Neo League 0165 - NL#0179: Juliet vs Donovan

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Description: Hot off the heels of her crushing defeat at the hands of Upsilon, Juliet takes on the stoic monk Donovan. A man who has yet to make any kind of entrance on the fighting stage, who will emerge victorious in the clash of monk versus angel?!

Mary had arranged this fight. The short-haired blonde woman has actually bothered to turn up to see it through, too. Since her daughter's push back against her, the woman had only turned out to see her take on Mint - and then, grudgingly. She was the one who sent the letter, though, and she needed to be here to confirm with the League officials that the paperwork was all official and correct. That done, she can glare at the filthy animals in the cages outside.

"Disgusting mutts." She mutters, "You know they actually tried to get me to take one of these beasts home with us, Honey? I told them to put it down for all I care, we already care for one useless animal."

Derrick is more contemplative. After his brush with that terrifying man yesterday, he couldn't help but wonder what the hell it was they were getting into. Sure. He'd watched his daughter fight a LOT. He'd seen her pull out all sorts of weird crap. But the way Upsilon had just, dismantled her? Even at her best? That was terrifying on a level he hadn't thought possible. Nevertheless, Juliet had been insistent that she wanted to come here and fight again.

"I'm fine." She reassures Gabriella for the hundredth time, smiling. The head wound hadn't been as bad as it had looked. She felt infinitely better than she had after doing so many fights back to back just a short time ago. "Honest. Nae damaged but m'pride, and if that were enough to keep me down, I wouldnae gotten this far, would I?" She waves off the older woman's concern, "Please, Gabriella. I ken what I'm doin'. Besides. I don't know nothin' about this guy. That's excitin'!"

The 'guy' in question proves to be punctual for the requested bout. The rear door of the compound's entryway swings open with a soft creak of well-worn metal, not but two minutes shy of the appointed time. A towering figure of a man emerges into the open, stooping his head slightly to avoid bumping it on the top of the frame. He holds the door ajar for a few moments, casting his gaze behind him until a small girl makes her way out into the courtyard at his side.

The two individuals could not look more different or more out of place. Dressed in tight-fitted robes of colorful fabric, Donovan looks every bit the part of a wise secluded monk. His expression is one of somber contemplation, narrow eyes full of pain and worldly experience sweeping out to take in his surroundings. His earlobes are stretched downwards in the manner of a Tibetan aesthetic and his hair is combed back into a neatly kept braid of dark brown, the latter hanging all the way down to his knees where it is capped off in a brass cylinder. Large oversized wooden prayer beads encircle his torso like a bandolier, so large that their weight must be quite substantial.

Of course, it is not his anachronistic attire that tends to draw the most attention. Seeming to hover in place of its own volition, a gargantuan blade of some Asian design rests quietly upon his back. The sheer size of the weapon is outlandish enough to be noteworthy even in a world that seems increasingly keen on bringing back old-fashioned methods of combat. Yet it is the circular gap at its rounded end which seems to be designed to mimic an open mouth, complete with a handful of jagged teeth, that looks particularly unpleasant. A strangely malevolent-looking weapon for a man who seems so benign.

Then there is the girl. Whoever is responsible for picking out her clothes does not seem to have realized that the world moved on from Victorian sensibilities. A long dress of some rough blue fabric covers the child down to slightly past her knees, leaving the white of her tall socks visible. The dress itself is sleeveless and worn atop a puffy white blouse whose sleeves end in a neat ring of ruffles. A large red bow is affixed, oddly, to the front of the dress at the neckline. In much the same fashion as Donovan's long hair, the girl sports a pair of braided tails that hang nearly to the ground.

And, as with her stoic guardian, there is something very off with this child. Where his gaze is full of knowledge and understanding, her large blue eyes seem to be completely devoid of any trace of emotion. The girl stares blankly around her as she emerges into the open, her empty gaze falling across one of the large pens. Where as almost any child would likely explode in delight at being surrounded by cute lovable dogs, the girl merely stares in silence for a few seconds before shifting her stare to some middle distance, clutching a headless doll in her arms just a little bit tighter.

Donovan observes his ward's reaction to the animals in silence for a few moments. He had wondered how she might respond to something that often elicits joy among normal children but, alas, her heart remains untouched by this as well. Her wounds are too deep to be mended in such a simple fashion but it never hurts to try.

Turning his attention to the gathering of people in the distance, the monk strides down the long walkway towards Juliet and her family. His expression remains stoically neutral until he stands but a couple feet away, at which point his seemingly grim expression turns slightly softer as he offers her a faint smile.

"I assume this is the correct gathering for the Neo League match," he says, his voice a deep pleasant rumble. "My name is Donovan Baine. And this is my ward, Anita."

Pressing his palms together in the traditional fashion, Donovan bows to the group as a whole, not yet familiar with who might be whom among their number. Anita casts a glance up in their direction upon hearing her name but promptly goes back to staring in a silent, and somewhat creepy, fashion at nothing in particular.

