Description: When an evil relic is stolen from a Southtown Museum and spirited away to Metro City, the Iron Mystic is tasked with retrieving it. But what dastardly villain would be so bold as to perpetrate such a crime? Find out inside of this chilling edition of, A Shinobi's Tale!
Late at night and within the west side of Metro City, Salem sat at her private computer working away in her home. The young woman was still wearing her gear from being out earlier doing some odds and ends. Her mask was beside her, however, leaving brown hair free to just reach her shoulders and still a bit messy from having worn her mask for so long. The apartment itself was neat though it lacked any sort of feeling of home. It was sparse. A couple books on otherwise lonely shelves and a laptop on the simple bed which she sat on. It was a one bedroom set up. The living room connected to a small kitchen area with windows in the living area and bedroom. All of the windows were currently shut, blinds drawn and shutters closed.
It hadn't been long since Salem had successfully gotten away with her Southtown heist and made it back to Metro with her prize. The dagger at the moment was safely concealed in her room. She was in the process of fielding offers for it electronically in order to keep herself safe from any potential double-crossing later on. She'd worked this hard to get it and had to endure a brawl in order to ensure it remained in her possession. There was no possible way that she was going to leave anything up to chance now.
All the same, she was human with human needs so she called it a night and closed the laptop with a sigh. She'd check again in the morning for any potential leads and work from there. This was sure to get her a sharp increase in income. Pulling herself up to her feet she grabbed her mask and walked to the kitchen to see about getting some water and food. It had been a long day.
Only a few short years ago, the world at large was rocked by the sudden and undeniable truth that monsters were real. Werewolves, vampires, demons, all living among us, a predator species preying upon humanity like so many cattle. But on that same day, light was also shown upon the defenders of humanity. Demon hunters, vampire slayers, ancient orders of knights and monk sects standing as a bulwark between humanity and those who would choose to hunt it.
How quickly it is that people forget.
So it came to pass that when the Miyama clan heard rumor that the Soul Dagger of Nagoro had been liberated from its last known location in downtown ST, they sent out a shinobi to investigate.
Bare feet pad quietly along the subdued grey carpet of an only slightly dingy hallway, passing rows of identical doors spaced wide on either side. Large, scarred and thickly callused, they are the feet of one who has rarely experienced the luxury of shoes. In point of fact, the owner of the feet himself has rarely experienced the comfort of most luxuries, and this shows in not only the state of his body, but that of his clothes as well.. Large, at least a couple inches over six feet, and muscular to the point that strangers might avoid him on the street, Noboru Miyama is not what one might expect of a ninja. An oddly bulky homeless person, perhaps, but not a ninja. His golden brown hair is long and uncut, falling messily across his face and shoulders, and his good eye scans the surrounding doors with cold blue focus. The bad, scarred nearly to ruin and currently half hidden beneath a ragged eyelid, is blank and milky white. He wears a tattered grey robe that hangs loosely from his broad shoulders, open in the front to show plenty of golden brown chest hair carpeting a pair of gorilla-like pecks, and loose grey pants bound tight to his ankles with black bands of cloth.
Slowing his pace, Noboru lifts his right hand, glancing carefully at the fist-sized paper lantern that dangles from a silver chain wrapped twice around his scarred palm. A calm blue light currently radiates from within the little lantern, its near weightless form swaying slowly back and forth between the 2 doors to either side.
"Hrrrrm." the big man rumbles, wordless vocalization rolling up from his chest and out through the tattered scrap of black silk that hides the lower half of his face like a veil.
Moving carefully, the bulky shinobi ghosts a single step further down the hall, good eye flicking from the lantern, to the doors, then back. Before him, the tiny paper charm still sways, though its trajectory has changed, swinging at a slight angle toward the northern most door, then away toward the southwest, then back northeast. After stepping back into his previous position, the charm corrects its course, swinging straight north and south between the doors.
Silently, Noboru unwinds the chain from around his hand and loops the gently glowing charm around his neck, allowing it to dangle against his chest like a warm little beacon of blue. That done, he pivots with sudden violent energy, left palm shooting out to impact the northern door with steel-bending force.
