A Thousand Reasons/Story

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These tabs contain full Event cutscene scripts with major spoilers about the plot and characters. View these tabs at your own discretion.

A Thousand Reasons - Opening

Fighters from across the skydom have gathered for the Grandsky Rumble, a martial arts tournament held in the Albion Citadel colosseum. The winners of twelve battle royale melees will advance to round one of the elimination tournament. Aliza, Feather, and Randall are some of the first to qualify.



Contestant 1: Graaah! Take this!
Fight Fan 1: Yeeeah! Go for it! You got him!
The voices of combatants thrumming with fighting spirit. The roar of an enraptured crowd.
Fight Fan 2: Holy Luminiera! Did you see that kick?
Contestant 2: Ngh! Damn it! No way am I losing in the qualifiers!
Commentator: What a performance! The qualifying round of the Grandsky Rumble is off to a spectacular start!
Commentator: The action here in the Albion Colosseum is so hot you could cook your breakfast on it!
Fight Fan 3: It sounds like there's already a winner in group two!
Fight Fan 1: Are you kidding me? I can't believe I missed that!
Commentator: For the qualifiers, competitors have been divided into twelve groups. Each group will fight a battle royale!
Commentator: The last fighter standing in each group will advance to round 1 of the tournament!
Fight Fan 4: Hey! You gotta see what's happening in group 7!
Fight Fan 2: Gaaah, I don't know where to look!
Commentator: With twelve groups duking it out simultaneously, you'd need eyes in the back of your head to follow all the action!
Commentator: And you'd need several commentators to cover it! There's just not enough of me to go round!
Contestant 1: Gyaaah! How are you so powerful?
Energy runs high in the colosseum, the audience gripped tight by the action sprawling before them.
As their frenzied eyes dart from fight to fight, victors emerge one after another.
Aliza: Don't count me out yet!
Soriz: Come on, you small fry. If someone doesn't give me a challenge, I'm gonna drift off to sleep here.
Claudia: Well! That's this lot cleaned up.
Ayer: Pff... No-talent pigs.
Randall: Ha! You think you're gonna take me out before the tournament even starts?
Feather: Yeeeah! My fists are on fire!
A full-throated cheer rises from the audience as the victors from each group stand amid their fallen adversaries.
Commentator: That's it for the Grandsky Rumble qualifiers! Round one is sure to shake the colosseum to its foundations!
Commentator: Just remember—no fighting outside the ring, no matter how excited you are!
The first Grandsky Rumble has drawn well-known fighters from across the Phantagrande Skydom.
They come to test the limits of their own physiques. To see the fruits of their training. To pour their hearts and souls into single combat with worthy adversaries! And this is only the beginning...

A Thousand Reasons - Chapter 1: 1st Bout - Episode 1

The first match pits Soriz against Vanzza. Since weapons and magic are not allowed, the two decide to limit themselves to kicks. When Vanzza reflexively pulls out his tonfas to defend himself, Soriz exploits the moment of confusion to knock Vanzza out of the ring and win the match.



Albion Citadel, Phantagrande Skydom.
The streets of this imposing military town thrum with unprecedented excitement.
Commentator: Are you ready, gentlefolk? The Grandsky Rumble tournament is about to begin!
Fight Fan 1: Whooo! Let's get it ooon!
Fight Fan 2: Start already! Yeeeah!
Commentator: Okay, okay, everyone! I know you're raring to go.
Commentator: So without further ado, let's see who our first two contestants are!
Commentator: Vanzza!
Commentator: Soriz!
Soriz: Oof! Another grim-lookin' lug.
Commentator: Quite the intimidating duo we have here!
Commentator: Especially Rockfisted Soriz, who you all know from his long record of tournament victories! You won't want to look away from this match for a second!
Soriz: You're not exactly my type, Tall, Dark, and Broody.
Soriz: But I'll do whatever it takes for my ticket to paradise! Don't expect me to go easy on ya!
Vanzza: I don't. My reasons are just as good as yours. I won't back down.
Commentator: The sparks are flying already! Yyyow! Can you feel the heat!
Commentator: I might be standing too close—I'm gonna get burned!
Soriz: By the way... It's no skin off my nose either way, but...
Soriz: Ain't weapons against the rules?
Soriz wags a finger at the tonfas grasped in Vanzza's hands.
Commentator: Rockfisted Soriz has a point! Sounds like a good opportunity to review the rules of this tournament!
Commentator: The Grandsky Rumble is meant to be a test of your combat prowess using your body alone.
Commentator: Use of weapons or tools of any kind is strictly prohibited. That goes for magic too!
Commentator: From round one onward, matches are one-on-one, conducted in the colosseum's central ring.
Commentator: If you step out of the ring, or are knocked down and can't get back up within the count of ten, you lose!
Commentator: You can also choose to forfeit. Just say, "I give up"!
Commentator: A total of twelve competitors have qualified for round one!
Commentator: Of course, you know that the victor of the final round will receive a huge cash prize! But they will also have one wish granted. Anything they ask!
Vanzza: ...
Soriz: Any wish, huh? Fishy as all get-out, if y'ask me, but the money's incentive enough!
Commentator: Well, you'll have to take that up with the tournament's executive committee... if you win!
Commentator: Back to the matter at hand. Weapons are against the rules.
Vanzza: Rest assured. I won't use my tonfas.
Vanzza: I'll restrict myself to kicking.
Soriz: Then why're you walkin' around with that kindling strapped to your arms?
Soriz: Well, to each his own. I accept your terms!
Vanzza: What do you mean? You also plan to use only your legs?
Soriz: Sure! It should make for a fun bout!
Commentator: It seems our contestants are giving themselves a lot of extra restrictions. But there's no rule against that!
Commentator: Let's get started! You're not here to duel with words, gentlemen!
Fight Fan 1: Finally! Let's see some action!
Commentator: All right! Round one, Soriz vs. Vanzza! Ready...
Commentator: Fight!
Vanzza: Here I come!
Soriz: Hn! That's not a bad kick you got there! Hngh!
Vanzza: Too slow!
Soriz: Hahaha! Now we're cookin'!
Commentator: An unusual match we have before us, ladies and gents, with these two dynamos denying themselves the use of those powerful arms!
Soriz: Ora ora ora!
Vanzza: Hngh! Ngaaah!
Commentator: Whoa! The wind Vanzza kicked up nearly knocked me off my feet!
Commentator: With attacks this powerful, you'd never guess that neither contestant is using his favored style!
Vanzza: Haaah...
Vanzza: Tonfa Kick!
Soriz: Whoooah there. What kinda "tonfa kick" doesn't use a tonfa?
Soriz: Heh. Not a bad kick though, even without! I didn't give you enough credit!
Vanzza: What's wrong? Why are your movements so inefficient?
Soriz: Oh? You can tell, huh?
Soriz: Those things are pretty distracting...
Soriz nods toward the tonfas in Vanzza's hands.
Soriz: I know you're not gonna use 'em, but every time they catch my eye, my body just reacts, ya know?
Soriz: More importantly... They're gettin' in your way too, aren't they?
Vanzza: Hunh.
Vanzza: I never used to be any good with tonfas.
Soriz: Oh?
Vanzza: So I can fight perfectly well without them.
Vanzza: Don't feel you have to refrain from using your fists either.
Soriz: Huh? You're not makin' a lotta sense, pal...
Soriz: But since you're bein' so generous, guess I'll take you up on it!
Soriz: Here goes!
Vanzza: !
Soriz draws back his fist and Vanzza—ever so slightly—flinches.
In that moment, his body reflexively shifts into an oft-practiced defensive stance.
Commentator: Ohhh! Looks like Vanzza unconsciously raised his tonfa!
Vanzza: Urgh!
Vanzza snatches back his weapons, drawing away from his opponent.
Soriz: Haha!
Vanzza: Gwaaah!
Soriz seizes the opportunity. Withdrawing his fists, he darts in and lands a staggering kick.
Commentator: A fisticuff feint followed by a kick!
Commentator: And what a kick! Right to the breadbasket at full force!
Vanzza: Ugh...
Commentator: Vanzza was knocked clear out of the ring! Which means...
Commentator: The victor of match 1 iiis...
Soriz!

A Thousand Reasons - Chapter 1: 1st Bout - Episode 2

Aliza finds Vyrn and Lyria in the stands. When she asks after (Captain)'s whereabouts, the pair gets flustered and manages to divert Aliza's attention to the beginning of the next match.



Soriz kicks Vanzza right out of the ring, securing himself a place in round two.
Fight Fan 2: Hey, what was that!
Fight Fan 1: Don't ask me! All I saw was that final kick!
Vanzza: When it came down to crunch time, I resorted to my tonfas.
Soriz: Yeah. It gave me just the opening I needed!
Vanzza: It was an amateurish mistake.
Soriz: Mm... I wouldn't call it amateurish.
Soriz: You said those weapons used to be a weak point of yours. But even so you've been using 'em a long time, right?
Vanzza: Yes...
Soriz: I'd say they've pretty well become a part of your body, wouldn't you?
Vanzza: These tonfas?
Soriz: Coming that far using a weapon you weren't any good with is nothing to sneeze at.
Soriz: And "resorting" is a harsh way to put it. I'd say you trust your weapons.
Soriz: Am I wrong? Don't think I am.
Vanzza: ...
Soriz: Either way though, I won! Hahaha!
Lyria: Waaah... What a great fight! I was on the edge of my seat the whole time!
Vyrn: Yeah! It was a nail-biter and it's just the first match!
Lyria: Soriz and Vanzza were both so strong and so fast...
Lyria: Oh. But we can't forget—we're not here for fun.
Vyrn: Too true.
Lyria: We need to stay alert! Somewhere around here is—
???: Huh? Isn't that Vyrn and Lyria?
Vyrn: Hm? I know that voice...
Aliza: You guys!
Lyria: Aliza!
Aliza: You here to watch the tournament?
Vyrn: Yeah! You're competing, right?
Lyria: Congratulations on clearing the qualifiers!
Vyrn: Give 'em a run for their rupies!
Aliza: Ehehe. I will!
Lyria: Be careful, okay? We don't want you to get hurt.
Aliza: Don't you worry about me! I've been training my horns off!
Vyrn: Say, why did you decide to enter anyhow?
Aliza: Well... I made that doofus a promise, y'know?
Stan: In any case, I'm no use to anyone like this. There's all kinds of areas I need to work on.
Stan: As long as I keep a tight hold of that aim, I'm sure to grow stronger. In body and in soul.
Aliza: Stan, I... I also need to work on many areas. I'm like you in that regard.
Aliza: So the next time we meet, we should duel each other once again.
Stan: Good idea. But when we do, I'll win.
Aliza: Hehehe, stupid Stan. It doesn't matter how much time goes by, I won't lose.
Aliza: I'm determined not to lose the next time we face off, so I've been really strict about my training.
Vyrn: That's right. You've really been hitting the mats, huh?
Lyria: You even trained with Catoblepas.
Aliza: Yep, and that's not even the half of it.
Aliza: So this tournament is part of my training and a good way to measure my progress!
Lyria: Hehe. We're rooting for you, Aliza! Knock 'em dead!
Aliza: Thanks!
Aliza: Hey, where's (Captain)? You guys are always together!
Lyria: Oh, ummm...
Aliza: I woulda liked a match with the captain.
Vyrn: Yeah, but (Captain) is...
Aliza: Hm? Yeah? (Captain) is what?
Vyrn: Uhhh...
Lyria: Oh, look! The next match is about to start!

