Kiyomi - The Vixen, the Maiden and the Dragonslayer.

Description: After Amy's defeat at the hands of the Children of the Night, the young maiden is taken to their leader, Lady Renard : the kitsune is pleased with this new gift and enjoys her in the most sadistic and cruel of ways. Is it the end of the Hound of Avalon? Will she become Kiyomi's masochist pet?

The mercy the werewolf had shown to the Holy Maiden was a cursed blessing. Her last words of gratitude when she fainted made the weakened werewolf's lips curl into a twisted rictus.

If only Amy knew what horrible fate awaited her, he might have begged her for a brutal demise instead of falling in the hands of Renard. To all of the Children of the Nights, Renard embodied the motherly figure most never had : affectionate, devoted, loving, supportive, empathic...

She was a mother : one whose most beloved child had been taken away from her. Nothing could sooth her sorrow, nothing could heal the scar. All this love turning into hatred, cruelty and sadism unmatched by any of the other Darkstalkers within the pack.

A sacrifice given to Renard by her children in hope to bring some recomfort to her so they can see the loving maternal figure they all used to see in her.

Arms held by the gargoyles, Amy's limp form is dragged in the snowcovered street. The two slender creatures brings her deeper into the village, following the werewolf. The entire village is still being devoured by the flames, meaing that only a few minutes must have passed...

Many creatures lurk in the darkness, staring at the scene from a distance, not daring to interfer in what is about to unfold. Their shapes remain blurry in the darkness but one might be able to catch a glimpse of their glowing eyes in the dark.

"Look what I've found, Renard," The werewolf says, giving a deferent bow to someone before he takes a few steps to the side to reveal the 'gift' he had brought her. The pride of the werewolf made his stance unyielding, as if he didn't want to show weakness in front of their new pack leader. Likewise, the gargoyles bow their heads respectfully.

A mature woman stands about a dozen feet in front of Amy, clad in a crimson kimono. She is not facing the werewolf, nor the holy knight : her gaze seems lost in the flames of the burning chapel in front of her. The blade of the katana she holds in her right hand is soaked with blood. The blood slowly trickles down its edge all the way to the tip, pooling idly in front of her. She would have seemed entirely human had it not been for the feline ears atop of her head as well as the dozens of pristine white tails slowly swaying behind her.

It takes her a few seconds to finally react to the werewolf's presence, turning on her heels slowly to face the other Darkstalkers and the human they brought. Her eyes are narrowed into a glare, her fangs showing. The tails behind her spread out open instinctively like almost like a peacock's tail to enhance her omnious presence about her. The expression on her face is harsh, cold and ruthless, a predatorial and sadistic glimmer in her eyes.

Everything about her posture seems to indicate she'd be ready to jump at Amy's throat and shred it violently like a wild beast but her expression shifts just as she turns fully to face her, softening somewhat. Her lips curl into a thin smile and Kiyomi moistens her lips, "What do we have here...?" She ponders playfully, her eyes quickly assessing Amy's features.

Amy's outfit was enough for Kiyomi to realize this woman might be a Darkstalker hunter -- someone who would oppose them more than just those innocent villagers. Humans would suffer a swift death, but those who dared to draw blood from them would have to pay a hundredfold for all the pain they inflicted on them.

Amy would be her very first : the first one to pay the debt.

Kiyomi was delighted. She exuded that sadistic glee.

Amy Johnson never had a mother. It's a little-known fact to those acquainted with her, because she's never once made it relevant to her prideful purpose within the world; oh, she might well have raged against the unfairness of her childhood and the admittedly-comfortable neglect by which she was raised and forged, but only in her subconscious has it ever been an issue. She's too headstrong to claim the lack of parental guidance is - or has been - a disadvantage, too independent to want that weakness.

She has it, whether she wants it or not. But she'll not admit as much, and has nevertheless found herself a father and mother -both- in the ineffable apparition of her Lord. God's embrace may not always keep her safe, to the common eye, but it safeguards her soul and provides her the strength she needs... survive a situation like this one. Can Kiyomi's rage compare to the power of the creator? To a being so vast he encompasses literally everything? Perhaps not, but on the mortal plane, here and now, it is indeed a terrifying thing.

Renard. Renard. Renard. Renard. Renard.

That name is all that goes through the Templar's mind even before she awakens from a less-than-fitful slumber, the horrifying extent of her injuries and the defiant surge of her physicality in those last few moments conspiring to render her unconscious. Her clothes are hanging like rags, the cross covering her torso sliced into slivers and thick with blood, the ichor darkening almost to black as it dries. Her shoulder is hellishly bruised, and welts line her arms, more blood still oozing slowly from several claw-wounds. Her face is more tired than ravaged, though smoke has smudged like charcoal across her cheeks and her brow is swollen from repeated impacts.

She awakens with an abrupt hiss, the crimson trails leading from her mouth flooding anew as her body provides fresh saliva to ease the dryness of throat and tongue. It carries blood from her devastating internal injuries, injuries even the potency of the Dragon's Breath could not shield her from. She'll heal fast, by the grace of God and her identity as a warrior, but it helps her not now. She's near to broken.

Her scattered wits take in the scene as best she can, her feet dragging in the snow as she's held aloft by the gargoyles, the beautiful and deadly creature that confronts her - and yes, she sees only one. Only one worthy of singular praise, or fear.

Fear she fails to feel. How can she not be afraid? She's been afraid before, she has turned and run from a demon, fled the clutches of hell itself only too recently, and each time she felt the quickening of her heart and the breathlessness that others experience so much more often than she. But now, she feels only an odd stillness.


The name resonates still, and she speaks it in a muted echo, hesitating over the syllables as thoug she's forgotten how to speak. Her body seems to have, even if the frantically-reeling brain remembers, but instinct can be relied upon. Like the wild thing before her, she's an animal too; if one not so murderous, not so steeped in the primal nature. Amy, even broken, is simply better than this other 'woman'.

"Your little pet," she urges her voice to exude into the heated air, drawing a deep breath through her nose - snot and blood conspiring to cause a sad snuffle as she does so - and enjoying the taint of iron in the air, because it reminds her of -life-. Life she possesses still, and will not relinquish. "Didn't find me, and deserves no reward for my capture. He couldn't face me alone if he wanted to." Stormy blues, shot through with scarlet, flick to the strutting werewolf. "Which I doubt he would, even now. He's a coward, hiding behind his horde, and many -died- to bring me here."

She spits that word, knowing it will infuriate and antagonize, knowing that they take vengeance upon one another-- this is a war, and neither side is blameless. She can relish that now, as she kneels at the stage of her judgement. Her gaze slides back to Kiyomi, and she pauses briefly to breathe in a gasp through the mouth.

"And you," she manages through a swimming head, her words indistinct beyond the gasp, "You are a coward too, and a kidnapper. I owe you a debt of pain I am," she tries to laugh, the sound coming out in a croaking snigger that causes her more agony than she'd ever admit, "Sadly, indisposed to deliver. Perhaps a good bed and some food, 'madame'?"

How can she afford to be so spiteful, so damning of her captor? To joke, even? Something else has surfaced in the back of Amy's addled brain, beside the identity of this woman-thing, beside the mere need for dignity and strength. Back in Croatia, in the established base of Amy's renegade offshoot of her own Order, a console flashes a warning. A message is sent to the one man she believes could end this battle single-handed, were she to fail; to the one man she might trust, even after a single meet...

Her blade, coated in Darkstalker blood and discarded upon the battlefield some distance hence, provides the means for a signal that pinpoints her location. It's a hell of a gamble that she'll survive - but as she's said before, to a strange laughing-eyed youth whose presence in her life has brought everything into question - who has, in fact, saved her that she might come this far...

Knight Officer Johnson is nothing if not a gambler. And she plays to win.

The holy knight's insolence and retort causes the werewolf to growl. His fur bristles on his body and his body trembles slightly with rage, "Silence, you scum!" He barks at Amy, glaring at her. He lifts one of his massive clawed hand up, his intend quite obvious. However, his motion is stopped before he can deliver a nasty backhand to Amy...

The woman gingerly approached Amy and reacted to the werewolf's outburst by lifting her free hand up, two gently touching his wrist and pushing it back before the werewolf could strike. The kitsune said nothing to him but here soft gesture was enough to dissuade him and instill some tranquility in the werewolf.