A shiver runs down Juliet's spine when she sees the pair - but not because of the monk. Just looking at that girl has the hairs on the back of her neck standing on end. There's something about her that she does not like, not one bit. She can't even really explain it, there's no logical reason why she should take against her, but... no. She doesn't feel 'right'. As though some fundamental part of her humanity is gone, in a way that is even more deep than the Darkstalker she had fought. She didn't even like to think of Darkstalkers in that way, regardless of what the world at large thought. But this girl? She is... wrong, somehow.

"Cute kid." Derrick said, "Yeah, you're in the right place. Cameras are all set up. Let's get this show on the road."

"Is he actually allowed to use that thing?" Mary interjected, "I mean, look at the size of it! He's going to cut her in half!"

Juliet snorts, amused at the notion that either of them would really care about such a thing. Maybe for the sake of their income, but certainly not for her own wellbeing. "It's fine." She says, sharply. "I've nae fought a weapon-user before. Should be fun."

Having forced herself to take her eyes from the girl, Juliet does all she can to focus on the man in front of her. Another huge warrior, this time with an equally huge weapon. Still. Her fight against Tarmo had reinforced in her what she always knew: that size itself was no guarantee of victory. It would come down, as it always did, to the combination of their respective mastery of their styles and the strength of their hearts.

"Good tae meet'cha, Donovan." She says, walking forwards and offering a bow. She'd seen a few people do that to shrines since she started trying to learn about Japan. Monks were just kind of moving shrines, weren't they? So it probably counted. "I'm Juliet." As though, in her outlandish costume, there could be any doubt about which of the people present in her camp was the one who would be doing the fighting. "An Angel against a monk, eh? Here's hopin' neither o' us do anythin' tae sacrilegious." She winks, as she walks towards the spot the crew are indicating she should start from. Already, she's trying to work out what she's going to do about that big blade. She's not even sure she'd like to trust the metal leg guards she wears against that; they are only supposed to be for show, after all...

Donovan's smile fades back into his stony features upon making introductions. Seems he's the sort that has to make an effort to look cheerful. Perhaps a result of his angular features which do a good job of enhancing the imposing image he gives off. Towering over everyone by nearly a full foot helps too.

When attention is drawn to his blade, the monk quickly holds up a hand in a placating fashion towards the girl's mother.

"Worry not, I shall not aim to strike with killing intent. This weapon is an extension of my will. It will not harm her unless I wish it."

Juliet's attitude is more in line with what he would expect from a street fighter. While he has not engaged in the professional martial circuit himself as of yet, his travels have given him many opportunities to test his skills against others who have dedicated their lives to honing their arts. A true warrior does not back down from a challenge. This girl's heart seems to be in the right place. That is good because she has an uphill battle against her, though she may not yet realize the true nature of her opponent. The sword is a threat but not the greatest one that he wields.

"Likewise," he offers when the boxer moves up to introduce herself. Her strange choice of attire is noted but he makes no comment on it. Not only would it be rude but he's quite certain many people have looked at his traditional garb in much the same way. No reason to go casting stones when he's just as much a stranger in this land. Despite what Juliet might believe, not all Buddhist monks originate from Japan. He won't dissuade her from showing respect, though; plenty of people could do with a great deal more of that these days.

Donovan follows along behind as she moves towards the cameras. Anita promptly does so as well, seeming to be quite adamant about remaining tethered to the big man's legs. Somehow she manages to keep from getting underfoot as she does so despite her attention being focused elsewhere, seeming to just instinctively know where to move to avoid getting tangled up in his broad stride.

"Well. I've managed to avoid breaking the rules thus far, I think I can hold out a little longer."

He delivers the line with a deadpan expression but the corners of his eyes pinch slightly in the vague hint of amusement. Of course, she couldn't know of the decades he'd spent in quiet contemplation of his own cursed existence. She couldn't understand the raw force of will that it takes to keep his darker nature in check every waking moment, to suppress the gnawing hunger that chews at his insides like some caged wild beast. That kind of mental discipline is utterly alien to most people of the modern world who have grown used to having everything they want and need provided by some convenient source only a short distance away from their homes.

"From what I understand," he says, changing the topic suddenly. "It is rather unusual for someone to offer monetary compensation for a match. Yet, the woman I assume is your mother, contacted me directly via letter and did precisely that."

He trails off, giving Juliet a direct but reserved look. He doesn't outright ask the obvious question, merely leaving it lingering in the air for her to respond to as she pleases.

"Doesnae suprise me." Juliet says, though this is, apparently, news to her. "Mary and Derrick figured I'd have trouble attractin' fights early on I reckon. Didn't expect that I'd attract a followin'. Probably figured I'd crash out hard an' go back to fightin' whoever they could scrounge up back home."

She speaks freely and easily. In more social settings, she'd be second-guessing herself, worried about the consequences of doing so or thinking that she should, at least, keep up the pretense that she's part of a family. But here? No. Here, she's distracted by the contemplation of the battle ahead of her. Street fighter isn't a bad gauge of her attitude for certain. Her style is boxing, and there is an uncomplicated desire for self-improvement which guides her when she's stepping into the ring.

