Bela - Podiebrad Of Passions: Ring Of Defiance

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Description: The moment has come, where the wonderful dream of living at the House of Podiebrad comes to the end for Tao Tsinghua. WIth the wicked and vile Rachel Alucard demanding the attentions of the precious chinese man for her own sinful and selfish desires, the emissary of the Gong Estate realizes that there is only one way he could escape his fate of being taken away by that wretched vampire. Will Tao Tsinghua finally sacrifice all he knows and love to abandon his dreary and boring life with the Gong Estate and become one with the House of Podiebrad? Or will he be too afraid of making the change of the commitment, and ultimately refuse... the Ring of Defiance? (A great wedding has been set up in the sandy grounds of the Arena of Ravenous Delights. Standing in the aisle, Tsinghua is in the middle, dressed in the traditional Chinese wedding robe of his ancient culture. On each side of the aisle is are the two families, ready to unite in holy union. The Gong Estate on one side, the Podiebrad Family on the other aisle. Down the line, there is Zsa Zsa, dressed in a wedding gown, her face covered in a thin off-white veil. On the other? Bela von Podiebrad astride a black stallion in leather pants, and a black tuxedo top. Matthias is acting as the pastor, ready to marry Tsinghua to one of them.)

It was the last day before the Rosalia.

The arena was only partially filled, the whole Raven Guard in position to watch the parting gift from the Gong Estate. The Arena of Ravenous Delights, a crude translation from the manor grounds former owner, is a Roman style arena. In these ancient times, it was where captured barbarian prisoners were pitted into deathmatch, for the entertainment of their Roman captors. Since then, it has been renovated and crafted as the center of bloodsport for the mercenary army. Normally, it was the home of 'monster baiting' death matches where captured Darkstalkers would be slowly executed by their captors in the guise of martial combat.

Fortunately, the House of Podiebrad no longer brags about its executions by combat.

The arena exterior and interior are all white-washed, seats included. The layout is more Byzantine than Roman, though arenas are ultimately arenas. Romanesque archways honeycomb the interior passages of the arena, some leading up to the stands to watch the fight, some leading to the sandy arena grounds themselves. The highest seats is the Patriarch's box, where the Patriarch himself lays in his full noble decor of purple, silver, and gold. Laying on a velvet resting couch, Zsa Zsa delicately pulls grapes from a vine, placing them into his mouth as he waits. The Arena grounds themselves are sandy, with plenty of posts and stone fixtures in place to modify the theme of the events; access to and from the arena is relatively free, and audience security is often only maintained by the distance from the seats to the arena grounds themselves. All were waiting for the arrival of their present.

And the lucky Podiebrad who would opening said present.

In one of the interior passages, right before an entrance to the sandy arena. Tsinghua was breathing heavily. Trying to calm himself down- He had fought before an audience before, but something such as this? Everyone looking down, and so many?

It is terrifying.

He can hear the crowd up there, and down here, he is nice and alone. But that won't do, he can't stay down here-- Everyone would get mad, and relations would suffer. Tsinghua's breathing slows, seeming to calm down almost fully in an instant. He looks down the passage, before taking the steps outward; Swiftly finding himself on one of the sides of the sandy arena, being watched by a large crowd hungry for a performance.

Dressed in his snow-white traditional garb, he takes the cane from his hip. Flourishing it before putting it behind his back, pointing upward, looking for his opponent with cold eyes.

With the chattering sea of Podiebrads around, it's not clear -who- the opponent would be.

At the very least, there would be a familiar face at the first tier of the arena stands. The bald deacon Matthias is walking along, escorting a large, heavy-set woman of a similar ruddy round face as him. The woman looks somewhat distant, and her movement is stilted, robotic. Following him is tell-tale sign: A small woman in a proper bodysuit, the only one in the crowd, with all others dressed in the soviet-era BDU uniforms. She, however, is escorting an old man, who is holding her raven mask. The old man has a thick mustache, a proper Maygar's mask with thick almost purple lips. He was shuffling along awkwardly. The large woman says something. %
And the little girl steps up.

As steps up, her features are more clear. The young girl doesn't seem to be much older than Tsinghua, with big cherub cheeks of freckles and narrow brown eyes. She is smiling at the big woman, who has a faraway stare. She says something, and then, she gives the big girl a hug. The big woman flinches at first, but relaxes, smiling slightly as she hugs the little girl back. And then, after patting her on the shoulder, she escorts the old man to the edge of the arena lip. Matthias eases the big woman into a seat. But the old man and the young girl?

And they both jump in.

The old man tumbles as gracefully as an acrobatic in tandem with the young girl, the duo rolling across the dirt before straightening up. The old man does seem to stiffen up a bit afterwards, but a big smile stretches under his bushy mustache, the old Maygar giving a solemn nod to the young lady. The old man, on the other hand, kisses the little girl on the top of her head. And then, he places the mask on her. After she affixes the mask on her face, The duo salute each other, and then, turning back over to Tsinghua, she running swiftly very low to close the distance. once she's about 10 meters away, she straightens up, sweeping her claws as she puffs her chest out.

"Hello! I am Lili, and I will be your opponent."

There is a roar of laughter from the audience. "Ey! Lili's acting all cute now." "Hmph! I don't know why she got picked; she doesn't even have her D Class Hunters License!" "What's the hell that's supposed to mean?" An argument breaks out in the stands, as Lili shakes her head, her claws dancing as she rolls her fingers. "Don't let them bother you. If you cannot handle taunts from your brothers and sisters, then you cannot handle them from your true enemy, that's how we train ourselves. Um, though you aren't a brother or sister." She coughs a bit under her mask. "Oh, are you the same Tao Tsinghua who barely made it into last seasons Neo-League finals?"

"I've been reading about you if you are."

Tsinghua watches the odd scene as it unfolds, and people that look interesting in their own right. Who would he have to fight? The tall Lady, the small girl?

Heck, it could be the old man for all he knows.

He does not have to wait long as Lili announces her role in today's performance. The boy bows, even as she moves further away. "It is good to meet, ms. Lili. I am surprised you knew about me, all you say is correct." He rises from his bow, greeting her with a polite, if a little soulless smile. "I participated to increase recognition for the Estate, it was an experiment from the Patriarch."

