The Bell Tolls - TBT Act 3: Split the Difference[Toggle Names]
Description: The Iga Clan suddenly finds itself dealing with the arrival of the NOL special forces seeking to extract Lee Chaolan from their custody. Matters only get worse when Oswald arrives on behalf of Akatsuki, another organization with its eyes on Lee. Will the heir of the Mishimas finally see his freedom, or will he simply train one cage for another?
The Iga Clan didn't do anything all that wrong, really. Its holdings near Mt. Fuji made for an ideal arrangement between the Clan and the Librarium: members of the Clan worked as eyes, ears, and - when necessary - hands on the ground, a first warning system for the ancient wards around the mountain; in return, they were paid handsomely and given a pass on whatever minor mystical indiscretions or tinkerings it might have engaged in, if any at all. After the last King of Fighters tournament shook Japan to its core, this open-ended contract arrangement became, if anything, more profitable: shattered seals meant more fiendish activity than the region had seen in years, if not decades or more; no power on Earth could've stemmed the tide entirely, but the skilled blades of the Iga helped mitigate its impact.
The Iga did nothing wrong, but they possess something more valuable than a long-term business relationship-- more valuable than all the money and Get Out Of Magic Jail Free cards that the Librarium can offer: Lee Chaolan and the promise that he'd remain in Iga hands.
Thus, the Iga's village burns as Judges in bloodstained white pollute its ancestral holdings.
"Don't be dissuaded!" calls Lieutenant Tsubaki Yayoi of the Librarium's 0th Division. Expertly folded blades spark and clash with the sword in her right hand and the shield hovering near her left shoulder. Mirroring the shift of blue eyes towards the hastily masked woman on her right, the monoeye embedded in the shield locks onto the man to her left, then vanishes in a rush of violet force that resolves into an unfurling wing. Just as those radiant feathers SLAM into his gut to send him flying, she forces the other sword away from her own so she can trace a rising, hotly crimson arc punctuated by blades jutting up beneath the kunoichi's feet.
"Our enemies are clever and dangerous," she shouts while breaking into a run past fallen bodies, "and every last one of them is a traitor to the order that Imperator works tirelessly to uphold! They betray humanity ITSELF, and as the instruments of Her will, it's our DUTY to punish them-- to make them into an example for anyone who'd dare DREAM of threatening Her order!
"If even one person looks at what we do here tonight and lets the fear of it chase the evil from their hearts, then our sacrifices won't be in vain-- and neither will theirs!"
Sprinting through the open-air garden set between a cluster of homes, she repeats those last assurances silently until they begin to distract from the white-clad bodies laid out here and there. Striking the Iga's place of power under the cover of dark was a risk that Lieutenant Yayoi only briefly hesitated to accept; weighed against the alternative of a mid-day raid and extraction in what appeared for all the world to be an innocuous stretch of Honshu, it was the only /real/ choice; compromising the NOL's favorable relationship with Japan's government and endangering its global reputation with accusations of unprovoked civilian violence would've been unacceptable. This, too, becomes an unwieldy mantra.
Numbers and mystical resources give the Librarium enough of an edge to keep themselves from being slaughtered outright in enemy territory while the fires crowning many of the village's buildings serve to mitigate the Clan's night-time advantage. If properly managed, it should - may - be enough to pry the Iga's prize from its grasp and escape before the Zero Division is forced to live up to its name.
Of course, with the Iga occupied with driving the traitorous Librarium from its home and the Librarium occupied with punishing the ungrateful Clan for disrespecting years of good business, there are precious few eyes indeed to spare for any others who may have an interest in Lee Chaolan.
For NOL they made a mistake not long ago. Oswald was hired to make a scene, but an member of the group was not informed and things went bad. Marduk had unintentionally made an enemy for life for the NOL and that enemy is the old assassin simply known as Oswald.
He was not here to help the Iga clan, but to extract Lee for other purposes that do not involve NOL. Unfortunantly Tsubaki and her group struck before Oswald could do that.
Chaos was erupting about the area and Tsubaki lead the charge as she cut through the ninja in an attempt to find her prey. What she didn't expect is coming across several dead members of her strike force when she pushed in deeper. Dead bodies surrounding a old man in a nice suit and a pair of rose tinted glasses.
