Description: Ayame's nocturnal hobby leads to a run in with a fiend far worse than any Darkstalker she has ever read about. Deploying every tactic, every option she has, the demon hunter faces off against the Blood Weaver, Jedah Dohma
The night has been a long journey through dark places.
Though her life was spent at the Ichijo Jinja kilometers north of Southtown, the young demon hunger was not oblivious about the events of the world around her. If anything, she seemed to obsess over them. Newspapers were studied, news listened to in the background of her other training activities... and while it was a long time in coming, even the internet is leveraged now that the family shrine finally got working satellite coverage. Poring over the infinite spiral of rumors generated online, trying to separate fact from fiction, was an incredibly difficult job even for the discerning young genius.
But occasionally, she finds a thread of truth that, when tugged on, holds up under scrutiny. Tonight's adventure is the result of one such discovery. Darkstalkers, as the common nomenclature of all manner of clearly inhuman monstrocities had come to be referred to, might be getting settled in all around the world, causing problems for normal, decent people, but Southtown? Southtown was her backyard and those creatures of the night would be very forcefully invited to find some other city to infest if the severe girl had anything to say about it. It just took finding them...
A string of burglaries into shops neighboring the expansive Southtown Park caught her eye when each of the reported thefts indicated that the footprints of what seemed to be a particularly large canine were found around each of the shops the morning after. In addition, each of the breakins were done by way of brute force through solid doors. The incidents weren't common enough to be an epidemic, but she could find the pattern in their frequency to discover that they happened roughly in line with the timing of the full moon each month.
Tonight was the next full moon since the last incident. Having taken it upon herself to resolve this matter once and for all, the priestess's preparations started earlier in the day. Tracking darkstalkers was not easy. Wards had to be placed to alert her of their presence well in advance and then she had to hurry to them whenever she sensed one of her prepared alarms were triggered. There was also the tricky matter of having to predict where they would be needed. She had noticed that the same shop had never been hit twice and so planned accordingly, concentrating her sentinal talismans near the neighboring shops that had not yet been hit.
It was only while placing them that she realized each of the shops that had been broken into had been all food establishments. As she finished her surveillance prep, she recalled that all the accounts reported that the theft was of meat and nothing else of value was taken. What a curious criminal this darkstalker was proving to be, she had mused.
That was hours ago.
Now the girl is running through the park after her quarry. Her clothing identified her trade readily enough - white kimono-styled top with crimson ribbon and long, oversized sleeves worn over a red knee-lengthed hakama-styled skirt gives her most of the trappings one would associate with a shrine priestess. In her left hand is a solid wooden staff held out at her side. In her right hand, held out in front of her a small lantern made of intricately folded paper. The pale blue light at its center was her guide through the dark now that her target had been marked by her ambushing him outside his next shop of interest
She had almost caught him then but he had given her the slip into the park. Many sections are lit by street lamps along the walkways, but there are far more areas where no light at all is to be found and it is through these thickets of darkness that her dim lamp guides her, the blue becoming more intense the closer she gets.
A werewolf, she muses, as she sprints through a field and springs over a row of brush. Tonight would be his last night in Southtown if she had anything to say about it. Sliding to a stop upon landing, her long, strawberry blonde hair swishing against her back as she spins in circles, holding up her lamp, Ayame Ichijo's eyes study the light to figure out where the glimmer is at its strongest.
The blue darkens a little and she smirks, moving off down an unlit path. She's getting close now...
It would only take a keen ear to identify the location of the werewolf in the moments that follow: a feral yelp can be heard, followed by a hurried shush to purportedly silence the cry for help. While it's true that the sound came from off the well-lit and beaten path, the muffled whimpering of a clearly canine form ought to be enough to allow it to be tracked by anyone foolish enough to dare.
Determining what's actually happened, though, would have to wait until light is cast into the darkness. A lantern would first be likely to catch two large curved blades, forming a rough and interrupted circle -- the keen edge deadly and unblemished. Also illuminated would be eyeshine, caught reflecting the new light source as the werewolf -- suspended some twelve feet in the air -- stares back at the new arrival.
"Shhh.... shhh... I have but a simple proposition for you..."
For Ayame Ichijo is not the first to have tracked the thief, nor the first to reach him. A taller, more monstrous form, seems to hold both honors. It may be difficult to see his face, save for the half-lidded red eyes looking mercifully up into those of the werewolf, back held against a tree by a hand clamped tightly around its throat. Globules of red are obvious around the fingertips of the hand -- with even the slightest bit more pressure, the werewolf would not have to worry about future run-ins with Ayame ever again. Or anyone, for that matter.
The hand is connected by nothing more than torn muscle ligaments and a few preciously-stretched arteries to the figure of the nobleman standing below; a nobleman who is now alert to the presence of another, as is made obvious from the low chuckle rumbling forth from his throat. "Hm, hm, hm... but perhaps there will be another who wishes to speak. Possibly even... -save- you, hmm?"
The red-eyed nobleman stands a good seven feet tall, in a long indigo overcoat. But he dare not sully his feet by actually touching the ground, deigning to hover a few inches above it instead. A predatory grin plastered across his face, it seems as if he doesn't particularly mind a silent observer, should she wish to stay hidden.
She makes no effort to hide her presence. Up until the pained cry is heard, the Ichijo priestess was certain she was the hunter in these parts tonight. At first the sound makes her wonder if in the chase, her target had landed poorly. Maybe hurt his ankle? Well. That will certainly settle things. Her left hand tightens on the wooden staff. Maybe she won't even need much a fight. They'll just have a little chat as she explains the outcast what options he has before him - one, really, and then runs him out of the city to go bother some other area less protected by the tenacious vigilante.
But the sound takes a shift for the worse as Ayame draws near, her pace slowing. He's definitely not running anymore. Her mind races at the possibilities. The idea that a hunter far darker than she would have beat her to the task at hand doesn't even cross her mind until she steps around the large trunk of an ancient tree and comes upon a scene of horror.
Her right hand lifts, hefting the fragile paper lantern illuminated by the tracking spell. Its pale light casts her upper body in faint, ghostly blue, her young face visible from behind her outstretched arm. She stops short the instant she realizes she isn't alone. She barely manages to stutter the whispered word to cause the lantern to burn brighter as the priestess freezes in her steps. Brown eyes trail upward as the light expands upon the small glade admist the aged trees.
What she sees chills her to the bone. It's a lot to take in without warning - the bloody appendage, every bit as impossible as it is real; the pinned werewolf, suddenly looking very small and harmless compared to the third who has wandered here.... She traces her eyes along the arm to its master just in time to hear his rich voice taunt his prey with promises of having a choice in what is to come.
This certainly puts her in a weird spot.
"This is my city."
The declaration is made without hesitation. No thoughts of flight back through the nightcast park seem to have crossed the resolved girl's mind.
"And this is my work."
She takes a step forward but no further, hefting her lantern up a little further having no other means of seeing what is happening here. She could let this continue - darkstalker against darkstalker violence is no problem of hers. But that would just be sidestepping the real issue here...
That she's found not one but /two/ such creatures that needed to be ejected from Southtown!
"Do not presume to make offers or decisions here, darkstalker." she practically spits the appellation.