"Yet, I will not be making another debut there." He states, simply. A failed experiment, one might gather. "You are quite correct. Us messengers are trained to keep our composure in difficult situations, I know how to deal with such jeering." He cocks his head, looking into that raven-like mask. "You have been reading, you say? If I may inquire, what has been written about myself?"

Even though he asks the question, he realizes that he should probably not keep the crowd waiting too long, as he enters a stance- Walking stick still behind his back as it points upward, with his other palm facing foward in a lighter, high stance, standing on the balls of his feet.

"We like to follow all kinds of fighting."

The girl is cheery, if calm, behind her mask. She was falling into a kind of odd, crouching stance, the claws on her gauntlets spread out. Squatting over, she seems almost ready to leap, or roll. But as Tsinghua speaks, the argument in the stands begins to get heated between a young man and a raven-haired woman. "I'll tell you in a bit, there is a tactical consideration on it!" She shakes her head though, lowering it a bit. "I disagree though. The whole part about you keeping out of tournaments. You really should keep up with public tournaments. Most of us will never get to go into a tournament, you know? Having a real professional fighter come and visit us has gotten you all kinds of fans. The Patriarch even agreed to draw a picture of you, so we can put you on our cards." On your cards? Almost as if he was overhearing it, the Patriarch rises from his couch, standing out to the edge of his personal balcony. The two arguing Podiebrads stop, as the whole arena rises into a stand. Lili lowers herself, embracing herself into a curled up ball. But she states over to Tsinghua in a low voice.

"Okay, when the Patriarch calls for it, you come at me, okay?"

"Is that so? I did not realize the profound impact it might have had.." The boy seems to think for a bit. "I will take it into consideration. It is, unfortunately not my decision to make. Though I would not consider myself one to enjoy fighting." He admits, and explains. He maintains his stance. "I would like to hear, but I understand, Lady Lili. I will await with bated breath."

But at one of the remarks, he raises a brow. "Cards? What sort of cards?"

"Collectable trading cards!"

"I'm not like, I mean, I'm not super serious about it." Lili states quickly. "But I-" As the Patriarch speaks, she suddenly, automatically goes quiet. A flash of indigo comes over her, and Bela von Podiebrad raises his clawed hands. "Warriors! Soldiers. My brothers and sisters." He drones, as he gestures. "Our guest from the Gong Estate has graciously offered us a final gift before he parts from us. A taste of his violence, of his martial arts!" There is a cheers across the guardsmen all around Tsinghua and Lili. Even Lili seems to automatically give a 'yaaaaay' quietly to herself. Bela thrusts his clawed hand up, his gold scepter extending magnificently in awe-inspiring light. "Let the bloodsport begin! Let the blood spill upon the sands of our ancestors, the ashes of the dead, and let their spirits feast! Round One!"


"-But I like to collect the cards with nice artwork." Lili unclenches, uncurling back into the squatting position. "Do you have a phone number? Maybe a chat thing? I wouldn't mind sharing some of the card stuff with you. Like pictures of them I mean. My friends want me to try and get you to stay in touch with us." She wasn't pouncing yet, no. But the old man nods firmly, watching her with a diligent eye.

"I'm real sorry we couldn't hang out more, with the whole Rosalia stuff."

COMBATSYS: Lili has started a fight here.

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Lili             0/-------/-------|


Tsinghua is not a fan of his somewhat gruesome wording, but he listens respectfully as he makes his announcements. He raises a brow at the 'graciously offered' part, as he was kinda forced into this position. As the fight is officially called to a start, Tsinghua says. "..Trading cards?" He doesn't seem to be all that familiar with the concept.

And neither does Tsinghua pounce, as he remains in his stance, he just watches. "I have a mobile flip-phone. It is for business purposes, however. I will consider sharing it." He doesn't find the idea too appealing, yet he humors the thought. But to that last remark, he responds rather coldly. "My purpose here was purely business-related. I do not think I would have had time for that regardless."

Well, this is getting a little awkward. The two are just chatting, with neither of them having made a move thus far. Tsinghua feels obliged to make clear. "I am ready, ms. Lili. Please proceed as you see fit."

COMBATSYS: Tsinghua has joined the fight here.

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Tsinghua         0/-------/-======|-------\-------\0             Lili

COMBATSYS: Tsinghua calculates his next move.

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Tsinghua         0/-------/-======|-------\-------\0             Lili

"Wow, your Patriarch is kind of uptight, huh."

Lili states kind of meekly, as she continues. "Well like, we like to keep track of all the different fighters in the world using cards. It helps us remember stuff, like that stick, and those scary chi bursts. So it's business, but..." She lowers her head a bit more, prostrating lower. She felt a little hurt by the cold, but she wasn't going to let that bother her too much. "I mean, I guess it makes sense, but aren't you worried about losing the fun time of your life?" She raises her head a bit, her eyes barely seen through the eyes of the raven gasmask. "You're not going to be young forever, I mean. Are you just going to get old doing just business? What about fun stuff. Like maybe we could have gone hiking or exploring the aqueducts, or-"

There is a report of a rifle.

"Ooops!" She blurts out, as the old man holds the rifle up, the smoke leaving the barrel. He gives Lili a friendly headshake, as laughter breaks out from the audience. With the mask on, you couldn't see the blushing. "Sorry! I forgot grandp- Corporal Joszef! I will not let the Patriarch down!" She leaps forward, springing off her low position into a pounce. Bounding in an arc, her claws surge with indigo energy, blazing in contrails behind her. Raising them high up, she slashes down at Tsinghua as she lands. The moment she touches her feet on the ground though? She flips backwards, rebounding backwards in a flip kick to push off Tsinghua, to fly backwards.

"Take that!" %

COMBATSYS: Tsinghua reflects Black Feather Strike from Lili with Guding Gen (Xiru).

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Tsinghua         1/-----==/=======|====---\-------\0             Lili

"Patriarch Gong Shuren only does what is best for the house. I do not appericiate your words, ms. Lili." There is that coldness again, though swiftly counteracted by a confused expression.

"The.. fun times of my life?" It comes out as a question, for some reason. "I am past that, I am not a child anymore.." He says, though with a tint of sadness in his voice. "My priority as, and always will be whatever's best for the Estate. Other desires are secondary to that-- Yaa!"

