Description: Beneath a night sky glittering with endless shards of glass, what little remains of an Abandoned, Remote Village ravaged by war, then trampled by a titan and witch-husk must somehow bear a meeting between the one-armed ronin Baiken and Raven, the Observer-- a clash of tenacious survivor's instincts and undying, exhausted boredom.
For some people, it is unfortunately not an entirely unfamiliar sight.
A ghost town borne of tragedy. Ravaged by battle and calamity both, very little remains of actual buildings here now. Demolished walls and collapsed rooftops, burnt-out cinders-- and all too many unmarked graves. A once-thriving community, destroyed by powers beyond their own control, without choice or chance given.
It's an-all-too familiar sight for Baiken. As someone who experienced it as a survivor, she would like to say, but truth be told-- perhaps she feels as though she were a ghost, too, sometimes.
The rumble of thunder carries along from somewhere in the distance, heard easily even over the perpetual sound of heavy rainfall. Raindroplets barrage loudly off the ancient roof tiles of one of the rare surviving buildings in this japanese village -- though 'surviving' might be generous, considering one of the exterior walls has crumbled away entirely. At least it provides shelter from the rain for the one-armed, red-haired ronin here. Sat down crosslegged on the front porch, just out of reach of the downpour, idly staring off into the darkened distance beyond the rain while puffing on an old smoking pipe. Just waiting for the rain to let up.
Or for something to show up.
There is a certain, odd sense of serenity that hangs over this remote, abandoned village... at least for some.
Despite being a place that has seen much death, ruination and suffering throughout long years, it is calm and peaceful now. Quiet. Contemplative. And though the ghosts of the past still haunt these grounds, they too seem to have grown calm and complacent with the passage of years.
A process that one particular immortal wanderer knows all too well.
There is no grand entrance for the Wanderer here, no sudden swooping of a crow turning into a man as he makes his appearance, no dramatic crack of thunder and strike of lightning, nothing.
No, merely a head - topped with stark-white hair and covered in pale, sickly skin - peeking down over the edge of the porch's roof. Though it's something of an unusual way to make himself seen, the expression on Raven's face isn't mischievous or amused; merely bored, tired, the usual exhausted visage of a man who has long ago grown tired with everything this world has to offer.
"Greetings... Baiken, was it...?"
Even his voice seems to carry with it the weight and burden of centuries, the tones of an individual who sees little of value left in this waking world.
With a sudden burst of movement, the bizarre man rolls off of the overhang covering the porch which Baiken is seated upon, his lithe, skinny frame twisting in the air and landing softly on the muddy earth below. Strangely, his feet don't seem to create any indentation in soggy, wet ground, like he weighed little more than a feather.
"I worry... that you won't be able to... hmm... live up to the standards of my last opponent..." he mumbles as his eyes look Baiken up and down. He knows of her reputation, and he knows it is a fierce one... but can she truly take him to the depths of pain and agony, as Hades Izanami had in the tournament's last round...?
...there was only one way to find out.
COMBATSYS: Raven has started a fight here.
Even if it doesn't come with any kind of bombastic flair, the appearance of this pale wanderer, on a night such as this, should freak plenty of people out. Hell, the lack of any flaor arguably just makes it creepier, at that.
But Baiken? When she looks up to the sight of that head peeking from above, she just calmy blows out somr pipe smoke before, with a flick of her hand, using kinetic energy and the air itself to snuff out the pipe.
And she just looks vaguely annoyed more than anything.
She doesn't respond verbally to the question, but the dropping of her name does have her smoothly rising up to her feet -- and eyeing the man over once he's landed on the ground.
"Who knows. Or if even anyone can cut someone like ya free?"
She's not much for small talk either.
Another flick of a hand and the smoking pipe is flipped into the air. The ornate, wooden thing sails through, almost as if defying gravity for several long seconds while Baiken's single eye remains firmly on her opponent-to-be.
And finally, a blunt *tink* of the pioe hitting floorboards echoes out over the rainfall.
It's a signal.
A starting pistol shot, a rung bell. But instead of runners setting off to a hundred meter dash or a boxer swinging a first punch, it comes with an explosion of motion and a flutter of a long kimono, followed a nanosecond after by a spray of mud and water from a sandal skidding across the wet ground. An instant to get there, besides the ghostly man.
An instant, too, for her sword to be drawn and slashed in a wide, horizontal crescent, guiding razor-sharp steel and a stream of bright-pink chi for the man's side.
COMBATSYS: Baiken has joined the fight here.
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Baiken 0/-------/------=|-------\-------\0 Raven
COMBATSYS: Raven blocks Baiken's Rokkonsogi.
