Description: SHANG TSUNG: "Next, SCARLET DAHLIA. It pleases me to see that you have survived your injuries. It pleases me very deeply. We will all remember what.. happened.. to the Russian, but they say his conduct is understandable, and I agree. It is seldom that a man encounters such rare breeding and sharp beauty in a woman with a blade to match. I'll have you battle ARANHA in my throne room, where I will hold your audience personally. I have no doubt you will bring glory to austere proceedings."
The entrance to Shang Tsung's mountainside palace was opulent enough, but his throne room is a testament to the Sorceror's torrid love affair with excessive decadence. Dark veined marble floors have likely seen more than their fare share of bloody conflict, but the dutiful labor of the sorceror's conscripted staff is more than ample at keeping the throne room in immaculate condition.
The Scarlet Dahlia steps into the room. Even the retinue of twelve guards trailing just behind her cannot ward off the sensation of chill rushing through her as she steps into the open-air throne room. Goosebumps raise along her back and neck, in open defiance of her intention to present the facade of a calm and disaffected noblewoman. Her facial features further that facade, however: her lips twist upward into a faintly amused smirk as her eyes adjust to the flickering flames of torches, animated by the faint breeze wafting through the decadent throne room.
Pausing at the entrance, she turns to the nearest of her conscripted lackeys. Her slender fingers unweave the knot holding her down-lined crimson cloak in place over her shoulders. With a casual gesture, she sheds the cloak, handing it to her doting assistant, who dutifully retains his position by the door with his companions. Unencumbered, the Dahlia strides forward. Her hair is impeccably styled, two rippled locks allowed to tumble freely away from the tighyly-wrapped bun that retains the rest of her ravenblack hair. Cold blue eyes fall onto the Sorceror -- contact lenses chosen for the benefit of the weaker-minded, rather than the man who can see through artifice and peer directly into one's soul.
The Scarlet Dahlia meets the appraising gaze of the Sorcerer, pressing the knuckles of her right fist into her left palm, and bowing in the way of the Shaolin. The way of the monks is a conscious nod to the stylings of the palace, much as her appropriation of the Vietnamese ao dai is a choice made in appreciation of the beauty of the garment's form. Loose-fitting pants of white silk were selected to provide comfort in movement. The upper garment is more closely tailored to the Dahlia's acrobatic frame. Long sleeves hug her elbows and wrists as closely as they insinuate her thin abdomen; evidence that she has been able to control her diet and regimen even in the harsh environs of the remote island.
She rises from her show of respect to the reigning Sorceror, dancing firelight reflecting in her eyes. The gold-threaded sash (patterened in native Ainu patterns if not their traditional colors) hanging about her hips supports two objects. On the Shadow Advisor's left hip hangs a black-lacquered three-sectioned staff, announcing its presence with a faint jangling of chain. On her right hip is a round gemstone, roughly the size of her fist in diameter. It is solid, for all intents and purposes, though within its depths a milky form seems to be swirling around inside it.
"As bidden by the Sorceror, Shang Tsung, I, the Scarlet Dahlia of the Akatsuki-gumi, have arrived. I thank you humbly for your invitation."
In comparison, Aranha's entrance is sedate. Beyond Shang Tsung, there's not really an audience for Aranha to entertain. Or at least that was what he thought. That is when he lays eyes on the entorage that the Scarlet Dahlia came in with. Probably not a receptive audience either. Plus, this tournament was to be regarded as a serious affair and to be treated as such. There will be no grandstanding from the capoeirista.
Even Aranha's fashion sensibilities are notably less flashy than the Scarlet Dahlia. Loose Fitting jeans, dark gray Timberland ankle boots, black t-shirt, and a denim jacket that he tosses aside. Quite possibly the flashiest thing he's wearing right now is that black bandana with a white spider web motif and blue outline.
He's quiet as he approaches the fighting area and he treats Shang Tsung's throne as if it is the foot of the roda. The capoeirista kneels down to touch the ground and brings a closed fist to his lips and then looks upwards in his personal roda ritual. Each capoeirista has their own roda ritual.
He nods to Shang Tsung to indicate his readiness but he doesn't move until either the Sorceror starts the match(this particular situation's version of capoeira's lowering of the berimbau) or until Honoka moves to attack him. Whichever comes first.
