Rachel Alucard - Bystander's Log #10: The Invitation - Part 1

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Description: "What is it like to play god? To reach down from throne on high, to touch the lives of those deemed worthy, to guide with a gentle hand the chosen along paths that will bring them happiness and success? Or to descend with the wrath of the tempest, to usher in the choking clouds of brimstone and wield the flaming sword of judgment? To excise one's enemies from existence itself simply because one wills it? What is it like to play god? I may never know. But tonight, perhaps, I savored the approximation of such."

Several months have gone by since the Gentleman Werewolf infiltrated the fledgling NOL outpost. The violent diplomacy that played out on the roof of the old outpost building gave Colonel Kagura Mutsuki a hint that there are, hidden somewhere in the world, powerful forces that may share his enmity for the corruption rotting within the Novus Orbis Librarium. Tested by the well dressed intruder, the two were able to test each others mettle and, discretely so, exchange information. He couldn't have known that night that his interactions with the Aging Legend had put in motion things that could not be stopped even if he had wanted to.

The worst possible outcome for him had taken place...
He had been noticed.

Since that fateful encounter, things have certainly changed for Colonel Mutsuki, commanding officer for all NOL military operations in Asia. A casino showing off 'domesticated' darkstalkers has setup shop in Southtown, one of the most dangerous darkstalkers known to the NOL now has an embassy looming in downtown, and the NOL has moved from a single building outpost to a full fledged base on the outskirts of the city.

But what is a half year in the eyes of those whom time has lost? Their very naps can span decades, their schemes often weave through generations of humanity, and it is not unheard of for them to entirely forget to get back to mortals that have piqued their interest until their bones are molding in the grave. The Steward Wolf had hinted that the Black Knight might earn a meeting with someone far above his own station... And considering the combat prowess and illustrious presence of the messenger, one could only imagine as to the nature of who he referred to with his cryptic farewell.

But with how busy he has been, and how much time has gone by, it would be understandable if the Colonel had forgotten about the threat of another meeting all together. After all, his day to day life was a whirlwind of hassles, even with Hibiki's meticulous care and guidance to help him navigate them. Just keeping up with his official responsibilities would be demanding enough. To try and orchestrate something off the record, to strive for a future where the Librarium's behaviors mirrored its public facing ideals of a better, safer world, all without being caught, only adds more complexity to an already precarious life.

Of course, his rank and family name afford him certain luxuries. Privileges such as his lush, private office, often stocked with the finest in alcohols available, with his private quarters directly adjacent. It was a place to call his own, to be left in peace, drink, plan, drink, catch up on paperwork, drink, or entertain attractive guests.

The night is young, the sun having set only a couple hours ago. High above above his main desk, a small, two by four inch card appears, spinning down in a slow, drifting descent until it comes to rest on the center of his 'Incoming' stack of paperwork. Contact with the card would convey a certain subtle but unmistakable thrum of magic. The paper's surface is decorated with an ornate border of gold with detailed roses occupying two of the four corners and garish looking pumpkins filling the other two.

Crimson letters appear to move across the card's surface in flowing kanji, their motion swift and seeming to respond to the angles at which the card is held.

By observing the characters long enough, the message becomes clear:

Your presence is requested at midnight...
A street address in Southtown is included in the message.

And that's it. An invitation, a time, and a place. A quick check with any digital map will reveal that traveling to the address will take one to the perimeter of Southtown's oldest graveyard, a neglected lot in the most run down recesses of the metropolis.

Of course, he could just not even notice the card before it's too late. Or notice it but choose not to act.

But in this dangerous game he has decided to brave, the consequences for not showing up as invited would likely be severe indeed.

Most would expect Kagura Mutsuki to have the memory and attention span of a brain damaged goldfish. Most would also expect the man to duck and dodge every bit of responsibility he can. The second one is in fact as true as the written word of the Elder Gods themselves. That's why they made Hibiki.

Something has to exist to keep the wayword NOL Colonel in line.

Thusly, it is to no surprise that Kagura is pulling an all nighter to clear out the current stack of paperwork that has been found discarded all around the Japanese Branch. Pieces of paper hidden in every potted plant, and stuffed into every open hole that exists within the confines of the base.

As the invitation drops down upon his paperwork, there is a distinct groan that eminates from deep within the owner of the desk. Colonel Kagura Mutsuki is always leery of paperwork, and yet when some magically appears upon his desk? There's usually something that makes his Kagura-senses scream in agony. Magical paperwork is the worst!

