NFG Season Two - Odyssey R3 - Stubborn as a Goatherd

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Description: Philosophy and grisly punishments abound in this spectacular match between a honest karateka and a not-so-honest shugenja. Will truth or illusion win out? And what is WITH that sheep?

"I don't want to hear it, Achili. I'm the one suffering here."

This was possibly the most confusing role he's been chosen to play. Something about being a traitorous goatherd who was killed gruesomely for betraying his king and master. By ... entertaining some suitors for said king's wife? And it wasn't like Homura didn't make an actual attempt to read the NFG playbook for the role this time around. No dice.

Also. Greek outfits were notoriously skimpy. There's something very impure about wandering around in just linens.

So, that's how Homura ends up here, meditating in the fountain. Well. Not particularly 'in', as the fountain is not very deep. Thus, he is alsoi not particularly meditating either. "Ano... are you sure this is the right fountain?" he complains lightly to the only other soul who cares about his plight, a luxuriously fluffy and relaxed cheviot toy sheep on loan from Flaming Katsika Pepper Co. He's currently holding the sheep above his head, ostensibly to keep her dry. The sheep, while fully grown, is apparently a runt, small enough to kind of tuck under an arm if need be. Said sheep is currently dozing, waking up periodically to add a reply to Homura's ongoing musings.

Achili is probably closer to enlightenment than he'll ever be. Ano...

"Am I going to HAVE to kick him? My intel tells me he probably has a much better kick than me.... and he's supposed to be O... Odander? Is that Odysseus' secret name? Imagine, being so confident that you could leave your kingdom for twenty years..."

"I know, Achili-chan. What a reprehensible king."

COMBATSYS: Homura has started a fight here.

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Homura           0/-------/-------|

"I did a report on the Odyssey as a student at my Karate Academy."

That is how Xander announces himself, interrupting the conversations between man and sheep. The swarthy round lad had reached the fountain. If Homura's costume was embarrassing, well, Xander was in rags. Brown, soiled robes hang in tatters over him, and his feet are bound in dirty cloth. Despite this, he still insists on wearing his blue wool jacket and fisherman cap. Though as he reaches the edge of the fountain, he begins to remove them and fold them neatly at the side. It wasn't clear how much of the private conversation is took in. But he was going to clarify how much. "I don't even remember this part very well. But I remember the Odyssey. My sensei, Kojima Sengan, insisted that you should not only hone your mind and body with karate, but also pursue the foundations of a classic liberal education." The Dutch teenager explains deliberately, as he stands fast. "The Odyssey is classic literature. And I have reviewed this segment of the story before the fight. The role you are playing means you treat me as a beggar beneath contempt. The dramatic irony is that I am actually your master. It's very Greek." His outfit properly stowed and folded, he extends his hands out, apparently to help the lamb out to assist with Homura. He doesn't waste time.

"I will explain to you the nuances of the Odyssey, in my limited understanding, as I show you the nuances of Kojima Kyokushin-Ryu Karate."

"Ah, but, don't you think it's a little gruesome? A lack of vassal piety should be rewarded with zanshu. Mnn, an opportunity for seppuku first, but zanshu, all the same. Even so, even so, I can't think of a single lord that was allowed to let his domain fall into disrepair for ten years while he gallivanted about."

The boy only committed as far as letting the toga be tied in a comical knot around his own jacket, and is in fact, still actually wearing most of his clothing, including his sneakers. One would not want to use the chintzy prop sandals he was provided. They just wouldn't do. However, the sheep in his grasp is lowered, the placid wool puff tucked under an arm while the boy pulls the beads from looping around his hand with a tug of the teeth. One can almost immediately feel the 'pressure' rise subtly from him.

"Ah... in that case, Greek tragedy seems to want to be insufferably smug."

His sword unsheathed a click with the push of a thumb, it's a bit of an awkward motion to hold onto one's baa buddy while drawing, but Homura manages well enough.

"It's not really my 'mission,' but there's much more honest subjects to pursue instead...."

