Dancing with the Titans
The usually empty amphitheatre occupied an entire hex deep inside what used to be Roamin territory. Untouched for thousands of turns, the Croakaseum had recently been discovered and claimed by Gobwin Knob. Lord Hamster, chief warlord under Stanley the Tool, had challenged all nearby sides to send two of their finest units to participate in an ancient contest. As an overture of good will, he invited Jetstone to provide a master of ceremonies. King Trammenis, always up for a good show, decided to handle the job himself.
“Good evening, one and all. I’m super excited to be here in front of all you wonderful units. First I’d like to extend thanks to Lord Hamster for the chance to be here. He’s a giant of a warlord - figuratively and literally. His mere presence inspires awe – at how bad his livery is! It’s literally the worst, and this is coming from someone who negotiated a truce with Upchuck. But I kid, I kid….I’m really thankful for the opportunity to be here. I also want to give a shout out to our favorite mercenary, Charlie. He’s graciously providing simulcast thinkagram coverage, and by graciously I guess he’s only making two or three times what we’re charging him for access. With that out of the way, it’s time to introduce tonight’s contestants.”
Out of fourteen sides invited, six total had sent competitors. The couples walked (or in some cases floated) out on stage as King Trammenis called their names to thunderous applause.
“ From Transylvito, Vinny Doombats and Becky the Skank!
From the former side of Unaroyal, Jeftichew the Carneymancer and Vanna the Turnamancer!
From FAQ, Prince Albert and a Megalogwiff!
From Haggar, Lady Stonewash and Lord Bootcut!
From Jetstone, Chief Healomancer Pierce and soon to be released Lilith the Archon!
And finally, from Gobwin Knob, Wanda the Croakamancer and a stabber named Beefcake!
Now that we’ve met the hopefuls, it’s time to introduce our judges. Straight from the Magic Kingdom impart their collective wisdom, it’s the Great Minds that Think Alike!”
A spotlight created by Foolamancy cast around for a moment before landing on a group of casters seated in a sky box. Some in the crowd applauded but there was also a distinct smattering of jeers. King Tramennis waved the crowd into submission with a perfectly manicured hand.
“Alright, alright, settle down now! We’re about to start…but first we need to find out which lovely couple with be performing first. To help us with that, please welcome the Overlord of Gobwin Knob himself and half-way decent guy, Lord Stanley the Tool!”
Arrayed in full battle gear and wielding his signature Arkenhammer, Overlord Stanley the Plaid jumped onto the stage and held the hammer overhead. Sparks flew from the head as a steady drumbeat filled the amphitheatre. Two Twolls wheeled a tall pole with what appeared to be a plunger attached to the front and a round bell at the top. Stanley took the Arkenhammer in both hands and then brought it down forcefully onto the plunger. There was a high pitched metallic twang and a ball of light flew out of the top of the pole. It sped upwards for a few hundred feet before exploding above the stadium to reveal the name of the side that would go first, “FAQ”.
Prince Albert reached up and patted the Megalo before flying over to the judge’s booth and bowing. The Megalogwiff followed obediently.
“You may begin when ready,” called out King Trammenis.
Albert signaled the waiting musicians and they began to play the classic tune, “Skrong Lake”. He flew over to the giant flier that his mother, Queen Jillian, had assigned as his partner. She told him that it would help him learn to lead air battles. With a sigh, he ordered the Megalo to begin the routine.
They began with a graceful 720 corkscrew turn in unison with Albert tucked in close to the Megalo’s stomach. At the end of the turn, the prince dropped back and caught his partner’s tail with both hands. Flipping himself up and around, he landed upright on the top of the Megalo’s tail facing backwards. The flier whipped its tail up, launching the warlord high into the air. The Megalo turned around, picked up speed, and flew directly at the Prince. Albert pulled a triple summersault and flew headfirst towards the Megalogwiff. The pair passed within inches of the each other, then circled around and performed the trick again. They flew straight up, lazily looped away from each other, and reformed as they dove straight at the audience. There were gasps and applause from the crowd as the Megalo pulled up with less than ten feet to spare.
The finale was a variation of the precision flyby, but both Albert and the Megalogwiff were also corkscrewing as they zoomed past each other. As the Megalo flew up to circle the Croakaseum, Albert snapped his fingers. The words “FAQ” appeared in lights on the Megalo’s stomach. The crowd roared in approval and a pack of Western Giants performed an odd ceremony they referred to as “the wave”.
After calling an Archon over to verify that Albert had indeed planted the lights into the Megalo during the performance, the Great Minds conferred for a few moments before sending FAQ’s score to Trammenis via Thinkagram.
“8.2!” the King cried out to the assemblage. Cheers and boos greeted the announcement. “Alright now, settle down…Let’s find out who’s next!”
Stanley brought the Arkenhammer down in a powerful stroke again and another firework flew into the sky. This time the explosion formed the word, “Haggar”.
The pair from Haggar crossed over to center stage, bowed to the audience, and began their routine to the accompaniment of “Whiskey for my Gumps, Beer for Sawhorses.” It didn’t go well.
“Stop stepping on me with those sharp boots!”
“Your stance is too loose, tighten up so I can lead you properly.”
“Disband it, now my ankle is bleeding.”
“Well don’t get blood on my jeans!”
The routine came to an abrupt end when the Haggar warlords attempted a complicated move called the “Iron Lotus”, which resulted in Lord Bootcut accidentally decapitating his partner. Trammenis didn’t bother announcing Haggar’s score.