Impacting the wooden surface with fingers spread, the Iron Mystic smacks the door clearly off of its hinges, the lock tearing a perfectly rectangular chunk through the frame as it is catapulted across the room to impact the far wall, still upright and balanced as if it had been teleported there.
Through the newly made hole Noboru steps, left hand still up and right hanging loose at his side. His good eye scans the room, cooly impassive, footsteps making surprisingly little noise for such a big man.
Not much happened around this apartment. At most it was usually an occasional smattering of loud arguing or drunken shouting. For the most part things are perfectly calm for Salem. So the sudden loud crack and crunch of wood is not, if it ever could be, mistaken as 'normal'. Quickly acting Salem pulled on her mask in order to obscure her face relieved that she hadn't gotten changed into anything more comfortable yet. If that had been the case she'd feel far less prepared than she already did for this apparent home invasion.
Salem came around the corner from the kitchen area to where it connected to the living room and found herself surprised by the sight. At most she'd expected some sort of very unfortunate burglar that she would have been plenty happy to teach a lesson to for trying to steal from her. Instead she had a large intruder that, while his appearance was hardly impressive in terms of clothing, seemed to radiate calm and certainly. That didn't seem to be a good sign. Add in that he was several inches taller than her and most certainly had more muscle and weight, and Salem wasn't exactly looking forward to this encounter.
"I hope you're going to pay for that." Salem commented, tone dry and not showing fear even as she felt her heart speeding up in her chest. "Can I help you?" As she spoke she shifted to side step so she had a bit more room to work with. If he charged her she didn't want to get pushed back and trapped in a smaller area. At least if he rushed her in the living room she'd still have maneuvering space. Granted, that was assuming that the other managed to touch her at all. Salem knew her skills and so far as past experience showed large opponents were slower. She was confident that if this did end up in a fight Salem was going to be able to out maneuver him.
Calm and certain are, in fact, two words that quite nicely summarize the attitude of Noboru. A common misconception about large men is that they are stupid. And while this might be the case for some, the ice-blue eye that shifts to peer down toward Salem through a curtain of shaggy hair is anything but vacant. Focused, sharp, penetrating, his gaze seems to slice right through the mask she wears, following her face with uncanny accuracy.
More than the look in his eye, the stance of Noboru is one of control. Even as his much smaller host is edging around for distance, he takes 2 slow steps to position himself directly in the center of the room, then stops, feet planted. Lifting his gaze away from the edgy girl, the big mystic scans the surrounding room with careful intent, arms folding across his lower chest and hands gripping either forearm in a pose of monk-like serenity. Unfortunately his sleeves end in ratty tatters just below the elbows, but it is easy to imagine his hands vanishing within them, posture completely relaxed despite the circumstances.
"What matters the color of the shell, when there is no yolk within?" comes the answering question, words rumbling through his chest like boulders down a mountain. There is an odd cadence to the flow of the words, a faint accent that marks English as a second or third language, but it is faint enough. As he speaks he takes in the bare apartment. Bland furnishings, few decorations. A place that barely seems lived in at all. A flop house, perhaps? But even still.
The big man's cyclopic gaze returns to Salem, cool and calm as a mountain pond. He makes no further move into her home, but neither does it seem like he's bound to turn back just yet.
"As you wear a mask of your own, It will be respected. Salem. I am Miyama Noboru, and I have come to reclaim the Soul Blade of Nagoro. The man who wishes to buy it from you must not be allowed to have it. If it is given to me now, I will leave. if it is not," and here the big man pauses, tone neither gentling nor hardening, but allowing the words to sink in, "It will be taken. I care not that you are a thief, but you meddle in things you do not understand."
The giant is well-spoken, something that Salem can appreciate even if she'd far prefer the other simply not be in the room. Especially with how keen the man's gaze it. She isn't normally one to be unnerved, but in this moment she feels seen in a way that she is not comfortable with. As if the very intentional walls and barriers put up in place to keep her identity her own were simply pushed down and aside with no difficulty. That's further something that comes to mind when the man speaks her name. Eyes narrowing beneath the mask she wears she watches the movement of the other and considers the ultimatum she'd been given.
