Posted Oct 26, '10 at 9:11am
Okay seeing as the 10th (and final) round of the Way of Moderation tournament has begun, I've been fielding a few questions from some people.
So here's a step-by-step account of what to do, to cut through the confusion.
THE SITUATION right now (i.e. in the story, not for real) is that some of the more malicious folk from the original flash megaportal, NewGrounds, have decided to raid ArmorGames to teach them what the real internet is like. Strop, ninja horse, was about to start the final battle between Crimsonblade and Leon McAcid, when he was interrupted first by a bunch of meddling trolls, then by the NewGroundian raiders. By the time he starts investigating, it appears that the whole city has been overrun, and lies in varying degrees of chaos.
IF YOU ALREADY play a character involved in the WoM:
* Pick a location to start off on this fateful afternoon.
FOR NEW CHARACTERS LOOKING TO CAMEO IN THIS CHAPTER
* Think of your character.
To pick a location, I draw your attention to the locations list!
Posted Apr 12, '11 at 11:13am
Holy crap round 10 only took 5 months to grind through. That's ridiculous, and mainly my fault.
Now that we're through with round 10, we're about to start round 11! Which isn't really a round in the tournament as the tournament kinda went completely to hell. So. With that, I present you:
THE STORY SO FAR
The Land of ArmorGames is a real tightknit community, but it needs moderators. Since 'voidy broke the legendary Wheel of Moderation, it was decided that a tournament would be held to select a worthy candidate who followed the true Way of Moderation. Strop, at the time the most active of the mods, saw over the whole tournament, and chose his good friend (and sucker for punishment) Cenere to help him run it. Many applicants showed up for the grand opening, but those who survived the wait for the paperwork to be processed were thinned out by the very first test, wherein Strop threw balls at the candidates to 'test their agility'! Cenere silently disapproved of the wanton destruction that resulted, particularly when a runin with regular troublemaker Klaus resulted in Armor Castle itself being temporarily destroyed... but thanks to the delay when Flippo the Hippo's bakery was blown up by Dudeguy, it was rebuilt in time for the next trial, in which the remaining candidates had to navigate an obstacle course built by the imposing brain-in-a-jar, Moegreche! At the same time, both the candidates and Strop had to contend with the nefarious trio of moderators, Nemo, Voidy and the fishy keeper of the moat, Ubertuna, who had joined forces to oppose the existence of the tournament. This time around, it resulted in the hospitalisation of everybody present, and just when the dust was clearing, Klaus returned from an imposed trip and went too far, earning himself a permaban at the hands of administrator Carlie.
Just when Strop thought it was back under control, Zophia showed up to commemorate a Halloween prank with an upgraded version, turning Strop, and everybody else present, into females. As it turned out, even Nemo, who was attempting to murder Strop, and Moe, who was spying on Strop to make sure things didn't get too out of hand again, were affected. Only Cen, somehow, managed to escape the fate. Horrified at the change, many of the remaining contestants collapsed under the mental strain and confusion, whereas others took it in their stride. Strop, as Strip, freed from her responsibilities as a moderator, proceeded to cause trouble in the ancient motherland of Newgrounds, and only came to her senses when she realised the loss of her powers, which would come back to haunt the other moderators later in the story. Following this, Strop had intended to test the dozen remaining candidates on their eloquence, but a doublebooking resulted in the Community Hall being turned into a rap arena, in which Strop, having ingested some suspiciously narcotic substances sold by a certain herbalist, passed out, and the prank hatched by the most nefarious of candidates, Leon McAcid, resulted in Strop being charged with the attempted murder of the youngest candidate, Chill, Grandmaster of George. Daunted but not defeated at the mounting challenges, Strop interviewed the candidates and found he had to disallow the elderly Kingryan from continuing purely on the basis of his health. Thus came the round of eight, in which Thoad narrowly defeated Manta in a mindbending duel, Frank took down Pixel in an aerial battle turned mudfight, Crimson gritted his way past Chill's trickery, and the Bullman was bested by Leon, and his own code of honorable conduct. This finally being a round that seemed to go without a major hitch, Strop decided to push his luck and held the tag-team two-on-two in the hall of the castle itself. Seeing as Carlie wasn't around as she was on a 'secret trip'. What resulted was the most severe carnage of the tournament thus far that left Crimson and Leon victorious, but only Leon relatively unscathed, underscoring the real danger that lurked beneath the chaotic entertainment the tournament provided. Strop had one other serious bit of business to attend to, that being the court hearing in which an unusually affected Moe erratically runs Strop through the wringer before the prosecution's case descends into farce, Leon confesses his guilt in his typical roundabout fashion, and absconds before any consequence is meted.
