Description: In the aftermath of the Dragon's assault on Southtown, a humble monk tries to do his part to help the relieve efforts.
Cities have always been one of Donovan's least favorite places. It isn't that he dislikes the presence of others inherently. In fact, some of his favorite memories come from those many years he spent in the tutelage of the hidden sect of monks that had been the closest thing he had to family since his unfortunate and bloody awakening. However, those many years of quiet contemplation on the nature of his curse had given him a deep appreciation for the calm and quiet of the secluded community.
By contrast, modern settlements are a hotbed of chaos and bedlam. One can hardly go more than a few seconds without being assaulted by noises, smells, or sensations of some variety, often intense and unpleasant in their nature. Thousands of people who have likely never met clash in a constant struggle for existence in the long winding streets that stretch for miles and miles yet never seem to have enough space to accommodate everyone comfortably. Buildings that tower overhead in mountains of glossy steel, looming omnipresent giants buzzing with thousands more faceless individuals like gargantuan anthills. The sheer sensory overload was almost enough to fracture his calm.
But the worst thing by far is the spirit of such places. Love and hate, joy and laughter, terror and misery - deep emotional resonances of every type and intensity are layered upon one another in a constantly churning maelstrom of dizzying impressions. To a being such as himself, one so deeply in tune with the spiritual energies of the world, it's like walking through a hall of mirrors in a carnival. All around him distorted imagery and warped nightmarish shadows dance at the edges of his senses, haunting echoes of centuries of human lives lived out to every extreme.
At least, that is what his experience had been the last time he came to this sprawling metropolis. Things are very different now. In some morbid way, he almost prefers the change. Fear, pain, and suffering are things with which he is intimately familiar. As a self-styled Dark Hunter, he has spent many decades rooting out the evils that humanity has forgotten, traveling to the dark quiet places where true evils lurk in cold musty caves and putrid decaying swamps. The miasma of death that permeates the air is comforting to the darker half of the dhampir and that alone is reason enough to hate and reject it.
There are others, of course. While his struggle with the demon lurking inside of him has forced Donovan to embrace a philosophy of serenity and detachment, there is still space left in his heart for empathy and mercy. The sheer scale of destruction and misery inflicted upon this city is not something he could simply ignore. The stain upon the soul of the city is deep and left untreated it would fester into something potentially worse than the creatures that had inflicted it.
"Thank you... I don't know what to say. I don't have anything to offer in return..."
The monk offers a faint smile to the woman as she clutches the pair of items he had just handed to her - a bottle of fresh water and a simple but nutritious sandwich wrapped in plastic - like a pair of winning lottery tickets. A simple shake of his head is given as he steps away, turning to collect the large satchel full of similar supplies from the ground and hoist it onto his shoulder again.
"No compensation is necessary. In such dark times it is the duty of those with the means to provide to offer assistance where we may."
With the pack once more situated, the towering man turns to give the woman a slight bow holding one hand in front of him. His thumb and index finger touch together to create a circle while the other three fingers point towards the heavens creating the mudra of Vitarka - a sign of teaching. Perhaps this woman would learn from his example and do her part to help others in return.
A simple saying but one who's meaning has long been diluted through integration into common daily parlance. As he turns to leave a small figure detaches itself from the wall of the building only a few feet away and quickly shuffles up behind him. As silent and emotionless as always, the small girl says nothing as she falls into step in Donovan's wake. Her arms tighten around the worn-down doll clutched against her chest, its headless body shifting in her grip as she accelerates her pace to keep up with the monk's long strides.
"The smell of death permeates this place. I can sense it with every fiber of my being."
Glancing down at his tiny tag-a-long, Donovan regards her impassive expression with a look of mild concern. While her own powers might not be as obviously tainted as his, they are strong and unpredictable. It would be potentially catastrophic if the atmosphere here were to trigger some sort of response from the girl by reminding her of that fateful day when he had found her.
"How do you feel, Anita? Do you require rest?"
As usual, the child's response is one of placid disinterest. Her head tilts upwards far enough for the girl to regard him with a blank stare, her wide blue eyes devoid of emotion or feeling. After a few moments her gaze lowers again and she resumes quietly staring straight ahead as they walk.
"Very well," Donovan says, sighing softly.
Every time he looks into those lifeless pools of sapphire it sends little daggers into his heart. 'One day', he promises her again in the silence of his thoughts. 'One day I will free you from the chains you have bound yourself in, little one.'
The two walk in silence for a time passing several more city blocks without encountering another soul. Despite his good intentions, the massive sword strapped across Donovan's back is no doubt to blame for the reluctance of others to approach him. Even under the control of his powerful will, the demonic blade Dhylec radiates a sense of palpable unease, its twisted inhabitant ever thirsty for fresh blood regardless of whose it might be. A strange weapon for a monk to wield, no doubt, but an appropriate one for a man such as himself. Darkness wielded by darkness, an evil blade to slay evil things.
A sudden sound to his right interrupts Donovan's dark musings. He comes to a stop, Anita drawing up close against his leg instinctively as he turns to regard the source of the noise like a baby duck huddling against its mother for protection. The monk's vampiric eyes sweep across the dark recess between two buildings, scanning the alleyway for signs of movement as easily as if it were brightly lit. It doesn't take but a few moments to discover the culprits.
A pair of children huddle in terrified silence against a pile of discarded trash bags. A boy and a girl, the former in his early teens and the latter much younger. A quick glance around shows no signs of any other presence. That likely means only one thing.
Donovan steps towards the alleyway moving at a sedate pace so as not to appear threatening. Despite this precaution, both children quickly duck and hide, clearly frightened by his imposing presence. Upon reaching the entrance to the alley the monk unshoulders his bag and fishes out a pair of bottles and sandwiches. Setting them down on the pavement, he takes two steps back and drops into a seated position, legs crossing in the familiar lotus pattern of mediation.
"You need not fear, children. I mean you no harm. Come, you must be famished."
It takes several seconds for them to gather the courage but eventually two pairs of eyes emerge from hiding once again. Immediately their gazes are drawn to the food. The small girl is the first to emerge. The boy tries to stop her, making a grab for her arm, but she easily evades him and runs up to take one of the sandwiches. The boy moves up hot on her heels, angry at being ignored, but his expression changes once the smell of fresh bread and meat hits his nose.
"We don't have any money," the boy says, cautiously picking up his own offering as the girl starts to wolf down large bites as quickly as she can shove them into her mouth.
"None is necessary, child. I offer it to you freely. I ask but one thing in return. Tell me, where are your parents?"
Both children's expressions change as he speaks the words. The boy's face hardens, his fists clenching tightly, while the girl's eyes widen as she starts to tear up.
"They're dead. Obviously."
Donovan's eyes close and he lets out a soft sigh.
"I feared as much. Forgive me for bringing up the memory."
Though he keeps tight control of his emotions by necessity, this particular scenario is quite close to the monk. His own family had also been killed by a dark stalker when he was a young man. Of course, it isn't a perfect comparison; after all, that dark stalker had been Donovan himself. It is for that very reason that he finds it all the more difficult to see the victims left in the wake of such monsters.
"I shall offer them a prayer," he says solemnly, clapping his hands together in front of him as he bows his head.
"Are you a priest?"
The girl speaks this time, sniffling slightly.
"A monk," he corrects, smiling at her. "But close enough."
