Weeks have passed since the drums of war echoed through the land, since the battle cries of the brave rang through the ears of the crowd. Since the warriors of the Iron Legion did battle in the arena, molten steel pumped through hearts of iron. Tears of metal fell from the ducts of the defeated, since the display of strength upon the sands made the gods bellow their approval. Since our champions arose above the mortal realm and stood in the clouds, victorious.

Gladiators, saturated with passion, with a grimace of steel, veins pumping a path of blood towards the destination of glory. A journey of determination, taken on by those brave enough. As the hammer falls upon the anvil of fate, crafting and shaping our destiny. So too do our choices guide us, a deliberate strike with our mind providing aim.

I sit here now and contemplate this battle. The meaning behind the skirmishes becomes clear. Like a metaphorical parting of clouds, revealing the sunshine behind I now recall this conflict and all that happened that weekend, as I replay it in my mind, clear as day it is to me…

Commanding The Iron Legion, The Iron Warlord, Dan contemplates the battle at hand.

The day before the competition an owl appeared at my window as I was reading my morning poetry. An unusual occurrence, the owl gazed at me with intent. Its golden eyes, like rings of wisdom opening a portal into its soul. I stared deep into its eyes and it opened it’s mind to me. Stunned, I was held in disbelief as it relayed an image of fire and wind in my mind. The Iron Stronghold, bathed in light lay behind a moat of fire, the wind viciously encircling the parapets with a tempest of flames. A giant ethereal snake wrapped itself around the castle, suffocating it’s entrances, trapping all inside…

Breaking the trance I immediately awoke! The owl was gone, I was no longer reading poetry. I was in an old wooden vessel, waves all around me, upon the shore I saw the Stronghold wreathed in flame. Desperate to figure out why I was in an old wooden vessel with waves all around me not reading poetry I looked around for an answer. That’s when I saw him, the owl. hovering angelically above the waves his gaze never left me. I gave a yell,

” Pray tell, your presence seems to herald message of doom, to what cause do I owe your arrival oh golden owl?!”

Silence… It seemed that I would see this vision out to the end before clarity envelops me. Suddenly a rogue wave crashed over the boat, crushing it, darkness swallowed me and my last sight was of a bright light in the sky through the distortion of water crushing me.

I found myself back in my abode  drenched in sweat and confusion. I finished reading some poetry and began preparations for the weekend with prophecy of doom hanging over me like a dark cloud before a host of evil. Come early morning we were ready. The chosen ones of The Iron Legion had traveled far and wide to show their skills in tournament of strength. The day had come. Early morning sun warmed the valley as we made our way to the battleground. Barely a moment after preparations were completed, black clouds rolled in over the mountains, the pattering of rain began upon the sands, the roar of the ocean could be heard, the wrath of the elements had come, a longing for chaos, to see our world collide with theirs and turn all to rubble.The horns of war rang vibrant, resilient against the oncoming storm, the warriors of The Iron Legion standing brave in The Iron Stronghold,  ready for the assault.

Rory the destroyer led the charge into battle. His shield held high, a beacon of inspiration for all that followed. Aura of the brave, a spell felt by all. Resolute dominion was held above evil and all who opposed his rule. No weight too heavy, fear clutched at his heart but his brothers of steel bought him above fear and like a storm of power he surged through the dark clouds of terror and rose as a champion! A small victory on the squat with 40kg an iron success, not to deter his demeanor after missing his attempts on technicalities, he came back with ease on a 40kg bench and 80kg deadlift. His brave attempts, setting the path to a future of prosperity and power!

Rory the Destroyer

Not far behind the destroyer, I felt a presence not of this world, I commanded my legions to part and let through this being. What was this man!? A human smile, grasping at tendrils of demonic forces, a body of flesh but not of human origin. Godly presence, marred by flesh, the flesh god entered the arena. Was this a friend, or foe? I had to prepare defenses within the legion to ensure this beast did not turn on us and devour our skin, for his power was not of this realm. 85 kg on the squat, 45kg on the bench, 105kg on the deadlift. This beast had not revealed his true form, but i could see through his guise. Testing mortal waters, Will, surely to overthrow these numbers in future battles!

