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Cory Sommers
Junior Adventurer
Junior Adventurer

Joined: 21 Jun 2016
Posts: 7

Location: Taking photos in various places
632 Silver Nobles

PostPosted: Sat Jun 25, 2016 6:14 pm    Post subject: Fight Night Reply with quote

I’m supposed to be starting this off in a time honored cliche. Something like, The Annex was really rocking last night as duelists from around the city converged on Fight Night, should be my opening statement. I’ve used them before, cliches I mean. I’m quite certain that in the right moment I will use them again. This is not what I consider to be, the right moment. I was at The Annex last night, some of you may have seen me, others may have overlooked me entirely. You may even doubt my word now. For you doubters, I have photos as visual evidence.

The face that launched a thousand duels. Okay, maybe it was only five but they were easily exciting enough to be a thousand. By the way that look on her face is pity, and I am quite sure that it’s directed at me, but let’s move on.

I’m not going to make an attempt to give blow by blow accountings. Honestly I barely know the difference between a jab and a thrust, let alone which one would work better in a fist fight. What I do know is that all animals fight. The reasons behind it are, ironically enough, more civilized in the wild. I’m not speaking of killing to feed here, I’m looking more at why they fight within a species, and that to my knowledge it is a rare occasion that such battles end in killing. I mention this simply to point out it’s really only we who are self aware that seem to have the need to kill in the circumstances.

I’m not a pacifist. What I am is a person who knows my limitations where defending myself is concerned. I’m no militarist either. I believe in a strong military, but used to defend the borders not to expand them. Why do I bring these things up? I’m looking for a good lead in of course. So we invent the caller, and she, in this case Eden Parker, keeps our competitors from taking it too far. I get it, when adrenaline flows tempers can flare.

There is a distinct beauty in the fight, whether that be with fist or weapon. The movements of muscle skin and bone into a strike that will either connect or be avoided through the same exquisite grace. This attracts our attention, it drives us to watch and sometimes even to bet on the outcome. With just a few minutes worth of a fighter’s life they have managed to make fortunes, and break them too if I’m being honest.

Those few brave warriors come forward and give over their restraints to the caller before plunging headlong into battle. Their reasons? There are a myriad of them I’m certain. Some may be bored, others trying to prove themselves superior. Whether that is to their opponent, or to what people believe them to be varies. They lash out at one another, and we cheer on our favorites. Some of us even get paid to go as well. Those of us who are fortunate enough to have walked through the door to this publication and get an opportunity to sell a few photos. I might even get to put a few words down as well.

When the fighting is done, the combatants actually thank the caller. Are they thanking her for her time? That is what they say a lot. I’ve begun to wonder, maybe they are thanking her for preventing someone from being hurt too badly. Maybe they thank her as a means to say or I would have killed them. Maybe these things are true, but they are simply speculation. For me, I know why I’d be thanking the caller. No, that remains with me.

(Image Credits: 1, 2, 3, 4.)
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Cory Sommers
Junior Adventurer
Junior Adventurer

Joined: 21 Jun 2016
Posts: 7

Location: Taking photos in various places
632 Silver Nobles

PostPosted: Sun Jun 26, 2016 4:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

(My thank you goes out to the player of Sylus Kurgen for the following interview!)

Recently I read my previous article. I knew even before I had hit send on the email that I had effectively said a everything and nothing of consequence. This trait would be admirable in a political candidate. It would be a virtue for one of those nightly news talking heads. For me, a photojournalist it’s a travesty. My pictures are meant to say a thousand words, and my words should be meant to fill in where the pictures leave off. Upon reflection, I know the problem lies with me. It’s home is buried within my considerable lack of understanding about the sporting community and panoptically the sports.

I left my motel room, a cozy little run-down dive that while dark and uncomfortable is at least cheap, last night hoping to change my own perceptions and perhaps bring you along for the ride. I got started far later than I had wanted to. You see, for me, in order to understand I need to study. There are libraries worth of information on the dueling community. More than a single cram session can impart by a long shot, still it was a beginning and one that with a little luck and a lot of work will put me on the right path.

I arrived late, I mentioned that. It was too late to get the best photos of the tournament. It was too late to see anything but the final few rounds between Bailey and Aric. As disappointing as this is, to me and perhaps to many of you, I won’t be covering the events that happened last night. You see, while I was there trying hard to stay out of everyone’s way, I had an idea. I looked around and realized that it was the people that make up this tight knit little community, and that it is the people who should be exposed.

I gave over to that thought, accepted that this was the direction I needed as a journalist to follow. So, under prepared but eager I managed to sit down with one member who was both duelist and, for at least last evening, spectator.

Sylus Kurgen, it was one of the names I’d encountered in the research that had made me so late for the evening's events. That his picture was readily available helped a lot too. I’m not sure what it is that I expected, no that’s a lie. A large part of my insignificant hundred and fifty four pound frame expected the man to be pompous, or even sarcastically superior. I’m guilty of being judgmental and in this case exceedingly incorrect.

Calm, observant, perhaps even a bit calculating was my first impression of the man as he sat sipping his bourbon and watching the fight progress between the squire hopefuls. Sylus magnanimously acceded to my clumsy attempt for an impromptu interview. The answers to my questions have altered some of the predispositions I brought with me. Perhaps they will have the same effect on the bias of others.

Q: "You're a longstanding veteran of the duels. What is it that keeps you coming back?" Admittedly this question is simple, but I asked it anyway realizing that the man I saw before me wasn’t the bloodthirsty fighter I had expected. It also wasn’t hard to understand that what motivates us changes from person to person.

A: "For me, it's the fights themselves. Seeing the new blood clamoring up the ranks like I did and so many before me. Who's trying to break which old record, and so on." Sylus’ eyes were clear, his demeanor as sober as the response he gave me. A strange sort of dawning hit me with the answer. Do the old guard really look to see who might break their record? Do they want to see them broken, if only so that in the future they might face the one who did it? As I said, I was underprepared and those questions never made it further than the back of my mind.

Q: "Is there one discipline you prefer over the other? Fists over swords or magic I mean." Yes, once again it is the obvious question but I needed this one. To each their own, that means something here. Everyone has a favorite, even if they are strong in multiple disciplines. That we can learn which ones are favored is, in my opinion, necessary. It’s a pity that I didn’t follow it up with the next obvious question of why.

A: "I've dabbled in them all, but Swords is what I mainly stick to." It was here that a fight ended between Kalamere D’arden and Terry King. Sylus broke interview in order to applaud with a reserved but heartfelt demeanor. The action, seeing it transpire before me is the reason I’m sticking with for the other question being driven from my mind.

Q: "Do you feel that your time in the swords ring helps you in your business life? And conversely, does your business life bring you anything when you step in to compete?" You’ll notice that I managed to tie two questions together here as I finally began to settle into the role I had selected for the future of this column. I’m not so certain that Sylus understood my opening apprehensions. I am sure that he saw them, and thankfully ignored them.

A: "Absolutely. Before Hydra, I worked as a blacksmith. Getting my small reputation in dueling brought people to my shop. Since I both fight, and craft, there comes this overlapping assumption I know exactly what an individual will look for in a weapon. Not always true. But I've made swords for other duelists, Neo Eternity being one of the more well known." The fact that there are other reasons to sacrifice your body to the gods of pain and dismemberment hadn’t occurred to me. Why would it? After all I’m a freelance writer, and while I may put my body on the line for the right story, the publications I’ve written for aren’t using me to bring in new business. They’re happy to keep the subscriptions they have, and add more with an amazing cover shot. Sylus dedication to his shop and his roots is above all commendable, but again this is now my opinion even if I think it crazy if you don’t share it.

