by Vorec


"Renée! Hurry up and take your turn girl this game has to be done soon." Janice whined as she idly fanned herself with her cards."

"I'm thinking Jan I'm thinking … ok here" Renée replied as she played a card down on the lunch table tapping the corner of the card to activate its micro projector "There I play vengeance of eagles and kill all rodent type beast's ok? Go!" She said, as she returned her focus to the book in her hand.

"Hmmm, damn it girl how can you play Illusion and study physics? It's got to be one or the other." Janice said, as she removed her 3 creatures with the type of 'Rodent' from the game. As the game wore on Renée began to gain in points, nearly reaching the 13 needed to win. Playing her cards with skill and strategy she won the game. Just as the lunch bell clanged ending their battle and their conversation.

"Hey Janice I'll see you later, I've got science next." Renée said as she left the Liberty High School's cafeteria. Janice raised her hand in silent signal that she had heard, as she moved round the corner and straight into Chad Thomson football Captain of the Liberty Lancer's varsity team.

"Hey Janice watch where your going!" He shouted as he roughly pushed her aside knocking her down in the process. As Janice went down, her Illusion deck spilled out of her pocket. Scrabbling to her feet she quickly moved to recover them, Chad beat her to it "Well?" He said, as he snatched one of the fallen cards from her fingers "What have we here? Janice, don't you think you're a bit old for such kid games?"

"It's not a kids game Chad dammit why won't you grow up, people make good money playing Illusion."

"So it's claimed Janice, but really what kind of prize money is there in that silly game, sports is where the real money is. Anyway it's not like you'd ever get in to any tournaments." This last was said with a sneer on his face. By now others had gathered around the pair to watch the altercation and had summoned a teacher.

"What's all this then?" Mr. Krause said as he strode up to the pair.

"She fell Mr. Krause that's all and I was uh… helping her up, wasn't I Janice?"
The look he gave Janice spoke volumes, he couldn't afford to be in any more trouble not with the homecoming game only a few weeks away.

"Yea whatever" Janice replied as she gathered up her cards and stood brushing past Chad and Mr. Krause she continued on her way to class.

Renée entered her science classroom just as the teacher; a Mr. Apadeckaecker was putting away some assignments he had been grading, "Renée, come in have a seat. …You're late. He said looking up

Renée blushed slightly as she took her seat, wishing for a second the floor would swallow her, Renée Evens never late not once, her perfect record now blemished, however small a blemish it might be. "Sorry sir" she mumbled weakly.
As the class wore on Mr. A, demonstrating how core samples from the earth were used. Renée began to grow bored, not by the subject matter more by the lack of energy used in writing notes. Her mind wandered, a delicately held pen reflecting her mind's train of thought, as a series of ideas formed into a deck list for her next Illusion game.

"Ah Renée I need you to stay after for a few minutes all right" Mr. A said raising his head to face her.
"Ok sir" Renée replied as she put her notes and deck list in her bag.
"What did you want sir?" She said, after the last of her classmates had gone.

"Your normally very attentive Renée so I'm going to assume that your lack of attention is related to the up coming tournament's?"

"Tournaments Mr. A? What tournaments?" Renée replied puzzled.

"Oh so you didn't know about them, then to what may I take the lack of interest in my lessons?" "Well?" he paused waiting patiently for her response.

"I… I'm sorry I wasn't paying any attention." She replied her head down, not seeing her teacher nod. Renée lifted her head her grey eyes glinting, "Forgive me Mr. A, but what were you saying about tournaments?"

"It's the wildcard for the invitational being held next weekend up at the head office.
Gonna be a load of tourneys all over and one gets to go to the big one, so I thought you'd be going, it's open to semi and pro players and, well. I'll be going, you see so I thought as you are one a semi pro you would be also, hence why I was willing to overlook your lack of attention today." Mr. A said.

"Well if I had known about the tourney I most certainly would go, I wonder if Janice would like to go? Got to go Mr. A!" This last she choked out as she ran out the door.