"A bad place to be, here." he says quietly and in a cordial tone. He idly shuffles a deck of cards as he looks towards Tsubaki. "You picked the wrong day to come here. Turn about or share the fate of your comrades."
Red glass and the thick waft of fresh blood in an enclosed space break the Lieutenant's mantras. The woman's red hair flutters around her as a needful sprint becomes a dead stop closely followed by recoil.
Clutching her chest with her free hand, Tsubaki slides widening eyes down Oswald's form, then - eventually, after a lingering glimpse of death - back up to those rosy lenses, subtly shuddering with each breath. Lavender flashes across three irises, the shield snaps into position between she and he, and she thrusts her blade in his direction. Incredulity becomes indignation becomes fleeting inquisition:
"How dare you?" softly rattles the air with barely checked wrath-- and then she takes a breath, summoning glowing wings around her ankles, and:
"How DARE you?!"
Lee's secure cell is hidden beneath a home barely distinguishable from the improvised kindling stretched across the mountain, necessitating NOL's brute force tactics: without a precise target, a nice and quiet extraction was /never/ an option. Whether this specific house is the one containing Lee remains to be seen, but thanks to Oswald?
The home just might wind up razed to its foundations as the Lieutenant seeks to mete out judgment to the brazen murderer before her, simplifying confirmation.
"I exercise the Imperator's will where and when those She deems fit to guide its enaction tell me to, murderer! I'm here because I MUST be, to punish those who'd threaten Her design; who - WHAT - are you, but yet another lesson in the futility of standing against what's right?"
Lavender wings leave lavender sparkles in the air as she seeks to punctuate her question with a sword through the assassin's chest-- a sword that melts into burning, crimson chi until it loses more than the vague suggestion of its original shape.
COMBATSYS: Tsubaki has started a fight here.
COMBATSYS: Oswald has joined the fight here.
[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > //////////////////////////////]
Oswald 0/-------/-------|=------\-------\0 Tsubaki
COMBATSYS: Oswald blocks Tsubaki's Power Strike.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > //////////////////////////////]
Oswald 0/-------/-------|=------\-------\0 Tsubaki
"Murderer indeed. Afterall it was your superiors that paid me to murder those that were innocent." Not that Oswald cares about people being innocent, but the people he killed before Marduk stopped his rampage didn't exactly deserve to die. "But of course that doesn't matter to a loyal pup such as yourself."
That sword comes in and he moves just enough to where it only lightly brushes against his side. Clothing is shredded and a light cut under it is shown in the left side of his torso from where he mostly avoided the strike. "What is right exactly? Are you really one to decide such things?"
He steps away and gives a flick of the wrist. A playing card flies away from his grip to spin in the air a bit before sailing down at an angle to lodge into Tsubaki if she isn't quick enough to get away.
"I do not care about your morality. Your party is just the same as others. Controlled by greed and money. A shame your superiors lied to me. We could have long and lucrative relationship."
COMBATSYS: Tsubaki blocks Oswald's Queen.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > //////////////////////////// ]
Oswald 0/-------/------=|==-----\-------\0 Tsubaki
"What's innocent, exactly? Are you really the one to decide such things?"
Despite her brisk, brusque response, the implication digs deep-- perhaps not as far as Oswald intended it to, but more than the Lieutenant would like. It's - mostly - a jab that's readily turned aside: if the Librarium was willing to pay for someone's death, how innocent could they have truly been?
But, then-- if a cold-blooded murderer is willing to risk everything by not just opposing the NOL, but interjecting himself into a sensitive operation and murdering its soldiers, all because he feels he was led to kill needlessly...
The shield floats into an intercepting angle then shudders when the card ricochets off of it. Tsubaki stiffens, grimaces, and swallows pained groans thanks to the bond between shield and bearer. Its eye flutters a couple times before snapping open wide and shimmering.
"Protecting the world from forces that would crack it in half and suck the marrow from its bones is 'right'. Sacrificing yourself - your body, your life, EVERYTHING - for those who'll never understand the price paid so they can live as they choose is 'right'."
