral expression, and cleaned up the field of her cards.

"Thank you for the duel." she said. "Your next opponent is Charles Schwartz. If you still wish to pay me back for the professional courtesy from earlier, for which you are under no obligation since it was given for free, I have but a singular request. Offer him no mercy in the final round, just as you offered none against me."

"You're the one I should be thanking. You're really strong. I, uhm...i'll try my best," Wiley stammered, giving a nervous smile. Somehow, he was still in the competition. He didn't know if he could beat his next opponent, but he had to try. The Finals were next.
 

Quake

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Wiley Barrow


Collab w: @Flame

The first two rounds had been a breeze for Charlie, naturally. This was to be expected of patrons of a small shop like this... they still needed time to mature their dueling skills and improve their decks... Meanwhile, Charlie had spent his whole life honing the craft. Perhaps if he'd not joined this particular tournament a new star would have arisen among the duelists he'd defeated, but it was just their misfortune that they should have to face him. And now, it was the final round... Lo, who should he behold but the boy he'd sat at the table with when this whole tournament had started. The boy seemed innocuous enough, but if he had made it this far, he was worthy of a proper duel.

He arrived at the table where Wiley was already seated, and looked down at him with a smile, holding his hand out to shake the boy's. "Well met, my soon-to-be opponent. 'Twill be an honor to duel you... however, I must say that a little table in a shabby shop such as this is not the proper battleground for a duel between two future participants in this great city... Indeed, I think that it's best we create some spectacle, no? Many duels in our future shall be like this.", he explained, before snapping his fingers. A bodyguard arrived from the crowd that surrounded the table on command, as if he had always been there. He held a long suitcase, which he placed on the table, careful not to disturb any belongings Wiley had placed previously. The bodyguard disappeared as quickly as he had arrived, and Charlie flipped open the case with a flourish. Inside the case was a duel disk.

"Please, do take it, and we shall take this outside... I have already made the arrangements.", he explained, before walking through the crowd, and out the front door of the shop, where his bodyguards had somehow gotten the clearance to cordon off a part of the street. There was a clear area to duel using state-of-the-art hologram technology.

Wiley gingerly picked up the disk, shoving it awkwardly onto his arm. He'd seen duel disks before, but never ones like this. The things probably cost more than his whole deck combined! Stepping outside and into the street, he couldn't help but feel incredibly uncomfortable. Eyes had gathered from all around, anxious to witness the upcoming duel. I can do this, he told himself. I've made it to the Finals. That had to count for something. The large audience made him incredibly self-conscious, but the last thing he wanted was to show weakness. Placing his deck into the appropriate slot on his arm, Wiley took his stand at one of the ends of the cordoned off area.

"L-let's do this!" he yelled, trying to psych himself up.

Charlie could tell the boy was anxious, and almost reconsidered taking things to this level for his sake, but Wiley would have to start somewhere. This duel was simply a formality, but it was good practice to get a future partner of his used to the main method of dueling that would be taking place during the circuit. Once Wiley had gotten ready, Charlie drew his duel saber from it's carrying sheathe and held it out in front of him, pressing a button on the hilt that activated the holographic projection before flicking the blade to the side, causing his cards to automatically draw. "So it begins!", he cried, and began his turn. He'd swapped to his personal deck before this match, so whatever Wiley had, he'd be facing Charlie at full strength.

His hand wasn't the best it could possibly be, but it was playable all the same. He summoned a "Noble Knight Artorigus", used a spell to draw Gallatin, and equipped it to his monster, then played his field spell and ended his turn.

Wiley glanced at his hand. No Necrovalley; No Commandant. It wasn't a good start. If he hoped to not make a fool out of himself, he would need to be smart. Actively working to avoid the crowds gaze, Wiley set a Gravekeeper's Priestess facedown. It had respectable stats and was a monster he didn't mind burning for time. Setting a Stele facedown behind it, he hoped his opponent would fall for his trap bluff. He had tried this bluff on Claude and it hadn't mattered, but perhaps Charlie was a bit more cautious. Time would tell.
"That's all for me then."

Charlie drew, and pulled "Noble Knight Drystan". Unfortunately it's effect was unusable right now, what with all of Wiley's cards being face down, and Charlie having no other equips at the moment, but he could still whittle down Wiley's Life Points. If he had a way of destroying Charlie's monsters right now with those face downs, he could always recoup his losses with other cards... it was best not to let him build a defensive position, if possible, especially with the clock ticking on Gallatin's attack loss effect. He decided to summon Drystan, and attack his facedown with that monster, before following up with Atrorigus, dealing a respectable 2600 Damage. With that, he set a trap, and ended his turn.

These actions became a pattern, and Wiley's life points slowly dropped each round. At one point he was able to play his Spell Shattering Arrow to deal some damage back to Charlie, but the gravekeeper duelist was quickly running out of gas. Charlie always seemed to simply have another equip spell. As the duel continued, the audience around Wiley seemed to grow sour at his boring plays, but there was simply nothing he could do. His turn came around again, and Wiley drew once more. Still no Necrovalley. What was going on? Had he just always been really lucky in the past duels? Glancing at his dwindling lifepoints, the boy couldn't help but start to feel anxious. Nothing he possessed could stand up to his opponent's Noble Knights, and any bluffs he had tried had done nothing. All he could do now was hope his next cards paid off.

"I activate Allure of Darkness! This let's me draw two cards in exchange for banishing one dark monster from my hand!" Wiley added two cards to his hand, banishing a Heretic in response. Gravekeepers Chief was the first card, and was useless without a tribute. Even he could play it, lack of a field spell meant it simply didn't have enough attack. The second card was Torrential Tribute. The boys eyes widened slightly. Was this his chance to turn everything around? Setting a Gravekeeper's Guard facedown, he hoped he could bait Charlie into another summon.

"You'll never win without attacking, and you're running out of time.", Charlie stated, drawing another card, another Noble Knight from his deck. It seemed the only thing the boy could do was set cards and wait for Charlie to destroy them, which is what he did again this turn. Wiley's life points were quite low, and if he didn't have an ace up his sleeve, or an effective set card... this duel was all but over. Charlie played his monster in attack position, ready to finish the duel.

It was now or never.
"I activate my trap card, Torrential Tribute!" Wiley watched as the field was cleared of monsters. He didn't know if it mattered in the long run, but his opponent had already summoned and unless a special summon was going down, his next turn would allow him to possibly take control of the game.

Well, in retrospect, it was only a matter of time before Charlie fell for some trap. He'd already used his normal summon, and he didn't have any more plays to make this turn. "Very well, let's see what you can do.", he answered. "I pass turn to you."

"Here we go." Wiley pulled his next card and gave a sigh of relief. "I discard my Commandant to play Necrovalley." Things were slowly starting to go his way. The next few turns passed rather quickly as Wiley's side of the field slowly began to flood with monsters. Most would have been manageable even with their field spell boost, but Wiley's Descendant had managed to keep the game in his control thanks to it's powerful removal effect. Visionary was still nowhere to be seen, but as turns passed Wiley was beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The gap between the two duelist's lifepoints was gradually decreasing. Just a little more,he told himself.

