Description: A quiet afternoon in a forest clearing brings another mysterious challenger. An inhuman monster wielding twin greatswords, who desires the opportunity to match herself against the strongest that mankind has to offer. She has earned the right to enter Castle Strolheim, and to see what power the pinnacle of humanity is capable of. Herr Krauser shall be... pleased.
On this late morning, Krauser's most loyal Lieutenant is occupying a small clearing, standing at nearly 6-and-a-half feet in his usual red-and-blue Matador outfit. His crimson cape is wrapped tightly around his left forearm, with the sharp-tipped sword that is his trademark hanging from a belt-loop off his right hip.
It was in this forest that, earlier in the week, he finally tracked down and 'tested' the swordswoman Baiken... there have been many fights since then, including the surprise arrival of the Sky Noah and Adelheid Bernstein atop Mount Aso, but he has not faltered in his duty... truth be told, the Spaniard was glad to have his martial skills finally put to use, to be set forth out of the Castle and into the world at large.
And today? It seems that Laurence Blood, the administrator and servant to House Strolheim, has found his way to a small clearing in the middle of those vast woods. In front of him is a small - almost miniature - Shinto shrine, which he takes in silently with those deep, dark brown eyes of his.
Out of the cover of the trees, which do a good job of blocking out the light, the sun is shining down brightly - dancing along the length of that blade, shining off his olive-tan Mediterranean skin. He seems deep in thought as he stares ahead at the structure, as though he were considering his next course of action.
He has many more potential candidates; but the funny thing about the past week was... it was those fighters who appeared, mysteriously and as if fate had placed them in his path, who were the most worthy of the countless opponents he'd faced.
It's as if he's standing here in silence, back to the edge of the forest, to /wait/ for someone... /anyone/... with the TV and internet exposure that Krauser's upcoming tournament had received, his face is known far and wide.
/Perhaps/ if he waits here for a bit longer, someone will seek /him/ out. Perhaps fate will deliver another fighter straight to him - another creature of strength and skill, who would do a great honour to the House of Strolheim by appearing in it's halls.
There is a small but irrfutable piece of wisdom which humanity had long ago discovered, a proverb oft attributed to some nameless Chinese philosopher by the students of history but made far more famous in recent years by the short story known as 'The Tale of the Monkey's Paw'. It is short and simple, as such things tend to be, but no less truth for its brevity and directness.
Becareful what you wish for.
Even without any trace of magical power running through his veins, the man standing in silent contemplation of his own purpose would notice that something has changed. The world seems to bend and distort in impossible ways at the edge of his vision, reality rippling like the surface of a lake into which a small stone has been thrown. A chill fills the air though no wind stirs within the forest to bring the sudden change in temperature. All at once the sounds of nature seem to die out in the presence of that unnatural cold leaving only the grating emptiness of pure silence to embrace him.
Behind the elegantly dressed matador, the source of this strange phenomenon pulls itself into reality, floating as effortlessly out of those distortions as an actor stepping out from behind a curtain. A bell-shaped thing of off-white color, the object looks fairly alien in origin from his vantage point below. The bottom of the 'bell' is closed tightly shut by a large ring of sticky wet flesh filled with massive teeth that jut inwards towards each other to create a near-perfect seal of triangular wedges, a maw of inhuman and nightmarish design.
Almost immediately the object begins to drift towards the ground, floating lazily from its lofty perch above the tree-line to a space some half dozen feet away from the warrior. The teeth peel open like the petals of a flower as the thing reaches the end of its descent, thick ropes of disgusting saliva drooling into wet puddles on the weathered stone of the shrine's walkway. A pair of feet emerge from the newly created opening, human in shape and dusky in tone. They alight upon the path with delicate grace, bare save for a pair of thick cloth straps adorned with strange arcane symbols in faintly glowing green paint wrapped about their arches.
Now that they are on an even level, it becomes clear that the strange-toothed object is a cloak of some sort. The head of a young human girl protrudes from its high-necked collar, her face pleasantly attractive in an exotic way and framed by an unkempt mass of milky hair. She gives a slow toss of her head, flipping the loose bangs away from her eyes as the cloak splits down the front revealing the rest of her slender scantily-clad frame contained within its strangely organic folds. It flutters as if ruffled by a breeze that touches only her and the chill grows stronger in close proximity to the mysterious visitor.
The girl's eyes slowly open and she fixes her gaze upon Blood with an expressionless stare, her face seemingly carved from stone despite it's clear ability to animate. She peers at him in silence for a few seconds as if contemplating her next move or perhaps waiting for him to offer some sort of response but any attempt to actually do so would be cut off by a sudden interjection of her soft voice, a dull monotone as devoid of emotion as her features.
"You are a servant of the one called Krauser, are you not?"
Yes; such an arrival would not be missed even by the most obtuse of warriors... and Laurence Blood is hardly that. As the world around the forest clearing begins to shift and change, the periphery of his vision seemingly swirling with some unknown power, he /feels/ an unknown presence long before it makes itself known.
The hair up and down his tanned forearms stand straight up from the skin, as the dip in temperature is felt; the Japanese winter - although chilly on it's own - getting even /colder/ as the the noises of wildlife around him suddenly seem to die out... as if a fearful hush fell over the entire forest, at the approach of something that truly does /not/ belong here.
Even with this strange phenomenon, the Strolheim Lieutenant remains standing tall and staring away from it's source, eyes still falling directly upon that small shrine in the middle of the clearing. As a servant to Krauser, he is no stranger to things that would terrify most other men into madness - he does, after all, have to consider the honour of the House in all matters.
