Mason Greyback of Oppressa, 34.

July 1st, 2100.

"It should be me," Mason said to himself as he stared at the gleaning in his blade. It reflected the glow of the fire nearby. Everyone knew he was the most capable warrior in Oppressa. Everyone knew he had the best chance of winning the Summit and feeding them all. It was his father that chose to look past it. Who chose to prep him for command. He couldn't risk the death of his son, and so he kept him at camp like a chained dog. Mason couldn't take it anymore, he had to be free. He knew there was only one thing left to do, but he wasn't sure he had the heart to do it.

A gruff voice called for him outside the tent, it belonged to Dante. One of his most trusted advisers and friends. "Mason, the others are growing restless. They need orders."

Mason let out a sigh. He wasn't a leader, but he was well respected as a warrior. He had men that would follow him. Aid him in his goals, and hopefully that would be enough. "Dante come in."

Dante stepped inside, a stern look on his face. He was prepared to give his life for his battle brother, but did it need to come to that? Mason was entirely unsure. Unsure of how to go about the situation he was in. Unsure of how to deal with his father.

"Do you have a plan?" Dante questioned with narrow eyes.

"I don't. I'd say we just kill the bastard, but I don't want open bloodshed. The last thing we need is a civil war," Mason replied uncomfortably. The thought of killing his father and those loyal to him physically made him sick, but he couldn't let it come to that. There had to be a way around open conflict.

Horns blew in the distance. It was nearly time for the champions to leave for the Summit. He was running out of time. Dante looked to him frantically. Looking for some kind of sign, something that would give him a clue on what was going on in Mason's head. The trouble was, Mason knew not himself.

The pair rushed out of the tent, already crowds were gathering as Avery and Bjorn made their way to the wagons. He had to do something, and he had to do it fast if he was going to pull this off. Finally something came to him. Something that involved little blood spilling."Dante, challenge his right to rule! Beat him in single combat, but don't kill him." Mason stated calmly.

Dante didn't give a big reaction, he didn't ask questions. He simply nodded. He knew Mason was making the right decision, and he would follow his lead. The pair pushed through the crowd and made their way to the commander's table. They ignored the irritated hollars and curses as they shoved their way to the front of the mass of people who had gathered. Not ten feet from them sat Drake Greyback, commander of Oppressa. The man was still as fit as ever and wore a jolly smile on his face.

Dante nodded to Mason once more and stepped out into the clearing. "Drake Greyback, myself and others see you as weak. You are unfit to rule, and for that I challenge your right to it," the man roared. Instantly the crowd grew silent. Not even a whisper could be heard, as Dante and Drake stared each other down.

Mason looked to Avery, who was trying to mask her concern. The woman was close with his father, closer than he had ever been. Mason knew he was doing the right thing, but he was unsure he could convince everyone who didn't already follow him of that. Maybe he wouldn't have to.

A scrawny looking man who sat beside Drake rose to his feet with an irritated look on his face. "You dare spew this nonsense on this sacred day?"

Drake stood up beside him, placing a calming hand on the man's shoulder. "It's alright Gregor. If this man sees me as unfit to rule, I will prove him otherwise." Drake stepped down from his throne with a giant grin on his face. "It's been some time since I've had a good fight!"

Mason watched as the two men were given shields. They circled one another before drawing their swords, pointing them in the air as a sign of respect. Mason felt conflicted. On one end, he could lose the life of his most trusted friend. He needed Dante to succeed, but not at the expense of his father. It was a strange feeling, one that Mason was not accustomed to.

Finally their blades clashed, singing as iron struck iron. Dante parried a blow from Drake, before blocking another strike with his shield. Mason knew Dante was a capable warrior, but was he really strong enough to defeat his father? He had not seen Drake fight in years, but he remembered the stories told to him by his father's battle brothers.

Dante growled, slashing wildly left and right keeping the leader of Oppressa on the defensive. Chants from the crowd erupted as they cheered on their favored warrior. To Mason's surprise, there were many who rooted for Dante. Perhaps his father was not as popular a ruler as he had originally thought.