The boy is fast. It only takes a slight adjustment of the boy's sneakers in the water to gain traction, then a loud squeal of wet rubber, a surprised 'baaa' and a fishtail of water sees him already inside of the karateka's range, a silver flash announcing his arrival, his sword drawn and cut in a one-handed rough sketch of a swallow-tail stroke. The boy is still holding his sheep, and doing a reasonably admirable job of keeping her out of the direct line of attack, even if the sheep is very interested as to what's going on with all of this sudden movement.

COMBATSYS: Xander has joined the fight here.

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Xander           0/-------/-======|-------\-------\0           Homura

COMBATSYS: Xander blocks Homura's Power Strike.

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Xander           0/-------/-======|-------\-------\0           Homura

Xander hurts his head trying to understand.

Gruesome he can follow. But when he talks about vassal piety, and the zanshu, he's understanding collapses. Seppuku, at least, he could understand. Honor. He was talking about traditional honor. This was a east meets west thing. As a karate fighter, he could understand that. Yet, when his opponent approaches, it seems that the sheep wasn't leaving. Xander calculates, trying to recognize the ruse. He just nods, studying his opponent. When the bleat of the sheep comes out.

He was coming at him fast.

Xander falls into his karate stance, and catches the sword with a guiding palm. That was, well, not entirely effective. But between wrestlers, turtle power, and swordsmen, it was as much time as any to truly test the limits of his karate. "Yes, that is a critique that is valid!" Xander states firmly, as his hand bleeds, stepping in as the sword comes. "I have read that the Ancient Greeks thought of themselves as better than their neighbors. They would call their language 'bar bar bar' like babbling. That is where the word Barbarian comes from." A trivial fact. But "Explain what a Zanshu is! Tobi Mae Geri! Jumping Front Kick! The correct reaction is to evade it!" The dutch karateka sounds as if he was instructing Homura. But true to his word, he immediately jumps back into his opponent, and unleashes a kick- a kick- it dawns on Xander.

What happens if he hits that sheep?

COMBATSYS: Xander successfully hits Homura with Tobi Mae Geri.

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Xander           1/------=/=======|======-\-------\0           Homura

"What a nice defense..."

With the sheep lugged with, Homura's sword is wild, coming from his off-hand at a strange angle, and the silver flare that shimmers around his blade bites like a viper, though his contemporary manages it well. Even with the Japanese boy's fast and kinetic movements, he is doing a good job keeping the sheep out of the line of fire, the thick ball of alarmed wool shifted -- fast -- out of danger. Unfortunately, that bodes ill for the boy, who is almost kicked -through- by the karateka's front kick, 'oh!!'

Hitting him feels almost like hitting the wool of that sheep. The boy doesn't appear to have a one-to-one relation with physics as he flips end-over-end away from the linear strike. He does keep a good grip of his fluffy companion, who helpfully air-pedals him to a less catastrophic landing, the boy landing in a wide stance.

"Ano...a few more like that, and I'll be d-d-d-~~own for the count." A breath, and the boy has to stumble to keep hold of his sheep, cradling the poor thing beneath his arm. It bleats with some concern for him. Aww. "You're right," Homura decides, flipping his blade to a false grip in his hand. It's not clear who he's talking to; his opponent, or his sheep. "I'm definitely going to have to avoid getting hit again."

Silver energy trickles to the very tip of his blade in shimmering glowing lines, and a step or two announces the boy's approach, with the crack of wool and silk. "Anyway, I think you should do your best to alleviate suffering, in spite of the twisted nature of the world. 'Zanshu' is how they used to deal with criminals in the old days. Taking the head from the shoulders. One swift, painless cut!"

As if to punctuate his words, the boy's blade flashes, as he steps into the air over the karateka in one swift kick, rolling and attacking with a check-wave of arcing selene power down into the fighter's shoulder space.

COMBATSYS: Xander endures Homura's Mitsurei.

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Xander           1/------=/=======|=====--\-------\0           Homura

There was a real danger here.

The full force of Xander's kick knocks the boy away, but the sheep was still clutched. At least, it was unharmed. For now. Steadying back to his defensive stance, he raises his arms. But he was listening, and he was thinking. The sheep wasn't part of the style, was it? He begins to sweep his arms, a flash of embers and smoke rising from his shoulders. He was looking nervously at the pair though, especially as Zanshu is explained. He was preparing to unleash the flames, when the strike comes. As the launches in the air, he judges. Calculates, precisely, the best way to respond. The flames rise around him-

And he holds back the ash.

