Eliza - Darkness Rising

Description: Deep in a forgotten cemetery within the outskirts of a small Romanian town, the wandering psychic/painter Alma discovers an ancient secret and awakens a mythical horror from her century of slumber.

Behind the fog's dense curtain, only the moon reigns unhidden.

Alma advances as though through a dream, the sound of his footfalls so dampened that they hardly reach his ears. He must still walk the streets of Cluj-Napoca, of this reason assures, but no proof is afforded his senses that he has not been swept off to another realm. Mere hours before he had been attending another gala opening at the Muzeul de Arta here in Romania's second-largest city, quietly enjoying his first stay in eastern Europe and making agreeable small-talk with wealthy patrons of his currently fashionable contemporary art. But now he could be convinced that all that was an eternity ago, as seconds stretch interminably as though the looming moon has pressed them flat.

It has only been a few months since the world revealed itself to Alma as much larger than it had appeared to me. For so long has he been immersed in his psychic training and artistic ventures, with no thought to their having any end but themselves, that he has never stepped out onto the world stage. The fragmented visions were the beginning of it all, he decides, walking alone save for his own hollow echo. Even though they came at the moment his art was discovered and gained traction, though his psychic abilities have reached great heights, he never would have thought to traipse the globe or challenge other great fighters had those visions not compelled here. There are secrets that he must uncover, mysteries that call to the depths of his soul. To piece together the truth, he must step forth into strange new lands and meet the figures that hearken from the strange corners of his mind -- and those he has not yet divined.

Grass crunches beneath his shoes, and only then he does realize he has strayed from the path. The fog thins slightly, enough to see the glimmer of stars bestriding the full moon above him and, unsettlingly, a field of odd lumpen shapes around him. The fey-featured young man hesitates briefly before seeing that these lumps are tombstones, weathered stone spaced irregularly and half-toppled by the elements. Alma's expression betrays no fear, though there are none to see it in any case. He slips his hands into the pockets of his tailored slacks and regards the almost preposterously stereotypical setting that surrounds him. He has stumbled into a graveyard on a foggy night, in a new city after a party. That is all that has occurred.

Why, then, does he feel so bewitched? What confused message does his intuition send? Here in the cover of darkness he is transfixed, like a pilgrim awaiting a ceremony at an unknown shrine, like a mouse in the presence of a viper, paralyzed and perversely yearning.

Unable to commit this sensation to canvas, he stands quietly and waits.

Though the weather has been favorable of late a strange chill permeates the air around the wandering artist. It is a subtle thing, creeping slowly along the ground as he meanders through long forgotten winding paths into the darkness of the unknown that stretches out beyond the city's borders, but with each passing minute it grows bolder and stronger until the fog around him is choked with it as if the air has turned bitter at the presence of a living thing amongst this hallowed ground.

Romania is not quite the hotbed of superstition and legend that it once was. The slow march of civilization and technology have laid many of its ghosts and monsters to rest and they, like the tombstones in this dreary place, have long since fallen into the annals of forgotten history. Now the terrors that lurked in the night show themselves only in stories and on the screens of theatres. Every man, woman, and child that owns a television has been subjected to atleast one of these creatures in their life time, nightmares given flesh for the entertainment of the masses.

But there are still whispers. Those who still respect the old ways speak of them only in hushed tones, afraid to bring the wrath of the demons that lurk in the night down upon them by uttering their names. Sometimes one can even hear tale of these beasts from worn down old men that lurk in the taverns and streets. The locals always laugh at their tales but it is the sort of nervous laughter that speaks more of an attempt to convince themselves that the tales can't be true than anything.

Surpringly, as Alma lingers in the quiet fields of death along with his thoughts, something begins to change. The fog that has hounded and confused his steps begins to peel away as if stirred by a large stick, billowing in a lazy but steady fashion away from the center of the graveyard. As it parts the moon grows even brighter and its powerful pale glow comes down with renewed force, casting the world into stark relief of black shadows and white light.

A structure becomes visible at the center of this strange phenomenon, towering tall and proud over the crumbling and abandoned gravesites that spread out around it. The fierce and proud snarl of an angry gargoyle is cast into sharp focus as the moonlight sweeps over it. It perches with wings out-stretched and claws beared atop the curved arching entryway to what can only be a crypt.

Odd. Was that always there? Perhaps it was hidden by the fog.

Under his usual circumstances, Alma would have heard these cautionary tales. The sedate perambulations that carry him through his home city and the places he visits, guided by intuition to places and scenes of aesthetic value, are infused with an attentiveness to the human situation about him. No doubt some chance encounter, a briefly overheard conversation or bemusing confrontation, would afford him with some context for what he sees now. But Alma arrived in this city mere hours ago and was shuttled immediately to his destination. This was to be the beginning of his wanderings, not the end.

It is the first sign that extending himself into the wider world is a disruption of the rhythms he has perfected, of the life that he has grown used to leading undisturbed, and that for his presumption he may pay in unintended consequences.

The gothic crypt emerges from the fog as though newly risen from the blighted soil, and Alma knows at once that what has frozen him here is this. Yet still he does not know why, does not recognize this impulse in the subtle gradations he is used to. He is comfortable sifting between the vivid emotions of individuals and the bleeding colors of crowds, picking out individual touches amidst broad strokes with his psychic sense, but what calls to him is no 'aura' as he knows it. There is a power here, one that exists on a spiritual plane, but is not a specific person or determinate concept. If anything, it is the feeling of an archetype, of an image which haunts the imagination, capable of taking multiple forms with myriad shades of meaning but always with the same subterranean role. It fascinates.

Alma at last remembers to exhale, the steam of his breath disappearing into the limits of the fog. It hems him in every way but forward, but it never occurs to him to step any other way. As he approaches the entrance to the crypt, he notices distantly that he can no longer hear his own footsteps at all.

Summoned by the innocent wonder at a new sensation, shielded by the faith that no harm can come from art, Alma enters the darkness, leaving even the moon behind.

The first thing that the man encounters as he crosses the threshold of the mausoleum is the cold. Not but a few scant steps behind him in the graveyard the air is cool and crisp, harsh but not hostile. That changes the moment he sets foot on the solid stone as if he has passed through some invisible barrier into another world entirely. A frigid chilling oppression assaults him as if someone has cast a wet blanket around his body. The very air seems to cling and weigh him down and the bitter sting of the crypt's hoary atmosphere invades his lungs with every breath.

The moonlight too seems to retreat from the entryway as if afraid to venture further within. No, not afraid. The pale glow simply ceases at base of the archway in a solid but discernable line, hugging up against the threshhold but not going past it. It is a sign of respect, as if nature itself has twisted and bent to give this bastion of darkness sway over the land around it.

However, even that faint glimmer of light is swiftly devoured as the fog rolls in behind Alma, sealing the passageway shut as tightly as any stone or door and stealing away any hopes of turning back.