The Lieutenant launches into a backflip and the shield-- snaps open wide and shimmers. Lavender light arcs between rapidly fluttering pages, creating the flickering image of eagle wings before ultimately exploding from the shield/tome in an orb that streaks swiftly towards Oswald.
"Honoring your word, your promises - even when they drive you to places you loathe - is 'right'," she thunders as her feet hit the ground. "You're an ASSASSIN lashing out at his former client because he doesn't like the job he was paid to do... and you have the GALL to lecture me about greed? To accuse the only people between humanity and ruin of spilling innocent blood while you're painted in that of my soldiers?!"
"Who do you think you ARE?"
COMBATSYS: Tsubaki successfully hits Oswald with Aequum Eleison.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > /////////////////////////// ]
Oswald 0/-------/----===|==-----\-------\0 Tsubaki
"You already misunderstand. It has nothing about greed. It is a manner of how your group handled the contract. They failed to provide proper details. They were sloppy and because of that I didn't get to kill as many as I would have liked. This has nothing to do about money."
He just gives a slight smile as he starts to move to the side to avoid the orb only for his timing to be off. There is a very quick moment where the assassin shows discomfort as he staggers back several steps before regaining his footing. "Right now I am just on a job that happens to oppose your group so I took a discount. It seems Lee Chaolan is a very popular person these days."
He remains at a distance for now as a hand reaches up to adjust his glasses and he seems to be studying Tsubaki and her movements. "Come now. I am ready to hear you scream."
COMBATSYS: Oswald focuses on his next action.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > /////////////////////////// ]
Oswald 0/-------/----===|==-----\-------\0 Tsubaki
"'Took a discount'...? You aren't even here to fight for something you believe in, Assassin. If ANYONE in this equation is controlled by greed..."
She doesn't finish the thought-- verbally, anyway; she lacks the mysterious assassin's analytical calm but isn't so fired up as to miss him deploying it. Closing the gap and cutting into his data-gathering-- screwing with his impressions of her-- that's the best chance she sees for herself at the moment, and thus she fills the air behind her with a sparse trail of glowing feathers as she charges. Still open - still paging through itself - her shield-shaped Grimoire zooms past her, intent on angling itself above the card shark. Near-simultaneously, she wrenches the sword in her right hand back, lining Oswald up for another radiant thrust.
The Grimoire picks a page. Three eyes briefly, brilliantly flare lavender. A passage of ancient script highlights itself, then the shield launches itself a couple feet higher, recoiling from the force of the spiked, lavender fist it violently projects towards the top of Oswald's skull.
The thrust never comes.
COMBATSYS: Oswald reflects Random Strike from Tsubaki with Heart.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > ////////////////////// ]
Oswald 0/-------/--=====|====---\-------\0 Tsubaki
Calm and collected despite coming up against a skilled adversary. Oswald has dealt with many like her over the years. It often is getting in the head of his opponent and he just gives a sly smile once more when it seems he is just frustrating Tsubaki.
She comes forward to close the gap and strike at him once more. This time he is more than ready and it seems he knew she wasn't going for the thrust because he is quick to instead slip a card from the sleeve of his suit jacket and he slices upwards to disperse the fist of energy that is coming at him before darting forward himself and slipping past Tsubaki.
Soon there is a sting on the woman's side after Oswald moves past her. One of his cards digging across the side of her torso. "You should be a bit more careful. A few more of those and you might not be getting to go back to your masters, young pup."
The Lieutenant staggers, grimaces, then drops to a knee, free hand clutching what's rapidly progressed from 'a weird sting' to 'jesus christ why am i losing this much blood it was a card'.
Blue eyes flutter shut as Tsubaki captures the card - still jutting out of her side - between two fingers and /rips/ it free. Pages turn until lavender threads stretch towards the ground, weave themselves around the woman's chest, then gently snap against her, nice and snug. Blood continues to stream from the ugly gash slicing around her rib cage, but Oswald can /see/ its flow slowing in real time if he cares to.
"You'll have to land them first, Assassin," she replies, low but no less blisteringly determined.
