Description: [ADULT ONLY R18+ GRAPHIC VIOLENCE] Rock a DIE Baby, amongst the tree tops. When the Hunt goes, the creature will stalk. When the bough breaks, the Creature with fall. And down will come hunter, crossbows and all. (The cover shows a GIANT Content Warning label of [ADULT ONLY R18+ GRAPHIC VIOLENCE], making it clear that there is HUGE BLOOD and VIOLENCE in the comic. The cover itself shows a hint of the GRAPHIC VIOLENCE within: The Hunter is dressed in black leather and with yellow eyes, covered in blood as he rips apart a real skeleton with his bare hands, blood and guts spilling out. A long nosed, green skinned witch with white eyes and giant fangs is screaming as she points, as demons pour out from a pit below, riding on giant horned bats and enormous white snakes slithering out too. The Hunter is of course smoking a cigar of marijuana, ready for even more HUGE VIOLENCE)
The forest of Mount Koya, sacred resting place of Kobo Dashi, is much like any forest at night. The trees loom dark and close, and from all directions emanate the soft sounds of unseen activity. Those who live their lives in these forests know that such sounds are usually nothing to worry over. Swooping bats. Hunting owls. The nightly activities of small nocturnal predators.
Those who hunt these forests know the truth. There are monsters is in this world. Terrible creatures that prey upon the weak. They hunt for survival. For pleasure.
For a cure.
A small fire crackles beneath the spreading branches of an ancient old tree. The reddish glow radiates outward, causing shadows to flicker and dance across the gnarled bark. Carefully stoked, the fire offers up little smoke, but radiates an intense heat.
Crouched over the flames, silhouette broken by the dangling rags of his tattered black uniform, is the lean form of a man. His head is bowed downward, stringy black hair hanging in a tangled curtain across his face and shoulders. His hands, black gloved, move slowly as they tip a small crystal vial into a tin cup. The roiling concoction within the cup emits a cloud of rancid steam, hissing and spitting as if ready to dissolve its container.
The steam rushes past the man's scarf-wrapped face, rising past bright golden eyes to disperse into the branches above.
But he is not a man. The figure crouched so calmly in these woods is known only as The Hunter. once he was known as Benedict, the youngest Preceptor and champion of the Silver Lash. But no longer is that who he is. Perhaps he will never be again.
There is a creaking sound in the air.
The steam suddenly dances in the moonlight, its shape changed by a wind passing through it. The branches rustle. Small details, small warnings. But telltale. A cracking sound comes overhead. A shape comes in the shadow briefly, before fading. To a lesser. He might not recognize the sights, the sounds.
But he might remember the smell.
A thick air of turpentine fills in the clearing. A smothering stench of pine tar, burnt black. Those who learned of the smell often didn't forget it. She wasn't even trying to hide her presence. Already, the shape of a lanky woman could be seen in silhouette high in the branches. An impossibly long nose sticks out of the dark shadow of her face. It was pointed at him. Fixed on him. It was watching.
And then comes tittering laughter.
She couldn't control herself. There was just a certain flavor of the afflicition she could sense. Light, playful laughter pours out from above, spreading into every corner around the flame. "Benedict..." A young woman's voice coos from above. It was not her voice. "Benedict..." Another bout of merry laughter comes, that sharply dives into a deeper, harsher cackling.
"How are you, my child?~"
The bubbling liquid is sloshed gently in its cup, stirred with the utmost care while the crystal vial is withdrawn to be tucked away in one of the many small pockets lining the Hunter's bandoliers. There is no immediate reaction to the arrival of Eadni. No sudden reach for a weapon, nor a stiffening of his arched neck. But this is not for lack of fear.
Well Eadni knows this man has no fear. None of his brothers do. But they are not sloppy, nor do they tend to allow threats to exist overlong in their presence. This lack of reaction is calculated. harsh.
The Hunter is treating her as if she weren't a threat.
"Benedict." Whispers the hunter, his voice scraped from a raw throat as flint grinding across stone. "Brother Benedict is sleeping. I am The Hunter, witch, and well I recall your games."
Lifting the cup free from the heat of the fire, the black-clad man cradles it carefully between both hands. Still he avoids looking up at the creature looming above him, and he does not reach for a weapon.
How different this being is from the one Eadni once knew. Still there can be felt the determination. The iron will that drove him through pain and torment. But gone is the lust for life. The true spark of fire that powered his soul, urging him to grow. To accept all challenges with a near manic ferocity.
"Stop playing pretend, Benedict~"
The tone is mocking. The actions were deliberate. The figure spreads its arms and legs out, moving across the upper branches like a spider. Winding lower and lower, as the flickering flame cast dim illumination on the witch's features. Her mask for the night was of a young girl, freckled and tanned, with black pools for eyes. The nose was short, a cute little nose, in stark contrast to what the shadows revealed. Its lips were in a tight smile. "I suppose this is what happens when you squander your childhood, you have to play pretend when you are all grown up. I remember when the darling, doting Benedict was playing hunter with your brothers. You were adorable then, as cute as any little boy, smooth features, rosy cheeks..." She pulls herself back into the shadows. And the tone drops to soft, impossibly soft, soft as a mere fingertip grazing a cheek.
