Description: Defeated by Ken Masters - the more favorable circumstance of their recent battle - Ryu is still left in need of help. The foul influence of Vega lingers upon him, ready to take hold anew as he pleases, and it could be that his best friend stands to lose him again to the rage of various negative influences on top of that. Tipped off by a previous opponent, the mysterious fortuneteller Rose happens upon the two of them. It may be that only she could provide a means of relief, within a critical window of opportunity that may not yet ever present itself again...
For a young man who finds life and meaning in battle and continual self-improvement as he compares and contrasts with every warrior he crosses fists (and occasional other limbs, or what have you) with... it has not been a winning battle with himself ever since he had the misfortune of encountering the enigmatic embodiment of evil emotions...
Even if he had never uttered the name, enough of the monster had taken residence in his psyche that the young man might find himself all too knowledgeable about the overwhelming presence cast upon him mentally and spiritually. It took his all to keep him from erasing his own psyche's influence upon the rest of himself... and yet, he had more of 'his all' to spare to at least see that his friend Ken wouldn't be a victim caught in the crossfire of it all.
For a time, there is a lull in the noise of it all. Something - or someone? - else may have grabbed the would-be dictator's attention. With Ken's help, Ryu has been taken to somewhere (marginally) safe out in the purple-tinged hills of the wastes. Sheltered from the elements by a broken statue with a hollowed-out interior, he is paradoxically both well-hidden... and hard to miss.
Sitting with his head bowed, one leg raised, his right fist - clad in a leathery handguard - emits a dimmed magenta light as it stays clenched around a long untied red ribbon. Ken's gift to him - a reminder of how far his closest friend has come to find him after so long.
For now, it could be his only string to sanity as he sits exhausted on rough and uninviting earth and grass, dirtied and bruised from who knows how long a trial he's suffered.
These are the kinds of presences that are easy to trace, when you know what you're looking for.
And helpfully, Rose has been prompted. If you see "Bubbles" on the path before you...
"I beg your pardon," comes a voice, a little tired but ultimately warm, not too far from where Ryu has placed himself down to recover and gather his strength. "But I believe I've been looking for you for a long while. Would you mind terribly if I sat with you?"
Something sloshes. Rose dangles a hollowed-out gourd with whatever-it-is - probably water - definitely something that sounds like fluid.
"You look thirsty, regardless. Here!" And then it's swung on its leather strap to land right next to Rhy, and he would find the contents to be quite drinkable, if, sadly, not ice cold any more.
... You hang out, it seems, with "Bubbles."
The wandering warrior, contrary to his warmth and acceptance of just about anyone he meets on the road, has been frightened for the well-being of anyone he's come across. Any moment, and something could spur him to move to kill - to move against every value he's been instilled with.
There is a curious lack of concern when the voice speaks. It is not out of dislike to the voice or its owner. It is an overwhelming sense of... the exact opposite of the prevailing emotions that had been overflowing for some time.
He doesn't have the strength to explain it with words. Rose may just pick it up from whatever sense she has of it. The exhaustion he feels on all levels... the trust that comes with the retrieval of the gourd plopped on the ground, grasped up with his left hand, in spite of it all. The right remains clasped and focused around the ribbon it holds.
"Thank you," he mouths so weakly that it seems a waste to commit quotation marks to the words at all. It takes him a moment to find it in him to open it and take a swig.
Rose's legs probably enter Ryu's vision before the rest of her. She crouches down afterwards, her hands on her knees. She had placed down a scarf wrapped around SOMETHING, apparently wooden tiles of some kind, beforehand - but without noise.
"I have a question for you," Rose says, "but it can wait - are you wounded? I cannot do much, I think," unless she could somehow instantly summon Alma... could she? she thinks: then, no, she decides, not effectively: "But I will aid you if I can."
She seems pleased at the sight of the water being drunk. Then Rose's eyes turn towards that ribbon. Is it a bandage? She suspects not, but who knows?
"I'm..." Fine. He wants to say he's fine, as a reflex. He has seen many battles, rested and recovered from who knows how many wounds over his time wandering the world. It's a humility born from wanting not to trouble those who help him much... and yet, inversely, an arrogance that perhaps he could be fine.
Whatever end is less virtuous, he mentally recants it as he physically lowers the gourd further away from his face.
"I'm... more... troubled," it takes him a moment between paused words to phrase it, but Rose might infer the whole of it shortly after he gets the first of those words out. The humming in his mind from the soul within the magenta shard located within his handguard, that clamors for him to draw blood and fight. Echoing the deeper instincts of the intent to kill...