Crimson energy races up the length of her body as she draws herself forcefully upright. The shield snaps shut and sinks back into position around its keeper, making the red lines glowing across its eye plainly visible. Locked into her upward trajectory, her sword rises with the rest of her until it's pointed towards the roof, just as her spine arches to tilt her chin and the rest of her upwards too. In the space between the sword and the ground, crimson energy bleeds into existence from thin air and rapidly forms a broad, jagged mirror of the blade which seeks to rip through Oswald's body without leaving a mark.
COMBATSYS: Tsubaki successfully hits Oswald with Sanctus Veritas.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > //////////////////// ]
Oswald 1/-------/=======|====---\-------\0 Tsubaki
The card itself is unsurprisingly not a normal one. It seems to be made of a light metal with all the edges very sharp. There is a reason the assassin wears gloves when wielding them and even then his expertise is on display in the way he can strike with them without injuring himself.
"But of course. In due time." She comes at him once more with that sword made of energy swinging downards and Oswald looks to bring an arm about to try and absorb the blow and redirect it to not fully gash along him. It is a failure in this case because that sword rips through him. While it does not leave a mark he can feel the pain coursing through his body. It is a similar pain he felt when fighting to White and Alma. Something assaulting his body without really leaving a good physical mark.
Though he quickly slings an arm forward while she is still in close and he looks to bring another card around and cut across the front of her torso, a downward arc going from chest to stomach as he pulls the card wielding hand away and he looks to step back and put some space between the two.
COMBATSYS: Tsubaki just-defends Oswald's Power Strike!!
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > /////////////////////// ]
Oswald 1/-------/=======|====---\-------\0 Tsubaki
"You believe in nothing but money and death, Assassin!"
Creaking metal and rustling paper offer brief warnings before the shield does its job, snapping open before its keeper so that Oswald's card winds up lodged in its spine instead of Tsubaki's chest. A lavender wing unfurls from within just afterwards, flicking the metal plane free.
"You're fighting to enrich yourself and salve your wounded pride; I have a duty to the world and She who'd do anything to protect it! You're dangerous, intelligent, ruthless-- and damned by your arrogance to fall tonight!"
If nothing else, Tsubaki Yayoi is /very/ good at projecting confidence in spite of her circumstances after a career spent patiently waiting to be recognized for her diligence. Draining blood and rapidly shortening mission window be damned: the fight isn't over until she can no longer fight it.
Her sword arm sweeps down and the sword itself continues refusing to be bound by physical form, surging around and from her fist like a crackling ribbon. The shield's pages resume fluttering as it tries to jam itself into Oswald's face to provide a touch of distraction while its keeper darts towards his flank. No contact; just the ceaseless turning of a Grimoire whose final chapter has yet to be written. A heartbeat later, what was once a sword lashes out towards the card shark's midsection, intent on curling around him briefly before just-- /sinking/ into his body, violently invading him with spiritual force bent towards destruction.
COMBATSYS: Oswald reflects Medium Strike from Tsubaki with Four Suits.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > //////////////// ]
Oswald 0/-------/---====|=======\-------\0 Tsubaki
"I am glad you know so much about me. Thank you for such wonderful information." Hurt yes, but he still mocks her. More head games more than likely to see if that confidence can be shaken. Admittedly he knows he can't take many more strikes like that last one if he wishes to prevail this days o he will have to be careful.
"I may fail. It is all part of the game. Perfection isn't something easily attained. Just remember...." He trails off when she comes in and there is a quirk to the corners of his lips. A small smile before he quickly goes into action.
A card slips into each hand and he gives a flick and he begins to spin about, almost becoming an old man tornado that slices through the energy looking to harm him and soon crashing into Tsubaki as he slices her up a few times before coming out of that spin once more after driving her back. "I can fail and easily get over it. Can you live with failure?"
"F-- failure is an opportunity--"
Droplets tap out an increasingly urgent rhythm against the floor as Tsubaki's blood leaves her body. The mystical bandages around her chest mostly - miraculously - held, but now there are cuts everywhere /else/; her uniform is lightly armored, but not against old men with metal playing cards.
