Description: In a place of alien beauty and profound danger, Hades Izanami and Slayer - ancient entities of Death and Unlife - must take care not to trample the grass too harshly, lest it bite back at them with razor edges. The Garden of Shells in Chubu-Sangaku, Japan doesn't release visitors gladly-- but perhaps undying will can overcome its blossoming mysteries.
The three sacred mountains of Japan were beautiful sights to behold, each of them steeped in over a millennium of myth and legends as to what made them different from the rest of the mountains that dotted the island nation. Mount Fuji was the tallest of the three, dotted with hidden ninja villages, leylines crisscrossing all along its slopes being used to maintain sacred seals locking away dangerous monsters of the past. It had been damaged in the Gear War not many years prior but it still maintained its majestic beauty. Mount Haku was a range covered with countless rivers and waterfalls, associated with life, purity, and farming. And then there is Mount Tateyama. Mists and low lying clouds often conceal its peak, and people come from around the world to enjoy the hot springs located along its slopes. For centuries, it has been a site of pilgrimage, and there are countless Shinto and Buddhist holy sites in its many forests.
On the far side of the mountain is a valley shrouded in shadow. For mortals, it can usually only be reached on foot by ascending to the peak of Tateyama and participating in a special ritual before descending the other side into a darker region that never seemed to be exposed to the sun no matter how high it hung in the sky. This shadowed valley would feel off to the living who found their way here, their senses warning, subconsciously, that they were wandering dangerously close to the veil between life and death and that they should turn back if they valued their soul.
Yet deep in the valley of shadow, through an ancient forest, one could find a clearing that seemed impossibly well lit by the sun even while the area all around it remained dim. Some knew it as The Garden of Shells, and those who knew enough to know it by that name also knew full well it was not a place for the living.
A breeze moves through the glade of ruby-spotted grass. The undying birds sing their dirge in communion with the deathless whisper of the scarlet speckled leaves in the trees.
Into this place, a column of inky black substance surges up out of the ground, looking almost like a plume of dark smoke but too thick, too opaque to simply be that. It rises up to roughly two meters in height, bubbling and expanding at the base as well, before it bursts into a spray of oily liquid and mist. As thick droplets of the unctuous matter splatter back down around the ground, a slender figure has appeared from the center of it. Every blade of grass the substance lands on decays rapidly, rotting into a black, fetid residue.
A young woman hovers, her head bowed, the toes of her feet mere inches from the blades of grass. Long violet hair flows down from her head, with two long locks framing her face and falling down to the level of her midriff, and the rest of her voluminous hair bound by a golden ring into a long, open ponytail that falls to the back of her thighs. A two-piece dress of a white, backless top and short crimson skirt tied just beneath chest level cover her frame and near-black violet stockings cover her legs up to her thighs where they end in golden bands. The collar of her top is folded right over left, after the manner of burial robes. Her sleeves are detached, covering only from her elbow down, an inner layer of white and gold, and and a long, trailing, outer covering of dark violet that matches her stockings.
The young woman's head is bowed, her eyes closed, her arms at rest against her sides as she hovers in place. And behind her back, a three golden triangular relics with purple gemstones orbit in a triangular formation, a golden ring of luminescent energy linking through the base of all three. A long light purple decorative horn projects over her forehead, attached to a golden ring that encircles her head beneath her hair.
Slowly, the young woman's head lifts and her arms raise slightly from her sides, her hands hanging limp at the wrists, moving more as if the limbs were being pulled up by an unseen puppeteer's strings than moved by muscle. Izanami's crimson eyes open, her irises bearing black concentric circles in place of a human pupil. And as she awakens, the light in the glade seems to dim as the sun above passes behind the peak of the mountain. Shadows beneath the dimming sky begin to move along the ground, taking on a life of their own. Dark shapes shift near the edges of the glade, slipping among the ancient trees, only ever there at the corner of one's eyes. An energy builds throughout the quietly deadly site, as if a new unlife was being poised to invade from beyond the veil.
The world knows her as the Imperator Librarius of the Novus Orbis Librarius. But those who have been around far too long, who have seen far too much of this world, would know immediately that the creature appearing in this tainted venue is no human. The body itself, while clearly supernatural, bears no aura of antiquity - it seems to be of more recent make. But the presence housed within is another matter all together...
Gardens can be wonderful, beautiful things. Especially the ones in Japan. Specifically, those of the Chubu-Sangaku National Park. It's been quite a spectacular amount of years since a certain immortal individual has set dapper shoes onto the ground here but never let it be said that the beauty of this place has ever been lost. There are very few things in this world that could compare to the beauty of these gardens.
Sharon is one of them.
The beautifully stunning immortal human is wrapped in her red dress as she leads the way through the grass, her heels in her hands as she embraces the nature of it all. She seems to be in a state of utter bliss, her happiness clearly written all over her face. Love is quite certainly in the air.
As is Slayer.
The Nightwalker, in all of his dashing splendor, hovers into the area without a care in the world. His capelet is attached to the shoulders of his suit and flaps softly in the wind created by his own stylish arrival. It's obvious that there's no actual need for him to be floating himself into this location but perhaps the likes to make a bit of an entrance. Regardless of the reasoning, Slayer continues to float himself in without a care or worry.
Both Sharon and Slayer pause when they are close enough to watch the inky black liquid do its thing. An arrival that both Sharon and Slayer look mildly impressed with. Sharon does have to check her dress to make sure none of that icky inky stuff got on her but otherwise she's willing to give a nod in good taste. It's well deserved, as far as she's concerned.
Slayer takes his time walking down a handful of air-steps to bring those expensive shoes down to the grass below. An arm immediately slides around Sharon's waist to pull her close as his eyes are focused on the other young woman here. The one that he shall be doing battle with here in a moment. Sharon stands on her tiptoes to plant a soft kiss on Slayer's cheek before she swirls off to the sidelines where she will be out of most of harm's way but still close enough to watch her husband work.
Slayer takes a moment to look over his opponent and offers a respectful bow.
The violet haired woman seems to be in no rush as the two timeless beings make their entrance into the deceptively beautiful glade. But she is paying attention, her crimson eyes snapping between the fetching woman with eternal beauty to the impeccably groomed and dressed undying gentleman, her expression brooding, lips pressed into a thin straight line. Hovering a few inches over the grass, her toes pointed down, her arms extended from her sides slightly, the woman leans her head forward just slightly, rolling her eyes upward, giving almost an impression of looking down on others in spite actually being much shorter than the six foot tall immortal.
A sound of mild annoyance is the greeting Slayer receives for his polite acknowledgment of the Librarium leader. "Two more immortals stand before me, two more that deny the blessing of eternal rest..." Her way of speaking is lyrical in nature, rising and falling in a way that comes just shy of almost being song-like. Her eyes settle on Slayer then, taking in his clothing and in particular the details of the upside-down blood-red crosses that decorate his chest and sleeves. "What brings you out into the light of day, Nightwalker?" She doesn't quite spit the last word, but the distaste this woman has for his very nature is plain as day.
"Watchers... Observers... Bystanders... meddling immortals displaced from the flow of time... like detritus disrupting a tranquil stream." She shakes her head slightly, releasing a soft sigh. "What is the point of living so long, wanderer? Are you not dreary of all the world has to offer? Have you not seen and experienced the limits of this mortal cage?"
Her expression still brooding, eyes boring into Slayer without any hint of amicability, a smile tugs at the edges of her mouth. "It must wear at you so, to see what foolish vermin have done with the things you tried to build, corrupting your legacy into a den of iniquity and ill deeds. If you tire of this existence, you need only say the words... come, tell me what kind of death you desire from me, what would be a fitting end to your long, tedious journey in this world..."
The Imperator rolls her hands such that her palms face upward now, curling her forefinger and ring finger in to meet her thumb, while middle finger and pinkie finger remain extended. One who has been around as long as the Nightwalker would recognize the hand gesture - the Rudra Mudra - the ancient seal representing terror. Those aware of its ancient origins might better remember it as the seal of The Howler.
Whatever being resides within the doll-like shell before him, there can be no doubt that it too is ancient, and that it might be one of the most dangerous things he has ever set eyes on.
COMBATSYS: Izanami has started a fight here.
COMBATSYS: Slayer has joined the fight here.
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Slayer 0/-------/-------|=------\-------\0 Izanami
"Immortality... is a gift. One that I quite enjoy."
Slayer has seen a great many and powerful things in his centuries. There are any number of insanely powerful creatures he's come across in his day and he's managed to survive through them all. Thus the expression on his features remains as pleasantly calm and well adjusted as it always seems to be. There's even a moment wher ehe pulls down his monocle for a quick wiping via his handkerchief.
Though, even Slayer must give a raising of the eyebrow at the Rudra Mudra gesture. He takes his time putting his monocle back in place and just offers a slight, "How rude." mostly under his breath.
Sharon hears it from the sidelines and smirks her way into a sneer in Izanami's direction.
"As I was saying, immortality has been a gift. Every day a new sight to see, a new thing to learn, a new challenge to face." His eyes are directed in his opponent's direction at that moment. "If this is to be the eve of my death, then let us celebrate it together. In battle..."
Slayer finally seems to have gotten into a bit of a stance. It's more of a classically trained boxer stance than anything but even it's not a fully realized one. As far as Slayer is concerned, this is just another fun bout for the thrill and the story of it all. He is very clearly not taking this as serious as perhaps he maybe should.
Why would he? He's immortal. Speaking of...
"Shall we begin?"