Charlie had wisely only played enough of his resources to keep himself in the game as the turns progressed. There was nothing he had in hand that could deal with Necrovalley, and unless he did, there was no chance that he'd get back in the game proper. If he didn't pull something soon, he'd be in a pinch... but thankfully, on his draw just before things seemed most dire, he had pulled Mystical Space Typhoon. Charlie smiled at his winning card before playing it, removing the bothersome field spell. "You've played well, but I think I'm going to end things here.", he stated confidently, activating a trap he'd set a few turns ago that had been forgotten. Avalon. With this card, he could banish 5 monsters from his grave, including an "Artorigus" and a "Laundsallyn" card to destroy every card on this field. All of Wiley's monsters, his traps... he would feel the sting of the torrential tribute he had used previously. But, it wasn't over yet. Once the board was clear, Charlie activated a trap in his grave to special summon another "Noble Knight Artorigus", and equipped him with the Gallatin he had been holding onto. With that, his monster's attack rose to 2800, just enought to close out the game. And close the game Charlie did, in spectacular fashion as he attacked Wiley's Life Points directly.

Wiley was stunned. A flood of emotions surged through him as he watched his life points trickle down to zero. On one hand, he was upset that he'd lost, but on the other he found a small comfort in no longer having to live up to the brash claims he had made earlier that day. The thought of second place left a bitter taste in his mouth, but what could he do? He had been beaten fair and square. Slowly sliding the duel disk off his arm, Wiley returned it to one of the suited bodyguards nearby before approaching the duel's victor. The boy's heart hurt a little, but he wasn't a sore loser.

"Uhm...C-congratulations on the win," Wiley said with a weak smile, offering out a handshake. "Honestly, I really wanted this one...but I guess I've still got a ways to go." The boy paused, unsure of what else to say. "A-anyways! Let's do our best in the circuit together. I'm glad someone as good as you is on our side!"

Charlie smiled and took the boy's hand, shaking it firmly. "Without a bit of luck on my side, it may have been your win, you know.", he replied, winking at the boy. "You should have more confidence in yourself, I think you just had an unlucky start is all. Regardless of the outcome of this duel, we're both winners. You've done well today. I'm quite confident that with skills like yours on our team, we may definitely take this tournament by storm.", he assured Wiley, before turning to the guard who'd taken the duel disk. "He can keep it, I'm quite certain that the ones being handed out for the tournament are of... lesser quality. No teammate of mine is going to participate in a tournament of this scale with anything less than the best.", he ordered his bodyguards as he folded his arms. "Though, you can have them hold onto your disk for you, if you like.", he explained, letting Wiley know he didn't have to take it right back if he didn't feel like it.

Wiley smiled, comforted a bit by his opponents words. The additional offer of the duel disk was nice, and he couldn't pretend it hadn't grown on him during their duel. There was just something so fascinating about seeing art on paper cards turned into lifelike creatures before your very eyes.

"Oh, gee that's really nice! You didn't have to do that, but since you're offering..." Wiley slowly took the disk back, placing it gently into the bag around his hip. The last thing he wanted was to damage such an incredible piece of tech. "Thanks again!"
 

foodforpigs

uncultured swine
FOLKLORE MEMBER
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3cffbde7e754ed15bb9fe23795fddea4.jpg Morgana sat by a table by herself and looked at her deck pensively. Somehow she had qualified to be part of the team that represented the Black Clown, but her deck was nowhere near as powerful as the decks in the finals. Wiley had told her she was strong, but Wiley had all the advantages. She loved Roboyaru and Robolady, and what they represented, but couldn't escape the reality of getting 3 for 1'd by Gravekeeper's Descendant. She stewed on that duel for a long time. She also stewed on the audacity of Charles for changing the rules of the engagement. Wiley wasn't familiar with duel disk technology. Nobody was, and Charlie shoved one onto him without any prior notice. She felt like it was to psych him out to force a mistake. She had cheered internally to see Wiley Torrential Tribute Charlie's board, at least. So focused on her internal thoughts and looking at a binder of cards she neglected to see what the time was.



1659854513294.png The evening had progressed quickly once the initial event was over. Mr. Devlin was getting prepared to close up the shop when he realized one of his customers was still in the store. He recognized her as one of his regulars. Or, at least, she had been in his shop on occasion. The shop owner absently flicked one of his signature dice earrings as he walked over to her, leaning against the table as he offered her a smile.

"Hey, you okay? Morgana, right? I'm afraid we're closing up. There is a public announcement coming tonight about the circuit, and since you'll be representing the shop, don't you want to be home to see it?"

His tone was pleasant and friendly, and genuine concerned dripped from his voice.
Morgana had been startled slightly, but she looked up at Mr. Devlin. She had just finished putting the cards in her deck into sleeves, indicating that she was dismantling it for good.

"Oh, yes, I'm okay. Go home? Yes, sir." she said, taking what she thought was a rhetorical question as a strong suggestion to go home, rather than one from simple concern. Morgana still looked troubled, though, pensiveness written on her face despite her best efforts to try and hide it. However, she started to pack up just the same to leave.

Mr. Devlin looked at the girl with sympathetic eyes, sliding into the chair across from her.

"You look like you've got a lot on your mind, Morgana. You did great tonight. Why do you look so glum?"
Morgana had just zipped up her backpack. She thought for a moment before establishing eye contact back with Mr. Devlin.

"Well sir, it's... well, frankly, hmm. I do not believe I'm even in the same league as the finalists."

Mr. Devlin frowned at the young woman's words, folding his hands on the table in front of him. A look of recognition was in his eyes as he thought about what to say.

"There are always going to be people who are better. That doesn't make you inferior, and it definitely doesn't mean you aren't worthy of their company. Of being their ally. More importantly, it doesn't make you less worthy of being their friend."

Mr. Devlin thought for a moment, a smile crossing his face as he recalled the days of before, when he befriended the king of games.

"You know, there was a time when I all I cared about was getting my game made and out to the world. I was obsessed with achieving my goal, and I didn't care who I hurt to do it. I chose to be alone. Through happenstance, I discovered the truth of games again through my friendship with Yugi and his friends."

Mr. Devlin figured he was probably getting a little too preachy, and perhaps she needed to focus on something more tangible.

"Tell me, why is it that you feel you don't belong in the same league as the other winners? I watched you play, you're quite skilled."
"Thank you, Mr. Devlin, but I will try to explain." Morgana pondered a bit. "Well sir, their decks are a lot more consistent, generate more hand advantage than mine, and are able to deal with threats better. Part of what makes a duelist truly skilled is the way they build their deck, is it not?"

Mr. Devlin pondered on the young woman's words, scratching at the whiskers on his chin that he had decided to grow out in recent years.