Tsinghua visibly flinches backward with the sudden, loud noise; His face displaying shock for a moment, much to the amusement of the crowd-- Though he does manage to keep his focus, as Lili finally makes her strike. The boy sees, and senses that indigo energy come into being; And In a swift, smooth motion, he clasps his hand together, the cane resting horizontally on both his outstretched thumbs, behind his hands. A green-ish, opaque sphere of roots would surround Tsinghua, a few inches from his body-- Lili would experience her strikes being gently pushed back when they enter that sphere, like the repelling force of two positively charged magnets. More then that, the energy those attacks carried with? They get sucked into those roots- The wood-like apparition shifting in color, the green and indigo mixing to form a sort of dark cyan.

The boy then pushes both his palms forward, and the sphere explodes outward with a shockwave of force-- Pushing the sand away and slamming into Lili!

The crowd roars as Lili's opening approach is utterly rebuffed.

As she connects with the sphere of roots, she grinds down into a slow slash. Struggling with the roots, she realizes what's about to come. "Guding Gen! Aw jeeze-" She tries to rip free before its too late, but. It's too late. She could feel the surge of force pass through her, as the flow of energy blows back. Launched backwards, she lands with a very rough tumble, the sand blasting around her as she rips across the ground. The bodysuit helps mitigate the impact. The blast itself? Cuts straight to the bone. She staggers up into a stand, steadying herself.

"Well, what's best for the house isn't always what's best for you. That's why our Patriarch... cares so much for..." She shakes her head. "The point is, we all can't be like Szabolc... sacrificing everything for the Patriarch." Something seems to be bothering Lili. Bela, who should be in his couch again, was not. No, he was leaning on the handrests, leaning on the balcony, watching distantly at the melee unfolding.

Lili thrashes her claws through the air, returning back to a crouch.

"Besides, there are a lot of ways grownups like me can have fun that a kid can't!" She declares, leaping up in the air again. She was going to fall short; that was going to be Tsinghua's telegraph on what the real attack would be. "I can drink, and party, and dance!" Coming a few meters from Tsinghua, she doesn't land on her feet. She immediately breaks into a tumble that rockets straight for Tsinghua; bowling across the sand in a cloud of dust, she could try to collide with Tsinghua with her legs at his knees. "What do you get to enjoy now, other than responsibilities?" Should she connect? She would be taking him to the arena ground with a scissor takedown. From there, she would force him on his back and position in a front-facing pin, both claws positioned on his shoulders, before flipping off cleanly from the shoulders. And should she make it that far? Tsinghua would feel the strange sensation of those claws hooked on something -spiritual- within him, somewhere in his aura or soul or -something-.

That would be torn savagely as she leapt off of the boy.

COMBATSYS: Tsinghua fully avoids Lili's Power Throw.

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Tsinghua         1/----===/=======|=====--\-------\0             Lili

"Eh? You know the name of my techniques?" How did they find that out, he wonders. He can't recall speaking publicly of them. Tsinghua nods in satisfaction at the success of his attack. Not from the hit per say, but more from the fact that he is putting on a good show- He wants to make sure the impressions of the Estate's techniques are positive.

"I- I-" He is unsure how to respond, at the moment; He hasn't been confronted with this stuff this directly. Velvet had prodded, but Lili's questions feel a bit more blunt; But straight-to-the point. "I- I will be granted more freedoms when I complete my apperenticeship.." He finally shoots back. "And I- I have plenty to enjoy. I keep a small section of garden at the estate-- And I play chinese checkers with my Sifu sometimes."

His explanation.. sounds like he's trying to excuse something. Trying to excuse his lack of freedoms, but Lili might pick up on the hesitation in his voice. Then, Lili leaps at him. But in another moment of great clarity-- He throws his staff toward the ground vertically; Where it freezes in mid-air to serve as a barrier, with that peculiar kinetically-manipulating effect Lili would likely have seen before. The walking stick would seeming grow roots, growing outward and fading into the air as if they're holding the tool in place. "I do not think it's appropriate for us to have this conversation at the current time, this is my business, ms. Lili."

The stick would delay her long enough for Tsinghua to launch his own assault; He looks around for /something/, then frows.

It's time to improvise.

The boy kicks off one of his embroidered shoes, and it flies upward before being suspended in midair yet again. Lacking his cane, he closes one eye to aim; Before unleashing a rapid-fire flurry of palms to build up momentum. The shoe has seemingly grown a solid layer of bark, and was positively shaking with unreleased force. Finally, he puts his palms together, and his precious shoe curves straight toward his opponent with missile-esque speed!

And he has to hope no-one in the audience has a thing for feet.

COMBATSYS: Tsinghua successfully hits Lili with Guding Gen (Hu Qi) EX.

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Tsinghua         1/--=====/=======|=======\-------\1             Lili

It was safe to say that at least a quarter of the audience at least had a thing for feet.

As to how they knew, well, it's all in the cards. As Lili pounces in, the audience cheers as he neatly evades it. "What a clever trick." Bela muses, as Lili rolls straight into the walking stick. As she wraps her legs around it, she gives another groan in frustration. "Are you kidding me?" She outrages, as she tries to adjust herself against the staff. As the shoe goes up, the audience gives a roar. Lili gets her feet against the staff, and leaps off into the air, flailing her arms like a bird as she tries to slip away. The shoe launches forward, sniping her out of the sky as she takes the blow hard in her back. She curls up as she hits the sand. Another roar of cheers come out, as Lili seems to be writhing on the ground, the sand around her beginning to compact. Blood. As she rises up, the cheers fade.

Something was wrong.

She was starting to dribble water all over herself. Sweat? No, it wasn't sweat; there was splashes of water pouring out of her suit, gushing out as it starts to pour out. She was beginning to look drenched. She starts to claw at her mask, tearing at it. Ripping it free, water pours out. She was oozing water everywhere. She turns to look at Tsinghua, horror across her face as she screams.

"What did you do to me?" She blurts out, blindly.

