Description: The gleaming sword of a ruthlessly pragmatic swordswoman crosses with an entire workshop of strange esoteric preparations, as she tests her mettle against a boy claiming to wield power originating from the end of all shinobi. But this ronin is no simple steel sakura, and that boy finds his tactical prowess tested by preparations all too like his own.
There was a strong note, once the World Warrior organizers could even find her to let her know, of 'you want me to what' in Baiken's voice when they told her where her next bout was. The fight with Shina in round one had been... exhiliarating, but also terribly brief. What one might expect when you take two very experienced fighters and pit them against each other. The loss smarts, but if there's anything Baiken has experience being reflective about, it's loss.
Still, as she walks into the atrium, ready for her second round bout, there's a lot on the ronin's mind. This 'Seishirou Ryouhara' person... surprisingly little known about him, for starters, and what IS known feels terribly inconsistent. Japanese, clearly, which already puts him up a leg in the pink-haired samurai's evaluation, but considering most people START the rankings in the negatives, who knows how much that's gonna help him, if at all.
Of course, mysterious types like that tend to Know Things, and if there's anything Baiken can find a use for, it's people who Know Things.
"Still," she mutters, rolling her neck on her shoulders. "I hope he can fight."
A swig from the sake gourd at her waist, as museum staff all around watch her with wary fear. A fight? In HERE? The place is mostly glass and super expensive dinosaur skeletons, and Baiken, well... she doesn't look like the kind of fighter who gives a shit about taking out a T-Rex if it will give her a tactical advantage.
Who knows, thinks a curator. Maybe the other guy will be super conscientious about property damage.
That was the nature of this tournament. The enchantment of World Warrior was such that it attracted talent from all over the world, consummate professionals, whom wasted no time nor gave no quarter in their battle, drawing out untold power and secrets. In short, it was the perfect location for him to find shinobi. To place his name on the roster was a flag; to attract the type of attention he needed to do what had to be done in the shadows. The battles before the camera -- the glitz, the glamour, were vestigial at best.
Battles best finished in an eyeblink.
Ryouhara, the boy with the oni helmet, had no preconception of what this 'Baiken' was capable of, but she was, by all intelligence gathered, a powerful and pragmatic ronin. She would require strong preparations. But the challenge? Doing so while keeping his secrets in the highest of profile tournaments.
The curators enjoy exactly .13 seconds of peace, as a horrific shriek of metal and bone drown out the sound of silk, as the support structures for the massive skeleton snap. The beast lurches in its traces, shorn cables flicking about as the weight of the creature suddenly transfers from wires suspended in the ceiling to skeletal haunches, the entire thing coming down at the samurai teeth-first, maw gaping. Of course, the reconfiguration is a masterwork of engineering, as the beast merely lurches low, to menace Baiken with its maw -- and then breathe a flash of silk at her.
Ripples and ribbons of white silk flow from the creature's mouth, yards of a singular, uninterrupted bolt rippling like the river after her. It is almost enough .Almost enough to hide his arrival, an armored -thing- in a white haori. Baiken will just barely catch the familiar glint and hiss of steel, as Shinsokutou is drawn. Ryouhara arrives, blade first, whirling from the tyrannosaur's maw on a wave of silk and aiming to take her head from her shoulders in an instant.
It is, interestingly, Ryouhara at his most respectful to world history.
COMBATSYS: Seishirou has started a fight here.
COMBATSYS: Baiken has joined the fight here.
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Baiken 0/-------/------=|======-\-------\0 Seishirou
Well alright then.
The museum staff absolutely lose their minds at this entrance, predictably; a few of them are already on the phone with the insurance company. Baiken, meanwhile, looks on with surprising impassivity as a giant goddamned dinosaur skeleton starts spitting a Jo-Ann Fabrics at her. Certainly, it would be hard to imagine a more intimidating, or at least confusing, way for Seishirou to enter the fight.
In the camera's eye, barely visible between rippling flows of silk, is visible an extremely strange sight: Baiken holding the saya of her blade laterally, parallel to the ground, with her *teeth*.
There is just barely subsonic flash of silver, and as Seishirou finally gets into place, fragments of silk rain down around Baiken like drifting snowflakes, nameless blade sliding into mouth-gripped saya with a resounding and gravely final *CLICK*.
The one-armed fighter's arm comes down, buckling the saya in place on her belt; the pink-haired fighter tilts her head to the side, the tattered haori she wears a stark contrast to her opponents.