"Are mommy and daddy in Heaven?"
Donovan's lips press together as he considers the question. The intricacies of his own faith are somewhat difficult to explain to a child, nor does he have the time to try and offer a lesson on the foundations of Buddhism. Understanding the nature of the wheel of karma and rebirth would likely not offer any comfort to these children, regardless. Instead, he asks her a question in return.
"Do you think they are?"
Both children consider that for several moments before nodding at him. He smiles again, inclining his head to them.
"Then let that thought bring you comfort."
For better or worse, certain things in this city do still attract attention from some people. Perhaps all the more so precisely because of the state the city is in. And what appears as a priest carrying an enormous sword with a foreboding presence is, ultimately, something that ends up catching the attention of a specific subset of locals.
Word travels, and eventually reaches the ear of a local crime boss. And the crime boss in question decides to go look into things himself, in spite of the protests of his lieutenants.
That's the kind of man Katashi Tairyu is. Delegation is not his strong suit.
Asking around does bring the outlaw to the realization that, despite the freaking out and suspicions of some of his underlings, there's no stories to be given of a tall man with an enormous sword terrorizing the streets. Instead, recountings of shared food and water form the trail. Perhaps the worst case scenario will be simply that of wasted time.
The final steps on the path to seeking out the mysterious swordsman are entirely coincidental. It's not like anyone was actively following the figure and his young companion. A twist on the road of fate, nothing more, nothing less, that guides Tairyu to passing by a particular alleyway, with his head turned just enough to spot something in the very edge of his peripheral vision.
It brings him to a halt on the street, with one hand stuck into a pocket of his tailored slacks. He doesn't fully turn to face the path down the alley, just turning his head to bring both his green eyes looking towards the two children -- and the monk sitting there in front of them.
He doesn't call out to them, no. He just watches, and listens to the conversation. The words from Donovan that, along with all the other eyewitness reports he got in the last half hour, paint a very different picture from the one given by his underlings.
Even if his eyes do focus warily on the sword.
Having adequately mollified the suspicions of the two children with kind words and, more importantly, fresh food, Donovan is content to sit in silence while they eat. At his side the ever-present warmth of his small ward can be felt as she watches the two hungry orphans wolf down the meals with a dispassionate stare. It isn't until they finish eating that the other children seem to take notice of her, finally realizing that the monk isn't alone.
As before, the younger girl is the first to take the initiative. She steps forward until only a few feet away from Donovan, sipping from one of the water bottles. The child returns Anita's blank stare with a curious gaze for several seconds before finally speaking.
"Who are you?"
In one of her rare moments of interaction, the young girl shifts her gaze from its distant thousand-yard stare to glance at the Japanese child. After another long uncomfortable pause, she finally answers in a soft monotone.
Donovan's eyebrows lift in pleasant surprise. It isn't often that Anita speaks and usually when she does so it is to deliver some ominous portent or morbid observation. He'd naturally wondered many times if leaving the girl with children her own age might be a better method of helping to coax her soul back out of the shell she has hidden it away in. But previous attempts of that sort have always led to further tragedy. For no fault of her own, Anita is cursed just as he is, doomed to draw death and destruction down upon herself wherever she goes. Such is the fate of those with impure blood.
"Do you want to be my friend, Anita?"
Donovan's lips press together as the question is asked, already aware of what the answer will be. Despite her young age, the horrors Anita was forced to endure and her own unnatural power have forced her to grow older and wiser well before her time. Fully aware of the darkness that shrouds her, she would spurn this attempt at normality just like all the others.
Just as he had predicted, Anita's response is to simply stare at the orphan in utter silence. When the child asks her question again Anita turns away, directing her empty gaze out into the street.
Donovan sighs and reaches out to place a hand on the girl's shoulder before the emotional impact of being so bluntly spurned can cause her to cry.
"Do not be upset, child. Anita has suffered a great deal. She finds it very difficult to connect with others."
"Is she sick?"
The monk shakes his head sadly, placing his hands back into his lap as he rises to his feet.
"Not as you would understand it. But do not worry, she is well looked after."
Turning back down the street towards the way he had recently come, Donovan points towards the distant city center.
"Unfortunately, I have no time left for idle chatter. It is best that the two of you make your way to the shelter that has been set up for those displaced by the attack. If you simply walk down this street for several blocks you will find it. There you can receive proper shelter and care."
The young boy finally manages to gather his courage enough to step forward. He glances nervously up at the sword on Donovan's back before looking left and right as if expecting something to leap out of the shadows at any moment.
"There... there aren't any more of those big dogs right?"
The monk does his best to offer a reassuring smile and shakes his head.
"None that I have encountered in the past few days. The Librarium's forces have been swift to re-establish control over the city. You should be quite safe so long as you are indoors once night falls."
The girl's eyes widen as she considers this warning, her voice dropping to a frightened whisper.
"What happens at night?"
Donovan's expression tightens, his smile melting into a grim frown.
"There are many things that use the darkness as a cloak to hide their activities. Monsters and man alike. In such dark times, the desperate and the depraved will see opportunities to prey upon the weak. Your best bet is to be inside with others, preferably adults. Now go."
Clearly unsettled by his shift in demeanor, the children need little further coaxing to flee. Both of them turn and run, clutching the bottles of water tightly as they hurry into the distance. Donovan watches them leave for a time, his predatory vision easily allowing him to keep track of the children even as they turn into small blots on the horizon. Only once he is sure that they have moved safely far enough away does he turn to regard the voyeur.
"If you are in need of supplies, I have plenty to spare. Though from your looks you seem to be doing well enough."
The voyer in question gave the departing children just long enough of a look to see them off. He has faith that, in current state of things, they should not be running into trouble on the way to the shelter.
At least, during daytime, much like the monk had alluded.
"You'd be right to assume I am not in the same kind of need as the kids there," Tairyu confirms. His gaze considers the sword for a moment longer, still. "The ability to continue with what is considered normal comes much more easily to some of us. How many of us take the responsibility to help the ones less able is... something of a different story."
The Yakuza doesn't move further into the alley from where he's settle. He doesn't show any intention to move away, either.
"I met with some... concerned people. Telling tales of a man carrying a deadly weapon, moving through the streets here. ... Well. Judging from things, I imagine you have a perfectly justifiable reason for openly carrying a blade like that, but some people freak easy."
His hand finally leaves his pocket as he turns to face the monk more fully, and dips his weight over into a more casual measure of the japanese bow.
"My apologies. I'm being rude. My name is Tairyu Katashi."
It is not uncommon for Donovan to be judged by his appearance. He does not place the blame for this mistake onto those who make it. It is sadly the nature of mankind to leap to conclusions based on their prejudices and misconceptions. Quite frequently his journey has carried the monk into small villages and settlements recently ravaged by monsters such as those that rampaged through Southtown. It is understandable that the grieving survivors might be wary of an armed stranger wandering into their midst.
The monk returns the bow, placing his hands together in front of him as he does so. A pair of thick metal rings resting around his wrists rattle softly at the gesture creating the familiar sound produced by Buddhist monks of old. Typically such rings were carried upon staves, serving double duty as a walking aid for the long travels taken upon by wandering monks as well as a self-defense weapon, but Donovan has need of neither.
"Donovan Baine," he offers. "And this is Anita."
