The Descent - Round 1 - Are You Being Served?

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Description: Lightning flashes through the windows of a foreboding Gothic Castle in Transylvania as the Rose of Blackthorne and Geese Howard's Rook meet in a clash of princesses and servants.

Darkest thunderclouds loom omninously over the Transylvanian countryside, rendering the distinction between day and night virtually imperceptible. Here, rising above the surrounding forest, a fortress once held against the encroachment of enemies from the south, but its most infamous Lord was known for turning his dark instruments of death and suffering against enemies within as well as without. Here, the undying essence of darkness still lingers in perpetuity, and here, the veil is weakened between the living and the dead, a borderline between mortality and the afterlife.

Here, suffering has been, and will be again.

"Reminds me of home, really," an English girl's voice remarks cheerily in the gloom.

Red petals fall in her footprints as the young Lady steps through the dusty courtyard, silver eyes examining the lichen and low growth that have overtaken the walls of stonework structures that have weathered the centuries.

A wooden tiara with a rose blossom at its center rests atop the Lady's crown. She is adorned in a short-cut dress that appears to be formed of red rose petals, leaving her shoulders, upper back and the top of her chest exposed. Separate violet sleeves stretch from her elbows to her wrists, flaring florally at each end, and her legs and hips are covered by a pair of violet tights with criss-crossing plant-green stripes. Her feet, shins and knees are protected by what appear to be greaves made of masterfully-worked dark brown wood, their pointed heels adding a few inches to her otherwise-average height. Brown hair spills past her thighs, fluttering lightly in a rising storm-breeze as lightning crackles and lights her alabaster features.

"It's dreadfully lonely, though. Shall we find some friends?"

As rain drops begin to fall, the Lady closes her eyes and smiles.

"Wonderful. It is so thirsty here."

Holding out her right hand, the Lady draws shapes in the air with wicked nails, the lines traced glowing green as she does, then form a viridian radiance around her hand as she completes her sorcerous evocation. She kneels down and places a hand on the earth - and the green glow emanates forth across the soil until it fills the courtyard.

Where it touches the local flora, the plant life sprouts into the full bloom of a fertile springtime, rejuvenated and vibrant, lichen and vines creeping as dormant grass seeds in the soil sprout green blades from below.

Then, with a rumble, a trio of massive, thorny vines sprout up like a tree and its roots, rapidly twisting and snaking their way into the shape of branches as roses bloom over their surfaces. The tallest of them springs up directly below the Lady, and she clings to it casually as it raises her up a dozen feet above the ground, enthroning her above the courtyard. She lays out across it on her stomach, breathing in and exhaling a contended sigh as the rain patters across her prone and elevated form, eyes drifting shut.

"Much better... perhaps I'll have a nap while we wait for our guest..."

"Hrmmm... A woman, is it? No matter."

With deft steps, the butler steps onto the vegetation-covered courtyard, adjusting his glasses as he peers toward the suspended, sleeping woman in it's middle. "And she even remodeled the place.. Normally, gardening would be outside of my duties, but.. It seems that this situation is an exception."

With a wry smile, Hein snaps his white-gloved fingers, a loud, sharp sound that reverberates through the courtyard. The sinister butler is dressed, well, like a butler. He wears a brown jacket under his tuxedo, and a white striped shirt below that still. The only noteworthy part of his uniform would be the horse-shaped silver emblem on the cuffs of his suit. The young man's features are sharp, and his expression is calm and neutral.
"Good morning, Fräulein."

"This is not time for a nap, wouldn't you say? You should get yourself fixed up, so that I can serve you your breakfast." Hein was here strictly for his own interests. He rarely got the time to unwind, and what better opportunity then the one the Revenant Queen is providing; Should he win, he'd be a step closer to advancing his personal goals.

And further still, this enviroment didn't have any.. pesky limitations.

As the sleeping beauty slumbers atop the bramble stalk, the entire courtyard seems to adhere to her shallow inhalations, the greenery pulsing and shrinking faintly with each rise and fall of her chest.

'Good morning, Fraulein.'

It's the sound of the direct address that finally rouses the Rose from her unconventional catnap, causing the pale Lady's long lashes to flutter their way open, silver irises rolling toward the source of the disturbance.