"You have a point, yes. Being able to build a solid and consistent deck is an important part of it. However, Yugi was always insistent that it was far more about your heart than your cards. You see, a truly great duelist can take a deck with just common cards and make something great out of it. Heck, when I played against Yugi back in the day, I almost beat him with my Gradius deck. Ask any of the regulars now and they'd say I was crazy."

Mr. Devlin laughed as he spoke the last few sentences, a hearty and happy sound that could light up a room of the most dour of people. The man smiled at her, interlocking his fingers before continuing;

"I'm not a particularly great duelist, but I have played with the best, and I have seen the best throw down. I know a great duelist when I see one, and you have the potential to be just that, young lady."

Morgana looked up, her mouth slightly agape as she found herself enraptured by Mr. Devlin's account of dueling Yugi himself with Gradius and caught off guard by his cheery laughter and in his high praise of her potential. That was the piece she seemed to be missing. There was always potential to be better. Morgana smiled a small smile.

"I will get going then to catch the announcement and get a head start on my bedrest. I'm not going to help myself any by being sleep deprived. Good night, Mr. Devlin." she said. She took her backpack with her binders of cards and headed home. Suddenly her backpack was felt like it was a chest of treasure on her back. Rather than seeing her deck deconstruction as the end, she was it as opportunity to begin again. Perhaps those two finalists could help her tune it? They weren't quite her friends yet, but they were her teammates. Mr. Devlin offered the girl another bright smile, happy to see the change in her demeanor. Sure, her attitude was still very stoic, but he could see the shift in her eyes. As she rose and prepared to leave, he nodded to her,

"Goodnight, Morgana. And you can call me Duke." The shop owner flashed her a smile as she left the shop.
 
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TheSly

Never Stops Talking
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~ Jack vs Mika ~
~ The Devil don't scare no Amazon ~
Interactions - Mika
Written in collaboration with - @The Dapper Mog




Mika hadn’t really moved from her seat since she lost her position in the tournament. It wasn’t so much that she was upset as it was she was lost in thought. Sure, she definitely had some confidence issues, and she was uncertain if her deck could actually take her somewhere with how it is now. But her new friends had confidence in her, and that definitely helped. Now, however, she witnessed the end of the finals, and all that was left was to determine an official 3rd place. So she had to have another duel. While she enjoyed the game, she would have to admit to being quite nervous about playing again already.

Jack, meanwhile, had done his best to be as far in the front row to the duels of the other participants as he could. If he wasn’t going to actually duel here, he might as well enjoy watching for a while. In some way, it felt a little like being a small kid again, when he didn’t have a deck and all he could do was watch other kids play. He paid particular attention to Alva’s duels. The pale boy was the only person he was even close to knowing on some level here, so he took it upon himself to cheer him on where he could. At least a little bit of his pride was restored when Alva ended up winning the entire tournament. He lost to the overall winner, which somehow made him feel a little happier about it all.

The tournament had basically wrapped up, and Jack was about to pack his things and leave as well, when he was approached by another contestant he briefly watched, Mika, who technically shared 3rd place with him. She suggested holding a duel to find out who was in third place proper, and Jack was more than happy to oblige her.

When the match was being set up, it appeared that several of the contestants had already bailed from the shop, and Mika soon found herself face to face with her next opponent, and the person she would be competing with for the spot on the team. Her fingers nimbly shuffled the cards in her deck as she looked at him, offering him a polite smile.

“You ready?”

“About as ready as I’ll ever be.” Jack answered back, as he drew his opening hand. Though, once his fingers touched the top of his deck to pull the fifth card, Terrorking Archfiend, he felt a little uneasy, not nervous exactly, though it was the closest thing he could approximate the feeling to and so he wrote it off as just that.

“Would you like to begin?”

Mika had wound up a little lost in her own world when the boy replied, but she managed a nod as she looked over her hand, lips forming a frown.

“Hmm…”

This wasn’t a great start, and something told her that playing it a little safe was probably a better bet. Or maybe she was just second guessing herself.

“I’ll just put two cards face down and end my turn.”

Jack sighed as he looked over his cards. They weren’t great, but, with any luck he could fix that, “I’ll play two copies of Dark World Dealings, so we both get to draw two cards, but have to discard two cards as well.”

The two cards Jack drew were Desrook Archfiend and Foolish Burial and he discarded a Battle-Scarred and the Terrorking Archfiend he drew. “First, I’ll activate Foolish Burial. With its effect, I will send Imprisoned Queen Archfiend from the deck to the graveyard.” For now, this play would not help much, but, if he managed to get Pandemonium onto the field, the Imprisoned Queen in the Graveyard would continue to bolster the attack of the Archfiends on his field, making them even more powerful than they were already. He just needed to get to Pandemonium in time.

“Next, I will just set a spell or trap card face-down and that will end my turn.” Though in theory not an impressive play, Jack had his plans. So long as that set card activated properly he would end up with the strongest Monster in the deck on his field. Now he only had to hope Mika had no direct answers for him.

Mika’s draws had been rather useless, picking up an Unfriendly Amazon and a Defense Draw respectively, both of which she simply sent to the graveyard. She was too risky most of the time to play, and it seemed that whatever he was planning was going to be a problem. Mika’s brow furrowed as she looked at him, then his field, noting the lack of a monster. What was his plan?

“Uhm, okay…I’ll summon Amazoness Blowpiper, then attack your life points with her.”

“Ah, not so fast there. In response, I will activate Archfiend’s Roar. I will pay 500 Life Points in order to Special Summon Terrorking Archfiend from the graveyard in attack position. Though, he’ll be destroyed during the end of this turn.”

Mika was going to vocalize a response, but stopped herself, her frown only deepening as she nodded, tapping a finger to her lips in thought. She supposed there was nothing for it.

“Well, that’s my turn. You’re go.”

“Alright, so during the end of your turn Terrorking Archfiend is destroyed.” As Jack spoke, he moved the Terrorking over to the graveyard, though as he did he also revealed a card in his hand: Desrook Archfiend.

“But, since Terrorking Archfiend is destroyed and sent to the graveyard, I can discard Desrook Archfiend to revive him again.” Just as quickly as Terrorking Archfiend had left the field, it reappeared again. Jack was pleased with himself already. It had been a few years since he did this play and having it go off without a hitch now was a pretty nice feeling.

“Now, let’s start my turn.” Jack drew an Archfiend Soldier, not necessarily what he wanted to draw, but it would certainly not hurt to have, “At the beginning of my turn I will have to pay 800 life points to keep Terrorking Archfiend on the field.”

Jack simply proceeded to summon his Archfiend Soldier, use it to destroy Mika’s Amazoness Blowpiper, dealing 1100 points of damage in the process. Once her board was cleared Jack declared a final attack with Terrorking Archfiend. He had to take out Mika before the Archfiends’ effect damage took him out.

Mika moved her monster to her graveyard silently, but assured herself that she was still in this game. Her trap would protect her from the bigger hit.