"Your only choice is to leave."
Her city, she says. A malevolent, blood-curdling laugh is the response -- a laugh mixed with high-pitched jeering, overlapped with the keening wail of the dead. There's no way that it can be just -one- voice creating such a cacophony -- and yet, that is the sound echoing nonetheless.
But Ayame's already ascertained the reason why -- that the source of the voice is indeed a darkstalker, a creature of the night. It's much more obvious when the nobleman turns, his red eyes glowing with an intensity matched only by his zeal for laughter. "-Your- city? -Your- work? So patrolling the city, keeping the sheep safe from the creatures of the night... is a job for -children- now?"
The nobleman turns -away- from Ayame, turning back to his prize. Blood pools far beneath the werewolf's feet -- though it's as good a guess as any whether it's the blood of the lupine thief or that of its gleefully laughing captor.
"Do you intend..." He smiles, pauses for effect, twisting his thumb upon the neck of the beast, just to hear its pained yelp, as he considers the proper level of disdain for which to continue. "... to give this /pathetic/ mongrel the same... choice? To leave the city, with the unstated -alternative- option being to fight, and presumably die?"
The nobleman smiles, turning once more to face Ayame, never once shifting his hips beyond the direction they were initially facing. His shoulders swivel only slightly to accomodate the motion. "You see, the... /fight/ or /flight/ response is strong in this one. Flight... from -both- of us... is quite impossible. But as this creature was just about to learn before your timely interruption..."
The grip releases. The nobleman's hand falls to the ground, limply splashing into the pool of blood below it. It actually sinks -into- the pool, as if the blood were only the top of a hollow large enough to contain the whole hand. Was it? It... can't be, can it?
The sick splash of blood can be heard once more, though this time it's from the nobleman's vacant forearm. The sticky red fluid splashes forth, and within an instant, it adopts the form of a blood-slicked hand, an open palm extended towards the fallen werewolf, as it clutches mercifully at its neck, willing the windpipe to open, panting for breath it had been without for the last few torturous seconds.
With a predatory gleam to his eye, he continues to Ayame.
"And I... am -not- its enemy."
One side of his insidious smile lifts into a sardonic expression. "Now, then. Shall we /continue/ this conversation, that my associate here may regain its breath, or... have you need of demonstrating your woefully inadequate skills to me this fine evening?" His newly-reformed index finger and thumb paints smudges of blood across his chin as they cradle it, his expression most curious as he gauges the young priestess' response. As the blood seeps off, the appendage is practically good as new.
As such as blue skin can be considered 'new.'
Beneath the crushing grip of that impossible arm, the captive werewolf squirms only slightly, clearly terrified of the idea of provoking the tall, nobly dressed man to finish the deed he has already come so dangrously close to doing. Meters away, Ayame watches from beneath the thick oak. The trio find themselves in a small clearing admist the trees with thick, overgrown brush walling off some of the sides.
For light, there is her pale blue lantern and, where the branches do not block the way, silver threads of moonlight spilling down from above. The park is otherwise silent but for the occasional soft whimper of their mutual target and the high pitched, distressing laughter of the Man in the Middle of the two sides. It's enough to keep the young demon hunter at bay, teeth grit slightly as he looks back to the hapless creature in his bloody grip.
"You have the truth of it."
She doesn't wait to answer his question. The werewolf was to be chased out, by force if necessary.
He turns to look at her as her laconic repsonse is offered.
The creature who served as the unfortunate catalyst of the three gathered falls to the soft if now-damp grass at the base of the tree with thunk, his furry, clawed hand going to his throat. Now that she can see him clearly, it becomes abundantly clear she was chasing one of the weaker creatures of the night she had come across. Where one might expect brawn, he was scrawny, where the thought of a werebeast conjured up images of ferocity, he was trembling, and now stammering, "I-I- was just hungry-"
"Tch," Ayame grunts. Her expression shows no sign of remorse, no regret for her course of action, but she can't possibly hide the cringe as she reacts to the sickening creation of newly made hand. She has studied the freaks living in the shadows all her life... but she doesn't even begin to know how to classify the one she glares back at now.
"I am not here to negotiate, demon." she snaps back. Her sleeve-covered right hand draws back to lift the lantern higher before she finally hurls the paper construct forward with an outword sweep of her hand. It lands in the grass halfway between her and the two darkstalkers where it explodes into a spectral blue flame that sheds no heat nor scorches the vegetation. It will only burn for a few minutes before the mote of chi she stored within the intricate design has consumed itself, but for now, it provides its unworldly light to the copse. The other two may have no need of its aid, but she is not so gifted when it comes to piercing the darkness with sight.
But the priestess was not idle, bolting forward in nearly the same motion as when she hurled her lantern. It is out from behind the bloom of light that she attacks, her right hand slipping to her left sleeve and drawing from within its lengthy folds a talisman of darker blue. A flick of her wrist causes it to burn with the same blue fire as the illuminating pyre now on the ground.
"You have no standing here. We will converse on /my/ terms!" Her right hand sweeps out, hurtling the talisman into the air. It flies as true as an arrow and far faster than it seems it should, a fireball with paper at its core, aiming to smash against the coat-clad monstrosity. And should it connect, dozens of pale-white chains of chi would burst out of its center and seek to entrap, entangle, and restrain the movement of the Blood Shaper!
COMBATSYS: Ayame has joined the fight here.
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Kyosuke 0/-------/------=|-------\-------\0 Ayame
COMBATSYS: Jedah has joined the fight here.
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Kyosuke 0/-------/------=|-------\-------\0 Ayame
COMBATSYS: Jedah blocks Ayame's Binding of the Condemned Soul.
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Ayame 0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0 Jedah
The noble shakes his head quietly, folding his arms before him as he rises. Levitates, rather -- rising to two feet higher, he looks down his nose at the young priestess. She's not here to negotiate? "Girl... you know not what you face. We are not mere -demons- to be rounded up like goats."
The noble could see that words appear to be of little interest, though. And laughs, once more, those terrifying, keening voices amplified alongside his own. "Your terms of surrender? How terribly fascinating!" The blossom of light from the priestess' lantern reflects in his baleful glare. The talisman that is hurled his way, however, collides not with the nobleman's coat, but instead with one of the sharp scything blades, which had formerly been attached to his back -- now swung, seemingly of its own free will, to protect him in front. The light of her flames shine bright, and for one moment, the noble thinks himself safe, even starting the chortles of another laugh as the fireball appears to sizzle against the cold steel.
And then the chains burst free from the talisman. The highborn's eyes widen, almost imperceptibly so -- this =is= interesting, he notes, as the chains threaten to overtake him.
This would work -- if the blades weren't trapped within the chains as well. The nobleman's laugh begins as a low rumble, but then his strategy begins to take hold -- the blades bend, as if made of rubber, cracking at seams -- but rather than the porous gap of rubber, the breaks are sealed with rapidly-coagulating blood.
And just as quickly as the chains enveloped the highborn demon, they are released, the sound of sheared metal harsh dissonant in comparison to the tranquil night air.
And the cocky highborn still has his arms folded, as the links of chain fall, no longer binding him, the long, curved blades hovering beside him.