"You what...?"

A few more blinks and the somnolent aristocrat sits upright, practically creaking as she stretches her shoulders with a determined shrug, face screwing up with the effort.

"Oh, a manservant! I must say, your master steward has made a shambles of maintaining this castle. And your gardener should be hoist by his neck."

Taking on a prim posture as she brings her thighs together and rests her hands on her lap, she focuses an entrancing gaze on the butler.

"Still, your hospitality in these circumstances is adequate. You may fetch me my breakfast now; I am prepared."

And aside from a slight unkemptness to her tresses, she seems to be so; the Lady seems to have some talent for having her immaculate state of dress and appearance survive a sleeping spell, whether it be several minutes or several centuries.

"And please inform me when my prey has arrived. The plants here are quite starved, and I would see them fed well before I depart."

His lip twitched.

"You seem to misunderstand, M'am." His tone was icy and his smile cold. "I am not the manservant of this place, nor will you have to wait for your 'prey' to arrive."

"Is the good lady too harebrained to understand euphemisms?" Hein took hold of the rim of his glove, pulling it backward to make sure it was stretched taught over his nimble fingers. "Then, I shall explain in no uncertain terms for your slow-witted self. I am your opponent, madam. We shall fight, and you will inevitably learn to see more then that which is directly in front of you."

Hein placed his right hand in front of his collar, open with the fingers spread, and swaying with his movement. His leading arm was placed in front, with an open, bent palm. His stance was high, elegant, legs straight and steady. "It seems you have already prepared the enviroment in your favor- But I assure you, that will not signal your victory."

"It is time for a harsh awakening."

The woman atop the thorn-stalk tilts her head slowly to one side as Hein speaks to her with dripping distaste. As he does, her rose-coloured lips draw into a tight pout, her thin fae brows drawing into dark, displeased angles. It is clear that the manservant's mocking tone does not elude her as her hands ball into dainty fists in her lap.

"Now, heed me, you upjumped serf," she starts as her pale flesh quivers with quiet fury, "I am Lady Briar Rose Blackthorne. You should not dare mistake my beauty for lack of wit, for I am possessed of both in equal abundance, and I have never fear'd to feed the worms with those who denigrate either. You would do well to begin your pandering now, before you find yourself consummately at my mercy!"

Composing herself somewhat, she places her hands on the stalk and lifts her bottom off of it, dropping down to land poised on her wooden heels on the fresh grass. As she steps slowly toward Hein, petals fall from her dress, blooming up as small fresh flowers where they land in the soil.

"You may think that I'm in need of an awakening, but I say that you are the one who is in need of putting to bed."

"I will do no such thing, Lady Briar Rose Blackthorne."

He showed no signs of backing off as his sharp words cut through the tense atmosphere, in fact, the opposite was true- He took a pair of focused paces forward, slowly circling around as his eyes narrowed behind the thin frames of his glasses.

Like in all other things, Hein considered himself impeccable. And his style of fighting was no different, provoking his opponents and being multiple steps ahead is a must in chess, after all.

And the first step of that procedure, is knowing your opponent.

COMBATSYS: Hein has started a fight here.

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Hein             0/-------/-======|

COMBATSYS: Briar Rose has joined the fight here.

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Hein             0/-------/-======|======-\-------\0       Briar Rose

COMBATSYS: Hein focuses on his next action.

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Hein             0/-------/-======|======-\-------\0       Briar Rose

When the venomous butler refuses to recant his treatment of Briar, the Rose of Blackthorne is all petals and petulance.

"You are an unruly rascal," the Lady practically expectorates, as though the words were a vivisection of the man's character, her vexed scowl focusing as her silver eyes sharpen like knives. "And I will not stand for it."

Swaying to either side as she dances forward on the toes of her wooden footwear, she swings her hands loose at her sides, the short skirt of her dress ruffling with her movements, her eyes locked on his with a mysteriously enchanting gaze that seems to assess and condemn him from each angle as she practically floats on the grass around him.