Mason shifted uncomfortably.Come on Dante, disarm him, he thought to himself. Analyzing the battle, he could tell Drake had gained the upperhand. There were signs of his father weakening, but he still fought with the same vigor as he did in his younger years.. The man was more into the fight than he had been originally, perhaps he found he would actually have to work for it? Mason was unsure of how this would affect his friend. He only hoped Dante had the strength to persevere.

Thankfully as the fight progressed, the tides began to turn. Drake blocked blow after blow with his shield, Mason could tell he was rapidly beginning to tire. He could see it in his eyes, and in the way his shield arm wavered with each blow it took. His form began to weaken and his footwork grew sloppy. Dante managed a quick slash on Drake's upper thigh, Mason watched as his father let out a yelp before charging into the younger warrior with his shield. Dante was knocked to the ground, and rolled out of the way as Drake's blade swung downwards.

Dante quickly rose to his feet, tossing the heavy shield aside as Drake came barreling towards him. Dante spun out of the way, slashing at the older man's back. Both warriors breathed heavily. Both covered in sweat and blood. Then in an instant it was all over.

Wielding his blade with two hands, Dante brought it down with all his strength. The grizzled warlord put up his shield to block the blow once more, but Dante's blade crashed right through before cutting into Drake's shoulder. The blade went deep, and Drake's body went limp.

Mason watched wide eyed in disbelief. This wasn't supposed to happen, but he knew it was out of his control. There was nothing he could do as his father dropped his knees, before curling over. The crowd was silent for a moment, before exploding with emotion. They chanted Dante's name and surrounded their new leader. Mason watched as his father's body was buried in the crowd. He couldn't take his eyes off of where it lay, even though it was out of sight.

Gregor pushed his scrawny body into the clearing, a frown on his face and sorrow in his eyes. In his hand was the Bone Crown, the symbol of the Oppressan rulers. "On this day a commander has died, but another has risen to take his place."

They all listened to the ancient words, as the coronation took place. Gregor took the blood of the old commander and painted the face of the new. An ancient ritual that passed Drake's best qualities onto Dante.

Mason watched with mixed emotions. Everything had gone according to his plan, excluding the death of his father. Shortly he would be on his way to the Summit, leaving Oppressa in capable hands. He should feel some sense of excitement, but instead his mind felt clouded.

He felt someone appear by his side, and turned to see Avery. Mason could tell she didn't shared his optimism for their new leader, he could tell she was furious. She loved Drake like a father, but she respected tradition so there was little she could do.

"What do you gain from this?" She stated shakily, a violent look in her eye.

"You're implying I had something to do with this?" Mason lied.

"Don't bullshit me Mason, this has you written all over it."

"I don't know what you're-" he began, but was unable to finish as Dante took his seat at the throne. All eyes and ears were on him, waiting to hear what he had to say.

"I respect each and every one of you as warriors. As brothers and sisters." Dante cried out with confidence. "I know each and every one of you are capable of great things, and I am honored to be your commander."

Mason watched as Avery rolled her eyes. He couldn't help but smile. They were just getting to the good part.

"However, some of you are stronger than others. With that being said I must ask you, Bjorn, to step down from your title of Champion. Refuse me and you will die." Dante stared daggers into Bjorn's eyes. The champion rose to his feet in protest, and was instantly shot down by an arrow to the throat. "It appears we have an opening," Dante laughed. "Mason Greyback. I chose you to be the second champion! What say you?"

Mason watched with genuine glee as Avery's jaw dropped. He made his way to the front of the table and stood before the new commander with a sly grin. "I accept!" His words were drowned out in the thunderous applause. His plan had worked, and he was free. Soon, the real fun would begin.

Farah Sheratan of Hydran, 23.

June 13th, 2100.

I wonder, oh I wonder, how long I'll be alive. Stuck in this cell. To rot here and die. I wonder, oh I wonder, how long I'll be alive. Stuck in this cell. To rot here and die. I wonder, oh I wonder, how long I'll be alive. Stuck in this cell… A door opened, to Farah's surprise. Her wild eyes turned to the man walking in, her lips twitching into a grin. "Hello, hello! Come to party?" She giggled, but to her disappointment got nothing in return.

"Farah Sheratan. It's time for you to face the Council for your crimes."

Crime. That's such a silly way to put it! She thought gleefully back on her "crimes", and how much she had learned. The knowledge she gained about the human body was unparalleled. How much pressure it took to snap a bone. The time it took for a grown man to succumb to illness. How long it took to bleed out from a gash in the neck.

