Magical Scribe Eleanor Slam versus Magical Swashbuckler Kai Cress

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I can't reach my alarm clock for some reason. It's blaring its annoying beep but I can't shut it off. Opening my sleepy eyes to the glare of the morning sun, I turn to see the obvious problem: I don't have a right arm.

Damn. This is going to take some getting used to, isn't it?

So I have to get out of bed to turn it off. Was hoping to use the snooze alarm, but since I'm up already, I should get ready. Jael's nice, but she told me on day one that she won't forgive me for being late. Feels weird, getting lectured by somebody younger than me. She did give me a toaster, though. Between her and the stuff from the gift basket, I should be set for a couple weeks. For instance, the bag of bread that I'm spinning open was supposedly something the Warmaster herself baked. It makes good toast, in any case. I'll have to splurge on some jelly packets before I use it all up.

Drop one piece in the slot, drop one piece in the other slot, and push the tab down... It's heating up, but it'll take a few minutes, and I'd rather not just stand around and wait. I'll try out that new shampoo I got yesterday. Supposed to smell like flowers and be good for curly hair, instead of smelling like flower-scented turds and making it feel stiff. I don't normally care about that sort of thing, but since I have to interact with people now, I'm supposed to look presentable. And also smile more.

Reluctantly removing my comfy pajamas - well, more like struggling out of them one-handed - I step into the shower and turn on the water. FUCK IT'S COLD COLD COLD FUCK! All grogginess gone, I squirt the shampoo on my head and work it into a lather as the water starts to warm up. Smells like lilacs. It's pretty nice.

That should be enough lathering, so I let the water rinse it off, and finish showering. While struggling with the hairdryer, I step on the footstool and inspect myself in the mirror.

...I'm frowning again.

For fuck's sake, cheer up, Eleanor. Nobody wants to see you pouting all day. And things aren't so bad right now. You've healed up, and you're not a traumatized, sobbing wreck like you thought you'd be.

So why am I still so unhappy?

Looking out into my room, I see a golden fist resting on the table. The 'most magnificent robot arm' Fuckface arranged to have made for me.

That might be part of it.

It's better than being armless, though. My hair's drying and I'm done showering, so now I can put it in. I pick it up, still surprised by how light the thing is, and slot it into place. Whatever's inside it starts to purr quietly as I regain feeling on my right side. Flexing the thing and making fists with it... Yeah, it works fine. I just wish it wasn't so gaudy and bulky.

Toast's been done for a while. I change back into costume and pluck the slightly warm bread from the toaster. Still have half an hour before I have to be at Sundry Offerings, so I can take my time with-

-knock knock knock-

Somebody at the door this early? I continue scarfing down breakfast - it's good toast - and make my way to the door. A little hop onto and over the bed puts me in position to turn the knob. Delicately, though, because the Second had me crushing walnuts to test the prosthetic's abilities.

I don't know what I expected, but I was somehow still surprised when the person knocking turned out to be a pirate.

...Okay, Fuckface looked like a pirate, but this lady looked even more pirate-y. She's got a long, buttoned-up red coat that flares open over her stomach, with those big poofy things on the shoulders, and a belt with a skull buckle on it. She's got skull cufflinks on her cuffs, and a bunch of rings on her fingers. There's a skull-and-crossbones bandana on her head on top of silver hair. Eyes are kinda orange, and her teeth are sharp. She puts me in the mind of a shark...

I just now realize I've been gawking at her with toast in my mouth.

While I'm pulling the food out and murmuring an apology, the lady is grinning at me. I feel like I'm being sized up for a meal.

She's the first one to speak, and asks, "Be ye Eleanor Abbot Slam?" She even talks kinda like one... Oh, right, she asked me a question.

"Y-yes," I respond, "that's me."

"Arr!" exclaims the pirate lady, pointing at me with a claw-like finger, "Warmaster Russ extends congratulations on your leg healin' up."

Oh. Is that it? "...Thanks?" I murmur.

"Moreover," she continues, evidently not finished, "she insists that ye report for Eversor examinations, right now!"

