Morrigan - Darque de Triomphe

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Description: Morrigan interrupts a business meeting between Jedah and an unwilling associate. Makai nobles entertain themselves with grotesque violence.

He always was a sucker for the classical style of architecture. The bold, geometric lines of postmodernist structures are lurid, gauche monuments to the core of their crude materials. By contrast, the Baroque, and particularly the Rococo styles were much too gaudy, with their focus on excessively gaudy surface decoration. Surely, the classics were best -- by drawing attention to the underlying volumes, one elevates the engineering prowess of the old masters to center stage in a beautiful and defiant statement against the forces of nature, without succumbing to the ephemeral whims of the populace.

Beauty is truth, truth beauty -- that is all. Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

The minute hand looms perilously close to midnight on this blue marble. The Thunder Lord had made a grand proclamation to stagger the reign of human civilization, to right the ills that they had wrought upon themselves -- and with those same humans managing to change his mind, the minute hand's travel has been halted. The gears of war had been stopped before they could grind the mass of Japan into a pulp.

He stares out from atop the Arc de Triomphe on this dark, dreary night, the halved moon hidden behind cloaks of stormclouds. Twelve avenues end in a circle around his present position, lit with enough lights to make the streets shine like day. Rain pours from the sky, drowning out the hustle and commotion of Paris, a dull thrum in his ears.

From his vantage point atop the war monument, scarcely any light at will fall upon the darkened form of the Reaper. The Dark Messiah leans idly upon his scythe, the blue face of nobility marred by a look of discontent.

His plan was interrupted.
And that Doomsday Clock needs to begin ticking once more.

Fingers clasp firmly around the scythe.
He lifts it up for a moment.
And then he slams the butt of the scythe into the sternum of the man trapped beneath it.

The captive wears a fancy uniform of the Italian Navy. And yet, he is in rather dire straits -- his head dangles just off the edge of the Arc di Triomphe, and every one of the streetlights had been reflecting in his eyes just a moment ago. For as soon as Jedah Dohma slammed the scythe into him, his head jerked upwards, straining in futility to allow rain-soaked air -- the only kind he could breathe while trapped on his back -- to drain to his lungs.

The scythe is ground into the man's chest. Flakes of iron chip off in the process, turning crimson and melting, transforming into steaming hot blood. Raindrops pelt the surface of the blood, hissing with steam as Dohma continues.

"The way I see it, Admiral... you have two choices. And one is significantly less painful than the other..."

"That sounds dreadfully dire," interjects a second voice. It is sweet, yet somehow smoky. It is commanding, but somehow playful as well. The voice is also Scottish-tinged, and likely familiar to Lord Dohma.

Lady Morrigan Aensland descends from the shadows, seeming to float through the rain like a mirage. She is dressed in her usual wardrobe of distinctive purple tights and heels as she floats up before Jedah. She stops here, leaning forward and resting her chin on the back of her interlaced fingers.

"Admiral, hmm? Am I interrupting an important business meeting, Jedah?" Morrigan rolls her eyes before looking down at the admiral, then sleepily raising her gaze to noble. "It sounds as though the Admiral is on the cusp of a major decision."

Dire? Perhaps. But the entire reason Jedah has taken this Admiral to such a high location was for a little spot of privacy -- and the sound of an unwanted visitor runs counter to that.

The Italian Admiral stammers, even as the Reaper presses the scythe against his sternum. He may have a bit more trouble seeing the succubus than the tall Makai noble, but he can certainly hear the voice of someone who might be more of a friend than he.

Lord Dohma, though, twists the scythe, grinding it into the thin flesh over the naval officer's sternum.

"Lady Aensland."
His crimson eyes flash with irritation. He speaks through gritted teeth, barely parting his lips to allow the sound to come forth.
"Yes. The Admiral's threshold for pain is quite high."

A blond eyebrow arches, as he glances down to look the Admiral in the eye.

Fear emanates from the Admiral -- fear, tempered by the confidence that he has information Jedah does not. But as rain continues to assault him, plastering his face with moisture, he remains resolute, steadfast.

"But everyone can be broken. On a long enough timeline."

Jedah looks up -- and then he begins to smile.

"I suppose I should ask, 'what brings you out here on such a night, Lady Aensland?' If we are to continue this jaunt through the fields of banality, that is."

Morrigan shifts in the air gracefully and effortlessly. She runs her hands down the curve of her backside, smoothing out her tights before sitting down on thin air. She crosses her legs casually at the knee--doing so in a way that practically seems bored--and continues to float there. One elbow is rested on her leg, and she puts her against her palm.

"Oh, I do enjoy a man with a sturdy constitution." Morrigan says cheekily. "But it sounds like you're less fond of his endurance. The challenges of dealing with mortals, I suppose."

"Oh," Morrigan says, raising her head slightly. "I thought you'd never ask." Morrigan leans back, tapping her cheek with her index finger. "It might have something to do with the fact we keep bumping into each other." Morrigan smiles slyly, like the cat that ate the canary.

"First a pink-haired succubus with a terribly familiar aura, and then that splendid Daniel Jack. Daniel Little, I believe? I dabbled in his dreams, you know, and who should I find there but 'Lord Dohma' -- dressed as a street pimp, no less! I laughed about that one for some time. It's giving me the giggles even now."

The blue-skinned noble frowns as Morrigan continues to test his patience.
She was, as she herself noted, interrupting an important business meeting.
But moreover, she is treating him as an equal.
In front of someone he is attempting to intimidate into talking.

Rather than give a specific answer, he raises one spindly finger in response. A sign to wait, for just one moment.

