Description: After testing himself against an old friend, Valkenhayn's search for prey leads him into the halls of Strolheim itself. Within that magnificent Castle, he discovers a competitor who proves to be a match for his own fiercesome, bloodthirsty nature - the seemingly unkillable crimeboss, Duke.
The scar wasn't healing.
Duke had reversed his fortunes since the King of Fighters. After his loss against Kasumi, his humiliation before Hein, his near miss with Eiji... he did not know his future. Even after his meeting with Nagase, the future was bleak, empty. But for the World Warrior, he had claimed his invitation, and ultimately, his first victory. He had made his stand, made his reputation. While his rankings were low... he had proven himself. He had defeated Ryu in fair combat. But he did not realize the price of his victory, the price of surviving a taste of the killing intent until long after.
The Metsu Shoryuken was still burning in him.
For now, he would take the fight straight to Strolheim. The dark-skinned crime boss stands out in the castle hall, avoiding the exhibition yard for a more... personal tour. Duke had since covered up the scar in a new outfit; Nagase had made the recommendation, and he was already grateful. Garbed in a handsome blue and black cotton suit, it was light and breezy. His color was even popped up, a garish appearance, almost too young for the bearded fighting veteran. At least, this time, he does not expose his naked chest; he has it bound in white bandages, as the wound continues to fester and burn underneath. He had not needed this for years.His watch was on; he knew an opponent would be coming for him soon. What opponent... he did not know quite yet. Duke, for his purposes, was actually looking at the tapestries. His love of the arts was not an act; in spite of his brutal reputation, he appreciated the classics. The Strolheim was a family, and their work was... exquisite, and bold.
Duke might even ask for one as a prize for his inevitable victory.
After his heated battle against his old friend Jubei left him with shredded and bloodied clothes, the pair of animal warriors had visited the nearest tailor in the small town of Strolheim to outfit Valkenhayn R. Hellsing in a brand-new set of clothes...
...of course, hardly being the original or inventive sort, he requested an exact copy of his previous attire; a brown/yellow vest with gold chains, long-sleeved white dress shirt, and black/gray pleated trousers. Although he himself had a sizeable per diem handed down to him by Madam Rachel, Jubei had elected to pay - as an apology of sorts, for the damage caused by his claws and blades.
Some time was spent, after the fact, with drink and discussion in a local tavern. The feline samurai had skirted the issue of Valkenhayn's missing memories; including, most distinctly, his belief that Clavis Alucard was still alive.
Along with his restored youthful vigor and physical appearance, decades of his memories had been removed by the effects of the Chroniker as well... as far as he was concerned, Rachel's father was still alive, Terumi was still sealed within the Boundary, and matters in this realm were nowhere near as catastrophic as they actually /were/.
Although things on earth seemed noticeably /different/ than how he remembered them, he had simply chalked up the idiosyncracies to his time spent serving Lord Clavis - he had hardly paid attention to the happenings outside of the Estate since taking up his oath of service with the Vampire, after all.
He had parted ways with Jubei after several hours spent reminiscing about their youth - a youth that Valkenhayn himself believed to be merely years past, rather than decades. Where the One-Eyed Twin Lotus had headed next, one can only guess...
...but Valkenhayn had the honour of House Alucard to represent; and his wrist-watch - provided by Wolfgang Krauser - told him that many candidates were remaining the area surrounding Strolheim.
It made matters easier for him, as opposed to traveling to Japan or the United States - where some of the competitors were, according to the directions provided by the device. So, after some time spent in front of a mirror, ensuring his new outfit was up to par, he doubled-back towards Castle Strolheim hastily.
'Duke'. He doesn't recognize the name; hardly a surprise, however - amongst the contestants listed, only two stood out. Morrigan, a fellow ruler in the Makai realm... and, of course, Jubei himself.
The coordinates on the wristwatch weren't quite exact, more a general compass - but his hyper-sensitive nostrils never steered him wrong... and so, he finds himself entering the castle hall of Krauser's residence.
Certainly, there was an odd look from the Spaniard known as 'Blood' - the man who apparently carries out much the same purpose here, as Valkenhayn himself did back at Castle Alucard - but professional courtesy seems to transcend the realms, and he was ushered towards Duke's location with a polite nod and a vague gesture in the proper direction.
And now, he steps into that massive hall - blue eyes falling upon the back of his next opponent; somewhat surprised that such a man with such a brutish figure seemed interested in the tapestries on-display.
While the savage animal within might be urging him to strike from behind, he merely strides up - on well-polished 'Oxford'-style shoes - towards Duke's side.
"Beautiful, are they not?" he mutters gruffly - despite his attempt at politeness and his well-dressed appearance, he cannot yet disguise the animal hidden within. With time, perhaps - but he is only recently in the service to Clavis Alucard.
Clearly he has much to learn, in terms of etiquette.
The scent valkenhayn picks up might be off.
As he closes in on Duke, the scent of sulfur might begin to rise. It's easy enough to excuse as a passing accident, of course, but the stench lingers, very subtly. At the moment, only a keen scent could detect it, but... it is unusual nevertheless. Even closer, there is a smell of artifice, of... rot. An unnatural presence coming from the man, as he studies the tapestry.
An almost hellish presence.