Seriously? I ask her just to make sure, "Right now?"

"Aye, right now!" the lady affirms. She stops pointing and instead offers her hand. Like she's going to drag me around like a kid. "Are ye comin' or not?"


I'm a little torn. On the one hand, the sooner I do this and get this over with, the sooner I can leave this place and join back up with Checkers and company. On the other hand, I don't really feel like I'm ready. I haven't really done anything to prepare at all. I'm not sure I'm even mentally prepared.

Pirate lady isn't too keen on waiting, it seems. She's scowling and snarling at me now, "I don't tolerate fools who can't make up their minds! If ye can't decide in the next five seconds, I'm goin' t' eat ye alive!"

And I believe her. She really looks like she could do that if she wanted. In fact, she looks like she -wants- to do it. I'm reminded of the witch that nearly bit my head off, and it makes me shiver.

But then she's grinning again, cheerily telling me, "That was a joke, lass! A joke!" She leans in to whisper conspiratorially, "But if we dally too long, 'Her Highness' will give us both an earful." I don't know who that is, but... I don't want to get yelled at.

"So," the lady asks once again, "be ye ready?"

No, no I'm not ready. But I don't really have any choice, do I? So I tell her, sounding every bit defeated, "...Yes ma'am, I'll go now."

"Don't call me ma'am!" she replies, gripping me by the hand and leading me out. "Th' name's Kai Cress, Actin' Eversor Rank Leader, and leader of Squad Krakenmaw! But ye can call me Roger."

I'm only half paying attention at this point. Right now, a feeling of dread distracts me, and I'm trying not to look at her tail. I think it's a tail. It's coming out of the space below her dress like a tail. But it has a face on it. And teeth. And... Guns. A bunch of guns. And it's covered in tattoos. And it's very big. Really hard not to stare. Especially when it's staring right back.

...Huh? Wait a second.

"Why Roger?"

"Because I'm a right jolly person, I am!" cheers Kai, her laugh sounding like a motorboat running.

...Okay, so... She talks like someone who only vaguely knows how to sound like a pirate, she might possibly be a cannibal, her tail is looking at me like I'm food, and she makes bad jokes.

I still don't dislike her as much as Fuckface. Fuckface wrecked Checkers' visit and made me lose my arm. Fuckface can go eat dirt.

I hope she doesn't mind if I eat while we're walking, though. I'm not doing any kind of examination on an empty stomach, and nobody can make me.

...That's some good toast right there. Definitely getting some jelly in the future.

"So," I start talking between bites, "what does this Eversor examination... What do I have to do?"

"Ye have to best another Eversor in battle!" Kai jovially declares. Crazy bitch seems way too happy about it. "The both of ye will fight until one of ye surrenders or is no longer able to continue."

"Won't I be at a disadvantage?" I ask. "I don't have a weapon, and I haven't really... Trained or prepared for this. At all."

"A weapon will be provided for ye!" is her idea of reassurance, as is, "And worry not, your opponent is still a rookie."

"Although," she murmurs, her smile fading to a frown as she claws at her chin thoughtfully, "she -was- selected after she paid for the privilege."

They paid to fight me?

"...Who'd want to fight me, though?" I ask, finishing the last of the bread. I think we're at our destination, because Kai/Scary Pirate Lady is pushing open a set of double doors in front of me.

Inside is a room that... Well I think it's really... It looks...

It looks like a tornado ran through it, with claws. Every surface has deep gouges in it. The whole place looks well-worn and... Kinda freaks me the fuck out. It feels like a gymnasium, only even more soul-crushing. And there are racks and racks of weapons lining the walls. I really, really hope that those are rust stains on some of them.

There's a couple figures in here besides us. They're a ways away, so I can't really see them very well, even with the lighting. I make to move closer, but Kai stops me by keeping a firm grip on my arm. I look at her, confused.

"For safety's sake," she states, holding up a little transparent box with a cushion inside, "I'll be needin' to hold on to your soul gem."

I kinda have my doubts about this sort of thing. "Is that really allowed?" I venture.

