Description: "Heh heh heh... HA HA HA! Sorry, minions~ Sometimes a Queen just can't contain her excitement! This one's a special one! Why, you may ask? Aren't there any monsters? I mean, Marduk doesn't -quite- count, right? Well, tune in and you'll see just what happens when two fighters find themselves in a haunted forest where even the lines between life and death are mutable! Did I mention that you should put the kiddies to bed before you watch this one? Don't say I didn't warn you~"
To describe the forest anything less than cursed would be a mistake.
It wasn't even the proper kind of cursed. It was normal and understandable for a profound evil running deep in the roots of an unfathomably dark woodlands. It's a clearing, a grove. The trees weren't as thick here. But they were even more oppressive, for this is where the corpse lights linger, and the trees bear the monstrous faces of fang and suffering. Far from civilization, where the only illumination is the full moon glaring malevolently overhead. And why wouldn't it show hatred of this cursed strip of earth? It wasn't truly earth, no.
It was an invasion. The twisted trunks of the trees bore the gnawing agony of plants foreign to this world. It was an invasion, that only a blessed few could truly see. Not one of soldiers, of countless hordes of alien creatures descending upon the mortal realm. But one of subtle, soulless invitation, of mortal kombat. Somebody invited this patch in. Somebody invited the tendrils of the OUtworld into this realm. All on a promise of the bloodiest pleasure. But was there enough potential victims to be drawn to this lethal bargain? Who would be foolish enough to step into this cursed grove, seeking to partake in the most dangerous game?
"Holy Shit is that a noisy pitta!"
That was the cry of Marduk, the towering Australian vale Tudo champion, as he tiptoed through the forest barefoot. He was dressed ready to fight, in his green and purple trunks, kneepads, elbow pads, and of course a nice new hoodie he got that was all purple and green too. On his back was a backpack, as a backpack would be, that was green and purple too. He had received the invitation inside a small vole that was eviscerated by a shapeless feline upon the foot of his bed. Marduk didn't own a cat, or a vole, but when the bloody execution was finished, he read the tiny leather scroll scrawled with haunting text. After he put the directions in a GPS, he went on a hike. Which was awfully strange, because it seemed to give him direction right out his house and into the forest! And he didn't know how long he was here, whether it was days or hours or months or minutes. But he wasn't a fool. He prepared for the Outback with snacks, drinks, and most importantly?
His birdwatching notebook.
"Jesus fucking christ, that's a god damn year bird for me." Marduk coos with delight, scribbling in the tiny notebook. The small songbird was flitting near the funny face on the tree trunk. Marduk didn't really think much about it, because he was bird watching not tree watching. "And right where this Midnight Channel fight is supposed to be! Who could have thunk that the best place for a Mortal Kombat fight would also be the best fucking place for a god damn bird watch? I could not have thought of that, and I am a god damn genius!" He repeats to himself as he finishes his note taking. Wiping his brow, he puts his backpack down, and starts to look for that water bottle. "I am parched! I guess I will just wait right here for my opponent, so we can have a Mortal Kombat!" Marduk repeats out loud. "I mean, I guess there will be a camera crew and shit. How else as you supposed to film this stuff? And not to mention the paperwork. I only have so much blood, I hope I don't have to sign more god damn forms!" Fumes the titan, as he takes a hearty swig of a canteen.
"What is even a Mortal Kombat, anyways?"
If there were one bird call that could elevate the unsettling atmosphere that has crept into Marduk's surroundings, it would be the Noisy Pitta that now flaps and bobs around the twisted socket of the eyeless tree. The air is heavy, the baleful light of the moon slicing down from above to illuminate the clearing in a ghostly blueish glow. There is no grass, no ferns or flowers. Only spongy green moss that spreads like a creeping disease over rocks and dirt alike, draping from the skeletal branches of the trees and carpeting their agonized faces in beard-like growths. Here and there the moss covers a lumpy mass that seems too organic to be a stone, no doubt a peculiar arrangement of sticks and leaves that could, by happenstance, be mistaken for a body.
Beyond the chittering call of birds and the tromping stomps of Marduk himself, the only other sounds within the woods are the odd creak of ancient branches, and the low, groaning drone of wind gusting across bark. It is a peculiar cacophony, sometimes seeming almost like a sigh, other times like a growl. But strangest of all is the utter lack of wind to produce it, the air resting thick and wet against the skin of those who trespass upon this cursed soil.
"Mortal Kombat," comes a quiet reply from deep within the drifting gloom, "is a tournament held once a century to determine the fate of the realm."
Within the hazy gloom between the trees, a shadow shifts, resolving itself into the shape of a man.