She was still gushing water as she flails her claws around. There were contrails of indigo energy, yes, but now streams of razor-sharp water were following. The energy was hostile to her, though; Even on her face, you could see the water forcing out of her freckled skin, out of her veins. Bloodless wounds, filled with water. She was hurting, as she lashes out at Tsinghua with two swift swipes. The old man wasn't looking so happy now. He was holding his rifle, staring at Tsinghua without any expression on his face. He glances a moment up at Bela, his Patriarch, to see his command. Bela does not call for the fight to end.

He only touches his chin, intrigued at what he sees.

COMBATSYS: Tsinghua reflects Quick Strike from Lili with Dong Gen (Xiru).

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Tsinghua         1/----===/=======|=======\=====--\1             Lili

Yes! Everything is going swimmingly for Tsinghua. He is dissassembling his opponent in his demonstration- And he smiles, it his giving him a strange satsifaction that he is not used to when it comes to fighting. He sees his opponent reel, and complain, but-

Something is very, very wrong. And Tsinghua had seen this prior. He had experienced this prior. But, as he gets accused of being the cause? He stares at her blankly, coldly, even. And he utters a simple: "I did not do this, ms. Lili." He also glances at the old man, transferring the statement to him as well. "I have experienced this, but my only business here.."

"Is this performance."

He knows what's about to come, and he realizes that that chi surging out of her will likely transfer into his next attack.

And, he decides to take advantage of this moment of weakness.
%His hands clasp together again. Another spherical barrier-- But much, much clearer. The roots manifest physically, obscuring his body with their deep, brown shade. Rather then Lili's swipes being diverted gently, they instead scratch against the wood harmlessly- She would find her arms pulled in and enwrapped, both the water and indigo she ejected being sucked into the roots like nutrients. They feed on it, grow thicker and stronger.

The sphere around him then shifts completely, all the seperate forks and strings of timber moving to around Lili, surrounding her in a similair sphere- There is a moment of pause..

And then all at once, the sphere collapses into itself; The plants tearing at Lili before it finally explodes in a brilliant burst of water and chi with the poor girl at it's center. "We can discuss this later, if you so please. But right now.."

"..I regret to say that this is not my problem to handle.

This truly was bloodsport.

The old man was rubbing his hands on the rifle warily, shifting his gaze between Tsinghua and up to the Patriarch. The audience wasn't cheering anymore. There was a tense air now, as Lili's wild desperate assault is met with a clinical execution. Matthias was looking worried, his brow furrowed. He talks with the girl next to him, pointing back at Tsinghua as the boy dismantles the Raven Guards's confused offense precisely. As she colides into the mess of roots and plant matter, she is absorbed it. The hideous, alien water energy erupts in the midst of water and energy, trapping her in the midst. She screams as it detonates. When it blows away, she is in a heap. The wounds are no longer bleeding water now. The sands were becoming wet with blood now.

And there were still cheers from the audience.

Bela gives a faint gesture with his hand. The old man nods. But Lili forces up into a stand, before crouching down. Her cherub cheeks were split open. Tears were in her eyes. But her voice was hoarse. "You're a cold-blooded creep." Lili says in a hurt, bitter voice. "I'm sorry I wanted to be your friend. But I know what I have to do with cold-blooded creeps. I'll give you a problem you can handle..." She turns towards her grandfather, the old man. In a single, in-sync motion, he tosses the rifle sideways to her as she leaps towards it. Catching it in midair, she tumbles landing, falling into a kneeling position. There, she takes aim at Tsingua. "Don't worry about that phone number anymore, creep." She declares, as she pulls the trigger.

And proceeds to fire four rounds at Tsinghua's way.

COMBATSYS: Lili successfully hits Tsinghua with Jackdaw Snipe.

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Tsinghua         1/---====/=======|=======\=======\1             Lili

Another success, but.

"Why does it feel so bad?"

He mumbles, as he feels his stomach sink. He is being berated now, called names. How is this his fault? "Th-That's not fair- This situation is just-"

But in the middle of his complaining, the rounds tear past his sides, drawing blood from the boy for the first time this encounter. "A-Gaah!" Hurt, he sinks to a knee, a hand on one of his side to attempt to stow the bleeding- as he looks up at Lili.

That coldness almost entirely gone, and in it's place is regret and fear.

What triggered the change, one could wonder. And then, he starts deflecting- Not the energy kind. "Thi- How is this my fault?! It's not fair! I was ordered to fight- /He/ ordered me to fight- I never offered to do this- I didn't want this to happen. W-when you're ordered something-- That's what you do! How can you expect me to fight- /and/ be your friend! That's not fair. Like I said-- We could have talked later! We could have.. become friends.." His head drops, pointing toward the floor as tears start to flow, darkening the sand with small drops.

"I get put here- put on stage and being watched by tens of people doing something I dislike. I don't have the /room/ to be friendly-- I hate being here. I've had to deal with so much hnzhng while in this perverted manor- You, Matthias, and that acting commander have been the only nice things here." And his head rises "So if you want to blame someone- Call them a creep, call them cold:" And in that moment, he looks upward at Bela- The furious cocktail of emotions clouding his judgement. And he speaks, through gritted teeth.

"Target your depraved Patriarch."

COMBATSYS: Tsinghua drops his guard to recover.

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Tsinghua         1/---====/=======|=======\=======\1             Lili

"...It always feels bad."

Lili repeats back, almost automatically. Even in her frustration, there was an unescapable sadness running through her. She wings him. She probably could have- she probably could have gone for a much more short and fatal shot. But even in her fear, her anger, she -couldn't-. She wouldn't. But as he continues to speak, as he -blames- them all, she started feeling sick. She keeps the rifle trained, leveled across at him at the head. She could squeeze the trigger, and end it. She could have. And the more he speaks, the more she feels like she HAD to. She was shaking now, shuddering as he dumps back all her fears and insecurities about the man who drove Szabolc to nearly killing himself, who let Zoe be sacrificed to that awful monster, all for power and glory? She shuts her eyes, hoping that she could find the strength to pull that trigger.