He then raises the scythe.
And then slams it downwards into the man's sternum.
Were the weapon not under the undead occultist's complete command, he would be dead.
But as it is... the weapon loses all solidity, dissolving into roughly three gallons worth of blood. The viscous fluid pools over him like a living being -- and of course, this brings about a certain fear response in the Admiral, who begins writhing and flailing about in a vain attempt to get free.
In just a few moments of abject terror, though, the blood has formed an inch-thick layer over the man, completely sealing him to the Arc di Triomphe as if it were liquid latex. Every part of the man is covered except for his nose -- mouth, eyes, ears, limbs... The man is effectively deaf, and paralyzed, only barely able to breathe, and even that would be troublesome with the dripping rain. He struggles to break the seal -- but the living entombment tenses back, sealing his limbs fast to the neoclassical monument.

Jedah coughs into a curled fist, arching an eyebrow.

"So easily amused. Typical." The blond noble runs a thumbnail across his forelocks, nostrils flaring as if he were exhaling.

"So how did you like my little gift to you? A shame you couldn't be as obeisant as her. A fiesty, sassy rebel, as always."

Jedah leans forward -- hovering in space. From his back erupts a set of wings -- long and sinuous streams of blood at first, before congealing into a scything curves rimmed with sinister blades.

And his face draws close to Morrigan, as the Sanguine Predator floats around his prey.

"Why -are- you so fascinated with weakness? Do you long to shed your royal status, and live among them in search of earthly delights?"

Whimsical as she is, it becomes hard to tell whether Morrigan's topics of conversation are chosen out of ignorance or intentional malefeasance. She raises an eyebrow when Jedah transmutes his scythe into a prison of blood for his prisoner.

"Well of course," Morrigan coos, "I haven't lost my sense of humor over the centuries as some have." She smiles, showing her fanged incisors for a brief moment. "But I shouldn't be so unkind! You sent me a gift!"

Morrigan's eyes narrow as she watches Jedah move, assessing his motion and purpose silently.

"Though I am curious about where precisely she came from, but I suppose that's knowledge you won't part with so easily."

"With weakness?" Morrigan asks, feigning shock by pressing a hand to her breast. "I'm appalled. Are you accusing me of only seeking out easy prey?, Lord Dohma?"

Jedah isn't particularly cowed by the idea that he's lacking in a sense of humor. He has a great sense of humor, and he knows it. But he also knows that humor is like one's taste in wine or cuisine -- varying from one person to the next. It's pointless to argue over such a thing -- so he just closes his eyes and lets out a dismissive sigh, with a shrug of his shoulders.

"You would be right in that..." he coos back, with a confident grin. "I have my methods."

And the Blood Reaper continues floating about, no longer needing to worry much about the poor Admiral sealed away in his sanguine prison.

"If the shoe fits, Lady Aensland..." he answers, his tone scornful and mocking.
"When was the last time you had a truly -challenging- fight, after all, hmm? One where you genuinely felt..."
The sound of bubbling blood can be heard upon the wind.
"... in any sort of danger...?"
And then a taloned finger shoots forth. If Morrigan does not react, it will disarray her lovely locks of hair en route to brushing across Morrigan's neck. His finger would not break the skin -- it will just press firmly enough to make her think it -might- have.

"The world cries out for a reset. The feeble -- must be purged. Surely your goals are not so different than mine...?"

"I do enjoy a good riddle," Morrigan says, tapping her lip with her index finger. "So long as it doesn't go on so long that it starts to turn boring..."

She tilts her head slightly when Jedah continues. "Oh, the curse of great power!" she says melodramatically. "To have so few worthy challengers. I can't simply stick to the same playmates all the time, can I?"

But then the finger shoots out, mussing her hair. Morrigan tilts her head slightly, narrowing avoiding the brush across her neck with a subtle, reflexive (?) movement. Morrigan's eyes briefly widen with surprise, then narrow again.

"Oh, but I've begun to like this place. Feeble or not, they're so surprising at times. To think that they managed to talk the Thunder God down from his so-called master plan..."

"But," Morrigan uncrosses her legs and stands up from sitting in midair. She threads her fingers through her hair, sweeping it back away from her face and running her fingers through to the end. A few stray green strands, dislodged from before, flutter away to disappear in the wash of rain.

"I'll humor you, Lord Dohma. What would this reset world even look like?"

The cars look so tiny, so far beneath them, their paths showing how oblivious they are to the Makai nobles floating so high overhead. Here and there, the further Morrigan and Jedah hover away from the top of the monument, their forms will be bathed in floodlights - anomalous shapes that will go largely unnoticed in the pounding rainstorm.

Jedah completes his orbit around Morrigan, reorienting himself to her left. His finger -- left as a macabre mess from its rapid expansion towards Morrigan -- snakes back to join the others upon his hand. The split joints seal back into place, their seams glowing with his accursed blood.

Jedah arches an eyebrow -- he does not take offense, but rather, he's pleased to be -asked- about his grandiose plan.

"I seek to establish a new hierarchy. One beyond petty squabbles. One beyond the limitations of flesh. In the ideal society, if a visionary were to think of an idea, they should be empowered to bring it to life! Not festering away behind shallow excuses, trapped in a shell of flesh that cannot meet their needs!"

Jedah squeezes his fist. And his wings pulse, growing in size -- and their blades gleam in the floodlights.

"But in order for this grand utopia to take place, sacrifices be necessary -- naturally...!"

He flashes a row of daggersharp teeth.

"In time... the Shintai -- the one true body, from which all others will be borne -- will come to consume all life on this planet. For this new foundation to come to pass, the land must first be razed of all that existed before..!"

Morrigan is the sort to live in the moment; she ignores the cars below in their travels. Perhaps there is something metaphorical about it all: the blissful ignorance of the monsters in the dark, the lofty distance of Morrigan and Jedah, and the unknown struggles of one bound man against the encroaching darkness.

But in the immediate is Jedah orbiting Morrigan. She watches his hand withdraw and mend itself, coiling like a snake.

"So no more bickering between Makai nobles or fighting between Gears and gods?" Morrigan muses, tossing her hair. One of her headwing flicks briefly. "And power for any who has the will to seize it?" Morrigan's eyes narrow. "Hmmmm..."

She tilts her head slightly--almost boredly. "Naturally."

