XVII. The Tournament

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A week had passed, and the first day of the tournament was upon New Haven. Ferries carrying people coming to see the tournament came from the mainland and went around to the other side of the island. This was where the arena was located.

Thirty-two Gifted attending New Haven had signed up for the tournament, and were given a week off classes in order to participate. Lena, Aria, Luke, and the Fray siblings were taking a cart over to the arena, with Raina driving.

"Isn't this exciting?!" Aria asked excitedly, gripping onto Lena's arm.
"Yeah," Lena replied calmly.
"More like nerve-wracking, in my opinion," Dai said.
"You've been in this sort of thing before," Luke pointed out.
"Yes, but it's been a little while since we've actually taken part in anything like this," Dai replied.
"He's right," Kai interjected, "It's been a couple of years, but I think we can do it!"
He wrapped an arm around his twin lovingly.
"I just hope we don't run into any unwanted familiar faces," Raina grumbled, "Though, I get the feeling I'm gonna be disappointed."
No one replied, for a moment, knowing exactly what she means.

"Well," Kai said, "Jace will be there."
"And Max," Lena added.
"Melany too," Aria put in.
Lena tensed up slightly, put out by the very mention of Melany.
She broke up with Hunter, true, but Lena still had her own issues with her.
She couldn't stay downcast for long, though, for she was going to see Jace once they all arrived at the arena.

Eventually, they drove the cart down the road in the center of a vast valley. On either side of the valley were two huge mountains, one of which being Elfen Island's own volcano.
They drove through the valley, and continued through a smaller forest on the other side.
Once they passed through the trees, they came upon New Haven Arena.

The arena was situated on a peninsula, the entire thing nearly surrounded by water. On the furthest end, it connected with a small harbor, featuring three berths for three of the ferries, and a fourth for cargo. This was where people coming in from the mainland were dropped off for the tournament.
The arena itself wasn't as large as a whole coliseum, but had a large amount of risen seating all around a large, oval-shaped sanded area.
On either end of the area were two small towers with canopies, each having an entrance into the arena underneath them. Under the audience seating on the sides were four dugouts with benches.
Along the dockside where the ferries were, were also a good lot of stands and vendors, selling snacks and the like.

There was a small "parking lot" for New Haven's carts, and Raina parked next to a small line of them.
They got out and headed over to the entrance, seeing many other Gifted from New Haven heading towards the same place.
"Classes are still going on right now," Luke pointed out, "So these must be competitors."
Lena's face cringed up when she saw Hunter entering the arena.
Her expression softened a moment later when she saw Jace jogging over to them.

"Hey guys!" he smiled.
"Hey Jace," Kai smiled back, "You ready?"
"Yeah! I'm so-" Jace started.
"Jace!" came an abrupt shout.
Jace tensed up, startled.
Janice stood a few feet away, hand on her hip, looking most irritated.
"Come on, they're going to do the opening soon!" Janice huffed.
Jace let out a sigh of defeat.
"I'll... see you inside," he said, and he walked off to rejoin his girlfriend.

"He needs to break up with her," Luke commented as the six made their way inside.
"I don't know why he hasn't yet," Kai sighed, "He's still letting her control him."
"He once told me he didn't want to hurt her feelings," Lena explained, "But... I told him he should be with someone he actually likes."
"Very true," Luke agreed, "Man's too soft."
Lena looked over at where the other Gifted that were competing had gathered in the middle of the arena, seeing Janice telling Jace something she couldn't quite make out.

Lena just looked thoughtfully at the sand as she and her friends joined the group in the center.
She then jolted in surprise when she felt hands on her shoulders.
"Hi Lena!" Max smiled.
"Hey Max," Lena replied.
"You excited?"
"A bit. I honestly didn't expect you to sign up."
"I can handle myself! Besides, the tournament is always fun every year!"

Just then, they noticed the seats had started filling up around them.
Ms. Danford, along with some of the teaching staff, stood in one of the canopied towers overlooking the stadium. Danford held a microphone to her lips.

"Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, it is my honor to welcome you to the 2016 New Haven Gifted Tournament!" she announced.
A loud cheer came from the crowd, as well as some of the participants.
"Please, help me welcome our very own Gifted Council, who is sitting in on our tournament for the first time in eight years!" Danford announced.
Dai's eyes widened with surprise, as did Kai and Raina's.

They looked behind them to see seven figures in varying suits take a seat in the other canopied tower on the other side of the arena. Some of them waved, including a man wearing a suit with a red tie that had a flame pin in the center. He had brown but greying hair and some slight wrinkles.
"Dad..." Dai muttered.
Luke noticed this, and wrapped an arm around the taller boy, giving him a comforting smile.

"Now," Danford continued, "Standing in the arena are the thirty-two Gifted from our institute that have signed up to enter. They will compete over the next six days, and the last one standing will win this."
She then held up the gold medal for that year's tournament.
"One of our special, solid gold medals," she announced, "The main purpose of this tournament, however, is to have fun, as well as demonstrate your skills as they have developed so far. In the world we live in today, it is vital you all know of your history, and how to defend yourselves."
Excited murmurs could be heard among the competitors.

"Today, as well as the next two days, will involve an event where you all take part, as well as one or two Gifted battles, depending on who remains. Failing at these events, or losing in the battles, will result in you being out of the game. Should you lose, take it in stride, and learn from it," Danford announced, "And now, onto the event of today, which I like to call, Water War!"

Suddenly, the competitors felt the ground underneath them shake. A rocky platform formed underneath them, lifting them up. This was because of three stone Gifted volunteers that stood at the top of the audience seats.

They formed more rock platforms throughout the arena, and once completed, waves of water rushed into the arena from either entrance under the canopied towers. Water filled the arena, surrounding the rock platforms, thanks to four water Gifted volunteers, two at each entrance.

"Fall into the water, and you're out of the tournament," Danford announced, "Inflict any fatal wounds on another competitor purposely, and you will not only be out of the tournament, but more consequences will follow. Also, if you can fly, don't fly above the top of the audience's seats. Other than that, you have free reign to do as you please."

She then paused impressively.
"Now, begin!"

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