And one other. The sense that /he/ is present, but yet too wrapped up in whatever affair to peek over the metaphorical shoulder to see the unwelcome element trespassing over what /he/ considers /his/ domain...
The ribbon - red - seems too narrow to be much of an effective bandage. On closer inspection, it seems to match the length and width of that dirty, sweat-soaked, kind of ratty white headband already around his own head. In this terrible place, could it serve to be a memento of some loss? Someone? Something? Somewhere?
"Are you?" Rose says, setting herself down to a full seat. She purses her lips as she feels that sensation within Ryu - and as her eyes turn towards that red shard for a moment - before looking upwards. "Perhaps I can be of service."
Rose taps her wrapped stack of tiles. "I would be glad to read for you, but I have only some of the cards together. But I do not need them to see one thing that's on your mind. Or rather, on your hand."
"See," Rose says as she reaches into her own decolletage to draw out the green malachite gem that is her own example of these things. "I am almost envious. Red would flatter my complexion far more than green, but, I know that you have to suffer for beauty in things like this."
Then... Rose's lips turn down with a small frown. Yes, she thinks. 'That' touch is there.
She lets out a small breath. Some - if not all - of the good humor leaves her face. "You know, there's a woman out there who told me to find you," she says. "She was quite concerned... I imagine you'd remember her. Short black hair? A mole right," Rose touches the side of her lip, "here... Oh, and the guitar."
Rose extends her hand and silently steels herself, Soul Power invisibly armoring within herself in case there is some shock or trap behind this. "My name is Rose," she says. "I will help you, if I can."
The perfect solution to a murderous best friend is, obviously, to beat some sense into him. That's just what Ken attempted to do when he and Ryu met in MORTAL KOMBAT, but luckily for both of them, it's not a static approach! On the other side of that bout, so similar yet seperated by chasms from all that came before, Ken's been stalwart in reminding his battle brother what they fight for; in urging his oldest friend to stay that wrath, to focus his will.
Meditation was part and parcel to Gouken's regimen, and here in the outskirts of Outworld, it's perhaps more necessary than ever. It's certainly /remote/ enough even for /Ryu/.
Which brings us to the need to find food and water-- not a simple thing amongst the ruint remnants of long-dead emperors and their proud knights. It's always tricky to fight for the right things, at the right time, isn't it? Speaking of...
As Ken returns, bereft of notable water but having caught a sizable lizard, said future foods are set swiftly but gently aside, the Blonde Battler coming around the column just in time to see Rose powering up!!
"Hey!!" Ken articulates, politeness somewhat lessened in a place like this; a situation like this. "What the hell do you think you're doing?!?"
Does Ryu /look/ like he needs to be blasted by some Soul Witch, sitting there all angsty and nomadic and half-broken in the shell of one of those aforementioned emperor's effigies? Ken scowls, dark brows knitting fiercely, the yellow shard embedded in his fist flaring eagerly.
The nomad is without comment on matters of fashion. He has difficulty looking Rose in the eye. The thin line of his mouth makes no curve in either direction of approval or disdain. It may simply be that he has, for lack of energy or complete autonomy, accepted the presence without invitation.
"Ah... her." He seems flustered remembering, given the reddening of his face. The constant teasing, the goading, the great power she commanded. It... might say a lot that he doesn't quite remember that fateful encounter with the ridiculous woman in anger, even when struck at a time of great distress and weakness.
He may also be too weary to muster up such feelings of his own, or afraid of inviting a torrent that both he and Ken have worked so hard to dam up - however briefly.
Ken's shouting sees a sharp turn of his head upwards. His heart races for a moment, as though ready to equate any sudden yelling for anything terrible that could possibly happen. His breathing grows uneven as he tries to calm himself from the jolt of preconceived notion...
The hand bearing the gourd is raised, a non-verbal cue.
"Ken, it's... it's all right." Is it, though? These two just met. How could he be so trusting at a time like this, after all that's happened?!
"That's... that's my friend." He explains, head lowering once more. "I... I accept your help." Saying those words, terse as they are, are the best he has for defusing the situation.
Rose's head half-turns as someone wealthy shouts at her! This is not an unfamiliar situation for Rose, although of course wealth and status are not exactly prominent things here in outworld. Unless you mean wealth in souls, perhaps.
Of course, Ryu speaks swiftly. Caught in the middle like this, Rose simply shimmers with no clear purpose, though she tells Ken, with her other hand raised as if in warning or apology, "I mean no harm. Quite the contrary."
The energy she had summoned had been in the manner of defense - in case THAT MAN's presence flooded out through Ryu and into her body. (Though she has not yet learned that his name is such. One of life's little ironies.) Rose reaches forwards to touch Ryu on the wrist, then, breathing deeply as she does so.
