World Warrior 2018 - World Warrior Qualifier - Chizuru vs Blood

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Description: I had the pleasure of meeting Chizuru Kagura - the chief executive of Kagura Enterprises - over unagi and genmaicha this afternoon. It's a rare thing, to be approached by a candidate decent enough to let me finish my meal before doing battle... after a spot of pleasant conversation over lunch, we retired outside so that I could test her abilities as a warrior. Finally, someone with proper manners to offset all the brutes and savages who shall be attending Castle Strolheim for Herr Krauser's prestigious tournament!

The afternoon sun hangs high overhead, as Laurence Blood - that most loyal and competent servant of Wolfgang Krauser - once again attempts to find a moment's rest from his duties to House Strolheim. This time he is walking on the outskirts of the small city Narita, within the Chiba Prefecture of Eastern Japan; the last several times he has attempted to take even a half-day off from testing candidates for the World Warrior, he has been accosted by mysterious individuals seeking to earn their way into his Master's Castle.

Needless to say, he's been going through /many/ more invitations than his fellow Lieutenants, Gato or Eiji... all part of being the hardest-working man within the employ of Herr Krauser, one must suppose.

On this January day, the temperature hovers just above 0celsius and heavy clouds hang overhead, driving much of the foot traffic indoors and leaving the streets much emptier than usual. The cold doesn't seem to bother the Spaniard - despite his heritage in the Mediterranean, he has long ago grown used to the chilly temperatures in the mountains of Germany.

Dressed in his usual red-and-blue outfit, with his short-sword dangling from a loop on his belt and his trademark cape wrapped tightly around his left forearm, he steps out of a hole-in-the-wall restaurant. Carrying a tray of unagi sashimi propped up with one hand, he delicately picks at the eel with a set of chopsticks in the other - stuffing his face as though it were the first meal he'd had in quite some time.

Likely the /last/ few attempts at a nice meal were interrupted by some fighter or another attempting to make a name for themselves. Not that he would complain; it was his job, after all. That didn't stop the grumbling in the pit of his stomach, however. Maybe this time he'll have better luck today!

A 'Storm White' Nissan GT-R, the two door sports car glides to a halt in the parking lot outside the building. The occupants emerging from either side simultaneously after the engine cuts out. An older man as bald as Buddhist Monk with a grim demeanour, the way he was carrying himself only added to the comparable nature. Ramrod stiff posture, a bald head that gleamed and was probably adding to the depth of the hard lines and ever present frown, all chiselled into his face in place of an expression.

The woman emerging from the driver's side possessing a grace that matched her companions steadfastness. A broad sleeved and double breasted jacket, a tailored business suit retaining some strong tie or resemblance to important and traditional Japanese cultural figures. All in snow white and red present with the sash and trim. Pressed and creased black pants and some sturdy heels.

If one of them were an indomitable boulder, unmoving in history and reluctant to give up old ways of approaching or doing things, then the other was a stream flowing around him and embracing the modern.

The Monks resistance to a smile and prod that they should perhaps head inside where was a near non-audible grumble and assent.

Laurence Blood! Her eyes seek him out through the window after closing the car door. In most circles this 'That Kagura business woman!' had a knack for finding just who she wanted to, making her difficult to avoid or put off. There was a trick to that. A pleasing smile and she follows along behind her associate, and gentleman that he is holds the door for her.

Almost immediately they part ways and the 'Monk' taking his own table and giving some formidable levels of attention to the menu that would be the envy of many sacred texts. Contemplative, earnest and wishing more items had pictures.

Chizuru however makes her way to Laurence Blood's table and takes a stand beside the other available chair.

"I am most sorry to disturb your meal. My name is Chizuru Kagura. May I join you?"

One hand touching to her breast as she introduces herself it falls and settles across the back of the other, resting lightly upon the back of an unoccupied chair. Straight black hair tied back with a white ribbon, the tongues of the bow visible just behind and on either side of her neck. Immaculately dressed and perfectly symmetrical, she'd put some real effort into her appearance! But for a few stray short hairs falling into her brow where they have escaped being pulled back. The left arms hand, was wearing two large bangles on one wrist alone.

She had no intent in robbing him of his meal, especially when it appeared to be being attacked so vigorously when she viewed from outside. She did however have business in mind and was unlikely to be easily dissuaded.

Persistence was key, and likely one of her most bothersome traits and strongest qualities.

Stuffing the slender slices of grilled eel into his mouth with a speed that seems wholly unsuitable for a man who represents House Strolheim in all affairs, Laurence's keen senses can feel the presence of a potent warrior spirit enter the restaurant before she steps into his line of sight. With his back to the door, the man seems entirely unconcerned with the possibility of being ambushed during his meal... odd, for one who holds a priceless invitation within the inner lining of his vest.

Others have tried within the past week, upjumped goons who considered themselves worthy of the honour of attending the World Warrior tournament but who did not merit consideration for such an event; or those who knew they were incapable of besting the man in a fair contest, instead resorting to underhanded tricks in an attempt to gain one of those envelopes bearing the Seal of House Strolheim.

Of course, none of /those/ attempts had succeeded... for someone to be weak-willed enough to try and sneak up behind the Spaniard would make them entirely unsuitable to attempt combat with him. Eventually, word must have spread around the amateur fighting circuit that he was not to be taken lightly, for no further attempts had been made in several days.

At the mention of the name - Chizuru Kagura - he raises his head from his platter of unagi to level those dark brown eyes up at the woman now standing across the table from him. More than just a Lieutenant for Herr Krauser, Laurence Blood also served as the day-to-day administrator for all of Strolheim's business affairs - both domestic and foreign. And he would /hardly/ be good at his job if he did not recognize one of the country's premier businesswomen, after all.

There's a moments pause, as he tips a waiting cup of green tea up towards his lips to wash down the latest mouthful of sashimi with a small gulp. And then, he places the chopsticks neatly on the table, the ends tipped up onto the place to keep them from touching the questionably clean surface. That hand, now free of utensils, makes a sweeping gesture - palm up - towards the opposite chair.

"Miss Kagura. Of course, please, have a seat."

His tone is nothing but pure politeness and professionalism; the woman had a reputation, through her own company, as a competent executive and a shrewd businesswoman. The mingling of his duties - both testing fighters around the globe, /and/ handling financial matters for Wolfgang - raises an interesting question in his head... she here to speak to Laurence Blood, the skilled Lieutenant to House Strolheim... or Laurence Blood, the dutiful administrator of it's financial affairs? He always loved a mystery; it could easily be either, given the noticeable power that his honed and practiced senses pick up radiating off of her.

"How may I, humble servant to House Strolheim, assist you? The food here /is/ good, but I doubt you've come all the way just to eat."

Miss Kagura withdraws the chair and takes a seat when offered, a brushing and smoothing of her hips as she does so.

"Please! continue. I have no intent of disturbing your meal."

Folding her sleeves one atop the other and against her torso rather than putting elbows on the table. Relaxed and yet formulating how she wished to best broach the topic of why exactly she had crossed the path of the Strolheim representative. As humble seeming and polite as he seemed in addressing her she opts for a most direct and honest of answers.

"In short form -- I am interested is in the World Warrior tournament, and certain warriors participating."

