Description: Home to an elite cadre of monster hunters, The Arena of Ravenous Delights in Hungary has played host to increasingly raucous parties set to an unmistakable score of violence during the Revenant Queen's tournament. Perhaps, then, the pressure cooker into which Kain and Liu Kang are thrust to perform is an entirely predictable phenomenon, right down to the clashes of arms erupting throughout the audience which threaten to spill onto the fighting stage itself as Podiebrads descend into an alcohol and adrenaline-fueled riot.
Up til now, Kain's bouts in the Descent have been... isolated affairs. Remote locales, with an audience largely implied in the resonance of death and spiritual unrest, the wraiths of the long passed and the mystical focus of potent loci. Here, the House of Podiebrad is unlikely to leave the arena quiet and uninhabited for this bout, their boisterous excitement as palpable as anything else; yet this arena is not so far removed from others as one might be inclined to initially conclude.
Death reigns prominently here as well, stretches across the eons: impressions left by sport, by bloodsport, by the dubious pursuits of the slaying of those deemed monsters for the entertainment and satisfaction of the location's eccentric benefactors. Even before the Podiebrads, there is history galore here-- a weight at once bitter and glorious. It's all but tangible to Kain Heinlein as the lithe blonde gracefully strides into the main arena under the udulations of those gathered to witness the bout at hand.
In stark white and royal blue, accented by brilliant red, Kain at once matches and contrasts his surrounds. Fine black leather glides nearly soundlessly across the arena grounds, an announcer spelling out the fight at hand in several different languages.
Master pyromancer versus White Lotus. The burning heart of a star against the fiery soul of a dragon. Heinlein absorbs it all with no apparent self-indulgence, no egotistic approval, simply a quietly musing and pensive air, his dark crimson eyes scanning those gathered... before centering with anticipation on the man he is meant to battle.
T% Kombat was the purpose of the White Lotus. For all the righteous purpose, for all pretense to defending Earthrealm from any threat; the White Lotus existed to fight. People would bleed, and they would die. It was what the host of this tournament wanted. The desire for pain and punishment. Already, Liu Kang had been party to such violence. The forest of the Lin Kuei screamed for blood. Hungry spirits called for the deaths of good souls.
The living audience in this decadent place screamed much the same. Spirits of hunger and wrath clothed in flesh and wreathed in malice. A fury fueled by alcohol and indulgences. A din that boiled the blood of the monk of the White Lotus.
His face is flat, withdrawn in its attempt to hide his displeasure. So much so that said displeasure is quite readily evident. He is dressed far more simply than many here. He needs little more than himself as a weapon among the men-at-arms of the Podiebrads. He does not fault them for it. He has so many other things to consider faulty.
The dragon coils within, as Liu Kang takes his place in the arena. The roar of the hungering crowd slides into the abyss. Falling more and more distant with each slow, centering breath. The confident, almost playful Liu Kang that had entered the tournament has slipped to stern and ready.
The drums of war beat in his heart. And he knows he must fight his urges to give in. This place does much to unsettle Liu Kang. And he has a great opponent to focus on. One across from him. Fire, against fire.
Flames burn from many fuel sources, and the path trodden by Kain Heinlein could scarcely be more different from the Dragon of the White Lotus. Scarce are the memories of a time his family was whole, his course Chosen-- far more prevalent are the years starting on the lowest rungs of criminal syndicates and unsanctioned street fighting.
One might expect an enigmatic power like the pyromancer to be lethal indeed; but thus far, he has incinerated none of his adversaries. It has been quite some time since Heinlein killed when it was demanded of him; and while lethality and menace are part and parcel to the life of any (alleged) crimelord, for some it is a matter of surgical precision, careful consideration of causality rather than bloodlust and rule of fear.
The well-dressed blonde inclines his head as Liu Kang takes the stage, and the fervour of audience and announcer builds towards their tournament-mandated confrontation. It is not with violent loathing or deadly intent that Heinlein eyes the warrior monk-- rather, Liu Kang is a figure of intrigue. An accomplished fighter only passingly familiar to Kain.