Bela's voice runs through the arena, as he raises a claw. "Hold. Lili." Lili lowers the rifle, the girl breathing hard. She doesn't open her eyes yet. Bela, looks down at Tsinghua, as the audience seems to feel like they were... well. The energy was probably closer to a lynchmob now than people looking for a show. There was an oppressive pressure of murder now, that was drowning the arena. But Bela stares down at Tsinghua, as the air becomes still. And he points a finger at Tsinghua. "Have you already forgotting your place, Tao Tsinghua of the Gong Estate? You have come in our hospitality, demanding treason from my most loyal soldiers." Bela von Podiebrad speaks calmly, looking down at Tsinghua, the back of his hand against his cheek. "All because you are -bored?- Or -annoyed?- It seems that when the Gong Estate sent a mere boy to represent themselves, I shouldn't have expected the -maturity- of a man. What an insipid child. You've demonstrated admirable fighting ability, utterly dominating one of my most promising rising stars, and you -hate- it? I hardly think you would -hate- proving your superiority over this so called 'perverted manor.' Your superiority over my blood and family. And you have the audicity to be ashamed of the moral superiority you imagine? So much so, that you have gone and failed your house in such a disgusting dipomatic faux pas that I can't help but be... amused? Yes, all because we -bore- you. Well. Allow me to correct that for you, -precious child-." He suppresses a chuckle, covering his mouth, before turning to his side.

"How does -that- make you feel, sweet Zsa Zsa?"

Zsa Zsa was at Bela's side, holding the ceramic bowl of grapes in her hands. Her eyes were cast downwards. But her nostrils were flared, the maid breathing hard as she listens. Bela leans over, not even bothering to hide the stage whisper as it echos through the arena. "He rejected you, didn't he? You told me how -sweet- and -innocent- he was, how -good- he was, Zsa Zsa. And you actually believed his little ruse." Zsa Zsa begins to tremble. "You weren't good enough for him; but of course, by his standards, he doesn't even feel that your Patriarch is good enough for him."

The ceramic bowl shatters in her grips, her chest rising and falling furiously at every breath.

Bela circles behind her, placing his hands upon her shoulders. He continues to speak, his voice carrying as a whisper through the arena. "It hurts, feeling someone I care so much about to call me so -depraved-, Zsa Zsa. Someone that I sacrificed so much to make him happy... where I tried so much to make him happy in these trying times... to be so horribly, horribly rejected by him. To be so -hurt- by him. Imagine, trying so hard to please someone, only for them to stab you in the heart in front of everyone you know and love." Zsa Zsa gives a heaving, hurtful sob, as she tears at the juices, tears rolling down both her cheeks. Bela touches the knuckle of his finger under her chin, moving beside her. There, he lifts her gaze to transfix directly upon the young boy. They both look upon him, as he gives a little gasp.

"You don't think -I- deserve to be treated that way, do you Zsa Zsa?"

Zsa Zsa rips free from her Patriarch, and climbs up on the parapet of the balcony. Her silk sash trailing behind her, she screams, sobbing aloud, as she jumps off. Tears trails down her as she turns in midair, and begins to run down the walls of the arena, controlling her descent. The show snaps Lili out of her frustrations. Oh no, she was no longer furious. "Shit." She squeaks, looking from the cloud to Tsinghua, hooking her rifle on her back. "Shit shit shit shit." She squeaks faster as she stumbles backwards, falling on her bottom before she turns around. Clawing, she scrambles up into a leap, bounding away, retreating. And the old man? He had already jumped back up to the stands, as Matthias and his escort are up, working their way out of their seats to somewhere else. But Zsa Zsa? She had reached the floor of the arena, as a cloud of dust bursts in the air. You could hear the sobs now. Sobs? No. Not sobs. They were only just like sobs.

It was laughter, as the flash of copper and indigo light flickers from the depths of the oncoming cloud.

COMBATSYS: Lili has left the fight here.

[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Tsinghua         1/---====/=======|

COMBATSYS: Zsa Zsa has joined the fight here.

[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Tsinghua         1/---====/=======|-------\-------\0          Zsa Zsa

Tsinghua had the biggest onosecond of his life after his outburst.

The words had just left his mouth, and he pushed his sleeve over it- As if to stop himself from saying more. And all he can do his listen, as Bela starts his monologue. "N-No, I'm sorry- I'm so sorry.." Is the first thing he utters. "That- I don't know what came over me, noble Patriarch- I do not feel superior, I don't.. You have been great to me.." He can say these words, yet his true feelings had been exposed only moments prior. Even is Bela is adding a lot of his own assumptions of dubious truthfulness. "I was foolish- Insipid, childish. I failed myself, I failed my house, and most of all, I failed your trust, and your love."

He keeps his head down now, prostrating before the Patriarch for the second time in his Podiebrand excursion. He is sobbing, as all the weight and realizations of his failure start to creep in. "I- No; That's not- I do not feel that way about Zsa Zsa, about you, Noble Patriarch- Please, believe me. I talked to her- It was -nice- talking to her- I just, I just did not engage in.." He stops it right there, though figuring out what he was talking about wouldn't be difficult. He visibly -winces- back, shrinks at the sound of the cracking of that bowl. "I could not possibly expect you to forgive me- but *sob* apologizing is all I can do!"

The boy keeps pleading, but looks up in utter fear when he hears and sees Zsa Zsa enter the arena. But he did not stand up to face her as a fighter, he only shrinked further. "please, please don't make me fight again- not again, not now.. I don't want to be watched anymore, I don't want to be here.." his voice is soft, weak. His entire body is trembling violently, and he is not even looking at Zsa Zsa. Should she make the strike-

It is unlikely he would defend himself.

COMBATSYS: Tsinghua drops his guard to recover.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Tsinghua         1/---====/=======|-------\-------\0          Zsa Zsa

The Patriarch of the Podiebrads barely could conceal his sneering, hedonistic delight at Tsinghua's desperation.

"Isn't this the most magnificent trick I've seen yet." He sneers callously, as Lili scrambles up into the arena. The audience starts howling and jeering wickedly, as Zsa Zsa closes in. "From a polite, well-trained poodle, to a snarling cur, into a simpering mutt ready to flop over to expose his belly. Which one is it, Tao Tsinghua? Which should be believe is the real you?" He covers half his face with his hand. "Is the cowardice the ultimate virtue of the Gong Estate? The sneering arrogance? Or perhaps the shallow elitism and empty, rote mores? Well, we will find out which one you will finally decide to be." He spreads his arms apart.

"Watch, as Zsa Zsa peels away the layers, and reveals the true Tao Tsinghua for all to see!"