"And then shot my arm off."
There is a silence, the witch's movement stopping dead. When the voice returns, it is only a mite harder. "And then you became a commander, and were murdering my children left and right. Oh Benedict, you grew up so wrong. That wretched Silver Lash twisted and corrupted you, making you into a murderer, a monster." She pulls herself back into the light, her burlap clothing of faded woad drapped over her frame. Slowly, surely, her arms and legs twisted backwards, gnarled hands and twisted feet dug in, she begins to crawl down the trunk, towards the ground. "She told me you were diseased." She coos. "But you do not seem ill to me, Benedict."
"For the first time in your life, you look exactly as you always been."
"Shorn of hair. Scarred by training. My eyes cold as the void." Comes the hunter's rasped reply. Only then does he lift his gaze from the cup in his hands, fixing those demonic yellow eyes on the twisted witch whom has chosen to descend upon his camp.
She creeps. Slithers. Her influence has spread through this forest like a disease. But he can't muster enough passion to care. Such feelings are beyond him.
"Always I have been a monster. One to haunt your nightmares. To put the fear of a god into those who think themselves above judgement." His hoarse words are hard, immovable, but there is no fire there. Nothing beyond a driving desire for, something. Something that has become his whole purpose for existing. The reason that the Hunter was made.
Behind those golden eyes, far back in their lambent depths, something else peers out. Something trapped, but oddly familiar.
The battered black-clad man faces the freckled girl across the fire. Both ragged. Both containing monsters.
"Have you come to die?" The Hunter asks, but there is no taunt in the words. There is only a dusty sort of inevitability.
"Strong words... from a child"
The witch descends from the trunk, finally dropping. She falls through the earth, sinking below it as one would fall below pool of water. The witch wades up through the earth, pulling herself up to the fire. It is there, she curls herself up, tucking her knobby, knotted legs to her chest as she seats across the flame. Even so close to the light, her eyes do not reflect the fire. "You aren't one of your brothers anymore. You are free, free of their influence. I can see that in your eyes. You have been reborn. I am not here to die."
"I've come to start over again."
The lips part, revealing the rows and rows of splinters, interrupted only by iron teeth hammered in. "I forgive you. A mother must forgive her son, no matter how cruel he has been. Unconditional love demands forgiveness. You do not deserve to be alone." She releases her knees, turning her body to the side, letting her legs turn away from the flame behind her as she leans forward. Her voice falls into a whisper. "I can promise you blood. I can even promise a cure. What ever it is that you hunger, I can feed you. And you know all too well, how well-fed my children can be." She toys with her black hair, shutting her lips tight again. "You only have to accept me, Benedict."
"Are you willing to accept a mother's love?~"
The young girl twists and contorts herself before the Hunter's Eyes, her mannerisms shifting from demon, to youth, to matron. There is fluidity there. A certain malleable nature that some might find fascinating.
Reaching up, the battered man grips the scarf that hides his lower face and drags it down. The frayed black cloth gathers around his throat, revealing his sharp features. Even as a man he was too harsh, too intense to be handsome. But now, with the pink and white scars of past battles etched into his visage, and a line of bloody pink drool running from the corner of his mouth, he his appearance matches well the monster he has become.
A mother's love might speak to such a lonely soul. Does not every creature crave acceptance? Does not every man need his mother?
"I will grant you sixty seconds. You may run if you wish. But know that I am all that remains of the man you once knew. The other, he is less forgiving." With every soft word ground from his raw throat, the Hunter's lips part. Little bubbles of blood bust on his lips, seeping out of tiny cuts made by the rows of jagged, unnatural fangs that now crowd his mouth. The arrangement is not unlike those spikes that grace Eadni's own mouth, but twisted. Warped in jagged imitation of a predator.
As the minute begins, that singular unit of time granted her by the once monster slayer, he lifts the bubbling cup to his lips. tipping it back, he pours the burning liquid past his ruined lips, throat expanding as he drains it in a single draft.
There is an option laid before the witch. Will she flee? Will she run from this creature that once stalked her kind through the night?
Will the Hunter once more join the hunt?
"Benedict, my child, no."
Her voice is soft still, her expression a mask of a smile. But as the creature takes his drink, as the warning is given, she only shakes her head. "You should have stayed with me as a man." She mutters something under her breath. Seconds? Time had little meaning. But the muttering continues, as the seconds drift by. She digs her hand deep into the earth, up to her elbow. And she pulls a fist full of something. Clutching the gnarled fist, she holds it before the fire. She was muttering the profane, the ancient, the old. Rocking back and forth a bit, only mere seconds remain.