"Interesting. I do trust you have more."
Almost lazily, the noble unfolds his arms, reaching for the curved blades. And at his touch -- the right-hand blade twists around itself, cracking, bleeding, and reforging itself as before, but this time adopting a round configuration with thornlike bladed projections sticking out. A buzzsaw.
A casual flick of his wrist sends the blade hurtling at Ayame's shoulder like a sharpened frisbee, aimed vertically to chop down onto her shoulder. No, not to cut her in two, but rather to draw blood and question her resolve.
All accompanied by the sound of his low chuckling and the mirthful look on his eyes, painted in relief by the pale blue light of the lantern.
COMBATSYS: Ayame blocks Jedah's Dio - Sega.
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Ayame 0/-------/------=|=------\-------\0 Jedah
Visible in the unreliable light, Ayame's expression doesn't flicker an iota when her capture ward lands cleanly against his wing - no sign of exultation or satisfaction in what seems to be a successful attack as the white chi bindings erupt out and begin securing themselves over the tall one's form. All that is clear is that she is watching every nuance, making note of every detail of how he responds to the technique. If not properly guarded, it could very well be the sort of option to succeed in bringing a lessor darkstalker to heel and just watching him respond to it gives her a clue as to his exact stature.
She isn't idle, however, already starting to move forward. Even if it does subdue him on some level, she has no doubt he will require additional 'encouragement' before accepting her uncompromising conditions. In her left hand, the six foot long wooden bo ignites with a crimson hued flame that courses over its surface, the glow clashing with the stable pyre to create pockets of violet illumination in the grove.
She noticed the movement of his... wing? Are those wings? Suddenly she's not so sure. She even, in the dim light, catches sight of the partially coagulated matter that seems to fill them as they creak and bend beneath the expanding, constricting pure white chains. But it's when they rip free, scattering the phosphorus energy asunder, her eyes widen a little, suddenly reminded of the same means by which the fiend, Morrigan Aensland broke free of the same technique! She's really going to figure out a wing clipper talisman to deal with these problems going forward -
She slides top a stop on sandal-clad feet when the coat-clad one reaches for one of those blades and shapes it by his will into a more easily thrown form. The hellsaw hurled her way seems like more than her conventional if imbued staff can hope to weather but once again her right hand slips into her left sleeve, producing another talisman - of soft, earthen brown.
Sweeping it out in front of, a swath of shimmering foxfire is left in the air. In spite its gossamer seeming nature, it proves to be, for the precise moment that counts, solid enough to deflect the spinning horror off from its intended trajectory-
But only just so. Even with her weave and brief defensive barrier combined, it slashes a grazing cut atop her shoulder in passing. The success is evident by the thin line of crimson already seeping into her otherwise pristine white kimono top.
"P-p-please-" stammers the werewolf, only then starting to roll to his knees, his voice still raspy from the torment his throat suffered. "I d-don't want any of this-"
Ayame sweeps her staff from her side into the space before her, crimson energy trailing in its wake as she now holds her weapon with both hands. She doesn't even glance at the piteous creature pleading for the fighting to stop. The trash doesn't get a vote.
"I am Ayame of the Ichijo legacy of warrior priests."
She twirls her staff, left foot sliding forward as she braces herself to move again.
"Southtown is under our protection."
Nevermind the fact that her parents are retired... and that she's an only child. It sounds more impressive to imply there are more like her on the job, right?
"Who are you and what is your agenda here?"
She pushes off, a blur of crimson through the dark as she charges the elite threat. From a meter out, she hops into the air, spinning from left to right, aiming to slam her weapon against his right arm with crushing force. She would expect a rebound either way, however, already correcting for it, her body twisting the opposite way right as her feet touch the ground, whirling the shaft back around, from low to high, aiming to bring the crimson hued weapon crashing up into the base of Jedah's chin with potentially stunning force - or so that's the intent!
COMBATSYS: Jedah blocks Ayame's Medium Strike.
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Ayame 0/-------/------=|==-----\-------\0 Jedah
The spinning blade continues whirling about. Two trees are sliced clean through, gravity pulling the upper branches down so cleanly that it takes a few seconds for the angle of the cut to become factored into the equation. Neatly bisected, the trees slide down, as if bamboo shorn by a katana. The blades do not travel further, however -- dissolving once again into globules of blood, spattering into a shallow pool against the forest floor.
Like Ayame, the nobleman ignores the werewolf cowering off to the side. It doesn't matter to him whether it chooses to fight or not. Perhaps it will flee -- and he will catch it just the same. He doesn't expect it to fight -- but for the time being, he does not require it to.
The highborn does smile as his weapon slices a line through the priestess' defenses. Her unwavering tone speaks to formidable resolve -- anyone lesser would be cowering just as the werewolf is now.
While amused at the priestess, the noble does pause to give her words careful consideration. Well... kind of. His attention is divided between Ayame and the long red talons upon his fingers, as he admires the flex and poise of each digit in the light of the lantern.
That is, until she leaps into the air, aiming to slam her staff into his forearm. Almost casually, the highborn raises that forearm, the bo staff making a sickly creaking sound as it slams into his forearm. He winces, but keeps a faint smile across his lips just the same.
Though, as before, he may not have anticipated Ayame's followup -- but he's quick enough to react, interposing his palm into the path of the second strike.
The impact is enough to send the noble flying backwards a few feet. But that's the advantage of -flying- -- he can stop whenever he likes.
"... Miss Ayame, of the Ichijo Legacy... You stand in the presence of Jedah Dohma. But mind this..."
The nobleman's hands flex once more -- but this time, his right hand snaps out, detaching from his arm! The bone Ayame had cracked her staff into has snapped in twain, sinew and vein stretching forth as the hand rockets out to punch the young lady in the sternum. Blood spatters forth from the grisly snapping of bone, but unlike before, this would seem to be a side effect rather than the main course.
"... my plan will become apparent."
Like a whip, Jedah pulls his severed fist back -- but just as quickly, he snaps his arm sharply to the side, aiming to slap the back of his hand across Ayame's face, raking his blood-red talons along the way.
"All in due time."
COMBATSYS: Jedah successfully hits Ayame with Medium Strike.
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Ayame 0/-------/-----==|===----\-------\0 Jedah
Her swing against his arm proves even more effective than she had expected, the girl feeling that slight give in his arm, evidence of bone shattered. But she had also expected the upward slam of her shimmering staff to smash in against the dark one's noble chin, pouring more effort into that second swing, with an accompanying flare of crimson. Grounded as she is, it is harder to recognize whether she struck him cleanly as the figure over her slips backward.
She finishes the upward swing of her staff, the momentum carrying it into a spin in her hands before she pauses, gripping the weapon in front of her once more. Only in the aftermath does she realize the nature of his defense and his sublime control over his positioning in the air. Not such a clean hit afterall.
The distance between them is limited but beyond the point at which she believes herself to be within his dread reach and already she's dismissing his right limb as having been disabled and thus no longer a threat...
A conclusion proved woefully wrong when he moves that self-same limb to attack her, as if to drive home the futility of attepting to injure one such as him. A slam of her foot against the ground has her shifting back to the defense rather than the offense she had meant to transition into but she was still operating under the false impressions of his reach and when his bloody hand extends past that the nimble priestess is forced to make an even more desperate evasion, sweeping her staff out and to the left with her left hand while desperately weaving to the right.
