The Creation Phase for the current Umbra Rumble will now last 6 days instead of 7.
The Creation Phase will end on Sunday, Jan. 13th, 2019 at 7:00 PM CST.
This is to line up with an announcement made on Twitter, which stated that Umbra Rumble III would officially get underway this Monday. However, I forgot to take the Setup Phase into consideration, so I'm pulling the end of the Creation Phase back to Sunday evening, to leave a full day for setup.
Everyone in Matchbook had seen the wanted posters, of course, but as days stretched into weeks, few gave them a second glance. There was a fierce uproar in the wake of that disastrous evening, that deimonic demonstration that shut down the Matchbook City Matchbook Factory and left hundreds out of a job. Rumors of aliens, once spread lightheartedly as a sort of symbol of Matchbook’s zest for the dramatic and outlandish, quickly morphed in the hearts of the mob into a fiery hatred for magic, as well as everything and everyone relating to it.
Had anyone claiming to be a summoner, much less the Deimon Master himself, been apprehended and brought to justice, their furor towards magic would likely have been seared as a permanent scar in the collective heart of Matchbook City. Fortunately (?), not a trace of the mysterious Deimon Master or his accomplices could be found, despite the best efforts of the entire Matchbook City Police Department. Even the unspoken witch hunt that had silently continued for well over a month afterward, in which anyone who so much as mentioned magic, summoning, or deimons in a positive light was reported to the police and subjected to public scrutiny, mockery, and harassment, slowly waned in intensity over time. It was as if some sort of lunacy had taken hold in Matchbook, wedded in some strange fashion to the phases of the moon itself. By the next new moon, the insanity surrounding the second Umbra Rumble had all but dissipated in the minds of those who hadn’t witnessed either event firsthand.
But not, of course, in the minds or hearts of the witnesses.
The few previously mentioned Matchbookians who had given the wanted posters a second glance eventually noticed something slightly… off. In the broad daylight, there didn’t seem to be anything peculiar about them, but under the light of the moon, certain words and characters glowed with a barely-perceptible indigo light. Eventually, an astute observer thought to jot down the glowing characters in her notepad:
Fortunately (?), this studious citizen happened to be a secret admirer of the Deimon Master, and wished to see another Umbra Rumble in order to get to know him better. It was for the sake of studying his obscured visage that she had sneaked away in the night to read one of the wanted posters, inadvertently discovering their secret message in the process. Dizzy with excitement, she immediately ran and showed her notes to her circle of friends, each of whom had their own reasons for wishing to solve this riddle that had clearly been hidden in plain sight by magical means.
"This has clearly been hidden in plain sight by magical means," remarked one friend (quite unhelpfully), who wished to solve the riddle in order to show how clever he was (in truth, he was not).
"Duh!! Even an idiot could see that! Look, it clearly says right there that these are directions to the next Umbra Rumble!" exclaimed another friend (quite angrily), who wished to solve the riddle in order to get back at the Deimon Master and his summoners for putting her out of a job (in truth, she would have been fired the next day anyway).
"Let's not argue, now. If the clues were so obvious, everyone would have solved it by now, wouldn't they?" chided another friend (quite snobbishly), who wished to solve the riddle in order to boast to all her other friends that she had attended every Umbra Rumble (in truth, she had missed both of the previous).
"Maybe everyone already has, and they're all too scared of the magic-haters to say anything," piped in another friend (quite timidly), who wished to solve the riddle in order to ask the Deimon Master to make the nightmares from the prior Umbra Rumble stop (in truth, he was too scared to approach the Deimon Master even if he could).
"Don't be ridiculous. They'd all be clamoring for that reward money! Speaking of which, I thought it was odd that they tacked a penny onto that million dollars, eh?" mused another friend (quite greedily), who wished to solve the riddle in order to strike a business deal with the Deimon Master and make millions, plural, off of Umbra Rumble (in truth, he had already run half a dozen successful businesses into the ground while lining his own pockets).
"Penny... Valis... Question mark?... Monument... Penny Valis Monument... PENN VISLA MONUMENT!! Plummeting moons, that must be where the jolly old Rumble will be!" blustered another friend (quite feverishly), who wished to solve the riddle not at all (in truth, he had lost his marbles ever since witnessing the first Umbra Rumble).
"You're right! We've solved it! 'Penn Visla Monument is where summoners meet for Umbra Rumble'! Good work, everyone!" cheered the friend who had discovered the message (quite magnanimously), who wished she hadn't shared the riddle with this particular group of friends (in truth, she didn't actually like any of them).
And so, this intrepid, disjointed group of seven friends (?) set out upon their journey to the nearby city of Penn Visla, each one's unique motivations united under one common goal, each one wondering what sort of wonders awaited them at their destination...
Taking turns, each friend of the group of seven that had solved the Deimon Master’s riddle would sit on, pace next to, lounge upon, crouch behind, lean against, crawl beneath, or otherwise stake their claim on the lone bench in front of the Penn Visla Monument.
From sunup to sundown, moonrise to moonset, they waited.