As Valkenhayn responds, Duke doesn't look away. He only nods in response. "It's quite impressive. Wolfgang Krauser has an impressive deal of class here at Strolheim. I may see if I can attend one of his organ performances; I believe he does his own compositions." Duke turns towards Valkenhayn, looking up and down him. Duke does not change his grim facade, but turning he extends his hand, for a firm handshake. "I am surprised that there are others who can appreciate this place beyond it's mere martial reputation. I am Duke Burkoff." His yellow eyes suddenly snap to the watch. His tone deepens, almost to a growl.
"And I suppose you are my opponent, yes?"
There is a slight twitch on Valkenhayn's face, his nose picking up the scent of death and sulfur as he approaches the man from behind. Perhaps there is more to this man than meets the eye?
If he weren't standing there in front of the tapestry, the servant might easily mistake the smell as belonging to a corpse, or some freshly unearthed grave.
It is accompanied with a distinctly otherworldly aura around the man who looks so much like a normal human... but then, that is hardly surprising to the Lycanthrope; he expects many unusual individuals will have found their way into the 'World Warrior' event.
After all, both Jubei and himself are competitors in the tournament, and neither of them could possibly be considered 'normal' or 'average'.
This is an affair for the extraordinary, those who have risen above the level of base humanity - in one way, or another.
The mention of 'class' earns a deep, rumbling chuckle from the well-dressed werewolf. It's true, for a human this 'Wolfgang Krauser' does seem to possess a certain taste that his species tends to lack; but for a man in service to a Vampire Lord such as Clavis Alucard, this entire Castle seems...
...well, it doesn't impress him as much as it might someone used to more mundane surroundings.
"Valkenhayn R. Hellsing," he states in rough, gravelly tones - gripping the extended hand firmly and offering a wolfish grin, accompanied with a slight nod of his head.
"There was a time when I wouldn't care for such things," he says, releasing his side of the handshake after a quick pump to test the man's strength - which is certainly not lacking. Inclining his head towards the tapestries, he makes it clear he's discussing the art on display.
"But I'm not the same creature I once was, to say the least."
One gloved hand is lifted up, an index finger scratching at the beard that comes to a sharp point at his chin. Blue eyes are narrowed, as he regards Duke with a sudden coldness... a facade that is cracked, as he shoots the Russian man another wide smile...
...and this time, his canine teeth are noticeably sharper - almost fang-like.
"You assume correctly, Mr. Burkoff. My apologies, of course, for what I will be forced to /do/ to you..."
Strangely enough, his tone doesn't carry with it the same sense of regret that his words attempt to put across... in fact, it sounds like he might actually be looking /forward/ to the inevitable violence.
Duke was ultimately of this world.
Less supernatural, but far worse. And yet, Valkenhayn might soon uncover what this man is capable of. As the man introduces his name, he gives a firm handshake right. Not enough to crush limbs but... an equal test of strength right back. He hardly shows any surprise at first.... until he sees the fangs. Duke's reaction is immediate.
Duke rubs the scar on his neck, his yellow eyes burning as he releases his grip. "I have heard of unusual opponents. I rarely fight them." Duke steps away from the tapestry, locking his eyes into Valkenhayn. He leads the way, every step coming with precision. He knows what he capable of, and he rather not risk damaging the art. Once he reaches a far enough distance, he brings up his arms, taking a rather open brawler stance, almost... amateurish, almost like a punk thug you would fight on the streets. An experienced fighter like Valkenhayn, even in his younger state, could almost certainly see the openings in the guard, the easily exploited weaknesses. Despite this rather reckless stance, the crime boss bellows deeply.
"I think you will be pleasantly surprised as well, if you dare press your luck."
COMBATSYS: Duke has started a fight here.
COMBATSYS: Valkenhayn has joined the fight here.
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Duke 0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0 Valkenhayn
Clasping both hands behind his back, the Lycanthrope follows his opponent - in silence - away from the tapestry-covered walls of the Castle. Though these works of art are pedestrian compared to the glorious oil paintings and portraits on display at Castle Alucard, he also doesn't wish to damage anything within the home of his noble host.
He may still be a savage animal - despite the lessons taught to him by Clavis Alucard - but he's at least /attempting/ to learn some etiquette, to display the proper manners... perhaps the ruthless beast is not entirely hopeless? He might become a true gentleman despite his savage past and bloodthirsy nature... given enough time, and guidance from his Lord - and the man's daughter, Madam Rachel.
Stopping in one spot, he watches with keen eyes as his opponent continues to put some distance between them - not attempting to press the attack until the Russian man's attention is focused, until he is utterly prepared to do battle.
Valkenhayn /is/ here to represent House Alucard, after all.
An utterance, deep and harsh, in response to Duke's final statement. That one laugh seems to echo throughout the massive hall the pair are standing in - growing far louder than it should, considering the low volume it was when first coming out of his mouth. As the reverberations of the single laugh slowly die down, the well-dressed butler raises one hand to chest level; he pulls down on the end of his spotless white gloves, before repeating the same motions with his other hand.
"After you. If /you/ dare."
As he speaks, it's clear that those sharp canines have transformed fully into fangs - glistening with spit and ending in harsh, pointed tips. His eyes have a sharp gleam to them as he stares across the distance at the brutish thug he's come here to face - his glare like that of a savage animal, looking at it's prey.
Duke now could see the monster.
Those canines are now fangs, his beastial nature coming out in force. Duke sees the creature before him, the monster that was standing before him. But Valkenhayn was sense no fear, as the crime boss's face twists into a sneer, his own teeth bared. He had come here not to represent the Syndicate, no. He ultimately represented himself. So as Valkenhayn gives him toe first move? Duke almost gives a bow, as he nods his head forward.