Silence reigns for several seconds leaving the man with naught but the beating of his own heart to fill his ears, a sound that somehow amplifies and echoes in the narrow tunnels until it becomes like the soft thump of a distant drum. The cold and clammy dampness of the ancient structure bears down on him in the darkness as if seeking to crush his spirit through its relentless weight.

Then, without warning or reason, light blooms ahead. Pale blue flames erupt from empty sconces on the walls, bursting to life of their own according with naught but a faint hiss of wet air. No heat comes from these eldritch flames and they offer no refuge from the cold, save to point the way forward.

It was when the visions started, yes, that dreams mingled with the waking world. The moment he began to lunge from bed to struggle to give life with paint to snatches of memories he's never had, to be assailed with incoherent images of encounters with those he has never before met, time began to spiral in on itself and reality lost cohesion. Alma, ever comfortable dwelling in a world of ambiguity as a beacon of consistency, silently slipped then onto a different path, a switch on the track of a phantom train.

But this is different, deeper still. He realizes as the fog rolls in behind him that this is no mere metaphor. The stone is solid, the air is thick, the chill is real. Reality may be a slick concept for a psychic, for whom illusions can take on substance and emotions carry force, but where he stands now is not a mind's projection. Months ago, he ventured from his comfortable hearth to the bright light of the outside world, which casts shadows darker still. And this--

This is beneath the earth.

Entranced by this place, still without a stirring of fear within, Alma silently walks past flames that issue no heat, loyally following where the umbral glow leads.

Though the crypt looked only moderate in size from its exterior the passageways within the damp and ancient structure lead on for what seems like hours. New blossoms of cerulean flame spark ahead of him as he walks while those behind die out leaving only a small section of the tunnel visible at any one time. Time becomes nebulous and emphemeral here without shape or meaning to guide its steady march forward. The darkness swallows all awareness beyond Alma's tiny bubble of illumination leaving him with the distinct impression that should he go astray there would be nothing but that empty void waiting for him beyond the torchlight.

The cold and the darkness become a constant companion on this strange and unexpected journey of his, the former wreathing him like a cloak while the latter laps at his heels, urging him ever onwards, not that he seems particularly reluctant to proceed. The further his travels take him down into the dark the louder his heartbeat becomes, the warm dull thump-THUMP rising in both intensity and volume until it outweighs even that of his polished designer shoes on the weathered floor.

Is this really his own heartbeat? Is he that excited? Afraid? Or does this sound belong to another? Maybe it's all in his head.

Without warning the atmosphere changes again. As he rounds a corner in the tunnels the rapid drumbeat throughout the crypt reaches a fever-pitch, practically hammering at his skull from all sides. And then, just as quickly, it stops and the lights go out around him.

Darkness reigns for a long pregnant pause and the possibility that he may have simply been lead into some kind of trap lingers in the emptiness around him. Then, with another silent explosion of unworldly fire, the darkness is pushed away to reveal his surroundings.

Alma stands at the edge of a large circular room, perhaps the size of the crypt as it appeared outside: a couple dozen or so feet across on each side. Hand-carved marble pillars thrust up into the ceiling along the outer edge of the walls, appearing to have been carved into the structure rather than added later. The room is completely empty beyond these towering struts save for the large slab of stone at its center upon which rests what is unmistakably a coffin.

Though this very place reeks of mold and decay, its walls cracked and overgrown with moss, the air damp and cloyed with the scent of rot and death, the wood of the coffin appears to have been well preserved. Dust and cobwebs cover it in a thick layer of soot and grime but its structure appears whole as if it is a much newer addition to the tomb.

The presence that assailed him from beyond the walls of the crypt becomes something solid and coherent now, a spiritual force that presses at him from all sides, urging him forward. It is no longer vague and fleeting, a mere concept floating in the vast emptiness of the night. But it is quiet and restful and does not stir at his intrusion, unaware of his invasion into the heart of its lair.

The essence of the disorientation produced by this unfathomable warren lies not in its winding corridors nor in its impossible flames but in the steady beat that pulses through Alma, disconnected from his subjective experience. Even as he is willingly drawn forth, his unbalking immersion paradoxically resulting in an apparent detachment, he feels his body tremble with a trepidation not his own. But then, like every line that further blurs with every step, it is no longer clear what feelings are his own. It has ceased to matter; his assent is no longer required.

He is a cell passing through a hewn stone vein, and some great heart is pressing him on to its central chamber.

And all at once he has arrived, and the primal fiber within him pulled taut to thrilling is released. The light comes on and his breath comes out, the psychic regaining a semblance of self-awareness. Alma blinks and rouses, looking about himself at the contents of the room illuminated by spectral fire. Features calm and eyes remarkably sober, he reaches out and runs his fingertips along the carvings chiseled into a marble pillar, confirming by touch the solidity that sight assures.

He inhales then, taking in the abject aromas of this morbid place with only the slightest squint, and turns his gaze to the only other occupant. All has cohered again, as though it was the passage here that demanded his dislocation. The presence he sensed vaguely and almost unrecognizably before is now singular, if obscure. Furrowing his brow thoughtfully, the young man approaches the center, shoes clicking on the stone, and stands before the coffin.

What, he reflects belatedly, would Sensei say? But it is too late to consider such hypotheticals now. He is here now, and must act as only he would.

It might be possible to turn back now, no longer being so powerfully compelled. Whatever presence lurks here, it may never notice that he was here. He has no motive to disturb its rest.

But he has been called.

It is a new world full of new adventures. He cannot know where clues to the secret realm of his dreams lie. He can only search in every forgotten corner, in his own inimitable way.

Alma straightens, reaches out toward the coffin lid, pauses, and then, with the affable air of a gentleman caller, politely knocks twice.


The rasp of his knuckles against the ancient wood resounds through the empty dome of the crypt's stone walls, echoing with what might as well have been the report of a gun into the darkness of the tunnels behind him. The silence that existed before attempts to fill the void of its shattered sanctuary, rushing in like the backdraft of a tide, and for a few moments the utter lack of sound is nearly defeaning.

Then, with painstaking and climatic slowness, the lid of the coffin creaks open and slides onto the floor.

The crash of the wooden slab hitting the ground is loud but somehow not nearly as overwhelming as the gentle knocks upon its surface. A cloud of ancient dust explodes into the air upon impact, filling the space around the coffin with a thick obscuring gray mist that aggressively invades Alma's eyes and nose, overwhelming him with hundreds of years of mold and allergens. However, it eventually clears and allows him to see what his curiosity has revealed.

Nestled gently within the padded interior of the long box is a woman of unearthly beauty. Skin as pale as the light of the full moon shines white in the eldritch light of the torches, free of any visible blemish or minor imperfection. Features that appear to have been carved with a loving hand out of cold marble into a vision of fairy-tale desire are wreathed in a silken frame of raven black hair. Her large and exotically slanted eyes are closed, her narrow but plump lips parted in the barest of a gasp, and if it were not for the fact that she is deathly still and lying in a coffin it would be no stretch of the imagination to think that she were slumbing gently.