Slayer finally finishes his thought before rushing with his vampiric speed towards Izanami, His arm extends once he's close enough, reaching out with a mighty fist and aiming what might be a vampiric strengthed straight punch in his opponent's direction.
On the sidelines, Sharon's already biting her lip in silent cheering with just a hint of worry.
COMBATSYS: Izanami blocks Slayer's Pile Bunker.
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Slayer 0/-------/-------|==-----\-------\0 Izanami
At the Gentleman Vampire's initial response, the Imperator's mocking smile fades, her expression once again coming across just shy of annoyed in how she stares at him. Every day promising a new experience, even for one as long-lived as him?
"Impossible. This tired world cries out for change, yet all of life pleads for things to stay the way they are... That the blossom may never wilt, that the sun will never set, that one's breath might never fall still..." She shakes her head slightly, listening to him continue, an unpleasant smile returning to her lips as she lifts her head slightly and folds her arms across her stomach.
"But yes I agree. Each death should be celebrated. And it is important to remember that in the end..." Her crimson eyes flick toward the ethereal beauty in red off to the side, her tone darkening even as the light of the glade dims further around them.
"Well, it is as they say... there are worse fates than death in this world... and the next."
Slayer demands her attention as he surges forward following his warning. The speed of a vampire using even a portion of its strength is a horrific thing to behold, closing the distance between the two combatants in an instant, but the Imperator sweeps her left hand forward and the three triangular bits of the Magatama orbiting behind her back all but warp into a solid barrier hovering before her slender hand, absorbing the impact of the immortal's crushing blow.
Even with the timeless artifact shielding her from the worst of it, the exchange of forces between Slayer's single punch and her method of defense is enough to push the hovering woman back slightly while a shockwave of displaced kinetic energy smashes flat a three meter radius of the crimson-bladed grass beneath.
Drifting back a couple of meters as she recovers, the Imperator shifts her left arm back and the three pieces of the Magatama break free and return to their golden ringed orbit behind her back.
"Then seeking challenge gives you your drive? What could challenge one such as you, vampire? Against the mortals you face, you demonstrates only a portion of your real power... And while we could fight until the sun's last dying spark, that would hardly constitute a challenge to overcome."
A dangerous gleam seethes in the strange woman's eyes then. "To experience the elation of triumph there must have at least been something of value at risk, no? Something even you might fear to lose?"
Slowly, almost as if mechanically, Hades Izanami's face turns toward Sharon off to the side, though her words are clearly still addressed to the Professor of Dandyism. "How might you fight then, Nightwalker, with the threat of real loss looming over you? There are other precious things that can be taken in victory than life itself. I would encourage you to fight... with that in mind."
When the Imperator glides back at Slayer, it is with speed matching his own approach a moment ago, her goes inches above the grass as she twists to the left, swinging her right hand forward, driving it out as an open palmed strike toward his sternum with the heel of the hand on top. Targeting such a sturdy part of the body may make little sense to some, but the unctuous ebony energy with which she had appeared before manifests mid swing, coating her hand and dripping from her fingers as she attempts to strike him.
The power behind her blow is far stronger than her slender frame would suggest, but it is the energy itself that even the undying might be concerned about as it roils with necrotic power, threatening to decay all it comes in contact, withering the life and vitality of flesh or stealing centuries of time from inorganic matter by touch alone.
Even as her arm swings out, another threat manifests, as the three triangular bits of the Magatama suddenly slam together like a pointed drill, igniting into a golden, purifying flame, and surge down toward the immortal's chest from above. The piercing power of the attack would be almost impossible for most to stop, and the flames surrounding it more than enough to reduce the field around them to ash in an instant.
And amid the heat and decay, Izanami's voice.
"I offer you the thrill of a real fight. Hold back at your own peril."
COMBATSYS: Slayer just-defends Izanami's Consecration Liturgy!!
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Slayer 0/-------/-------|==-----\-------\0 Izanami
The Gentleman's Vampire. Nice.
Slayer does actually consider himself to be a dandy gentleman. Through his longevity he has seen a great many types of individual. He has actually been a few different types of individual. Furthermore, he has tasted almost all the types of individual. None have been more welcoming and in line with his sensibilities than Dandyism. It's just something that Slayer gravitated towards and has embraced in all of its simple splendor.
The Gentleman Vampire indeed.
With those exact manners in mind, Slayer finds it both necessary and polite to actually continue the conversation with his opponent, even whilst they are within the confines of this battle that may actually be to the death. Well, for the Nightwalker it would be a second death but the thought process should still be very much the same. Still, though, he's more than willing to offer his opinion during the verbal part of this very physical debate.
"You speak of humanity, my friend. They are a very constant, yet somehow fickle, lot. Always wanting to breed progress yet never really wanting to advance themselves. They are more fascinated with their technological achievements than actually seeking out a better life for themselves." Slayer hesitates for a moment. "Though, I will say that these smart phones are quite fascinating. Do you know of the Candy Crush?"
As Sharon is quietly brought into the balance, Slayer fights the urge to bristle. He does take a quick glance in her direction but when his face returns he is very much wearing a grin. A facade? Perhaps. He has been at this for a very long time. There are many layers to the Slayer.
"Ah, yes, there it is." It's almost as if Slayer's claiming ownership of this potential prediction. "The threatened love one approach. I know it well." Slayer offers with a slight nod of his head. "I'm sure she would appreciate the attention. However, my beautiful wife's eternal clock is even beyond my own comprehension. I am assured she will be fine."
Lest of all because Slayer will not allow Sharon be harmed. That much is unsaid and written in his eyes. Considering how close he is while attempting to punch Izanami, that unsaidness should be quite easy to read.
And then she's in the air, gliding back at Slayer with that vicious intent. An open palmed strike of impressive power comes at his sternum with way more force than should be allowed in someone with such a small statured frame as the woman in front of him. However, Slayer doesn't quite seem to be alone here. Sharon, obviously, but there's another feature of The Gentleman Vampire that serves a bit of a purpose.
The blood red accessory swiftly swirls around his body, wrapping itself around him to put a hard stop to that cruel arrival of violence. The capelet goes rigid, solid and that horrible substance splatters against it. As it does, pieces of the capelet are withered away in a quick decaying scene that only lasts until Slayer takes a gliding leap back to avoid that Magatama drill that crashes into the glade beneath their feet. The Nightwalker hovers defiantly in the face of those intense purifying flames. His capelet unravels from around his body and shakes itself clean enough to find its way back to Slayer's shoulders. Where it is going to need some time to patch itself up.
Magic is weird but useful sometimes.
Slayer looks a bit more intense at the rest of Izanami's words as he finds footing on the ground again. The offer is regarded with a bit of hesitation, though the Nightwalker seems to be receptive to the terms.
Slayer steps toward his (floating?) horned opponent, winding up for a brief moment as his vampiric speed kicks back in and he rushes her! His fist engulfs in flaming chi of his own accord as it passes through the remnants of the remaining flames from Izanami's own attack (maybe even gathering up some of those flames as well, who knows) and twists his body to go the other way and aims a flaming backfist right for her face!
"As you wish."
COMBATSYS: Slayer successfully hits Izanami with Undertow.
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Slayer 0/-------/-----==|======-\-------\0 Izanami
Izanami's deadened stare doesn't waver as Slayer responds to her provocation with dignified aplomb. The only thing that elicits a direct response before the frenzied exchange takes place is a mildly baffled utterance regarding the mobile game.
"I... cannot say that I do..."
He attacks and she responds, matching his speed with the direct assault, her open hand smacking against the magically infused capelet, all of its defensive barriers warding the Nightwalker against the woman's necrotic touch. The minor setback of her initial strike being walled off doesn't prevent the follow up attack, however, but Slayer chooses not to be there for it and the golden drill smashes into the ground instead, causing a small eruption of burning soil and golden flame to rain down around the area of impact.
And then the Imperator gets introduced to a side of the deathless walker that few do - what it might look like when he attacks with real intent. While his monocle reflects the burning light of two flames combined, she is able to see the dangerous gleam in his uncovered eye. She attempts to escape the path of destruction by gliding instantly to his right which would be a perfect evasion if the veteran of innumerable fights were trying to land a stunning haymaker. It doesn't work so great at avoiding the perfectly executed backhanded swing of his arm, however - a blow empowered by his ancient magic, his nightmarish strength.
The collision against the side of her head sends the violet-haired woman flying. Spinning headlong into the side of a thick tree trunk several meters away from the exchange, wood splinters and crimson-speckled leaves rain down around the broken doll as she slumps to the ground at its base.
The Imperator is still for a moment, eyes closed as if in restful repose, the three triangles of the Magatama wedged into the tree trunk above her. It takes a handful of seconds before her crimson eyes blink open. When she rises, it is as if pulled up by strings from a crumpled heap, until finally she lifts her head to regard Slayer. The right side of her light purple crown is shattered along with the end third of its horn over her forehead, and the whites of her outfit bear lingering scorch marks from her brush with the vampire's flame magic. With a shudder, the three Magatama bits break free of the trunk and resume their golden orbit behind Izanami.
A soft giggle emanates from her only slightly opened lips before she speaks.
"There it is... I will not be trifled with, vampire."
She leans forward as if to dash, but ends up vanishing only to reappear three meters from Slayer, still hovering, legs swinging forward slightly, one knee bent, as if counteracting the sudden forward momentum and bringing herself to stop once again.
"I wonder if you conspire with that precocious Alucard brat... so much in common..." She shakes her head slowly, "But no... she strains against her role to tilt the scales of fate. While yours... is a lighter touch, no? Why is that?"