Once again the sound of wood colliding against his body is heard as the girl seems to have escaped his claw safely... or so she thought. The realization hits a moment later, her right hand lifting to rest against her right cheek gingerly, brown eyes widening with the sudden awareness of the damp stickiness she finds there - blood seeping from three narrow gashes on the side of the young vigilante's face.
Gritting her teeth, she wipes her hand across her left sleeve, leaving a bloodied streak there as additional drips fall onto her right shoulder. His powers of levitation are reiminiscent of the succubus she had no hope of defeating. Is the threat he represents of the same class? The self-proclaimed demon hunter's grim expression is augmented by the wound on her cheek, eyes reflecting a resolve and dedication that has not begun to waver in spite the powers of her target.
The energy flowing into her wooden staff has faded, the weapon looking once more utterly simple and mundane. "Well, Sir Dohma, it seems you require a bit more persuasion to be cooperative...." Her right hand is slipping back into her left sleeve. By now the gesture should be familiar. A grey taliman is drawn next, black sigils inscribed on its surface, another byproduct of her advanced preparation for encounters in the dark places of the world.
"First..." She lunges then, a black flame forming over the ofuda that the girl attempts to slap against Jedah's nearest leg before he can slip away. "That is enough of your flying about-"
If he doesn't avoid the insidious looking card another spell would be unleashed upon contact - black tendrils bursting forth, half of which snake upward in a bid to entangle his torso, while the other half surge downward, attempting to drive their ends into the soil beneath him as the Darkstalker finds himself once more caught by the girl's techniques designed around capturing those she hunts.
"- and then you explain yourself!"
COMBATSYS: Ayame successfully hits Jedah with Anchor Through the Endless Dark.
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Ayame 0/-------/-----==|=====--\-------\0 Jedah
Carving more razor-thin gashes across the young woman's flesh seems to invigorate the noble ever so slightly. His hand continues onward, whipped about like a simple flail until he jerks back sharply on the one remaining overstretched tendon. The appendage returns to him, blood seeping out from the join... and as before, Jedah's arm is as good as new. Again... that low chuckle rumbles forth as he lowers back to his original hovering altitude.
"Please... by all means, show me this persuasion."
As he'd approached Ayame in his hubris, he finds that he is at a marked disadvantage. This particular attack vector is different from the last, which elicits a surprised grin from the noble. But a grin is not enough to break him free from the jet-black tendrils which entwine around his center. His flight upward is sudden, but the tendrils are stronger, arresting his escape. A low groan from his throat is uttered -- the mark of something causing the noble small amount of discomfort.
"Mmrgh," he voices in dismay. "Explain -what-, per se? And to what end? Would your mandate to expel me and those like me suddenly change if I'd produced a reason to your liking?"
Bound though Jedah may be, it would be unwise to discount the highborn's insidious reach. For while he'd spoken, he'd also been assessing the surrounding environment. The trees... the werewolf cowering and whimpering somewhere near by. And the blue lantern, providing equal footing for both he and the priestess.
He smiles broadly back at Ayame, flashing a predatory grin even as the tendrils remain taut around his midsection. "I suppose if I'd said I'd just wanted to eat, like your werewolf friend here, then perhaps you might let me off with a slap on the wrist?"
Ayame may find that her blue lantern peaks in intensity as he speaks. He squints, but continues: "Or perhaps I should simply say that I'm here for a concert... to invigorate the public, and speak ill of the crimes of my forebears!? To aid the... tribal one in his call for our extermination! Would that -entice- you to set me free?"
The lantern flares.
And then it is completely encircled in a perfect sphere of blood, casting a barely visible pallor of purple rather than the blue of before -- pallor that dims with each passing moment. The blood... which Jedah had thrown out into the forest just a few moments prior, in the form of a blade.
But woe be to Ayame if she looks for the sound. Because there is one crucial advantage that Jedah has: reach.
The blade at his back twists forty-five degrees clockwise. With the sound of viscous ichor splashing about, the blade reforges itself once more, adopting the form of one long staff. The highborn demon swings his staff diagonally across, loosening his grip to allow it to reach its maximum length. But even as he swings the blade, it is still shifting, changing form -- ichor splashes out to forge a treacherous point. And in the span of time it takes the blood he'd loosed just a few moments prior, a scythe is slashing out to Ayame's shoulder and upper arm, the broad, brutal stroke enough to not only sever the flesh, but bash her down to the ground with its sheer momentum.
"GYA-HA-HA-HA!" Man loves his work, you gotta give him that.
COMBATSYS: Ayame blocks Jedah's Power Strike.
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Ayame 0/-------/---====|======-\-------\0 Jedah
She slips back a few steps, moving over the grass with expertise that reflects her expertise in combat. Young as she may be, the girl is not to be taken lightly in matters of battle. She has trained for moments like this her entire life, blending the martial art of the staff with her prepared ofuda, each carefully crafted to suit a different purpose in securing her victory in combat against creatures that know nothing of sport and care even less about honor.
Perhaps that explains her own approach to war. While her staff arts seem more traditional, it is the ease with which she blends in arsenal of cards that reflects her unflinching devotion to victory, no matter how close to the dark she must start with her techniques to accomplish it.
Jedah speaks, looking discomforted but not concerned about his present circumstances. She's wary now of his reach but even still, she failed to realize just how much this Dark One can manipulate the environment around them.
"Do not trifle with me," she replies at his hypothetical explanations.
"You are here for the beast. Why?"
The dejected werewolf can finally breath again, his paws covering his furred head, ears lowered in dread terror at the sight playing out before his eyes. There is no malice there, only fear and a palpable desire to flee. "Please, don't fight, I will go, I will l-leave..."
The dire priestess pays him no mind. She has found a larger prize here. Whatever the coat-clad Blood Weaver is about, she already knows he is far more menace than the wimpering creature behind him could ever be.
For an instant, the grove is cast in bright blue before suddenly dim light, a lilac blub where her lantern sat that casts almost no light at all. The human lacks the night vision of her targets. Without hesitation, her staff is whipped up from her left to be held horizontally in front of her face. Her right hand slams forward, fingers flicking into two fundamental sigils before curling over the wooden surface.
The crimson glow that emanates from it provides just enough light to spare her being caught completely blindsided. Feet brace against the grass, her weapon shifting in angle as she slams it out and upward. The impact against the shaft of that ghastly scythe nearly crushes the smaller combatant, the girl driven harshly to her knees in the grass with a gasp of pain escaping her lips.
But she wasn't slashed. The blood newly splashed across her already stained top, blending in with the crimson ribbons at the end of her sleeves, is not her own this time. "Ngh," the girl grunts, arms trembling, body aching from the forces absorbed by that blow.
Even seeing Jedah in the newly created dim is a challenge, but she trusts he has not moved far from where he was rooted. Not yet at least. Pushing up to her feet as the scythe is finally escaped, she attempts to act quickly - perhaps hoping to find that he would still be recovering from that vicious swing.