Zsa Zsa finally reaches Tsinghua. In a moment, the boy might be able to see the ultimate ideal of loyalty surging at him. There is no spark of hesistation, like there was with Lili. No passive resistence, like with Matthias. No lukewarm activism like with . No, at the moment Tsinghua gave all his apologies, begged for all the forgiveness for his mistakes, for all the mercy, Zsa Zsa is blind to it because her master wishes her to be blind to it. She is not here to show mercy, to give forgiveness, to accept apologies. She is here to perfectly execute the will of the Patriarch.

Cackling madly through her tears and pain as she proves herself useful.

The scarf is whipped free, indigo light flashing along it like some kind of deep sea fish. Here, Tsinghua may be able to see the thin copper sewing needles running through it, running through her own maid outfit, cutting and pricking her with every disgenious movement. She was already bleeding from her charge, the thin needles driving into her. As the thin red scarf extends to its full length, she bursts into a blur of indigo sparks past him. The scarf would lash around his chest if it connected, the needles like fishhooks should the scarf make its mark. And from there, she would drag the boy straight to the ground like a lasso. There was no Matthias now. Just the howling of the Raven Guard. The jeering of the Patriarch.

And the unrestrained bloodlust of sweet Zsa Zsa.

COMBATSYS: Zsa Zsa successfully hits Tsinghua with Divine Contravention.

[             \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////// ]
Tsinghua         2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|=------\-------\0          Zsa Zsa

But no mercy would be spared for Tsinghua, as he soon realizes by the Patriarch's words. It's not like he expected mercy, but he hoped that whatever consequences he'd have to experience would be delayed until later- Yet, when Bela gives his order, Tsinghua finally looks up- But it is too late, Zsa Zsa is right to his side- Her scarf about to tear past him with all those razor-sharp needles.

The boy sees it unfold in slow motion, while attempting to put up a desperate defense. But his arms don't reach in time.

And due to his crouched position, the scarf instead wraps around his neck and mouth, dragging him along while the emisarry screeches a muffled scream. A scream that would be utterly gut-wrenching to hear for any average person, yet most of the Podiebrads could hardly be described as such.

"EEEEEEYARGGGH!!" It dissolves into a guttural sound, his neck constricted and needles digging into his tongue- Restricting free access to breath and by extension, voice. Tearing open his skin due to that continued momentum, the pain is unimaginable.

And at the end of it all, the messenger lays in the sand, stomach up, and the scarf finally limp once more. He tries to open his mouth, say something in his defense- but only a sharp burst of pain and a guttural growl find it's way out-- The boy grasping for his neck in a panick in an attempt to stow the bleeding, but to little avail.
%Yet, he musters what strength, both mental and physical, he had left, and -tears- off the silky sleeve of his fine garb. Subsequently folding it up into a straight piece, holding it with both hands, and wrapping it all around his neck and upper face as a makeshift bandage. He performs the first aid with trained, swift hands. The cloth quickly darkening with his blood.

And then he stands up to face Zsa Zsa.

His mouth covered, only his eyes could be used to judge emotion- They exude desperation, and fear- Yet still the motivation to survive in what he percieves as a deadly scenario. He stands up straight, on his toes in the same light stance he started this fight with- albeit without his arms primed to attack. At the very least, he seems intent on protecting himself when, or if, Zsa Zsa goes for another attack.

COMBATSYS: Tsinghua gains composure.

[          \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////// ]
Tsinghua         1/-<<<<<</<<<<<<<|=------\-------\0          Zsa Zsa

Zsa Zsa pulls back, rolling the scarf around her arm.

The audience howls at the rising mania of true bloodsport; the profanities and sadism boiling from the words upon the stands fell upon burning ears, hissing and steaming upon the sands of the arena. All built over the bemused taunting of the Patriarch. But now, it was Zsa Zsa and Tsinghua's world. Zsa Zsa winces, keeping a distance around as she circles Tsinghua. "Your tongue is so sharp, it looks like you've cut yourself on it too!" She gives a giggle, before she gently rubs her cheek against the bloodstained scarf, the thin needles scratching and pricking her skin. Her hollow black eyes transfix on the boy, a grin stretched from ear to ear, as she move with a predatory gait encircling around him. "It's our blood now." She whispers, as she kisses it, the needles pricking her lips. "It should always be our blood." The smile snaps into an agonizing sob, misery surging across her as she shakes her head.

"Why couldn't you stay good?"

She unhooks her knife from its sash, as she slashes the blade blindly in the tears away from Tsinghua. "Why couldn't you just endure it? Why couldn't you have been STRONGER. That's what good boys and girls do, they just do what they are told, no matter how much it -hurts!-" The butcher knife lashes out now. Stray needles, needles that may still be in Tsinghua begin to tug and pull, drawing back to Zsa Zsa. Sparks of indigo energy flicker around them, revealing their position, before Zsa Zsa lunges in. She gives two precise cuts with wild execution, swiping high at the brow, then a sawing thrust low aiming for the inside of the armpit on the draw back. Hideous, bloody slashes. Indigo energy crackles, pulses of energy resonating brutally against the spirit and soul. "I wanted you and me to have tea forever, like good boys and girls. But now I have to punish you now. I have to discipline you. It's the will of the Patriarch that you learn your lesson!" The sash lashes around after the sawing motion, aiming for Tsinghua thigh. It would be less savage than the opening assault. But she would pull back, trying to flip Tsinghua on his back as she darts backwards, dashing in and out to tear apart Tsinghua piece by piece. She lets out a weeping hiss.

"I have to make sure you will be good from now on!"

COMBATSYS: Zsa Zsa successfully hits Tsinghua with Charged Combo.
Glancing Blow

[            \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////////////  ]
Tsinghua         1/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|==-----\-------\0          Zsa Zsa

Tsinghua doesn't, or can't respond, his eyes simply widening in fear as she attacks yet again, and he feels a painful /tug/ at his upper mouth, which provokes more tears out of him. He endures it, though; Reacting as best he can to the incoming flurry of attacks, he manages to duck under that initial swipe, yet Zsa Zsa's speed makes sure that the knife digs into his elbow painfully; The savage slash splashing blood all across the sand as the blade draws back.