Then, with a sudden poised, subtle violence, she flits toward him, twisting and flailing what seems a prim slap toward the cheekbone - but the Rose has her thorns, and in this case, it is the long nails that crown her slender fingers, vessels of Lady Blackthorne's deadly toxin!

COMBATSYS: Briar Rose successfully hits Hein with Poison Prick.

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Hein             0/-------/-======|=======\=------\1       Briar Rose

Hein is indeed venomous, but not to the same degree as Briar- Especially not when taking things literally. "Things would be different were I on the clock, Lady Briar Rose Blackthorne." He replied back at her scathing gaze, seemingly unfazed.
"Yet, I am glad that that is not the case."

The ends of his suit blew with the wind, as the two observant fighters circled eachother- The butler was quite intentionally waiting on her first move. Playing black had always been his preference, after all.
But in comparison to chess, the opening moves are much more unpredictible..

Hein's wrist came up to deflect 1. e4, but her slender, long-nailed fingers seemed to twist past his guard, the sharp ends raking into his cheek as the thorn's deadly venom was applied. Hein staggered back, resisting the urge to touch his cheek with the venom spreading through his veins. They became darker, engorged with purple, the butler feeling sick to his stomach.

"Tsch-" He put forth his French defense, attempting to take hold of the arm and twisting it out of position behind his opponent's back, opening Lady Blackthorne up for a solid palm-strike to her upper back.

COMBATSYS: Briar Rose blocks Hein's Skewer.

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Hein             0/-------/=======|=======\=------\1       Briar Rose

Twirling gracefully past the butler in something like an en passant, Briar finds her delicate forearm suddenly gripped by her opponent and twisted behind her back. Still, the painful predicament brings a strange shift of expression, wide-eyed surprise turning to a crafty smile crossing the Lady's red lips. She feigns for a moment the sort of expected feminine vulnerability that some might expect from her petite frame.

"A clock, you say?"

The girl tilts her head back to bring her silver eyes close to Hein's, meeting his gaze upside down as she bends like a reed.

"What's one of those?"

As the ensuing palm-strike aims at her upper spine, she suddenly twists out of Hein's grasp in a display of a grace and force hidden moments before, spinning so that she's behind him. She sweeps lightly back across the grass, seeming to practically float on the greenery as more flowers grow in her wake, and as she drifts to a stop, balancing on her toes, she brings her hands to the top of her dress - as if she means to pull the garment down from her chest in a lewd provocation. Rather, though, what comes into view is a growing slit between her bosoms, and a sickly wet sound can be heard as a large rosebud sprouts from the flesh, rapidly blossoming crimson.

"You're not the only one who can sling a barb!" the maiden taunts, before, moments later, a volley of poisonous thorns spit forth from the flower's pistil - firing rapidly at Hein! As the barrage is unleashed, the low flora left in Briar's trail around the butler creeps 'round his shoes, subtly attempting to entangle and hamper his movements!

COMBATSYS: Hein interrupts Thorny Barrage from Briar Rose with Bayonet.

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Hein             0/-------/=======|=======\=------\1       Briar Rose

"What do you-"

His inquiry was interrupted by an annoyed exhale as the girl twists away from his palm. "You maneuver well, for a woman." Following this uncalled for prejudice, his sharp eyes narrow at the following gesture coming from Briar.

Not because he has any interest, of course.

The moment he sees the flower sprout from her chest, he lowers his body and twists forward- A substantial part of the barrage flies straight over his head. In a simultaneous motion, he both prepares for his attack and shields his eyes, arms crossed as he -leapt- up, performing a palm press with both of his limbs straight into Briar's midriff. "I do not care for your indecent trickery, Lady Blackthorne!"

The clinging sprouts along the courtyard that encircled Hein fail to take hold as he presses forward, the warding volley of poisoned pain failing in its intent to keep the butler at bay. Both of his hands slam into the petal-soft fabric covering Lady Blackthorne's midriff, driving into the similarly-soft belly beneath until they strike solidly into her core and send her stumbling backward. As she loses her balance, arms flailing, the blossom adorning her bosom retreats into the cavity from whence it bloomed with a similarly slick and organic sound before the hole seals over.

Within moments, though, she finds her poise again, her heels digging into the soil - almost as if they were taking root.