"Will it be execution, or execution?" Or the Summit, she thought as her eyes lit up filled with hope.

"That's for the Council to decide. If it was up to me, I'd kill you on the spot," the guard growled.

"Oh aren't you a bad boy. Wouldn't you just love to wrap those big strong hands of yours around my little neck and choke the life outta me?" Farah replied in a sing song tone.

"Yeah keep talking crazy, that's more of a possibility than you think," he muttered, "turn around and put your hands behind your back."

Farah spun on her bare feet, looking at the etchings she has made on the walls of her cell. All notes from her previous experiments. It's too bad she didn't have anything else to write on. At least the information she's discovered will be passed onto the cell's next occupant.

She felt the cold metal of handcuffs wrap around her thin wrists, and smiled as they tightened. "Mr. Man, I don't know if these are loose enough! How am I supposed to escape with these cuffs being so tight?"

"Just move, and don't talk alright?" He muttered as he shoved her out the door.

Farah rolled her eyes as the two walked down the bleak halls. "You're no fun you know that?"

"Shut up."

"What's your name anyway? Boring?"

"If you don't shut it I'm gonna…"

"Gonna what? Hit me? I mean, it's been a while."

"Lady I'm…"

"A jackass?"

The man turned in fury, swinging a fist towards Farah's face. Effortlessly she avoided the blow and rammed her knee into the man's groin. Gracefully she wrapped her handcuffs around his neck, forcing him to his knees as she choked the life from him. He clawed at her, but there was little he could do. His eyes bulged as he stared up at her.

"Four… three… two… one…" She finished counting down as the man continued to suffer. No, that doesn't line up. He's more resilient than the others. They passed out long before this point. She made a note in her head, before twisting the cuffs and snapping the man's neck. Letting him slump to the ground, Farah crouched down and planted a kiss on his forehead. "Thank you for the data you've provided."

Standing up Farah looked around. The hall was empty, she could escape. Could be free. What was the fun in that though? She'd simply be caught again. For her, there was only one logical solution. The Summit, she thought hopefully. There would be twenty three test subjects she could experiment on in there. The data should could acquire was far too tempting to pass up. After thinking it through, she let out a banshee scream and watched as the hall filled with guards. She gave a pouty face as she shrugged her shoulders, "He said he's not feeling well."

The closest guard hit her over the head, and everything went black.

Farrah awoke later that day tied to a chair in a dimly lit room. She was surrounded by boring looking people and one grumpy looking man. He began talking, but for the moment her mind was elsewhere. A grown man blunt object, provided enough force to knock me out. A petite female. In a single blow! No need for sedatives. Fascinating.

"Miss Sheratan, do you understand the severity of your crimes?" The grumpy looking man muttered. The High Counselor, as he's known, glared down at her with a look of disgust on his face.

"Crimes? They were groundbreaking scientific discoveries," she replied with a small grin, "the human body is truly fascinating Counselor."

"Yes well, you were captured for the murder of nine innocent people. Now ten after you brutally attacked your handler. Here in Hydran we call that a crime."

"It was self defense actually, he threw the first punch." Farah forced back the giggle brewing in her throat.

"Somehow I doubt that."

"Believe what you will, but that man said he wanted to kill me. Right in my cell!" Her head tilted ever so slightly, "that sounds quite criminal don't you think?"

"Enough! We are here to talk about you Miss Sheratan. You and only you!" The High Counselor yelled. The others looked at him nervously. Unsure how Farah was managing to get under the man's skin.

Farah looked up to him. His brown eyes were filled with fury, and his face was turning red. It seemed the more she pushed him, the more frustrated he got. Every word she said a new physical sign of frustration appeared on the man. As fun as it would be to push him to the point of a possible heart attack, she knew she needed this man. This was the man who would either send her to the Summit, or to be executed.

"Apologies High Counselor. Please, continue!" She replied politely.

"Excuse me. Now, under normal circumstances you would have been executed shortly after your crimes were committed," he grumbled, "however, these are not normal circumstances."

Farah smiled. They were going to do it! They were going to let her live. She couldn't seem to eager though, if she did they could just choose to execute her. She knew she had to be smart about this. If she was smart, she'd live.