She gestures forward with her right hand, index finger extended. The three orbiting pieces of the Yasakani No Magatama vanish and reappear in the same golden ringed orbit around Slayer, with each golden point aimed inward at him.
"With so much power, why do you lurk in the shadows? Have you no ambition? No greater purpose?"
All three pieces of the timeless sacred jewel fire at once. Whereas before their golden flames encased the pieces as they tried to slam into him, this time all of that power is concentrated into three precision beams of brilliant energy, the glow bathing the entire glade in the light of a noonday sun with Slayer potentially located right at its burning core.
COMBATSYS: Slayer blocks Izanami's Droplet.
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Slayer 0/-------/----===|=======\-------\0 Izanami
The Gentleman Vampire, that really is such a good moniker, doesn't even smirk after that flaming backfist of a display. In fact, he only seems to take the moment after sending Izanami into the trees to straighten out his suit. He has to remain looking as presentable as possible throughout this fight because it has everything to do with keeping his image intact.
Also, Sharon's watching so he must continue to look as dashing as when he first floated here.
On his back, his capelet finally finishes reforming itself, though there are still stains of that incredibly annoying and powerful substance from the... whatever he's fighting. Even in all of his years, he hasn't quite had the opportunity to uncover the myths and truths behind ever strange creature walking the Earth. He's been mostly interested in humans.
Her giggle brings his attention back in her direction and he offers a raised eyebrow in response. This is, of course, followed by an look of complete and utter innocence. He even brings his fingers to his chest for good measure.
"Trifle? I would never."
A hint of sarcasm rests underneath those words. Just a pinch.
Slayer seems to be unbothered by the teleportation tactics as he's more focused on the words coming from Izanami's mouth at this moment. So much so that there's even a tilt of the head as Slayer is taken into the world of 'thought' by now.
"Alucard? No, no conspiring. I do believe I might be a bit old-fashioned for her tastes." Slayer might be taking a moment to mock himself for using such a turn of phrase. "I simply wish to observe and experience all that fate brings to my doorstep. Nothing more, nothing less."
At least, as far as anyone else knows.
As Izanami gets to gesturing with that hand, Slayer's attention focuses up. This one can already teleport so there must be a few more tricks up those sleeves. Slayer wants to be ready for them. If he can be, that is.
And then he's surrounded by golden ringed weaponry of the most uncouth manner. His eyes stop watching her and watch those orbiting things more closely.
Her questions come at him at the same rate of speed as those beams of energy that are blasted in his direction. Such brilliant energy can very hardly be contained and it takes Slayer huddling beneath his capelet (he really should find a spell to have this extendable into a full cloak) so that those beams come blasting against it instead. What happens during this moment is two fold.
Fold One: Such powerful beams of energy burn away the gunk that was left behind from the last time he used this capelet as a bit of a protective device. So that's going to be helpful in the long term.
Fold Two: That same energy manages to burn THROUGH the protective cloth in sections, burning right through his suit as well and causing Slayer some focused pain.
Through gritted fanged teeth, Slayer responds, "Simple..."
Slayer struggles to break himself free of the beams, shoving with all of his vampiric might to take to the sky once again, floating long enough to look down at the singed areas of his suit and focus back on Izanami. His expression continues to remain as calm and collected as he can muster.
"I'm in love."
With those words given to Izanami, Slayer drops from his hovering position, smoke still coming off his suit because of that triangulated energy blasting at him moments ago. His expensive shoes are barely touching the ground before he's coming across his body with a left handed cross punch aimed squarely for Izanami's jaw.
"What greater purpose could there be?"
COMBATSYS: Izanami blocks Slayer's Cross Punch.
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Slayer 0/-------/----===|=======\-------\1 Izanami
The three pieces of the ancient jewel orbit around the timeless vampire, each firing a precision beam of deatomizing energy directly for him. Leaning once more on the powerful defensive wards of his cloak to survive the Devil's Eraser, the Nightwalker defies another attempt at his destruction with elegance and aplomb. The moment he breaks free, taking to the air above the ring of destruction, the Magatama pieces vanish, returning to their orbit at Izanami's back while the violet-haired woman glances up with seemingly only slight interest in his new trajectory.
His ultimate answer to her inquiry - that of his purpose, his ambition, is met with a slight narrowing of the eyes. "Is that it then?" she muses, seemingly more to herself than to the vampire who lowers himself back to the ground for only a split second before rushing in to deliver another devastating blow from his arsenal of boxing techniques.
With a blurringly fast sweep of her left arm, she positions it out in front of her face, forearm raised. Once more, the three pieces of the relic at her back surge forward, uniting into a barrier that takes the full brunt of Slayer's striking fist. Nigh unbreakable metal creaks and the pieces shift slightly against the pressure as a shock wave of kinetic force blasts out around the two, but the shield holds, protecting the Imperator for the intended harm.
"That's all it takes to distract one of the most dangerous creatures among the worlds? Love?" Eyes flick toward the ethereal beauty in red watching the match from the sidelines, but any implication of hostilities against the mysterious woman's well-being have been replaced with a hint of curiosity. The glance lasts only an instant before her focus is once more on Slayer.
"You have indulged my questions," she continues. "It is only fitting I offer similar clarity in return, should you both desire it... and retain the capacity to ask."
Her last words is all the warning he gets before the woman is immediately in front of him again, hovering enough off the ground that her her hands can reach out for his throat, seeking to secure a vise-like hold on the immortal's neck.
If unable to prevent her from securing a solid grip, she'll whip around, wresting him from standing to flat on his back in the grass as she leans over him, pressing down with forces clearly drawn from more than the slender figure that can be observed.
He would have only an instant to react then before another surge of that black, necrotic energy manifests from her hands, threatening to create a much more powerful torrent of withering power than before.
"We can end this game whenever you please, Nightwalker." she offers through grit teeth, a taunting note to her lyrical voice.
COMBATSYS: Slayer just-defends Izanami's Reach of Annihilation!!
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Slayer 0/-------/----===|=======\-------\1 Izanami
Slayer's movements are always so well rehearsed and precise. While holding a complete understanding of what might be the entirety of boxing, due to his elongated lifespan, Slayer also has a host of other more martial fighting arts to draw from. Anyone paying attention that closely to his movements can see pieces of other styles incorporated into his stance, footwork, and strikes.
The Gentlemen Vampire is so much more than meets the eye.
It would seem as though the same could be said for Izanami. As Slayer's fist connects with the sudden arrival of that shield. The kinetic shockwave even forces the Nightwalker to step back. While his hair manages to remain in place, the same cannot be said for his monocle or even the state of his carefully chosen attire.
Slayer glances over his shoulder to make sure that Sharon is okay as that was quite the blast. She is. She's getting herself back onto her feet but she's okay. Even despite the trail of blood rolling down her neck at this moment.
Slayer's attention is pulled back in the direction of Izanami as more words are tossed in his direction. He simply doubles down on his response, "I feel you misunderstand what love is, my friend. It is not a mere distraction." Slayer reaches up to straighten his previously shockwaved tie. "It is an invitation to be vulnerable. To allow oneself to be completely consumed by an emotion that not many live long enough to experience?" Slayer replaces his monocle as well. "I daresay there could not possibly be anything more exhilarating."
Once more Slayer finds himself in his Dandy Stance, fists held up and in front of him in a manner of showing that he's quite ready to take on whatever else may be headed in his direction at this juncture. As fine as a conversation as this is, even The Gentleman Vampire realizes that it is still a fight.
Perhaps even to the death.
With Izanami's sudden arrival in front of him, Slayer's shoes dig into the earth below his feet. His eyes narrow, his eyebrow above his monocle raised just a bit as he almost immediately, out of a pure combination of instinct and skill, throws his arms in front of himself, crossed in an X motion as Izanami's hands reach for his neck. His timing must be as impeccable as his taste because he breaks that X shape of his arms in time to bring each of his wrists into a stiff defending position against those terrifying hands.
Slayer can practically feel that black necrotic liquid on its way to do its thing.
"Oh?" Slayer manages through gritted teeth as it is taking quite a bit of extra might to keep Izanami's hands at bay. "Are we getting bored?" Slayer takes this opportunity of being up close and personal to both smirk and wink in Izanami's direction.
"I'll give you a moment."
Slayer's next movement is to break away from Izanami before she can overpower him, launching himself upward and gliding backward in a grandiose backflip that allows him a moment of landing near those same sidelines that Sharon has been pacing on throughout this here bout. "My love? A word?"
Slayer reaches for Sharon and pulls her close, his finger rising to scoop the blood rolling down her neck. A taste is all he needs before the feed is upon him. His eyes widen with a lustful hunger as his fangs are even more prominently bared. Sharon moans as Slayer's teeth sink into her neck and his ravenous ferocity to consume her blood takes shape.
A moment later and Sharon's body is tossed to the grass below, her dead weight thudding softly against the ground.
Slayer looks up, his eyes narrowing with a more intense focus in Izanami's direction. An almost evil grin on his features due to the way Sharon's blood slowly drips from the corners of his mouth.
"Now then, where were we?"
COMBATSYS: Slayer feasts ravenously upon Sharon with unbridled passion!
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Slayer 0/-------/----===|=======\-------\1 Izanami
Reaching for his throat, the Imperator's grasp is intercepted by a close quarters defense mastered to perfection over centuries of combat experience and likely experimentation. Her clawing fingers are forced apart from each other briefly by the execution of his guard and when she recovers, snapping her arms back for a second, feral, almost reckless attempt to secure a grip, the Nightwalker has prudently decided to be elsewhere.