It would have to be since there was no measure of financial advancement beyond increasing fame and brand recognition. Not something that a serious business man or woman would scoff at, but an unlikely prize to be sought after by some who placed stock in appearing so historic and long-established by dress, hardly always popular.

"It is my wish to challenge you to a duel at this time. I believe that is the fair method of seeking entry, and sating my curiosity."

Another of Japan's new and eccentric rich, She was not above buying herself a ticket from whomever provided one (within her means.) Possessed of pride enough to not wish to ruin her company by pursuing only those means to the end, she was extraordinarily serious about defeating her opponent. A woman on a mission.

"I am not adverse to ordering, something spicy and warm to fortify against the cold of the day."

For the quality of the food in addition to her primary purpose behind this encounter. Between the two of them it might have appeared a delightful dinner taking place in a restaurant without the undercurrents and promise of violence and battle scaring the other diners. She genuinely wishes for him to enjoy his meal and given her male colleague asking questions of a waitress while gesturing through a large selection of what is on the menu, he could also be some time.

Although Laurence was polite enough to stop eating and place his utensils down the moment he had company, he's hungry enough to pick his chopsticks back up in his right hand the minute that his new guest suggests he continue. Eyes are cast down to the platter resting in front of him, looking as though he were entirely focused on the strips of unagi laid across the surface of his dish.

It's only when Chizuru speaks to her purpose here, that his right hand comes to a sudden halt, halfway to stuffing another slice of eel in his mouth. Raising his head again to look across the table at her, his neutral expression is replaced with the hint of mild amusement at the corner of his lips. Carefully depositing the uneaten sashimi back onto the dish, along with the chopsticks, he places one palm flat on the table and then folds the other over it.

He waits until she's finished speaking, and that smile only widens at her final comment. Finally, someone of appropriate manners and bearing to truly merit the honour of an invitation to Castle Strolheim; though he had faced many powerful and skilled warriors, most of them were utterly without class (having earned their place on strength or speed alone).

"Wonderful," he states calmly, gesturing a nearby waitress over to the table with a wave of his index-and-middle fingers. He's rather hungry, still, despite polishing off nearly an entire tray of the river eel thus far; so another is ordered, along with a fresh pot of green tea. Although it might be customary in some places for him to order on behalf of Miss Kagura, he's certain that a businesswoman of her caliber has something particular in mind already, so he leaves it to her.

The meal is passed with some light conversation; business affairs, politics, recent troubling events in Japan and the world at large... very little is spoken about the upcoming Tournament, or the affairs of his Master.

She may be a woman truly worthy of respect, but Blood has the presence of mind to not speak out of turn regarding Krauser and his personal affairs.

Some time later, after insisting that he pay the bill himself - Krauser does offer a sizeable per diem for his Lieutenants in the field above and beyond their usual 'salary' - Laurence holds the door of the restaurant open for Chizuru as they step out into the brisk afternoon air.

"I know just the place," come the cool tones of the Spaniard, as though lunch and then a spar with one of Japan's top businesswomen were just another day in the life for an administrator to House Strolheim... and it's not entirely untrue, although the activities are usually spread across /two/ seperate individuals - not with one rather remarkable woman who is capable of both.

Taking the lead again, he begins to walk the short distance that remains before they're outside of the city - the restaurant having been right on the outskirts of town... a small, grassy clearing, far enough away from prying eyes so as to make it almost entirely private.

"This should do, no?"

Not waiting for an answer, he takes several long strides away from Chizuru, before turning to face her again and offering a brief half-bow. That razor-tipped sword remains in it's place, hanging off his belt, as he slowly begins to unfurl the blood-red cape that is draped tightly around his left forearm.

"You may, of course, begin. Whenever you are ready."

COMBATSYS: Blood has started a fight here.

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Blood            0/-------/-------|

Served a thick soup that has a spicy aroma. Throughout the entire meal she properly focuses on her meal and manners alike. Endeavouring to merely have a pleasant meal there is no real prying for information or improperly bringing topics together in such a way to investigate. It was pleasing and simplifying to divide what conflict had to take place between them into a different space; that combat with martial skills would resolve. Eating together was almost more intimate than battle ever would be, food brought people together.

"Very well."

She had kept the meal modest, warmed by it and a cup of tea. Ideally it would have been nice to sit awhile with another cup. Business was pressing however.

"My utmost thanks for the meal."

A chime alongside her smile as she sets the cup down, raises a napkin to her lips and then makes to follow. As they pass toward the door she sets something down on the man mountains table, a set of keys and leather bound purse. Things that would be unfortunate to lose.

She hastens after Laurence so as to acknowledge his holding of the door with him and follows along with him to the spot he had located.

She takes most of it in at a glance. No real hazards or environment cover, a flawlessly large grass arena. She returns the motion with a more Japanese flair, a single arm drifting up amidst a sweepingly graceful bow as if the pair would dance.

"Thank you for humouring me. I shall give you my best in return!"

Not a sliver less than that. He was a trained warrior of Strolheim, If she underestimated him that rapier would poke her full of holes. It'd be a costly mistake to make as well as missing her chance to claim a priceless invitation. She raises one arm toward her opponent while the other hangs at her side, hardly a proper martial form and riddled with openings.

"Let us begin."

A dash toward Blood, tearing across the grass while cleaving into an overhead open handed strike with her one arm she's intent on starting the match off at a brisk pace. Charging a Matador.

COMBATSYS: Chizuru has joined the fight here.

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Blood            0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0          Chizuru

COMBATSYS: Blood blocks Chizuru's Shinsoku No Norito.

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Blood            0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0          Chizuru

"Oh," states Laurence in calm response to Miss Kagura's promise to give him her best, "I have no doubt of that."

The man's cape is now fully unfurled from it's place around his left forearm; holding his limb at chest-level, horizontally, in front of his body so that it hangs low towards the ground. That blade hanging on his belt is noticeably not drawn, simply hanging from his right hip as he disguises the majority of his torso and lower body with that blood-red material.

No further words are forthcoming; he rarely spoke excessively in such an encounter. At least, not until he got the measure of his opponent, or - /very/ rarely - when he lost his temper... generally against one who acted disrespectfully towards him or his Master, or exhibited no honour in combat.

He doubts that will be a concern against such a well-mannered businesswoman.

A figure that looks to be an exact replica of Chizuru herself rushes towards him with great speed; but Laurence seems unconcerned. Instead his free hand moves from it's place, hanging by the hilt of his sword, and brushes off the front of his crimson cape with one motion.

Her overhead palm strike comes down towards him, and the Matador casually raises his left forearm into the path of the blow - absorbing the impact with the reinforced layer between that crimson fabric. Oddly, it doesn't /feel/ like a physical impact; he can feel a rush of chi energy surge up and down his arm, rather than the shockwave of force he might have expected.

Raising an eyebrow as he lowers his cape and finds Chizuru standing back in her original position, Laurence seems interested - rather than puzzled - by this development. But he hardly has time to consider the implications of this, when he has the honour of House Strolheim to represent in this matter.

"Yes. Let us."

At those three words, he dashes towards her - his long stride carrying him quickly over the grassy terrain between them... his entire body moves with grace, finesse, no effort wasted on unnecessary motions. As he closes the distance, he presses his heels into the ground and begins to slide towards the woman.

When he's only a fraction of a second away from slamming into her, the sword is finally pulled from it's place as he veers to one side - his right hand flashing up to try and rake her with the tip of his blade as he rushes past.