“When you attack with the king, I’ll use my Defense Draw trap to prevent the damage and draw a card.”

Jack frowned at her trap. There was little he could do about it, and he certainly wasn’t happy for it. Time was against him, and any turn that Mika could complete without taking damage was just more time off the clock for him.

Mika moved the trap to the graveyard and drew her card, her lips curling upward a bit at the edges at the card she drew. She just needed to get her queen onto the board and she could strongly turn this around. His turn was finished after his attack, so it was time for her to put her plans into motion.

Mika drew her card, looking thoughtfully at her facedown card. This was the perfect chance to pull out ahead and take control of the field. She placed her Amazoness Trainee onto the field, looking to her opponent.

“I’ll just summon my Trainee and end there. Your go.”

“Alright, I draw.” As Jack did his life points lowered by 800 again, to maintain the Terrorking Archfiend on the field. The card he drew was another Archfiend’s Roar. Not what Jack needed right now. He stopped for a moment, looking at the two face-down cards Mika had. Jack had seen some of her duels, he was sure there was a surprise waiting for him back there but he didn’t have any way of removing those set cards, nor could he afford to do nothing.

“Okay… I’ll attack your Amazoness Trainee with my Archfiend Soldier.”

Mika nodded and flipped her facedown card up, looking at him with a slight smile.

Amazoness Archers activates and subtracts 500 attack points from each of your monsters, putting your Soldier down to only 1400 points. Amazoness Trainee destroys it. Her effect will return it to your deck instead of your graveyard, and she’ll gain 200 attack points because she destroys a monster in battle.”

Much to his chagrin, Jack’s prediction had come true. Mika had a trap ready for him and there was little he could do. Terrorking Archfiend had now gone down to 1500 attack points, while Amazoness Trainee grew to 1700. Now, he had to attack Mika with the weaker Terrorking, because of her Amazoness Archers. With no issue, Trainee took care of the Terrorking and sent him back to the deck, gaining another 200 attack points in the process. Entirely out of plays, Jack shrugged and passed his turn back to Mika. With no monsters left on the field, Jack had to hope that he would survive Mika’s next turn and that whatever he drew would be strong enough to keep him in the duel. If it wasn’t, he was in a world of trouble.

Mika drew her next card. Dramatic Rescue could be a life saver for her monsters, and since her opponent was on the ropes and had nothing to defend himself, aside from a face down, she needed to be wary of any sudden tricks he may have up his sleeve. With this in mind, she decided just to attack.

“I’ll attack you directly with Trainee, then place a card face down. That’s my turn.”

“My turn, then. I’ll draw.” This could be make or break, if he didn’t draw anything that could help him right now, the duel might be over. Luckily, he did just that. “First, I’ll summon Shadowknight Archfiend to my side of the field. Then, now that there is an Archfiend monster on my field, I can activate the spell Falling Down and equip it to your Amazoness Trainee, giving me control of it.” For now, he had done it. Jack had saved himself from defeat and if he was fast enough, he could still win the duel. But he had to hurry, the price to maintain both Shadowknight Archfiend and Falling Down together was steep and enough to take him out before he could have a chance to finish the duel.

Jack attacked with both the Shadowknight Archfiend and Amazoness Trainee, dealing only 2900 points of damage, as Shadowknight Archfiend’s damage was halved by its own effect, “For now, that’ll be it. I will take 800 points of damage at the beginning of your turn due to Falling Down. Now, you’re up.”

Well…that was rough. Mika’s frown had returned without her even realizing it. She had lost a decent chunk of life points and had no monsters with which to defend herself. meanwhile, her opponent had two strong monsters. On the brightside, the knight’s damage was halved, something she was thankful for. She drew her card, pondering on what to do. She did draw a second Archers, but was that trick really gonna work again? Wait! She had a facedown still! Mika looked at the card and nodded, flipping it over.

“I don’t trust whatever your facedown is, I’ll destroy it with Dust Tornado. Then, I’ll summon Amazoness Swords Woman. Since she isn’t strong enough and I’m worried about you using my own monster against me, I’ll activate Amazoness Spellcaster, and swap their original attacks.”

Mika blinked slowly as the retaliation of her move came to her. Trainee’s attack was only higher because her effect had boosted her. Which meant she completely wasted her Spellcaster. Well crap. Her cheeks flushed as she looked at her opponent with an embarrassed chuckle.

“Uhh…oops?...I guess I’ll just set a card and end then.”

Jack gave a weak smile back at his opponent’s mistake. He spared her any snide remarks about it as well. Too well could he remember all the times when he forgot about the simplest things in this game. Particularly the maintenance costs of the Archfiends. Speaking of which, those were about to become a huge problem for him, there were only 2000 left and he had to pay at least 1700 before his next turn began properly.

Jack chose to attack Amazoness Swords Woman with Mika’s Amazoness Trainee. Only when the effect of her Swords Woman activated did Jack realise how much trouble he was really in. He now only had 1600 Life Points, because Swords Woman's effect made him take the 400 battle damage from battling Amazoness Trainee. Once he ended his turn, he would lose 800 Life Points for Falling Down and then once Mika passed back to him, Shadowknight Archfiend would destroy itself because Jack couldn’t pay for the Life Point cost for keeping it on the field. Then, because he didn’t have an Archfiend on his field, Falling Down would destroy itself and return the now 2100 attack point Amazoness Trainee to Mika.

Jack brought himself to take a breath. Surely he would be fine. There were plenty of cards in the deck that could save him from this predicament. He just needed to draw them on his next turn. He just attacked with Shadowknight Archfiend, dealing 1000 damage and then ended his turn. Paying the 800 Life Points to maintain Falling Down.

This was bad for Mika. Her life points were low enough that her defeat was guaranteed if her opponent could attack her again like this. Mika’s brow furrowed as her opponent ended his turn. She just needed a monster, and maybe, just maybe, her archers could save her again. She drew and her heart sank. It was an equip spell, one she held very dear, but one that she didn’t have a monster to equip to. She sighed softly, looking to the boy.

“I’ve got nothing this turn. Go ahead, Jack.”

“At the start of my turn, Shadowknight Archfiend will be destroyed, because I cannot pay the Life Points to keep it on the field.” Though he wasn’t sure exactly from where, Jack was certain he heard something like a quiet snicker, or a laugh when he moved Shadowknight Archfiend to the graveyard. At first he thought one of the few onlookers was laughing at him, but after a quick glance around it seemed that none of the few remaining spectators were. He probably just imagined it, “A, Anyway… Now, your Amazoness Trainee returns to your field, because I no longer control an Archfiend.” The situation, at face value, looked dire. But, the two cards Jack had in his hand should be enough to secure him the victory in this duel.

“First, I’ll Normal Summon Desrook Archfiend and now that there is another Archfiend on the field I can play the second Falling Down from my hand, targeting your Amazoness Trainee and taking control of it.”