The Flesh God, Will.

What came next, threw me. The arena erupted in flowers, sunshine broke forth through the roof and a smile brightened the room. Natalie the Ranger,entered the battle, with a laugh she began her attack on the bar. An over willingness to fight led to a shaky start for Natalie, but she returned with a 95kg squat, a 40kg bench and a 120kg deadlift. Earthly warmth, demonstrated with a natural flare for beauty left the crowd in speechless appreciation. The ranger of flowers rose in hand had captured the hearts of everyone, and with it fortified the Legion’s defenses against the evil forces that sought to overthrow us.

The Ranger of Flowers, Natalie

Of those brave enough to depart for battle twice in two days, Jordan the  assassin was held amongst highest in effort. Novice of battle, he had awoken from a slumber that lasted since awakening. Battle hungry, a thirst to prove himself, one step forward, two steps forward, he sprang from lift to lift, event to event, like a swordsman dancing on the battlefield of life, inspiring all to take up arms, he uplifted the crowd with his prowess. Blood like rain showered upon the fields of gold and when he was finished all that remained was a 70kg squat, 60kg bench, 125kg deadlift! The  assassin will return and with it his increased strength!

The Assasin, Jordan

Meanwhile, I had lost myself in battle, calls of weights were thrown in the air like the wind, carried forth to the desk of destiny. Forces held absolute in the air against the elements. A fire grew in the west and dark clouds came from the east. The ocean raged. The golden owl! A prophecy!? How could this be?! I began reciting passages from the iron warlords prayer, empowering my heart with the will to go on,

” Iron blood, steel veins,
Glory eternal, power remains.
Iron heart, mind of steel,
The fire burns, I shall not kneel”

Time stops for no one, and the battle raged on as thoughts turned from storms, snakes and castles back to task at hand. Victory, or death.

Our next contender made her way to the stage. Marcelle, flying in upon steel winged steed on ice sharp wind, landing a champion. A warrior of iron, born to conquer fear. Fear destroyed in the face of danger,  erupting forth creating an arena void of nerves. External forces at bay her own power was enough to drive back any that stand in her way. A warrior born for a single purpose. To kill everyone that she sees. 82.5kg squat, 50kg bench, 130kg deadlift. Charging into battle, Marsteele, corpses and bodies littered the battlefield in her wake…

Marsteele, fears bane.

Next to grace the arena, with her resolute determination, a novice of power unknown. Uncertainty mixed with resilience, the power is apparent in her presence, yet she does not know this yet. I see it in her eyes, a steadfast will to find the power within, and with it, find a place amongst the glorified iron warriors of the legion. Nic, the brave of heart. A first timer in the art of Iron. Nic appeared in the arena and began her assault with a 77.5kg squat, 62.5kg bench and a 140kg deadlift to announce herself to the legion as a warrior of great potential, sure to return and continue her eternal battle for strength!

Nic the Brave

Next to enter the fray, Jessica, Iron Diva. With the fiery determination of a volcano, red-hot magma erupted onto the scene. A desire for improvement, to glow red with energy and prove worth on the sands of battle. A competitor of immense capacity and a explosive energy unmatched. Shields met steel, arrows in the wind, swords meet flesh and bone as the weights that met Jess disintegrated and turned to dust. 110kg squat, 70kg bench and a 152.5kg deadlift earning her 2nd place in Powerlifting.

The Iron Diva, Jess

To rise as a champion, one has to be ready to take on any challenge, without complaint, without adherence to weakness, a creed of iron embellished with grace, speed, agility and strength. To unlock the title of champion takes strength of all shapes and sizes, of all aspects. As the rubble was cleared and the smoke and dust settled, the skies grew angry. Thunder, lightning, fire, razor sharp wind sliced cuts in the air, every breath came with struggle as we trudged on, with Smash taking the stage.