The glow of her staff makes her own movements obvious, the crimson length being lifted into the air as Ayame leaps, weapon held overhead, the girl attempting to bring the shimmering weapon crashing down against the crown of Dohma's head. "HAA!"
COMBATSYS: Jedah counters Power Strike from Ayame with Spregio.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > ///////////////////// ]
Ayame 0/-------/=======|=======\=------\1 Jedah
Bathed in a dim, indigo-colored light, the park clearing just seems that much creepier. Especially sullied with the low, taunting chuckles of the bloodweaving noble. He'd smiled, and delivered his response, his scythe bashing against the wooden staff, threatening to smash it to splinters as it rebounds backwards. Jedah had deftly loosened his grasp to avoid the reverberation of the shock, and had intended to maneuver the scythe around for another swing -- but the sudden convulsion of black tendrils stretched taut about his chest demanded his urgent attention. His arm jerks back, the scythe whistling in the cold night air as it twirls a half rotation. Jedah returns to his standing height, managing to insinuate the scythe's shaft between the tendrils and his lean body before the simulacra can tense against him once more.
She had demanded to know the nature of his interest in the cowering beast nearby. A haughty smile is his response, "Perhaps you should release me, then you might find out."
The black rope-like tendrils respond to each exaggerated breath from the noble, with a slight delay. They had hurt him quite a bit more than he's been letting on. They move like organisms -- imperfect, but adaptable, and they're already augmenting themselves to deal with the shaft of the scythe as the highborn's back.
But he does not seem particularly concerned. Partly because he can sense the priestess' pain, the emotions she's determined to suppress, determined to supplant with a brave countenance. And partly because the priestess really did not give the noble much time to respond before leaping into the air. His eyes widen in fear as the staff comes in. He's trapped, immobilized by the tendrils. He gulps, a bulge in his throat obvious to the werewolf -- if not the airborne Ayame -- a seemingly autonomous reaction to the impending blow. His noble face is framed in crimson light as the staff crashes downward, impacting him squarely in the forehead.
A sickly hollow sound reports the impact, bone cracking in twain; the nobleman's cranium punctures like a half-desiccated pumpkin, and falls off about as easily. It would be enough force to kill a man instantly, should a lesser man have been trapped in the priestess' demon-hunting snare.
But what may not have been expected is the high-pressure stream of blood that erupts from the noble's head, a cannon of sticky, ichorous fluid founting from the stump upon which the noble's head had rested. The descending priestess is assaulted by a geyser consisting of fragments of shattered cranium, dislocated mandible, and assorted pulp, several gallons' worth of the noble's blood threatening to stain her once-pristine robes a permanent crimson -- presuming she can control her backwards flight to avoid adding bark or grass stains to the mix.
The only saving grace is that she won't have to clean the highborn's brains off of her. There weren't any. The decapitated noble's form shudders; it's still standing, even though the high-pressure arterial flow that blasted Ayame backwards should be more than enough to tip the headless Jedah over as well. Perhaps it was his scythe, its tip having embedded into the ground, propping the body up like a scarecrow.
Or perhaps not, as the blade of the scythe slides down its shaft, blood seeping behind in the vein as it snips right through the ensnaring tendrils like a guillotine. Or, from the way the tendrils give way under the motion, perhaps a more appropriate analogy would be a zipper coming undone.
No, as the body falls backwards, the feet hit the ground first. Knees and hips flex as one would expect a living body to. The arms curl forward, hands lightly clasped in an elegant gesture of beckoning, as the shower of arterial flow from the noble's neck stump begins to falter.
And as the geyser tapers off, an indistinct mass can be found in its wake. It pulses, and ripples, and two eyelids open in the midst of the blood-soaked mass. Lips curl up into an expression of mock anguish as the red fluid is drawn inward, revealing the newfound mass in all its glory.
The noble is far from defeated. Indeed... he's still an arrogant bastard, his brow furrowing as he looks back at Ayame. "Really, first impressions are so crucial, and I fear you've made shambles of mine." Woe is Jedah.
Rising back to his full height, and floating once more -- taking caution to steer well clear of those tendrils -- he raises one finger demonstratively. "And your clothes... simply ghastly. I know it's dark out, my lady Ayame..."
With a raised finger, the bloody sphere surrounding Ayame's lantern pulses, and then flies straight towards his shoulder. Blue light washes over the trio once more, the sudden change in intensity likely painful to those who hadn't just opened their eyes for the first time -- for his part, Jedah had merely shielded his eyes with the back of his hand, gaze remaining fixed upon Ayame. Both the orb of blood and the scythe swiftly reform themselves into their crescent-winged configuration as the bloodweaver's wings. "... but did you leave the shrine looking like that? Is -that- the impression you wish to leave our friend with?"
He flashes a sardonic, arrogant grin to the werewolf. "I apologize profusely for all the bloodshed, but this child doesn't seem to know when to quit."
Her leap into the air, staff held over her head with both hands like some kind of dull, crimson flaming axe, is probably the clearest answer Jedah is going to get about her interests in releasing him. With her lantern so squelched by the sphere of mutable blood, the softly burning bo in her hand is the only source of light she has to work with... but it seems like it will be enough.
Her binding chi anchor is enough to keep him from darting through the air as he pleases, which has the girl feeling a bit more confident in her ability to deliver a decisive thwack that might change his presumptuous tone a little. One can hope, anyway?
She sees the fear in the dark one's eyes as she reaches the apex of her leap and, in perfect timing, slams her staff forward with crushing force. The faintest flicker of a smirk crosses her lips. Not so smarmy now, is he!
Self-assurance melts to visible shock as, instead of encountering resistant bone, her wooden weapon cleaves clean into his skull, wrecking the fiend's head in the most macabre display the normally unflappable demon hunter had ever seen.
She has only a split second to process what she had just done when, before her feet ever touch the ground, a fount of gore blasting her back the way she had come. Hurled backward, Ayame lands hard on her back a few meters away in a puddle of slurried violence, arms out at her sides, her left hand's fingers still curled around her staff.
Pushing up with her right hand against the slickened grass, the Ichijo scion glances up at the still standing but assuredly dead creature... and then she freezes. The tendrils of her capture ward are sliced by a scythe blade that moves with its own sentience. And then Jedah Dohma grows a new head. Drenched in blood as she is, the pallor that infects her cheeks at the sight of the perfectly undamaged visage of the darkstalker seems to have finally broken through her barrier of resolve, fear piercing its way into the miko's heart.
Getting to her feet is somewhat complicated by the pool of bleed she fell into, her hand finding minimal traction, her sandled feet slipping a little as she struggles up to standing largely with the aid of her staff. Blood smears along her clothing, dripping from the ends of her long sleeves, matting her hair, her red hairribbon now knocked askew.
His judgemental observations are barely even heard over the ringing in her ears of rushing adrenaline, her heart racing beneath her chest. She winces at the burst of blue glow once more cast over the defiled grove, turning her face away for a moment as she staggers back two steps, only to come to a stop when her left heel bumps against the fallen trunk of a severed tree.
The cowering werewolf behind Jedah can only stare aghast at the scene playing out before his eyes. Nothing in his own tormented life had prepared him for the horrors Jedah wields with the greatest of ease.