Whoever she was in life she must have been important or wealthy. Her wardrobe consists of an elegant red corset that flares out on top of a black frilly skirt that is very very short, providing scarcely enough length to conceal her undergarments beneath. Her arms are swathed in black silk of the same design with large poofy bulges on her biceps and long wide extensions that drape down over her fingers in a sultry fashion. Her elegantly long legs are wrapped from the thighs down to her feet in a pair of sheer nylons embroidered with floral motifs. For a corpse, she looks pretty damn good.

However, one feature in particular is troubling when compared to the others, and just in general really. A pair of thick curving horns protrode from the side of the dead woman's head, much like a rams or... a demon. Some sort of head-dress perhaps? A ritual modification from an ancient culture? Who's to say.

It is a picture worthy of his paint.

Alma stares rapt once the coffin lid slides aside, an exaggerated response to his light touch, and clatters to the floor. The woman he looks upon evokes no sudden recall; she does not bear his secrets. Instead she is clad in her own mysteries, and arrests his gaze for lingering moments as the choking dust settles.

"Pardon me," he murmurs aloud, and startles faintly at the sound of his own voice resounding off the walls of the stone chamber, amplified despite his quiet tone. He is momentarily unsettled then, as any normal person would be in this bizarre situation -- if much later than normal -- but such mundane concern fades almost immediately once his attention turns to her. Perhaps a psychic cannot be superstitious when the realm of spirit is all too real. Perhaps an artist casts aside all for a beautiful vision. Whatever the case, even now, Alma seems to have forgotten all fear.

And the presence he still senses, rather than deterring him, suggests that rather than this being something to be desecrated, it is something to be discovered.

She is fascinating, which is what Alma understands as beauty. The shape of her face, the hue of her skin, the lines of her body and her clothes, each is thoroughly examined by his gently roving gaze. Were he lacking in a sixth sense, even he would feel this to be inappropriate. But it somehow -- not that he consciously reflects on this -- does not seem to him plausible that this is a typical tomb. He leans over her, his expression calm and thoughtful, regarding the subtle details of her features in a manner somehow both soulful and academic.

Inevitably, though, his attention returns again and again to the horns atop her head, a most peculiar ornament indicative of no culture of which he is aware. Absorbed in contemplation, seeking the answer to a puzzle the nature of which he has not yet fully grasped, Alma forgets his usual reserve for the barest moment. Face close to hers, eyes soft and searching, his bronze-skinned hand reaches out for one spiral horn, brushing it with his fingers as he had the marble pillar, confirming its reality.

The horns, like everything else about her, prove to be all too real, twin pieces of perfection that are beautiful in the way only something natural can be. Each curving bone is composed of several individual segments, each layered atop the next like pieces of chiton or armored plates. They are not identical mirrors of each other, each possessing its own minor deviations and patterns from their growth which are only visible when looking closely. The bases of these beastly protrusions sink into the thick curtain of her hair which makes it nearly impossible to tell if they are indeed connected to her skull in some fashion.

Rather than leave this mystery be, Alma takes a more direct approach. His fingers alight upon the smooth surface of the curving horns for but an instant; but an instant is all the it takes to alter the course of what might have been.

Impossibly, the woman stirs at his touch. It's almost imperceptable at first, easily dismissed as a trick of the eyes, but within a few moments the vague shifting of her body becomes an exaggerated twitch. Her head suddenly snaps to the side in a fitful gesture and the sharp tip of the horn scythes across the pad of Alma's finger, drawing forth a few drops of crimson red blood. By chance or fate, one of these drops alights upon the woman's pale lips and with a sudden great heave she vaults upright in the coffin.

The dead woman sucks in a deep and longing breath of the stale air as only one who has been denied its sweet life-giving touch for extended periods of time. She throws her head back, mouth parting into a wide gasp though her eyes remain closed in defiance of this sudden rousal. Slender pale fingers grasp tightly at the edge of the coffin and it is only now that he notices that each of her fingernails are longer than they should be, narrowing into thin but sharp claws that bury into the hard wood with the ease of iron nails.

Oddly, the woman wavers in her seat for several seconds after her dramatic move, her head slumped forward onto her chest and her body shifting from side to side as if unable to engage the muscles necessary to keep her steady. She looks like someone who just woke up from a terribly long nap and hasn't quite gotten their senses back.

Alma flinches as the pallid woman's horn slices across his presumptuous finger, more from being startled from his reverie than from pain. He withdraws his hand as she impossibly rises, fixing his gaze upon her ecstatic features as her head lolls back. His momentarily perturbance proves that he can be shaken, but once again the psychic's composure seems unflappable in the face of the bizarre or seemingly supernatural. The lovely lady in the coffin has awakened, and though wonder is as ever in Alma's heart, his fey features display neither concern nor curiosity but only a kind of placid patience.

Well-- she's half-awakened, at any rate.

His eyes drift lower to where her lily-white fingers grip crushingly into her ornate casket, and unconsciously, he lifts his bleeding fingertip to his lips, staining them with a hint of crimson before slipping his wounded hand into his pocket.

The silence lengthens. One would think this moment would be tense. But Alma seems to be awaiting some sort of cue to action. In reality, he's contemplating whether to introduce himself or not. She still seems rather disoriented, and it would be rude to begin talking while she's not yet in her right mind. But it would also be rude to ask her name before he's introduced himself.

Alma, standing in the center of sinister catacombs from a bygone era, having been guided by lights that defy scientific explanation, faced with a woman who has by all appearances woken from the dead, finds this question of manners to be the issue most worthy of his attention.

As she remains still, Alma, self-possessed, at last speaks gently.

"Did you sleep well?"

It takes the better part of a minute for the woman to become lucid enough to force her eyes open, much less speak. The question drifts across her consciousness, tangling in the spiderwebs and dust that have congealed in her brain over nearly a century of restless slumber. The undead do not sleep as humans do. No comfort comes to their wearied minds as the world fades into oblivion nor do their timeless bodies require the revujenation of mortal flesh. Their rest is merely one of necessity tied to the essence of their unholy existence, one of the small prices they pay for drifting beyond the reach of the natural order.

The horned corpse slowly rouses from her stupor and with an exaggerated motion her unfurls her arms into the air stretching them outwards like a tree spreading its branches. A series of unsettling cracks and pops accompany the gesture; a hundred years of stillness are hard on the joints. Her lips part even further as her jaw drops open to yawn and for a brief instant the flash of narrow pointed teeth is visible within her pretty mouth.

"MmMmmrr... is it time for the ball yet, Morgana? I'm rather looking forward to the entertainment this evening."

The question is aimed at the air before the creature, her head not turning to regard the presence within her tomb immediately. The accent that she posseses might be considered quite thick if she were speaking in English but it flows naturally from the source of its own language as she utters her words in some sort of Slavic tongue.