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Baiken 0/-------/-----==|-------\-------\0 Raven
As the pipe is tossed into the air, Raven's mismatched eyes - one green, the other replaced with an ancient golden coin from some long-forgotten society deep in mankind's past - seem to follow different targets. The green pupiled eye follows the trajectory of the pipe, while the golden circle set in his other socket remains firmly fixed on Baiken herself.
The immortal makes no effort to leap into action to make the first attack. Neither does he seem overly concerned about his opponent's offense, standing his ground against the explosive velocity of Baiken's forward dash.
As the sword slashes - almost unseen due to the remarkable speed of the female warrior - through the air, Raven's swaying, unsteady body seems to surge with life for the briefest of moments.
A brilliant-red crimson energy manifests itself around the long, metal spikes he has attached to his index and middle fingers, as he brings his right hand up to block the swipe with said items. Although the blade itself is prevented from digging into his flesh, the chi that the sword slash created still travels through, slicing into his tattered old black cloak and drawing blood from the sickly flesh underneath.
There are no words from the thin, pale stranger; only the harsh, disappointed clicking of his tongue against teeth as he leaps backwards, pulling his arm behind him as he does. The moment he creates a foot of space between him and Baiken, he brings his limb swinging back forward, unleashing a large, circular ball of red energy that slices through the air like a razor-blade, aimed straight at Baiken's torso.
COMBATSYS: Baiken fully avoids Raven's Scharf Kugel.
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Baiken 0/-------/----===|-------\-------\0 Raven
Come the rebound of the slash, Baiken's sword has already returned to it's scabbard in such an instantenous, smooth return to an unarmee posture, that one would be forgiven for wondering if she ever even had the blade in her hand in the first place. But after that, she doesn't have the chance to return to a prepared stance before she is forced to move again, in the face of the incoming orb of cutting energy.
And she leaps.
A powerful kick to the ground to send her sailing right over the orb in a flutter of both her kimono and her phenomenally long, thick hair, and by look of things set to fly past even her opponent.
But then, a glint of steel from her right sleeve - the one that doesn't house an arm - heralding a sudden appearance of blades from within, extending out to slash for Raven's front from the air.
Five curved folding blades, held down like a fan -- abd swunt up from below in a wide, circle of a slash that cobtinues past her own shoulder after her momentum has carried her past her, and swingint down behind her to slam into Raven as a followup-strike from behind.
COMBATSYS: Baiken successfully hits Raven with Youzansen EX.
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Baiken 0/-------/-======|===----\-------\0 Raven
Compared to the polished, practice movements of his opponent, Raven's stance and bearing seems lazy; almost sleepy, in fact. His backwards leap carries him several feet away, his body travelling through the air with the weightless floating of a feather on a breeze. Likewise, his feet seem to create no sounds - nor leave so much as an imprint - as they land on the ground.
The hum that escapes his slackened lips is delivered as a disinterested, dreary exclamation as he notes thst Baiken has leapt effortlessly over his attack and follows right at his heels.
He has only fractions of a second to react to the woman's swift offensive; yet, strangely enough, he does not seem to make any attempt to defend himself.
The blades rake into his flesh... but rather than an outpouring of blood as one might expect, the crimson flows from his wounds in little more than a slow drip. And where others might make some loud shout of pain or fury, there is only silence from Raven; not even when Baiken executes her follow-up attack from behind does he cry out.
As the injured immortal turns to face his opponent, blood slowly trickling from the cuts in his porcelain-white flesh, there is the vague gleam of interest in his real eye. Even the coin inserted in the other eye socket seems to gleam brighter than usual... as if something inside the ancient individual might slowly be awakening.
Rather than attempt to create distance between him and his sword-wielding opponent, the Watcher remains close to Baiken as his right hand - which had been hanging limp at his side - flashes through the air. The metal spikes fastened to hand begin to glow brighter, as they're swiped in a vicious arc towards Baiken's upper body.
And as he attacks, the deep cuts in his flesh slowly begin to knit themselves back together.
COMBATSYS: Baiken blocks Raven's Medium Punch.
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Baiken 0/-------/=======|===----\-------\0 Raven
Baiken's landing comes with another wide spray of mud and rainwater both, complete with a spin along her heel during the skidding slide, all while the five blades have already retracted back into her sleeve.
How she fits those there is anyone's guess.
Yes, most people react in some way to getting cut across in such a manner.
But definitely not like this.
Baiken's single eye narrows to stare at the ghostly man through the barrage of raindrops from above. A certain realization comes, and with it? Irritation, apparently.