Thus brings us to the most recent round, round Ten. The day of the Grand Finals, where a barely healed Crimson secretly carries the hopes of preserving good order, against a rampant Leon, the maniacal unknown quantity. Yet as they are about to fight, the round is interrupted first by the appearance of Strop's antagonists, which serves as the catalyst for a monumental argument between Cen and Strop which results in Cen suddenly leaving Strop to fend for himself. Worse, just after he leaves, Dank rushes in bearing the news of a raid- the fire born from embers of trouble stirring from many months earlier. Turns out that Klaus, bitter at being rejected as a moderator, manipulated the flammable crowd at Newgrounds into raiding Armorgames with intent to completely destroy it and its fundaments. Unprepared and still shortstaffed, the moderators are overwhelmed by the rapidity and totality of the raid, and the city rapidly and progressively falls. The nuking of the Free Market triggers a fight between Strop and Klaus. Strop defeats Klaus in an effort to save the Bank and thus AG's economy, but Klaus pulls a last-minute sacrifice move and the Bank falls. Strop is flattened, but saved by Dank, who attempts to defend his beloved Academy. Meanwhile, Strop goes on to reunite with old veterans and ex-moderators Asherlee and Dragonmistress, who agree to help him out while he quests to gather all the mods. However, in the process, Strop witnesses the destruction of most of the city at the hands of mega mutant trolls. Spaminator Flipski sacrifices himself in an effort to block their progress to the Castle and to save Moe, who is distraught. Asherlee and DM try to take the bank back with Crimson but they are heavily beaten and retreat, and it is only thanks to the last-minute arrival of Zophia and Ubertuna, who were trying to return Nemo to his male state that the lot of them were not caught up in the detonation of the Academy. Worse yet, while Ubertuna lead the remnants through the sewers, his ongoing problems with sharks trying to evict him from his home at sea finally caught up with him, and he was taken by a loan shark.
Having plunged to the depths of despair, the moderator crew must now take stoke, regroup, and form a plan to make the best of their last chance to save the City of ArmorGames... how this plan will be carried out is the subject of Round Eleven: For Great Justice!
This all being said, I will now heed Kingryan's request, and go and post a brief summary of every round up to this point. Everybody probably needs one heck of a refresher as this thing has been going on for about 22 months.
Posted Apr 27, '11 at 12:36pm
SUMMARY OF EACH ROUND:
Round 0: Recruitment Drive
Below the surface of the city of ArmorGames, a secret conference is held between the moderators. Or what is left of them, that is to say. As the community administrator, Queen Carlie discovers, some of her longtime regular moderators, Estel (the manly treeman), Calm (the invisible), and the two ladies Asherlee and The Dragonmistress, had either disappeared or left. Those that are left were often too busy to perform their duties: The fishman Ubertuna was, as always, burdened by his personal issues, such as the sharks who kept trying to foreclose on his ocean property. Brain-in-a-jar Moegreche was writing a Ph.D dissertation on Kant, Spaminator bot Flipski was a... liability, pugnacious dwarf Dank was as reclusive as ever running the Armor Academy, and ninja-horse Strop was increasingly taking leave to go on "secret missions"... all told, at the time the bulk of the work rested on the mysterious creature, Zophia, and she would much rather paint with her ridiculously oversized brush, and the man who wore a wolfskin, Nemo, but as his attire and name suggested, he wasn't particularly congenial (nor was he actually that fond of being a moderator yet he never quite hated it enough to quit). Understanding the situation, Queen Carlie declared that they should find a new moderator, which would ordinarily mean consulting the Wheel of Moderation. Unfortunately, a certain overzealous thirty-ton dragon Devoidless the Ancient broke it the last time he spun it, apparently dooming the land of ArmorGames to being shortstaffed and overrun with spam and trolls.