In a country bumpkin accent, she inclines her head with a grin. "Flashy," Baiken says, with a nod of approval.
The task of stalking justice into Hell falls outside the realm of virtuous deeds; so I, a low-rank samurai, shall undertake it. One can almost HEAR the double beat of the koto, looking at these two.
If this were anyone else, there'd be a round of banter. As it is... no. Definitely not.
"Let's see what else you got, boy," is all the preamble Baiken gives, before rushing forward, drawing and slashing her blade with that one good arm, from hip height to neck, the blade trailing a blaze of sakura-pink chi.
COMBATSYS: Seishirou dodges Baiken's Rokkonsogi.
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Baiken 0/-------/-----==|======-\-------\0 Seishirou
"Che." An admirable defense.
The silk flow was part of his preparations. A lesser samurai could have only cut the silk in twain, perhaps in a few equal sections. Baiken might notice the elaborate patterning on the white silk's edges with the remaining tangle hanging from the tyrannosaur's mouth like the loll of a fat, white tongue. It's covered in fine brocade patterns that only show once the light hits it at just the right angle; and in the shreds that Baiken's made of the silk surrounding her, a tiny dance of black ink interwoven as arcane accents. The silk was intended to be used as a surrounding four points sealing pattern, once cut into sections, allowing Ryouhara to control the sakura-haired woman's movement and eliminate her swiftly. Unfortunately, it didn't account for the massive sash being cut into -snowflakes-.
He'd need to come up with an alternative preparation. The runed blade of Shinsokutou lifts slowly, nicked from the clash with her blade, setting to his shoulder, leaving a small imprint against the pure white of his own haori as a glint of glass flashes from the eyes of the oni mask, dark mouth gaping wide to reveal vicious fangs frozen in metal. A moment, two, of silence, and a quiet nod of consent.
The next moment is taken at speed, the flash of steel two intersecting lines of white. The shinobi's blade flicks, a straight-bladed rider-length tsurugi. It proves a stout weapon, smashing into and binding her rush at an aggressive angle, levering into and capturing the blade at the upwards axis by jamming the point into the tile, and bracing it beneath the press of the shinobi's tabi boot. The blast of motion spreads his silks about him, causing him to lean into and grunt audibly with the exertion against her strength -- it takes quite a bit of leverage to keep the blade from sweeping his torso off at the middle. Well. It's a little overdramatic.
This level of attack was not intended to shear right through him. Likely it would have only disemboweled him.
The shinobi leans into the blow, his mask only a breath from her.
That's when the clack of several interlocking sections of steel can be heard.
The shinobi -yawns- into existence a full-sized javelin of a spear, erupting from a blast of pure heat haze from his mouth, aiming for Baiken's face. It takes an instant, perhaps two to realize the ninja had already separated himself from the afterimage that now keeps her sword guarded, enough so to serve as a cover to throw a spear at her. The attack would be lethal for a lesser opponent -- but the split second attack is only a diversion to draw her reaction, and allow the shinobi, who has already vaulted onto his own afterimage's shoulders, to suss out her attack. An instant, a second is all he needs, and he will pounce, stabbing three times with viper speed in an eyeblink.
COMBATSYS: Baiken fails to interrupt Shunshin Mirage from Seishirou with Sakura.
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Baiken 0/-------/--=====|=======\==-----\1 Seishirou
No good sword technique has only one movement, and Baiken's technique is -- pardon the phrasing -- a cut above the rest; her charge at Seishirou more or less instantly turns into her body spinning, blade still thrumming with white-pink energy, looking to jab it behind her into whatever pursuit might be coming her way. The problem, of course, is that the 'target' she is about stab isn't real.
As he vaults into his own more complex maneuver, Seishirou can probably see it: before her blade even strikes (and ESPECIALLY after), Baiken realizes the trap for what it is, but at that point she is simply too committed to the movement to do anything but follow through with it. Thus, he is able to get off his succession of strikes on her without incident, drawing pinpoint spots of spreading red on the otherwise dusty white of Baiken's clothing.
Turning to follow the path of her attacker's descent, the ronin turns and spits, katana resting on her shoulder for a moment before being resheathed for the next exchange of blows. "Kawarimi... ninja, huh," she mutters. "Well, at least you're authentic, unlike that American kid with the daddy issues." If having her attack foiled and being struck herself bothers her, she doesn't show it just yet.
A fast, discerning eye. He would have to make sure his preparations are beyond reproach.
