Description: Rose and the Dahlia chat about the aftermath of their battle. A bear is involved.
The audience was... most unruly. In watching the other competitors, they had grown accustomed to wanton displays of violence: brutality, fatalities. The rumors of the Scarlet Dahlia's own brutality had spread far and wide, which only fueled the fires -- since all of the matches that had taken place in the Sorceror's court had been disappointing, with a minimum of blood spilt.
And yet, as the Ainu woman turned towards the crowd -- all protests had fallen silent. If interrogated later, each audience member would report some variation of the same tale: 'She looked me straight in the eye, and with a faint smile, shook her head -- 'not today.''
In the space of an instant, she had made the same contract with everyone at once. And as one unit, the audience swallowed its bloodlust, and nodded in unison.
Rose would, naturally, have felt the torus of positive emotions as it grew to envelop the courtyard arena and the surrounding audience. A warm, comforting sensation -- a siren song to place the audience's minds at ease.
Attendants from the Shang Tsung's own retinue had arrived to take Rose to a room for recuperation. The Dahlia followed along after the four attendants -- never straying far from Rose's side.
The Ainu shaman had taken the malachite pendant herself, as bidden. It remains in her hand, pulsing a gentle green. But she had... words to share first -- to ensure the pact would remain unbroken, and to give herself time to think of her true words.
She remains just inside the door of the room in which Rose is recuperating, faced an opposite direction. Whether she is acting as a sentry, or a reminder to the Italian, is not entirely clear. But she does appear, for all intents and purposes, to be meditating with the malachite pendant in her hand.
Rose had not objected to being carried off. At least this time she had clothes on. After this, she had lapsed into a doze for some time - perhaps a recuperative technique, or simply because she had lost that pendant and perhaps its protection.
Or its support to her body. Owie.
Finally, after an unclear duration of time, Rose stirs - her eyes fluttering. Her 'presence' increases at the same time, no doubt alerting the Dahlia before Rose speaks aloud. She uses her lips to do it, at least for now.
"Good morning. I see we have both been spared another day, if that is quite the right term. Forgive me that I do not rise..."
There were better places for the Dahlia to rest, surely. And better places to have quiet conversations with confidants. But with the pendant in her hands, she would not consent to straying far from Rose's side. There is still... a responsibility, after all.
The Ainu shaman's head lifts up, as she senses the gentle rise in pressure against her own influence.
"Good morning," she states, slowly rising to her feet, and turning slowly to address the mistress of the Tarot. "Forgiven -- and please, do not feel pressured on my account."
She had been holding her hands together throughout the move. And once she feels she has a lock on Rose's gaze, she holds up the pendant, a slightly apologetic smile upon her face.
"Was holding this for you. It would not have been kind to draw power from it while you were defenseless."
A more mirthful smile follows, after a moment's hesitation.
"Even if the pendant -would- have allowed a transfer to take place, which it did not."
She draws in her breath, weariness showing in her eyes and features. Rose can probably sense that this will not be an overly long conversation, as both women will likely need some more time to rest.
"But first, I wanted to apologize for losing my... temper, in our fight. I value your wisdom, and your view of the future. I was curious to know what your thoughts on the coming rounds of the tournament might be, if you are comfortable sharing them."
Rose smiles, with effort. She then lets her eyes turn towards the pendant. The smile fades, though it does not turn into a frown.
"That's intriguing, isn't it?" Rose murmurs. She shifts slightly, slowly, with a tense intake of breath. One hand, the less injured, comes up, as if to wave off the complement.
"This realm does no one any good. I had to burn the touch of - something dark out of a certain man, before I even came here. I am not even sure who else is left. Give me that, and I will tell you what I think, although, really, all is in flux in this crucible."
The Scarlet Dahlia glances reluctantly at Rose's hand. She'd had every opportunity to transfer some sort of energy from it, but even with her own mastery -- it would seem that the soul powers would need to be transferred via conscious thought from their host. Her face bears some measure of resignation as she hands the pendant back to her, moistening her chapped lips as she casts her gaze downward.