"I maneuver even better for a flower," Briar remarks as she adjusts her dress back into position and lifts her chin indignantly.

"And it only would have been indecent if it weren't trickery. Is it the indecency that you do not care for, or the trickery?"

As the garden nymph lowers her arms to her sides, a pair of thorn-covered tendrils creep out from the bell-shaped ends of each of her sleeves and writhe in the air like worms.

"Because I'm afraid that I have plenty more tricks for you to discover."

A faint green glow runs up from the ground and through the Lady, then back again, small thorny shrubberies cropping up near her feet at the pulse - though the momentarily harmless display of power may provide a window of opportunity for the butler to take an extra move in their game of chess.

COMBATSYS: Briar Rose blooms with natural power!

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Hein             0/-------/=======|=======\=====--\1       Briar Rose

"How fascinating. I can't say I've ever faced something like you before."

Finally landing a solid hit, Hein remarks at the unnatural structure of her body. He stood up straight, patting down his arms and shoulders to shake off some of the myriad thorns stuck in his body. Then, he adjusted his collar.

Looking neat is a necessity.

"The former, it is shameful." Not wishing to waste more time, he advances his knight- Raising up his leg high and spinning forward. His leg goes from being in position to kick, to -snapping- forward at a breakneck speed, a thrusting kick aimed at the Nymph's collarbone.

COMBATSYS: Briar Rose blocks Hein's Medium Kick.

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Hein             0/-------/=======|=======\=====--\1       Briar Rose

As the kick snaps forward, Briar Rose snaps her own wrists upward, directing the squirming brambles to cross each other in front of her decolletage. As they do, they harden almost instantaneously to bark-like toughness, stiffening against the kick before exploding into splinters at the impact. As the wooden matter falls to the ground, motes hanging in the air, Briar smirks, her silver eyes gleaming.

"Shame is a weakness my mother had," she says with a languid, wistful tone, sweeping around to one side as fresh sprouts protrude from her sleeves. "Fortunately, it isn't hereditary."

She sweeps both of her slender arms up suddenly, bringing her hands and forearms next to each other as the poison-thorned vines suddenly leap out from her sleeves like snakes, each aimed to lash out around one of the butler's wrists if he should attempt to ward them off - else to capture whatever part of him they can, before dragging him back toward her as they retreat from whence they came. If they should reel him into her embrace, she would slip around behind him and wrap her arms around him almost tenderly with a young lover's giggle - before falling backward to slam him back-first onto one of the small bristling bushes that have grown up already from the grass!

COMBATSYS: Hein dodges Briar Rose's Rumble Rose.

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Hein             0/-------/=======|=======\======-\1       Briar Rose

The butler stays silent, concentrating and planning out his steps. He frowns behind his glasses as his kick does little but shatter Briar's wooden defense. His leg is pulled back, and he returns to his stance. Blood subtly seeps into his suit, an aftereffect of Briar's thorns.

The vines curl forward at a frightening pace. The butler weaves his body past the grab-happy binds, all the while advancing forward- It was a narrow escape, soaring past as they make his tailcoats ripple. Now in range, the german presses a hand against her stomach, before attempting to envelop the girl's face with his hand to -slam- the back of her head into the lush ground.

COMBATSYS: Hein successfully hits Briar Rose with Fast Throw.

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Hein             1/------=/=======|=======\======-\1       Briar Rose

As the creeping vines retract back into their homes without the tethering weight of Hein to slow them, the force causes Lady Blackthorne to teeter backward on her feet, her poise upset. Fortunately, the manservant is there to arrest her fall, at last displaying the gentlemanly sense of servitude she expects. She grasps for the sleeve of his coat with one hand.

"Why, thank you - mmrff?!"

The hand covers her face, muffling her mouth before she's slammed head-first into the earth, causing her rose crown to tilt at an awkward angle. Her arms flail in almost comically histrionic fashion for a moment before she rolls to one side to get away from Hein, then springs up to her feet once more. Blades of grass cover her dress and hair as she rises upright, several green strands floating off of her toward the ground. Her expression is most displeased.

"Very rude," she chides her opponent as she reaches up to straighten the tilt of her thorny tiara. Looking neat is a necessity, after all. "I am beginning to wonder whether you are a manservant at all."