Grasping at air, Izanami draws her hands back, straightening back to upright, her arms falling to her sides, lifted slightly at the wrists by the unseen strings that manipulate the strange creature so. Her expression is as unamused as when she first set eyes on the pair of immortals, crimson gaze following Slayer as she calmly hovers in place, her toes still just inches over the grass.
Slowly, she folds her arms across her stomach, "Do you truly intend to run around so? There is no one but the birds and me to show off your cloying tokens of sentimental attach-..." The Imperator's voice fades out as the vampire bites his willing victim with the fangs that mark him as the legendary monster he is. Izanami watches, clearly interested enough to pay attention to the display of violent hunger.
The stories of mankind hardly give the sight credit - the ghastly sight of a vampire sating himself on the lifeblood of another, the transfer of power, of life, the savage taking... altered, in this case, by the willing- no, the desiring surrender of his partner. Somehow, the appalling exchange is made almost pure by the two wills made one for a brief moment.
And then the woman in red's body lands in the crimson speckled grass. The violet-haired woman's attention lifts slowly from the discarded carcass to regard Slayer directly once more, her expression the same baleful glare as before.
"A more pure portrait of love... I cannot possibly imagine."
Her lyrical voice carries neither derision nor sarcasm, though there is a certain dry edge to it, suggesting she's hardly waxing romantic about the display.
She leans forward, gliding at first, then vanishing to reappear on the left side of the love-struck vampire.
Drawing her left leg up and bending at the knee, she crosses her left ankle over her right knee. At the same time, she bows her head slightly, closing her eyes, slamming both of her arms away from her sides, palms outward. At she does so, giant, long fingers made of the pure, piercing substance of the soul, stretch out from behind her. In the next moment, she brings her hands inward, elbows out wide, pressing her palms toward each other as if struggling to crush some unseen force.
It is in this moment that Slayer's defenses would once more be put to the test, as the spirit fingers attempt to crush their finger tips against him - four to each side. This time the pressure he would face is not physical strength like the Imperator had attempted to get him with before, but rather a contest of strength against his very soul.
"Your stubborn defiance is a first," she murmurs. At least she isn't trying to melt him for a change.
COMBATSYS: Izanami successfully hits Slayer with Shield of Dreams.
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Slayer 0/-------/--=====|=======\==-----\1 Izanami
For what it's worth, there's something about Sharon that makes it quite possible for her to be used in this incredibly crude manner. Something about her that makes it okay for Slayer to feast upon her whenever he likes. Her eternal ways are lost on the world but the way that Slayer seems to continuously use her blood as sustenance must mean that he knows so much more about her life than he's letting on.
Perhaps there's more to Sharon's blood than it just being a delicious treat for the Nightwalker. He has, after all, lived quite a life. What are the chances that it will end during this particular fight?
"Pardon. My manners." The Gentleman Vampire finishes cleaning his mouth with his handkerchief, though it's difficult to see the display due to the cloth being the same blood red as what was left on his face. It matches Sharon's blood perfectly as if it were designed that way. Slayer even takes his time to fold the handkerchief back up and tucks it away into his pocket to make quite sure that it's something he's going to be able to use later.
That time is wasted because it gives the teleporting puppet of Izanami the opening she needs to teleport right to the side of him. Her words, while they don't startle as Slayer has no actual fear, they do catch him slightly off-guard in a way that causes him to turn his attention in her direction quickly.
The timing of Slayer's next movements are a hair too slow. Even with his enhanced vampiric speed, the Nightwalker is unable to fully get his hands or capelet up fast enough to stop the pressures of such vehement displays of soul-crushing agony. Those spirit fingers are of mighty strength, crushing at Slayer from both sides and squeezing him in a manner that may be quite befitting of the vampire. After all, the question truly becomes, does Slayer have a soul? A question for the ages when it comes to those of the Nightwalker ilk.
He must. If he can love. Right?
Gritted teeth show his fangs as he finds no give in the empowered embrace and he struggles to find some semblance of escape. It's not happening very easily so Slayer decides a verbal response is in order.
"Stubborn? Really?" Slayer's tone is a bit more on the gruff side as he's attempting to speak while being squeezed into oblivion. "I was hoping it would be considered charming."
His words must be a distraction tactic because the cloak of his is hard at work trying to yank him out of this crushing predicament. And it takes some combination of pain and yanking before Slayer's pulled backward and free of the spirit grip to just a bit of actual freedom of movement. So much so that Slayer ends up crouched on a single knee and catching his unneeded breath.
It's more a moment of silent respect and reflect than it is actually to breathe. Nightwalkers don't exactly need to do that, you know.
In almost an instant, Slayer is up on his feet again, moving with that decidedly fancy footwork from his boxing days. He moves in quickly, while also trying to stay away from his opponent's ungodly range and only seems to be close enough to let his reach do most of the work as he aims a series of rights and lefts in between his bobbing and weaving.
Clearly, Slayer's both on the offensive and the defensive in this particular moment. Those centuries worth of fighting experience coming to the forefront in this moment right here.
COMBATSYS: Izanami blocks Slayer's Dandy Step.
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Slayer 0/-------/--=====|=======\===----\1 Izanami
As the fingers crush against the Gentleman Vampire, Izanami grits her teeth, pressing her hands closer and closer through clear exertion of will, as if there was some unseen obstacle in the space between her palms pushing back with ferocity equal to Slayer's on defiant resistance. Her eyes snap open, focusing on him, lips drawn back in a bit of a snarl. There is no playfulness to her assault, but neither is there any display of well honed martial mastery - the Imperator is simply trying to crush the immortal as she would an insect.
Fortunately for him, he's made of sturdier stuff, managing to wrest himself from the deathvise and spring back out of reach. The spectral fingers stretch out for him, as if frustrated at his escape, before they fold in on themselves, closing over their maker - a translucent barrier of shimmering violet power.
"You are the survive this long against my power," she states calmly. "I have never encountered a mortal that can survive my presence for long unless I will them to live... and the other immortals I have encountered are either with me in my cause or... have already come to an understanding of how wretched their existence is to be cut off from death's embrace."
She dips her head slightly, eyes closing for a moment during the briefest of instants he pauses following his escape.
"You are different. Neither weary of this existence nor held back by fear of what it is you face." A flicker of a smile teases the corner of her lifeless lips, "I suppose, in its own strange way, it could be considered charming."
When he returns fire, closing in with a display of his vampiric speed and raw power, the creature he faces does not deploy the Magatama to hold him off this time. His skill is something unachievable to those limited by mortal constraints, his execution flawless in its use of every muscle in his supernatural body, every application of physics to enhance his swings, and every step precisely calculated to strike without leaving himself open for counter attack as he engages in the risky game of close quarters combat with Hades Izanami.
The barrier of fingers responses to his movements, spectral appendages moving to intercept his strikes, absorbing the fierce blows meant for the Imperator herself. She remains still as Slayer smashes into and then through each finger, scattering the soul energy by his own fighting spirit, as one by one the fingers are destroyed and reduced to so much violet vapor lingering in the air around them.
Only when he has swung his way through six of the eight does the crimson-eyed woman begin to look surprised, brow scrunching slightly, eyes narrowing at the tenacious ferocity with which the Nightwalker can box.
She starts to back away then as he destroys the seventh with another blow, gliding swiftly enough to easily escape most attackers but not so with Slayer as his fist crushes the last of the shielding fingers. Drawing up her left arm, forearm raised, she whips the limb into the path of his next blow, and then the one after, before finally retreating outright with an even faster backward glide, leaving a rush of collapsing air in her wake.
Only when she comes to a stop several meters away does she finally shift her left arm so that she can glance at it. The white and gold sleeve that had covered her mid-arm is tattered to threadbare ruin by the two impacts she absorbed, and the skin visible on her forearm is marred, marked by small lacerations that seep with minute amounts of blood.
Looking back up at Slayer, she continues, "But charm has its limits. You can only amuse me for so long."
Behind her back, the three bits of the Magatama suddenly crackle with golden electricity. Rather than pointing inward toward the center of their orbit, they all suddenly face forward, as if zeroing in on whatever target their master gives them. The golden ring of light that united them in orbit is replaced by brightly burning fire. An aura washes out from around Hades Izanami and all the grass of the glade around her begins to wither in a rapidly expanding radius.
"You are fighting death itself, Nightwalker, and your immortality is an affront that cannot be ignored. Remain in my presence at your own peril."
She gestures with her right hand, a relaxed sweep of her arm and flick of her wrist. So minor a movement for the destructive power it unleashes.
All three of the crackling Magatama pieces fire toward Slayer then, moving almost like Dandy-seeking missiles, each coated with crackling power and leaving a trail of the golden fires of absolute purification in its wake. As if deciding the outcome is already decided, the Imperator lowers her arm slowly and bows her head.
COMBATSYS: Slayer just-defends Izanami's Exodus Arc!!
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Slayer 0/-------/--=====|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2 Izanami
While Slayer doesn't quite believe in miracles that aren't Sharon, there's actually a look of relief on his face when he manages to break himself free from that spirit crushing vise grip of absolute death and immeasurable power. Relief would definitely be the most apt word considering how painful that entire ordeal was.
He's immortal not impervious to pain.
It even takes Slayer a few moments to shake his arms and legs out a bit as if trying to regain the feeling in them. Which could explain why his Dandy Step is a little off.
