Chapter 1: This Is How It Began
Every wrestler knows the story of the Warrior of Light and Chaos.
Back in the days before the federations, before wrestling became regulated and was made safer for all involved, magic abuse ran rampant in the ring, and none wielded it more flagrantly than the man known only as Chaos. His natural strength combined with arcane enhancement led him to dominate any competitor who dared to step between the ropes to face him. Such was his reliance on magic that his visage twisted into something demonic, something out of a child’s nightmare. Had he remained undefeated, surely the art of wrestling would’ve died in its cradle, before it ever truly had a chance to grow.
It was then that the Warrior of Light appeared.
No record of his true name exists, and his face was covered by a mask, coloured blue and gold and marked with the sign of the Crystals. What is remembered clearly, is this: The Warrior of Light stood to Chaos in the middle of the ring, magic and all, took him the full nine rounds, then pinned him to the mat decisively.
This being the first defeat he had ever tasted, Chaos flew into a rage, his lashes of wild magic threatening to consume not only himself and the Warrior of Light, but the audience who had gathered to watch the spectacle. It is said that the Warrior of Light offered a prayer to the Crystals, then charged Chaos one last time. There was a brilliant flash of light, and when it faded, neither man nor monster was anywhere to be seen.
Some say that even now, the Warrior of Light and Chaos fight on, in the realm of the Crystals, away from anyone they may harm in their clash. Others dismiss the tale as a mere fantasy, a just-so story. What is clear is this: Magic is strictly regulated in every federation, though the minutiae may vary, so that incidents like this should never occur again.
Chapter 2: Eclipse
TW: Substance abuse, in the form of unwitting over-reliance on bad juju.
Don't do dark magic, kids.
“Cecil, wake up!”
Cecil Harvey, one half of the famous Knights of Baron, groaned as he shook the sleep from his eyes. That had decidedly not been a full night’s rest, by any definition of the term.
“You were moaning in your sleep again. Another nightmare?”
take what’s yours nothing can stop you what are waiting for do it do it do it
“Yeah. Thanks for getting me out of it, Rosa.”
She smiled tenderly at him. Crystals, what had he done to deserve a blessing like her? It certainly couldn’t have been anything recent, certainly not since face your foes spill their blood and offer it up to the darkness-
Yeah. Not since that.
“Are you gonna be alright? It looked really bad for a moment there.”
“I’ll be fine. Don’t worry, Rosa, it’ll take more than a bad dream to bring me down.”
She bit her lip as he clambered out of the bed, making his way over to the apartment’s bathroom.
“That’s what I’m afraid of, love.”
“Cecil, please, wake up.”
Pain. Every bone in his body screaming. Ice water running through his veins in place of blood. How?
Kain the traitor the fool the jealous fool he’s always wanted what’s yours you were too blind to see
No, that couldn’t be right. Kain was his friend, his partner. Wasn’t he?
he leapt at you and you didn’t defend yourself you trusted him you will not make that mistake again
His eyes snapped open. They met white tile and he understood.
The hospital. Whatever had happened had been bad enough that he was bedridden. Rosa clutching at his hand like it was the only real thing left in the world.
His gaze trailed up his arm and took in the IV embedded there.
This couldn’t be happening.
A man’s voice. Cecil’s head turned to the other side of the bed, and took in the white robes of the mage-healer.
“We need to have a serious discussion about your mana balance.”
“Why didn’t you tell me it had gotten this bad?”
“I didn’t even know it had gone this far, Rosa.”
“How could you not have? Is this what was causing all the nightmares?”
her fears are unfounded the darkness is what makes you strong no night terror will destroy you
“Cecil, please. Promise me you won’t make this worse for yourself.”
YOU BELONG TO THE DARKNESS AND THE DARKNESS IS WHERE YOU BELONG
His head pounded. His brain felt like it was tearing itself apart.
She smiled. The pain seemed to recede slightly. A momentary reprieve.
“That’s all I ask, Cecil.”
He punched the locker frame, and grimaced as the inky blackness coalesced around his fist.
let it back in you know that if you just let it free you will taste victory as you deserve
He'd promised Rosa he wouldn't aggravate his balance like that anymore but she doesn't need to know it will only take a small drop the darkness has such power to offer-
His teeth ground together.
Just once. Just to see. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad.
"Stop the match! Stop the damn match!"
He was a fool.
His arm had turned a twisted crimson, a grisly mirror of its former self. His mind drifted to the story of the Warrior and Chaos, and he wondered if this was how the demon felt, before the corruption had broken him into the nightmare he became.
"I think...I think you need to take a break from wrestling."