Her left foot stomps forward to adjust her stance, and in the same moment, her left hand has suddenly brought her sword directly upwards from it's sheath -- directly into the path of the swinging nail-like implements in Raven's hand. The metal is halted, but some of that energy? It slips through, yes, and--
A cut suddenly appears across Baiken's right cheek with a small splatter of blood that is quickly washed away by the downpour. That might not be of much thought to her, but she still looks mighty annoyed by *something* about this opponent.
"Yer enjoying this?"
Rather than maintain the pressing of blades in waiting for the response, though, she pushes back to knock him back subtly -- only to drive her sword *down* right after, to slice for the man's thigh.
COMBATSYS: Raven counters Quick Strike from Baiken with Kein Herz.
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Baiken 1/------=/=======|====---\-------\0 Raven
Pushed backwards, Raven's limp, sickly body offers no resistance; it almost looks like he's in danger of toppling over, even though it wasn't a full-force shove.
But he remains on his feet, and when Baiken attempts to utilize the distance created to slash at his thigh, the Wanderer once again moves with a speed that seems at odd with every other aspect of his demeanour and behaviour.
One arm travels in an upward arc, and as the limb moves through the air it leaves in its wake a bright, shimmering shield of blueish-white energy that stops the blade in its tracks.
The immortal knows he has little time to seize upon the advantage this has granted him... but before he acts, he takes a second to stare at Baiken's expression.
So alive. So full of purpose and determination. He takes a moment to wonder...
...when was the last time he was as full of life? Was he ever?
Dismissing the musing thought in an instant, Raven snaps his fingers and the shield keeping Baiken at bay shatters and dissolves into nothingness. And with it gone, comes those same, burning-red spikes, taking through the air to slice away at the sword-wielding warrior.
Kicking off the ground once his needles strike their target, Raven creates another few feet of distance between himself and Baiken before his feet once again soundlessly hit the ground.
Finally, he offers a response to Baiken's question.
A deep sigh pours out, as one hand comes up to idly scratch at his cheek with the glowing spikes tied to his index finger. And when he speaks, he sounds like a man who is exhausted simply from the titanic weight of his own existence.
"Oh, no... you'll have to try harder than that, if you want me to enjoy myself..."
Well. That's new.
Baiken's eye actually flickers with some surprise as the tip of her blade is caught by the energy shield. The red-haired woman's head tips up to snap her eye back to the Wanderer just in time for the spikes to come swinging in.
The nails slash through the fabric covering her shoulder, leaving a small spray of blood and torn pieces of cloth to flying into the air -- just to be immediately washed and blown away by the rain and wind, as if they'd never been there in the first place.
The hit, either way, brought the ronin to be turned over from the force of the impact, with her right side left facing her in a near-exposing of her back.
"Not here to entertain ya," she growls -- and as if on cue, something else falls out of her right sleeve, left hanging there just at her waist by a geared suspension mechanic.
A rifle. An ancient-looking flintlock rifle, sure, but a rifle nonethless, held upside down with the trigger-guard just in the reach of her left hand while it's pointed behind her. At Raven. She's quick to snap her hand over, and with a slightly akward arch of her back, to take proper aim over her shoulder.
"Ya damned freak!"
She pulls the trigger, and a roaring report of a gunshot that rivals the boom of thunder rings out over the rain, the scent of ancient gunpowder briefly assaulting the nostrils in time with a heavy, flaming bullet sent out from the wide muzzle of the rifle.
COMBATSYS: Raven blocks Baiken's Yashagatana.
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Baiken 1/------=/=======|====---\-------\0 Raven
Even as his makeshift claws bite into the woman's shoulders, there is little sign of enjoyment or triumph visible in the bored, apathetic man's expression. Whatever purpose he has in this bizarre tournament, it's clear he finds little joy in harming his opponent.
Apparently, he has other reasons for involving himself in Queen Sindel's games.
"I would expect not..."
He replies to Baiken's claim that she isn't there to entertain him; sounding more than a little bit disappointed that this is the case.
She moves to reveal her hidden firearm, just as Raven crouches low to the ground and leaps into the air. By the time that Baiken is ready to fire, he's already being carried towards her on an unseen breeze, cloak fluttering behind him as he hurtles towards the woman and her gunpowder weapon.
The bullet strikes the approaching Raven's shoulder, the projectile ripping through his soft flash and shattering the collarbone underneath; accompanied with a vicious, sickening crunch of splintering bone.
Once again, no shout of pain escapes the man's lips; and the impact only seems to momentarily slow his forward momentum. Another gust of wind travels through the abandoned village, as Raven uses the breeze to regain his lost velocity.