Meanwhile in Janice's band class, her mind was more on the lack of harmony in her fellow students playing, rather then Illusion, this difference of opinion was one of the few things that set her apart from Renée. Renée being one of the few who lived entirely for the game and Janice while quite good never put her heart into the game. Which is one of the reasons she ever only won one qualifier for the state championships while Renée was in the top 10 of the state.
As the band packed up, Renée tapped on the door gently at first then more insistent trying to get her friends attention. Gradually Janice became aware of a tapping turning her head the inanely grinning face of Renée greeted her, as Janice left the classroom, Renée spilled out all she found out in a gush that left her breathless and wide-eyed.

"Ok girl slowdown and take it from the top," Janice said as she put her arms on her shoulders to steady her old friend. As Renée told Janice what she found out a second time Janice was able to see the cause of her friends enthusiastic attitude.
The rest of the school day went slowly for Renée and Janice maths and English the only classes they shared, became more of a planning port for the tournament they would both register for after school. Finally the end of the day arrived. Released from school Janice drove them down to the local gamers shop.

"So Janice, Renée what can I do for you today" the shopkeeper asked as they entered his domain.

"Not much John, we just want to register for the wildcard tournament tomorrow." Renée said as she gave him a brief hug before wandering off to the illusion display stands.
"Ok girls I'll take your names and I hope you do well tomorrow it starts at 10 am, ok Janice, Renée." He replied. The girls nodded as they sat down to work on their decks and play a few games.

After spending an enjoyable afternoon working and playing at the shop the girls went home for a good nights rest and a good meal. In the morning they headed out in their individual vehicles to the qualifier tournament. "Good luck Renée," Janice called out as she climbed the steps from the parking lot to the shop, "and remember no matter what I'm still the closest thing you have to a friend!"
Renée replied with a middle finger to Janice as she too entered the building. As the players sat down or lined up for deck registration, Renée was engaged in conversation with John who was acting as judge for this game discussing rulings and prize payout, obviously the big prize was a chance at the invitational, but the usual boosters and boxes were available for the others. At last the co judges got through with the guy in front of Renée so she could get her deck registered.