He exhales in pain, more tears, more blood- as he grasps for the rapidly bleeding wound. It distracts him long enough for that sash to wrap around once again, tearing into his skin as Zsa Zsa attempts to pull him off of his feet- Thankfully, he manages to jump up just in time, pulling himself free- though not with the added injury of the needles dragging past his skin after his evade. Landing on a knee a bit away from Zsa Zsa.

And he is shaking his head, left and right. As if signalling 'no' with terrified eyes. There is, however, a certain measure of observation. Looking, trying to make sense of her aggressive motions. Hoping to find some sort of pattern, a weakness. And he rises to his feet yet again, glancing over at the Patriarch- pleading for mercy with his eyes.

But if this continues, Tsinghua realizes that fighting back is his only option.

COMBATSYS: Tsinghua calculates his next move.

[             \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////////////  ]
Tsinghua         1/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|==-----\-------\0          Zsa Zsa

As Tsinghua studies Zsa Zsa, details pull out in her movements.

The scarf was alight with energy; it was as much of a lethal weapon as the knife, if much slower in action. Already, the thin needles were returning back to the scarf, recharging it with the teeth. It was almost identical to the energy that had run through Lili. Where the Raven Guardsman was all about aerial mobility and tumbling, there was a conscious effort at defense. Zsa Zsa -has- no guard in place; even her moments to recover from attacks was chipping away at her own defenses with the tiny needles pinpricking her down as she steadies herself after her attack. She couldn't afford to be hit; she didn't even have the armor of the rank and file.

As for Zsa Zsa herself?

It was impossible to describe the pain she was in, and how aggressively she was trying to descend into madness to stop it. How much she needed the pain to drown out all other pain. "Have you ever kissed a girl?" She asks, stretching the scarf over her back. "If I gave you kisses, would it make you good, or bad?" Tightening the scarf, she lunges. Legs pumping, another burst of indigo motes flashes around her. Needles. She was shedding needles. And then, she begins to shift, moving along the motes almost faster than the eyes could follow; the indigo energy empowering her as she traces from needle to needle like electricity, before she zooms past Tsinghua to reposition on his other side. The scarf is unleashed as she spins, twirling as the scarf becomes ablaze in the indigo energy, the resonance reaching a peak. Slashing with almost pure energy, it would tear right into Tsinghua's soul, rending it in half with incomprehensible spiritual agony. All to augment against the existing physical and mental pain inflicted. The chorus of brutality breaks, as outrage comes out.

And now, two people are beginning to enter the ground level of the arena.

COMBATSYS: Tsinghua blocks Zsa Zsa's Frabjous Fulminations.

[               \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////////////  ]
Tsinghua         2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|===----\-------\0          Zsa Zsa

And so Tsinghua had finally had enough, and shifts his stance- Deeper, hands in front of him. Open palms facing Zsa Zsa. His cane was long gone, left somewhere in the sands. And as Zsa Zsa dashes in again-

He catches the scarf with both hands, as they envelop themselves in a manifested layer of bark- The physical impact is stopped, yet that unfamiliar psychic energy still surges through his body- Shocking him- though to a lesser degree. The bark fades from his hands, as he meets Zsa Zsa eye to eye, determination sparking in those teary, brown eyes of his, as he grunts again- Before silently, through his ruined throat,


And he spins out of the guard, backward- Putting together his hands as energy gathers in between them, a furious mass of wooden splinters and shards. And as he reaches the end of his spin, he pushes both hands, palms open, toward Zsa Zsa. Out of them, a wide flurry flies, a barrage of sharp motes of wood-like chi. All around her, and toward her- Risking to dig into her flesh deeper then her needles would have done already.

The boy does not notice the two figures that had just entered, focused entirely on his opponent

COMBATSYS: Zsa Zsa reflects Mubo Shi Bei Jian from Tsinghua with Trifling Teases.

[                 \\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////   ]
Tsinghua         1/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|====---\-------\0          Zsa Zsa

COMBATSYS: Zsa Zsa successfully hits Tsinghua with Reflected Mubo Shi Bei Jian.
Grazing Hit

[                   \\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////   ]
Tsinghua         1/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|=====--\-------\0          Zsa Zsa

Zsa Zsa doesn't stop spinning.

As the slash meets a bulwark, the maid recoils away. More outrage builds, as Bela calls out. "Don't you dare!" Tsinghua brings the guard around as Zsa Zsa keeps the scarf whirling, spinning as indigo motes cascade around her. He unleashes the blast of splinters, and Zsa Zsa smiles wildly. The red scarf glows alight with blazing indigo energy, as she spins it before her. The assault blasts straight at the barrier, and the wooden splinters and shards strike it. They do not pierce it entirely; Zsa Zsa spins as it connects, a dance of veils that continue as she keeps moving. Splinters mingle with needles latch on as the maid gathers the shards. Gracefully, she hurls them back at Tsinghua, a flinging barrage of wooden chi mingled with those thin needles. "Nothing is fine. It will never, ever be fine-"

"Stop this! Please stop this, this is wrong!"

It's Matthias, palms raised, hurrying into the midst of the arena. The large girl is standing at the sides, covering her mouth as she watches the large, bald deacon struggle across the sands. Bela rolls his eyes as his half-brother strides out. Zsa Zsa herself doesn't seem to register the arrival of Matthias very well, her attention transfixed on Tsinghua as she steadies herself out on her feet, the indigo light leaving the scarf. Matthias cries out again.

"Please, please end this!"

As his attack flings back, the boy makes himself small- Instinctually ducking and rolling before laying flat on his stomach- Yet some of the bits find their way into his sides, as the boy clenches his teeth underneath the wrappings around his face. Standing up again, to face Zsa Zsa- Putting a Palm deep into his side, before-

But then, the boy looks toward the voice, as the deacon makes his presence clear- Tsinghua seems to liquefy; Falling to his knees weakly, as someone is finally putting a stop to this. It is alright now, the messenger can finally stop with this traumatizing nonsense. This will stop, and Tsinghua would finally be able to leave this place- go home.

That sounds so nice.

He sobs quietly at that prospect. The taskmaster, ms Yao would be angry at him, at his ruined clothes, at his petrified shoe- At all of his failures.