"The most skilled warriors of their generation are brought together to battle the forces of evil, with each victory securing the barriers between our reality and theirs for another hundred years. But if we were ever to lose ten tournaments in a row, those barriers would crumble, and we would be at the mercy of powers too vast and horrible for you to comprehend. It is, perhaps, not surprising that one such as yourself knows nothing of this sacred duty."
As the speaker strolls forward into the glaring light of the moon, he is revealed to be both young and lean, shorter than tall yet taller than short. A broad leather hat is worn low upon his head, the glossy black leather of its brim circled by a thin band of darkened steel. He is dressed simply in a dark blue vest worn open to reveal the whip-cord muscles of his chest and abdomen, a long black belt tied at the waist, and a pair of light grey kung fu pants with sapphire dragons embroidered around the shins that have been tied close at the ankles. Wood-soled sandals and black leather bracers round out the outfit, driving home the point that he is some sort of fighter, if not quite as oversized of one as the loud bald guy standing across the clearing.
Nearly all of his face remaining cast in shadow, the newcomer shifts his head as if to glance to either side, taking in the smattering of gnarled old trees that leer in at them from the perimeter. One particular tree not far behind Marduk shifts as if in a strong wind, a gusting sigh rattling through its trunk and sending a mess of red-stained feathers fluttering across the mossy ground.
"A leather scroll delivered by bat is not what I was lead to expect when giving my signature to Saturday Night Fight. I would have thought it to be a joke, but this place is not of our realm."
Lips coming together in a firm line, the sarcastic nature of the monk's tone fades to something altogether more serious.
"As a member of the White Lotus I can not allow this desecration to go un challenged. These woods are heavy with the stench of Outworld. If you know something of how this was done, you should speak now. "
Suddenly, a non-bird was here.
Marduk looks dimly towards the figure, squinting his eyes as it reveals itself in the moonlight. He wasn't quite sure what it was. Maybe it was the babadook. He watched a movie once, and he wasn't quite sure what it was about, but the mom was pretty hot. And yet, when it reveals to be a man, even the big lug was kind of grateful it wasn't something that bumps into the night. But Kung Lao explains the dire weight, the meaning of the Mortal Kombat, and the sheer danger that they were in. Marduk, listening attentively to the White Lotus's words, finally responds with all he knows about how this invasion was done.
Kung Lao might have had experience with very slow people. Hopefully. But Marduk's gears in his head turns, as he carefully breaks down the words and meanings. He plunks that backpack on one of those funny mossy piles. And finally, a single word flashes that lightbulb in his brain. "Well I don't know about all those desecrations or Outhouse stuff, but I sure know what a tournament is!" Marduk sneers, brushing his hands off. "Cause I beat the shit out of people in tournaments. Yeah, you must be that Kung Pao guy that's supposed to fight me." Marduk lurches out in the center of the grove, clearly demonstrating the limits of his understanding of the significance of this invasion. "Caues I am MARDUK! Yeah, the biggest, baddest Vale Tudo MASTER and all that shit. And man, am I hunger for some good tournament I am the REAL DEAL! You wanna know what I am gonna do?" He growls hungrily as he throws a finger at the tree trunk. "I'm gonna slam you right there into one of those trees, right into those teeth." Marduk pauses a moment, and looks back at the tree.
"Holy SHIT! That tree has a mouth!"
There were a lot of different responses Kung Lao had planned for. Just looking at the giant Australian had given him a pretty good idea that he wasn't the sharpest hat in the box. After all, anyone clueless enough to go bird watching in a slice of the Living Forest was AT LEAST ignorant of their surroundings, if not more. But when the big man's answer does come, all the monk can do initially is stand and stare in bemused silence from beneath the shadowed brim of his hat.
Marduk is not merely slow, he is stopped.
Drawing in a slow, purifying breath, the Shaolin allows his mind to race forward, mapping out how best to deal with someone who hadn't even noticed the birds he was watching were being eaten by the trees around him. It is a difficult thing for him to imagine, and if he had not spent the last while wandering the modern world, he would not believe it were possible. To be raised in a land without texting, or instagram, or Tick Tock, where every day was filled with training and meditation, every response from his masters posed as a question full of subtle meaning that must be teased out. To go from that, to this. How is it even possible to communicate the enormity of the place they are standing in to such a creature?
How can this situation be resolved in such a way that evil does not win?
"Yes." comes Kung Lao's eventual response, the visible slice of his expression relaxing as he chooses his path. Lifting his right hand, he sweeps it vaguely through the air, indicating the clearing from left to right with casual indifference. "All of the trees around you have mouths. You should be cautious, they bite."
