Cage Match 2012: Round 1: Saphira versus Tattoo


The Contestants


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One of the last dragons in Alagaësia
Age: Never ask a lady-dragon’s age!
Race: Dragon
Weapons / Artifacts: Talons; teeth; scales (armor)
Breathes fire

The Tattoo
Magical gangster
Age: Unknown
Race: Ink-in-dermis
Weapons / Artifacts: Money, power
Sic Goss and Subby on you

The Breakdown


  • Mastery of flight and in-air combat maneuvers
  • Dragon scales that are virtually impenetrable
  • A near-constant telepathic connection with Eragon

  • Control of magical London’s underground
  • Demonstrated commitment to upcycling (people)
  • Army of devoted Knuckleheads

  • A near-constant telepathic connection with Eragon

  • Lack of independent mobility; bacne

  • N/A

  • N/A

How we think the fight will go

Saphira spiraled gracefully out of the sky, landing silently in the abandoned lot where they’d agreed to meet.

A punk-haired man waited for her by a burned-out car. Skinny and disheveled he wore no shirt. He seemed anxious.

After silently appraising their surroundings, Saphira approached, and spoke in his mind. Paul, are you sure you want to go through with this?

The man nodded, “They said it’s the only way. I got a Londonmancer to knack me up so I don’t get killed and so it won’t hurt me none. But I’ve got to get this over with, once and for all.”

Muffled shouts came from somewhere behind Paul’s neck. Saphira raised a brow, and craned her long, elegant neck over Paul’s shoulder slightly, but she was still unable to get a good look at his back.

Saphira met Paul’s eye with a stern gaze.

Whenever you’re ready then.

Paul shivered slightly and turned slowly, bringing Saphira eye to eye with the Tattoo. The Tattoo’s inked eyes opened wide in surprise, then narrowed in fury when he saw Saphira. She inhaled deeply, smiling menacingly at him, a curl of smoke escaping between her teeth.

“Mmph! Mmphmmph!” The Tattoo became more agitated, the inked-on stitches that held his mouth shut straining against his lips. His brow furrowed with rage and his stifled threats grew louder, but no more articulate.

“Do it!” Paul shouted, bracing himself against the rusty car frame with both arms.
Saphira grinned and roared, aiming a plume of blue fire directly at the Tattoo. The flames rippled across Paul’s back but he did not scream—the Londonmancer’s spells had worked.

The Tattoo, however, also seemed unaffected by Saphira’s magical fire—though the stitches around his mouth did began to melt, inked shadows dripping down Paul’s back, sliding beneath his skin like rain on a windowpane, before disappearing below the waist of his battered black jeans.

But the Tattoo’s face remained unharmed.

His lips twisted into a menacing smile as he whistled loudly, as though for a cab.

“What’s happening? What’s wrong?” Paul shouted.

I don’t know. Saphira’s alarm skittered through him. It’s not working.

“It has to work!”

Saphira inhaled deeply, preparing to set another course of flames against Tattoo, but paused, feeling as though someone had inhaled the inhale right out of her. A dark dread washed over the empty lot. Silence collapsed in on itself. No birds, no planes overhead, no cars from the road nearby.

Then, cracking that silence, a low slow whistle, tuneless, like air from a deflating toy. Saphira turned around.

“Wot ‘ave we ‘ere then?” Goss and Subby advanced across the lot, moving faster than their limbs would have allowed. “You alright boss?”

Saphira’s panic washed over Paul like a breaking fever. Run!

Paul took off across the lot, but just as quickly Subby was there, tripping him with a little shrug and a smile. Paul landed face down in the tall weeds, sobbing.

Saphira leaped toward the sky, but Goss reached out for her, hand extending like a cartoon robot arm, endlessly telescoping toward her until he snatched her tail and yanked her from the air.

The Tattoo laughed. “Stand up you little shit,” he barked at Paul, “I want to see this.”

Subby extended his small hand to Paul pulling him from the ground with a strength beyond his small stature. Paul stood, defeated. He very much did not want to see this—he knew how it would end.

Goss, humming a discordant little tune, began to fold Saphira, starting with the tip of her long scaled tail.

“Seems like you’re fond of fire, so I’m thinking you’d be handy to keep around, but we can’t ‘ave you zipping off like that, now can we?”

Saphira roared in protest, twisting and thrashing to break free. As she struggled, she shot blue and gold flame in all directions, like a roman candle.

“Don’t you know who you’re dealing with?” the Tattoo snickered from across the lot, “You don’t think I have half of London in my pocket? It was only a matter of time before this idiot tried something stupid.”

Goss continued folding up Saphira’s diamond hard tail like a shiny origami triangle. She roared in pain.

Please Paul, help!

Paul just sobbed quietly, unable to do anything now that the Tattoo was back in control. He knew he’d be paying for this latest insurrection as it was. Perhaps this time the Tattoo would make good on his threats to hobble Paul permanently, or tear out his tongue.

Goss, on a roll now, increased his speed, long fingers moving faster. Terrible crunching noises, like a trash compactor at work, filled the empty lot. Saphira’s roars turned to whimpers turned to sickly squishing silence as Goss completed his handiwork.

“A’ight then boss, I think we’re done here.” He wiped his hands on the front of his coat. Sauntering over to Paul, Goss reached into his pocket and pulled out a slightly crumpled pack of cigarettes. Tapping out two, he put one in his mouth, and one in Paul’s.

Goss lit his, and with a wink to the Tattoo, he reached around to Paul.

“Say then mate,” Goss said, revealing a small lighter that gleamed like gem stones in the sunlight. Flicking it with his thumb, a small blue flame erupted from the lighter. “Can I git you a light?”

Nancy Lambert contributed to this Cage Match

Predicted Winner: Tattoo


Check out the previous match!

Check out the next match!

Check out the Bracket

Saphira is a character from the Inheritance series by Christopher Paolini; The Tattoo is a character from Kraken by China Miéville

Saphira image courtesy of John Jude Palencar. Tattoo image courtesy of Del Rey Books

Cage Match fans: We are looking forward to hearing your responses! If possible, please abstain from including potential spoilers about the books in your comments (and if you need spoilers to make your case, start your comments with: “SPOILER ALERT!”