The girl is tiny, and looks all the more so compared to Donovan's looming form, but it is easy to forget that. The way she moves, the way she holds herself, and especially the way she speaks, now, it is clear that she sees herself as a fellow traveller. She's already guessing that Donovan is the more experienced fighter here, even if she's never seen him crop up on any of the worldwide fighting news. But if there's one thing she's taking from all of these fights, it is that she has every right to stand in the ring with anyone. Even if she gets knocked down, when she gets back up, she'll be stronger than she was before.

A bright smile touches her lips as she meets his gaze, and brushes her lips with the back of her gloves. Where his stony impassivity lends him a naturally imposing air, Juliet's features are deeply expressive. Those shining crimson eyes are just filled with excitement. She had a bad feeling about Upsilon from the moment she'd met him; the man was judgemental, scornful, and approached fighting from the ideologically opposite position she held. Who did that guy think he was to cast such scorn on other people walking the Champion's Road?

But Donovan... she might not like the kid scurrying around his feet, but the man himself, she appreciated. He even took her little joke in good humour, and that had felt like it might be a risk.

"If I were you, I'd take 'em fer every penny ye can. Plenty of causes in Southtown that need it."

A gloved hand swept to indicate the very place they were standing in. "Promise, ye won't be pickin' my pocket."

And then she's bouncing on her heels, guard raised as it has been so many times recently. Yeah. She feels good about this one. If she can work out how to close on a weapon like that... she might just be able to apply the same lesson to the kicks that have been giving her so much trouble!

"Ye ready?"

Donovan listens to the girl speak her mind in silence, absorbing a great deal about her in the few sentences she shares with him. The fact that she refers to her mother by name, rather than the usual moniker, is the first sign of a troubled relationship. The casual ease by which she lays out the lack of trust her parent has for her ability is another.

Though he does not remember his mother much any more nearly a century after her unfortunate demise, calling up the vague image of her face brings him a great deal of warmth. It brings him great sorrow to see a child that cannot expect love and support from the very person who brought them into the world.

But, it is not his place to pry into her personal affairs. She seems to be in good spirits and willing to face him of her own volition. The pride she has in her stance as she brushes off his question is all he needs to see to know that she will be a worthy opponent, regardless of the difference in their respective strength. A fight between two warriors is more than just a measuring contest of skill and power, it is a contest of spirit, a chance to display to the other the strength of their resolve and the purity of their passion.

"Very well."

Donovan's gaze sweeps to the right where the wide expanse of Southtown's skyline looms on the horizon. While he has little need for money, any earnings he might make from participating in this league can be put to good use for those in need. Despite several months having passed since the terrible attack, there remains many wounds on the city that have yet to heal.

Closing his eyes, the monk takes a long deep breath. One hand rises up in front of him in a flat vertical line forming the mudra of prayer as he centers himself. He lapses into silence for several seconds, his form practically statuesque compared to the eagerly bouncing boxer.

Somewhat surprisingly, Anita doesn't move away as the two fighters square off with each other. Her arms wrap slightly tighter around the creepy headless doll, her gaze focusing on Juliet for the first time. As always, her face is devoid of expression. Unlike Donovan's stoic neutrality, the little girl's blank stare seems empty somehow, lacking the spark of life that defines a human soul. She's more like the doll in her hands than the big man in whose shadow she follows.

"Let us begin."

Donovan's body shifts into a loose stance that seems rather relaxed compared to the boxer's forward guard. His right hand lifts up to roughly head-level out to one side, the other arm crooking into a vertical line pointed towards his feet on the other. Despite the terrible weapon at his disposal, he doesn't seem interested in reaching for it, leaving the strange blade to hover ominously at his back as before.

The monk makes no move to initiate the engagement first. Not only is he quite confident that her merely mortal strength will struggle to contend with his vampiric blood, he's curious to see how she plans to approach him. The fact that she's dressed as a boxer means her primary form of attack is all but guaranteed to come in the form of heavy hitting punches but perhaps he may surprise her with some ingenuity.

COMBATSYS: Donovan has started a fight here.

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Donovan          0/-------/-------|

Juliet is definitely an atypical boxer in all kinds of ways. With her build, most would expect her to be looking to win on points - but as anyone who has stepped into the ring with her knows, in truth, she is always working towards that knockout blow. It'd be easy to assume that this is because a win by K.O. is undoubtedly one of the most dramatic ways to walk away from a fight (and one which is more broadly applicable in the rest of the fighting world), but in truth it is because Juliet never feels right winning by technicalities or points. If she knocks her opponent down and they don't get back up, there's absolutely no question about who came out on top. The referee's judgement is far less important. It is one of the things she has loved about stepping into the world's professional fighting circuit.

"Aye, let's."

Her eyes linger on the child, and the uneasy feeling only intensifies, so she does her best to put the girl out of mind. Whatever the kid represents, maybe they can talk about that *after* the fight. She's going to trust, for now, that Donovan knows his business and wouldn't put the girl in harm's way... though there's a tiny part in the back of her mind wondering if that child is going to stab her in the back the moment her attention is elsewhere. Donovan seems like an honourable man, though. Would he resort to such underhanded tricks?

The referee rings the bell, and she can't worry about that any more.