Kai actually looks serious when she's speaking this time, "Ye can say no, but we won't be held responsible if ye die here."

...Well it's not like I have a lot to lose. I gingerly put my soul gem onto the cushion, and Kai smiles again. She's giving me a cocky, two-finger salute. I awkwardly attempt to return the gesture, somehow not braining myself with my metal arm.

"Are you quite finished?" a cold, business-like voice intones, echoing through the hall. "I don't know about you all, but I have a schedule to keep."

I stumble towards the weapon rack, and my nose fills with the smell of blood. There's dried blood everywhere, on the weapons, on the floor, some of it even got onto the ceiling. The dizzying array of armaments is... Making me dizzy just looking at it. Some of them are gleaming really wickedly, and I think I saw one of them move.

...I don't like the look of any of them. I'll just go without.

It's as I advance upon my opponent and... Whoever the other person is... That the feeling of dread from before returns. It doesn't seem to be from the business-like person muttering about 'proctoring for a couple meatheads'. Her tattoos are kind of scary, but that's not what's bothering me. So that must mean...

"...Oh fuck me..."

Hopping around and unfurling her wings is Milly Schulz. Fucking butterfly girl is my opponent. I can't fucking do this. I can't-

"Miss Slam, please proceed to the arena. Now." The businesswoman orders, and I find myself involuntarily moving forward. Scary Pirate Lady is pushing me towards the mat that Milly is dancing on.

"Ye have a history, I gather?" Kai inquires.

I nod quickly, and whimper, "She broke my shin..."

Kai makes that weird laugh again. Sort of a 'rerererere' sound. It's unnerving.

Far, far too soon, I'm standing across from butterfly psycho. She stops jumping and points at me with one of her spiked maces.

"If it isn't the little barbarian that destroyed my beloved garden," she sneers, her face ugly with contempt. "Come to beg for forgiveness?"

Well this is news to me. I love apologizing for everything and not getting hurt! "Can I really do that?" I ask hopefully.

The wicked grin on her face only grows wider. "Naturally! Give up and agree to be my personal attendant for the rest of your life, and I'll let you live!"

"Of course," she adds dismissively, "that is after I beat some respect into you." Bitch sure does love to talk. Fuckface actually has real competition for being the person I dislike the most at this moment. The air around her crackles with lightning, making her look all the more intimidating. This was a bad idea after all.

"Goodness knows you need to learn manners from somewhere, considering your worthless upbringing and whorish friends obviously taught you nothing."

"...the fuck did you just say?" I snarl.

"Aww, did I hurt your feelings?" the fucking cunt jeers, making her face look very punchable.

"You take that back, you prissy bitch!" I yell back. I think... Yes, she's actually the person I hate the most right now.

This stupid bitch. This stupid goddamn bitch is taunting me, leaning down and practically spitting on my face.

"Are you going to cry about it like a child?"

I want to cry. I want to go back and cry about all of this ridiculousness. About how much shit I have to put up with. About these awful people I run into.

But as my vision goes red, there's something I want to do even more.

Business woman calls out from nearby, "Alright, enough trash talk you two. You ready?" I'd forgotten about her.

Fuckwad piss-drinker over there nods. I make an affirmative noise. Crazy pirate is cheering some distance away.

"Three, two, one, fight." The countdown comes quickly, and it takes a second for me, and my enemy, to realize it.

That pompous asshole charges at me, screaming, "I'll make a scarf from your entrails, you little shitstain!"

I make a fist, and it wraps around something. A pen, taller than I am. One with ink dripping from its nib onto the mat. The nib is sharp; sharp and pointed like a spear. I bring it up and hold it with both hands, pointing it at my opposition.

I know on some level that I'm going to feel awful about this later. I'm going to regret it. I'm going to almost cry about it, wishing I hadn't done it. I'm going to hate myself for doing it. And then I'm going to ring up Checkers and ask her what I'm supposed to do.

I might even be in way over my head, fighting against her. I could get my ass kicked.

But right now, in this space, what I want to do more than anything else is to beat Milly Schulz into the ground. What happens after that happens after I make her eat her words.