A Thousand Reasons - Chapter 1: 1st Bout - Episode 3

In the second match, Ladiva faces a masked fighter known only as the Masked Cypher. The latter is in fact none other than (Captain) in disguise. While locked in close combat, Ladiva seems to realize (Captain)'s identity, which only intrigues her the more.



Commentator: Aaare yooou readyyy! Take your seats! It's time for the second match!
Fight Fan 4: Bring it ooon!
Fight Fan 3: I hope this fight measures up to match one!
Commentator: Let's meet our contestants, shall we? In this corner...
Commentator: Ladivaaa!
Commentator: And iiintroducing... The Maaasked Cypheeer!
Commentator: You all know Ladiva, veteran of the Jewel Resort Casino arena! We have a pro duelist in the ring!
Commentator: But the Masked Cypher is a mystery cloaked in an enigma!
Fight Fan 3: Hey, do you know that fighter?
Fight Fan 1: Never even heard the name before. I hope this isn't a walkover.
Commentator: A renowned duelist versus a mysterious masked assassin! What kind of bloodbath are we in for?
Ladiva: My, what a fetching mask!
Masked Cypher: ...
Ladiva: Haha... There's nothing wrong with the silent type.
Ladiva: But if I win this match, I hope you'll show me your face!
Commentator: Put up your dukes, combatants! Readyyy...
Commentator: Fight!
Ladiva: Hee hee!
No sooner is the signal given than Ladiva is closing the distance between the two fighters.
Ladiva: I'm gonna get you!
Commentator: Ohh! Looks like these two are preparing to grapple right from the start!
Masked Cypher: ...
Commentator: With her size advantage, Ladiva may be poised to gain the upper hand already!
Ladiva: That's all up to you, masked stranger...
Ladiva: !
Ladiva and the Masked Cypher lock eyes and Ladiva gasps.
Ladiva: Wait, are you—
Masked Cypher: ...
Commentator: The Masked Cypher breaks free! Our mystery fighter is putting some distance between them!
Ladiva: Well! Things just got a lot more interesting!

A Thousand Reasons - Chapter 1: 1st Bout - Episode 4

Aliza is puzzled at Vyrn and Lyria's elation when the Masked Cypher wins, and asks about their relationship. The pair manages to hedge around the issue, and Aliza leaves somewhat confused. Meanwhile Ladiva lets (Captain) know she stands ready to help if need be.



Commentator: We haaave a winneeer! The Masked Cypher triumphs over veteran duelist Ladiva!
Fight Fan 3: Amazing! This match went to the smaller contestant too!
Fight Fan 4: I thought Ladiva had it in the bag, but that masked fighter is no slouch!
Ladiva: Phew...
Ladiva: I could really feel the love you keep hidden inside.
Ladiva: You win.
Lyria: Hooray! Wasn't that great, Vyrn?
Vyrn: Yeah! I never had a doubt!
Lyria and Vyrn are bursting with pride over (Captain)'s victory.
Aliza: You guys sure are happy! Is the Masked Cypher a friend of yours?
Lyria: Urk! Um... Not exactly a friend, but...
Aliza: Really? Kinda weird to cheer for a total stranger.
Vyrn: Uh! Well, y'see! It's, uh... It's that mask!
Aliza: The mask?
Vyrn: Yeah! It's just so cool!
Aliza: You think?
Lyria: Y-yes! It's really stylish! I, uh... kinda want one myself...
Vyrn: Right, right! Me too!
Aliza: Hmmm...
Aliza: Oh! I don't have time to chat. I need to get ready for my match!
Lyria: Oh! Oh yes! Good luck!
Aliza: See you guys later then!
Aliza runs off, and Vyrn and Lyria heave deep sighs of relief.
Ladiva: This certainly was a surprise.
After their match, Ladiva approaches the Masked Cypher. She lowers her voice so no one will overhear them.
Ladiva: But I'm glad I had the chance to fight you!
Ladiva: You must have your reasons for entering this tournament in disguise.
(Captain) answers the murmured query with a silent but meaningful gaze.
Ladiva: If you don't want to tell me, I won't press the issue. But you know I'm here for you if you need me, right?
Ladiva: I hope you'll let me help if the need arises.
  1. I'll be fine.
  2. Thank you.

Choose: I'll be fine.
Ladiva: Haha, of course you will. You know how to take care of yourself!
Ladiva: But don't forget that I'm always on your side.

Choose: Thank you.
Ladiva: Haha. Any time.
Continue 1
Ladiva: See you around.
And with a conspiratorial wink, the powerful beauty departs.

A Thousand Reasons - Chapter 2: 2nd Bout - Episode 1

Ten days earlier, the Grandcypher crew goes looking for Sierokarte but find only her parrot, Gotle. From the bird's urgently squawked words, they piece together a warning about the Grandsky Rumble. (Captain) decides to participate in disguise to discover what has become of Sierokarte.



Ten days before the Grandsky Rumble tournament began.
Lyria: We never did meet up with Siero.
Vyrn: Well, she does do business all over the skies. I guess we just missed her this time.
(Captain) and the crew pulled into port to resupply at the Knicknack Shack, but when they arrived, Sierokarte was nowhere to be found.
Lyria: But she's almost always around when we need her...
Vyrn: That's true. Siero moves in mysterious ways.
As the crew puzzle over their favorite merchant's uncharacteristic absence, their attention is drawn by the sound of wings overhead. A diminutive shadow falls over them.
Vyrn: Hm? Did you hear something?
???: ...
Lyria: Oh! Isn't that...
???: ...
Vyrn: It's Siero's parrot!
The bird turns several circles in the air before alighting on (Captain)'s arm.
???: ...
Lyria: If I remember right, your name was Gotle, wasn't it?
Vyrn: Don't think I've ever seen you away from Siero. Somethin' wrong, Feathers?
Gotle: Sie... ro...
Lyria: Huh? Did you say something?
Gotle: ...
Siero.
Vyrn: Whoa! You can talk?
Gotle: Siero. Gone.
Lyria: Sierokarte?
Vyrn: Sorry, but we were looking for her today too and we didn't find her either.
Gotle: Siero. Trouble.
Lyria: Huh?
Gotle: Grand... sky.
Siero... in the way. Trouble.
Lyria: W-wait. What are you saying?
Gotle: Rumble. Albion, fishy. Something up.
Gotle: Careful! Careful!
Lyria: Ahh! Come back!
Gotle: Careful, (Captain)!
Vyrn: Flighty little thing.
Lyria: W-what do we do? What was Gotle trying to tell us?
Vyrn: Albion... rumble? Uhh...
Vyrn: Oh! (Captain), remember that invitation you got to a martial arts tournament? Think that's what Gotle was talking about?
Lyria: Oh yeah! I remember the flier.
Lyria: I think it was called... The Grandsky Rumble?
Vyrn: Yeah, that was it!
Vyrn: Doesn't sound like such a good time, according to Gotle...
Lyria: True... What should we do? And what does this have to do with Siero?
Vyrn: We searched all over, but all we know is what Gotle told us.
Lyria: Yeah... I'm really worried. And this tournament is our only lead.
(Captain) had already turned down the original invitation, so the only choice was to enter the tournament under an assumed name.
Lyria: Do you think (Captain) will be all right?
Vyrn: Well, it seems like the Masked Cypher's identity is safe for the moment.
Vyrn: The best we can do for now is keep our eyes peeled for suspicious activity in the colosseum.
Lyria: Okay! I'll watch everyone like a hawk! Like a hawk...
Vyrn: I haven't spotted anything weird yet though. Have you?
Lyria: No. It doesn't seem like there's any underground betting going on, like there was during the Platinum Sky race...
Vyrn: The spectators are kind of a rowdy bunch, but they are fight fans, after all.
Lyria: Yeah...
Vyrn and Lyria are left scratching their heads over the complete lack of clues in this mystery.

A Thousand Reasons - Chapter 2: 2nd Bout - Episode 2

Feather eagerly asks the Masked Cypher to match fists with him, angering Randall, who is scheduled to face Feather first. Aliza meets Soriz in the dressing rooms and learns that he is participating in order to pursue a life surrounded by beautiful women. He advises her to learn all she can by watching the matches.



Feather: Heeey! Wait up! What's your name, uh...
Feather: Masked Cypher!
As the Masked Cypher heads down the corridor behind the ring, Feather's voice rings out.
Feather: I caught your first match! It was really something!
Feather: The passion behind your punches called out to me!
Feather runs up, flushed with excitement while talking a mile a minute.
Feather: You and I need to have a conversation and let our fists do the talking! I think we'll end up facing each other in—
???: Jumping the gun a bit, aren't you?
Feather: Wha... Randall!
Randall: You'd have to reach the finals to fight the Masked Cypher. We're on opposite ends of the bracket.
Feather: Really?
Randall: You're facing me in round two. Don't run your mouth like you've already won!
Feather: I plan to win this tournament!
Feather: That means I won't lose to you either, Randall!
Randall: Cocky little punk... I'm gonna bury you in the ring!
Feather: Haha! That's what I like to hear!
Feather: This ring's gonna be the stage for our showdown, Randall!
Feather: Aaahhh, I'm so pumped!
Randall: Ugh...
Randall: What'd you even enter this tournament for?
Feather: What do you think? To meet the best fighters in Phantagrande and see what their fists have to say!
Randall: ...
Feather: Not only that... I feel like this tournament has something even greater in store for me!
Feather: It won't simply be a meeting of like-minded pugilists—oh no! These fists of mine are in for a truly fateful encounter!
Feather: I owe you one for tipping me off about this event!
Randall: Listen, you punch-drunk pinhead—
Randall: Oh, forget it. Words don't really get through to you, do they?
Feather: What do you mean?
Randall: I'll meet you in the ring. It's the only place you'll understand me!
Feather: Yeeeaaah! You got it, Randall!
Feather: Don't you dare lose before our match!
Feather's voice echoes down the corridor as Randall stalks away.
The tournament organizers have prepared a dressing room for each entrant, tucked away deep inside the colosseum.
Aliza: Almost time for my first match...
Soriz: Oh? What're you doing in here, little lady?
Aliza: Huh? Is this the wrong room?
Soriz: Hahaha, don't worry about it!
Soriz: I was gettin' bored anyhow. If you don't mind the company, stay a while!
Aliza: Guess I'll take you up on that. Thanks!
Soriz: Sure thing! Make yourself at home.
Aliza takes a seat across from Soriz.
Aliza: I saw your match earlier.
Soriz: Really? Good thing I won then!
Soriz: I wouldn't wanna look the fool in front of you!
Aliza: Whether or not you look foolish depends on how you lose...
Aliza: But I could tell by watching you that you have a lot of combat experience under your belt.
Aliza: You're a fighter to be reckoned with.
Soriz: Hahaha, you're gonna make this old man blush!
Aliza: Well anyway, I'm glad I joined this tournament, especially if it's gonna be full of opponents as strong as you!
Soriz: So you're here both for training and to test yourself, huh?
Aliza: You can tell?
Soriz: Hahaha! It's pretty clear from the way you talk.
Aliza: What about you, Soriz? What do you want out of this tournament?
Soriz: Why, the prize money, of course!
Aliza: The money, huh?
Soriz: You sound disappointed.
Aliza: Is that the only reason?
Soriz: All I want is a life spent in the company of beautiful women!
Aliza: Beautiful women?
Soriz: Well, every fighter has their own motivations.
Aliza: Yeah. That's true.
Soriz: ...
Soriz: I don't know what drives you to hone your skills...
Aliza: Hm?
Soriz: Well, whatever the case, this is a golden opportunity. Keep your eyes peeled and learn all you can from each match.
Aliza: That's the plan!
Soriz: Glad to hear it!
Soriz: Speakin' of which. Your first match is against Randall, isn't it?
Aliza: Yep. So?
Soriz: That upstart's got a lotta potential. And he ain't half bad in the ring already.
Soriz: I'm lookin' forward to that matchup.
Soriz: Give him a good stomping. He can use it!
Chuckling to himself, Soriz leaves Aliza alone in the dressing room.