"Hrmm fairly odd selection of cards this Mrs. Evens, very few beasts, many spells and the heart cards! What style does this deck use maam to win if I might ask?"
Renée merely winked at the elderly judge "By annoyance." She replied as she took her deck and walked off taking a seat at the middle table, she rapped her knuckles against her deck thrice for luck, as she waited to see whom she was drawn against. As the pairings were called out and the players shuffled around Renée cleverly managed to hold her seat smiling at the young man as he sat across from her she offered her hand. "Hi I'm Renée nice to meet you." She said putting on her sportsmen attitude.
"Rick" he replied taking her hand, she nodded as she shuffled her deck as the announcers bass voice came over microphone.
"Players you may begin." Smiling as she passed her shuffled deck over to her opponent for cutting and he returned the act. Play commenced.
Drawing her hand of 9 cards Renée was pleased with it, quickly the game gathered pace and from about the 6th turn it was obvious that Renée was by far the better player 8 points up to his 1 "look Rick I don't know how you got any tour points but its obvious your not in my class so I'm just going to finish you up unless you'd like to fold right now?"
"5 points in one turn is is impossible you'll never beat me with only 2 beasts on the field I've got 6,3 flying beast and a another." He replied his face going red at this treatment
"Listen watch and learn, she smirked back as she drew her cards for the turn… "Oh," she said with exaggerated surprise "I'll play this card Dawn of the Damned, to return my critters from the discards, paying for it with this card Selfless Desire I give you 3 points and get all my beasties back, then for my permanent card ill play this one…" she paused letting him take into account just what she had done by playing selfless desire as a react to herself playing dawn, she forfeited Dawn of the Damned's penalty by offering another in its place. Which while putting him up closer to her gave her the beasts to survive his own. "I'll play this the Illusion heart card forfeiting 6 of my points to do so," she smiled, "your turn Rick."
Rick shook his head unable to understand Renée's last move, sure getting her beasts back was good playing the heart card in addition to it made no sense losing her gain on him for what… his mind marvelled at the complexities of her strategy a strategy that was just as likely to end in loss as success. Careful not to give her any opening Rick played his next turn burning some resources to bring in a large eagle beast and forgoing an attack just in case of something sneaky. "Your move girl" Rick said as the announcer bellowed over them all,
"30 minutes remaining in this round 30 minutes remain".
Smiling Renée made her move the moves that would win her this duel
First playing a second heart card this one from the expansion Mind Warped this reduced her points to 0 causing her opponent to gain the additional points. Taking him, to 12 then using the first heart cards ability she played mind swop enabling her to normally take one of his beast but via the heart card to switch places with him play wise tell the end of turn now she had 12 points and he had none now all she had to do was make him gain points and she would win after a few more spells and a very nasty move involving another selfless desire she claimed victory, however Rick was so disorientated by such a bizarre action he called over a judge for a ruling.
After listening to the argument and reading the cards the judge sat down "Renée I've never seen a more convoluted plan, a good plan but not one I've ever seen before Rick it was perfectly legal, now excuse me I'm going for an aspirin." The judge said as he walked off.
Much of the rest of the tournament went the same way beating Mr. A and a champ from Denver, names and faces ceased to mean anything as she climbed the ladder to success shuffling her deck as she waited for the last round to begin.
"Renée!! Guess what I'm in the finals with you!" Janice called as she snared her in a bear hug, "I've been playing the way you suggested and its working" Renée hugged back and smiled happy for her friend while at the same time sad she would be facing her in the final. As there names were called out and the advances to the head table Renée was strangely quiet with none of her usual banter with an opponent.
"Girl what in the hells is wrong with you I thought you'd be pleased for me, I mean in a pro qualifier final…" Janice's voice broke off, seeing the confusion on Renée's

"I am pleased for you Jan but I'm worried, I mean I know I can play, but recently I've been more of a bitch when I play and if I'm not careful I'll mess up and lose I really don't want that." Renée said sadly, as she looked across the auditorium noticing people getting set for the final match of this qualifier tournament. "But I guess I am out of time to think they're waiting, and we have to play." Renée added as she took her seat and prepared to play.
Fortunately Renée knew Janice's deck quite well giving her a slight advantage, which was cancelled out by her own distracted view. Not that she was surprised to be here for finals were something she was well used to but playing off against her best friend was something new.
The other players watched as the two friends battled it out for a chance at the big one
Unusually for Renée Janice was able to keep up with her, reacting and using moves she normally only just noticed as they were happening.

"Stop it Renée I don't want to win this match cause your not paying attention" Janice said leaning forward to glare at her opponent her arm distorting the projection of 'Brakis lord of the sea' as she reached over and tapped her on the chin, "play right and focused or don't play and let someone else take your place in the invitational!" She continued. Before finally leaning back and beckoning to the shocked girl to take her turn.
Enraged that Janice had spoken to her like that, Renée felt some of her old fire at Illusion return, played her turn flawlessly picking up 2 points on Janice. Janice smiled as she drew her cards, "There's a girl Ren, now lets play"…As the game picked up speed the girls fell back into their usual places as friends first opponents second the tense and inspiring final, became a friendly match between old friends instead teasing and taunting each other until a judge was forced to make them act more seriously. Shrugging Janice looked at the score 11-12 Renée's favour and at the time 4:50 in the afternoon. Janice smiled, and flipped the top card of her deck the traditional method of surrender.
"Janice Varchild has forfeited the match our winner is Renée Evens of Briargate" the announcer said after the judge had confirmed Janice's yielding of the match.
As the clapping wore down Renée grabbed Janice by the arm, "Damn you! Why did you forfeit the game you were close to winning?"