But for Ayame, an onset of panic is quickly replaced with seething, the girl forced to breath through her mouth as she lacks anything clean with which to the base of her nose free of the crimson victory she was just bathed in.
"Exile-" She cuts herself off, spitting to the side in a vain attempt to exise her mouth of the coppery taste of corruption.
"Is too good for you!"
Running this nightmaric aberration off to some other community would be a disgrace to her cause, inflicting his horror on others is something she cannot abide. Her hands grip her staff, holding it at a defensive angle in front of her, blood dripping from the low end of it to splash against the grass.
She will have to call upon /that/, she thinks to herself, mindful of one prepared card, used only once ever before now. Having witnessed its power before, she had studied the fel energies required to craft an even more powerful version of it, ready to use it to bring down the worst the world had to offer, willing to serve as judge and executioner of the Dark Ones.
"Your plan ends here," she spits again as her fingers reach into her left sleeve and produce an ebony talismans, its carefully painted crimson runes matching in color with the crimson her fingers smear across the base of it.
Holding her staff out in front of her with her left hand, the weapon begins to glimmer an even brighter red. Azure chi pools at her feet, drifting upward toward the dark card she holds forward with her right fingers. As the energy draws near, it shifts from pure blue to sickly green, swirling around the black talisman. One by one, the runes on its surface begin to glow. The blood on her hands darkens as if what evil vigor lingered in it was being drained by close proximity to the ofuda.
A forboding feeling pervades the clearing as the priestess taps into questionable arts to pursue her ambition of ending this creature's sojourn. The werewolf behind Jedah has taken to covering his eyes and cowering further as the building energy whirls around the blood drenched priestess.
COMBATSYS: Ayame gathers her will.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > ///////////////////// ]
Ayame 1/----===/=======|=======\=------\1 Jedah
That confident smirk. The bloodweaver had seen it, right before pulling his consciousness out of the skull mere instants before it was crushed. She -actually- thought she'd had him, muses Jedah Dohma to himself, that raised, red-taloned finger roving thoughtfully to his jawline. The low chuckle from before can be heard again. The noble's feet bob freely as he's suspended by the light, casual flapping of his crescent wings gaining him altitude with each passing moment. He, quite literally, could spend hours watching Ayame struggle to get to her feet; refraining from comment is an exercise in patience; any possible interruption could certainly cause him to break into riotous laughter.
But then she manages to rise. She brings out her staff, and she -seethes-. The anguish at being mocked, the fury... it's a delicious sensation to the noble. The grandest sensation of all, judging from the leering grin on his face, threatening to split his -new- head in two, crosswise rather than vertical as Ayame had.
But... the highborn gracefully allows her to speak. To grandstand, to an audience of two, excepting any forest creatures who might be able to appreciate the charged threats.
"Plan, plan... what -was- that plan? You -were- asking me for that, were you not?"
The noble glances down his nose at the priestess. Sees the black talisman, its crimson runes, the azure energy swirling at her feet. He mocks the girl mercilessly... but he'd be a fool to completely discount the young woman's obvious skill. She'd almost trapped him once. And -definitely- trapped him a second time, though quick wits had allowed him to break free.
He chuckles softly to himself, pulling his hands up as his scythelike wings beat softly at his back. They can't even be providing lift -- they're not even really wings! But for a man who prides himself on sowing fear, the reaper has to keep up appearances. His left hand makes an L shape. His right hand makes an inverted L. And together -- a vertical rectangle is suggested between his hands. "Ayame... Last of the Ichijo Legacy. A fitting epitaph, wouldn't you think?" he asks the cowering lupine.
But enough telegraphing. The noble is fully aware of the width and breadth of Ayame's bag of tricks. And while he may have been heartily amused by her tricks... he's less eager to see the next one.
In the blink of an eye, the noble flicks his wrists downward. Blood founts from his palms -- propelling him forward like booster rockets. Forward, and downward, cutting towards Ayame at a fearsome angle. The crescent wings at his back have tilted in, like a bird of prey's, their terrible blades reflecting the light of the lantern in brilliant blue-white sheen of light as he streaks downward.
And, having reached sufficient velocity, the geysers of blood from his hand cease, allowing him to stretch his blood-red talons forward, again taking inspiration from a raptor as he flies in for the kill. His long fingernails poise to impale the prodigious priestess in the shoulders, knock her out of whatever focus she might have... and slam her back into a tree. Baring his sharpened teeth and grinning all throughout the fraction of a second it takes to reach her.
COMBATSYS: Jedah successfully hits Ayame with Fierce Strike.
[ \\\\\\\\ < > ////////////////////// ]
Ayame 2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|=======\==-----\1 Jedah
None of his laughter or antics seem to strike a nerve with the miko. Her crimson glowing staff continues to be held out in front of her with her left hand, her right hand's fingers closes around that ebony card and held out such that it can rest atop the back of her left hand. Energy courses up from the aura building at her feet though its destination mostly seems to be the dark spell stored within the the card. Over her combined weapons, she glares back at Jedah, blood streaked face illuminated by the spectrum of colors at play around the incensed priestess.
Her cheek and shoulder continue to bleed but she is putting no thought to such injuries now as brown eyes stay locked on Jedah, mouth pressed to a fine line of intense concentration. When he brings his hands up to frame the resolute girl with his fingers, she doesn't react at first... But when he implies that here, tonight, ends the Ichijo dynasty of holy warriors, he finally provokes a flinch. He's strike a nerve his previous taunts and threats were unable to.
One might presume it is the thought of dying imminently that bothers her the most - but that it isn't it, exactly... It's the thought of how much she would leave unfinished. She never found that man. She never saw his vision come to fruition. She never lived up to the destiny her parents had so foolishly poured their dreams of a better tomorrow.
Her left arm trembles, the girl finally realizing the fatigue starting to set upon her after being pushed to the edge of her limits by the adrenaline of facing such a monster. Her right hand trembles out of another emotion all together - rage, barely contained behind the mask she has been wearing all her life. Fury that for all the sacrifice, all the things she has given up to reach this point, it still wasn't enough to defeat the Blood Shaper she faces now. Her mouth twitches at the injustice of it, her damaged soul wanting to cry out in frustration that for all of a possible normal life she had forsaken, she had not amounted to something that could best Jedah Dohma, darkstalker, monster.
But she wouldn't show any more emotion than she already had. She wasn't about to let despair overcome her now. If she was to die a failure, it would not be as weeping, sobbing mess. She would die as she lived - the perfect picture of control.
"Let us..." she hisses through clenched teeth, spittle of blood accompanying the seething breath. "...find out."
She flicks the dark card toward herself as she flexes her right hand's fingers in a subtle approximation of the universal gesture of 'Come on. Give me your best shot.'
And without reservation, Jedah responds, shaping blood, rocketing toward her, his hands extending into the savage talons of a raptor. She lifts her left arm, her staff moved into the path of his strike. It's the best she can do - her technique is not yet ready-
Wood is sheared like tissue as his hook-like claws spear into the girl's shoulders, slamming her backward. The solid thunk of wood is heard as her back slams against the trunk of a sturdy tree with enough force to rock the branches above, splinters sent flying as his elongaed nails pierce the girl's flesh through and imbed deeply into the wood on the other side. She has no hope of moving now, skwewered as she is, but no cry escapes her lips.