Lips quirking up into something just shy of a grin, the young monk ends his gesture with a flourish, body vanishing into a swirling gust of fresh clean air. A moment later a second gust announces his arrival above and behind the towering brute, his left foot scything around in a spinning back kick. If wooden sole strikes flesh he will bring his right foot snapping in and use both to throw himself backward and away, passing between the trunks of 2 trees before landing lightly on the balls of his feet, arms out at his sides. Beneath the shadow cast by his hat his teeth gleam pearly white in the moonlight, while behind him the forest thickens into obscuring gloom.
"Tag. You are it."
COMBATSYS: Kung Lao has started a fight here.
Kung Lao 0/-------/-------|
COMBATSYS: Marduk has joined the fight here.
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Marduk 0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0 Kung Lao
COMBATSYS: Marduk blocks Kung Lao's Back Kick ES.
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Marduk 0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0 Kung Lao
Marduk repeats himself disbelief in the nature of the spooky forest that he realized. "This forest might have Darkstalkers and shit! I better tell the NOL! I am part of the NOL you know! We should try and kill these trees too because they are bad! Could you imagine if someone was walking their dog and shit, and-" Marduk's runaway train of thought is cut short as he turns back over towards Kung Lao... and he sees the blur of motion.
And Kung Lao strikes.
It might be easy to assume that attacking Marduk would be like attacking a regular slab of meat: he would use his size to muscle through the kick, and then lurch with the grace of a bull elephant. But Marduk was a trained fighter, so it might be some glimmer of hope for Kung Lao when the massive titan almost instinctively falls into his wide grappler stance, in order to bring a massive arm to catch the harrowing kick. Tightening up and leaning hard, the blow cuts deep, bringing a pained grunt from the titan as the other leg comes up. Bringing a hand up, he catches the second kick, a stinging bite in his palm as Kung Lao flips away. Marduk grunts hard; this wasn't any pansy ass fighter, he was experienced enough at this point to figure -that- out.
But the nature of the fight still hadn't sunk in yet.
"BITCH DON'T INTERRUPT ME!" Bellows Marduk as he thunders after Kung Lao. His body was burning badly, the assault and murder trees around was making him a bit sore. Any righteous air fades as Marduk closes in. Rushing between the trees, his finesse seems to actually be that the giant guy is trying to scoop Kung Lao and slam into one of those trees. Both of them. What, seriously? You don't try a fatality on your first attack. This isn't Soul Calibur, there isn't ring outs. Should Marduk actually succeed and spike Kung Lao straight at the mouth, it wouldn't result in a raspberry filling bisection round 1. He would be more likely to -break- that poor tree's mouth apart! And even if he didn't manage to slam Kung Lao in?
That tree wasn't going to appreciate getting full force bodyslammed by an oncoming Marduk, either.
COMBATSYS: Marduk successfully hits Kung Lao with Power Throw.
- Power hit! -
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Marduk 0/-------/------=|======-\-------\0 Kung Lao
In truth, Kung Lao had expected Marduk to be slower than he was. A lumbering brute would be a lot easier to lead by the nose. That the big man is as fast and skilled as he is causes the smile to slip from the monk's lips, sandaled feet skipping lightly from mossy dirt to mossy stone as he dodges backward into the depths of the woods, luring the oncoming train out of the clearing.
Despite the gathering gloom, Lao moves through the hazy forest with easy confidence, keeping his eyes on Marduk while he dances around a lumpy corpse mound and puts a good 15 feet between himself and the edge of the clearing. Unfortunately, even here the trees that loom up from the dark shift and groan with unnatural vitality, odd flashes of greenish light peeking around their trunks. And more unfortunately than that, his opponent is coming on fast, and dealing with him isn't going to allow the monk enough attention to keep navigating their way free.
Coming to a skidding halt just moments before the giant man overwhelms him, Kung Lao snaps both hands up and meets Marduk grapple to grapple. Even as he is being swept off of the ground he digs his fingers into Marduk's biceps and uses his grip as leverage to swing his feet around toward the oncoming tree, aiming to plant both sandals against either edge of the yawning mouth to prevent himself from going in.
With a splinter of evil-smelling wood, the Shaolin's left foot punches straight through the rotting ends of the monster's fangs, leg vanishing up to the knee into its stinking pit of a mouth. Immediately the maw scythes closed like a bear trap, chomping down on the limb with all the ferocity of a rabid dog. With most of the fangs in that area shattered, it isn't able to tear the leg off as it no doubt wants to. However, pants and skin alike are torn asunder, a spray of blood fountaining out to splatter the struggling kombatant's in gore.
Head thrown back and eyes clenched shut, Kung Lao isn't quite able to clamp down on the cry of pain before his opponent ploughs forward, crashing down upon him and smashing the rest of his body through the munching face that has hold of his leg. The final force of the blow caves the rotting trunk in around them, limbs creaking as the tree sways and thrashes in groaning agony. Blood-slick bark cascades down to the forest floor, and a cool breeze blows from within the crater as Marduk's struggling victim comes apart beneath his bulk, becoming one with the wind.