Well, Slayer considers it 'off' from the way that every time he bobs, weaves, and strikes his fist ends up smashing into one of those demonic appendages that seem quite intent on being in his way. His focused gaze is quite dramatically intended to be completely smashing those powerful fists into what passes for flesh on this creature he's battling with but there just seems to be something amiss. Something wrong. Something off.
Or Izanami of the Hades Persuasion is really good at working those spiritual limbs. Because she's blocking every single one of those fists.
"I learned long ago that fear was nothing but a hindrance to living. I shed my fear when I shed my mortality." Slayer offers that small explanation with a shrug of his shoulders during his step back from Dandy Step assault.
One cannot just be punching endlessly.
During that moment that Izanami examines her potential lacerated wound and he offers a humble bow of respect. He is, after all, fighting with much more power than he normally would be. This was her request and thus his bowed head should be enough to make that clear. He's giving her so much more than he would normally give an opponent.
Is it all he has? Only one knows for sure.
Slayer's eyebrow raises and his heightened senses pick up on the energy gathering and aura washing out from Izanami's position. Slayer actually grins at the words that come from her in that next moment.
"Embrace the amusement. It will surely liven up the darkness that you seem to have found yourself trapped in." Slayer offers that suggestion as he prepares his legs and feet for the oncoming attack. Bracing, if you will.
Another grinned response from the Nightwalker, "If you would like to forfeit, you could simply say so. I will not stand in your way."
Perhaps the first actual quip from the Gentleman Vampire.
As the flaming pieces of Magatama come speeding towards him at a rate that could possibly be considered some sort of dangerous fury, these Dandy Seeking Missiles are watched with focused eyes and a sly smirk. Slayer's patience allows them to get close enough to his body that he can feel the heat of the fires of purification upon their arrival. And then, the vampire makes his move. Perhaps with the worst cliche a creature of his ilk has ever done.
Slayer yanks his cloak around the front of him to protect himself from the burning raging fires and those Magatama pieces seeking to purify him from this plane of existence. As that smack and burn into the cloak, Slayer digs deep for a mocking Transylvanian accent and...
"Count them! 1! 2! 3! Ah ah ah!"
Slayer hops backward from his horrible taste in jokes and takes that moment to swipe his cloak back around to his back as he allows his true accent to return raises his fists up once more in a way to show that he's still 'alive' and well.
"Please do not tell anyone I did that. I truly have no idea what came over me. The moment was simply there." Slayer seeking to show Izanami just how full of life he continues and remains to be. Even in the face of Death Itself.
Slayer's vampiric speed triggers when he rushes in towards Izanami with nothing but speed behind him. He spins and aims a huge hammer fist in her direction. He might be getting a little too close for his own comfort at this moment but sometimes you have to risk to gain a reward.
An eternal reward.
COMBATSYS: Slayer successfully hits Izanami with Under Pressure.
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Slayer 0/-------/=======|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2 Izanami
Crimson eyes narrow when the Doctor of Dandyism points out that the Imperator could forfeit if she has had her fill of the match. Immortal after immortal. Is this all the Revenant Queen's machination? To put these unkillable annoyances in her path every step of the way? She certainly has to wonder as Slayer once more utilizes the defensive power of his cloak to absorb the destructive weapons aimed his way. Each of the bits crash against the capelet as he counts each of them down, stopped short by the unbreakable magics woven into the mysterious cloth.
Deflected, they bounce back slightly, as if reconsidering a second charge, before they blink out of existence all together. Izanami cants her head slightly, whether it is in regards to the unexpected shift in accent or his request that she never mention it to anyone else. Safe to assume, she doesn't understand the reference or humor behind it in the slightest.
Without the Magatama at her back, she lacks the normally formidable shield she had been using to ward off the Nightwalker's attacks. Instead, she darts backward, gliding over the grass, seeking at first to out range his charge but his vamperic speed allows him to keep up with the blurred movements of the animated vessel and he closes in all the same.
A second move is made to avoid him, an instant slide to the right, but even at these speeds, he's able to keep up and correct, spinning into a burning, smashing blow against her side. Once more she is sent flying but there is no tree in this direction to bring her trajectory to a sudden stop. Instead, she rights herself, returning to hovering over the grass, regarding the undying wanderer with a dour glare.
It's unclear what passes for damage against this strange body of hers, but he certainly would have felt something give beneath the surface of her skin roughly where ribs should be. Whether that will be enough to slow her in the slightest remains to be seen however.
It is around then that the three pieces of the Magatama reappear behind her, still crackling with energy, the ring of golden fire linking them reappearing as well as they resume their orbit.
"How fortunate for humanity that you have gone so soft since your fall. If they were to make an enemy of you... there is little the people of this world could do to stop you."
A compliment, of sorts, it would seem, given how well his power has held up under her unrelenting pressure. Or at the very least, an assessment.
"The Lords of Makai must bristle at the way you refrain from their war. I wonder what that so-called Vampire Savior makes of you."
The aura around Izanami builds, pressure mounting. Mortals would find it a struggle to even take breath while the Nightwalker would merely be made aware of the crushing, withering weight of her magnified presence. There is anger there, frustration, in spite her calm appearance and restrained voice.
"You are a strange one."
The observation is made as she leans forward as if to glide at him again, only to vanish, appearing at his left side already lunging out. Her body twists, her right arm clawing toward his side, that withering, ebony energy once more at her fingertips - his reprieve from it couldn't last forever, unfortunately. She attacks with feral aggression, leaving nothing for defense as she twists through the swing all without setting a foot on the ground.
But as she turns, her Magatama makes its move as well, all three bits bursting toward Slayer, intent on smashing into or through him before suddenly reversing direction and coming back at him just as fiercely from the other direction, threatening to draw him inexorably closer to Hades Izanami into whatever violence she has in store for him next!
COMBATSYS: Izanami successfully hits Slayer with Rite of Peace.
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Slayer 1/-----==/=======|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2 Izanami
The Gentleman Vampire has been in a bit of rare form this particular fight. Perhaps it has more to do with actually taking this particular fight on a more serious and personal level as his opponent requested. Or perhaps it has more to do with Sharon remaining sprawled on the sidelines in a lifeless heap and her lack of breathing has given Slayer an opportunity to really cut loose in the wake of actually paying more attention to her than his opponents.
There's something to be said about a more focused Slayer and the fight that comes along with him.
When the Nightwalker's fist strikes true, there is actually a moment where he blinks. As if both confused and surprised in that very moment that he was actually able to feel her 'flesh?' against his knuckles. It's actually so much of a confusing and surprising moment that even Slayer's vampiric movements are brought to a bit of a halt. He actually stops all movement, Dandy or otherwise, and looks in Izanami's direction as if she were in dire need of some assistance.
"Did I get you?"
It's a question that's asked in a bit of earnest as he simply assumed that doing something of such would be an impossibility. With the way this creature has been talking and the power that it has been showing? Slayer honestly seems to feel as though he wasn't ever going to land a decisive hit on her.
"Allow me to offer my sincerest apologies. I did not realize that one would be so rough."
Even if he doesn't mean it in this manner, it would seem as though Slayer is still holding something back in this fight. Or maybe it has more to do with the fact that he's been playing a more defensive game this entire time. Either way, Slayer's concern for his opponent's well being should be verbally accounted for.
Then Izanami's words are brought back into his direction and Slayer instinctively offers a scoffing response. "Well, I never." One of Slayer's claw-nailed hands is aghast against his chest as he can't believe such cruel words would come from Death Itself. "I have not 'gone soft'. I simply do not wish to rule humanity like others of a similar breed to my own." Slayer explains his position with a bit of a graceful step back as he realizes the complimentary nature of the rest of her statement.
"To be honest with you, I am a bit unsure of that myself. Perhaps after this, I'll pop on over and do brunch."
Slayer's complete disregard for the fact that he very much may not be alive (un-alive?) after this fight is over is not quite catching on to him in this moment. He's too busy using those keen senses of his to pay close attention to that aura building that's happening around Izanami once more. The last time something like this happened, the landscape was devastated. That same thing is very much on the horizon again.
"Thank you." Slayer's response to her observation of his strangeness is given with a bow of his head in response. A genuine show of gratitude for such an observational comment that Slayer's not really prepared for the arrival of Izanami once again.
Slayer moves too late to be able to get his cloak into place as the arrival of Izanami on the side of him causes a reflexive movement of his arm but it is to no avail. That clawing arm complete with ebonic energy slices roughly through Slayer's suit... and his body. There's a combination of burning vampiric flesh and the splatter of blood that comes from such brutality coming from Izanami's feral approach. Slayer's body is whirled around and those Magatama pieces are sailing towards him without even a lick of defense in their path. Each one of them smacks into his body, rocking it clearly into another one, sending Slayer back and forth between them like some sort of pinball stuck in a machine. As they come back for another run, Slayer is knocked around once again, forced into the direction of Izanami without probable cause.
Slayer actually frowns as his body is knocked into a closer proximity with his opponent. "This is my favorite suit. You're ruining it." There's a bit of frustration behind those mostly calm words as Slayer ignores the blood leaking from his side and painful sensation of that necrotic substance doing its thing. Instead, his focus is on using his newfound location and forced momentum to take to the air a bit in an attack of his own.
One leg stretches out to aim a kick in Izanami's direction as Slayer's airborne. His body twists and he brings his other leg around to follow up with a second kick. Finally, one more rotation brings his original leg back into the mix to try and end this helicoptering of expensive shoes in Izanami's direction.
COMBATSYS: Slayer successfully hits Izanami with Footloose Journey.