A break. A break. As if time away from the ring would cure this problem. No. The darkness was in too deep, and time alone wouldn't pull out its roots.
Action was needed.
If this was a problem caused by the darkness, he would have to turn to the light.
THE LIGHT CANNOT HELP YOU THE LIGHT IS WEAK THE LIGHT IS A FALSE STRENGTH
Through the pain, he grinned.
Well. That, if nothing else, was certainly a ringing endorsement.
"If you expect this to be easy, child, I'm afraid I will have to disappoint you."
Cecil smiled. Since he crossed the threshold of this sacred place, the ever-present whispers of the darkness had faded, if only slightly.
"It could not be any harder than living with the darkness for the rest of my life, Father. However short that may be."
The cleric looked at him, pity evident in his eyes.
"Then let it be so. You are prepared to carry the Crystal's light with you for the rest of your days?"
"Yes, I am."
"Forever you shall renounce the darkness and its influence?"
"Then draw close, and bathe in the light."
He stepped aside, leaving the path to the altar, and the Crystal, clear.
Cecil stepped forward.
Chapter 3: The Man Is The Mirror
this was sitting on my hard drive for months and i only now pulled out my finger to finish it and polish it nyargh.
TW for...dissassociation, I think?
“Your face is no longer yours. From this moment on, your face is a mask.”
The fabric slipped over his head like a glove. It belonged there. It had always belonged there.
“Your name is no longer yours. From this moment on, your name is Gogo.”
The word entered into him, and filled him with power.
“Your movements are no longer yours. From this moment on, your movements are those of your foe.”
Of course they are. He is, after all, a Mimic.
“Go, and show the world why the Mimic rules the ring.”
He rose, and walked away from the empty theatre.
So, King, tell us about this man, Gogo.
Well, Moggle, much as I would love to educate the commoners once more-
Aw, gimme a break, kupo.
-I'm afraid I'm as lost as you are. I tried to converse with our bemasked friend earlier today, and he just walked away! From me! The sheer audacity of it!
In that case, Tonberry, he's already good folk in my opinion.
See the way he moves. How he mirrors his opponent's every motion, right down to the way they breathe. More than just a copycat, he is a perfect reflection.
How can you possibly defeat yourself?
It is no great effort, in the end, to hoist them over his head and drive them into the canvas below.
By my pom and whiskers, that's his opponent's signature maneuver! How did he manage that?!
Moggle, in all my years at this broadcast table I have never seen a match quite like this.
There's the cover, the three-count, it's all over!
And so it goes. For 7 solid months, he remains undefeated. Never a wasted motion, no flaw in his imitations.
Until he meets the man with the tail.
"You're that Gogo guy, right? Name's Zidane, Zidane Tribal! ...Not much of a talker, huh? That's cool. Hey, me and the boys were gonna head out for drinks after our matches tonight, wanna come with?"
He doesn't want to. He doesn't want anything, really. It's no longer in his nature to want.
But, maybe this will help him when he inevitably faces Zidane in the ring. A man's truest form is when he's deep in his cups, after all. And he can already tell that this man is not easily copied.
He nods, slowly.
"Alright, awesome! Meet you at the Pig and Toad after the show, then!"
It's...not a bad experience, actually. The blond is impossibly lively even after going near 15 minutes with a local Sahagin. His clothes are still dripping slightly from the multitude of Water spells he barely slipped around before catching it with a flying clothesline.
He almost forgets that at its core, this is about learning his future opponent inside and out.
2 months of wrestling matches and bar-hopping add up, and he still feels no closer to truly imitating Zidane.
It's more important than ever, because now Zidane's holding the championship belt. The match was a spectacle, almost a work of art if you ignored the fact that there was no Mimic involved. The new champion is a generous one, insisting on buying the first round at his victory celebration, and as he hands Gogo a beer, he smiles.
"Hey, we've never actually fought before, have we?"
He's right. 9 months in the same promotion and still they've somehow never crossed paths. Not even in one of the tag-team matches that management seems to throw together with wild abandon to satisfy the minor disagreements among the locker room grunts.
"Well, no time like the present, huh? I'll talk to the office, see if we can't have a title match next week."
So soon? No, too soon, he's not ready, his perfomance won't be perfect-
Why. Why did he agree?
The question's still running through his mind as he lays there in his hotel bed, trying and failing to slip into the fugue state that has replaced his sleep.
He can't possibly back out now. Explaining himself would be impossible.
Why did he agree to this?
Another slip by the challenger, King, this isn't like the Gogo we've come to know at all.