Q: "So, it's had a physical manifestation on business, but what about personal focus. I'd imagine that being a blacksmith you'd see flaws in a weapon and fix them. Does that same discerning eye aid you when you're in a duel?" Finally, a follow-up question. Personally I am feeling more comfortable. Maybe it was being able to tune out the distractions of The Annex that night. There were many, and they were both brutal and beautiful.

A: "It does and it doesn't. One key thing with dueling, is presenting your opponent with what you want them to see. False openings. Drawing them in with misdirection. Not an easy thing to work through, especially if you're both employing the same stratagem, which tends to happen. Watch enough duels and you'll see five to six rounds of two fighters doing the exact same motion." Sylus answer showed me a side of the fight that I hadn’t looked at before, and I told him as much. Perhaps what was more surprising was how it was delivered, like a teacher trying through the voice of experience to impart that wisdom on a new pupil. Maybe that’s what I’ve become. Perhaps it is Sylus who has made me this new student. If that’s the case then I’m grateful for his words.

Q: In an event like Hydra where you don't get to choose who you fight, is there a fighter that you hope not to see coming down to the ring to face you?" At this point I’m very close to the end of my questions. I had three left, but this one in particular I am very fond of and will likely use again. I as a laymen and less found myself being very interested to know about who might give a fighter, even one with the significant experience of Sylus, pause.

A: "Me? No, there isn't. I've been around long enough, that I've fought almost everyone, outside of the newest fighters. I'm one of the last people to duel against Dalamar himself when he made a one night only appearance in the Arena. Moment's like that make me look forward to facing the next iteration of former legends." His answer wasn’t a great surprise, as you can see even he asserted that his experience has negated any feelings of nervousness. What did surprise me was how it was delivered. This was the first time that Sylus had broken the serenity which had blanketed the entire interview. Despite his years, for this moment the man seemed exceedingly young and motivated. Is there that same child in all of us? Do we so easily cast it aside when the right question comes along?

Q: "The next question I have is, Which duelists are your favorite as a spectator?" This is a follow-up question, even if it isn’t the one that most would expect. Suddenly I wasn’t interested in who he liked to fight, but who a fighter with so much experience wanted to watch. For those of you who are looking for the information of who Sylus likes to fight, my advice would be to ask him.

A: "That's a toss up really. They're all good fights to watch in their own way. But it's the fighters that manage to bring in a bit of flair or showmanship that make a fight a spectacle. After all, that's why folks come to watch the fights, from my perspective. They want to be entertained. In that regard, Harris and Kruger are the most entertaining matches. Those two, an Vinny when he decides to grace us all with his presence." Intentional or not, Sylus gave me a treasure trove of information with this answer. Even after the cute blond prompted him about Matt Simon and his admission that, "Old Man Simon is entertaining when he duels Old Man Tass, or three at once.”

The answer that he gave on the surface should be enough. However looking at the names involved, even including the addition of Matt and Tass, I discovered that his choices included the current highest ranking fighter in fists, Harris. The current highest ranking fighter in swords, Matt. A multiple archmage from magic, Vinny, and a multiple title holder in his own right, Tass. That his list included a name that is at some of the lowest ranks in all three disciplines, Kruger gave me a little insight into how honest he was being about a love of flair and showmanship. It would be simple to leave names off the list, not one person would miss them or fault him for not mentioning them. From the response, I’ve come to believe that Sylus has a love of the sports that incorporates his participation both within the rings and from the outside.

Q: “Any words of advice for the newcomers to the duels?" I know, my last question was the predictable cliche that I’ve been guilty of several times. It was one that I wasn’t going to ask, but throughout the interview I came to want to know what Sylus would say to those who come in his considerable wake.

A: "Stay humble. Don't get worked up over how many losses you have on the standings, or any of that. It breeds a negative mindset and you end up fighting yourself more than your opponents. Rank comes, one duel at a time. Play the field and figure out what works best against whom. Every fighter as a chink in their armor. Find it." Humility, perseverance, and keen observation, these are the virtues that one would expect to hear. They are the ones which we are often told, and mentally programmed to disregard when we are up and coming. These kind of struggles transcend the sporting world into our everyday lives. I’m once again not surprised that Sylus said the words. I’m glad that he did, the real question for me is how many times do we have to hear them before we actually begin to believe it?

With my last question asked, I thanked Sylus for his time and candidness. I gathered up my recorder and my camera and left The Annex behind for the night. It wasn’t until halfway home in the cab that another question occurred to me. Why do you fight? Not the what brings you back question, but the motivation itself. What makes you want to so badly? Where did it come from? Has it ever abandoned you? I was kicking myself as I unlocked my door and sat down to work. Then I came to that minute break that Sylus had, and I realized that perhaps for him it was quite simply a love that was so powerful it could bring the wide eyed kid out of him. I could be wrong, I hope I’m not. More than that, I hope that everyone finds that love that keeps them young on the inside.

(Images taken from: 1, 2, 3, 4.)
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Cory Sommers
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Junior Adventurer

Joined: 21 Jun 2016
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Location: Taking photos in various places
632 Silver Nobles

PostPosted: Fri Jul 01, 2016 9:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

(Many thank yous to the players of Addie and Michi for allowing me the opportunity to use my meager skills!)

“So hit me like a man and love me like a woman
Buried and sad, look me in the eyes, I want it
One will give you hell, one will give you heaven
Hit me like a man, love me like a woman
Love me like a woman” ~ The Pretty Reckless

Don’t recognize the chorus to Hit Me Like a Man? Maybe you just think I’m crazy for opening up with it. If I were you I would probably agree, at least until I showed you the relevance. Wednesday night had me out at the fight clubs once more. Three hours at The Outback, where fists reign supreme. Now maybe you are beginning to see why I chose that quote? But it goes a little deeper than that. I know it was originally done by The Pretty Reckless, but the much superior cover by Trash is what nails down the need to include it. (Don’t worry Michi, I still love Kiss from a Rose.)

There are currently thirty six fighters in the fists forum that rank emerald and above. I know, I counted. Six of those are title holders, twenty nine of the remaining aren’t the person that I interviewed. I found one there that I hadn’t expected to see, one that I hadn’t even known was a fighter. This is my fault of course, and it is why today I know the number of the highest ranked fighters. A little last minute research does wonders.

Addie Alcar
I know that it isn’t uncommon to see rock stars at sporting events,
so I’d like to say that I wasn’t surprised to see her there. That would be a lie. I was in point of fact, more than surprised. I was awestruck. Maybe it had something to do with already being a huge fan of the singer/guitarist. I was amazed that I was able to get an interview with her without stuttering incoherently. That Addie is currently ranked as emerald was something that never would have occurred to me. Jokes on me I guess, for judging this book by its attractive and extremely misleading cover.

It was that which I came to know over the next couple of hours. Addie has a way of astonishing by doing things spur of the moment. Perhaps much of this aspect of her could be attributed to the nearness of Michi, the band’s bassist and mentee to Addie in the fists world. Taken together they’re harder to follow than Bruce Lee punches in Fists of Fury. Alone, Addie often seemed humble, shy, and sweet three things I never thought I’d say about any rockstar. Especially when they’ve got a in ring reputation.