“That’s gonna leave a mark. Just give us a minute to get the blood off the dance floor and we’ll be right as rain. In the meantime, let’s find out who’s up next, shall we?”
Stanley the Tool once again sent a firework into the air. This time it read, “TV’.
Transylvito it is! And since this will be an aerial dance, our lovely contestants won’t strain their footwear crimson. Count Doombats, when you’re ready.”
As the opening strains of “Turn of my life” began to play, Vinny and Becky companion flew up and began a dazzling series of dance moves. The Skank didn’t seem to have any limitations on how she could contort, and the Transylvitan warlord took full advantage of the lithe and limber figure. The pair floated effortlessly around the Croakaseum’s airspace, swooping down to allow Becky to graze her outstretched fingertips against the upraised hands of the audience.
Their finale involved Vinny flipping Becky upside down and holding her feet as she grabbed his as well. They began to spin end over end, faster and faster into what was commonly referred to as a “screw attack”. Instead of stopping, Vinny and the Skank flew higher and higher until they were a tiny black dot in the night sky. As the audience applauded, various bits of clothing fluttered down to Erf.
King Trammenis pulled himself away from the unfolding scene to continue his duties as MC.
“Oh my! It appears that Count Doombats got a bit carried away. Archons, could you please take them some towels when they’re finished? Thanks. Well then, our gracious judges have awarded Transylvito a score of 8.5!” When the applause had died away he continued. “Let’s find out who’s next!”
The next firework displayed Unaroyal’s crest, so JoJo and Vanna stepped up and bowed to the audience. JoJo pulled out a scroll and held Vanna’s hand as he cast. “Jump Cut, Dissolve, Fade!”
A moment later the breathless pair was posed at the front of the dance stage, JoJo holding Vanna just a few inches from the ground. There was stunned silence from the crowd, then cheers erupted from the audience. Even Tramennis applauded.
“Wow! Spectacular even! Just a moment, I’m getting the score from the judges now….and Unaroyal comes in at 9.5. What a performance by JoJo and Vanna. Let’s hand it to ‘em folks!”
Jetstone’s turn came next, so Pierce and Lilith took their places. It was obvious even before they started that Pierce was inebriated. The pair began a waltz to the tune of “The Blue River Hex”, but Pierce couldn’t stop looking down Lilith’s dress long enough to pay attention to where the pair was headed. Pierce went head over heels off the stage while Lilith managed to catch herself in mid air. She floated gracefully back down and bowed again to the audience while Pierce clambered back onstage. The Healomancer grabbed his partner and tried to start the dance again, but accidentally forced Lilith to fire off a bolt of Shockamancy into the audience. “Pew!” he cackled and made Lilith fire two more times before she managed to pull away and run off in tears.
The Tool snuck around behind Pierce and tapped the hammer to the back of the Caster’s head. The Healomancer writhed for a moment before crashing to the ground. Two Twolls showed up and carried the incapacitated unit off the stage. Trammenis wasn’t sure how to proceed, so he went ahead and introduced the last pair of the contest.
“And now, ladies and gentlemen, our final contestants. The Queen of Uncroaked, Wanda Firebaugh, and Beefcake the stabber. Let’s see what they can do.”
As Wanda and Beefcake took the stage, the Croakamancer resized her Arkenpliers and clipped them into her jet black hair. She turned to her partner.
“Lead me.” She commanded.
“But, my lady, I am just a simple stabber, how can I lead you?"
Wanda sighed. “Just perform the dance steps as we practiced.”
As the couple moved to the center of the dance floor, the song “My side will go on” began to play. Beefcake clumsily began to lead Wanda through the motions of the dance, exasperating the Croakamancer.
“Why did the Tool pick you?” she hissed. “You’re the worst dancer I’ve ever seen!”
“I am sorry, my lady. Lord Stanley said that it was because I was the most dashing out of all of Gobwin Knob’s forces.”
“But you don’t have the dance fighting special?”
“No my lady….”
Without a further word, Wanda pulled the pliers out of her hair and jabbed them deep into Beefcake’s neck. He stumbled for a moment, but straightened up as his livery changed from Lord Hamster’s to her own.
“Good thing that I’m a master class Croakamancer then, huh?”
Wanda led Beefcake through the most amazing dance routing that anyone in the crowd had ever seen. With her huge bonus to decrypted units along with the Pliers artifact bonus, Wanda’s ability to lead a dance was unparalleled. The dance ended with Beefcake tossing Wanda way up into the air, performing a flawless 720 degree twirl, and then catching Wanda again in the middle of a back flip. The audience went absolutely nuts.
“And the score for Gobwin Knob is 9.6! What grace, what beauty! Beefcake indeed! I’ve never seen anything like this folks, and I’ve seen things.”
The Tool joined the dancers as Wanda offstage with the now Decrypted stabber in tow.
“That was something, Beefcake! Good work.”
“Thank you, Tool, but Mistress Wanda deserves all the credit.”
Stanley shrugged. “Whatever. Come on, let’s meet up with Parson.”
The trio found Parson waiting outside the amphitheatre. The Tool merrily skipped over to his Chief Warlord.
“Are the purples in place, Hamster?”
“Yes, Tool, and the Great Minds just reported that they are safely away.”
Stanley the Tool hefted the Arkenhammer and grinned.
“Time to bring down the house.”
(Note: User received 25 Shmuckers for this post. - Rob)