He is slashed hard into the left shoulder, and a burst of cinders fly up. Xander didn't fully understand why he didn't just ignite the opponent. But he was burning now, deep embers of charcoal glowing under his skin. So, he speak what he thought, as he unleashes a sharp rising thrust of his palm with his right, attempting to intercept Homura before he landed. "Rising Palm. Fore Fist Middle Level Strike! Back fist strike! Deflect all three!" Xander states briskly as he throws out a weakened punch with his left, insecure. The final backfist comes as he attempts to keep attacking the airborne opponent, each strike bringing a crimson blur as the flames consume within. Suffering. A humane execution, to show mercy to criminals. Xander speaks softly.

"It is not right to kill criminals."

COMBATSYS: Homura blocks Xander's Medium Punch.

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Xander           1/---====/=======|=======\-------\1           Homura

It's a little harder to place the boy's feet in a discrete place on the ground than expected. If one were to really -- like actually, really look -- Homura takes much longer to hit the ground than normal. Eyes flash from behind pale red lenses as they flick after the karateka, watching the smoke trail off of his body with his approach. Attacking the shugenja is a bit of an awkward proposition as the boy doesn't seem to be dearly attached to the idea of being anchored to the ground. A blade that flips in his hand with the glitter of steel follows the instruction, the flat of the blade shielding the boy's knee as he raises it to absorb the shock of each blow, the sheep behind him complaining as he rotates the ball of wool away from the line of attack. Consequently, there is a missing 'weight' to each blow, absorbing the shock by pushing theslightly airborne boy further and further out of the range of attack.

"That's what they say," Homura replies.
"But here we are, playing dress-up for the dynasties of a people who glorify doing much worse..."

The response is fast, a whip-like stab of his sword, clearly meant to be evaded, the crack of wind and steel accompanying his movements. The sheep is lifted, a second stab fired off, awkward for the fact that the boy hasn't ... -actually- touched the ground yet. This time, there is an audible 'baaa' as the boy counterlevers his weight and the sheep's against the karateka, turning his blade just so to try and snatch the boy beneath the arm on the spine of the sword. All of the boy's weightflicked all the way downwards, he's trying to draw him into... something resembling a very fierce wheel throw, the centripetal force of the shugenja's counterbalancing weight and frustrating relationship with the ground turning what would have been something like a tomoe nage into a lightning fast flick, selene energy crackling off of every edge of the corresponding flash of power to send the karateka sprawling, and soothe just a bit of that sense of his. The sense the boy' starting to get of that ashen force.

COMBATSYS: Homura successfully hits Xander with Quick Throw.

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Xander           1/---====/=======|=======\-------\1           Homura

The sheep was disturbing Xander more and more.

While he wasn't completely unaccustomed to farm animals, he was pretty unaccustomed to them. And the fact his opponent was using them freely was a characteristic that was making him deeply uncomfortable. More than his own burning body. Homura reacts exactly to Xander's expectation, allowing the Dutch boy to move dilligently and deliberately after his last strike. As the lash of the blade comes, Xander commits exactly to as expected, making careful feetwork to evade the lash of the blade. But there isn't a proper cut. No, outside of Xander's expectations, the smoldering teen finds himself in what is best recognized as a tomoe nage. It's close enough that he can roll with it, but Xander lands hard just short of the fountain, hitting the ground in front of it. His arm was bloodied, and held the mark of the grab. Xander lays there briefly, until there is a jolt. A flash of crimson cinders, refilling his spirit as he springs back up to his feet.

Revived once more by the spirit of the phoenix.

"You are playing dress up for them." Xander states directly, as he steadies back on his feet into his stance. He locks his gaze hard on Homura, speaking from his heart on his cynical words. "I am doing this to prove Kojima Kyokushin-Ryu Karate, to expand my karate past what my school has taught me, and to find my missing master. If you have to say something, say it directly and do not hide behind obscurity." Xander's limits of his language were being reached. Tightening his stance, he sweep one hand down, one hand up. "Otoshi Mawashi Geri! Downward Roundhouse Kick. You must evade this." Having announced his attack clearly, he "And please put that sheep in a safe place!" Xander blurts out suddenly as he brings his heel down hard.