Alma tilts his head slightly, thoughtfully running his tongue along his bloodstained lips. He thinks she's speaking Romanian, though it sounds rather unlike the dialect he's heard spoken in the city. He conscientiously studied some stock phrases and basic conjugation on his way here, as any good world traveler does, so although he's somewhat unsure whether he's gotten the full meaning of her statement or if she's speaking only a related tongue, he quietly clears his throat and makes his best effort to communicate.

"I am not Morgana," he says carefully. "I am sorry but there is no dance." As well he should be. "I am Alma, a painter from Japan." Out of habit he never identifies himself as a psychic, as it has a tendency to unsettle those who assume the popular myth of mindreading, and to those already sensitive, one's presence is enough.

She flashes the teeth of a carnivore, and Alma smiles politely.

"Who are you, please? This place, it is your home?"

He's feeling pretty good about this. Thanks, Rosetta Stone.

"Your horns, very pretty."

Alma always compliments women's accessories.

The voice that responds to her question is not the soft submissive tone of the village girl that she'd ensared only a few months before, but one of masculine confidence. Eliza frowns and slowly turns to regard its owner, finally bringing her gaze around to settle upon the wandering painter.

Twin orbs of pure crimson power turn their attention upon Alma and it is as if all of the faint echoes and subtle hints of otherwordly presence that had drawn him here with their siren call have come crashing down upon him at once. The very weight of her presence becomes stifling, a terrible and dark aura that presses at his mind from all sides. A sudden desire to fall to his knees in reverent awe of the being that now stares him down, to surrender everything that he has and is to her otherworldly beauty, batters at his thoughts like a mental sledgehammer.

"You... are not Morgana," she repeats slowly, eyes narrowed in mixture of curiosity and sultry dismissiveness. Her gaze drifts from his face towards the ground as she takes a measure of the thing that has invaded her tomb. The insistent vice-like grip on his mind lessens a bit as she lowers her eyes but they return to pierce into his own quickly enough bringing the full power of her attention back to the fore.

"Your Romanian is terrible."

She switches to English suddenly, fluently speaking the language of trade just as easily as her own, though the accent remains. She tilts her head slightly and the long red-tipped locks that hang from the side of her head shift across her dress in a fashion that seems far more enticing than should be normal.

"I am... Eliza," she says with a faint smirk, emphasizing her own name as if it carries great import all on its own. "And you stand within my domain. What has become of my servant?"

Only then does this truly become real to him.

Alma's eyes flash as instinctively his mental defenses raise, his back straightening as a physical indication of his abrupt shift to psychic readiness. Her presence, hitherto ambient, is an inexorable weight upon his soul. His knees tremble for a moment as he lets the desperate urge to fling himself down before her pass through him and fade. His breathing steady, Alma's expression returns to its typical mild composure, but there is a steel to his gaze that was assuredly not there before.

Now that his inner resolve is roused to action, the talented student of Rose is ready for any and all assaults upon his ego. He will stand tall in the face of whatever mental tricks she aims to work on him. There is nothing she can do to undermine him now.

She insults his Romanian.

Alma deflates slightly.

Before, his gaze would drift to wherever caught his eye, but the aesthetic delight of gazing upon Eliza is no longer his priority. This woman is powerful and dangerous. He does not understand for what purpose he was called here or if she is his enemy, but he is all too aware that he must now tread carefully.

"I do not know your servant, Eliza," he replies evenly. "I was summoned here by a force unknown to me. I walked far through a strange labyrinth and reached this place to find you slumbering. I saw no one else here. When did you last see Morgana?"

Alma's eyes narrow faintly.

"How long have you slept here?"

"A labyrinth?" Ah... I see."

That meant that her magical defenses had risen up to protect her as she slumbered spreading out like a cancer around her chosen sanctuary. Such a thing took many years to grow on its own. This causes her to frown momentarily. She had merely meant to lie down for a light nap before the evening ball. How strange.

A quick look around the small chamber provides no further insights into the fate of the young beauty that she had taken for her own. That more than anything saddened her. She had been a fiery and rebellious child but her will had broken quite easily when subjected to the awesome power of darkness incarnate. The vampire had grown rather fond of the shy bumbling creature that the girl had become but it seems that time has robbed her of that pleasure. Alas, such is fate of mortals.

Fortunately, it would seem that fate has seen fit to deliver her a new play thing, or at the very least a way to slake the thirst that she feels. By the Gods, how long as she slept? A terrible hunger suddenly rises up from within the depths of her vacant soul, gnawing and painful. She /needs/ to feed.

Eliza's eyes flash with a cold inner fire and she smiles faintly. Her hand extends towards the painter in a dainty gesture reminiscent of customs long forgotten by modern society.

"Help me up."

It's not a request. That much is clear from her tone and by the renewed pressure on his mental walls. She expects him to obey.

Alma stiffens.

Before he knows it, his hand, finger still dotted with blood, has withdrawn from his pocket and half-reached toward the woman with the provocative smile. His eyes flicker in confusion before his movement stops. That was not the sort of mental assault he is accustomed to. Though her mien is breathtaking, her manipulations are subtle, stealing beneath the shield of his will. Human psychics, for all their sensitivity, are typically capable only of full-frontal attacks upon other minds. Compulsion without any energy manifestation is not a psychic trait that he has be taught of. No, to begin with, this woman does not seem to him a psychic at all.

She is just--



The young man trembles for a moment again, his breath quickening, but slowly he steadies himself, years of training and self-mastery allowing him to adapt to these unusual tricks. His body relaxes as his mind reinforces, his own presence and conviction bringing new life to his features and gaze, allowing him to meet her eyes. It is a struggle, constantly, but he is not losing. He stands still, silent.

Alma resists.

And then--

"It would be--"

--with those quiet words, gaze never leaving hers, he reaches out, hand shaking but only slightly, and takes hers with the intent to aid her out of the coffin--

"--my pleasure."

--of his own free will.

How very interesting.

Eliza watches the young man's personal inner dilema as he struggles against her compulsion with a look of detached amusement. Her hand lingers in the air awaiting the touch of his warm flesh as Alma reasserts control over himself with noticable effort, his every twitch and tremor a signal that she can read like a book.

The vampiress laughs chestily, her lips turning upwards into the demure hint of a grin. She allows her hand to be grasped and twists her legs one after the other over the edge of the coffin, sliding easily to the dusty floor. The touch of her skin is cold, like everything else in this place, devoid of the warmth of life or spirit.

"A gentleman, I see." Eliza slips her hand out of his fingers and leans in close, placing her palm flat against his chest. Despite her death-like qualities the woman, or creature, or whatever she is, smells quite pleasant, the scent of freshly cut rose petal mixing with that of tilled soil.

