Ayame - Mission #8: Darkness' Conspiracy

Description: A series of prison breaks has a common clue - someone is busting out darkstalkers and hiding them somewhere in Southtown... the end game may still be unknown, but the Sin Eater and Shine Maiden find themselves having to defend a defenseless farm from an onslaught driven by one of the most dangerous masterminds alive.

Japan's isolationist policies prevented trade with the outside world for almost three hundred years. During that time, its livestock saw no trade or export, and thus became extremely homogenized. When the country opened to world trade in the Meiji Era, the breeding of Japanese beef cattle, or Wagyu, accelerated as a result. It wasn't long before the sedentary grain-fed cattle of Japan became known the world over for the marbled texture and succulent, exquisite flavor.

"... the mark of a gluttonous, spoon-fed society that's grown increasingly intolerant of working for a living. Pathetic, isn't it...? That these humans can sit on their ivory towers on their ivory thrones, consuming the meat of animals never allowed to move more than few feet their entire lives."

Preaching to the choir, perhaps. Nearly a dozen denizens of the night -- called darkstalkers by the vulgar humans -- had been freed from imprisonment over the past few nights. According to the highborn demon who had liberated them, their only crime was sheer existence -- not the trumped-up charges that humans had overlaid upon them. For the crimes were those set down by humans to begin with -- set down in order to oppress the nightwalkers, the sentient beings with animal features that happen to walk on two legs.

"The time for retribution is nigh, my friends. But living among the soft ones has made you soft as well. The hunger is weak, for the stomach is empty. Tonight... you shall dine as the humans do. On their meat -- and let -them- be the ones suffering the table scraps."

In retrospect, the pattern of escapees made perfect sense. The holding facilities broken into had all been located within an hour or two of the metropolitan Southtown area. He had been teasing the borders of the Ichijo protectorate, staying just outside its reach -- the pattern had either not been acknowledged, or not responded to.

Until the last prison break-out. Southtown's own. Mere hours ago, a leonine humanoid had been imprisoned for the simple charge of vagrancy -- a flimsy excuse to get him off the streets and protect the public interestes. But now... he was free.

And now, just on the outskirts of Southtown... was the target. The cattle farm nearest Southtown was not large, but it was quite typical -- narrow stalls for each cow, just enough room to stretch legs and naught else. It was a large facility, and it was just after dusk -- the farmhands had already supped and bedded down for the night, when the first plaintive moo was heard.

The noble himself... was not yet present. No, he was taking his sweet time, and had sent the pack ahead. Lion, wolf, vampire, zombie... the race did not matter. While not all would prefer the blood of a living being, the need to exact retribution on the humans was enough. The pathetic mooing sounded out -- the first creature was always trapped and unable to move, and now suffering a critical wound to the neck. Already two or three of the darkstalkers had begun to tear flesh from bone, to sup on the meat. The rest of the barn erupted in similar outcry.

Lights began to turn on in the farmhouse. The commotion was just beginning.

And dinner, as they say, is served.

COMBATSYS: Pack has started a fight here on the right meter side.

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                                  |-------\-------\0             Pack



Aboard a police patrol and en route to the police department a pair of cops were receiving transmissions of several jail break outs happening. "Sheesh, it's getting busy tonight." Wonders one of the cops to his partner who nods. "As if people trying to kill each other in the middle of the street wasn't enough. It's like all hell has broken loose all of the sudden." The cop shakes his head. "Helluva way to start the year, eh?" The other one nods and the though occurs to him. "Hey, what do you figure we'll have to do with this guy if there's a prison break out going on? Just sit tight? 'Cause I know I ain't going anywhere near that place least we called to it, I've heard stories man, of the people they keep there. Some say its monsters."

Here is when their passenger begins to stir seated on the patrol car's back seat. Nightwolf, who had been recently picked up for fighting the Outworld assassin Skarlet in broad daylight had sensed something wicked this way come, and it was not an Outworld expedition force this time. Rather ironically, it was something relatively more mundane. Nightwolf could simply not allow himself to be trapped when dark creatures roamed the country side, humanity's laws had no sway on the path of a Sin Eater. Ignoring the cops' calls for him to pipe down, the shaman archs sideways to gain momentum to the SMASH himself into the patrol car's door and fly out. The cops hit the breaks and turn only to see a wolf in place where the dark skinned man once was. The creature slips out of the hand cuffs and runs out leaving two perplexed officers. "Did that guy just turned into a wolf!?"



Tracking this many Darkstalkers in one place wasn't too difficult. The true challenge of this task would be to confront them and to save the innocent bystanders nearby. As much as Nightwolf considered each life to be just as valuable as the other, including cattle, he knew that when it came time to choose he would always pick to save the life of humans over animals.

The Sin Eater approaches the farmland first and shape shifts back into his human form before the farmer's eyes.

"Go! Your souls are not safe!"

His warning given, he waits not for the farmer to make up his mind if this crazed dark skinned foreigner was being serious or not. Nightwolf is already running directly into the Darkstalker's vanguard, seeking to block off their path and drive their attention away from the humans.

COMBATSYS: Nightwolf has joined the fight here on the left meter side.

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Nightwolf        0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0             Pack

Nightwolf may have his work cut out for him. One cow, two cows, three cows have already been murdered ... but the motivation given was not for food. The three would have been more than enough to simply feed the darkstalkers. Plenty of food to go around for one simple meal. But bare necessity was not what drove them here -- the noble knew that it would not sate the bloodlust, the urge to kill after being trapped among humans for so long. No, the noble had known: once the first blood was drawn, and tasted, the primal instincts would be quick to take over.