A Thousand Reasons - Chapter 2: 2nd Bout - Episode 3

(Captain) joins Lyria and Vyrn in the stands to watch the third match: Ayer vs. the Pitch-Black Punisher. The latter is clearly Seox, despite his attempt to hide his identity. The disguised Eternal's participation only deepens the crew's suspicions about the tournament.



Vyrn: Well, we still haven't found anything suspicious.
Lyria: Yeah. Not a thing.
(Captain) joins Lyria and Vyrn in the stands to grab a break between fights.
Vyrn: What about you, (Captain)?
The captain gives a shake of the head.
Lyria: Oh...
Vyrn: Well, this is still just the first round.
Vyrn: We need to be prepared for anything, guys.
Lyria: You're right!
Lyria: Oh, and...
Lyria: Hehe... (Captain), you looked really cool during your match!
Vyrn: I'm right with you, Lyria, but try not to go dropping names, okay? The captain's supposed to be incognito!
Lyria: Ack, I forgot!
Lyria claps a hand over her mouth and (Captain) smiles.
Commentator: It looks like our next pair is ready, so wait no longer!
Vyrn: Sounds like the next match is starting.
Commentator: Who will face off in match three?
Commentator: Ayer!
Commentator: And... Hm? Uh...
Commentator: The Pitch-Black Punisher.
Commentator: That's quite the mouthful...
Commentator: As you can see, he wears a mask and a cloak. And it says here that we know nothing else about him!
Lyria: Hey, isn't that...
Vyrn: The Masked Wonder? Yep.
Lyria: Seox, one of the Eternals.
Vyrn: Now that I think about it, his cape's a different color, isn't it?
Lyria: Yes. And he's going by a fake name. Do you think he's trying to hide his identity?
Vyrn: I guess he has his reasons... So we've got an Eternal going incognito at this tournament too.
Vyrn: The Grandsky Rumble is looking fishier by the second!
Ayer: The qualifiers were a total bore. I hope you're actually worth my time.
P. B. Punisher: Talking the talk already, eh? You seem quite experienced.
Ayer: Yeah, so?
P. B. Punisher: Never mind. It makes no difference to me.
Ayer: Huh. Enough talk. Let's get to it already!
P. B. Punisher: Let's.
Commentator: The Pitch-Black Punisher has thrown off his cloak. It seems both our fighters are raring to go!
Commentator: I must admit seeing so many masked contenders really threw me for a loop...
Commentator: But I've got it together now! Time for match three!
Commentator: Ready...
Commentator: Fight!

A Thousand Reasons - Chapter 2: 2nd Bout - Episode 4

Already on edge due to thoughts of Bowman, Ayer is further unbalanced by Seox's taunts. He growls back when Jessica encourages him from the audience, prompting Seox to warn him against discarding his family. The Eternal puts an end to the match.



Commentator: Ayer and the Pitch-Black Punisher seem to be on equal footing! Perhaps we could even say that Ayer has the edge?
Ayer: Stop holding back.
Ayer draws back, putting some distance between them. Irritation radiates from the boy's every pore.
Ayer: You trying to say you can beat me without breaking a sweat?
P. B. Punisher: And you? Are you actually giving your best performance?
Ayer: What?
P. B. Punisher: What has you so flustered? What are you afraid of? Can you even see me clearly?
Ayer: What do you know!
Ayer snaps and makes a grab for the Pitch-Black Punisher.
Ayer: You don't know me, you condescending pig!
The Pitch-Black Punisher nimbly evades Ayer's increasingly frenzied attacks.
Ayer: You son of a—
Ayer: (Am I still... just as powerless as I was when he was in control?)
Bowman: You're the only one who can see me or hear me. The only person who knows I exist... is you.
Ayer: Urgh...
Ayer: Graaah!
Bowman—the second personality slumbering within Ayer's psyche, always tempting him toward the path of strife and conflict.
Since Ayer awoke to the truth of their relationship, his life has been a constant battle to remain in control of his own body.
Ayer: I won't... I can't accept it.
Ayer: Bowman was not the real power behind my fists!
Through his own efforts and the help of his friends, Ayer's mind has begun to stabilize.
But these things take time.
Commentator: What's the matter with Ayer? His movements are getting sluggish—is his temper tripping him up?
Ayer: Shut your face!
Ayer: (You're not in the underground circuit anymore. You're not the same person you were then.)
Ayer: (And Bowman is gone. I can do this on my own!)
Ayer: Hrgh...
P. B. Punisher: You'll never land a punch on me with your mind so clouded!
The ease with which the Punisher handles Ayer's assault only stokes the boy's rage.
Ayer: You scumbag!
P. B. Punisher: Enough.
Ayer: Hngh!
P. B. Punisher: Like you, I'm here for a reason. Let's end this.
Ayer: You cocky—
Seox raises his fists, preparing to deliver the final blow.
Jessica: Ayer! Get a hold of yourself!
A voice rings out from the stands.
Ayer: Je... Jessica?
Jessica: Get up! You can win this, Ayer!
Ayer: What are you...
Ayer's eyes widen as he spots his sister in the crowd. He clicks his tongue.
Ayer: Tch!
Ayer: I don't need my sister to fight my battles! Put a sock in it!
P. B. Punisher: Your sister... Your family.
Ayer: What about her? She's got nothing to do with this!
P. B. Punisher: I see.
P. B. Punisher: If you discard those who care for you to walk the path of solitary combat, nothing awaits you but darkness.
Ayer: What do you...
P. B. Punisher: Here I come!
P. B. Punisher: Kieeeiii!

A Thousand Reasons - Chapter 3: 3rd Bout - Episode 1

After Seox's victory in the third match, a scream rings out. (Captain) and company rush to the scene to find that monsters have infiltrated the colosseum. They are swarming around Ghandagoza, who is preparing an ultimate attack that would launch the colosseum into the stratosphere. The crew hurries to the rescue to prevent him from unleashing it.



Ayer: Damn... it all...
Seox: ...
Commentator: We haaave a winneeer!
Commentator: The victor of the third match is the... um... the Pitch-Black Punisher!
Commentator: That name had me worried about the match.
Commentator: But both our contestants delivered! What a fight!
Vyrn: Phew! The Eternals really are on a whole 'nother level!
Lyria: But Ayer didn't seem like himself.
Vyrn: That's true...
Huh? What's up, (Captain)?
Vyrn and Lyria look up as (Captain) stands up.
Vyrn: You headed out already?
Lyria: You have to prepare for your next match, right?
Vyrn: Aren't you up against—
???: Aaah!
Vyrn: What was that?
Lyria: Someone screamed!
Lyria: It came from over there!
Vyrn: Let's go!
The trio race toward the source of the scream.
Monster: Groooar!
Fight Fan 2: Crap! What's this monster doing here?
Monster: Graaah!
Fight Fan 3: Nooo! Stay away!
Lyria: Oh no, looks like monsters have broken into the colosseum!
Vyrn: A whole mess of 'em too! We gotta do something!
???: ...
Vyrn: Hm?
Guys, look over there!
Lyria: It's Ghandagoza!
Standing a head taller than the monsters and the spectators scrambling to escape them is the imposing figure of Ghandagoza.
Ghandagoza: Hmph.
Vyrn: He's completely surrounded!
Lyria: They've got him! They're trying to take a bite out of him!
Vyrn: Wait a sec... What's he up to?
Vyrn: Whoa, whoa! Stop!
Ghandagoza: Hnnngh!
Ghandagoza raises one craggy fist and begins to focus his power into it.
Vyrn: Gaaah! Hold it! Time out! If you use that technique here...
Vyrn: You'll blow the whole colosseum into the cosmos!
(Captain) and Vyrn ready themselves and charge into the throng of monsters.

A Thousand Reasons - Chapter 3: 3rd Bout - Episode 2

A Harvin man named Al-Khalid appears with guards to clean up after the monsters and tend to the wounded. A fan explains that Al-Khalid is famed as a brilliant businessman as well as a strong martial artist. Randall and Aliza step into the ring for the fourth match.



The crew manages to fight back the monsters and—more importantly—to dissuade Ghandagoza from leveling the colosseum.
Lyria: We should be okay now.
Vyrn: Thank goodness. You okay, old man?
Ghandagoza: I'm not even winded.
Lyria: But you're bleeding... kind of a lot.
Ghandagoza is bleeding from a multitude of bites and scratches, none of which seem to trouble him.
He looks calmly down at (Captain).
Ghandagoza: I look forward to our match!
Lyria: Well... There he goes.
Vyrn: I can never tell what that old guy's thinking.
Vyrn: And is it me, or did he see through (Captain)'s disguise?
Lyria: I wonder... I couldn't tell either.
Vyrn: Wouldn't surprise me, knowing him.
???: This way! Please hurry!
Guard: Yes, sir!
???: We need to tend to anyone who was wounded immediately.
Guard: Understood!
A man appears leading a group of guards. He comes to a halt in front of the crew and inclines his head respectfully.
???: It's extremely fortunate you were here. Thank you for your heroics.
Vyrn: Hey, anybody woulda done it.
???: Even so, I'm grateful to you. There are a great many visitors in the colosseum today.
???: Great care was supposed to have been taken to keep out the monsters that usually roam free in Albion.
Lyria: Um... And you are?
???: Where are my manners? My name is Al-Khalid.
Fight Fan 3: I knew it was you, Al-Khalid!
Fight Fan 4: Al-Khalid! I'm your biggest fan!
Vyrn: What's the deal? Are you some kinda big shot?
Al-Khalid returns his attention from his adoring fans to (Captain).
Al-Khalid: I believe you called yourself the Masked Cypher?
Al-Khalid: If we win our respective matches, we'll face each other in the finals. I look forward to it.
The Harvin smiles cordially, and (Captain) nods in acknowledgement.
Al-Khalid: I'm afraid I must be on my way.
Smiling in response to his cheering fans, Al-Khalid moves off to issue further instructions to the guards.
Lyria: So he's another contestant.
Vyrn: I guess so. At first I thought he was the captain of the guard or one of the tournament organizers.
Fight Fan 4: Don't you know Al-Khalid?
Lyria: Is he famous?
Fight Fan 4: I can't believe you haven't heard of him! He's a young businessman who recently shot to the top in the financial world.
Fight Fan 4: The heir to a noble but stagnant family who breathed new life into their empire!
Vyrn: A merchant? But he's fighting in the tournament, right?
Fight Fan 4: That's exactly what's so impressive about him!
Fight Fan 4: Not only is he a genius trader—he's an incredible fighter!
Fight Fan 4: He doesn't use magic or weapons. He's a pure martial artist.
(Captain) can't help but smile at the young man's hero worship. After hearing him out, the captain heads toward the dressing rooms.
Commentator: And we have our next matchup!
Commentator: Randall!
Commentator: Versuuus Aliza!
Commentator: Two young martial artists who specialize in kicking techniques!
Commentator: Looks like we can expect more of the fancy footwork we saw in match one!
Commentator: Let's not waste another minute! Are you ready?
Commentator: Fight!