"If you like." Duke growls low, as violet-red flames erupt over him.
The sudden -flood- of pressure pours out if him, as his clothing flows and flaps. The crime boss strides forward, a ponderous gait as he stomps forward. It's just as crude and brutish as his stance. It's almost easy to miss as he -explodes- forward with a single, staggering punch, coming from the right, as he just throws out the straight aiming squarely for Valkenhayn's chest.
All as the fires begins to build around him.
COMBATSYS: Valkenhayn blocks Duke's Medium Punch.
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Duke 0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0 Valkenhayn
Even before the red flames erupt across the body of his opponent, Valkenhayn's mind is already racing with vicious, violent thoughts. Whatever the reason Madam Rachel - and her father Clavis - had for sending him here, to Strolheim... he is truly appreciative of the opportunity, to once again wet his fangs and claws with the blood of worthy opponents.
It has been too long since he had the chance to do so - ever since the Lycanthrope knelt defeated in front of the Master Vampire and accepted that offer to serve Lord Alucard and his House, his life had been far more peaceful than he was used to.
Although his duties around Castle Alucard kept him busy, the domestic servitude he had dedicated himself to in the past several years was nothing compared to the enjoyment he felt as an Immortal Breaker - tracking and defeating his prey beside his old partner Relius Clover.
A difficult adjustment, to be sure; and it would likely be some time yet until he would truly be able to settle down into his role as servant, sentinel and valet to his new Masters.
The sudden surge of energy brings a reaction from the Lycanthrope, as his cold blue eyes suddenly shift into a deep, burning red - almost mirroring the colour of the flames washing over Duke's muscular frame.
His opponent's slow, stomping stride gives the werewolf plenty of time to prepare himself - fangs become more visible, as his grin widens with every single step that Duke takes towards him. The bloodlust is already beginning to build within the butler's animalistic mind, old instincts coming back to the forefront...
...the man explodes towards him in a burst of motion, a heavy fist leveled towards Valkenhayn's chest as Duke travels forward. And just as quickly, one gloved hand snaps up to stop the punch just inches short of impacting his ribs; the Lycanthrope's ponytail whips backwards from the gust of wind that the force of the blow creates, the heels of his shoes sliding back slightly on the tile floor underfoot.
"Try harder, Mr. Burkoff."
That scolding comment comes out as a harsh, rough growl - barely distinguishable as the voice of a man, as Valkenhayn's fanged grin widens.
Taking a half-step back from his opponent as he releases the man's fist, the tall, well-dressed butler shifts... a blur of movement, as Duke finds himself staring down at a large, hulking wolf - chestnut brown fur standing up, a dangerous snarl twisting it's canine features.
Purple chi flashes around the wolf's frame; a brilliant, deep colour that covers it's form from tail to snout.
The Syndicate goon is given little time to react to the transformation, before the canine suddenly surges forwards - spinning through the air, using it's body as a missile to rocket into Duke's midsection, as that energy continues to flare around it's body.
COMBATSYS: Duke endures Valkenhayn's Rauschen Konig Wolf.
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Duke 0/-------/----===|=------\-------\0 Valkenhayn
Duke could feel that feral edge.
The moment his punch connects, smashing heavily into Valkenhayn, the transformation complete. No longer fighting a man, but a wolf. Duke finds the unpredictable shift alarming, as already the wolf was going straight for his chest. There would be no guard for Valkenhayn, no defense to stop him. It was almost an open invitation for the succulent meat. As the teeth dig in, as the purple chi pours in....
The stench of sulfur suddenly explodes.
The fire over him brings the overwhelming aroma of hellfire, pure hellish smoke as he brings a hand upon Valkenhayn's muzzle. Duke gives an audible, strained groan. His chest is ripped into, as he struggles in pure pain. Valkenhayn might taste it, this close; the acrid taste of rotten eggs embedded in his cloth, and more so, the vile, poisonous chi seeped deep into his already bloodied flesh. The long, ragged slice, fighting any sense of healing. The taint of Ryu, the wrath of the killing intent that still lingers and twists. Duke struggles, his other arm flailing as he stumbles a step backwards. He tries to twist the wolf under him.... and draws back his leg.
And he unleashes a massive stomp.
The very foundations of the castle aches as moments become seconds. Clinched in the grips of the crime boss, the reverbs of chi mingle with the stench of sulfur as he attempts to -slam- it point blank into the savage wolf. And if Valkenhayn cannot escape in time? Duke would unleash a second straight punch, pouring a wave of flames as he would smash it straight into the wolf's head, and right into the wall of the castle hallway.
Far away from the lovely tapestries, of course.
COMBATSYS: Valkenhayn full-parries Duke's Seismic Impact!!
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Duke 0/-------/---====|===----\-------\0 Valkenhayn
There can be no doubt that Duke, strong and unrelenting as he is, would have little issue manhandling Valkenhayn in his human form. Gripping him tight, keeping him in close quarters for the follow-up, and striking cleanly with his counter attack...
...but the wolf proves to be more difficult quarry for the crimeboss to keep hold of.
Valkenhayn's senses are assaulted by that sulfurous stench; but he has smelled far worse in his unnaturally long lifetime... fields of rotting dead, sticky old blood staining walls and ceilings, the bizarre scent of that Black Beast which he tore into with his hands and teeth.