He took a step back, calmed by Kiyomi's aura and presence. He bows his head as he steps back, her gesture all he needed to understand what he had to : it was not his place to chastise Amy.

When he's out of Kiyomi's sight though, he does spare a glare at Amy and shows her his fang as he glares at her. It was fairly easy to infuriate him as this beast could hardly contain his primal urges and desire to kill humans.

The Kitsune strides slowly in front of Amy, staring down at her broken and battered from while the gargoyles hold her arms steady and make sure she stays knelt in front of Renard. Unlike the werewolf though, she does not reply to Amy's scornful reply -- no words could enshroud this moment of pure bliss, not even Amy's wisecracks.

The woman's free hand moves gently over Amy's head : her fingers grazing the hair on the side of her head. They linger gingerly all the way down to her cheek, giving it a soft caress. The woman slowly kneels in front of Amy, her fingers stroking her cheek back and forth before they go down to cup her cheek with her palm, forcing her head up.

As she delivers those tender caresses, Kiyomi's drops her blood tainted sword in the snow beside of her so she can join her other hand to cup Amy's other cheek. Her expression is filled with empathy : an unsettling compassion on her features as she gave those soothing caresses to Amy, "Poor, poor girl," She murmurs softly and slowly.

"Frail and weak," She murmurs with a soft hush. The woman lets her hand slowly slide behind Amy's head and she leans closer to her, her other hand sliding down Amy's torso as she embraces her. She moves her head beside Amy's one, whispering to her ears, "Your body broken and hurt..." Her voice is soft and gentle, "I will take this pain away," She murmurs.

as the promise is made though, Amy will feel a sharp jolt of pain coursing through her body as the tip of a sharp blade pierces her flesh between two ribs and plunge into her. It does not touch any vital orgasns but it slides in cruelly to maximise the pain, twisted slightly if necessary.

Every scream of pain and agony coming out of Amy's throat will be a symphony to Kiyomi's ears : the only thing that will drive her to inflict further pain on her, to make her endure more horrible torments.

Her other hand grasps Amy's hair behind her head at the same time as she inflicts the pain, jerking her head back to expose her throat to the kitsune. She moistens her lips in delight, letting her nose and lips graze softly Amy's skin, "Wounds and broken bones heal... The pain is only temporary," Her lips press against her neck to give her soft kisses, as if this could soothe or ease the pain any, "The mind and spirit though... Once broken, take much, much longer to heal..." She murmurs. "I will enjoy slowly breaking your spirit and mind..."

The blade twists in her side, moving only a iota though it is done to twist and press on her nerves. "Do you know why you must endure this?" She asks her with her soft maternal voice, as if she was speaking to a child who had done something she shouldn't, "Because you've been a bad girl -- and you deserve to suffer and feel this pain,"

She leans back, her lips curling into a radiant smile, "You'll see... I am not that cruel and sadistic... Once you accept and admit this," She says. The expression on her face was almost empathic, as if she could feel Amy's pain and mysery... only the slow move of her tongue to moisten her lips betrayed how she delighted and feasted herself on Amy's pain.

Stones upon a reinforced pane, scattering with little impact but for a few, small, insignificant dents in the viewscape. That's all the werewolf manages with his snarling, slavering attempt at intimidation. Amy doesn't even flinch, her stormy blues tired but imbued with a convicted reservation as they alight upon him. Renard's questionably-motivated intercession on her behalf is met with the same, almost lazy determination, a slow blink all the additional reaction she receives.

And then the Templar is privy to darker things, the soft caresses and tender embrace causing her aching, fractured spine to stiffen. It's a combination of pleasure and pain that ensues, the shudder of her beaten frame pressing her harshly against the many-tailed woman, and she's lost in confusion. That aura, the same she felt back in Norway, and the manner of this bewitching creature, lulls her into a security she fights against with every pore of her being... or almost every, that one mote of rebellion somehow overpowering all else. In spite of herself, she relaxes to the soothing.

When the blade finds her bloodied flesh, opening a fresh wound somehow all the more alive and tender than the others - a side-effect of lapsed adrenaline, of the lull that has occurred betwixt action and consequence - it's equally -almost- a relief.

That's not enough. Amy gasps, a heart-wrenching croak that pitches her even more roughly against Kiyomi, the twist of the blade causing her form to contort. Weightlifter's muscle conspires to worsen the effect, the sheer physical power behind this reaction dragging the knife against her stomach lining, not quite penetrating the sinuous tissue but causing a violent urging from the Templar...

And then, she's staring heavenward. There's no awareness of how she gets there - truthfully, she doesn't feel the hand in her hair, the raven tresses communicating nothing at the nerve-stricken roots because the rest of her is already -howling-. Those tender lips alight desire that sickens her, her sexuality ever more the traitor than her heart, her soul, or her body could ever be. For just a moment, she wants this otherwordly woman, and feels a moistness surfacing beyond that of leaking ichor.

Her teeth chatter, everything trembling within and without, a whimper escaping her throat as that deceptively fragile space between her legs tries to assert itself in spite of everything. She's never been taken advantage of, in that sense; if not always the predator, always playing at least the same game as her chosen partner.

This, this is violation. The blade is as nothing now.

She'll not yield her defiance even now, though, and through the haze of agonized, unwanted delight she clings to that rock. When Kiyomi leans back after professing her purpose, the Templar's lip curls, stormy blues now possessed of both dilated pupils and a feverish, damning blaze. The inferno in her still-beating heart is no different. Conflicted, dichotomous, and yet utterly resolved to present a ferocious counterpoint.

"Good luck," she grits out, pausing to exhale, blood-flecked spittle flying from the corner of her mouth in a messy spurt. Attempting to toss her head, she finds she's able to get none of the prideful motion she sorely needs. Her body is not entirely hers, now. She's losing control. Losing power. Even the Dragon's Breath is not there. "This 'girl' is worse..." She has to breathe again, her head swimming. It's with desperation that she remembers the last exchange like this, back on that island of sinners...

A bad girl. A naughty girl. Amy is one of those sinners, and she knows it.
If she's anything like this creature, then she can match these terms. Overcome them.

"Than you'll ever know, -hellbitch-." Spitting it out hurts, by God it hurts.

But she finishes with a snarl, "Bend me, break me. Any way you want it, I'll take it."

And she'll give it back tenfold, when the time comes. In this life or the next.

Every scream of agony and ragged painful breathes coming out from of Amy's throat were music to her ears. The sight of her body trembling weakly at the pain she inflicts her was a delight, the pearls of perspication over her skin merely enhancing the beauty of Amy's martyr.

Alas, the kitsune would never allow her to become a true martyr. She will make her suffer and break her body again and again, pouring into her all of her hatred in hope to find some recomfort from her sorrow through the pain she inflicts into her until she'll break her spirit.

The woman's smile widens at Amy's reply and a soft, amused chuckle escape her throat. She leans over and presses herself against Amy, bitting her lower lips to show the excitment her answer seems to have aroused in the kitsune. The hand that held her raven lock loosens up so it can go in front, to sweep away a few stray locks of hair from her temple, caressing the side of her head, cupping it gently. She heaves a soft sigh of pleasure and says in a sultry voice, "I would have expected no less from you,"

What fun or satisfaction would she take from torturing someone who would pathetically beg for it to stop? The kitsune's bliss increases tenfolds when her prey attempts to resist the suffering and pain she inflicts.

Truly a marvellous gift her children have offered this day, the best one to help their mother lull away her weary and sorrowful heart.

The blade in Amy's flank slowly slides out, leaving a deep gash and while she'll bleed, the kitsune purposefully pierced her so she wouldn't bleed herself out too rapidly.

Death would be a merciful end, and she still has a lot to do with her new little toy.

The woman did not have to say anything -- the glee in her face was akin to a predator who was toying with its weakened prey, who refused to kill it and just tormented it to no end. The small dagger goes up, the blade lingering on Amy's side until she can feel the kiss of its steel on the side of her neck.

She tilts her head to one side and seems to ponder, "Such an angelic face..." She says softly, the tip of the blade gently cutting her left cheek to leave a flesh wound across of it, "... I'll always care for you and love you, you know that?" She murmurs softly, caressing her right cheek gently with her free hand, a false mark of recomfort, "No matter how disfigured," Kiyomi says, shaking her head slowly, "How monstruous you look like, you'll always be my beloved play thing..."