Boots hit the ground skidding, Shinsokutou held in a loose-fingered grip at a right angle to the ground, blade pointing straight up as the shinobi arrests his forward momentum by almost crouching against the ground, the folds of his haori shifting to a stop, one sleeve draped across the ground, the other hanging off his wrist. The ninja's helmet is bowed, as if in supplication to some higher deity. The charged spear, still trailing steam from the heat haze blast, goes on to impale a poor piece of bulletproof glass securing a diorama of the Boshin War. The drift of silk in the air is the only remainder of the afterimage who bore it.
"The origin of this ninjutsu," the boy in the mask seethes, a gleam trailing down his blade, "is the end of the shinobi."
There is a definite tonal shift the moment the N-word crosses Baiken's lips, the edge in that faintly mechanically-flanged voice becoming finer, sharper. The sleeve of his haori snaps through the air quickly, as the ninja cuts the distance between them, tabi slipping across the tile, a low whirl carrying the crouched milk-white spectre as if on a carpet of wind. The snap of that sleeve reveals the loosening of the cordage woven through his sleeve; the sode-kukuri's clip having been unlatched. But there is a hissing sound as the fabric unweaves itself from the sleeve, the whip of the cord looping, cast forward in a spiral.
Ninkou Banshuusaku. A sealing cord woven into the sleeves of another ninkou. Seishirou's attack is swift, trying to loop the cord around her arm and hilt long enough for the cord to tighten with supernatural force, peacebonding both. This will allow the shinobi to lift, transfgerring weight to his knees to catch the samurai at her back. A three step technique, sealing her attack, then sealing her movement. The last is the flick of Shinsokutou, going reverse before the shinobi shoots the blade right past his hip, to catch -- something -- on his obi and go right through the silk of his haori, the straight blade of the tsurugi carrying a sharp shred of paper with it. Absent an appropriate defense, Seishirou will give her another light-fast stab, this time in the midsection.
But he'll leave a carefully folded piece of paper stuck in the wound, temporarily harder than iron. At least, until it explodes at point blank range with its remaining chakra an instant later.
COMBATSYS: Baiken blocks Seishirou's Tsurugi Festival.
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Baiken 0/-------/-======|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2 Seishirou
At the pronouncement from her opponent on his relationship to traditional ninja, one can almost read her inner monologue as if it were printed on Baiken's face in big red letters: 'Wonderful. He's one of *those*.' Not an angry realization or anything of that nature; truly, her response is of the genre to a birdwatcher looking in their backyard and saying, without needing to pick up their binoculars: 'yep, it's a blue jay.'
With... not necessarily a heavy heart, but a degree of resignation, she mentally shoves 'could potentially provide answers about That Man and related topics' to the back of her mind, knowing that it's effectively impossible in cases like this. The results of asking would be such a colossal, multisyllabic headache that she'd probably just end up trying to kill him (again, sort of). It's like a tiny SD Anji Mito is hitting himself in the head with a fan and going 'well, them's the breaks.'
Still, she can still get a good fight out of it. She owes him that, and will actually enjoy it herself.
One might think that a fighter like Baiken would be a total meathead when it comes to nuance or energy both, all things considered, but as her defense against Seishirou's deeply complicated attack shows, this is not the case at all. She doesn't seem bothered by the cord's sudden restriction; as Seishirou swings back around with his blade, he'll find the ronin's saya placed neatly in its path. The weapons clash with a resounding ring, the impact sending brief, numbing pain up Baiken's arm, but having sensed the second part of the attack in advance, she grunts and pushes back, so that the detonating followup bursts in the air between them, rather than in her face.
NOW she has a moment to breathe and respond to the ninja(?)'s earlier statement, in her typical laconic fashion: "Sounds dramatic. And none of my business, either," she adds, before turning and whipping around the... side of her torso that's missing an arm? What's that gonna do?
Well, for starters, it's going to launch, from the depths of her torn sleeve, a grappling hook on a chain, looking to snare and then pull in the ninkou specialist just in time for Baiken to jam the hilt of her blade into his stomach with no small amount of force.
COMBATSYS: Seishirou dodges Baiken's Armed Combo.
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Baiken 0/-------/-======|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2 Seishirou
The sealing cord of Banshuusaku is wholly ineffective against the deadly ronin, and the inability of the ninkou to cut down the sakura-haired woman's movements for even a second knocks the boy off-balance, off-rhythm, his blade crashing into the lacquer of the saya with a viciously arrested crack of metal against wood, sending his hands nerveless with impact.