Mika was admittedly surprised. She supposed her situational awareness leaved something to be desired, because she hadn’t even considered that at the start of his turn, his monsters would both go away in one way or another. His life points were lower than she had realized, and this was her chance to pull something out. Of course, he summoned a monster, which was bad enough, but then he played another Falling Down. He was going to steal her monster again! But this time, MIka had a way to defend herself.

“Not this time, Buster. When you target my Trainee, I’ll activate my trap card; Dramatic Rescue. It lets me return the targeted monster to my hand and special summon a different amazon monster. In this case, I’ll summon Amazoness Queen.”

Mika moved her Trainee back to her hand, the trap to her graveyard, and the Queen onto the field. This was it, she had managed to finally turn the game around. Was she really going to win? It didn’t feel like anything short of dumb luck. He had no moves left. This was it. Mika drew her last card and offered the boy an apologetic smile.

“I attack your Rook with Amazoness Queen. I guess that’s game, huh?” Mika said softly, her expression a mixture of emotions.

She knew this wasn’t really an important game, and she knew that it really boiled down to dumb luck, especially after the mistakes she made.

Jack, meanwhile, hadn’t actually been paying much attention to the end of the duel. The same moment that Mika had activated Dramatic Rescue, he could have sworn that he heard someone say his name. He looked around, in a mix of confusion, annoyance and worry, but couldn’t find anyone who seemed to be responsible in the small crowd that was now slowly dispersing again to go back about their own business.

“You know, you’re a great duelist, Jack. I feel like you’ll be able to go far with some improvements to your deck. You’re definitely a better duelist than I am. I would be happy to watch you go far in this circuit.”

“...Thank… you.” He slowly managed to answer, he only half heard what Mika had said and still gave a few more confused looks around the shop before turning back to Mika. He had worked quite a lot in the past week or two and done a lot of overtime, maybe he was just imagining things from exhaustion?

“I don’t know about being better than you, though. I am pretty rusty, still. I haven’t really had the chance to play at all for a few years. Regardless of all that, you still just played the better duel here and won fair and square.” He now replied properly, trying his best to give a warm smile.

Mika frowned at the boy. “Are you okay?”

She slowly stood up, sliding her deck into her deck box and pocketing it while she looked at him, seemingly looking for signs of illness or something.

“Uhm, anyway…I mean it. I don’t think I’m ready for the competitive scene yet. You deserve the spot in the shop’s team. Besides, I uh…I have to go anyway…Good luck!” Mika turned on her heel, a look of concern in her eyes that Jack himself may well have recognized as a look of confusion and concern. LIke she had seen a ghost.

Jack was confused, to say the least. Mika had technically won her spot on the tournament team fairly by beating him. He couldn’t quite understand why she would choose not to partake. Although, given her expression, there must have been a good reason for it. Jack certainly wasn’t happy with the decision either, but right now that wasn’t the thing that bothered him the most. He had heard something, that much he was sure of… had she heard the same things? Or was there a different reason for Mika’s sudden decision? Regardless, there wasn’t much Jack could do now, so he just sat, chewing on his lower lip, confused, and slightly upset at what had transpired.

 

The Dapper Mog

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With the game shop tournaments concluded, the night continued on. For some it was a time for celebration, others for working on their weaknesses, and others still, a time for contemplating on just what the future hold. A local television station was setting up a televised broadcast sponsored by Kaiba Corp. Seto Kaiba himself stood behind a desk, looking incredulous and irritated. He disliked working with these sorts of people, they always seemed to work on their own time, which he simply couldn't abide by.

"It occurs to me that you value your time over mine. Which would make sense, except that I own this studio, which means that your time is effectively my time. So hurry up and finish setting up the broadcast." Seto Kaiba's tone was clear and stern, betraying no hint of emotion outside of annoyance.

The producer gulped as he nodded urgently and rushed the crew to finish setting up. Fortunately for them, i only took another five minutes, the cameras going live with a countdown.

"Good evening. I am, of course, Seto Kaiba. This announcement is being made to usher in the beginning of the Team Trial Circuit. An event that is taking place here in Domino City. A competition bringing the best duelists from around the world to test their skills. This competition is unlike any the dueling world has seen before, as this time, you will have to be able to coordinate with other duelists and rely on more than just your own skills. Duels will follow the standard rules introduced in the Battle City Tournament." Kaiba's stage presence wasn't exactly brilliant, but he did have some authority behind his voice.

"The circuit works as follows: Each team consists of three duelists, and each duelist has their own duel disk system. These duel disks will be linked to you, and you will need it in order to participate in the tournament. DO NOT LOSE IT! Each time must achieve 2 points in order to advance to the next round. A single duel will earn each team one point, however, each duelist can only obtain 1 point per round, meaning you cannot simply rely on a single duelist to get all of your wins for you. Additionally, when a duelist loses, a marker will highlight on their duel disk, indicating they have lost a round. In order for that duelist to secure a point, they must first succeed at defeating an opponent to remove this marker. This ensures that a single loss will not prevent you from succeeding, but it will present a greater challenge for your to overcome. Strategy is imperative to succeed in this tournament, and I wish you all the best of luck."

Kaiba appeared like he was finished, but stopped shortly, seemingly looking at someone just off camera. His expression hardened even further as he looked back to the camera.

"One other thing; to the person that approached me this morning, whatever you were trying to do with your crazy talk, it isn't going to work. Threats of hocus pocus don't affect me. and your empty promises only served to piss me off. I'm giving you this message publicly as a clear message. Do not mess with me or my tournament, or I will crush you with all the might of the Kaiba Corporation."

With that, the broadcast immediately cut, leaving a peculiar feeling permeating the air.

---------------------------------------------------------

The night was still young, and many duelists were still out and about, preparing for the tournament or simply having a good time. A popular cafe' among duelists was particularly busy right now, and a small table was set up in the alley next to it. A cloaked figure sat quietly, observing the comings and goings of the area. When a young woman stepped out of the cafe', her blonde hair blowing gently in the breeze, steam from her fresh coffee rising in front of her face. She inhaled slowly, sighing contently at the wonderful aroma of her beverage. She stepped passed the alley, stopping suddenly when she heard a voice.

"Excuse me, Miss." The voice was feminine and matronly, which caught the young woman's attention as she glanced over to a cloaked figure behind the table, an orb of crystal in front of them.

Two lithe hands, painted nails, emerged from the long sleeves of the cloak, orbiting the crystalline ball. The young woman looked at the figure curiously, pointing at herself.

"Me?"

The figure nodded slowly, crooking her finger to usher the girl over.

"I can tell something weighs heavy on your heart. Feelings of uncertainty."

The woman nodded, slowly moving over to the table, looking curiously at the strange and covered woman.

"Yeah that sounds about right...how do you know?"

"Worry not. The Orb of Yasaka shows all, or at least, what I need to see. It showed me you, my dear. Please, have a seat, and tell me what troubles you."