The Scarlet Dahlia has been stymied by the lack of electronic surveillance measures. Anything she has heard about the fight's competitors has been secondhand hearsay, provided only in rumors whispered by unreliable narrators. She had heard of the fight between Zach Glenn and Aranha -- she knows the outcome favored her circus alter-ego's boyfriend, naturally. But the Shadow Advisor was not privy to the subtleties of the fight -- she did not know the lengths to which her driven companion had gone in securing victory against the Dancing Spider.
She does, thankfully, know of the traceur's reputation. And, based on his vocalizations during the fight between Cassie Cage and the creature called Reptile, his predilection for thumbing his nose at authority. Such is why she has shed her pretense at regal authority aside with the cloak. To the host of the proceedings, her bearing is regal and princess-like; but when she turns to Aranha, it becomes clear that she sees him as an equal. The clothes she wears may be fashioned from silken cloth, but they are far from the fancy affair she had worn to the grand banquet -- a simpler design.
The Dahlia turns to Aranha, quietly taking note of his bearing. When her eyes pass over him, an eyebrow arches at what she finds.
"... Something most unusual possesses you, friend," she notes, while one hand slides to the sanjiegun at her hip. She takes a position on Shang Tsung's right, keeping her wary gaze locked on Aranha. The sanjiegun's chain jangles as she draws the weapon behind her, extending one palm outward. The psion is comfortable with the idea of other souls being contained within the Soul Shards. She is less comfortable with what she finds in Aranha's.
For it seems to be a reflection of himself, distorted somehow.
"Prepare yourself, and we may begin."
The sanjiegun begins to swirl into motion.
COMBATSYS: Honoka has started a fight here.
COMBATSYS: Aranha has joined the fight here.
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Honoka 0/-------/-======|======-\-------\0 Aranha
If there's anything Aranha is, it's observant. The Scarlet Dahlia presents him with two different images, there's the image of regality that she presents in interacting with Shang Tsung, and then there is the shedding of the regal image and replacing it with one as a peer. In a way, it presents him with a puzzle. Which is the real and which is the illusion. Or are they both masks presented to differing audiences?
As Aranha rises from his kneeling position he nods. Lack of a common style forces him to throw out certain capoeira conventions to show respect and start the fight. He nods to his opponent. Indicating his readiness and he begins to sway side to side in the dance of his particular martial art. Meanwhile, the capoeirista's Soul Shard whispers to him about how she seems familiar but can't quite place why.
"Possessed? I don't know what you mean. Anyway, I'm ready when you are."
The Scarlet Dahlia's opponent certainly seems familiar for some reason, though she's forced to remind herself that she has never actually fought the Dancing Spider before. Capoeira has always fascinated the acrobatic fighter, though it has been a long time since she has actually been required to combat one -- the kneeling had been what puzzled her most. If she was ready commence, why should he not be? Hence her warning, of course. But now, seeing the fighter rise to his feet, swaying side to side, the Dahlia seems to be ameliorated.
"All of us have the aid of others in these fights. It is most unusual, however, for the voice to be so familiar." The Dahlia speaks in riddles, as is her wont -- though one memory in particular comes to mind.
One statement which Zach Glenn had offered to her -- only to be summarily dismissed in the natural flow of conversation. And now, it rises back to the surface, evidencing itself in a slight furrowing of the Dahlia's brow.
As the highest-ranking official is, naturally, the figure seated in the opulent throne, the honor falls onto him to commence the fight.
And when it does, the Dahlia hesitates no longer. The memory is nudged aside in favor of quick and decisive action -- a motion to test the Dancing Spider's true agility. "Then let us begin!" she cries, vaulting forward as she revolves into a quick 360-degree spin. The sanjiegun is swept in a wide arc, its path heralded by a keening whistle resounding through the throne room. In lieu of fastidious research, the Dahlia aims to close the gaps in her knowledge by gauging how the traceur evades a wide, nearly-horizontal attack aimed at mid-level -- too low for many to duck, and too high to be simply leapt over. Perhaps after then she will have a better grasp of the capoeirista's technique.
COMBATSYS: Aranha endures Honoka's Random Weapon!