A Thousand Reasons - Chapter 3: 3rd Bout - Episode 3

An evenly-matched battle between Randall and Aliza drags on until both combatants are exhausted. Aliza returns to her well-practiced battle stance, but Randall improvises and manages to knock her out of the ring. In the next match, Soriz attempts to show off to his opponent, Claudia. She, however, distracts him by lifting her skirt and delivers a one-hit KO.



Aliza: Doryaa!
Randall: Rgh!
Aliza lands a solid kick through Randall's guard, and he staggers.
Randall: Hah... You're pretty good for a woman!
Aliza: Come again?
Aliza: You don't think female opponents are worth taking seriously?
Randall: That's not how I meant it at all.
Randall: It's a question of reach. You're working with shorter limbs, but that doesn't seem to stop you.
Randall: But... if I offended you, I apologize.
Aliza: Oh... Okay. Guess I jumped the gun there.
Aliza shakes it off and grins, falling into a practiced fighting stance.
Aliza: Let's get back to it!
Randall: Got your second wind, huh? All right!
Randall: Raah!
Aliza: Hnh. Taah!
Commentator: These two are on fire!
Commentator: Each match in this tournament is more exciting than the last! Keep your eyes peeled, folks! You don't wanna miss a moment of the action!
Randall: Ngh! Take this!
Aliza: Too slow!
The fight drags on as the combatants match each other blow for blow—one step forward, one step back—neither gaining the upper hand.
Aliza: Gotta... keep going...
Aliza starts to struggle, her breathing more strained.
Aliza: Huff... Huff...
Commentator: Could it be that Aliza is slowing down?
Commentator: Not surprising in such a drawn-out match! How much longer can she go?
Randall: Hnh! Hah!
Randall: Try this on for size!
Commentator: But Randall isn't about to give her a break!
Aliza: Huh?
Aliza: Gyah!
Aliza: Huff... Huff...
Aliza: Y'think that'll take me out?
Randall: You've got grit! But I'm not goin' down either!
Randall: Ora ora ora!
Aliza: Grrrr... Damn it!
Commentator: This match is starting to look more and more lopsided...
Fight Fan 2: Hey... Shouldn't he go easier on her?
Fight Fan 1: Hey, Randall, pick on someone your own size!
Aliza: ...
The jeers from the crowd seem to affect Aliza far more than their intended target. Her jaw clenches.
Randall's gaze strays from her to the stands. He sneers at the hecklers.
Randall: Hah! Easy to run your mouths in the audience, isn't it?
Randall: You think I have time to worry about my opponent's feelings in the middle of an all-out fight?
Aliza: Haha!
Aliza: Don't lose focus, Randall!
Randall: You don't have to tell me!
Commentator: These two must be getting tired after such a long bout... But they have too much spirit to let that stop them!
Commentator: How far will their resolve take them?
But the turning point is closer than suspected.
Randall: Huh?
Aliza: Crap...
Commentator: Those fighting forms aren't looking so snappy!
Aliza: (Calm down, Aliza! You can't let your form get sloppy!)
Randall: Wide open!
Aliza plants her hands, preparing to spring back to her feet, but before she can, Randall's next kick hits home.
Aliza: Aaah!
Commentator: Out of bounds! Aliza is out of the ring!
Commentator: The winner of this grueling match is Randall!
Aliza: I... I lost!
Randall: Hey!
Randall jumps down from the ring and offers Aliza his hand.
Randall: That was a hell of fight.
Aliza: I'm really upset at myself right now, you know.
Randall: Hahahaha!
Randall: We have more than just our fighting styles in common.
Randall: Let's do this again when we've both had more time to train!
Aliza: Next time, you're mine!
Aliza and Randall shake hands, mutual respect clear in their eyes and the strength of their grip.
Commentator: We're all still shaking from that last fight...
Commentator: But it's time for the next!
Fight Fan 1: Whoo! I've been waiting for this!
Fight Fan 2: Yeah! We get to see the winners from round one again!
Commentator: That's right, everyone, it's time for round two! The four winners in this round will move on to the semifinals!
Commentator: Let's see who we have for match five.
Commentator: Iiit's Soriz!
Commentator: Aaand Claudia!
Soriz: A-he-he-hem.
Soriz: Well, well. I'm all atwitter, having to face a lovely lady like yourself.
Claudia: ...
Commentator: ...

I feel like this isn't the same Soriz we know from round one...

But anyway... Here we go!
Commentator: Ready...
Commentator: Fight!
Soriz: Is it time already? I would have preferred to meet you in a more refined setting, miss!
Soriz: Sorry, but this is a match. I can't afford to go easy on ya.
Claudia: Are you finished?
Claudia: Forgive me, but I don't plan to waste any more time than necessary on this.
Soriz: Hey now, a fine lady like you shouldn't make scary faces like that.
Claudia: I take your point.
Claudia: It certainly is unseemly for a lady to break a sweat for no good reason.
With a fearless smile and a rustle of starched fabric, Claudia slowly lifts the hem of her skirt.
Soriz's Voice: G-gwa-huhhh?
Claudia: If you'll permit me.
Claudia: Hah!
Soriz: Gyurgh!
Commentator: Claudia lands a devastating punch to Soriz's completely unguarded gut!
Commentator: Soriz is out of the ring! A one-hit victory, ladies and gentlemen! The victor of match five is Claaaudiaaa!
Claudia: Thank you for so thoughtfully allowing me to conserve my strength.
Claudia curtsies to the sprawled-out Soriz before leaving the ring.
Aliza: Well... He looked the fool, all right.
Watching from behind the ring, Aliza shakes her head.
Aliza: So her name was Claudia...
Claudia: It certainly is unseemly for a lady to break a sweat for no good reason.
Aliza: I guess that's one way to fight...
Mulling over the results of the match, Aliza wanders back to the stands.

A Thousand Reasons - Chapter 3: 3rd Bout - Episode 4

Feather is distracted from a chat with Randall by a particularly strong aura and runs off to find the source. Meanwhile the Masked Cypher faces Ghandagoza in match six. Ghandagoza has realized (Captain)'s identity and declares that if he wins, he will take the captain as his disciple.



Feather: Randall!
Randall: Do you even have an indoor voice? What do you want?
Feather flings open the door to Randall's dressing room and bounds inside. He is met with a withering glare from his childhood friend.
Feather: I had to let you know how excited I am to play out our final battle on this stage!
Feather: Our fists have so much talking to do—such a tale to tell!
Randall: Pipe down already! You're raising my blood pressure.
Randall: Keep your trap shut until the match starts.
Feather: But the anticipation is killing me!
Feather: My fists are overflowing with emotion that needs to be shared!
Randall: I don't care! Go flail around outside if you can't contain yourself!
Randall: Hm?
Feather: !
The two young men's heads turn in unison toward the door as a strong presence makes itself felt.
Feather: That combative spirit... It's so potent...
Feather: Could it be?
As abruptly as he burst in, Feather barrels out of the room.
Randall: Hey, wait, Feather!
Meanwhile, the next match is about to begin.
Commentator: Here we are at match six! Who will be next to advance to the semifinals?
Commentator: On my right, we have the mysterious newcomer who defeated Ladiva in match two...
Commentator: The Masked Cypher!
Lyria: Vyrn, Vyrn! The Masked Cypher is up!
Vyrn: Easy, Lyria, easy! I'm watching!
Lyria: You can do it, Masked Cypher!
Commentator: And on my left...
Commentator: Ghandagoza!
Lyria: Oh no... Can the Masked Cypher beat him?
Vyrn: Ghandagoza's a tough one...
Lyria: He is a legendary martial artist after all...
Vyrn: Well, we don't know that for sure, but he is crazy strong.
Lyria: Ahhh, I don't like this!
Vyrn: We just gotta believe in the Masked Cypher! And we still need to find out what happened to Siero.
Vyrn: We can't slack off now!
Ghandagoza: Gahahaha! How I have waited for this day!
Ghandagoza: I still haven't given up on making you my disciple, you know!
Ghandagoza: Remember that wish we get if we win the tournament?
Commentator: Oh? What's this talk of disciples?
Commentator: And why is Ghandagoza covered in wounds before the match has even started?
Commentator: It sounds an awful lot like Ghandagoza knows the Masked Cypher's true identity!
Lyria: Oh no, Vyrn, did you hear that?
Vyrn: I knew that old dude had figured it out!
Lyria: Yes...
Lyria: And even worse than that, if he wins, Ghandagoza's going to take (Captain) as his disciple!
Vyrn: That's trouble... But we've gotta leave this up to our captain!
Commentator: This is shaping up to be an exciting match! Let's get right to it!
Commentator: Ready...
Commentator: Fight!

A Thousand Reasons - Chapter 4: 4th Bout - Episode 1

(Captain)'s fiercest attacks can't faze Ghandagoza, but the captain's refusal to give up brings a smile to the huge Draph's lips. He decides it will be more interesting for him to spectate and steps out of the ring, disqualifying himself. The audience, not understanding his reasons, begins to mutter suspiciously about the circumstances of the match.



Ghandagoza: Hnngh! Nnnggghhh!
Commentator: What a fierce onslaught from the Masked Cypher! But Ghandagoza refuses to go down!
Ghandagoza doesn't falter, no matter how many blows (Captain) lands, and the captain is starting to show signs of exhaustion.
Ghandagoza: Hunh, you...
Masked Cypher: ...
But (Captain) refuses to back down, eyes blazing with determination, gaze locked on Ghandagoza.
Ghandagoza: You've still got that fire in your eyes.
Commentator: What's going on here? They seem to have suspended hostilities for a friendly chat!
Ghandagoza: ...
Ghandagoza: You always swing your fists for someone else's sake. That's the source of your strength.
Ghandagoza: Gyahaha! When it comes to strength, I didn't think there were any secrets left for me to discover! I'm glad I was wrong!
Commentator: Wh-what does Ghandagoza think is so funny? He seems to be having a grand old time!
Ghandagoza: I think it'll be a lot more interesting for me if I leave this one to you!
Commentator: Wait, wait, wait a minute! Ghandagoza is turning his back on the Masked Cypher...
Commentator: Whoa! He jumped straight out of the ring!
Vyrn: Wait, what just happened?
Lyria: I... I don't know. But I guess this means...
Commentator: However it happened... The winner is the Masked Cypher!
Masked Cypher: ...
Lyria: Yaaay! The Masked Cypher won!
Vyrn: Dunno what was going on out there, but we get to keep our captain!
Lyria and Vyrn are relieved that their captain won't be carried off to undergo Ghandagoza's spartan training.
Some of the spectators, however, don't seem as delighted.
Fight Fan 3: Huh? What was up with that?
Fight Fan 1: I dunno. It sure looked like Ghandagoza was the stronger fighter...
Fight Fan 2: I couldn't make heads or tails of what they were talking about... Do they know each other?
Fight Fan 1: Do you think he'd throw the match because they're friends?
Fight Fan 4: And why was Ghandagoza so beat up even before the match started?
Fight Fan 3: I saw him being attacked by monsters just before this.
Fight Fan 4: I saw that too! And that Masked Cypher was there as well!
Fight Fan 1: Then why wasn't there a single mark on the Masked Cypher?
Fight Fan 2: I dunno, but somethin' about this stinks.
Discontented mutterings ripple through the stands, suspicion following in their wake.

A Thousand Reasons - Chapter 4: 4th Bout - Episode 2

Feather finds Ghandagoza after match six and excitedly declares that Ghandagoza is the martial artist he's been chasing from island to island. They retreat to an isolated area to trade blows, after which Feather begs to become Ghandagoza's disciple, but Ghandagoza refuses.