It would not be fitting for him to act as some terrified observer. After all, he is in the employ of one of the most relentless, all-powerful warriors in the known world. He is no stranger to being intimidated, daily... long ago, it ceased to have the desired effect.
Keeping his back to the new arrival, a small smirk curls the corner of Blood's lips upwards ever-so-slightly... has fate once again done his work for him? For whatever reason, all reports seem to point to the fact that /he/ has been the busiest of the assorted Strolheim Lieutenants this past week. Though whether that is people coming to challenge him out of respect for his skills, or simply underestimating the former Matador and expecting an easy fight, he could not tell.
All he knows is, it's saved him quite a bit of work in actively tracking down candidates. They seem to come to /him/, pushed ahead by some bizarre force from on-high. Though whether this is a blessing or a curse in /this/ case... remains to be seen.
"I serve House Strolheim in all things," his calm, collected voice carries forth into the eerie silence that has overtaken the entirety of the surrounding area.
At that, he finally turns to face the mysterious stranger - those brown eyes displaying no emotion as he attempts to place a name to that bizarre figure in front of him... he is aware of /most/ professional fighters in the world... and she is most certainly not one of them. But then, neither did he recognize the man called (unbeknownst to him, of course) 'Azrael', and he proved to be a savage and relentless opponent.
He cannot expect anything less from this individual. To do so could mean his death; and he still has many years of service to carry out in the name of Wolfgang Krauser.
His right hand drops to the hilt of his sword, still resting on the loop from his belt. His left forearm twirls through the air, the blood-red cape unfurling itself to dangle loosely from his limb, held in front of his body much as one might expect from a former Matador.
Then, the raising of a single eyebrow on that otherwise impassive and professional face, accompanied with but a few words:
The lack of response to her presence, something which had sent even the so-called soldiers of the Japanese government into panic, is noted and filed away within the recesses of the girl's mind, ever ready to glean whatever bits of information present themselves in the off-chance that they might prove useful. Birthed from the Backyard, the place within which all knowledge is stored, it is a simple part of her nature to be curious, though no such details reveal themselves in her empty expression.
Ramlethal's gaze shifts slowly down to follow the movement of Blood's hand as he grasps the hilt of his weapon. A clear sign of warning, an expression of confidence, a display of bravado. He does not intend to back down from the challenge of the threat that she poses. Good. Everything is proceeding as expected.
"I am but a tool of Mother's will, a pawn in the grand game. It is my purpose to observe and document. I wish to see what the so-called greatest of humanity's warriors are capable of."
The air on either side of the girl shimmers and warps again and with his gaze turned torwards the phenomenon this time Blood is subjected to a more intense burst of disorientation as his limited human mind struggles to cope with this impossible sight. Twin swords emerge from the ether of the Backyard's dimension, though one would be forgiven for mistaking the absurdly large weapons for the wings of a small airplane, each larger than the girl herself by quite a margin. They hang suspended in the air from massive eye-hooks attached near the hilt, each clutched within the garish teeth of a basketball-sized sphere with tiny bat-like wings, one black and the other white.
"It would prove no difficulty for me to simply appear within the castle of the one known as Krauser. However, in doing so I would pass up the opportunity to collect further data. Therefore, I intend to participate within this contest as any other might."
That raised eyebrow comes up even higher as Ramlethal informs the Spaniard of her purpose on this earth... here to see what mankind's best and strongest are capable of. In that way, she is not dissimilar to his own Master, the noble German sitting in Castle Strolheim and awaiting exactly that; the arrival of the greatest warriors on this earth. It is an odd thought, to consider that this mysterious individual and Herr Krauser share a purpose in that regard...
...but then, ever since the events in Japan a short time ago, it seems that this earth has gotten progressively stranger. Things coming to the surface that might have otherwise remained hidden away, or out of mankind's sight, for all time.
Suddenly, the very fabric of reality seems to shimmer - and with it, a flood of confusion and a further twisting of his vision. Laurence's head swims with rolling and spinning thoughts, emotions, memories; but not his own... as though something were reaching out into this clearing, from another place. He can sense... /something/; but even his keen senses, honed through decades of fighting, cannot quite place /what/ it is.
His fingers drum slowly across the hilt of that sword on his right side as he silently regards those massive greatswords... and the bizarre method by which they hang from the very air itself. Not that he needs any further confirmation that this opponent is... entirely unlike /any/ that he has faced thus far.
She continues to speak, and he patiently listens; after the unusual figure falls into silence yet again, Blood silently clears his throat and begins to speak. No doubt it is taking a great effort for him to remain calm and casual-sounding during this mind-bending encounter... but his willpower is no small thing. Any sign of weakness is /punished/ in Castle Strolheim, and so he has learned long ago to show /none/... not even in the face of monsters, or death itself.
"You would have made a grievous error, to invade the House of my Master without a proper invitation."
At this, the short-sword is finally pulled free from it's place on his belt, and the hilt begins to spin deftly in that well-practiced hand as he keeps the cape held in front of his torso.
"If you wish to join the strongest at Castle Strolheim, you must /earn/ the right to do so. If that is your wish... then come. Let us see what you're /capable/ of, stranger."
COMBATSYS: Blood has started a fight here.
COMBATSYS: Ramlethal has joined the fight here.
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Blood 0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0 Ramlethal
With no objections raised at the prospect of her participation in the tournament, Ramlethal's need for conversation comes to an abrupt end. The challenge has been issued and she will answer it with the power and skill granted to her by her creator.
The girl's body lurches into sudden motion as she crouches and then takes to the air, coiling her sleek legs and slender arms up against her chest to compact herself into a tiny ball that comes flying towards the Spaniard on a ballstic arc as if she had been launched by a mortar cannon. As the strange exotic beauty draws within range her limbs unfurl like a spring-trap, her legs spreading wide into a V-shape to make room for her hands to come crashing down. A swath of dull gray energy erupts from her fingertips as she cleaves a vertical path towards the ground and weathered stone explodes beneath the sheer power behind her claw-like digits, the cloak of teeth billowing out behind her.