"Every one-- nnh-- is a step on the road to perfection--!" Slowly, the woman who was forced to her knees by an unexpected storm of cards forces herself back up, arm tightly wound around an ugly gash across her middle the whole time. "If I fail tonight, then I - or another Lieutenant - will just have another mission to carry out... another set of traitors to the world to punish...!" As soon as she makes it upright, a shudder wracks her body, doubling her over for a couple beats and ragged breaths.
When they pass, she whips her head up and locks a narrowed gaze upon rosy lenses.
"And whether I fail or not... your crimes tonight will be known, forever," she continues, lowly wrathful. "You will be hunted, hounded-- forever, until the sins you've committed against the Librarium-- against the /WORLD/-- have been repaid in blood."
Surging upright, she pushes herself a few steps closer and thrusts her free hand forward. The book drops a foot or two, picking a page along the way so that once it's positioned, it can immediately summon a gust beneath Oswald powerful enough to force him into the air if he doesn't escape it.
And /if/ he doesn't... Tsubaki will be right there to scourge his body with rapid-fire lashes of her sword-turned-crackling whip, energy arcing between it and the pages until the spell ends.
"Can you live with THAT, Assassin?!"
COMBATSYS: Oswald dodges Tsubaki's Sanctus Aerolata.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > //////////////// ]
Oswald 0/-------/---====|======-\-------\0 Tsubaki
He may look better on the outside, the assault from the power Tsubaki uses has Oswald feeling the pain still going through his internal organs. He himself knows he should finish this sooner than later. He just needs to pick his moments and hope that the added wounds continue to slow Tsubaki down and make her easier prey.
"Actually, I can live with that. I have lived with that." he responds to the question while he deftly steps away and out of reach from the lashing strikes aimed at him. "The only downside is the ones I kill that come after me offer little in the way of a payoff. At least I get some enjoyment listening to them take their last breath."
He slinks forward and produces a card once more. He feints with a forward motion looking he is going to continue to slash at her torso only to pivot on a foot to try and get around her as he slashes low looking to hamstring the woman with a slash. "Don't be mistaken, madam. I am not just an old man. I am a monster and I love it."
COMBATSYS: Tsubaki just-defends Oswald's Medium Strike!!
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > ////////////////// ]
Oswald 0/-------/---====|======-\-------\0 Tsubaki
"You have NOT lived with the eyes on the Librarium upon you, Assassin," Lieutenant Yayoi retorts.
Oswald's feint is a good one. If he were attempting it against a woman without a third eye orbiting her, that woman would probably be crawling, leaking blood, and struggling to find the strength to stand... but he isn't.
Instead, Tsubaki traces the floating eye's path and Oswald's in turn, pivoting with his slippery attempt to sneaking around her so that when he tries to hamstring her, the card meets a crimson blade instead. Without missing a beat, she tries to make him regret his deception with an upward thrust of her sword arm that culminates in a short, forward hop. The blade itself goes completely wide of the assassin's body because it's only really meant to focus her will - and the Grimoire's power - into a lavender mirror of itself that streaks up on a direct route towards Oswald's chin. Little angel's wings flap on either side of the hilt as the phantom weapon leaves a trail of sparkles and ghostly reflections through the air on its way home.
At least he ADMITS what he is, unlike so many of the monsters that the Librarium's bound to contain. In that way - and that way /alone/ - he makes it easy for the Lieutenant to carry out her sworn duty; beyond that certainty, however, lies the question of whether she has enough blood, enough will left in her to see him pay for the crimes he so readily accepts.
COMBATSYS: Oswald blocks Tsubaki's Benedictus Rex.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > ///////////////// ]
Oswald 0/-------/--=====|=====--\-------\0 Tsubaki
There is a slight shrug. "Very well. The less of you fanatics the better off this world probably is." he says with a bit of a sinister chuckle. "Maybe I will enjoy myself for the first time in a long while."
His miss also makes for a hard time to fully get out of the way of her counter attack. There is little he can do other than to twist his body and bring about his arms to absorb the attack as best he can without it hitting anything too vital. She is bleeding out, but she seems to still have plenty of strength left in her and some of his strikes meant to slow her down seem to not find a way through her defenses.
