Amy - Fear in the Heart of Avalon

Description: With the ranks of her unlikely band swelling, Amy conspires to draw Gertrude Verhangnis into her net once more. In so doing, she issues an invitation to the demon within the German woman. Negotiations swiftly break down, and the Templar is introduced to another powerful and deadly foe - this one may even have her number, above and beyond the physical realm... has the lady knight met her match?

The Sea Horses Grand Hotel has played host to many officiated battles, predominantly due to the stunning ornamental fountain in the midst of its commercial village. Tonight, the scene here appears no different to many a Friday or Saturday night, a small crowd gathered about the high railings cheering in expectance of live fighting action. Even the proprietor of the fantastically-named 'Bookman', the bespectacled Herr Grauber, has ventured outside of his shop to witness the - ahem - spectacle.

Oddly, nothing else within the area indicates any manner of entertainment should be taking place; there is no camera crew, no referee, no gaudy advertising to capitalize upon the ensuing battle. The only reason these people have to believe they're in for a treat is that the iconic, randomly-spouting fountains have been turned off. The prime-coloured lights are left to cast their cycling glow over only moist faux-marble, and a single, small but well-built female figure stands in the shadows betwixt them.

Now and then, the light falls on raven-black hair, pale, freckled features and an athletic frame garbed in a long-sleeved poet's shirt with lace cuffs, a pair of red leather pants, and short-heeled boots. Stylish enough to pass as a professional fighter, perhaps; but nobody the crowd recognizes. The din dies down occasionally, as uncertainty lingers, but on the sum of it...

The scenario seems legitimate enough, and the time (literally) should be right for another sign; as the vast analogue clock visible at the outskirts of the fountain square indicates, the time is just coming up to eight o' clock. The neon tableau awaits the arrival of one Gertrude Verhangnis, whose invitation to do battle arrived in an official Neo League envelope with an accompanying e-mail.

The time of the battle: 8pm, UTC -03:00.

The organizer trusts that Fraulein Verhangnis will be prompt.

Gertrude is happy to believe that her career is taking off. Two challenges in one week? Usually she has to be proactive if she wants that kind of attention. Arriving in her snazzy new flannel jacket, though, she can't shake the feeling that something is wrong. For a start, there's nowhere near as many people in the crowd as normal, and there's no cameras either. Not even an official-looking (and yet curiously generic; she often wondered if it was the same person over and over again. Is it bad that she doesn't know their name if so?) referee. Instead, there's just one person standing in the darkness and apparently her opponent to be.

Gertrude looks faintly irritated herself. There's nobody to pass her coat off to in order to make sure it doesn't get trashed, not that there's any point in having the fight at all if the cameras aren't here yet. She pauses to check the time on her phone, and then walks towards the mysteriously shaded figure.

"Hey there." She says, raising one hand in a loose salute. "It looks like the League has screwed up, eh? I didn't think I was running late. I suppose, sooner or later, it had to happen." She flashes a smile, approaching with her hand offered, still not quite able to see the other woman in any real detail.

"I am Gertrude. The organizer didn't give your name, Miss...?"

It's scarce visible from the railings, but as Gertrude descends to the apparently-designated Fight Zone (tm) she's privy to a shift of the lighting from blue to red, and a sheen of crimson light catches a silvery flash at the shaded figure's side. There's a smile within the self-same shadow, a faintly-glowing impression of bared teeth, and then - with another step forward by the up-and-coming Teutonic warrior - the fountains suddenly trigger. A controlled geyser sprays into life just in front of her, yielding after several seconds to another some distance hence. How distracting.

"I thought we agreed..."

The crisply-accented tone of an Englishwoman comes from her flank now, and Dame Amy Johnson steps into full view over one of the neon lamplights set into the floor. Her boots splash faintly in the moisture below as she comes to a halt, one hand - partly shrouded in a fingerless lycra glove - set upon the hilt of an arming sword at her hip, esconced in a dark leather sheath. Her stormy blue eyes gleam with a daring mischief, and then she sidesteps, another fountain's spurt consuming the space now next to her.

"Not to stand on ceremony. Amy, Gertrude," she smiles around the latter name, her lips curling and an eyebrow arching into her brow. Her free hand reaches up to push raven strands behind her right ear, and she settles into her heels with a light ease. "Thank you for being prompt, though I didn't for a moment doubt that you would be." A glance flickers sidelong and upward, briefly taking in with amusement the crowd now cheering anew, as if they're -still- going to see a show. The Templar's gaze roams back to the other woman, and she thrums her fingers against the shining pommel of her Katzbalger.

"How goes the forging of your legacy?"

If Gertrude finds this amusing, she does a very good job of hiding it. Her eyes narrow behind her glasses, and as the world between herself and the Knight erupts in a shower of water droplets, Gertrude's arms fold tightly across her chest. Her lips press together in a long, thin line, and she tosses her hair back, cracking her neck as she does. The tall, blonde German looks severely tempted to try and drown Amy in that fountain, in fact.

"I don't recall agreeing *anything* with you." She says, coldly, "Except that it was best for us both if our ways parted."

Her head turns smoothly as Amy moves, and she remains standing stoic and implacable, staring down the other woman with a truly sour expression.

"You brought me here under false pretenses. I've got nothing to say to you, except that you owe me the travel costs for getting here. We don't all have blood money filling our pockets."

It is a low blow; an unfair one, too, as Gertrude doesn't really know a damn thing about the details of Amy's work or what it is she does to earn her keep. But in her current state of mind, it is about as gentle as Amy ought to expect; she's lucky the barbs in her words weren't followed up with knuckles!

It's rare that the Templar meets a woman more prideful than she, and the Verhangnis heiress betrays her noble legacy all too readily in those motions. Amy is nothing -but- amused, though also a little impressed beneath it, her manner perhaps all the more infuriating because the open dislike on part of Gertrude is certainly not returned by the older woman. That chill is met with a half-snorted laugh, even, the noise not without grace but all the same, instinctive, not part of the same act at all.

"Lining your purse won't be a problem, I assure you," smoothly responds the lady knight, her raven tresses shifting as she cants her head slightly, "And for what it's worth, I apologize for the deception. You made it abundantly clear you'd not come if I merely asked, and for that I'll cover the expense of your journey -and- the winner's purse. I'm not without resources at my disposal, Gertrude..."

She begins to pace as she says the last, walking a semi-circle around the German before coming to a slow, easy stop just as another fountain emits behind. Either she's psychic, or the Templar has been preparing for this meeting; it serves her well in not being drenched, though how else remains to be seen. Her smile renews, but gently.