"... In the tournament, there are the gunslinger, Erron Black. The swordsman, Kenshi Takahashi. And the earth witch Eadni. And then there is me, of course -- and the Champion of last year's tournament, the four-armed Goro."
She raises her gaze back to meet Rose's eyes. "As for warriors who are -not- in the tournament, many are still walking upon this island -- though some, such as the Korean taekwondoka, Juri -- do not seem fully... human. The only one I can say remains dead with any certainty is Vega."
Her lips wrinkle into a frown. "But I gather that you knew that already. You... -feel- like him, bearing his signature in some fashion."
Rose muses silently. Her eyes meet the Dahlia's after a moment. She frowns a little at the mention of Juri.
Then comes... Vega.
"... You do not feel untruly," Rose says, "but it was the greatest surprise of all to me, for this to come to pass. I am... not sure that the story would bear on the matter facing you, now. From what you are saying, I would expect that woman, Juri - I would expect her to interfere, no matter what should come to pass."
Her lips purse again.
"Have you fought any of those who remain, before? What are your thoughts?"
"... Vega is a scourge upon the world, and yet, his lust for power made him... a great asset for Earthrealm, paradoxically. I still have some concerns that others may seek to bring him back to life, though... if you feel his return to be imminent, I ask that you let me know as soon as you can."
With that matter settled, she feels more prepared to address the matter of the taekwondoka. Her lips curl upwards slightly: "She has... some connection with Vega, as well, if I am not mistaken. But she is likely enjoying her freedom on this island. I will keep my eyes out for her, all the same -- thank you for the warning."
Her gaze falls back to the pendant, malachite reflecting in her blue-lensed eyes as she releases a sigh. "I have not fought any of the three. Erron Black has, however, murdered several. Three from Earth -- including the monster slayer, Baiken, and the loudmouth from the welcoming party, Cassie Cage. Eadni's hands are not clean either -- and I take particular issue with her last victim's passing. But my information is unreliable at best -- I can only guess at their powers."
Her eyes lift back up to meet Rose's, a neutral expression falling across her face. "The other, Kenshi... is a troubled man, with a powerful legacy to uphold. But his trust does not come quickly. I find him to be... aloof, but potentially volatile."
"You will, no doubt, be the first to know," Rose says with another attempt at a smile. "After myself, I suppose."
She takes a deep breath and lets it back out. She seems almost on the verge of lapsing back into unawareness, but it does not quite come.
"Mm. And of course, you do not favor Goro... I would estimate from what you have told me, that Erron may be the most 'powerful,' but that this Kenshi, he might be the 'strongest'. Do you understand the distinction?"
Her eyes open again and focus on the Dahlia. "It may be nothing, of course. I do not know if any of them would ally with you."
The Dahlia flashes a bittersweet smile, nodding slowly in reply. "What troubles me most about Goro is not knowing whether he has... taken on challengers of his own during his time here. To not know whether he has a soulstone of his own -- and to know even less if he has charged it with the deaths of the numerous individuals which have gone missing. The Champion, after all, is rumored to be afforded priveleges that we are not."
The Ainu woman glances aside for a moment, her eyes losing some of their lustre as she reminisces of her last conversation with the swordsman. "... There is a chance that I could gain the trust of Kenshi. But the others... would likely prefer to take matters into their own hands. Which is, of course, the reason that I feel the need to make my own arrangements. To bolster my own strength."
She turns back to Rose, her expression approaching the borderline of self-deprecation. "For without it, I could not have even dared to stand against either you or Miss Asamiya. I know this to be true in the manner, the -ease- in which you wielded your soul powers. Ease which, even after years of practice, I still find to be a difficult task."
Rose smiles again, this time a bit less pained. Maybe it's endorphins roaming. "Do not sell yourself short. I have had advantages which, if I had the choice, I would have preferred not to take, given what it is that they have come with."
