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Phantom Wars Chapter 2

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Chapter Two: The Battle Begins

Ethan emerged from the portal outside of the mansion alone in a vast field of dry grass and tall wheat fields. He looked around glancing in every direction but didn’t see any sign of another phantom around, which disturbed him. As if his thoughts were being read, the caretaker’s voice sounded in Ethan’s head again saying, “The battle will begin in five minutes, place yourself wherever you like during this time. The other players will become visible once the game has started.”

Ethan looked around the field again; still he couldn’t see anyone else or even hear them, but if what the caretaker was saying is true then he would be surrounded in an instant. Not liking the idea of being caught in the middle of a small war zone, Ethan went around the other side of the mansion to see if there was somewhere he could hide until he could confirm his suspicions.

Not too far in the distance was a swirling white and bluish portal like the one that brought Ethan to where he was now. Ethan jogged to the portal but didn’t go in it, instead he studied it. The portal stood about eight feet in height and was mostly white with only a small tint of blue in it. Ethan was unable to see through it though and could neither feel nor hear anything coming from it.

Too busy studying the portal, Ethan didn’t notice the battle had started until the various sounds of screams and battle cries thundered throughout the fields. Ethan quickly turned around to watch the violent spectacle; there were literally hundreds of other phantoms in the fields, they almost filled it all up and all of them were around the mansion or far off in the wheat fields. Ethan was alone next to the portal. His plan wasn’t just smart, it was flawless: He could jump through the portal anytime someone came after him and get an enormous head start on them. “Unless of course someone else comes in from the other side of the portal,” Ethan thought to himself.

Slowly Ethan edged away from the portal but kept his eyes on the battle. He thought the battle would be bloodier and more disturbing but instead all Ethan could see was people struggling and then disappearing. The battle was definitely violent but it didn’t seem as scary as Ethan thought it would. Maybe in death, fear had far less impact than it did on the living.

It wasn’t long until a medium sized Asian man with dark hair and a goatee walked out from the white portal wearing a long white trench coat and carrying a samurai styled blade. As the man surveyed the field his gaze drifted slowly towards Ethan, and Ethan wished more than anything at that moment that he could disappear. He crouched low, preparing himself for whatever the Asian man would do when he spotted him, but as the man’s eyes passed over Ethan he didn’t move, attack, or even acknowledge Ethan, but only kept looking around until he was content.

The Asian man readied his blade as he ran forward swiftly and silently. Ethan let out a large sigh of relief and watched as the Asian man snuck up behind a player who wasn’t too far from the portal and cut him down. The man who was cut down by the Asian fell to the ground and bled a green neon ink like substance for a moment until disappearing, along with the green blood. The Asian man continued forth, expertly cutting down everyone who he came into contact with; most were unarmed.

Ethan stopped watching the Asian man and turned his sight back to the portal. Half of him wanted to jump through it and see what was on the other side while the other half wanted to stay where he was—where it was safe—but he would get bored or spotted soon enough. Before he could make up his mind, though, three more phantoms walked through the portal; all of them wore thick white clothing that was covered with snow. Ethan only noticed the snow on their clothes because it started melting in some patches; otherwise it blended in perfectly with their clothes.

The three phantoms simultaneously touched a silver wolf head pin tied around their necks and their clothes immediately began transforming from thick heavy white coats and capes into brownish cloaks. They swept their gaze around the field quickly and when the one on the far right looked past Ethan he thought for sure these people wouldn’t ignore him, but surely enough the man looked right past him. Ethan felt a little angry and started waving his hands in front of him, mocking the man, trying to get his attention, when Ethan noticed he couldn’t see his hands or arms in front of him.

Ethan almost shouted in surprise but managed to keep quiet. He started waving his hand in front of his face and though he could feel the sensation of moving it, he couldn’t see it; he then looked down at himself and instead of seeing his torso, waist or legs he only saw the ground beneath him. The people who came through the portal weren’t ignoring him, they just couldn’t see him and since he was being completely silent they couldn’t hear him either; he was invisible.

“Spotted him,” one of the three phantoms said. “He is standing at the foot of the mansion steps waiting patiently for us.”

Ethan studied the phantom who was talking; it was woman with short orange hair and lots of freckles who looked to be about 25 and around average height for a woman. Her companions were both males. The one in the middle was a few inches below 6 feet tall even and looked like he was of medium build, he had short white hair that was spiked partially at the bangs and a little bit behind. His eyes were light blue and looked like they could pierce your soul with only a glance. Despite his cool looks, though. Ethan realized the man in the middle wasn’t a man, he was teenager, maybe only a few years younger than Ethan.