"On the terms of our agreement, I have to say, I only acquiesced." Suddenly she moves with abrupt speed, turning and drawing her blade in one motion, the whisper of steel parting from leather all but inaudible over the splash of the electric fountain. The arming sword is extended, tip-first, toward the other woman, and then Amy's wrist twists, flipping the weapon downward. It descends to rest in the moisture with a clink, the knight dropping to a crouch with both hands now upon the sword's hilt. Head bowed.

"Lady Verhangnis, it's my wish to open negotiations once more," her voice is a murmur now, but holds power and clarity all the same - conviction, in spades, "Since last we met, my journeys have led me to face much in this world. To realize that we stand on the edge of conflicts that could level us all, turn us to dust in the wind." She looks up, stormy blues blazing through their enigmatic tumult, her mouth upturned with the greatest confidence, but there remains something beseeching in her expression. Respectful, if melodramatic. Is she sincere? "I misspoke before, and I offended you. Power is not what we need - but there are those who would abuse us to obtain it."

She draws and releases a breath, then bows her head once more.

"We should stand together, our legacies joined. This world needs you, Gertrude Verhangnis, on whatever terms you see fit..." She pauses, wets her lips, "And I need you, too. You... might want to step to your left now."

Gertrude is usually so easygoing, it is probably just as well there's no cameras around to document the frustration boiling over in the young German heiress. The fact that Amy is just, amused, really does make her more angry. It feels as though Amy is *laughing* at her. Oh, look at the little sports fighter, having to worry about having enough money to get around and have a roof over her head!

"You want to negotiate." Gertrude repeats, softly. "You think our legacies should stand together? Well then."

Reaching into her jean pocket, Gertrude's gloved fist coils about that ancient amulet. Lifting it up, she shows it to the other woman - it is getting perilously close to the time when the fountain will burst and soak her, which will probably not make her any *happier*.

The item is delicate; a small amulet of polished metal on which the Verhangnis family crest. A skull in the upper left corner, a clenched fist in the lower right, and the family motto. One which Gertrude repeats for Amy's benefit, as it is likely too small to be made out over such a distance. "Per Timere Imperius. Through Terror We Rule. You want my legacy with yours? Then I should SHOW you my legacy!"

The amulet is wrapped smoothly around her neck, and what happens next is... impressive.

Cast in scarlet light, Gertrude's features are even more menacing as her blonde hair bursts from the bun in which it was tightly held. It flies behind her, suffused with a brilliant energy which makes it sheer white, casting away the sickly crimson light and casting her features in greater darkness.

Water explodes beneath her feet, and yet it does not touch her body. Exploding outwards in all directions, the water droplets reflect from her clothing as that menacing power rips into her. Her body jerks, and the color of her outfit just... inverts. Stark, bright lines of blue against jet blackness.

Gertrude seems even taller than she did before. Stepping closer to Amy, and allowing the water to shoot into the air once more behind her, she reaches up, and neatly plucks the glasses from her eyes. Her body language is... so confident. Holding herself tall and proud, her chin is raised, and she - quite literally - looks down upon Amy.

"Well, child?" She asks, her voice ... haughty, and with a much, much thicker accent than normal. The words are pronounced as though she has disdain not just for Amy, but for the tongue she uses to frame the language, and the language itself as well.

"You have come to negotiate terms for an allegiance with the Verhangnis family? I. Am the only one who may negotiate such terms. Tell me, now, what it is you presume to offer me in exchange for the greatest power the world has ever known."

A beat, and she flicks her left arm to the side, holding it outstretched as brilliant violet power coils over her arm, forming into a tiny skull in her palm.

"The power. Of *FEAR*."

For all her good intentions and chivalrous words, the Templar officer is herself part of something far bleaker and more ambiguous than the forgiving facade suggests. Politics run rife within the ancient Order, backstabbing in both figurative and brutally literal terms plaguing the ascension of Grandmasters and even the lowliest knights. Ambition is one of the many demons she herself faces, and the acquisition of power... it's always been about that, about seizing and controlling. About putting the peasants in their place. Whatever -Amy- might be, in her heart and her soul... she does not represent the peace and justice she oft proclaims.

But this, the potency of the Verhangnis, the dread they command--

--whatever the history her Order, and moreso her family, the war crimes they have committed and the savagery that haunts her diminished bloodline, nothing so pure and unrefined, so 'evil' - for want of a better, less reactive term - can be found.

"Show me," she whispers before it comes, unknowing of what she truly asks, but eager to discover more. Drawn in by the prickly German, she's pored over her dossier on many a lonely night since their first meeting, and additional rumours have reached her; enough to prompt this meeting, this beseechment. Reckless, the Templar acts instinctively, does what she feels is right. Could it be right, then, to ask for such a thing as this?

Stormy eyes reflect the display as Gertrude seems to yield to something worse, yet greater. Water coats the kneeling lady knight in a cooling wave, a thick spray that causes her to blink, but not shift beyond. Her blade is a cascade, the ever-changing neon light dancing upon it, along with the scalding violet that her would-be ally summons. She looks up, and up, to maintain her gaze with that of the German.

There is awe in her expression, mouth open until it twists into a pout of concern, her brow furrowing. But there's no fear on the face of the Templar. She's beyond that, now, she's seen and done too much - she will not be afraid, she swears.

So why is her stomach fluttering. Why does she feel so giddy?

"I offer--" She halts as her voice comes in a dry croak, clearing her throat with a quick huff of breath. She thinks about standing, realizes she cannot place herself on a level with the other, younger woman, the one now calling -her- a child... she's used that term herself, to damn and incite. She's shocked that it affects her in kind. Twisting her weapon away from the faux-marble, she lays it down sidelong, then leans back upon her haunches, hands resting upon her thighs. Defenseless, to the eye.

Around them, the air begins to prickle further as the Dragon's Breath heeds a deeply-lodged call from the knight. Amy doesn't know she's doing it, but she is preparing to defend herself, the mist emerging slowly and subtly about the fountain's edge.

"I offer -light-, in which to dwell." The words come with a surge of inspiration, divine or mortal, it doesn't matter which. "This power shouldn't be locked away," her voice gains clarity and power, and she lifts her own chin with a pride that can't hope to match Gertrude(?)'s, now, but is entirely hers. "Kept in the gloom like a filthy animal, you're nothing but a footnote. Standing on the precipice of war, arrayed against threats which believe themselves greater, you would be a glorious beauty. Not a fearful monster, lurking beneath childrens' beds, but a dark and bloody -queen-."

The word comes with a savage rancor that Amy doesn't really feel, though she is emboldened and incensed by the passion of her own speech, but is designed to appeal to this fey and terrible being.