"Ren you know why!" Janice yelled into Renée's ear "Winning this means far more to you then it does to me, I got second, a whole box to myself that's prize enough to me!" She paused and roughly embraced her friend "Go on go claim your prize" As Renée's name was called she walked up to the podium to claim her box of cards and her lottery ticket for the invitational. A lottery being used to decide whom among the winners would get the coveted spot.
Most the other people in the tournament congratulated her as they passed her by and heading out, emptying the halls as the qualifier came to a close.
During that evening at Renée's house while they sorted their cards and Renée waited patiently to see if the lottery for the wildcard would pull her name and secure her one of the wildcard slots. Time flew as they worked testing new ideas and strategies, just in case the phone rang.
At a quarter to one in the morning over the discarded remains of 3 pizzas and ton of wrappers 2 tired girls were startled into full wakefulness by the ringing of the phone.

"Uh hello Renée Evens speaking" Renée said as she picked up the phone, peeling a pepperoni off of the base unit.

"Ah Ms. Evens I'm pleased to tell you that you have a place at the invitational next Saturday the 16 of may please register with the main desk no later then Friday at 6 pm and congratulations." The voice on the other end of the phone said.

Placing the phone back on its hook Renée let out a small celebratory cry

"I made it I'm in!!!"

"Great Ren I'm happy for ya, now don't wake the dead!" Janice called from her lair on the couch. Once the call had come though Janice and most especially Renée were able to get a bit of sleep ready to start planning Ren's trip to Florida where the tournament was being held. Morning came early pulling Renée from her dreams. Rising from her bed she stretched and yawned, before straightening her nightshirt to head down to breakfast.
"Yeagh!" Renée yawned as she looked at the mess in the living room and kitchen

"You can say that again" came a voice from the sofa

"Jan? You still here?" Renée replied puzzled. During the ensuing conversation the girl's decided on tier plans for the following week. A week which passed quickly among the flurry of plans and preparations flight tickets must be booked, from Denver to Florida, then hotel and car rental all the little things that are needed to get ready for a holiday or even a business trip
'Ding dong' came a ring at Renée's door. "Coming" she replied the door opened to reveal her parents

"Oh hi Renée were glad we caught you we thought we'd save you some money and time by helping with your trip. Now your father has set it up so you can stay at his sister's while your there it's a farm house, so you'll be expected to help with chores she lives in Alabama so you'll stop there…"


"Now in Florida my friend Jane has agreed to let you and Janice stay on her couch during your game thing."

"MOM!!!" "I know you and dad mean well, but we don't need your help we can do this on our own!" Renée said as soon as she could get a word in edgewise. " Were flying out of Denver First Class…"
"But if you must fly at least use uncle Ow-"
"No no mom, no uncles, no aunties, no friends, we're doing this our way, we're flying first class, because we got free upgrades to our standard fare OK!"

Mrs. Evens lower lip began to tremble as she suffered this interruption, she was saved from outright crying only by Renée's father placing his large calloused hands on her shoulders "Your mother and I only mean to help you."

"I know Dad but I'd prefer to do this one on my own. However if you'd like to help you can drive us to Denver tomorrow morning so we can be there early bit of sight seeing bit of shopping and just a little bit of sun." Renée hugged her parents and added, "We'll be careful. The rest of the day passes easily enough as the girls cleaned up and finished packing for their trip. The next day passed uneventfully as they boarded their plane, flew to Florida and registered at the hotel and at Hillcrest Games for the tournament. Business taken care of the girls spent their days on the beach and their evenings huddled around a table remaking Renée's deck,
"You know Ren I haven't had this much fun since we were 3 and trashed the nursery at the day-care" Janice said with an evil grin.

Ren lay back on her bed and nodded "yep that was VERY fun. Conversation continued until both girls went to sleep as the tournament was the next morning.
Driving in to the Hillcrest Complex Renée was in a state of total shock
" I don't believe it."