Q: "Okay, I did an interview recently that brought to mind a question that I hadn't asked. In your case, I'm even more curious about the answer. You are in the infancy of what I perceive to be a blossoming music career, so what is it that makes you fight? Why take a risk that could end not one career but two if you count fighting as one of them?" The more often I do this, the better I seem to be getting with this opening question. The Duel of Fists is exactly what it says it is. Much of what Addie aspires to on the rock stage requires that her hands be whole. What becomes of her if she loses flexibility in the ring? Sure she still sings, but I believe that many of us, me among them, would miss how outstandingly she shreds that guitar.

A: "Well, truthfully I started fighting before we started the band. I didn't really expect the band thing to blow up like it has. Now that it has, I'm working on trying to find the balance between the sports and my other interests. Gotta keep the hustle going all the time, you know? Plus you can't get away with punching someone in the face on stage... at least not as easily." Addie’s lip caught between her teeth in a look so delicately forceful that it could turn aside a tidal wave. I began to see her power, and fortunately for me she was looking at the ceiling, or I’d have been as robbed of momentum as that tsunami I mentioned. Is this where her strength lies? Is she even aware of exactly how powerful it is? Note to self, don’t rush the stage at a Trash concert.

Q: "I've asked this one before, in part it is for me, but there might be others who are interested to know. What discipline do you prefer, and is it because you're better at it or something else like it's more of a challenge?" How we do things, why we do them, these define us. Addie of right now may be different than an Addie five or ten years down the road. Loves can change for a myriad of reasons. It’s not up to me to speculate on what those changes will be for Addie. It’s my place to share what they are now, and hopefully reveal a little of her to you.

A: "Like what sport? I'd probably say I prefer unarmed the most. I'm only passably okay-ish at armed dueling and don't get me started on magic. I had a pretty great teacher in the Outback, right over... there," Addie pointed across to Hope Queen, another former multi-title holder across the sports and current Baroness of New Haven. "And that turned into more of an appreciation for the sport. It's probably because I'm better at it than the others. Who likes losing?" While I agree with her about wanting to lose, I began to lose a little control here. Michi had been passively listening, a role that she so obviously can only endure for so long before needing to become an active participant. It was her comment about Addie’s ability to sing that brought an additional comment from Addie. "Also, I like being better than Michi."

These two ladies feed of one another. Their back and forth banter is quick witted, and quite cutting though completely saturated with deep friendship. They fend off friendly attacks with hard cuts and winning smiles. It’s this camaraderie that makes them, melds them together as a band. I can only believe that it has the same effect within the rings.

Q: "From what little I've been able to pick up over the last week or so. If you've enough rank to be a mentor, then you're certainly losing less than winning by a long shot. I'm usually happy if I can break even, or pretend to. Along those lines,, and aside from your mentor, what do you believe it is that has made you advance so far? Was it the training alone, or are you a chalice full of talent that would shine at whatever you attempt?" Despite the chaos that this interview was turning into, the puffing up between friends as fists were raised and old triumphs were thrown out and cut down, I was beginning to look at Addie a little differently. She wasn’t simply parroting things she heard, she wasn’t pretending to be something she wasn’t. She showed me that it was good to be outrageous. It might be, I haven’t been able to make that happen yet.

A: "It's a process, ya know. You gotta take time to get a feel for things, it's okay to lose during that time. But then you gotta go hard in the paint and put everything you've got into it, you know? I grew up with a lot of dueling influence but my parents kept me away from it until I got here by myself. I'd like to say that it's innate talent but you gotta work at it. Squats and running steps. That's the secret." I wouldn’t have thought her anything but what sat before me. I’m awkward at best, she’s not by a long shot. That she pushed herself to become that is difficult to believe for me, but my senses tell me that it’s more likely that her words were truer than my assumptions. Inside of me I’m feeling a little kindred towards the girl across from me. We’ve both worked hard to excel in our fields. I know, my own is far less active than hers and, with this column at least, less dangerous. Believe it or not, I’ve done dangerous things, and I’m not just talking about jaywalking on Saturday night. So it became easier to believe, it became simpler to see within my own mind. Not the girl already on top, but the girl and the struggle. I know her, I’ve been the male version of her. If that makes us some kind of spiritual siblings, she apparently got all the looks.

Q: "Have you done any team dueling? If so, how does it compare to grinding your way up the rankings in a one on one setting?" I need you all to understand something. Hydra is here, IFL is just around the riverbend. Team dueling is a thing, and it has a long season. It isn’t one of the focuses of my articles, but learning the differences from the fighter’s point of view is one of them. Any insights that I thought I might get from Addie were quickly shelved.

A: "Nah, never really got into the team thing. There's a lot of politics and such that goes into that sort of thing and, not really my cup of tea. Plus I'd rather not be responsible for someone's team failing. Pressure's no fun." Maybe I didn’t get much information about the differences in her answer, but I did manage to glean something. Addie doesn’t like to lose, and doing so under pressure is something she simply refuses to let happen. She lists politics as another of her big reasons for not joining a team. Almost I can see people out there putting on your judgment masks and clinging to the tired version of, kids and rock and roll have twisted priorities. To them let me say this, politics is lame, but Rock and Roll isn’t about no politics. It’s about the political view to decide things for yourself and don’t be afraid to show the world that decision.

Q: "My next question is becoming one of a few standards. Is there a fighter that you would prefer not to fight? If there is then what is it about them?" I have done enough looking now to know that there are some dangerous fighters out there. If I can know they are, then the fighters themselves know it as well. Does that make them more, or less desirable to get into a ring with? It depends on what kind of person you are I suppose. Are you a procrastinator that knows it has to happen eventually, just not today? Or, are you a challenge seeker, willing to make the attempt even if it’s a little scary?

A: "You know, it's easy to say that I wouldn't wanna fight someone like... ya know, Jake Thrash or Harris D'Artainian, Matt Simon or Andrea Anderson, but those are the fights you benefit the most from. Sure you hate yourself in the morning but that's when you grow. So... I mean if I -had- to answer it, I'd probably prefer to avoid that Charlie Nine guy because he likes rubbing his junk on people when he leaps. It's awkward, I'd like to avoid that." It’s funny, or maybe it’s simply my own inexperience with the venues and their participants. Vulgarity wasn’t something I’d have considered as a reason not to face someone. In my defense, I hadn’t considered that it might be part of the sport. I do see Addie’s point, and empathize with it. I wouldn’t want to witness someone doing that to her, or anyone for that matter.

Q: “As a spectator, who are the people you most like to watch get into the ring?" Yes, but I warned you all I’d be asking this again. I know that some of you feel that it’s a pointless question. You have your favorites, but now I’d like you to consider that if I asked your favorite fighter the same question, would that answer intrigue you? I am fortunate in my curiosity, it encompasses everyone involved in the martial sports. It exceeds my own aversion to reissuing questions. There are questions that I want to know of everyone I will interview, this is one of them.

A: "Have you ever, like, watched The Anvil fight? He never fails to put on a good show, win or lose. That take some jewels to pull that off. Um, other than him, I kinda like watching Michi get in a ring so I can laugh when she gets punched. Otherwise, it's always a marvel to watch a pair of the top names in the sport go at it. That's some technical wonder." There had been a slight lull between Michi and Addie, she raised the challenge once more to a little verbal sparring, and the pair breathed new life into each other. You have to witness such things first hand to appreciate them. Even then some will have to smother any aversion you have to the kind of freedom these two represent. I was enjoying it myself. I don’t often get to laugh like that, and I don’t mean just in an interview setting.

Top names, she had already listed several in a previous question. Names that we’ve heard before, and I expect to hear again. I’m beginning to understand what it is that draws people to them, even though I have yet to see any of them step into the ring. Technical wonder, played out before your eyes. Impossible moves that find a way to connect, or the counter that leaves one wide open. I want to know them when I see them. If it were a simple math problem, or even a reasonably complex one, it would be clear as water. I have a lot to learn.