"The darkness is nothing without the light, Verhangnis. If you wish to rule this world, or even bring it screaming to its knees, then first you must serve it." Her breath almost catches in her throat, and she hangs her hand, eyes lidding briefly before she looks up with a toss of her head, sodden raven tresses thrashing against pale skin. "I can help you remove the obstacles in your way. I can help you find and eliminate those who would oppose you. Your power is -not- the greatest until you prove it so!"

The dirisive sneer which draws itself on the young woman's face is so uncharacteristic of her it is alien to behold. She listens, but only to a point. "Nothing but a footnote?" She repeats, "You haven't been listening, girl. I am not the darkness, I am nothing so simple as that. I don't care what other powers might claim. Listen well, and understand this."

She steps forwards, snapping her fingers closed and in one movement, extinguishing the skull she had summoned into being. She continues to approach, her footsteps calm and measured... until she feels Amy's own power. The tickling warning at the edge of her mind tells her of it, and she draws to a halt at the very limits of its influence. Lit bright by her wildly-surging power, her hands clasp behind her back.

"The power we command is not of this world. It is not the campfire you use to keep the darkness at bay, it is not the darkness itself. It is that which moves the heart of all things with spirit. Our legacy, girl, is within you. It is within all living creatures. We reach into their soul, find that which they cannot stand to comprehend..."

Again, she steps forwards. It isn't a directly dangerous motion, but she deliberately brings herself into Amy's personal space. The Verhangnis Heir is suffused with such malevolent power; it is anathema to the natural order. It is wrong. It ... violates, Amy's senses, simply by existing within such an unapologetic host. "We make them *confront* that horror." She whispers, almost tenderly, as she smiles down at the 'relaxing' Knight.

"And then we DESTROY them."

Turning sharply on her heel, she allows her jacket to billow out behind her, turning her back on Amy in the most literal sense. It is a dramatic flourish which serves as the perfect punctuation to her next words.

"I, am Schaurig. I am not a footnote, I am the page upon which history is written! And you presume to think you can eliminate MY enemies? I have no enemies left, child! Have you not heard?"

And at this, the woman throws back her head, laughing full, free and uninhibited:

"Gott ist todt! Gott bleibt todt! Und wir haben ihn getodtet!"

Overwhelming. It's not quite unlike anything the Templar has experienced before, but it's certainly a unique sensation unto itself - more ambitious than have been similarly-sensory explosions against her mind's eye. How can a -feeling- seem ambitious? She's not entirely sure even as she thinks it, brushing further rationalization aside to remain focused upon the physical presence of the other woman. It's difficult to do so, as if her attentions are led astray. She...

She clenches her hands to fists, diffuses the shudder threatening from the nape of her neck down the length of her spine. She won't fear Gertrude Verhangnis. She will fear for her, instead; and face this creature that seems to inhabit her being.

That intimate whispers is met with a disdainfully-curled lip, a clenching of the jaw. Amy's words have been cast aside, her offer laid bare for, perhaps, what it was; a bluff. If she meant it, the reaction of this demon-in-female-form has negated that, it would seem. In any case, the lady knight's head is swimming. Her thoughts are increasingly hard to grasp, and the outlying mist thickens in sympathy.

"We all have enemies." Her words come harder now, as she stokes the fire of her convictions to mount a counter-assault against this suppressing force. The blasphemy forces her only to grow stronger, within and without. "And you are your own. If this power is within me, then I can turn it upon itself. With my own will, I underscore yours, and I find it wanting, 'Schaurig'. You've shown me all I need to see."

Breathing a silent prayer, the Templar forces herself to her feet just as a fountain erupts between she and the German. Neither can see the other, but Amy can hear still that mocking laughter, the words that ensued. And, more crucially, she believes she can feel where that delirious, irresistible crushing of her senses is originating. A sensible foe would have moved already, perhaps, but Schaurig...

"I told you these were negotiations. They are -over-! If you will not stand with me..."

Amy has not her arrogance. She only has belief, and bestows her with a controlled fury as she plunges through the electric blue glow of the geyser before her, the Dragon's Breath spiralling in a deceptively lazy plunge from the rear to follow her through the torrent. She emerges upon the other side with a palm outflung, the other hand raised along a delicately-freckled cheekbone as if to ward off with lies beyond.

"Then fall before my judgement!!"

The strike is simple, forthright, driving for the spine to topple forward the woman she can no longer see as Gertrude - the creature she may have struck a pact with, but now seeks plainly to -strike down-. Behind her, the mist blurs and lunges itself, a dozen or more tendrils lashing like whips to dole out their divinely-imbued punishment.

COMBATSYS: Amy has started a fight here.

COMBATSYS: Gertrude has joined the fight here.

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Amy              0/-------/------=|-------\-------\0         Gertrude

COMBATSYS: Gertrude dodges Amy's Stormaiden.

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Amy              0/-------/------=|-------\-------\0         Gertrude

Schaurig doesn't seem surprised when Amy decides to attack; how can she, when she can feel the woman's intent broadcast as clear as day. She doesn't even deign to turn. Amy tears forwards to try and impale her through the flowing electric blue brilliance, and in that very moment... the tall woman simply raises into the sky.

Amy and her torrent of shadows pass below her, and Schaurig's eyes narrow, her strong jaw clenched as she slowly descends back to the earth. Droplets of water continue to roll away from her, not allowed to find purchase upon her as she stares down the now-violent Knight.

"There is one thing in this world which eludes me, /Johnson/." She says, "This child's body is too *weak* to contain me, and her fear too... immature, to accept me. She is pathetic. You, are merely deluded. I would have allowed you to leave this place with your dignity intact. But now..."

She even moves differently to Gertrude. Where the Karate expert is all grace and care, Schaurig simply stomps across the world as though she owns it. In a smaller, more innately graceful, body her headlong dash towards Amy would likely have been more like a ferrari than a juggernaut; but in either case, the result is much the same.

Her right arm extended to the side, she aims to crash directly into Amy's throat, and send her sprawling to the ground with a burst of bright purple *fear* on impact. If successful, she'll turn on her heel, and cross her arms over her chest as she straightens - there's no true martial arts style here. Just arrogant instinct, and so much power that it surges out of her in waves.

"I will send you to your masters with your tail between your legs, dog."

COMBATSYS: Amy interrupts Aggressive Strike from Gertrude with Night Errant.