100kg squat, 72.5kg bench, 145kg deadlift, members of the audience had to turn away, holding back the urge to throw up in disgust at the shocking strength of Ash the wielder of the flame of fortitudo. Waves of iron clashed against her, yet she held her ground. Trees swayed, snapping, shards of wood impaling spectators as they burst into flames, yet Ash moved on. A world of chaos, chasms of despair opened up, yet Ash moved on. Erupting as champion of the powerlifting arena, she was crowned victor, queen of power.

Ash, Champion of Iron

My mind turned to the elements, seemingly controlled by forces of evil. This storm was not of earthly origin. I felt the fury of the ocean, blackened by hatred, raging, lusting for revenge, for retribution of the land. Coiled tentacles whipped by corruption, hungered for blood to fuel the great waters desires. The wind, like a serpent clashed against the stronghold, carving lines of anger into it’s walls. All about us the elements crashed. Winged beasts within the wind of an unknown land flew above, salivating for fear, slaved by darkness they hungered to force their corruption into the world.

I thought of the image in my mind, The Iron Stronghold, surrounded by flames, dark waves crashing over me, a serpent strangling our fortress, locking us within. Forever to be hunted, sought after by the forces of external evil. With these thoughts riveting my mind I had to shake free. I wrangled them into submission and bought attention to reality. For now, a veteran returned…

Upon the brink of destruction a golden light shone. Visualising actuality and progression, fuelled by desire Will returned to the arena. 140kg Squat, 92.5kg bench and 150kg deadlift. Setting the stage for return. As he left the arena a gust of black wind broke through the iron defences of the Stronghold, a dark void came over the Legion an unseen darkness within the heart of the void. A hopelessness enveloped the crowd, holding them hostage. The guttural voice of the Black King of Death, Xanatos was heard in the mind of all.

“Your souls have been relinquished to the black design of humanities downfall. Unwillingly you have given rise to the eternal night. I now feast on your fear whilst the horde of night consumes you”

A thick laughter full of hatred arose, but was cut short. It was over in a second. The Golden Bullet against all odds deadlifts 170kg and the golden light shining from his glorious attempt burns The Black King of Death and banishes him into the realm from whence he came. The Golden Bullet has returned, enemies of the light beware.

The Golden Bullet, Will moments before defeating Xanatos, The Black King of Death

Amidst the chaos, a crowd favorite was planning his battle. Thoughts of victory guided his hand. Precision fueled by brute strength, a vision of light illuminating his path. Whilst the storm clashed outside, a fire raged within. Undeterred by how close we came to utter destruction, Conan returnd to the field leaving no stone unturned on this battle. A 165kg squat, 112.5kg bench and a 210kg deadlift, transmogrifying the iron to stone, stone to wood, leaves grew upon the branches and serenity enveloped the scene. The ancient order of the druids had sent a messenger, and his message was heard loud and clear.

” You will not defeat The Iron Legion”! – Conan, the Druid of Ascendance

Just then I saw it. The owl. It’s golden eyes following me, shimmering within the gym. An ill omen?! Was this a messenger of darkness, or a warning of our downfall!? What was it trying to tell me!? I felt courage, honor and an alliance of light all around me within the stronghold. But outside I could feel the powers of evil fighting to enter. Was this the beginning of the end? Were our efforts enough to keep this evil force at bay? Suddenly the owl was gone. Disintegrated by a blink, confusion followed me and I kept on, for the sake of humanity, I had to see this through. The shining light I saw as darkness clouded my mind within the vision kept me going.