"With the Summit coming in a few weeks time, the decision has fallen on us to make a decision. Kill you here, and now. Or let you live, to fight and die in the name of Hydran."

Farah let her head bow and she closed her eyes, calmly she looked back up to them. "I think I'd be more useful to this community alive." Fools, they're all a bunch of weak minded trash. "I do understand what I've done is wrong. I do deserve to be punished, however killing me would be a waste of my talents." I wish I could have some fun with them before I left. For scientific purposes of course… or pleasure. "I know what the human body is capable of, and I know how to take advantage of that. Send me into the Summit and Hydran will be fed. It's as simple as that."

The council looked to one another. Whispering among themselves for what seemed like ages. Farah wanted out. She wanted to shake and scream and rip them to pieces. As calm as she appeared, her mind was spinning.

"Farah Sheratan. We the council, hereby sentence you to death." Her heart sank, and as she was about to unleash all hell upon them the High Counselor continued. "By the Summit."

Farah felt as if every nerve in her body was about to explode with delight. She felt tingly and warm. This is exactly what she needed, and they just gave it to her.

"For the next few weeks, you'll be held in solitary confinement with the other chaption. There you can train, and prepare for the Summit. Goodluck!"

Farah wanted to thank them, but all she could manage was a manic cackle. It didn't matter, she was a champion and most importantly she was free.

Emerlynn Black of Calvary, 21.

June 1st, 2100.

Her dark hair flew wildly in the wind, as Emerlynn rode on the back of her dearest Baldur. The grey and black stallion pushed itself to his limits, as the pair galloped through the endless grass sea of Calvary. The sun was shining, and Emery could tell today was going to be glorious. Her closest companion, other than Baldur, rode his own steed nearby. Durin Mathews. He was as mischievous as she was, and equally sarcastic. The two made the perfect pair.

"You two seem to be slow today!" Emery called out, a massive smile on her face.

Durin threw his head back and howled, as they kicked it into gear and rode faster than before. Emerlynn smiled, she could sense Baldur was up to the challenge. His muscles tightened as he pushed himself forward. She could feel his deep breaths in tune with her own. Right now, at this very moment. She has never felt more free.

After what felt like no time at all, it became clear Baldur and Raska needed to rest. The two panted as they slowly made their way to a nearby stream. Emery looked to Durin, who was taking in the sights and smells around him.

"It's beautiful out here," he stated quietly.

"Really, it is." They took this path every day, and it never ceased to be amazing. The colors, the smells the sounds. Everything about riding gave her a never ending sense of bliss. Stroking Baldur's dark mane as he drank from the stream, Emery looked over to Durin who was leaning up against a tree nearby. "Do you think we should pester the nearby outpost? I'm sure they'll have caught something quite tasty for dinner," Emery laughed as her shining smile spread across her face.

"Oh, I'm sure that's just what they want. Especially after the last time when we are basically all their food."

Emery looked to him mischievously, "That's the point. Aren't you hungry?" They both knew the scouts would share with them, even if it meant little food for themselves. In Cavalry, the needs of others were taken into consideration almost all the time. It was a community that sought to help itself grow into something great, and Emery loved to be apart of it.

"It has been a long day, and I'm feeling particularly devilish. Perhaps we should stop in for a quick visit!" He laughed, feeding an apple to Raska.

"My oh my, I think I'm a bad influence on you Durin!" Emerlynn beamed. Durin had been by her side since she could ride a horse. The two did everything together, and she genuinely respected him as a friend. He was everything a Cavalry man should be. Honorable and kind. Overall he was easy to talk to, and to be around. She didn't know what she'd do without him.

"Wasn't it the other way around? I grew up causing trouble!" The boy grinned, patting Raska on the side before mounting up once more.

Emery effortlessly mounted Baldur, gently stroking his mane as she did so. "Your poor mother," she replied before taking off in the direction of the scouting outpost. Durin raced out to follow her, smiling brightly as he galloped past her.

They rode until the sun began to set, but finally they arrived at the outpost. Usually there would be about three to five scouts on duty. Their job was to keep an eye on the Oppressan borders, and warn of any kind of attack. The Oppressans had been quiet lately, and the elders were feeling nervous. Emery had more reason to hate the Oppressans than anyone, but maybe there was a chance the brutes had given up. Or starved to death, she thought to herself.