- Power hit! -
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Slayer 1/---====/=======|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2 Izanami
"You need not concern yourself about this vessel." Izanami declares. And then she is upon him, unleashing a three staged assault that is over within an instant, pulling the Nightwalker back toward her lest he have plans to play elusive at any point. A fierce clawing, followed by the three Magatama bits hurtling out then lashing right back with equal speed, and suddenly the exceptional vampire is being drawn right back toward her.
The look on her features in that moment is a break from the calm composure she had demonstrated earlier - there's an eagerness to clash with him again, one corner of her mouth drawn back in what might pass almost as a half-smile if it wasn't for the dangerous look in her eyes. But the lingering burning of flames and painful sensation of deadening flesh from her withering touch does nothing to slow down the unbreakable vampire and rather than being delivered back to the Imperator a victim, he utilizes the momentum to launch his own counter attack in the heat of the moment.
She looks ready to lunge at him then stops, clearly not having anticipated the fierce kick aimed her way from her mid-air target. Attempting to reverse direction, her feet swing forward, her torso leaning back, both of her arms raising up, palms forward in a makeshift block - the Magatama itself not in proper position to afford the defense she had leaned on it before.
With fury of damaged-suit-induced indignation, the kick smashes through her upraised hands, foot smacking against her sternum, stopping Izanami mid-evasion. A soft growl emanates from her as she seems hellbent on ignoring that first blow to attack anyway, only to suffer a second strike against her upper left arm. Still not affording the Gentleman Vampire enough deference, she fights against the force of the kick and tries to push back to get close to him again.
The third blow is something that could be considered fight ending in all but the most unusual circumstances. The cordwainer responsible for his exquisite footwear might be proud of the crushing blow to the side of the Imperator's head. So hell-bent on fighting against him with her own forward momentum, impossible pressures are placed on her slender neck and with a gruesome cracking sound heard throughout the glade, it breaks.
The aftermath leaves the violet haired creature inert for a moment, her head tilted far too far to one side, resting against her shoulder. Crimson eyes blink, the expression on her features clearly one of open surprise. Yet still she drifts, floating such that her toes are inches above the deadened grass beneath her. Slowly, her head rights itself atop her neck, accompanied by additional sounds of bone creaking and grinding. Never do her eyes stray from Slayer, however. Another soft giggle escapes her lips.
"Oh, this is priceless. To fight something so strong... It has been a gift. It is only appropriate that I offer one in return."
The ground beneath the Garden of Shells begins to tremble.
"I will show you something of my work."
The air begins to fill 'off', stale in a way, almost as if the fundamental elements that composed it were also dying in the pale woman's presence. Izanami closes her eyes, bowing her head slightly, sweeping her hands up over her head in a circular motion, bringing her palms close to touching. And as she does so, twelve gray, emaciated arms unfold out from her exposed upper back, like a fan opening, six limbs to each side. Lowering her arms back down, the woman's flexible fingers bend half-closed in a lose cupping shape, assuming another Mudra. Behind her back, each of the twelve hands has contorted its elongated fingers into twelve different sacred seals. Many familiar even to modern humanity - consciousness, warding against fear, mercy, benevolence, among others. Others twist into shapes not known in an age or two - the void, destruction, and death itself.
When Izanami lifts her head and opens her eyes, Slayer will have only an instant to respond before she is upon him again, this time throwing herself bodily at him, her arms along with the twelve others extended, reaching for him.
"You are not the only one who needs to feed... struggle, with all that you have left in you, vampire!"
COMBATSYS: Izanami issues a challenge!!
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Slayer 1/---====/=======|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2 Izanami
COMBATSYS: Izanami successfully hits Slayer with Distant Affection EX.
! VENGEANCE !
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Slayer 1/---====/=======|>>>>>>>\-------\1 Izanami
Fourteen arms reach for Slayer all at the same time - twelve reach around him, grasping, crushing, pulling him in closer to the violet-haired woman. The normal two arms of Izanami, seemingly human if one were to judge by their appearance of flesh, the signs of lacerations and bruising consistent with that of any normal human arm, reach around his suit-clad waist.
The sense that the world around him is 'off' would no doubt still be a nagging impression in the back of his mind, but would likely fall secondary to the sensation of being entombed by twelve skeletal arms all making sure to secure him tightly.
"I do not know about love, Nightwalker," Izanami whispers to him once she has him close.
The world around him would shatter, reality crumbling into countless shards as if the glade, the sky, the mountains and forest all around, hand been little more than an elaborate stained glass window through which a rock was hurled. And behind the falling pieces of reality, a new world, swirling, violent, chaotic. It races with the power of thought and is shaped by the strength of creativity. It is every knowledge ever recorded and every vision ever foreordained. Some know of it as The Archives, the Boundary, the Backyard.
Colors unimaginable wash around Izanami and Slayer as she holds him in her multi-armed embrace. Concepts flow past the two of them like debris down flowing rapids. To be within this forbidden place of pure imagination, pure magic, is enough to crack even the strongest of mortal minds. But the damage it would do to the psyche of the two immortals that have now entered it is countered by the same endless rejuvenation that renders them immune to the passage of time.
"But perhaps it is a force strong enough to guide you back home from where we are going."
Her voice is disembodied now - more of a wisp of a thought than something audible.
The arms grow tighter as she crushes him against her. The two of them seem to sink, descending fast through the Boundary, journeying farther into its depths. Time is confusing here if it exists at all. It could be seconds, hours, weeks, years before the dizzying plunge through the world of dreams comes to an end.
When it does, the first impression Slayer might have is of bright light - sunlight, on a clear summer afternoon, a beautiful expanse of blue sky with puffy white clouds overhead. He is on his back in what seems to be water no more than a few inches deep also stretching out for as far as the eye can see in all directions. So still and pure the water, it forms the largest, most perfect mirror that has ever existed, reflecting the sky above and almost giving the impression that he is at rest in the empyrean of the gods. It is an existence of tranquility, the only things disturbing its purity the two opponents that just now entered it.
Izanami is atop him, one knee at his side, in the shallow water, her other pressed against his stomach. There is no sign of the twelve arms of the damned, only her two normal arms, her left hand gripping his shoulder so tightly that her fingers have pierced through his jacket, shirt, and skin, drawing blood that stains her fingertips. Her right hand is pressed against the center of his chest as she leans over him, her violet hair draping down around her face and draping against his torso. Her lips are drawn back in a vicious smile, her crimson eyes glowing with something he of all beings would recognize as the hunger of a predator.
"Welcome to my atelier. You should feel honored. I have never had a guest here before."
And then pain - the fingers of her right hand half-close, fingers clawing, suddenly sinking in through his once impeccable suit, yet don't seem to draw any blood. Instead, a golden light stained with swirls of black and violet rises up from his chest and he would fill a tiny portion of his endless vigor sapped.
"After all... the quality of the end result depends in part on the quality of constituents that go into it."
The glow on his chest grows brighter as Izanami suddenly rips her hand back and pushes off of Slayer to drift back and hover over the infinite mirror, leaving him to move on his own.
Slowly, the Imperator lifts her right arm in front of her face, her closed hand aglow with golden light so bright that mortal eyes would be seared to ash by simply witnessing it.
"And I have not encountered stronger life thus far in my search. Strange to find it hiding there, in the chest of one of the Undying Court... Is that the power of love?"
Hades Izanami raises her right hand over her head, the golden energy held aloft like a miniature star. Meanwhile, her left hand lowers, fingers hanging down, droplets of blood spilling from them into the infinite pool, creating an expanding circle of crimson on its surface.
But more ominous is the way the expanding sanguine stain is mirrored in the blue sky above. Slowly, a growing circle of red paints the otherwise peaceful firmament. Her face still lifted, the Goddess of Death looks toward the crimson blight above and then opens her right hand, releasing the stolen vitality to surge up into the giant blot of red overhead. Upon contact, the golden light is consumed into the blemish, leaving a small mote of pure black.
Izanami lowers her head to look back toward Slayer, her expression neutral, unreadable. Her right arm returns to her side, arms lifted slightly at the wrists as before.
"There is still a long ways to go for my work to be complete. But you alone have witnessed it in its infancy."
A faint smile traces her lifeless lips.
"But come. Let us continue this celebration. I sense we have yet to see all this battle has to offer."
Slayer's eyes remain as focused as possible in this moment. He's lost some of the edge he had after feeding upon his wife. It's clear from the disheveled hair and the way his suit is no longer as impeccable as it once was. While he still manages to look presentable there's definitely an air about his person that makes it very clear that he's actually been having to exert more energy in this battle than he has in a long time.
It might even have been years by this point.
Either way it would seem as though Slayer has been enjoying the fact that he's been allowed to actually let loose. It's been quite the freeing experience. If the small smile on his features were any indication.
Then the Garden of Shells trembles beneath those expensive shoes and every vampiric sense in his body can feel that something incredible is being prepped.
It takes all that Slayer has to try and prepare for it. His shoes dig into the ground as much as they can. He puts his weight into a braceful stance. Slayer even prepares a verbal response for Izanami's words.
"Looking forward to it."
Even Slayer might eat those words considering what happens next.
As those elongated fingers shift into the seals, Slayer's eyes are focused on them. His long life making it simple for him to actually understand what is being shown to him. It's very telling that even Slayer's head tilts to the side in response. His intelligence making it clear that he's all too familiar with those things.
And then the Vessel is upon him once more.