The small girl that has been huddled at his side the entire time glances towards the Yakuza when her name is spoken aloud. However, just as she had done with the orphans, she quickly turns away and stares silently into the distance with a blank expression.
"I apologize if my presence has given anyone the wrong impression. It is not my intention to cause unnecessary worry to those who have already suffered so greatly. I merely wished to offer what aide I might provide with my meager means to those most in need."
His statement isn't a lie but nor is the whole truth. Telling falsehoods would run contrary to the religious beliefs that he has embraced as a member of the Buddhist faith. One of the fundamental practices the path to self-transformation is to tell no deliberate lies. There is no restriction on deceiving with truth, however. Technically, he is here to offer the very assistance that he claims but that is but one part of his reasons for returning to the city. Despite the demise of their leader, many of the dark stalkers unleashed upon the hapless citizens merely fled underground or into the forests. Traveling the streets and outskirts of Southtown alone, particularly at night, remains dangerous still. It is his duty as a Dark Hunter to lay such demons to rest. He plans to root out every last one of them from their foul lairs, one-by-one if he must. A tedious but necessary task. Only when every shred of darkness has been removed from this world can his mission be considered complete.
Tilting his head slightly to the side, Donovan gives the other man an appraising look. Rather well-dressed for a street tough or one of the local authorities. He finds it somewhat unusual that someone would come seeking trouble wearing a suit but then city folk were often quite strange to his eyes. Allowing his curiosity to get the better of him, the monk speaks bluntly.
"If I might ask, what inspired you to seek out this so-called dangerous man? Had I turned out to be the danger that your informants feared what did you plan to do?"
"No, no, please." Tairyu is quick to hold his hand out, palm shown, towards the monk. "No apologies needed. I understand. Acutely so."
While, judging by his words alone, he seems willing to take the other man's explanation at face value-- there is still a pointed look given to the pommel of the sword likely peeking up from behind his shoulder.
The look he gives the girl by the monk's side is a much more gentle one -- albeit no less curious for it. He might assume her family, but then, there's the different features of ethnicity... No, whatever story is there, he's not willing to ask about it. At least not this early.
Instead, he's more inclined to address the question asked of him.
"Hmm. No special reason. I only wish for the hurt people of this town to recover, too... as much as they can." Apparently that's not a motivation he considers 'special' in itself. "... Like I said. Some people are in a much better position to return themselves to normal... and through that, in a better position to help the ones less able, as well."
His hand lifts up, tapping the tip of one finger against his jawline, briefly, gaze wandering off down the street, briefly.
"Well. Say someone came to the town you live in, and was revealed to be a threat to the wellbeing of your fellow townspeople." He doesn't quite fully turn his head back to facing him, but he does turn an eye back to focusing on the monk. "What would you do?"
Donovan's eyes close as the question is thrown back at him. Not the response he expected. There are many ways he could interpret this evasive answer. Perhaps the man is testing him, fishing for more information by gauging the answer the monk might give him. Or it could be simply rhetorical in nature, assuming that one answer in particular is so obvious that it need not be explained. If the latter is true it would say much about the character of the man before him.
"A very curious response," Donovan says after a few moments of quiet contemplation. He opens his eyes and regards Tairyu directly with a faint frown.
"Were you to ask me what I think the average man would do, I could offer any number of possibilities. While I am sure many would like to believe themselves capable of standing up against threats to their friends and family, courage is much more difficult to find when the danger becomes fatal."
The monk takes a step forward moving away from the small girl. Anita glances up at him but does not follow, as always, seeming to know his thoughts as well as he does himself. Donovan lifts one hand up in front of him, holding it close to his chest as his fingers form another mudra. The massive blade resting on his back seems to detach itself from its resting place as if gripped by an invisible hand, whirling slowly like a pinwheel as it spins around to hover at the monk's side.
"When faced with a mugger or street thug, no doubt the average person would be willing to step forward and stand up for their neighbor."
The monk's eyes begin to glow with a faint yellow light as he steps forward into the alley, the darkness falling across his face revealing the true nature of the dhampir. He does not approach with open hostility. No signs of anger or bloodlust radiate from him as he closes step by purposeful step with the gangster. But the slowly whirling blade at his side is a danger that cannot be ignored. Standing nearly as tall as the towering foreigner himself, no one could look upon the demonic blade and see it as anything other than a killing tool. Its wickedly hooked tip snarls like an open mouth, jagged iron teeth bared and ready to feast upon the flesh of anything foolish enough to draw the monk's ire.
"But when it is no mundane threat but a terrible monster, a creature of darkness and hunger and destruction - what then will a simple mortal do? What possible defense can he offer up against the demons that have crawled forth from the history books to plague mankind once more?"
Donovan comes to a halt a few strides away from Tairyu, his eyes fading back to their mundane brown hue as he emerges from the far end of the alley. The warrior-monk's brows furrow slightly as he stares the yakuza down with a stoic expression. The massive sword continues to whirl slowly at his side its edge seeming to catch the light a little more intently than might be natural.
"To such creatures a human is little more than a meal, prey to be hunted and ripped apart at their leisure. They do not fear men. To many the bite of steel, be it from blade or bullet, is little more than an annoyance."
Donovan's expression hardens further his frown becoming a stern scowl as he pierces the gangster with a sharp look. The blade whirling at his side starts to accelerate on its axis, spinning faster and faster with each rotation as if eager to be unleashed from the invisible restrains holding it back. The calm tone of his voice grows more rigid as well as he speaks taking on a harsh edge.
"So I ask you again - Tairyu Katashi - had I been such a threat, were I one of the monsters which ravaged your home only a short time ago... what would you do to stop me?"
Tairyu's reaction to is... perhaps much lesser than what the monk might have come to expect. He does lift his brows slightly over the dark presence taking over the other man's features, but... he doesn't flinch. He doesn't back away, he doesn't raise his hand... Nothing of such nature. He doesn't even move when the enormous blade moves of it's own accord and spins like a sawblade of death besides Donovan's approach.
The Yakuza merely watches him, his own gaze even, expression a stoic, idle frown.
"Such an interesting way to present that question."
His head tilts slightly to one side, one brow arching higher now. "I am not really one for posturing, Baine-san. Were you such a person as to threaten harm to the people here, I would do my duty. No more, no less. But... I don't think you are. I certainly have no desire to fight a man who would offer such solace to recently-orphaned children."
His head straightens back up. Still, he doesn't move from where he stands. He doesn't even let his gaze wander from the other man's face to the immensely dangerous weapon just waiting to be unleashed.
"Though I do wonder what your aim is with this display. ... Were expecting me to change my mind based on some inherent hatred?"
It is Donovan's turn to quirk an eyebrow at the man before him. Few use that word any more and of those who do there are even fewer who seem to understand the weight it ought carry. He finds it strange that a self-styled 'concerned citizen' would bandy about such a word when referring to the idea of putting his own life on the life against creatures most mortal men would stand no chance against.
Tairyu's stoic response is met with a silent stare of comteplation. Many are those who can stand tall when it is merely words being thrown about. This stranger seems cut from a different cloth than the average man but that could be little more than arrogant bluster. There is an easy way to find out if his mouth is writing checks his skills can't cash.
Donovan sweeps his hand to the side with a sudden flick of the wrist. The whirling demonic blade seems to resist the order for a few moments but eventually swings back around to rest upon the monk's back once more. The gargantuan weapon hangs suspended a few inches over his shoulder despite there being no obvious straps or holster for it.
