How we think the fight will go
We’re still looking for a fan write-up (see this post for more details, but note you can start putting your write-ups below), but in the meantime, we’re happy to give you one more from Abyss
With a note of thanks to all of you who have posted comments re my other write ups, and my deepest apologies and respect again to Brandon Sanderson and the later Robert Jordan, and now to Brent Weeks…
An assassin, by nature and practice, does not seek out a face to face and blade to blade fight. It’s antithetical to the whole ‘assassination’ thing. Kill. Don’t be killed. Kill fast and with finality. Don’t leave anything to chance. Don’t even take chances. Plan for everything, then back-up plan, and then plan some more for when those plans go ass-up.
A wet-boy is an assassin writ large. Not so much a killer as an artist in the act of killing. Magic, weapons, magic weapons, brains, every piece of their body, is committed to the art of murder, the elimination of the target… or rather, the deader. As in you can’t get much deader than being targeted by a wet-boy.
It’s why they’re the best there is at what they do.
And even among wet-boys, Durzo Blint was one of the best. And he trained Kylar Stern.
Kylar has had other names, but Kylar will do. Kylar is so good at murder, he has, in many respects, surpassed Durzo. There are god-like beings who could attest to this, except that they’re dead.
Point being, Kylar is extremely good at killing. He may not like it, but he is so very very good at it. Fucking brilliant in fact. And oddly enough, Kylar has saved his world with his skills.
Aes Sedai, by nature and considerable effort, cultivate an air of power and focus that conveys, when a Sister turns her ageless face to a viewer, a sense that they know more, know better, know EVERYTHING, and the target of that gaze is best off doing exactly what the Aes Sedai tells them to do.
Practice and attitude have a great deal to do with this. So does the One Power. Theirs is the female half of the Power, and with it, they wield Air, Fire, Earth, Water and Spirit in many ways.
It’s not a good idea to anger an Aes Sedai. They take Oaths that prevent them from doing some of the nastier things the One Power permits, but really, that just motivates them to get creative.
As an Aes Sedai of the Blue Ajah, Moiraine Damodred concerns herself with righteous causes. Her particular cause happens to be saving the world. This focus led her to find the Dragon Reborn. And the Dragon may indeed yet save their world, but fair to say, without Moiraine’s efforts, he would likely never have had a chance to try.
Moiraine is extremely strong in the One Power. There are other channelers, some Aes Sedai, some not, who are stronger than her, but not many. And even among those, most haven’t figured out Balefire, a particularly nasty weave that erases its target from existence. It’s as bad as it sounds. At least one particularly powerful servant of the Dark One has found that out the hard way.
A contest has raged across worlds… across universes. Champions, chosen for many reasons, have been forced to fight each other.
These two… Moiraine Sedai and Kylar Stern… are the last. To get this far, each has overcome a host of opponents… vicious warriors, clever mages, gods even… and many who would have been friends or allies in other circumstances.
And now their only bar to victory, to survival, to have done with this entire business… is each other.
The White Tower stands proudly, one hundred spans of gleaming bone white structure at the heart and centre of the island city of Tar Valon.
It is the home, training ground and gathering place of the Aes Sedai. Hundreds, possibly thousands of the Sisters may be found there, to say nothing of their warders… some of the most deadly warriors ever known.
Sneaking in to the White Tower to kill one of its residents would be a daunting task for anyone.
Even for Kylar Stern.
Cloaking himself in white and climbing up the outside of the Tower in broad daylight, however, was easier. Much easier. His own Talent, used frugally, didn’t seem to trigger whatever weaves the Aes Sedai used to protect their place, and while his invisibility wasn’t perfect, people, even apparently ageless magic-users and their watch-dog swordsmen, seldom looked up, and if they did and caught a slight hint of motion, well, even bone white walls cast shadows. They should have kept their stonework less ornate if they didn’t want people using it as camouflage and climbing grips.