Roaring passed his heavy torso, the wind that is Kung Lao swirls back into the shape of a man a short distance to Marduk's left. Crouched forward with his hat low and his long warrior's Q sagging across his back, the lean man bares his teeth and hisses out a pained breath, blood still leaking from the ragged mess of his left knee.
The words are half grunt, half angry promise, followed immediately by a whipping turn and lunge as the wind gathers around him. Favoring his bad leg, he none-the-less manages a to pull off a surprisingly fast leaping tackle, body corkscrewing once through the air before attempting to plough head-first into the bigger man's side at rib level. Rather than stopping there, however, the monk corkscrews again, and again, whipping into a sideways tornado of roaring wind as he drills forward, doing his level best to carry the big man sideways off his feet and several yards off through the trees.
COMBATSYS: Kung Lao successfully hits Marduk with Double Yang ES.
-* CRITICAL HIT! *-
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Marduk 0/-------/-======|=======\-------\1 Kung Lao
Marduk manages to get Kung Lao smashed into the tree, though the tree is ultimately the one who gets the worst of it. The towering wrestler didn't even think through what the mouth did to Kung Lao. Just that he slammed him in. The brawler tramples through the flinders of the tree, scattering the remains all around before he comes into his bodyslam to the ground. He staggers up as he makes sure to release Kung Lao the best he can. Staggering a bit, off-balanced, he sways as he steadies his footing, brushing the splinters from his body "Holy shit Lo Pang, we just knocked those trees apart. I AM THE MAN!" He bellows, flexing as he turns back towards the monk. "What was that?" He responds to Kung Lao's command.
He doesn't do a good job of defending himself.
Marduk gets the wind knocked right out of him as the monk corkscrew spirals straight into his chest. Exhaling painfully, he is sent through the trees with the charge. It hurt quite a bit, certainly. And eventually, Kung Lao would slow down and Marduk would hit the ground. It would certainly be a crater, with all the trees going past them. It was a miracle that Kung Lao didn't try to return the favor and send Marduk into a-
Marduk gets his upper torso caught in the mouth of another tree.
There is a deep, strained moan of pain, as it bites down, the same feral hunger that Kung Lao experienced on his leg. Except on his body. Marduk was getting mauled by a demonic elm, a savage oak. Marduk kicks blindly, legs flailing, until a final -crunch- comes, as it bites down. Marduk's legs straighten up for a second, and go limp. There is a moment of silence.
And then, a cracking sound.
The bark begins to splinter, as the trunk starts to bulge. Marduk roars from within, as his entire body tenses up. He was fixing his feet down, and trying to -stand up-. The teeth gnash, but the fell tree finds itself being pulled apart from within. There is a deep, nearly insane scream from within. Marduk gives a final effort.
And he explodes out of the tree.
Splintering the tree into fragments, the hugely bloodied Marduk seems to be a bit unaware that he has a little organs poking out of his nasty bite wound that neatly circles around his front and back. The splintering and wounds are well above his chest and head as well, the wrestler's body soaked in blood. His hoodie was gone. But his eyes were bulging out. Bellowing like a bear, he was almost blinded by his rage as he hurls into the nearest thing he could see. Which was a tree. His palms lashed out, he seizes the trunk with both hands, screaming with a warrior's fury. There is a hideous snapping sound where he begins to snap the very tree by its trunk, Marduk savagely taking out his anger onto the corrupted nature itself. It seemed to be an unusual way to take out his fury, especially with the fight that was going on- he was knocking over the tree towards Kung Lao, it's falling right now it's falling at you Kung Lao. All while Marduk howls.
"FUCK YOU CHUNG LI!"
COMBATSYS: Kung Lao dodges Marduk's Large Random Weapon.
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Marduk 0/-------/--=====|=======\-------\1 Kung Lao
Spiraling faster and faster, Kung Lao forces the pain and rage out of his body, channels it into the softly glowing wind that whips around him as he drives Marduk backward through the woods. If there were leaves to blow they would have been stolen from the trees, but there are not. There is only moss, twigs, and dirt, bits of filthy debris caught up and spun through the air to skip stinging across exposed skin.
Only once the monk has exhausted his rage do the winds slacken, the faint bluish glow fading out as he twists his legs down and drops lightly to earth. As he does, Marduk continues forward without him, the tail end of his personal tornado rushing past to give the big man a final push away through the trees...
Right into the mouth of one of the hellish creatures.
With no time to think, the Shaolin bounds forward to try and help, steps slowing as he nears the big man's kicking legs. Sandals padding lightly over the bloody moss, he does his best to ignore the pain screaming from his knee as he limps from one corner of the mouth to the other, looking for the best place to strike.