" I know " Janice replied "I've known that for the past 10 times you said it, so suck it up and lets go."

"Welcome to the Illusion Invitational tournament, I am Charles Richardson.
"As you know this is the 5th anniversary of the Illusion ccg. 5 years ago."
"We at hillcrest created a new game system using advanced micro projectors built in the cards to allow the players to have more realism in their games then ever before". A tall man wearing a business suit said as he addressed the assembled players.
"However to fully realise this system we needed a world, a world like no other, this world was to have magic and black powder, mythic monsters and warriors, but most of all ILLUSION" as he spoke large wall projections lit up displaying oversized cards from the game. "Sure that's enough for a world but where'd the players fit in, why what would be best?" "They could be warriors or mages but what, what would really give this world life?"
The answer this!" He held up a card. "The heart cards, these special cards are what give Illusion its depth. Representing the magical substances of our world. In Illusion these are what our mages and warriors seek the heart stones, one for each of Illusion's sets for each of Illusion's realms, Illusion, Mind Warped, Dreamlands, Distant Fantasies and now on our 5th anniversary I give you the set you'll be playing with today."
"Reality. Our new set bringing existing creatures from our world and our technology to the world of illusion, please enjoy the tournament and good luck to you all!" as the man walked off the stage the curtain covering the main hall parted revealing rows of tables and pristine packets of cards on each seat.
The organizers explained the format and asked the participants to be seated, Janice gave Renée a quick hug and told her she'd see her later.
The tournament was a 3 round Swiss, sealed deck construction 1 starter of ILLUSION and 5 boosters of Reality 45 minute construction time 90-minute rounds

"Ok lets see what I get, come on lady luck" Renée mumbled to herself as she opened her boosters, separating the types of cards she nearly screamed with delight as she got her favourite card the heart card Illusion. placing it and the other cards she would normally use, Renée began to craft her deck with her usual skill.

"Five minutes for deck construction the first round will begin in 10 minutes" bellowed the voice of the chief judge from the judge's desk.
As she finished her deck and re-read a few of the new cards Renée gave her deck a good shuffle for a test deal "3 resources and 5 spells and react cards, not to bad" she commented as she placed her deck on the table.
"This should be good," she said as her opponent sat down across from her "Hi I'm Renée Evens" she said extending her hand and her shuffled deck to shake, and cut.

"Rob Stuart." Her opponent said as he did the same.

As the match began both Renée and Rob were slightly confused as to the function of some of the new cards. However as the game drew on all players gained confidence in their new cards and the games began to pick up speed winning her first match against Rob bolstered Renée's.
"Well rob that was exhilarating one point difference way to close for my liking.

"Indeed Renée I enjoyed myself immensely perhaps one day we shall duel again." With that Rob bowed shook hands with Renée and moved to fight his next opponent.
Renée took the opportunity during the milling around between rounds to grab a coke and bag of chips to munch on.

"Nice work Renée" came a voice behind her in line for the snacks

"Who, who are you " she replied "

"Well I was sitting next to you and watched your duel "Name's Simon, Simon Larkfield"

"You're the champ aren't you?"

"Indeed Renée though if I do say so if you play as well as that all the time I wont be the champ much longer, I have a feeling us two at the number one table would make quite an impact, see ya round." as Simon walked off, his bag of sweets dangling from his pocket, Renée blushed. "Calm down girl, " she told herself mentally He didn't say he likes you so quit blushing!" Gathering herself she took her drink and chips to the middle tables and took a seat at table 36 where according to the display boards she would be playing off against a Mrs. Rilona.

"3 minutes till round two begins, 3 minutes till round two " the judges voice called out again as he checked his watch. Looking around, Renée could see Charles Richardson watching over the games like a shepherd. Gulping slightly at the apparent scrutiny he momentarily gave her, she didn't notice as someone shoved the table towards her upsetting her deck and nearly her drink.