The shinobi is facing a peculiar problem in the expert swordswoman, in that her ability to suss out his preparations is top notch, and she has the speed to match it. He's forced to abandon his blade, sacrificing the hilt to the space before the strike can be pressed, a flick of the wrist and the pressure of the two weapons binding sending his tsurugi twirling into a low arc in the air over the ronin's head. There is very likely a moment where it seems as if it is about to murder the tyrannosaur skeleton. It does not, thankfully for the museum, only sticking into the beast's makeshift silk tongue with a rich -thwock-.
This tiny fact does not help Seishirou in the immediate moment, being disarmed and off-balance long enough for the ronin to cast a chain and hook onto him, the sudden production of steel lighting into his side and -yanking- him, physically, into the check strike. But even with the ablated space between them, the shinobi is remarkably fast himself. Abandoning the blade gives him the space to whirl, his feet leaving the air briefly as she pulls him the rest of the way, twisting once in a shrouding bloom of white in that split second between impacts. It ephemerates the exact outline of his airborne silhouette, confounding the end of her sword's hilt and damning it to hit nothing more than silk.
"Then mind the weight of history's trampling hooves."
There is a difference between their outlooks, and the ninja moves quickly without hesitation. A flash is all it takes, the reveal of that mask as the shinobi drifts in the air, haori sleeves spreading like wings. It's an offshoot of the same jutsu as before -- a furnace blast of invisible, scalding heat, originating from the oni's maw. However, this time the effect is not merely to launch a spear through an afterimage's head. The blast itself is a broad point-blank wave of superheated concussive force, hard enough to blast the bonds between them apart with hammer force. It pushes Ryouhara away, filling his haori with wind as if it were a kite being drug away in the storm.
COMBATSYS: Seishirou successfully hits Baiken with Shuuten Locus.
- Power hit! -
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Baiken 1/-----==/=======|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2 Seishirou
It's been a while since Baiken's fought a ninja (and whatever Seishirou might CLAIM, to her: he's a goddamned ninja). She'd forgotten one very important fact about them:
They're EXTREMELY irritating.
Not because of any particular personality issue on his part. Ninjas are just annoying. In her head, Baiken imagines it's part of their clan's training regimen across the board. Here's how to replace yourself with a log, here's how to tie a scarf onto a shiba inu, here's how to be annoying as hell.
For the first time since the fight's started, Baiken reads the multi-stage jutsu that Seishirou uses wrong; she expects this fluttery cloak stuff to be yet another diversion, and attempts to sidestep into it to position better. Thus the flame slams into her more or less without restraint; Baiken's waraji dig literal grooves in the tile as the force makes her slide to a stop. The comment about history, or something like it, is just sort of a bonus, as far as she's concerned.
"Yep," the ronin grinds out. "Definitely one of those."
Perhaps he's too far away for this to matter (and it's not as if she's hit the damn brat yet anyway), but Baiken sets her jaw, then brings up one sandaled foot and slams it into the floor with a ringing echo, making a surprisingly long and fast row of... well. Spectral tatami mats, effectively, suddenly roar across the space between herself and -- since this is a ninja -- where she anticipates Seishirou being in the next few seconds.
COMBATSYS: Seishirou blocks Baiken's Tatami Gaeshi.
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Baiken 1/----===/=======|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2 Seishirou
It's strange, the way paths intersect.
The space enforced between them by the heat haze forces the shinobi to flow back in the thermal backdraft, silk haori filling with air as his lines become indistinct and shimmering with the imposition of the scalding space. His boots never actually touch the ground, drifting as no more than a shadow kiting across the tile. This limits his options, opening his guard to the string of chakra panels, ideated from nowhere and ripping up the space between them with a series of harsh, reality-questioning cracks. The wave of planks tags him on the fourth iteration, roughly striking across his shins in midair. The blow inverts him, sending the shinobi into several eyeblinks of an uncontrolled glide, tumbling through at -least- one glass case before he can right himself. Silk twists and rakes the air as the momentum from the strike bleeds off his frame, the vertigo twist of acrobatics leaving the shinobi to tumble through the air like a leaf in a windstorm.
The sound of billows filling the canvas ripples through the air for moments as Ryouhara flips over, dropping his weight heavily into the ground to arrest his upwards and backwards momentum just beyond the case. A slow curl of vapor trails from the vent in his mask, the helmet emitting a low, mechanized hiss that sounds almost like a sigh, before fingertips rise to straighten the hang of his lapel, to sweep back the tail of his haori.