The legs go limp.
Staring down at the idiot that was tossed into this hellish experience with him, Kung Lao lets out a soft sigh, right hand coming up to rub across his face in the shadow of his hat. This is not what he had intended to happen. Perhaps if he had just communicated better, the big man would have listened to reason.
With the moans and growls have the forest having fallen temporarily silent, Lao can hear as the muffled screaming begins within the trunk. Taking a slow step back, he turns his bemused attention to the face above Marduk's body, watches as once more the feet below begin to scrape against the ground for purchase.
As the tree is broken from within, the young monk dodges away in the direction he had been taking Marduk before all this went so terribly wrong. He backs even further in that direction as the bloody man powers back to his feet, screaming in pain as he attempts to tear a second tree cleanly in half.
Not attempts, succeeds.
Surprise registers in Kung Lao's posture as he springs sideways into a no-hands cartwheel, flipping clear of the descending trunk as the tree flails and moans its way to a deafening impact with the forest floor. Remaining on the move, Kung Lao ducks a falling branch, springs up, and bounds easily from limb to swaying limb until he is perched atop the highest point of the now sideways monster, balanced upon the toes of his right foot where they brace between two of the spreading claw-like branches.
"Though you are correct that I am from China, my name is Kung Lao, Descendent of The Great Kung Lao. You would do well to learn the name of your better."
Still riding the wave of relief that comes from not having murdered someone followed immediately after by not having a tree fall on his head, the monk sweeps his hat from his head and sweeps both arms out wide, maintaining perfect balance as he tosses the hat away and bows low at the waist.
"Now, Marduk, you must follow close behind if you wish to continue this fight."
That said, the young Chinese man, handsome face revealed for the first time, flips his long hair back over his shoulder and turns to leap away, falling a good 20 feet before his sandals strike a second branch, bending it down low enough that he can step lightly off onto a third and bound effortlessly to the ground some 30 feet away.
In the mean time, the hat he threw has cut a humming arc down and around, slicing through several branches on its curving way toward Marduk. If the monk has planned it right, the hat should strike Marduk in the chest, slice deep across his front, and rebound back through the trees just in time for the young man to reach back without looking and catch it behind his head.
COMBATSYS: Kung Lao successfully hits Marduk with Razor Rim EX.
- Power hit! -
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Marduk 0/-------/-======|=======\-------\1 Kung Lao
This was turning into a disaster for someone or something, all right.
The number of fanged trees were getting fewer and fewer. But the rage of the wrestler was not abating. Marduk was furious, and he was taking out that fury on the abominations of nature around them. Yes, he was alive. Yes, he was savagely injured. But as he brings the tree down, the strength and anger of the titan was the real danger. Either to himself, or the trees.
And of course, Kung Lao himself.
Marduk wasn't processing the names very well. Was it Kung Lao? General Tso? Wu Kong? The names were a blur to him in his anger. As the tree comes crashing down, he was stamping his way past the trees, thundering towards the agile monk with a cascading fury. "I don't care if you MOTHERFUCKING FEI LONG I am gonna lay that SMACK on you LIKE SOME GOD DAMN BREAKFAST!" Was his rebuttal. That hat is thrown towards him, and he at least has the insight to bring up his guard. Marduk catches it in his arms, crossing them before him as the whirring blade spins in. It was knocking him back, and just as it rebounds back....
Marduk falls backwards into another tree mouth.
"OH COME ON!" Marduk roars in agony, as the tree latches on hard upon his well-formed glutes. Writhing in the jaws of the tree, Marduk's ass is eventually wrenched free, the bloodied bottom slamming apart the tree as another one collapses in itself. Marduk staggers straight back at Kung Lao, that berserker rage giving him an unnatural speed as he stampedes, limbs and ass bleeding profusely as he flails his limbs in brutish spirit. A hooking shoulder punch, a staggering overhead haymaker, and all finished with a lunging gut check to knock Kung Lao down. Only then, does he finally slow down.
"FUCK YOU LIU KANG!"
COMBATSYS: Kung Lao blocks Marduk's Raging Beast.
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Marduk 0/-------/-======|=======\==-----\1 Kung Lao
Taking one step, then another, Kung Lao reaches back behind his head and snaps his fingers closed upon the brim of his hat with a satisfying 'thwap.' Barely even limping now, he settles his hat back upon his head and strolls on while Marduk fights to free himself from the mouth of the tree, knowing that the big brute is more than capable of tearing loose. And, if he's being honest with himself, perfectly content with letting him struggle a bit. The Australian just has one of those personalities.
Predictably, the sounds of splintering wood and shouting rage through the woods ahead of the oncoming train, Marduk's stomping steps allowing the smaller man to track his progress as he charges up from behind.