Carlie, in all her wisdom, suggested that one could hold a tournament to find the one who had the mettle, who most followed this so-called Way of Moderation, and the duty fell to Strop to host it. That, it could be supposed, was where all the trouble began...
Round 1: The Invitation
At the beginning of Summer, the flyers went up and around and everywhere. Word spread that a tournament to find a new moderator was taking place in ArmorGames. One of the citizens would be turned into those mysterious powerful celebrities that watched over the place. Fame, power, all theirs if they were the one who followed this way of moderation! The announcement of the tournament sparked hopes and dreams in many folk, who came to the tournament with their own ideas and ambitions. Goumas, the upstanding regular citizen, was frustrated with his job as an alchemist, and longed to teach real science and play soccer. Perhaps this tournament would be his ticket to finally having his way in life. Parsat, ever the modern Chinaman, was looking for something to fill his Summer break, as well as somebody to reimburse him for the damages to his apartment when the thunderous announcement broke half the flimsy furniture in his room. Penguin-butterfly duo Flipper & Snelly never knew what was going on even when it hit them in the face, which is precisely what a flyer did. Kid zombieslayer Thoad, however, did, and had always been waiting for a chance to prove himself to the higher-ups of his worth. Reptilian hunter Bluydee made a one-off appearance, as did the hunted, shapeshifter Randy. Gametesta, slave to an unknown master who forced him to wander the wilderness, subject to its various deadly environs, planned to stick around a lot more, in order to use the tournament to gain leads on how to reverse his plight. The notorious criminal Spamlawrd planned to make his mark as a new man, as did the street brats Richard & Garrett, if only they were able to focus on walking the straight and narrow instead of looking for victims to scam, such as the newly appointed Lord of shoelaces, Dudeguy. Strop, meanwhile, enjoyed an early morning visit from his longtime friend and troublemaker, Klaus the bear, who had always wanted to become a moderator to enact his visions of transforming ArmorGames for the better, yet had always been turned down due to his mischievous nature and fondness of 4chan jokes. Trying not to think about the inevitable consequences of Klaus' involvement, Strop decided to enlist the help of his most reliable friend at AG, the long-suffering Cenere, to co-host the tournament. Word of the tournament finally reached the mostly deaf archivist Kingryan's ears, thanks to a visit from the phoenix Jess, who hailed from a circle of friends including the aspiring shinobi Mary, the antisocial aristocrat Nichodemus, and magical child-prodigy Chill (Grandmaster of George). The tone of the morning took a sudden turn for the serious when the big-shot mercenary Zlith started calling his debts to bolster his chances (a far cry from nearly unnoticeable ghostly lurker Hojoko), a turn for the strange with the deranged gnoll, Leon McAcid, and a turn for the plain stupid when the ever-humble The Bullman got so far ahead of himself he turned up to the Amphitheatre for the opening ceremony a whole two weeks early. In that time, the despicable despot, Bananaking set sail to stake his claim as the ruler of AG among other places.
July the 6th of the year 2009 A.D. finally came, and with it brought yet more hopefuls to the tournament's opening. The reclusive and rich Pixel the Pixie made a rare outing in his usual eccentric style. Fishman Manta, destined to try for great things, and sometimes fail, but hopefully succeed, set out with his mothers blessings and the hope of fulfilling his path in the wake of his father's death. Perhaps most prepared of all was the longest-staying resident of Armorgames after Kingryan, Crimsonblade, but his plans almost came unstuck before they started by a runaway talking duck and the mouse who rode him, George & El Cholo.
All these characters were some among thousands who converged upon the Amphitheatre to witness the opening ceremony of the Way of Moderation tournament, the quest to discover AG's newest moderator. Yet it would not be complete without a late entry in the air pirate, Frank, who was forced to crashland his port-a-copter after he pushed it too hard!
Round 2: Welcome
The new chapter starts where the last one left off: at the commencement of the opening ceremony to the new Way of Moderation Tournament. While the moderators work behind the scenes, anticipation is brought to a head with a great fanfare, and the appearance of the Community Administrator herself, Queen Carlie, who in turn announces the host of the tournament, Strop, who in turn again announces the co-host of the tournament, Cenere, who is then abandoned to deal with all the post-ceremony paperwork all by himself, thereby setting the tone of his new occupation.