Feather: Wait up!
Ghandagoza: Hm?
Feather comes sprinting up to Ghandagoza, blocking his path.
Feather: Please wait! It's you! You're the one I've been searching for!
Ghandagoza: Oh? And why does that concern me?
Feather: You're my motivation! I've been chasing you, trying to overcome my limitations and find a new path!
Feather: Please! Allow me to test my fists against yours!
Ghandagoza: This place should do.
Ghandagoza leads Feather to a deserted plain, well away from the colosseum.
Feather: Yeah! Out here, it's just the two of us, so our fists can have a nice heart-to-heart!
Ghandagoza: No. I can already feel the power slumbering within them.
Ghandagoza: You and I have no need for chatter! A single attack will speak volumes!
Feather: You're right! Then I'll pour everything I wanna say into one punch!
Ghandagoza: Good. Let us begin!
Feather: Haaa...
Ghandagoza: Nghaaa...
The two gather energy in their fists, concentrating it until the very air around them sizzles.
The heat threatens to scorch the surrounding landscape.
Feather: Doryaaa!
Ghandagoza: Haaa!
The clash is blinding.
Feather: Hurgh...
When the light fades, Feather is on his knees.
Feather: Huff... Huff... Incredible... That was incredible!
Feather: That's the power I've been searching for!
Feather: Will you take me as your disciple? Please!
Ghandagoza: ...
Ghandagoza touches the place where Feather's blow landed.
Ghandagoza: Your fist did speak to me. In simple words, yes... simple but strong!
Feather: Then will you—
Ghandagoza: I will not be your master.
Feather: Why...
Feather's eyes widen in dismay.

A Thousand Reasons - Chapter 4: 4th Bout - Episode 3

Katalina and Vira visit the regent of Albion to investigate Sierokarte's disappearance. They learn that Al-Khalid provided seventy percent of the backing for the tournament. Meanwhile Claudia meets up with Dorothy and Queen Constance, who have come to support her. Another group of monsters break into the colosseum, and the maids repel them with Aliza's help.



Katalina: Did you hear something just now?
Vira: I'm sorry?
Katalina: I thought I heard an explosion in the distance...
Vira: I didn't hear anything.
Katalina: No? Maybe it was my imagination.
Regent of Albion: Sorry to have kept you waiting.
Katalina: Please don't apologize. We're the ones who dropped in without notice.
Regent of Albion: You look well, Lady Vira.
Vira: I am. Thank you for your cooperation today.
While the Grandsky Rumble progresses elsewhere in the city, Katalina has asked Vira for her help.
Together they pay a visit to the regent governing Albion in Vira's absence.
Katalina: Yes, and I'm afraid we are in a hurry.
Regent of Albion: Of course. You wanted to know about the Grandsky Rumble, correct?
Vira: Albion funds are involved in this event, are they not?
Regent of Albion: Yes, we are one of the sponsors.
Regent of Albion: But our contribution was not actually that considerable.
Katalina: Who are the other sponsors?
Regent of Albion: Several other countries and districts, as well as some merchant associations.
Regent of Albion: However, none of the sponsors has contributed as much as Al-Khalid.
Katalina: Al-Khalid?
Vira: I've heard of him. He's a businessman who's made a huge splash in the world of commerce in the past few years.
Regent of Albion: That's right. He's provided 70 percent of the backing for this event.
Katalina: That's quite the sum.
Vira: That runs the risk of impacting the impartiality of the tournament's administration, wouldn't you agree?
Regent of Albion: It wasn't originally supposed to turn out this way.
Regent of Albion: We had received an offer from Sierokarte to put up a significant amount of the capital.
Regent of Albion: But then we lost contact with her.
Katalina: ...
Vira: ...
Katalina and Vira trade a meaningful look.
Regent of Albion: Just as we were wondering what to do, Al-Khalid offered to provide the additional funds necessary. We gratefully accepted.
Katalina: And you haven't heard from Sierokarte since?
Regent of Albion: I'm afraid not. I'm worried as well.
Katalina: ...
Vira: It's all right, Katalina, I can vouch for the regent.
Katalina: In that case, Regent, I'd like to ask your help.
Dorothy: Queen Constance, look! There's Claudia!
Dorothy: Claudiaaa! Over heeere!
Claudia spots the pair and pushes her way through the crowd toward them.
Claudia: Did you two just get here?
Dorothy: Yes. We were late because Queen Constance was dawdling.
Constance: I'm sorry, I'm sorry! But you told me not to wear my armor, and then...
Claudia: Sigh...
I suppose I should be grateful you got here at all.
Dorothy: Anyway, I'm glad you made it through your first match! We'll be cheering for you at the next one!
Constance: Claudia, please... Please be careful not to get hurt. All right?
Dorothy: Oh, come now, Queen Constance!
Dorothy: You know that Claudia can take care of herself!
Constance: Yes, but... But you never know... Anything could happen...
Claudia: Do you really think I'm so easy to trifle with?
Constance: I know how strong you are, Claudia... But so are all the other participants...
Vyrn: Heeey! You guys!
Lyria: Claudia! Dorothy! And Constance too!
Claudia: Oh! Lyria!
Dorothy: I didn't think we'd see you here! But isn't the master with you?
Lyria: Um, (Captain) had... a thing...
Dorothy: Aww... I was hoping to spend some quality time...
Claudia: Dorothy, don't badger Lyria.
Lyria: O-oh, she's not!
Claudia: You're so kind and tolerant, Lyria.
Happy for the chance to catch up, Lyria, Claudia, and the others fall into lively conversation.
Fight Fan 1: Waaah!
They are interrupted by a piercing scream.
Monster: Groooar!
Vyrn: Gah! Monsters?
Lyria: Again? How are they getting into the colosseum?
Constance: Th-this is terrible, terrible! What if the spectators are injured?
Constance: I-I... I have to convince the monsters to leave!
Dorothy: Please calm down, Queen Constance. This isn't our island!
Claudia: I will not allow any harm to come to Lyria.
Dorothy?
Dorothy: Time for some spring cleaning? You got it!
Aliza: What're these monsters doing in here?
Aliza: And what are you guys doing here?
Dorothy: Cleaning first, chatting later.
Aliza: You're right! Let's take out the trash!

A Thousand Reasons - Chapter 4: 4th Bout - Episode 4

After the monsters are dealt with, Aliza learns that Claudia entered the tournament in pursuit of a lifetime surrounded by sweet young maidens. Aliza is surprised and delighted by how direct Claudia and Dorothy are about their desires.



Monster: Grr...
Claudia: Are you hurt, Lyria?
Lyria: I'm fine. The three of you were really something to watch though! So perfectly in sync!
Constance: I'm sorry! I'm so sorry! The monsters are making such a nuisance of themselves...
Dorothy: Sigh... Queen Constance, I keep telling you! This isn't our island!
Aliza: It doesn't look like any of the spectators were seriously hurt either. I guess we can relax.
Claudia: Really... The colosseum security is a disgrace, allowing monsters to get in so easily.
Claudia: What if something had happened to Lyria or some other sweet young maiden?
Aliza: Sweet young maiden? What're you talking about?
Dorothy: Teehee. Claudia has a weakness for cute girls.
Aliza: Oh, really?
Dorothy: Yep, the whole reason she signed up for this tournament was to realize her dream of a lifetime surrounded by sweet young maidens!
Aliza: What? That's your dream?
Claudia: Of course. And I'll stop at nothing to achieve it.
Aliza: ...
Dorothy: Sigh...
Dorothy: I should have entered.
Dorothy: My wish would be to devote my life to serving my master...
Claudia: But weapons aren't allowed in this tournament.
Dorothy: Yes... That really is a shame.
Aliza: Pfft. Ahahaha!
Vyrn: Gah! What's up with you?
Aliza: I'm actually a little jealous. You two are so forthright about what you want.
Claudia: Right or wrong, this is who I am.
Aliza: Haha! I like you, Claudia!
Aliza: I'm glad I entered this tournament. My horizons needed a little broadening.
The three women's laughter bubbles over as they get to know one another.

A Thousand Reasons - Chapter 5: 5th Bout - Episode 1

Some time before the Grandsky Rumble, Seox is called to a meeting with Seofon, leader of the Eternals, and asked to participate in the tournament. Seofon has taken an interest in one of the backers, who is also a participant. To fulfill his role as an Eternal and avert conflict, Seox agrees.



Seofon: Oh, you're here already? Sorry I'm late!
Seox: What kind of person comes late to a meeting he arranges?
Seofon: I said I'm sorry! Besides, you came too early! Don't be such a stick-in-the-mud, Seox!
Seox: If you don't come to some sort of point, I'm leaving.
Seofon: Sorry, sorry! Don't go!
Seox: ...
Seofon: Come on. Sit back down and I'll tell you everything.
Seox, half-risen from his seat, settles once more, frustration hidden behind his mask.
Seofon: I'll skip to the end, since you're so impatient.
Seofon: I want you to enter a martial arts tournament set to be held in Albion.
Seox: A tournament?
Seofon: I'm interested in one of the organizers.
Seofon explains that one man, the top sponsor of the event and setter of the championship prize, will also be competing.
Seofon: I heard about it from Siero, who's now mysteriously incommunicado. Any way you sniff it, it's fishy.
Seofon: I think we're looking at a threat to the balance, whether in terms of finances or military might.
Seox: So you're interested as an Eternal.
Seofon: Of course. Our role is—
Seox: To avert conflict.
Seofon: Exaaactly.
Seox: I don't enjoy being a part of this organization but I'll do my job.
Seofon: Good, good. I'm counting on that flawless work ethic of yours.
Seox: Is that all you had to say?
Seofon: I'm sure I don't have to tell you this, but you need to hide the fact that you're an Eternal. And, if necessary...
Seox: Understood.

A Thousand Reasons - Chapter 5: 5th Bout - Episode 2

The Pitch-Black Punisher (Seox) faces Al-Khalid in match seven. During the battle, Seox's keen senses detect a mechanical whir coming from the back of Al-Khalid's neck. Perceiving his scrutiny, Al-Khalid suddenly and drastically accelerates and manages to throw Seox clear of the ring, winning the match.