Stepping lightly back toward Hein as green sprouts of her namesake spring up under her feet, Briar twists and sweeps her insidious fingers forward in an overhand arc, raking toward the Butler's shoulder. As she continues to twist forward, though, her intent to grasp at an arm rather than claw would become evident - and as the motion continued, she'd pivot the seat of her skirt into Hein's midsection as leverage to flip him with surprising strength over her hips and, all going as planned, face-first into the freshly-grown briar patch!

COMBATSYS: Hein blocks Briar Rose's Combo Throw.

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Hein             1/------=/=======|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2       Briar Rose

"Aren't plants supposed to be close to the ground?"

"I was simply trying to help you, Lady Blackthorne." Hein smirked in satisfaction, as he watched his opponent rise. "Hrm. A shame, that was where you belong." He ran a hand through his slick hair, watching Briar get close. While he twisted past the Nymph's long-nailed fingertips, his arm -was- subsequently gripped. Realizing her intent, he let her continue. The butler was flipped over, and almost faceplanted- But at the last moment, tucked his head in and leaned forward, catching himself into a roll.

After a slight groan, he was facing Briar once more. With an upward wave of his arm, the ground between them swirled with red energy. "Speaking of tricks, I have some of my own.." Briar would feel the sensation of being pulled toward the swirling mass of dark red- Weighing her down, trying to pushing her toward the ground. Hein wasted no time to try and take advantage, with a lightning-fast dash toward Lady Blackthorne. To the naked eye, it seemed as if he -phased- through his opponent, ending up on her opposite side. He spun around, swinging his leg swiftly for the side of her head!

COMBATSYS: Briar Rose interrupts Castling from Hein with Bed of Roses.

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Hein             1/-----==/=======|>>>>>>-\-------\0       Briar Rose

"I am far more than a mere seedling," Briar Rose declares with a disdainful sniff as the butler escapes the fate she intended for him in favour of a softer landing. "A flower in full bloom craves sunlight over dirt. /You/ are a raincloud." The last statement is accusatory, the nymph's eyes narrowing at Hein as she poises for his next attack. "I expect I'll appreciate you more once you've passed."

When the red energy vortex opens up in front of her, the Rose finds herself tipping unexpectedly forward - her own will seemingly subverted by whatever gravitational machination Hein has evoked against her. At the last moment, though, she whirls about face, her own senses somehow perceiving the destination where the refined fighter finds himself. She reaches out to catch him around the torso with her arms, bypassing his extended leg and pulling him with her as she falls.

A hiss of pain passes through Briar's clenched teeth as her back lands in the pool of painful red energy - but her expression turns to a strangely relaxed grin after a moment, her eyes softening up at Hein and her cheeks flushing faintly.

"A bit of magic, is it? Mayhap you're more interesting than I thought."

Subtly, the nymph's legs have wound themselves around Hein's waist - trapping him for a moment as she suddenly breathes out a plume of lavender-hued dust into his face. The poisonous pollen would have a disorienting effect on most mortals - enough to give her the opportunity to roll over with him to the side, off of his energy trap and onto the patch where her hand had spent the moments previous drawing forth a bramble-field bed of roses for Hein to land back first on.

Astride Hein, using her weight on his body and hands on his arms to pin and push him into the bloodthirsty briars beneath, the Rose of Blackthorne leans down, the straps of her dress sinking in a most shameful manner as her face approaches his, eyes locking.

"Let me show you one of my tricks..."

Her red rose-petal lips form into a kiss as she brings them toward the butler's - inviting a taste of the toxic dew on her tongue, an ambrosial sweetness soon to be replaced by a burning, paralytic poison as the stupefying powder's effects would fade...

Hein thin lips pursed when his plant-metaphors are rightfully contested. "Rainclouds tend to predate a storm, Lady Blackthorne." Hein responded, right before he tried to lay his trap.

When arriving onto her other side, the butler is surprised to learn that the Nymph followed his every movement- Yet he kicks through, hoping his speed will be enough.

Unfortunately, he is enveloped, as his leg strikes only air.