And she reaches into the flames.
The flames turn bright emerald, building briefly into a fireball, before dying down low. In the flash, Eadni had made her move, scurrying away from the fire. The flames almost fly from the fire pit, drifting with a life of their own as they pursue her. The shadows take new shapes now, humanoid and beastial figures cast against the earth and tree. Eadni herself is low on all fours, the now ghostly flames spreading away from her along the ground, into the trees. A boundary was formed almost, as the spectres ebb and flow. She backs away. But she does not leave. The girl turns to face The Hunter, her arms and legs sunk into the earth. She stares across, as she whispers aloud. "Show me your true form, Benedict."
"Show me what they've made you, my child!~"
COMBATSYS: Eadni has started a fight here.
COMBATSYS: The Hunter has joined the fight here.
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The Hunter 0/-------/-------|======-\-------\0 Eadni
Dropping the tin cup to the ground, the savaged man takes a moment to drag his mask back up over the lower half of his face. In the flickering light of the fire, with Eadni's hand buried to the wrist in the hard earth, his yellow eyes burn with an implacable resolve.
Rising smoothly from his crouch, the Hunter begins to stalk away from the fire. Only six or so steps he goes, but even at that distance its wavering light only barely touches the thick brush that surrounds him. Reaching down, he lifts a heavy, steel-reinforced crossbow from where it had been propped against a tree.
The final seconds are consumed by his hands running the length of the weapon. With idle care he insures that it is free of damage, and that no tricks have been played upon it. And so, as the fire flares and the shadows of creatures begin to dance across the foliage, the Hunter is ready.
Turning, he takes a single step forward into the light. Through his curtain of tangled black hair, he fixes Eadni with a stare that both rages with ferocious resolve, yet seems somehow to lack life. To lack soul.
"You have only I to contend with, hag. Now let us make an end of it."
Raising his heavy crossbow with smooth assurance, he sights down the weapon and fires. The entire action is practiced to a machine-like precision, the heavy arms of the weapon letting out a loud 'TUNG!' as they snap forward.
A bolt of cold iron buzzes across the distance, aimed squarely for the center mass of the witch who hunches so invitingly amidst the trees.
COMBATSYS: The Hunter successfully hits Eadni with Out For Blood.
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The Hunter 0/-------/------=|======-\-------\0 Eadni
Eadni was waiting.
She wanted the transformation to complete. She wanted to know what was presented before her. As the mask returns, she spreads herself out, ready to pounce like a wildcat. And yet, instead of facing a monster, she faced the man again. That accursed weapon, the bane of the witch. A hissing sound comes from the smiling creature. Already, it was moving, trying to slip. The bolt is fired, and she dips low. But not low enough: the accuracy of The Hunter was uncanny. The blow knocks her over, flipping her in mid air as she takes the hit. She falls on her back, falling towards the forest ground.
And Eadni sinks beneath the earth.
There, the ground churns in the eldritch light, the verdant flames casting the strange shadows across. It was like a freshly dug grave. And to no surprise, it moves, like a mole, burrowing through the ground, moving towards Benedict. It dives down deep again, the mound gone. There is no silence now, a low murmuring filling the air. The smell of turpentine was sharper and sharper. The earth boils up near the base of a pine tree.
And she bursts from the earth again.
The dirt builds up into a heap, bones rising up in the mess of tangled roots and clay. Half buried to the waist was the witch, her limbs longer than before. One of the creature's hands was fixed on a skull. The other claws at the bolt in her shoulder, black tar oozing from the wound. Her face was still in that mask smile, but the teeth was bared. "Cold iron, my child?" The witch hisses. "You -do- remember." With a shriek, she final rips the bolt from her shoulder, the black tar flowing heavier from the exposure. The other hand raises up, clutching the skull in the base of the palm. One of the drifting emerald flames bolts, flowing into the skull, setting it alight. "Wretched, wretched, wretched," She murmurs, before she hurls the skull towards Benedict. It spins as it is hurtled towards the Hunter.
And then, it sharply changes direction upwards.
The spirit seizes control of the skull, the flames empowering it as it jerks through the air. Drifting wildly, it gives a long loop around. Eadni herself begins to drag herself fully out of the earth, moving easily through the dirt. The skull, growing more and more consumed by the flame, returns back around towards Benedict. From up high, it screams, and dives, rushing the man a second time from behind. The skull was too brittle at this point to cause any real damage.
The flames, however, was another story.
COMBATSYS: The Hunter blocks Eadni's Soul To Keep.
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The Hunter 0/-------/------=|======-\-------\0 Eadni
The soft residual thrum of the crossbow's wire is the only sound remaining as Eadni vanishes into the earth. The rustles of the night have died. The wind is still. Her burrowing progress dives deep, dropping from sight.
