With his shoulders bowed and his feet dragging, the Cyclops lumbered onto the arena's rocky floor. Gravel crunched ominously beneath his footsteps, and foul saliva dripped from his asymmetrical mouth. With a start, Aria realized the full gravity of her situation. Everything had progressed so quickly that even she--the constantly vigilant, notoriously unshakable, and ridiculously overprepared head counselor of Astraeus--was caught off-guard. As quickly as the Halloween gods had whisked her into the Underworld, they had sent her along her way, directly onto the next stage of their competition: the monster battle. Now, the blood-streaked eye of what could be her imminent demise stared into her soul. If Aria remembered correctly (and, alas, she always remembered correctly), many Cyclops ate demigods. The drool oozing from between her opponent's plaque-encrusted teeth provided her no reassurance. Unless Aria regained her bearings immediately, her spirit would soon be traveling to another part of the Underworld, and her dismembered body would be dissolving within a pool of gastric acid.
Drawing upon her own strengths--rationality and levelheadedness--to suppress the visceral fear of death bubbling within her, Aria inhaled deeply and analyzed her situation. What is my best course of action? Although Aria's sword was her most important physical weapon, her intellect--or, more specifically, her aptitude for strategy--was her most valuable weapon overall. Both in combat and in peace, she was never without a plan or ten. Possibilities racing through her mind, the child of Astraeus focused her thoughts and prepared to fight for her life. After mere seconds of deliberation, Aria refocused her eyes on the Cyclops. Got it.
About 50 meters away, the Cyclops was slowly shuffling in her direction. Expecting an easy meal, he was taking his own sweet time in approaching her. Taking advantage of the extra time, Aria shrugged her backpack off of her shoulders and fully zipped up her jacket. For her plan to work, she would have to make herself as light and aerodynamic as possible. For the past few months, Aria had been developing a technique that conserved energy while still yielding advantages similar to flight. By lowering gravity's downward pull on her to slightly more than zero, she would not fly outright, but she would be able run more quickly and jump more easily. In effect, like an astronaut in the lower gravity of the Moon, she could soar through the air and land lightly. Praying that her hours of practice would pay off, Aria bounded determinedly across the rocks toward her opponent. Taken aback by his prey's sudden movements, the Cyclops stopped in his approach. His eye scoured his surroundings for a weapon, eventually settling on a hefty boulder about the size of Aria's torso. Unleashing a guttural roar that echoed throughout the arena, he launched the boulder at her. Crap. She planted her feet firmly in the rocks and pushed off, momentarily lessening her gravity even more to give her an extra vertical boost. The momentum she had built up from running carried her forward and above the path of the boulder. Heartbeat racing due to her narrow brush with death, Aria quickened her pace after she landed. As she drew within 10 meters of her enemy, she tugged a red charm bead off of her watch and clasped it in her right hand. Instantaneously the bead transformed into a short sword, much to the Cyclops' bewilderment. Before he could react, Aria jumped up again, this time to his shoulder level. Once again, her momentum propelled her forward, bringing her sword within reach of the Cyclops' face. She slashed downward viciously and kicked off of his shoulder. The success of her entire plan hinged on the success of her next few actions.
The Cyclops let out a scream so tortured that a part of Aria's heart twinged in pity for her opponent. A bloody gash diagonally bisected his face, mutilating his eye, nose, and upper lip. The battle had not ended, however. Lashing out in intense agony, the monster stomped the ground frenziedly, shaking the entire arena with his pain. Looks like I'll have to stay in the air a little longer. Still traveling upwards after pushing off of the Cyclops' shoulder, Aria pivoted midair so that her feet faced the domed arena ceiling. She lessened gravity's effect on her further, continuing until her feet lightly came into contact with the dome. Although she could feel the rumbling of the ground reverberating through the ceiling, it was much steadier than standing on the floor. Her powers couldn't keep this up forever, though. Aria had to finish this fight as expediently as possible, then, spending as little time as possible near the flailing Cyclops. She ran along the ceiling, mindful of the enchanted torches that spiraled from the top. Though they obstructed her movement, they also assisted her in determining which part of the floor she was standing above: as she vaulted over a light source, she cast a shadow on the ground directly beneath it. Using this method, Aria pinpointed the spot at which she stood diametrically above the Cyclops. Time to end this. She steadied herself with a deep breath, then mustered all the force her legs could produce to propel herself away from the ceiling. Flipping so that her feet faced the ground, she released all control of gravity and let the Earth pull her downward. The timing of her next two seconds of free-fall was key. As she fell toward the Cyclops, Aria grabbed her sword with both hands and jabbed it into his back. It sliced messily through skin and muscles, scraping through the middle of his spinal column. Before she collided with the ground, Aria restarted her power usage, slowing her fall enough to survive but still landing roughly.
Well, I'm never doing that again, Aria winced, pain shooting up her shins. She was much better off than her opponent, at least. The Cyclops lay immobile, facedown in a growing pool of his own blood. Since monsters vanished after being killed, Aria assumed that he was still alive but paralyzed from the carnage she'd inflicted upon his back. She shuddered. Poor guy. I'd never wish that fate upon anybody, monster or not. As the adrenaline wore off, she simply felt tired, physically and emotionally. Sitting down on the ground, Aria stared reflectively at her bloody sword. What comes next?