That is until he actually takes a good look at what appears. The feminine styling of the invitation is the first thing that is taken in, as any lingering scents upon the card will be the second. The third is a careful examination of the kanji that appears, his well trained and discearning eyes trying to gleam any and all information as to the gender of the mystery sender of this magical letter.

"Well now, isn't this quite the mystery..." The man suddenly leaps to his feet, a cheshire-like grin appearing upon his face. He knows that there are numerous beings of otherworldly residence keeping an eye upon his actions, so the realization of turning this opportunity down is one he doesn't even consider.

Quickly moving now to the door of his office, the man sticks his head out, shiftily looking around to ensure no one is paying attention. Then the door is slammed shut, and locked by the handle. Then Kagura flips over a freshly installed hotel lock, and moves a chair to sit in front of the door.

Moving now back to his desk, the purple iris' of the man stare down upon the pile of paperwork left upon his desk. It doesn't remain there long as he moves to grab a large waste basket, and dumps everything but that invitation into it. He doesn't let it sit there long, his hand reaching over the desk to the centermost drawer, pulling out a small box of wooden matches, and forcefully ensuring that this paperwork will never bother him again.

While it won't take him long to get ready, most of his time is spent trying to stealthily sneak away from the base, knowing full well that if he's caught by anyone, word will get back to his assistant, and he will /never/ get a chance to see just who sent him this delightful invitation..

Scrutinizing the magically delivered invitation will yield a few items of interest. There is a scent of old roses, a sweet aroma blended with a certain staleness, as if the source was quite old. It is faint, barely perceivable, but within the capacity of the Colonel's refined senses for such details. The styling of the meticulously drawn kanji, on the other hand, yield no clue as to the gender of the message's author. Refined, precise, and stylized in an almost mechanical way, it would almost seem manufactured in nature.

His escape from the NOL base is uneventful enough. A thick layer of cloud cover overhead causes the darker patches between illumination to be even more concealing than usual and a certain heaviness to the air seems to dampen sounds more than usual. Though others are out and about on the base, likely engaged in nightly patrols as per the norm, any sounds emanating from them seem distant and Kagura's own movements more stealthy than normal.

The drive, presumably on the back of his own signature motorcycle, is peaceful in a way. He has a thirty minute drive ahead of him from the outskirts of Southtown, through downtown, and into the more dilapidated neighborhoods where the address of his destination exists. This late, the streets are mostly empty of traffic and the stop lights along the way seem to cooperate with Kagura's trip in a timely manner.

There might also be a sense of isolation in the trip. Though the occasional vehicle is encountered along the way, there is no interaction to speak of, and the sounds of other engines and tires seem to dampen off quickly just like back at the base. The closer Kagura gets to his destination, the cooler the air seems to get. Not quite frigid, but way cooler than the summer evenings typically are for the metropolis. A dampness in the air suggests a shift in the weather, and along the sides of the road, thin patches of lingering mist might be noticed.

At last, he arrives. This section of Southtown would rarely be seen by someone was distinguished as the Duodecim heir, let alone traveled through at night. Boarded up doorways and windows, dark, unwelcoming alleyways, and the sense of being watched even though no one appears to be out on the street would stand out to the well-trained soldier of the Novus Orbis Librarium. All but one street light on the stretch of road is dead, likely victims of vandals and a city weary of trying to keep replacing them when damaged. The solitary functioning street light dangles from an exposed wire, the bulb swaying slowly in the mostly still air causing shadows to move slightly on the filthy sidewalk it hangs over.

Unlike the thick cover back at the base, the moon can be seen through open patches in the clouds above, silvery shafts of light providing some light where the man-made street lamps fail. The air is moist enough that to stand around outside for long might leave one feeling damp but not quite to the point of drizzling. Now and then, sounds of life are heard through the atmosphere - muffled voices briefly there then gone, a dog bark around a distant corner, a cat caterwauling down a nearby alley then cutting off abruptly...

On the opposite side of the street from the destination, old, three story buildings loom. At some point in the past, this neighborhood might have been a lively thing, with hopeful young families occupying the condos with their street-facing stone porches and balconies, regular foot and vehicle traffic as people came from and left for work, and children at play. That was long ago, however. Everything about the neighborhood reeks of neglect and despair.