His boots crunch loudly through brittle twigs as he stalks forward into the center of the camp. All around him drift ghoulish green witch lights, which begin to softly murmur as their mothers draws closer to the surface.
Bracing the butt of his crossbow against his right knee, the Hunter grabs the heavy steel cord in both gloved hands. The soft chanting of the surrounding spirits grows ever louder as he convulses his body, jerking the cord downward into the locked position with a surge of brutal strength far beyond the common man. Lifting his now primed weapon, he withdraws another iron bolt from his bandolier and slots it carefully into place.
There is just enough time for him to turn, crossbow held low before him, and watch as Eadni explodes from the earth like a diseased weed. His golden gaze meets hers without compassion as she tugs at the bolt lodged in her shoulder. There is not fear. There is not hate. There isn't even contempt.
The being before her, it is not the boy she knew. At least that boy felt some disgust. He felt Something for her. The Hunter seems not to have the energy.
"I am not that boy you once fought, witch. I am all that you deserve. All that you have earned." He states in a hoarse whisper, just before he is forced to spin on the spot to confront the skull that is raging in toward his back.
The flaming visage of death meets the butt of the Hunter's crossbow with a splintering 'CRUNCH,' its face imploding beneath the vicious blow in a gout of green flames. The heavy strike knocks the skull to the ground, and a charred boot descends to stomp what remains into a smoldering pile of burnt bone.
Flickering tongues of green fire drip from the stock of the Hunter's weapon as he turns to face Eadni,casting her another of those ferociously blank stares.
Without a word, he throws himself across the distance that separates them, the tip of his right boot swinging up to catch the witch just beneath the jaw as she climbs from her hole. The attempt is to expose her throat for a thrusting stomp with the same foot, which will hopefully drive her back against the tree behind her and pin her there, the unfeeling man balanced on one foot while he leans his weight forward to trap her in place. Over his raised knee his yellow eyes will gleam, gazing pitilessly down into her own black pits.
COMBATSYS: The Hunter successfully hits Eadni with Armed Combo.
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The Hunter 0/-------/-------|======-\-------\0 Eadni
It was borrowed time.
Eadni's rituals were beginning. But The Hunter... Benedict knew this song and dance. As the skull is smashed away, the flames disappate. The witch, sweat faced, was lurching towards Benedict. The witch was powerful... in time. She was agile... in time. The time was not now, not yet, as she dips low in the face of the kick... and takes a boot squarely in the face, in pure power. She is carried back into the tree, slamming her back against it. The knee comes erupting as she is trapped in place. And the blow lands cleanly.
And the face splits.
The witch shrieks as she recoils her gnarled hands to her face. Her head was split open, both halves of her lips retracted into a scream. Underneath, in the exposed wound, was splintered wood and thick tar. Teeth and wood shards intermingle in the exposed wound. She was spraying the thick tar, the stench of turpentine growing overwhelming. The tree behind her suddenly erupts in a scarlet light as her legs crack around, twisting back to brace against the tree.
And something shudders under the earth.
"You will be nothing more than a child, Benedict!" The witch howls, as her arms suddenly jerk. Stretching her limbs, they almost double in length as she slams them both towards Benedict. The limbs were boneless, viney things, attempting to wrap around the form of Benedict. Should she get the grips, she would use her legs grip the tree as well. And there, she would lift him up, lift him high up with incredible strength to slam him first against the tree... and then, to the side.
All while more skulls rise from the earth, illuminated in the emerald fires.
COMBATSYS: The Hunter parries Eadni's Medium Throw!
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The Hunter 0/-------/-----==|=======\-------\1 Eadni
The rituals of a witch. places of power. These are things that the Hunter knows well. And well he knows the counters to them.
Some prefer to lure witches out. Away from their familiar ground, their power must be built up slowly. But others, those such as the Hunter himself, they espouse the path of violence.
Dead witches cast no spells.
Dragging his tar-covered leg away from the monstrous woman's crushed head, the Hunter plants both feet firmly on the treacherous earth. There is no surprise, no retreat when Eadni latches onto the tree and begins to whip her arms toward him. The full weight of his crossbow lashes first to the left, then to the right as he beats the arms back with muscular twists of his shoulders, entire body uncoiling as he reverses out of the final swing and brings the butt of his weapon exploding around in a tight bash aimed toward the side of Eadni's head, all of the force of his inhuman strength behind it.
The maneuver is simple, or perhaps brutally effective. if he can hit her in the head hard enough to knock her from the tree and back onto the ground, he will whip his crossbow around and fire yet another cold iron bolt point blank into her mutated body.
All of the rising skulls. The gathering power. The chaotic horror that is this witch. None of that will matter once he has put her in the ground.
COMBATSYS: The Hunter successfully hits Eadni with Runs In The Blood EX.
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The Hunter 0/-------/------=|=======\-------\1 Eadni
It was a race against time.