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Amy              0/-------/----===|===----\-------\0         Gertrude

Fall, says the Templar, but her foe chooses to fly. Amy is already committed to the blow, her palm hammering against naught but the charged air and the sweeping tendrils of the Dragon's Breath exploding their quiet wrath against only sparkling motes of moisture. Stormy blues widen, and the knight spreads her stance, the right foot skidding forward and forming the lever by which her torso turns about. Her palm retracts in a curling motion, fingers clawing at fronds of mist.

She's met immediately with a challenge; no time to really track those motions, only able to differentiate them from the footage she's viewed of the German heiress by an outlying spark of wit. Her focus is upon the battle, and that incoming arm. It brushes through her defenses before they can shift to divert it, and then the Templar moves on unrefined instinct. Her boots sluice through the water underfoot, a spray exploding between she and Schaurig as she slides around the brutal clothesline...

It clips her, and she chokes as her windpipe all but implodes. That soul-searing energy does not find its mark-- or only enough, at least, to clue the Templar in to what might have been. It drives her retaliation, a sharp effort of will calling back the mists from their missed series of strikes to instead coalesce in a thick, messy blur of gray-white fog. This blunt, basic totality hammers into Schaurig from the direction vacated by her intended pray, driving her back with the force of the Earth.

Amy steps backward swiftly, windmilling her arms until they land in a firmly-yielding stance, her feet spread evenly beneath her. She struggles for breath still, unable to speak as she stares down her deadly, cold opponent with eyes ablaze.

Let her dignity speak for itself, she thinks. The Hound of Avalon is not so easily sent to heel.

Schaurig bears the full brunt of the blow; there can be no defense against it as the fog smashes into her. She is sent hurtling backwards, her body seeming strangely weightless for such a large woman as she spirals through the waterlogged air. When she arrests her flight, it is with a light effort of will, defying gravity to instead twist and let her feet adhere to the surface of the water, without so much as disturbing it. Those brilliantly-colored locks splay out behind her once more, and she allows herself a small smirk.

"If I were not limited by this pitifully inadequate body." She says, "I would finish this in a single move."

It is quite a boast, and perhaps belying her chaotic style, the woman finally settles all the way down to the ground once more. Her feet touch lightly into the water, and she allows her hands to rest easy at her sides. Watching Amy carefully, there is a challenge in those eyes. She'd been injury; perhaps there's some respect there as well.

But mostly there's a hateful, arrogant glimmer in those eyes. She's been injured, now. Before, Amy's actions had merely been laughable; as though she could offer anything Schaurig had a use for! But now, they are insulting. They demand an answer. And Schaurig shall give it to her a thousandfold.

COMBATSYS: Gertrude focuses on her next action.

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Amy              0/-------/----===|===----\-------\0         Gertrude

It's quite an endeavour, keeping the calm rhythm necessary to a disciplined warrior whilst also clearing a half-collapsed windpipe. Amy's breaths stutter and heave for a moment longer before she finds her voice through the threat of ruination. Schaurig's boast is ridiculous, arrogant, almost an act of hubris in itself-- the number of foes she've met who could finish her in a single blow, well...

...they demonstrated far more terrifying apparitions of their power than the illustrious Verhangnis host. What descends upon the Templar now is more the suggestion of such an horrific demon, than one in its fullest essence. Perhaps, as Schaurig claims, this is only the side-effect of inhabiting a weak and feeble frame.

Or it's more, and Amy wasn't the only one bluffing this day.

Around them, the crowds remain, but they are silently watching now, Herr Grauber polishing his spectacles with some bemusement at the exchange taking place. To the two women below, these people perhaps don't really exist - an outlying concern not worthy of attention, but the thickening fog of the Dragon's Breath is drawing on them, as much as anything else. This may not be 'entertainment' but it's more than a mere clashing of wills. Amy flexes her fingertips and takes a single step forward, presenting her flank to Schaurig as an arm lifts and drags with almost lazy ease through the air.

"Then cease making claims you cannot meet," she hisses, stormy eyes burning, as a tendril of the mist lashes from the far edges of the neon fountain, plunging over and down like a descending noose. "And strive to finish it -at all-!"

Thrusting out a palm, fingers curled like talons, Amy follows the closing of that misty ring - deceptively slow and soft - around the neck of Schaurig by closing it taut with a mental effort, the tendril then following the thrust of her arm to haul the tall, violent figure backwards. Toward the steps leading to the fountain's edge. Against the steel railings. The Templar answers brutality with brutality, it would seem.

She steps through with her own motion, drawing a stride closer to her dread foe.

"Or are you afraid I shall drive you from that stolen body to drift in limbo?"

COMBATSYS: Gertrude dodges Amy's Ophidian Snare.

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Amy              0/-------/----===|===----\-------\0         Gertrude

It is true. Those who actually have such power rarely take the time to boast about it. Having obtained it, they are far more likely to simply *use* it, or more likely, not to concern themselves with the affairs of mere mortals at all. Whether Schaurig's claim is true or not, however, she certainly holds herself with a commanding air. There is nothing in her at all which implies, for a moment, that she might actually be AFRAID of anything the other has to muster.

In fact, the assertion gets a derisive snort.

Schaurig simply stands and watches as the onrushing circle of fog comes down to claim her neck. With a flourish of her hand, the fountain at her feet explodes into a wall of water, momentarily obscuring the Head of the Verhangnis Family from view...

... For just a second, it is as though that oppressive presence has completely disappeared; as though she has decided to take her leave of the fight entirely. A confused murmur runs through the crowd ...

And then her presence surges back into being. Amy has a split second in which to register that the oppressive force is *behind* her, has somehow managed to flicker-step over there, and then the air is rent by a terrible scream. It isn't a scream of pain, nor is it one of animal instinct; the noise is all too human, the sound of an androgynous voice raised in pure fear. Possessed of enough wit, horribly, to understand the full terror of some truly dreadful situation.

Rocketing along the ground towards Amy is a skull, screaming, carved in violet energy and howling its lament for the audience's benefit. It is the technique that Schaurig Verhangnis herself perfected in life; the one that made her legend and has become synonymous with her style.

"Please." She intones, sneerily. "Tell me again what it is /I/ fear."

COMBATSYS: Amy blocks Gertrude's Terror Wave.

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Amy              0/-------/---====|===----\-------\0         Gertrude

Speak what defiance she will, the Templar also has to admit that Gertrude's fearful passenger possesses great skill at wielding her questionable 'gift'. That oppressive presence still weighs upon the striking warrior, until it's very suddenly -gone-; and as they say, nothing is scarier. A well of panic springs from within her gut, and Amy turns about wildly, attempting to guess the next location of her foe. It is a guess, entirely, a crazed stab in the dark that sees her once more with her flank to Schaurig when the being re-emerges. That scream, too! She flinches...