The address itself belongs to an open area fenced off by tall, wrought iron rods topped with spikes. Considering it occupies the space central to all the surrounding abandoned buildings, the location seems like it should have been fitting for a park rather than the graveyard it clearly is now. A gateway sits opened inward, inviting one to step in from off the street.

There would be a sense of crossing a threshold when passing through the gate, of stepping into another place or time far away from Southtown of 2019, but a glance around would reveal the same abandoned, rotting buildings around the block outside the cemetery. Strangely, the interloper may get a sense of feeling more welcome within the graveyard than he was on the run down streets outside of it. Tombstones, many cracked, broken, or toppled over can be seen through the mist blanketing the ground.

The path through the gate leads straight toward a large, stone mausoleum, its entrance open. Affixed to the frame of the entryway on either side of the opening is a single rose, one white, the other red. The opening itself is almost pitch black, but there is a flicker of candle light within - a wall mounted fixture providing just enough light to see the stone steps one would descend were they to brave the journey further.

Behind the noble son of one of the world's wealthy elites, the iron gates of the graveyard would close on protesting, rusted hinges.

Clearly, his presence is requested further within.

The roar of the motorcycle alone would be enough to draw attention in this type of neighborhood. The design of the motorcycle however, is unique enough that anyone (or anything) that sees it could instantly describe it to their friends, families, co-workers. The entire world could easily find out this information with just how much this motorcycle stands out.

Kagura Mutsuki gently brings the bike to a slow crawl, softly revving the engine to keep himself up right as he nears the gates of the cemetary. His hands move to cut the engine, bringing its quiet roar to a stop, the only sounds now the rapid cooling of the massive engine that lies within the beast.

Guiding the bike through the gates, not daring to leave it alone in area such as this, the Chief of the Duodecim flinches slightly as the wrought iron gates close seemingly upon their own.

"That's not creepy at all, no sir...."

The sarcasm is dripping heavily from his mouth as he comes to a stop infront of the mausoleum. His right foot nudges a spot on the underbelly of the motorcycle, causing a simple stand to drop down to keep the machine upright. His right hand reaches down on the other side of the bike, gripping the handle of a meanicingly large greatsword, which is then hefted over his shoulder with ease.

He would be an idiot to walk blindly into the unknown, but there was something else he gathered from the invitation. This is the work of a noble, and the old codes of conduct still exist within their world. It would be a grave injustice for a noble to lure another noble under nefarious pretenses. There would have to be some forewarning that trouble would be brewing.

And no matter who Kagura has managed to anger with all of his antics, he's not angered any nobility that he's aware of in quite some time.

The garish bike that is uniquely his will have to wait behind, the chromed piping and oversized foot rests are far too wide to fit into the stone stairway within the mausoleum. On the other hand, he may take comfort in gripping the large sword, a heavy zweihander that the swordsman handles easily with one hand. With a single swing, could he not simply destroy the iron gate should he decide against pursuing this invitation any further?

The graveyard is quiet as even the sounds from the bustling metropolis located all around it do not seem to reach this place. Wooden, gnarled trees bereft of leaves decorate the lot and against the sliver shafts of moonlight slicing through the clouds, it would be possible to see the dangling forms of bats. Other than the stone edifice in front of him, there is no where else to go other than to wander the neglected rows and hope no open graves are concealed beneath the mist.

Beyond the narrow stone opening, stairs descend into a thick darkness punctuated every ten steps by a cloistered candle in the wall providing just enough light to see by. Down and down the stairs go.

Twenty steps, forty steps...

It is fortunate there does not seem to be need to utilize the blade he has brought as the walls of the stairwell provide limited room to maneuver such a huge weapon.

Sixty steps, eight steps...

Rather than becoming more stifling as one might expect from descending deep into the ground, the air actually becomes less musty. A gentle breeze wafts up from deeper below, the scent of roses carried on it as if from a garden distant.

One hundred steps...

Immediately to Kagura's right, a short, focused breath is heard, and the candle is blown out. The blackness around the Colonel feels heavy for a moment, before it begins to withdraw, driven away by new light coming from high above. Gradually, the illumination grows from barely perceptible to a comfortable ambient glow and the intrepid NOL commander finds himself in a large, hexagonal chamber with a bright chandelier of hundreds of candles glowing above him. The walls are draped in crimson and beneath his feet, the stone floor of the sepulcher's stairway has been replaced with soft, blood red carpet with golden embroideries and matching tassels around the fringe.