After another deep breath, she says, "I have two questions to ask of you, if you might. First... you were angered by that man who I... well... Restored, I am not sure if I should claim 'resurrection'."
A pause. "What do you think he will do? And the other..."
"Tell me more," Rose concludes, "about the bear?"
The Ainu woman draws back when asked about the one who Rose restored -- indeed, if her aura had been one of welcoming and amiable conversation, she is more on the defensive now. Not so much to be -rude-, but enough for the talented psychic opposite her to notice a shift.
But she does not break eye contact -- she does not show any of the evasive markers which might signal a lie or deception.
"... He was allowing words to be put into his head by the spirits which drove him. He thinks himself to be strong of character. And in many ways, he is -- was. He let the murderous souls of the defeated whisper into his ears -- and it was enough to drive him mad. And it also seems that the Butcher -- a foul creature who preyed upon the strong-willed, turning them into simpering masses -- had also laid a seed within him, drawn out by the power of the soulstone."
Her lips press together, as she shakes her head side-to-side. "Time was too short. He -- or rather, -they- -- threatened to kill me once before -- and I talked them out of it. On our second encounter, there was no doubt in my mind that there would have been a third, and a fourth, and a fifth. Not to mention those he had already attacked. So it was... self-preservation. And preservation of anyone else he might have stumbled across."
Her tension diminishes, as she draws in her breath. "Perhaps you have... provided him the salvation which I could not. All I was able to do was draw off some of the spirits..."
Fingers steeple together. "Which is the nature of the bear. The spirits were too unruly, too... chaotic to be allowed independent will, at the time. Daniel could not control them -- he lacked the spiritual knowledge. But I could. I gave them form -- forced their mutual cooperation. And they have been actualized -- empowered to act on their own behalf, as a bear. Should they behave well, perhaps they will regain different measures of autonomy. But time being as short as it is..."
She shrugs mildly, the tension dissipating. No longer does she feel a need to be defensive. Rose... is not like the others who have questioned her.
Not yet, anyway.
"The spirits will help me, for now. And then, when their service to Earthrealm is complete, I shall return the soul energy to their proper stewards. Including yours, naturally."
"... I see," Rose murmurs. "I hope that I will have given him some ease, if we are spared in this new future which we shall all face." She shifts again: "I admit I'm a bit uncomfortable, at the thought of being a source of salvation."
Then, the story of the bear. "Ah-- so they were connected. I am surprised, but perhaps I should not be. They were quite an estimable addition to your force."
"... Even so," Rose murmurs, "I fear I will have to rest more if I am to be of any aid to you. I will attempt to consult my cards for other insights, once I have myself more to myself... But I do not know if my oracle can come in time."
Rose speaks tentatively of the future -- which isn't initially a good sign to the Ainu shaman. Her ribcage swells as she draws in breath.
Luckily, she does not have to hold her breath for long, before the fortuneteller confides that she will consult the cards one more time, with the changed circumstances.
"Please, then... rest. I would appreciate any insight you can offer, when the time is right. Mercifully, if the last rounds are any indicator, I believe we have some time before the next round of kombat. Time enough to rest, meditate, and hone my skills further for the final challenge."
The Dahlia's amiable nature seems to have returned, her aura light and airy once again.
"But, one brief favor, before I go...? I would feel much more secure in our victory against Outworld if you were to transfer your soulstone's strength to me."
Her face settles into an expression of solemnitude -- no jokes, no making nice. Just straight honesty -- insofar as the Dahlia truly and wholeheartedly believes the words coming out of her mouth, as she bows her head in gratitude to the Italian lady who would really like some rest now.
"I give my word that I will use this power in the best interests of Earthrealm."
"Oh," Rose says, reaching for it. "Certainly."
If nothing else, she thinks grimly as she extends her hand, prepared to take the shard and make that transfer, it will deny HIM the opportunity to exploit it. I will have nothing within this, for him to take.
Log created on 21:04:44 01/05/2017 by Rose, and last modified on 00:49:04 01/06/2017.