And the guy on the far right closest to Ethan was a head taller than him. He had large build but still looked like he could move fast. His wavy brown hair reached down to his neck. This man looked to be the oldest of them all; he had a little bit of beard stubble but looked like he was in his mid thirties.

“He can’t have had enough time to set any traps,” the young man with white hair said. “So he lured us out here to force us to lose our environmental advantage. That being said, he is still highly skilled and can increase his speed drastically so be careful.”

“What about the others?” the large man asked.

“We're here for him only—but if anyone else gets in our way then we will cut them down as well.” Then the white haired young man pulled out two thin white blades from inside his cloak and darted forward with extreme speed, his two comrades following close behind him.

Ethan was tempted to follow them from a safe distance and watch the battle play out but even with his invisibility he thought it could get too dangerous. With the way they moved they could close the gap of several yards in less than 3 seconds. “Besides,” Ethan thought to himself, “there are still other battles going on that I could observe to try and learn more.”

Ethan jogged around the fields carefully, watching the battles take place. Most people were fighting fist to fist and others were grouped up. After staring at a small group of people hunting down and picking off other lone phantoms, Ethan grew bored (as they obviously knew less than he did), so he headed to the tall wheat grass.

The wheat grass reached about five feet tall but Ethan strode through it carefully in case there was anyone ducking in it. As Ethan slowly walked through the tall wheat fields he heard a loud scream of terror and turned around just as neon green blood splashed onto Ethan’s jacket. Standing ten feet from Ethan was a huge bald man wearing a red vest and wielding a double-edged axe almost as big as the man himself.

The large axe man stood over his victim that was still alive and debated on finishing him off or not when he looked up and stared at Ethan. Ethan caught onto what was happening before the massive bald man did; he may have been invisible but the phantom blood that flew on him wasn’t and it probably looked like green floating blood. It didn’t take a genius to figure out that the blood magically floated for no reason or it landed on something or someone invisible.

Ethan leaped to the side just as the large axe man lifted his axe and tried to cut Ethan down. In his fear and excitement Ethan lost track of his invisibility and as he instinctively put them in front of himself for defense he noticed their visibility once more. The axe man lifted his weapon and swung at Ethan more skillfully as Ethan poured all his concentration on dodging the axe.

Ethan continued dodging around the axe mans swings as he began to regain himself. He noticed his reflexes were also heightened, or it was a side effect of adrenaline either way he was managing to keep away from that maniacs axe. The two of them kept moving around and Ethan barley noticed that he was out of the tall wheat grass and the axe man seemed to be able to see Ethan better for it because his swings were getting closer and closer.

As Ethan continued dodging the axe man's attacks for his afterlife an idea came to him to try something he'd seen on an old television show. Ethan concentrated on making false clones of him and for a moment nothing happened. Then, as he leaped back to avoid another swing from the axe, he saw a clone of himself standing in the position he was before he dodged the attack. His clone faded into nothing as the axe cut it down and Ethan realized he created a mirage clone but he didn’t make it move.

Ethan stood his ground now and created six different clones that he now willed to surround the axe man. The axe man stopped his last swing for Ethan and looked around him to the clones. He couldn’t tell any of them apart but instead of hesitating, the axe man smirked and then spun around in a circle with his axe held at his waist. The axe cut through all six of the clones with greater speed than Ethan thought the man capable of.

In one move all of Ethan’s clones were annihilated including the seventh he put in his place while he turned invisible again and ran. Ethan didn’t stop running as he headed for the mansion, desperate to get away from the axe wielding maniac and rethink his tactic. Ethan was still a good distance from the mansion but decided to slow his pace into a jog for fear he would make too much noise running when an agonizing scream bellowed behind him.

Ethan stopped immediately and turned around to see a young woman in the sky shooting lightning from her fingertips down at the axe man. The woman didn’t let up the lightning even as the axe man fell to his knees. Eventually the axe man disappeared and then the woman stopped the lightning. Ethan took this moment to study her. She wore a black dress that cut off at her thighs, didn’t have any shoes and had purple and pink stockings covering most of her legs.

Her face was attractive and her skin was pale. She had dark hair that was partially covered by a black pointy hat. The thing that stood out most of all about her though was that she was riding on a broomstick in the air. Ethan stopped admiring her long enough to notice he dropped his invisibility again.