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Honoka 0/-------/=======|======-\-------\0 Aranha
While the Dahlia speaks in riddles, the capoeirista simply files it away for later. There's only so much thought he can place in the 'aid' that he's receiving when he has an armed fighter right in front of him. Especially when they are whirling said weapon at him.
As the Shadow Advisor goes into a 360 spin, the capoeirista notes an adjustment being made on the fly and as a result, he begins to wonder to what purpose it is for. Is it an attempt to gauge his movements? Is it some type of set up? Without any information he decides to do something that's relatively uncharacteristic for capoeira except on certain moves all in the name of gathering some information of his own. He charges in. He leaps toward his opponent and just as he readies himself to take the sanjiegun on the ribs he notices that he had forgone an opportunity to slip inside the arc of the three sectioned staff and still close. The impact elicits a slight grunt right before he clamps his arm down on the staff to trap it in place. With the staff trapped in place, Aranha twists under the staff and elevates himself in a one handed handstand as he delivers a series of kicks down upon her head. If she doesn't interfere with that, he'll release the staff as he goes back to his feet while trying to remain within relatively close range with the Dahlia.
Maybe in forgoing one opportunity, the capoeirista may have created another.
COMBATSYS: Honoka fully avoids Aranha's Inverted Flurry.
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Honoka 1/-------/=======|=====--\-------\0 Aranha
As much as the Scarlet Dahlia would love to spell out all of the wonderful insights she has gleaned about the capoeirista, the Sorceror's throne room is a poor forum for discussion. Riddles will have to suffice for now.
As her sanjiegun cracks across Aranha's ribs, a twinge of confusion flits across the face of the Shadow Advisor. She finds the approach interesting at first, but as her hold on the sanjiegun is tested, the fascination turns into mild apprehension. The gemstone at her hip flares in resonance with the proximity to the traceur -- a golden beacon of light. The well-coiffed Advisor adjusts her grip in mid-swing, allowing her to keep a loose hold on the sectioned weapon as she moves without thinking, letting gravity take its course. With a jangle of the chains connecting the three sections of the sanjiegun, she drops low to the ground, her right leg splayed out to the side while her left closes like a jacknife. The light from her gemstone follows along afterwards, providing a visual record of her abrupt drop downwards...
Pain shoots through her legs; her earlier wounds have raised a litany of complaints with her decision, forcing the Dahlia's brow to furrow even more. A gasp escapes her lips -- and yet, the urgency of battle compels her to clamp her jaw shut immediately afterwards. She throws herself into a sideways tumble, the gemstone's light leaving behind a remnant of her rapid movement as she twists aside -- a pale afterimage that is quickly sheared apart by the flurry of kicks of her opponent. Her grip on the sanjiegun is maintained only by the faint pressure of her fingertips.
When her lightweight soles press down against the marble floor, though, her right-handed grip solidifies for a sharp tug backwards on the sanjiegun. Hoping to use it as leverage, the acrobatic Advisor surges forward with her left hand, hoping to plant it squarely upon the stomach of the traceur. In contrast to the sunshine-hued flare of her gemstone, her hand glows with a brilliant shade of rose -- and should it land, it will convey a forceful charge of psychic energy directly into Aranha's stomach. In the wake of a rapid inversion, the Dahlia wonders how the traceur would be able to deal with the psychically-induced symptoms of vertigo whenever he is to try such a maneuver again...
COMBATSYS: Honoka equips a twinkling Honey Yellow Soul Shard.
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Honoka [E] 1/-------/=======|=====--\-------\0 Aranha
COMBATSYS: Aranha fails to interrupt Pon-itak Ki EX from Honoka with Dead Man's Hand EX.
- Power fail! -
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Honoka [E] 1/----===/=======|===----\-------\0 Aranha
Aranha tries to keep close proximity. Considering the fact he's dealing with a weapon wielder, he can't afford to lose ground to her. If he gets pushed out of his striking range then he would have to face the potential for being completely held at bay by her weapons, not being able to land his strikes as he wished.
What happens to Aranha in this moment is pretty much the same thing that happened in his fight with Zach when he attempted this. He tries to race the Dahlia to landing the strike before the other can land theirs. And like his fight with Zach, just before his blue glowing handstrike can connect with her jaw, the psychically charged hand connects with his stomach sending him flying away in an uncontrolled spin exacerbating the symptoms of vertigo brought on by the psychic energy.