"A hidden grappling chain to replace a weakness, leading into a powerful chakra that penetrates the floorboards to change and adapt to their nature. Preparations and techniques worthy of a ninkou-heihouka." The crawl of that boy's mechanized voice is invasive, alien. Inside of that helmet, sound is twisted, and what would be a smooth, calm tone of youth is strained into a flickering alien warble, something dark, steel and watery. "But, you are not 'shinobi.' The difference between shinobi and bushi is honesty of spirit, a lack of duplicitousness, of willingness to substitute what isn't for what is. Your conviction makes your spirit easy to read."
An eyeless mask tilts slightly, sculpted demon glaring as she holds his attention.
He doesn't waste the words to explain any further.
"I will take what you are holding back."
His hands rise together, fingers interlacing in a single kuji. The air does strange things around him, making the lines of his silhouette indistinct. At this distance, someone with that ronin's perceptive ability would read through any one of his preparations, aside from the one he has already placed. It forces Seishirou to reconsider his options. That unsealing causes the small distortion in the air, causing a ripple through his clothing, and no amount of havoc to the viewfinders of the cameras, the artifical intelligence glitching as it tries to put a reticle over his figure and autofocus over him. In that vein, the hilt tucked in his obi is almost less than noticeable.
It is a plain wooden handle, two hands long, black and grey with a wavering, scorched finish, and a symbol engraved on the front edge near where the pommel would be on an actual sword, though it is merely a set of three lines, with one crossed over twice. Oriented at different angles, it could be a kanji, or any one of a number of other types of script. But as the wood length is revealed, the tile steams ahead of him, and it is clearly what's causing it, as the boy settles into a draw stance, though his hand does not brace on any visible sheathe, making the stance seem far less committed than need be. The musou ninkou tucked in his belt burns his skin, slightly, as he combs the chakra, calming it, focusing it.
An invisible blade from an assault ninkou channeled right down the center of a heat well. Even at this distance, Ryouhara's speed is such that it will challenge literally any attack. It is the only honor the scourge knows -- a direct assassination attack, aiming a cutting beam of pure consecrating heat down the line of attack faster than any creature has the right to move.
The boy shifts his weight from one foot to the other.
"...may you forever live to realize your ambitions."
And then, between glitched frames of the recording, the ninja has crossed thirty feet of space, he is holding an empty hilt in his hand, and everything between that point and the next is cut in half in glowing, angry lines of bright molten-hot shear. In the shadow of a tyrannosaur's bones, the shinobi rolls the hilt of his ninkou in his hands, and slowly tucks it into his sash anew. A moment, perhaps two, before everything catches fire.
COMBATSYS: Baiken interrupts Howling Aria of the Ryouhara from Seishirou with Baku.
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Baiken 0/-------/---====|>>-----\-------\0 Seishirou
Some of what Seishirou says -- quite a lot of it flattering, she will probably realize later -- sails right over Baiken's head, because that is just not the mindspace she operates in once a battle starts. Put in an extremely simple way, swordsmanship requires knowing where you are, and where your opponent is, at all times. Eventually, and in no judgment of the actual PERSON involved, an opponent ceases to become an actual 'living being' and eventually simply becomes a set of obstructions to be systematically removed.
It is why so many expert swordsmen become psychopaths, frankly.
This is why Baiken doesn't MIND talkers. They are useful intermittent reminders that the person she is fighting is a PERSON. But it's also why most of what talkers end up saying becomes word salad in her head; the content of the message isn't important, merely its existence. Sometimes, though, they say something that cuts through the fog.
Only an idiot would look at the 'empty' hilt Seishirou is carrying and assume there's nothing about it, and Baiken is no idiot... but more than that, she has a message of her own to deliver. And so she does something that by any reasonable person's standards would probably feel extremely insane: she steps INTO it.
Even knowing it was there, being prepared for it, only helps the smallest bit. The metaphor Baiken will have for it later is a bit like walking into a claymore made of sunlight on the harshest day in the warmest place on the planet, and even that is just to give a frame of reference. Teeth grit; skin reddens and even sears from the force of it. But blessedly, tactically, for a fraction of a second, the ronin has Seishirou in a place where escape would be very, very difficult.
When she gets close enough, the result is almost comically simple from a visual perspective: she extends her hand, index and middle fingers raised, and presses them to Seishirou's chest. The gesture is simply the delivery of what would in any other context be called 'sealing magic': a massive disruption to the ninkou user's internal chi. It's not a flashy fireball, but it does the job.