"So is that what the business in Metro City was about?" Morrigan looks at her nails, curling her fingers in front of her. One eye is trained on Jedah still. "Feeding the 'Shintai,' one city at a time?"

Jedah crosses his arms as he floats about, his deadly wings spreading wide. He circles around Morrigan -- pleased to finally be on somewhat equal footing with someone even -vaguely- approaching his own caliber, no longer tethered by the need to remain close, or in "speaking distance" or what have you.

The Admiral struggles against his bloodforged bonds -- but there will be no immediate pull to restrain him yet again. It's possible that Jedah is not paying attention. It is equally likely that the manipulative Blood Reaper is simply giving the prisoner false hope.

But as he looks back at Morrigan -- he realizes that the temptress is not asking out of an honest desire to join him. She does not seek to join the Majigen mailing list. He's seen many attempt to bait him into revealing -all- his plans before -- and he sees it now, in her.

And yet, at the same time, he doesn't care.
It's an opportunity to boast.

"The grand plan will take millennia to carry out. Approach it too slowly, and the clay will dry. Work the clay too fast, and the entire structure will fall apart, a cataclysm."

The boastful noble smirks, crossing one spindly arm in front of his chest, gripping his elbow with the hand of the other.

"One city at a time. Which one have -you- found to be most interesting?"

He affixes his half-lidded gaze onto the succubus, an inscrutable expression sliding across his face.

Morrigan, by contrast, seems comfortable regardless of range. Whether she is ignorant of the threat here or simply unconcerned is not entirely clear. She is nothing if not mysterious. Perhaps this too is intentional.

Morrigan's eyes dart briefly to The Admiral as he struggles, but her focus returns to Jedah soon afterward.

Morrigan smiles at Jedah. Maybe she's amused, or maybe she realizes Jedah has seen through the ruse. In either case, she moves along with it like a leaf in the breeze.

"Ah, yes," Morrigan says coolly. "A long game with many pieces to manage and timetables to watch. Your grasp of metaphor is quite good, though." Morrigan crosses her arms under her bust, raising an eyebrow as she looks at Jedah.

"If you'd put that silver tongue of yours to use in other ways, we might be closer friends, Lord Dohma."

"Oh, that is a tough one," Morrigan says. She raises a hand to tap her chin in thought, looking off the cityscape in the distance.

"What would you guess is my favorite? You seem to know me so well." Green eyes turn back toward Jedah.

Jedah's reply to that dare is a shake of his head -- and a renewed smile.
"Don't make promises you won't keep."

The driving rain slams into the Demon Lord's forelocks, tossing them about as he passes another look back to the Admiral. He seems to give some thought to the matter of what would be Morrigan's favorite city. "Mmm, what an interesting question. To get the trite answers out of the way ... Glasgow." A pause, as he arches an eyebrow, running down the list of Scottish cities that come to mind. "Edinburgh, maybe. Aberdeen? Inverness?"

He chuckles, almost musically, as his palm raises, fingers splaying out. "... But no, those are too close to home for you to really class as favorites, hmm? What about Moscow, with the funny hats. Or even le Gai Paris, home of interesting but ultimately disappointing wines and unrivaled pretenses?"

A finger scratches at his chin, as he considers further. "Or Southtown. So many dynamic personalities there. I'm almost certain you'd love to see -that- city be the next to fall."

The Bloody Reaper floats away from Morrigan, inclining his head in a scornful approximation of a bow. "It would certainly catalyze some acts of hope and daring, but... perhaps not the right time, mm?"

He pronates his palm, sweeping it towards the admiral.
He lifts his hand.
And with it, the admiral himself is pulled upwards, some six inches into the air.
Blood drips off the edge of the admiral's crimson-dyed uniform.
The blood .. coagulates into tiny, stubby little legs.

"Let's play a little game, shall we...? I would surely hate to leave this man hanging, after all..."

And then Jedah twiddles his fingers. The little feet walk the admiral off of the ledge. As Jedah brings his hand to a vertical orientation, the Italian Admiral is suspended, head-down, held fast to the edifice of the Arc di Triomphe by only sheer willpower and blood. Waves of blood roll over the admiral, draining into his throat and nose like a tide of scourge. And yet, none of the blood is dropped onto the ground -- the mass of blood acts as if it has a self-preservation instinct, its only refuge to hide deep within the captured officer's lungs. The admiral writhes about -- gurgling on the endless stream of blood, struggling as if he could hope to expel the living liquid from his windpipe. His body convulses -- slick with the crimson sheen, and adhered fast to the side of the monument.

"Death is... such a magnificent process, wouldn't you agree? To feel the very mortal coil as it stretches to its limits, before fatigue finally wins out, breaking it loose."

He has never turned away from Morrigan, not even for a moment. For while he knows full well how much -he- is enjoying the writhing admiral's suffering, the occult scholar is acutely interested in how Morrigan responds. For the succubus's response has replaced the Italian officer as Jedah Dohma's sole point of interest. Will she strike him out of anger? Will she defend the honor of an innocent man who asked for help? Will she drink in his terror, delight at his death rattle? Or will she steal the man away from Jedah -- robbing the man of his buffet of torture? It is a mystery -- and Dohma intends to find out.

Morrigan keeps her arms crossed as she floats in the rain. Her glances off into the distance again as Jedah names off several places in Scotland, but she remains stoic, or at least as stoic as Morrigan ever is.

The conversation moves to Paris, but Morrigan remains neutral. It shifts to Southtown, and Morrigan tilts her head to look at Jedah.

"That would be interesting, wouldn't it?" she says, showing a bit of fang once more. "To think, your work was almost done for you by--oh, what was the automaton's name? Justice?"

Morrigan watches as the man is suddenly faced with a gurgling, bloody fate. She runs a hand through her hair, closing her eyes and tilting her head downward slightly.
%"Oh, Lord Dohma, I'm much more acquainted with the little deaths." She snorts, then sweeps her hands out, looking down at the city and the people below.