She keeps her crimson eyes fixed on his, the subtle alluring whisper of her presence continuing to scratch and linger at the gates of his psychic fortress. It does not demand entrance, beating at his walls like a hammer any longer, but entices him on a basic primal level, twisting thoughts so that he will invite her in 'of his own accord'. It is an insidious poison, playing upon the most common and basic traits of mankind - pride and lust.

"I like that," she whispers, eyes sliding halfway shut in an alluring manner. Her hand wanders across the front of his shirt lazily, slowly drifting downwards. "And it seems I find myself in need of a new... companion."

Alma's nostrils flare faintly as he takes in the predatory woman's heady aroma, its coaxing quality causing him to ease his mental defenses -- but for only a moment. His eyes flicker as he realizes that, rather than attempt to smash through his sense of self, her presence is a constant invitation to abandon it, to cast aside everything that he is and become purely an extension of her. By surrendering himself utterly, he knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that he can find an existence that is pure pleasure. All of his desires will be satisfied, for he shall desire only her.

He stares captivated by her eyes, feeling as her hand presses against his chest that he is touched to the core, something primal called within him. And this, he realizes finally, was what it was he did not recognize. What summoned him was this desire, whatever it is, a sentiment gone entirely unexamined within him for all his psychic training. These earthly cravings were long ago utterly surpassed by passion for art and love of others. No one can remain human and exist without desire; indeed, nothing can live and nourish itself. What she has awakened was never forced upon him; it was within him all along.

And that is why--


Alma smiles radiantly.

"Let's be friends, Eliza."

For the lust and pride she is evoking are completely unfamiliar to him. What is lust in the face of sublime artistic delight and absorption into the work of art? What is pride when one may gaze upon the vibrant ties that bind all to one another, a perennial reminder of the sanctity of social harmony? In Alma's heart, as he is now, there is no contest.

What ensures her power is not his will, but his purity.

A sound echoes through the chamber in the wake of Alma's pure and unsullied response to the base lustfulness that the vampire's presence seeks to invoke. It is not unlike that of a chainsaw tearing into a piece of lumber or a heavy silken sheet being shredded one strip at a time.

Eliza's head has slumped downwards once again, dangling loosely between their two bodies in such close proximity that it's difficult to tell whose chest it might be resting on for support. Her snores are the stuff of legend, deep and stuttering inhalations that could rouse the dead with their vigor.

Eliza... has fallen asleep.

Alma stands, smiling continuously.

Her loud, rattling snore has no effect upon his expression. The moment extends. The snoring goes on as Eliza's head dangles, her horns swaying perilously close to his chest which moments before she was stroking. Alma doesn't move.

It's not clear what he's waiting for.

He blinks once, after some interminable pause, and tilts his head down and to the side, as if under the impression that she must be staring at the ground, it having not occurred to him she might literally have fallen asleep right then and there at the moment of his heroic defiance. Quietly he gazes upon her slack-jawed face, the noble vampire appearing to be drooling slightly. Seeing this newly disheveled and inelegant expression, the golden-haired youth's smile slowly fades, at long last.

And then--

He averts his eyes, beginning to blush.

Seriously, Alma?

The snoring suddenly comes to a stop as brusquely as it began and Eliza's head drifts back up. She blinks her eyes a couple times and then turns her gaze back to Alma's face to find him turning a faint hue of pink with embarrassment.

Aha, she's getting to him!

Now that he has started to fall into her clutches, she can take what she wants from him without fear. Smirking in triumphant victory over yet another hapless and unwitting human, Eliza brings her drifting hand back up from his chest and places it around his shoulder, drawing him near with a sudden and needy jerk. Her strength is incredible and even if he was ready for such a thing, it might be too strong to escape on such short notice.

"Surrender your life unto me!"

Her lips part as she leans in, fangs shining in the pale ethereal light, clearly intending to take advantage of his momentary distraction!

COMBATSYS: Eliza has started a fight here.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Eliza            0/-------/-------|

COMBATSYS: Alma has joined the fight here.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Alma             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0            Eliza

COMBATSYS: Alma interrupts Bloody Bite from Eliza with Divine Intervention EX.
- Power hit! -

[    \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////////     ]
Alma             0/-------/=======|===----\-------\0            Eliza

The roiling desires, Alma could handle. But the innocent charm of an otherwise self-possessed and beautiful woman's sleeping face, no longer an aesthetically appealing death mask and instead possessed of an all too mundane sloppiness, touches him to the quick. Flustered, the psychic forgets himself and his offer of friendship as Eliza stirs, floundering for words and then wondering why it is he's so agitated. At first he saw her as a work of art, and then as a threat. But for all her power, she's a person like him, with her own endearing vulnerabilities. what is this feeling welling up within him?

Could it be--
r "Ah!?"

Eliza's vicelike grip tears Alma from his thoughts as she wrenches him forwardd, her hand digging into his shoulder the way it did into the coffin he roused her from. His eyes widen as the face that had moments ago smitten him looms close with the proud and savage smile of a mistress born to rights. By intuition and training he responds to her ferocity by summoning his power, light kindling around his hands, but she is too close, and her lips are coming right--


--for his throat.

Alma's lips part in shock, pure eyes widening further before dimming, their lids growing heavy as fatigue assails him. His mind whirls, unable to make sense of what she is doing, feeling the blood pumping through his veins and-- leaving them, drained clean to sate her desires and serve as her sustenance. Her presence assails him anew, exploiting his wavering will and spreading through him like a numbing poison, persuading him that he is prey, that he cannot fight.

Fight-- ah, yes-- he's being attacked. She's attacking him.

The moment that realization penetrates the fog of Alma's mind, without a conscious command, his hand, with soul fires still kindled, snaps up to be placed flat upon Eliza's abdomen.

If he is attacked, he is called. If he is called--

A beam of scintillating light explodes through the vampire's form, leaving no physical mark but projecting enough force along with its dazing mental effects to hurl her back away from him and straight toward the coffin she emerged from, possibly powerfully enough to smash the wood to smithereens.

He must respond, and express himself.

That simple vow, fundamental to his being, saves him, leaving him gasping, pale-faced, off-hand clasped to his throat with a look of awe and confusion.

A shrill piercing shriek accompanies the flare of soul fire as Eliza is cast away from her prey. It is an otherworldly sound that claws at the barriers in his mind as much as it does the sensitive flesh of his ears. Fortunately, it lasts but a moment, replaced by the thunderous crash of the vamire's body colliding with the ancient coffin. The impact blasts it from its perch atop the marble slab and the hand-crafted antique shatters into splinters and kindling upon the cold stone floor.

Eliza hits the slab at an angle, her ribs cracking noisly. She falls towards the floor in gravity's embrace but rather than land in an undignified heap upon her face her hands shoot down to arrest her movement and the sultry seductress comes down on all fours like an agile cat. There is no hesistation as she rises back to her feet, no outwards display of pain as she glances down at the faint bulge of broken bones underneath her dress, inspecting it as she might a spot of dust.