"Move it girly!!" came a loud voice from across the table, "This isn't the spot for spectators!!"
Renée turned to face the source of the voice her eyes were greeted by a towering quivering mass of fat.
"I beg your pardon." Renée said her voice dripping with as much sarcasm as the woman's did with oil, "I'm waiting for my opponent you see and I didn't know they had allowed animals in here even if they can talk." Renée continued smiling as her words caused Mrs. Rilona's face to colour a bright cherry red. Settling into her seat and straightening her deck Renée couldn't resist the chance to cast one last line at her fat slob of an opponent
"I'm normally a very good sportswoman, however you offend me so lets play."

The fat woman nodded crudely shuffled her deck, as Renée shuffled her own before offering it to her opponent for cutting. Once the formalities were out of the way and the duel begum properly Renée was able to see how the woman was able to get so far in the world rankings of Illusion, she cheated.
Renée watched as after the woman drew. She held her hand close to the edge of the table not even looking a it during Renée's turn, then during her own she would slide the top cards of her deck and slip them under her other hand which was waiting on the edge after a few turns, Renée noticed the woman never ever moved that hand other then to lift it slightly, but also only used her left hand to play with.. With the size of her hands it was impossible to se what she was doing as she drew, finally Renée called a judge over explaining her suspicions to him he nodded.
"Mrs. Rilona please stand up I'm doing a spot check on your deck."
Mrs. Rilona's eyes widened, her mouth opened as if to challenge the judge before snapping shut. She stood and revealed her secret, a selection of cards in a rollout folder on her waist containing several reactions cards and monsters.
As the judge looked down and saw this evidence, a second marvel startled him. The woman began to cry, bringing up an arm from her middle she blew her nose before wiping her eyes with her left arm.
"I'm sorry she sobbed, "I don't know how those cards got there but I'm certainly not a cheat."

"Uh judge take a look Renée commented, as the woman used her left and another arm to blow her nose and wipe her eyes her right arm remained loosely at her side faced with this evidence of cheating the judge declared a ruling, disqualification to Mrs. Rilona
"And a match win to Renée," he said as he called forth a pair of security guards to assist the lady in making her exit, her fake arm still dangling loosely by her side.
"Well done for spotting her Renée, most players were so put off by her looks they didn't question her oddity's,"
Renée simply smiled as she stood up and offered her deck to the judge for inspection. "Have a look at mine I've nothing to hide except my strategies which are here" she said tapping her head. Nodding the judge looked through her deck, "Not a fault I can see ma'am your clean and if I might add on course for the head table played directly under Mr. Richardson's scrutiny. Parting from the judge's company him to his desk to file a report and Renée to the snack bar for more chocolate.
"Eating again Renée" came a familiar voice.
"Simon what're you doing here I thought you'd be duelling"
"I asked for a five minute reprieve when I saw what happened came to see if you were ok I mean I saw the judge kick that pig out of the competition, but then you handed your deck over to him, are you out to?"
No I offered him my deck just to insure that woman couldn't make a counter claim against me I'm getting a snack then I'm goanna drool over the cards I snagged today"
"Ok Renée just checking see ya later," he tossed over his shoulder as he walked away

Acquiring her snacks Renée returned to the edge of the arena watching the action on the big screen, not knowing anyone in the competition she found herself cheering for Simon? at least he had talked to her. As more and more of the games wound down and the results were posted she found her self wishing for the chance to face off against the world champion as he had suggested, 2 master duellists waging a mighty battle right in front of the creators nose.
A noise broke her from her reverie "There will be a 1 hour break for lunch before the final round of this competition all decks are to be handed in at the judges counter thank you and good luck.

Obeying the judge's orders Renée handed her deck in before moving off to see Janice

"Wow Ren I'm amazed you're doing so well you do know you're in the top 3 at the moment you Simon Larkfield and a James Tibern make up the leader board …Aren't you excited?
"Yes I am but I'm tired this has to be the most intense competition I've ever been in."
After what seemed to be a brief chat but in reality turned out to be just under an hour the call was given for all players to reclaim their decks and prepare for the final round.