Aranha's on all fours, desperately swallowing back the dinner he ate a few hours before this match. The nausea he felt watching Reptile hock an acidic loogie at Cassie while he was eating pales in comparison to the sensation he's feeling now.
He eventually gets back to his feet but he doesn't look good.
The chain of the sanjiegun jangles as it is wrenched away from the grip of the capoeirista. An inexperienced wielder of the sanjiegun might have been struck by their own weapon after such an attack, but the master juggler is well-versed in controlling the tools of her trade: she lets the loose end of the weapon run its course, pivoting in a graceful half-circle along with its momentum before attempting to rein it in once more.
A gust of air hisses through teeth she hadn't realized were clenched. Upon that realization, she relaxes her jaw, inspiring another breath as the surge of honey-yellow energy sweeps over her form. As she squares her shoulders with Aranha again, and the fabric of her dress and pants settle back into shape, an astute student of anatomy might find that the cloth settles imperfectly about her knees, a vague intimation of the powers that enable the Dahlia to move in the wake of her debilitating knee injuries. The schedule of the Sorceror brooks no delay; in their eagerness to see the Dahlia succeed in Mortal Kombat, the spirits trapped within the gemstone have lent her their strength. Tendrils have spawned from her shins and thighs, acting as a natural splint to her ailing knees -- only the barest hints of these tendrils jut out from the thin fabric. Days of practice has allowed the Dahlia to treat the supernatural augmentation as her own flesh and blood, until such time that the wound can heal on its own.
Still, it pains the Dahlia to rely too heavily upon the imperfect augmentation. When she approaches Aranha, it is not with the deliberate speed with which she had begun the fight, but rather a more languid, relaxed approach. It is a bit easier for her to walk.
She cants her head to one side as she begins to stride towards Aranha, the loose staff of the sanjiegun twirling threateningly at her right side. All fours -- she has him on the defensive. Shying away from battle would likely be an imprudent gesture in front of the Master Sorceror's throne. She flashes the traceur a more honest smile as he rises to his feet -- she is, after all, glad that the fight is not over so quickly.
Knowing that anything she says likely can and -will- be used against her by the grinning sorceror, she dispenses with an attempt at conversation -- aiming to step in close and use her weapon to full advantage. A low scything strike is made towards the traceur's legs, but in the midst of her strike the Dahlia allows the sanjiegun to spin about, slamming the -opposite- section of the sanjiegun to crack along at torso-height. She would continue to launch a dizzying array of strikes, battering against his guard and wearing down his defenses so that she can step in closer without reprisal, insinuating her hands about his waist.
It is not a dance move, but a judo hold: the o-goshi hip toss, where the Dahlia uses her hip as a fulcrum upon which to twist Aranha towards the marble floor.
COMBATSYS: Honoka successfully hits Aranha with Urara Kando.
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Honoka [E] 0/-------/---====|======-\-------\0 Aranha
Aranha's balance still never quite recovers from the vertigo and nausea originating from the Scarlet Dahlia's psionically charged attack. As that first takes out his leg, Aranha gets caught in another uncontrolled spin rendering vulnerable to being batted around before any part of his body could even touch the ground. It's not so much that his defenses get worn down as he's too out of it to even defend. It's not until she gets close enough to grab him that his feet touch the ground and he's not even given enough time to plant his feet before he's lifted and slammed to the ground.
He works his way back up to his feet and he's wobbling. At this point he's pretty much a sitting duck. Both the soul in the shard and Aranha's thoughts are in sync as they think, 'I've failed my sister once again.'
COMBATSYS: Aranha decides that discretion is the better part of valor.
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Honoka [E] 0/-------/---====|======-\-------\0 Aranha
He has been observing the battle with some degree of reservation. During the divination, the wizened sorcerer had occasion to view many a battle and none of them had reached a level of desperation that he found acceptable. A game played with lives is glorious, even at the expense of the elder gods. But during the divination, there were still many holding back. There were still those with souls that ached for brutality. And other souls yet to be found unworthy. Unacceptable.