The flat of the bloodied blade presses against Amy's lips and Kiyomi hushes softly to snuff out any comment or whimpers that might want to escape her throat. She leans in and plants a soft kiss on Amy's forehead. "Remember," She murmurs softly as she lowers the blade, the tip of the dagger grazing Amy's chin and throat all the way down to her torso, "You deserve this punishment," She repeats.

The blade sinks slowly into her flesh once more : just above her abdomen, this time more of her right side. The kitsune takes her time to plunge the blade into her captor, aiming to force Amy to endure a crescendo of pain so that she may delight herself on the rising agony on her facial feature, so that she may enjoy watching her attempt to resist the pain momentarily and eventually fail to due to Kiyomi's cruel care, every twist and nudge of the blade meant to heighten the sensation and amplify the pain.

"You deserve to suffer, you deserve this pain and agony... And I am the only one who controls it..." The kitsune closes her eyes softly, opening her mouth in delight at the vision of Amy's weakened body, of her tormented features. She licks her lips again and leans a bit closer to Amy and whispers to her, "Do you want to beg for mercy?" She asks.

She twists the blade, to inflict her pain, as if to prevent her from answer. A soft chuckle of amusement escape her throat and she says, "... Of course not, you won't. Why? Because you deserve this suffering!" She growls in anger and presses the dagger deeper into her, "I want to hear you moan in pain!"

The blade slides out and Kiyomi plunges it into her torso again, "Let me hear it, I want you to say it, why do you have to endure all this, tell me," Kiyomi says, her intonation urging, almost begging Amy for an answer.

Evil delights in the throes of temptation, and ever rises to face the strongest foe arrayed against it; Amy knows this, because she knows faith, the mythologies and questionable histories of Christianity adequately arming her. Becoming her rod and her staff. There's one thing, too, that offers he sanctuary from the kitsune's torments - that death would be no mercy at all. The Templar is resolved to burn for all she has already done, sacrificing herself upon the pyre of a warrior, in life, for a greater good that she will never see. In death, she'll suffer. Eternally.

Getting through a few hours, one day, even months or years, of pain and torment... this is something she'll bear because it's better than the alternative. Condemning oneself completely, being resigned to the worst fate, is a strange liberation.

It doesn't fix everything, though. Far from it. Amy freezes, her skin prickling with goosebumps and her heart skipping a beat, when the knife is pressed to her throat. The urge to survive, the fear of death even, is an animal thing that can't be fought back from the edge of instinct - she can push through it with purpose, with conviction, but not resist that first, bloodcurdling instant. To endure suffering is not to resist it; it's to feel every bit of it, to be pushed to the brink of insanity, perhaps beyond.

There are dangers here she must still face, alone.

"Do it," she urges, "Cut my face. Slice at my breast. Beauty is nothing I--" Her protests, ill-conceived as they may be, are silenced as cold, blooded steel touches her lips. She obeys the kitsune in spite of herself once more, muscles in jaw and neck tight, vein in her temple pulsating until her head pounds. Until she wishes for release. It's at this point, and only this, that she's able to thrust it back.

How could she desire release only to burn? The frying pan is better than the fire. The Templar knows this as she knows her name, as she knows how to breathe, as all those other things that are imbued into a conscious mind.

As she knows pain. This time, when the knife sinks in, Kiyomi is rewarded with a scream. Amy doesn't even try to hold it back - she can't, but once it's out she roars into it anyway, her throat hoarse and blood flying forth, speckling her teeth and spraying like her own, departed mist into the air. It turns shrill, then she bites upon it, snarling around the aftermath, growling like an incensed lioness.

The blade goes in again. This time it's too much, she can't simply be defiant; she chokes and vomits, bile spewing over her lips and down her chin as she tries to contain it. Then she hawks and spits at the kitsune, the foul mixture forming a thick gobbet that she can barely project, weak as she is. It may well fall short.

Her words won't. Taking heaving breaths, she leans forward as far as she can, freckled cheeks pale and countenance quivering. Her lips are almost vibrating, saliva and blood and stinking spew bubbling around them. If Kiyomi sought to render her unattractive, she's succeeded only too well - but the spirit is woefully unbroken.

"I'm going to wear your head like a skullcap," sneers the Templar, though it's weak to the point of dragging tears from her eyes, stinging saltwater pouring down her cheeks until they ache, "And when the Lord looks down on me, he'll see your face, your deathly rictus, staring back at him, begging for the same mercy you'd have me demand. But there'll be none for you. You'll be burning already." She stops, swallows a mouthful of bile causing her words to thicken, barely able to resist throwing up again as she does so. "I won't hold back the blade from your throat. I'll kill you without a thought."

She's losing strength, and her head hangs now, only Kiyomi's grip able to keep it up.

"You expect me to fear you, but for every horror you inflict I only want it more. Your life. Your death. At my hand or another's, I'll be there to see it and I'll pluck your pretty head from your neck." She swallows again, gasps, "Fuck you. -Damn- you."

Her tone expires in a hiss, and she's suddenly aware of how much blood she's losing, how her sight is failing. Her hearing is enhanced by the same token, and she can hear her own heart hammering in her chest. Hear each drop of blood, each streaming rivulet. At least that desire is gone; she no longer wants to be pinned down and ravaged by this many-tailed beast, only wants the sweet release of vengance. And yet...

She'd give God's own kingdom for a saviour, right now. Whatever she believes, whatever faith she may maintain, she doesn't -know- how much more she can resist. She'd rather not find out; a martyr she may be, but she's not a madwoman.

The maiden's reaction only seems to amuse Kiyomi -- fortunately the kitsune was just far enough from her not to get splashed by Amy's vomit, the foul liquid falling between the knees of both woman. She doesn't move to avoid the spat bill either, wincing slightly when it touches her face.

The woman lifts her hand up and she slowly sweeps it off her face. Her hand then goes up to cup and caress Amy's cheek gently, "Soon..." She murmurs softly to her, "Everything will come in due time, that fierce spirit of yours will eventually break, and you'll see in me only an angel of mercy,"

Kiyomi then slowly withdraws the dagger from Amy's midsection, a soft chuckle escaping her throat as she lets her hang weakly in the grasp of the two darkstalker. Her free hand goes to grasp Amy's hair and forces her head back, the dagger going up, the tip grazing her torso all the way up to her throat, going up her chin and over her cheek, allowing her to feel the drops of her own blood falling on her cheek. She taps the dagger on her cheek, in contemplation, moistening her lips softly, "... all in due time," She says with a soothing tone, before she reaches for her katana beside her and she rises up to her knees.

This woman had enough for today -- Kiyomi doesn't want to risk losing her to blood loss or infection at this moment. A quick flick of the wrist to swipe off most of the blood from the dagger before Kiyomi hides it back into her sleeves.

"Time to leave," Kiyomi calls out with a powerful, dark and assertive intonation. Play time was over and now, she had to lead the rest of her pack.

Everything will come in due time.

Including a savior.

The Lord's men know their own, and though Kliff Undersn's expertise is not tracking foul beasts through the woods, he could recognize the work of a Templar anywhere. Amy's light lingered in the area and it was the fervent devotion that kept that beacon of hope bright which eventually lead Kliff to this desecrated place.

"Ho there, fiends." A voice in the darkness, like a bright torch pushing the shadows away comes from the forest. "You are not going anywhere."

Although the short old man that appears from the woods is less than imposing considering his age and height, the massive weapon he wields should be more than enough to attest to the veracity of his yet to be seen deeds.

Kliff removes his giant bardiche off his shoulder and places the pommel of Dragonslayer on the ground, severe eyes looking at the heinous scene that goes before him. His gaze is disapproving, almost disappointed, much like Kiyomi he too is a father to his soldiers and he views mistreating of the knights with righteous indignation. There is no posturing, or holy fiery speeches to be delivered, Kliff is much too old to waste time lecturing people whom he knows won't listen.

"Release her and I give you my word as a Knight of the Sacred Order, that your deaths will be swift and painless."

More than what these loathsome creatures deserve. They should be thankful.

If the Templar's quest was for a victory, however minor, she'd find it in the faint cringe that comes over the kitsune. It's certainly a petty thing, the lewd and messy gesture that leads to the beautiful creature casting wet ichor from her cheek, but even with her head now hanging and her body close to breaking - walking the tightrope between wilful defiance and bitter insanity - Amy is buoyed by it...