Then she breathes out.
The power flows too. Into Ryu. When she has used this Soul Power on others, the feeling has been a sort of numbness with overtones of synaesthesia - but that was then, when she was in battle. Now it is like the feeling a pool of water has when a great rock is thrown into it; the feeling of air that's just had a thunderbolt pass through it; there is no pain, exactly, but there is certainly a passage of SOMETHING, into Ryu and through him. It is not that obtrusive when Rose touched him, and it would be just shy of invisible when it grounded itself out from his body.
And in its passage, that touch of Psycho Power would be greatly diminished. Or perhaps washed away entirely... if such a thing is even possible.
"It's a bit ironic," Rose muses aloud, cryptically. "He draws in, and I push out. Oh well..."
Ken's scowl lessens -- somewhat -- with Ryu's terse assertions. One has to understand if the Blonde Battler doesn't fully trust his brother by another mother's judgement, just this moment, though; hell, maybe in general! Those initial moments of battle-readiness fade but do not disappear as Rose channels her psychic energies; but Ken is attuned enough to be aware this power is not born of malice, and several strides close the distance between himself and that undertaking.
Ken stands nearby, he scarcely breathes, he dares to cross his fingers that this mysterious interloper might actually be able to help Ryu, where so far the nomad's own formidable will has proven an eroded stalemate against the dark force at work within said mind.
The nearly-held breath within the young champion's lungs passes audibly, and then several more times, as the air about them seems to tangibly lighten, the pull of that dark presence that tickled the back of his neck replaced by something... altogether nobler, and nearly as noteworthy. The cant to Ken's head shifts, and the look focused on Rose, and Ryu, and Rose again tilts towards the decidedly quizzical. "What? Who?" Ken puzzles, proving the university system is a sham.
As Rose makes contact with the wrist, the fingers of the attached hand flare out, twitch... and calmly balls up into a fist. The fingers clench and unclench, worryingly ambiguous in what ripples underneath the surface in going with the analogy of a stone dropping into a body of water.
Ryu's eyes shut tightly, and yet, a flash of something passes through his eyes that he may never truly comprehend.
Elsewhere, another pulls their powerful hands away from an empty husk of what had once been a man. Treating what they have beheld as something to be discarded, a corpse is left to wither in the tides that wash the sands of the island.
It is in their moment of triumph elsewhere, that they soon find an equal - potentially greater - loss occurs while they asserted their superiority against an equal enemy that has mastered the opposite energy discipline.
Over on this side of the island, Rose may hear the faint echoes of an angry scream halted before it can ever be fully formed. To state a direction she might hear it is futile. Something all too familiar. Primal. Evil. All-encompassing. Deafening, if it were to be measured in ears. What word of greater severity would be available to describe it, had it not been halted?
'--t? Who?' The words of a familiar voice floods back into Ryu's ears after the indescribable sensations pass. Air rushes out of his lungs in a prolonged sigh - a feeling that he'd been trying to hold his breath for a long, long time.
...Even with the removal of that familiar presence, there feels a great darkness within yet. She might have felt it as she went about pushing his influence out. Something different, but no less worrying. Going by all accounts, if he could stand against that many influences to a stalemate...
Barring tragedy that may yet come as a result of MORTAL KOMBAT, the rest of this battle is his to win.
For the first time in a long time, Ryu smiles in relief, his posture shifting from a forward lean with a gaze towards the ground, to at last looking back up towards the skies - towards Ken, to the mysterious Rose...
Rose would have intuited him saying and expressing this long before he actually says it, but nonetheless, put on record for posterity even in its redundancy...
Rose gives Ken a wry sort of smile. "And they're both on base," she answers him, rocking back on her heels and then settling down to sit properly, evidently glad to be off her feet. She silently weighs removing her boots. But...
Something is screamed. Something distant. Any jollity on her face fades, her lips pursing as well. The presence, though, is departing. Banished, perhaps purified. "You're quite welcome," she tells Ryu. "'That Power' may not always be wicked, but when it comes from him... well," she looks to Ken as she says this, "It is, in fact, always wicked."
Rose takes a deep breath, resting her hands on her knees firmly enough to make a soft 'pap!' "I have your name, Mr. Ken, but despite your reputation, I do not have yours." This, of course, to Ryu. "Unless it is 'Bubbles,' as that charming woman seemed to think suited you... may I have the honor?"
And then to Ken, who seems less aggrieved, less strained, and less profoundly punched and bruised, she asks, "Have you met HIM as well?" Meaning, of course, that gentleman with the impressive chin. "I knew he was here the moment that I arrived. But I have not seen him myself. Not for years, really."