Fangs were bared, claws were drawn -- and three corpses became six. And six became twelve, as the frenzy took hold, as the pack of humanoid monsters rampaged throughout the long barn structure.

And then ... the leonine one, the one most recently freed, turned his head. Eyes shining in the night light, he turned towards the farmhouse. Heard the commotion. And most importantly... saw Nightwolf.

The lion's roar alerted the others -- a quite different sound than the piteous crying of cattle, a more majestic bass reverberating across the metal bars pinning the cattle into place.

And the as one with the biggest grudge to bear... he struck first, leaping headlong into battle. Snapping his jaws, he aimed to maim, to cripple the shaman's arm.

And two more -- werewolves, invigorated from the slaughter, joined into the fray, perhaps threatened by the shaman's scent, its complete lack of murderous intent. They knew he was one of their kin -- and yet... not. They lacked a precise aim -- rather, just aimed to lance their claws against his shins and thighs, bring him to the ground. No interruption of their bloody ritual would be permitted, as their howls joined the melody of their feline brother.

COMBATSYS: Nightwolf blocks Pack's Wail of an Untimely End.

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Nightwolf        0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0             Pack

For someone so intertwined with the currents of life, even the frenzied slaughtering of cows was a horror to behold. Nightwolf was no means squeamish, if fact, many a fellow fighter might consider him outstandingly cruel and violent against his foes even if he claims to fight for the side for good. But it was not the sight of dozens of cows being pounced and ripped to shreds that sickened the shaman, but what he /felt/ all around him. The lives of the cows extinguishing so quickly are not unlike fires being put out right before his eyes, the shaman could sense the life essence of the animals just as well as he could feel their fear and confusion and pain right on their last moments. It was a reminder of what his duty was, should he ever fail to follow the path of the Sin-Eater the fate of these cows would sure befall humans shortly after.

Thoughts like this are what causes Nightwolf to remain steadfast when presented with frenzied Darkstalkers bearing down on him. While the tremendous roar of a werelion followed by a charge of the beast along with two werewolves would be more than enough to send most people fleeing, the Apache holds his ground and braces himself for the incoming attack of fangs and claws.

The shaman draws back, bring his arms up to deflect the blows and smack the maws trying to pierce his skin with fangs out of the way. He could very well bring his axes to bear and return blades with chi, but there's too many of them, he can't afford to waste time dueling with each one individually.

"Wachin ksapa yo!" Calls the Shaman to the Darkstalkers in his own language, a declaration that he's here to accept their challenge followed a show of mystical strength. The Sin Eater gathers power within his palm and raises it over his head to send a blast of lightining towards the noble Lion and his two werewolf henchemen, shouting out the Jicarilla Apache warcry of;


COMBATSYS: Pack blocks Nightwolf's Thunder Storm.

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Nightwolf        0/-------/-----==|==-----\-------\0             Pack

What repulses the shaman invigorates the darkstalkers -- for it's the very extinguishing of life essence that seems to be driving them tonight. Long imprisoned, long forced to deny themselves the thrill of the hunt, tonight was a release. The noble who remained unnamed to them had freed some before others -- and even those, he'd held fast with the promise of killing. He'd starved them, in a sense, as cruel a master as those humans who had imprisoned them -- held over them the assurance that, soon, this night would come. And so it has.

And here is one man who he had hoped would show: the shaman who had caused much trouble. It was heard on a police scanner, his conflict with Mileena. It was no secret that he yearned to fight with the supernatural, to keep these humans under the illusive veil of "safety."

How deluded he must be, to think himself safe under the onslaught of those of the night -- let alone his city. This was an elaborate trap -- and one which, for the moment, he seems to be coping with. Deterred by the Apache's blows, the leonine one backs off, withdraws to nurse his gums with a paw for one moment. The lupines stagger away, likewise cowed by the defense -- and moreso by the blast of lightning. It singes the fur -- threatens to cook the flesh, but for their own defense. Forearms prove just as useful to them as to the Apache.

But while they attack as one, they can be defended as one, but when they attack in unison, it is much more difficult. This time, one werewolf makes a lunge for the shaman's knees. The second leaps for his back, aiming to latch on and insinuate around his shoulders. While the lion rushes forward, tucking his head low and aiming to ram him backwards into one of the bars, to batter his defenses, and quite possibly buckle them.

Still, the sound of panicked cows pollutes the air, intermixed with the sickening growling and tearing of flesh. The farmhands have fled, packed into cars and vans, driven off.

And above it all, the silent gliding of a figure borne unto the wind, his scythelike wings cutting through the air currents without any sound at all. The noble smiles, his dagger-like teeth glistening in the light of the nearly-full moon.

COMBATSYS: Nightwolf interrupts Combo Grapple from Pack with Blade and Edge.

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Nightwolf        0/-------/-----==|====---\-------\0             Pack

It is never safe.

Not in the night, not in the day. Not in the cities, not in the wilderness. Not in Earthrealm and certainly not in Outworld. To be a Sin Eater means to walk of path of constant danger for just as he can sense entities of the dark, they can just as easily sense him back. Nightwolf smells as if he were a Darkstalker, he is no more human than the very creatures that he fights again, for that is the path that he chose to follow. Become Sin, consume it, embrace it, for only hands that are already soiled can plunge deep into the darkness and not be consumed by evil.

Nightwolf knows he is never safe, and it is exactly because of that knowledge that he refuses to break. For others, being assaulted by Darkstalkers from all sides must be the most horrifying day of their entire life. But for the Shaman.

It's just Friday.

With the creatures forced on the defensive, Nightwolf can better gather his bearings and see what kind of attack formation they are bringing to bear. They are all attacking individually now which proves to be a mistake for them.