Less so by the renewed clenching of her face, by the taunting whisper that breaches the dull cacophony ringing through both ears. "You're a deluded fool," she manages to get out, denying this angel with a weak but no less vehement shake of her head, sweat-damp, blood-slick, bile-spattered raven locks shifting against cruel fingertips. There remains an intimacy in this locking of wills that continues to unnerve Amy more than the pain alone, her thoughts fogged by something oppressive yet compelling. What if, she wonders, this monster is right... could the Templar come to love her? Worship her?

The thought makes her sick. To the core.

It's only aided by the dagger torn free, tickling her nerves, igniting shivers and convulsions that drive home the agony in every fibre of her being. She wants to sleep, to pass out, so badly. Like a little girl. She's pleading for it, mutely, the child within bawling and wailing, sobbing upon the kitchen floor. The irony; that the Templar was never that little girl, never had the chance, never wanted it...

She doesn't want it now. She can't allow herself that blissful ignorance. Time to leave, says the kitsune, and one final spark of hope surges.

"Time to die," says the Templar.

Right before an old man's voice calls out, and a roaring torch sets ablaze the encroaching twilight. There's an instant of realization, where the world seems a crazed fever-dream, and she questions what's been keeping her aloft - what caused her to speak before the legendary Undersn, if speak she indeed did... and Amy realizes, it's been a long time coming. The Dragon's Breath has faded only to the eye, the network of chi-tendrils remaining extended as they always are, relaying their messages to something so utterly fundamental to her being. Everything is connected, through the Lord, through the energy with which he imbues the world and his loyal servant...

What has occurred, like all things, is nothing short of a miracle.

A horrible choking sound emits from messy, cracked lips, and against all odds the young knight finds herself laughing in the face of death. It's enough to topple her headlong, without Kiyomi's grasp to keep her aright any longer, and she catches herself on a quivering arm, the laughter only intensifying alongside the frantic drip-drop of blood.

"Your... move..." She manages between reflexive, hiccuping breaths, stormy blue eyes straining upward toward the kitsune.

Knight to Queen 4. Check.

Some of the buildings in town were still a blazing inferno, while others had already been reduced to ashes and burned down to the ground. Many darkstalkers lurked near the chapel that was still burning brightly in the middle of the night. No one was left alive in town : some escaped, while the others were slaughtered. Amy was the last human still breathing and the Children of the Night had done their job.

Time to leave... Kiyomi turns on her heels, toward the darkness of the forest but before she can guide her brethren in that direction, a voice calls out to them. The woman narrows her eyes into a glare, her grasp tightening around the handle of her sword.

She waits a moment, until he steps out into the light. Another filthy human -- a hunter, like the little toy and trophy Kiyomi kept with her. His age was an indicator of experience and wisdom, and his strength easily visible with how he held and wielded the massive weapon yet...

How can he hope to defeat her and her horde? The thought is enough to make the kitsune chuckle, and then laugh out loudly, "So honorable of you!" The woman replies after her fight of laughter. She heaves a soft sigh and shakes her head, "I am afraid I will have to decline the offer -- I can't let you take my little toy," Kiyomi says, moistening her lips.

Her expression darkens and she says with a grunt, "Kill that old fool," She says, gesturing with her katana in Kliff's direction. Heeding the call of their mistress, growling and enraged beasts surges out from behind her : three werebeasts of the night, athletic, tall and menacing, foaming from their maw as they jump at Kliff one after the other, lashing with their claws and fangs, charging headon into him.

COMBATSYS: Night Children has started a fight here.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Night Children   0/-------/-------|

COMBATSYS: Kliff has joined the fight here.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Night Children   0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0            Kliff

COMBATSYS: Kiyomi has joined the fight here on the top side.

                 [ |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Kiyomi           0|-------|-======
[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Night Children   0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0            Kliff

COMBATSYS: Kliff blocks Night Children's Weakened Strong Punch.

                 [ |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Kiyomi           0|-------|-======
[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////////////  ]
Night Children   0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0            Kliff

It matters not if there's only one or two humans left.

As long as even one Holy Knight still draws breath, the forces of darkness will not know full victory.

More so if that last human is Kliff Undersn, commander of the Holy Order.

Kiyomi is right to take the threat seriously where others might dismiss Kliff due to his advanced age, even if he does have a tremendously large bardiche with him. Monster Hunting is not a profession where you usually have the opportunity grow old, and seldom, if /any/, have ever retired.

Just by looking at Kliff anyone can see that he's been through crap, as expected of one that appears to be a veteran Demon Hunter. The things Amy is going through right now? Kliff's been there, done that, and imagine enduring those things for a whole life time?

Kliff isn't the man he used to be.

The old Knight offers no retort to Kiyomi's threat, after a while all this villainous exchanges tend to get kind of boring, and it's undoubtedly something that Kliff has heard before. "They never listen.." He mutters to himself as he brings his massive Dragonslayer to the side and bats the incoming attacks out of the way with the tremendous flat side of his blade. The old man grunts with effort though, his arms and legs looking a bit shaky and he even has a helpless half smile on his slip.

"Ah.. apologies if I take longer than I should with you lot. I fear I have become rather rusty."

"Still, I'll do my best to handle you properly." He'll not be held accountable for any 'unnecessary' pain he causes these Darkstalkers though.

Leaping back to put a bit of distance between him and the trio of devils. The old man cranks his massive bardiche to the side and swings the blade on a wiiiide arch. The blow is sent with such range so as to cut all three of the Darkstalkers in half in a single blow.

Feels good to be back to the field though, Kliff has never liked office work too much.

COMBATSYS: Kliff successfully hits Night Children with Limb Severer.

                 [ |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Kiyomi           0|-------|-======
[       \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////   ]
Night Children   0/-------/---====|==-----\-------\0            Kliff

Is this the real life, or is this just fantasy? Knight Officer Johnson knows with every morsel of her mortality, deep in the husk of her humanity, that this is happening - that, on this occasion at least, her prayer has been answered. Her shaking arm pushes harder against the ground, the dirt warm from the nearby fires and somewhat slick with her blood, yielding in a landslide until it packs densely enough to form what she needs. Stormy blues flutter closed, and open again with an effort only when the Templar pushes herself up with a strained gasp. Her spine arches, and she looks to the sky.

She feels as much as hears the swooping power of Kliff's swung blade, the visceral, deceptively-smooth crunch of beasts sliced in twain. They're poor, weak creatures, slave to their mistress, but she'll offer them no sympathy - no mercy, as she spat to the kitsune. These are not God's beasts, but abominations worthy only of punishment.

If she cannot deliver that herself, Kliff Undersn will do a yet finer job. It matters not which way the wind blows; only that it blow, only that the natural Order be maintained...

Amy gets herself to her knees, heaving for breath and head swimming. Her wild gaze finds Kliff first, roaming through the blood and mayhem until she's forced to refocus on something far closer: Kiyomi. No mercy? Perhaps, perhaps she can be the better person after all, perhaps here she might find some retribution. She clears her throat, a single wracking cough that shakes her strained spine and imparts further rigour to her aching body. But it has the intended effect: she finds words again.

Or one word. The important one.


It falls like a gravestone, hard and cold, her crisply-accented tone lacking the burble of the acidic bile and cloying blood swimming about her teeth and tonsils. Slowly, cracked lips curl into a smile that utterly fails to reach her eyes. As if to reassure herself of this one last conviction, this favour to the damned, she says it again.



This once, she will let the kitsune go.

The werebeasts struggle and fight with ferocity : the moment Kliff leaps away, they snarl and lunge back at him, dashing on all four to cover up the distance and they jump at him, body outstretched and claws spread back ready to strike him from different angles...

Alas before they can fully reach out to him, the old man wide arc with his bardiche manages to cleave them all, slicing through them with enough force to knock them back and stop them dead in their mighty pounce. Each one of them lets a loud whimper of pain once they've caught in the sweep of of his blade.

The display of strength from the old man who was able to brush away a wave of bulky darkstalkers like that seems to make the others cower. It wasn't about slaying an innocent human, or clumsy hunter, this man knew how to wield his impressive weapon and the feat he's just perform was enough to inspire awe in allies and fear in foes.

The reactions of her brethren causes Kiyomi to grit her teeth in anger : her fur bristles on her many tails as they way behind her in an agitated and irritated way, "Stop cowering you fools!" She shouts to the darkstalkers who are taking a step back before Kliff's might, "Stand and fight! Have you no courage!?"