She moves quickly, dashing forwards as swiftly as she is able. It's true that the means of attack is hardly a mystery when dealing with her; it has to be those shining black gloves, right? But what most people fail to appreciate is just how much of boxing comes down to footwork. Yes, there's a purity in the fact that Donovan doesn't need to worry about her just suddenly up and kicking him, but that also means that Juliet's practice has focused intently on putting herself in the best possible position to land those punches, ducking and weaving as she closes so that it is that much harder to judge where they will be coming from.

And it seems that she's just as interested to see how he responds to her opening gambit. Slipping to the left at the last moment, she lashes out with a quick combination of three jabs, left, right, left, aiming to scatter them across Donovan's muscular torso in as broad a pattern as she can, probing at his defenses.

COMBATSYS: Juliet has joined the fight here.

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Donovan          0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0           Juliet

COMBATSYS: Donovan blocks Juliet's Divine Combo.

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Donovan          0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0           Juliet

As expected, Juliet's opening gambit is a quick rush in to see what she's up against. He's not fought a boxer in many years but the decades spent honing his arts in the old temple had brought countless challengers seeking to gain the secrets of the old monks. He's fought just about every form of martial combatant there is and any that might have slipped through the cracks would no doubt bear some resemblance to things he's seen in his many years of training.

As such, her quick feint is all but written on her forehead when she moves to try and catch him off guard. Donovan's response is quick but measured. His arm shifts its position slightly with each blow, intercepting the punches upon his heavily muscled forearm. The power behind them is quite respectable considering the girl's size. It's obvious that she has spent a great deal of time learning how to leverage what advantages she has to get the most out of each blow.

"Mmm. An excellent strike."

With that faint praise still on his lips, the monk launches a quick counter strike. His upraised hand lashes forward into a powerful thrust, the fingers pressing together to form a chisel-like blade. He drives the attack towards Juliet's gut, attempting to slip it beneath her guard and deliver a strike to her diaphragm.

If she is as well trained as she seems, her abdomen should be a rock-hard wall of muscle. Not the most desirable target if he wants to take her out of the fight quickly but he has no need to soothe his own ego with a quick K.O. This fight is a chance for the girl to show her stuff and possibly learn something fighting someone of his unnatural strength.

Anita shows little interest in the fight save to keep an eye out for obvious shifts in position. She silently slides to one side as Donovan takes a step forward to deliver his attack, clearing the way for the large man's foot to slide back and provide more leverage, almost as if she knew what he was going to do before he even started.

COMBATSYS: Juliet blocks Donovan's Quick Strike.

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Donovan          0/-------/------=|=------\-------\0           Juliet

The blows are delivered, but to little effect. Juliet is definitely getting better at judging the effect of her own attacks, and she can tell she's going to need to do much better if she's going to make an impact here. That, alone, is a little intimidating. When he lashes out with his reply, though, the girl's arms raise in answer and his hand glances across her solid guard. There's some impressive strength there, too, and the moment the attack lands, she knows that he isn't humouring her. She might have taken it badly if she thought he was restraining himself from using the blade because he took pity on her; but no. Nobody hits with that much force and that much speed unless they are serious.

She cracks her neck as she considers. There's all sorts of things she could try here, but she keeps coming back to just how tough he had felt. She needs to make an impact, and make it big. She can do that, though, can't she?

"Aye, not bad yerself!"

And with that, the girl LEAPS into the air! There are of course a thousand styles of combat across the world, but there are precious few styles of boxing which incorporate a leaping jump - fewer still practicioners of it which can, for a moment, make it seem like those costume wings she is wearing are somehow functional.

But Juliet arcs upwards, and as she comes down it is with both fists leading the way, aiming to drive in and over the top of the monk's stoic guard to slam her full weight and power into the top of his head - a startling amount of power indeed packed into that tiny frame when she goes for it!

COMBATSYS: Donovan blocks Juliet's Angelic Overhead EX.

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Donovan          0/-------/-----==|=------\-------\0           Juliet

Donovan's eyebrows rise slightly as the girl hurls herself into the air upon angelic wings. That's certainly not something he sees every day. Sadly for her, however, the sorts of demonic entities that he has dedicated himself to hunting are quite frequently aerial opponents and he has a great deal of experience in handling such threats.

For a moment, he considers simply striking her out of the air. The sort of technique she is using offers a great deal of power but it also opens her up to easy reprisals. It might be a good lesson to show her exactly what she can expect from an experienced warrior. But, on the other hand, he doesn't want to discourage her from thinking outside of the box. Not everyone spends their days slashing vampires and gargoyles out of the sky, so it could prove an effective tool in her kit if she develops it further.

Settling on another defensive reaction, the monk brings both of his arms up this time to intercept the powerful plunge. The gloves impact on his meaty defense with a muted thud as the padded gloves spread the hammer blow out across a wider surface. There's less crushing power behind her strike due to those gloves but more kinetic force, earning her the satisfaction of forcing the heavy-set warrior to take a step back as she crashes into him. He grunts in acknowledgement, offering her some terse positive reinforcement.

His response to her overly aggressive lunge is less restrained this time. While he didn't want to crush her spirit by swatting her out of the sky, he's certainly not going to let her get away with such a reckless move without paying the price for it.