"Well here's the problem with that. I worked hard to get this, and I intend to get paid for that effort. So unless you're willing to /pay/ me for that dagger we have a problem." Considering the fact that she fully doubted the that Noboru had the funds to pay her given his attire, it seemed there was going to be a fight after all. She wasted little time with niceties. She slid into a more defensible stance even as her mind worked. Power flowing as she visualized her well known apartment. The slightest noise of a drawer opening in the kitchen could be heard before she was thrusting her arms outwards towards the invader. A flash of metal as various knives went rocketing towards the other in a surge of telekinetic energy.
COMBATSYS: Salem has started a fight here.
COMBATSYS: Noboru has joined the fight here.
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Noboru 0/-------/-======|======-\-------\0 Salem
COMBATSYS: Noboru blocks Salem's Hysteria.
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Noboru 0/-------/-======|=======\-------\0 Salem
Salem's response brings no flicker of anger or surprise to Noboru's eye, though his arms do unfold, coming apart with a casual lack of speed even as her mental focus begins to sharpen. Perhaps he hears the knives coming, or maybe it's some special monk sense that years of martial arts have honed in him. But even before the spray of knives comes whipping through the open door, he has begun to swing his arms up, fists meeting before his face with a 'THMP' that vibrates down his body and through the floor, causing the entire apartment to shutter.
Knives of all shapes and sizes slam into the large man's body, darting in beneath his upheld arms and punching through his robe without effort. However, upon hitting his body, a jolt of feedback races up the psychic connection, each knife bouncing off or skittering to one side as if she'd tried driving them through a brick wall rather than a person.
There is half a moment of stillness.
An explosive breath huffs out from beneath Noboru's veil as his arms come rocketing down, forearms striking any knives still pressed against his body with enough force to send them spinning off and imbedding into the surrounding walls. That done, he presses off from the floor, exploding forward toward Salem's much smaller form with deceptive speed.
Moving not with the lightning speed of a diving hawk or the greased slickness of a cat, Noboru's speed is sheer muscular power. Shouldering reality out of his god damn way, he launches himself at Salem, pushing off with his right foot and twisting his upper body into a rising, spear-like thrust of his right hand. There is easily enough force behind the blow that if it lands, his straightened fingers will drive up into that soft spot just beneath her sternum and punch the breath right out of her, carrying her backward off of her feet and smashing her bodily into the wall behind, his own bulk looming in close with that eery silence so unbecoming of someone with his mass. If the knives had any effect at all he isn't showing signs of it, no blood leaking through gaps in his already ragged clothing.
COMBATSYS: Noboru successfully hits Salem with Split the Peak.
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Noboru 0/-------/=======|=======\-------\0 Salem
Salem wasn't prepared for the knives to do nothing, nor was she prepared for the speed that Noboru moved. She tried to get out of the way, but in the end she was far too slow. She might as well have been flat footed despite her having been all too prepared, or so she'd thought, for a fight to break out. The next thing she knew there was pain blooming through her chest and the breath was knocked from her lungs. She gasped, slamming backwards into the wall which didn't help the lack of air that she now found within her. She swore she heard cracking noises from the wall she'd just impacted. The young woman certainly hoped it wasn't her body those noises were coming from.
Hurting now and hardly one to be outdone, Salem pushed herself off the wall in order to try and retaliate. Noboru had quite the size and height advantage on her which was daunting, but all the same she darted to throw a punch at the man's throat. That was followed swiftly with a low blow kick between the legs, clearly not concerned with keeping to any unspoken rules of combat here. Hoping to connect, Salem prepared for the man to bend over in pain so that she might jump up onto his back and flip over to the other side of him. Whatever momentum she'd get in the force of her push, and maybe with such a large opponent a little extra telekinetic help, to shove him to the ground to his face while she escaped.
COMBATSYS: Noboru interrupts Disquiet from Salem with Iron Sentinel EX.