Compared to all that, it is not a terribly difficult matter to push that strange, hellish odour entirely out of his mind - particularly now that he has thrown himself headlong into glorious, bloody battle as his own, savage fury has been released to overtake his senses.
As the Russian man attempts to maintain a grip on him, the wolf's jaws snap away at the hands that attempt to keep him ensnared. That, combined with the violent twisting and writhing of his muscular, animalistic form, enables him to break free and scramble /up/ Duke's massive chest.
By the time the punch - and the accompanying wave of flame - are finally unleashed, the werewolf has managed to climb up his opponent. Utilizing the man's ribcage as a springboard, Valkenhayn leaps backwards into the air - easily clearing the path of the firey chi.
A front spin halts his upwards trajectory, as the Lycanthrope hangs in mid-air for a fraction of a second... once again, that purple energy flashes across him - fur bristling with the sheer potency of the power unleashed within the wolf - as he suddenly redirects his velocity forward to rocket back down towards Duke from high above.
COMBATSYS: Duke fails to interrupt Eisen Wolf EX from Valkenhayn with Swivel Gun EX.
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Duke 0/-------/-======|====---\-------\0 Valkenhayn
As the crime boss smashes through the grips, as the wolf rebounds off him. Smashing his fist into the wall, he is off-balanced, stunned and recovering from the shattered crater upon the wall. Twisting around, he was already sweeping his leg into the air, already rising up with a burning fire around him. Lifting up, the wolf spikes straight down. For a moment, there is a fine line, as the pair comes to meet...
But he was too fast.
Duke is savaged out of his upwards circular kick, spiked straight downwards. Duke lands on his back, his bandages torn open. Instinctively, he crosses his arms before his neck, protecting... protecting which vitals. His teeth gritted, as a pool of his own blood forms under him. His body was bleeding, at the thick, smears slice cut from top to bottom, cancerous scar tissue that was rolling and boiling, shifting before the very eyes. A cursed wound, a vicious wound, an infected wound, all as the stench of sulfur builds.
And yet, a wound that was not caused by Valkenhayn himself.
The full weight of the wolf comes crashing down into Duke, carrying with it the relentless speed and momentum generated by his downward path through the air - as well as the potent, blazing chi surrounding his form.
Catching a whiff of the blood which pools underneath the man, Valkenhayn sniffs deep with his keen nostrils at the man's face; expecting the usual, mouth-watering odour of a wounded human... and nearly gagging in response to the smell that /actually/ hits his nose.
It smells as though something within the man, within his very fluids, were rotting away... and had been, for some time. Yet he seems so vital, so strong - not at all like the undead that Valkenhayn had encountered in his vicious past spent hunting down such creatures.
Whatever the cause for the sickening stink coming off of the Syndicate enforcer, it's enough to keep the wolf from digging into his flesh with his snapping jaw. Instead, he simply leaps off of the man's fallen body - spinning backwards in the air as another change suddenly occurs...
...when Valkenhayn lands on the ground, several feet away from his opponent, it is on two black leather shoes - rather than the four paws of a wolf.
"That's all?!" growls the Lycanthrope, his voice twisted with fury - and the long fangs that fill his mouth - as he gazes down at Duke, angry and disappointed at his prey.
"All this way, to face a WEAK, HELPLESS ANIMAL?! GrrRAAAAAA!"
As that rage-filled bellow comes out of his mouth and echoes around the high ceilings of the Strolheim hall, Valkenhayn rushes back towards his foe - whether the man is still on the ground, or getting back to his feet. In a split-second, his right leg is transformed from a trouser-clad human limb to that of a burly, muscular werewolf.
Ending in razor-sharp claws.
Raising the leg up to chest-level, it suddenly flares with deep, purple chi before he brings it crashing down towards Duke.
COMBATSYS: Valkenhayn successfully hits Duke with Weiss Jagd.
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Duke 1/------=/=======|=====--\-------\0 Valkenhayn
Duke's rumble boils out. Still on his back, he eases himself up. This wretched pain in his chest. What did Ryu do to him? Why hasn't it healed? The thoughts stir around him, as Valkenhayn already pounces as his sits up. Duke turns to roll... which only gives the butler a fresh shoulder to rip his claw into. Deep, bloodied lacerations tear into him, ripping to the bone as he gasps in agony. Duke rolls away, rolling into the wall. Gripping the stones, he barely pulls himself into a stand. Turning towards his opponent, the blood-soaked Duke gasps aloud, drawing a heavy breath.
And he straightens his back.
"Enough toying around." Duke rumbles, as he crosses his arms. His injuries... Duke was effectively mauled and gutted like a cornered deer. And yet, he... still lived. Valkenhayn was most literally ripping him into pieces. And now, he was carefully watching, carefully calculated. Carefully considering, and... regenerating? "I have come to Strolhiem for myself, and to face a wild animal... is an insult!" Duke continues to burn with the violet-red flames, as the stench grows heavier and heavier. The very air distorts from the heat and power, as Duke draws in a heavy breath, and exhales. Easing his stature, easing his pacing, his withering glare descends upon Valkenhayn. Raising a fist at the wolf, he utter his challenge. "Do you think you are facing a mere weakling? Then come." He lifts his head, cracking his neck, his yellow eyes penetrating Valkenhayn.
"Come and finish your meal, wolfman."
COMBATSYS: Duke gains composure.