"Though the big ones come too, sometimes, when I'm around. Mortals are so fragile, you know."

Her emerald eyes turn toward Jedah again, flickering in their own light. "But you know something that I like about them? They enjoy a good scrap. Maybe I've been around them too long...forgive me if if they've rubbed off on me!"

Morrigan thrusts her arm forward, her wings unraveling like thread. They dance like shadows in candlelight, and a great spike of that same black matter, both organic and metallic, visceral and ephemeral, rips along the length of her arm to shoot out at Jedah like the blast of a trumpet or a coiled cobra.

"Why don't we play a while?" Morrigan says, her voice rising with fire and intensity. "It'll help you unwind!"

COMBATSYS: Morrigan has started a fight here.

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Morrigan         0/-------/------=|

COMBATSYS: Jedah has joined the fight here.

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Morrigan         0/-------/------=|=------\-------\0            Jedah

COMBATSYS: Jedah blocks Morrigan's Breast Anguish.

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Morrigan         0/-------/-----==|==-----\-------\0            Jedah

Destroying Southtown? "Hardly. There is too much raw -potential- in Southtown to be scattered back to the leylines. Only the meaningless can be discarded. The best are to be -nurtured- into the role, that they might contribute to the one pure soul."

The demon lord's lopsided smile drips with disdain. "Annihilation is the most pedantic, basic form of renewal, Lady Aensland. You must hold me in low regard indeed, if you think me -that- sort of monster. I seek to bring purpose, -fulfillment- to these wayward souls..."

The admiral is not yet dead. It will take much too long for that. His body will be going into shock soon -- not from loss of oxygen, but from panic. And his body will undoubtedly attempt to reject the infusion of oxygenated blood directly into his lungs -- to refuse the offer of eternal undeath. But for right now, his body is relatively secure -- so long as the living blood continues to adhere to the edifice of the giant monument.

The demon lord arches a blond eyebrow at the succubus' response on death. Since she's arrived, she seems to have been making everything into a joke. And yet, as she looks down... Well, in that moment, Morrigan betrays a quite different emotion, doesn't she?

The demon lord's lopsided smile grows moreso as she looks back at him with that emerald glow. Has he... angered her?

"What a wonderful idea," he assents with a low growl. The demon lifts his hand, stroking at his chin as if he's giving the idea serious thought.

Independently of the occult mastermind's gestures, though, his wings curl around to defend him. In the blink of an eye, the scything wings literally -warp- around him like a protective cocoon. The stress points upon the joints of the wings fracture in a bloody mist -- and instants later, reconstitutes into crimson tone, and then polished iron, as if the wings had been formed that way all along.

But even with these feats, momentum cannot be written out of the equation: without an anchor to buoy him in place, Jedah Dohma is rocked backwards as Morrigan's metallic limb clashes with his enveloping wings.

"I'm sure our friend the Admiral here won't mind," he notes, waiting until the emerald-haired succubus recovers from her attack.
And then in the very next instant, his reforged wings explode into eight separate blossoms of crimson -- each a swirling nexus of blood energy, resembling a complex shell of particles orbiting around a central core. Jedah flies forward -- and as his hand curls into a fist, he swings it backhandedly at Morrigan's face.

The blood sprites, though -- they will act as the vanguard for his attack, swirling around and moving in unison with the noble -- which is good, as the strike itself will likely fall short of his implied mark. The true danger of the gesture is that each of the blood sprites intends to collide with Morrigan from a different and less-easily predicted angle, with slightly different timing -- eight concussive impacts predicated upon wearing her down.

COMBATSYS: Morrigan blocks Jedah's Ira Divina.

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Morrigan         0/-------/---====|==-----\-------\0            Jedah

"Oh," Morrigan says with a slight, toothy smile. "My apologies. Perhaps I misjudged you, Lord Dohma. I had no idea you were such an altruist. Maybe I -have- spent too much time among the mortals."

The spike crashes against Jedah's wings, and then it unravels, unfurling into bats which chitter and flutter back to Morrigan--where they weave themselves together back into her wings.

"But you are certainly invested in this plan, no? Millenia just to uplift humanity. It sounds so much more--impassioned, than the petty squabbles we usually see in Makai. I'll admit I'm impressed."

Morrigan's own wings curl around her like a great shell of black iron, solidfying from their leathery state to something like steel. The wings roil, shift, and expand, moving to intercept the incoming barrage. Each of the eight impacts smash into it and leave pockmarks--dents in the dark iron--by they kept Morrigan herself mostly unscathed. She unfurls her wings once more, flapping them once as they snap back into leathery consistency.

"Oh, this does seem promising, Lord Dohma," Morrigan says with excitement. "When I fought your little gift--and I presume your employee--it was a bit more like a cat and a couple of canaries that I was chasing around. --though I will say the redhaired one is ... a bit obnoxious. So persistent!"

Morrigan kicks off of the empty air and toward Jedah. She splays her fingers, extending her hand fully as yellow-gold energy coalesces around it.

And then Morrigan snaps forward, her fist clenched. It's a straight, practiced punch that shows much more discipline than her whimsy would imply. Discipline--and a terrible, supernatural strength that hardly matches her build. The punch is swift and quick, leaving Morrigan to dart back with a quick flap of her wings.

COMBATSYS: Morrigan successfully hits Jedah with Medium Strike.

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Morrigan         0/-------/--=====|====---\-------\0            Jedah

Jedah never had much favor for the ruling council of Makai. His visionary practices flew in the face of established norms, and attempting to talk sense into the stodgy old coots was a useless waste of time. He thought it better to remake the world on his own terms, without the pesky interference of the ruling class. And he is glad that the daughter of Belial can see his wisdo--

No, she's probably just messing with him again. Dohma raises his skeptical eyebrow once more, even as his blood sprites pummel themselves into Morrigan's dark iron defenses, splashing messily upon the armor. An instant later, each sprite reconstitutes into an imbalanced globule, sweeping back and returning to the vicinity of Jedah's open palm.