As the battle reaches the fever pitch, the demon slowly rises from his throne from which he has supervised the entire affair. He can taste the weakness in the air, taste the blood. The capoeirista's soul hangs by a thread, and Tsung stares at little else. He is calm. But in this place, under the eyes of the elder gods at the center of his palace, his authority is with no limit. Shang Tsung's edict:
"Now... Finish Him!"
The deadly Dahlia swings the sanjiegun back into motion with her right hand, keeping her left hand extended towards her rising opponent. The weapon whistles at an even tempo -- whoosh, whoosh, whoosh. She takes a few steps back, pacing a widening vortex around the wobbling Aranha. Her long weapon works best at medium range, after all, in contrast to the capoeirista's quick improvisations and considerable strength.
Pinpricks of anxiety stab into the back of her neck as the Sorceror rises to his full height. She had felt his scrying presence in the previous fight, but the oppressive weight of his bloodlust is even more palpable here in person. The heat rises -- perspiration appears upon her forehead with anticipation.
It's not right. It doesn't feel right at -all-.
She forces herself to think about something -- anything else.
The rumors that had been discarded, disavowed in her preparation. She couldn't afford to be distracted then, but now that she has opened herself to the possibility of considering anything but Shang Tsung's direct order.
The gathered rumors spill out. A picture is formed.
Zach Glenn is dead.
Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh.
The Dahlia narrows her eyes, pinching shut the tear ducts that had begun to defy her. Her internal conflict may read as hostility towards Aranha -- perhaps that is for the best.
Whoosh, whoosh, clunk. The third sanjiegun section slams into an open palm, landing alongside its brother. A flick of her thumb pries open a hidden release; a slender blade is unfolded from the interior of the blade.
Aranha and the Dahlia are approximately the same height. That makes it easy for her to raise the blade towards the traceur's neck. Her physical form is nearly silhouetted against the intensifying aura of rose-hued energy emanating from her, as her piercing blue eyes stare directly into his.
"His life..." The Dahlia's emotions are restrained behind a veneer of solid ice. "... is mine to do with as I wish." Her voice does not bear the tone of a question, but rather a statement of fact. A declaration of intent.
The aura flares.
And to Aranha, the Throne Room is swallowed up by the intense, searing light, consumed by the roar of a cheering crowd.
The traceur will find himself standing on a narrow plank, suspended some eighty feet above a floor of hard-packed dirt. Surrounding him is the roaring crowd. The scents of stale air, popcorn, and circus peanuts are nearly overwhelming. On one side, the armies of Outworld watch onward, their shoulders armored in garish steel and iron, their weapons gleaming in the dim spotlights of the circus arena. A golden dais looms, with Shang Tsung rising and shouting, his motions slowed to a mere crawl. On the other, the forces of Earthrealm cry out with cheers, their voices resolving into thrums of heavy bass, slowed to an equal measure. If he looks closely, he will recognize the faces. People he knows -- helpfully supplied by his own memories in this dreamlike state.
"You deserve a better fate than this." While everything else may be different, reshaped and remolded, the Dahlia is crystal clear, the revealed blade of her sanjiegun is still perfectly close. The metal is cold against the flesh of his neck, though the keen edge is -- for the moment -- angled to prevent the unsteady wobbling to inadvertently do the Dahlia's job for her.
"Your thoughts are with another, warrior. I offer you another chance to make them proud -- to assure Earthrealm's victory." Tears streak down her cheeks -- her movements are not as slowed as those of the roaring crowd below, nor are her words drawn out to such a low-pitched extreme. And even through that, the Dahlia's face is a mask of calm logic.
"Every soldier Earthrealm loses reduces our chance at success. I understand that better now. And I need your help to raise one of our fallen."
Her chin is lowered, indicating the area below. On the floor far below, spotlights cast light upon a body garbed in tactical armor. He may recognize the armor, but not the face -- for the body has been neatly decapitated. A fair distance away lie the three sliced fragments of the figure's head. Scattered about are the body's two dismembered hands.
"The price is simple. Yield to me -- willingly -- and grant me some of the soul energy you carry along with you. For that -- I will stay my hand, and show the Sorceror he holds no authority over me."
Aranha will have the time to give his reply in the vision.