The air is cool and dry. The only scent is that of faintly noticeable smell of burning wax. The high ceilinged chamber is quiet, a solemn atmosphere Kagura's only companion for now.

In the center of the room is a table of stained ebonywood. Six tall, crimson candles are arranged in golden holders along the table. Five are lit with gently flickering flame, the sixth pristine. A thick book sits on the table, sealed closed with a thick lock. The cover reads:

Registry for the Tomb of Heroes

Five of the six walls of the chamber feature a large painting housed in an ornately carved wooden frame, a golden plaque affixed beneath them. One painting is of a parched desert, the soil cracked and unforgiving. Sprawled from some of the cracks are dry looking vines entangled in a collection of bleached bones. The plaque beneath it reads:

Summer heat cracks dirt.
weed tendrils escape and grab
dragging my bleached bones.

Another painting of a snow drift amid dead looking trees, the slopes of snow stained with blood. A single green stem with a white flower on the end of it sticks up out of the blood patch, leaning slightly at an angle. The plaque reads:

Turning the snow pink
In the absence of springtime;
I create blossoms.

The third painting portrays a sea shore, the golden sands streaked with blood partially washed away by the last retreating wave. Its plaque reads:

Now I meet my end;
Warm blood washes my mouth;
The tide coming forth.

On the fourth wall, the painting is of a grassy knoll, blue sky with white, puffy clouds overhead. There is a shadow lying in the grass, the blades bent, concealing something. The plaque reads:

I could not return, I presumed
so I will keep my name among those
who are dead with bows.

The fifth wall houses a large painting of a ruined wooden ship at sea, the waters around it full of flotsam, the waves crested with pink foam. Its torn sails, broken masts, and the way it lists to the side evidence of a battle that had gone poorly. The plaque beneath it reads:

Flash of steel stills me
calmness mirrors the ocean
I await the waves.

The sixth wall features no painting at all but rather an archway into a dark tunnel. On the leftside of the archway is another golden plaque, engraved with the words:

Death stalks my spirit.
now disguised as a beggar
who needs no money.

On the left side is another sign; this one wooden, the letters carved as with a hasty hand.

Reserved for Kagura Mutsuke.

There seems to be no other way to go but onward.

For an almost complete millisecond, the voice of sanity and rationality screams in the back of Kagura's skull thousands of different reasons as to why he should just turn around and forget about this whole thing. There are way to many other things that go bump in the night that want him dead, so what's adding another?

That millisecond is cut short however, as the voice of intrigue and curiousity suddenly pipes up, drowning out the sanity and rationality voice entirely, pointing out that whomever set all this up went through a LOT of trouble, and giving up right now would be such a waste! Mysteries are meant to be solved!

Then there is the booming voice of a third voice in Kagura's head. This voice is the one that invariably leads him to trouble. This is the voice that drives him in most of his daily life. The voice that is the embodiment of his own Superbia and Luxuria, with that splash of Acedia.

His Id.

The Id is very compelling with its arguement of the facts at hand. Fact number one: the invitation is obviously that of a noble, or at least one who lives up to the ideals of that specific world. Fact number two: the stale scent of roses upon the invitation. This tells him that the sender is almost guarenteed to be of the fairer sex, and /all/ women are his allies.

Then there is fact number three: if facts one and two are correct, then this one is a law of the universe. /ALL/ women of noblity are legendary beauties. Careful breeding and selection of partners has made this law non-negotiable.

Only an absolute monster would turn down the invitation of a beautiful woman.

Thus the Mutsuki heir continues on through the tomb, carefully taking in the sites of the paintings. He does appreciate them, even if they are rather macabre in selection. That's the rule of art, its beauty is always in the eyes of the beholder. It isn't his place to judge wether or not it's good, but to appreciate the paintings upon their own merit, and the way they are displayed.

Of course, the Id does take this time to come to a fourth conclusion in regards to the mystery sender. /She/, as it is now an absolute assurance due to this fourth conclusion, is that with the taste of location and decor she's obviously a top tier lady of the highest calibur.

It's always the top tier ones that gravitate to these environments.

Kagura would find the corridor leading from the memorial of dead heroes is unlit. The further he would walk down its length, the further away the glow of the candle-lit chamber would become. The walls are covered in drapes and the ceiling tall, but fortunately for making the journey in the dark, there seems to be no furniture to trip up his path along the way.