COMBATSYS: Chizuru blocks Blood's Bloody Saber.

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Blood            0/-------/------=|=------\-------\0          Chizuru

The sting in her upper arm as the rapier slides across the fabric of her sleeve and red blossoms around it, that was inevitable. A price paid for admittance. Hurling herself into a high speed twirl aided by borrowed momentum she pirouettes away from the charge with merely a scrape herself.

Chizuru adjusts her sleeve deliberately and to allow herself to check her compose, as it sits against her wrist it needed not but a tweak. She resumes a dancers form, the numbing effect of the cold was actually a help once she got past the initial pain of the cut. She had a newly well-formed sympathy for what those Bulls must endure fighting a matador, a human was none too different.

Similarly to last time, another duplicate of the woman splits off and starts running toward Laurence, angling to come at him just slightly off-centre so that she passes by. The other woman standing still and continuing to meet his eye and follow what he was doing -- right up until the moment she vanishes.

The charging duplicate instantaneously showing signs it can adapt and react; Chizuru sweeps one arm behind Laurence's knees, other arm against their shoulder in order to attempt flipping him to the ground.

COMBATSYS: Blood narrowly escapes Chizuru's Reigetsu!

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Blood            0/-------/------=|=------\-------\0          Chizuru

Coming to a gradual halt once he's swerved past Chizuru with that thrust, Laurence spins gracefully on the heels of his shoes - wheeling around to face the businesswoman once again.

As though he were offering a silent compliment for her success in avoiding the brunt of that deadly sword tip, Blood gives her a slight bow from several meters away.

Spinning the hilt of that sword in his right hand, he ruffles his left forearm in front of him to swish the cape back and forth through the brisk January air. His right leg drags along the ground and comes to a stop some inches back from it's original position - the Matador twists his body to the side, in order to present a smaller targer for his opponent.

Another perfect replica of Chizuru splits off and runs towards him, as Laurence makes an effort to keep his gaze darting between the original and the duplicate.

The attempted sweep comes towards him, and a somersaulting backflip carries the Strolheim Lieutenant clear of the throw - landing in a crouch several feet away from where he was just standing.

"An interesting technique," he allows, before he begins to dash across the grassy field towards Chizuru. As he moves, the hilt of that sword never stops spinning, causing the blade to swing in a blur of constant motion...

...his long strides finally carry him close enough to strike, and he brings his body down in a slide, traveling across the ground, /past/ the businesswoman. The tip of that sword moves out in a flash as he passes her by, aiming to slice at her leg just below the knee.

COMBATSYS: Blood successfully hits Chizuru with Medium Strike.
- Power hit! -

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Blood            0/-------/-----==|===----\-------\0          Chizuru

The cape flapping and swooping through the air it seems easy to believe in supermen or comic heroes watching someone like Laurence Blood fight. He flew like and arrow, soared when she applied a little more momentum. It was less like a dance and more like the high impact and flying acrobatics more attributed to ice skating

Chizuru responds to the rush and slide by leaping, her legs tucked and twisting beneath her so that she might land well behind him and facing in the correct direction. The blade catching behind her calf it slices deeply but then carving wider and more deeply into the side of her leg as she twists in mid-air. Hooked out from under her she starts the fall in mid-air and lands heavily.

Downed a moment she picks herself with some care, in the act she doesn't look at or reach a hand down to acknowledge the state of the wound. In this case: knowing what kind of damage or state the wound was in would be a detriment to her thinking clearly. She rolls up onto her knees, then leans on her good leg getting her back to her feet.

She can't keep the flinch of pain out of her face when she puts her weight on it at first. The leg supported her weight ...was good enough to continue. Her bare ankles doing nothing to disguise the threads of blood running down the outside of her leg; it had not been a hamstringing blow across the back of her leg.

Possibly more by her opponents reaction than hers.

Cautiously testing the scope of her abilities she leaps into the air with a flying kick!! Or rather a copied image of her does this she while she remains standing on the spot. Arcing in towards Blood with good leg extended it seems as real as the other women does. The wind touches both as if they could both be the same person in two different moments.

COMBATSYS: Blood blocks Chizuru's Strong Kick.

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Blood            0/-------/----===|===----\-------\0          Chizuru

The tip of that blades bites deep into the skin, but there is no exclamation of joy or pleasure from the lips of Laurence Blood; he is a professional, and he is simply doing his duty in vetting this candidate for the World Warrior tournament. There is no malice when he draws blood, or causes pain; particularly to such a noble and worthy opponent. He must weed out those who cannot make the cut - utterly lacking the brutality of Gato or the sadistic glee of Eiji.

As he completes the slide along the ground, Laurence rolls forward and comes to a crouching halt several feet away from Chizuru. His right hand moves through the air in a flash, flicking his wrist to send the blood flying off the tip of that blade and onto the grass - staining the green with that deep crimson colour.

At Chizuru's visible flinch of pain, Laurence sweeps his left arm - cape draped across it - to one side and holds the palm of his right hand, still clutching the sword with it's tip pointed straight down, over his heart.

"My apologies; you understand, it's my duty. Nothing more," he states politely; a 'sorry' for having to drive his blade into someone he clearly respects as a businesswoman, to say nothing of the immense reserves of chi energy she seems to possess.

Proving his thoughts about her mastery over such energy, another duplicate is launched into the air towards him. Coming down in a flying kick straight towards his upper body, Laurence swirls his cape in the air to temporarily disguise his movements to the replica.

When the blood red material is pulled away, he has stepped back with his right forearm rising up into the path of the blow. The impact once again burns up and down his limb as the energy disappates into the air.

Once the attack is dealt with, and the replica gone from his sight, Laurence simply twirls his cape around his arm - the material winding around his limb and being held in place with a tight grip.

Spinning the hilt of his sword in his deft right hand, he suddenly thrusts it into the air towards Chizuru; the very end of the blade points directly at her across the distance... and with a sudden rush of energy that sends Blood's hair moving despite the lack of natural wind, an invisible chi begins to move down the length of the sword. It travels up his arm, and throughout the rest of his body - in an instant, he seems possessed of a newfound will and determination, his entire frame radiating a steely resolve that he was previously lacking.

COMBATSYS: Blood gathers his will.

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Blood            1/-------/=======|===----\-------\0          Chizuru

A concept I understand well.

Chizuru Yata would have felt a certain kinship there perhaps and be able to communicate with Laurence Blood on his level. How heavy a burden 'duty' could be... The eccentric business woman and fight fan Chizuru Kagura however? she refrains from making any comment but her slight smile in response. She had expressed her interest in a ticket to the World Warrior tournament; she would bleed to attain the prize! She keeps her reasons for doing so up her sleeve.

The point of the blade being levelled at her and eruption of chi prompts a subtle shift as she watches for what this might be. She ahd already tested her limits with the reflected image used just moments ago. When it disappeared after striking, that was still a reflection of her body, what she could accomplish. Her injuries stung and bled but she was exactly as capable. She stands face to face, with the pressure of the chi stirring her forelock she doesn't erupt with chi similarly. It's certainly an intimidating sight to witness first hand, aimed at you.

Jogging forward into what becomes a fast dash Chizuru draws one hand up to collar, crossed over her breast the fingers trail a condensed and small trail a faint trail of her own chi. She carves into wind like a boat's prow through waves, headed toward the rocks or clear sea? An openhanded strike delivered by a woman who had spun backwards at the last moment to add even more force to her standing backhand.