By now the woman had taken notice of Ethan and was studying him as well. Ethan gulped then focused on his invisibility again. The woman frowned then suddenly launched a massive fireball at him without warning. Ethan dropped to the ground on his stomach as the fireball grazed the back of his jacket. Ethan immediately got up and spotted a massive wall of flames in front of him that was at least a foot taller than him. He turned to run the other way but the flames quickly spread around him in a circle; he was trapped.

Ethan was in panic and didn’t know what to do next. He looked up and saw the woman directly above him still floating high in the air; she was preparing another massive fireball. She tossed it directly at Ethan. It was too big to even consider dodging even if he wasn’t surrounded by flames; so Ethan crouched low and covered his head with his arms.

A painful sense of extreme heat flared up all over Ethan’s body and as quickly as it came it was gone. Ethan was still crouched low covering his head when the sounds of numerous voices all around filled his ears. Ethan dared to open his eyes and stand up straight as he saw he was back inside the mansion. There were a lot of phantoms starring at what looked to Ethan like a massive holographic scoreboard with faces, names, scores and ranks all lined up neatly.

Ethan starred at the massive scoreboard just hanging in the air near the mansions left hand wall. He tried to make out any of the faces but none of them looked familiar to him at all. Ethan couldn’t make heads or tails of the scoreboard and didn’t know what it was exactly.

“Try concentrating on a smaller scoreboard in front of you and one will appear,” a female voice said from behind Ethan. “Then think of the person you want to see; example yourself and the screen will bring your specs up from the tournament.”

Ethan took his eyes off the giant scoreboard and did as the mysterious woman behind him said to do. It took him a few seconds but finally a much smaller scoreboard appeared in front of him from thin air. At a closer glance the scoreboard literally looked nothing more than a rectangular screen of touchable material light. Part of Ethan wanted to put his hand forward and see if it would go right thought it or bump it.

“Good, now imagine only yourself appearing on that screen,” the woman’s voice said.

Ethan did as she instructed and his screen changed the display from five smaller faces with their own points and ranks to a larger picture of Ethan on the far left. The words now written on the screen next to his picture were:

Ethan Alaster - Rank: 16,322 - Points Rewarded: 900 - Special Power: Illusionist

After admiring the scoreboard and his placement on it Ethan turned around to thank the girl. “Thank you, I think I would be lost for hours if you didn’t tell me exactly what to do,” Ethan said.

The girl didn’t respond right away and Ethan took the moment to study her. She had straight black hair, beautiful purple eyes, and pale fair skin. She was slender but still had some noticeable curves; she wore a dark blue dress that almost looked black and had purple and pink stockings that went up to her thighs only a few inches from where her dress cut off. Overall Ethan thought the woman who couldn’t be older than twenty-five was very pretty and he almost didn’t recognize her without her hat and broom.

“Hey wait a second,” Ethan said. “You’re that wizard of OZ chick who burned me!”

The woman shrugged then said, “Meh I was going to leave you alone until I saw your powers and decided that you would become incredibly troublesome to find later.” Then without giving Ethan a chance to respond the woman turned and walked away heading up the stairs.

Ethan wanted to chase after her and argue some more but he knew it was a pointless endeavor and decided against it. Ethan went back to starring at himself on the small scoreboard in front of him when he got another idea. Concentrating on the woman he just met Ethan imagined her face showing up on the little scoreboard and just as it did with his the screen changed its current image and writings then replaced it with the one Ethan desired.

Marry Cromwell - Rank: 23 - Points Rewarded: 925,000 - Special Power: Elemental Influence

Ethan felt a little jealous as he stared at the screen with the woman that defeated him so easily on it. He thought his powers were special and that he would stand out among everyone but even in the afterlife he was normal. What other kinds of incredible powers did these other phantoms possess, and were they all as strong as that witch? Ethan thought to himself.

The thoughts of what the others around him were capable of began to unnerve Ethan and so he went back to concentrating on the scoreboard. Out of curiosity Ethan tried concentrating on who ranked number one during the tournament. He didn’t have a name or a face to concentrate on so instead he put all his focus on making the screen show the number one player.

It took much longer than when Ethan had a face to focus on but eventually the scoreboard in front of him began to change its display just like before. And as soon as the face and name came up Ethan found himself struggling just to keep standing.

David Alaster - Rank: 1 - Points Rewarded: 50 million - Special Power: Puppet Master

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Copyright © © Jake Pendragon all rights reserved 2015

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