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Noboru 1/------=/=======|=======\=------\1 Salem
One advantage to following Salem up to the wall is it makes it much harder for the slippery fighter to escape him. Having spent his entire life training alongside more traditional ninjas, it is almost second nature now for the big man to work around his relative lack of agility. The down side, is it makes it much harder to react to quick strikes like the punch to the throat that darts in under his chin and slams him in the Addams apple. Whatever he had done to harden his body earlier isn't entirely in effect now, knuckles digging into the toughened flesh in more or less the same way most other punches in Salem's life have gone.
Letting out a quiet grunt, Noboru plants his left foot and twists, Salem's rising foot whispering up the length of his abdomen as he barrels in and around it, moving ever forward. continuing the spin, he whips his entire body around, pushing off of the floor for yet more power and momentum and bringing his shoulders and upper back whipping about to crash into Salem like a run away bull.
Imparting the vast majority of his force into the psychic thief's much lighter frame, Noboru slides to a halt with his back to her and calmly folds his arms back into Monk Pose, leaving the force of the strike to carry her back into, if not through, the wall she just bounced off of.
"Is it truly your wish to provide one who kills for fun with a blade that steals the souls of those it pierces?" Noboru rumbles quietly, not even looking over his shoulder at the girl behind him. "Will knowing the truth aid you in changing your path?"
Once again Salem finds herself in pain. The breath she'd just gotten back knocked from her again as she'd sent barreling back towards, and then /through/ the wall. Pieces of wall crumbled around her and she goes skidding to a stop curled in on herself. The taste of blood in her mouth now and expletives escaping from her, barely audible and gasped, the thief struggled to her knees. Memories flash before her mind of the last time a fight had gone so very, very wrong for her. Those memories combined with the words from Noboru spared her anger and frustration. Making it boil further inside of her waiting to explode. A sensible person at this point might have given in regardless of the potential profit. Salem, intelligent a person as she is, can't quite be described as having any sense when she gets her emotions and pride involved.
"What I wish is for you to get the hell out of my face." She hissed, pulling herself up to her feet again. Anger fueling her energy, she gathered her will and propelled her psychic energy forwards. Targeting Noboru with as much power as she could bring out of herself to cause an illusion to manifest. Her body seemingly transforming itself and surging forward as a figure of the monk's worst fears given life. Salem standing exactly where she had been, only moving her arms as she seethed with rage and sought to rip the other apart with her mind and his fears.
COMBATSYS: Noboru endures Salem's Phobia.
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Noboru 1/---====/=======|==-----\-------\0 Salem
Standing with his back to the Salem-shaped hole in the living room wall, tattered ends of his robe settling down around him in a pose so perfectly dramatic there's no way it could have been practiced, Noboru could be a legendary hero pulled straight out of an old Martial Arts film about great evil and mystical warriors. If that were the case, it would be the villains' turn to strike back, to surge forth with all of their power in a display meant to shock and awe, driving the hero to his knees and reclaiming momentum for the forces of darkness.
It is sometimes odd how closely reality mimics art.
If one were to get a glimpse through Noboru's eyes, they would see 2 things. Firstly, the apartment spread out before him. Bland furnishings, dust drifting through the air, and an empty rectangle of dimness beyond which the outside hall lies. However, they would also se the blazing landscape of reality as it truly is. A shifting cascade of conflicting energies, all working in perfect counter point to support the world that rests upon them. Radiant heat, crackling lightning. The hum and hiss of the natural world, near blinding in its intensity. And woven throughout that, painfully negative to the positive that is chi, the snaking tendrils of someone's will given form. The unique energy of self that is so rare and powerful, projecting out from the figure struggling to her feet behind him.
Turning to face Salem through the hole in the wall, Noboru watches through both sets of eyes as his greatest fear takes shape, lines of negative energy whipping out of the girl to tug at him, drawing the needed information away, wrapping around it to form the outline of the thought that brings him more dread than any other.
The figure that forms between himself and Salem is at first a near mirror copy of Noboru, save for the glowing red eyes and pulsating black veins that mar its fish-pale skin. However, as it rushes forward, lips pulled back to leer with a mouth full of fangs, its body morphs through a rapid series of shapes. A small elderly Japanese woman with flowing white hair, head twisted 180 degrees. A curvy redhead in leather pants and a halter top, knives in either hand and grotesque scars carved into her olive skin. A short, tan man with a long black braid charging with his katana raised high, blue robe in tatters and eyes black with taint.