COMBATSYS: Blood fails to reflect Zheng Zheng from Chizuru with Bloody Mixer.

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Blood            0/-------/--=====|=====--\-------\0          Chizuru

The energy radiating from the tip of his sword suddenly fizzes and dies out, leaving Laurence Blood standing taller than he was previously - spine straightened to give him the full 6'5" of height in his long, lean frame. He doesn't make any motions to evade the incoming warrior, simply standing in place with his sword in one hand and his cape draped over the other arm.

What he /does/ do, is raise that cape in front of him - into the path of the blow... it starts to flare up with the same invisible power that was just running through his body... but either he's too late, or Chizuru's own chi is far too potent to be reflected by a man whose primary skill is in the realm of the physical.

The open-hand strike, backed by that power force she seems to wield with frightening ease, lands firmly in the center of his chest. Impacting his body, it's enough to send him staggering back a fair distance - only remaining on his feet by virtue of his own grace and finesse... teeth clench for a moment as the chi rushes through his body, accompanied with a burning sensation that hurts more than the physical blow itself might have.

"Well..." he says, left hand held over the spot on his chest where that energy-imbued backhand struck him... he can still feel the chi coursing across his skin, even moments after the blow has landed.

"/Interesting/," states the Spaniard, with a great finality and decisiveness present in that single word. At that utterance, there's a sudden flare of energy that seems to surge along the outline of his entire body - a flash of blue, there one instant and then gone the very next.

Then, as if filled with a new drive and determination, he rushes ahead again - spinning and swishing that blood-red cape around his torso in order to keep his back-and-forth steps as hidden as possible. It's only when he reaches striking distance of the businesswoman that he finally twirls the cape to the side to loop it back back around his left forearm.

His sword is revealed then, now infused with that same blue chi that just flared around his outline - wreathing the steel from hilt to tip... bringing the point of it to bear towards Chizuru, he veers left and right as he lunges out with his right arm, aiming to stab and slash his opponent a total of eight times.

He aims for nothing that would be fatal, but there is little other mercy in the cuts that he aims towards Chizuru with great speed.

The energy radiating from the tip of his sword suddenly fizzes and dies out, leaving Laurence Blood standing taller than he was previously - spine straightened to give him the full 6'5" of height in his long, lean frame. He doesn't make any motions to evade the incoming warrior, simply standing in place with his sword in one hand and his cape draped over the other arm.

What he /does/ do, is raise that cape in front of him - into the path of the blow... it starts to flare up with the same invisible power that was just running through his body... but either he's too late, or Chizuru's own chi is far too potent to be reflected by a man whose primary skill is in the realm of the physical.

The open-hand strike, backed by that power force she seems to wield with frightening ease, lands firmly in the center of his chest. Impacting his body, it's enough to send him staggering back a fair distance - only remaining on his feet by virtue of his own grace and finesse... teeth clench for a moment as the chi rushes through his body, accompanied with a burning sensation that hurts more than the physical blow itself might have.

"Well..." he says, left hand held over the spot on his chest where that energy-imbued backhand struck him... he can still feel the chi coursing across his skin, even moments after the blow has landed.

"/Interesting/," states the Spaniard, with a great finality and decisiveness present in that single word. At that utterance, there's a sudden flare of energy that seems to surge along the outline of his entire body - a flash of blue, there one instant and then gone the very next. He does not move to act, though, simply eyeing Chizuru across the distance that seperates them... and waiting.

Chizuru wheels her closest hand overhead and back through a rainbow arc, accompanied by the flap and snap of her cloth sleeve, thanks to the energy still clinging to her open hand it leaves a trail in the air.

Now pointed directly behind her the focus on using her own chi for something prompts a moment of inattention in what he opponent was doing. Two fingers pointed away the flare of energy around her fingers is easily picked up on. A brief flash of a large blue sphere of chi that is compressed in size as it is focused into her fingertips over a split second.

"There are many wonders in the world. (Some beautiful, others terrible.) I would confirm them with my own eyes!!"

Some were terrifying enough they demanded generations of lifetimes and sacrifice to merely contain. To see so many powerful fighters concentrated in one place, they would bring out some of the potent examples of good and evil.

Hunkering down into a forward leaning stance, putting all her weight on her good leg while the other is fully extended behind and toe digging down into the grassy turf. Her attack is a straight lunge and arm thrust out forward like a spears point, the speed and force of which actually seems to be what propels her closer and flying direct for the gut (in order to force her chi right into Laurence's core.)

Reigi No Ishizue, a harsh attack that imbues a sudden, massive dose of her own chi into her opponent. The force of the strike was a physical one, imbued and highly concentrated into her fingertips, the influx of a foreign chi disrupted her opponent's ability to fight; in some situations preventing people accessing their own chi at all for a short time.

COMBATSYS: Blood dodges Chizuru's Reigi No Ishizue.

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Blood            1/-----==/=======|===----\-------\0          Chizuru

"Then come! Earn your place under the roof of Castle Strolheim, and witness the wonders of the World Warrior!"

Laurence's response comes cutting through the chilly air, as he watches Chizuru carefully... her style is unorthodox, unusual, but his keen senses are beginning to pick up on tells, motions that give away her incoming attacks...

...or so he /thinks/.

Spinning his forearm out so that the cape is held directly in front of his mid-section, he seems to eagerly await the woman's forward lunge. There seems to be no expression of concern or even eminent peril on his face; no doubt owing to his history of facing down charging bulls in the rings of Spain. His cool head enables him to react swifter than most; and where many would no doubt be pressured into making a mistake... he just watches, and waits.

Until the last possible moment, when the Spaniard suddenly steps to one side and twirls his cape out of Chizuru's view. Her arm thrusts out into thin air where she would have expected Blood's midsection to be, and the Strolheim Lieutenant simply takes a short hop backwards to gain some distance between himself and the other fighter.

"Your technique intrigues me," he states without a trace of emotion or judgment - simply stating plain facts. The businesswoman's control over chi techniques - and her interesting capability to form entire replicas of her body - is enough to impress the man who has seen many, many different styles in the past week alone.

Then, as if filled with a new drive and determination, he rushes ahead again - spinning and swishing that blood-red cape around his torso in order to keep his back-and-forth steps as hidden as possible. It's only when he reaches striking distance of the businesswoman that he finally twirls the cape to the side to loop it back back around his left forearm.

His sword is revealed then, now infused with that same blue chi that just flared around his outline - wreathing the steel from hilt to tip... bringing the point of it to bear towards Chizuru, he veers left and right as he lunges out with his right arm, aiming to stab and slash his opponent a total of eight times.

He aims for nothing that would be fatal, but there is little other mercy in the cuts that he aims towards Chizuru with great speed.

COMBATSYS: Chizuru reflects Bloody Slash from Blood with Tamayura No Shitsune.

[               \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////       ]
Blood            0/-------/----===|====---\-------\0          Chizuru

The fluttering cape and whipping motion brushes against her fingertips, she is not even sure if her had laid hands on him at all until the cloak draws past and against her fingernails leaving only empty air. Evading her? She was outplayed, yet that only added a bit more spice to the challenge. She embraced challenge and opportunity, she would have to try harder to catch him.