He squirms against Briar's once again surprising strength, his gravity well fading as his concentration is lost. His usually composed attitude crumpling, Lady Blackthorne's 'comforting' look is only met with cold fury. The subsequent breath of poison bypasses his glasses, making his eyes burn, but his struggling cease. His head throbs heavily, the searing pain of being pushed into a web of thorny spines barely registering as he blankly stares at this Queen of Thorns. His suit snags and rips on the brambles of his bed, his blood tainting them a matching red when placed next to the roses in full bloom.

He had not yet regained his senses when her petal-like lips were pressed against his- While he didn't exactly return the kiss, it was more then enough for her poison to seep into his body. His eyes widened, and he pulled his lips away- Wheezing and coughing in pain as he felt his limbs stiffen, his body experiencing the most painful cramps of it's life. "Hrrrnngg-!!" his tongue feeling thick, he could do little more then swipe an inelegant backhand toward his suitress in an attempt to get himself some space.

COMBATSYS: Briar Rose just-defends Hein's Medium Punch!

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Hein             1/---====/=======|>>>>>>-\-------\0       Briar Rose

More blossoms and briars start to creep up from the ground around the pair, the red rosebed rapidly spreading across the stretch of courtyard in which the two fighters find themselves entangled. The wicked temptress smirks with satisfaction at the result of her falsely amorous endeavour.

"Speechless for once, are we? And breathless, besides -"

As Hein's inelegant backhand flies at her face, Briar Rose catches his wrist, arresting its momentum and robbing it of its violence - then, with gentle force, brushing it against her cheek lightly, mockingly reducing the survivalistic strike to mimic an affectionate caress.

"- how lovely. Now, shall we have a tumble?"

With that question, she rolls backward off of him, harmlessly hurling herself across the bristling brush, uprooting it and pulling it with her until she reaches the far edge and tumbles back upright. When she does, she holds her arms and feet apart, the thorns vines that she's gathered flexing and forming into a spherical cage of interlocked plant matter before dulling brown and hardening into a thick wooden toughness.

"Now, let's play!"

With the maleficent maiden's mirthful direction, the bramble ball starts to roll rapidly toward Hein - threatening to crash over him with hundreds of prickling barbs, and blocking the only safe passage free of the poisonous flowerbed!

COMBATSYS: Briar Rose successfully hits Hein with Bramble Roll.

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Hein             1/---====/=======|=======\-------\0       Briar Rose

"D-Damnation.." Hein grunted, as his feeble swipe was turned into more humiliation. Slowly, feeling was returning to his body.. but -everything- still felt stunted. Not the least of which was the intense, searing pain throughout his whole body. He had to actively subside the urge to puke his guts out. The specific tones and vocals of Briar's mocking voice did not clearly enter the butler's brain, but her tone was obvious- and it made him livid.

He had only managed to raise himself up to a knee, when the Nymph had formed that thorny sphere around herself. Knowing that he wouldn't have the agility to evade such a daring dash, he instead desperately crossed his arms in defense.


It was quite useless, as he was trampled and assaulted with a myriad of barbs, tugging and tearing open his spotless skin. With how the rosebed was still present, his back was not spared the same treatment. The once impeccable butler looked woozy and disorientated, with the many doses of poison and venom coursing through his body- Not to mention how the grass was stained with all the blood he lost from tears in his skin.

Yet, this time, he recovered faster. Back to a knee, as he placed his hand on the ground firmly. Energy coursed down his arm, and he created another gravity well. This one felt stronger, more potent. So far as that it risked trapping Briar as it tugged and pulled on non-human body.

COMBATSYS: Hein successfully hits Briar Rose with Rook.

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Hein             1/--=====/=======|=======\-------\1       Briar Rose

Though typically possessed of a firm rooting on the earth, when exposed to the gravity of the well again, Briar finds herself drawn almost inexorably forward - falling flat front-first and landing in the pool of energy almost as one might fall into a puddle. Her face scrunches up at the sensation of the energy as it pulls at her chest, her arms plunging in to try and force her way up out of the mire. The front of her dress starts to flake away in petals as the combination of resistance and energy destroy the delicate floral material, and she quickly pulls a hand away to grab the top of the garment and hold it in place as the straps over her shoulders are sundered.