No, not just flinches. Her very soul cringes fiercely, the effect upon her physicality as if every organ were compacted to a tight ball. For an instant she cannot breathe, cannot hear, cannot pump the blood through her veins. Everything stops working.

And then Amy finds her right arm is already lifting in a wing block, the reflexes of an animal bestowing her with what her humanity could not; safety, salvation. Of a sort. The gut-wrenching terror of the scream is still resonating, but the raven-haired knight finds she can move again, driving her warding elbow against that skull, a gasp leaving her throat. It only intensifies as she soaks the bizarre 'impact'. She wants to scream, herself, biting it back with eyes widening and sweat beading upon her brow.

She spins about, darting forward in a lunging half-crouch at the same time as her left arm extends. Digits brush the discarded hilt of her Katzbalger, pulling the seventy-centimeter blade into a firm grip so she can drive it for the sneering form of Schaurig. A long, single-armed thrust sees her remain low, pushing the gleaming, sharpened tip up beneath the ribs. The Dragon's Breath is with her through it all, rolling over her shoulders and down her arm before streaming in at the point of impact. If the tip penetrates, so too does the mist, before expanding suddenly outward.

"Not what you do fear," announces the Templar, as that blossom of chi ruptures through the wound and then scatters into tendrillous drills, curving out and around to ensnare and crush the hopefully-bloodied German woman in a cruel embrace. It buys her time to spin the blade back and retreat a step, holding it at a shallow angle to her fore, looking down the shining length. "But what you -should-. As I said, there are powers beyond yours, and it's the Lord that guides me. Surrounds me. Drives me."

Her eyes narrow, and she grips the blade more firmly. "It is His to judge you, abomination."

COMBATSYS: Gertrude dodges Amy's Charged Combo.

[     \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////       ]
Amy              0/-------/---====|===----\-------\0         Gertrude

The effect of her blow on the woman is clear, even if it didn't land as cleanly as she would like. Although it is so much sweeter when she can exploit a deeper fear in her foe, Schaurig feeds upon the raw, instictual terror that her own technique brings out of Amy. Brave though she may be, the Knight has the capacity for fear - and ultimately, in this instance, that proves to be enough.

Schaurig steps to the left as Amy attempts to stab her, and she takes two steps forwards as the mists of Amy's proud lineage scatter behind her; attempting to find purchase in flesh which simply isn't there to be claimed any longer. "I told you once already, girl." She whispers, tenderly, as though speaking to an unruly - but fondly loved - child. And not a woman determined to obliterate her from the face of the Earth.

Her hand raises up, and she clenches her fist. Wailing purple light spills from her fingers as she concentrates as much as she can, hissing in frustration that what she can gather is, in fact, so little...

"God is *DEAD*. And *WE* killed him!"

With that hateful shout, the woman SLAMS her fist into the ground. Spears of brilliant purple light explode outwards from the point of impact, and scatter in all directions about the woman, stabbing outwards to spear her foe - at this range, she might even catch her with two or three of the chunky violent shards of energy.

COMBATSYS: Gertrude successfully hits Amy with Eternal Hatred.

[            \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////        ]
Amy              1/-------/=======|====---\-------\0         Gertrude

There's not a creature alive that can't feel fear. It's what makes Schaurig's boasts not ring completely hollow - with such a predatory focus, she can always find purchase somewhere, whether or not that works in her favour. Some are emboldened by their fears, made dangerous when cornered. The Templar does not function on terror, but rather pushes beyond and through it, denying it, allowing it to roll from her shoulders and back. That serves her poorly, here. One cannot deny that which assuredly exists.

And one cannot strike that which refuses to be struck.

Whatever position of strength she might have occupied moments before, Amy is now on a defensive against something she -cannot defend against-, only staving off what seems an inevitable crumbling of mental defenses. Depending on putting this despair-inducing beast down -fast-, she instead is confronted by another empty space. Like fighting a ghost, Schaurig seems untouchable, only the Dragon's Breath having laid a figurative finger upon her thus far. Hands grasp air, the blade penetrates wind.

Schaurig's words, they penetrate far deeper, but still miss the flesh. The same can be said of her explosive torrent of fearsome energy. Alone, the words might be eluded by the Templar, but it's a potent combination that conspires to assault the fires of her soul - and succeeds - driving her to the precipice of a madness that finally breaks through the fearlessness that's kept her alive all these years. Saiki could not mount such an offensive, tearing at her body instead, creating despair from injury.

Schaurig bypasses all of that. When Amy is driven backwards, wildly skidding until she slams into the perimeter against which she sought to drive her foe, her mind just isn't there at all. Her breath is coming fast, her heart palpitating, and the inside is chaotic mess, an inferno of self-doubt and doubt in the greater whole. Faith saves her, ultimately, from lying down in defeat, the mists sweeping about the battlefield diving for the feet of Schaurig, tendrils spinning around her ankles and thighs. Seeking to bind her, as the Templar pushes herself furiously upright, lost in her plight.

But the body responds as the mists, and she finds herself in a crouch, stormy blues coming back into focus on the reality of her foe. The tall, inverted shades of the German woman she thought to draw into her web coming as if from a remembered dream.

Her stomach churns, and her brain throws up a warning-- if the Dragon's Breath can hold Schaurig, it will only be for so long. Stand! Act! Do not yield to your ailing spirit!

COMBATSYS: Gertrude dodges Amy's Quagmire.

[            \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////        ]
Amy              1/-------/=======|====---\-------\0         Gertrude

Would Amy use the Dragon's Breath to pin down her nightmares?
Would she use that power to fix her doubts in place?
Would she try to use mists to grasp her future?

Schaurig's gaze is cold and fixed. Disturbingly, her eyes are the one part of her which do not seem to have changed overmuch. Staring with a determined intensity, perhaps, but she is not impressed by Amy's stoicism in the face of a seemingly insurmountable challenge.

The mist coils about her feet, but before it can solidify, she raises herself up again. It isn't so much a jump as it is a levitation, placing herself firmly out of reach of the grasping tendrils. It truly is like something out of a nightmare.

"You said negotiations were over. Good. I have never been interested in listening to what others might wish."

Even as she says this, Schaurig is floating back down towards Amy. Her hand seeks the dark-haired woman's locks, and will drag her bodily to her feet to look her in the eye - with the size difference, this might mean that Amy is made to dangle from her grip for a second, nightmares soaking into her roots.

"I require a more suitable body. Gertrude, disappointment that she is, must be made to better herself."

Her knuckles come punching forward suddenly, if she's still maintaining the grip at this point, to hammer into Amy's gut, and drop her to the ground. "Or you may find me a more promising, distant relative. You may do this."