"She enjoys her work," he offers, in opaque agreement. The plan to take advantage of the tragic events in Southtown may not have been a full success, but he still stands by the operation all the same.

He does not seem concerned when Morrigan decides to act independently of her bat theme and charge in with a punch. No -- he actually responds with a scornful scoff -- the very idea that a noble lady such as she would resort a vulgar attack with her -fist?-


And he starts to flicker backwards in evasion -- only to find that Morrigan's golden-hued punch has managed to outpace him, slamming squarely into his chest. His eyes go wide with alarm, as the golden energy sears into him -- blasting a small crater into the simulacrum he calls a 'chest', boring straight through to the hollow bone and organs inside. The fringes of the impact crater shimmer in golden light as a reminder of what just transpired, even as the accursed blood starts to weep outward from the bloodforged garment.

He closes his mouth, letting a grunt suffice as acknowledgement for the blow. He tightens his fist -- and the blood globules respond instantly, sweeping themselves into a roughly vertical plane. A moment later, Jedah swings the product of their efforts -- a bloody scythe, shifting in color from crimson into violet -- in a diagonal, upward arc. As the noble's outrage pours outward with a raspy roar, the blade's edge will seal into mercifully sharp iron, carving a bloody chasm across her from below. There's no need for the self-made noble to be gentle -- they're both upstanding Makai adults, here!

COMBATSYS: Jedah successfully hits Morrigan with Heavy Strike.
- Power hit! -

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Morrigan         1/------=/=======|====---\-------\0            Jedah

Perhaps Morrigan is serious. There's certainly no love lost between her and the ruling council, even if she seems less than interested in Jedah's particular goals.

Even so, she smiles at his skeptical eyebrow. "Oh, I do mean that!" she says, as if reading his mind. "I think it's a worthy pursuit and much better than petty political squabbles."

"Is that what you call it?" Morrigan scrunches her nose just a little. "I could certainly tell."

A satisfied smile creeps onto the succubus's face as she lands that solid punch. It passes quickly when Jedah makes his counter-attack.

The scythe cuts through her at the waist as Morrigan tries--and fails--to outpace it with her flight. It rips through her slender belly and sweeps through cleanly, not stopping until Jedah completes his swing.

In its wake, Morrigan's bust separates from her hip and her eyes go wide and she's cut clean in twain. Dark red blood escapes her mouth in a wash as she gasps. For a moment, the fight seems over in a mistimed instant.

And then Morrigan seems to slip out of sync with reality. What was solid a moment ago becomes shadow, her hips and remaining torso stretching to meet her ribs. The two shadows bleed into one another and she syncs back with reality, whole once more. Lady Aensland runs her fingers across her belly, tracing the line of the former cut while wiping blood from her lips with the other hand.

"Oh dear," she says through clenched teeth. "I believe I underestimated you, Lord Dohma." Her aura starts to rise, golden and glimmering around her body. Her pupils dilate the contract, shifting to monstrous, cat-like slits for a brief moment. "I think I *have* spent too much time around mortals. Let's up the intensity, shall we?~"

And then her wings shift and melt. Great blue jets of rocket thrust burst from them like an avalanche, Morrigan rocketing straight toward Jedah. She sweeps her arms out, reaching to wrap them around his waist.

COMBATSYS: Jedah dodges Morrigan's Sexual Embrace.

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Morrigan         1/--=====/=======|====---\-------\0            Jedah

Words are weapons, no different than scythes, blood with an apparent mind of its own, or fists. An expert can wield words with the intent to harm, or can use them as a tool with which to demonstrate a point. Morrigan could be using his words against him as weapons -- or she might not be. But to question them now would be to imperil the chance of 'fun' from such a combative occasion.

Circumstances often dictate that a battle opponent be left hearty and hale after combat -- cutting a person in half is enough to kill them, and dead people are much less rewarding. To Jedah, that would be like turning to the last page of a mystery novel -- meaningless, without the preceding buildup.

To one of the most powerful beings in Makai, though, bisection is a mere inconvenience, a drain on resources but nothing worth losing sleep over.

It would be quite the shame for -this- battle to end so prematurely, after all -- a sentiment Jedah notes with a sly smile, his red irises wide with enthusiasm.

"Gladly," he agrees, floating backwards. He releases the scythe, which floats behind him, tucking just behind the Reaper's right shoulder. One might think he'd need his wings for flight, from the way that the Dark Messiah begins to lose altitude -- but the occult sorceror has many means of ascension available to him. Case in point -- as Morrigan begins rocketing towards him, the Blood Lord casually digs his thumbnail against the undersides of each of his fingers. Red vitae begins to geyser outwards from the shallow wounds. As he tilts his hands downward, the streams of ribboning fluid act as a propellant, thrusting Jedah upwards, rapidly carrying himself out of Morrigan's path.

A baritone chuckle escapes parted lips as he sees Morrigan thunder past him. The wounds on his palms seal -- and the scythe begins to snap and hiss, transforming in both size and shape. The scythe's curved blade grows thicker and longer, unfolding into a grotesquely huge blade. With the point now descending far below the Blood Lord's feet, the blade undergoes mitosis, splitting in two identical halves.

And that is when the Almighty Lord of Majigen -- wrapping both hands around his arms as if preparing himself for a coffin -- allows himself to begin falling again. The two halves of the bifurcated blade now spin around him like a drill's auger -- deadly, and brutally powerful.

"Corporeality is simply a luxury for the simple-minded, Lady Aensland. The power to -shape- it... sets us apart from the mortals...!"

COMBATSYS: Jedah successfully hits Morrigan with Turbine Dell'ira EX.
Grazing Hit
~ Cruel hit! ~

[               \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////    ]
Morrigan         2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|======-\-------\0            Jedah

A grimace spreads across Morrigan's face as Jedah outmanuevers her with a jet of blood. Her hands find no purchase around him, no terrible embrace through which to enact vengeance. Instead, the Lord of Majigen remains a step awhead of her.