There is a *CLNK* as Baiken's hand comes back down to the hilt of her blade, and she eyes Seishirou warily, the myriad physical signs of the cost to her of enduring his attack evident. "I don't hold anything back, kid. *Ever*."
Her head tilts back, rose pink hair rustling behind her. "Sometimes a fight don't go your way. This one sure ain't gone mine. S'cause you've got skills. But don't you tell me that means I'm holding back."
The musou-ninkou Konshouben is an assault ninkou that uses purified formless chakra to direct focused heat into a localized point as a blade. This is the most honest expression of that ability, and its flashiness makes it ill suited for anything but a direct linear attack. Most people are not capable of withstanding the heat or speed of the battojutsu, and the invisible cutting wall has sheared more than one ninja-to clean in half.
That wooden length shimmers in the air as the shinobi tumbles once, twice, forced into a kneel and pushed -neatly- out of a crippling blow by a strike that lights through to the heart of him with nothing more harsh than a push. What Baiken will immediately notice is that none of the heat generated by that wooden hilt dissipates with her strike, and it exacts a fearsome toll upon her in the process. The strike doesn't affect the toy he's wielding in the slightest.
However, that sealing technique seems to reduce his speed. By a full third, even a half, and the camera's frames catch up to the ninja just in time to see him forced to catch himself. By the time the shinobi can be seen, an ominous lightspeed is reduced to not much more than a light jog, the effects of his recognition immediate. For a brief moment, she is talking; the ninja is trying to activate ninjutsu. His movement burns in his thighs as the chakra refuses to flow. The heat around him continues to curl, as he tucks that hilt away into his obi. Hmph.
"Good," the shinobi replies, satisfied, the three leaves symbol at his back facing her, framed by the teeth of the tyrannosaur skeleton.
"An admirable technique. But this much isn't going to hinder me."
He doesn't have the benefit of his lightning speed while he tries to clear the seal that's arrested his chakra. Casting his afterimage onto the Kishinki will also be difficult. And additionally, she is not in the correct positioning. However, 'ninkou' is not a science that relies on the bodily energy of the user in the moment. By taking the remaining chakra in the air left by Konshouben, and releasing a magatama bead from the end of his haori, Ryouhara can make do.
A second, a moment, as the jewel -- made of cleverly folded paper -- drifts through the air in a low arc as it flicks towards the swordswoman. It takes most of Ryouhara's depleted supply to coordinate himself sufficiently to jump on it, one boot alighting on the featherlight origami as if to kick it behind him, one hand back, the other hand forward, two finger raised. There is an audible -boom- behind the shinobi a split second later, as the paper jewel explodes outwards, unfolding into a full-sized 36x36 inch paper glyph, seemingly -stuck- to the air with a sealing formula written on it. It remains in place, but the explosion roughly -kicks- the shinobi forward as he drags every trailing thread of heat chakra through the air, all the way through to Baiken's neck. An attack using the violent unsealing of an origami magatama bead and the residual heat in the air to catch Baiken off-guard by the haori, by the neck, to flip over and swing her violently back and through two walls -- one of the heat chakra left by his attack, the other a wall of paper that might as well be brick and mortar, from how well anchored it seems to be to -absolute- thin air. Mn.
COMBATSYS: Baiken blocks Seishirou's Shunshin Ghost.
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Baiken 0/-------/---====|=======\=------\1 Seishirou
It would appear that things are -- pun unintended -- heating up. Perhaps all Baiken needed in that moment was some breathing room. Certainly, Seishirou's style appears to rely, in the ronin's estimation, on a continual assault, giving the opponent no chance to even think, let alone defend themselves. Combined with all the misdirection and the numerous misdirections he's capable of deploying, it's a very effective strategy. Admirable, even, in its own way.
The adjustment she needs to make, Baiken realizes, is that trying to anticipate, to plan, is exactly the mistake she's been making. After all, what is battoujutsu but the art of compressing everything down to a single, perfect moment? Everything else falls away.
Put another way: deal with it when it happens. Live in the blink of an eye; cut through the past, present, and future in one glorious flash.
Seishirou is able to get his grip, but with his experience, can probably tell straight away that it's too easy. After all, how much more can she be burned, after surviving what she just did? Yes, the swirling heat -- the first impact -- takes a toll, but it is the crucial lack of a physical impact that saves her. The pink-haired fighter makes herself compact, tucking in midair so she hits the second wall, the *physical* one, in a perfect 3-point landing, as if she were briefly standing directly on it.