For once, I have to agree with you, Moggle, the man keeps making mistakes like they'll score him points.
Got any ideas why, kupo?
Given how suddenly this match was arranged, prehaps he simply hasn't prepared himself sufficiently.
This is wrong. This is all wrong. The world is wrong. His body can't keep up. He's so tired. He's never been tired like this before.
How is Zidane still moving? He's so fast. Is he getting faster? How?
The ropes. Fly. He won't see it coming. A simple leap-
Oh, that's not something you'll get up from in a hurry!
The champion won't get a better opportunity than this, Moggle!
He dodged. Of course he dodged. He's Zidane.
Stupid. So stupid.
Zidane climbing the turnbuckle now, measuring, he flies! Grand Lethal Press! One, two, three! The champion retains!
"You have failed us. You are not Gogo. This is not your face, your power. Remove yourself from our presence."
The mask is burning him. It's suffocating. He needs to get it off. Fingers claw desperately at the laces, ripping apart the knots that hold it in place.
A hand steadies him. How hard was he shaking?
"Hey, you okay, buddy?"
The mask. The mask the mask the mask the mask-
"Steady, okay? Let's help you get this off."
Yes yes yes please please please-
Air. Light. Freedom.
How long has he worn that mask for? Did he really never take it off?
A geas. It was a geas. That's the only explanation that makes sense.
He looks up. Zidane's looking down at him. Concern's written all over his face.
"Your name's not really Gogo, is it?"
No. His name, what was it, it's still there, it has to be, it's just buried, c'mon, what was it?
"Bartz. Bartz Klauser."
Yes. That's it. It's all coming back. Thank the Crystals.
"Nice to meet ya, Bartz."
Chapter 4: Summoning Strength
An excerpt from a certain series of articles regarding the role of magic in wrestling.
I'm alive. That's all.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Less known than the traditional offshoots of the Magic Knight style of wrestling popularised by “The Master” Matoya is the art colloquially referred to as Summoning. Ask the average man on the street and he will cite some half-remembered fact about drawing power from the spirits of old. As with most common knowledge, the truth is both simpler and more complicated all at the same time.
While it is unknown exactly who the first summoner was, many texts point toward the village of Mist, in the northern valley regions of Baron, famously the hometown of Rydia Feymarche. Here, my long search began.
It may come as a surprise, but despite its fame, Mist is the picture of a quiet rural village. Only the barest hints of urban civilisation are present: the odd powerline here, a public telephone there. Even the local library is a humble affair, a building with only a single floor and a staff countable on one hand. My inquiries were met with pleasant smiles, memories of folk tales told around the fireside, and more than one anecdote about Miss Feymarche’s childhood. Imagine my shock, dear reader, when I learned that the strength she exhibits when channelling the force of Titan was present even in her early years!
A favourite story of the villagers recalls an incident where a landslide had trapped Rydia and a group of her friends in the nearby caves. With no way to call for help, panic setting in, and the safety of her companions at the front of her mind, Rydia called upon the Lord of Crags for the first time. With his aid, short work was made of the enclosing rubble, and a legend had begun to write itself.
Studying tapes of Miss Feymarche's in-ring exploits brings one thing into clarity: the power of summoning is not easily maintained. It is the result of focus and no small amount of effort, not to mention a visible strain on the aether. But what a power it is, to allow a woman so slight to heft her opponents with ease, and chokeslam people half again her size!
The list of feats do not end there; her 36 minute classic against Tifa Lockhart proved her resilience even when the willpower to maintain Titan was spent, and her quick thinking upon the field of combat. The tide-turner came when, on her knees about to receive one of her opponent's infamous kicks, she brought her arms up to protect her head. Ordinarily, this would only result in a pair of broken ulnas. However, the last vestiges of Titan she could yet channel were sent into her forearms, rendering them as solid rock. Even Tifa could not easily come back from attempting to strike the very earth itself, and Rydia quickly seized the opportunity presented to her. Locking in the Mist Valley Clutch on the now-injured leg secured the victory that broke Miss Lockhart's vaunted winning streak.
Though there are several summoners of no small repute in the current era of wrestling, Rydia Feymarche will be perhaps the most prominent of them all in the history books to come. To find such success at the young age of 24 and not come derailed by the heady feeling of glory is a trap many wrestlers fall victim to, man and woman alike.
But I digress. My curiousity regarding the origins of summoning and its usage in the ring was sated, and it was time to move on to investigating the next style that had caught my interest.
And that, as they say, is that.
From "A Study of the History of Magic and Professional Wrestling, Part 3", by Maechen Period, first published in the National Magi's Companion, Issue 143.