COMBATSYS: Blood blocks Ramlethal's Sildo Detruo.
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Blood 0/-------/------=|=------\-------\0 Ramlethal
So, too, does Blood fall silent the moment his offer is extended; despite his misgivings about the nature of this creature he finds before him, it is his duty to Herr Krauser to challenge all those who appear worthy of the great honour.
As Ramlethal begins to duck into her crouch, the Spaniard merely shifts his stance - adjusting his footing and torso so that his side is facing the strange woman. It serves to make himself a smaller target to his opponent, as he keeps the cape draped in front of himself to disguise his own motions and position.
He has but seconds to prepare himself for the assault, as the velocity of the greatsword-wielding individual is so swift that a lesser warrior might be caught entirely unawares.
But Laurence Blood has been sharpened into a weapon himself; first in the bullfighting rings of Spain, then in the Castle of Wolfgang Krauser. A man does not become a Strolheim Lieutenant without learning a few tricks themselves, without surviving encounters that would end the lives of most other fighters.
Those two hands come crashing down at him from above, but the Spaniard does not flinch in the slightest. In a flash of movement and red material, his left forearm is raised up into the path of the blow; the reinforced layer between that crimson fabric takes the brunt of the impact, with his forearm absorbing the rest.
The shockwave of force sends a jolt up and down his limb, but he makes no expression of pain or surprise... simply a small twitch on the corner of his lips. The slightest show that he is pleased at the speed from this seemingly inhuman fighter... it is good that she did not waste his /time/, for it is precious indeed.
Before Ramlethal can land on the ground, Laurence has launched himself backwards - leaping up high into the air with a flip that carries him several feet away from her position. At the apex of his jump, his free hand suddenly flashes down to a spot on his belt... a hidden dagger is pulled out of some compartment, and a flick of his wrist looses it towards his opponent.
There is no time for words... he is quiet, as his eyes run up and down the form of the warrior in front of him, trying to watch for movements, tells, any sign of the assault that will come.
COMBATSYS: Ramlethal fails to slow Bloody Shooter from Blood with Cassius.
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Blood 0/-------/-----==|=------\-------\0 Ramlethal
The rush of motion and crash of energy serves the purpose that it had been intended to do, testing out the reflexes and durability of the human that stands as the gatekeeper to her goal. His reactions are quick and even the potent surge of power that she unleashes is absorbed without clear signs of distress. The man is a warrior, born and bred, that much is clear to her now.
Ramlethal's head tilts to the side as her target leaps away, tracking his movements without any obvious difficulty, her eyes blank and empty behind the girlish and strangely white eyelashes. The flick of his wrist as the hidden blade is pulled free does not go unnoticed and as she hits the ground, her fingers digging into the cracked stone, the girl whirls in that instant to unleash a counter-strike of her own.
A ball of shimmering green energy flares to life within her palm and she snaps her hand up to cast it towards the matador. The blade of his knife sinks into the soft flesh of her tanned shoulder and though no expression of pain makes itself known on her features her body twists to the side from the impact, sending the orb of power sailing a few inches wide, just far enough to whiz harmlessly past his head in a lazy upwards arc.
Ramlethal's gaze shifts to the dagger and she casually withdraws it from her flesh, discarding the blade to the pavement where it skitters noisily off into the grass. Again no signs of pain, not even a quick flinch or a clenching of her jaw. Her reactions could be called robotic if they weren't so graceful and fluid. She utters a single word in response though with its monotone delivery it's impossible to tell whether it is said in jest or in earnest.
Not normally one to resort to underhanded tricks like hidden blades or thrown daggers so early in a fight, something about /this/ encounter has caused Laurence to rely on such things at the very outset. Whether it is the twisting and bending of his vision and mind in the face of this bizarre power, the almost otherworldly nature of this strange woman, or something else that drives him to do so, it makes little practical difference...
...it seems to have been the correct strategy; perhaps his opponent may have expected him to stay in close-quarters and use the flashy cape and short-sword that he wields with such deftness and dexterity. There can be no question, utilizing unexpected tactics in these fights has proven to be a worthwhile strategy in the past few days - it has carried him through numerous encounters, though Blood still has a nagging feeling that such methods are beneath him.
But Krauser's honour must be defended, regardless of the means one might use to do so.
His blade sinks into the strangely tanned flesh of his opponent, and Laurence notices there isn't even the slightest tic of pain in response... though he is unsure whether he should put that down to a great willpower and focus on Ramlethal's part, or something /else/ in her nature... a certain lack of humanity, perhaps.
As he descends, that green orb is sent sailing towards him and it flies by his head - no doubt send off-course by the timely intervention of that thrown blade... he can feel the energy sizzling by the side of his face as he completes his leap. It is fortunate he had chosen to create some distance between himself and his opponent so early in the fight; he can sense that such an attack would have caused no small amount of damage, were it to have landed cleanly.
Both feet land back on the dirt, and he immediately turns his body to the side once more; the cape is held away from his body this time, to display the handle of his sword once again twirling around skillfully. The silence hangs heavy throughout the clearing and it's surrounding forest as he begins to circle to one side, keenly observant gaze watching for any signal that Ramlethal might leap back on the offensive.
It takes a fraction of a second for Laurence to make the decision: continue pressing the attack. Don't give her the opportunity to build up another charge of that bizarre, greenish energy...
