After what felt like an eternity, the bell sounded and the warriors exited the Colosseum. Well, that's not entirely accurate. Four of the ten fearless artists solemnly walked through the arena's giant stone gates, not turning back to see their six fallen comrades.
Paintseagull was the first to speak: "What have we become...just one day ago, we were all friends, competing in an art contest. Then Master Miror B. announced the reward: a Shadow Pokemon! You know, I'm coming to believe that this Colosseum challenge wasn't worth entering, that Cipher isn't distributing these war machines for kicks and giggles..."
The three others nodded. But nothing could be done, the blood was on their hands too. Even those that wanted out of the competition couldn't do a thing about it. What, someone was going to tell the most inept Police force in Orre that Cipher's paying people to kill each other? Hell, Cipher probably owns the damn police force by now!
Aquakip looked ahead: "We've come this far. The Shadow Pokemon is our only defense from the lawlessness around these parts. Gangs of Shadow Pokemon owners roam the streets of Pyrite, and they see us as easy pickings. With a Shadow Pokemon of our own, we can at least hope to survive a little longer in this godforsaken country."
Each person knew Aquakip was right. Knickles and Mos-Quitoxe were treating their wounds from the day's fighting; it seemed those two had it particularly rough today.
Knickles, still nursing a bleeding leg, spoke up. "I don't care. You all exchange pleasantries like nothing. I don't think you understand how meaningless this is; we all were murdering each other just five minutes ago. We get to rest for a while, big whoop. As soon as that bell rings again we'll be back in the Colosseum slashing each other to bits. And for what? So Cipher saves us for last in their world-takeover plan? You know it doesn't matter if you have a Shadow Pokemon, when Cipher declares war against Orre they'll have thousands. No, tens of thousands. All this reward does is let us live a couple years longer."
Mos-Quitoxe spoke up, battling back pain to make himself heard: "Then why are you in this challenge? If you don't want a Shadow Pokemon, then why risk your life trying to get one? I want to win this for my life, so does paintseagull, and so does Aquakip. But you...you seem to have another motive."
Knickles grinned. "Gotta have some fun before the end of the world, don't you?"
All four combatants shared a twisted laugh. They shook hands, licked their wounds, and waited for the bell to chime again.
For tomorrow, more blood shall be shed.
Okay, I've hand-counted the results and here they are!
The top four entrants will advance to Art Poll 2. Congratulations to paintseagull, aquakip, Knickles, and Mos-Quitoxe! To the other six entrants, thank you for your participation! All ten of you submitted great artwork and it's a shame we can't have ten pre-evos!
By the way, if you misspelled a user's name when voting, your vote still counted. That only applied in two cases, but the votes were counted regardless.