But at least, he would be punished at home. It is such a nice thought, when compared to this nightmare.

Yet, it is questionable of Zsa Zsa, let alone Bela and the rest of the Podiebrads see it the same. But that is not something that the boy comprehends at this time.

COMBATSYS: Tsinghua takes no action.

[                    \\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////   ]
Tsinghua         1/=======/=======|=====--\-------\0          Zsa Zsa

The outrage builds.

The audience seems actually -mad- that the deacon is interrupting the match. Zsa Zsa, in her monomania, doesn't even seem to register that Matthias was striding in. ONly that sweet taste of weakness that she could sense with Tsinghua. She licks her bloodied lips, tracing her tongue over the pinpricks on them. She was going to kiss him. She was going to kiss him with her ruined lips. Again and again. And he would be more grateful for it than anything else she was going to do to him. As Tsinghua falls to his knees, Zsa Zsa flares forward, surging at Tsinghua, knife out to drive into the boy's lying filthy heart. ALl at once, Matthias sweeps his arms, falling to his own knees to embrace the boy.

Holding him in a hug as Zsa Zsa drives the knife into the deacon's back.

Zsa Zsa's eyes go wide, as she recoils. As she draws the knife out, Matthias gives out a pained groan. And in a moment, the entire atmosphere of the arena change. From hedonistic bloodsport, to a fresh sense of horror. Now, Zsa Zsa has been shocked out of her madness. Dropping the knife, she covers her mouth, eyes wide. "I'm- I'm sorry Matthias. I- I didn't mean- I didn't mean to-" Zsa Zsa squeaks, looking up at the balcony. Trying to find a cue. Matthias continues to hold Tsinghua, not letting the wound distract him from helping Tsinghua. From healing him. "It's okay, Tao Tsinghua. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. Everything will be okay." He draws in a heavy breath, as blood comes from his mouth. From high above, the Patriarch looks down in disgust, lips curled as he tightens his grip on the balcony. He wanted his climax. He wanted his finale. He wanted to play until the toy was broken. And now. The game was ruined.


Bela announces, straightening his back. "Fine. We've been sufficently entertained." Bela gives a half-hearted thumbs up. "Spare him. Oh, whatever. I will tell the Gong Estate I am pleased, and we will forget this little incident-" He gives an exasperated sigh as Zsa Zsa turns back to the sand, trying to get her knife again. "And Matthias, would you -please- forgive Zsa Zsa so she doesn't tear her wrists open or whatever hysterical drama she's imagining in her head." Bela scowls, pouting in irritation. Matthias nods, not daring to release Tsinghua as a soothing indigo light flows from him into Tsinghua. "I forgive you, Zsa Zsa. I forg-"

"We forgive?"

COMBATSYS: Zsa Zsa takes no action.

[                    \\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////   ]
Tsinghua         1/=======/=======|=====--\-------\0          Zsa Zsa

Tsinghua relaxes further as he is held- Heaving sobs escaping his throat. It is finally done. "Thank you deacon- Thank you so--" But then, he sees that blood coming from his mouth, seeping from his back. He didn't notice initially, but he looks harrowed- The makeshift bandage finally falling loose to reveal the horrid wounds underneath-- Wounds that are quickly becoming less profound with Matthias's healing. The few needles that where still stuck falling out. "Mr. Matthias- you- you- I'm so sorry.. I'm sorry.."

And he feels more wrecking guilt, seeing the Deacon get hurt for his sake. His expression reveals as such- A tormented cocktail of fear, pain, regret and relief. "Please heal yourself instead, Deacon- Please, instead of me.. I don't deserve that.." He speaks softly, with him still being injured around the parts that are rather essential for talking- Though they are healing quickly. He picks up on the Deacon's question toward him, and he desperately turns toward Zsa Zsa. "I forgive you- *sob* but more then that, I apologize.."

"I apologize for my insolence, and I apologize for refusing you.. I'll be good next time." Although the boy desperately hopes that that 'next time' will never come.

And when everything is said and done, with his voice slowly returning, his sobs dissolve into howling. He can't help it, showing his weakness in front of the entirety of the Podiebrads- But he can't help himself.

He will get to return home- and he won't even be punished further for what transpired. In a way-

It is the best result he could have hoped for for his grievous mistake.

Zsa Zsa stares at Matthias and Tsinghua, as she is forgiven.

She looks at her hand. The knife was in it. Its point was pointing between her breasts. She was breathing hard. And Tsinghua just keeps saying sorry. She pulls the knife away from her chest, trembling. THe Raven Guard... they were dispersing now at the stands. The fun was over. ANd now, they had to prepare for the Rosalia. ALl of them. Matthias heaves up Tsinghua over his shoulder. "You've done nothing wrong, Tsinghua. If you forgive with your heart, you too will be forgiven." He was still bleeding, but his strength is still enough to hold Tsinghua up high. "You are good. Everything will be... everything will be okay." Matthias would be taking him back to the chapel. He would be taking care of Tsinghua, until it was time for him to leave. No more distress. No more enemies. Only the caretakers, as he returns back to his escort, back to his sister Zoe.

All while Bela watches with smoldering fury.

Bela snaps his fingers at Zsa Zsa, beckoning her to come as one would a beast or a pet. He was going to need to work out frustrations. Zsa Zsa was good as any for that. "Next time will come." Bela growls furiously to himself, staring into his scepter. "I will tell the Gong Estate how admirable Tsinghua performed. How important he is, how much we want him to be part of us. Yes, our future working with the Gong Estate will demand Tsinghua to work with us. For us. Our precious gift from the Gong Estate. ANd he will not change his fate. Because of why?" He looks into his scepter, an indigo light building on it.

"Because he is a coward."

He reaches his throne, and sits upon it. "Let him try to admit to his master about his failures. Let him try to explain how ignorant his masters are, to allow him to return. Let him try an squirm out of it. Let him try and ruin his estate's fortune over his personal distress. He won't tell them the truth. He's not capable of it." He twists in his throne, slouching in it as he waits for his Zsa Zsa to come and wring out his distress. "And if he can... well..." He kisses his scepter.

"Lets see what kind of cur he really is."

Log created on 16:26:51 05/19/2021 by Bela, and last modified on 16:18:58 05/24/2021.