Addie wants to be amazed, but she mentioned another name we’ve heard before. In this context we find, once again, that it’s the entertainment that is craved. I haven’t seen him fight, Addie’s suggestion that I find a prerecorded match didn’t fall on deaf ears. It’s on my list of things to do, but that is a list that always seems to grow faster than it gets finished. I’ll try, but there’s just so much more prep work I have to do.

Q: “Do you see yourself going for a title in the near future? Which would you like to hold?" I know I seem it, but I am not completely oblivious. There are likely fans and fighters alike that are looking for the answer now. A lot of them have bypassed this part just to read ahead. I don’t blame you, if I didn’t already know the answer I’d be doing the same.

A: "I've tried twice... couldn't pull it off either time. Came within a point the first time but got my ass kicked the second. Um. Eventually though... yeah, I wanna take another crack at the black rock." There folks, you’ve got your pound of flesh. I hope that is satisfying to know. You didn’t have to watch Addie’s reaction to the question. It was the first time she’d displayed anything resembling doubt. Even when recounting her awkward teenage years she had kept that devil may care attitude. Watching this was like watching her realize that the devil did care, and he was close by. I don’t know what kind of darkness was playing through her thoughts, but when she decides to go for it again, I’ll be on her side.

Q: "My last question, and I'm going to do something a little different with it, please look at Michi, since she's mentored by you, and give her the advice you'd give to the newest of fighters." Seeing is believing, I could have simply asked for the answers. I thought there might be an angle here that I wouldn’t get from the single person interviews. To have mentor and mentored together is likely to be a rare event.

A: "...Her dad's, like, a bajillion time Diamond. Any advice I could give her is nothin' in comparison. But uh... get good is a good one. Otherwise, take your time to feel things out, and I don't mean Yas, and work your ass off. Nothing good comes easy. And other motivational stuff." Michi had been right, Addie had said get good just as she predicted. Addie on the other hand I think felt suspicious of me for the first time in the pair of hours we spent talking. I can understand her reasons, it was an odd request. I did get to see what I expected to. There is a level of caring between them that doesn’t always make it out to the world. It’s buried beneath a veneer of quick wit and mock hostility. Even after it is revealed, it’s quickly buried again, this time by Michi’s loud yell that get good is the best advice and not to talk about her goddess and muse like that.

Addie Alcar is complex. She manages to be both soft and hard. Alluring yet, until you manage to get close she remain aloof. She’s old enough to understand that life is what you make it, and how hard you push yourself to make it. She’s young enough to even through that understanding, still enjoy life as youth should. As a musician and fighter, she dreams in both worlds and excels at those dreams. So, yes, maybe in some foreseeable future you’re going to read, or hear about a rock band and a smashed up hotel room. You may make that tutta tut noise, and shake your head. It’s what you don’t see in the writing that should be important. Life is hard, frustrating, we’re young and sometimes the only thing we can think of to do is make something look as messed up as we’re feeling. If you haven’t felt the same, you’re either lying to yourself or afraid to admit it. The difference is this, most of us aren’t in a position that the world will shine a spotlight on our actions.
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Cory Sommers
Junior Adventurer
Junior Adventurer

Joined: 21 Jun 2016
Posts: 7

Location: Taking photos in various places
632 Silver Nobles

PostPosted: Wed Jul 20, 2016 8:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I’d like to say that I’m not the type to frequent bars. I’d like that to be true too, but lately I’ve discovered that much of my time is spent in one bar or another. If I said that it was necessary in order to actually do my job, perhaps that would sound better? For those of you who’ve never been to the fights, you’ll find that there is a bar at every fighting venue. There’s a portion of you that are reading this and saying, It’s okay Cory, I’m at the bar all the time too. For those of you who are still disapproving, I’d venture to guess that you are stuck in the waiting room of your dentist, that the woman across from you has taken the only copy of Vogue, or worse, she’s letting her three year old color in all the pretty ladies.

I’d also guess that rather than politely asking for it, you’ve decided it is better to open this article and stare daggers at her. Listen, give the woman a break, it’s probably the only peace she’s had all day. If you really want that magazine, simply go over, kneel down and start to color with the three year old. Most mothers are picky about knowing the person that’s playing with their child. It is entirely likely that she’ll give up the book, and take the child to a completely different part of the waiting room. Once there she’ll have a discussion with them about talking to strangers, consequently destroying the career of another budding journalist.

For those of you who are not going to do this, rest at ease. I’m not without compassion for your plight. Just read a little longer and you’ll see. Please understand, if there is another portal to Twilight Island other than the one at the Red Dragon Inn, I don’t know it..

Sabine Gabrielle

Yes you’ve seen her face out there on the highways, and so have I. You’ve seen the name, know what it means and possible already have you’re own opinion of the woman. Recent interviews have given me some things to think about where my opinion of someone I’ve never met before is concerned. As I was trying to say before, I was at the Red Dragon, on my way to the magical duel venue when I spotted that face. The one above that had your husbands stop reading this article until they find the strength to tear their eyes off of it. If you want proof, elbow him. If he’s reading along you’ll miss. If he’s reading ahead, he’ll have already told you not to elbow him. If he’s stopped reading, you probably bruised his ribs and now he’s giving you a dirty look.

It was at that point when I reexamined my intentions about where my night would be spent. Sabine Gabrielle is a name that was on my list. I do have a list, it may not be the kind you’re thinking about. I was faced with a choice. Head to the Isle, where there might not be someone near the top of my list, or ask Miss Gabrielle for an interview. The worst case for me would be she’d say no, and I’d head to the Isle anyway. Fortune, it seemed was on my side. I was invited to sit and allowed to record her answers to my questions.

Q: "You've come a long way in a fairly short amount of time. This is your third Barony, and things look to keep going well. I'm curious though, what makes a woman with the advantages you have take up fighting to begin with? When did it start, and why?" I was going to edit this question. Those of you who have followed Sabine already see the issue. I chose not to, because there is meaning in how we react to things. There’s a bit of insight to be had from how we inform someone of their mistakes, which Sabine did.

A: “Fourth barony." It was a simple whisper, given with a look of Empathy. This could have gone very badly, It could have tainted the entire interview, or perhaps she could have dotted a few eyes for me. Probably mine. I wouldn’t have faulted her, it was exceedingly gratifying that she recognized me, or at least my name. That I had missed a line in my research was obvious. That she forgave me for it, well I’m not sure I know how to say thank you properly, or enough.

"Advantages? Can I ask what you mean by that first, before I answer?" When I first approached Sabine, I’d startled her. I’m not the most imposing of people, so for her to have that reaction is very new to me. That being said, I think I need to work on my approach a little more. Now that I’ve given you a little insight into what transpired, perhaps you see this response for what it is, a highly developed keenness. Trust has to be earned, she may have read some of my previous articles, but that isn’t nearly enough.

"I stand corrected. I'm still delving into the histories. That only solidifies my comment that things seem to be on the rise though."

"I suppose I am on the rise."

Q (restated): "Okay, you've been photographed a lot. You certainly have other options. There are a lot of risks to professional fighting that could hurt those options. Still you took up the sword. I'm wondering what made you choose to do that? When did it happen? Was it something that you were doing before? I ask, Sabine mostly because it isn't something I could see myself doing. If I want to understand, others may too" You know those movies where a famous actor portrays the life of some other famous person. It’s questions like these that become the foundation for such things. Origins need to be expressed, or they become subject to the whim of the writer. I don’t think I could simply accept that if I were Sabine.