And as he slips around, the scythes whirl and drill downward. Morrigan attempts to evade, to slip out of punishing augur of blades.

Instead it's a near miss. The augur tears across Lady Aensland's side, ripping across her in a flurry of blood and blade. It takes off her arm in its wake, but once again, shadows dance and weave themselves together again. Morrigan takes a moment to work her fingers and make sure they are still working.

"Indeed," Morrigan says with what's practically a hiss.

Her wings unravel again, weaving together like living thread as she makes a two-finger "gun" at Jedah. The wings spin together in a single, focused point that shoots forward with pinpoint accuracy as it aims to pierce the Makai noble's chest.

If it does? It brings with it the void, drinking up the energy around it as though it had punched a hole in the world itself.

"You've certainly not lost your edge for keeping to the shadows," Morrigan says lowly. The presure around her intensifies as her aura thickens and surges around her.

COMBATSYS: Jedah interrupts Cryptic Needle from Morrigan with ES Spregio.

[                       \\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////         ]
Morrigan         1/---<<<</<<<<<<<|=======\==-----\1            Jedah

Just after shearing off the succubus' arm, the auger splits apart with the sound of shearing metal. New folds erupt in the iron fabric, weeping with crimson as they pull and warp back into the double-sickle formation of Jedah's wings. The metal bends downward -- the wings flapping harshly enough to bring the Dark Messiah's altitude back into keeping with Morrigan's -- the better to level his folded arms and his condescending smirk at her.

The wings continue to beat, though it's clear that it's more for show than anything else. The blue-skinned noble tilts his head askance, his crimson gaze assessing Morrigan for a moment.

"I do thank you for allowing this opportunity to 'cut loose,' Lady Aensland. The opportunities are so dreadfully rare." Even if those words sincere, it might be a bit difficult to accept with the servile tone with which he deigns to deliver them. It's almost as if the two were teenagers, repaying a compliment with a compliment as a means of saving face.

But there's only so much time for the two nobles of Makai to actually speak when they are more interested in bending reality to their own respective wills. Jedah arches an eyebrow at Morrigan, his blue lips curling once again into a smirk. His arms unfold, his palms spreading apart -- the Blood Reaper daring her with every fiber of his being.

His eyes -light up- when leathery wings wind another into a lance. He lazily leans to the side, tilting his chin as he gazes meaningfully back at Morrigan. The demon thrives on -delivering- pain -- and in his own way, could he be expecting to -endure- it as well...?

The strike is successful -- the lance pierces straight through Jedah's chest, right where his foul heart ought to be if he had one. Fabric gives way -- flesh and muscle are torn asunder. Hollow bone fractures and snaps as a new fissure opens up, black and inky. Geysers of blood begin to erupt from his neck and shoulder -- but the stream is redirected, curving around to follow the gravitation of the invasive void.

Jedah's upper body crumples from the attack like a rag doll, for while his upper left chest is crushed backwards, the rest of his body folds like a jackknife. His left arm and head pitch forward -- ripped apart by the impact, with no bones remaining to support them. Even his freshly formed wings are not immune, as they flap about, appearing to -shrink- as they are drawn inward to the void singularity.

That is when the reality of the situation unfolds.

For Jedah's -head- is now a -missile-, with the blood spurting out from the neck acting as further propulsion. His winged headdress transforms slightly, making itself aerodynamically perfect as it thunders forward -- slamming into Morrigan at high speed.

And not to be left out -- his -arm- and -shoulder- fly forward as well, transforming within their flight into a new form. Unwieldy at first, the arm begins to take on a form much more familiar and streamlined -- that of a jagged sickle, with multiple blades projecting outward. By the time the weapon reaches Morrigan, it will have the speed and revolutions it needs to take a hearty chunk out of her side.

A pyrrhic victory, perhaps, for the now head-and-armless body left behind? Perhaps... for while Jedah has transformed his head and limb into weapons, he is -still- being drawn inward to the void-spear coiled around Morrigan's arm. But while his body caves in around the spear, he is also keeping Morrigan locked into place.

And then a bloody tendril rips its way out of Jedah's ribcage.
The tendril wraps around the spear, slapping along its length.
Fingers erupt from the tendril -- and in a surge of muscle, the tendril actualizes as a brand-new hand and arm.
The new arm jerks the spear sharply upwards, to Jedah's left.
And a headless Jedah wrenches himself free of the gravitational void.
The geyser of blood denies the void, shooting out straight once again.
Within that void -- a new pair of eyes leers back at Morrigan. Daggersharp teeth begin to form in the midst of the flow.

Lord Jedah Dohma pulls away from the attack, the features of his face gradually resolving into normal from the sheen of their crimson rebirth.
He shoves the spear away, flying off to his right.
The demonlord cackles with delight -- the trebled voices of hundreds of souls overlapping with his own decadent baritone in a truly horrifying ensemble.

For a brief moment, Morrigan smiles wickedly. The needle pulsates, drawing space into itself in an arcane way. When Jedah's head explodes from his body graphically, Morrigan sticks out her lip. That was too easy. Deceptively so...

And the truth reveals itself when the head smashes into her. For a moment, she looks ready to move, but the Cryptic Needle is still embedded in Jedah's chest. The head smashes into her with bone-rattling force that sends a ripple through her body, but it's the blade that does the worst of the damage. It rips out her side in a dramatic display of gore, scattering black blood to the four winds. Morrigan hisses even as her side starts to mend itself, sown back together in the shadow of the leylines.

But it's slower now. Even Morrigan has her limits on how much she can restore herself at any given time. When she has prey--someone from which to steal the essence of--it is easier. Jedah commands such dark power himself he is safe from Morrigan's predations.

But she continues to mend. The spear withdraws, pulling back to her like a snake slithering away. It reshapes into wings once more--or something like them. They extend unnaturally, jaggedly, and stick in multiple angles from her spin. Morrigan's hair starts to rise in the wake of her power as she drinks deeply from the leylines.