And her foot comes lashing upwards, aiming to punctuate the final words with a brutal blow to the pious woman's chin.

"And perhaps then we will have a clear understanding between us, hm? Who, in this relationship, sets the terms, and who fulfills them."

COMBATSYS: Amy interrupts Charged Combo from Gertrude with Wyrm Waker.
- Power hit! -

[              \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////                 ]
Amy              1/----===/=======|=======\-------\1         Gertrude

It's unreal, the manner by which Schaurig continually evades the Templar's fervent assaults and gives back the most bizarre and ineffably-potent manner of brutality. The mists drift as if themselves bewildered, the power of the Earth and Amy's dead (?) God unable to maintain a consistent awareness of this horrifying woman-thing's power. The way her aura can disappear so suddenly, the way her words seem imbued with an emotional energy to match that scalding violet she wields...

Amy gives up trying to understand. Every attempt at logic drifts upon the wind like scattered leaves, every strategy proves as randomly effective as the turbulent spouts of the electric fountain around them. Certainly, there's a pattern to be found somewhere; as she earlier observed the same of their environment, but finding it is too much to consider whilst also staving off fearful, nightmarish delusions.

She's ripped to her feet, held aloft by cruel fingers. Raven tresses remain firm, but impart pain to her scalp-- she feels like screaming, so she grits her teeth. Clenches her jaw. Considers spitting in Schaurig's face, expressing her defiance with passion - but an animal wouldn't do that, it's a human, petty fact. Release, she thinks. Let go.

"You're negotiating again."

Her words come out in a grunt, stormy blues narrowed and focused not on the words but the reflexive intent she must depend upon. When that punch flies forth it's intercepted by lifted knees, the Templar's honed physique gifting her with strength enough to stop and hold that arm in place. Schaurig isn't given the opportunity to drop her subsequently, because Amy is ripping herself free, arms lifted for balance as she rolls her entire body to the side, leading from the potent core.

"I said--"

She tumbles into a barrel roll, and forces her opponent to do the same. The Dragon's Breath enters a sympathetic spiral, mist rolling around both women, but following the windmilling thump of Amy's arms as she comes around in a crouch whilst Schaurig remains airborne. Looking up with a snarl on her lips, she hammers her palms downward in a fierce, drumming one-two, and twin swathes of the mist catch her foe in mid-air, the same rhythm driving her first into the fresh expulsion of a fountain-- beyond it, pushing her fiercely enough to cram the geyser into itself, compacting the devilish abomination against the water's spurt and the faux-marble around it.

"This was OVER!!"

The Templar screams, voice tight and hoarse, and the second massive tendril is driven into Gertrude's ribcage, hard enough to splinter bone and rupture the organs behind. On a lesser being it might be a killing blow-- Amy's full ferocity, and that of her God by proxy, is behind it. Around her, the mist has thickened anew, shielding them from the view of the crowd beyond. The people murmur, and reach for their phones. Panic grips the outside of the Sea Horses Grand; this is clearly more than an exhibition match, if it ever seemed to be that alone. The Earth itself is howling for blood.

When Amy finally manages to get a firm grip, it is there, more than anywhere else, that the illusion of Schaurig's terrible power becomes apparent.

Although she wears the body of a far more sturdy woman, Schaurig has none of Gertrude's resilience. She has none of Gertrude's weight, either. Light as a feather, she is beaten and broken, shattered by brutal palms and mist which has far more solidity to it, in that moment, than does her corporeal form.

Schaurig's body does not break the marble of the fountain only because her flesh is not strong enough to do so. Bones do break, and it is accompanied by an unpleasant, crunching noise. Unseeing eyes stare upwards at the sky, water trickling for the first time down Schaurig's features...

And then she rises.

Lurching like a marionette, she forces herself back into shape through sheer force of will. Bones knit and blood ceases to flow, her hand rubs at the back of her mouth, and as she cracks her neck, glaring at Amy as people panic and begin to flee... she straightens herself to her full height, as though she had not just been so roundly brutalized.

"You misunderstand." She says, cooly. "This was not a negotiation. I was telling you what WILL happen. You, little Knight, shall NOT deny me!"

Pivoting on her heel, Schaurig's anger is riled, and it is terrible to behold. Surging forth, a familiar, terrifying scream fills the air, and is joined almost instantly by a second. It simply takes a swing of her left arm, and then her right. Twin screaming skulls tear across the ground, ripping into the world to help sate her frustration at the sudden, painful turnabout... but only a very foolish person would count her out after that; especially as she has rallied so convincingly.

COMBATSYS: Gertrude successfully hits Amy with Armaggedon Slicer.

[                      \\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////                ]
Amy              1/-======/=======|-------\-------\0         Gertrude

There is nothing new in what ensues, nothing to shock the Templar to her resilient core any more than what was already there; that dawning, nagging terror that wants to overwhelm her. She refuses still, but it's a distant denial now, riding on the back of a mind forever wandering. People misunderstand the concept of faith - believing it to be an unyielding, stalwart thing, like a brick wall composed of so many lessons, so much scripture, all the dogma built into a metaphorical fortress.

In truth, it's a yielding thing, a river ever rushing forth, necessarily open to new ideas within the context of it's identity -as- a river. It cannot be anything but flowing water, until such time as it is run dry, dammed, or reaches the destination. Whatever that might entail. Schaurig can attempt to scorch the earth around it, boil the water to steam, rupture the ground and redirect its course...

But fundamentally, it will not change. It is what it is.

Damn it as you will.

"I'll deny you, Schaurig," Amy speaks the name with disdain, her tone distant from the confines of her abandon to the rigours of battle. Rising to her feet smoothly, the opposing echo to the battered, broken German woman's own rise, she watches with a desperately-assumed dispassion as Gertrude's body is forced through further angry motions. "Until the last. Until you -end- me, I will scream bloody defiance!"

Tossing her head, the raven-haired knight raises her arms in a cross, stepping into the hellish one-two punch of screaming skulls. The first is taken hard, tearing at the knight's poet shirt, sheer with the moisture of exploding fountains. She can't maintain her defensive posture, and is flung aside with a pained snarl, the second missile impacting her harshly across the flank. Her psyche -roars- as she collapses hard, dashed across the neon arena to impact heavily with a rising geyser of water. It spins her away, and she's scattered like no more than a wet bag of bones, bouncing and rolling until she comes to a stop at the base of the steps leading up to the shocked faces of the crowd. Fingertips find the bottom-most, and she hauls herself up...