He flings the card he still has in hand upwards and it twirls for a moment before quickling coming downward looking to sink right into Tsubaki if she isn't able to move out of the way. Most it is a way to distract her at least him get some distance so he can consider the next course of action.
COMBATSYS: Tsubaki blocks Oswald's Jack.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > //////////////// ]
Oswald 0/-------/-======|======-\-------\0 Tsubaki
"Conviction-- aah!-- isn't a vice, Assassin--! Nnh..."
Thanks to the card embedded in her swiftly interposing Grimoire's eye, Tsubaki looks dazed on her feet as sympathetic pain courses through her. Brisk headshakes seem to clear the worst of it, but she's still stiff - still a few steps slower - in its immediate wake, even as lavender wings unfurl from her back and she extends her empty hand to summon the shield to it. With a slice of its field of vision taken away, the shield nonetheless locks its gaze upon Oswald as she does. Crimson and lavender light wash across its surface, rippling from the grooves and lines artfully stretched across its surface-- and then it seems to grow as if its been hiding pieces of itself within its pages all along.
From buckler to glowing, bronze, glaring disc, the shield is set firmly between she and he as those mystical wings do their best to compensate for the sluggishness brought on by mounting physical and spiritual trauma, bearing her on a one-way course towards slamming into his gut.
COMBATSYS: Tsubaki successfully hits Oswald with Sanctus Aequum.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\ < > //////////////// ]
Oswald 1/-------/=======|=======\-------\0 Tsubaki
He finds space. Space that is quickly going away when she comes dashing in. His strike did little to slow her and she crashes into Oswald before he can move out of the way. He knocks the old man off his feet and he goes tumbling away where he lays there for a moment.
He does start to rise to his feet. His movements looking a bit shakey as he is having a hard time shaking off the pain running through his body still. "How long can you hold on? You have lost quite a bit of blood, my dear." Not like he can last much longer himself. He isn't making a move to come at her. Not at the moment at least. She is taking him to task and he needs to find a way to finally put her down.
COMBATSYS: Oswald gains composure.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > //////////////// ]
Oswald 0/-------/=======|=======\-------\0 Tsubaki
"We're going to find out together, Monster!"
/Some/ of the blood loss has tapered down, but it won't be getting any slower. The rest...
Tsubaki tries to ignore the light-headedness, the way the world tilts-- the chorus of agonized protests every time she so much as /breathes/, but confidence - real or not - can only take her so far. They're both running short on time; increasingly, the question becomes which of them will the last to lose over who will /win/.
Pain and frustration thunder from her lungs as she races to keep the distance between them narrowed. Dropping into a slide after the first couple steps, she leaves faint, red streaks on her way towards attempting to drive her right boot into his shin. Lavender motes swirl around her feet on the way in, then coalesce into slashing wings around her ankles as she seeks to turn the slide into a flying backflip/kick. At that point, rather than her feet, it's the energy surrounding her - threatening to course through his wiry form - that the assassin ought to concern himself with.
COMBATSYS: Oswald interrupts Strong Kick from Tsubaki with Joker+.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\ < > ///// ]
Oswald 0/-------/-----==|=======\====---\1 Tsubaki
"Sooner than you may think."
Those are the final words he says while he watches Tsubaki come towards him. It almost feels like shadows are starting to gather about him making things darker as he just gets a bit of a smile once more even when that boot slams hard into his shin and throws him off balance only for him to quickly correct things. He extends an arm to grip her by the throat as he steps forward. He is in pain from the strike, but his grip is firm as he pushes her back almost as if he is gliding forward instead of walking before driving her into the wall. "In fact let us find out right now." he whisper into Tsubaki's ear before letting out a low laugh as the shadows seem to entirely engulf all of him when he releases. Then at a distance in the shadows there is a glint of his shades before another glint of light reflects off a card. Then they come flying. Multiple cards being thrown quickly and aimed at all parts of Tsubaki as they look to make a pincushion out of the poor woman. The final one of the assault being a Joker that sails across aimed right at Tsubaki's forehead.
"Bleed for me, pup."
Color drains from Tsubaki's face until her vivid hair and the bifurcating streams flowing from her brow make her look like the universe is running color selection filters on her body. It's only skin deep, that final card, but it's still jutting from her brow-- still placed just so to create a crimson mask.