As the pair entered the camp, they noticed things were a bit quieter than usual. Jorah was usually drunk off his ass and cracking jokes at this time. The fire should be roaring, but it was out. There was an eerie silence that made Emery uncomfortable. Even the horses seemed on edge.

"Emery, I don't like this." Durin confessed. She could see the worried look on his face as they rode closer.

Emery herself couldn't deny the chill down her spine. That feeling was all but justified when they found the bodies of their fallen comrades. "No…" she muttered.

"Emerlynn, we need to go now." Durin called out to her, genuine worry in his voice. Raska move about nervously, as he sensed his rider's distress.

Something made her want to stay however, and she ignored his pleas. The sun turned blood red as Emery dismounted, and slowly made her way into the camp. All the horses were gone, the dead piled up on top of one another. This was the work of Oppressa.

She felt so many emotions brewing inside her, she simply wanted to scream. Before she knew it Durin was by her side, seeing things for himself. "How long ago do you think this happened?"

"We're safe. They got what they wanted, the food was gone. So are the horses and our friends… our friends are dead," she frowned trying to fight back tears.

Sensing her pain Durin wrapped her up in an embrace, and she buried her face in his shoulder. Not a second later, Baldur nibbled at her shoulder. He neighed gently and looked into her sad eyes. Letting go of her friend, she wrapped her arms around Baldur's neck.

"We should let the elder's know of this," Durin frowned. Emery didn't want to leave them here, but they both knew their superiors would want to hear about this right away. Quickly giving their respect to the dead, the pair rode back to the heart of Cavalry as fast as they could.

Upon arriving back home, they found that everyone was already in an uproar. Their fellow community members stood around in a circle bickering about what actions they should take against Oppressa. Apparently someone had seen the attack much earlier, and reported it.

As Emery rode in, her eyes immediately locked onto her father who ran towards her as soon as he noticed she arrived. She dismounted and ran into his arms. He squeezed her so tightly she felt as if she was going to pop, but she didn't care. "When you two hadn't returned I thought the worse," he admitted. Turning to Durin he gave the boy a hug and then stepped back. "They're trying to figure out if we're going to take action against Oppressa."

"They have to! This is an act of war," Emery couldn't help but yell. She could feel herself boiling up. She couldn't let this be slid under the rug.

Kayne looked to his daughter with worried eyes, "They believe it's too early for an attack. Even with Oppressa weakend, we are still vastly outnumbered."

"We have horses, they don't. We can charge through their ranks and kill all of the bastards! It's what mom would have wanted," she protested. It was a terrible feeling to not be supported, but perhaps she wasn't thinking with her head.

Kayne shook his head, "The Oppressan camp is deep in the woods. We wouldn't have the maneuverability like we do in the plains. Emery, please. Let's just hear what the elders have to say."

Wanting to say more, but know her father is right she followed him to the where the elders had gathered everyone. Baldur followed closely behind, and Durin behind them. Elder Fawkes stood at the center of the circle, his manly voice bellowing out to the crowd.

"Now I want these Oppressan's dead just as much as any of you," he cried out, "the fact of the matter is we don't have the men. Our horses won't be an advantage inside the forest, and we'd be going in blind."

Emery crossed her arms and looked to Durin, he hung on Fawkes' every word. Fawkes had always been like a father to Durin, so it was no surprise he agreed with him.

"I think our best shot is to make sure they don't win the Summit. They're already starving. They've depleted their resources and are now looking elsewhere. If they starve, we can win."

Emery looked around to the community. Many people seemed optimistic of the plan. Optimistic that they would succeed if Oppressa didn't win the Summit. The question was, who would make sure that didn't happen?

No one seemed to be up to the task. No one wanted to fight and die away from their home. But this was something far greater than any of them. If there was something she could do to make sure her people would prosper, she'd do it. Without question.

Emery stepped forward. "I'll fight in the Summit! I'll kill every last one of those Oppressan bastards and make sure that supplies stays out of their hands."

Her father and Durin looked to her in complete horror, but it was already too late. The community erupted in applause. They chanted her name and called for her victory. She was a champion.