"I merely wished to see what your response would be. You show no signs of fear despite the obviously unnatural nature of the threat before you."
The towering foreigner's posture shifts, his body flowing into what is obviously a martial combat posture. The monk's musclar leg slides forward into a loose stance as he turns sideways, presenting as little of his large profile as possible, while his thick arms move into defensive positions in front and behind him. His expression remains serene, if stern, as he gives the yakuza an appraising look.
"While I commend your desire to defend the weak, it will take more than simple courage to defeat the darkness that now threatens this land. I wonder if you might grant me a chance to gauge your skills and see if you are as capable as you believe."
"What I believe of my own abilities is hardly important," Tairyu claims with a slow roll of one shoulder underneath the black jacket, in a half-shrug. "The end result comes down to more than just belief, afterall."
Still, the Yakuza's gaze on the foreigner is a curious one, rather than being concerned in any measure. He doesn't make a move to shifting his posture in the same manner as Donovan has, either -- stance all too casual even after the request has been made, and an immediate future of violence looms overhead.
"Well. I might not mind, but... would you?"
Now, there's a measure of concern in his gaze, when his brows knit together. But it doesn't seem to be concern for his own well-being.
"You've been good for the people here, sure... but fighting a human in the middle of the city may well give even worse of a wrong impression with tensions as high as they are. ... Right now, I'm not sure unnecessary fights are what this city needs."
A slow, deliberate drawing of air follows, with an equally slow exhalation of the same, before the Yakuza finally shifts in place. The motion isn't a grand one, no -- but it's enough to mark something else. A scuffing of a foot, a slight bending of a knee. His left side turning subtly more towards the other man -- and one hand curling it's fingers closed, into a fist.
"But. If you're not concerned of such things, then I will answer your wish, right now. Otherwise... there will always be another time, another place."
"That is true. Confidence means little if there is nothing to support your convictions."
Donovan offers his assent with the gangster's statement though he does not lower his guard. It is unlikely that this human could pose him any real threat. The sort of power he would need to possess to inflict serious harm on the dhampir's immortal body is something that the monk would have sensed long ago. The man has also shown no overt signs of aggression despite being given a glimpse of the half-breed's true nature. The odds of him attempting to launch an ambush seem quite small.
And yet slim odds are not impossible ones. Decades upon decades of constant battle with the most foul and treacherous creatures that crawl the dark places of the Earth have taught him the value of caution. There is always the possibility that this person is not what he seems. Dark stalkers have proven themselves to be quite adept at deception when they wish to be. Being able to hide one's presence makes it all the easier to blend in among the prey without being noticed, after all.
However, no matter what mask they might wear, there is one thing that no dark being can ever truely hide from him - their soul. It has been said that a man might only know the true character of another man by crossing blades with him. Only in the heat of battle, when pride and life are on the line, can the measure of another be taken. If this man is full of ill-intent it will be made apparent in the exchange of blows between warriors. The way he holds himself, the movements that he takes, the opportunities that he exploits, the tricks that he might resort to - all of this and more will reveal itself to the discerning eye of the monk.
"What should be and what is are very rarely the same thing. Were I such a monster as those that have wrought devastation on this city your choices would be simple - fight or watch those you have chosen to protect die in agony."
Donovan describes the reality of such a scenario to him with a calm voice. There is no malice in his words, no harsh rebuke for Tairyu's apparent reticence to engage in battle. It is merely the truth laid out plain. Choice is a luxury rarely afforded to those who have dedicated themselves to a righteous path. They must do their duty or forsake their honor, often at the cost of innocent lives.
"I will not force you to fight me this day. The choice is yours."
Whatever decision Tairyu chooses to make, he will give the monk the answer to his question.
"And is that what you are, then?"
Curiousity in Tairyu's expression remains, still, but a measure of it takes a different edge altogether. There's something akin to accusation in the Yakuza's gaze, now.
"And all your behaviour I have been told of and witnessed for myself until now has been but an elaborate act?"
His other hand forms a fist now, too, and both arms shift with it. One fist held down low, just above his hip and pointed slightly towards his inner side, while the other is held up, at level with his chin with the knuckles pointed up.
"Be it that way, or your hunger for battle simply being so overwhelming you would pick a fight with some man you simply walked upon on the streets... Then come at me. As long as you are truthful to yourself with the reason."
"Make no mistake, young man, there is a terrible darkness lurking inside of me."
Donovan's expression hardens slightly as the gangster accuses him of seeking out conflict for no reason. There is a faint hint of anger that rises up at this baseless claim but the monk squashes it before it can gain a foothold in his thoughts. The boy could not know the truth of the creature standing before him nor the trials that have been endured to gain mastery over it.
"It took me many years to come to terms with what I am. And many more to learn how to control that darkness. Yet even after decades of quiet contemplation and unwavering discipline it still claws at me from the inside desperate to break free. Even now, it urges me to lunge at you, to slash you apart, rip out your insides and feast upon your blood."
The warrior's eyes close as he reflects upon his time spent in the long forgotten temple hidden away in the mountains of Tibet. It might seem as if he is offering Tairyu a moment of weakness, a brief window that could be exploited if he were the sort to do such a thing, but the dhampir's senses remain keen and focused despite appearances. All of the death that he had caused yet weighs upon his soul. Not merely the innocent but the blood of his own mother stains his hands. No amount of penance will ever atone for that terrible crime.
"You wish to know my reasons for challenging you? They are simple. I am a Hunter of the Darkness, a slayer that destroys the very evils which infest my own soul.
Donovan's eyes open and for once he lowers them to the street, shame in his voice.
"Unfortunately, I was not able to return in time to stop the tragedy that happened here. In decades past such vile creatures were few and scattered, remnants that plagued only the most remote settlements or preyed upon unwary travelers deep within untamed lands. Now they swarm the world in great numbers, unleashed from their prison within the realm of demons by Jedah's twisted machinations."
Lifting his gaze back up to meet Tairyu's eyes, the monk's expression grows stern once more. Whatever remorse he might feel for being unable to stop the Dragon's crazed attack, he cannot allow it to affect him. Death and tragedy are things with which he is intimately familiar. Should he stop to mourn every loss of life then he would simply allow those responsible time to commit yet more atrocities.
"You have presented yourself as someone willing to put your life on the line for your fellow man. While I respect your courage, as we have already established, bravery will not be enough to win. Therefore, I will give you a glimpse of what it is that you will face should you choose to walk the path of a protector."
"Oh, I'm sure." Evidently, Tairyu is not terribly surprised by the threat of the beast held within the monk. "How that kind of darkness manifests in each one of us, though... That's the tricky part, isn't it?"
There's not much of a comment that he has to offer for the story. Outwardly, Tairyu's expression doesn't change much, either. But with Donovan's final declaration, he lets out a sigh of a breath.
"My old man did always say to not discount a lesson from a man of the cloth."
His stance has already been set, so there's nothing done to further adjust it. But neither does he withdraw from it. But-- something flickers, deep within the japanese man's green gaze. It's a small thing, and yet, just the furrowing of the dark brows above the green orbs seems to bring an entirely different weight to the man, in the air around him.
"Show me then, Donovan Baine."