Afterwards, Strop goes through the fruits of Cenere's labour, and realises that he isn't sure what to make of all the data, thereby setting the tone of the tournament itself. But no matter, for surely as long as he teaches Cen to jump over rooftops (even if it blistered his feet in the process), things would turn out fine, wouldn't they?
In the meantime, ever the customary antagonists to lawful moderation, Nemo, Devoidless (and also Ubertuna, who was really just tagging along), hatch a plot to thwart what they see as a travesty to the sacred traditions of ArmorGames itself. But what challenge is it that they plan to sabotage?
Round 3: Dodgeball
Nobody really knows how Strop's mind works. That was established when he coined the phrase "Way of Moderation" in the first place, albeit that was deliberately cryptic. Nobody could, therefore, really understand why Strop's first trial of choice was to throw balls at people to see how they would react. At least the balls, for the most part, were a nod to the illustrious roots of ArmorGames, as they had been created by one of the resident developers, John (believer of unicorns).
Richard and Garrett were the first to depart, attacking Strop instead of dodging the balls as they were supposed to. Upon taking them to the Courts for processing, Strop and Cen found The Bananaking trying to break into Armor Castle, but he split as soon as he was found, and so did the other two as soon as they were unattended. KingRyan and The Bullman stuck to the task but didn't fare much better, both succumbing to the barrage. Venturing through the chaotic artisan quarter, the mysterious veteran Crimson was the first to demonstrate true skill, at the expense of the exhibition in the Community Hall, and then through the night, Chill's edifice, causing the noisy destruction of many a large, hastily constructed buildings.
Day came and Strop set his sights on the Aristocrat Alley. Gametesta was interrupted, but took the opportunity to begin his search for a lead. Manta had a close shave, but put up a good fight which resulted in massive property damage. Pixel, on the other hand, decided to make good his assets and fly away.
Not wanting to hang around and claim responsibility, Strop and his intern Cen then went to the Cathedral, first inside it to terrorise a mysteriously cursed Vise, and then above it to harass Parsat during his part-time job of tending to the bell. The Cathedral being sufficiently ruined, the Tavern was next, and Leon passed the test by making a getaway. This said, Cholo and George managed to fail by doing the same thing. And in the Information center, Goumas managed to pass by failing to dodge. Dudeguy did a mix of all of them, finally being let off the hook upon discovering that his fractals were an inter-dimensional portal. Having run out of balls, Strop dragged Cen through the wilderness to restock, and took some time to all but annihilate the hapless Frank, before heading back to the castle for some R&R. On the way, they encountered Flipper and Snelly, who seemed to have taken residence in the moat, paralysing Ubertuna with fear in the process. When Strop reached his room, he discovered that not only had Klaus broken into his home again, but he had taken the liberty of using his latrine and invading his wardrobe. The resulting fracas caused the destruction of the entire Armor Castle, to round off a Summer of much destruction.
The loss of Armor Castle was particularly concerning to Strop, not only because he was responsible for it, but also because he wanted to use it for the next round for which he already had plans. And watching him was a suspicious tabloid writer by the suspicious name of Gabriel Soulhack...
The peace between rounds was shattered by an explosion at Flippo le Hippo's boulangerie. The understandably angry French hippo demanded an investigation and that a culprit be found, prompting an argument between the candidates... that is, until Dudeguy confessed that he was responsible, and was, as a result, promptly tarred and feathered by the other candidates.
Round 4: Steeplechase
Once again managing the impossible, Klaus had, under pain of horrible consequence, rebuilt the Armor Castle exactly the way it had once stood. But despite that, Strop still saw fit to send him on a week-long round-the-world trip through the sky. What he didn't count on, though, was the nefarious trio Ubertuna, Nemo and Devoidless coming to wreck the obstacle course that he had planned and Moe had built. Many of the candidates, having grown accustomed to the rigorious tests of their agility as well as their fearlessness, managed their way around the course even through the interruptions, but nothing could stand up to the thorough sabotage that Nemo had set up, rigging the entire place with TNT, causing the probable death of Leon's umpteenth hyena, many injuries, and many people to quit the tournament. Vise, for one, swore that he would never do anything as stupid as this ever again. Flipper and Snelly forgot what the tournament was about and decided to take up residence in the moat. Cen wasn't injured at all, but Strop put him in a full body-cast anyway.