Chizuru intended to earn her place. There was no room to leave things up to the whim or fate or luck. The future rested in your hands and was what was made of it.


Any talk of how unique or intriguing her technique is met with a polite silence. Her martial arts training was a little on the unique side, harnessing an inherited style and technique few in her clan could ever wield. Her power was a birthright, her training in how to wield it.

Chiruru positions the arm she had not lashed out with behind her, so holding both arms in parallel. In response to the evasion and sudden barrage of cuts she begins a back spinning windmill of her arms, circling her body in a sweeping dance as she rises back to standing and turns on her heel to match and catch additional strokes.

Where her hands encounter the blade there is a flash of orange sparks as chi surrounding her bare hands strikes against the same force surrounding the blade. Mettle against mettle rather than steel and steel, a brief furious blossom and then shower of sparks despite the gentle glide, turn on her heel and poise with which she pauses, one hand held forward the other behind.

The movement of the song she was dancing to at rest the very point of the blade from the latest strike pressed against the tips of her fingers where it had stabbed home and stopped dead against a surface it could not penetrate. The orange coloured chi the same as the fountaining sparks swelling from her finger and forging up the length of the blade a short distance. It drives the chi wreathing the blade before it, a wave of blue returning to it owner, the tide on a beach reversed and the water swept away back toward the ocean.

Even as he approaches, Laurence can practically /see/ the energy signature present within Miss Kagura; his training is such that he's able to recognize the potential of a fighter even before testing them in combat. Of course, such an act was still necessary - a great reserve of chi or will hardly meant that one would be able to harness it appropriately in combat. Even those with great potential and wells of power had to be tested in honourable combat; and not just to see if they were skilled enough to keep up with the Strolheim Lieutenant...

...ones bearing, honour, manners - all these, too, were put to the test. It is likely why Laurence Blood was given the majority of the candidates to spar with personally. Herr Krauser knew that he, above either of the other two Lieutenants out traveling the world, would be capable of telling who was worthy to join the World Warrior in more than just raw combat ability.

Unleashing those eight cuts, the Spaniard shows none of the surprise one might when each blow is deflected in the air by the businesswoman's /bare/ hands - assisted with that flash of orange chi. Despite his professional bearing, his eyes do widen slightly at each successive lunge or cut that is absorbed upon striking Chizuru's bare palm... there is even a grinding noise, as though the deadly tip of his blade were meeting some other metal.

But no, it's simply her immense reserves of chi energy - and her skill in harnessing such - that makes it possible for her to do so with her own skin.

And when he's finished hacking away to no result, he doesn't even have the opportunity to dash to the side and try to evade her eventual counterattack... no, with the grace and fluidity of water Chizuru causes the chi to drive back up the length of the blade towards Laurence's right hand - still clenched tightly around the hilt.

No chance to drop the sword or throw it to the side... it's too fast to react to, and the chi burns over his hand and up the length of his arm, causing the Spaniard to stumble backwards as it wreathes the length of that limb.

Only when he brings the blood-red cape flapping down upon his own skin does he manage to cause the energy to sputter and die out.

"So," he begins with a calmness that seems almost comical coming from a man whose arm was alight with chi just a second early, "A woman of skill in business /and/ the field of battle. A rare thing, if I may say so, Miss Kagura..."

Ever the professional even when waging a losing battle, it seems the only thing that can ever enrage the man is rudeness - but Chizuru has offered him none of that, unlike so /many/ of the upjumped warriors he's faced in the past week. Such politeness and proper manners can only be met in kind; to do any less out be unsuitable for a man in the employ of House Strolheim.

Spinning the handle of his sword around in his hand, he curls and uncurls his fingers a few times to return the feeling to his limb. Still feeling the faint burning sensation of that disappated chi that Chizuru had unleashed along his blade, he finally tightens his grip once more and lunges back in.

A feint carries the sword's tip down towards her knee; but it is just a distraction, the tip flashing in the dim sunlight before he pulls back and lunges - instead - for a spot on her right side. Perhaps his blows are getting too predictable, for his opponent seems to be capable of countering him too easily thus far.

COMBATSYS: Chizuru blocks Blood's Random Strike.

[               \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////         ]
Blood            0/-------/------=|=====--\-------\0          Chizuru

As Laurence backs away and throws the cape around his hand to smother the chi crawling up his arm Chizuru takes the moments respite to straighten her sleeves with a tug and satisfied with smoothing, then assume her odd yet poised guard.

"My thanks for the compliment. I have a long road ahead yet."

She said with a smile but was indeed building a sense for her own rhythm and familiarity with this dance. Each movement began anew with an ebb and flow that kept her guessing and heart racing as they exchanged blows, but each had their own tempo. Tens of thousands of training matches with fellow disciples and trainers did not really prepare one for a real battle. Only occasionally they synched up and the dance involved no shed blood, step and counter step.

The flat of her palm meeting the naked blade, it shrieked at the jolt of pain that sent a twinge down her spine! That was a necessary counter motion to prevent a deeper wound being speared into her side. It seemed deliberately injuring herself was a hurt she felt keener than other injuries, perhaps because she was more intimately aware of the pain, or a quirk of being human, her animal instincts trying to discourage sacrifice and pain.

As Laurence seemed fond of saying 'Interesting.' She too was learning about herself and sharpening her skills as they fought. Advanced levels of skill and training had been drilled into her with almost no battle experience at all to accompany and temper it.

Two seperate Chizuru step toward either side of Laurence , one crops into a crouch and kicks her foot around as a sweep at the back of his ankle, the other holding a palm gently quivering left to stand over him and drive the palm downward into his chest. The same movement used hundreds of thousands of times to strike great stones outside the temple. Rather than crushing or damaging the stone with your power the goal was to pass all of that power and chi through the stone itself.

Turning the brightly coloured pinwheels, planted to so delight and reward the training of the two little girls who looked as alike one another as their reflections.

COMBATSYS: Blood blocks Chizuru's Combo Grapple.

[                \\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////        ]
Blood            0/-------/-----==|====---\-------\0          Chizuru

Laurence's left eyebrow comes up in an arch as his opponent splits into two again... and this time, /both/ of them come towards him at once. A new trick from Chizuru's already unorthodox fighting style; no doubt such a manuever would get the better of many less-experienced warriors.

In the end, it's simply his grace and composure that allows him to react properly; when the sweep is aimed towards his ankle, he drives the tip of his sword down into the ground behind him - the leg deflected off the blade. As for the open palm; it strikes him through the crimson material of his cape, and although the fabric absorbs much of the impact it's still enough to send him staggering back two steps.

He recovers quickly, but uses the backwards momentum to put some additional distance between Chizuru and himself, in short hops away from her.

"Humble, too," he notes calmly, without expanding upon the point. He's seen many with only a fraction of Chizuru's power become headstrong, arrogant, so sure of themselves that they neglect their training. The fact that she remains grounded rather than letting her obviously natural ability for harnessing chi make her complacent is simply another point in her favour.

This time, his approach is slower - not rushing in with long strides, but simply shuffling forward with close steps... his dark brown eyes consider her stance and movements as he inches towards Chizuru. That blood-red cape is swished in front of him a few times, either due to instinct alone or some attempt at visual flourish.