COMBATSYS: Tairyu has started a fight here.
Donovan smiles faintly, the corner of his mouth quirking upwards at that comment. While he may strive to control his emotions at all times he is not entirely devoid of them. To deprive himself of all feeling would only serve to seperate him further from his humanity. It would make him no different than the young girl that follows in his wake, empty and hollow. And easy solution, perhaps, but a flawed one.
"He sounds like a wise man."
Taking a deep breath, the monk straigthens his posture and recenters himself - more for Tairyu's benefit than his own. He has been ready to strike since the moment he sensed the gangster's presence while he was still talking with the orphans. Giving the mortal a small warning is one of the many concessions he plans to offer the yakuza.
This fight will not be one fought with desperate urgency or fatal intent. No doubt he could cleave the boy in half with little trouble should he so desire it. Not even the greatest of demons have been able to withstand Dhylec's terrible bite. But maiming and killing is not his goal here, only teaching. If Tairyu proves himself capable enough perhaps Donovan might be able to rest easy knowing that the people of this city have one more protector watching out for them.
The first attack comes suddenly and without preamble. The monk surges forward powerfully, his well-toned body exploding into action. The arm which had been held in front of him like a shield snaps forward, Donovan's palm smashing towards his opponent's center of mass. It is a very simple attack, the sort of attack every practitioner of martial arts learns how to use early in their training. It should be relatively easy for someone skilled at fighting to defend against which makes it an excellent opening probe to test the gangster's reflexes and talent.
COMBATSYS: Donovan has joined the fight here.
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Donovan 0/-------/-------|=------\-------\0 Tairyu
COMBATSYS: Tairyu counters Medium Strike from Donovan with Dragon's Clutch.
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Donovan 0/-------/-----==|==-----\-------\0 Tairyu
Where Donovan's expression breaks into that subtle beginning of a smile, Tairyu's stoicism goes the opposite direction. The faintest pursing of lips, and even the fire in his eyes fades briefly to make way for something much more rueful. Longing.
"...Yeah," he breathes out, quietly. "I owe everything I am to him."
The sorrow for a man passed away is pushed aside with Donovan's approach, however. For that matter, everything else in the world disappears in that moment. Though his stance seems outwardly fairly simple, and even his expression remains stoic, there's something else beyond it all. A built energy, flowing adrenaline begging to be released, ready to explode.
It first bursts out mere milliseconds before the Dhampir's open palm strike connects. Or rather, before it would connect. In an instant, his upraised hand has swooped down, and caught onto the man's wrist, while a turn of his own body draws a pull into the caught limb. A tug that takes that kinetic momentum and turns it to throwing the other man's balance off while his other hand reaches further out, clasping into the back of Donovan's shoulder to further tug him over and downwards.
Straight into an upraised knee that smacks sharply into his midsection.
The monk senses the change in Tairyu's demeanor as they exchange a brief few words before the fight begins. The pain of loss is one he knows well and it is not hard to pick up on the visual cues. But, if he has any remorse for bringing up memories of a dead parent, there is no time to dwell on such things now.
The swift strike proves easily countered as Donovan launches his first speculative attack. Snagging hold of the warrior's wrist, Tairyu turns the momentum of the attack against the monk and drags him down into a swift and brutal knee to the gut. The impact earns him a grunt of pain from the monk but little else. What should have been a blow that would knock the wind clean out of any normal person does little more than give the towering foreigner a momentary pause.
Recovering from the strike almost instants after the knee connects with his midsection, Donovan's hand twists about and latches onto the yakuza's wrist with a grip like tempered steel turning the man's own grapple against him. Shifting his legs apart for balance, the monk lets out a sharp exhale of breath and as he does so twists his midsection. Tairyu's trapped arm is dragged up and over his opponent's back, most likely bring the rest of him with it, unless he manages to slip away. With a whip-crack motion, the dhampir utilizes his unnatural strength to try and slam the mortal into the street and onto his back.
COMBATSYS: Tairyu blocks Donovan's Power Throw.
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Donovan 0/-------/---====|===----\-------\0 Tairyu
Tairyu's arm may be caught, but he doesn't let it end there. Rather than trying to directly fight against the Dhampir's strength, he leans into the pull -- even kicking one foot to the ground to send his weight off the curb. It brings him turning with the wringing motion, keeping his arm and the rest of the body in alignment that prevents dislocation. And finally, the seperation just before the fall to the ground. He may hit the curb, but it's not controlled enough he's able to smoothly roll his body with the impact and dampen most of it.
"That's the way," his voice rumbles up as he springs upwards, in an unending series of motion that doesn't quite give him the time to actually pause, not even with the recovery from the throw.
The rise up to his feet, thus, is followed through immediately with a quick, feinting jab from his right arm, only for his body to quickly weave to the side and guide a fierce red hook for the side of Donovan's body.
The instant the hooking blow is thrown, there's a flash of light. A fire-like wreath of crimson-colored energy coats over Tairyu's left arm and fist; the skin on his hand itself visibly taking on a steaming burn even while it's still in collision course with his opponent.
The Yakuza himself seems just as surprised by it, though the hint of it on his face might be missed by most people. But for a practiced eye, even in that instant it may be clear -- the manifestation of energy not only inflicts pain on the man, but also was not in any way or form channeled by his own conscious effort.
COMBATSYS: Donovan blocks Tairyu's Medium Punch.
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Donovan 0/-------/--=====|===----\-------\0 Tairyu
Donovan quickly seperates himself from the grapple once he has smashed the yakuza to the ground, releasing his grip and allowing the young man to roll away without further difficulty. Though he could have forced the issue, using his raw superhuman strength to latch onto the arm or simply rip if off if he wanted, the aim of this sparring session is to see how the man might hold up against a somewhat less dangerous opponent than himself. His attacks are intentionally slower than they could be, the power of the blows softened to leave bruises rather than crush bones. Most dark stalkers, while deadly foes, fortunately are not on the same level as Donovan.
"An impressive defense," he offers, praising the swift reflexes of his opponent.
There is little time for banter, however, as the aggressive gangster immediately rushes in to start swinging. The feint is easily read and slapped aside, Donovan's vampiric senses noting the lack of proper flex in the muscles that would indicate an attack with full force behind it. When the heavier hook punch comes swinging it at him from the side the monk's arm is there to intercept it, easily blocking the flaming blow.
A simple noise of contemplative interest is all Donovan offers in response to the flare up of chi that accompanies the punch. He had not sensed much in the way of spiritual power from the boy but Tairyu seemed surprised when it had appeared. A lack of control? Or is he completely unaware of his own power? It is something he will have to keep an eye on throughout the fight.
Shifting gears, Donovan probes his opponent's defenses again, this time using his legs to attack low to the ground. A quick sweep of his foot hooks his toes behind the ankle of the gangster's leading foot. A hug tug attempts to pull the man off balance while both of the monk's hands shoot forward, his palms driving towards Tairyu's chest. The impact won't be particularly hard but the combination of strikes should be enough to plant him on his ass and send him tumbling.
COMBATSYS: Tairyu blocks Donovan's Random Strike.
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Donovan 0/-------/-======|====---\-------\0 Tairyu
Drawing back after the recoil off of Donovan's parrying arm, Tairyu brings up some distance to his opponent briefly. HIs other hand, meanwhile, clutches momentarily at his left arm -- with the sudden flare of energy gone just as quickly as it had appeared in the first place, though a hint of steam still wafts from his knuckles.