With perfect timing, Lao plants his stepping left foot and turns onto his injured leg, allowing the opening shoulder punch to brush along his back without quite making impact. Continuing the turn, he flows back a step onto his strong leg and brings both arms up into a snappy cross block that catches the descending smash on his bracers, the smaller man's entire body coiling beneath the blow like a spring as he absorbs and re-directs the strike off to the side with a sharp twist of arms and core. From there it is an easy enough matter to uncoil into a short leap that brings his knees up to his chest, meeting Marduk's belly check with both feet and springing away into a neat back flip that sends little droplets of blood peppering out in all directions.
The mossy ground makes barely a sound as Lao touches down a few feet away, long hair sweeping dramatically in his wake. Lips quirked into a little half smirk, he sweeps both arms out and lifts his left leg, falling into crane stance as easily as breathing. It is while holding that stance that he tilts his head back, hidden features seeming to consider the brute's final shout.
"I am surprised you know that name. Have you met my spiritual brother in your travels?"
Question posed, the relaxed monk leaps forward out of crane stance and calls once more upon the wind around him. Mossy branches wave and small bits of wood skitter across the ground toward him as he whirls himself once, twice, three times around, closing upon Marduk in a blurring flash of light blue and black. Making of himself a mini tornado, he thrusts his injured leg down and brings the strong right sweeping up and around in a single, whipping spin kick aimed for the side of Marduk's jaw, attempting to smash the much larger man stumbling off balance.
COMBATSYS: Kung Lao successfully hits Marduk with Swirling Dragon ES.
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Marduk 0/-------/-======|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2 Kung Lao
Marduk actually had heard both names.
Of course, Marduk probably wouldn't remember being debriefed on the White Lotus in one of his NOL meetings, nor where he had heard the names Kung Lao and Liu Kang. But the words and facts did ultimately settle in his brain. Even after his steady combination assault is brought to an end with the monk standing one leg. He starts to keep the momentum going. But in the end? He chokes a grunt hard when he is booted in the jaw, staggering back.... And almost into another waiting maw of a tree. He resets his jaw hard, and then, groans out.
"Wait, shit, that's not your name?"
"God dammit I can't keep track of all these chinese names and shit." The wrestler admits, as he pounds upon his chest. "What the fuck. Does that make me fucking racist? God fucking dammit. I look at birds, I look at fucking murder trees with teeth, and now I can't fucking remember the god damn White Lotus dude is fucking Kung Lao?!" Marduk was bleeding a lot. But he was also whipping himself into a berserker frenzy. His whole bloodsoaked body was quivering, his muscles spasming and tightening as he was preparing himself mentally for his true takedown. He wanted to win the tournment fight.
Even when he didn't understand the stakes.
COMBATSYS: Marduk gathers his will.
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Marduk 1/----===/=======|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2 Kung Lao
With the shock of the spinning kick still vibrating up his leg, Kung Lao falls back upon his original plan and skips back a step to create distance, giving the bigger man time to regain his baring's. Though his left pants leg is a dripping red mess from the knee down, and a trail of crimson droplets mark his path wherever he goes, the monk remains remarkably light on his feet.
"You have not been racist, Marduk. You are stupid." Kung Lao replies, tone calm and focused. Continuing to back away from the twitching, flexing man, he gets a good 20 feet further away from the initial clearing and stops, hands dropping to his sides and chin tilting up toward the sky.
"I have been attempting to lead you out of this place so that the blood we spill will not power whatever magic holds this place together. The damage you have done to the trees while fighting me may have helped, but it is dangerous for us to continue as we have. If you attack me, I can no longer hold back while defending myself. You are skilled enough that I will have to use lethal force. That is something I would rather not do."
Chest expanding in a slow, measured breath, Kung Lao drops his hidden gaze to Marduk and stares toward him from beneath the shadow of his hat. Hands loose at his sides, posture relaxed, he looks like nothing less than a gun fighter waiting for his opponent to draw.
"I know it is I who threw the first blow, but now you must make your choice."
COMBATSYS: Kung Lao gains composure.
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Marduk 1/----===/=======|>>>>>>>\>>>----\1 Kung Lao
Marduk holds, jaw tight, as he listens to Kung Lao's beseechment.
For a moment, the weight of Kung Lao's words penetrate that thick skull of Marduk. His eyes cast aside to the trees. His body relaxes. Blood. Trees. Cursed power. It makes sense to Marduk. The NOL would absolutely want this place secured as a priority. A light dawns over Marduk, as the full weight reaches him. Why were they fighting? What was the point? All Marduk had to do is stand down from this fight. That's all he needed to do, to make the world a better place.