The werewolf that tries to bite his knees gets a kick right on the snout, forceful enough to dislocate his jaw. The one coming from behind gets flipped forward with a shoulder throw, slammed right on top of the first charging werewolf. And as for the charging lion coming to ram him as if he were a bull..

Nightwolf wraps his muscled arms around his neck to break his charge and rams an energy knife right on the back of his neck, piercing the dorsal spine.

"Back!! Back you creatures!" Calls the shaman as he lifts the werelion over his head and throws him on top of the other two werewolves. "You've had your fill of blood tonight and you have your freedom! Do not throw your lives away for petty vengeance!" Trying to reason with Darkstalkers, who woulda thunk it.

Livestock. The very definition removes all sense of agency from the living, breathing beings housed here. The very purpose of the cattle's existence is to be killed. Slaughtered to feed people who would rather not bear witness to the murders that happen on a daily basis. People who know not of the charitably swift deaths committed to put a succulent steak upon their table.

The darkstalkers are swift, but not so humane. They do not guide those marked for death to a quiet, secluded chamber. They remove life in plain sight of the others, building the frenzied cries to a head. Already, nearly half the barn is awash in death -- these creatures will not have fulfilled their purpose, even so humble. The meat will rot, fit only to feed the worms, the bugs, the carrion-feeders brave enough to venture so close to a human settlement.

And what for? So that the darkstalkers can get a taste of hunting, but an altogether unfulfilling prey? If that were the aim, then certainly -- but no. The prey is not cattle. The prey is those like Nightwolf. And as three of the creatures are swatted away -- one kicked in the jaw, cowed back and whimpering, another flipped into the steel bars, ringing a reverberating chime through the night as a spine collapses and nearly snaps, the third impaled upon an energy knife, ceasing to prove threat to the shaman again -- the others realize that their captive prey may just not be as satisfying as they'd thought.

The hunt is on. As the one werewolf staggers backward, the others curling off to the side, broken and bruised, another -four- bear down on the shaman. Snapping their jaws, slashing their claws, they impress upon him as a cloud, moving so quickly as to be indistinguishable from one another. More human than beast, or vice-versa? It's nigh impossible to tell one writhing mass from the next in the darkness of the barn. They push him back, aiming to tire the shaman out, falling upon him as a single mass. The shaman's words may be true -- but this group seems to be wanting a challenge now.

COMBATSYS: Nightwolf endures Pack's Threnody of the Sweeping Mists.

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Nightwolf        0/-------/---====|======-\-------\0             Pack

She had been aware of the prison incidents. While in no way affiliated with law enforcement, the young demon hunter had an apt fascination with any detail related to their activities throughout the region. Most of the times, the crimes had nothing to do with her interests. But occasionally, they would be clues - hints of darkstalker activities, especially for cases that stumped those who relied on more conventional methods of investigation to solve crimes that were anything but conventional.

The issue was figuring out where they were all going. The number of new darkstalkers on the streets should have been resulted in new activity. Certainly some of the escapees were not violent, hardened criminals, so she could understand why a few wouldn't pop right back up on the radar. But some of them? Were they fleeing the region once they were on the loose? Her gut feeling was no. They were being gathered. And she had her prime suspect as to who would be responsible.

Jedah Dohma, the Blood Weaver. She had seen him collect one darkstalker in her ill-fated encounter. Surely that was not the limit of his ambition.

And this dark night, a glimpse of what it might be is finally offered. Ayame wouldn't miss it for the world. This time their movements are blatent, the pack moving without the shroud of secrecy. Wherever they were crawling out of she didn't know, but a parade of fiends and aberrants draws attention and provokes reports.

She wouldn't get there in time to save the cattle. Not even in time to save the farmers themselves, their lives would be unfortunate casualities but maybe it would awaken the world to the real horror that seethes behind the shroud of shadows. An organized attack on this scale had never happened in the modern day... Darkstalkers were as a rule solitary creatures.

She woud burst through the treelines in full sprint, sharp eyes taking in the horrific scene in an instant. The sounds of slaughter within the barn were cause for distress, but she did not share the Sin Eater's weakness for concern regarding all life. According to what she had been taught by her parents, she should feel sorrow for the unnecessary deaths.

Well, nobody's perfect.

What she does care about is the horde of creatures bearing down on the lone man standing against them. The shaman from across the seas. Nightwolf. Again the man finds himself caught up in the war against the dark ones on Japanese soul. Then the family might still be alive. Maybe they even ran for it. Good.

He will not have to stand alone against the horde's newly heightend interest in him. She can't even get to him - the way is cut off by the pack. But it does mean the pack has to defend itself on two fronts. The wooden staff clutched by her left hand flares to life, the crimson glow betraying her arrival over the noise being made by the eager, manipulated darkstalkers. And it is into the back of their ranks she would strike, swinging the long weapon around, a whirlwind of chi and thwacks. If anything, it will sow confusion among their number.

But throughout it all, Ayame can't help but wonder while unable to spare the moment to look. Where is the puppetmaster?

COMBATSYS: Ayame has joined the fight here on the left meter side.

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Ayame            0/-------/-------|======-\-------\0             Pack
[         \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Nightwolf        0/-------/---====|

It appears that his words of warning were not needed. Nightwolf pauses as he surveys the three fallen Darkstalkers by his feet, broken and bruised. This will do for now, he thinks. He is not one of those Hunters that would take this opportunity to fall upon his defeated prey and scalp them, or skin them, or worse. These Darkstalkers are down, time to move on to the next.

Standing right in the eye of the storm is a very misleading experience however. One moment Nightwolf thinks he's in the clear, and then next just as he's taking another step there's four werewolves launching themselves from the shadows to literally dog pile him. There's a grunt of realization from the shaman when notices that he's surrounded and he brings his arms up to protect his upper body from the frenzied blows.