"It is going to be hurt if you keep holding on to it!"

COMBATSYS: Xander successfully hits Homura with Otoshi Mawashi Geri.

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Xander           1/=======/=======|=======\=======\1           Homura

"Ah, sou... an admirable force of 'idealism.'"

The boy alights on the ground with all of the grace and gentility of a falling crane feather, landing first on one sneaker, then the second as his weight settles, lifting his blade and resting the spine against his shoulder. His sheep, still safely tucked under an arm, makes a huffing noise, completely unenthused and dizzy with this whole airborne and spinning around thing. Clearly, she intends to report this to the NFG administration.

Homura, on the other hand, is watching the karateka closely, noting the cinders he casts as he goes from slightly fatigued to freshly energized. Comparitively, a branch of silver energy arcs viciously from his arm, causing the boy's stance to stagger. A whirlwind axe kick is the price he pays, trying to move, but only mostly managing to whirl, putting the sheep behind him anew just in time to almost be cut in half by that powerful strike, leaving the boy sprawling.

The shugenja goes down, and much further than one would expect, and it's not hard for a practiced eye to tell where he sacrifices stable footing to reorient the panicking sheep from being landed on, his body rolling and smashing through at least two or three crates (where! where did they come from??? they were NOT there before!) before he can arrest his momentum on a downward knee.

"But ... the world wasn't handed to plain word idealists... It was given to the dishonest, wasn't it?"

The boy is breathing slow, controlled, smooth, but still heavily by the time he rises, selene energy now trailing broad and violent whipcracks of arcs around and over his body, from his ankles to his neck. The hand that holds onto his sword also grips his coat, the blade sagging in a loose grip. Comparably, the fidgeting, dizzy sheep in his grip is given the lion's share of his attention.

"Well... I'm here for different reasons, I suppose... I should give up, yes? But..." He sets the sheep down, finally, giving the little ball of wool a swat on the butt to get him moving, his entire body flaring with an energy tracing crack. "...ah, I suppose if another 'me' shows up, it won't be so bad. Myo'o will forgive me for sticking around.."

The shugenja lifts a hand, whispering a sutra over a two-fingered gesture, before switching sword hands.

And then he has closed the distance, a frighteningly fast thing with ghost pale eyes, already in mid-stride into the middle of the karateka's space. "...just a little while longer."

The boy doesn't so much charge .. -over- or -into- Xander. But entirely through him, as if Xander were little more than water and he shadow. There is not a lot of time to evade him, and he doesn't seem as fond of giving warnings. Absent evasion, in an eyeblink he'll be through the other boy, splashing -through- that cinder energy, staining it with moonlit power. His hand grips the hilt of his sword tightly, just for a second.

And then Homura tries to lay him open from behind.

COMBATSYS: Xander blocks Homura's Lower World Shinsoku.

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Xander           1/=======/=======|===----\-------\0           Homura

Xander strikes, and waits, and then, listens.

He doesn't immediately follow up on his kick. He just stands fast, steadying himself as he continues to smolder and smoke. Xander didn't know if what he believed was idealism. But as the sheep is released, he nods firmly. He wouldn't press the issue anymore. The comment on the dishonest. There is no evasion. There is movement, swift and unseen. Xander cannot see it. He can only react on instinct and intuition. Steadying himself, when Homura is tearing at his flank, he is turning. He brings a hand up. And then, with a clench, he catches the blade with his palm. It hurts, incomprehensibly so. And the speed cuts through his smoky aura, leaving the cinders to die down. For a moment, Xander looks defeated. But the moment he starts to slip against the blade, he suddenly jolts alive. A flash of crimson runs through him, as he resurges again, clenching his hand on the blade.

And he charges up the cinderful energy.