Marduk's hackles rise, as his entire body tenses up again. It was inevitable, practically. The reason washes away as hit blooded anger boils up, the battle lust taking over. "You know, a lot of people call me stupid. Terry Rogers. Abigail. You. People treat me like I am some kind of MOUTH BREATHING MORON." Marduk twists his neck a bit, leaning forward with his eyes bulging out as he takes a deep breath through his mouth. "But you take the whole fucking cake, cause you know why? Cause you think I am WEAKER than you?" Marduk takes a stomping step forward on the bloodied soil, the Marduk Express beginning to pick up speed. "You think you are better than me, cause you are holding BACK?!" Marduk suddenly surges, charging straight for Kung Lao to lift him up by his knees, and slam him down on his back...
COMBATSYS: Kung Lao fails to interrupt Skull Crusher from Marduk with Fist of Shaolin EX.
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Marduk 0/-------/---<<<<|======-\-------\0 Kung Lao
And after Marduk slams him down, he makes the mount.
Sitting on the monk's torso, he doesn't waste time to make sure that hat is off before he begins to punch away at Kung Lao's head. "YOU FEEL SO SMART NOW? YOU FEEL SO MUCH BETTER THAN ME?!" Was the howl in the accursed grove, as he ceases his alternating punches to grab the man by the head. He begins to slam the monk's head back into the ground, wrenching the neck. "YOU ARE THR MORON! I AM NUMBER ONE! I AM THE BEST! I AM... I am... The strong... Strong....
And he rolls off with a strained moan.
Curled up, he groans, holds his abdomen as the intestines ooze out. The adrenaline was wearing off. The cuts had really built up. He claws at the blood soaked dirt, the soil enriched with his own blood, with the blood of Kung Lao. Was he just a pawn? No way. He just had to win. He just had to be number one. He just-
He just had to kill again?
There is a long moment in which hope is allowed to kindle in Kung Lao's breast. A moment in which he watches the realization dawn in Marduk's eyes. Sees him stop to really take in his surroundings for the first time. Perhaps his initial impression was wrong. Perhaps words were all that was needed.
The hope dies an ignoble death as Marduk's rage meter begins to build once more. Clearly calling him stupid was the wrong tactic, but if it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, its probably an idiot. Right? Or is it that he told the bigger man he would have to stop holding back...
"That, was meant as a sign of respect." Lao mutters mostly to himself as he eyes the oncoming bull of a man, taking a step back onto his strong leg as the winds begin to toss his long hair chaotically out behind him. He will only have one shot at this, and it has to count.
Drawing the winds up into a sudden, howling gale, branches all around the kombatants bend and snap, and wide swaths of moss are torn up from their resting places and sent tumbling skyward amidst clouds of roiling soil. All around them are exposed the bare stones and lumpy, swollen corpses that had been hidden beneath the consuming green carpet. Some of the bodies rest propped against the bases of the trees as if taking their ease. Others lie contorted upon the ground, bones shattered and flesh bloated with corruption. But despite the horror of their surroundings, the young monk has eyes only for the towering mass of muscle baring down upon him.
Baring his own teeth, the Shaolin steps forward to meet him, left leg planted as his body swirls into a lunging elbow meant to catch the brute square in the throat and shatter the momentum of his charge. However, as his weight settles upon the limb it droops, not a lot, but just enough for the opening strike to dip and glance harmlessly off of Marduk's hunched shoulders. There is no time to adjust, no counter move that can be made as he is scooped off of his feet and slammed hard to the bare earth, hat tumbling off and away before the first heavy punch can land.
A flash of twinkling stars bursts across Kung Lao's vision, brown eyes knocked out of focus as one, then another, then another punch slams into his face. Between Marduk's thighs the smaller man's arms flex, heels digging in as he instinctively bucks and twists, attempting to free himself. Punch drunk as he is, he does his best to weave his head to one side or the other, but there is little he can do as his cheeks, nose, and mouth are viciously battered, head caught between fist and ground. He is already loopy by the time his head is grabbed and the back of it is mashed again and again into the ground below, eyes wide and swaying as they stare sightlessly up toward the sky.
And yet, some part of the monk is still aware. Too much of his life has been spent in training for even this much to stop him completely.
Blood oozing from mouth and nose, cheeks swollen and lumpy, the young man blinks, barely noticing as Marduk finally rolls off of him to lie curled at his side. Fingers twitching, he draws his knees up, heels scraping against the ground, and spits a mouth full of blood messily down his own front.
Half grunt, half groan, Lao crunches forward and gets his legs beneath him, staggering unsteadily up as the wind flits and flaps chaotically around him. Hair caked in blood and filth, eyes blinking rapidly to try and focus, he peers around, then down at the huge man at his feet, fingers curling until he points down at him with trembling conviction.
The blood loss was getting to him.