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Duke 1/--=====/=======|=====--\-------\0 Valkenhayn
As the claws of his transformed leg rake into his opponent's flesh, Valkenhayn's crimson eyes shine with an overpowering lust for blood. The wicked grin plastered on his face presents the image of a man just /barely/ able to keep a leash on the monstrous animal within.
There was a time when the Lycanthrope would have been almost entirely unable to speak in such a state, resorting to growling and barking even in his human form... the fact that he's able to express himself at all is a testament to the calmness that he has been taught during his brief service under Lord Clavis.
Instead of continuing to rip and tear into Duke, he backs off immediately after that downward kick strikes his opponent. However, he only remains a few yards away - wanting to remain as close to his prey as possible, while still giving himself enough space to react to oncoming attacks... and the words spoken by Duke cause him to laugh - in his own vicious, humourless way.
"Hah!" barks the werewolf, the noise harsh and utterly without mirth, "A wild animal, indeed..."
His tone is dark, dangerous - he does not argue the point, but rather embraces the title... it has been too long since he had the opportunity to give into his true, savage nature. Years spent in domestic servitude have offered few chances for Valkenhayn to indulge his brutal, cruel side.
He relishes the ability to do so now; and it is simply unfortunate for Duke that he happened to be the nearest target, after the Lycanthrope had finished testing himself against his old friend Jubei.
"I /hope/ we're just getting started, human..." he growls, although that smell still attacks him - and the scars visible on the man seem to be the sort that would end the life of a normal human being. Even so, the butler doesn't give it much thought - and the contempt dripping from his voice when he says the word 'human' should be noticeable...
...they always were a weak species, after all.
"Not that I believe in playing with my food."
Cracking a wide, bloody smile at his last statement, Valkenhayn dashes back towards the Syndicate enforcer. Closing the gap in seconds, the Lycanthrope's head transforms from that of a man, to a humanoid wolf - wide jaws opening and attempting to bite down onto Duke's throat, or shoulder...
If he's able to latch on with that fanged grip, the werewolf begins to unleash a combination of blows - each limb transforming into a clawed paw as he strikes - before he twists his body, ending the assault with a side-kick that blazes with bright, furious chi.
COMBATSYS: Duke blocks Valkenhayn's Sturm Wolf.
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Duke 1/-======/=======|==-----\-------\0 Valkenhayn
"I've been trained to deal with strays, wolfman."
Duke's warning comes as Valkenhayn only takes a moment for respite, before lunging for the kill. Duke's response is just as crude and brutish as his technique so far: as the pounce comes, the crime boss turns, giving Valkenhayn a shoulder... as he raises his hand up, to grab him by his... body hair? Duke seizes it, and he -stares- straight into Valkenhayn. The full force of Duke's penetrating, withering gaze descends on the wolf, as he lets loose a deep, baritone of a rumble.
The words come rumbling into the very rock. And there, as the swipe would come, he would only shove back, giving Valkenhayn merely a strip of his shoulder flesh, to push him back as the claws rips out. The opening comes in as the fires boil back. Duke whips his arms back.
And he slams his arms down.
A roaring tidal wave of flames boil out from his hands, as he begins to pour the waves of chi energy directly into Valkenhayn. The stream of flames would blow valkenhayn down the hallway, down the pasage of the castle. If Valkenhayn was carried with the wave of fire? He would draw in a heaving breath.
To begin his steady advance once again after him.
COMBATSYS: Duke successfully hits Valkenhayn with Sledgehammer.
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Duke 0/-------/-======|==-----\-------\0 Valkenhayn
The Lycanthrope doesn't flinch as he's gripped by the fur, brought eye-to-eye with that furious stare directed at him... yes, there is something /different/ about this man. That much is obvious now, if Duke's distinct scent and his overpowering presence were not enough of a sign.
Before he can react, the sudden wave of flame washes over him - sending him hurtling backwards through the air... out of the hall, down a corridor. Aided by the sheer force of the assault, he is thrown into a passageway - far, far from where he stood against Duke just seconds before.
His body rolls, end-over-end, for some additional distance once the wave dies out and he slams to the ground. After a few moments, the now-scorched white gloves of the butler are pressed against the ground as he pushes himself up to one knee.
Valkenhayn's head hangs low as blood oozes out of his mouth, staining both his fangs and the floor underneath him... before his tongue darts out from between his lips, to run across bloody lips - savouring the flavour, even though the vital fluid is his own.
And then, a grumbling laugh as his neck inclines upwards - bright red eyes narrowing in on the approaching form of Duke, stomping towards him with inexorable determination.
Rather than pull himself up to his feet, the man undergoes yet another transformation - leaving the brown-furred, hulking wolf standing on four paws where the well-dressed human form once knelt. And rather than a laugh...
A low rumble leaves the beast's throat, as his front paws scrape against the ornately tiled floor of the hall, tongue lolling out of it's mouth as spittle and blood drip from his elongated fangs.
Suddenly, the wolf is moving at full speed, claws scrambling on the ground as he rushes down the massive, scarred man standing across from him. Only a few feet away from his opponent, Valkenhayn suddenly leaps into the air towards Duke - his jaws opening wide...
...and as he barrels towards the Syndicate gangster's throat, those fangs attempting to clamp down on the flesh, they seem to shine a deep purple - the colour of the Lycanthrope's unique chi imposing itself over the bloodstained, yellowish teeth.