Hands gripping the edges of his tattered cloak, the immortal spreads his arms wide as he clears the distance between himself and Baiken... his attack comes in the form of the giant spike driven through his skull from forehead to back, as he takes advantage of his trajectory and speed in an attempt to pierce the tip into his foe's flesh.
COMBATSYS: Baiken fails to interrupt Rabenflug from Raven with Sakura.
-*- DEVASTATING HIT! -*-
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Baiken 1/-======/=======|=======\-------\0 Raven
The rifle is quickly let go of after the shot, and pulled back into the depths of her sleeve by the geared suspension. But her opponent is still flying in without so much as a flinch. She halfway expected as much.
The hold on the rifle is quickly replaced with the hilt of her sword, and she draws it with lightning-fast speed--
Just not fast enough.
The moment the point of her sword left the scabbard, the tip of Raven's 'horn' already broke skin at the very center of her chest. Without anything to stop it, it quickly pierces all the way through to tenting out the fabric of her coat at her back -- and then tearing up *that* with a glorious spray of blood before the impact of Raven's charge itself sends the ronin flying back. The good news is that this does dislodge her from the spike. The way more bad news? Now there's nothing in the way to stem the ensuing profuse bleeding or plug the hole in her lung.
A violent crash ensues against the wall of the very same building Baiken has been taken shelter from the rain by, and the ancient, worn-out wood shatters all-too-easily to make way for the one-armed ronin to fly through, bouncing like a ragdoll afterwards through not just one room, but through a *second wall* before her momentum is finally arrested by the exterior wall on the opposite side of the building.
And there, it does take her a hot second to properly get up. The sword, almost forgotten in her stubbornly-gripping hand, is stabbed into the floorboards to turn the weapon into a leaning post dor her to shakily push herself up with. But that effort comes with a rather disgusting noise and a vomiting of roughly a pint or blood. That can't be good.
Landing lightly on his feet after the impact of his flight sends Baiken hurtling away, Raven hums lazily to himself as one finger comes up to wipe a small amount of the woman's blood off the massive spike driven through his skull. Taking his attention off the backwards trajectory of the samurai, Raven rubs the red fluid between his fingertip and thumb, seemingly lost in thought for the time being.
There is the briefest flash of something else underneath his apathetic mask: some gleam of enjoyment or satisfaction as he watches the crimson blood smear across his white skin. It's only there for a split second before his face slackens once again, returning to its typical, bored appearance.
By the time his opponent recovers to some degree, Raven has made his way through the holes her crashing body had left, calmly pursuing her as he silently shuffles and staggers along the ground.
If Baiken bothers to glance at the wounds her blades and firearm had inflicted on his body, she might notice the cuts almost completely healed over with fresh, pristine skin. The shattered bones and ripped flesh the bullet left in his shoulder are still in the process of healing, but he seems unbothered but the injury.
He has, after all, 'suffered' much, much worse in his countless years roaming this earth. Though suffering would hardly be the appropriate word.
One would likely expect any warrior worth their salt to press the advantage, here and now. To seize upon this opportunity to finish off a wounded, weakened opponent...
But the immortal Watcher is no common or typical fighter. His motives are different than the usual. He has no lust for glory, no great love of victory, and no fear of defeat. He does not wish to advance in Queen Sindel's tournament simply for the sense of accomplishment or accolades one might earn by doing so.
What he wishes, more than any treasure or boom in this world, is to feel alive again.
With heavily-lidded, sleepy eyes blearily staring at his opponent, the Wanderer's dull voice seeps out in odd timing with the rhythmic swaying of his thin frame and the dangling of his arms in the breeze.
"Come, now... surely that can't be all...?"
There is no tone of mockery or sarcasm or belittlement in his voice; only a vaguely pained disappointment.
But still, his remaining eye - and the coin replacing his missing one - seem to shine brighter than they were only minutes ago. As if something inside were fighting its way through centuries of ennui, thrashing towards the surface.
COMBATSYS: Raven leers hungrily at his opponent...
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Baiken 1/-======/=======|=======\-------\0 Raven
A hiss of a labored breath, owing to a lung on the verge of collapsing. She stands syill. She doesn't run.
While she does calmly re-sheath her blade, there isn't any real indication or giving up. Not judging rrom yow decisively she turns to face Raven, standing there by the Baiken-shaped hole in the wall or in the way her peach-colored eye narrows into a tight slit at the man.
"Who knows?" She hisses out, as her left, sandal-clad foot skids forward ti bring her into a slightly hunched-over posture, her left hand extended out with the fingers slightly curled outwards.
"Let's find out."
COMBATSYS: Baiken focuses on her next action.