Finally, as the sun goes down upon yet another uneventful day of waiting, the friend who first found the riddle walks nonchalantly up to the bench, taking care to act naturally, as the friend who stumbled upon the riddle’s solution dances the hornpipe on top of the bench, taking care to also act naturally (for him, anyway).
“Still no sign of him, huh?" sighs the first friend, carefully sitting down on the edge of the bench farthest from her nutty friend’s flailing legs.
"Nary a peep nor a wink, I’m afraid!" huffs the second friend, finishing his dance with a flourish and half-hopping, half-plopping down onto the bench next to her. She sighs again.
“It’s been almost three months since the last Um— the last event. Do you think something happened to him? The…” she drops her voice to a whisper, “...the Deimon Master?”
"Indubitably! I can only imagine the sorts of things that must happen to a magical chap like that every day! ‘Seven impossible things before breakfast’ and all that, don’tcha know!"
“That’s… not very comforting.”
"No? Then perhaps this will set your mind at ease…”
Noticing the odd shift in the tone and cadence of her friend’s voice, she turns to look at him and gives a startled shriek. Sitting next to her is the Deimon Master himself!
“Surprised? You were studying my face so intently that night, I’m surprised you couldn’t recognize me!” He laughs merrily, giving her a wink. Almost too flustered to register the confusing nature of that statement, she manages to stammer out a question:
“W- What... How… How did you do that?”
“All in due time, my friend. And, for the record, we are just friends. I understand you have feelings for me, but they are, sadly, unrequited. I apologize for my ruse, but I’m a wanted man, and I couldn’t risk revealing myself before the appointed time. I’m sure you’ll forgive me, in time.”
“But... but how? How could you be the Deimon Master? I’ve known that friend since… since…”
“Since the day after the first Umbra Rumble? Yes, I remember. I knew the only people who would listen to my (apparently) insane ramblings about deimons in the town square would be those who had seen them firsthand, and you were the first to approach me about it. Funny how you were the first to discover my latest riddle, as well.”
“You mean the riddle that you yourself solved for us? Isn’t that a bit like showing off?” she fired back, unamused by his amusement. Suddenly, her prior infatuation with this mysterious man seemed naively misplaced, in her mind. At least he had the good sense to put her directly in the friendzone, she supposed, considering the circumstances.
Another merry chuckle interrupted her train of thought. “Surely, my knack for showmanship is one of the traits that drew you to me in the first place! But enough about such mundane matters. Are you ready to carry the torch of magical knowledge for the land of Amathæ? Are you ready to be the sole audience member for the Third Amathæan Umbra Rumble?”
“Me? The sole audience member? Why? I figured you’d want to show off to as many people as possible. And why me?”
“To the first why, I need only point to the unfortunate uproar caused by the events of the previous Umbra Rumble. In all honesty, I didn’t expect the damage to the factory to be quite so… severe. Had there only been one witness, however, public opinion towards magic, deimons, and myself might not have suffered so terribly. Such was not my intent.”
“To the second... isn’t it obvious? You were chosen, my friend. That riddle was not merely magically obscured, revealing itself only under moonlight. It was revealed to you quite intentionally.”
“Wait… does that mean you were following me that night??”
“Hold your accusations, my friend. After all, were you not sneaking out for the express purpose of seeing my face in secret? What’s a little counterespionage between friends, eh?”
“Ugh… Can we just get this over with?”
“Certainly. Follow me!”
With that, the Deimon Master bounces up onto his feet, striding purposefully towards the pathway that leads across the fountain, towards the statue in the center. Exasperated, but still curious in spite of herself, the fortunate (?) friend (??) follows him to the foot of the statue. Plated in silver, the statue gleams in the rising light of the waxing crescent moon, depicting a muscular man standing upon a tall, rectangular pillar, etched with an inscrutable poem about an object of unsurpassed beauty. The man in the statue points majestically skyward, seeming to direct the five birds frozen in midflight all around him, perhaps as a testament to the lofty ambitions of man.
“Such a stirring testament to the lofty ambitions of man, don’t you think?” the Deimon Master asks cordially.
“I’m sure you would know better than I would, huh?” she retorts, rolling her eyes. The Deimon Master laughs his merry laugh once again.
“Well spoken! Well then, let’s get this Umbra Rumble underway, shall we?” With that, the Deimon Master produces his moon-capped cane, as if from nowhere, and taps the point of its silver crescent to the silver of the statue. The metal shimmers and waves, like a pond rippling out from a fingertip. He turns towards her again.
“Man’s ambitions may reach the skies, but the curiosity that fuels magic transcends the heavens themselves. Tap into that curiosity. Let it well up within you. Let it expand to fill every hidden nook and cranny within your mind. Let it displace all doubt and fear of the unknown. When you’re ready, step into the statue. Take a leap of faith, and let your curiosity catch you and carry you ever upward. Let it take you to new heights. Let your curiosity… soar.”
With that, the Deimon Master steps backwards into the statue. Its waving, shimmering surface engulfs him like a mercurial curtain, and then he’s gone, leaving only a ripple in his wake.