As the two thirds of her staff fall to the ground, losing their crimson flare, her right hand slams forward. Close as he's gotten now, fixed to the same tree he has nailed her to, the Bloody Angel will have almost no time to react, no space to act, as the girl attempts to slap the dangerously infused talisman against his chest.
"Go to hell."
COMBATSYS: Jedah endures Ayame's Pilgrimage to Golgotha.
[ \\\\\\\\ < > //////////// ]
Ayame 0/-------/---<<<<|=======\=======\1 Jedah
The talisman crumbles to ashes upon contact without a flicker of flame, the young girl's bloody hand retracting slowly with cinders falling into the space between them. Did it fizzle? Did his disruption of her preparation succeed? Was this to be it, then? All that - the culmunination of a life spent in vain training and severe avoidance of distraction is to be a single, failed effort to make so much as a mark upon the sanguine fiend's body?
He would know otherwise a split second later, that blood smeared smirk of hers appearing out of the corner of her mouth as her brown eyes flick up to meet his. If if this to be her parting shot, then a proper farewell it is going to be. Left beneath the ashes is a gruesome, crimson colored sigil smeared atop the coat of the Blood Weaver.
He has been marked for death.
Suspended by her shoulders, Ayame lifts her legs, bent at the knees, and then slams the heels of her feet against his stomach, prying herself free with a grunt, the sound of plunged blades being drawn from flesh audible before she crumples back against the tree, legs trembling as she uses the now blood-smeared trunk for support.
Black chains of dark chi surge up out of the ground beneath the raptor taloned monster amid a plume of exploding soil, wrapping around his powerful figure with crushing tenacity. They would wrap around arms, legs, and bladed wings alike, as if the earth itself had condemned the Darkstalker to his fate.
And that is when it errupts - miasmic, green fire surging up out of the earth, burning a radius of over a meter, casting its sickly hue across the copse, as it seeks to turn Jedah into living kindling, the fuel for the bonfire from hell. Fel flame blights out the fainter flicker of her dimming lantern light as unforgiving, dark energy attempts to consume the flesh and energy of the Jedah Dohma.
The bindings of condemntation continue to pull as the hellfire incinerates the radius of grass and blackens the earth beneath it. From the ground tormented screams of the damned shriek up, adding to the ruthless judgment against the Darkstalker.
With no signs of abating until the gruesome deed is done, only his own will to survive will allow his affliction upon the world to continue now.
The miko drops her arms against her sides with a wet sound of slowly coagulating blood, fingers releasing the last third of her severed staff, allowing it to thunk against the ground uselessly. Silently she watches, her face devoid of emotion, accepting the executioner's burden to see her work completed.
The miko's got nerves of iron -- that's what really impresses Jedah most of all about her. Brave, bold, she'd been daring enough to challenge not just one darkstalker, but two. Ayame had been summoning forth great amounts of energy in preparation for something... something that might cause him to do much more than flinch. Something that might cause him to struggle for real, instead of put on a needless show just to lure the priestess into a false sense of security.
And yet... Jedah Dohma is arrogant. Cocky. In a sense, just like her.
When he slams his talons into her shoulders, he already has some sense of what's about to unfold. Indeed -- some dark part of him actually -wanted- to know. As the staff is sheared into three, he seems to think... the girl has something coming. And from the sadistic grin growing even -wider- across his face, it doesn't seem like he cares about the seal placed onto his chest. Welcomes it, even. "Hell? That old--"
He does not get to finish his thought, as the plucky priestess slams her foot into his stomach, prying him loose. He truly adores the young woman's resolve, even as she's committing bodily injury to him. His talons, slick not only with his own blood but now Ayame's, trail free as he's thrown to the ground. Still... that smile stays on his face, his lips spreading wide to bare his teeth. This girl's soul will be -most- delicious.
Right into the young miko's trap. Black chains blot the light from his view, the haughty noble showing a trace of the fear he'd shown earlier in jest. But only for a moment. Bored now. "This? All that time preparing, for another simpl--"
And then the miasmic green fire erupts. This... this is new. Anything before -- bo strikes, simple entanglement -- they had been little more than tickles against the highborn's constitution. Green fire? Fel energy? She's using -demon- magic on him now. Tormented screams of the undead? That's =his= lingua franca.
His grin turns to a rictus of pain and agony as he struggles against the chains, wrapping his slender, well-to-do fingers around the binding chains as the riotous green flames burn his blood, burn him to the very -core-.
Now this -is- interesting, Jedah considers -- along with ten thousand -other- thoughts. Most not pretty. But it'd be hard to really hear any of -his- shouting over the wails of the departed.
No... when the flames die down, the noble looks... smaller. Emaciated, his form deprived of the well-toned grace he possessed just moments before, he looks to be little more than bone. His blood spatters everything -- the trees, the leaves still left intact after the fiery conflagration. It is nearly winter, but this copse looks like it's hit autumn again from the blood... everywhere.
The shriveled, shrunken form struggles against the chains. Panting, wheezing from the exertion of the onslaught of flame, he lifts his head. Fixes his baleful glare on Ayame once more.
"You've been most entertaining, Ayame of the Ichijo."
He smiles back at her. His simulacra skin stretched taut against the reconstructed bones of his jaw, he looks like he could stand to raid an all-you-can-eat buffet. For the next week. And still.
"But I wonder... " ponders Jedah aloud, as his arms forcibly snap in the center, removing themselves from their bonds, the detached limbs slipping through their bonds and reaching out for the front of Ayame's kimono top. Recently pried away, she may now find that his hands are reaching for the saturated fabric again, muscle and sinew rent once more from the stress of the sacrificial attack. "... how attentive you truly are."
Beaten down to a fraction of his former glory, and trapped in chains, he's still managed to slip out of his bonds and grab for Ayame's shirt. But really, how much can one man do, while trapped in chains?
Trapped in chains that are now completely saturated in blood?
The chains creak and crumble, crumbling to ferrous dust under the blistering pressure as Jedah suddenly compresses -all- of his blood. The charred blood pressed into the very soil from Ayame's attack. The blood spattered on the tree bark and leaves. The gallons of blood still coagulating upon Ayame. All of it... Collapsing inward, the individual cells gravitating towards one another. The blood from the entire copse... all wants to converge onto one point -- the point between Jedah's disembodied hands, connected to his body only by taut, engorged blood vessels.
Each globule will strike with the pain of a pinprick. But a thousand pinpricks... a -million- pinpricks -- can still be felt by the priestess, if only Jedah's hands return to her shoulders to guide them there.
"Hell is what you make of it."
COMBATSYS: Ayame instinctively blocks Jedah's Santuario.
[ \\\\\ < > ///////////// ]
Ayame 0/-------/-<<<<<<|=======\-------\0 Jedah
As the unholy emerald bonfire burns, Ayame watches, on her feet only by virtue of the tree at her lower back, blood seeping from the newly made holes in her shoulders though with her current state of being drenched in crimson victory, what's one more gaping wound? The blood loss alone may very well doom her with the girl getting weaker as the seconds tick by.