He falls under their weight and his body is obscured from view as they all assault him at the same time, managing to put him on his back and swing away.

Down as he may be he is not out. Nightwolf curls his arms and legs in a triangle defense to at the very least manage to withstand the strikes and pierce through the pain. He manages to keep his wits about him even while swarmed from all sides by Darkstalkers and noticing a break in the storm of attacks, he swings a hard kick forward to one of the werewolves' face to at the very least push one away from him.

He has not yet noticed the entrance of the local Demon Hunter, seeing that he's currently a little preoccupied.

COMBATSYS: Ayame successfully hits Pack with Power Strike.

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Ayame            0/-------/-------|=======\=------\1             Pack
[        \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Nightwolf        0/-------/---====|

COMBATSYS: Pack fails to interrupt Front Kick from Nightwolf with March to the Bitter End EX.

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Ayame            0/-------/-------|=======\=------\1             Pack
[        \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Nightwolf        0/-------/---====|

This is no time to scalp one's prey! Disorganized the darkstalkers may be, but to allow three of their own to be -completely- singled out is... unthinkable. No, the four charging him are really not giving much time to think about using a knife for anything other than defense. The weight is oppressive, the stench of fresh cow blood, matting fur, and sticky desiccated skin even moreso. The beasts, far from sated, seek to suppress anything Nightwolf might have to present in reaction...

But, like a caged beast, there is only one thing left to do when slammed against a hard surface. Strike. The beastly darkstalkers are consumed in their vengeance, and aren't considering the overall strategy -- one key advantage the shaman has over them. Even when the pack surges, trying to rip his leg up and out of the way, they falter, knocked aside by the sheer might of the Apache. Ribs crack, lungs collapse -- and the one of the four who looked to be the weakest has been taken out of the fight as well, blasted aside, the defeated body lying on the barn floor amidst pools of bovine blood. And, oddly, the sound of glass breaking can be heard -- on the barn's roof, far above.

The ones who had -contemplated- a move on Nightwolf had been completely taken by surprise, however, by the arrival of the young demon hunter. The crimson-sheathed staff catches two of the darkstalkers completely unaware, tossing them into the air like playthings and sending them spiralling off to the far reaches of the barn. The third managed to collapse to a defensive stance -- which only left him wide open for the swirling strike as the staff smashed into his skull, dazing him and sending him flopping limply to the barn floor as well.

The cows don't know what to think of all this. The only improvement in their situation is that there are less voices mooing, the cries less deafening than before, but the panic no less tangible. They've heard things, they've seen things they've never seen before, violence unimaginable until now. Their world is grain and familiar faces, and these intruders are just too much. One cow in particular, closest to Nightwolf, groans a complaint, its bovine lips stretching from the roaring wail.

And then its head splits in two, accompanied once more by the shatter of breaking glass, as the left half falls, sliding with a sickening sound just moments before the right half follows it.

A new figure has arrived, his scythe being the one that had bisected the cow before him, as well as the panes of glass that had folded into existence, noticeable only by the faint reflection of light as they snap in twain. The violet-clad highborn steps forward again, fully entering through the shattered rift in dimensional space -- and aware that Nightwolf would be unlikely to see his full glory before he strikes.

The scythe swings laterally this time, as he aims to slash the three-foot-long scythe across the arm. It's not intended to kill. It's intended to -hurt-, to punish. He'd noted the arrival of Ayame. But as his low, rumbling laughter announces... he'd wanted her to bear full witness. To hear not only the cows crying out -- not that they would bother her -- but the cries of this Apache. That her torment, begun weeks before, would continue onward. Her territory violated once again by his fel presence.

COMBATSYS: Jedah has joined the fight here on the right meter side.

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Ayame            0/-------/-------|=======\=------\1             Pack
[        \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Nightwolf        0/-------/---====|-------\-------\0            Jedah

COMBATSYS: Jedah successfully hits Nightwolf with Fierce Strike.

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Ayame            0/-------/-------|=======\=------\1             Pack
[           \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Nightwolf        0/-------/-======|=------\-------\0            Jedah

All Nightwolf needed was to see a break from the storm. Although that kick was /admittedly/ thrown blindly, it managed to strike something and sent the Darkstalker chomping on his legs flying backwards and into the bar which, hopefully, has been abandoned by the farmer family. Its the gap that he was looking for and he takes the opportunity to make a forward roll and dive out of the mob of Darkstalkers swarming him. A spin on his heel next and he's again managed to reset his stance to face off against the dark creatures on more even grounds. There's commotion going on to his side and another presence, one that causes him to glance to the side. Is that Ayame joining the fight?? Good, her entrance is well timed just as before.

Then a cow is exploding next to him, heralding the entrance of a Grim Reaper into the battle field. Nightwolf's white blank eyes and otherworldy senses warn him too late of the shadowy figure bearing down him. All he hears is a macabre laughter and then a flash of hot pain on his arm causing him to snarl in anger. What was that!? The blade cut into his very soul and he felt it.

Nightwolf regains focus quickly and stares at the new enemy before him. He's not a Darkstalker that he's seen before, but he can't sense the stench of Outworld in him either. He's a local, but that could mean just about anything.

The Apache warrior is visibly tired after having to fend off several waves of Darkstalkers on his own, and yet he finds the inner strength to charge headlong into Jedah and swing a haymaker right for his face. "HRRAAAA!!!"