Power was flowing into the witch, the longer and longer she stayed in this site. She had turned the camp into a place of power. It would not be long before she would reach the apex of her power. Already, other trees were cast in the scarlet light, an eldritch energy flowing into the site. She had begun the ritual. She would soon reach her true strength. But the reality was there before her face.
Eadni couldn't complete the ritual, if she was dead.
The entangling arms fail to catch the hunter. Slipping from her grasp, Benedict drove back the limbs. A hissing comes from the witch as he reverses, smashing towards the head. She twists herself in close quarters, writhing and bending unnaturally. But in these close quarters, she had no space. The blow connects cleanly with the split face.
And the head is practically destroyed.
A oozing fountain of black tar is all that was left, as the splinters are sent hurtling away. The creature lurches, the arms and legs twitching and flailing. The bolt comes, and it strikes it squarely into the chest. A shudder comes into its body, as its back slams back into the tree. It sinks down, head a black sore, limbs growing less jerky, and more still. For a moment, it holds still.
And then it charges.
"I will tame you. I will control you, and you will be mine child~" That was the haunting words from the depths of the witch, the black tar boiling up with the words as the bolt gushes out, black tar flowing across the burlap dress. The earth shudders again, as the roots of the trees begin to animate. The roots rise and sink like serpents, writhing in the earth, churning it. More skulls rise up, some taking flight as they are possessed by the flames, others rising up on stakes, their eyes burning with emerald fire. Eadni herself was lashing out with her arms, whipping and hammering with staggering force. She was flailing wildly, blindly. She was reaching to strike out, to destroy. To worry.
COMBATSYS: The Hunter counters Fierce Punch from Eadni with If It Bleeds.
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The Hunter 0/-------/-----==|=======\==-----\1 Eadni
The iron-tipped bolt drives deep into the chest of the witch, sinking through tainted flesh up to the razor-edged fins, which are designed to protrude from the wound and cut the hands of anyone who attempts to pull it free. it is a small thing. A simple thing. Nothing more than a few glittering edges of metal protruding from a burlap dress.
But with the delivery of the bolt, there is a breath of silence.
Tar drips from the butt of the Hunter's crossbow, clinging to the sleeves of his torn rags and oozing across the silver chain that armors his right arm. Little bits of black goop are flung out into the eerily glowing forest as he slings his heavy bow up and over his head, allowing the barbed hooks along its underside to snag the back of his leather harness. He has no time to deal with the bulky ranged weapon any further.
Slipping his left hand beneath the front of his crossed bandoliers, the ragged hunter draws a long, triangular dagger from one of no doubt many concealed sheathes. The blade of the weapon is thick, its construction dull and reflective. it is not a pretty knife. Heavy, utilitarian, and pounded into shape from a lump of cold iron. The handle is simple oak, and it lacks a guard of any kind.
It is just as the knife clears its sheath that Eadni springs back to life. The unholy glow of the forest grows ever brighter with her increasing wrath. Blazing skulls whip past, their flaming eyes full of pain and hate. The very earth writhes, thrust about by the roots of the groaning trees.
Any sane man would flee this hellish landscape. No man fights a witch in its lare.
Unfortunately for Eadni, the Hunter is no man.
Her screeching charge is met with implacable resolve, the first swing of her writhing arm met with a brutal swipe of his chain-wrapped arm. Oozing black tar sprays from the point of impact, splattering the roiling earth as the hunter retreats a step, then hacks into the other limb as it swipes toward him with vicious disregard. Again and again the reckless attacks are thwarted, battered down or hacked apart as the hunter retreats into the center of the chaos, standing his ground in the very heart of the hellscape.
Around the black-clad figure's feet, the rings of his campfire form a small circle of stones. Ash puffs up around his scorched boots as he sets himself, driving the witch back with a final brutal stab of his iron knife into the center of her tattered chest.
Throughout the savage defense the Hunter's eyes have burned only with focused ferocity. A cold, soulless fire without hate. Without rage. Only horrible certainty. The knowledge that from this fight, the witch will flee, die, or kill him. The freedom of a man with no true desire to live, but who demands his death be hard, and brutal.
It wasn't her lair, not yet.
The eldritch power was reaching its peak. The skulls were alive, in the air and the earth. The trees were empowered. Even the shadows were shifting between the world of the living and the world of the dead. The spiritual boundaries were nearly gone. The very earth itself churned as the energy flowed through the trees to the earth below. Others would be fleeing now.
But Eadni was still fighting a professional monster hunter.
The flailing limbs are hacked clean off by the Hunter, the limbs torn asunder by blade and beating it. A howl like a cat comes from the witch, as it is nothing but a pair of legs on top of a burlap stump. The creature staggers back, its bare feet nothing more but knotted stumps. Black tar dripped to the earth below, the stench of the witch overbearing. "I will curse you beyond your curses, child. I will damn you beyond damnation. I will suffer beyond suffering, and be BEGGING for my love!" Was the shriek from the depths of the remains.