But for all the fire of hatred she unleashed from that prepared spell, it seems it wasn't enough to eradicate his presence from this world. The girl coughs, slipping a little lower against the trunk as her eyes seem fixed upon his shrunken, drained form, her expression reflecting neither alarm nor grim satisfaction at the damage wrought.
She can't move as the front of her blood drenched garment is gripped by the tautly stretched tissues of a limb that should not even be functioning. Panting for breath, it seems at first she is incapable of putting up no struggle. The slashed, skewered, battered teenager is his to do with as he pleases. If anything, there is the slightest weight in his grip, as if even his hold was contributing to keeping the miko from falling to the ground.
It might be in that moment that he realizes her eyes haven't moved even as his dried husk-like hands seized her top. She isn't paying attention, unfocused gaze just staring forward toward a point well past the Darkstalker. As if her mind had already accepted the inevitable and everything happening to her now or will happen to her will be compartmentalized to the corners of her thoughts as Ayame Ichijo mentally shuts down.
Which might make it all the more surprising when, as the first globule of blood splatters against the side of her head, the girl acts at all. Her eyes never regain their focus, her right foot kicking down, the tip of her sandal hooking under one of the thirds of her trisected staff and kicking it upward. He would feel the move over her muscles beneath his hands pressed against her shoulders as her right hand snaps out to grab the two foot long stick. The process is repeated with her left foot and hand.
One last flare of crimson hued flames ignite the staff fragments as the girl begins to twirl them, unconscious of her defenses even as they begin to block and collect the incoming gore, splattering the globs of it as they impact the twin chi-infused barriers before it can ever get to her.
But there is nothing she can do for the blood already drenching her form as little by little it begins to turn on her, applying increasing pressure, squeezing the breath out of his victim and driving pain through her nerves unlike anything she had ever experienced.
The improvised defense won't last, however, and finally her fingers lose their grip on the sticks, sending them tumbling to the earth, the energy bleeding out of them. Any remainig swarming blood impacts her then, a breathless gasp escaping her lips as she pushes forward then into the taloned hands on her shoulders.
Her eyelids grow heavy. She's about to collapse even in the midst of her one last act of defiance. Even still, on instinct alone, her left hand slips into her blood soaked right sleeve, pulling free one last, sanguine drenched talisman - a verdant green, it possesses a restorative touch, the power to mend and rejuvenate, it might just give her enough strength to continue her quest to conquor the demon before her.
More and more of the blood strikes her as finally the girl's eyes close. The talisman slips from her fingers. At last, Ayame falls to her knees with a bit of a thud upon impact, then slumps to her right. The jade colored, blood stained ofuda drifts to the ground to land uselessly on the ground.
COMBATSYS: Ayame can no longer fight.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\ <
The miko's skill is impressive. The loosely-defined sphere of Jedah's influence is collapsing in on her, a neutron star of the noble's blood, leaves ripped from the trees, blades of grass torn from the earth, the pulverized dust of her binding chains. By themselves, any one would be a vector for contracting a fatal disease via infection to the numerous wounds, a slow, painful death if she were to remain open to it.
Infection is a slow death. The sheer pressure of the attack itself is a much, much more pressing concern. Individually, the impact of a single drop of blood is insignificant, but the percussive pressure of millions... ought be too much for a human to bear. And yet, against all odds, Ayame of the Ichijo Legacy avoids a completely crushing defeat, blood spattering as she swings the shattered ruins of her staff about. Each time she evades defeat, the globules of blood are swatted aside, collect and regroup with their neighboring breathren, and return to the flow of blood. A noble defense... but in the end, it delays the execution.
It would be impossible for the layperson to tell what's going on -- just that the priestess's hands are moving of their own accord while the sphere of Jedah's influences collapses onto her. The bloodweaver knows he's proven his point when the priestess drops to her knees. The storm of blood ceases... the remaining blood left in the air falls to the ground with a sick splash. And while her defense may have gone unnoticed to the werewolf observer, while the small jade talisman may seem to have done little... Jedah had noticed everything.
Ayame had stopped the worst of his attack. She had risen to the challenge, reduced the velocity of the faster projectiles, agitated the flow, and worst of all... she preserved her vital functions as a parting blow, even as consciousness was drawn away. Purely out of practiced rigor.
Hope: the second most terrifying weapon to bring to bear against a demon who thrives on emotion. It was the weapon which Jedah had hoped to crush... and succeeded. The argument, such as it is, was won: Hope did not win the fight for her, failed to make its mark against Dohma's terrifying will.
A haughty, distasteful sneer comes to the noble's face as he looks down onto Ayame. The emotions have dropped to a different strata, unconsciousness taking over. Jedah will glean no more joy from this one tonight, the heady aroma of her latent, unadmitted fears fading, just as sure as the audacious hope.
She'd hurt him. He'd all but asked her to -- willfully, gleefully leapt into the path of her staff, all to prove the ultimate futility of Hope.
Could she have defeated him, with such suicidal tactics? ... Quite possibly. Hope is a powerful motivator. This is why Jedah Dohma sneers. Kicks at her body with the toe of his boot.
He could turn his back on her, could walk away with the sheer confidence of knowing she's lost. ... But perhaps he's not so sure. He eyes the talisman. The numerous implements she's left about. And he recalls the fact he'd learned just a few moments earlier: She fights with the spirits of the lost. Different in name than the spirits he utilizes... but spirits nonetheless.
The sneer turns into a low, uneasy chuckle. The chuckle turns into a manic laugh, augmented once more by the wails of the departed, no mistake of the noble's unholy origin as he realizes the true import of this one... defeated... hunter.
He takes five strides backwards, the glops of blood smeared onto the grass taking life once more, flowing by gravitational attraction as they had just a few breaths prior... but this time flowing towards Jedah's feet, as he pivots on a heel to turn to the blood-spattered werewolf cowering off to the side. To the lupine companion, he explains, "She finally gave in, accepted the import of the situation. Not many will, you see."
With each step, Jedah regains some measure of his earlier form, the blood pooling up through his feet. If he weren't striding so purposefully, it might look somewhat comical, to see his form practically inflating back to its proper dimensions. But he's not floating. Not taunting, not showing his strength. Ayame hurt him, and it would take an astute observer to notice the difference.
The ground surrounding Ayame is dead. Desiccated, drawn free of life. No animals will bother her -- anything with a sense of smell or self-preservation wouldn't dare approach. The smell of lingering death is in the air. But Ayame's ward, her final desperate act... keeps her heart beating. Keeps her wounds cauterized, keeps her own O-type blood flowing within her veins, safe from the interference of Jedah's fel influence. She is a smart girl, Jedah would admit -- privately, but never aloud.
She must get stronger, for his plan to succeed.
"Come with me, child," he beckons, as the last droplet of his blood is drawn back into his revitalized form, silhouetted by the light of Ayame's lantern. "You hunger. And this one is not for you."
It's hard for the werewolf to find fault with that logic.
COMBATSYS: Jedah drops his guard to recover.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ <
COMBATSYS: Jedah has ended the fight here.
Log created on 22:53:18 12/15/2014 by Ayame, and last modified on 14:16:51 12/20/2014.