Commentator: We've already come to match seven, ladies and gentlemen!
Commentator: We haven't had a spare moment to tire of the action or to worry that it's almost over! Let's keep this thrill ride going!
Commentator: The Pitch-Black Punisher!
Commentator: Versuuus Al-Khalid!
Commentator: Are you ready for this matchup?
Commentator: The Pitch-Black Mask—wait, no—the Pitch-Black Punisher, gave us quite a show in his last bout.
Commentator: You all know Al-Khalid, but you'll want to pay close attention and burn his performance into your memory!
Al-Khalid: Haha... I'm worried I won't live up to that introduction.
Al-Khalid: I watched your previous match. You're quite the fighter.
Seox: ...
Al-Khalid: I won't ask you to go easy on me... I'm sure we'll both need to put our all into this match.
Seox: ...
Wordlessly Seox throws off his cloak and raises his fists.
Commentator: The Peanut Butterer—no, that's not it—anyway, he's discarded his cloak!
Commentator: The Pitch-Black Punisher seems eager to get down to business! No time to waste then!
Commentator: Ready...
Commentator: Fight!
Seox: Hnh!
No sooner has the word left the commentator's mouth than Seox surges forward, closing the distance between him and Al-Khalid.
Al-Khalid: Ngh!
Seox: Ha! Hyah!
Commentator: Amazing! The Pitch-Black Punisher is like a hurricane, raining down blows on Al-Khalid!
Al-Khalid: Rgh! You're just as tough as I expected.
Commentator: But Al-Khalid is responding just as quickly!
Commentator: To be honest, I don't think my eyes are fast enough to give you a blow-by-blow!
Al-Khalid: I can't let you have all the fun. How about...
Al-Khalid: This!
Seox: Hngh! Ha!
As their fists fly, neither giving ground, Seox notices something about Al-Khalid's movements.
Seox: (As I thought... His body simply shouldn't be able to harness that level of speed or power.)
Seox: (What's more... his right and left sides are too well-balanced. Every combatant has a dominant hand or a favored side... But not him.)
Seox: (Even the most talented martial artist could work a lifetime to achieve such equilibrium...)
Seox: ...
At last Seox's battle-honed senses pick up a faint sound.
Seox: ?
...
Seox: (Is that... a gear turning?)
Al-Khalid: Hah! Taah!
You seem troubled, my friend.
Seox: (It's coming from the back of his neck.)
Seox zeroes in on the nape of Al-Khalid's neck, attempting to land a blow.
Al-Khalid: Ah... I see I can't fool you.
Seox: You...
Al-Khalid: It seems I can't afford to stretch this out.
Al-Khalid's outline blurs as he accelerates.
Al-Khalid: Hngh!
Seox: Wha—
The Harvin seizes Seox's arm.
Al-Khalid: Haah!
Using Seox's momentum, Al-Khalid twists his body and sends the bigger man flying over his shoulder and out of the ring.
Seox: Gwah!
Commentator: Whaaat? The Pitch-Black Punisher is out of the ring!
Seox: Rgh...
Commentator: He got straight back to his feet, but too late. He was already outside the ring.
Commentator: The winner is Al-Khalid! What a fight! I've never seen such speed!
Fight Fan 4: Nice one, Al-Khalid! You're the greatest!
Al-Khalid: Phew... Thank you very much.
Al-Khalid inclines his head graciously toward his effusive fans.

A Thousand Reasons - Chapter 5: 5th Bout - Episode 3

Seox warns (Captain) of his discovery regarding Al-Khalid. Vyrn flies off to share the information with Katalina and Vira, leaving Lyria with Jessica to watch the rest of the tournament. Al-Khalid recalls an earlier confrontation with Sierokarte concerning his true objectives.



Seox: ...
After the seventh match, Seox approaches (Captain) in the corridor behind the ring.
Seox: There's a trick to that man's power.
The Eternal's eyes dart to the left and right, checking for anyone within earshot. He lowers his voice so that only (Captain) can hear.
Seox: At the nape of his neck.
(Captain) nods, though unsure what to make of the warning.
Seox: However, I suspect that his greatest strength lies in shaping public opinion.
Seox: Whether you unmask him or allow him to use you, everything will be decided in the ring.
Seox: Watch yourself, (Captain).
Lyria: Shaping public opinion?
Vyrn: I don't think I'm gettin' the whole picture, but he said that in the end it all comes down to the match, right?
(Captain) has returned to the stands to relay Seox's message to Lyria and Vyrn.
Vyrn: We'll leave that up to you, (Captain). Next...
Lyria: Should we let Katalina and Vira know?
Vyrn: Good idea! I'll fly over and fill them in!
Lyria: Thanks, Vyrn!
Vyrn: Wait a minute. If I do, you'll be here all alone.
Vyrn: (Captain)'s gotta head out soon to get ready.
Lyria: Oh, um, I...
Jessica: Well, if it isn't Lyria and Vyrn!
Lyria: Jessica!
Vyrn: Isn't Ayer with you?
Jessica: Ah, no. He's...
Jessica smiles, though her eyes are troubled.
Jessica: I think he wants some time alone to get over his loss.
Vyrn: Oh. He's down in the dumps about it, huh?
Jessica: There's that too, but I get the feeling he has a lot he needs to think about.
Jessica: So I thought I'd join you to watch the rest of the tournament, if you don't mind.
Vyrn: Great! What a relief!
Jessica: A relief?
Lyria: Oh, um... Vyrn has an errand to run, so I was going to be here on my own...
Vyrn: Yeah! 'Cause, uh... (Captain)'s busy... so I didn't wanna leave her here alone!
Jessica: I see.
Jessica glances at the masked (Captain) and smiles.
Jessica: Well then, I'll take care of Lyria.
Vyrn: You're a lifesaver, Jessica! Thanks!
With Jessica keeping Lyria company, Vyrn flies off to find Katalina and Vira while (Captain) leaves to prepare for the semifinals.
Sierokarte: I see. So that's what you're after.
Al-Khalid: I didn't anticipate anyone figuring it out.
Sierokarte: I'll admit, it wasn't what I was expecting.
Sierokarte: I figured it was more along the lines of conquering all of Phantagrande, or seizing control of the skydom's trade.
Al-Khalid: Haha. You're vastly overestimating me.
Sierokarte: Not at all. If you put your mind to it, I think those goals would be easily within your reach.
Al-Khalid: So you say, but here you are standing in my way already.
Al-Khalid: And what do you propose to do, now that you know my intentions?
Sierokarte: Good question... I don't think I can just go along with them.
Al-Khalid: I see. I thought perhaps, as a fellow Harvin, you might understand.
Sierokarte: It's not that I can't see where you're coming from...
Sierokarte: But as we grow up, I think we have to accept that there are just some things we can't have, you know?
Al-Khalid: Say what you will... I've made my choice.
Al-Khalid: I'm afraid I cannot allow you to impede me, so I must insist that you remain here as my guest for a while longer.

A Thousand Reasons - Chapter 5: 5th Bout - Episode 4

Match seven: Randall vs. Feather. Feather steps into the ring already wounded, and Randall demands to know the reason. Feather's excited explanation about Ghandagoza only enrages Randall, and the fight begins.



Commentator: Fight fans, it's time for the last match of round two!
Commentator: Randall!
Commentator: Versuuus Feather!
Commentator: On my cards here, I see that these two have been frenemies since childhood!
Commentator: There's an asterisk by "frenemies." It says, "friends and lifelong rivals"! How exciting!
Randall: What idiot let that slip?
Randall: But more importantly...
Randall: Feather, why do you look like you got hit by a speedship!
Randall points at the injuries clearly visible on Feather's body.
Randall: You weren't in that condition the last time I saw you!
Feather: Hahahaha! You're as sharp as ever, Randall!
Feather: These are the souvenirs of my conversation with the martial artist I've been chasing all this time!
Randall: What?
Feather: It's true! I finally found him!
Feather excitedly relates his encounter with Ghandagoza.
Feather: Why?
Feather presses for a reason why Ghandagoza won't agree to train him.
Feather: Are my punches not up to your standards? If that's the problem, I'll train day and night until I can—
Ghandagoza: Not so fast!
Feather: Huh?
Ghandagoza: That's not the issue. It simply isn't in your best interest to become my disciple.
Feather: Why not? It's all I want!
Ghandagoza: Training under me would only narrow your horizons. It might even douse the flame that now blazes within you.
Ghandagoza: The fire that drives you to pursue your ideals.
Ghandagoza: I felt it in your fists, and so that is my answer!
Feather: You felt it in my fists?
Ghandagoza: Not long ago, I would gladly have taken you as my student.
Ghandagoza: Gyahaha! I guess I've changed too!
Feather: What! So even someone as strong as you has room to change? To get stronger?
Ghandagoza: Of course! That's what makes life interesting!
Ghandagoza: And now, don't you need to get back? You made a promise to your... frenemy... did you not?
Feather: Oh! I almost forgot!
Ghandagoza: Keep fighting! Pit yourself against your rival and as many worthy adversaries as you can find in your quest for glory!
Ghandagoza: And if our paths should cross again as we journey across the skies, our fists will have much to tell one another!
Feather: Yeah! Yeeeeeah!
Feather: It's a promise!
Randall: ...
Feather: And that's the story! I feel stronger than ever before! I'm brimming over with power!
Feather: So don't mind these bruises! Come at me with everything you've got, Randall!
Randall: Don't jerk me around.
Feather: Whassat now?
Randall: Forget it. You're completely in earnest. I know that.
Randall: And that's why I'm so pissed off, Feather!
Commentator: Whoa, scary! Looks like it's time to let them loose!
Commentator: Ready... Fight!

A Thousand Reasons - Chapter 6: 6th Bout - Episode 1

Randall reveals that he is furious with Feather for forgetting their fight in favor of following Ghandagoza. To Feather's shock, Randall uses his fist to knock Feather down. Feather responds that he is only able to pursue his dreams and training because of his rivalry with Randall. The two resume their match, speaking the language of fists and feet.



Commentator: Randall is unstoppable! But what's eating him? What could be fueling that fury?
Feather: Hey! Wait a sec, Randall! Why are you so mad?
Randall: Ha! So even a musclebrained nit like you can tell I'm angry about something?
Feather: Of course I can tell! Your fists—well, your feet—tell the tale all too clearly!
Randall: Grrr!
Feather: Randall!
Randall: Let me ask you this: What brought you into this ring?
Feather: How can you ask that? I came to settle the score with you, of course!
Randall: Oh, really. Did you?
Randall: Because it seems like before you met up with this legendary martial artist, whatever-his-name-is...
Randall: You barely gave our match a second thought!
Feather: Wait, what?
Randall: I'll never...
Randall raises his clenched fists.
Randall: I'll never lose to someone who doesn't take me seriously! Not a chance!
Feather: Gyah!
Feather: Ngh... That... hurts, you...
Feather wobbles to his feet, hand pressed to the cheek now bearing the imprint of Randall's knuckles.
Feather: Your fist...
Randall: ...
Feather: Your fist spoke to me, Randall.
Randall: Grr...
Feather: But you've got it all wrong!
Randall: Oh yeah? How?
Feather: I want to progress. I want to hone these fists so I can speak with all sorts of combatants.
Randall: I know that! You've been going on about it since we were kids!
Feather: And the only reason I can do that is because I have a rival like you!
Randall: What?
Feather: Randall, it's all because of you!
Feather: I hate losing just as much as you do! No, more! I won't let you have that either!
Randall: !
Randall's eyes widen at Feather's declaration. At last the corners of his mouth curve upward.
Randall: Hah! Look at you, actually trying to use your words for once.
Randall: Guess I'll let you give your conclusion with those fists you're so proud of!
Feather: Now you're talking!

A Thousand Reasons - Chapter 6: 6th Bout - Episode 2

Feather and Randall's all-out battle ends in a tie with a double knockout. Claudia and the Masked Cypher square off for match nine. Claudia has guessed the Masked Cypher's identity and declares that she plans to steal Lyria away if she wins.



Randall: Grrr... Damn it!
Feather: Come on, Randall! I know that's not all you got!
Randall: Damn right it isn't!
Feather: Glad to hear it! You're not gonna use your fists anymore?
Randall: Shut up! Are you even capable of listening to me if I don't?
Feather: Of course I am!
Feather: Your kicks rattle my very soul!
Randall: Really! Then how about another!
Feather: Sure! My fists will answer everything your feet have to say!
Randall: Till one of us is laid out on the ground!
Feather: Hyaaah!
Randall: Rraaahh!
Commentator: There's no break in this two-way onslaught!
Commentator: Feet and fists are flying! No blow goes unanswered for so much as a second!
Randall: Featherrr!
Feather: Randaaall!
Feather: Gyah!
Randall: Agh!
Commentator: Two clean hits! Both fighters are dooown!
Randall: Hngh...
Feather: Urgh...
Commentator: I'm ruling that a double knockdown. Let's start the count!
Commentator: One! Two! Threee!
Randall: ...
Commentator: Four! Five! Six! Seven! Eeeight!
Feather: ...
Commentator: Niiine...
Teeen!
Commentator: Ooout!
Commentator: A double knockout, ladies and gentlemen! We have a tie!
Feather and Randall are carried to the colosseum's first aid facility, unconscious. The commentator warms up the crowd for the ninth match.
Commentator: The semifinals are about to begin!
Commentator: Are you ready, everyone?
Commentator: Claudia!
Commentator: Aaand the Masked Cypher!
Claudia: ...
Claudia: I don't know why you're wearing that ridiculous costume...
Claudia: But I intend to eliminate any and all obstacles to my ultimate goal.
Claudia gazes unwaveringly at (Captain) and raises her fists.
Commentator: For such a refined lady, Claudia is giving the Masked Cypher one doozy of a murderous look!
Commentator: What does this mean for the match? Let's find out!
Commentator: Ready...
Commentator: Fight!
Claudia: I will be the one to care for Lyria from now on!
Masked Cypher: !