And it was still attacking.
The witch suddenly falls down, its legs sinking beneath the earth. With it, the same pair suddenly jut up underneath Benedict's own feet. Thrusting up like spikes, to implale him. The sight was transformed now, the spiritual energy saturating the grounds. Eadni was barely together, with only two legs to her name. This had to be the end.
COMBATSYS: The Hunter blocks Eadni's Medium Kick.
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The Hunter 0/-------/----===|=======\====---\1 Eadni
The stance of the Hunter is strong and controlled. Where Eadni curses, he is silent. Where she thrashes, there is stillness. Where her desperation grows, his apathy is strong. There is no penetration into his deeper self. No manipulation of his psyche.
When words do come to the man, they are quiet. A low whisper barely audible over the rising cacophony of the peaking ritual.
"I will feed your corpse to the earth, and it will find you wanting."
Bringing his chain-wrapped hand down in a vicious overhead blow, he clubs the rising legs away with a brutal 'crunch', reeking black tar splashing across the chest of his scorched and torn uniform. As the legs are forced down, his triangular blade flashes in the witch light, sweeping in from first the left, then the right. Broad, powerful chops made to hack the limbs apart like rotting saplings.
COMBATSYS: Eadni counters Medium Strike from The Hunter with Gave My Love.
-+- CALCULATED HIT -+-
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The Hunter 0/-------/-======|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>-\1 Eadni
There was nothing left from the witch.
The legs, entangling around the Hunter, are beaten back like snakes. The torso itself just sits there, the black tar hardening around it, taking a shining sheen. Lumps begin to boil up and form. But as the legs are smashed back, a drone comes over the site. Whispers. Prayers. Chants. The spiritual force was at its peak. And all the witch could do is sit in the ground. As the legs sink back beneath the earth, what should have happened was the flash of the knife come to a helpless form, a body without anything to fight with. But as Benedict approached, he might has seen a movement under the black shell, a bulge, and burst. Death should have come for the witch.
Instead comes a backhand for the Hunter.
The surface of the torso breeches, as a thick, six-foot woody vine explodes out of it. Burning with emerald energy, it intercepts The Hunter before he can even reach the limbless body of the witch. The limb slams across Benedict's face, smashing with the backhand force to stop a rampaging elephant. Following through the attack, another limb emerges from the leg, as the emerald energy pours around it. The black tar was forming into a shell, a cocoon, and it was now rising. The torso rises, higher and higher, the long legs of the witch stretching it over. Finally, at the top of the torso, a long, long nose begins to grow out. There are no eyes, but there was a face reforming upon the torso. With hollow sockets for eyes, an ever-lengthening needle nose, and a mouth full of splinted teeth. The witch was a lanky, tree-like figure, looming over nine feet tall. "Child~" The witch says sweetly, softly as it looms over."You can only dream of my death"
"So lets play pretend~"
There is a moment, a flash as the knife descends toward the tangled roots of legs, when it seems the Hunter might simply hack the witch apart. But nothing is ever so easy. The knife descends in a gleaming arc...
And a knotted hand strikes the Hunter in the face with enough force to snap the spine of a normal man. Emerald energy roars across his scarf-covered face, charring the tattered wrap of cloth near to ash in some parts, while his body is thrown backward out of the remains of the campfire to land heavily some 12 feet away. The ground heaves and buckles beneath him, coiled vines rising like snakes in preparation to strike.
Lifting his head, tangled mop of hair lying limp across his face, he stares up at the giant monstrosity that looms above him. And in his eyes, behind the cold fury and iron will, something stirs. Something vast and alien, but familiar. something that belongs not on this earth.
Through the Hunter's eyes, for just a fraction of a second, Benedict looks out.
The Hunter's blade hacks through a snapping vine as he throws himself back to his feet. Muscles tense, left foot stomping down to crush an emerging skull as he reaches beneath his crossed bandoliers with his right hand and pulls out a second triangular dagger, near identical to the first.
Flipping the knives once in his hands, the Hunter lets out a low, grinding snarl. The noise is deep and dusty, somehow managing to be both rocky and metallic at the same time. It grates grudgingly out of his body, a noise far too deep and harsh for a human throat to bare.
it is his only response, for soon his hands snap out, and two knives are spinning through the air on a direct course for the armored kneecaps of Eadni's lanky form...
COMBATSYS: Eadni dodges The Hunter's Blood And Thunder.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > /////////// ]
The Hunter 0/-------/-----==|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>-\1 Eadni
She wasn't fully formed.