Just when things were set to continue, Klaus came back from his round-the-world trip, which he had spent with "like-minded" penguins, and proceeded to cause chaos. As if this weren't enough, the Banana King came back and tried to do the same, but was eaten by Klaus, which led to Strop attempting to ban Klaus but strangely not succeeding. It was only when Klaus himself fell asleep mid-battle that he was brought to bear, and ultimately permanently banned from the land of Armor Games for his crimes in a great thunderclap. For all his strangeness, his last words were something like pumpernickel.
Round 5: The F-Bomb
Immediately afterwards, Carlie left the region to conduct what she merely referred to as "secret business". With no administrator to overseer them, the mischief of the moderators themselves grew more brazen. To commemorate the well-loved prank of Halloween, Zophia upgraded her crossdressing bombs and somehow managed to turn everybody female. The changes included names, most of which are as listed: Frank became Frances, Pixie became Pixel, Manta became Womanta (though Cen refused to call her anything other than Mantina), KingRyan became a very unQueenly QueenRegina, The Bullman became The Cowwoman, Goumas became Mina, Dudeguy became Dudettegal, Gametesta became Gametestro, Chill became Gail, Crimsonblade became Scarlettblade, Leon McAcid became a new, improved Lia McBase. Vise was only there to announce his intention to quit, but somehow was sucked in and turned into Cammy, at least it seemed that way... and Thoad... well Thoad remained as Thoad. Strop, meanwhile, became the notoriously stereotypical (but still horsegirl) Strip. Cen, strangely, proved to be "immune" to the F-bomb, though nobody could really explain what kind of immunity it was, or whether it was even immunity at all.
What followed was a wild week of adventuring, at least, a varied experience as the guys trapped in girl bodies either relished, acquiesced to, or resented their gender switch. Strip, for one, decided to exploit the relative anonyminity by causing trouble in the mother of all cities in the region, NewGrounds, which ended with her and Cen landing in the cooler. Strip was not at all minding her changes, until she realised that she couldn't use her moderator abilities and therefore couldn't do her job.
Comparatively speaking, Frances was enjoying her switch from air pirate to biker chick (anything removed from her old occupation was a blessing). Dudettegal had recovered her groove, while Scarlett was remaining tight-lipped on the topic, preferring to bide her time as her male version had always done, and on the other end of the spectrum, Pixel had gone to pieces, much like her precious watch. Mina attempted to make a cure herself, but ended up only growing a beard. Thoad hated absolutely everything about her changes, first that there were changes, second that the only significant ones were the inconvenient ones. Lia was, as is the way of hyena-folk, better at everything female. QueenRegina had quite the adventure sitting at home, having somehow knitted a woolen bikini for "that nice girl" Strip, and grown a few extra limbs as the result of some inadvertant experimentation with medications (which had to be surgically removed). As for extras, Womanta and Gametestro did their own experimentation, the fruits of their labour being amply evident in their bosoms (which made Strip jealous). But by far and away the most extreme result was the credit debt racked up by Gail, whose reckless purchasing habits typical of teenagers resulted in a great stack of rubbish the height of Strop's tower in the Armusement Park.
Strip first took the body-modification culprit, the herbalist Hectichermit, to task for his "irresponsibility", then turned her attention to galvanising the citizens of Armor Games to find a cure for their condition. What followed was Devoidless setting fire to Gail's rubbish, the Armusement Park burning out of control, before the day was saved by Ubertuna. Well, actually no, Ubertuna completely failed and had to be saved in turn by an unwilling Dank, who caused the heavens to rain down. Somehow, somewhere within there, lay the cure to the condition, for suddenly all the women who had been men, were now back to being men. Or at least, most of them...
Round 6: Unwrapping
The rains have turned everybody who was turned female by Zophia's F-Bomb back into males. Or did it?