The strength burning within that opponent is readily evident, even as Kain's crimson orbs seem to burn through more than upon Liu Kang, reading that skill, that talent... and also those conflicted, tumultuous emotions behind the dragon's stoic exterior. A subtle, mirthless half-smile plays on the statuesque German's austere features in turn. "You will need all your well-honed might in the battle ahead." Kain observes.
It would be easy to write off as a boast, sheer arrogance; but it rings matter-of-factly, from a place of confident assertion... and keen analysis. A finely gloved hand gracefully beckons the destined warrior forward.
COMBATSYS: Kain has started a fight here on the right meter side.
Boastful words are often couched in fear. Yet Liu Kang sees none of that in the face of his opponent. Liu Kang is unknowing of this man; life among the Shaolin has prepared him for otherworldly threats and dangers not nearly so much as the many varied crime lords scrounging to destroy Earthrealm from within. The people who seem so arrogant in their ambitions toward conquering and coveting the jewel they should be defending with their lives. But even if their goals and their spirits are darkened, that does not mean their skills are dull and their confidence unwarranted.
"I know that already, there will be greater foes past yourself," Liu Kang's words do betray a touch of mirth. He knows people who can be arrogant, even among his close friends. And there's a small fun in deflating that confidence by meeting it directly.
But the contest is at hand. The fight is to begin. The crowd grows hungry. Liu Kang doesn't know who shouts it, but the fight is ordered by some deep voice lost in the throng. Some officious tone that cuts the squall and clears the air.
A quick breath, Liu Kang draws deep the wellspring of flame within him. His hands turn slowly, building up momentum as his feet move in focused kata positions. Flame springs up and coils about his forearms, dancing as two, then entwining, and at the beckoning guidance of Liu Kang's hands the flames meet as one. The broad head of a dragon forms in the fires, it sails through the air with a graceful, lethal speed. Roaring as a beast, the long tail of the fiery form crashes toward the pyromancer. A display of fireworks to start the show, and a test of fire against fire.
COMBATSYS: Liu Kang has joined the fight here.
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Liu Kang 0/-------/------=|-------\-------\0 Kain
COMBATSYS: Liu Kang successfully hits Kain with Blazing Dragon.
- Power hit! -
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Liu Kang 0/-------/-----==|==-----\-------\0 Kain
Liu Kang's answering confidence might indeed rattle Kain's own-- if in fact it were from a place of arrogant certitude, rather than a keen sense of the abilities wielded by this opponent, and the cosmic wellspring tapped by Heinlein himself. The advantage may in fact be the pyromancer's, but past a certain level of aptitude, such probabilities can prove wildly unwieldy, rather than reliable.
With any two masterful combatants poised on stepping stones amid unseen, volatile currents; mis-step but an inch, at the wrong moment, and either could be swept away. Kain stands in the path of the roaring fire dragon, braces himself to test this power more directly-- and is staggered by it.
The dragon's maw clashes through him, its burning teeth tearing through his slight misalignment, subtly mis-timed guard; a searing instance of just that aforementioned out of rhythm step. Gracefully, with unflinching poise, the statuesque German's footing catches up with itself, and he launches forward in a swift, singular rotation. His own channeled might spikes all but instantly, a direct connection to the hearts of distant stars.
The aggressive motion brings one outstretched leg forward in a classic flying kick, its twist coming in Kain's sheer low-altitude velocity, in the warhead of indigo and deep purples surging forth from his striking foot, an incindiery threat offered in turn with violent, conflagratory intensity for the White Lotus' center mass.
COMBATSYS: Kain knocks away Liu Kang with Schwarzer Stob.
! VENGEANCE !