Some of the beasts that were knocked back by Kliff's weapon seems to have their count : not moving or slowly tryint to crawl away, still able to fight, though probably injuried enough so they do not wish to fight back.

Clenching her blade with both of her hands, Kiyomi seems ready to join in the fray and fight this formidable opponent. Her ears twitch when she hears Amy's last words and she glanecs back at her, to glare at her with rage. She approaches her and lifts her hand up to give her a rapid backhand.

She has put enough force into her blow to cause the gargoyles holding Amy to let go of her. Her eyes raise up to them and that menacing glee in her iris is enough to tell the gargoyles what to do as they take off in the air and fly off to attack. She glances over in the direction of the werewolf who had brought Amy to her : he had yet to join into the battle, as if his ardor had been cooled down by the display of strength Kliff performed.

"And you claim you wanted to be our leader, tss," She says with scorn, "Run with your tail behind your legs," Kiyomi says turning on her heels to approach Kliff.

Kiyomi's words make him growl with rage, clenching his hand into a fist as he satres at the battle, torn between his instinct of survival and showing his worth, trying to justify to himself that running would be a good option.

Meanwhile, the gargoyles soar down from the sky at Kliff, performing rapid flyby attacks with their claws and talons in hope of staying away from his barbiche long enough and not meet the same demise as the werewolves.

COMBATSYS: Kliff blocks Night Children's Weakened Elegy of Lost Opportunity.

                 [ |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Kiyomi           0|-------|-======
[        \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////    ]
Night Children   0/-------/---====|==-----\-------\0            Kliff

"Waste not your words on them, Sister Johnson." Even through the sounds of bones and flesh being crushed under a massive blade, Kliff Undersn can still hear the whispers of his Sister in Arms. It is what matters most to the old commander after all, he is here to ensure the safety of the new generation, Amy has still many years to live and grow.. and learn.

"There is nothing we can do for their forsaken souls but to grant them a merciful end." The voice of experience. It is safe to assume that Kliff knows from trial and error that showing even the smallest speck of mercy to a Darkstalker is folly. Irredeemable creatures, they do not respect the sanctity of life, are they even living things or just dark, twisted, manifestations of the underworld? He wonders if they even bleed.

Actually, they do, judging by the blood trickling down the blade of Dragonslayer. But you know what Kliff means.

Another wave comes, as he has always known, these Darkstalkers know not of tactics or cunning, even as their comrades are cut down by the droves they still charge, consumed with bloodlust. All they wish is to wreak havoc in this world.

Kliff does his best to defend himself, weaving out of the way and bringing his bardiche up to stop the swipes thrown at him with his handle. It is as it has always has been.. nothing has changed even from the first day he picked up his sword. There is only one thing these creatures understand..

"May God have mercy on your souls."

The veteran Knight takes to the skies too, spry for an old man, and gets on eye level with the flying gargoyles. Once there, he unleashes a mighty cry that sounds nothing like a human. To those in the know, it is a roar that can only be draconian in nature, and indeed, a dragon's roaring head emerges from Kliff's face, entirely made out of brightly glowing chi. It charges at the gargoyles and closes its maw around them to give them a chomp in mid air and explode in fiery holy energy.

COMBATSYS: Night Children dodges Kliff's Midair Bellowing Roar.

                 [ |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Kiyomi           0|-------|-======
[        \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////////     ]
Night Children   0/-------/---====|===----\-------\0            Kliff

There's a wet crack as Kiyomi's backhanded strike splinters a cheekbone, Amy's face cast sideward with the force of the blow, blood-fleckled spittle launched from her parched lips. Having just found her balance, she's now forced to battle for it once more, sucking in a hollow, pained breath and lifting trembling forearms. Her fingers grasp at nothing, seeking a form of purchase that's never likely to come, and she gasps as if surfacing from icy waters, turning back toward Kiyomi, still groggy.

It's a dramatic reaction to such a harshly throwaway gesture, but everything takes enormous effort now - and the Templar has little energy to put to the task, forced once more to yield to the purely animal. Bloodshot eyes drift about the kitsune, then wander with instinctive hunger to the stout, stalwart presence fighting on Amy's behalf.

She's in time to see the dragon emerge, the commander's words still echoing through her skull as she struggles to process what she's seeing. Waste not... have mercy... she grasps inwardly as her fingers grasp outward, and finally she finds that balance.

Allowing herself to fall forward, on all fours now, the raven-haired knight breathes deep the stench-ridden air of battle, staring at the spectacle before her with regard for nothing else - breathing, surviving, allowing her her heart to beat.

They have said all that needs be said, traded barbs and made promises.

Now is the time for a proving. If it cannot be hers, let it be Kliff Undersn's. There has never been a better man for the job; perhaps, in watching, she may even yet learn...

The gargoyles flap their wings like never before, trying to escape the dragon's head made of chi. They barely manage to dive out of the way before its maw closes into them and explode, scattering on both side to avoid the blast of holy energy. The shockwave from the explosion is enough to make one gargoyle crash into the snow nearby, while the other manages to perform a wide arc in the air to regain some altitude. The one on the ground slowly rises to his full height and shakes his body to brush up the snow from him but also ease the pain from the crash-landing.

The other gargoyle soars down once more into Kliff and attempts to use the force of its dive to tackle him away, screeching as it does. Meanwhile, the other darkstalkers that were around Kliff are slowly recovering and limping away, either to run away or wait for an opportunity to retaliate...

The kitsune would not stand idle while this hunter attempts to decimate members of her clan -- she'll deal with him personally if she must. The kitsune leans low and she sprints at Kliff. "Kyaaa!" She shouts once she gets in reach, performing a quick rising strike at the hunter.

COMBATSYS: Kliff parries Kiyomi's Random Strike!

                 [ |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Kiyomi           0|-------|-======
[       \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////////     ]
Night Children   0/-------/---====|====---\-------\0            Kliff

COMBATSYS: Night Children successfully hit Kliff with Weakened Aggressive Strike.

                 [ |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Kiyomi           0|-------|-======
[       \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////        ]
Night Children   0/-------/---====|=====--\-------\0            Kliff

Hmph, rustier than he thought it seems.

Kliff lands on the snowy ground and rubs at his throat. How long has it been since he used that move? Far too long it seems since the gargoyles managed to avoid the worst of the blast. Even now his attacks seem to be taking a toll on the old man who had until recently seriously considered retirement. Could it be true that his body could not longer continue the holy mission he undertook so many years ago?

Nah, men like Kliff, they never really get too old for these kinds of things. It's just like riding a bike, just have to fall a couple of times until you remember how to keep steady.

In Kliff's case, falling down means taking a couple of hits.

When the Kitsune joins the fray, Kliff brings the pommel of his giant bardiche up and hits the flat of the woman's blade to smack the sword away. Although deflected, this leaves him wide open for the charge of the gargoyle who charges him headlong. The old knight manages only to put the handle of his bardiche in the way as he's viciously pushed back, heels digging into the snow to slow the charge. His teeth are clenched and back arched in a painful angle, in fact, it pops a little and Kliff's eyebrow rises in concern. Crap, did he just pull something?

As always though, a true believer of the Light pays the aches of the body no mind. The old commander finally manages to disengage from the grapple and thrusts his giant polearm forward, ramming the tip of the sword into the gargoyle's stomach, letting the beast's own momentum drive itself into the blade.

COMBATSYS: Kliff successfully hits Night Children with Medium Strike EX.

                 [ |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Kiyomi           0|-------|-======
[           \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////        ]
Night Children   0/-------/-======|=====--\-------\0            Kliff

The smack of the pommel is enough to deflect the kitsune's blade, causing it to swipe in the air beside Kliff. The moment she regains her balance though, Kliff had already been tackled away by the gargoyle who lashes out at Kliff with ferocity. He's about to lunge back at him the moment he slips away bu the rough strike of the pommel against his abdomen makes the creature screech in pain and stagger back.

Kiyomi straightens herself up, blade drawn at her side, her lips curling into a smirk now that the gargoyle had been knocked aside. She had a clear path for him : this man would feel her fury. Just like Amy, she would pour into him all of her hate and make him suffer tenfold for what they've done to her and her beloved children. He would pay in blood for each drop they have drawn from them.

Her tails rise up menacingly behind her, spreading wide like a wind fan, swaying back and forth in an enthralling manner... Looks like this was getting serious. She rushes toward Kliff and moves swiftly, twisting her blade and moving her katana with grace in an attempt to deliver dozens of cuts meant to cripple and weaken him, to make him bleed and suffer slowly more than actually maximize the pain she inflicts into him.