A: "I started dueling first, the brand stuff came later. I started off with a friend in his basement. He, Sal, thought that it would help me. I... have anger issues. Emotional problems. It became a healthy outlet for me. What started off as a way to blow off steam became something bigger. I started and didn't look back I guess. Also, I'm apparently kind of small and adorable, doll-like, so me being a murderous little thing is apparently kind of neat?" Be patient with me here, I have a lot to say and perhaps several points to cover. For now I choose to work in reverse. For the record, yes it is neat. However, this question, started out as a statement and finished as a question.

I have this problem from time to time too. It happens when someone I know has complemented me in some fashion. I hear it, I know it’s how they feel, but my own uncertainty of it keeps me from believing. Because of that I am constantly seeking reassurances from people. Even when I don’t mean to. For her I wanted to shout out how can you not see it? The thing is that I already know the answer. We see ourselves from within. We know what we feel and think when we say or do anything. We do things, are successful yet sometimes inside we still just feel helpless and flawed and no matter how much we are told that we are great, we just never see it, or can’t accept it when we do.

Sabine, if you’re reading, admitting you have anger issues so publicly is probably one of the strongest things I’ve seen done. There is really only one way I can think of that someone will put aside denial about things like this. Acceptance, and whether that came before she began to duel, or after is irrelevant. If it’s before, then the duel simply becomes a physical prescription for the symptoms. If it came afterwards, then it was the therapy which brought about the mental change. Either way, she knows that she needs to continue or suffer the consequences. Whatever keeps your anger in check. In her case, I am glad it is the duels, and not bloodletting in the streets .
We weren’t alone which was a good thing. I may have been calm, but my presence and the reason for it was far from calming. There are times when we all need someone, and for Sabine it came in the form of Josiah Aubrey. He was decent, and attentive, not to me in fact I am not sure we traded more than a few words. His focus was Sabine, though his ministrations were manifested in simply being there and available. It’s a role that I’d like to find someone for, one that I’d like to fulfill in turn.

Q: "Has it always been swords? I know you have fought in the IFL, but would it be fair to say that you're love is swords?" Sure, this is a simple rephrasing of a question that has been offered with every interview. You know my reasons by now. Tailoring it this way was for Sabine alone. Evidence of her impressive record in swords is easy to find. Deeper digging would be required to uncover the other aspects. It occurs to me that just because a person is better, or at least has more renown in one art, that doesn’t mean it was always their center of attention.

A: "I love fists, it's more personal. I love swords though because it's a time when I feel graceful and... and maybe beautiful? I'm not as clumsy. It's like my body just knows how to move. Being okay at it doesn't hurt."
Sometimes I say things and am completely off. Other times, like now I am able to bring evidence to my words. Sabine is beautiful to everyone except perhaps herself. Trying to convince her otherwise will get you an odd reaction that is brimming with denial, yet has no real words attached to it. It can also set her to playing with that ever present bracelet that she wears. It reads Breathe as though sometimes she needs to remember to do so. I begin to see why it is that she needs the soothing influence of the man at her side, and wonder what she was like before he came along.

Q: “I agree it is important how you feel doing something. You could continue to fight, stay at say warlord level and still manage to alleviate those anger issues. What makes you reach for the titles?" Do you have any of these moments? Those times when you know that you look good? I do, but it is usually when I am behind a camera, I’m not sure what it means to look good if my face is covered. The curse of being average I suppose.

My question here is important. Sabine is twenty and has held four of the seven baronies already. There will be some Negative Nancy’s out there that are shouting out that this means she’s already lost three of them. To them I put these few words, regardless of time held her name still appears on the record. Where does your’s appear?

A: "I'm a finisher I guess. I don't like loose ends. If I start something, I want to complete it. Maybe a little of it is to prove myself, to myself. Knowing where I came from and where I am now? It's so different. It's important for me to really believe that I've earned this and it's where I belong." This universe has plenty of starters, you can see the fruits of their labor in half done stacks of paperwork, feel it in that pile of dust lying on the floor next to an abandoned broom. There is no acclaim in starting, unless you finish. Not just finish of course but in a timely manner. I offer Sabine’s record and defy you to say it doesn’t prove that she has earned her place. But you see, those arguments will fall short, and here’s why. She isn’t trying to prove a thing to you, she’s trying to prove it to herself and that particular fight is far more difficult.

Q: "Is there anything that could happen which would stop you from fighting, even temporarily?" Some of you may have noticed that I found a new question. It’s true and I found it about three seconds before I spoke it. That’s just one effect of speaking to Sabine. Her answers, her entire demeanor had me wondering about those brick walls that we run into from time to time. What would stop you? I can think of a lot of things that would stop me, most of them involve serious physical injury though. Emotionally, spiritually, I can’t see myself quitting either. Maybe I just haven’t had a real crisis yet though.

A: "Stop me? Not that I can think of. I may slow down at times or take breaks. I do plan on traveling. I have a lot of wanderlust, so, I suppose that would put a temporary stop on things. It's always something that I come back to though. And if I'm not dueling in the public eye, then I do occasionally sub with fight rings or sparring. You know, to get the grr out." I have led a wanderer’s life for most of my life. I have the luxury of being in a career that not only allows travel, but requires it for the work. I love to travel, but I am unable to empathize with Sabine on this point. Truth is this is the closest I’ve come to having a real home. One that I go home to for more than a week at a time at least. I want it, want the time it gives for me to think about normal things. I understand slowing down, and the need of time off. Yet, even in those times you will find me with my camera. That’s what I think Sabine means, there are some things you love so hard that even when you’re nowhere near it, you will find it where you are.

Q: "This isn't a question I was expecting to ask. I recently heard someone say that Duelists act like they are better than everyone else. That their fame causes them to look down on people. How does that make you feel?" It’s amazing what you hear when you least expect it. If you’ve walked into an elevator that’s occupied with a man on the phone you know what I mean. Now you may even know where I heard it. One of you readers may even recall the conversation and the stick figure that boarded the elevator on the thirteenth floor. Then again if you’re from where I’m staying, it’s likely you aren’t reading this.

A: "I'm just trying to be better than I was yesterday. I can't really pay attention to what anyone else thinks or does. People will have opinions no matter what, I just do me. You know? If I get caught up in the whole glory and fame thing or worrying about what people think of me, I'd go crazy. Crazier. I guess how I feel is that people can think what they want, it doesn't matter if it's wrong, it's their opinion and they are entitled to it. No one has the right to tell someone else what they feel is wrong." I hear you out there grumbling, calling B.S. and gripeing to the person closest to you. I see you cringing and looking at her answer with doubt. Say whatever you want, say that Sabine gave the easy answer and that she only did it because this was going to be so public. Write it in an email, send me a postcard, do whatever it is you do to get out that opinion. But if and when you do, I think you should know that you can do it with a clear conscience, because Sabine isn't going to pay attention. She shouldn’t have to, there’s enough other things to pay attention to that are much more fun.

Q: I only have two or three more. These I am asking everyone I talk to in one form or another. I've come to discover that most duelists do not have a particular person they are afraid to fight. Do you have someone that you would prefer to fight or not fight and why?” So, you thought I was going to avoid these perhaps? I’m sorry, I am nothing if not predictable. If it helps then you can stop reading here each week. That will give you a little more time to do something productive, like the dishes.