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Liu Kang 0/-------/-======|=======\-------\1 Kain
First blood is his. Liu Kang feels the heart of the dragon beating within. The fire pushing him onward. Spurring him to greater heights. The gout of flame he brought to bear, the fiery rage sent washing over Heinlein, it seems to have done well enough, but still far from what should have been accomplished. It seemed, of the few things known, the pull of fire was in Kain's favor.
The thought mattered, but more of note than it was of fear. A true Shaolin had skills beyond the mystic.
He waited out his opponent. He observes the close kick come in. Something of it stuck out as trickery, a feint or a slipping maneuver. But it was not entirely that. It was, ultimately, sheer force brought upon him. And Liu Kang had no true answer to the challenge. The force strikes him, hard. He feels the ground fall away. The surge of intense flames scorching his skin and sending him hurtling back bodily against the arena wall.
The gathered crowd cheer in a triumph at the sight of two heavy blows traded thusly.
No retort. No boasting when Liu Kang arises. A moment, rather, one of focus and stillness. Where he inhales, and sees the dangers out in front of him. He was cocky. It did not pay out. He would have to fight as the masters had taught him. With precision, and poise.
COMBATSYS: Liu Kang focuses on his next action.
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Liu Kang 0/-------/-======|=======\-------\1 Kain
No retorts. No boasts. No fear. In the dichotomy of their path to this point, the two warriors nonetheless find no shortage of quiet common ground. In the mythology of much of the world, dragons are cosmic entities, descended from the celestial fire to safeguard the Earth, to patrol the borders between it and external-- or adjacent-- realms, natural or preternatural.
Perhaps this yields its own mystical resonance in the Venn between the White Lotus and the master of the Celestial flame; eternal furnaces in the vast spaces of cold void between, touching the sky of every vantage point in the galaxy. In a moment, in a single exchange, much is said in silence-- Kain can see it dawn on Liu Kang's face, in the destined champion's steeling of stalwart will.
Yes, any number of remarkable, greater foes may wait beyond Kain Heinlein-- but it is a ceiling the masterful pyromancer can easily graze with his own fingertips. The prize, the crucible ahead one he intends to conquer with fervent resolve equal to Liu Kang's own. The small smile that touches his face as the White Lotus finds his center, nurtures the embers of the forge within, is not so mirthless this time; warmer, even appreciative.
"Many touched by whispers of destiny, indoctrinated from their formative days to another's purpose bear that weight with resentment; shirk or rebel against the responsibilities placed upon them. But you are not one of those, are you Liu Kang?" Kain's crimson gaze holds to the Dragon's readying stance, tracking each motion-- but focused on Liu Kang's own eyes.
"Would you make nearly the same choices offered your own selection of paths? Do you already grasp who you are? What you want? Why you are //here//?" Curious. Intriguing. Where Liu Kang seeks intensity in disciplined artform, Kain opens himself to it in turn; like the turning of a faucet, the loosening of reins on a predator of grace and instinct. The smile fades back to the stoic, formidable mask that birthed it.
COMBATSYS: Kain calculates his next move.
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Liu Kang 0/-------/-======|=======\-------\1 Kain
Each breath pulls power and focus within Liu Kang's chest. The fires of his opponent burn bright and hot. It's not likely he could win a fight trading blows with this man. It will require greater skill and talent and focus to take on Kain Heinlein. The confident warning was an accurate one.
"For some, the weight of destiny is too great a one to bear," Liu Kang agrees. "I have a purpose, it gives me a place in this world. It gives me direction." He walks while speaking, slow circling, planning. Waiting for his moment to strike. "There are threats to Earthrealm here. And what those threats are, I will find at the end of this tournament."
He moves forward. "Do you have purpose?"
With his words, he kicks into the air. He turns himself flat, his feet pedal forward in a series of quick, sharp kicks. The White Lotus Kombatant seeming to defy gravity as he clears the arena with the shrill cry of ululation splitting the air and ringing over the din of the audience.
COMBATSYS: Kain just-defends Liu Kang's Bicycle Kick EX!!