While Strop leaves to change back into his old clothes, Cen has a chance encounter with trouble, in the form of the very strange girl Sai. Later, Strop is kidnapped by another very strange girl, who turns out to be the female version of Nemo, Nill. Nill spent too much time plotting Strop's demise, and as a result, missed out on the antidote rains! Having suffered the same fate as Strip and losing her moderator powers, she demands that Strop turn her back, but Strop has just about as much idea as Nill does about how it happened, leaving her with no leads and a world of altered possibilities. The plot does not get any simpler with the arrival of two mystery women, nor the unexplained departure of Devoidless.
All this being waved aside, Strop calls the remaining candidates to the Community Hall to start the next round. Which was supposed to be an assessment of charisma and eloquence, but thanks to an accidental double-booking, turned into an ear-destroying rap battle! With minimal preparation, each candidate attempted to tell of their journey in rap format, some more successfully than others, almost collectively being upstaged by the "guest artist" raccoon, Whimsyboy.
After a forgettable night (which Parsat realised, too late, that he had forgotten about, and inhaled a near-lethal dose of chilli powder in shock), Strop's run of bad judgement calls continued when he availed the herbalist Hectichermit for a drink, which had the effect of rendering him deeply unconscious... and vulnerable to revenge exacted by the collectively humiliated candidature.
Round 7: Interrogation
Nill was indeed nil on luck, for all she had managed to do all of last chapter was ruin her shirt. This time, she managed to tell her secret to the most unreliable of all friends, Ubertuna, who, once he had become accustomed to her change, pledged to find a cure for her condition.
Strop, however, would need a lot more than the help of a magikarp-like fishman to extricate him from his troubles, in the form of an investigation into his alleged murder attempt on Chill. He suspected that his inability to recall the events of the previous night had something to do with it. Thus his interview with each candidate to assess their eligibility to progress to the final eight became laced with an undercurrent, in which he was informed, rather quickly, as to exactly what happened... but unfortunately left with no way to actually prove the version of events forwarded to him in a fair and proper trial.
Divine intervention was in order, then, prompting Strop to visit the unfortunately named Ulimitedpower, a panda who was supposed to be named Unlimitedpower, but suffered a typo on his birth certificate. While the first consult was initially rocky due to a simple misunderstanding, the panda's desire to extract an autograph from the rock-star ninja proved greater than indignance over being thought of as an astrologer. Strop then continued his attempts to delegate work and worries, visiting Cen and meeting Sai for the first time, confirming for himself that Cen's increased absence (as well as manliness) was probably due to having a girlfriend.
The final order of business for the round was to collate the results and deliver them. More candidates had dropped out along the way, leaving only a handful to be dropped from the thinning crowd who held steadfast to the Way of Moderation. Gametesta found his enslavement to the world of games too binding, not to mention that his investigation within the tournament had reached a dead end, Nemo having turned into Nill to no effect. After a heart-to-heart discussion with Goumas, Strop decided that the tournament wasn't entirely compatible with his life direction, and persuaded Dank to take him on as a teacher-in-training at the Armor Academy. On the other hand, Kingryan's heart was in the right place but his physical heart wasn't, and he was medically ruled out of the tournament. That left eight of them, the eight who would go onto battle each other in their quest to become Moderator!
Knockout Sloth has a brief guest appearance, as a sparring partner for Manta, as Strop felt it inappropriate for him to be the training partner.
Round 8: The Round of 8
Finally, the elimination rounds have arrived. The long-awaited one-on-one battles were here, where the candidates could truly compete to find their caliber. With some safeguard rules, Strop announces the matchups and under the supervision of his co-host and he, away they go!
In a duel first in the air, then on the ground, Frank defeated Pixel.
In a battle of mental demons thanks to the "Insan-o-chamber", Thoad defeated Manta.
In the wilderness, Crimson used his skillset to overcome Chill's attempts to freeze him.
A surprise appearance from Kirby prevented Strop from witnessing the longest of the four battles, a duel of honour and tactics between Leon McAcid and The Bullman, in which Leon initially thought he was beaten, but was beaten to admitting defeat by The Bullman and his infallible code of conduct.