COMBATSYS: Duke Toughs Out Valkenhayn's Aggressive Bite!
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Duke 0/-------/-======|=====--\-------\0 Valkenhayn
Duke does not stop his approach.
Boom, boom, boom comes every step, the wrath of the crime boss flowing into the very rock. The smothering presence pours right back into Duke, as he continues his steady approach. Boom. Boom. Boom. His chest wound opens briefly, before closing with a searing flash of chi. Was it breathing, the cursed scar? Was it alive? Duke only care about the pure pain running through him, never growing lighter, never numbing. His yellow eyes burn at the wolf as it dives at him, teeth bared.
And Duke gives him what he wants.
Duke -shoves- his hand into Valkenhayn's mouth, grabbing his tongue as the fangs digs deep. Duke stares, his blood mingling with Valkenhayn's, the wolfman's feral nature tearing into the tissue, the bone, the vessels. And yet, Duke does not let go. Within, the pure chi energy boils forward, his very skin erupting into small volcanos of violet-red energy. He draw back his other hand, curling it into a tight fist. And he gives his own rumbling snarl, staring straight into the essence of the wolf.
"Burn... in.... HELL!" Snarls Duke, as he shoves a hand right between Valkenhayn's legs.
Should he get a grip, he would -rip- his fist from Valkenhayn's mouth, and begin to punch the wolfman square in the jaw once. Twice. Three times, with the mangled stump. And after the third? He would swing him up in the air, carrying both himself and Valken high into a bound, before -smashing- him into the stone flooring of the castle hallway, cratering him with a booming blast cloud.
COMBATSYS: Duke knocks away Valkenhayn with Volcanic Bomb.
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Duke 0/-------/--=====|=======\==-----\1 Valkenhayn
The real downside of being a wolf during about 50% of a fight; less opportunities to trash talk an opponent.
Particularly when said opponent has a grip on your /tongue/.
Duke's fist is pulled free from the clenches of the wolf's jaw, Valkenhayn's fangs already snapping forward to try and find a new grip... and finding himself struck in the face several times.
Even as the punches impact his jaw, the force of the blows shaking his entire frame and beginning to daze him. When the fist strikes him for the third time, he's almost entirely stunned - leaving him completely defenseless as the enforcer carries him high into the air, before slamming the wolf back down with a massive explosion.
Bouncing off the tiled floor as a result of the sickening impact against that now-ruined surface, Valkenhayn skips off the ground like a stone several times - traveling away from Duke.
When his momentum finally stops and he skids to a halt, the Lycanthrope is once again in his human form - his clothes now scorched and torn, bruises visible underneath the material as the result of the savage attack just leveled against him.
He remains on the ground, spitting blood onto the smooth tiles as two gloved palms are pressed against the floor... he's pushing himself back to his feet, but slowly - taking advantage of the distance between himself and Duke to inhale several deep, ragged breaths.
For the first time in this battle, Duke seems to have his opponent on the back-foot, Valkenhayn taking a few brief moments to get his breath back, to refocus on the rage and fury coursing through his body, to tap into his animalistic nature in order to put down this inhuman foe... before he himself is defeated.
"Well, well... not as helpless as I feared, hmmm?"
COMBATSYS: Valkenhayn gains composure.
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Duke 0/-------/--=====|=======\=------\1 Valkenhayn
Duke takes his time on the approach.
Duke had to recover as well from the slam, falling to one knee briefly as the butler skips away. Valkenhayn can get his respite, his composure. But Duke continues the inevitable approach, striding with deep, heavy steps. Boom. Boom. Boom. Each step driving shockwaves into the castle, rattling it to it's foundations. The consuming presence was pouring down. Duke did not steal the momentum back. He clawed it back, fought for it back. And in a moment, ripped it back from Valkenhayn. At what a cost though? Duke lifts up his mangled hand. It was neatly severed at the wrist now, a flap of meat at the joint keeping it on. Valkenhayn's feral hunger, his savage assault was in full evidence before him. But then, a shift.
The hand was twisting back into shape.
It was broken, mangled, bloodied with tissue and tendons ragged. And yet, the fingers were wriggling; the flesh was reknitting itself. The wounds on the chest, short of the unhealed scar still oozing in the center, was already beginning to clot over. His shallower wound on his shoulder was... scarred over. "I think," Duke begins, his arrogance building. "You haven't learned the full extent of your mistake just yet, wolfman." Duke rumbles, the smell of brimstone rising with every step, every hastening step as he moves faster and faster. He senses the weakness, senses the opening. Duke bellows a shout as he leaps into the air, hurling out a single flying kick straight for Valkenhayn, attempting to -stomp- on him on the landing, to knock him further back.
Before he could fully recover.
COMBATSYS: Valkenhayn interrupts Medium Kick from Duke with Kaiser Wolf.
- Power hit! -
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Duke 1/-----==/=======|==-----\-------\0 Valkenhayn
Sloooowly, the fallen Lycanthrope pushes himself back to his feet - a small wince crossing his fiercesome expression for just a moment, before he snaps down with his jaws to fight it back.
He will not show pain; not in front of this man, who seems to be more akin to a walking corpse than should be possible... is he truly undead? Or simply something that the afterlife coughed up while he was between the realms of life and death? He moves entirely unlike a zombie - too strong, too determined, too cunning in his own savage way.
And yet, any normal man - even a trained warrior with control over their chi - would /not/ be healing as swiftly as that.