The ruthless, efficient staff wielder exhibits no hesitation when it comes to applying decisive smacks and thwacks to any of the pack not swift enough to get completely out of her way. The weapon she wields lends itself well to fighting against numbers, and the skill with which she demonstrates that comfort will begin to make her a questionable target for any still feeling indecisive about their committment to this evening's dark festivities.

Her goal is to reach Nightwolf. Any abberant in her way is between her and her goal and will get struck all the same. Maybe they were thinking about letting her pass and just needed a bit of movitation, perhaps a commanding word would suffice to clear the way. On the other hand, every one she leaves un-staff-thwacked is one who might have a change of heart and attack later anyway. Best they be shown why that isn't a good idea up front.

Carving her own path through the cow-killers, fresh flecks of blood spattering against her otherwise pristine white kimino top, she only becomes aware of the Blood Lord when he has fully stepped into being close to Nightwolf. He's tall. His presence easily seen over the others even if it wasn't immediately /felt/. His signature blood scythe is already being wielded.

"Shaman, look out!"

The exclamation over the din is too late, the warrior's arm carved. Ayame's efforts are redoubled. Maybe... maybe with Nightwolf here, Jedah can be stopped for good. The very thought of that fuels her aggression further.

"That one is behind all this!"

Pack failed an interrupt :(

COMBATSYS: Ayame successfully hits Pack with Fierce Strike.

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Ayame            0/-------/------=|=======\====---\1             Pack
[          \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Nightwolf        0/-------/=======|=------\-------\0            Jedah

COMBATSYS: Jedah fails to counter Front Punch from Nightwolf with Nero - Fatica.

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Ayame            0/-------/------=|=======\====---\1             Pack
[          \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////    ]
Nightwolf        0/-------/=======|===----\-------\0            Jedah

Jedah is, quite simply, impressed with Nightwolf's fortitude. He'd watched from afar, but without being able to sense his own blade digging into the flesh, he had no idea of knowing just how tough this nut was to crack. But once his cold steel tastes the blood of an Apache, flecking some droplets onto the blue-green face of the highborn... he can tell. This is no rank novice he is dealing with, but a hardened master of the shamanic arts.

"Interesting," he croons, a predatory grin upon his face. Curious, that the wizened man has hardened his stance, even found time to brace himself against the new arrival, even while blood continues to seep from the last. The darkstalkers nearest him withdraw -- respecting the one who brought them to the barn, and now finding respect even for their quite capable foe.

But while Jedah voices respect, his face shows nothing but contempt -- though the Apache warrior is ready to add bruises to that face. He swings a fist for the noble. And the noble gulps -- but does not lose that smile, entirely.

He does not flinch. His face takes the punch full-on. And unlike when he used that trick against Ayame, some weeks past -- he does not have the -time- to do what he'd wanted to. He folds like a jacknife, doubling over in pain. The warrior has managed to connect -- and solidly, with the highborne's hands splayed out to either side, his scythe falling to the side, the flat of its blade landing across the side of one of the many cows still standing.

The noble spares a glance over to Ayame, shaking the dizziness out of his head, reaching for his scythe even as he pivots away from Nightwolf. He raises it defensively, cocking his head first in one direction, then the other. "You think so poorly of your shaman friend that he needs your obvious appraisal, child? Perhaps you have something to learn from him, rather than vice-versa." This may be the only respect Jedah Dohma dispenses tonight.

But the darkstalkers left standing -- respect isn't their game tonight. No, they're out for blood -- and while they've certainly spilled it, the sight of freshly-laundered kimono is just begging to be sullied. Especially once she slams her staff into one, two, three -- and even the fourth and fifth that broke off from Nightwolf to attack her. Chopped down like a windmill, they soon learn that even the new arrival has some fangs of her own, battered down from the repeated blows. The living darkstalkers are certainly at risk of concussions... but they're long past the point of reason.

Indeed... beaten back, limping, clutching their heads, they move as if one injured body. All of them are taking the toll of the fight -- they've already lost half their number to unconsciousness. The five still standing spare a look at one another.

And then they all turn to Ayame, acting in unison. Overhand slashes, lateral swings, snaps of the teeth -- one whirling, seething mass of tooth and nail comes forth at Ayame, all set to plow right through her with sheer and wild abandon -- with more than one knowing that they're likely to pass out from the sheer exertion of the effort. But if the pack can survive... then perhaps it's worth it.

The Apache's knuckles connect with unnatural flesh and Nightwolf is granted a moment of respite from all the incoming attacks when he manages to drive Jedah back. He pauses momentarily, a methodical fighter by nature, and dashes backwards to increase the distance between him and Jedah rather than press in. He needs to analyze this threat before he can dive into further attacks.

His brows furrows at the almost.. could he say comical way the creature is reacting? No, he can sense the darkness seething from this one, the mischievous surface belays the true evil within. But frankly, Nightwolf is not complaining, after having had to dealt with the blood crazed Mileena and Skarlet in a row he could use a foe that delves more into showmanship.

Then again considering how much his arm is aching he doubts his penchant for the theatrics will diminish the seriousness of this threat.

His gaze is broken away momentarily when he hears Ayame shout after him words of warning followed by Jedah himself answering the local Demon Hunter.

So he's the one behind all this. Darkstalkers seldom follow a unified leader unless they have managed to coerce them all through force, and considering how cowed the Darkstalkers around him seem to be by the dark presence, even enough to break away from the shaman and attack Ayame instead, then Nightwolf must proceed with caution.

He shakes his head and steels his head. First Outworld and now this!? "The people of Earthrealm have suffered enough without your intervention, dark one!!" Nightwolf suddenly interrupts as Jedah berates Ayame, days upon days of battle begining to take its toll on the shaman. He summons a glowing axe made of chi, preparing himself to advance against the scythe armed Jedah and after taking a few steps, flings the bladed energy axe sending it spinning towards the noble's head.