A: "I'll fight anyone, that's always been my rule. I try hard not to underestimate anyone. I do love fighting the so called greats, even if I lose. I love fighting newer people too because their enthusiasm is a really nice thing to be reminded of. Mostly I like fighting anyone that doesn't hold back. I want to be treated like any other fighter and not have punches pulled because I am a girl or small, you know?" Fearlessness seems to dominate the dueling world. At least as far as opponents is concerned. They are a breed that, for the most part, love what they do. Some of us know how they feel, I love what I do. The vast majority of people don’t. It’s not difficult to understand why, it could be as simple as feeling trapped in a mundane job because the world runs on money. Maybe more of you should come out on a Fight Night and try your hand. It could be that you too find a thing that you’ll love to do.

As to Sabine’s wanting to be treated like any other fighter, I admire that. It would be strange to enter a ring and yell out not in the face. She’d have cause of course, those pictures she has taken of her would look quite different with a few cuts and abrasions on her face.

Q: "What fighters do you like to watch when you are not in the ring yourself?" Keep reading, this answer might surprise you. It gave me some things to think about. I’m not sure that was the intention, but it was the end result.

A: "I like watching Sal and Cane. They really go for it which is refreshing to see. Plus I mean, they are pretty easy on the eyes, so that's a plus, especially when they are all bloody and sweaty and...Uhm, I don't really spend a great deal of time watching the duels though, even when I am there. I'm usually wrapped up in something or prepping mentally for my own fights. There was this guy, Tex, I think? He fought with a two-by-four and a six pack of beer, so that was pretty entertaining." An eye opener? It was for me. She hinted at needing to be entertained. Other’s have as well. The difference here is that she admits to not watching more often.

Throughout this interview, Sabine seemed to have trouble staying still. This shouldn’t surprise you, it is a trait that you will find in real finishers. They can only basque for so long before they need to go and do something else. If we were not in this modern age, I can easily see Sabine as a hunter, out there in the wild trying to provide for the clan. She would need that hyper vigilance that she displayed, how else would she quickly determine if she should follow the larger game which would take longer but feed more, or go for the rabbit that is a stone's throw away. Yes it would provide less, but it would provide it faster. I’m not sure there is a wrong answer here, but then again I’m not in those times either. Keep it coming Sabine, we’re all glad you’re here.
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Cory Sommers
Junior Adventurer
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Joined: 21 Jun 2016
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Location: Taking photos in various places
632 Silver Nobles

PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2016 7:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What’s in a name? I suppose that depends upon the name in question. For most of us, what is in our name defines us. It is the one thing that has power over us. Don’t believe me? What happens when someone says your name, even if it is from a great distance? What if it was just something heard across a crowded room? Most of us will look to see who is talking, we want to know if we are the person that is being called, or spoken about. Dale Carnegie wrote that a person’s name is the sweetest word in any language. But what about having a name given to you? Does it hold the same power? Can it over time be as sweet sounding to us? Does it have an effect on those around us? I for one believe it can, and in the article to follow, I will do my best to show you why.

The Empress

Jewell Ravenlock

Perhaps you start to understand what I mean now. If I’d simply said The Empress, many of you would know exactly who I meant. The name carries as much weight and recognition as her real name. The two are often interchangeable. How does this happen? Does it begin as something small that is only done by one or two people, and grow through nurturing? Perhaps some of you are under the misguided belief that it is just a nickname, and I would agree with you except that a nickname is only used by a few and rarely tolerated to extend beyond the trusted circle. The Empress may once have been one of these, but now it is closer to a household word as it pertains to Ms. Ravenlock. It extends beyond simple conversation into the advertising world. It flashes across our television screens, stands out in bold in our favorite magazines. This is fitting because The Empress wears the name well.

Are you feeling cheated? Did I not prove my point to you? Go back and read again, because I said I would tell you why I believe. I never promised to sway your thoughts. Besides, I have more to say, and a deadline to get it done in. I think it is important to note that this name Jewell’s been given is not something ordinary. She isn’t called Tiny, or Stinky, she isn’t even called Doll Face. There are arguments for two of those names. No, Jewell is called The Empress, and we should take some kind of hint from this. Maybe we need to understand it before we even look? Empress is defined as a woman who rules an empire. An empire is defined as something resembling a political empire; especially : an extensive territory or enterprise under single domination or control. An imperial sovereignty, rule, or dominion.

It may be true that Jewell is not our sovereign ruler, but what about a different sort of empire? What about the dueling venues? It is in this place that her real name is most often set aside for the one granted. It was here that I caught up to her and was graced by her presence for a few questions and answers.

Q: "This is... well quite an honor. Thank you for doing this. I've seen your name listed in the histories going back at least a decade. You seem to be a staple for the dueling community. What is it that keeps you around?" Longevity, is the hallmark of ‘the old guard’. Is Jewell among that old guard? Perhaps from those who’ve been at this for longer, The Empress is still just a newborn to the sport. To those whose careers have begun more recently, I’m sure that she’s considered to be among their ranks. I myself am only weeks into the sports, and that as a professional if casual, observer. So it would take some convincing to prove that she didn’t hold a place among them.

A: "A staple of the dueling community. Almost makes me sound a bit old when you say it like that. I stick around because I like punching people in the face. I like pain. And I have a weakness for men who fight." We’ve heard some of this before, liking to punch people seems to be a dueling industry standard. We’ve heard also, though never put quite so bluntly, of a desire to watch men fight. I’m not sure that it means the same thing from all of them as it does to Jewell, she is the only one who has labeled it as a weakness afterall. Liking pain, it’s a strange admission, and not the one which she called a weakness. Is it a weakness? Is it an indicator of something much darker in The Empress’ makeup? Perhaps, or maybe acknowledging it so bluntly, disregarding it so easily has taken what most normal societies would deem as a troubled mind and turned it into a strength.

Q: "I'd never consider you old! You're an elf, and age means something different for them. Which leads me to my next question... I've noticed that people call you Empress, is that just because of how you present yourself, or is there a story behind it?" It must be said that I can’t seem to go one interview without putting my foot into my mouth. I am as yet unfamiliar with how the extremely long lived think or feel about some subjects. Oddly enough, in trying to express that I found a way to put the other foot in my mouth as well. Some of you might have spotted it, others like me will not understand until it is explained to you. But this question is probably the most important of the interview to me. It is the one that inspired my opening thoughts, and the one that, to be quite honest, I personally wanted to know the most. If you’ve ever been a part of the dueling courts over which The Empress presides, you may know exactly how I was feeling when I asked.

A: "Faerie, actually. I know we look similar, but fae are prettier and better all around. As for The Empress, it's mainly a social title. A nickname originally given to me by my best friend, Tara Rynieyn. But you must know the importance of names. They have a power to them. There's power in the name Empress after all these years." There, now you see my mistake in all its unedited glory. In my defense, Earth isn’t home to a great deal of Fae creatures. Even the elvish are written about as though beings of imagination. In my readings no one has ever clearly defined the differences.

Some of you may be looking at her answer and nodding your head. Of course you may also be thinking that it’s too bad I wasted so much thought on my opening because it leaves nothing for my own thoughts that won’t be redundant. Rest assured, i still have some things to say on the matter. There’s power in the name empress… after all these years. Jewell reveals to us that the name was given socially, but over time has become something of strength. Her usage, to me, indicates that she doesn’t mean personal power, but rather in how it affects other people. Don’t believe that one person’s name or title can have power over you? Let me submit this as my proof and then we can move on.