With this goal in mind he begins to dash towards her position; long legs carry him towards her in massive strides, which clear the sizeable distance in mere seconds.
Once he is within appropriate range to strike, Blood suddenly lowers himself into a crouch - muscles in his leg tensing suddenly - before leaping up high into the air. His left forearm comes swinging out, the billowing cape aimed to slap his opponent in the face and temporarily disorient her from making any counter-attack...
Landing only a step or two behind her, he draws that cape back around his arm as his right hand comes lunging out, the tip of that blade aimed to bury itself in the strange woman's back.
COMBATSYS: Ramlethal blocks Blood's Bloody Cutter.
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Blood 0/-------/----===|==-----\-------\0 Ramlethal
The mysterious girl continues to watch impassively as Blood decides to take the initiative this time, a silent gargoyle whose eyes track his every movement from behind a face of stone. She had stated her reasons for wishing to face him, a desire to understand the capabilities of humanity when pushed to their limits. Thus far she has not seen anything that has particularly impressed her. Humans have always been reliant on tools and brute force, the weakness of their bodies supplemented by the strength of the iron and their ever growing ingenuity.
Be that as it may, she does not make the mistake of underestimating her opponent. The very reason that she had been born, the purpose behind Mother's crusde, was to wipe these creatures from the face of the earth. Humans are dangerous. Savage creatures of war and industry, crushing and destroying everything they come across for the sake of their own greed and desire. Parasites. Viruses. Monsters. She must not let her guard down even for an instant.
Ramlethal's hand lifts slightly as the ferocious strike comes down at her and a shimmering rectangle of glowing green light manifests in an instant infront of her palm. Blood's leaping blow impacts the barrier with little effect and she whirls to keep him infront of her as he flies past, catching the sword thrust on the shield of light as well with little difficulty.
As the energy defense fades away, the girl lifts her other hand and sweeps it forward in a wide horizontal arc, her fingers once more trailing that muted gray power. This time, however, the massive blade of the right most greatsword flies into motion at her command lining itself up at her waist and delivering a parralel slash in tandem with her movement. A burst of blazing green light erupts from its edge as it cleaves through the air, a contrail of searing power sizzling in its wake.
COMBATSYS: Blood blocks Ramlethal's Random Strike.
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Blood 0/-------/---====|==-----\-------\0 Ramlethal
As the end of his sword comes towards his opponent, Laurence suddenly finds the blow absorbed by a shimmer of green energy; the tip of the blade merely impacts that barrier, rather than digging itself into her 'flesh' as he had intended. A swift manuever, to be sure; but the Strolheim Lieutenant is fresh off his encounter with Rugal's Son and Heir... he is unsurprised - albeit slightly disappointed - when he sees the blade deflected in such a manner.
Pulling his weapon back in preparation for the counter-attack that is certain to come in such close quarters, the Spaniard is not disappointed in this regard... the follow-up attack comes swiftly. That massive, floating greatsword spins out in a horizontal slash towards his midsection just as his own blade is held vertically in front of his body. Were it not for the green light that accompanied the slash, he might have been able to deflect it and remained unharmed...
...but even though the heavier edge of her blade clangs off his own, thinner weapon, the energy that accompanies it still seeps through his guard and causes a vicious burning sensation to run across the middle of his torso. It also serves to push his heels, dug into the grass underfoot, backwards several steps - the shockwave of impact shoving him back several steps as it jolts throughout his body.
Skidding to a stop a short distance away, Laurence suddenly leaps backwards another several feet in a single, graceful jump. The moment his feet once again meet the ground, his left arm is spun in a circle through the air - that blood-red cape wrapping itself tightly around his forearm. In his right hand, the spinning sword hilt comes to a sudden halt as it's gripped firmly in his palm...
...a lunging motion of that arm brings the tip of the blade cutting through the air - not in an attack, but simply to point directly at Ramlethal across the distance between them. There's a brief pause, and then a sudden burst of invisible energy seems to pour backwards from the tip of that blade. It's enough to whip Laurence's hair about in a sudden gust, as the unseen power begins to wind it's way down the length of his blade, across the handle, up his arm, then throughout his entire body.
He's standing tall, even firmer than before, as his entire frame is seemingly braced with a newfound resolve and steely determination. Keeping the tip pointed towards Ramlethal, a small grin plays over his features as he nods his head politely.
"That /cannot/ be all. Surely a creature such as yourself is merely... holding back? No need to do so on /my/ account. Show me your power!"
The strange energy continues to radiate from the tip of his sword throughout Laurence Blood as he digs his heels in place, fingers curling around the hilt of the blade even tighter as he watches for the next move from his opponent.
COMBATSYS: Blood gathers his will.
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Blood 1/------=/=======|==-----\-------\0 Ramlethal
Ramlethal seems quite content to allow her opponent to disengage yet again. The massive blade of the greatsword clashes with Blood's rapier and drives him away leaving a wide gap between the two as she remains in place, staring at him quietly with watchful amber eyes. Though it might seem as if the girl is not putting her full potential into the fight, the truth is that she is still feeling her opponent out. The servant of anyone bold enough to openly declare challenge on every fighter in the world would have to be, in her mind, someone worthy of the task. Just as she has not shown him the full spread of her cards, she suspects that he is hiding something as well.
However, in one regards the human is correct. She will gain little by dragging this out and as man draws upon his fighting spirit, preparing himself to withstand the onslaught that he wishes to coax from her, she sees an opportunity to perhaps capitolize upon the situation.
The girl's head tilts forward ever so slightly, her chin dipping downwards as she regards Blood's weapon with a brief glance. A dangerous tool to be sure but it is the hand behind it which is far more so. She affixes him with her gaze and the twin greatswords shift slightly, spreading away from her body in an attempt to draw his attention to her face or the weapons and away from her body so that when she suddenly lunges at him the man might be caught atleast somewhat unprepared. It simple trick of distraction but one which has been proven effective throughout history according to the knowledge of combat instilled into her mind.