That was helpful!
"Who? What? Ryu?" Ken traces the questions backwards to the wrong conclusion, growing mildly more puzzled in the process, and shooting a glance to his battle brother. "Yea, we've met." The mere idea draws a smirk, at least until Ken catches up with the implications.
"Or you mean, the guy who did this to Ryu?" Maybe he's smarter than he acts, sometimes? "Some dude called him Vega, right?" They haven't met.. but Masters has found some pieces in his hunt for his missing bro.
Ken's first priority was, after all, hunting down Ryu-- which got simultaneously easier when he was waylaid and dragged into Outworld, kicking and screaming. Literally and metaphorically, in all likelihood.
"Bubbles. That's pretty good, though." Ken offers the nomad a hand up, and also punches squarely for his shoulder, "Better than Ryu." Ken flashes a winning smile.
Ryu's mind and soul are under far less strain. His body, that one's got to fight its own fight. Fighters are hardy folk. As weary as he is, he'll come around and move again on his own power. For now, most of what comes out of him is the simple act of breathing at a steady, comfortable rate. (He could be just about to nod off...)
A more direct question at least keeps him tethered to the waking world, in all of its violence-tinged violet hues out in the wastes. He blinks twice to re-focus himself.
"'Bubbles?' I," there's that awkward look on his face again, the one Ken's familiar with where all sorts of funny jokes and playful things go right over his head, "I'm--"
Ken beats him to the punch by introducing him by proxy. His left hand goes behind his own head, as if to nurse a headache... or, no, it seems like he's untying the white headband.
"My name is Ryu," he says, throat not outputting voice at a hundred percent, but he's stringing words together with far less pause than before. An improvement!
When Ken actually does say the name 'Vega,' he very noticeably twitches. It's a simple-sounding name. Two syllables. Four letters, in the English language. There are several words that sound like it, but it rings out ever louder like scratching a chalkboard.
"Yes... that's his name," he says, daring to stand up. It's shaky going. He may need support. One slightly oversized foot before another (slightly oversized foot), he'll eventually get up to standing position. "I encountered him during the time with the... watches? Suits?" He means the HitBits. Ken would know exactly what he's speaking of.
"He overwhelmed me... for a time," a long time, "my body was not my own. I went with him to this place, by his will."
He takes the red ribbon in both hands, now, head bowed, eyes closed.
"I'm... sorry, I made you... everyone... worry," he says to Ken. A slight breeze passes through the wastes.
It's a rather peaceful wind. None of the awful odors of death, or disease-ridden debris, or whatever sort of ambient unpleasantness spoils the moving air that goes about them, as he brings the red ribbon around his head.
Like a new headband.
"I must train harder..."
"Yes," Rose says. "Vega." This word has portent to it. As if she'd said 'Hitler' or 'Satan' or 'the Iron Sheik.' Perhaps it's something of all of these things. Ken's obvious affection for the suffering man makes her smile, again, less quirkily.
She looks down as Ryu gets his feet under him - and without quite thinking, moves to aid him to rise to his feet. Only a hand on his shoulder, unless he needs more. "Training or not... Do not exhaust yourself. Not here. The stakes are far higher than you may be used to - though," and now she glances to Ken, "Perhaps you know of that already."
She also adds, to Ken, "Could you get my scarf for me?" It's right there, tied around those weird tiles.
"Perhaps we should stroll back together, wherever 'back' may be," Rose suggests. "It will make us less likely to be killed by centaurs."
That was a joke.
(no it wasn't)
"Very good." Ryu knows his name! It's a milestone! With his friend coming out of the malaise that's haunted him, puppeteered his very footsteps and fistfalls, no small measure of tension and weight ebb from Ken, easily. There's nary a side-eye cast to Rose, despite the enigmatic nature of her arrival and first impression. At this point, as far as Masters is concerned, Ryu is clearly right-- she's a friend.
He takes up position at the nomad's other side, after deftly plucking Rose's scarf up in one hand and offering it over, loose mane of blonde punctuating the shake of his head as he looks back towards his comrade, "Go where, and do what? They want us to fight, but-- this place, this whole idea, it's wrong." Hardly the sporting event Ken is used to.
"There has to be some other way to stop these crazy bastards from invading Earth besides killing each other for their amusement." To Ken, the whole setup seems nefarious and counterproductive; and he's not really -wrong-.
"Stand up to them. Get everybody out of here. Kick the ass of whoever's in charge; and /Vega's/." The hostility is birthed easily towards said dictator, after Ryu's synopsis.
Log created on 20:01:12 10/27/2016 by Ryu, and last modified on 02:00:53 10/28/2016.