That’s when I noticed them. The catapult, branded with the mark of the Goosh. Trebuchets had erected themselves on the platform and were launching guided comets of light into the darkness. Screeches of terror and unseen enemies were heard throughout the stronghold. Aaron took to the battle, his immense battle machines, lighting a path for the war to move forward. A 175kg squat, a 130kg bench and a 210kg deadlift burrowing into the minds of the armies of blackness, defeated by Aaron’s resilience they retreated. And so Aaron left the day as a champion of the legion.

The Engineer, Aaron of the Gorsch clan

Silence came over the gym now. An eerie silence. No soul stirred. Breath held in tight. Every step echoed for eternity, fear clutched at the strings of the crowd, the puppeteer fighting for control. As the next wave of warriors came forth from the darkness. Unafraid. Confidence erupted into each step. Nothing would stand in the face of the Iron Titans that followed. Glorious inspiration came upon all who were there. Enemies cowered before them and lost their shattered courage at the sight of them. The crowd was elevated alongside the Legion and cheers and song were heard throughout. 

Enter Brendan The Strong. A fortress of power. Wards of evil shattered before him. Words of black became slurred speech of fear in the face of his strength. No evil could withstand the presence and darkness fled. The strong came through with a 250kg squat, a 150 bench press and after a wavering fault, a 250kg deadlift. Showing to all that strength is pure. A discipline of martial precision mixed with raw power flowed through The Strong’s aura as he led the charge and decimated any thought of weakness.

The Strong, Brendan.

Meanwhile. Silently meditating in the background, a force of purity emanated from… something. The crowd felt it, the storm of evil felt it. But none could identify this figure that was bringing forth light in such a plentiful tone. No man was unmarred by the light. The crowd felt peace, happiness and glory in their hearts. Enter Andy, descendant of the Iron Exemplars, upholder of Iron peace. Floating onto the battlefield, surrounded by serenity, his absolution was absolute. Blindfolded he squatted 235kg, benched 152.5kg and deadlifted 270kg. Judges with eyes closed knew the certainty of his lifts, uplifted by serenity. His total leaving the crowd in disbelief, leaving him with 2nd place.

Andy, the Iron Examplar

All of a sudden I felt an earthquake. Visions of the Stronghold falling in on itself, collapsing under the earth, swallowed by darkness overwhelmed me. I was silent,accepting our fate. That’s when I realised… The earthquake was coming from WITHIN the gym.

VEN. THE BEHEMOTH, had entered. Swallowing all attempts before him and spitting them out like a childs playtoy. Smiling as he saw appetite satisfied. undeterred by any darkness, contentment at simply existing within the arena carrying him into a 305kg squat, 227.5kg bench press and a 305kg deadlift and 3rd place. Infectious strength carried all those around him as his demeanour invited all to his warmth. A hardened warrior, born to lift amongst the best. The citadel, cheerful splendour as clear as day. A blow to the forces that smote their darkness upon the walls of the Stronghold.

The Iron Behemoth, Ven

Next up, an enigma. The Insane Menace, reserved power found it’s mark when Denys announced himself as victor in the powerlifting competition. None could withstand his effort. Not even the lords of darkness themselves, fleeing the scene and leaving hordes of undead cowering at the insanity that followed. 320kg squat, an empty bar, 190kg bench press and a 305kg deadlift gave Denys the title of Powerlifting champion, creating a wake of admiration at his ability following his efforts. Melding into the shadows his support uplifting those around him by his aura of strength.

The Insane Enigma, Denys

As the great storm hungered to consume us, so too did the Iron Legion hunger. A thirst for battle, a feast of strength awaited them. So far we had survived the first days onslaught, but what was to happen on this second eve of battle? Would night sky bring with it dark thoughts and a blow to courage? Cheers of splendor rang loud and clear through the hall and laughter was heard. The forces of evil had been kept at bay by the efforts of honor within the stronghold, but was it enough?

The next day our fate would be decided once and for all. Dark winds bring dark omens, and that night the wind was blacker than the darkest abyss…

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