The girl's speed is nothing short of impressive as she dashes across the gap between them, closing the distance within the span of a heartbeat. Her hand sweeps out in a slashing strike, fingers curled into tearing claws sheathed in dull gray power. She flows effortlessly from this initial probing attack into another, her hand turning backwards to reverse course as it is joined by the other and she tears at him with her sharp nails and monotone energy. Yet again she turns this motion into more aggression, her arms now spread wide come crashing back down in an overhead clawing cross that cleaves the pavement asunder with its ferocious burst of magical onslaught.
There is no time to think and even less time to recover from this brutal beatdown. Ramlethal continues to barrage the Spaniard with a seemingly endless series of blows, shifting from her hands to her feet now. A powerful side kick lashes out at his ribs, imbued with that same terrible power. She leaps from her back foot upon its completion and launches a second attack at his side, her knee crashing forward like a battering ram upon the gates of a castle. Finally, it is with a last ferocious straight kick to his chest that she brings this whirlwind of destruction to a close, driving the heel of her bare brown foot into the small gap just below his sternum.
COMBATSYS: Ramlethal blitzes into action and acts again!
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Blood 1/------=/=======|=------\-------\0 Ramlethal
COMBATSYS: Ramlethal successfully hits Blood with Forigi.
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Blood 1/---====/=======|====---\-------\0 Ramlethal
COMBATSYS: Ramlethal successfully hits Blood with Kruroj.
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Blood 2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|======-\-------\0 Ramlethal
Well... he /did/ ask for that, one supposes.
Ramlethal's speed takes even the practiced mind and keen gaze of Laurence Blood by surprise... in an instant, he loses her, unable to track those blurringly quick movements towards him... he /knows/ an attack is coming, but he's unable to ready himself appropriately, unable to discern the direction from which to expect it.
As those fingers come slashing out in a makeshift clawing gesture, it strikes him in the torso before he's able to even prepare a defense - slashing through the material covering his chest and drawing blood... and that is only the beginning.
Her strike is turned back as it tears through him, joined by that other hand as she tears through his flesh once more. Already staggering back from the savage cuts, his free hand coming up to try and staunch the flow of blood, Laurence is utterly unable to guard himself - unable to conceive that his bizarre opponent could follow up so quickly with /another/ attack.
That is /precisely/ what she does, however, as that side-kick CRACKs into his ribs with a jolt that runs throughout his entire body... he wants to collapse to his knees, but Ramlethal simply will not allow it. A knee slams into his torso next, and she finishes this brutal, earth-shaking series of blows with a relentless straight-kick to his midsection...
...it's too much for him, and the Spaniard goes hurtling back through the air. Crashing to a halt just a few feet from that miniature Shinto shrine, his body rolls limply on the ground before skidding to a halt. It takes him a moment, eyes clenched as waves of agony rush throughout his lanky, tightly muscled frame...
...what... /is/ this woman?!?
Seconds that feel like minutes pass, as Laurence slowly begins to move, pushing himself up onto one knee and trying - desperately - to regain his breath, some semblance of composure, before he tilts his neck up to stare daggers at Ramlethal.
"Y... you /monster/..." hisses Laurence, before a blinding pain once again runs throughout his body - anything else he planned on saying is cut off, as he lurches forward to cough. As he opens his mouth to hack, a spray of blood flies out of his mouth to stain the green, green grass of the forest clearing.
A grunt leaves his lips as the Spaniard places the tip of his sword into the ground; using the grip on the hilt, he manages to push himself - swaying back and forth briefly - back to his feet... he looks unsteady, almost as though he were going to go tumbling back down into the ground, before a sudden flare of blue chi outlines his form.
When the energy disappates - a mere instant afterwards - his dark brown eyes once again fall upon Ramlethal... gone is the cool professionalism of the Strolheim administrator, replaced with a hateful gaze that seems to cut the air between them. Even the monster Azrael did not manage to strike him in such a manner... who or what /is/ this inhuman beast? From where did it come?
And yet... Laurence knows that he has once again secured a small part of his Master's favour, for he seriously doubts that either of his 'comrades' - Gato or Eiji - will bring such a powerful opponent to the attention of Wolfgang Krauser. It is, after all, the entire /point/ of the World Warrior Tournament... to provide the Head of House Strolheim with those who are /worthy/ of his attention.
Though he cannot possibly discern where this bizarre warrior came from, he knows one thing... the strength and speed she displays will please his Master. In the end, this is all that truly matters.
But he is not through yet.
The Spaniard's stance once again firm and determined once that rush of chi washes througout his staggered frame, the back of his left arm comes up to his mouth to wipe away a slow, rolling trickle of blood onto the crimson fabric of his cape. And with that, he lunges back into action - his long strides carrying him across the clearing towards Ramlethal with a speed that betrays none of the pain traveling throughout his own body.
Swishing the cape in front of him to disguise the movement of that sword, he pulls the material back at the last possible moment... and when the tip of that blade comes lashing up towards his opponent - in eight savage cuts aimed to rake across her entire body - the weapon is wreathed in blue energy from hilt to tip, crackling in the calm air of this quiet clearing.
COMBATSYS: Ramlethal interrupts Bloody Slash from Blood with Mangu.