"Yes," she says in a low hiss. "This is a real battle. How exciting!!"

Something shoots off from one Morrigan's wings, trailing smoke. It explodes in a shower of energy like a firework. There's another, and another...and soon, countless trails of smoke as a volley of missiles suitably for a battle cruiser cascade out of Morrigan's wings toward Jedah.

COMBATSYS: Morrigan successfully hits Jedah with Finishing Shower.

[                       \\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////               ]
Morrigan         0/-------/------=|=======\=====--\1            Jedah

As Jedah's unneeded skull falls away from Morrigan, it begins to lose cohesion, the features rapidly melting away into the spherical orbit of a blood sprite. The scythe keeps its state, whipping free of Morrigan on its own orbit. Both free-floating expressions of Jedah's accursed blood would make their way back to him, in due time.

For the time, though, Jedah's attention is focused on Morrigan.
And not -just- the attractive features
Particularly, the way in which her body stitches itself back together.
Cutting loose -- in more ways than one.

Jedah's head is almost fully recomposed, the skin of his cheeks returning its former blue hue, while his winged headdress stretches out to either into its distinctive scythelike peaks. The whirling weapon and the blood sprite approach from opposite directions -- and Jedah spreads his hands wide in welcome as they twist and snap back into form of wings, docking once more at the small of his back -- even as Morrigan begins to reshape herself.

It's perfect timing.

While all this is going on -- the admiral really wishes he could have a -worse- vantage point than this. It's true that the living blood has crept up far enough to allow his eyes a rather spectacular view of Morrigan. It's just that it's tough to enjoy it when gallons of blood have -literally- filled every space in his lungs -- to such a point that his windpipe cannot even constrict enough for a cough. Gurgling, his hands contort into pained gestures, as his very body begins to turn pale from the lack of fresh oxygen...

And Jedah Dohma strokes his chin, a troubled expression on his countenance. ... What is Morrigan up to this time? His freshly reformed wings curl around him protectively, concealing his face from view. One missile after another slams into the protective barrier.

But the Blood Reaper's defense is not infinite -- especially not under such an impressive barrage. Holes are blasted into the wings, the rim of each barrier weeping in blood. And for one moment, actual and -genuine- fear is clear in Jedah's face.

Just before the overconfident bloodlord disappears into the chaotic smokecloud arising from the rest of the fusillade slamming into him.

When the smoke clears, the entirety of Jedah's front half is full of bloody craters. His blue flesh is once more red -- and the bloodspun fabric look is practically nowhere to be found. Nary a square inch of his front half has been left untouched -- and it is slow to regenerate. And not only have his wings evaporated, but the meat on his bones has practically melted away -- leaving a gaunt, skeletal figure where the regal man had once stood.

And yet, a gap splits, where the ghastly figure's mouth should be. No teeth are visible in his mouth -- just drops of blood, dripping where teeth -ought- to be.
And a high-pitched laugh echoes from the depths of his soul -- a laugh overdubbed with the laughs of centuries' worth of captured souls.

The admiral thumps his palms and feet against the facade of the monument, behind Morrigan.

His bloodshot eyes can see it all.

Every globule of accursed blood that had been blasted loose in the chorus of explosions.

The field of blood droplets covers a spherical area roughly ten meters in diameter -- and =all= of them begin to whirl around rapidly, clockwise if viewed from above. The drops spin so fast, the two Makai nobles will see the lights and darkness of Paris take on a conspicuous red tint.

The macabre form of Jedah raises its right hand, its palm open.

"I have always wondered -- how far will your regenerative abilities carry you?"

And then the hand clenches shut. The bubble stops spinning -- and the very -shell- of the bubble begins to peel apart, ripping away into an innumerable array of needles. A good portion of the needles are sent hurtling into Jedah's form, building him back layer by layer. But the vast majority of the spear-like projections will spear into Morrigan -- proving a marvelous test of the defenses possessed by the daughter of Belial.

The Reaper of Blood can only smile with delight.

COMBATSYS: Jedah successfully hits Morrigan with Santuario Divina.

[                                < >  ////////////////              ]
Morrigan         0/-------/------=|>>>>---\-------\0            Jedah

As the fight continues, Morrigan's aura stays to lose some of its luster. Her glamour slowly starts to fade as she burns through her reserve. Strong as she is, Lady Aensland is still a fragmented soul; incomplete. Even her stamina, limitless as it is compared to mere mortals, has a stopping point when put through this sort of strain.

Her wings distort, losing that iron-like rigidity as the unfurl back into flesh--or something like it--and lazily move back into place. Bits of shadow peel away, dripping like blood as she strains to maintain her full integrity. As the missiles tear through Jedah's defenses though, Morrigan seems to rise, renewed by a brief burst of vigor that brings her to smile with a fangy, predator sort of grin.

It is brief.

The spears of blood gather, swarming like a storm. Morrigan bobs and weaves, evading the first first with a twist and flourish. Then one pierces her wing with a sickening, ripping sound.

Then another. And another.

Slowed down the extra weight, spears of blood tear into Morrigan from all angles, leaving her looking like a humanoid pincushion. Even so, she manages to reach out, impaled as she is, to pull out the one obstructing her mouth. Even so, another stays lodged through the back of her skull and out her eye.

"Oh you bastard," she says, her Scottish inflection rising to the surface again. Even so, she doesn't remove them or regenerate. It would seem that the so-called Queen of Makai has reached her limit.

COMBATSYS: Morrigan takes no action.

[              \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Jedah            0/-------/---<<<<|

COMBATSYS: Morrigan can no longer fight.

[              \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Jedah            0/-------/---<<<<|

For Jedah, the needles have a restorative effect. Each passing moment returns more and more mass to the Bloody Reaper, gradually returning him to his prior form. Not that the lanky darkstalker was all that meaty to begin with, but certainly he's better off than the smoking, skeletal wraith that Morrigan's fusillade had left him as.