"The dishonest can be made honest. Do not give up." He states firmly to his opponent as he draws his other hand back. Without the lamb nearby, he was no longer afraid of holding back. "Fight until your spirit cannot cling anymore! That's the way of the phoenix! That's the way of-" And he thrusts his arm forward, unleashing a crimson burst of charred ash point blank at the shugenja. Should it connect, it would immediately ignite, clinging and burning the ninja as much as it clings and burns to Xander. The cinders were dying down on his body.

But his spirit was forcing him on.

COMBATSYS: Xander successfully hits Homura with Hou-Ou Ken.
Grazing Hit

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Xander           2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|====---\-------\0           Homura

The sound of the sword's fittings make a tiny squeal as the karateka catches it by the blade. The shugenja raises an eyebrow, exerting force on the end of the blade with curious ease, challenging the karateka in every angle. He reacts to the sudden surge with snap speed, and the deadlock does not break. A snap motion to one side, and it doesn't even seem like something as sure as a point-blank blast hits the boy without effort, the boy tilting in annoyance as the ash of the phoenix falls over him.

His hand tightens on his sword's hilt, still trying to cut Xander.
"Ano.... what a lighthearted guy you are."

It starts as a vague awareness of the cinder energy crawling in low burning lines across his aura, the slow ribbon-like burn, spreading over his jacket. The flame reacts with his seals, incinerating one or two. The effect is immediate, causing white-hot flashes of chi rippling over the boy, silver energy flickering at the edges of the boy's aura, and slowly coalescing into a tight ball somewhere in his middle.

He releases his sword, leaving it in the karateka's hand.

The shugenja leaps back - longer, much farther than one would expect, outside of the range of the cameras and the people holding them. The ash flames are causing a silver chainreaction across him, causing small bursts, and little pops of power, the monk slipping both hands into the mated sleeves of his jacket. Selene force begins to rip through him, but the monk doesn't seem to mind -- once he's out of range of the bystanders.

"Looks like I overdid it a little... but I guess Myo'o will forgive me," the boy guesses wryly, before nodding to the sword held in Xander's hand, blade still biting sharply. "Hey, guy... if someone else comes for that, you'd better not give them any trouble."

The burst starts with the tiny, lonely ring of a bell. And then, in a series of silver blasts, the shugenja explodes, like a moonrise caught on fire. Luckily, Xander mostly only has to contend with the very edge of the shockwave thrown off by the boy's failed seals. By the time the cluster of blasts stop, there's not much more left to that monk other than a pair of sunglasses with the lenses broken on the ground. Not a drop of blood is spilt.

COMBATSYS: Homura can no longer fight.

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Xander           2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|

COMBATSYS: Homura successfully hits Xander with Tsukiyomi Buster.

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Xander           2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|


"My heart is heavy-" Xander begins, as he clutches on the sword. But Homura was moving swift, very swiftly as the ash makes contact. The monk was fighting against the cinders, yes, but Xander just couldn't get a read on his opponent. Myo'o? And a threat about coming for that. What did it all mean? And why would he be overdoing it. As the seals flicker, it dimly becomes apparent to Xander that he needs to get ready for a counter attack. He returns back to his karate stance, still holding the blade tight as it cuts his palm.

And then the monk explodes.

Xander's eyes go wide as he tries to stop the blast with his hands. The eruption washes over him, and for a moment, there is pain, followed by numbness. But amongst the sea of energy, there is a plume of crimson against it. The spirit of the phoenix surges, acting as a bulwark against the blast as it surges back. When it finishes, Xander is standing fast, hand bleeding, rags ripped and tattered. And there, his face turns red, as his eyes go wide. His opponent was... gone? Disappeared? Maybe escaped? Or maybe... something else. He feels he has won but what had happened, but, did he just kill his opponent?

Xander looks at the sword.

He looks at the sunglasses.

He looks at the sheep.

"What?" He states, exasperated.

COMBATSYS: Xander has ended the fight here.

"Baaa." The sheep is standing on top of a crate, and is very disappointed in Xander for some reason. Or at least that's what it seems like. Her eyebrows could just be naturally shaped like that. Who is going to take her back home now? Her ride seems to have exploded.

Log created on 22:00:38 03/31/2024 by Homura, and last modified on 09:01:02 04/17/2024.