In a first among firsts, this round seemed to have gone off without a major hitch. At least, no additional issues to the ones already ongoing. Strop visited Ulimitedpower as promised, and scored his divination (of dubious value, seeing as he lied about his birthdate), in exchange for an autograph. One that took him the entire night to finish. Nill, having no success with her condition, decides to make the best of it by undergoing a makeover, but being a guy in a girl's body, ends up dressing exactly the same way as Strip did, much to her horror.
Just when things looked like they were going normally, Manta trashes the tavern while sulking about his loss, only to be picked up by Strop, who promised to punish him later, but how...
And just to make things worse, Cen refuses to supervise the next round with Strop, due to his concerns about its safety being ignored. One would wonder just how bad the idea was for this to happen...
Round 9: The Biggest Balls of Them All
The idea was bad. Really bad. Strop decided that since this was the penultimate round, and since the administration was absent, he should give people a taste of what it was like to be inside the Armor Castle. By inviting everybody attending to the main hall of the Armor Castle. To hold the battle inside that hall. All he had to do was hold a banquet (which left the hall in quite a state of disrepair to start), and then make the candidates organise themselves into two pairs, and let them fight each other until only one team was left!
Crimson and Leon quickly pair up with each other, leaving Thoad to pair with Frank. In a fierce, bloody fight that involved guns, blades, innocent bystanders and a lot of explosions, Leon surprisingly surrenders when faced with the alternative to lose his hyena (Marley) and probably kill Thoad in revenge. Thoad has one arm crushed in that incident but proceeds to tag-team with Frank against a hard-pressed Crimson while Leon watches from the sidelines, joined by some strange characters from his own uncertain past. When things look the most dire for Crimson, he manages to create a diversion and in one brutal move takes Thoad out, leaving just him and Frank. Pushing themselves past the point of exhaustion, they go at it until finally Crimson's magic gives him the edge, at which Strop quickly stops the fight and sent the lot of them to hospital.
Frank gets off fairly lightly, with some burns and many cuts and bruises. Thoad is not so lucky, for his head had to be cut open and his arm wasn't going to be working for quite a while to boot. But most concerning to Strop is that Crimson's injuries are far more severe than Leon, who wasn't injured at all, and they were the two that would be fighting each other in the final round. Leon has emerged as the true unknown quantity, part murderous villain, part deranged drifter, and should he lay claim to the throne of the tournament, Strop would not quite know what to do.
Furthermore the legal troubles from the alleged attempted murder of Chill were coming to a head, Dank treks all the way to the Craglands to inform Devoidless that his Moderator status had to be stripped following the compromise of his identity security in AG-land, resulting in his becoming even more of a recluse, and Cen seems to have run into some girlfriend trouble in the form of a very large ex-boyfriend... not that he really told anybody the details of this, and Sai is no longer around to let anybody know either. Strop consults Zophia in an attempt to cheer him up but merely discovers that he hates the polka. He also discovers that Ubertuna has not had much success in creating an antidote to the F-bomb, despite (or even because of) teaming up with Zophia.
But no more of those issues, for Strop's day in court had arrived. With Manta as his key witness, he came face-to-face with his prosecutors, a shady secret group that appeared to object to moderators for objection's sake. In a surreal proceeding, Strop is cross-examined by his own Strop-on, Strop's conscience appears to him in the form of a miniature Cen and Strip (as nice and naughty respectively), Chill is found to be medically unfit to testify due to caffeine withdrawal, Manta's testimony comes to naught, Strop finds out that Zophia has installed a CCTV in his room, Moegreche appears unable to handle rationality, Hectichermit manages to confuse everybody (nothing new there), Flipski nearly blows up the entire court, and finally Leon barges in and confesses to the crime.
After a round of drama, Cen finally emerges from his post-breakup depression a sullen and silent man, ready for duty in the finals.
Round Ten: Reckoning
The finals are imminent. Strop, having won his (barely) legal battle, attempts to feel the two candidates out before the tournament, and is left to sit on edge at the outcome. This tournament has turned into a beast well out of his control, and all he can do is wait and deal with whatever comes.
Elsewhere, in Newgrounds, Dank is finishing his business when he witnesses the start of a widespread riot and the plot to raid, pillage and destroy the land of Armorgames. As quick as he can he makes haste on his fastest penicorn, so that AG might have some advance warning.