Meanwhile the other beasts are slowly recovering : the gargoyles and werewolves that still stood approaching and ready to strike at any given opportunity, waiting for the right moment to attack at any given moment of vulnerability.

COMBATSYS: Night Children focuses on his next action.

                 [ |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Kiyomi           0|-------|-======
[           \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////        ]
Night Children   0/-------/-======|=====--\-------\0            Kliff

COMBATSYS: Kliff dodges Kiyomi's Rafale d'Entailles.

                 [ ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Kiyomi           0|-------|-======
[           \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////        ]
Night Children   0/-------/-======|=====--\-------\0            Kliff

Kliff makes sure to twist the blade when its nice and deep before the gargoyle disengages. He rolls his head on his shoulders to pop his neck, finally starting to feel that he's getting his groove back. It's been too long, far too long, maybe all he really needed was a good Hunting to get back in business. The feel of Dragonslayer on his hands, the feel of the holy blade rupturing the insides of evil creatures. It was strangely comforting.

So much in fact that he looked completely ready to engage Kiyomi's flurry of attacks.

The old man slides to the right before he abruptly changes direction and dodges to the other side, tricking the kistune into delivering her anger against nothing but cold air.

Kliff takes a few more jumps back to put himself in a good position to defend himself against the Darkstalkers gathering around him, preparing for an onslaught. He recognizes their intent having seen this circle formation hundreds of times before.

He steadies his legs on the ground, his body no longer feeling weak due to muscle atrophy. Dragonslayer's blade is pointed forward, a pikeman bracing himself for the charge.

COMBATSYS: Kliff gathers his will.

                 [ ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Kiyomi           0|-------|-======
[           \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////       ]
Night Children   0/-------/-======|=======\==-----\1            Kliff

Every blow that misses only seem to enrage the kitsune further : her features distorting with rage, soft growls coming out of her throat as she seems to lose her focus as it carries on. Her attacks were precise, but it seems the old man's experience was greater and his agility better than she anticipated.

Once he leaps away, Kiyomi straightens herself up. She is panting softly from the exertion of her flurry of blows, but also the rage that boils inside of her, this burning need to draw his blood and claim his life. She points her blade up at the man who braces himself for the attack on higher ground, "Get him!" The woman shouts, ordering the wave of beasts to attack him and attempt to knock him off his position.

Sooner or later, his stamina will run out and his experience will mean nothing, his strength and reflex will fail him, the kitsune thinks. All she has to do is wait for that moment of weakness.

Ferocious growls comes from the waves of beasts that lunges at Kliff in a desperate attempt to overrun the man with sheer power : the one gargoyle left flies off into the sky and soars down at Kliff to scratch its head and shoulders, while one of the remaining werewolf leaps on Kliff and tries to wrap his arms around of his body into a powerful bear-hug. If it manages to get close enough for it, the werewolf will then attempt to hurl the old man off his postion, throwing him back and hurling it in Kiyomi's way for her to carry on the massacre.

COMBATSYS: Kiyomi focuses on her next action.

                 [ ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Kiyomi           0|-------|-======
[             \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////       ]
Night Children   0/-------/-======|=======\==-----\1            Kliff

COMBATSYS: Kliff endures Night Children's Weakened Requiem of Merciful Endings.

                 [ ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Kiyomi           0|-------|-======
[             \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////               ]
Night Children   1/------=/=======|=======\======-\1            Kliff

As the combatants clash, the Earth beneath them rages. No longer striving to master strength she doesn't have, the watching Templar releases her will to roam far and free, carried upon the invisible fingers of the Wyrm to sense the far reaches of the battlefield. People scream still, thrashing in burning buildings and others silently suffering - their screams soulbound - as they await any form of conclusion to this awful fate that has befallen them. Kiyomi's hordes have done their damage; it is just a matter, now, of praying for their downfall in turn.

Still controlling her breaths, allowing the life's blood to flow through her veins, slowing the pulsating droplets pouring from so many wounds as her heart ceases to palpitate so fiercely, Amy reaches with one hand for the crucifix tucked beneath the choker about her neck. Fingers scramble for the chain and find it, pulling it free with a harsh snap of delicate silver links. This isn't the one she's carried all her life...

Another holds that now. She looks at the new, a frown creasing her brow that has nothing to do with pain or fear. Wondering, even as she breathes a prayer.

She looks up, a new fire blazing amidst the blood-brightened storm.

"Sir Kliff..."

From all around comes the howling whisper of chi-winds, as the Dragon's Breath manifests from the aether. Mist descends fast, when called, wrapping the shattered village in the faintly-warm tendrils of a Godly embrace. This is the heavens and the Earth - it has saved her before, and saved others. Let it now be the latent, drifting power that heartens the bravest of the Holy Order. Let it be the wind that blows salvation for even a few of the lost, terrified villagers. Though her body is weak...

Amy's soul remains fierce, and proud. At her willing, the fog reaches out for every corner, through every flame, into every cellar bolted against the demons of the night.

And it reaches for the stout, stalwart lord among men, winding within the embrace of the beast seeking to unbind his convictions and break his ageing body. But it makes no move to pull them apart - she doesn't have the means to muster such fury now, all she can do is lend what little she has. Provide warmth, and love, and hope.

"Let me help you. In the name of the Lord... neither of us will fall this day."

It's the least she can do, and the most. Pray it is enough.

COMBATSYS: Amy has joined the fight here in the center.

                 [ ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Kiyomi           0|-------|-======
[             \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////               ]
Night Children   1/------=/=======|=======\======-\1            Kliff
                 [ |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Amy              0|-------|------=

COMBATSYS: Amy assists Kliff.

                 [ ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Kiyomi           0|-------|-======
[             \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////               ]
Night Children   1/------=/=======|=======\======-\1            Kliff
                 [ |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Amy              0|-------|------=

Alright.. here they come!

Steady, old boy. Just got to do it like how it was back in your youth, it's all about weathering the charge and let them kill themselves on Dragonslayer.

Kliff takes a deep breath and braces himself for the attack, the old commander's feet still firmly set on the ground as the gargoyle first dives in to slash at his face. Kliff takes the claw and closes one bloodied eye, jaw shut, position steady. The werewolf comes next and he overpowers his bardiche length to grab him. No problem, just gotta roll with the throw. Kliff is thrown to the side and he tucks his head in to make a roll and break the fall, nice and easy and--


Outwardly, all that can be heard from Kliff is a pained 'NGGH!' as he pushes through the pain.

Inwardly, he's screaming 'MY BAAAAACK!'. If only he were 30 years younger! He'd be showing these younguns a thing or two. But with his advanced age the best he can do is just try to get his body to stop complaining.

"Come on... that was nothing.." He says to /himself/ as he leans on the pommel of Dragonslayer to get himself back up. Is this what has befallen the once Sacred Order? An old man, trying to relive his glory days, and one lost, overzealous young girl.

"No.." As long as there is darkness in the world, there will be need for the Sacred Order of Holy Knights. Kliff hears Amy's plight, feels her warmth and love and zeal through his tired old bones, and suddenly he's standing up again, fierce as ever.

"Wretched beasts." Whispers the ancient knight as his polearm's blade grows bright, the colossal image of a dragon appearing behind him as he swings his mighty cleaver, aided by the bellowing cry of dragon's breath that pours all over the mass of rampaging Darkstalkers.


COMBATSYS: Kliff knocks away Night Children with Pulverizing Dragon's Roar.

                 [ ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Kiyomi           0|-------|-======
[                         \\\\\  < >  //////////////                ]
Night Children   1/---====/=======|==-----\-------\0            Kliff
                 [ |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Amy              0|-------|------=

Being thrown right in the middle of the swarm of darkstalkers, Kliff was at their mercy -- the wave of darkness would soon engulf him and snuff away the light he represented, the beacon of hope for Amy to escape Kiyomi's sadistic grasp. The kitsune's lips curl into a pleased smile as her brethren circles the old man and lunges at him to deliver the final blows.

Before they manage to overwhelm him to, the old man stands his ground and unleashes his polearm against the tide of darkstalker that's about to crash into him, cleaving through the darkness and sweeping it away. The dragon's breath cleanses the battle field of the presence of the beasts, knocking them away with its righteous might. A symphony of pain and suffering comes from the wounded beasts who are caught in the dragon's fury, even more so by those who were swept away by the mighty swing of Kliff's polearm.