A Thousand Reasons - Chapter 6: 6th Bout - Episode 3

Match nine goes to (Captain). Aliza heads to the infirmary to visit Randall and Feather but on her way meets Al-Khalid, who informs her that the two are still unconscious. Their conversation is interrupted by monsters, and Al-Khalid is injured shielding Aliza. (Captain) arrives to help defeat the monsters.



Commentator: The Masked Cypher wins! Next stop: the final round!
(Captain) breathes a sigh of relief then nods politely to Claudia.
Claudia: Don't imagine for a second that I've given up.
With a flip of her skirt, Claudia turns on her heel and departs.
Aliza: I wonder how long Randall's gonna be out.
Aliza walks through the colosseum's inner corridors toward the first aid facility.
Aliza: Ahhh! He and Feather had such a great match! Each of them had such polished techniques! Such expert strategy! And so much fire!
Aliza: It does make me wonder whether Randall went easy on me earlier...
Aliza: But he's not that kind of guy!
Aliza has a spring in her step as she goes to check on the two downed combatants. She comes to a stop when she notices she isn't alone.
Aliza: Isn't that...
Al-Khalid: Oh, hello. You're Aliza, aren't you?
Aliza: And you're... Al-Khalid, right?
Al-Khalid: I am indeed. It's a pleasure.
Aliza: Did you just come from the first aid room?
Al-Khalid: Yes, I wanted to check on those two.
Aliza: I heard they're supposed to arm wrestle once they wake up to decide the outcome of the match.
Al-Khalid: Yes. I'm slated to face the victor in the semifinals.
Al-Khalid: Naturally I was rather worried about them. Unfortunately neither is awake yet.
Aliza: Aw, shoot. Still out, huh?
Al-Khalid: You were on your way to see them?
Aliza: Yeah! I wanted to tell them how much I enjoyed their match!
Aliza: Oh! I saw yours too! I've never seen anyone move that fast!
Al-Khalid: That's very flattering.
Aliza: I feel like I've been living in a really narrow little corner of the world.
Al-Khalid: Narrow? How so?
Aliza: Well, there are so many strong people in the world.
Aliza: And I'm starting to realize that there are just as many reasons to seek strength as there are people seeking it.
Aliza: I'm sure you have your own.
Al-Khalid: I suppose I do.
Al-Khalid averts his gaze with a small smile.
Al-Khalid: Aliza, what do you think is the most important quality of a hero?
Aliza: A hero? I dunno... strength? And then... popularity, I guess?
Al-Khalid: I see...
Aliza: You don't think so?
Al-Khalid: I think that might better describe the villain.
Aliza: The villain?
They are interrupted before Aliza can ask what he means.
Monster: Grroooar!
Aliza: A monster?
Monster: Graah!
Aliza: Why you—
Al-Khalid: Look out!
Al-Khalid: !
Aliza: Al-Khalid!
Al-Khalid takes the brunt of the monster's charge in Aliza's place.
Aliza: Are you all right?
Al-Khalid: Yes. More importantly—
Monster: Groooh!
Aliza: Argh, how do you keep getting in?
Monster: Gaargh!
Monster: Gragragh?
Aliza: The Masked Cypher!
The monster falls to the Masked Cypher's fists.
  1. Are you all right?
  2. That was a close one.

Choose: Are you all right?
Aliza: I'm fine, but Al-Khalid, are you hurt?
Aliza: Ah! Your arm's bleeding!
Al-Khalid: It's nothing serious. No need to worry.

Choose: That was a close one.
Al-Khalid: Yes, once again your timing is superb. I'm in your debt.
Aliza: Well, even if you weren't, I was just about to take care of that critter.
Aliza: But forget that. Al-Khalid, your arm's bleeding!
Continue 1
Aliza: You need to get that treated ASAP! You've got another match coming up!
Al-Khalid: I have a first aid kit in my dressing room which will suffice. And I really should be going.
Al-Khalid: Oh, and Masked Cypher. If I should advance to the final round, I look forward to facing you.
Clasping his wounded right arm to staunch the trickle of blood, Al-Khalid smiles and takes his leave.
Fight Fan 1: Hey, did you hear the match order's been changed?
Fight Fan 2: Yeah, they're moving straight on to the finals.
Fight Fan 3: What happened? What about the other semifinal?
Fight Fan 2: It seems there was a monster attack near the first aid facility where Feather and Randall were recovering.
Fight Fan 3: Not another monster!
Fight Fan 2: So to be on the safe side, they decided to skip the match and award the semifinal victory to Al-Khalid.
Fight Fan 1: Wait, so is that when Al-Khalid got attacked?
Fight Fan 4: What! Al-Khalid was attacked? Is he okay?
Fight Fan 1: I dunno... I heard he was injured by a monster, but he's still gonna fight in the finals.
Fight Fan 3: What's up with that? Is he gonna be all right? And how do those monsters keep getting inside?
Fight Fan 2: Yeah, Ghandagoza was attacked by monsters too, before losing in round two. He was all beat up before his match started.
Fight Fan 1: And I think I saw Claudia fighting the next bunch of monsters that sneaked in...
Fight Fan 3: And now they go after Al-Khalid?
Fight Fan 4: They always seem to target the Masked Cypher's opponents, don't they?
Once again, suspicions of the Masked Cypher whisper through the colosseum like wind through long grass.

A Thousand Reasons - Chapter 6: 6th Bout - Episode 4

The final match between Al-Khalid and the Masked Cypher begins. The audience is on Al-Khalid's side and boos (Captain). Encouraged by the crew's cheering and Sierokarte's reappearance, (Captain) manages to damage the device implanted in Al-Khalid's neck. The broken device sends Al-Khalid into an uncontrolled rampage, and the crew unites to stop him.



That picture book is my clearest childhood memory.
The pages were worn and gray at the edges from how many times I'd turned them.
The story was simple. A hero who defended the world, defeating all who threatened it, armed with nothing but his fists. It spoke to me on such a deep level that it made me ache...
I would have done anything to be more like him. Strong, righteous, noble. I wanted to become that hero.
That admiration, that dream, shaped my ambitions.
My parents would not have approved, so as a boy I dedicated myself to martial arts training in secret.
It was the only thing in which I could take such joy. The pride and pleasure I derived from my incremental progress was unrivaled.
At least... in the beginning.
Clearing each hurdle in my training would allow me to see another, taller, beyond it.
And yet I could not give up.
Al-Khalid: Huff... Huff...
Faster. I need to move faster!
Al-Khalid: It's not enough. I need more muscle mass...
No... Even that won't close the gap...
I pushed myself beyond endurance. Muscle, tendon, and bone screamed out in protest, but I paid no heed.
Even so, what I wanted remained beyond my reach.
I knew that and yet I was merciless, driving my body past the point of no return.
Researcher: There's an experiment with which I would very much like your cooperation.
Researcher: I think you'll find the endeavor speaks to you personally.
Guard: Sir, it's almost time.
Al-Khalid: !
The sound of the guard's voice brings Al-Khalid back to the present with a start.
Al-Khalid: Thank you. I'll make my preparations and head out presently. Please go on ahead.
Guard: Yes, sir! If you'll excuse me.
Al-Khalid: Sigh...
Alone with his thoughts, Al-Khalid closes his eyes.
Al-Khalid: This is the stage I've always longed for.
Al-Khalid: No use getting maudlin now.
Al-Khalid suppresses a nagging feeling of emptiness somewhere in his chest. His fingers travel to the bandage around his right arm.
Al-Khalid: ...
Commentator: Laaadiiies aaand geeentlemeeen! The moment you've all been waiting for haaas arrived! The final round of the first Grandsky Rumble is here!
Commentator: We had some trouble earlier which forced us to skip the last semifinal... But we now present you with the final match!
Commentator: Let's announce our top two competitors!
Commentator: The Masked Cypher!
Commentator: Aaand Al-Khalid!
Fight Fan 4: Go, Al-Khaliiid!
Fight Fan 1: Show 'em your stuff, Al-Khalid!
Commentator: Sounds like our audience is a bit biased!
Commentator: But you didn't come to listen to me rattle on! You came to watch these two pit their strength against one another!
Commentator: So without further ado... Let's begin!
Ready...
Masked Cypher: ...
Al-Khalid: ...
Commentator: Fight!
Al-Khalid: Hyah!
Al-Khalid leaps into the air and flips, bringing a powerful kick down toward the Masked Cypher's head.
(Captain) blocks with one arm and turns smoothly to counterattack.
Fight Fan 3: Agh! So close!
Fight Fan 1: Don't block it, you wimp!
Fight Fan 4: Keep it up, Al-Khalid!
Lyria: I kind of get the feeling...
Al-Khalid: You're just as talented as I thought! So... can you counter this?
As Lyria feared, the colosseum crowd is turning against the Masked Cypher.
Al-Khalid's every move is met with enthusiastic support, while the audience jeers and boos when the Masked Cypher counterattacks.
Al-Khalid: Hngh! Daah!
Masked Cypher: ...
But the Masked Cypher remains calm.
The captain parries and returns blow for blow, circling Al-Khalid and waiting for the right opportunity.
Seox: There's a trick to that man's power.
Seox: At the nape of his neck.
Seox: Watch yourself, (Captain).
Masked Cypher: ...
Following Seox's advice, (Captain) zeroes in on the back of Al-Khalid's neck.
Al-Khalid: Ah... You've noticed it too.
Al-Khalid smiles faintly as he blocks and counters the Masked Cypher's next kick.
Al-Khalid: Or perhaps that masked gentleman was kind enough to warn you?
Masked Cypher: ...
The Masked Cypher keeps up a tireless barrage of punches and kicks, but Al-Khalid's responding onslaught only increases in intensity.
Fight Fan 4: Hey! Why do you keep attacking from behind!
Fight Fan 2: Are you trying to take his head off? That's dirty!
Fight Fan 1: Fight fair, you scumbucket!
Lyria: What's going on here?
Jessica: Not a very welcoming atmosphere, is it?
Lyria: Poor (Captain)... They're being so mean...
Lyria's fingers curl into the fabric of her dress as she bites her lip to hold back tears.
Fight Fan 3: C'mon, Al-Khalid, you've got that creep on the ropes!
Fight Fan 4: Knock that masked misfit into the next skydom!
Fight Fan 2: Only weirdoes try to hide their identity!
Fight Fan 1: That's right! The oddball's probably a criminal or somethin'!
Lyria: Th... They don't know what they're talking about. (Captain) is... (Captain) is...
At last Lyria can bear it no longer.
Lyria: You can do it!
Masked Cypher: !
Lyria's voice rings out above the cheers and hisses of the rowdy spectators.
Al-Khalid: I'm touched...
Al-Khalid: That's quite the devoted friend you have. But please, don't prolong your suffering unnecessarily.
Al-Khalid: After all, you're here for Sierokarte...
Masked Cypher: !
Al-Khalid's whispered comment brings the Masked Cypher up short.
Al-Khalid: Are you not?
Al-Khalid: I'm afraid I must ask you to finish playing your role as the villain to my hero.
Jessica: What just happened? The Masked Cypher seems to have slowed down all of a sudden...
Lyria: Oh no. Why?
Jessica: It looked like they spoke to each other... Perhaps it was something Al-Khalid said?
???: Hey! Masked moron!
Jessica: Was that Ayer?
Ayer: Quit lazing around, stupid! You tellin' me that's all you got?
Ladiva: Oh my. He beat me to it.
Lyria: Ladiva!
Ladiva: So stubborn... I told you to ask for my help if you needed me!
Ladiva: Give it everything you've got! I'm watching over you!
Dorothy: No faaair! I'm watching too, you know!
Dorothy: C'mon, Claudia, aren't you gonna cheer?
Claudia: I'll pass. He'll be just fine without my support.
The voices of friends and crewmates seem to fill (Captain)'s sails with a second wind.
Al-Khalid: You're a tenacious opponent.
Al-Khalid: But don't waste your energy. You must yield in the end, mustn't you? After all...
Vyrn: Guuuys!
Lyria: Vyrn!
Vyrn: Woo! I made it! The fight's not over yet, right?
Sierokarte: Hello, hello! It's your pal Siero from the Knicknack Shack!
Al-Khalid: What! How?
Al-Khalid pales as he spots Sierokarte in the stands.
Al-Khalid: How... did you...
Sierokarte: That's the mystery, isn't it? You know, I've been traveling these skies to trade my wares a lot longer than you.
Sierokarte: Never underestimate Siero!
Sierokarte: I have to admit though, I had some help from (Captain), Katalina, and the others.
Al-Khalid: Rgh...
Fight Fan 4: Hey, isn't that Sierokarte from the Knicknack Shack?
Fight Fan 3: Huh? What's that about?
Fight Fan 2: Does Al-Khalid seem a little off to you?
Al-Khalid: I can't... let this stop me...
Al-Khalid's moment of hesitation provides opening enough for the Masked Cypher to land a punch.
Al-Khalid: Hngh!
Al-Khalid: Urgh... Ah...
Commentator: What just happened? I saw actual sparks fly, and now something seems to be wrong with Al-Khalid!
Al-Khalid: Ugh... Hnngh...
Commentator: I see something at the back of his neck... What in the skies is that? It appears to be... some sort of device!
Commentator: This could be very bad news!
Al-Khalid: Gah... Gyaaah!
Commentator: Oh no!
The damage to the device embedded at the nape of his neck seems to rob Al-Khalid of control of his body.
Commentator: The details are unclear, but what we can confirm is that Al-Khalid was using some sort of tool! Which means the final match is—
Al-Khalid: Rrraaah!
Commentator: Maybe we should talk about this later!
Al-Khalid's wildly flailing attacks rip (Captain)'s mask clear off.
Lyria: Ack! The mask!
Vyrn: Well, I guess the whole secret identity thing is out the window.
Sierokarte: I think the tournament is the least of our worries right now. We need to stop Al-Khalid!
Lyria: You're right! The spectators are in danger too!
Vyrn: All right! Let's do this, (Captain)!
Vyrn: No need to fight alone anymore! C'mon, everybody!