One of Donovan's massive hands sweeps forward as he takes a step backwards, strangely swiping at the air between the two fighters rather than simply hit her where he stood. The reason for this becomes obvious a moment later. The thick bandolier of prayer beads suddenly come to life, springing off his body like a coiled snake at Juliet. Otherworldly power gives the animated beads incredible strength as they attempt to wind about her waist and hoist her off the ground, removing her ability to gain any sort of leverage by bracing against the earth.

This proves to be but the prelude to the actual attack. Should she find herself entangled by the beads, Donovan's terrible blade finally enters into the picture. Leaping from his back with almost malicious enthusiasm, the huge blade whirls through the air to slash at her restrained form, quickly reversing its swing to deliver a second cleave.

Despite the horrifically sharp edge that runs down the full length of both sides of the monstrous weapon, each cut seems to leave only superficial marks across her skin. She bleeds but that's a paltry outcome considering the weapon is easily as big as she is and should be carving her into chunky bits of stew. There is an obvious sudden departure of strength that accompanies each strike, however, as if some of her vital energy is being sapped away by the fel touch of the cold steel.

COMBATSYS: Donovan successfully hits Juliet with Sword Grapple EX.

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Donovan          0/-------/----===|======-\-------\0           Juliet

Juliet has been hit doing that move more often than she hasn't been - but that's part of the strategy! She's happy to take that risk if she can trade a heavy blow of her own against a hit from her opponent. His guess that she is able to withstand attacks better than most girls her age is definitely true, especially when it comes to physical assaults. What she hadn't been expecting, though, was the prayer beads to be a vector of attack. That catches her completely by surprise.

Instinctively, she tries to duck away from the beads, but they wrap around her easily enough and from there the sword can come into play more or less unhindered. She grunts as the weapon makes contact, and as she pulls out of the beads, it is clear that the weapon had definitely left its mark. She doesn't stay back for long, though. Not paying any attention to the shallow cuts which mark across her body, the girl instead doubles down - continuing to push herself as hard as she can. She's determined to land a clean blow. It's obvious this man is a lot trickier than he looks; the question is, will he be able to maintain that stoic demeanor if she actually manages to crack his guard?

"That, hurt." She says, slowly, "But there's still a long way to go. All I need, is a miracle."

Is she talking to him, the audience, or herself? At this point, the girl has completely forgotten the existence of Anita. She's now entirely in the moment, and there's a firm set to her jaw. Winning or losing may not matter, but proving she has what it takes to compete? That's why she stands here, now, to begin with. She needs to pull something out of the bag!

This time, she doesn't even try to dodge or weave, she just charges forwards with her shoulder down, leading the way with the top of her head... and it is at the last moment that she swings up, aiming to crash her fist into the towering monk's mid-section with as much force as she can muster. If his aim is to get her thinking about new approaches he's definitely succeeded - she's never tried anything quite like that before!

COMBATSYS: Donovan blocks Juliet's Dash Punch EX.

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Donovan          0/-------/---====|======-\-------\0           Juliet

Donovan doesn't say anything in response to her quip but his mouth turns up at the corners just a little bit. It's nice to have a chance to engage in a friendly match every once in a while. Too often he is mired in the quest he has taken upon himself to rid the world of the vile evil known as Dark Stalkers. The sorts of atrocities he has seen such creatures commit weighs upon his soul, or what's left of it, and he often has to remind himself to partake in the light as well as the darkness lest he forget what he's fighting for.

Anita is usually the outlet for that. Though she may have sealed herself off from the world to protect her mind against the sorrow she had to endure, her innocent presence at his side is a constant reminder that the goal he strives for is a worthwhile one. One day, he will rid this world of the darkness that haunts her so that she may come out of her self-imposed exile. But, for now, his attention is on a different young woman.

Juliet's bullish charge earns her a soft sigh of reproof from her stoic opponent. Too often young fighters are eager to wager their vitality for the chance to land a single blow. Be it to soothe their pride or out of spite or some desire to prove themselves, they seem to believe that if they simply throw caution to the wind then they will achieve results even if it costs them. Most of the time they are wrong.

Donovan drops into a loose stance as the boxer rushes him, his arms taking up defensive positions. Anita moves to one side so that she will not accidentally trip him up which might give away when he intends even before the charging assault reaches its mark. Rather than move out of the way, the monk simply takes the blow directly, pitting his sheer mass and muscle against the momentum of the much smaller girl. Physics proves to be on his side. Supernatural power is nice and all but sometimes you just have to bow to the laws of reality.

The wild uppercut connects solidly with hardened flesh as Donovan once again brings his arms forward to absorb the blow. The impact staggers him back a step again, earning her another grunt of effort as he resists her strike, but nothing more.

With his opponent practically pressed up against him, Donovan finds himself in a prime position to teach the girl another lesson - namely, that throwing yourself wildly at an opponent without knowing what they can do is generally a bad idea. He'd already surprised her once by using his beads as a weapon. Now she'll get the chance to see a glimpse of the power lying dormant within his blade. If she thought all it could do to hurt her is swing in her direction, she's in for a rude awakening.