And her blood is so, so precious, now.
From more places than she can count, Tsubaki bleeds despite her best wishes, giving the monster a final tribute. Panic flutters, desperation howls, and every perforated, shuddering inch of her begs for relief that cannot be allowed-- not /yet/, anyway. Three eyes flare with lavender brilliance; as she crumples, the sword flies from her hand so it can slam itself into the book, consuming both in a crimson flash.
When it clears, Tsubaki's clutching a staff with a glaring, winged head to keep herself from hitting her knees just yet. "N-- not-- not for you," the panting Lieutenant protests, the butt of her staff digging into the floor as she forces her spine straight. "Never-- for you--"
The staff's eye ripples with sorcerous might then unleashes a glowing white mandala bigger than Oswald and intended to trap the man within its arcane design.
"For HER... I'll give everything I have, and then some...!"
Not so far beyond their home turned battleground, a few Judges who managed to weather the Iga's violence trample through the village on their way towards convening with their superior.
COMBATSYS: Tsubaki can no longer fight.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\ <
COMBATSYS: Oswald fails to counter Confutatis Maledictus from Tsubaki with King.
COMBATSYS: Oswald can no longer fight.
The holding spell burned a portion of the staff's gathered power but not all of it. As the mandala carries Oswald towards the nearest wall, Tsubaki raises the weapon high, focusing a tempest of raw magical energy into a single brilliant point within the staff's pupil. Glowing wings carry her a foot or so off the ground before fully extending; as if there were triggers tied to their tips, this final motion is enough to turn a brilliant white point into a roiling ball of force racing along sight lines to bury itself deep in Oswald's body and spirit. It's small as such things go, deceptively so: what might be expressed in body-length beams or raging vortexes by other energy wielders seems to have been compressed, eschewing intimidating form in favor of efficiently compacted punishment. Even the snowy motes trailing behind it land with explosive force like clusters budding from a sorcerous bomb.
A soft, shuddering, "I-I--" breaks the silence immediately after the impact flares fade. It's closely followed by the heavy, wet thud of a body pushed beyond its limits, leaving those incoming troops with /another/ priority target to drag from the village and very little time to do it in.
Choices may have to be made.
"Heh, so defiant, but in the end you show you are weak. A failure." He also should probably make sure the job is finished before he mocks Tsubaki, because she has more strength in her than he had anticipated.
He was not expecting what happened as he produced a card only to find himself quickly trapped by the energy she wields. Then all he can really remember is pain. Pain that runs through his entire body as she unleashes what must have been all she had left in her to try and kill him. If he were a lesser man he very well might have just ended up a pile of ash or some unsavory puddle of fluids. Or maybe that is exactly what happened because by the time the light fades there is no sign of Oswald aside from the single card he was holding.
Resting on the ground face up is the Suicide King to be found by the other members of NOL that come across the scene of corpses and a bloody mess that Tsubaki has become. Whoever he was working for will not get their hands on Lee today if ever and the world may be rid of at least one more monster.
The light call fills the air, as the silver-haired man strides out from behind a building. Lee Chaolan is modestly dressed in the robes of an Iga Ninja; an initiate. Not out of any training, but out of a matter of outfits. In one hand is a clay cup; in the other, a clay pitcher. Striding amongst the chaos, he looks around almost half-heartedly. "I don't mean to pry, but I have been waiting 20 minutes for my massage, and I need a refill on my warm sake-" ANd he pauses.
Lee Chaolan stops between the two fighters. He looks to the left at Oswald, clearly admiring the fine clothing of the professional. He cocks his head, taken in by the silver fox of a professional. He looks to his other side, at the collapsed commander of the NOL forces. He turns around, looking at the unbridled chaos and routing of his captors. He turns back to Oswald, then Tsubaki again. And in dramatic flair, he drops both cup and pitcher, letting them shatter on the ground. ANd there, bending down into a crouch. He looks at Oswald.
And flashes a thumbs up.
He looks back at Tsubaki.
And flashes a second thumbs up.
Log created on 20:07:17 10/10/2018 by Tsubaki, and last modified on 12:09:15 10/15/2018.