"Heh heh... oh, I think I've learned all you have to teach..."
Rolling his neck to the side, a series of loud cracks echo out from the popping joints of the youthful Lycanthrope. The bottom half of his face is stained with blood - both his /and/ Duke's - giving him a savage, vicious, bestial appearance.
And through all the pain that still courses through his cracked, bruised body... those dark-red eyes burn across the distance at the approaching man... and he's still grinning, his entire fanged mouth now oozing with crimson.
"Time for /your/ lesson, human."
Yes, despite the bizarre healing factor that Duke seems to display, despite the hellish, overpowering presence, despite the unique stench of the man... Valkenhayn knows he is - at his core - a creature of this realm. A man who has been turned into something else, perhaps, but still just a human being at his core.
A man. Nothing more than prey, no matter how strong he is - or /where/ that source of power comes from.
As the enforcer leaps up into the air and comes down with a flying kick, Valkenhayn shifts back into the shape of a hulking, heaving wolf - brown fur stained red with sticky blood, jaw snapping wildly... the canine hangs in the air for a moment - paws not even hitting the ground - before he rockets /up/ to meet Duke.
The man's foot strikes the Lycanthrope dead-on, emitting a vicious cracking noise... but it doesn't stop the creature's velocity, as it hurtles /through/ the blow to strike Duke dead in the torso, fangs tearing into the muscular flesh of the human and seemingly filling him with a new vitality.
Yes, the Syndicate criminal may have gotten the better of Valkenhayn momentarily... but now that the blood is flowing freely, he will find that the wolf will not lay down without tasting /more/ of that vital fluid - his fury and bloodlust driving him onwards, past any threshold of pain or injury that Duke may have expected him to reach.
For all his regeneration, it's clear how -exposed- Duke was.
Every assault was tearing into him, every savage attack tore deep and long. He was only a man, yes. But Duke's relentless assault just showed how much his defenses were exposed. Duke was vulnerable most when he was attacking... which the butler exploits savaging, leaping straight up to his torso. Intercepting him, the crime boss takes straight to the ground. Landing on his back, he is able to recover enough to sit up.... to the fangs digging deep into the muscle, deep into the tissue, deep into his -abdomen-. Duke could feel it now, past the sliced-open wound that was refusing to heal, how -easy- it was to pull away the flap, and dive deep past the thin scarred tissue to the delicious organs. Valkenhayn might even have a taste of his liver, as his depths go deep into his vital organs... and he might even be able to take it with him, to eviscerate the crime boss, right here at the castle floors. Duke was dying, he tasted like he was dying; it wouldn't be much more for him to be dead. But Duke's tone runs cold, as he growls straight back to Valkenhayn.
There is one more lesson, wolfman."
Duke snarls, as it pours out. Not just the fountain of fire, boiling from his body. No, it was the wrath, the pure rage and hatred at Valkenhayn's insult, his retaliation. His -insult- to what he had to teach. Duke swings his arms, pivoting with the rage. His body was a temple, a temple to the religion of violence, as he pivots and swings to a stand. Valkenhayn was entangled with him. And balling up his good hand into a fist, he bellows. "Take it with you..."
And Duke -slams- his fist down, the whole force of his volcanic energy -exploding- around him. The eruption of fire envelops around him into a catastrophic font, -blowing- the heat down both lines of the corridor. The waves, the unstoppable waves of energy and hate that spiral around him just build, and build, and burn, and build... until finally, they are spent. Exhausted. The fires die down around Duke as he gasps for air, his guts hanging out.
But what of the wolf...?
COMBATSYS: Duke successfully hits Valkenhayn with Ground Zero EX.
! VENGEANCE !
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Duke 0/-------/-----==|======-\-------\0 Valkenhayn
Blood runs down Valkenhayn's gullet, covering his fangs with slick, sticky crimson as he digs into the flesh of the enforcer...
...but it doesn't taste as fresh as it should, and it is hardly as satisfying as the Lycanthrope might have hoped. Something is /off/ about this man, and he can taste it in his vital fluids - beyond just the stench of rot and sulfur, his blood tastes /wrong/.
And the man manages to stand, even with the wolf's snout underneath his skin, burrowing deeper and deeper towards his organs.
Tangled up with his foe, the Lycanthrope is either unaware of the pending attack, /or/ unwilling to break away now that he has a taste of blood...
...it is his mistake.
Caught up in the vicious, overwhelming explosion of furious flames, the scent of burning fur fills the air as Duke - and the corridors in both directions - is suddenly awash in fire.
When the smoke clears, there /is/ no wolf... the man has returned, on both knees some distance away... his clothes have countless holes burnt in them, the undamaged fabric covers with soot and smoke stains. His face is a mess of blood and ash, the only visible features being his blood-slick fangs...
...and those eyes, which continue to stare at Duke...
And in them?
Surprise. Pain. Rage. Vengeance. Cruelty.
An injured beast, backed into a corner by prey that has proved far more formidable than he could have ever expected.
But then... why is he still smiling?
Perhaps because he has not been able to indulge his bloodlust like /this/ in so long... most other opponents would have collapsed after being torn into in such a fashion. Yet Duke still stands, many of his wounds healing over - a walking, regenerating buffet for the Lycanthrope.
Although one who seems determined to not make things /too/ easy for Valkenhayn. He is no hapless prey, trying to avoid the hunter... instead, he has risen up and smashed the wolf down time and time again.