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Liu Kang 1/------=/=======|=======\-------\1 Kain
"'Destiny' is simply an educated guess that comes true." Kain posits calmly, one fine leather shoe drifting backwards, the first of a series of quick half-steps that come in tandem with the hurtling strikes of Liu Kang's fancy aerial footwork. One after the next, Heinlein meets the kicks with a precisely aligned, braced forearm.
A subtle aura of dark flame subsumes his limbs, and the fiery series of blows finds their conflagration drawn inexorably inwards, the chi suffusing rather than punishing Kain as he times deft deflections of each whirling impact in turn, gliding a short span from the White Lotus in the punctuating moments of the masterful technique-- on both their parts, really. "-- when it does not, it is metaphor. Perhaps you will live up to all your potential, to all the faith poured into you, Liu Kang..."
The space between the combatants fills with indigo flame, burning angry blue at its ragged edges as a rising kick launches that midnight bonfire skywards, eclipsing the sun. "-- but even then, what of when you are gone? When your watch is ended? Mankind relies on exceptional champions to continue the sick atrophy of an avaricious status quo, when to truly survive, to thrive, society itself must evolve; all the strong, all those with purpose must discover and actualize it, or we are only a roll of the dice from damnation."
Into that localized eclipse leaps Kain, his gloved hands clenching, arms tense and flexing, as the voluminous plume of flame and void answers his call as if magnetized into his grasp, only to be sent hurtling down at Liu Kang in an eruption of dark napalm; a combustion akin to a fuel-air bomb blooming dramatically below Heinlein.
"You could be killed tonight, wiped from this timeline forever-- and then the dream is just a dream, the prophecy merely a metaphor; and you alongside it."
COMBATSYS: Kain successfully hits Liu Kang with Schwarze Lanze.
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Liu Kang 1/-======/=======|=======\===----\1 Kain
Separate seeming, but quite often intertwined. Similarly, the paradox of weight and freedom are both present in the mind of Liu Kang. He is free to know what path lay ahead of him. That he need to follow it for the preservation of Earthrealm. But he also feels the weight of responsibility, binding him to a single road. Both frustration, and comforting.
More frustrating is the power of this man. The strength he brings with his fire is immense and terrible. It burns, the roaring heat sucks the air from lungs and cooks the very soul of the dragon of the White Lotus. He cries out in pain, and in a deeper yet fury at the mounting danger.
But he remains standing. And he remains stalwart. "I could be," Liu Kang admits. He knows that lives are on the line. He understands these things. "But all your talk of societies and thriving won't mean anything if Earthrealm is not defended. If I am not here, are you willing to step up?"
One final focusing breath, and Liu Kang surges forward. His movements are simple and direct. He slips in, turns backward, and brings a heavily driving blow down toward his opponent's head. No flash, no tricks, simple technique. It is pure, and it is what Liu Kang may have forgotten in his overconfidence.
COMBATSYS: Liu Kang successfully hits Kain with Dragon's Roar.
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Liu Kang 1/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|=======\=====--\1 Kain
Duty. Authority. It guides mankind towards the destiny ordained by those around themselves, by those with power and influence over the most elusive and unpredictable of things: the human mind. One's spirit, one's will, one's //purpose//. For good or ill, it rings dissonant to Kain; a denial of choice, of self, of finding one's purpose outside the established patterns and pathways.
Heinlein's strength is indeed remarkable-- perhaps nearly insurmountable, for most... but Liu Kang's training, the White Lotus' talent, is far from a simple threat to dismiss. Were he to underestimate this man, lose his momentum and be caught within the tsunami rising within the Dragon, Kain could be swiftly overwhelmed.