"Well then."

Eliza turns to face her prey in a casual fashion as if his rebuke had been little more than a verbal exchange. She lifts the tip of one clawed finger to the side of her lips where a small smudge of his blood remains from her interrupted feeding session, wiping it away. She smiles sensuously at the mortal man and extends her tongue, daintly licking the crimson vitae from her digit.

"It has been many years since I encountered a medium of such strength. I think... I will enjoy this."

Without warning Eliza becomes a blur of motion, her body shrouded in emphermal un-light as the darkness engulfs her and carries her across the room in the blink of an eye. She crosses the space between them so fast it might as well be teleportation, giving Alma little more than a heartbeat to react to the razor sharp fingernails that are driving at his chest.

COMBATSYS: Eliza successfully hits Alma with Aggressive Strike.

[         \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////    ]
Alma             1/-----==/=======|====---\-------\0            Eliza

At long last, Alma is unsettled.

His hand still clasped to his bleeding throat, the young man watches with uneasy fascination at the grotesque yet tittilating sight of Eliza licking his blood from her finger. His counterattack put her on a brutal collision course with that stone dais, but her injury does not seem to faze her in the slightest. Her allure is extraordinary; her fortitude is unreal.

"Eliza, who-- no--"

Her strength is terrifying.

"What are you?"

Alma grimaces as he attempts to retreat from her sudden assault, lowering his hand from his wound to guard his body, but she advances far quicker than he can withdraw. She tears through his guard, shredding his sleeves and shirt front, skin and fabric in tatters as his hot blood seeps through. Wincing one eye shut but somehow retaining his stance despite the blinding pain, the psychic valiantly attempts to drive his swift adversary back with a wide sweep of his leg, the limb imbued with a pearlescent glow.

"What am I to be a 'medium' for!?"

Rather than drive his leg into her side in an inverted roundhouse kick, however, Alma aims to fold the limb about her narrow waist and pivot, using the full force of his weight enhanced by latent telekenesis to hurl Eliza once again explosively across the room, this time directed toward a marble pillar.

COMBATSYS: Eliza endures Alma's Sea of Flame.

[          \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////       ]
Alma             1/----===/=======|=====--\-------\0            Eliza

Haunting laughter that echoes through the corridors of his mind is the response that Alma receives as the creature tears into his flesh once again. This time the hot wash of blood is much less pleasant than the embrace of her lips, darkness dancing on the edge of her fingers and searing him body and soul. Her attacks come on two fronts and the power that she wields in both the physical and the spiritual realms is potent indeed.

Eliza leans in and hisses as the leg wraps around her waist, not even bothering to try and avoid the attack; it doesn't concern her in the least. The demonic woman sails across the room propelled by the psychic assault, slamming into the pillar with her back. Her eyes widen a little as another crunch resounds through the room but when she peels away from the fresh dent in the wall it's clear that the stone was the thing to give way rather than her spine.

A grin spreads across her blood-stained lips as she gives him an amused look, lifting one arm into the air dramatically as if cupping something in her palm. Seething inky black energy bursts to life at her gesture, gathering into a rapidly expanding glob of scintilating un-light.

"Right now? You will be a medium for my entertainment. Dance for me, mortal!"

Eliza swings her arm forward, hurling the energy at the ground as a softball pitcher might. It explodes with fresh ferocity upon being unleashed becoming a raging tidal wave of roaring darkness that screams towards him like a shark bearing down upon its prey, fin ominously thrust into the open air.

COMBATSYS: Alma issues a challenge!!

[          \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////       ]
Alma             1/----===/=======|=====--\-------\0            Eliza

COMBATSYS: Alma overcomes Dark Wave from Eliza with Full Confession EX.

[          \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////       ]
Alma             0/-------/-----==|======-\-------\0            Eliza

The light in Alma's eyes intensifies.

When Eliza peels herself from the stone to refer that she is the more durable, the confusion begins to fade from the psychic's features. If she will not reveal her true identity to him, and if she is nevertheless intent on attacking him, the matter is simple. Her spiritual power stirs his resolve, kindling the energies within him to burn yet hotter. Thus, as she gathers her own aura to her fingertips, he inhales deeply, hands opening with the floodgates of his soul.

"I shall rather--"

Under very different circumstances, dancing would not be out of the question. But what Eliza considers entertaining seems to spell dire consequences for her partner.

"--take a stand!"

Alma thrusts his own palm down toward the ground before him, the stone in that direction glowing bright pink and white as power pools there. When the ravishing woman's dark wave descends upon him, that gathered force erupts into a geyser of Soul Power, angled up toward her to tear asunder her attack, dispersing it and carrying through, aiming to punish her fighting spirit directly.

But then, even as he boldly remains rooted to the spot, Alma wonders if battering the will works as well when his adversary is driven by something deeper and more primal.

COMBATSYS: Eliza blocks Alma's Full Confession EX.

[          \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////        ]
Alma             0/-------/-----==|======-\-------\0            Eliza

Eliza's eye quirks sleepily as the incandescent light tears through the surging darkness. Her head tilts lazily to the side as if she has all the time in the world to deal with the incoming explosion of pink will that so easily shattered her magic, regarding it as she might a conniseur appraising a piece of art.


The vampiress holds up a hand at the last moment, turning her palm outwards to catch the rampaging energy on an invisible shield. It strikes her defenses, bowing around the barrier of her overwhelming will and then falling once more into the phantom glow of the arcane torches. Eliza stands unharmed and unmoved by the attack, looking rather bored.

"Not good enough."

Another blur of shadows carries the woman through the void and she congeals into a solid object directly infront of Alma, her hand already reaching out to grasp him by the throat. She leans in, brushing her chest against his, holding him tightly with impossible strength. Her eyes become lidded once again as she gives him a teasing look, then leans in to lick the still angry wounds on his neck.

"Your struggles are futile, mortal. Submit. You will find me... so much more agreeable... once you are mine."

COMBATSYS: Alma endures Eliza's Medium Throw.
~~ Alluring Hit! ~~

[               \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////       ]
Alma             1/----===/=======|=======\=------\1            Eliza

Alma cannot but flinch slightly as his power, though it overcomes Eliza's technique, fails to make the barest dent in her defenses. He's never before encountered an opponent with such a wide range of abilities. While he knows well how strong a person's resistance to psychic attacks can be, for her to possess strength, fortitude, and speed in equal exceptional measure is beyond anything he's previously witnessed. He possesses numerous techniques at his disposal, earned through years of careful study, all of which he recently deployed expertly in his duel against Athena. But none of them speak to him as able to turn the tide now.

The fact that he is apparently boring her does not register -- yet. But when, a mere moment later, she has blurred before him, Alma's attitude soon changes. Unable to anticipate even with his heightened intuition that she would be able to advance so rapidly after deflecting his torrent of Soul Power, he finds himself seized in a mighty grip, his hands rising unbidden to clutch at her slender forearm. As she pulls him close, their bodies touching, he does his best to brace himself.