His grip on the sword is suddenly twisted, bringing the blade horizontal and grabbing onto the hilt so that the handle acts as a makeshift set of knuckles. Tightening his hand around the shaft of the weapon, he suddenly lunges forward the last few feet towards the businesswoman, and aims to bring his metal-covered knuckles crashing into the side of her ribs.

A savage punch, to be sure; but at least he has the common decency to not strike at the woman's face. It seems like he's making some /small/ concessions in that regard during this bout, while still putting forth all his effort into testing his opponent.

COMBATSYS: Chizuru blocks Blood's Crushing Strike.

[                \\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////          ]
Blood            0/-------/-----==|====---\-------\0          Chizuru

For all her tricks, tools at her disposal she was having tremendous difficulty getting hold of her opponent. Laurence blood's Grace and composure was a match for her own while she was instead starting to experience frustration that was only growing alongside her injury and fatigue.

This was a battle she won only when they clashed, whenever she chased he evaded, a skill she supposed suited a Matador most of all kinds of fighters of the world. He danced around her and struck her if she hesitated of left herself open.

A formidable skillset to cultivate, and to face.

Chizuru reels away from the savage punch, her sleeves provide little cushioning and she was hurting after a heavy impact like that, her arms numbed that was with her trying to slip away. Her brisk shuffling footstepssteps backward while letting the momentum bleed away and circling her hands around her body more in response to the now burning and throbbing from what seemed to be deep muscle or her bones.

She might be close to a limit on what she could safely ward off with her bare arms. One of them striped by the guard of that sword it was a bruise she would probably feel keenly for time.% If he didn't fall before long, she would eventually tire or weaken from her injuries.

She could not help but be knocked away by the impact, her decision to charge right back into the fray as her arms sweep back like a cranes wings she slides across the ground in a low stance with her foot extended in a barrelling charge seeking to unsteady him, a still sliding if brisk turn on her heel and the image she throws out at him from her new position attacking with a straight sidekick to the gut.

COMBATSYS: Blood parries Chizuru's Cong Cong!

[                \\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////          ]
Blood            0/-------/----===|====---\-------\0          Chizuru

Drawing his fist back from the punch, Blood loosens his grip on the hilt of the sword and spins it in his hand - once again holding the blade like a proper weapon, instead of a makeshift set of knuckles.

He has mere seconds to prepare himself for Chizuru's follow-up; he too has been having issues landing anything through that chi-infused guard of hers. However, he doesn't seem frustrated with that fact as many others might be; instead, he looks almost invigorated by the skillful back-and-forth occuring between himself and the respected Miss Kagura.

How wonderful are the hands of fate, to deliver a worthy adversary to him during his lunchtime - and all the moreso, for her willingness to sit down and dine with him while discussing recent events in the business and political world. A spot of civilized conversation is something he hasn't had since abandoning Castle Strolheim on this quest; and perhaps that too plays a part in the energy he exhibits this January day.

As his opponent slides across the ground at him, he once again merely holds his ground - the cape concealing the exact position of his torso. Chizuru turns on her heel and launches a brutal sidekick towards his gut... but when Laurence pulls the crimson fabric back, his midsection isn't in the path of the blow; but rather, off to the side of her kick.

A classic distraction tactic learned in the bullfighting rings of Spain, adapted to great effect in a battle between capable warriors. It's served him well throughout the years; in many ways, him and his opponent both practice utterly unorthodox styles that give them a leg up against typical opponents.

His own foot kicks out to strike Chizuru under the extended leg - not enough to knock her down, simply to take her off-balance for just a moment... long enough to carry through with his next manuever...

Blood's right hand flicks out - but not to bring his sword lashing out at Chizuru, no... instead, he tosses it into the ground tip-first with one swift movement of his wrist. The blade imbeds itself in the grassy terrain, hilt left to swing back and forth for a few moments until it slowly comes to a stop.

By the time it does, Laurence's feet have already left the ground... at such a close range, Chizuru will have little time to react. He hurtles himself through the air towards her like a spinning torpedo, entire body wreathed in blue chi as he uses his entire body - palms held forward - like a human missile to impact her.

COMBATSYS: Blood successfully hits Chizuru with Bloody Spin EX.

[                \\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////              ]
Blood            0/-------/--=====|======-\-------\0          Chizuru

There's a scream, it chokes off as the impact drives the air from Chizuru's lungs as the heiress of the Yata sails backward and collides with the ground only to begin a tumbling roll that throws up torn blades of grass in her wake.

She doesn't lay still as she slides to a halt, her hand immediately rising to and clutching her breast and tightly gripping the fabric as she struggles mightily to regain her breath. Still laying on the ground and gasping.

That last jolt shattered her calm and the panicky sensation of not being able to breath was an entirely new experience. Sweat trails down from her brow to her chin and her breathing was ragged and sharper than it should be. The endlessly cold and sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach, was that fear?

Her clutching palm at her breast is forcibly opened and pressing flat against her breast, she measures out her own breathing rhythm and regulates it through force of will, mind and spirit over the needs of the flesh. The body itself might scream for oxygen, panic fills her veins with adrenaline, trigger all manner and aspects of fight or flight reflexes. It didn't rule over her actions, she would do what she must! With as much care as possible.

The end result mattered, "Victory!" was the goal and gravely important, not just survival would suffice.

A long exhaled breath. Her resolve firming once again as she rises, there is a gentle shrug to resettle her heavy sleeves as she raises both arms into a more traditional martial arts stance and angles both towards her opponent.

What grass still clings to her is whipped away in the breeze.

Her focus on defeating Laurence Blood grows keener. Ever collision between them serves to hone the edge of a sword that had never before been drawn, only polished and maintained, through conflict it grows sharper.

"My apologies... I am still prepared to continue."

The loss of concentration and focus was an embarrassment. One that she simply thought not the time or place to acknowledge. She wasn't a child any longer and these were not safe and special conditions where opponents worried about causing her harm or injury. This was a real fight; she bled and struggled like any other, not an heiress or a princess. She fought as an equal and this fight alone.. was intoxicating every colour felt more vibrant and alive, ever breath in your lungs was a treasure. She could feel that when every breath at the moment still hurt, feel the price and joy of living and fighting for what mattered.

COMBATSYS: Chizuru focuses on her next action.

[                \\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////              ]
Blood            0/-------/--=====|======-\-------\0          Chizuru

Laurence's spinning body knocks Chizuru aside, his own momentum carrying him further away from her position before the bluish chi that surges around his body sudden flickers out; and just like that, he's landing on both feet and spinning on one heel to face his opponent. For a moment, there's a raised eyebrow as he regards his opponent - a woman her respects on her business acument and etiquette alone - in obvious pain. The Spaniard truly had no issues with doling out punishment to those he viewed as beneath him; yet here was a woman who he bore no ill-will towards, and who he viewed as a truly worthy adversary.

Alas, his duty to House Strolheim must come before whatever personal opinions he might have of the candidates he tests. Krauser might even share some respect for Miss Kagura and what she has done with her own corporation, but that does not mean that she can earn a reputation on that fact alone. Like any other - barring the greatest known warriors in the world, of course - she must /earn/ the right to entire the World Warrior.

His eyes move from Chizuru to look across the distance at his sword, still imbedded in the dirt - now with his opponent between him and his trademark weapon. No matter; the Matador has more tricks up his sleeve than simple swordplay, as he just displayed by turning his own body into a brutal, chi-covered torpedo. At any rate, this own speed and agility leaves him certain he could make his way back to that blade and wield it whenever he might wish.