"Begone from these lands!!"

COMBATSYS: Ayame blocks Pack's Gravestone of Final Acts.

[    \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////                       ]
Ayame            0/-------/----===|=------\-------\0             Pack
[            \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////    ]
Nightwolf        0/-------/=======|===----\-------\0            Jedah

Surrounded by the blood riled pack, Ayame can barely spare a glance toward the fierce exchange between Jedah and the Western Shaman. Sucking in her breath as she fends off attack, pushes some away, trips others, and smashes her weapon down against the cranium of others, she is making headway, but only just. Finally she's in too far and has to stop, holding her own ground as the horde of driven darkstalkers turns their focus more toward her than the battle-weary Sin Eater. The shift is expected. Afterall, the Scythe Wielder is here now to contend with Nightwolf.

"You filth all were lucky to escape," she snaps back, winning friends like always. "But you should have fled this land when you had your chance." Another crack, a last minute kick and shove with her knee. There is no doubting her martial prowess, but she can only do so much against so many...

And then there were five and one and the girl comes to a stop, pausing for a gasp of air, staff held at a defensive angle, her legs bracing as she glares at each of them in swift turn, daring them to attempt a move. She sees the glance among them and smirks, right hand slipping forward from her staff to beckon with her fingers.

"Come, make your last stand." She had already gauged their mettle. Compared to the Lords of Shadow she had faced, these recently busted out last few were nothing she couldn't handle. And then the battle is resumed anew. She wields the wooden weapon as if it were an extention of her own body, shifting along with it or against it, using it to poke, smack, pry, deflect without stopping for even an instant to assess or think. She fights with the weapon as if she had spent lifetimes mastering its intricacies.

Each full smack is accompanied by small explosionon of crimson chi that scorches on contact yet seems to affect the staff wielder in spite fully encasing her otherwise mundane weapon.

But for all her practice, all her speed and timing, some strikes do get through. A slash against her shoulder. A cut on her leg. A bite against her forearm that requires her to spin her long weapon around and insert it as a lever to pry the jaws loose while still kicking away the other four at the same time.

"You... vermin... can't defeat me!"

Her staff blazes brighter than it had the entire fight as she raises it over her head, a beacon of dark crimson as her long, billowing sleeves slide along her slender arms. The weapon is slamed down into the ground hard, a point blank detonation of energy blasting out from around it to strike at the bold few that continue to try and take the questionably justified miko down.

COMBATSYS: Jedah blocks Nightwolf's New Earth.

[     \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////                       ]
Ayame            0/-------/----===|=------\-------\0             Pack
[           \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////////     ]
Nightwolf        0/-------/=======|===----\-------\0            Jedah

COMBATSYS: Ayame successfully hits Pack with Fall of the Mourning Star.

[     \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //                            ]
Ayame            0/-------/--=====|====---\-------\0             Pack
[           \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////////     ]
Nightwolf        0/-------/=======|===----\-------\0            Jedah

Jedah clucks his tongue as the Apache delivers his impassioned speech about the suffering people of Earthrealm. The glowing axe is met by Jedah casually raising a palm. The glowing axe shimmers, frozen, transfixed in midair by the spurt of blood erupting from Jedah's hand.

It's true that blood is founting from his hand. But from how he's holding the blade, and how the blood is not -really- obeying gravity so much as forming a long string of chains, which move to encompass Nightwolf in a broad circle... well. It's obvious that it's a deception of some kind from the Bloodweaver.

Nightwolf has... amused him, to say the least. Loosing a chuckle, he responds with a condescending leer. "Suffering?! What tripe! The people here don't suffer, they live in the lap of luxury, sipping candied drinks and nibbling on the fruits of someone else's labor. Look around, shaman -- do these products go to /suffering/ people, or to /greedy, slothful/ people? You speak of the plight of the -suffering- people, and think so poorly of the 'darkstalkers', treated as nothing more than -inconveniences- to the intolerant here."

The irony of saying this to one of the Apache tribe is, apparently, lost upon the Bloodweaver. But the madman doesn't have to be understood for the import of his words to take effect -- as the chains he'd slung out from his hand flare with crimson light -- and suddenly constrict. The chains sharpen into pointed barbs, losing their red tint as the haemoglobin yields to the iron content within. He clenches his palm, tightening the cage to crush the shaman under the might of his blood thaumaturgy.

The pack, though... does not fare as well in its conversation against Ayame. For one thing, they're not really speaking much. Ayame's got some fairly convincing counterarguments to their snapping, gnashing, and slashing, managing to keep them all at bay. And yet through it all, the young demon hunter is... smirking?!

But the worst, it would seem, is yet to come, as the sudden swelling globe of energy erupts outwards, enveloping the five standing -- and taking down three. The last two clutch helplessly onto the bars that had kept the cows in check -- well, before they were slaughtered.

When the swell dissipates, though... well. Some dogs know when to lie down. And these two have seen enough for one night. In a final f-you to Jedah -- they book it. So much for his pep talks -- maybe they -should- have run like the shaman asked to begin with!

COMBATSYS: Pack takes no action.

[     \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////////     ]
Ayame            0/-------/--=====|===----\-------\0            Jedah
[           \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Nightwolf        0/-------/=======|

COMBATSYS: Pack can no longer fight.

[     \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////////     ]
Ayame            0/-------/--=====|===----\-------\0            Jedah
[           \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Nightwolf        0/-------/=======|

COMBATSYS: Nightwolf reflects Charged Combo from Jedah with Shield of the Ancients.