A crackle of lightning runs through the monk's fingers as he takes a quick step backwards. Once more his hand gestures at the air, this time creating a quick series of mudras as he calls upon one of the mighty spirits lying dormant within. A ghostly blue figure rises up from the large man's back as if his spirit were trying to peel out of his body. Rather than float up to the heavens, however, the muscular ghost glowers down at her and strikes a dynamic pose, calling the sword at Donovan's back to its side.

The huge blade turns point-first toward Juliet as a massive surge of lightning erupts from the ghostly figure, both into her and the blade. Dhylec, the vampiric sentient sword, seems to cackle with glee as sparks sheath it in a blue cascade of power. Both lightning and blade rapidly explode into the boxer, repeated thrusts of steel and electricity hammering at her over and over in a deluge of spiritual energy.

COMBATSYS: Juliet fails to interrupt Thunder Sword from Donovan with Heavenly Cross.

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Donovan          0/-------/-======|>>>>>>>\>>>>>--\1           Juliet

The girl's fist glows with a brilliant white light, and she smiles. Second time in a row she's just pulled this out, and it has come to her when she wanted it. The power inside her may not be fully understood - far from it - but she has learned enough to hold it in her clenched fist when she wants it, rather than being at its whims. That alone feels good to her.

She was clearly expecting an attack, but when it comes, it is in another form entirely. Every strike from this monk has been from an unexpected angle. His hand, rather than his sword. His necklace WITH his sword. And now, some manner of spirit.

The hairs on the back of Juliet's neck stand on end, and as she channels her power, she can feel how... different, it is. The crackling lightning at the command of the monk is similar to the other forms of natural power she has encountered, but never before has she felt such a strong sense that this is, again, something that stands in stark opposition to her. The girl's jaw clenches, and she brings her fist around, fully intending to power through the spirit and make her presence known against the sturdy frame of the monk himself.

But if fighting is a clash of spirits and wills as much as it is technical prowess, Donovan proves that his spirit vastly exceeds hers. The two forms of power collide, and it is as though she had tried to put out a forest fire with a thimble of water. She screams as the power lashes into her, punishing her, over and over again, for her temerity - her foolishness in trusting so recklessly to her own fragile human heart.

Only, when the assault finally fades away, Juliet is still glowing. She stands as tall as she can. Her blood-red eyes focused intently on Donovan. Her body is scorched and burned, but the luminescent glow radiates from her skin in a stubborn refusal to be bowed.

"A very old power." She says, and a serene smile pulls at her lips. "Ah, perhaps this should not be so surprising. My power is fresh. Untempered. Yours has been forged in the heat of a thousand, thousand battles. But together, we shall forge each other's legend! Let us strive for the Heavens, Servant of the Buddha, and through our struggle, bring light to the darkest corners of this Earth!"

She speaks so calmly, so confidently; her words utterly certain and clear. Is this, truly, the same girl who had greeted him so heedlessly at the start of the fight?

The brilliant glow that bathes the boxer as she calls upon her hidden strength in an effort to overwhelm his own is quite surprising. The monk's eyes widen visibly, uncertain what it is he's witnessing until the shining fist makes contact with his onslaught of spiritual lightning.

Donovan's spirit, quite literally it seems, is indeed the stronger, though it is no fault of the girl's that she cannot stand up to his spiritual might. Perhaps if she too had spent a century in constant contemplation of the world and her place in it, broken up only by the punishing training demanded of him to still his troubled blood, she might also possess an unbendable soul.

But, she also might not. Much as he loathes to give credence to the foul power flowing through his veins, he cannot deny that the vampiric half of his nature provides him with incredible strength, both physical and mental. Was it a coincidence that the only person capable of taming the cursed blade was someone who is more than human? Perhaps mortals were never meant to reach such heights, their fickle nature unable to resist the alluring call of darkness and the promise of power.

The crackling blade lashes her flesh, punishing the girl who would be an angel for her hubris. As before the bite of the weapon stings, inflicting pain and wounds upon her with every deadly thrust, but what should be mortal strikes do naught but sap her strength and leave her bleeding from superficial wounds. The onslaught quickly dies off after only a couple seconds, the lesson taught, and Donovan regards his opponent with a wary stare.

Though she may have beautiful wings and shine with the light of a brilliant star, there is no telling what sort of power this girl possesses. She might very well be a Dark Stalker herself. The universe seems to enjoy that sort of irony, a being of light that exists to fool the weak and gullible into lowering their guard. He's been around far too long to simply trust that this strange new light of her is something to be considered good. He liked her better when she was just a plucky girl looking to improve herself. This complicates things.

"It is my life's mission to pursue that very goal," he says, his expression neutral. One hand raises up to form the mudra of Abhaya, his palm facing towards the girl at chest level - a symbol of compassion but also one of warding.

"To see all darkness wiped from the world so that humans may live peaceful happy lives is all that I strive for. A foolish dream... but one which I will pursue until I am put to eternal rest. If you would bring that light to the world then I welcome your efforts. But if that light of yours is false..."