Only a light gasp can emerge from his throat as Eliza glides her tongue across his wounds, lapping up the crimson still dripping there, and his hands loosen, body relaxing unbidden. Alma's eyes, before meeting her teasing look uncomprehending, grow heavy as well, clouded and unfocused. This sensation remains unfathomable to him. By what power is she able to weaken his resistance with the touch of her lips? From what source does she yearning to swear fealty to her emerge? His breathing grows steady and soft, chin tilting back as though offering up his throat to her. Unable to support himself, he leans into her body, giving himself over to her power.

For several long moments, it may well seem as though he will succumb to lack of air and her formidable charms, for he offers no resistance to her feasting. The temptation to submit swirls up within him, wholly foreign yet all his own. Brief flashes of the goals he has and the promises he is bound to keep appear and then dissipate, none able to spur him to action. Yet again, slowly but surely, the raw yearning toward self-expression wells up. So long as a will remains to him, it cannot be encompassed by another. It must give proof of himself.

Alma sees his hand lift as though it belongs to another, reaching up to stroke Eliza's dark hair in a tender caress, before glowing pure white and launching the purest assault upon her psyche that his spirit can muster.

COMBATSYS: Alma successfully hits Eliza with Absolution.

[               \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////             ]
Alma             0/-------/-------|=======\===----\1            Eliza

Eliza's face remains nestled in the nape of her prey's neck, her lips brushing gently against the surface of his skin. She smirks to herself as she feels his strength begin to wane in response to her mystical touch and her hand loosens its grip upon his neck enough to allow the faintest bit of blood to flow through his veins and the barest hint of air to enter his lungs. Hope is the source of much strength but it is a cruel and terrible torture when escape is impossible.

"Yes... let yourself slip down into the darkness of unrelenting night. Embrace the cold empty void and let your soul spill forth into me."

There is a phrase that aptly fits this particular situation: be careful what you wish for.

The vampire leans in one more time, preparing to latch onto the already present puncture wounds once again and siphon more of the sweet succor that is Alma's lifeblood into her throat. The hunger is gnawing at her now and even a creature as ancient and powerful as herself has only so much self control.

The touch of the hand on her head gives her pause, however, and she pulls back to look Alma in the eyes, searching his dimming gaze for signs of defiance. However, the gentle caress against her hair causes her eyes to slide shut completely for the first time and she takes a deep breath, enjoying the feeling of warmth on her cold dead skin.

Too late, she realizes the danger. The pink fire flares to life just as she senses the building energy. Her hands reaches out to push Alma away but his will explodes into her own with searing intensity forcing the creature of darkness to unleash another piercing wail of unexpected pain. For a few moments the psycho energies dance around her head as brightly as any torch but she quickly recovers from the shock, lancing her fingers through the scintillating energy and snuffing it out in a burst of red and black energy.

"You... you dare?!"

Eliza hisses at him, fangs bared as primal anger flashes in her crimson eyes. Such an impudent and foolish thing cannot be allowed to stand! Even in her rage, however, the creature is regal and controlled, refusing to descend into the wild frenzy of pure animalistic instinct that lurks beneath her pleasant exterior. It is only that self-control that makes her more than an animal, more than any human could aspire to. She is dignity. She is elegance.

And she is royally pissed.

Eliza straightens, regarding the human before her with a look of seething disdain. He might as well be an ant in her eyes, or more aptly, a piece of livestock. No longer interested in capturing or playing with him, she brings her full overwhelming presence to bear, crushing his spirit with every bit of darkness that she can muster up in her cold fury.

"Your efforts are commendable, I suppose," she hisses. "But I will take what it is that I desire!"

Eliza /melts/ out of the air becoming literally nothing more than a smear of barely noticable color as her incredible speed bears her down upon the person who has roused her ire. She appears behind him, her powerful arms reaching up to wrap about his arms and pin them in place to prevent any further trickery or struggles. Opening her mouth, she lifts her head dramatically, hissing into his ear before attempting to sink her fangs into the soft flesh of his neck and take his blood by force!

COMBATSYS: Eliza knocks away Alma with Deep Shadow.

[                          \\\\  < >  /////////////////             ]
Alma             0/-------/--=====|-------\-------\0            Eliza

Only later will Alma recall, through the thick haze that envelopes him, the intimacy of this moment, the feel of her soft hair and of her relaxing body.

All it would have cost is his lifeblood.

When he regains his senses, he finds that he has driven her back momentarily, long enough to catch his breath. He is light-headed in a manner that even iron self-control cannot overcome. Dazedly he sees the damage their brawl has inflicted on the stone about them, wondering vaguely how real this place truly is, how it is that anyone who enters leaves. Swaying on his feet, Alma gulps down a deep breath, doing his utmost to clear his mind as he senses the deadly beauty's aura of aggression spike upward, honing to a razor's edge. Her violent intent is utterly focused. If he is to survive the next few moments, he must be the same.

She nearly vanishes from view, and Alma concentrates intensely, his awareness expanding outward, sensitive to every eddy in the air. He detects her moving behind him. But while his mind is able, his body is sluggish, even more weakened than he realized. By the time he begins turning, his arms are already pinned to his sides. Helpless against her overwhelming strength, Alma experiences a tormented tangle of bliss and despair as Eliza's fangs sink into him again, far more savagely than before.

His vision goes dark as his stamina evaporates, sinking back against her and finding in his delirium that she feels softer, the greater comfort no doubt a hallucination due to loss of blood. This time, will and instinct cannot save him. His consciousness fleeting, he wonders if this premature end is his fate after all. But eventually, for reasons unknown to him wit his fading perception, he is tossed aside and crashes to the ground feebly.

Slowly, agonizing, he pushes himself up onto his knees, gasping and panting, straining with all he has to simply resist the yawning darkness of oblivion, to retain his tenuous grip on the waking world, and to call his exhausted fighting spirit back to him.

COMBATSYS: Alma gathers his will.

[                         \\\\\  < >  /////////////////             ]
Alma             1/-======/=======|-------\-------\0            Eliza

The sensation that floods through Eliza's body as she drinks deeply of the essence in his blood is one that no mortal drug or emotion could possibly compare to. The sheer unbridled primal esctasy of tasting the raw components of life and taking that energy unto herself is a bliss beyond compare made all the more pleasurable by the ravening hunger that has built up over the course of a century. She is like a drowning woman getting her first deep breath of air a the sensation is overwhelming.

Without realizing it, she casts the man to the ground, his spirit drained and nearly spent. Dark red liquid stains her mouth like brilliant lipstick, dribbling down her cheeks as she throws her head back with a hiss of pure glee. /This/ is what it means to be undead. This is the sweet taste of immortality.