Renée Evens will be facing off against Simon Larkfield on table one came the voice of the judge she had offered her deck to, his voice continued to place the players for their final matches Renée moved to the slightly raised table near the VIP section. Taking her seat Renée watched as Simon sat across from her "Well here we are as I predicted." he said as she blushed. "I'm looking forward to an excellent match pray don't disappoint me." Renée simply nodded and shuffled her deck.

Drawing her hand after completing the formalities Renée was inordinately pleased with what she had drawn the illusion heart card in her opening hand as well as 2 resource cards and a new one called technical difficulties.
Nodding to Simon that she was happy with her hand he graciously allowed her first choice in turns.
"If I go first I can play both resources and the heart card before he has much chance to respond." she thought.
"I'll go first and I play 2 resource cards netting me a total of 3 available so far. Then I play this the heart card of Illusion, paying its essence cost by giving you 6 points and end my turn.

He nodded seemingly taken aback by such a radical opening move glancing down at his hand he grinned "ok if I play a match turn to hers well both have heart cards meaning divine call abilities are open but so are dark heart this Reality heart card is odd though Divine call: use any other effect on the field by paying 3 cards from your hand , effect pay 5 points merge any 2 cards on the field gain control of the combined card."

"Ok Renée I play this 2 resource, a beast and my own heart card I play Reality
It's your go " He replied, the grin never leaving his face, smiling at the react card he held.

Renée nodded added tokens appropriate to the cards he played and drew her cards "ok Simon I play 'Lord Darkwood the hunter' for 6 and use his effect to bring in a wolf of the woods from my deck
And since we are even now I play this spell battle rage costing me my last resource's card but letting me choose your response from your little beastie , and I choose him to defend.

I react to that Renée with this the chrysalis of wisdom,

That's a spell Simon not a react ah but look this react lets me play a spell as a react so I choose to play it on you using the divine call from my heart card which is your own." He smiled his eyes glittering as he handed her the cocoon card to which she was now encased according to the rules...
"4 turns Renée till that pops, but then you'll have flight and vision, well you would if you were a beast." He retorted "But until then no attacks from you."

Most of the rest of the arena had stopped playing other then those few to who even one point could make a difference, watching intently as the match heated up the air was so thick you could slice it and serve it on a plate unfortunately the Floridian weather was not so interested as it dumped its load of rain and lightning on the Events building of Hillcrest and the surrounding town.

Snarling Renée nodded and placed the card by her deck to show that indeed it was in play its holo image displaying a being stuck in a chrysalis. Ok my 3rd go she said as she drew playing another beast and forgoing any attack she nodded to Simon "Go" she said as a strike of lightning dimmed the lights in the room.