Slayer's arms start to rise to try and protect himself from the visceral grab of Izanami but to no avail. She's much too fast and within that moment he's wrapped up without even a hair's chance of struggling free despite the Vessel's words. Or the words from whatever is controlling her.
As Slayer is yanked and pulled in closer to his opponent, there is very little for the vampire to do but try and survive. Even when whispers about love are brought into his ear.
Slayer can feel the world around him no longer exist in the state it once was. The journey he's forcibly being taken on steals the bulk of his attention as he watches the various states of the world actually develop and change around him. It's a constant shifting of the scenes and colors and chaos that he's forced to witness and it is not until Izanami speaks again does Slayer do the one thing he knows will keep him anchored. Keep him steady. Keep him from losing himself in the Wonkaverse.
Slayer mouths, silently, 'Sharon.'
His anchor keeps his sanity locked in as his eyes close to even help with the focusing more. He does not relent in his thoughts about his wife and therefore it takes him quite a bit longer to open his eyes after the journey brings them to their end, to what may become his resting place.
Slayer realizes his movement is not possible when it becomes quite clear that Izanami's got him pinned to the ground.
And yes, then the pain.
Slayer chooses to grit his teeth instead of cry out as those fingers of Izanami's do their predatory thing. No longer worried about his suit, the burning light coming from his chest is enough to make that no longer a priority. It's out of sheer defiance that Slayer won't cry out but the sapping of his energy is visible on his features. He's lost a bit more of his edge.
Forced into the freedom of movement, Slayer gets to his feet. There's a stumble and a stagger that comes from him trying to return to his mostly standing self. It takes him so much longer than it normally would.
"Very well." Even Slayer's voice isn't as Dandy as it once was. It's a bit more on the ragged side. As if he's been dragged through several eons of chaotic reality.
On the plus side, if Sharon were here she'd very likely find it sexy.
It takes some doing to get stable on his feet, clench his fists, and bring them up in front of his face like he usually does. He's more hunched over, his suit stained with a combination of burning light soot and his own blood. It's quite the sight that no one may never see.
Slayer's words are few and far between as his mind continues to stay focused on Sharon. If she is the key to returning back to his own time and space, then all Slayer needs to be shown is the lock.
Slayer pushes himself to move, it's obvious with the way he has to take an extra step to launch himself into the direction of Izanami. His eyes on the Vessel only, his monocle shattered and broken while dangling against his suit. He doesn't dare look anywhere but at his opponent for fear of being trapped in the madness of whatever this place is. He knows it only takes a moment of distraction to be lost for an eternity. In front of him is the only thing keeping him from getting back to his Eternal Love.
And right now the only thing he wants to do is punch her.
His cloak flaps wildly (it doesn't want to be here either) as he swarms in on slightly slower movement and aims said punch at a downward angle aimed for the Vessel's faint smiling facial features.
There may be a bit more vampiric strength behind this one as well.
COMBATSYS: Izanami dodges Slayer's It's Late.
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Slayer 1/=======/=======|>>>>>>>\-------\1 Izanami
The Imperator waits, watching Slayer intently. Whatever purpose she dragged him to this ethereal reality was likely completed with the theft of a tiny fraction of his infinite vitality. Yet she too seems to wish the fight to go on. In this infinite plane, their continue their fight, deeper in the Boundary than almost anything in existence has ever gone. The blood seeping down the side of her head from his earlier powerful strikes oozes along her bare shoulder now. But in spite all indicators of her slender neck breaking earlier, her head seems securely mounted and functional for now.
Can there be victory over this creature? Over Death itself? There are those that walk among the mortals who are displaced from time, who seem to be the exceptions that prove the rule that even Death's reach is not without its limits... but at what cost? Vampires, strange golems of arcane magics, descended gods... no one lives forever for free, do they? Perhaps that is the exchange required to resist the inevitability of the being Slayer faces - sacrifice of something important.
Water drips from her toes, creating ripples beneath her that pale compared to the splashes Slayer makes as he stands and moves, preparing to launch himself, to apply his monstrous power to the art of combat once more.
Maybe it is because she is within her element here. Or maybe it's because he wants to inflict harm more than he has this entire challenge. Or perhaps she is just lucky. Whatever the case may be, this time when Izanami moves in response to Slayer's charge, she gets it right. Her glide is nigh instantaneous - to normal eyes it would look more like a teleport, that she never actually crossed the distance between the point where she would be struck to the point where she is just barely safe from the powerful swing. But he would see it for what it is, her devilish speed, as she darts back just enough, water spraying up from beneath her in a small, displaced plume as his blow crushes down in front of her face.
This time she has no words for him - the celebration he spoke of when they started must go on and she sees her chance in the moment his arm rushes past her, her hair flying back by the driven air. Rather than retreating further, she lunges at him instantly with that same reckless ferocity she had demonstrated earlier. Maybe she's worked her way through all of his arcane hardened defenses at last. Or maybe she's throwing caution to the wind in pursuit of the slightest opening of his nigh unbreakable guard.
Whatever it may be, her left hand goes for his extended arm while her body turns to the left, allowing her right arm to reach further, going for his neck. She knows full well that breathing is not a necessity for him, and the idea of choking a vampire as ancient as he by cutting off any flow of blood to the brain is a ludicrous endeavor. But the neck is a viable target to get a hold of and so she tries.
If she secures her grip on his arm and neck, rather than trying to tackle him to the ground, she'll pull him violently forward, whipping around in the process as if intending to simply send him flying some distance into the water surrounding them... which would hardly be that threatening to someone like him.
But as she whips, her right hand releases his neck and her body continues to spin to the left, her right arm lashing out, fingers clawed, as once more that necrotic ebony energy flows freely from her fingertips as she tries to rake her black covered hand against his torso with enough force to launch the Nightwalker some meters away.
If it plays out as she hoped, she wouldn't give chase, merely staying put where she was. The energy that seemed to be crackling around her, unseen but felt, has diminished slightly as well. She hovers slower, her arms not lifting quite as far from her sides, her eyes still focused but lacking the vigor they had when she pulled him into this realm.
Has he managed to strain the stamina of the Goddess of Death herself?
COMBATSYS: Izanami successfully hits Slayer with Mourning Era EX.
[ \\\\\ < > //////////////// ]
Slayer 2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|=======\===----\1 Izanami
There are moments that even Immortals such as the vampiric Slayer wishes he could take back. Centuries worth of living has been run through the Nightwalker's mind in the journey to this other plane of existence. Enough that even with his less focused mind, Slayer still manages to cling onto the one thing that might actually start his heart back to beating...
Slayer's thoughts are with the love of his life the entire time he's keeping a close eye on Izanami. Through the pain and savagery that seems to have overtaken his body and potential lack-of-soul, Slayer clings to the one thing that can bring him back from anywhere...
Slayer's movements in a world that he does not know are harder to accomplish. It's taking all of the brain power and willpower he has left to not collapse after Izanami's incredibly swift gliding. The movement is so quick and so smooth that even Slayer doesn't see it in slow motion. Normally, on a given day in which he's on an Earthly plane of existence he would be able to keep up with the Imperator's movements. Now though, things are a bit more difficult for him to pay attention to. As his mighty fist hits nothing but air, Slayer's thoughts lock in on the importance of getting back to...
That is the thought he's focused on when Izanami's hand grabs his arm. In that moment, when her weird flesh touches the expensive fabric of his suit jacket, Slayer realizes that he's no longer in control here. Here. Specifically.
The Imperator's grip on his neck is brutally tight and even though he lacks the need of air or breathing there's enough of a grip that does hinder him enough to be an uncomfortable experience. There may even be a spot of pain to go along with it.
Slayer's body is yanked and whipped violently, the Gentleman Vampire no longer in control of his appendaged faculties. While he doesn't flail he certainly finds himself in the air and at the mercy of Izanami's whims. His body is spun and swung right into the blackness covered hand that smashes right into his torso that something inside of his body cracks. His body is rocked viciously and sent sailing away by the meters. Plural.
There's a moment. A moment when Slayer's body hits what maybe passes for the ground in this realm. Whether it is a crash or a splash or even a smash, Slayer doesn't seem to care. He's on the ground and his limbs are heavier than they've ever been. It's actually taking him longer to get his legs and feet under him enough that he may push upward. The vampire coughs. Something he cannot remember doing as he digs deep into his reserves for some semblance of energy to continue on. It takes an incredible amount of conviction to whisper raspily the single word to revitalize himself.
Upon that hushed announcement to himself, Slayer's eyes narrow and his renewed vigor brings him up to his feet. Supernatural levels of adrenaline filling up the unnatural body that is slowly trying to heal from the destruction that has been wrought upon it. While some of his wounds and skin seal themselves up, his attire has had it. Drenched with everything from that horrible black substance to realm water and blood, Slayer's rise to his feet is one of a stumbled devotion and honor.
Without a word, Slayer buttons his jacket. Perhaps for the final time.
Slayer imbues himself with all he has left. Everything from his Nightwalkerish existence to his Eternal Love for Sharon. It all boils inside of him as he skims across the ground at a vampiric pace to get underneath the Imperator as much as possible, swinging an increasingly vampiric strength'd fist upwards at what he's come to realize is Death's Vessel. It is a glorious punch of divine style and nightmarish substance that could, if Slayer's aim is true, potentially be an opportunity to break himself free of this beautifully crafted hellscape trapped within the vastness of time and space.
"The truth is out there
we do as the heart desires
an erotic peek."
If the power of Slayer's Haiku be true, then perhaps there will be a chance of punching (Izanami through) a hole back to Reality.
Back to Love.
Back to Sharon.