It is only his own fury and his own regenerative abilities that enable the werewolf to remain in the fight. The amount of damage these two individuals have inflicted upon each other - while still remaining in the fight - tell the tale of two warriors who are entirely inhuman in their own distinct ways.
The werewolf with a Lycanthropic healing factor, and the human who could not be killed... perhaps /ever/.
Against all odds, the butler - rising on unsteady feet, almost blacking out with agony as he stands - finally rushes back towards his foe. As he strides, his footing becomes more certain, more sure, his seemingly endless reserves of stamina once again replenishing his battered, exhausted body.
Crouching low as he nears his opponent, Valkenhayn suddenly hops up into the air - his entire body groaning in protest, as the pain of broken bones and burning flesh fight back against him with every movement.
Suddenly, his right leg is wreathed in purple energy, as he whirls it around to bring the scuffed, half-melted black leather shoe around to crash against Duke's head.
There are no words. He is past that. Simply low, frustrated growls coming out of the mouth of the Lycanthrope's human form - the animal has now firmly taken over in the face of defeat and possible death, even in his non-wolfish aspect.
COMBATSYS: Duke barely endures Valkenhayn's Mondlicht.
~ Cruel hit! ~
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Duke 0/-------/--=====|======-\-------\0 Valkenhayn
Duke smirks, for a moment.
Standing tall, he looks around at the remains of his eruption. Valkenhayn, the wolfman, not the wolf, was ripped by the aftermath. Duke grips his chest, the sucking wound ripped open again. How... how long could he endure this? The pain of the flesh was pouring into him, again and again. And yet, Duke looks across the way, and his smile fades. No. It couldn't be. ANd yet, he could see it.
That his opponent was smiling.
Duke's transition was too slow, too ponderous. As he shifts, the wolfman was already in the air. Duke snarls aloud as he turns towards the butler, already surging into the assault. The kick comes, and Duke struggles, he fights against it, he hurls everything he can against it, his dying fires boiling up again as he forces his way through. The shoe connects to his temple as he begins to slip underneath the wolfman...
And Duke stumbles.
It comes as a feel, a touch, a rumble. A crack, as Duke's head... doesn't straighten up after the kick. His neck was broken. It had to be broken. A numbness overtakes him, as the blood begins to seep into his skull. Duke lets out a groan, a death rattle. He steps to the side, struggling, his footwork loose. He gasps for air, his limbs... growing limper. He sways, sways in his stand. His yellow eyes lock on Valkenhayn's, in a brief moment of understanding. A moment of weakness. A moment of finality.
Before they fade into a glower of pure rage.
And Duke desperately lashes out, to seize the wolfman by his throat...
COMBATSYS: Duke can no longer fight.
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COMBATSYS: Duke successfully hits Valkenhayn with Treadmill EX.
[ \ <
And he wraps his hands around that neck.
Duke pivots, whipping the wolfman overhead, and -slamming- him on his back. The moment comes quick, as Duke raises his leg, and begins to -stomp- on Valkenhayn's head. Once. Twice. Three times. A vicious, aggressive tromping, as he hammers each shoe violently into the wolfman. The leg raises for a fourth time... and seizes up. Duke stares into the downed figure, shaking side to side. His face goes limp, as his yellow eyes fall to the back of his head. And unceremoniously, the assault ends. Not with a roar. Not with a whimper. But with the crime boss collapsing to his side, landing with a sickening sound.
That savage impact of his foot actually /snapping/ Duke's neck is felt, all the way through Valkenhayn's body...
...landing on both feet - swaying and almost collapsing before he grits his fangs to refocus himself - it takes a moment for the butler to /notice/ the state of the man's neck.
"What... are... you?" he growls, voice slurred and twisted by pain, anger, disbelief, and a throat full of blood.
He receives no answer; instead, his throat is gripped roughly by the seemingly unkillable monster he finds himself facing. Smashed down onto the ground, the force rattles Valkenhayn's spine and causes a sudden yelp of pain to escape his humanoid mouth.
But that is only the beginning... three vicious heels are aimed down at his head, filling his mouth with more crimson fluid - even snapping off several of his teeth, which are spat into the air between stomps.
Then, a moment of reprieve after the third blow.
His vision is covered with a filter of red, barely able to see a vague shape beyond the layer of blood that covers his eyes. Valkenhayn scowls in preparation for the fourth stomp...
...which doesn't come. Instead, he hears a BOOM as the massive, hulking body of the enforcer collapses to his side.
And for a moment, there is a faint purple glow that covers the man's form... and he opens his mouth - a spray of blood flying up into the air in a fine mist - before a low howl begins to rumble out from his throat...
The bestial noise is cut short suddenly, as the effort put into pushing his wounded body even further causes a sharp, overwhelming pain to wash over the fallen werewolf.
Just like that, his rage-filled, burning-red eyes seem to go blank - a vacant look crossing over that furious gaze...
...seconds later, he too falls into unconsciousness. Just before he is lost to the blackness, one final transformation takes place - leaving a large wolf laying on it's side, tongue lolling out of it's open jaws as blood continues to drip onto the floor.
In the distance, a Spanish man with a cape and sword shakes his head in disbelief - surely /he/ can't be expected to clean up this mess...
COMBATSYS: Valkenhayn takes no action.
COMBATSYS: Valkenhayn can no longer fight.
Log created on 17:06:12 02/05/2018 by Valkenhayn, and last modified on 17:10:42 02/06/2018.