“Plummeting moons, he sure does like hearing himself talk, doesn’t he?” she remarks to herself, before taking a deep breath and stepping in after him.
Expecting to be immersed in liquid metal, she was startled when she passed through the statue’s surface with no resistance whatsoever, finding herself in an entirely different place in an instant. She stumbles forward in surprise, bumping into the Deimon Master in the process.
“Ah! What the—ouch! Sorry!”
“No worries, friend. To tell you the truth, I wasn’t expecting you to follow me so quickly. Welcome,” he pauses for dramatic effect, “to the Third Amathæan Umbra Rumble.”
After regaining her composure, she surveys her surroundings. The first thing she notices is how cold and breezy it is. The next is the stars: far more and far brighter than she had ever noticed before, filling her field of vision all around. Her vantage point is a raised balcony overlooking an arena made of marble, with five pillars topped by chiseled eagles surrounding a central statue of equal height: a spitting image of the man from the Penn Visla Monument statue, yet larger and more exquisitely detailed. Suddenly, she realizes where they are.
“Are we in the sky?!”
“Indeed. This arena is held aloft by magic, thousands of feet above the Penn Visla Monument. Beautiful, isn’t it?”
She has to admit, it is beautiful. Over the edge of the marble slab ringing the perimeter, she can see the tops of clouds drifting at surprising speeds below, and far below those, she can barely make out the stark shapes and glittering lights that are Penn Visla. It takes her breath away, especially when she imagines how long it would take her to reach the ground if she were to fall. “Amazing…”
“Now then, allow me to introduce the summoners taking part in tonight’s Rumble. Each of them has already proven their mettle in prior Rumbles, so you’re guaranteed to have a spectacle you won’t soon forget.”
"Tonight, five summoners will send your curiosity soaring to new heights..."
"Embracing his moniker of ‘the Seeker of Knowledge’, Tee’s choice of deimon tonight reveals a ruthless sort of cunning: Pinch, a Pistol-Shrimpshape Deimon of Velocity, infamous in Cresnov for leading a ruthless band of cutthroat criminals intent on global domination! Merciless as he is shrewd, Pinch is a click above your average Shrimpshape deimon, despite his, well, shrimpy stature! His magic talent turns his pistol clicks into potent sonic blasts, able to shatter windows, burst eardrums, and break kneecaps!"
"Despite his conspicuous absence in the Second Amathæan Umbra Rumble, Jimothy’s prowess and ingenuity as a summoner hasn’t diminished in the slightest, as evidenced by the deimon he will summon tonight: Gimbyre, a Scorpionshape Deimon of Duality! Roughly the size of a large housecat, with his left half orange and right half yellow, Gimbyre always has one claw shut due to his magic talent, which makes him exist simultaneously in two different realities as the two most contrasting outcomes of his most recent decision, and he can freely choose between either version of events by closing one claw and opening the other!"
"Enthusiastic as always, Smiley100P has spurned the old adage that ‘familiarity breeds contempt’, putting his faith in the first deimon he brought into Amathæ: Arwynn, a Catshape Deimon of Innervation! Those present may remember her death-defying struggle against Tee’s dogshape deimon, Fuzzles, in the First Amathæan Umbra Rumble. Her ability to heal any wound with her saliva ought to serve her well tonight!"
"Once again, Val will be putting his natural aptitude as a summoner on display with the quality of deimon he has chosen to summon for tonight’s Rumble. Known only as The Watcher, this mysterious Humanshape Deimon of Radiance defies accurate description, thanks in no small part to his ability of shadow-walking: appearing and disappearing from shadows at will! What is known, however, is that his glowing white eyes are sometimes visible underneath the hood of his dark coat, just before he strikes from the shadows with his one-handed obsidian blade!"
"Syril Dawntreader!" "Syril’s menagerie of deimons has only continued to grow since the previous Umbra Rumble. Tonight, yet another newcomer will fight on the Dawntreader’s behalf: Lamorak, a Humanshape Deimon of Radiance, with the ability to reflect physical attacks using condensed light as a barrier, but only as long as he can predict which direction the attack is coming from! Clad head-to-toe in armor that obscures his true form, some say that he hides the changing colors of his skin in order to appear as a particularly skilled human!"
As each summoner’s name is called, they step out from within one of the eagle pillars surrounding the arena, in a similar manner to that in which the Deimon Master and his curious spectator arrived. Gesturing to two equally ornate marble thrones overlooking the arena side by side, the Deimon Master moves to sit in the left-hand throne, leaving the Sole Spectator to sit in the throne to his right.
"Tonight, we will see two very different displays of deimonic dominance. Pinch, Gimbyre, and Arwynn shall take part in a three-deimon Rumble Royale,while The Watcher will do battle with Lamorak in a Deimon Deathmatch!"
"Summoners, bring forth your deimons!"
The Sole Spectator grips the arms of her throne as the five deimons materialize before her eyes. Two different Rumbles? She hadn’t expected that…
"And now, let us bear witness to this pinnacle of magical artistry! Let us admire this testament to the heights of human ambition!"