A Thousand Reasons - Ending

With the malfunctioning device removed, Al-Khalid reveals that he was driven to these lengths by a lifetime spent trying to live up to his martial artist hero and being constantly thwarted by his size. Aliza and the others find it hard to condemn him, although they all feel it was wrong of him to cheat. Sierokarte says that (Captain)'s strength comes from bonds of friendship and the motivation to fight for someone else's sake.



Al-Khalid: Urgh...
Sierokarte: (Captain)! Make sure you detach that device from his neck!
Sierokarte: Otherwise...
Feather: Daaah!
Randall: Hyaaah!
Al-Khalid: Gyargh!
Randall and Feather's perfectly coordinated combination attack deals the final blow to the device.
The tiny machine flies from Al-Khalid's neck and explodes in a hail of sparks. The Harvin collapses to the ground.
Lyria: Wah! Feather and Randall!
Vyrn: Where did you guys come from?
Feather: A huge racket woke us up, so we came running!
Randall: I don't really get what's going on, but you wanted that device smashed, right?
Vyrn: Shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth, but... that was quite the performance from two guys who just rolled outta bed and didn't know which way was up.
Lyria: You're an amazing duo! Like two hearts beating as one!
Feather: Hahaha! Right? Right? Me and Randall are—
Randall: Stop right there!
(Captain): ...
Feather: Hm? (Captain), you ditched your mask?
Aliza: Huh? You mean you knew the Masked Cypher was (Captain)?
Feather: Not at first, but it was obvious once I'd seen the Masked Cypher in action a few times!
Feather: I'd recognize that aura anywhere!
Aliza: Well, I... I totally noticed... something...
Vyrn: What're you mumbling about, Aliza?
Aliza: Nothing! Anyway, what about Al-Khalid?
Al-Khalid: ...
Sierokarte: Looks like he's just passed out. He should come around soon.
Lyria: Oh, thank goodness.
Vyrn: Hey, Siero. Just what was that little doohickey?
Sierokarte: If I had to guess, I'd say it was sending signals along his spine to amplify his physical abilities. Something like that.
Vyrn: So then, what we saw wasn't his true strength.
Sierokarte: Seems that way.
Al-Khalid: Uugh... Mf...
Lyria: He's waking up!
(Captain) and the others peer down at Al-Khalid as his eyes slowly open.
Lyria: Are you all right?
Al-Khalid: Yes.
Sierokarte: Do you know where you are?
Al-Khalid: I do.
Al-Khalid nods listlessly and begins to push himself upright.
Al-Khalid: ...
His eyes light on the ruined device and a dispirited sigh leaves his lips.
Vyrn: Hey... The tournament rules said no weapons or tools, right? Why would you use that thing?
Al-Khalid: From its inception, this tournament was merely a stage for me to become a hero of the martial arts world.
Vyrn: Not much of a hero if you cheat... And then lose your marbles and go berserk to boot.
Al-Khalid: I simply... cherished that dream for so long...
Aliza: Then shouldn't you have put that passion into your training? You know, really made the effort?
Al-Khalid: You don't think I did?
Aliza: !
Al-Khalid: You'll never understand... How far I pushed this body, how many times I stood on the brink of despair... Only to be unable to give up...
Al-Khalid: So don't talk like you know what I've been through!
(Captain) and the others don't know how to respond to this first glimpse of Al-Khalid's true feelings.
Al-Khalid: There's not a single great Harvin martial artist. Not one.
Al-Khalid: The captain of the Lumiel Order of Holy Knights was perhaps the first to make a name for herself as a fighter... And there were others.
Al-Khalid: But all of them did so using technique or magic to overcome the restrictions imposed by our size.
Al-Khalid: On a purely physical level, we simply can't compete. Take Ghandagoza, for example. I am barely the size of one of his arms.
Al-Khalid: Even when all I want in the world is to become stronger, stronger than anyone else... This body won't get me where I want to be.
Al-Khalid: I eventually realized that I could never follow in the footsteps of my childhood hero.
Al-Khalid: But I shut my eyes to that cruel reality. Perhaps clinging to that dream was the worst kind of self-indulgence...
Al-Khalid's voice is calm and almost troublingly detached.
Lyria: You made (Captain) look like a villain.
Lyria: Whatever your reasons were, I can't forgive you for that.
Vyrn: Lyria...
Lyria: But I don't think you're all bad... And I don't hate you.
Lyria: I don't really know what we should do.
Aliza: I know where you're coming from, Lyria.
Aliza: Telling right from wrong is really complicated.
Lyria: Aliza...
Aliza: I never spent much time thinking about that.
Aliza: But I feel like I've learned something during this tournament, from the people I've met and the fights I've watched.
Aliza: Everyone is fighting for their own reasons, their own goals, their own dreams...
Aliza: It's not that simple to decide which are right and which are wrong.
Aliza: So if you've got a dream you can't let go of, you have to fight to protect it! That's what I decided, so I'm gonna keep on training!
Vyrn: Haha! That's you all over!
Aliza: But I definitely don't approve of cheating, so I think what Al-Khalid did was wrong.
Aliza: That's my opinion anyhow.
Feather: I don't see any problem if you use it outside of a tournament though! I'd still like the chance to trade punches with you!
Feather: I don't care if you're using that gadget or not!
Randall: Feather, you're just confusing the issue. Shut it.
Sierokarte: I'd like to see that device, if you don't mind.
Sierokarte retrieves the charred device and peers at it.
Sierokarte: I think if you lowered the output, a device like this could be a great help to the elderly, or people dealing with injuries.
Al-Khalid: I should hope so. It was under that guise that the device was first presented to me by an empire researcher, as I had gravely injured myself.
Al-Khalid: In truth all they wanted was to exploit my finances and explore the technology's military applications...
Al-Khalid: But I've been researching the broader applications myself.
Sierokarte: I thought you might be.
Sierokarte: If you're successful, you'll be a hero to quite a few people.
Al-Khalid: ...
Al-Khalid: Even so... I don't think I can give up on becoming the man I wish to be...
Sierokarte: I see... Well, I won't say anything more about that.
Sierokarte: Only... that I apologize for implying your goal was childish.
Al-Khalid: I see.
Al-Khalid excuses himself to tend to matters of cleanup.
Aliza: I almost forgot! Did (Captain) win the final round? What about the prize money?
Lyria: Oh yeah... I wonder.
  1. I wasn't in it for the money.
  2. Sweet, sweet lucre...

Choose: I wasn't in it for the money.
Vyrn: Yeah, (Captain) only entered this tournament to find Siero anyway.

Choose: Sweet, sweet lucre...
Vyrn: The money would sure be useful on our travels, but we did sorta help wreck this place...
Vyrn: It'd be a little awkward to go asking for cash now.
Continue 1
Sierokarte: In the end, I didn't get the chance to contribute to the event, so I can't help you out as an organizer...
Sierokarte: But I can treat you all to a good meal as thanks for helping me out!
Lyria: Ooh! Really?
Sierokarte: Of course! Pick anything you like and get as much as you want!
Lyria: Yay! Yay! Free food!
Vyrn: Apples for me!
As Lyria and Vyrn start to plan the evening's menu, (Captain) catches Sierokarte's eye.
  1. Could I ask you a favor?

Choose: Could I ask you a favor?
Sierokarte: What can I do you for?
(Captain) hesitantly asks if they can invite all the friends who cheered the captain on during the final match.
Sierokarte: Of course we can! The more the merrier!
  1. Thank you.

Choose: Thank you.
Sierokarte: You never walk alone, and you never act for yourself...
Sierokarte: That's the secret of your strength, (Captain).
(Captain)'s quizzical look is met by Sierokarte's usual, bright smile.
Sierokarte: Hehe. Don't worry your pretty head over it.
Sierokarte: I'll go put preparations for that feast in motion, so you go collect our guests!
Lyria: (Captain)! Let's gooo!
Vyrn: Yeah, some of those guys are pretty slippery! If we don't catch 'em quick, they'll be off who knows where before you can say "Knicknack Shack"!
Lyria and Vyrn each grab one of (Captain)'s arms, and the trio hurries off to catch their friends.
The End

Characters

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