Marduk wasn't fatigued per say, but the savage tree attacks, augmented by the skill and power of Kung Lao, was mincing him up like sausage. The rot, the decay of the corpses and the soil was all around him. What was this place? Well, the White Lotus monk explained to him. He just had to think. He didn't have to add another corpse here. He just had to think, and listen to Kung Lao-
"BITCH WHAT DID YOU CALL ME?!"
Marduk swings over and glares at Kung Lao. Staggering up, he scrambles across at Kung Lao, first on all fours, and then fully upright as the ascent of man. And there, scrambling, he shifts his focus on the monk's mangled knee. Temper blazing, he lunges to grab that knee, and twist, going back down to the ground. And should he get his legs up and around? He would bring a lock hard again his bad knee to wrench it right out of it's socket.
"NO YOU ARE THE ASS, FUCKER!"
COMBATSYS: Marduk successfully hits Kung Lao with Knee Breaker.
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Marduk 0/-------/-======|=======\======-\1 Kung Lao
Kung Lao only has enough time to grunt with exasperation before he is once more being bowled over off of his feet, his punch drunk reflexes not fast enough to catch the big man before he gets a grip on his leg. The quiet grunt forced from between his teeth transforms into an extended snarl of pain as he is held down, his knee wrenched violently from its socket with a wet pop.
Head thrown back, eyes slamming shut, the young monk twists, digging an elbow into the ground and kicks out toward Marduk's bald head once, twice, three times with his good leg, more power put behind each successive blow as he attempts to drive him off...
COMBATSYS: Kung Lao can no longer fight.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\ <
COMBATSYS: Kung Lao successfully hits Marduk with Head Trauma EX.
[ \\\\\ <
Teeth grinding in agony, Lao reaches out in the wake of his third kick and calls upon the wind, a strong breeze blowing passed as his hat is lifted from the ground nearby and tossed into his hand with a comforting SMACK. Marduk might be a near mindless brute, but he hasn't killed him yet, and that counts for something. He just needs to calm down, and LISTEN.
"Listen to me!"
Shouting the word down into the face of his opponent, Lao crunches up off the ground, holds his hat up high, and sweeps it down in a humming arc to slice deep across the muscle of the Australian's right arm, causing the hand that it is attached to slacken enough that he can drag his bad leg painfully free of the hold. A second lift and slash of the hat drives it deep through the muscle of Marduk's left shoulder, grinding into the bone and catching so that Lao can use his grip on the rim to drag himself up the rest of the way, pulling himself up and over the bigger man to flop onto his back.
"You, Are Going, To Sleep Now."
Each word half a pant, half a growl, the young monk lifts his free arm and brings the elbow down hard on the back of Marduk's head, ringing his bell one last time before hooking the limb around his thick neck and attempting to lock in a sleeper hold. If he can only get the big brute out he can figure out the rest. Somehow drag him out of here, contact a hospital. Do...Do something...
Woozy with blood loss, Kung Lao cinches in the sleeper hold as best as he can and does his best not to pass out, head drooping down to clonk lightly against Marduk's own.
Marduk didn't actually think Kung Lao had any more fight after that.
For the grappler, it was a pretty straight-forward combination for him. Step 1) Skull Crusher. Step 2) Take out the knee. He skipped the knee bar and went for something fancier, but he also went for a bad knee. It wasn't nice, but that one-two combination carried him through his Vale Tudo career pretty robustly. So as the woozy, weakened titan wraps up the monk's leg, and sends it home packing. Brushing his hands up, he starts to rise-
And catches three too many kicks into the head.
While some people might argue it's the least important organ in Marduk's body, the grappler does have a great deal of concern for his brain. As he is stunned, Kung Lao wraps him up, cleaving the muscle for one shoulder, as a smash comes to the base of his neck. With one arm bad, Kung Lao is able to get him in a hold. And on instinct, Marduk begins to run around. He needed to get him off- a tree! Just slam him in a tree. Except he listens. He does listen, as he slows down. Was he going to the tree? Was he going to.... no. He slips down on his knees. Clawing at the arm lock with the one good arm, he just... slows to a crawl. Until finally, he collapses. Unconscious. Not dead. No one dead.
There is a pregnant silence after the sound, as the shadows around the forest shift and shimmer. When the pair would awaken, they would be no where near each other. No where near the haunted forest. The trails to it missing, distorted, corrupted. The medical attention would be... acceptable. But nothing impressive. After all. The audience at home was promised Mortal Kombat. And as both Marduk and Kung Lao will find out soon.
There will be another attempt later to feed the bloodlust.
COMBATSYS: Marduk takes no action.
COMBATSYS: Marduk can no longer fight.
Log created on 09:52:24 11/10/2020 by Marduk, and last modified on 16:41:08 11/13/2020.