Two can play the launching pad game, in fact.
In a whirl of singed cloth and swirling rose pink locks, Baiken leaps directly back AT Seishirou, twisting in midair so that her empty sleeve is facing toward him... because from within it, a sharpened iron fan makes a sudden and decisive arc through the air that he must now reckon with!
COMBATSYS: Seishirou blocks Baiken's Youzansen.
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Baiken 0/-------/-======|=======\==-----\1 Seishirou
The swinging exchange crosses the two up, an interlude made possible by a paper very temporarily made stronger than steel.
He could tell -- immediately -- that she wouldn't be trapped easily, the first swing ablated and made instinctively simple by the ronin. Two rushes of cloth flutter in the air, and Ryouhara makes ground first, using the exchange of momentum to drop hard on his boots against the ground, the glass lenses of his mask snapping quickly after the pink-haired swordswoman, reflecting her nigh-flawless recovery, using the surface of the Shikoushu as a perch to launch off of. The press of prepared chakra beneath her feet renders the heft and weight of the paper in the air squishy but firm, offering an excellent force soak to rebound off of. Already he is moving towards her, already he is running.
The shinobi's sleeves spread behind him with his break into a full tilt run. Sealed as he is, he's slower--it's one of the blessedly few times she can actually see the shinobi moving--so every second counts. She streaks towards him like a missile, and the space between them shrinks in an eyeblink. The boy advances, silently. This would be decided in a split second.
The other paper jewel on the opposite side of his haori snaps loose, this time dropping in front of Ryouhara so he can catch it mid-step, this time -kicking- it ahead of him. Baiken knows what it does now, and so the blast-unfurling of a massive paper shield should be of no surprise to her. However, this one is not anchored to the air like the other, instead caught on Ryouhara's shoulder and used as a kite shield as the two crash together, the power and weight of that grandiose iron fan checking his momentum instantly, and causing the shinoi to stop to a standstill, the tile cracking beneath his boots as his frame absorbs the impact that his protective shield doesn't soak. His legs lock, holding the shield in place, as he braces against the impact, the edges of his sleeves settling to his knees.
So far he's used too many of his weapons against her -- even Konshouben, the blade styled after Kagutsuchi, was used. He'd have to return to prepare more techniques before he could resume his search in the tournament's underbelly. And crumpled halfway under the weight of a heavy lord's fan with half of his chakra sealed, there were precious few arrangements left to decide things. This would have to be the last.
"Are you an idealist?" he asks, one last.
The shinobi bears down, pushing back against the swordswoman's superior conditioning and strength with his body weight, his shoulder propping up and locking against the shield. The entire transition is only a breath's space, only a moment, a second, two, for Seishirou to release the appropriate techniques, to unseal the fuuinjutsu. This attack, she'll realize, has been prepared since the very beginning. The first sword he used had seals running down the length of the blade, script and formulas describing fire chakra. But Shinsokutou is a transcription blade -- the ink crawling from one spot to the next with a single blow. Being attached to the remnant of the bolt of silk early on in the fight let the jutsu transfer all the way down the back of the the tyrant's throat on the end of a sealing silk that was prior ruined. Cutting it from its moorings to start as part of his entrance let him aim the beast's maw far in advance. Now, Baiken's indication of the shinobi's technique is when the skeletal beast -growls- -- a function of the heat causing the steel substructure to groan as wind whistles through its bones.
To limit her escape by sealing her off between two paper walls locks the swordswoman in a corridor with a tyrannosaur for an instant, a second. It's all Seishirou needs to replace that growl with a bellowing roar -- not of a primal beast from beyond, but of fire, as the tyrannosaur's skeletal jaw fills with flame. From the constructed dragon, a blast of flame blooms bright and superheated, a wall funnelled right between the plates, taking that encapsulating corridor in the very kinetic form of a colossal fireball.
If Baiken is caught between those paper walls, she risks nothing less than having her fate written not in blue, not in green, but in black and red.
COMBATSYS: Seishirou successfully hits Baiken with Atari.
[ \\ < > //////////////// ]
Baiken 1/-----==/=======|====---\-------\0 Seishirou
In perhaps one of the more inventive defenses she's tried in this fight, Baiken's attempt to skirt around this incoming fireball doesn't work, but it remains fodder for flashy post-fight gifsets nonetheless: she leaps up *onto* one of the paper 'walls' keeping her penned in and literally starts running ACROSS it, proving that wall runs are not the sole province of ninja or Brasilian parkour types.