Fortunately for Kiyomi she was far away enough not to be caught into all of this, and the brilliant light that comes from the surge of energy in the old knight forces her to lift an arm up to shield her eyes. She grits her teeth and growls under her breath and once she can finally lower her hand, she has a hard time to conceal her surprise to see the battlefield totally devoided of her children of the night.

All of them have been swept away and knocked back, those who still have the strength to lift themselves limp away from Kliff to hide, guided by their instinct of survival. In spite of Kliff's feat and display of pure might, Kiyomi refuses to run -- not after what he had done. Being the only one standing and the leader of her pack meant she had to take the responsability : best scenario, she crushes the old man, and worst scenario, she buys enough time for her wounded pack to flee and lick their wounds.

"Impressive," Kiyomi says, her lips curling into a smirk, "Playtime is over now : just you and me..." Her smile widens, "... I might finally be able to get some satisfaction out of killing one of you, the others all died so easily,"

The tails spread out like the wind fan, slowly attempting to enrapture the old man and shroud his senses as Kiyomi lifts her blade up. She tries to engulf him in her own darkness before she swiftly charges at him and attempts to deliver a single precise blow aimed at Kliff's torso : a powerful thrust meant to impale him on her katana once she's within reach.

COMBATSYS: Night Children takes no action.

                 [ ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Kiyomi           0|-------|-======
[                \\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Kliff            0/-------/-----==|
                 [ |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Amy              0|-------|------=

COMBATSYS: Night Children can no longer fight.

                 [ ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Kiyomi           0|-------|-======
[                \\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Kliff            0/-------/-----==|
                 [ |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Amy              0|-------|------=

COMBATSYS: Kiyomi successfully hits Kliff with Attaque Mortelle.

                 [  |||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Kiyomi           0|-------|---====
[                  \\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Kliff            0/-------/----===|
                 [ |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Amy              0|-------|------=

The battlefield has been cleansed! But Kliff's duty is far from over.

Will it ever be over, is really the question here.

The commander of the Holy Order scarcely has time to survey the scene as he is yet again assailed by the kitsune woman. Huh, looks like he missed one, and it just had to be the leader of this wretched band of monstrous brigands.

With the sooth of his attack still flying in the air, Kliff's vicious is obscured just enough that the kitsune's illusions overtake his sight rendering him unable to react to the attack thrown at him. He shifts sideways and gets a nasty cut all through his abdomen, the old man wincing as he slides back and leans on his massive polearm, griming his bloodied stomach and wheezing. That last attack really took it out of him and he's bleeding profusely now, the battle taking his toll of the knight.

And yet he still stands, spitting to the side and adjusting his stance so that Dragonslayer's blade is pointing towards the kitsune.

"I'll send you to the grave with the rest of your pack, creature."

COMBATSYS: Kliff charges his next attack!

                 [  |||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Kiyomi           0|-------|---====
[                  \\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Kliff            0/-------/-======|
                 [ |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Amy              0|-------|------=

A sight to embolden the most cowardly soul, the virulent roar of the dragon spreading like God's own shockwave through the breath of the same. The mists thrash, coiling around to maintain their looping, sinuous drift as they're battered by the tumult, as Darkstalkers are hurled every which way. Here and there, the Dragon's Breath acts to carelessly catch and toss aside a ruined body, or swoop in to redirect their impact from one of the few buildings still standing intact.

Amy's not aware how her will is exerting itself, lost in the sweet release of valourous fervour. The wave and the winds batter her, too, but she weathers it by merely closing her eyes and drifting on more distant currents; is she 'lost', then? Or does she found herself more truly with every passing of a mortal threat, by surviving all that is flung her way, even as her life's blood seeps into the dirt and dust upon the ground?

It is not the Templar's to question. Only to keep the faith.

When her gaze unlids, she is focused upon Kliff and Kiyomi, upon their own uncertain precipice. The kitsune's deadly dance appears too much for the elderly knight, but appearance deceives as the eyes ever doubt. It's what lies beneath that's of greater import... the soul of the believer. Gritting her teeth gently against a wave of nausea, forcing calm even in her storm, Amy grips more tightly the crucifix.

And then she moves to stand, every limb trembling, the warmth of the mist surrounding her and lifting her. One action at a time. One step. She'll rejoin the battle, if she must; and they'll leap off that precipice together. She's made a grave mistake:

The Order does not stand alone. Together. Always together, their strength combined.

COMBATSYS: Amy strives for greater control.

                 [  |||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Kiyomi           0|-------|---====
[                  \\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Kliff            0/-------/-======|
                 [ |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Amy              0|-------|------=

The attack might not have been lethal, but Kiyomi knows well enough that the old man will slowly bleed from the wound she has given him. Her tails sway in delight behind her, her eyes focused on the old man as she straightens herself up. He might have been able to withstand the might of her pack, but he would not survive her fury she's convinced of that.

Her eyes stare at his midsection and Kiyomi straightens herself, allowing him to brace for her once more. Her tails spread up around her, swaying back and forth in excitment, a predatorial glee in her eyes. "You will perish like the rest of the humans who were in this village, old man," Kiyomi simply retorts, her voice full of confidence.

The kitsune kneels down and performs her low charge at Kliff, her blade held low and ready for a swift strike. She lunges at him and lifts the blade up to strike his side as she passes by him -- the first charge being only an illusion crafted by her psychic powers, one meant to feint the old man. Mere seconds later the real kitsune is charging at his other flank, the blade drawn to slice another gapping wound on his side to make him bleed more and more, taking pleasure in prolonging his suffering.

While her first attack is but an illusion, his mind might perceive the injuries as real and feel the pain to his other flank even if it's but a mental one.

As for Amy... The maiden's the last of her worries right now, in her current state, it is unlikely she will be able to do anything harmful. Or so she thinks.

COMBATSYS: Kiyomi successfully hits Kliff with Estoc Chimerique.

                 [  |||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Kiyomi           0|-------|=======
[                    \\\\\\\\\\  <
Kliff            0/-------/=======|
                 [ |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Amy              0|-------|------=

Being a Holy Knight is all about making sacrifices for the good of all.

Sacrifice the chance of a normal life to defend humanity. Sacrifice glory and riches to live a pious, enlightened life. Sacrifice your future so that others can see a brighter tomorrow.

Right now, Kliff is perfectly willing to sacrifice his own well being to save those under his charge. The old knight keeps his stand steady, but due to blood loss and exhaustion he knows that he will not be able to see through Kiyomi's illusions.

It is of no consequence to him. Not to a Holy Knight. Kliff drives his polearm head long and willingly pushes himself into the stab to his stomach, intending to trade one injury for another.

All while being perfectly aware that his recruit is coming from behind the kitsune.

More that stabbing her through, Kliff aims to drive Kiyomi back right into the waiting maws of maiden Johnson.

Illusions. Deceptions. Lies.

The Templar's stock in trade relies on integrity and passion, true, but she has a mastery over the same cruel devices as the kitsune - it's the greatest irony of this situation, that they hold a measure in common. That they share bedfriends, even, is testament to the deeply hypocritical nature of this conflict. The same ferocity empowers them, the same will to force change over a world they see as unfit... the only difference, that Amy strives also to defend and nurture. She burns only what needs burning, does not adopt the same slash and burn mentality. Judgement...

"It's not..." Her words come as she steps forward, one foot in front of the other.

Judgement can be withheld. It can adapt. It is delivered only when it -is- just.

"Just you and him."

It's for everyone, too. All that awaits each of them is the balancing of the scales. As Kliff strides forward with his own hammer falling, driving the polearm forth to pass scathing rebuttal against the insidious assault of the kitsune, Amy passes a trembling hand through the mist, feeling it coil about pale digits. It's all she can feel now, at least upon her physical form. Everything is numb. Everything is dying. Drip, drip.

Her life's blood. It empowers her even as it ebbs. They are tied to this world.

"It's you against the Order, you heartless, soulless -bitch-!!"

Her judgement comes, and it comes with a hoarse, shrilly-gasping scream, her throat ragged and lips peeling back to tender, bloody pores. She does herself further damage by merely willing the mist to follow her, and cloak her, on the final step--

"It's you against the world."