Two children argue on the sidewalk. One pushes the other down making him cry. What does he cry? Mommy, Daddy? It could be either, or both. The utterance of these earned titles often causes child one to run home. This might be because he has his own mommy and daddy and knows that bad things are coming for him. You see what I mean now? We are taught at a very young age that names, titles granted have power, and we wield them like a hammer. Would it be as effective if the the crying child had said I’m going to get Steve and Nancy instead of mom and dad? I don’t believe so, Steve and Nancy, while nice names could be anyone. Mom and Dad are names that give the who and the relationship with all the protection that the names imply.

This trend extends into our adult lives as well. Terms like supervisor, manager and ranks like sergeant and captain effectively take the place of mom and dad. Think that I’m way off my mark? Consider this. Why are there ranks and titles in the dueling venue? Top dog ranks like Diamond, Arch Mage, and Overlord hold the kind of power that Jewell’s wisdom implies. In life these titles are often given by we the people, Mayor and Governor are titles bestowed through the means of a vote. In the dueling empire, titles and rank are taken, earned in spectacular style.

Q: "You are very influential, I've managed to hear a few stories about the things you've done for your community... Do you find that your place here in the dueling world is helpful, or is it a hindrance to the things you try to do beyond these walls?" How far does The Empress’ realm extend? What distance can be traveled before the influences of her name can no longer be exerted? Intriguing thoughts for me. I’m usually quite happy to have my own be recognized enough to allow me to sit down and ask questions.Though I did recently experience a boon at Rick’s Bistro, I recommend the Dagwood, it’s excellent.

A: "All that? That's just me giving back to the city that's given a lot to me. Being active in the duels, achieving the title of baroness? Those all help. They get my name out there. People know me. And when people know you? They'll do stuff for you. They'll give money to the causes that you tell them to give their money to." The answer to my question is right there and visible. No one will deny how active Jewell is inside or out of the dueling capital of her makeshift empire. My other questions, the ones left inside of me were woefully left to my imagination. Does her influence extend beyond the city, the nation? Does it extend beyond the world into the starry heavens above? I could have asked, but I don’t believe that Jewell would have given up that much. Perhaps that is for my protection as well as her own?

Q: Has there ever been a point where you've wanted to leave the duels behind, if so can you share what brought you to that point?" One of the benefits of years within the same career is experience. I’ve asked this from other people, but it was speculative because their time in the rings has been relatively short. With Jewell I was offered the chance to ask from a different angle. It is perhaps freeing in a way to know that some of those questions of what might happen can be posed and answered.

A: "No. I can't say it's ever crossed my mind. There were years when I just showed up because it was something fun to do. I showed up to cheer on my friends and be social. Then I started showing up because I loved fighting. But I've never hit a point where I wanted to walk away from it. I simply wouldn't know what to do with myself." I love this answer for a couple of reasons. The first is that Jewell, who had to consider the entirety of her time, gives us a breakdown of her advancement of activity level. It confirms for me that it’s possible to begin as a simple spectator looking for a good time, to ranked and titled duelist. How quickly, how far, these are determined by the person involved. What do you want? How badly do you want it? There is a lot of commitment that goes into these sports. The same kind that goes into writing these articles I assume. Hours spent trying to improve everything about yourself. The physical break down that’s required in order to rebuild something stronger, faster and far more dangerous.

Q: “You spoke earlier about having a weakness for men who fight. Your knowledge of it, to me, would indicate that you’re aware of other weaknesses you might have within the rings. Are you aware of them, and do you use them as invisible weapons, hint at vulnerability that while it may be real, it’s meant to trap your opponent?” It isn’t a new tactic by any means. Sun Tzu was using the same long ago, showing the enemy what they expected to see and then clamping his fist down upon them with the stratagem unlooked for. It’s a sound and proven ploy, one that has brought a great deal of success to countless campaigns. So, put to the point, how would you respond? The Empress isn’t blind, and she’s quite adroit at avoiding such traps as I may have been trying to lay for her.

A: "You're asking me to give away an awful lot of my secrets here, Cory. If I gave you mine, you'd have to give me yours." The answer seems simple, and maybe it is. The biggest problem I have when writing these articles is conveying the mannerisms that accompany the words. In a way my own tactic was successful, that portion of Jewell that affected modesty gave way to the woman that I believe she becomes when it’s time to step into the ring. Come and take from me, but tread carefully for I am all that you need, and not so easy to pin down. Mistakes will be made, and they will be yours. A definitive moment in the interview for me I can assure you. Perhaps she was correct and I would keep my own secrets, or maybe there are no real secrets possessed by this simple journalist beyond the need to have answers to my own questions.

Q:” You’ve made attempts at becoming the overlord, enough for me to wonder what is the draw of the title and perhaps more importantly, what would you do with it?” Desire, it is a thing that permeates Jewell. It manifests itself in those things she strives for, but also in those who seek to gain entrance to her extremely subtle world. Desire exudes from her, heats the blood of her opponents and imprints upon them blurring lines between personal advancement and simply to be in her good graces. While all this might be true, they speak nothing of her own determination to gain position, nor to intentions once position is gained.

A: "Overlord is best of the best. I can't be satisfied being a second-tier dueler all my life. Besides, doesn't Empress Overlady 2016 just sound so fabulous?" I am not subtle it seems, as my next question was a massive jump away from the offer she’d given me. Most of us are content to be the best at what we do within our own businesses or companies. How is that gauged though? You never truly know how good you are unless compared to people in different places whose jobs are similar. It is much easier to delineate in the martial venues. There is a top seed, a championship belt, a position that affords all others to look at it and agree that, for now, they are the best we have to offer. So, I now come to you asking, does Empress Overlady 2016 sound fabulous? If it does, if that is something you’d like to see happen I urge you to make your presence known. Come to the arena or the annex and give her your support. You never know what rewards may be earned from such efforts.

Q: “I only have a few more questions for you. You’ve likely seen some amazing fights both in and out of the ring. If you could narrow it down, what would you say was the most memorable either for you personally or that you’ve witnessed?”

A: "Oh hmm. Not many stick out in my mind. Last summer, I entered the Warlord Tournament for the first time and won it. I had to fight Melanie three times that night. That was pretty memorable I suppose. I mean, at least my picture in the paper looked fabulous. Oh! And I fought Cane and Sal in a fist fight recently. At the same time. That was super hott." I can only guess what it means to come against the same person so many times in a single night. Teams often face each other as many times during a season. By that third time they have come to know each other very well, and the victor is always something that goes to which team knows the other better. Can the same be said for two fighters going at it in the same evening? I think it not only can, but that the knowledge is so fresh that it takes a force of will to come out the winner of the final bout. Still, The Empress expressed weakness makes the second part of her answer something that we not only expect, but sympathize with. Does she remember who won that match? I honestly don’t know, I didn’t have the heart to ask, or perhaps the look on her face made me unable to speak the words. Either way, it remains a mystery.

Q: “I think you’re great to watch up there. This next question you’ll probably recognize in some form from my previous articles. Among the current duelists, who do you most, or least like to fight, and why?” I have nothing new to add about this question. By now you’ve either come to expect it and look forward to the answers, or you skim ahead to see if there might be something new in my delivery. I’m okay with either of these. For those that tread ever onward, the answer might come as a bit of a surprise.

A: "I like to fight Kalamere the most because I love getting my hands on him. He's also one of my least favorite people to fight because he shamelessly takes advantage of me. He's been training me for a few years now, so he knows my best moves." I can understand this as shocking as that might be to, you, the reader. There are parallels for me that make the sentiment similar, and I’m not talking about getting my hands on Kalamere. I’ll leave that for those who desire it. No, for me understanding comes when I consider these articles that I write and who might read them. My journalism professor for example. Here is someone whom I would love to have reading, and dread beyond belief. On the one hand, I hope to show them what I am capable of because of their teachings. On the other, I’m quite fearful that one day I’ll get a copy of a story in the mail that has been corrected and a novel’s worth of notes in the margins. Who taught you? Do they hold a similar place in your heart as what I assume Jewell and I share? Maybe this is something we all have in common, and that will bring us all a little closer together.