It was a long climb, even so. His talents and the black ka’kari gave him strength and endurance beyond any normal assassin, however well trained, but one hundred spans was still one hundred spans. The climb took a while. Almost a whole hour.
He reached the top, relieved to find it empty and blissfully flat. No obvious threats presented themselves at his first glance over the railing. He scanned with his talent, drew on the additional power and focus that his sword, Retribution, gave him and scanned some more. Weaves revealed themselves. Powerful ones, all the elements and a weird ephemeral fifth form as well. Had he leapt up onto the roof, he may have set off a number of nasty surprises. As it stood, this was a delay, but a minor one. He called on the black ka’kari and drew it around him like a bodysuit as he rolled over the railing and onto the roof. The first weave almost activated…. and the ka’kari devoured its essence before whatever it was meant to do fully formed. Another redundant weave flared, that strange fifth ‘element’ swirling around him, and was devoured in turn. He felt a slight tingle through the ka’kari this time, but the Devourer would not be denied, least of all by unformed, raw power. The elements could hurt him, but they had to exist first.
Kylar allowed the black ka’kari to quest around him, absorbing a few more closer weaves, then pulled it inside. He looked over the edge of the railing at Tar Valon spread out below him. A beautiful city, with tall graceful buildings, cleaner, more brilliant than anything on his world, surrounded by shining walls, and all laid out across an island in the middle of a gorgeous blue river.
It was a shame about the flood.
Kylar reached into a sack tied to his secondary equipment belt, drew out a small blue pearl, dropped it on the roof, and then vaulted back over the side of the Tower.
The River Erinin flows freely around the shining walls of Tar Valon. It is a part of the city’s defenses and its beauty.
The city itself was built by Ogier stonemasons and Aes Sedai channelers. It has never been taken by an enemy. And it has never flooded. Until today.
The water of the Erinin didn’t so much rise as creep. Slow flows, narrow as vines, made their way up the banks and then the walls like shallow streams flowing upwards, reaching the top of the walls and then flowing down into the streets. At first, in the fading light of dusk, the flows went unnoticed. But a guard walking the walls stepped in a puddle, looked up at the cloudless sky and then down… Tar Valon had seen its share of random ‘bubbles’ of evil in the Dark One’s recent activity… and men who stood guard on a city of Aes Sedai soon learned to be sharp, suspicious, and extremely careful … the alarm was raised quickly on the walls, the extent of the problem quickly observed… even as the streets started to fill with enthusiastically bubbling brooks and widening streams all running towards the White Tower.
The alarm drew the attention of the Aes Sedai instantly. The steadily rising streams of water running onto the grounds of the Tower, then into the Tower itself and up the stairs level by level drew a whole other escalation of alarm.
Sisters from each Ajah hurried to investigate. Circles of sisters formed, drawing immense weaves of Air and Water to try to reverse the flows. Novices and Accepted from the Seafolk were pressed into service, some with almost no Tower training finding themselves leading whole circles of full Sisters in weaves learned and learned well on Atath’an Miere ships long before they ever came to the Tower. Water was redirected, forced, cajoled, but it all came back. Steadily, the tower was being flooded. Whole ceilings were slowly being covered with water that defied reason and logic in its travel upwards.
Moiraine Damodred held back when her Blue Ajah sisters moved to begin their own efforts against the flood. She watched as three sisters attempted to bring Fire down on a stream of water flowing along a staircase. The cloud of steam sent them into retreat. Moiraine directed her own flow of Air to dissipate the heat, and studied the water.
It flowed up. She looked around. Everywhere, along walls, between almost invisible seams of Ogier wrought stone, the water flowed up.
She diverted her attention briefly to her Warder. Lan was many floors below. He had been training with other Warders when the flooding began. The steadily increasing flow of water was causing panic and making the stairs difficult to navigate. He would get to her when he could, but for the moment…
Moiraine wove Water, not trying to stop the upwards flows but pushing them aside enough to ensure her footing. Having no difficulty – the water merely continued on its way to either side of her steps – she began to follow the flow.