The young woman was captivated, but she held onto a degree of concern and caution. After all, whoever this strange woman was, she certainly didn't know who she was. Still, she couldn't deny that there was something about the woman that made her feel open and trusting. So, she approached, pulled the chair out, and sat down.

"Very good, my dear. Now tell me, the trouble in your heart, why do you cling to it?" The woman asked, her face still hidden by the cloth as her fingers danced across the crystalline surface.

"Uhm, I suppose it's that this whole duel monsters thing. It's a passion of mine, but, no one has ever really given me any credit about it." The young woman said, her voice downtrodden.

The woman nodded, expressing understanding as clouds seemed to whirl within the crystal orb.

"I see. So, you question your place in the world in which you wish to belong. I understand this well my dear."

"You do?" The young woman perked up a bit, happy to hear about anyone that may have understood where she currently was, and if she were lucky, how to help.

"Indeed I do. I am from a place far from here. Though it is beautiful, it is plagued by madness. Here, though the air is sometimes dirty, it still feels more clean."

The young woman didn't really understand, but she nodded. "So, what should I do?"

The woman's movements ceased, and she let out a quiet chuckle, reaching up to remove the hood covering her face. The woman was beautiful, her skin was pale, her hair dark and long, framing her face with a beautiful golden circlet resting atop her head, a similar orb against her forehead.

"That my dear...is entirely up to you."

---------------------------------------
 

foodforpigs

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Collab Post: @Flame @TheSly - Jack
c7b4f11c03eb34d04cb4ff54743a433d.jpg Masaru had secretly and silently watched from the sidelines as Mika and Jack dueled to give his moral support for Mika, but not distract Mika from playing her best game. He felt joy to see Mika when she won, but it was reversed when Mika had given up her spot on the team. However, Masaru knew better than to question it. When Mika had left the gaming table, Masaru tried to catch up with Mika. “Hey Mika!” Masaru called, but she seemed to be in a bit of a hurry. Did she hear him? “Mika, hold on a sec. We should trade contact information so we can …” Masaru was trying to weave past other patrons of Kame Game, who were talking about the finals. Mika was already gone and out the door. “Hang out sometime.” Masaru finished.

Masaru looked down on the floor before turning back to the gaming table, back to Jack who still looked a bit pale after what had just happened. Masaru put on a happy face again. Mika probably just didn’t hear him, and there’d be other opportunities to hang out.

“Hey there. You’re the one that bumped into Alva, right?” said Masaru. “Sorry I wasn’t able to meet you earlier. I had to make some last minute changes to my deck before the tournament began.”

Jack was slowly gathering up his cards, still confused by the scene that had just unfolded before him. Not just by Mika’s sudden choice to forfeit her place in the tournament and just leave the shop, but also by the events that transpired during the duel. He almost hadn’t noticed that someone approached him, and actually jumped a little when the boy talked to him.
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“Uh, yeah, I guess that would be me.” ‘The one that bumped into Alva’, he sure hoped that wouldn’t become a thing, “Well, no need to apologize for that. It certainly seems like it paid off after all. Congratulations on qualifying, by the way.”

“Mm!” replied Masaru. “What’s your name? My name is Masaru.”

Masaru hadn’t initially taken into account that his name would be known if anyone had looked at the board to see who had been in the final round until after he introduced himself, but he thought it would be polite all the same.

“The name’s Jack. Pleasure to, I guess, officially meet you.” Jack replied, smiling at Masaru. Maybe just talking to someone else would take his mind off that weird duel.

After Alva’s tournament win, he found someplace tucked away from all the commotion to recuperate from all the excitement. He hadn’t realised that there would be a duel for third place, having generally not been keeping track of how the tournament had progressed. He hadn’t realised his duel with Jack had even been the first one for a duel for third, and had thought the whole thing had been… surprisingly short. Still, he caught on when he saw Mika leaving, and Masaru gathering up with Jack from a distance, with the crowd beginning to disperse, there had been some mumblings about the outcome, with various members of the crowd confused.

db654727df80223d9ceb0779a372dbb0.jpg Alva approached after Mika had left, grouping up with the other two boys, Masaru and Jack, just in time for some introductions. “It looks like a duel just took place… something about third?”, Alva tilted his head as he looked at the two. “Ah, the circuit has teams of three, you must have duelled for third right?”, he asked, the answer finally dawning on him. “Seems like Mika lost then… Well, this isn’t the only opportunity to enter the circuit, I think, from what I read in the prelim rules… maybe we will see her around.”, Alva gave the two a hopeful smile.

“Well, actually… it’s the other way around. I lost, close as it was. I’m also not sure if we’ll see her around in the tournament later. I don’t really understand why, but she said she would rather not take part in the tournament, said she wasn’t ready yet, and then basically ran away and left the shop.” Jack explained, “That whole duel was just… weird. You… you didn’t happen to hear someone call my name a little while ago, did you?”

“No, can’t say that I did.” said Masaru. “You also shouldn’t feel bad about losing to Mika. She’s a really strong duelist. I should’ve lost to her in the semi-finals, but I pulled off a win somehow by milling her. It’s a shame that she didn’t want to take part in the circuit after all that work, but it’s not up to me. I just hope we can hang out again real soon, like Alva said. You should duel me sometime too, Jack. If it weren’t for pulling a hat-trick in the semi-finals, I’d be third. Plus it’d give you the chance to face all three of us.”

“Ah, She did? That… doesn’t make sense.”, Alva thought about it but couldn’t conceive of any reason why Mika would leave like that after snagging that win. Despite her timidity earlier she had seemed excited to be participating in the tournament, as well as possibly being on the same team as him and Masaru… knowing that they were first and second, why wouldn’t she want to accept third after having won? Well, she must have her own reasons, even if he didn’t know them. In any case, Masaru was right, it wasn’t their decision to make.

“I guess that makes it us three, then, huh?” Alva commented, holding his hand out for Jack to shake. “Masaru is right, even if you lost here, your only other loss in the tournament was me, right? You’re just as qualified to be on our team, so don’t worry about it.”, he tried to reassure the boy.

Neither of the two heard anyone call out Jack’s name? Odd, Jack was absolutely sure he had heard it. Maybe he was just losing his mind? For now, Jack just tried to forget about it as best as he could. There didn’t seem to be any point to him dwelling on it more than this.
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“I’m not really beaten up over the loss, I’m just generally worried about Mika. I don’t really know her at all, but I feel like something must be up to warrant a reaction like that.” Jack explained, “Although, I suppose, it really isn’t any of my business, I’m practically a stranger to her. But… I don’t know if you two know her better than I do. Maybe give her a check-up if you do?”

“Anyway…” Jack let out a sigh, “If you two would want me to join the team for the tournament, I’d be more than happy to go along with you. I don’t know whether or not I’ll be of much help, I am quite rusty, but I’ll do my best. And I’d be happy to give you that duel eventually too, Masaru.”