Her voice is clarion at the last, and she's gone from view in a heartbeat, her stormy blue eyes the last to vanish amidst a cloying gray-white fog. Blood carries through it, the taint of iron and the screams of the suffering combining to further gift the Dragon's Breath with power. Amy doesn't need to be able to lift her arm to strike - she needs no blade, needs no muscle to drive home her techniques. She can yield the temporal. She can trascend, long enough to walk upon suddenly-thrashing tendrils. They carry her into the conflict and beyond, and when next she appears it's behind the kitsune; sandwiching her between she and Kliff Undersn. The young and the old.

The past and the future. Together, the present. Together, the world.

Swooping in like a thousand clamouring vultures over the battlefield, the tremulous fingers of the Dragon's Breath dive down and through the point of conflict, streaming over Kliff's shoulders and along his extended blade to hammer against the totality of Kiyomi's being. Tendrils invade the strike and the flesh it strives to part, exploding -inside- the deadly Darkstalker, rending at her body and soul.

As Amy herself takes a knee, gasping and shuddering. Even her will is dying, now.

Let it take one more fell beast with it, she thinks. For the Order, she vows.

For the world.

COMBATSYS: Kliff and Amy successfully hit Kiyomi with Be Just or Be Dead.

                 [                |||||||||||||| ]
                 Kiyomi           0|-------|=======
[                       \\\\\\\  <
Kliff            0/-------/--=====|
                 [ ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Amy              0|-------|------=

The kitsune's katana quickly rises up to try and deflect Kliff's cleaving strike. Steel against steel, the blades grinding against each other causes a shower of sparks to rain down against the ground. Her weaker arms tremble under his might, forcing her to take a step back as her blade is pulled down so she's not disarmed by Kliff's titanesque power.

Kiyomi growls, feeling the pain echoes through her arms and she lifts her gaze up only to see the tendrils lashing out and lunging at her. In this vulnerable position, the kitsune hardly manages to squirm out of the way from the dozens of them that wraps and plunges into her body, the ethereal limbs flailing her flesh and soul, sending waves of energy into her and causing the woman to wail in agony, her body trembling under the power that surges through it and fills her with pain.

Unable to defend herself, Kliff's barbiche rises back up against her to deliver the finale : the blunt side of his weapon smashing into the kitsune's chest, knocking her away easily a dozens feet away from the mass of tendrils that flayed her alive.

Her limp form flies over some distance before it crashes into the snow, her tails leaving a large trail into it as she skids some distance and rolls into it. For a few seconds, the darkstalker doesn't move, her form totally motionless -- though finally it bulges, a weak groan escaping her throat. Like a crutch, the blade strikes the ground and she slowly lifts herself up. The pain numbs her senses and she manages to rise up to her feet, though her strength falters and she stumbles foward, falling to her knee with a pained groan. She coughs up blood in the snow, painting a wonderful scenery of red and white.

She lifts her gaze up at both of them, gritting her teeth. She glares at the two hunters, "This is just the beginning," Kiyomi hisses painfully, "... All of this, their deaths... You've brought this into you," Kiyomi flinches but takes an ultimate effort to get on her feet, "We've endured your torments long enough, hunters... It is high time you pay the price..."

Hearing the howls of wolves in the night, Kiyomi lifts her gaze up and closes her eyes for a moment, before she lowers it back at Kliff and Amy. Both of her prey could be easily finished off, though their joined effort has taken quite a toll on the kitsune. She doesn't wish to risk her life on some pitiful hunters -- not when she has so much to accomplish. She keeps her eyes focused on both Amy and Kliff as she takes long strides back and slowly pulls away toward the forest, to disappear into the darkness.

Despite him being a decidedly composed individual, Kliff indulges himself in the thrill of righteous battle and smirks. A great pincer attack, thinks he! The old commander could not have been more proud of the young recruit Amy Johnson right now. He saves the compliments for later, however, as his steely eyes still focus on the she Darkstalker. She has been mortally wounded, but she is not fully down just yet.

Following her movements with his eyes, the old man takes his place next to the young cadet. Shoulder to shoulder! Shield wall formation! This is how they did it in the olden days, and as Kliff has proven, it has yet to be surpassed by these modern tactics.

"Aye.. only the beginning." Mutters Kliff back to the retreating Kiyomi. "Of the end of your kind! For you shall continue to endure our wrath for an eternity still! As long as your kind hound humanity, we will never stop sending you back to the hells that spawned you!" Kliff stands fast, blood dripping from his body, ready to strike once more. But it seems that they have all had enough for tonight, and the Darkstalker leader back to the shadows that are her home.

"Hmph.." Grunts the commander, his brown uniform and metal armor stained red by his blood and those of his foes. "We did it!" Says he snapping his fingers and whacking Amy's back with an open hand. "Masterful work there, cadet! Another glorious victory for the Holy Light!"

Why.. these merits a good bit of cheering it does and Kliff raises his Dragonsalyer with both hands in customary Holy Order celebration, likely trying to get Amy to follow his lead.

"Huzzah!! Huzzah!!"


Frankly, no one in the Holy Order does that anymore, probably haven't done it since the end of World War II. But.. Kliff is an old fashioned kind of guy.


Formidable though her displays of resilience may be, Amy Johnson is ultimately a sensitive soul; it's all taken in, all forged into pride and guilt, conviction and shame. She carries the burden of every loss upon her own shoulders, piling it high until she no longer feels able to stand - and then, finding the reason to do so again. The life of a compulsive martyr is never an easy one, and as Kiyomi departs she only drives deep fresh barbs. They've traded hate and sin enough today, but the kitsune has the last word. Struggling to remain conscious after one last surge of will and potency, the Templar is unable to frame much more than wild, desperate thoughts...

Through which echo savage, furious words. The sentiments of a demon-woman.

Beside her, though, there's the thing-- the commander of the Holy Order, a man whose name is legend and whose deeds resonate throughout all that the Templar has ever been taught to embody; since, at least, she was snatched from the halls of the mundane.

His hand descends, and it almost pitches her forward. Why doesn't it? She distantly wonders this, even as she coughs up a lungful of blood, and glances back over her shoulder. Stormy blues swim as they strive for focus, and find it in spite of everything still weighing upon her. If she cannot look strong in front of Knight Commander Undersn, who should she dream of presenting herself for? It's an honour...

And, apparently, more than a little embarrassing.

Her mouth, twisting into the best smile she can muster, suddenly falls open. Those turbulent eyes widen, dark brows raising well into the expanse of pale skin above as Amy stares at her superior - at a man she's almost over-awed to even be in the presence of. Bowled away not by his incredible resolve, his strength and fortitude in battle, and certainly not by his inspiring dignity and grace. By... by what he's doing.

She's laughing again before she can process it, and even manages to stand with a surge of effort that sends fresh gouts of blood from her wounds. She's trembling all over, her back arched, both hands shaking and pressed to the punctures in her gut, crimson tumbling forth thickly, dehydration perhaps all that's saving her.

But still she laughs, and then something else happens:


Her voice is weak, but lifts all the same, frail beneath the boom of the old man's own imposing gust. She tries to rally, lifting her chin with all the pride left to her.

"Hu--" is all she manages, before swooning and pitching forward into the dirt.

The Dragon's Breath fades with its mistress, and Kliff is alone on the battlefield.

COMBATSYS: Amy relinquishes the urge to act.

                 [                |||||||||||||| ]
                 Kiyomi           0|-------|=======
[                       \\\\\\\  <
Kliff            0/-------/--=====|
                 [  |||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Amy              0|-------|-----==

COMBATSYS: Amy has left the fight here.

                 [                |||||||||||||| ]
                 Kiyomi           0|-------|=======
[                       \\\\\\\  <
Kliff            0/-------/--=====|

COMBATSYS: Kiyomi has left the fight here.

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

COMBATSYS: Kliff has ended the fight here.

"Oh, drat." Kliff can't really blame his old age for that one. He really oughta focused more on his recruit and not on cheering, and now Amy is down face first on the ground.

Placing Dragonslayer on his back, the old commander squats and heaves Amy up with a grunt, man his back really killing him today. "Come along now, sister Johnson. You've fought enough for tonight."

Kliff walks off with Amy in arms whilst signaling for the rest of the Holy Order to come pick them up. Soon, a chopper is seen approaching in the distance to bring them both back to safety.

Log created on 12:41:11 02/26/2015 by Kiyomi, and last modified on 09:36:54 03/07/2015.