The contemplation on that unexpected surge of energy is kept short by necessity. While he's not quite able to sweep his own foot out of the way of the unusual leg-coiling foot-sweep, it is enough to keep him from fully tumbling in his balance. His arms come up, one each slamming into the incoming palms before getting shoved to the side in a surge of physical strength. Sending Donovan's intruding arms away.
And still, he maintains the constant momentum. The blocking defense pushes him back by a pace or so, only for him to make use of the backward leap to bend his knees and coil down -- and unspring from the posture right after, closing back in on the monk in a lowered posture.
In an instant, he's right in the other man's personal space. A quick uncoiling of his lowered body brings forth a burst of vertical motion, and with it the upward sweep of an open palm, aimed for Donovan's chin.
COMBATSYS: Donovan dodges Tairyu's Rising Claw.
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Donovan 0/-------/-======|====---\-------\0 Tairyu
While Tairyu was able to deflect the full impact of Donovan's tripping attempt, the defense cost him ground; not much but apparently enough for the monk to gain a brief advantage.
The lunging aggressive counter motion finds naught but empty space to assault, his target having moved with unnatural speed to sidestep from the strike. A powerful upwards strike that would have no doubt landed a stunning blow had it connected instead leaves the gangster momentarily exposed, his arm raised high and his side left undefended.
Donovan's eyes narrow slightly at this reckless attack. Such bold gambles might be worthwhile trade offs in scuffles with rival gangs or brawls with mortal street fighters but against a creature of pure darkness and malice a single mistake like that could be his last. So far Tairyu had proven adept at handling himself against mundane strikes. Perhaps it is time to see how he reacts to something a little more dangerous.
Using the momentum of his sidestep, the monk takes a quick hop backwards to put space between himself and the yakuza. Lifting his arms, Donovan crosses them over his chest in a swift but graceful gesture, his hands easily folding into the ancient mudras of Buddhist invocation. At his command, the wicked blade resting against his back rises up into the air, spinning gently once again as it floats up over the towering man's head.
Rather than fling the deadly sword directly at his opponent, Donovan closes his eyes and begins to chant a subtle mantra. The words are soft and unintelligible but what he says is largely irrelevant compared to the effects that the words have. A shimmering apparition of bluish-white light suddenly begins to manifest at the dhampir's back. Taking the form of a stunningly beautiful woman in a loose toga, the spirit smiles as she materializes, flipping her long hair to the side with a casual toss of her head.
The demonic blade begins to glow with the same cerulean hue as the spirit woman's eyes fixate on Tairyu, Donovan's own eyes likewise opening once again. Both spirit and monk move in tandem, their left hands stretching forward to thrust at the air in the gangster's direction as glittering diamonds of unnatural power form in a floating web around them. Dhylec shimmers and then seems to break apart into tiny motes of glittering blue energy which gather into a glowing orb before the woman's outstretched palm. The orb changes shape as soon as it touches her 'skin', stretching outwards into a jagged snowflake nearly as large as a man.
Donovan lets out a simple wordless exhalation of power. A fierce wind that seems to touch only the monk and his strange manifestation suddenly roars to life whipping the clothing and hair of both about as if they are caught in a mighty gale. The enormous snowflake explodes from the woman's palm shooting towards Tairyu with great speed. Sparkling motes of white light drift from its surface like dust in the wake of a meteor, each shimmering twinkle of energy blossoming into a startlingly bright flash of white as they touch the ground leaving tiny patches of arctic ice scattered upon the street.
An intense bone-chilling cold washes over the yakuza as the projectile approaches, threatening to bathe him in a massive does of that very same frigid power. No doubt the fate of being struck with that blast of energy will be much the same.
COMBATSYS: Tairyu blocks Donovan's Blizzard Sword ES.
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Donovan 0/-------/=======|====---\-------\0 Tairyu
Though Tairyu's palm finds merely empty air, Tairyu doesn't let himself come to a stop. The upraised arm is swept down and back again in an instant when he turns himself facing Donovan-wards.
He stops himself quickly short from an outright charge at the monk upon the appearance of the ethereal, toga-clad woman, though. And in the instant his own foot stomps down to halt his movement, the icy projectile flies through the air at him.
He doesn't try to move out of the way, however. Even as the ground underneath the projectile freezes over, he instead turns his side towards the approaching snowflake, and sweeps his arm up.
The icy orb impacts into that arm, thus, with the intense flash of light, glittering ice seeming to envelop the Yakuza entirely--
But no. When it all dissipates, the man's revealed to still be standing there; faint hints of smoke emenating from the arm, the sleeve of his jacket torn along the length of his forearm to reveal the red fabric of his shirt underneath it.
"Always with these things," his voice rumbles up with a shake given to that arm -- before he steps in forward again.
His posture lowers subtly, while both his fists draw up. Feet shuffling quickly along the curb of the alleyway, shifting from side to side along Donovan's perimeter, not much unlike a professional boxer would. But there's no powerful haymaker or uppercut to come with it, no. Instead, Tairyu ducks in close, and aims a quick, sharp jab down low for the other man's gut only to pull back from the probing strike as quickly as it first came.
COMBATSYS: Donovan endures Tairyu's Southern Wind.
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Donovan 1/------=/=======|======-\-------\0 Tairyu
Donovan continues to hold his posture as the freezing blast strikes it target, arm outstretched dramatically. The visage of the spectral woman, however, shatters apart into tiny shards of ice that themselves quickly evaporate into the aether once more. The massive demonic blade reappears upon the monk's back a moment later, its blade still gleaming with fresh battlelust.
Tairyu's ability to shrug off the worst of the cold does not earn him a response from his attacker. Donovan merely watches him with an impassive expression, his dark eyes taking in this new display of spiritual power. There is potential there, clearly, but to what extent the gangster has tapped into it remains to be seen.
Once again the yakuza rushes in showing no fear in the face of such a display of power. Thus far his bravery has not been lacking but thus far the monk has done little more than toy with him as well. Perhaps some subconscious belief that Donovan won't actually try to hurt him gives the man extra confidence. While he does not relish the idea of bringing harm to an innocent man who only seeks to protect others, if Tairyu is not up to the task of battling the darkness then Donovan will have failed him by being overly gentle in his test. It is time for a harsher lesson.
Releasing the mental restrictions that he had placed on his own abilities, Donovan returns to his defensive posture just as Tairyu draws in for the strike - or so it might seem at first. The rapid gut punch slams in fast and hard, suprisingly meeting no resistance at all from the stoic warrior. A look at the towering man's face would reveal that his eyes are once more closed, his hands moving with fingers extended into another mudra. The strike to his stomach, while decently strong for a human, does nothing to budge the monk from his quick chant as he summons forth yet another spectral apparition to do his bidding.
This time the entity that rises forth from Donovan's spirital power is much less pleasant to look upon. A hulking brutish figure made of blazing red flame takes shape above the monk as Dhylec rises up to be wielded again. The muscular spirit's form solidifies into that of a man with a flaming beard and searing red-hot mail. A wave of raw heat just as blistering as the cold that assaulting him only seconds before erupts around Donovan as a ring of floating flames begins to circle about his waist.