In the meantime, Laurence allows the newest candidate to recover her composure and refocus on the fight, taking a moment to brush away some dirt and grass that covers the fabric of his crimson cape. A short bow is offered to her once she finishes her statement, before responding in his cool, polite tone of voice:

"No need to apologize, Miss Kagura," replies Laurence swiftly after her apology - seeming almost surprised that she would be making one under the circumstances. She carried herself with the proper bearing and manners one would expect of a businesswoman of her caliber, and fought with a technique that managed to show the veteran fighter a control over chi he'd rarely experienced first-hand. To him, this battle was nothing short of an absolute joy; the exact kind of encounter he'd been hoping for when Wolfgang first sent him out to gather candidates for the World Warrior.

"I assure you, to fight someone of your eminence and skill is a rare occurence. A pleasure, in fact."

Beginning to shuffle to the right side, his keen eyes narrow in on Chizuru, waiting for her to make a move that he might react to... staying on the defensive, allowing the opponent to over-extend, and then punishing their mistakes; it's a similar strategy that one must employ in fighting bulls. Rarely does a Matador make an offensive gesture, they wait for the animal to get tired, to get angry, for the beast's defenses to slip.

One might be surprised, but fighting a person - even one as graceful as Chizuru Kagura - involves much the same principles.

But it seems that she is no longer /playing/ that game; the realization brings a slight smirk to his otherwise impassive face. A nod of his head in mild admiration - that she is forcing /him/ to go on the offensive - is the only signal she'll receive that he picks up on her change in tactics.

Of course, he is capable of switching his strategy as well.

His right hand - no longer holding that sword that now lays beyond Chizuru - reaches down to his belt in a sudden flash. Grabbing hold of the handle of a hidden blade, he lashes out with a sudden flick of his wrist to send the dagger careening through the air towards Chizuru. As the projectile flies at her, he's following several paces behind it with his own long strides... perhaps trying to work his way closer to his sword, for the next round of attacks.

COMBATSYS: Blood successfully hits Chizuru with Thrown Weapon.
- Power hit! -

[                \\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////                  ]
Blood            0/-------/-======|=======\-------\1          Chizuru

The sickening squelch as the dagger buries itself between her chest and collarbone. Her body half turns away with the impact and she sinks to her knees, paling to the point her skin is ethereally white. Eyes disbelieving, unsteady on her feet even as she falls into her crouch, the wound was grievous and the acute case of nausea was overshadowing even the pain.

The arm closest the injury drops and dangles uselessly in response to the trauma, Chizuru raises her free in bloods direction as an image of herself, arm and shoulder draped in blood stands as warden between Chizuru and assailant a spinning and advancing dervish slapping and striking in a fury in order to pressure the matador away from the crouching woman who was gingerly reaching up to the knife's handle.

The erupting spurt of blood when she withdraws the knife almost accompanies a faint, gods but that hurt. Her hand was trembling before the act, after she couldn't even maintain her hold on the hilt of the knife. The white and red tunic decorated with a health and liberal painters splash, a flicked stroke of the brush against white canvas.

She hated the sight and smell of blood, it brought bad memories to the forefront of her mind. her fingers curl over and press hard against the wound to stem the bleeding, that hurt as well, but proportionally to how hard she did so herself. The flow stemmed by her hand she forges back to her feet intent on fighting still.

She did not believe she would die here, she still had a mission and would stop at nothing to complete it. But, is that what ran through the minds of so many as they tried and died in the service of greater things than themselves?

COMBATSYS: Blood parries Chizuru's Sanrai No Fujin!

[                \\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////                  ]
Blood            1/-------/=======|-------\-------\0          Chizuru

Dashing forward behind the thrown dagger, Laurence seems to /frown/ slightly when he witnesses the blade jam itself into Chizuru's flesh... he would rather not have employed such tactics, but with his sword out of his hand he hardly had the choice. To employ hidden daggers against an opponent he actually had regard for did not sit entirely well with him; but such was his duty to House Strolheim. Rarely could he allow his own feelings and morals to get in the way of properly representing his Master, Wolfgang Krauser.

When the replica splits off and stands between the Spaniard and his opponent with a storm of blows, he has little time to react. Fortunately for him, it seems the grievous wound caused by the knife may have slowed the businesswoman to some degree.

As the duplicate begins it's assault, Blood spins on his heels suddenly and lashes out with his left forearm - the caps wrapping around one of the image's wrists... being a creation of pure chi, the material starts to sizzle and smoke almost immediately - but it's still able to wrap around one of the replica's hands. A quick tug redirects the remainder of the blows in the opposite direction, allowing the Strolheim Lieutenant to continue rushing past.

Towards that sword, now only a few feet away. The real Chizuru is still standing between Laurence and his weapon, but a quick roll allows him to pass by her - not even lashing out to strike her as he veers past. Coming up in a crouch with his right hand around the hilt of his sword, he yanks the tip free from the grassy earth - sending dirt spraying in the opposite direction.

All this occurs in a flash of motion, the man moving almost inhumanly fast - as though he were getting quicker and more precise with every passing moment in this battle. He doesn't even stand out of his crouch - now that he's recovered his weapon - but simply rolls backwards towards Chizuru once again.

Leaping up onto his feet as his manuever carries him within striking distance of his opponent, Laurence aims to slam a shoulder into her; in the same moment, his left arm lashes out to wrap the cape around her midsection - hopefully able to temporarily entangle Chizuru in it's fabric.

Should he manage this much, a storm of sword slashes are leveled up and down her body in a blur of movement; finishing the combination of cuts and swipes with one final, savage lunge to plant the tip of the blade into some non-vital section of her torso.

In his mind, the businesswoman has already comported herself as nothing less than an honourable adversary, no doubt worthy of an invitation to Castle Strolheim based upon technique and mannerisms alone; this last assault may simply be the final part of a test he has already come to a decision on... one last attempt for Chizuru to show precisely what she is capable of.

COMBATSYS: Chizuru interrupts Final Death Bloody EX from Blood with Kiaten.

[                    \\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////                       ]
Blood            0/-------/----===|====---\-------\0          Chizuru

Chizuru reels back with the shoulder charge, head flung backwards knees knocking together as she strives to keep her feet despite the lost balance, one eye fallen closed and an arm hanging limp but tingling. Every wound flaring with pain to remind of just how many injuries she'd sustained, all protesting against a heavy impact like a shoulder charge.

The flaring cape winding around her she raises one arm and prevents the cape from completely encircling her torso, sagging forward as she regains her balance she realizes it it does however tie up her one good defending arm. the sudden storm of slashes starts opening a hair-raising ahock inducing lesson as half a dozen more wounds open in the blink of an eye.

Another cut! another one..!!

hHer eyes were following the blades trail as it slashes through the light fabric of her jacket and and the minute sprays of red droplets that fountained out of her body, she needed to wait for the next extension that left his arm at her far right. Until that moment she continues to endure cut, slash and swipe.

Her weakened and wounded left arm lifting and straightening her palm until the moment she was waiting for could arrive, a mirror image of herself standing palm to palm with her and lunging forward beyong and behind the matador, escaping the wicked slash of a blade that would dispel the image harmlessly only because of the sacrifices involved in timing it so.