Sadly, the fireball itself is a little too large for that; the ronin attempts to go OVER it, but by the time she's realized the issue it's too late, and she drops from the paper wall to land, crouched and burning, on the floor, one hand pressed to the tile, taking... well. Pretty deep breaths. That hurt, to the tune of 'I've had enough, now' for certain.
But she was asked a question. And, well...
One does not sail the Styx alone if they can help it, proverbially or otherwise.
The pink-haired swordswoman has enough in her to rise to her feet, carriage proud but not dignified; she is a common blade and she knows it. But a common blade still cuts, and a common blade that is underestimated is still dangerous.
"I'm a pragmatist," she says in answer, voice flat. "I deal with the problem in front of me, one step at a time. Like so."
She steps forward, at Seishirou. The impact of her sandaled foot literally cracks the tile, despite her fatigue, despite her injuries, as she reaches and draws her nameless blade across the ninkou user's midline, the force of the blow turning into a second such strike on rotation. And if these attacks have managed to stagger Seishirou just long enough? The blade makes a swirling, half moon-like path through the air, before Baiken swings it down with enough force that bits of the skeleton BEHIND where Seishirou was are cleaved in twain simply for being NEARBY.
"Ten... Chi... Jin!" Heaven, earth, and man -- all things under heaven.
COMBATSYS: Baiken can no longer fight.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ <
COMBATSYS: Seishirou blocks Baiken's Tsurane Sanzu Watashi.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\ <
The blade of Shinsokutou is pulled out of the tile, and a pile of ash that used to be silk.
The weapon is partially melted from taking the force of a full Katonjutsu, the hilt charred and the metal gleaming, to the extent that Ryouhara has to use a reinforced bolt of linen to wrap the blade in, presumably to keep it from spontaneously igniting his more delicate clothing. He is quietly in study, parts, impressions, afterimages of the prior few seconds are analyzed in his memory as the bushi recovers.
A pure 'force of will' that keeps you upright, even after others would long had given up, rising against him, rebel to rebel. An oni stares at her, fearsome and impersonal. She answers him after a moment, remarking that she's a pragmatist. It is a barely perceptible movement, the dip of his helm by an infitesimally small degree.
"That's too bad."
The rushdown of the cerise-haired hellion thunders like a destrier in that single step. The technique is such that distance does not strictly matter, and Ryouhara has precious little time to respond. Both of his instant defenses have already been deployed and smouldering, with his chakra still sealed. His only remaining benefit is that his positioning is near flawless -- though one of the Shikoushu is uselessly far away, the other paper shield still flames absently at his feet. By marshalling what small chakras he has left, Ryouhara can lean back, sucking the shield's weight up off of the floor by taking a short hop into the air, curling his knees at the apex of his jump, but never actually rising more than an inch or two total in the air. The paper is weak, its power mostly expended, but Baiken's flashing blade is intercepted yet still -- the palms of Ryouhara's hands -slam- into the other side of the paper, sending what paltry shreds of his chakra he can muster through it in an instant.
The paper holds against it, the sound of metal shrieking against metal with the first draw-slash. But the second is too much -- clearly -- for the beleaguered ninkou, Baiken's nameless blade splitting the shield in twain on the stroke and blowing the shinobi all the way through the reinforced -- and cleaved -- leg bones of a tyrannosaur in the exchange. It's a fitting trade, in lieu of being cut in half.
The boy manages to regain his footing, tumbling end-over-end to slam his boots into the tile, just as the tyrannosaur succumbs to its injuries, being used as a makeshift cannon, a landing place, and being executed brutally over the course of the battle, finally falling over the rest of the way, the steel cabling and wire holding it up snapping, sending the whole pile of bones crumbling into a dusty pile on the ground, kicking up what is truly a legendary amount of smoke, to go with the curling embers in the air.
Baiken will notice it, if she's paying attention. The little bits of paper and silk left in the air are being burned away. She might notice the javelin impaled through one of the cases back behind the skeleton has -- sometime in the last few seconds -- gone missing.
"You'll still be of use," the shinobi promises, from somewhere beyond the curl of catastrophic dust.
COMBATSYS: Seishirou has ended the fight here.
Log created on 20:35:28 10/03/2023 by Seishirou, and last modified on 09:19:58 10/13/2023.