The climb to the top of the White Tower was not itself difficult, but the water flows were increasing. There was no feeling of Saidar being channeled, but something was drawing the water… she prepared a offensive weave of Fire, another defensive, of Air, and moved to the roof.
What awaited her above was stunning… frightening even… the flows of water had converged into a massive waterspout, a twisting, writing pillar of water growing from the centre of the roof of the White Tower… it was immense, almost as high again as the tower itself… the weight alone would have shattered a lesser structure… she allowed herself a moment to fear what would happen if the streams of water were allowed to continue to gather, before a second sight drew her attention… Aes Sedai Sisters… three… five… six or more, all unconscious, tied up, gagged, their heads propped up above the flows of water and pushed to the edges of the roof… she had not been the first one to follow the flows… which meant…
A stabbing pain broke her line of thought even as she was about to unleash the Air…
An arm, hard as steel, powerful, reached around her throat and pulled tight. She threw herself forward, pushing out Air around her as hand as she could. Her attacker grunted and twisted the blade enough to break her concentration and dissuade further efforts.
“Listen. Don’t fight. Moiraine Sedai. Just listen.”, he hissed in her ear.
She paused. If he had intended to kill her, that knife could have gone deeper before she could stop it. She steeled herself, ignored the pain of the knife tip in her side, and spoke with full Aes Sedai calm and confidence.
“You must know there is no escape from here. And I still breath, so you did not come here to kill me.”
“Or maybe I did. And I can be down the side of the Tower before you can blink. Don’t posture. Just listen.”
She could feel Lan approaching. She could feel channeling in the floors below as the Aes Sedai efforts to control the water grew. Someone would be here any moment. She would have a chance. Drawing on her angreal, she barely nodded.
“Three things you need to know. First, the blue ka’kari will keep drawing the river here until your tower breaks under the pressure. Second, the knife in your side is poisoned and you have only moments to live without the cure I can provide. Third, you can end this, save your tower and live, with two simple words: ‘I surrender’.”
Moiraine’s mind raced, but she asserted the same calm consideration she did to everything. “How do I know you’re telling the truth about any of this?” she asked.
Kylar’s perfectly plotted kill had one snag… this woman was not a deader, he was not being paid to kill her, and as far as he could tell, she was not a bad person. Which meant her really wanted to avoid her death if he could.
“You see your Sisters who got here before you. They aren’t dead. This contest has to end and your death doesn’t have to be a condition of that. Give up and we all walk away.”
Moiraine’s mind raced… the contest… again the blood and bloody ashes contest… four times already she had fought … the last almost too close… now this… he claimed a simple ending, but she had heard otherwise… the consequences of a loss could be dire…
Kylar felt her tense…
“Don’t be foolish. You’ve lost. I don’t want to kill you. Without the cure you’re already dead… give up.”
Moiraine’s thoughts settled. She prepared weaves of Air and Fire…
“No. You give up. I can wipe you out before you ever stood on this roof. You will never stab me. You will never threaten the Tower. It will be like you never existed.”
“So much as blink and this knife goes through your heart. Last chance.”
Even as he spoke he felt her tense, and by reflex borne of hard training and harsher lessons in life, drove the blade upwards…
Even as he spoke, Moiraine completed the Balefire weave…
Predicted Winner: Your votes will decide!
NOTE: THIS MATCH ENDS ON THURSDAY, April 12th, 2012, AT 5 PM, EST
Who will be Cage Match 2012 Champion?
Moiraine image courtesy of Jason Chan and Tor Books. Kylar Stern image courtesy of Orbit Books.
Cage Match fans: We are looking forward to hearing your responses! If possible, please abstain from including potential spoilers about the books in your comments (and if you need spoilers to make your case, start your comments with: “SPOILER ALERT!”
Also–let’s keep it civil. We’re all fans of the the genre, and while we want spirited debate, we also want to hear everyone’s opinions.