Ahead, a new smell begins to fill the hall. Smoke - a blend of burning wood, flaming oil, and burnt gunpowder. The familiar scent of war. It wafts around the warrior, the smoke becoming so thick as to deny Kagura any vision at all for several long, choking seconds.

It passes, a wind blowing from ahead, ushering the fumes further behind him while tousling his black and crimson cloak. There is a glow ahead - the color of a golden sunset. The corridor around him is no longer the ostentatious hallway of an estate but rather wood that appears to have been largely burnt in fire. Sunlight seeps in from between the cracks and eventually Kagura finds himself at an opening looking out over the ruins of a city nestled in a mountain valley.

The scene would be familiar. He was there at the fall of Ikaruga... though then Lieutenant Jin Kisaragi would be the one credited with the victory and awarded the title of the Hero of Ikaruga, Kagura Mutsuke had been there, along with the rest of the deployed NOL armies to put down the terrorist threat of one Tenjou Amanohokosaka. Of course, he had known at the time that there was no terrorist threat... perhaps this entire event was the catalyst that put his own schemes into motion to undermine the leadership of the Librarium.

The sun is half concealed by the opposite mountain peak and Kagura finds himself standing on the wooden skeleton of one of the buildings ruined in the final push before the end. The Duodecim noble would know full well that what he was seeing was how the city of Ikaruga looked in the present day. The Librarium had forbidden any reconstruction effort, burying the entire incident in a great coverup.

Occasionally, a fierce wind rushes through the valley, carrying with it ash and dust. The sound of whipping cloth overhead might draw the swordsman's eyes upward. There, atop what must have been the support column of some building long since destroyed, a man stands, his arms folded over his bared chest. The source of the sound is the man's crimson scarf that the wind is causing to flap several feet to the right.

"So you would stand before me?!"

Kagura would recognize the voice. They trained together under the same Master for many years, after all.

"Why are you here? This place is forbidden to you now!"

The man crouches then leaps up, dropping down to land easily in front of Kagura in a combat stance, his feet parted, his right hand out, palm forward. A gargantuan nail is holstered on his back, wrapped in crimson. His torso is positively chiseled with muscle and his long, brown hair tied off into a bushy ponytail at the back of his head.

But equally as distinct as the large nail at his back is the cross shaped scar across the center of his face.

"Have you come to laugh at what remains of your victory?! How DARE you just show up here, coward!" Bang Shishigami's deep, booming voice is nearly choking with rage as he glares at Kagura. "Turn around, Black Knight. Or there will be no mercy for your crimes!"


For many years as he grew up, this was his home in secret. There are only two people alive in this world who would know some of the truths of Kagura's hidden past, and both would die before they would ever betray that information.

The first would be his trusted assistant Hibiki.

The other, seemingly stands now before him.

His Id has been completely silenced, the only voice now driving him is the cold reason of Logic itself. Is it possible that an unknown third entity who exists outside his own world and above him has chosen to reveal that they know the carefully hidden lies of his?


It's a test of his resolve.

When Logic removes runs down and removes everything it cannot be, whatever remains, no matter how impossible, must be the truth.

Emotions lay buried and locked away as Kagura Mutsuki's eyes train themselves upon the Shishigami. The zweihander's tip is now resting neatly upon the ground as the Duodecim heir leans upon the hilt. Cold reasoning eyes continue to take in the scene before him. This is something he must face.

"Of all people, he would know the truth."

The words loudly escape from Kagura's mouth as he relaxes once more, allowing brief flurries of emotion to start to once again infiltrate his mind.

"Whoever, or whatever you are.. You know the truth as well. So I now know I'm at a disadvantage here. Obviously, you are not affiliated with the Novus Orbius Librarium, as all of Central would be here to kill me."

After he addresses whatever entity who dares to show him this scene, he does turn his words now to the Shishigami ninja. There still exists a possibility that the man truly stands before him, and no matter what this test of resolve may be trying to accomplish, Bang does deserve to know a nugget of innocent truth that no one but him could ever do anything with.

"Everything I have done, has been according to their design. Unfortunately, the beauty they left behind has to be kept away. Seek me out another night when I can be sure, that you are truly you Bang, and I'll show you my collection of treasures."

Carefully crafted statements that only those who fully know how Kagura truly works would lay bare his meanings. To all else? He could just be talking about his rather impressive collection of nudie magazines.