But for her entourage and that of the Sorceror, only a moment has passed.
The rose-hued energy dispels in a storm of petals, as if by someone twirling the stem of a tender carmellia, the petals flying away from the centripetal force.
Her second sentence passes only four heartbeats after the last. Her eyes remain fixed upon those of Aranha, as the flat of the blade remains pressed to his throat, the keen edge mere centimeter away from ending his life. "Should he agree to my terms, I will take Aranha as my servant."
Her other hand trembles with a small blossom of pink energy -- though whether the shudder comes from rage, pain, or anxiety remains to be seen.
COMBATSYS: Honoka issues a challenge!!
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Honoka [E] 0/-------/---====|======-\-------\0 Aranha
COMBATSYS: Honoka enters a trance-like state.
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Honoka [E] 0/-------/-======|======-\-------\0 Aranha
In the dreamscape Aranha is presented with the very, very familiar armor. Honoka would feel rage coming off of him as an image of the final moment in the fight appears in his mind. The image of the Dancing Spider's face contorted in indescribable agony as Zach's psionic wakazashi slashes into his body is brought forth.
The avatar of Aranha within the Shadow Advisor's dreamscape turns to the Dahlia, "With that much power pumped into me, he was either trying to kill me, he's dangerously reckless, or he's dangerously out of control. I don't trust him."
It was a bitter pill for him to swallow. His fate and possibly his sister's life and possibly the entire world was hinged on saving the life of a man that he'd rather kill himself just because he regarded him as that much of a danger.
"As much as I hate to admit it, you're right and we need everyone we can get... He will receive an opportunity to show me why I shouldn't try to kill him, myself. He better make this opportunity count."
Meanwhile, on Shang Tsung's Throne Room, he's about to voice his decision to yield when she says that agreeing to her terms would make him her servant. Instant deal breaker.
"I will yield, but I will die before I become someone else's servant."
The Scarlet Dahlia earlier had him pegged as someone who had a predilection for thumbing his nose at authority. He's also a man who places a high value on personal freedom.
Zach is reckless -- that much is true. The Dahlia had not questioned the accusation -- in fact, that's one of the traits the acrobatic Akatsuki Advisor had been trying to instill upon him.
"Wonderful. I am glad that you are a man of reason..." she had said, as the dream vision faded away.
The Dahlia was able to maintain her composure even as her heart successfully navigated the roiling sea of emotions. Loss of a loved one. Irritation at the Sorceror's bloodlust. Confusion at the nature of the individual staged as her equal, her opponent. Pain, from the litany of complaints raised by her body, soothed by the wondrous powers granted her by the gemstone upon her hip. And even the heights of exultation when she managed to find a solution that would lead to her further advance in the tournament.
And just one single misspoken word changes the situation entirely. The subtle agreement was negotiated in a dreamspace -- presumably safe from the eyes and ears of the Master Sorceror seated just a few feet away. And yet, she had left out the linchpin to the proposal -- that the 'servitude' was only nominal in nature, a necessary formality.
Composure melts away in an instant, the anxiety giving way to frustration. A salmon-pink tint flickers across her eyes as rage overtakes her. "You!" she spits, the knife of the sanjiegun drawing back three inches. Her shrill, agitated voice echoes throughout the room -- upset that her modest proposal was corraled aside in such a fashion. "Bargaining with the knife at your throat!!"
The chain of the sanjiegun jangles in agitation as she rears back for a strike to seal the deal. A blossom of scintillating purple energy flares up in her right fist, surrounding the three staves of the sanjiegun. She plunges her hand forward, her white knuckles wreathed with rose hues as it slams into Aranha's sternum. The blow may not shatter bone, but it will pack enough concussive force to knock the wind out of the beleaguered fighter's lungs.
She prays it forces him to his knees, though she will not give him the opportunity a second time.
The Dahlia pants with exertion, the anger sloughing off of her in waves. It appears that there was a measure of brutality in her after all.
The sanjiegun is dropped to below her hip -- with both hands, she carefully folds the blade back into its resting place. Rose hues flicker across her eyes as she stows the sanjiegun back to its place upon her hip. She raises her hands to straighten her collar, nostrils flaring as she draws herself back to her full height, her psychic senses providing a measure of awareness at the fighter just a few feet to her side. Her white-knuckled fist presses against her left palm as she lowers herself into the Shaolin bow once more.