The loss of composure lasts but a few brief moments. Swallowing the last of the ambrosial fluid with a sigh, Eliza wipes her face with the side of a finger and laps up the remainder as if it were melted icecream before turning to peer at the struggling mortal as he attempts to piece his will back together.

"You just don't know when to quit, do you?"

Eliza's voice becomes calm and dismissive once again, much as when they first met. Having no more need for his presence here, she is left with a dilema. Likely, should she let him live, he will spread the tale of their encounter to others. The march of 'civilization', last she checked, and science in particular had cast the shadow of doubt over the superstitions of old but there were always those who knew the truth. They could be trouble for her - would be, she amends mentally - but putting that off as long as possible would be preferrable.

On the other hand, should she kill him, there could be those who knew of his whereabouts and would come searching. It was only his foolish curiosity and lack of knowledge that gave her a chance to awaken before he could destroy her; a hunter would not be so courteous.

"Hmph. I cannot kill you now. There are too many who would notice such a thing. But I cannot allow you to spread word of my awakening before I am prepared."

Eliza leans forward slightly and it is only now that it becomes apparant that something about her has changed. Her bosom, which was hardly worth mentioning before, has become...well... /quite/ prominent. One might go so far as to even call the change risque as every motion that she makes causes a perceptible jiggle against the taut fabric of her corset.

Unfortunately, Alma doesn't get much chance to enjoy the view. Eliza streaks towards him in a blur of color, driving the flat of her palm and her claws at his chest with all of the momentum of that speed behind the blow.

"Fall into darkness!"

COMBATSYS: Alma breaks through Bloody Claw from Eliza with Leap of Faith!

[                          \\\\  < >  ////////////                  ]
Alma             0/-------/---<<<<|-------\-------\0            Eliza

Alma doesn't know when to quit one bit.

Prostrated upon the cool stone floor, his eyes glazed and his blood still dripping from his wounds, his long-practiced efforts to concentrate even under extreme duress bear fruit. Saving every remaining iota of his strength, Alma remains on his hands and knees as his haughty opponent approaches, her words as cold as the marble. Breathing deeply, the paths of his spirit once choked by Eliza's overwhelming aura open again, easing the terrible migraine and ringing in his ears that is the prelude to fainting.

He does not move, not even to look at her directly. He is so loose as to appear defenseless. But his enhanced awareness remains, attuned to every movement, and this time, the barest instant that she lashes out, Alma is ready. His form pulses and vanishes as Eliza's claws leave through as though he has been banished from the earth. But a split-second later he descends from above, a sphere of light surging in his grasp, illuminating his pale cheeks and unfocused eyes. Though he cannot see straight, still he strikes true, driving that psychic energy against her face and tackling his murderous opponent to the ground.

Once again, his vision fades, and he feels a great comfort wash over him, a gentle warmth which he could sink into forever. But after a couple seconds of his not losing consciousness, the sensation remains. Puzzled, Alma blearily lifts his face up to find that he has been buried in an altogether unexpected crevasse. Staring with perplexity at Eliza's augmented physique, obviously muddle-headed, he glances up at her face, back down to her corset, and then, frowning slightly, pokes at this profusion of flesh.

"That's new," he mumbles, to no one in particular.

"What's this?!"

Impossibly, Alma has still more fight left in him and he takes the vampire completely by suprise as she blitzes in with wild abandon. Light fills her vision as she casts her gaze up follow his sudden relocation, tracking him more by smell and the feel of his presence than her sight, only to catch the blazing strike square in the cheek.

Eliza staggers from the weight of the blow, crumpling to the floor underneath both Alma's defiant will and his body. She lies on her back, hissing furiously as she tries to yank her arms out from underneath their tangled limbs, only to be /touched/ by this lesser creature. The denizen of darkness is stunned into silence by the sheer audacity for several seconds. Not that something so base is particularly vulgar to her; spirits only know that she's done things that would make a pagan blush, but it is an insult to be /prodded/ as if she were some sort of curiosity. Eventually she finds her voice and her strength again, casting him aside with a simple wave of her arms.

"Away from me, knave!"

COMBATSYS: Eliza successfully hits Alma with Quick Throw.

[                             \  < >  ////////////                  ]
Alma             0/-------/-<<<<<<|=====--\-------\0            Eliza

Alma, preoccupied with pondering Eliza's appealing new look -- with a couple more exploratory pokes and prods to assist -- is haplessly tossed aside and crashes to the floor again. This time, he lacks even the strength to get to his knees. He cannot compel his breaths to come deep and strong; shallow and weak, what blood remains to him cannot sustain his consciousness any longer. His eyes flutter closed, lacking the strength to remain open.

Yet still, compelled by spirit alone, his hand creeps out, sliding across the cold floor. As Eliza recovers her dignity, Alma will attempt to take hold of her shoe with a feather-light grip, just as one supplicating for mercy might. It is a truly feeble and pathetic gesture. But the fingers rise once more and seek to brush against her ankle through her stockings-- and expunge the last of his psychic power, releasing it all at once into her.

Whether or not he is able to make contact, Alma's body will convulse once as the last of his spirit passes through him. Then, surely, there is nothing more he can give.

COMBATSYS: Alma can no longer fight.

[                  \\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Eliza            0/-------/--=====|

COMBATSYS: Eliza interrupts Absolution from Alma with Majestic Stomp.

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

Eliza preoccupies herself with adjusting her outfit, brushing hundred year old dirt and cobwebs off herself as casually as she can without looking flustered. It comes rather naturally to her and even this most basic of grooming appears to be an elegant display as she daintily runs her fingers over the bulging curves of her her new figure.

However, as bugs are won't to do, Alma simply refuses to give up, even when so obviously outclassed and downtrodden by the dark devil in the red dress. She pays him little mind as before, apparently arrogant enough to believe that he cannot possibly have anything left to give now. Eventually, she'll be right... right?

His hand creeps closer and closer, sliding across the mossy stone to reach out and touch her one last time. The psychic burst surges into his fingers and for a brief instant it looks like he might succeed as those reaching digits clasp weakly around her ankle. However, with hardly even a pause between the motion of knocking some dust off her sleeve, Eliza whirls and brings her other foot up into the air, snapping it up parallel to her body with the limberness of a cheerleader.

Her heel hangs ominously in the air for an instant but it snaps down onto the offending limb an an anvil falling from the sky. The tip of her elegant heel drives into the flesh of his forearm, pinning it to the ground and forcing the tendons to instictively spasm as she twists it back and forth. A burning sensation travels up her leg as the last of his will creeps upwards but it quickly dies out before becoming more than an annoyance.

The vampiress doesn't even bother to look down at Alma throughout this exchange, though she does give one final sigh of exasperation as she kicks his arm aside on her way out of tomb. Definately going to have to find a new sanctuary with someone as annoyingly tenacious as this in the mix.

"I think," she says outloud with a faint smile, "it's time for a trip."

Log created on 01:35:25 01/17/2015 by Eliza, and last modified on 07:30:43 01/19/2015.