The scene playing out before the Duodecim elite's eyes paints a collage of crucial facts that he identifies in an instant. Stepping out into the sunset lit perch overlooking the ruins of Ikuraga is a message, every bit as loud and clear as his path thus far has been quiet:

Someone else knows.
And they want him to know they know.

It also makes it clear that his journey this late night is well within the hands of another, if his path thus far had not already made it clear. When is he, even? It was past midnight in Southtown, but the golden sun in the horizon places the time as several hours earlier and it doesn't seem to be setting any lower as the moments pass by. It is as if he stands in a fixed portrait of a place and time, removed from the natural flow of the world. And yet... a man is shouting at him, his expression a mask of anger. He doesn't seem to be pulled straight from Kagura's memories of him... after all, the last time Kagura saw him in person, his former peer didn't have the X shaped scar across his face. But he would know exactly who gave him the wound from the action reports filed on the incident:

Captain Jin Kisaragi.

Another thing he would recognize as he takes in the world around him. The smoldering, burnt out husk of a building he stands within now is the remains of Wadatsumi Castle itself, the final fall back shelter of the Ikuraga rebellion before the end.

"How can you say that to me!?" shouts Shishigami in response to Kagura's attempts to deescalate the situation. "I remember vividly the battle back then, the worst night of my entire life! The blue uniforms of the Librarium's forces closing in on us." The man extends his right hand, a tightly clenched fist, shaking with a tremor of indignant anger coursing through his arm.

"I fought for the Master, with the Master. And you. Weren't. THERE! When I came to, when I saw..."

The middleaged warrior inhales, then shakes his head. "We both failed the Master that night. If you have come to ask for forgiveness, it is too late to repent. Come, pick up your sword. I will purge you of your black heart, Black Night, so that you can finally experience justice for your betrayal!"

His back foot pushes off, the self-made ninja surging forward, arms drawn back, bent at the elbows as flame begins to course along them.

The last step as he gets into rage is a hard stop, his momentum transfered up along his body, into his powerful torso and muscular arms, both limbs slamming forward, aiming to deliver an explosive, flaming double punch into the Colonel's chest!

COMBATSYS: Betrayed has started a fight here.

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

COMBATSYS: Betrayed has joined the fight here on the right meter side.

                                  >  //////////////////////////////]
                                  |=------\-------\0         Betrayed

COMBATSYS: Kagura has joined the fight here.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Kagura           0/-------/------=|=------\-------\0         Betrayed

COMBATSYS: Kagura endures Betrayed's Secret Technique - Bang's Dragon Breath.

[   \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////// ]
Kagura           0/-------/----===|===----\-------\0         Betrayed

Whomever or whatever has pulled him to this place seems to be trying to get Kagura to admit to things he doesn't quite know should be admitted to a total stranger.

The location of this encounter is unsettling for sure, yet the Colonel keeps himself calm. Freaking out in this stage of the game would merely put him under the mercy of the entity responsible for transporting him here from the cemetary that is so far away.

Eyes glance casually at the sun as Bang rants at him, rightous indignation fueling the already blazing fire within the Shishigami. Normally Kagura would be compelled to defend himself against the charges that are being levied against him. Yet, this isn't something he feels he needs to counter. Especially since what Bang says is completely true.

Kagura did fail his master that night. However, he did not fail the people of Ikuraga. He personally saw many of them to safety, including the second most important person of all. A child that he keeps safe from the Novus Orbis Librarium in utter secrecy. No one is aware of his connections to Ikuraga, and he's made damn sure no one can be sure of his greater mission.

"Bang, really? I'm going to put a size eleven justice boot up your ass if you don't settle down."

The words barely leave Kagura's mouth as he finally notices Bang rushing forward, fists aimed for his chest. As the fists collide, the Shishigami ninja may notice something odd about how Kagura moves, and that fact is he doesn't. He stands there unyielding, enduring the blow with narrowed eyes. The retaliation is swift.

The blade is drawn from the ground in a steady motion, only for Kagura to swing it towards the Shishigami, aiming the blunt tip of the blade at the ninja's jaw. The speed of the strike is impressive for such a massive weapon, but the speed that Kagura continues forward is even more amazing. If that first blow was true, in the time it takes for Bang to be lifted of the ground, the blade will once more be spun, the tip slamming into the ground as Kagura then launches himself around the hilt of the blade, seeking to drive an equally explosive chi-laden foot right into Bang's stomach.

COMBATSYS: Kagura knocks away Betrayed with Dragon's Claw.