For Morrigan, the needles will have a quite different effect -- locking her into position. With one or two, it'd be doubtful that the bloody micro-spears would be able to restrict Aensland's movement, but with hundreds, or even thousands? It'd be easier for the Makai noblewoman to tear her body to shreds and regenerate it than it would be to remove the fixed needles, one by bloody one.

A 'bastard,' indeed.
Jedah's skin returns to its blue hue.
Just in time to reveal a grin full of perfect, daggersharp teeth.
And then the blueblood 'bastard' bows, in excessive melodrama.
"Charming, till the last."

When Jedah rises from his bow, he meets Morrigan's eye -- the one not pierced by a needle -- and looks pointedly past her. His gaze falls upon the form of the Italian admiral, still suspended upside down, his back flattened against the edifice of the building, his body frozen in a state of impotent panic. His skin is pale, drained. His hand muscles are beginning to pull tight. But the Admiral's face is not one of horror -- but disgust. Glazed-over eyes fixate upon the Bloodlord.

Jedah raises the fingers of his left hand, as if he were holding a stemmed wine glass. He turns his fingers -- and with it, the frozen needles move as one symbiotic unit, rotating Morrigan around that she, too, would be able to watch the admiral take his dying breaths.

The Italian knows exactly what Dohma wants -- the credentials and the authority to unilaterally initiate war, in blatant defiance of the proper chain of command, or any of the UN edicts. He knows this -- and he is insistently thinking of -everything else possible-. Happy Parisians. The Eiffel Tower. Fields of green. He looks at Jedah and Morrigan -- and he thinks of his long-dead parents. Any happy memory, -anything- but to give in to Jedah's earlier demands.

But that will... begins to slip.

"How exhilarating..." Jedah's eyes light up, his lips pulled taut into an expression of delirious glee. "Can you feel that, Morrigan? The -fiery- resistance. The bold, unconquerable spirit, as he holds those truths close to his heart even beyond death..."

The Italian's eyes glimmer. And he starts to look up -- or down, from his perspective -- to Jedah. And with his last ounce of strength, his lips part into a sneer.
And he spits. It's barely a drop of blood -- but that's enough.
The glimmer fades out entirely -- the soul beginning to break free.

Jedah remains staring at the now-lifeless body of the admiral, one hand raising to his collar, while its twin digs into the cloth just beneath it. His smile wanes, only in the slightest, as he turns towards Morrigan.

"Impressive, wouldn't you say?"

In a single gesture, the front of his garment is ripped apart. The corded blue muscles of the demon are bared to the night air and driving rain.

And from within the heart of the admiral, a bright purple sphere begins to form. The translucent globe grows to the size of a volleyball -- and then it is free, sailing through the air, flying in an arc towards a leering Jedah. The soul-globe slams into his chest, and with the sound of a large drop of blood hitting a tile floor, the soul is absorbed into Jedah, in entirety.

"The admiral would not serve me in life -- that much is clear. But perhaps he will serve me in death..."

The occult thaumaturge seals his garment shut once more, drawing his fingertips downward. Blood vomits forth from the admiral's dead throat, pooling as if there were a glass floor one meter beneath him. And once most of the blood is pooled, the remaining blood left as binders upon his ankles and wrists gives way -- allowing the admiral's body to splash into the pool. Swallowed up whole into the Dark Messiah's inter-realm portal.

He turns once more to Morrigan. And his long, slender fingers cup the woman beneath her chin, as he draws close to her -- his skin reeking of freshly congealed blood. It's... a bit more obvious, from the way the demon lord's features still bear the sheen of dampness, that had the fight gone on much longer, it might not have ended in Jedah's favor -- but good luck getting the overconfident Lord of Majigen to admit that.

"I have enjoyed our time together. But I think we see eye-to-eye now on certain matters. There's no need for -you- to undergo such a strenuous... indoctrination, as the Admiral has..."

His free hand makes a slow, dismissive gesture -- and the needles begin to slide their way free of Morrigan's body.

"If you truly do believe in my cause, I will gladly welcome your support. But, a recommendation...?"

The demon pulls his hand back, his fingernails brushing in a teasing manner across Morrigan's emerald-green locks. "Should you want to dance again, Lady Aensland... I suggest you practice with the playthings in Strolheim, rather than my own 'employees,' hmmm...?"

Jedah Dohma favors Morrigan with a prideful smirk, as the needles completely release her from their grasp.

"Perhaps next time you'll raise the bar... hmm...?"

COMBATSYS: Jedah takes no action.

[              \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Jedah            0/-------/---====|

COMBATSYS: Jedah has ended the fight here.

Morrigan watches in silence as the ritual unfolds. The admiral resists to the end, his indomitable spirit pushing him to refuse to surrender except in death. As his spirit departs toward its new master, Morrigan's eyes close to slivers of green.

"It's certainly something," Morrigan says, her tone neutral. Perhaps, in her own act of resistance, she refuses to let Jedah know how she truly feels...or maybe in her age and experience, she really feels nothing over the man's death. How many souls has she herself claimed in her long-lived existence?

Morrigan slumps onto her knees as the needles depart. She keeps her focus on Jedah with her remaining eye, letting her steady gaze--an unusual occurrence, without a doubt--act as a signifier than Jedah has her full attention.

She drops with a thump as the last of the needles disperse, dropping onto her backside in a heap. After a long moment, she rises, her green hair obscuring the destroyed half of her face.

"Oh, I'll take it to heart. Don't worry." she says. Even as she does, her shadow dilates unnaturally, expanding beneath her like a great hole.

"I never forget these kinds of conversations. You have my word on that."

She slips into her shadow, submerging in darkness until she's gone completely. Once she is, the whole area where she was seems somehow...lighter.

Log created on 15:51:20 02/07/2018 by Morrigan, and last modified on 14:14:02 02/15/2018.