A pirouetting turn on her heel and sweeping one arm across the back of Laurence's head the image gently but forcefully turns the final targeted thrust into an inelegant and downward directed face plant! Chizuru using the same opportunity presented by her image which was already winking out, to counter spin her trapped arm and free herself of the cloaks tight hold. She advances and twists to allow the now untangled cloak to be pulled free by the falling Blood.

Her revealed jacket now more torn and bloody red than any of that crisp white was remaining, knees together and ankles braced apart to keep herself standing she was a mess to behold. Blood ran more freely than sweat or tears, she was on the verge of collapsing from the weight of her wounds yet the vigour and stamina to continue was still there, the body would fail and fall apart before the spirit admitted defeat.

She raises her one good arm back into that same almost beckoning attack posture.

Caught up in the storm of slashes, Blood assumes that Chizuru is defenseless for the duration... apparently a foolish belief, as she once again finds the fortitude and will to summon another replica, which travels behind him...

...even this is not enough to get his attention; perhaps he believes it is merely instinctual, with no real way that the woman could take advantage of her position. He's proven wrong, then, when the duplicate deflected the final thrust and plants him into the earth face-first.

His mouth filled with dirt and grass, the Strolheim Lieutenant lifts his head to spit out bits of earth as a trickle of blood flows heavily from a busted nose.

Instead of looking upset with this turn of events, and immediately leaping to his feet to attack again, the Spaniard simply pushes himself - rather slowly, given his exhausted condition and the injuries sustained thus far - up to his feet using the palms of both hands.

He stands up, facing away from Chizuru as his shoulders rise and fall with deep, ragged breaths... his fingers drum along the handle of his blade, as he spins his left arm through the air to loop the blood-red cape back around that limb. When he finally does turn around to face his opponent again, he's actually /smiling/... not showing teeth, of course, that is a gesture below the refined administrator and loyal servant...

...but nevertheless, the joy on his face is visible all the same.

Laurence flips the grip of his sword in his right hand, manipulating the weapon so that the tip points straight at the ground. Raising that arm high into the air, he brings it down in a sudden lunge and imbeds the tip of the blade directly into the grass. The handle sways back and forth in the brisk January wind for a few moments, before finally coming to a halt itself.

The hand that was previously holding tightly onto his sword moves with a flash inside his vest, grabbing hold of something... for all Chizuru knows, it might very well be another hidden blade - about to be thrown her way with a deft flick of his wrist...

...but it's not. When he pulls it out, he's lightly gripping a plain-white paper envelope. On it's back, a wax seal that's been pressed with the sigil of House Strolheim. A woman as well-studied as Chizuru Kagura should recognize it right away for what it is: the symbol of that illustrious German Noble House.

And within it, an invitation to the World Warrior tournament in the mountains of Germany, at Castle Strolheim.

Rather than drop it on the ground or toss it to her, as Blood frequently does with opponents who are worthy fighters but unworthy individuals or of a low standing, he instead steps forward and extends his arm to hand it directly to the businesswoman.

"I believe this is yours, Miss Kagura. You exhibit great natural potential; and what's more, you carry yourself with grace and honour... like a proper warrior, not some mindless brute. If anyone ought to represent your martial style in the World Warrior... why, I could think of nobody better suited for the task. Please accept Krauser's gracious invitation."

Chizuru reaches out with trembling hands, gratefully receiving the plain envelope in both hands. She cradles the letter against her breast, wrists crossing over one another to hold it there pressed to her breast where it offers some comfort. It was a deep and profound relief to have acquired an invitation. At price that included so much bloodshed and her skill meaningfully tested in a real battle, for the first time.

A shadow detaching itself from the treeline and moving to stand nearby it arrives just in time for her attempt as a bow, which rapidly grows unsteady to be suddenly fortified by a the presence of a wide and heavy callused hand lending support with a gentle hold on her unharmed bicep. The stone faced Monk keeps he whole of his rumbling attentions on Chizuru and offers support instead of interrupting or shaming the younger woman.

Chizuru recovers from her unbalanced bow with as much grace as she can manage.

"You have my undying gratitude Mr. Laurence Blood. Your generosity does not go unappreciated."

There was up and until the end no point in which she felt safe or secure. It was an experience fit to keep her humble and reinforce her need to continue training in days ahead. Things would not get easier from here. The state of her wounds and her attire has the Monk grumbling in a steady and constant stream, though paying close attention to his gravelly voice a Buddhist mantra being chanted under his breath. Tayata Om Bekanze Bekanze Maha Bekanze Radza Samudgate Soha.

Chizuru seemingly used to such behaviours from her subordinate or employee, only turning her head to acknowledge his presence when he steadies her arm with an eye closed, relieved and sweet smile of gratitude.

"I hope there is occasion to meet once again during the events of the tournament."

She doesn't even take the opportunity to remind him of her business. Nothing said or done to cheapen a pleasant turned dangerous (if thrilling) encounter. She remains standing there and delicately balancing most of her weight on one leg, obviously unable to walk and waiting for Laurence to move away before being scooped up and carried back to the car without giving any further cause to guilt her adversary or showing a lack of strength and sudden weakness in front of him.

She was a kind woman, still offering a smiling face even as she continues to bleed and needed support to continue standing.

Ah, how wonderful; his opponent was still a pleasure to deal, even after they had been fighting for the past several minutes. A rare quality, that... most others let the taste of battle turn sour in their mouth once the moment has passed - apparently, Chizuru Kagura holds herself above such things. It only serves as more confirmation that Laurence has been truly lucky to be approached by someone of her class and bearing; even in the halls of Castle Strolheim, such grace and honour is seen but rarely.

"Generosity has little to do with it," he says after passing the envelope along, bowing as low as he can manage with his aching, bruised body. The back of his left arm comes up, wiping away the flowing blood from his nostril with the crimson fabric of his cape before lowering it to his side once again and continuing, "Nobody gains entry to Castle Strolheim without earning their place among those hallowed halls."

This compliment is paid in a level, almost expressionless tone - a simple statement of objective fact.

He notes her current physical state; were it not for the sudden arrival of the other man, there's little doubt that he'd offer to help her back to her car, likely still parked outside that restaurant back within the city limits. It's a short distance away, but it would be the gentlemanly thing to do; it seems, however, this mysterious Monk has the honours of doing so.

And there is a fair chance that Chizuru would not want to impose upon the Spaniard with such a task. Another sign of character, he notes in his head as a smile crosses his previously impassive face. Reaching down with his right hand to grab the hilt of his sword, he yanks the tip out of the ground with a small grunt of exertion - he is in quite a rough state himself, though he's likely more used to absorbing such punishment without complaint. The weapon is returned it that loop hanging from his belt, where it rests off his right hip - the tip dangling unsheathed down by his calf muscle.

"I'm certain we shall meet again. Herr Krauser shall likely be calling his men back to the Castle to maintain order at the tournament."

Blood turns and begins to walk away then, his stride more of a pained shuffle at present - as opposed to his usual swift, graceful motions... he pauses after a few steps, however, and turns his head back over his shoulder to speak one last thing to Chizuru before receding into the distance:

"Be warned. Not all who will be attending are as honourable as you or I. I've met many of them personally, and I can guarantee this fact."

Log created on 15:51:48 01/16/2018 by Blood, and last modified on 22:11:47 01/19/2018.