Masaru nodded, still smiling. “We only met Mika today too, but she’s still part of our Alliance no matter what. Now you’re part of our Alliance too. We should try to think of what our new team name will be. We do need a team name, right? We can sleep on it though. My dad will be worried if I don’t come home at a reasonable hour. Oh, before I forget, we should trade contact details!” It really was a shame Masaru didn’t think of trading details with Mika, but he really hoped he would be able to bump into again so he could correct that mistake.

db654727df80223d9ceb0779a372dbb0.jpg “Mm, right, it’s getting late, isn’t it?”, Alva added, looking towards the shop window. The light outside was dimmer than when he’d previously entered the shop, and he could only presume that it was nearing sundown. He’d been told sunsets were quite pretty but he couldn’t really appreciate them much himself. He was thankful, however, that due to the reduced intensity of the sun and that there’d be more shadows, he could take a chance walking home without his parasol out.

“Here, my contact information.”, he pulled out a small notepad from his pocket, and scribbled down his info, before tearing off a sheet for each of the boys. “I ought to be going now too… if you send me a message, just tell me it’s you. Why don’t we plan our next meeting and decide our team name then?”, he suggested, before giving both boys a deep nod of his head, and turning to leave, waving goodbye as he left the shop and began his walk home. He’d told his parents he might be out this late, so they wouldn’t be concerned, but it was best to be on his way now.

Jack pocketed the piece of paper and pulled the same block back out that he had previously used to write down his info, after he had bumped into Alva, and handed the paper with his info over to Masaru.

“So… arranging a meeting between the three of us may be a little tricky… I’m holding down two jobs. But, I guess I’ll have to figure something out anyway once the tournament starts. Hopefully it won’t be too long before we meet up again.” Jack sighed, looking at a clock on the wall, “Speaking of being busy. I should get a move on as well, unless I want to run late and bump into someone else again. I’ll see you around, with any luck we’ll have time to have that duel you suggested.” With that, Jack got up as well, stopping for a second to make sure he hadn’t forgotten anything and leaving the shop as well.
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“I’m glad you bumped into us.” said Masaru, “Until we meet again.” Masaru left as well and found that his dad was waiting in the parking lot of the game store. He didn’t know how long his dad had waited, but Masaru looked forward to telling his dad about all the friends he had made today and how he had made it all the way to the game store finals.
---

When Masaru got back home, his father allowed him to stay up to watch the announcement with Seto Kaiba. Masaru was glued to the television and captivated by the star power of his hero. His father sat on his favorite recliner, smiling as he watched Masaru look up to his idol, laying on his stomach on the carpet, looking up at the TV screen. Masaru really did seem happier after finding new friends. When the announcement was over with the strange addendum, Masaru turned to his Dad.

"Hey Dad, I was thinking I should get a job, too."
"Really?" said Masaru's dad. "Why's that?"
"Well my friend Jack has two jobs, can you believe it? I think it'd be a good idea to make some money for myself to buy new cards. It's not that I think your gift of Helios..."
"No need to explain." said Dad. "I know you cherish those cards no matter if they're in a deck or not. I'll keep an eye out for cards you might like, too. I remember trying to see what other monsters I could get for you for your birthday, and though it spoils the surprise, have you heard about Worms? Ooey gooey space creatures. As for the job, if you're serious about it, I think Burger World may be hiring, though I also don't want it to detract from the circuit."
"That's true!" said Masaru. "I'll think about it real hard before deciding. Thank you Dad. I love you Dad!"
"I love you too, son. Now get some sleep. You have big weeks ahead of you."
"Good night!" said Masaru.
 
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Wiley Barrow


The day had been long, and Wiley's energy was all but spent. Having finished with the day’s duels, the boy had retired to a nearby cafe frequented by duelists of every age. Music blared through his headphones as he made a small purchase at the counter, nabbing a corner table away from the rest of the customers. If he didn't have to interact with anyone for the rest of the day, he would be happy. A normal day would have seen the boy rush to the comfort of his home, but this had been no normal day. For one reason or another, Wiley had willingly stepped out of his comfort zone and somehow managed to do more than just survive; he had thrived and found real success! The whole thing felt like a dream. In his heart, he was incredibly proud of himself, but he was also just as torn. What if this 'confidence' he had found was just a phase? Would he feel the same way tomorrow? Sure, he had won a couple card games, but that didn't mean much in the grand scheme of things. If anything, his day's success had done nothing but add pressure and expectations to his life. He had started the day only wanting to satisfy his father's request so that he'd be left alone, and now he had actual people relying on him to win duels in an ever expanding competition. The boy felt a pool of anxiety well up within him, and he quickly wolfed down a raspberry tart, turning his music up louder in hopes it would drown out all the noise.

As Wiley tried to get out of his own head, a familiar face came across the television screen in the ceiling corner. Seto Kaiba. Wiley knew him in name and reputation, but had never spent much time looking into him. Still, what an incredible man. His presence could practically be felt through the screen. It made sense he was the one behind the Circuit. Wiley paused his music as the rules of the upcoming competition were explained. A point based system. Wiley wondered how his team would manage. They were all exceptional duelists, but they weren't exactly a team. At least, not yet. As the broadcast finished, Wiley noted Kaiba's strange threat. What an odd thing to say to someone, he thought. I wonder what that's about.
 
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Alva Crowe

After the little talk among his teammates Alva decided to head home, chancing the later discomfort a lack of protection might bring by keeping his parasol closed as he walked home. He couldn't appreciate much color in this world, but thankfully sunsets were so brilliant on sunny days like these, that he could see the golden hues of the skies above as they crept behind the building and shined through cracks. He took it easy strolling home, and arrived shortly before all the gold had disappeared. What a perfect capstone to a day like this... He hung up his coat and made his way to the kitchen, heating up some leftovers that his mother had cooked before she'd left for work. It was unfortunate that neither of his parents would be around tonight to celebrate the good news, his father was out of town for business, and his mother worked nights... if he'd come home a bit earlier, he might have caught her... oh well, there was always tomorrow.

He took his plate to the Livingroom, sitting it down on the coffee table and taking a seat before he turned on the TV, just in time to view an announcement from Kaiba no less, most likely to do with the circuit... He actually hadn't heard or seen him talk all that much, despite him being such a big name in duel monsters... of course he often heard a lot of things about him, like some space program, not to visit the moon or anything, but to send Duel Monsters cards to aliens so they could duel... The guy seemed so serious, but was obviously very passionate about Duel Monsters... Maybe it was something he'd actually do. The address to whoever was threatening him was intriguing yet... admittedly confusing. He'd heard Kaiba knew just about everything that went down in Domino City... it was spooky now that he considered it... if Kaiba wanted to know whether you sneezed two days ago while alone in your home, he could probably figure it out somehow. Or, at least, that's the rumors he'd heard from online. Obviously you couldn't believe everything you read on the internet, but there was often some truth to every tall tale. Well, regardless, this mystery character was a Kaiba problem, not a Circuit problem, so as long as it stayed that way, Alva didn't care to think about it much further. Once the announcement was over, he flicked the channel over to some documentary, and returned to eating his meal.