[    \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////          ]
Kagura           0/-------/=======|=======\==-----\1         Betrayed

The moment Shishigami surged in to strike Kagura with flaming fists, it became clear that words alone would not stem the tide of anger burning within the man. In a flash, the burned out husk of the lost castle plays host to battle once more. The two had shared a path once upon a time until the fated branching off point - one assigned a vital task that would take him from the scene of the violence, the other defending the failing cause even if it meant giving his life to protect the one they both called Master.

Slamming his flaming fists into a collision course for the Black Knight, the swordsman makes no move to avoid the impact. "HAH!" exclaims the ninja, his crimson scarf whipping out into the air behind him. The battle cry sounds like a release of rage and of catharsis. How long had he longed for the moment, to face the man who wasn't there at the end. How long had he waited to unleash his own sense of justice.

His flaming fists buried against Kagura, Bang begins to pull his arms back from the attack. "I'm disappointed. Is that all you've go-"

The rising weight of the heavy blade slams into his chin, knocking the man's head back, his guard completely shattered before he could even begin to attempt to defend himself. The chi-powered kick crushes into him next, sending the ninja tumbling backward, rolling along the scorched wooden platform before coming to rest some distance away.

Pushing himself back to his feet, he wipes his right arm across his mouth, glaring back at Kagura. "I will abide no threat by Master's failure! Now quiet, my foe, and witness my Shishigami ninja technique that I have been preparing for this moment!"

Charging back in, the man leaps from a couple yards out, lifting his right fist, and driving it down into the ground right at Kagura's feet. The result would be a tremendous eruption, a pillar of swirling flame bursting up around the point of impact, scattering fragments of old wood all around in the process.

Only then, would Bang gesture, bringing his hands together to execute a secret ninja sigil, his from shimmering - no, dividing, as suddenly two Bang Shishigami's begin striking out at Kagura with a flurry of fists and kicks, attempt to flank the swordsman on both sides as they unleash their relentless attack.

"I'll pulverize that twisted will of yours until it can be forged into something true!"

COMBATSYS: Kagura blocks Betrayed's Shishigami Ninja Art (Exploding Secret) - Bang's Unmatched Asura Fist.

[      \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////           ]
Kagura           1/-------/=======|=------\-------\0         Betrayed

The explosion of flame before Kagura forces the man to cross his arms, leaping backwards to escape the searing heat. Yet, when the Shishigami Ninja retrieves the scroll, a rather audible grumble escapes from Kagura's mouth.

"Damn it Bang! Did you /not/ know just what my mission was?!"

Sure, he'd love to catch up with Bang, tell him why he wasn't there to stop NOL from slaughtering everyone they could, but then he'd have to take the time to actually explain JUST he truly was doing. That however, is something that could cost him more than just his life if he were to blab about it when he isn't even fully positive this is real.

When Bang decides he needs to phone a friend to start delivering the heavy blows, Kagura's defenses don't falter. His arms remain crossed, his sword still firmly planted into the ground before him. Yet, there's always an opportunity to escape.

Kagura is a master at escaping.

"Shishigami Ninpo Art! Hey! What's that over there?!"

Kagura quickly turns his gaze away from the Bang Brothers in an effort to fully distract them. The fact he called it a ninpo art should be enough to get the reaction he wants. Which would just be the moment Kagura needs.

Kagura, when he starts to actually get serious can move just as fast as almost any Ninja. He was trained by the Shishigami clan as a child. It's fairly simple stuff once one knows how to do it. In the blink of an eye he's already back at his sword, lifting the blade up, and slamming it towards the Shishigami Boys. Boss Kagura ain't havin' no more of their shenanigans tonight!

The blade is swung violently in a wide are, looking to cleave the Ninja Friends with a nasty side slash.

COMBATSYS: Betrayed fails to counter Dragon's Fang ES from Kagura with Secret Technique - Bang's Shadowstep Jutsu.

[        \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////                     ]
Kagura           1/---====/=======|=======\-------\0         Betrayed

Given his initial attempts to sooth the savage Shishigami were met with no success, now is probably not the time to win over the angered man, real or not, with words alone. It will take more than diplomacy skill checks to overcome the burning sense of betrayal he finds in the spirit of his old friend.

"Your mission.... YOUR MISSION?!" exclaims Bang, only one of the two copies actually speaking, his bold voice echoing loud against the mountainside. "How could your MISSION be anything other than being at Master's side?!" He sounds bewildered at the idea that Kagura would have had any other priority that fateful night, but remains relentless in trying to pummel the NOL Colonel with unrelenting kicks and punches.