The effect may have been noted as the long-limbed witch strides, the black blood still oozing all over. Her limbs groan, and even splinter with the movement. The striking limb from earlier was cracked, a long split line running through it, oozing light. And yet, with every step, roots lash up around her feet. The shadows are alive, the shapes of man and beast clinging to her form, leaping off to dive uselessly and harmlessly towards The Hunter. It was a night of nightmares, for both creatures. The knives come out.
And the witch knew what was going to come soon.
In spite of its gangly appearance, the witch was agile. Stunningly agile. As the knives go for the knees, the witch takes to the air. Leaping high above, her arms sweep out to keep balance. She breaks through the circling skulls overhead, the trail of flames following her. And there, over the knives, she was diving down towards Benedict. The skulls follow her, clinging close as she pounces for the man, the 9 foot monster diving down. The long limbs sweep around again, ready to wrap around Benedict. If the tendrils made contact, she would embrace the hunter...
COMBATSYS: The Hunter fails to counter Don't Say A Word from Eadni with Blood Pressure.
- Power fail! -
[ \\\\\\\\\ < > ////////// ]
The Hunter 0/-------/--=====|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>-\1 Eadni
The Hunter says, "hahahha"
And the limbs snap around Benedict's arms, pinning them in place.
Eadni's blank expression of a vaguely humanoid stump gazes into The Hunter, as the limbs tighten and tighten. The witch lifts up the Hunter, as she clutches him tighter and tighter to its chest. "Child~" The creature coos, the tendrils slithering around the legs. "I love you very dearly, but you have been a naughty, naughty boy." The stump splits backwards, as the mouth of the witch grows wider, and wider. The rows and rows of splinters and iron are like a shark's. "And mother... mother must... punish you." The witch raises the Hunter up to her mouth.
And sink that maw of teeth deep into his shoulder, to take a heaving, ripping bite.
The Hunter's iron daggers drive into the earth with solid thuds, wiffing beneath the witch's feet as she takes to the sky. But that is of little concern to the veteran slayer. There are always more knives. More weapons. More ways to slay a beast.
As Eadni breaks through the skull canopy, green flame licking up around her woody form, the Hunter's right hand twists in a peculiar way.
A cascade of tar-stained silver rushes down the black-clad man's arm, impacting the ground with a rattling 'clink'. Having gripped the trailing end of his silver chain, he stares up at the descending monstrosity with calculating resolve. This is a maneuver that must be made perfect. Her mass leaves him no room for error.
The witch's enormous feet pound down to either side of him, and the Hunter strikes.
Snapping his right hand up and forward, he jerks the chain off of the ground and sends it whistling through the air in a tight arc. Tar sprays away from the blessed metal, leaving it glittering and pristine as it impacts the monster's left shoulder and whips around her back, the end darting in beneath her right armpit. Thrusting his right boot forward to brace against Eadni's looming stomach, he reaches forward with his free hand...
The final link of the chain tickles the tips of his extended fingers. He has misjudged. She is too large.
There is no time to regret his mistake, for all too soon the massive arms have closed in on him. He strains, bringing his own unholy might to bare as his arms are slowly forced to his sides. The burnt boot braced against her chest flexes, and he manages to keep her from pulling them chest to chest, but it is a shallow victory. For descending from above, maw open and horrible voice crooning, is the stumpy head of the monster.
Eadni's teeth sink deep into the Hunter's shoulder, his bitter blood rushing out to coat her chin and tongue. It tastes wrong. All wrong. Alien and unworldly. Tainted by something from outside the scope of this plane.
Behind his tattered mask, the wounded Hunter lets out a low, harsh noise somewhere between a gasp and a hiss. His strength seems to redouble, the joints of the witch groaning as he slowly, inexorably begins to force her arms apart.
Something is stirring behind his eyes, and whatever it is, it has done something that Eadni never could.
It has scared him.
"This is the disease."
Those are the words from the witch, the thin flesh slapping as it chews. Blood mingles with tar as it flows from her stumped face. "Unnatural. You've been cursed from beyond, haven't you? Bargaining with outsiders?" An anger seems to shudder through the witch, as unnatural power comes over the struggling victim. "Wretched creature, wretched boy!" The witch fights, her own incredible power struggling against the new power coming from The Hunter. "You have been -bargaining-" The hiss comes, as the eldritch energy seem to erupt from the ground.
And the churning earth opens up at her feet.
Green fire flows from the maw, as roots and vines flap around like snakes in the chasm. The creaking sound was moaning, as she raises the fighting Hunter over her head. "If you wish to be damned, then I will send you with all the damned. You are corrupted, you are already bound." She murmurs, her grips loosening. "You must be purified in the earth, you will be -cleansed- child. And then you can be fit as a son again... or a meal." One of her limbs crack, from the final burst of strength overwhelming her.
And Eadni attempts to hurl him down into the writhing vines.
COMBATSYS: Eadni successfully hits The Hunter with Day Is Done.