[     \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////       ]
Ayame            0/-------/--=====|====---\-------\0            Jedah
[             \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Nightwolf        1/------=/=======|

The surprising thing is that even from the depths of his apparent insanity, Nightwolf actually does understand Jedah. Because the irony of speaking of suffering to an Apache is true, and is a question that the shaman struggles with every day of his accursed life. In fact, to those that do know of his heritage, they too ask him this very same question.

Why does he care so much about protecting Earthrealm, why does he sacrifice his /life/ to protect the people that have practically systematically killed his people into extinction?

Fortunately for the forces of good, Nightwolf has always had an answer for that.

"And what would you have me do? Be like them!?" The defiant shaman cries out and goes to demonstrate Jedah just like Skarlet before him the folly of using dark magic against him. The Sin Eater does as his namesake and absorbs the blood cage wrapping around him, using the blood tendrils to /pull/ Jedah towards him and grab him.

"These people may not have suffered as I have, but that does not mean they deserve to die!" With his hands wrapped around the noble's neck, the Apache brave channels holy energy into his body for a few seconds before flinging him backwards, once again putting distance between the two of them.

"You must become the change that you wish upon this world. Not soil it even more than it already is."

Someone put that in a holiday card.

Lifting her staff end up from the ground, Ayame twirls the adaptable weapon over the back of her shoulder and neck, positioning it such that she can spin it out into another violent, sweeping attack both to ward off attack as well as deal a crippling blow to any that dares get within her range of attack now. The two that still have the power to do so choose wisely and run instead though.

"Tch." She'd love nothing more than to run them down. But the Blood Lord, mastermind of tonight's slaughter, is still here and nothing in the world would turn her focus away from him now. The thought of taking him down, even if it meant having aid from the foreign Shaman, sparked a rare flash of eager emotion in the girl. She would have her revenge!

Ayame's hand slips into her left sleeve, withdrawing a small, ghostly pale blue talisman with dark violet ink. Darting through the remnants of the fallen pack, the demon hunter is speeding straight for the man, her staff shifted to be gripped at her left side, her whole body leaning into the sprint. The card held in her right hand's fingers ignites as she draws her hand back and flings it outward into the space between her and the back Jedah.

"No one is interested in your speeches, devil!"

Airborn, the card flares bright with spectral flame before bursting forward with far more speed than it had when she first flung it. Tonight will be the night. They can take him down, the Shaman and her. The Blood Weaver's machinations on her turf would be at an end. As long as the foreigner has the resolve to do what must be done or stays out of her way when the time comes, she thinks to herself.

For monsters like this, there can be no guiding hand to redemption. Nightwolf's wisdom would be wasted on the fel creature.

Jedah Dohma's fate must be sealed for good.

COMBATSYS: Ayame successfully hits Jedah with Reliquary of Lost Time.

[      \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////          ]
Ayame            0/-------/--=====|=====--\-------\0            Jedah
[             \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Nightwolf        1/------=/=======|

Jedah frowns. With a glance, he notices that the two remaining -conscious- denizens of the night have already turned tail and run, having taken the miko's advice. The eight remaining -- ones who had given their all just to spring the trap for the Apache -- are in various states of distress, as well -- either unlikely or unable to retreat with the two now in control of the mostly-slaughtered barn.

But another reason to frown is Nightwolf's apparent mastery of -his own blood-. Those are -his- chains, mister, you can't--

Well, he just did. Not only did he deal with Jedah's blood, he managed to pull him forward. And grab him by the neck.

That got the grin off his face, to say the least -- his face contorted into a rictus of fear for one blood-curdling moment. The holy energy... suffice to say, it stings. Quite a bit. Not to mention the fact that without some of his vitae, Jedah feels just a little less... himself. That's twice the shaman has beaten him at his own game.

Curled into a ball, he cups his hand to his neck, glaring back at the Apache. "I -am- the change that I wish upon this world, lowborn..." he responds, seething with rage.

It would probably be more dramatic if (a) he weren't already getting beset on all fronts, and (b) if Ayame weren't stepping past the fallen bodies and cow corpses to fling a card lit with spectral flames at him. Jedah curls his scythe back, and as he'd fought Ayame before, it twists, blood seeping and then congealing from the cracks as it transforms into a pair of crescent wings. But the motion takes too long -- the wings do not provide the agility he needs to get out of the way of that card, which lands point-blank on his forehead. The ghostly blue flame incinerates his flesh, branding a rectangle of shame right onto the noble's face. He looses one howl of pain -- for a moment, loud enough to be heard over the lamentations of the cows.

Five red-taloned fingernails reach up, pluck the card off his face, and tear it away, bringing some of his seared skin along with it. He slings it aside -- at one of the remaining cows. What does the noble care of their plight -now?-

"The eternal night is coming. And -one- of you may be ready for it." Bold words, for the highborn noble, crouched like a kneeling supplicant before the two heroes of Southtown.

Or perhaps little more than a distraction, for as he passes one more glare at Nightwolf -- his true intention is to uncoil very quickly, and very suddenly, leaping forward.

For Ayame, the world may feel like it's tipping sideways at a precarious angle, the room suddenly bathed in a fiery crimson, wet and sticky and difficult to breathe through. Nightwolf would be able to see the effect for what it is -- the sudden, mad explusion of a fine mist of blood spurted out from his palm. He just couldn't bear to leave that white kimono top without -some- souvenir of his passing, after all.

And he is, indeed, passing -- for as he uncoils, he's aiming to rocket past Ayame, aiming both of his hands back like boosters as his crescent-bladed wings veer precariously close to her shins -- enough to leave yet another reminder of his passing, should she be lulled by his distraction, as he spatters the floor with blood in his wake.

