In a distant land, surrounded by great towering mountains, a light shined. From afar, one would mistake the faint glow for a campfire created by adventurers and traveling merchants alike, resting their bodies for the busy workday that laid ahead of them. One would possibly mistake the light for a wizard apprentice's late-night training, chanting an Arcana spell over and over again until the target in front of them was lit on fire. One would even suspect the glow to be a wandering shepherd, looking for their lost lamb within the crooks of the mountains. Upon closer inspection, however, one would be given a gentle shock.
A small, bright village laid at the bottom of a flat, crescent-shaped valley as a continuous cheer of excitement bellowed in an echo throughout the lands. Within its outer streets, where the houses and buildings neighbored the surrounding forest, all was quiet. The occasional stray mutts would pass by here and there, but nothing else was present. All previously residing souls had been drawn to the center of the village, where the population had formed a sea within themselves. Faces of all kinds were present for the celebration. Human shopkeepers embraced their wolfkin children as they passed through various food tents. Orcs and goblins whispered sweet nothings in each other's ears, giggling in their drunken stupor. Wooden mugs filled with alcohol and coins of varying metals were tossed all around as the drunkards laughed and yelled obscenities at each other. No care for race, status, gender, nothing. All that mattered was how to keep the night alive.
At the center of the mass, a circle of space was left untouched. A rusted bronze statue of a bearded man pointing upward stood tall and sturdy amongst the pool. Engraved on a plaque at the bottom of its feet read, "Houston the Forest: Founder of Lang Village and Champion Amongst the World". From the tip of the man's extended finger, a moving picture shrouded in a magic cloud had been displayed for all eyes to see. A timer, appearing from within the image, was counting down from ten minutes to midnight. Below it, a bold text read: THE BEGINNING OF THE END.
Camouflaged within the moonless night sky, a young gentleman hovered over the village and mountains. He wore a sharp black suit with slacks, ironed and tailored, accompanied with polished black whole cuts. Before his shrouded eyes sat a golden masquerade, bearing a jagged floral pattern that spiked outward into feather-like shapes. He watched from above with a smile plastered on his face as a calming breeze crashed upon him like waves, rustling the man's messy red hair.
"It's almost time for the final event", he whispered gently to himself.
He took a small sigh before reaching into his suit's left pocket, pulling out a silver-stained pocket watch. He flipped it open and peered at the time.
"Ten minutes left. I suppose now would be appropriate."
Placing the watch back into his pocket, the man gazed upon the village one last time, knowing that he would be missing a glorious sight to behold. In his own perfect world, he wished to be amongst the jittery crowd, hollering and whooping in brazen curiosity. He wished to be in their shoes, unaware of what was happening and yet being optimistic for the fun that had yet to arrive. However, he knew his role was something else. Something he could never replace. Something he would never replace. Ever.
He placed his hands behind his back, the right overlapping his left, and slowly closed his eyes. The wind's howls became louder and more violent, resembling that of a storm's eye, before coming to complete silence. He opened his eyes and before him was a marble colosseum carried by a floating island.
The entrance consisted of an arch-shaped tunnel, dimly lit by candles on either side of the walls. The man quickly straightened his suit, tightening his blood-dyed necktie, and began making his way through the entrance onwards. His footsteps echoed in a soothing, rhythmical beat as he grew closer to a set of golden gates at the end of the tunnel, polished to the point that he could see his own reflection from several meters away. He stopped a few steps from the doors, pausing to hear for any noise coming from the other side. Moments passed— silence.
"I wonder how this one will turn out...", he spoke to himself, "After all, he's finally decided to join us this year."
A subtle smirk found itself once again on the man's face, resembling his look from moments before but with a wildly different intent. From within the man's heart, he felt a wicked ecstasy. A sudden joy that had been building for a long time ago, in a period where nothing at all existed but a deity suffering from dreaded boredom. A terrifying aura formed around him, large enough to have been felt from around the countryside. The man, or what seemed to be a man, was truly excited for what was to come.
Without another second to waste, he extended his arms out in front of him and pushed the doors open, almost effortlessly. They bellowed a squeaking sound and suddenly, a blue light consumed everything before the man. The moon, which had once been erased from existence, could be seen at its peak, shining a mellow light over the entire arena. The sight was remarkable, almost blinding for how close the moon appeared to be. It was as if one giant leap from the island to the moon was possible. But the man was not interested in trivial matters. His attention was focused at the center of the arena.
There stood an array of twelve metal pillars, towering meters off the ground. They stuck out from the rest of the colosseum's environment. It was as if the arena had been pierced from below the island by God's own finger by accident and no apologies had been given. No apologies were needed, the man thought. What I need is right here.
Upon each of the twelve pillars stood twelve diverse characters of all kinds. These were the twelve remaining contestants of the Fairy Games, ready to receive their final task of the year-long contest.
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