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Blood 1/------</<<<<<<<|=======\-------\1 Ramlethal
The girl resumes her stoic and silent stance as the helpless human is sent tumbling away from her deadly kick, the flowing organic coat settling around her slender form once again. She makes no move to press her attack, seeing little need for urgency any longer. Whatever she had expected from this human she had clearly been far too optimistic in his capabilities. If she were capable of feeling foolish at her earlier reticence she might well experience that sensation now. As it is, she merely rest easy in the knowledge that this virus poses little threat to the power granted to her by her Mother.
Ramlethal remains expressionless as the insult is hurled at her, unphased by the accusation. Indeed, to the eyes of the weak and pathetic creatures called humans she would appear to be something unnatural and monsterous in a strange twist of irony. Yet is it she who is the one who has come to rid this world of these callous and selfish parasites. Her eyes narrow slightly at Blood before closing completely as he struggles to his feet, her monotone voice still managing to show a spark of disdain at the sight.
"How very like a human. Content to swagger and bully those with less strength than your own... yet when faced with something beyond your power to control you simply label it as evil, unable to face your own limitations or see the hypocrasy in your words. You are a creature without purpose, a pig wallowing in the mud, blind to your own filth."
My, she's talkative all of the sudden. Apparently the girl has some rather strong opinions on humanity and Blood's poor showing isn't really doing much to change her mind. The girl remains there, eyes closed, unmoving as he draws himself back up and charges at her, his pride and dignity as the servant of House Strolheim on the line. She doesn't move a muscle, her silken hair and sticky cape fluttering in the invisible breeze that constantly seems to whirl around her body, a statue of alien origins against the backdrop of the long forgotten temple.
It is not until he draws his hand back to strike does she spring the trap. Ramlethal drops low to the ground, her body folding downwards into a three-point stance as her fist comes to rest upon the stone. The cape about her body shifts and moves as if a living thing, rising up to meet the matador's charge. The massive teeth within its gummy hem stretch and elongate into massive spears, forming a circular barrier of deadly spikes upon which he crashes rather than the girl herself.
His blade manages to rake along her back once before the teeth dig into his torso, the glowing sword carving a thin furrow through the cape and into her flesh; as always, she does not scream, failing to acknowledge even this minor victory. His forward momentum is crushed in that instant later, pierced in dozen places by fangs the size of their mistress' arm upon which he has unwittingly hurled himself.
No doubt Ramlethal's harsh words don't aid Laurence in maintaining his cool as he rushes forward with his cape and blade swinging... indeed, it seems to only unbalance him further; his composure being shaken by the insults thrown his way - replacing his usual relaxed stance with something more feral and angry... a rare sight coming from the usually professional Strolheim administrator, indeed.
Add to that the sheer otherworldly, inhuman nature of his opponent's defense - the cape suddenly taking on the appearance of a gaping maw - and it's little wonder that he is utterly unprepared for her unorthodox defense. Rather than attempt to evade or deflect the blow, the mysterious stranger simply lets Blood charge headlong into her - and those vicious, razor fangs that circle that cape.
The Spaniard's mouth hangs open in something rare - shock - as he is pierced in numerous places by those impossibly sharp teeth... years of fighting, decades of training, and he has /never/ encountered anything like /that/.
He's stuck, for the moment, on the tips of those fangs... and rather than begin to herculean task of pulling himself free and backing off again, he simply lets his sword drop towards the ground. The tip imbeds itself vertically in the earth, hilt swinging back and forth in the air as it rattles to a stop.
A low growl leaves the lips of Krauser's Lieutenant, as his forearms come up - suddenly surging with that same bluish chi energy he previously displayed. Instead of trying to put distance between himself and this monster, he simply hurtles /forward/...
...the man's feet leave the ground as he spins towards Ramlethal, in such close proximity... both palms are held towards her torso, his entire body spinning like a chi-infused missile as he attempts to slam into her with the weight of his entire frame.
COMBATSYS: Ramlethal endures Blood's Bloody Spin.
-+- CALCULATED HIT -+-
[ \\\\\\\ < > /////////////// ]
Blood 1/---====/=======|=======\==-----\1 Ramlethal
Despite the awkward angle, the girl peers up at Blood from below, her eyes half-lidded with those delicate white lashes, her eerily emotionless expression made all the more alien by contrast with the fury that now grips the prize-fighter. Deadpan neutrality meets snarling rage in a quick exchange of glances. No words need be said any longer, it is clear to both of them which path this fight has been set upon. They have stated their cases with blade and bone, each arguing the supremacy of their will and might in brief but brutal clashes of skill and he has been found wanting.
It would seem that this realization does not sit well with the Spaniard for he casts aside the symbol of his pride, chosing instead to rely upon the strength of only his raw brute force. A mistake, as he would soon come to realize, though as she calculates the possible manners in which this might shift the flow of the battle, Ramlethal comes to the conclusion that there is likely no 'correct' choice for the man to have made. She will overcome him in the end, it is merely a matter of how he will comport himself until his inevitable fall. As she had pointed out, it isn't with graceful dignity.
Ramlethal rises to her feet as her opponent prepares his furious attack, the teeth pulling free from his body with wet sticky noises, blood and saliva mixing into a transluscent goop that drips messily to the stone pavement. She makes no move to interrupt him, nor seemingly any attempt to prevent him from barreling at her at all. A faint grunt escapes her lips involuntarily as the air is forced from her lungs by the aggressive tackle, Blood catching her in the mid-section with ease and the two of them hurl backwards several feet in the air.
It is a few moments later that the girl reveals her true intentions. Her body shimmers and then suddenly turns into a blur of motion, easily sliding away from his palm-thrusting charge even as he careens towards the ground. Now little more than a smear of off-white color, the exotic warrior whirls around him like an angry bee and with each blinding pass a wave of pressure closes in on him as if he were being compacted into a small ball. Which is precisely what is happening, as it turns out. Again and again the phantom circles him in haphazard spirals until finally the smudge of color closes in completely, engulfing him in a perfect ball of magical energy.