"Look what you've done! This dress took a lot of work by a highly-skilled seamstress!" she chides the butler as her face flushes - more with anger at the destruction of her handiwork than embarrassment. In moments, leafy foliage spills out of the front of the dress, and she releases it to fall apart, revealing that spring-green leaves have grown over her chest to preserve her modesty as a makeshift bustier in the ancient fashion of Eden.

One of her hands remains trapped in the pool, but she reaches out with the other - trying to grab at Hein's ankle and pull him down to her level, before rolling to try and wrap her arm around his neck from behind and tighten her grip in an effort to choke him into submission.

"Go to sleep, you!"

COMBATSYS: Hein endures Briar Rose's Choke Hold.
# Disabling hit! #

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Hein             1/--=====/=======|=======\-------\1       Briar Rose

Hein is not in the mind to berate her exposure. Right now, survival is everything. He had managed to stand up to both legs, veins darkened below his skin all over, he glared at the partially-trapped maiden. His clothes absolutely shredded, he didn't exactly look 'decent' himself. Briar took hold of his ankle, and yanked him off of his feet- Barely resisting when Briar's slender arm wrapped itself around his throat.

As it tightened, Hein remained mostly motionless.

The moment could almost be described as serene, was it not for the murderous intent behind both parties. Seconds passed. Enough seconds that it seemed the butler truly had given up.

Then, out of utterly nowhere, Briar might find an elbow buried into the soft plant-matter of her stomach. The butler's vein-ridden face twisting in resistance as he attempted to break the hold.

The seed was still there, a seed of his gravitational Chi, right below Briar- And it strengthened, as his hand made contact with the earth to channel all the energy had left into it. The nymph would find herself pushed down as if anvils were bolting her to the ground, a massive red-and-black well of chi forming under them.

COMBATSYS: Briar Rose blocks Hein's Domination.

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Hein             0/-------/-----==|=======\-------\1       Briar Rose

The elbow drives into Briar's middle, exposed as her arms are occupied with trying to keep their grip on the butler, causing her to relinquish enough so that the man can escape from her clutches for the moment.

As the red and black chi burgeons beneath her, Briar purses her lips fiercely, arms reaching for the edges of the expanding pool - and when the width of the well becomes too great for her armspan to accommodate, four green, thorny tendrils sprout from her between her shoulderblades, each thick, tentacle-like vine stretching rapidly to slam their pointed tips into the soil outside the growing perimeter of the gravitational anomaly.

With those vines rooted in the earth, the force of nature is brought to bear against the force of gravity - contesting the power of the energy as green hues start to spread through the nymph's extremities, her silver glare locking on Hein defiantly!

Hein had really, really hoped for Briar to be properly incapacitated.

But in rooting herself to the ground, the Nymph was able to withstand crumpling to the ground. Normally, Hein liked taking his time with this particular technique, but there was no room for that as he instead staggered forward in a halted sprint. The gravitational pull was already weakening, with how little power he had left. So instead of any kind of trained, composed attack, he instead threw his entire weight into trying to make her topple, his hand reaching for her face in a clumsy repeat of the throw he performed earlier.

As Hein's hand reaches for her face again, it's intercepted - Briar's own green-hued hand snapping up to catch the extended arm by the wrist and hold it back as the root-vines raise her up from the earth and out of the vortex's reach. Pushing the hand away, she rises further, the vines becoming like four legs of a spider as they uproot one by one to shuffle Lady Blackthorne backward a few feet at a time.

"I think that it's time you started begging," the suspended sorceress declares, her voice booming somewhat deeper than before as her hands start to weave purple patterns in the air. Dark brown bark starts to creep over the green surfaces of her skin until it covers her like a carapace, her face masked except for her chin and mouth, her lips visibly moving in a soft-spoken chant as they start to turn from rose to purple and mystical energy gathers in her palms and fingers!

COMBATSYS: Briar Rose blooms with natural power!

[                      \\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////            ]
Hein             0/-------/-----==|=======\====---\1       Briar Rose

It was a conflict between pride and survival.