Q: “You’ve been ranked Warlord, taken several baronies as well. To me it seems like you’ve put much of your focus into the swords venue. You’ve also taken the Panther’s claw this season. Can we expect to see an Emerald tacked on next to your name soon? Is that something that you even want?” I managed to put a little fact in here, though admittedly I’ve left out the statistical numbers to back my claims. That doesn’t make it any less true, it just means that you’ll need to do your own homework regarding both statements. I’ve done mine, and included here what I thought necessary.

A: "Not Emerald. Opal." I’ve heard the rumors, and by the fierceness with which Jewell answered me she may know something I do not. It’s true that the opals are still second tier ranks, just in the unarmed venue, however, there is talk that their benefits may be more appealing than claiming the diamond. I may not know what it is that The Empress seeks, but judging from her previous answers it must be important to circumvent the title spot.

Q: ”You’ve acquired a new squire in Ammy Spiritor. Do you find that training someone is more or less difficult than you expected?” For the avid sporting fans, I don’t need to mention the recent plethora of tournaments that the baronesses have put on to acquire the right squire for them. For those unaware, there have been three in fewer months than that. Many of the same faces showed up to participate, but only one could ever be chosen. For Jewell this perhaps marks the first time she’s ever tried to impart knowledge on a lower ranked fighter. At least in an official capacity. (Anything else I have no knowledge of on the record.) Does it make a difference or has she always been ready to be the teacher and not the taught?

A: "A little bit of both. There's a learning curve on both sides. I have to figure out where she's at and match my teaching style to her needs. She also needs to be coachable, which Ammy definitely is. There's been a few bumps at the start as we get to know each other, but I'm sure it's going to work out fine going forward.” I wonder if Ammy understands her role in this pairing. Not the simple stuff of learning what The Empress has to impart. I speak of what comes aftewards. From here on out every squire that is taken by Jewell will forever be, if unintentionally, compared to Ammy. Success and failure, things that could have or should have been done differently. In a way Ammy teaches Jewell as well about how to proceed with future squires. Whose shoes are you trying to fill for the person that taught you?

"Was that the last question? I have a party to attend."

I include this with good reason. Throughout this article I’ve pointed to many things that would indicate that Jewell has many responsibilities. They range from within the walls of the venue to far out into the city and beyond. My questions and indeed this entire interview was stealing something from her that even the fae find precious… Time. Time to maneuver and entreat, to instruct and celebrate life. There are more demands on this one woman than someone like me can ever really understand, and yet, despite all such commitments she finds time to enlighten me. That she’s doing so for you, through me is simply logical progression. I do not hoard my experiences. I may keep numbers and data from you, but never the important things that drive people like The Empress Jewell Ravenlock, Baroness of Dragon’s Gate, and perhaps by the time this article comes to print the newest Opal of the Duel of Fists.
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Cory Sommers
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Joined: 21 Jun 2016
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Location: Taking photos in various places
632 Silver Nobles

PostPosted: Sun Sep 17, 2017 11:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

”If you know me know this ain't my feng shui
Certified everywhere, ain't gotta print my resume.”

Fight Night

By Cory Sommers

I’m not supposed to be writing this. My articles are on a set schedule from which I am veering wildly, but I am finding I can’t help myself. I am aware even as I begin of the disgruntled look I am sure to receive from my editor. I’m relatively O.C.D. when it comes to the order in which I write stories, so diverging from that should infer how important this one is for me. Don’t worry, that interview will appear later in the pages of this issue. Perhaps it’s important to explain why I felt the need?

There has been a decided lull in activity at the dueling venues. I’ve been assured that this has happened in the past, and that they always seem to recover. I understand burnout, and how it affects people. It grinds away interest in participation, which in turn leads to questioning why bother to even be present. Over time, faces disappeared on both sides of the dueling fence. The bastions of beat down are often nearly empty these days, but take heart because fighting does still occur. It’s evident in the recent title losses, Xerzes Maureen edging out The Anvil for MoonBeryl, Matt Simon’s capture of New Haven Barony from Hope Naharis. It’s there in the defense of the Overlord title by Myria Graziano, over Rachael Blackthorne. Those title bouts will continue, as will the sport, if I am reading the upcoming challenge to Sabine Gabrielle for Battlefield Park by Aludariel Sun’vael. The venues may be sparsely populated, but they’re not dead, despite the wide reaching effect that can be felt.

The decline of fighter and patron at the dueling venues is sad, and frustrating. It isn’t the only place that things have changed, though. Many of the faces that drove the evening have disappeared as well. Friday night misses the visage of Dris, and Saturday has lost Cane. Thursday’s feel the loss of Sabine and Sunday night has experienced the loss of Sadie. Others have stepped up, Sylus has taken Sunday, Lisa has picked up the Friday night shift. Saturday’s early shift has been covered by Eden, who now doubles her time. The biggest loss seems to be Thursday night, as coverage is spotty at best. The burnout suffered by fighter and fan has claimed its share of callers. There are faces which remain, Kheldar keeps Wednesday night alive, and Monday’s presences is maintained by Kruger. I’ve already spoken Saturday, but therein lays my biggest concern.

I’m privileged to call one of those few who are on both sides my girlfriend. Those of you who know me, know that Eden Parker is my favorite person. To know her is to understand why almost immediately. That she chooses to be with me may be a surprise to everyone, but I have no intention of giving away the why of it. Why mention her at all then? Because without knowing it, she’s the one who pushed this to the forefront of my mind. Eden has been involved as both fighter, and caller. If anyone feels the change it’s her, though she manages to stay positive. She’s quite talented, not afraid to step into a ring with anyone. I’m not a fighter, I’ve said as much before, but I do other things. I hike, and bike, ride skateboards and skydive. The last one is about the only thing I ever see that worries Eden. The article I mentioned earlier was gleaned between drops. We complete each other in this respect, those things that I feel no angst over in my life are taken up by her. I in turn worry for the things she does which she shows nothing but enthusiasm for.

I’m certain that it was missed, I glossed over where the downward dueling trend has affected other people. Here at Sports Beat, there’s been a downsizing. Journalists have been getting out, which means those who remain are forced to pick up those columns others have abandoned. It keeps me working far longer than I want, makes me barely coherent at times. Without the support of my favorite person, I am not sure that I would be able to continue. I can only hope that I give her the same. It’s plain that it affects the serving staff as well, and why wouldn’t it? It might sound good to be paid for doing nothing. It might be a nice change once in awhile. Let me ask you this, how satisfying would it be if you were required to be somewhere night after night, but your presence had no real purpose beyond...maybe someone will need you? It’s no wonder the spring has left their step, and the smiles they give are forced.

Even those who’ve come back after over a decade of being gone are feeling the frustration. I’m sure it’s hard for them to understand where everyone is. The problem is that something pulled them away, and kept them away. They weren’t here through good and bad. Burnout is real, and its symptoms quite visible. I don’t know how to make things feel better, I don’t know if anyone could. What I know, and all I can say is… Hey… we miss you!

(Songwriters: Antwaun Rashad Arnold / Kiari K. Cephus / Kirsnick K. Ball / Quavious M. Keyate
Fight Night lyrics © Reservoir Media Management Inc)
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