"Well girl" Simon yelled over the thunder and lightning "that heart card of yours is a might nasty so ill have to deal with it realities effect I'll use it paying you 5 points to merge illusion and reality into one, with me in control of it" he continued picking up his reality card and her illusion card placing them on top of each other, the room dimmed as another bolt seemed to strike in the room, when they lights came on the 2 cards were sparking slightly as they seemed to emit a greenish mist,
"Hey what the..." Renée called as she began to lose mobility in her hands rapidly moving up into her arms and torso. Panicking she looked down while she still could to see a thick film rapidly advancing up her legs. "Shiiiit Simon help me!" she called as she fell over her body landing in a kneeling position" Simon ran to help her but cracked his head into a branch that seemed to float in mid air, standing up he and most of the others in the hall grabbed their heads as a rippling wave seemed to emerge from the centre of the table their cards slowly dissolving into dust as the room continued to change. Renée now completely encased in the stuff surrounding her, felt as though she was on fire every neuron in her body melting and reforming as the wave of whatever passed her she slowly but gratefully lost consciousness.
Waking up Charles Richardson blinked rubbed his eyes and screamed.
His scream awoke many others including Simon Larkfield "What what's going on?"
He said looking around him.
Wherever they were it was not Hillcrest's events room. Lush Jungle stood all around them as more of the players came out of the woods or the bushes many covered in scrapes and small bruises. "OK people I have no idea what just happened please if your not injured stand still I'm sure we can get this whole mess sorted out!" Charles bellowed trying to restore some order looking around his eyes fell on a pale green chrysalis, "Oh my"…. Charles's voice faded away. "Simon, please tell me that is not the girl you were duelling?" Sadly Simon shook his head "It's her sir whatever happened seems to have been based off that last few moves in our match I mean I played some cards and then we got struck..." his voice trailed off as he recounted the last moves to himself.
"Renée, Renée!" Came a voice from the woods as Janice came looking for her friend you have ya seen Renée I cant find her anywhere in this forest …but I did find this " she said holding up a fist sized jewel, well a double fist one side green and clear the other red and reflective meeting slightly in the middle in a sort of greyish colour.
Charles Richardson and Simon Larkfield gulped simultaneously as they recognized the object she held
"That's…. The Heart Stones from Illusion and Reality" they said at the same time, then again as one "They're merged!" Just then there was a loud cracking sound to their backs.
Jumping they spun round to see a large split in Renée's chrysalis looking over they were relived to see her pale white arm emerge from its prison swiftly followed by the rest of her taking a deep breath Renée retched as a pile of green goo was ejected from her lungs
Panting she began to speak "would someone, anyone like to tell me just what the hell is going on?" she exclaimed as she climbed out of the chrysalis and stretching, noticing some strange pull coming from behind her she twisted her neck "Oh my. …Gosh I've got wings!!!! What in the 9 levels of hell has happened?" She turned her wings unfolding like some fairy creatures from books.

"Off hand Renée I'd say you could attack again." Simon smiled "But other then that I've no idea other then this." Showing her the merged stones, she knelt down and wept.
"We'll have to look around their must be a way out of here," Simon said his voice heard as if from a distance as the world shook slightly…
Elsewhere a storm whistled, its winds driving ice and snow deeper into someone's flesh, which was already a cold blue.
Pausing in his steps a bearded ice encrusted old man turned to look at his staff, at the blue green orb topping it and the many stones that orbited around it. Bracing against the snow and ice he looked closely the red one and a deep green one were merged, "Now how did that happen?" He said to himself, shrugging the old man resumed his walk defying winds and storms in his endless quest for the heart stones of the universes.



Final Score: 34 out of 50

Raven's Comments:

Well, Vorec, you set out to do better than last time, and I'd say you succeeded. I like your characters -- they have distinctive personalities and voices of their own, and they're definitely more likeable than your protagonist in The Dreamscape Chalice. You also do better at following the "show, don't tell" rule than some of our other contest entries: for the most part the story unfolds naturally, at about the right pace.

Punctuation and sentence/paragraph structure are still a problem here, though they are somewhat improved from your last story. Again, most of the words make sense when read aloud, but the errors in structure make it difficult for the reader (who doesn't know what you're trying to say) to know where to put emphasis, where it changes to another speaker, etc. A composition class and additional practice (with feedback from a skilled teacher) will probably help you finish ironing out these technical difficulties.

The central plot hook of the story, the Illusion card game, was interesting, but it became difficult to follow when the players began using complex and unorthodox tactics. Maybe for someone who has played Magic: The Gathering the detailed play-by-play would make perfect sense, but for the uninitiated (like me) it was just confusing. I also have to admit that I didn't "get" the ending, and was a little disappointed that the story ended before the characters could figure out what had happened or what to do about it.

So, anyway, a definite improvement. Keep working on the technical stuff but the creative side of your work is developing nicely.



Copyright 2004 by Vorec. If you want to post this anywhere else, please ask for permission first. Thank you.

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