"May it please the Arbiters that Aranha has yielded. I choose to allow him to live, with the debt he has thusly incurred."
A twitch of her eye betrays the irritation she is trying her damndest to suppress, as she adds for the benefit of those listening...
"... As an equal."
With the aid of the tendrils pulsing at her knees, she stands up straight once more, awaiting the words of the Master Sorceror. Her forced countenance bristles with barely-bridled power, held only in check by her desire to get exactly what she wants -- nay, exactly what she -deserves- from winning this contest of wills.
The fact that Aranha was barely standing obvious to the world see. It looked like a stiff wind or even Honoka just blowing on him could knock him down. When she strikes the capoeirista in the sternum it does more than knock the wind out of him. Instead of falling to his knees, his body falls backwards with no ability to keep his legs under him.
His landing is anything but soft as his back hits the ground and with his inability to control his fall, the back of his head claps the ground. Consciousness quickly leaves him.
The Dahlia's face had shown nothing but irritation as Aranha's back lands against the floor.
She does, however, wince when the sound of his head clapping against the marble follows a moment later.
She knows that Shang Tsung did not choose her opponent poorly. Aranha's battle style is a testament to his determination -- that much the Dahlia is positive of. Pride -- if the Akatsuki Advisor had put an end to the man's life as Shang Tsung demanded, pride would have kept her awake at night. But no -- now, staring back at the eyes of the Master Sorceror, she feels perfectly justified in a good night's rest, knowing that she was not the weapon used to rob Earth of one of its champions.
Nakoruru's words resound in her mind, as clearly as a yukar from her youth.
/ In the end, it is easy to lay down a life for a cause. Here and now, you must live. /
The demonic sorcerer stands at the edge of the dais, his eyes narrowing. He had witnessed the entire exchange, inexplicably winding its way from anger to concession with not much in the way of visible negotiation. However, soullessly white eyes focus on Honoka as she declares her intent and he is silent for a time long past which could be considered comfortable.
There is not much in his years that Shang Tsung has not seen. And when a creature such as he is able to read the inscriptions of sin on the souls of men, it is not entirely clear exactly how much he truly sees.
The time, a soul-strung moment, passes in the wind that slivers through his throne room. He responds thoughtfully, politely, graciously. As always. "An appropriately and impressively mediocre end to an exquisite display," Shang Tsung comments quietly, clapping two hands together thrice; with all the due respect and aplomb offered to an appreciated match. Breathing in with some mild measure of satisfaction, he opens a hand. "Dahlia wins. The institution of the great tournament recognizes the debt of friendship."
Shang Tsung calmly holds up a hand in censure. As if on cue, some of his own particular guard begin to filter into the room. "As host, I will take the liberties of dispensing the necessary care. One of the myriad duties borne and hospitalities available to my station as agent of the tournament. We will return him in much more serviceable form shortly. Consider it a grace for your amenable conduct." Even as he steps back, his guard will take over the task of picking up the unconscious, provided the Dahlia's own entourage does not wish an unenviable outcome.
"Of course, to abide is my pleasure. Who would we be, if we were to flout guests? It barely needs to be said that your body may belong to another," Shang Tsung explains, his eyes settling on the Dahlia's battle-slicked form for far longer and more meaning than his light accomodating tone may imply. "But if you learn one caution this night and on my island..."
Shang Tsung's brows raise.
"...it is that your soul is mine."
The Dahlia bristles at the change of plans. The wide-eyed, jaw grinding expression only lasts a moment before flickering away from her face, as she lowers her head in a simple, acquiescing nod. "Very well. I am sure that he will be pleased to accept your gracious offer of hospitality."
There are... certainly -worse- things the host could do. Kick her out into the Living Forest, for instance.
As for the mention of her soul being -his-, the Dahlia merely offers a raised eyebrow and tight smile before turning to leave with her entourage. She dare not give the manipulator another volley of hollow words, but she is content to leave him with the unvocalized equivalent of 'We'll see about that.'
Log created on 19:46:11 10/02/2016 by Honoka, and last modified on 10:25:17 10/04/2016.