Charlie Schwartz

Meanwhile, after the showing at Black Clown, Charlie had not stayed much longer to interact with his future teammates, giving an apology to Wiley, and letting him know he'd be back again tomorrow to discuss things with him and the other winner, but that he had some prior engagements. The life of a noble wasn't an easy one, of course, and whether he liked it or not, he did have some meetings to attend. Thankfully once the Circuit began, he would be more free to live at his own discretion, but for now he had to rub shoulders with some benefactors in Domino. So, he stepped into his limo and took off with his guard detail to attend his appointment.

The day rushed by surprisingly quickly, and by the end of it, Charlie found himself alone in his newly-prepared penthouse apartment. He'd only been staying in Domino a few days previous to this, and thus had been living in a more temporary arrangement. But now that his entry into the tournament was official, he had had more permanent housing prepared. It wasn't as nice as the mansion back home, but the freedom was more than worth it. No having to worry about judgement from family members and the like, though his guard detail was always close by. Nobody up here in the penthouse, as he'd requested, but they were but a staircase away. When it came to the tournament, he'd thankfully not have anyone breathing down his neck either... if the whispers about shadow duels were true, then it was for the best.

He wrapped up the day with a shower, one that had... sprayer things on all sides, and a fancy display so you could actually watch tv while showering... crazy how far technology had come... He actually didn't have this sort of thing at home, so as he relaxed under the cascade of hot water, he fiddled with the screen built into the wall, turning it on. A news channel, and apparently, much to his luck, a tournament-related announcement provided by nobody less than the illustrious Seto Kaiba himself. Charlie smirked, folding his arms and resting against the shower wall as he watched the handsome owner of the appropriately-named Kaiba Corp gave his speech. "Always one for theatrics, eh?", he murmured. The announcement of the rules wasn't exactly a surprise to someone in-the-know like himself, he had been privvy to some information the general public hadn't had access to well in advance. In fact, Sir Wiley's duel disk already had the necessary software installed to be in compliance with the tournament, so there would be no embarrassing hiccups there.

What really caught his attention, however, was the mention of "hocus pocus". Charlie's ears pricked up as he paid attention to the announcement. Of course, nothing could be verified, but if it was a big enough deal that Kaiba was making an announcement on TV about it of all things, it wasn't just an idle threat... something had happened, perhaps related to the shadow duels. Sadly nothing could be verified without an investigation, and he doubted that Kaiba would be forthcoming about matters related to this. It was almost certain the man had his own investigation underway... but this just served to prove that there really was something lying underneath this tournament, though maybe Kaiba himself wasn't involved. Only time would tell. Charlie turned off the screen once the announcement had finished, and returned to cleaning up and getting ready for bed... tomorrow would be a big day.
 

foodforpigs

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563493-Steins-gate.jpg

Morgana got home just in time for Kaiba's announcement. Kaiba's rule about making up the loss cemented the thought that Morgana was due for a deck upgrade, and soon, but in his own way, Kaiba too reinforced that all this was supposed to be a team effort, just like Mr. Devlin, no, Duke, had said. She somewhat empathized with Kaiba with his addendum of having to deal with nonsense, though it was odd to hear it in a press release as opposed to simply writing a public note about it.

She changed the mode on her TV to play some video games to help clear her mind. She thought about what Duke had said about how he had fought against Yugi with Gradius. She decided to shell the $10 in the online store for an arcade collection to play the original Gradius. The arcade music helped to soothe her nerves after the somewhat stressful day at the store. Having it just be her vs the game would be nice for a change.

The idea worked. She reached a kind of Zen state just playing the game to break through at least a couple of levels. Though it was an old game, it was starting to become fun for her. Morgana let her stern face relax and let the hours pass before deciding to go to bed.

The next day, Morgana headed back to the Black Clown game shop with her binders of cards to start making a new deck from scratch. She hoped she'd see her new circuit team members there, though it was bright and early when she got there. Duke had just opened up, but Morgana looked fresh and energized. "Good morning, Duke." she said. "Did you want to play some Dungeon Dice monsters when you're free? I'm making a new deck too. I was thinking of combining Cyber Dragons and Gradius, and would like your opinion. Also, if the other team members ask about me, you'll know where to direct them."
 
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~ Jack Cross ~


It was already pretty late. Jack had just finished slowly shambling his way into his small flat. As it turns out, doing two work shifts with an official Duel Monster tournament in between doesn't exactly make for the most relaxing of days. He was so beat he barely managed to make a cup of tea for himself before he practically collapsed on his couch.

With nothing else to do, he turned on his TV. Switching from one channel to the next until he landed on one that was still running a News show at this ungodly time. He figured that was better than some of the things that ran on other channels this late. Although, Jack was really just looking for anything to make background noise for him to fall asleep to. That plan, however, quickly fell apart when he heard that they were running an announcement made by Seto Kaiba about the Team Trial Circuit earlier that day again. Suddenly Jack was awake, or, at least, a little more awake than before. Listening intently to what Kaiba had to say. He was now a part of the Team Trial Circuit, after all, this was suddenly important information to him.

"Good. That point system will make sure I'm not too big a burden on the other two." Jack thought out loud, readjusting his position on the couch so he could lay down, "Given how good they are, they probably won't have problems going through the first few rounds and since we only need two points to progress I won't weigh them down. Just need to make sure not to lose too much."

"I sure hope that those duel disks are provided by the store or something. Don't know from where I'd cough up the money to buy one... Don't know how I'll do the whole Circuit anyway. Technically I don't have the time for all that... and I kinda doubt I'll be allowed to do duels in the Café." He sighed deeply. Domino City rents were ridiculous, even close to the outskirts of the city where he lived. There wasn't any way someone without a degree or something like that could afford one without holding down two or more jobs at the same time. He let out a long, drawn-out sigh, "I'll figure something out... I guess."

He perked up once again when Kaiba began talking about threats, magic and hocus pocus. A threat on public television... it felt distinctly like a Seto Kaiba thing to do, at least, given his image of who Seto Kaiba was. But his talk about magic and hocus pocus got Jack thinking again about what he heard during his game against Mika. Surely it wasn't anything like that. He was probably just overworked or stressed or something, right? ... Right?

Jack reached over to where he'd earlier lazily dumped his jacket and pulled the deck out of one of the pockets. Flipping through the cards, he quickly landed on the one he was looking for, Terrorking Archfiend. He looked at the card for a while, before chuckling quietly to himself.

"You'd tell me if you were magical, right?" Jack waited for a second as if expecting a response, "Yeah... didn't think so either." With that, he stowed that card back in the deck's box and put it back into the jacket. He needed to try and get at least some rest and then figure out a next meeting with the rest of his team. Best be at least somewhat rested for that.

 
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