"So, tell me again," comes her pained hiss, the other hand finding her temple once she's up to a crouch, body quivering, rocking on her heels. "How you want me to befriend and then betray a woman you persist in hurling against me? My choice, it seems--" It's hard to find the words, but she pushes on, pushes up too, until she's standing in the enclosing clutches of the Dragon's Breath. It shields her.

A moment later, she's no longer visible to the eye.

"Is to strike down a woman I believe could be a friend, an ally, and someone worthy of mutual trust..." Suddenly, the mist is buoying outward, and spreads in a thick, rolling tumble toward Schaurig. Like a time-lapsed film of a coming storm-front, it gains in speed, the tumult about to collide with the fearsome entity when Amy's voice comes again from behind it. "Or agree to murder her in time. I have made my choice."

Through the parting swathe, the Templar steps with a tightly-restrained roar, a dog's rough bark, an arm uncoiling toward Schaurig's face-- and beyond it, a curl of mist seeping along the extended length to lash at her shoulder, tightening upon the joint if it can find purchase. Hunkering down to a broad stance, Amy lifts her other hand and passes it beneath the leading arm, seeking to grab Schaurig by Gertrude's face and then slam her downward. The tendril of mist maintains a hold, yanking her arm in the opposing direction, as behind, the greater whole continues on to consume them both.

"To change my mind, you must -break it-!"

COMBATSYS: Gertrude fails to interrupt Improvised Throw from Amy with Medium Throw.

[                     \\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////                    ]
Amy              1/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|===----\-------\0         Gertrude

"You are a fool."

The words are spoken with spiteful venom as Amy states that she has made her choice. Schaurig no longer seeks to evade her grasp, but instead to snare Amy by the neck. Unfortunately, it seems that attempting to turn the tables in this way suffers from a few particular flaws, not least of which is the fact that Amy is far better trained in the technical arts than this shade of Schaurig.

The woman is introduced to the floor again, and as she rises, her eyes flare dangerously. Her split skull is bloodless; already knitting, and angrily, she pulls her arm back from the mists which try to claim it.

"You think I am stealing this body? If Gertrude wished to have it back, she need only assert so. I am her blood, and she is mine. I do not want her DEAD."

Her voice thrums with power as she snarls her frustration, "I want her POWERFUL. I want her to give me control. Together, I will use her to rebuild the Verhangnis legacy, and you - you! You think I want her blood spilled? Foolish woman, listen to what I say, not what you wish to hear!"

In dangerous proximity now - as if for either of them, distance were an impediment to savage warfare - Amy keeps her stance low and her hands raised, fingers flexed in preparation for a retort that never comes. The other woman has expelled herself already, and the Templar takes this opportunity to breathe.

"I've learned the hard way, of late, that redemption can be found in the most unlikely places. For the most unlikely people. I offered you the opportunity to do what you speak of-- to see your vessel grow, for her to be my ally and you..." Though, she notes with a wry note in the back of her mind, I wasn't positive you existed. "To become what you -hope- to be. On your terms. Those were my words, Schaurig."

She draws and releases a breath, and then steps back, taking two lunging backsteps with a transition of stance each time. The still-rolling mist captures her shoulders and seems to suck her in, the Templar's form growing hazy and then invisible.

"This is my judgement."

The Dragon's Breath surges forth. Surrounds above and below, drives inward to the core. Tearing in from every angle, the mist is intent upon the form of the German woman at the epicentre of so much fear and rage - whose being is, indeed, infested by it. Amy's will, her animal instinct as the beast that -she- is, is to completely expel the creature that dwells within Gertrude Verhangnis. Whether that's possible or not, she has to try; and at the worst, she makes no attempt to slay that body. Even if she could, even if she CAN, she'll be holding back from that particular precipice.

That's how she masters her fear. That's how she stops the terror in the night.

Mist will hammer against, and swamp, Gertrude, as if the universe itself were intaking a breath with the woman at the middle of it all. As if she occupied its lung, she will be absorbed and flooded at once, tendrils seeping into ears and eyes and throat and every other orifice. Inhabiting her, in the manner Amy sought to accomplish with her sword thrust - now it's more organic, all the harder to prevent.

"If you wish to force your way," Amy's words echo through the all-encompassing, crushing, pressing, shroud of chi, intensified by so much emotion that behind it all she almost crumbles. She's been holding it back, staving it off-- but the fear was there, it always has been. Her tone is resigned and bitter, wry and sad, but rung through with conviction nonetheless. "I suggest you allow me the illusion of success."

Even in 'triumph' she'll never know. Is Gertrude safe? Can she fulfil herself without the fear of the abomination? Will they always be one and the same? The Templar's ulterior motive was always thus - to gain an ally, and perhaps, protect a friend.

Only this moment can provide answers. And only the future can speak them.

COMBATSYS: Gertrude blocks Amy's The Dragon's Breath.

[                     \\\\\\\\\  < >  //////                        ]
Amy              0/-------/-<<<<<<|=====--\-------\0         Gertrude

Schaurig stands tall, refusing to be bowed by the onrushing mists. Though she is indeed far too close for comfort to the impudent wench who would put the concerns of the *failure* of the family above its Matriarch, she does not yield the ground one inch to her unworthy adversary.

Her aura surges, and she shines like a beacon within the mist - visible to the bystanders from the light of her ghostly hair. One eye is covered, but claw-like hands raise up over her face, and in one sharp, jagged downwards motion, the mists are FORCED back from her, torn asunder before they can do too much damage. Blood seeps from her eyes, the whites stained totally crimson by the raw effort she is putting into this battle. How dare this creature presume to judge her? To stand there and make proclamations, as though she were worthy of speaking on a level footing with the Bloody Baroness of Verhangnisburg?

"The ILLUSION of success." She hisses, and now that hateful light is sparking in her fist once more. It glows intensely, so bright that it shines out balefully through the mist, burning it away, a second point of reference for terrified bystanders - yes! Let THEIR fear fuel her, let their awestruck hearts raise their voices in terror and wail a beautiful hymn for the only God that has shown their face in this accursed place.

"WEAK words from a WEAK woman. You are no savior. You are no saint. You are NOTHING. And the world will not stop spinning when you are rotting in the ground."

The purple light has shifted to crimson, then deeper, throughout her gut-wrenching speech. Energy the color of dried, clotted blood gathered about her fist, Schaurig does not suffer from Amy's faltering confidence. She KNOWS that she is destined to win this battle; just as she cannot countenance the possibility of failure in any other. She is Schaurig.

And now she will crush this stubborn insect.