COMBATSYS: Nightwolf blocks Jedah's Santuario.

[      \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////         ]
Ayame            0/-------/--=====|==-----\-------\0            Jedah
[              \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Nightwolf        1/------=/=======|

Tsk.. lowborn.

To think that Nightwolf gets that word thrown at him even by a Darkstalker. Even if the shaman has a feeling that Jedah addresses /everyone/ in that matter it makes the Sin Eater truly wonder if there is a place in the whole of Earthrealm where he can escape being treated like trash.

But he chuckles despite himself just as the Darkstalkers flee and Jedah gets a rebound courtesy of the local Demon Hunter. Nightwolf already knows the answer to that as he thinks back to the shrine where he's been living. Those are all the thoughts he needs to keep him resolute in his path.

It's also what keeps focused on the game. Jedah's spirit may have been broken tonight but his body is not and it becomes evident to Nightwolf that the dark one will surge forward after being struck by the Miko and deliver a counter attack. The Apache hisses as he realizes he barely has time to react, recognizing that glare that glare Jedah is shooting him, its the glare of someone that will hurt you by attacking where it hurts the most.

Your friends.

"No!!" No one else gets harmed tonight, not in Nightwolf's watch. The Apache surges with green energy that slides himself sideways, using the same energy that he uses on his spirit charge to clear distance quickly and place himself right in front of Ayamae, willingly being a human shield for her. Green glowing energy axes appear on his hands and he crosses them before him for an X block bracing himself against the spurt of blood that threatens to consume him. The shaman is pushed back and yet just as before somehow manages to weather the blow keeping himself upright as Jedah zooms right past him propelling with blood and coating both the Western and Eastern demon hunter in red mist.

He turns to look where he has left, the Dark One much too fast to properly be given chase, and while Ayame will no doubt be disappointed that she did not manage to seal away the beast, Nightwolf is just glad its over with no casualties.

Except the cows that is, poor bastards.

The Apache exhales, axes vanishing from his hands, and he wipes away the blood smeared all over his face and body. "Thank you for the assistance." He manages to say to the Miko, hoping that her fires for vengeance are still not burning too greatly.

COMBATSYS: Nightwolf takes no action.

[      \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////         ]
Ayame            0/-------/--=====|==-----\-------\0            Jedah
[               \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Nightwolf        1/------=/=======|

Even in her state, she knows she shouldn't feel so vindicated at the lone attack landed on the Blood Lord when he was the least prepared to deal with it... But in the same breath, she fully acknowledges that she does. Even if it's a single attack, it's a step toward defeating him. The two can coodinate, she has seen the Sin Eater's power work well against Jedah Dohma. Combined with her own techniques, the can do this.

Her smirk only widens at the howl of pain from the scorch of her sanctified spirit fire. Revenge for what she suffered at his imperious hand would be justified and enjoyed. She owed him that much, and so much more. And it wasn't that she was underestimating him... she knew full well the menace he represented. But with the stranger from afar on her side, how could they possibly lose?

"Too bad you won't be there to see it," she hisses back over the cacophony of wounded cows and groaning darkstalkers, sliding to a stop, twisting her staff back in front of her as she prepared to engage him again.

But while she had seen many of the Noble Lord's powers, she had not seen /all/ of them. A point made painfully clear as he surges back at her, the girl recoiling, sweeping her left hand out in an effort to channel the necessary defensive techniques she has mastered. But another intercedes, Nightwolf placing himself in the path of the bloody attack. His towering stature compared to hers is enough to completely shield the girl as he takes the attack upon himself, bracing against whatever pain had been meant for the local shrine maiden.

Ayame whirls, realizing the nature of the technique for what it was now. She was spared the incredibly fast assault by the intervention of Nightwolf, but that still leaves Jedah slipping through their fingers. She starts to bolt after him without giving it second thought, willing to leave the Shaman behind with the detritus no longer worth her attention. Only one creature of the night mattered /now/.

But it became clear that he was moving far too fast to be caught on foot. Not without some other form of preparation. Now that she has seen just how mobile he is, she will have to prepare for next time. There WILL be a next time.

The miko slows to a stop, right hand clenched tighty, left hand holding her staff. Whirling around, she faces Nightwolf at his expressoin of appreciation. Her own visage is one of intensity though whatever anger burns within her seems to be well suppressed well enough as to be only barely perceptible on her features. A breath in is taken then slowly released. "I wish I had made it sooner. Thank you once again for your sacrifice for this land..."

Her staff is jabbed against the ground as she slowly regains her composure. "We may have prevented some of the potential damage here, but by no means can we claim victory." She glances over her shoulder in the direction the Blood Shaper left. "I am certain he got exactly what he wanted out of this... " she sweeps her hand to gesture toward the wounded and unconscious darkstalkers. "...debacle."

She glances him over then toward the farmhouse. "These are escaped prisoners, they need to be collected and returned to custody. I trust you can keep the family safe until then." The man was definitely holding his own quite well before she got there... in their current state, the defeated abberants should be no threat to him.

Whirling, the girl turns, tucking her staff under her left shoulder as she fishes a smart phone from the folds of her kimono and makes an outbound call. First, to the police. They would like to know their criminals are caught, no doubt.

Secondly, to her home. She took the family's 1985 Caprice Classic station wagon again without asking. They'd probably like to know everything's all right. With the car AND herself.

Tch. Parents.

COMBATSYS: Ayame has left the fight here.

[               \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////         ]
Nightwolf        1/------=/=======|==-----\-------\0            Jedah

COMBATSYS: Jedah has left the fight here.

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

Log created on 20:16:29 01/02/2015 by Ayame, and last modified on 03:49:59 01/05/2015.