The monk's eyes narrow, his stoic stare becoming something altogether different. His head inclines forward slightly and the shadows on his face seem to shift in such a way as to emphasize the hard angles of his cheeks and the craggy ridge of his brow. A faint golden glow gathers in his eyes for the briefest of moments, a quick glimpse of the dark power lurking within him. His voice takes on a harder edge to it as he speaks a warning, the words spoken softly but with the utmost confidence that he can follow through on them.

"Then I will do what must be done."

COMBATSYS: Donovan takes no action.

[  \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////                     ]
Donovan          0/-------/=======|>>>>>>>\>>>>>--\1           Juliet

There's a bright and heady laughter from the girl at his words. It is pure, and innocent, and utterly carefree. "Fear not!" She declares, "That is the traditional saying, is it not? Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people." She is still smiling, but there is sincerity in her tone as she continues, "I am no Morning Star, Donovan Baine. But I understand your wariness. I shall show you, then, the truth of my being. You deserve nothing less!"

All that brilliance surrounding her intensifies as the girl steps forwards. She moves with an eerie grace, stepping lightly across the ground between herself and the monk. A soft trail of radiance is left in her wake. Whilst the wings on her back are utterly fake, there is no trickery in the glorious light which surrounds her. Indeed, in this state, she might be entirely incapable of deceit; such a thing would run completely counter to the core of her being. The sport which had captured her heart so readily was one of honest conflict, and she holds that in its most steadfast and unyielding form even now.

Her knees bend just slightly as she approaches, and that's all the warning Donovan will get before he finds the girl rocketing from the ground with her right hook leading the way. Brilliant white power suffuses the strike as she aims to slam her fist into the monk's jaw and lift him up high, high into the air.

Whether he's with her or not is irrelevant past there. For the purposes of the demonstration, there is only one moment that matters. All the power she has in her, all of that mysterious force which she does not even truly begin to comprehend, EXPLODES out of her at the apex of the uppercut.

It is a sight that has, by now, become familiar to the audiences of the Neo League and Juliet's fans - it is the crescendo for most of her fights, after all! But that doesn't make it any less impressive. The detonation of energy is blinding, brilliant, and utterly overwhelming. It is also pure. There is no ill-intention in it, no hate, even. Juliet's heart, in the moment that she unleashes her full potential, is in earnest. It literally sings with the purest, sweetest joy at the simple act of demonstrating her truth.

Which is why the explosion is accompanied with a choir of angelic voices singing in beautiful harmony, and as she - and hopefully the other fighter too - drops towards the ground, it will be surrounded in a mass of fluttering white feathers which evaporate away into sparks. Though, with that dramatic demonstration done, the girl's light is already starting to flicker and fade -- it takes a lot of her, and doing that twice, more or less on command, in two days? She can't keep that up!

COMBATSYS: Donovan blocks Juliet's Miracle Uppercut.

[     \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////                      ]
Donovan          1/-------/=======|-------\-------\0           Juliet

Donovan watches the girl with a cautious eye. The beast within him whispers foul words of treacherous evil into his ears, demanding that he immediately give in to his desires and tear her apart with his true strength. She is a threat, an unknown element; the only way to be sure she cannot harm anyone is to destroy her. But, he has heard such poisonous lies before many times. While it is indeed true that this girl may yet prove to be something that must be destroyed, he is hardly in a position to judge her out of hand without any evidence of wrong-doing.

Juliet's words of consolation fall upon deaf ears. It's easy enough to claim a thing is true. One doesn't need to be a monster to be a good liar. But, she offers him another alternative, one in which he has a great deal more faith.

The monk nods at her once, inviting her to show him the purity of her spirit. No one, no matter how skilled at the art of treachery, can hide their true intent when putting their spirit forward. There is always something that gives away the elements of darkness within a person, some fundamental aspect of the soul that bleeds into the intent behind the blows. Anyone who has fought long enough can tell the difference between a sincere punch and one couched in subterfuge.

"Come then. Bare your soul to me and we shall see."

Donovan doesn't move from his stance as the angelic boxer starts to approach. His hand remains fixed in place, palm turned out towards Juliet as if to ward her away on its own. Behind him, the silent Anita shuffles backwards several steps and hugs tightly to her doll, apparently convinced that whatever is about to happen it will be explosive.

A soft golden glow begins to shimmer into being around the monk's upraised palm as if in response to the glorious light of Juliet's aura. Thin tendrils of wispy power waft up from Donovan's hand like smoky incense as he draws upon his spiritual focus. His eyes close and his expression settles into its mask of solemn contemplation as if he is enjoying the sounds of nature on a leisurely stroll rather than about to face down his opponent's final gambit.


Donovan's eyes snap open in the moment just before the devastating uppercut is launched at his jaw. The flat of his palm shifts to the side, his open hand catching the front of Juliet's glove on its glowing surface. Both monk and boxer are flung into the air as the attack is followed through, the sheer power of the infused strike launching the large man from the ground despite his efforts.

Sparks crackle and fly as the pure white innocent light contends with the golden harmony of Donovan's intense focus. Though his soul is far from clean, he has mostly come to terms with the darkness within, turning what could be a source of great evil into a force for good. Yet it is that aspect of corruption within his dhampir core that allows him to see others more clearly for who they are. Half in the light and half in the shadows, he knows evil when he sees it.