COMBATSYS: Slayer can no longer fight.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ <
COMBATSYS: Slayer successfully hits Izanami with #All Dead#.
[ \\\\\\\\ <
The Imperator stays put after Slayer falls, his splash sending more ripples across the infninte plane of reflective water. Stare for too long in this place and it's understandable how one could get disoriented... the heavens and surface look identical, the latter a perfect reflection of what exists above: a vast blue sky, white puffy clouds, and a baleful crimson blotch with one small bit of black near the center of it.
"I have no doubt that on your own, you will find your way back eventually..." the violet-haired woman intones, her voice once more lyrical and patient, as if the last frenzied attack drained some of the fervor from her. "But how long...? Years, maybe... But that isn't long enough... As I said before, there are worse fates than death. Without the grave's kiss to release you from this fate, perhaps you will eventually come to realize what a curse it truly is... to live."
Izanami drifts back slowly, toes just above the water, until she comes to a stop further away from Slayer. Straightening her legs, as if bracing against a ground she doesn't quite reach with her feet, she raises her right hand up over her head, palm upward. Her left hand bends out from her side, palm upward, fingers curled slightly. And then, as Slayer rises wearily back to his feet and fixes his jacket, he first sense then easily observe a building in power around the crimson-eyed creature he faces. Black wisps of ethereal energy rise up from around her, each laced with faint hints of blue hot fire. They swirl up around the woman woman before coalescing into a black sphere of pure, concentrated oblivion above the raised palm of her right hand.
With each passing moment, the sphere goes larger while the violent heat of a brilliant star burns over it in the form of flowing blue flame. A wind builds, first barely perceptible, but then growing in force even as the sphere over Izanami's hand grows in size. It starts no larger than a softball, but it isn't long before it's larger than a basketball, then a large beachball, then a small car. Even still it grows, black and unknowable, laced with the heat of supernova, and as too does the storm grow, currents whipping at the clothing of the two and stirring up the once tranquil water into a white foamed frenzy.
All the while, Izanami stares calmly toward Slayer as the shadow of her power looms larger still over the entire area, finally beginning to eclipse the large red stain in the sky. As the destroying sphere grows larger than a house, one might wonder if this unfathomable power is drawn from her own boundless reserves or from this hidden plane deep within the Boundary. Either way, she doesn't seem to struggle in the slightest in the effort.
Water begins to boil, steam rising up all around them from the intense heat radiating out from the growing orb.
Slayer would realize what it is before long - the nature of that ominous black meteor of power being held aloft by the power of Hades Izanami:
It is the Void of nonexistence, the Nihility at the end of time. It is the Extinction of life, the Emptiness of the forgotten self.
It is then that he might realize that the air rushing around him is being drawn toward the expanding Dark Annihilation as it hungrily feeds on everything around them.
"By the time you get back to the world you left behind, civilizations will have come and gone, and your very identity will have long since left your mind. All that you are and ever were will be forgotten. No one will remember you ever existed."
The sphere over her head is immense and the forces ripping at Slayer, attempting to draw him into its infinite nothingness strong enough to pull water from all around them into the abyss.
It is then that he makes his move, surging forward. Izanami reacts, eyes narrowing, her right hand snapping down, finger pointed outward as if to drive the colossal weapon at him. Immediately, it begins to move, a horrendously loud shuddering sound as if a planet were tilting off its axis. It plunges forward, inexorably toward him to deliver promised ruin.
But the might of the Nightwalker is unleashed, his speed, even against the shackles of this distance place, legendary. He is before Izanami in an instant, water surging upward all around him toward the falling black hole.
The Goddess of Death responds, her left hand flicking at the wrist, the Magatama moving to intercept-
The punch of the Nightstalker in that moment, at the edge of the abyss, on the threshold of oblivion, is transcendent. Into the blow, he pours all of his nightmarish power, his monstrous intent, his centuries of knowledge, and his eternal love for a woman. It is the Sublime Uppercut.
There may never be another punch like it.
By the time the Doctorate of Dandyism has uttered the first line of his poem, he will realize that the presence of Izanami is completely gone. As the second line escapes his lips, the black, blazing sphere is beginning to collapse in on itself, an impossible sight in an impossible place.
And as he whispers the third line of the haiku, a vortex will open in the center of the sphere as it begins to fall apart. Light pours in through the gate, and through the light, a familiar sight of a glade visited not so long ago in the shadow of a sacred mountain in Japan. It is a miracle for one at the final minutes of the eleventh hour, a wonder wrought by the heart of the Undying Gentleman.
In the Garden of Shells a new crater is found. Deep, smoking, melted rock and debris spread out from around it in all directions. Choking fumes rise from it, blocking out the view from within. Eventually though, Izanami rises from it, floating upward and then finally landing on the ruined soil with her feet. In front of her left hand the three joined pieces of the Yasakani no Magatama turn slowly in their 'shield' formation. Slowly, the Imperator lifts her face to stare at the gateway several meters above the glade. Its existence defies explanation, and its presence is tenuous. It won't be stable for long.
Then she shifts her eyes to the shielding Magatama in front of her, the relic from before time that actually took the force of Slayer's punch. Smoke and heat rises off its surface. And there, on the front of it, something that should be impossible on an artifact forged before the creation of the universe itself:
COMBATSYS: Izanami has ended the fight here.
There are a few moments in one's immortal life that they are tested. Completely and utterly tested. Not just their mettle but their hearts. Battles that are forged on more than skill and substance alone. Battles that are waged not on land but within the very souls of those that are at war. These moments are rare but they mean something.
They mean everything.
The Gentleman Vampire is fighting one of those battles at this very moment. The worst part about this battle?
He knows it.
Just from Izanami's words alone he can feel the potential of losing everything that he cares about. If he were to remain here, in this beautifully silenced plane, then he would not ever see his beloved again. A fate already worse than death but one that would still held a semblance of hope.
But Hades Izanami does not believe in hope, does she? Not when the obliteration of the Nightwalker's Everything is on the table.
Slayer's actions are in time with the Nothingness being created. He draws on everything he has, which is limited in this strange location lacking time and space, at it does seem that his abilities are severely weakened here. However, there is one thing that not even his ungodly powered opponent can take away from him. One thing that has empowered him over centuries of life. One thing that will continue to feed his eternal existence regardless of when or where he is. Despite all realities or lack thereof, there is one thing that Slayer will always have to draw upon for fights like this. Moments like this.
And that punch, what he often refers to as All Dead is something else altogether this time. Something grander. Something more powerful. Something that even he hasn't experienced in his long life. Something that not many of his foes will ever get to experience.
This one, this one will be called: All Love.
A mighty strike that leads the way back to where he came from. He can see it. The light. The gateway. The tunnel. Whatever it may be called, Slayer can see it. However, the land that he's in seems to no longer want to allow this brief moment of a punched hole in surreality to exist. And while it has only been a moment, the portal is already closing. Seeking to seal the fate of the Nightwalker.
And Slayer can feel it.
Slayer digs as deep as he can, pushing off that ground of rapid darkness as he launches himself with his infamous speed towards the threateningly closing gap. His right arm stretched out and his capelet flapping in what may or may not be wind. The golden ring with the blood ruby jewel almost willing him forth as he attempts to punch his way towards the only hope that he has of getting out of this plane at this moment.
We have time for a brief flashback, don't we?
Slayer sits in a field looking very much pre-Dandy with his long hair and his medieval clothes. He looks quite like a peasant though a happy one as he is sprawled upon the grass in a location that is mostly hidden from the eyes of those that may seek to find him. His grin is infectious and grows to be even wider as the bare footsteps of someone else approaches. A woman in a hooded red cloak ducks between the trees to enter into their secret meeting place. She pulls her hood down to reveal the beauty and splendor of Sharon.
Slayer's on his feet in an instant and the two embrace as if they have not seen each other in years. Slayer moves in for a kiss but Sharon interrupts him with the arrival of a gift. A small one, hastily wrapped in cloth and a string. Slayer looks surprised. Sharon looks lovingly nervous as Slayer accepts and unravels the cloth in one classy pull on that string. As the cloth unfolds, that same gold ring with the blood ruby is revealed to him for the first time. He loves it, of course and Sharon puts it on his finger. The two lovebirds embrace and kiss as we find our way back to the surreality of Slayer's actual situation...
Fueled by the flashback, Slayer's arrival at the closing gateway is a moment away. The closer he gets the faster it seems to close. His leading fist opens up into a hand, a hand reaching for the only thing that matters to him at this point. There is not a single thought in his mind, song in his heart, that is not...
Slayer opens his eyes to find that his ring-bearing hand has been grabbed by Sharon's. She's standing there, on the other side of that closing gateway, holding onto her husband's hand with everything that she has. Her neck wound has healed and she ignores whatever Imperator actions are behind her. She has one mission and that is to bring her husband home.
There's a twisted explosion of light and darkness that makes it hard to see for the briefest of moments. When this passes, the gateway is no more.
Down below, on the ground, are Slayer and Sharon. Clinging to each other as if they hadn't seen each other in a lifetime.
It takes a moment for Slayer to look over in the direction of Izanami. When he does, he offers her a silent but all too telling nod of: 'Good Show.' Nothing but respect from Slayer in this moment.
And, as if to forfeit or simply no longer have his love threatened, Slayer's capelet expands as it wraps around both he and Sharon, the two disappearing in a cloud of vampire parlor trick smoke!
Log created on 21:29:59 07/22/2022 by Izanami, and last modified on 10:19:35 08/12/2022.