Snapping open his eyes, the monk thrusts his hand forward again just as the gangster tries to fall back from his quick probing punch. The bulky fire spirit lets out a bellowing warcry as it snatches the demon blade from the air, taking it in a reverse grip as it swings its arm back. The entirity of Dhylec's massive blade turns a searing orange color as if the mere touch of the spirit has set the metal aglow.
With a titanic underhanded swing, the monk's conjuration unleashes a deadly slash into the retreating gangster. A wave of crackling spiritual flames blazes to life about the heavy sword exploding into Tairyu with supernatural ferocity and speed putting his skills to the first true test he has faced in this brief fight thus far.
COMBATSYS: Donovan successfully hits Tairyu with Ifrit Sword EX.
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Donovan 1/----===/=======|=======\==-----\1 Tairyu
There's no time to be impressed or horrified by the appearance of the summoned entity.
The flaming sword comes from down below, and in spite of Tairyu's snap-quick effort to move aside, it collides squarely into his body and sends him up into the air.
Streaks of blood trail through the air with the man when he comes down, so cruelly delivered back by gravity. But while one would be excused for expecting the Yakuza to simply collapse onto the ground into a bloodied mess-- the contact with the ground comes with a quick roll along his own vertical axis, and a quick bounce right back up again.
Even with a bloodied and charred wound cut through his jacket there, he still keeps himself in that constant motion. And with the roll having brought him more closely towards Donovan's side again, he quickly snaps his leg up high, sweeping a kick through the air towards the center of his back.
COMBATSYS: Donovan blocks Tairyu's Improvised Kick.
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Donovan 1/---====/=======|=======\==-----\1 Tairyu
As expected, the mortal's reflexes are no match for supernatural power brought to bear by the half-breed. A combination of raw willpower forged through decades of grueling meditation and the vile energies granted to him by his tainted blood, the spiritual manifestations that he brings to bear are capable of laying low even the most deadly of monsters.
Sadly, he is not unique in possessing such powers. While his own methods might be barred from the twisted creatures he fights, the dark origins of those monsters grants them a host of equally deadly spiritual attacks. From simple physical modifications, such as unnatural strength and impossibly sharp rending claws, to the ability to outright control the minds of others, dark stalkers have ever been the apex predators of Earthrealm since the dawn of their foul creation.
'He is not ready.'
Donovan's expression remains distant as the flaming giant vanishes in a burst of heat, the sword obediently returning to his back. Unfortunately, that puts the hard flat surface of the massive blade straight in the path of Tairyu's tenacious attempts to remain in the fight. His kick connects with Dhylec's surface, soliciting a dull thump as flesh and bone meet an unwavering wall of steel. The attack rebounds harmlessly away without so much as forcing the monk to grunt or stumble a step.
Of more concern, however, is the sensation that washes over the gangster as his foot comes into contact with the blade. A sensation that he cannot quiet place or understand floods into his body, a raw seething presence that seems to be composed entirely of sheer malice and bloodlust. It brushes against the surface of his mind for only a few brief moments, wicked dark tendrils of hatred attempting to dig into his soul and rip parts of it away.
Donovan moves in a blur of speed, his hand thrusting forward into the gangster's chest. A hard open-palmed shove pushes Tairyu backwards a couple of steps, intervening before the foul demonic presence can take a firm hold on him. The monk frowns and takes hops backwards, separating the two fighters by a few feet.
"I apologize," he says, exhaling softly. "You are not ready to face something like that yet. I should have been more aware of your movements."
The monk drops into a loose stance, his guard partially lowered as he regards Tairyu with a concerned look. Exposure to that kind of raw evil can have terrible effects on a mortal soul. Hundreds of monks had died trying to contain the evil within the blade and hundreds more followed them as they attempted to exert their will over it. Even a brief touch might be enough to leave lasting harm on the unprepared.
"If you wish, we may consider the match settled. I believe I have seen enough."
COMBATSYS: Donovan takes no action.
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Donovan 1/---====/=======|=======\==-----\1 Tairyu
Tairyu feels it. Even in that brief contact, even through the layer of his shoe. The truly demonic force within the blade. It edges towards his soul, flashes images of a certain traitorous officer with his throat cut open through his mind--
And then the forceful seperation. The groan that follows from Tairyu is more from the whiplash of mystic energies that came with the connection with the cursed piece of metal than anything else. And yet, even after skidding along the alley, he's quick to already lean forward and leap for his opponent--
Only for the sudden word of apology to come up. Tairyu's expression loses the former adrenaline-fueled battle focus, and he practically slams his foot down onto the ground with an echoing *THUD* to force himself back to stillness.
Brows furrowed, the Yakuza maintains a wary, sharp gaze on the monk. Gauging the other man. A different man may use such a concession as a trick, but--
"...Very well." In the end, there was he learned of Donovan too, in the exchange of blows. And with everything he holds in that understanding, he's willing to leave it be now. With a calming breath, he straightens out, too. The concern the monk holds in his own gaze towards the gangster seems to go unnoticed on his part. Perhaps surprisingly, there doesn't seem to be much in the way of lingering effects from the forbidden contact with Dhylec.
"Truth be told, it may be for the best, since it seems like..." With a low, rumbling groan, he clutches his left arm with his right hand, lips pursing while he peers at the limb that just moments earlier had taken on the clearly-unintended burst of energy. "...Something's not quite right with my body."
COMBATSYS: Tairyu has left the fight here.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ <
Seeing that his sparring partner has accepted the conclusion of their fight, Donovan finally allows his body to relax a little. Turning to peer down the alley to check up on his little ward, he is unsurprised to find Anita already drawing closer. Though he is not fully able to understand the incredible powers that the girl possesses, her knack for precognition of some sort has made itself plain many times already.
Dropping to one knee, the monk places a hand atop the girl's head in a fond gesture. The child's head tilts upwards slightly allowing her to peer back at him with those empty sunken eyes. As always, her face remains all but devoid of expression, but she does nothing to try and dissuade him from patting her gently.
"Sorry for the delay, Anita. I know it is getting late. We will rest soon."
Rising, Donovan turns back to the yakuza and strides towards him at a casual gait. He stops a few feet away and levels a stare almost as impassive as the girl's at Tairyu, only the slight frown he seems to always sport putting a crack in his stoic look. The monk's gaze settles on the arm that the gangster clutches, eyes narrowing slightly as he considers.
"This is the first time that you have experienced such a thing?"
COMBATSYS: Donovan has ended the fight here.
"...In a manner of speaking."
Tairyu releases his hold on the arm, and slowly draws up the lightly-burned hand. Slowly flexing out the fingers out and closing into a fist again after. At least the arm seems to *mostly* work.
"I know how to manifest Chi, but this was... different. It's never happened outside of my control. ...And certainly it's never felt like it was burning at my nerves before."
The arm's given a quick shake before it is allowed to hang by his side again, idly. "I may have to check in with someone. But that'll be for later.
The focus of the man's gaze drifts down over to the little girl by the monk's side, head tilting slightly to one side while he considers the pair. "You have a place to stay in town?"
Donovan's eyebrow quirks upwards slightly at that. He's never heard of chi manifesting of its own accord when the wielder is practiced at controlling it. Sadly, there is little wisdom he can offer on the subject. It sounds like Tairyu has someone in mind who might be better at dealing with something of that nature anyways.
The question regarding his accommodations earns a faint smile but he shakes his head.