[ \ < > /////////// ]
The Hunter 1/------=/=======|-------\-------\0 Eadni
The moment The Hunter lands into the roots, they begin to wrap, entangling and ensnaring, around and around. Binding around him as a cocoon, tucking him as trundle as a baby in a crib. Tighter and tighter, as the energies around... began to swirl. The witch shrinks, as the eldritch energy flow towards the chasm. Still an unnatural shape, the skulls fly past the witch, embedding themselves in the roots and vines. The fires drawing downwards over Benedict, the shadows diving into the depths with him, the churning earth growing still as they fix to this center point. The ritual is complete. "Good night, my child~" She coos.
"You'll need your rest."
And the chasm erupts in a plume of purifying, emerald flame before her.
The earth closes in. Vines, dirt, and skulls pile down around the Hunter's struggling form as he strains with ever growing fury. With each passing moment his strength seems to grow, movements becoming ever more panicked.
And as he looks up, golden eyes blazing through the green of descending souls, something else lurks behind his eyes. Something eager. something viciously passionate.
The gaze cuts out abruptly as the earth finally closes around him, a bomb of soul fire exploding from the spot where the Hunter had struggled mere moments before.
And out of that fire, shedding ghoulish flame as if it were oil across water, a glittering silver chain lashes out toward Eadni's shrinking form...
COMBATSYS: The Hunter can no longer fight.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\ <
COMBATSYS: The Hunter successfully hits Eadni with Blood Sweat And Tears.
-+- CALCULATED HIT -+-
[ \\\ <
The weaponized chain strikes out from the raging green inferno like a serpent, moving almost as if it has a mind of its own. Drawn to evil as surely as if the witch were a magnet, the blessed silver whips itself around her throat, forming a double coil that grows tighter. Ever tighter.
Something tugs hard on the other end of the chain, smashing the witch face-first into the ground with a bone-jarring crunch. Whatever it is, it is strong, And its strength is being applied relentlessly.
Slowly, torturously, a nearly naked figure drags itself out of the earth. it is pale and covered in scars, shedding ash and earth from its back in a bizarre form of birth that is sickening to see. All that remains of its clothes are the crossed bandoliers across its chest, a scorched crossbow hanging from its back, and the charred remains of once black pants.
its tangled hair hangs in a partially melted mass about its face, though it is not enough to hide its eyes.
Golden eyes. Eyes so full of hunger, and malice. Of emerging glee. Eyes that know only extremes. Pain, lust, and revenge. A thirst for blood and torment.
Bloody slobber drips from its chin as it drags itself fully from the ground, both scarred hands gripping the end of the blessed chain. Staggering sloppily to its feet, it bares its jagged fangs down at Eadni in a horrible, predatory smile.
"Mother." it hisses, voice slithering and jagged like a glass-coated snake. "OH mother. I could just eat you up."
A step is taken toward her.
The beast descends upon the witch with the unholy ferocity of the darkest devil, falling upon her with teeth and hands. The chain is discarded, a snarl of pure ghoulish pleasure escaping it as it rams stiff fingers into the base of her spine, and pulls.
The canopy above reflects twisted shadows of unspeakable acts, wavering reflections cast toward the sky by the ghoulish ghost light. The forest is filled with the wet, snapping sounds of unleashed carnage.
Sometimes, people don't know what they want. Eadni's wish has been granted.
Benedict has come out to play.
Her power was leaving her.
It was an exposure. As the purification completes, she sweeps a hand. She would bury him. He would emerge soon enough. Too soon, as it turned out. As the heap rolls along, to bury Benedict under, it bursts out. A chain lashes around her, as with a jerk, she is slammed fast first with a crack. Black tar oozes out, as she rises up. But instead, the nude, feral form of the Hunter was on her. She could feel it. The wild nature of a brutal man. She remembered that feeling. Koschei was that feeling's name.
That was the name of the death.
The witch had experienced death before. She would not be experiencing this in the hands of a man, but a beast in the shape of a man. There is a calm acceptance now. The ritual was complete. The ritual had to be completed. And now, she would embrace the aftermath. There isn't an attempt to avert her fate, in her weakened state. She accepts the predator with both arms, embracing him once more. The words come into a whisper, as the teeth sink in.
"Consume my flesh, child"
"A mother must fill even the most wretched of children."
A soft, wincing laughter comes over the side of Mount Koya, filling the corners of frightened monks ears. before it stops short. The mountain had been haunted for a while now. The curses of the spirits was always the same tune, even if the words were the same. The sound of devouring echos as well, the sounds of beast and monsters. In the morning, there is naught even bones. The earth is dug up into mounds. There is no sign of Eadni. All that remains is managled flinders, an overwhelming stench of turpentine.
And a sopping puddle of black tar.
COMBATSYS: Eadni takes no action.
COMBATSYS: Eadni can no longer fight.
Log created on 17:25:06 06/23/2016 by Eadni, and last modified on 23:03:11 06/24/2016.