To throw away the former, and to bow down before a -woman-, or to keep fighting a fight he was all to aware he couldn't win anymore. That much with obvious by the way she defended herself against all of that- Pressure of his chi and throw alike.

The Butler was a prideful man, but he was no fool.

"I am deeply, deeply sorry for all my transgressions, Lady Briar Rose Blackthorn." He bowed down his head, and kneeled- No, fell forward. Catching himself on his hands as he prostrated, hiding his face, a face which is trembling in anger. "You are neither harebrained, nor are you a mere sapling, nor are you indecent. Those were the words of a mere, foolish, and overconfident manservant."

He was keeping his composure.

The poison still made him cramp up in pain, as he presented himself before Briar. "I beg of you, to leave this fool alive, so that he can return to being an utterly insignificant pest."

COMBATSYS: Hein takes no action.

[                       \\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////            ]
Hein             0/-------/-----==|=======\====---\1       Briar Rose

Sinking down slightly, Lady Blackthorne lands lightly on her wooden boots, the tentacle-legs protruding from her back retracting from the soil to a length of several feet each and trailing along the grass behind her. She walks straight up to the fallen butler, her head tilting to one side as the bark-textured mask retreats to reveal her face, tinged at the corners and neck with a dark chlorophyll green hue.

"You're angry, aren't you? This is hurting you just as much as the poison does... admitting my superiority. How delightful." She takes on a wistful tone, the depth of her voice retracting to her naturally girlish pitch. "My sister wouldn't admit I was her equal even when she knew she was poisoned and I had the antidote. Right up until the last moment, when she changed her mind... and then, I refused to give it to her." She smiles. "Father wasn't even cross with me. He didn't like her either."

The energy having mostly faded into her hands, Briar holds one palm up, and a pink mossy growth appears in a patch inside it. She crushes the fungus in her hand before opening it again - revealing a fragrant pile of what looks like dust. One of the tendrils shifts to push Hein's face up gently by the chin to look at her as her gaze becomes entrancingly intense.

"Breathe deep of this, succumb to it, and you will live. Reject it, and I will tear you limb from limb."

With that offer made, with no quarter given to question her will, Briar blows the spores toward the butler's face.

COMBATSYS: Briar Rose successfully hits Hein with Soporific Spores.

[                         \\\\\  < >  ////////////////              ]
Hein             0/-------/-----==|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2       Briar Rose

The urge to turn it around strong. Drive his knee in her stomach as she towered over, show his defiance once more. But it wasn't worth it, not to die a very painful death for. For all his composure, he could not dim the scathing glare plastered on his face as Briar lifted his chin, thoughts of revenge spiralling through his head as he opted not to resist.

If only he knew that should he have died, he would have resurrected anyhow.

The spores are blown into his face, and his eyelids immediately begin to lull as their sedative effects become clear. His head sways around- Then falls, face buried into the overgrown glass with a dull thud.

COMBATSYS: Hein takes no action.

COMBATSYS: Hein can no longer fight.

[              \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Briar Rose       2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|

As the seething butler collapses into sleep, a pleased expression crosses Briar Rose's face, her hands clasping together in front of her.

"Wonderful! He may be helpful yet. Servants have more uses than fertilizer, after all - and if they fail as one, they may soon become the other."

A tall flower with a bell-shaped bloom pokes out from behind a tree at the enchantress' words, looking strangely anxious, as flowers go.

"No, Wendell, I'm not going to replace you. I /like/ you. But we'll need many servants if we're going to prepare father's castle for guests..."

Stepping away from the prone man as the thorn-vines retract into her back until disappearing and the green hue fades from her skin, she clears her throat daintily, then raises her hands to her mouth to cup and call out.

"Hello! Servants! Please inform them... that Lady Briar Rose Blackthorne wins!"

As her plant-hound waddles along on three rooty legs after her, Briar turns toward the gate and walks away amongst the now-overgrown and flourishing garden that was previously the courtyard.

"I hope that the next one is as fun..."

COMBATSYS: Briar Rose is still as a flower.

[               \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Briar Rose       2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|

COMBATSYS: Briar Rose has ended the fight here.

Log created on 10:24:26 07/13/2022 by Hein, and last modified on 19:14:04 07/18/2022.