Ray Kealoha stared at his opponent. No one knew where the colorful-haired girl had come from. She hadn’t even introduced herself before challenging Ray to a dance battle in front his whole Guild. The guild’s president thought this was hilarious, and immediately ordered a section of the hall cleared, so the battle could commence. She, like the rest of the Guild of Magic Practitioners had never respected Ray’s chosen style of magic. They thought dance magic was all fluff and no substance.
He hadn’t even known that GMP had a sound system. Their entire hall only consisted of a single large room above a comic book store. There was a podium at the front and chairs lined the walls. The DJ selected a thumping rhythm punctuated by the deep “waah” sound of electronic bass. Ray also hadn’t known anyone in the Guild had such good taste.
Ray often felt that music had a magic of its own, compelling his body to move. He didn’t try to stop it. Instead, he focused it into magic. He began with a series of quick, jerky movements called popping. It was a subset of hip-hop dance and it magically enhanced his agility. He would have preferred to start with a quickstep, but without a partner, he couldn’t pull that magic off. Either way, increasing agility was a good strategy. It would improve all his subsequent dance moves and give them more power.
Across the floor, Ray’s opponent danced a heavy stomping jig. Clearly a master of dance, she had no trouble matching the moves to the beat despite the stylistic difference. Ray knew the moves and why she was doing them. She was fortifying her body, making her resistant to any attack. Ray decided to test this resistance by improvising a few whirling arm motions that stirred up a powerful gale of wind. An astonished “oooh” was heard from many of the gathered magic users as chairs toppled and people braced themselves against the wind.
“Get a bubble up!” the Guild president yelled.
Ray smirked as a pair of wizards erected a magic bubble around him and his opponent. The fact that they hadn’t put one up to start was a token of how little they thought of dance magic. They’d think differently by the time this was over.
As much as Ray wanted to enjoy a smug moment, the other dancer was doing some moves he didn’t recognize. She was kind of swaying her arms back and forth, but what was she… A bolt of lightning streaked from a spot right in front of her. Ray sprang back and landed in a backwards crouch. His hands were flat on the ground behind his head and his feet were under his butt. He took the briefest moment for a few balance-enhancing breakdancing moves before rocking back onto his hands and springing to his feet. This girl was going to be challenging to beat. He’d need to change tactics.
She was too skilled to be taken down purely by magic, so Ray decided to try physical attacks. If he could forcibly stop her from dancing, her power would break. To that end, Ray began doing ballet, increasing his strength dramatically.
The other dancer shifted tactics too, and in the worst way. She was krumping! The crowd cheered. They loved it. To be honest, so did Ray. The dance lacked the traditional structure of other forms, but it was a pure fluidity of movement, much of it in exaggerated motions. It was like watching a beautiful seizure. Ray tried to brace himself for what was coming, but he could feel the effects of her dance. She was inflaming his passions. She likely hoped to distract him with her beauty. It was a good tactic. She was gorgeous and only getting more so as he watched her dance. But, she had miscalculated. Ray had a single passion that trumped all others. He was passionate about dancing, and she was fueling that passion. He discarded all strategy. He was going to dance with reckless abandon. He would dance like the wind… or better yet, like a fire!
He didn’t have poi balls with him, but Ray always kept a pair of monkey’s fists disguised as a necklace. He pulled them from his neck and uncoiled the fists. They were simple; just two weighted balls on the ends of cords. He started spinning them in wide flowing circles. As he got moving, the fists ignited. He kept it up, moving faster and faster as flames sprung to life and swirled around him. The crowd gasped and cheered, though he wasn’t sure why. Surrounded by this inferno, his dance would be difficult to see.
For the first time, the girl looked concerned, but her concentration was unbroken. She moved into a squatting, high-knee dance – was that a rain dance? She was mixing it with Cossack kicks that boosted the effect. Instead of rain, an icy blizzard formed above her head. With the magic bubble containing the effects, the cloud was forced into a rounded shape.
Fire and ice clashed between the dancers. Air swirled as it heated and cooled rapidly. Oh… This was bad. This was really bad. The space between them erupted into a tornado!
Ray’s opponent ceased her dance, and Ray knew he should do the same, but he didn’t want to. He was winning! He was a dancing flame! He was… He was distracted by the slow, unfamiliar arm movements his opponent was making. He suddenly felt his mind grow sharp. He was fully lucid, and very aware of the danger in front of him. The intense, magical storm had nowhere to escape, and the other magic users weren’t going to release the bubble. That was standard procedure. Dueling magic users knew this and accepted the risk.
“I yield!” he yelled. “Now help me stop that thing!”
The girl answered with action instead of words. She sprinted to him. With one hand holding his and the other hand on his waist, she led him in a foxtrot. It was a good idea, but the tornado was too powerful to be calmed this way.
“This is too slow,” Ray yelled over the storm. “We need to neutralize it by matching its energy.”
Ray took over and led her in a twostep. This didn’t work. In fact, it seemed to enrage the tornado. It grew in size and pushed them towards the unyielding edge of the bubble.
His partner took over again, leading him in a bolero. It had energy, but not enough. Ray wished he would have done a jig too, because he was barely keeping his feet with all the wind.
“We need to try a salsa!” Ray yelled.
His partner couldn’t hear him, so he just started dancing. Within seconds, she caught on and joined in. Ray could see that he had chosen the right dance, but it was hard work to contain the tornado. Sweat trickled down their faces as they gyrated. After five or ten minutes of pure salsa, the tornado puffed out of existence. The bubble was dropped and Ray slumped to the floor. To his side, he saw the girl, looking just as exhausted as he was. They shared a tired fist bump.
“That was a great battle,” he said in panting breaths. “Are you looking for a partner?”