A sigil of glowing green light shimmers into being on the outer surface of the construct and then the entire thing violently detonates in a massive explosion. Ramlethal sails backwards easily, her body reforming into its previous shape as the magic unleashes its power. She arrests her movement a few inches above the ground, hovering effortlessly as the greatswords move to take their place at her side once more.
COMBATSYS: Blood parries Ramlethal's Explode!
[ \\\\\\\ < > ////////////// ]
Blood 1/--=====/=======|=------\-------\0 Ramlethal
Laurence knows as soon as he connects with the oddly-tanned girl... something is /wrong/... she didn't even make the slightest effort to defend against his chi-infused body as it came hurtling towards her... almost as if it were part of her /plan/ to be struck by it.
Gritting his teeth as his impacts Ramlethal, the Spaniard is no doubt aware that he is about to be caught with some vicious counter. As his opponent slides away from the palms, Blood suddenly ceases his forward momentum and lands in a crouch - one hand pressed down into the dirt to steady himself.
There can be no doubt that he's still feeling the effects of that brutal combination attack just moments earlier; a sticky, crimson fluid still trickling down from one corner of his mouth. A moment's rest to regain his breath after the exertion of his last technique as the blue chi that covers his entire frame suddenly sputters out in the blink of an eye.
And then, he's back on the defensive as the inhuman creature begins to whirl around his position in what could only be described as a blur... he can't even tell which of the whisps of colour that surround him /are/ his opponent, the movement is so fast.
He has /one/ chance... before he feels the full wrath of this bizarre monster's otherworldly power.
The Strolheim Lieutenant /seizes/ upon that chance; a fraction of a second before escape would be made impossible, the blue energy suddenly flares up around him once again... it's enough to /push/ the waves of pressure away from him, for the briefest of instants.
It's all he needs, however, the only opportunity required for him to save himself from the devastating technique unleashed against him. As the pressure is forced back, he tenses his legs in a half-crouch and /leaps/ up high into the air - passing high overhead of the spinning form of Ramlethal and sailing backwards...
...right towards that sword of his, still imbedded in the ground a good distance away. He lands, on one knee, directly beside it - eyes cast down to the ground as his opponent detonates the ground where he stood just moments ago.
Inclining his head back up to stare across the distance at Ramlethal, hovering above the ground with those twin greatswords hanging in the air beside her... he smiles with bloody teeth. His right hand shoots up to wrap around the hilt of that short-sword, and he pulls it free of the earth as he stands back up to his feet - waves of chi washing off of him as the energy he'd summoned dissapates into the air.
"I... Impressive..." he says, voice still shaky and trembling - from pain, exhaustion... but not fear. He will /never/ show that; for to do so is behaviour utterly /below/ a man in the employ of the mighty Wolfgang Krauser.
His first stride back towards Ramlethal's hovering frame is unsteady, but the second lands firmly in the ground, the third even faster... he speeds up with every step - a new resolve entering his beaten and bloody body as he prepares what will - in all likelihood - be his final assault before collapsing.
Left forearm whips outwards a few feet away from his opponent, and the bottom edge of that blood-red cape whips towards Ramlethal, aiming to entangle itself around her torso and keep her in place. Almost immediately his right hand darts up - clutching that sword as tight as his weakened limbs can manage - and begins to unleash a storm of slashes and stabs towards the mysterious figure.
Hit or miss, it doesn't seem to matter - even if she evades, he'll likely just stab the air in a blind fury... for /anyone/ to bring out this level of savagery in the usual calm and composed Spaniard is a rare thing indeed. The assault is finished with a dashing stab that he aims to try and carry himself /behind/ Ramlethal.
Of course, given her performance thus far... it's questionable whether or not /any/ of this will be effective...
COMBATSYS: Blood successfully hits Ramlethal with Final Death Bloody EX.
[ \\\\\\\ < > //////// ]
Blood 0/-------/------=|====---\-------\0 Ramlethal
No effort is made to acknowledge the praise from the waivering human. Ramlethal watches him warily again, apparently caught off-guard by his miraculous escape from what should have been certain defeat. A voice in the back of her mind chides her for this as if it is through some failure of her own, some mistake that had allowed him to slip free of her grasp.
"Never underestimate a human...", she says in a soft voice. It's likely the closest thing to a compliment he's going to get from her.
The girl meets his prideful gaze as Blood attempts to unleash one final assault. What he hopes to accomplish is beyond her ability to understand. To reclaim some sense of his self worth? To prove himself to his master? Surely he is not under the delusion that he can still best her. Human's are strange creatures sometimes. And yet, she cannot ignore her own advice. She will not assume anything yet, lest it be to her great detriment.
Hovering in place, Ramlethal lifts her hand as the final gap is closed between them and that barrier of light begin to form infront of her palm once more. However, the swift flick of the cape manages to catch her arm fast and her defense falters at the last second. The girl's body twists and jolts with each deadly slash but encapsulated as she is within that living cloak it would seem that very little of the assault actually reaches her. Thin lines of weeping red gore open up all across the slimey surface of the living garment, sending splashes of dark alien blood onto the stones all around the embattled pair, painting a picture of their battle in fern-frond patterns upon the ancient shrine.
After a few seconds of this unpleasant barrage, Ramlethal manages to free herself from the human's grip and floats quickly backwards in the air. Her hands lift in unison and she thrusts them towards Blood, calling upon her magical powers to finish the tenacious little insect off for good. The air infront of the man warps, otherworldly distortion assaulting his senses as the greatswords and their carriers vanish only to reappear in that new location.