A faint smile quirks his mouth upwards as the two reach the apex of the strike. She might catch a glimpse of his shift in expression the brief moment before her dazzling light fills the air with a brilliant flare of power. Everything drowns in white for a few seconds, the world bathed in heavenly luminescence for those handful of instants. Jubilant voices rise up in celebration amidst the descent of the angelic warrior's elegant descent back to the ground. Yet, when she touches the ground Donovan does not fall beside her.

Above in the air, seemingly floating aloft like one of the quickly evaporating feathers, Donovan's fall is slow and measured. At some point in the explosion he seems to have turned upside-down, now plunging head-first towards the ground. With the tiny smirk still on his face, the monk brandishes his still glowing palm and turns it towards Juliet.

Above the winded boxer, the air suddenly churns with unnatural turmoil. A steadily expanding disc of powdery blue clouds rapidly manifests into being directly overhead with a low rumble of thunderous power. From the bottom of that swirling maelstrom, an arm the size of a large bus suddenly and violently erupts downwards. With its palm flat in a mimicry of the monk's own extended hand, it drops like an anvil made out of raw spiritual energy on top of the unfortunate boxer attempting to crush her flat against the ground like an insect.

COMBATSYS: Juliet blocks Donovan's Press of Death.

[     \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///                           ]
Donovan          0/-------/---====|====---\-------\0           Juliet

Juliet's surprise is palpable as she lands, and realises that Donovan had - in fact - turned aside the brunt of her attack yet again. More than that, he had withstood it's force and dispersed it. Every other person who had faced down the Miracle Uppercut had done so by dodging it entirely; to see him take the full power and expression of her being and just... blunt it, leaves the girl more than a little shaken. She had known, intellectually, that such things were possible - but she'd put everything she had into crushing the monk's guard, and in the end, she hadn't made more than a vague impression on him. Heck, most of the people she'd battled had been measurably stronger than she was - but she'd never felt the gulf of strength between herself and another fighter so clearly as she felt it here. This man is not just some idle monk with a strange child clinging to his leg - he's a master of the art of fighting, and she feels, truly, humbled.

When the hand comes down from the heavens itself to crush her, the girl doesn't have any more of her strange power to lean on. She can only look up, all too mortal, and throw her guard up over her head. The hand HAMMERS into her, and the girl's knees buckle as she struggles against it, but she refuses to let it smash her into nothing. She stays standing, on her own two feet, and she lets out a deep, shuddering breath as the tension flows out of her.

"D-damn." She exhales, "That's... that's, pure class, that."

Real wonder in the girl's voice as she staggers backwards, her trembling body already giving out, and she does something else she's never done before - she gestures, backwards, to Gabriella, and the stunned woman hurls the towel in for her. A pure white cloth fluttering down between the two fighters as she collapses back into the chair set up in her corner.

And for once, her loudmouth parents know better than to say a word as the girl falls into the seat, exhausted, crushed, beaten. Those shining red eyes of hers finally close, but she will, at least, do it on her own terms. She can at least control that much.

COMBATSYS: Juliet takes no action.

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

COMBATSYS: Juliet can no longer fight.

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

Beaten but not broken. A respectable way to end a match in which she had little hope of prevailing.

The cloud-like arm retracts into its swirling nimbus after delivering its punishing smack which in turn evaporates as quickly as it came. Donovan twists in midair as he fall, righting himself just in time to land in a graceful crouch a few feet away from the dazed boxer. He looks no worse for wear for having dared to face her ultimate expression of power head on, showing no obvious signs that her flashy explosion had touched him in the slightest. Hell, he isn't even winded. Of course, not all wounds can be seen with the naked eye. He had used his raw spirit to blunt the force of that dazzling blast. Even with his nigh immortal body, he had felt the impact of that blow and was glad that his efforts to reduce its effects were successful. A direct hit from something of that magnitude would leave even him smarting. Quite the feat for a mere human still in her teens.

Sensing that the fight is over even before Juliet calls for a surrender, Anita shuffles over to take her place back at Donovan's side as he rises back to his full height. The monk glances down at her and offers a faint smile as he always does when a battle has been won. It's his way of showing her that even a reserved man such as himself can take pleasure in life. Juliet might not be one of the monsters that he hunts but she had put up a respectable fight and faced him with honor. Hopefully the experience was an educational one.

The literal throwing of the towel prompts a nod from the stoic monk. He moves to stand a few feet before the boxer's chair and offers her another bow like the one he'd given her upon their initial introduction. Anita is content to stare off into the middle distance as usual though she tosses a brief glance at the collapsed teenager for a moment or two in silence.

"Well fought, Juliet Pope. I have taken your measure and seen that there is no evil within your heart. I pray that you manage to hold onto that light for as long as you can. This world is in dire need of hope and those who can guide the way to a better future."

COMBATSYS: Donovan has ended the fight here.

Log created on 02:54:43 05/15/2021 by Juliet, and last modified on 13:06:29 05/15/2021.