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Baiken 1/-======/=======|=======\-------\0 Raven
For seconds that seem to stretch for far longer, the only sound from Raven is the slow tapping of one foot against the ground.
He waits, watching as she re-sheathes her sword and changes her stance, giving her all the time she needs to steady herself. The immortal has no interest in going on the offensive against an unprepared opponent. Others might have pushed to end the battle when the advantage was in their court; but the Watcher has different motives than most.
His opponent speaks, and a small twitch of his lips seems to indicate some amusement found in her words.
Suddenly, a flash of movement as the strange individual's right hand vanishes - for a split-second - into the confines of his ruined old cloak. When he removes the appendage, he sends something hurtling across the distance towards Baiken with a wide arc of his arm and a gentle flick of the wrist.
The object in question is similar to the spikes fastened to his fingers; a long, thin metallic nail that becomes wreathed in crimson flames as it strikes the ground halfway between Raven and his opponent.
It ricochets up, seemingly swerving and bending through the air as it flies towards Baiken.
And Raven merely stands some distance away, watching with bored curiosity as he anticipates his foe's reactions to the attack.
COMBATSYS: Raven successfully hits Baiken with Schmerz Berg.
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Baiken 2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|=======\==-----\1 Raven
For just a split second, something almost feral appears in Baiken's in the first instant that Raven makes a swing. Stubbornly - foolishly even - she stomos her way forward without hesitation, even in spite of the burning spike ricocheting up from below at her. On it's rebound, it emveds itself neatly into the ronin's right hip, drawing a brief, pained hiss from her as metal tears through skin and flame burns through flesh.
But then she stops.
But it is voluntary. With purpose. Her right foot sweeps far forward before stomping down, sending her empty sleeve fluttering out ahead of her.
The guttural, very unlady-like roar heralds the sudden burst of a massive claw from within the sleeve, attached to a chain. It flies to cross the distance between her and Raven, to clamp onto him before pulling right back.
And pulling him right back to her with it, if her aim strikes true.
COMBATSYS: Raven counters Kabari from Baiken with Give It To Me HERE!.
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Baiken 2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|=------\-------\0 Raven
The brow above the golden coin imbedded in Raven's left eye socket is raised as he watches the woman stomp towards him. Her fearlessness in the face of all she has seen from her opponent is an admirable quality, and one that leaves him with an odd, distant feeling of melancholy and nostalgia.
Once upon a time, he too was an honourable, steadfast warrior. A knight in medieval times, fighting for a cause with his body and soul. A noble example of human willpower and dedication.
Though he may possess powers far greater than those he did in his past life, deep inside he is little more than a shell. A soulless husk, shuffling through centuries in search of death... and unable to find it.
But now is hardly the time for Raven to be musing on the past in such a way. As the chain springs forward with steel jaws leading the way, the Watcher spreads his arms wide and throws his head back to stare upwards. His limbs twitch and shake in anticipation of the pain to come...
The metal strikes his midsection, the jagged teeth closing around his rib cage as they bite into his soft flesh, drawing a slow trickle of blood as they do so.
Raven barely has the opportunity to savour the sensations that flood his brain, before finding himself yanked back towards Baiken as she draws the chain back. He offers no resistance, lifting his feet off the ground to aid his opponent's efforts in dragging him closer.
The woman would be forgiven in assuming he is giving her the opportunity to follow up with another attack... but that isn't quite the case.
It would appear he was simply allowing Baiken to bring him within striking distance; the moment he approaches arms reach, the immortal springs into action. He doesn't move to free himself of the bear trap-like steel jaws, leaving them stuck in his flesh unless Baiken moves to release them herself.
What he does do, however, is cease the forward momentum forced onto him by the retreating chain; Raven digs his heels into the ground and comes to a dead stop, a shocking amount of strength suddenly evident in his thin and frail-looking body.
The whispered word is all the warning Baiken receives, before her foe lashes out with one hand to drive the two metal spikes attached into her torso. And then he yanks that hand back, repeating the same stabbing motion with his other arm... and again... and again...
Each successive stab comes faster than the last, until the previously laconic warrior is caught up in a frenzy of thrusting stabs, eyes wide and hungry as his tongue bobs out of the corner of his mouth.
One can only guess at the total number of attacks executed in the frenzied onslaught, but when it ends Raven lashes out with one foot to boot Baiken in the stomach, attempting to knock her back as he raises one hand to his face.
His tongue slides further out from between his lips, as he drags it across the red-hot, deadly sharp, blood-covered spikes he'd driven into the samurai.
"...I appreciate the effort, if nothing else..."
Log created on 15:51:48 07/23/2022 by Raven, and last modified on 08:34:25 08/08/2022.