The twin black and white orbs, featureless before save for a pair of monstrous teeth-filling mouths, appear to have fused together into some new chimeric abomination, a sphere split down the middle by the line of the two opposing colors. A pair of large eyes now protrude from the creature's face, the one in the black half open and glaring in a baleful stare while the white eye is sewn shut with several large x-shape stitches. More distressingly, it holds in its mouth the two absurdly large blades, their hilts fused together to create a double-sided sword of truly obscene proportions.
"I've seen what I came for. Go away now. You disgust me."
The demonic ball begins to spin as she speaks, whirling faster and faster as it crashes towards Blood like a sentient helicopter. Shimmering green power flares out from each end of the double-sword, carving a swath even larger than the wing-like futuristic blades themselves, turning the weapon into a tornado of metal and deadly chi.
COMBATSYS: Ramlethal knocks away Blood with Trance.
- Power hit! -
[ < > //////// ]
Blood 1/-------/=======|=------\-------\0 Ramlethal
It's only through sheer force of will that Laurence holds himself back from /yelling/ as his sword bites and slashes into that deeply-tanned skin of Ramlethal... he's not one to show such fury in the midst of an honourable battle; but this is hardly the /usual/ opponent. And the savagery shown against him thus far in the encounter means that he will reply in kind, in a rare show of rage from the professional administrator and servant.
Of course, each cut and thrust only serves to exhaust his already-weakened body further, and he's already sagging from exertion by the time he finishes his assault with that dashing stab.
Ramlethal floats away, and Blood plants the tip of his sword into the ground to brace his failing body. His opponent is too powerful, to savage; wherever this creature /comes/ from, Krauser /must/ be made aware of her capabilities. It is his duty to survive this encounter, to report back to Castle Strolheim...
...if he /can/. If this bizarre individual /allows/ him to escape.
His vision warps as Ramlethal thrusts her hands towards him, that strange sensation of disorientation and confusing washing over his barely-upright form... it's too much, he's falling... he can barely hear the insult thrown his way by the woman. And he certainly isn't prepared, in any way, to defend himself from her final attack.
Those swords, now merged into one massive, double-sided weapon, sweeps towards him... and the first blow - infused with green energy - sends him /hurtling/ backwards. And there's no recovery, no spin into a crouch so that Laurence might attack again... he simply goes sailing, back into the treeline, the crashing sound of branches getting further and further away.
He'll stop... eventually... but a good distance /away/ from the clearing, and certainly in no condition to return to the battle. The Strolheim Lieutenant is simply hurled aside like he were nothing but a ragdoll in the face of such immesne and potent power.
On the ground, a small, white envelope pinned to the earth with a red-handled, silver dagger... sealed with red wax, which bears the imprint of House Strolheim. Ramlethal should know what it is the moment her eyes fall upon it; when the seal is broken and the letter inside read, it will confirm her suspicions.
An invitation to Castle Strolheim to join in the World Warrior tournament. A priceless item, worth untold fortunes on the black market... something which cannot be bought from the Lieutenants, but which must be earned with skill, or finesse, or honour, or... in the case of Ramlethal Valentine, pure unbridled /power/.
She wishes to see what strength the world of men contains? Then let her come to meet the greatest warrior, underneath the roof of Wolfgang Krauser's massive estate in the mountains of Germany. There, she will see the heights that humanity is /truly/ capable of attaining... and measure herself against the very best the world has to offer.
Will it serve to confirm her suspicions about the weakness of humanity? Or will she be humbled when faced with fighters even greater than Laurence Blood could ever, personally, aspire to become?
We shall see...
COMBATSYS: Blood takes no action.
[ \\\\\\\\ <
COMBATSYS: Blood can no longer fight.
[ \\\\\\\\ <
The deadly giant blender continues to spin madly for several seconds, angrily chasing after Blood at a snail's pace even as he flies off into the distance. The creature quickly runs out of steam, however, and the whirling chimera comes to a slow stop before finally warping back over to the girl's side, fuming angrily.
"Hey! You stupid jerk! How was that, huh?! That'll teach you to doubt the power of a Valentine!!"
The mushed together ball of black and white yells after the matador with an arrogant nasally voice, its teeth clacking together as it opens and closes like some demented Pacman knock-off. Ramlethal watches the treeline for a few moments to see if the human is foolish enough to return, not that she expects him to recover from such a blow any time soon. Perhaps he is even dead. That would be fine with her, one less annoying rodent to exterminate in the long run.
The girl's gaze drifts down to the small letter and she floats over towards it. A gesture of her hand causes the dagger pinning the invitation down to simply pop out of the ground and fly off into the distance and the letter rises into the air a moment later, settling neatly into her fingers. She peers at it curiously, noting the wax seal before breaking it open to read the contents within confirming that it is indeed one of the official invitations.
"Oi, what's that? Is that little scrap of paper all we came here for?! What a... GIANT WASTE OF TIME!"
Lucifero floats over and hovers behind his mistress, peering through that beady red eye at the letter, practically shouting in her ear as the creature voices his displeasure.
Ramlethal casually tells off the chimera and tucks the letter neatly back into the envelope, even going as far as to smoosh the seal back down to reseal it before tucking it into her cloak.
"Hey, where the heck did you even stick that thing?! You barely even have enough on to cover yourself! Don't you have any shame?!"
"Mind your own business."
The two of them continue to banter like this as the girl turns away and floats off into the sky, eventually vanishing behind the curtain of reality once more as effortlessly and suddenly as she had appeared. Blood is certainly going to have a weird story or two to share when this is all over.
Log created on 12:24:02 01/15/2018 by Blood, and last modified on 13:36:48 01/16/2018.