"I possess little in the way of money and most of that was spent procuring the supplies we were handing out."
The monk turns his head to peer off into the distance, gazing out towards the southwest where Southtown's largest and most well-known park is located only a few short miles away. There would be plenty of quiet nooks in which he and the girl could safely take refuge. With everyone focused on dealing with the aftermath of the attack still it's unlikely that they will be disturbed by local law enforcement for loitering.
"There is no need for concern. Anita and I have spent many months traveling together. I am skilled at surviving in the wilds. We will make do, as always."
Donovan's expression grows more stern as he shifts his gaze back to Tairyu. There is a more pressing matter that must be discussed.
"Having now watched how you fight, there is something I must say."
The monk inhales deeply and closes his eyes, exhaling slowly as he gathers his thoughts.
"Your technique was very clearly born out of necessity rather than self improvement. I could feel the aggression and violence lurking behind every move. You must have endured a very brutal environment to learn to fight in such a manner."
Donovan's eyes slide open again, fixing the gangster with a piercing stare. There is no hint of malice or taunting in his voice as he lays out his thoughts, only the truth of what he has inferred. What he has to say next may sting the man's pride but better he be aware of reality and angry rather than foolishly throw himself into a situation with false expectations.
"I will be blunt, Tairyu. Were you to attempt to engage in battle with a dark stalker of any real power as you are now you would almost certainly perish."
"Mmm... If you're certain." Evidently, Tairyu is not going to let his concern on the two on their method of survival linger any further than that. If the monk claims to be able to make do, then so he will. No need to question that.
In spite of the hit from an otherwordly, flaming sword he took just moments earlier, he's... perhaps strangely casual, now. Hands tugging at his jacket to straighten it out - or as much as it can be, now - while the monk speaks out his observation and estimation. And there's only thing Tairyu has to offer in return for it.
Hands smooth over the lapels to cast off some dust gathered there from the scuffle, before he turns a look down to Anita. A faint smile tugs briefly at his lips, before returning to the normal stoic, faint frown while he regards Donovan.
"May your path be a calm for one for you two, at least for a while."
As he had expected, Donovan's warning is brushed aside tersely. The monk doesn't react to this dismissal openly but he lets out a mental sigh of disappointment. It's the same outcome every time. The pride of young men has often been their downfall throughout history. For all its so called advancements, human society changes so very little when it comes to the fundamental truths.
The small girl glances up at Tairyu with a blank stare from eyes that seem to see far more than they should for someone so young. She does not return the smile.
Though it seems as if the yakuza has said all he wants to about the situation, Donovan offers one final bit of commentary. Even if he is shrugged off again, he has to try. Who knows, maybe someone will actually heed his advice one day.
"Tairyu Katashi. I do not condemn your skills out of a desire to humiliate or belittle you. I find your desire to protect others to be an admirable trait. But you will help no one as a corpse."
Stepping forward, Donovan draws closer to the young man. He walks slowly to make it obvious that he has no aggressive intent. Only when he stands before Tairyu does he reach out, attempting to lightly take hold of the arm which had displayed those uncontrolled flames by the wrist. Assuming he meets no resistance, he pulls the hand up in front of Tairyu so that he is forced to look at it.
"There is a spark of potential within you. But your skills are not yet honed enough to wield it properly. The understanding of oneself is the foundation upon which the path to enlightenment is built."
Releasing his hand, Donovan gives him a faint knowing smile.
"And if religious self-improvement does not interest you, consider that attempting to fight in such an unstable state will almost certainly be to your detriment. You must not underestimate the danger that some of these creatures pose."
The monk's expression darkens again, his voice suddenly grim and serious.
"And above all, understand that there are fates far worse than death that may await you if you pick the wrong fight."
Tairyu does allow him to not only approach, but to even take hold of that arm. It may be easy to assume there's an ulterior motive behind it -- but the sense the japanese man is getting from the foreigner doesn't put him down as someone who would resort to such a thing.
The look the gives Donovan, however, is on the incredulous side once he's said his piece. "... If I didn't know better, I would think this was some elaborate effort to recruit me into a monastery.
His arm let go again, he gives it a subtle, albeit meaningful, shake. "While I understand the concern, Baine-san, I am not as inexperienced in matters supernatural as you think. I understand the danger. And speaking of..."
A frown settles on his previously-rebellious arm again. "I should go see my contact. See what's happening to my body.""
He's already turning away from the monk, and stepping away. But after two steps, he pauses there, and his head perks up. "Oh, right. One more thing--" In the blink of an eye, his hand's come up with a small piece of cardboard in between two fingers. It's quickly flicked to flying towards Donovan, with the full expectation that he'll catch it. A quick look over it will show it to be a business card for the owner of a certain club further in the city. Tairyu's business card.
"I imagine you have your own means of detecting your quarry, but if you are staying around the city for the time being, you can make use of my information network if the need rises. No matter the darkness you're fighting with internally, I've no doubt your successful endeavours will be in the best interests of the city."
While he continues his turn towards the street, his neck cranes to let him tip his head back and afford one last look to the foreigner over his shoulder, with a subtle upward tug to his lips. "That's the feeling I get from your fists."
He steps to depart, with that, flicking a wave over his shoulder. "Thank you for the exercise, Monk. Let's do it again sometime."
"Is that so?"
Donovan's stoic expression returns, his face returning to a neutral mask. It's possible that others have become more aware of the threat posed by dark stalkers since their sudden and unexpected swell in numbers. Perhaps the Library has been educating the populace on the dangers. While he does not trust that organization to act purely in the best interest of the common man they have shown themselves willing enough to take the fight to the enemy. That is good enough for him to leave them be - for now.
"Then I have little left to say. Take care, Tairyu Katashi."
The monk likewise turns to leave as Tairyu starts to walk away. The sudden call out makes him pause, turning to peer back over his shoulder. His hand lifts casually, snatching the card out of the air with two fingers and giving it a glance.
A business card. How very Japanese.
"I appreciate the offer," he says, slipping the card into his robes.
While the gangster is right that his own methods of searching out dark entities are likely far more reliable than mortal eyes and ears, it never hurts to have allies keeping an eye out for something he might have missed. Sometimes the most insidious creatures have ways of avoiding the kind of detection that he relies on. It would also be a useful tool for spreading information of his own. Being able to warn the citizens en masse would be far more efficient than trying to go door to door.
Donovan watches the young man turn to walk away once more, judging from his body language that he has something else to say. The comment causes his own mouth to turn upwards slightly in a faint smile. He turns to fully face the retreating yakuza and holds his hands up in the mudra of Abhaya, the left pointed towards the ground with its palm up and the right lifted towards the sky with the palm facing outwards. Though he does not expect the man to be familiar with the religious significance of the warding gesture perhaps the positive forces of the universe will convey to him their protection all the same.
"I look forward to seeing your progress. Fare well."
Once Tairyu has departed from his sight, Donovan turns his attention back to his ward. Accepting another pat on the head for being patient, Anita falls quietly into step behind him as the monk sets off towards the park. His gaze shifts up towards the sky where the sun has begun to dip low behind the horizon of towering steel edifice, eyes narrowing.
Darkness will come soon. As always, he will be ready for it.
Log created on 02:56:26 01/30/2021 by Donovan, and last modified on 17:39:27 02/05/2021.