Those and a dozen other images flash through the psychic manifestation as it charges toward Noboru, causing the stoic mystic to let out a grumbling 'HRRRRM' of disquiet. Still. He can see this for what it truly is. That the girl before him is able to do this at all, though? That is troubling indeed.
Stepping forward, Noboru meets the monstrous creation head on, psychic claws tearing long rents along his chest and arms, gouging through robe and skin alike with small squirts of blood As he continues to power forward, forcing the image back. A stray claw drives into his left cheek and tears a deep gash from the corner of his jaw to just shy of his lip, blood pouring out to drench the side of his neck, but he does not stop. One foot after the other, he drives through the hail of psychic energy, emerging out the other side with most of his robe torn away, muscular form bare from the waste up, covered in gashes that weep large tears of blood. But more concerning than that are the myriad scars visible beneath those tears, the only remaining witnesses to conflicts that the shinobi survived, while his opponent may not have been so fortunate.
"I fear only failure." Noboru grinds out in a voice hard and rough, the look in his eye unyielding as the stony earth he was forged upon. "this fear will not be realized tonight."
Unbowed and far from broken, the huge man lunges forward the last step, shoulders rotating as he puts all of his considerable mass behind a single straight punch aimed just off center of Salem's guts. However, this is no normal punch, this is an attempt to drive his extended half-fist into her with enough force that the kinetic energy rolls through skin, muscle, and fat. To impact her liver with such force that it continues on even passed that, vibrating through her very bones. The sort of punch that can dent steal.
COMBATSYS: Noboru successfully hits Salem with Fault Line.
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Noboru 2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|==-----\-------\0 Salem
Not always is someone cowed by her terrifying illusion manifesting as her foe's deepest and darkest fears, but it usually gets more reaction. There's at least something more. Something beyond simply walking through the other side bleeding and battered but otherwise unshaken or unaffected. If there is any emotional or mental turmoil it doesn't show itself plainly, and despite herself it makes Salem falter. Once more memories of an old fight flash before her. This isn't going her way, but she refuses to give up. To admit defeat and back down. Even so, she can only do so much and caught hesitating all she can do is try and throw up her arms to block the vicious attack coming in.
Unsurprisingly it doesn't go well for her. A cry of pain escapes from her lips as she's doubled over by the attack. Body trembling with the pain she's enduring that makes her want to go to her knees. With something like a snarl --all composure and pretense gone in the wake of wanted, /needing/ to get something out of this-- she tries to retaliate. Unaware of the vision that lets Noboru see as she weaves her illusions, she desperately strains herself further. Crafting multiples of herself that dive at once forward. Her power manifesting them just long enough that they can actually hurt alongside her own fists.
COMBATSYS: Noboru interrupts Paranoia from Salem with Calm the Storm EX.
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Noboru 0/-------/-<<<<<<|-------\-------\0 Salem
Those with as much experience as Noboru tend to have a sense for the climax of a fight. The ability to take their opponent's measure, and know when their best has been given. Noboru has seen Salem's best, he has taken her measure. It is only she who thinks this fight is not yet ended. An admirable trait, but not one that is going to help her now.
Withdrawing his hand as Salem's body folds up around it, he takes a single step back and presses his palms together, feet planted and good eye fixed upon her with cool impassivity. It is true that he can see as she begins to once more gather her strength, drawing on her inner reserves to push through the pain and construct a mass of what she assumes will be surprise illusions.
Both of the monk's eyes drift closed, breath leaving him as a gentle sigh. His Muscles relax, broad shoulders slumping, but both scarred palms remain pressed together before his chest.
Clearing his mind of all thoughts, Noboru allows the girl to leap back to her feet, to charge him amidst the sea of duplicates. The first wave of them rush in from all directions, illusory fists pounding into his bloody back, feet striking him in the ribs.
His eyes drift open.