Unfortunately it was not to be so. The finals, held in the Amphitheatre, were slightly delayed first due to the prosecutors of the aforementioned legal battle turning up and trying to disrupt the tournament, which resulted in their being unmasked as trolls and summarily banned. Then Strop and Cen got into their first, and biggest argument in public, resulting in Strop punching Cen in the face and firing him, and Cen uttering an ominous portent of doom upon everybody before leaving... and right before said doom coincidentally rolled up to AG's doorstep, hot on the heels of Dank.
Utter chaos breaks out. Mass panic, burning, looting and destruction on an even greater scale than in the Dodgeball round ensues. Leon revels in it, surviving using his killer instincts and his apparent lifetime of enduring war. Crimsonblade prudently uses his wits to make a hasty getaway in order to prepare himself for the defence of the city. Kingryan, his archivist skills shelved for the time being, discovered a new use for his pen trying to save the Library. Thoad resorted to his familiar skillset of flaming to temporarily weather the storm at the Hospital, teaming up with the strangely spunky nurse Rose along the way. Manta was on his way out when he saw the raiders on their way in, and went to ask his village for extra help. Goumas was chased out of his own class, but managed to inform Dank, who almost recognised him, giving him the confidence to go home and watch some TV only to discover that his TV had been stolen by a giant gorilla. Meanwhile, Strop found the bank being defended by a giant metalman by the name of Tusla, but he was promptly flattened by an Indestructotank piloted by none other than Klaus, or rather, he who was reborn as K1aus! Witnessing the nuking of the Freemarket, Strop has no choice but to engage him in battle, and learns that it was Klaus' plan to completely destroy AG for his warnings about its fundamental flaws, however reasonable they were, went unheeded due to his troublesome nature. After almost being defeated by a surprise attack, Strop comes back to incapacitate Klaus, and looks set to take back the bank when Klaus pulls off one final move and flattens the lot of them, enabling the bank to be captured.
Despite Dank recovering Strop on his way to the Academy, the Bank has already fallen, and the economy goes into freefall. The AP now being worthless, everybody, raider and citizen alike, now run amok, looting everything in sight with hopes to save their livelihoods by selling whatever they can grab elsewhere. While all the candidates of the now suspended tournament, former and current, run about their own agendas, Strop tries to find out what is happening to the whole city, and runs into two old friends, the mysterious women Asherlee and The Dragonmistress, who retired as moderators a long time ago but returned to AG for business as of yet unspecified. Being formidable moderators in their time, Strop asks for their help in taking the bank back while looking for the other moderators. In the tavern, the hapless bartender fox Efan is rescued by Strop and given the first of many orders to retreat to the Armusement Park. Strop is about to expand on this directive when he sees giant mutant trolls (the unfortunate result of flaming) charging towards the Great Courts, and therefore probably the Armor Castle itself. In a desperate bid to defend the courts, he finds Moe and Flipski, and finally realises that Moe's brain-gender has also been swapped, and Moe being unable to readjust to the changes, has lost his (now her) moderator powers of telekinesis and laser beam. To save them all, Flipski sacrifices himself, turning most of the courts into a heap of molten slag in the process.
A dispirited Strop, carrying an inconsolable Moe, returns to the bank to find Asherlee and The Dragonmistress defeated, kept safe only by the efforts of Crimsonblade. He orders Crimsonblade to assist with an evacuation, while determining to round up as many moderators as possible to try and think of some kind of counter-attack. They break into the Armor Academy, also allowing hundreds of rioters to come in with them, and it is only with the timely intervention of Zophia and Ubertuna that the lot of them retreat to the safety of the secret underground tunnels while the Academy is reduced to rubble above. In the tunnels, Ubertuna leads them towards the castle, but before they reach there, he is taken by a loan shark, as a cruel twist in his ongoing saga with the sharks trying to evict him from his ocean residence, leaving just six moderators and ex-moderators to wearily clamber into Strop's room.
Having plunged to the depths of despair, the moderator crew must now take stoke, regroup, and form a plan to make the best of their last chance to save the City of ArmorGames...