The shocking speed of the blow is in complete contrast to the amount of time it took to gather it. In one instant, Schaurig is holding her hand up. In the next, it is seeking to pierce Amy's stomach - her fist bound so tightly that the skin of her knuckles has split, suffused with that nightmarish energy. If Schaurig had her way, she'd disembowel Amy right here and now, using the blunt instrument of her fist.

It may be in all our interests that Schaurig's desires never come to pass.

COMBATSYS: Amy interrupts Decimation Blow from Gertrude with Choke Hold.

[                       \\\\\\\  < >                                ]
Amy              1/-------/=======|=====--\-------\0         Gertrude

At their expulsion by Schaurig, the mists are instantly dimmed - not just in the immediate area, but across the battlefield, as if drawing back beyond an unseen veil. Amy's aura intensifies, and her pale skin is infused with a grayish pallour that's jarring - given that she almost seems to glow now, against the realization of deeper senses, visible as the Dragon's Breath recedes but resplendent in her own power. She's one with the field of looping tendrils, and they with her. This is her totality, and she needs it - every bit - to be able to survive such an encounter.

"I will not fear," she whispers, even as the abomination rants and raves, her limbs shaking as they shift lightly through the charged air. Her fingertips furl and unfurl, an impatience in the gesture that betrays her need for action. To remain still is to be alone with her thoughts, with the chilling, churning in her gut. She wants to lie down, pull imagined covers over her head, dig a hole in the ground, run the hell away...

But she can't. She won't.

"You're right--!" Her words are spat as Schaurig acts first, plunging towards her with fist burning. Amy can't even attempt to evade right now, her mind too preoccupied on anything but the need for violent intent. Her teeth grit in perfect time with the explosion of pain upon her taut abdominals. It's so fast, so brutal-- but she can be that fast, that brutal, she can be more than she truly is. She's done it before. "When I rot, and die," her words come with surprising calm as she halts the fist by twisting against it, a knee lifting and driving upward and aside, thrusting Schaurig's arm away. "Nobody will remember. Nobody will -care-. But it doesn't matter."

She's still moving as she speaks, kicking that same leg out, entrapping the extended arm and fist along her own powerful limb. Bending her foot back as if aiming a hooking kick, she instead falls backward, pressing Gertrude's arm between her thigh and using her own weight to collapse across the other woman's throat.

"I'll leave the world a better place for my passing..." Her words are a whisper, falling with a sudden, dissonant tenderness as she pushes her weight downward now, closing the German woman's windpipe, simply and brutally choking her as the mists tighten anew about them both. "And my friends, those I love and protect..."

She bends down, using one hand to brush the hair from Gertrude's ruined features as the other arm braces to the faux-marble behind her head. It's an oddly tender picture, considering what she's actually doing. The Templar's pale lips purse, a brief tremble betraying the emotion still surging through her, and with all the compassion and mercy in the world she bends to place a wet, tender kiss upon her foe's brow.

Then, she pulls back and lowers her forehead, pressing it against Gertrude's.

"I just hope they survive me." Finally, she whispers: "Begone, Schaurig. Leave this woman alone."

Schaurig simply goes limp as Amy grasps her, and the pair tumble to the ground. Her lip curls up in a dark sneer as Amy's arm closes over her windpipe; as though that would be able to silence her. But there's no attempt to struggle, or to fight. Instead, blood still leaking from the corners, she closes her eyes.

And that last whisper draws a throaty chuckle from the woman. The last of the air in her lungs given over to a gurgling, burbling, mocking laughter.

~They won't~

Schaurig's voice is audible in Amy's mind - a weak whisper, barely audible over the far more real, disturbing chuckles being forced from her ruined throat.

~Thank you, child. You were a closed book, but now... now, I know what it is you fear~

She turns, and Gertrude leans up, pressing her nose against Amy's, arms pulling, tugging, into something close to a warm, tender embrace... and only then do her lips contort into a self-satisfied smile. Blood trickles there, too, staining her mouth as she forces wheezing breath into her aching lungs.

"Now, I... am *inside*, you."

And with the last of her power, Schaurig simply ceases to be there. One moment, she is tightly entangled with the determined Knight. In the next? Amy is hugging the air. Unlike the rest of her tricks, there is no bright display, no flashy power, no intimidating spectacle to go alongside her sudden non-existence...

... she just isn't there any longer, where once she was. Any effort she could have put into the visuals, for once, put into the act. She needs to be away from here; the child's pathetic body is broken, will give out any moment... and she can't teleport very far at all.

She needs to get away, and she needs to be somewhere hidden, that she can sleep off the lingering traces of this wretched power, and let Gertrude deal with the unpleasant physical consequences of her disobedient body's failure to see things through to the bitter end.

COMBATSYS: Gertrude takes no action.

COMBATSYS: Gertrude can no longer fight.

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

Everything, and then nothing.

Amy has encountered too many creatures of this ilk now, too many eldritch forces that seem fit to overwhelm her - and only her most desperately-maintained defenses, bolstered by faith and sheer bloody-minded grit, seem to see her through. Whether she stands or falls, the Templar is ultimately a slave to her passions. Only by opening her soul and baring it to the elements, to evil itself, does she make it to the end of these battles. Schaurig has brought something new, though; the ability to genuinely stir that fear the knight keeps locked away, because that's the crux of it... evade fear, to battle terror, one must find a rock and cling to it.

What could be more terrifying than to lose that one thing? If her faith in her God is unbroachable, if she cannot be made to accept His death and abandonment, then a more earthly means must be found - the hole in the lady knight's faith, the stain left by her sins, the gap in her armour represented by her very human needs.

Where that choking gurgle inspires only disgust, tempts the raven-haired woman to finish the job she's started here, the show of intimacy unnerves her in other ways; because she wants it, needs it, surrendering to it in the moment that it becomes so utterly real. Yes, it penetrates. Drives a dagger into her heart with the delivery of those mocking words. Everything. Then nothing. Her shoulders slump.

Schaurig may not be there to see it, but perhaps she is near enough to -feel- Amy Elizabeth Johnson, the Hound of Avalon, the would-be saviour of this dark and fearful world... weep. Hot tears stain her cheeks, the gasps of her breath not noisy but uncontrolled, her heart beating furiously and her lungs burning.

Furiously, she straightens up and staggers around a neon-tinged geyser, the mist parting around her as if ashamed to be in her presence. In truth, it only happens because she wills it - because she wants to feel alone, because her pain and terror is complete. Still swiping at red-tinged stormy blues, Amy retrieves her fallen blade and staggers away through the crowds, ignoring the help of concerned strangers.

A bitter end, indeed.

COMBATSYS: Amy has ended the fight here.

Log created on 13:30:51 02/27/2015 by Amy, and last modified on 02:05:26 02/28/2015.