But then comes the moment of distraction - a shout, the declaration of a ninja jutsu, and a finger point. How could it possibly be resisted? Both the real Bang and his energy projected copy look in the direction indicated.

A dangerous mistake when engaging the legendary Black Knight in combat.

By the time they look back, it's too late to cleanly evade the sweep of the blade. But the Tenjou-trained ninja is just as fast, both copies reaching to their belt, but only one coming up with a round, black metal object. The other is cleaved in half by Kagura's sword, the chi projection scattered to the winds. The other is in the process of disengaging when the blade hits, carving through the bomb in the real Bang's hand, causing it to detonate immediately!

Bloodied by the slash and launched by the explosion meant for Kagura, Bang goes flying backward, tumbling over the soot covered wooden beams, coming to rest smoking.

But Kagura might not even have the chance to see his assailant start to get up. The same early detonation that launched Bang away also disintegrates the platform beneath the swordsman's feet, sending splinters and shrapnel flying out over the open valley below.

There is no where to stand as the entire section of the old castle he was standing on collapses around him, no where to dart to as beams topple sidelong into each other and perpetuate the destruction.

In the same instant, the sun that had seem frozen in time just beyond the mountains sinks out of view. Darkness stretches across the ruins of Ikaruga, thick, heavy, and opaque. There is no hint of moonlight, no evidence of stars, as the entire horizon becomes pitch black.

COMBATSYS: Betrayed has left the fight here.

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

Even if Kagura had managed to find a perch in his desperate scramble, as soon as the black night washes over him, he would feel it vanish beneath this feet as well.

He would begin to fall with nothing to save himself.

Into his seat back at his office. Everything around him was the same as it was when he first discovered the ominous invitation to meet. His paperwork on the desk, chair no longer bracing against the door handle. There would be a dull throb where he had absorbed the brunt of Bang's fists briefly, but even that fades away within moments, like figments of a dream scattered by the crack of dawn and his uniform shows no hints of having been in combat at all.

The experiences would be fresh in Kagura's mind even if the impossibility of the night's events suggested that they too should fade. A glance at any clock would show that the time is two hours past midnight.

Then he would notice it. Another black card sitting on his desk, sanguine characters etched by a careful hand.

'It was a pleasure to see you tonight.'
'We will meet again.'
'Until then, beware. Already they begin to conspire against you...'

The detonation of the bomb and the sudden lose of ground beneath him has Kagura feeling just like that coyote from those old cartoons. The fear and sudden realization that he is going to take a very long plunge into the darkness is replaced by the comical idea that maybe he should have a wooden sign with the words, "YIPES!" painted on them.

It's fairly evident now that Kagura's reactions to danger and possible death are quite different from most others. Sure, there's the chance he'd survive. Maybe have a few broken bones and require a blood transfusion or ten. Death is inevitable. It will come for him someday, so what's the point of freaking out if its there for him at this time?

Then the sensation of the world around him shifting, only to have darkness replaced by his office. Everything is left in the way from before he decided to go Lord of the Flies. Unburned paperwork, neat and tidy furniture, unburned paperwork.

The unburned paperwork.

Of all things to suddenly drive Kagura into a fit, it is the paperwork that suddenly breaks the camels back. The fit is stopped, for a few moments to give the black card a glance. The words register in his mind, but already his Id is having a full on meltdown. He was denied the chance to meet the mystery sender directly. He was sent through time and space it seems to Ikuraga. Those are the things his mind should focus on. Instead, his libido and desire to get away from all this paperwork are all he can focus on.

The Black Knight's head flops miserably upon the desk, his face now completely devoid of all emotion as he seems to finally have been broke. He's had to face things he really has had no desire to ever confront. Even if it was a illusion, the spector of Bang Shishigami was a far more potent blow then the entity who called this meeting could truly ever fathom.

Slowly, the emotion starts to flicker once again upon the Duodecim heir's face, a beautiful storm of every emotion one could truly comprehend, and some that still have no names. All that's left is for the Command Center to wish they had access to an exorcist as for the rest of the night the only thing that would come from Commander's office is a ghostly and violent wail of a single word.


COMBATSYS: Kagura has ended the fight here.

Log created on 03:08:15 06/18/2019 by Rachel Alucard, and last modified on 03:23:36 07/01/2019.