In a move so smooth it is almost casual, Noboru breaks his palms apart and takes a single half step forward, shrugging through the clones while his right hand flashes forward with fingers spread. If Salem had witnessed the Iron Mystic opening her apartment door, she might find an eery similarity between that technique and this. However, where that blow was much as his others have been,a sudden release of violent power, the force behind this blow is much more deceptive.
The bulky man's palm strikes the real Salem squarely between the breasts, hitting with enough force to stagger her, certainly , but not enough to cave in anything important. The truly shocking thing is what happens to her energy upon contact. As if an unbelievably heavy stone had been dropped into the center of a very small pool, the power Salem had been so naturally wielding is blown outward in all directions, fleeing her body in an invisible wave that only she and the mystic himself can sense. The end result is the girl, body temporarily void of any trace of power, exposed as her clones scatter into so much nothingness, while a lingering force presses insistently against her chest, continuing her stagger back, and back, as if the hand that struck her were still there, pushing.
For his part, Noboru retracts his palm and presses both together once more, bowing solemnly toward Salem's floundering body. Already she can likely feel the power trying to trickle in, returning in slow, tentative steps. The pressure against her chest is already beginning to lessen. But Noboru has turned away and is striding further into her room, bad eye scanning the walls, floor, and ceiling for any sign of evil energies radiating through them.
Salem had endured a lot of pain in her life. Fighting did that to a person. It made them push past their limits to keep going, and if nothing else Salem was very good at continuing past the point where others would have given up. As the palm connects against her, however, as if Noboru hadn't had any doubt of where she was among her sea of duplicates, the sensations that followed scared her. Terrified her. All her power gone from her body making it feel as if, for a third time, she'd lost her breath. It felt empty. As if the core of what she based herself on and had built up around had simply been taken straight from her with the force of the blow. She was afraid it wouldn't come back. Dizzy and already on her last legs, the young woman went to her knees. Vision darkening and going in and out, she saw the shape of her turning and walking away. Leaving her to wither on the ground as if she didn't really matter.With what fire she had left and the energy she had managed to collect again, she used the last of her strength to attack one last time. Exerting her mental strength to try and once more throw whatever knives stuck into the walls she could at Noboru as hard as possible --which given circumstances might not be hard enough at all. Still, she extended a shaking hand and drove it towards him as she tried to enact her last attempt to fight back even if the other had already seen it before. It was all she had the strength for. Almost instantly after slumping entirely to the ground as consciousness left her. Leaving Salem's limp form sprawled amidst the rubble with blood leaking from under the mask.
COMBATSYS: Salem can no longer fight.
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COMBATSYS: Noboru dodges Salem's Hysteria.
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It is as Noboru is scanning the walls for signs of secret compartments that he sees the thin lines of psychic potentials stretching through the hole in the wall, back into the room from whence he and Salem first originated. There is a quiet crunch as knives are jerked free of the walls, gathering speed as they whip out and around, circling in through the hole and toward where Noboru now stands. Or, rather, where he had been standing.
As Salem's blurry eyes focus, mind straining to scan through the haze of pain and fading consciousness, she can sense nothing of where Noboru might have gone. No psychic signature, no looming shadow posed to destroy her. the knives pass through empty air and slam into the back wall, quivering where they land. And, moments later, Salem is out.
Releasing his hold on the his finger and toe grip on the ceiling, Noboru drops to the floor with the soft rustle of cloth, chasing a few red droplets down as they tumble free from his various wounds. Allowing conscious thought to spill back into his skull, the light of thought that Salem had missed brightens back to visibility, having been lost beneath the meditative will of the mystical shinobi.
"There is yet much you have to learn." Noboru informs the unconscious girl, gazing down at her with somber disappointment. He does not waste too much time, however, soon stepping over her limp form to begin searching her apartment.
Hours later, when Salem wakes, she will find the dagger gone and the front door of her apartment wedged upright in its frame. Little splatters of blood will still stain her carpet, and the hole in her wall will still very much be a thing. But, if nothing else, she might be just a tad bit wiser about the dangers of stealing mysterious artifacts.
COMBATSYS: Noboru has ended the fight here.
Log created on 13:21:26 06/06/2019 by Noboru, and last modified on 20:34:50 06/06/2019.