Liu Kang demonstrates this by socking the pyromancer squarely in his deceptively delicate jaw; the blow rings against a surprisingly solid target punching Kain in his handsome features, however. Heinlein reels, his head screams a whistling objection, but he scarcely grunts; he does not fall. Once again, graceful footing recovers several staggered steps from that point of impact,
"Without hesitation." Kain replies steadily, without, well, any hesitation! "The Earthrealm I envision, free of the tyranny of avarice and weak-willed men //cannot// be allowed to be devoured to the purpose of otherworldly overlords instead. Too many have already traded their own power, their own purpose away for the illusion of greater might; a /tool/ for another!"
Does Liu Kang fall into that grouping? The words lack targeted indictment, resentment or disapproval great enough for that to be implicit. No, the White Lotus is a far different phenomenon from Rugal, from the cursed bargain now tied to the Yagami fire; from so many other examples of Earth's mightiest succumbing to the seductive siren's song of easy ascension. Ascension that leads inexorably to the pit.
Even as he speaks, Kain twists to snap one finely gloved hand outwards, a vise-like grasp sought on Liu Kang's neck before a reversing of that turn shifts Kain's weight behind a simple, but nonetheless dangerous snap of momentum cut short in the heave of arm and shoulder, intent on hurtling the Dragon back across the arena in a surging spout of white-edged, ragged blue and purple starfire, a flash of punishing, razor edges.
"Your strength is remarkable, your disciplined will impressive indeed-- but such must be /excercised/, /expanded/, not executed by rote. You are a sacrificial lamb to an ancient system of 'close enough'. A point along an endless spiral of causality that will never be free of its own carefully designed inertia."
COMBATSYS: Liu Kang counters Fast Throw from Kain with Hidden Lotus EX.
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Liu Kang 2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|=======\======-\1 Kain
Kain's graceful hand reaches toward Liu Kang. The Shaolin has been taciturn in hearing out his opponent's philosophy. It is not one borne of apparent greed. But he cannot find himself to agree with the German's assertions.
A snap of the wrist. Liu Kang brings up a sweeping hand to catch against Kain's wrist. And in that moment he bursts into flame and ash, dissipating entirely.
He appears behind Kain and with a sharp backhand, claps against nape of Kain's neck. It is a forceful blow as much as it is a physical chastisement. "You mistake the purpose of duty. I give my skill and my power to allow Earthrealm to thrive. To avoid the destruction of those from outside the Realm. There are many who are strong willed yet slaves to their own hunger. Conquerors from countless worlds."
He adopts a ready pose, waiting and watching, prepared for what comes next. "If you are so strong, why do you seek to contend only against the weak?"
Impressive. Liu Kang's speed and daring are on full display deflecting the swift grapple Heinlein attempts, and instead of sending the Dragon hurtling clear, it's Kain who's staggered forward, bent by the sharp blow to his upper spine. The pain blossoms through said central conduit, but Kain does not allow it to slow him, to distract him, even to frustrate him.
"An interesting presumption-- given my presence here, and appeal of words alongside action. Do not mistake my questions for malice or threat; -I- do not want you dead, Liu Kang." Even if the fierce fight and dark timeline assertions could easily lend themselves to that interpretation. The pyromancer of the celestial void twists, aligning himself with the White Lotus once more, eyes narrowing as he tracks the man's own poised momentum.
"I do not seek to -eliminate- the avaricious and oppressive, per se." Heinlein clarifies, even as his right arm thrusts forward, twin plumes of dark flame orbiting its length in the flash of an eye, clashing-- nay, coursing together at the grasp of curled fingertips and surging instantly into a miniaturized, dark star, a fiery heart orbited by those twin tails of conflagration.
"Purging the weak, those with undeserved authority has been the misguided, simplistic goal of every conqueror and most revolutionaries throughout history. -Is- the Earthrealm safe, and strong, Liu Kang? Does it not teeter on the very precipice of conquest or destruction, within and without? Is your crusade boring-- or endlessly daunting?" Strength of will notwithstanding. One can stand up to, relentlessly face a challenge, and still recognize it for what it is.
It is this camp Kain clearly identifies with, even as that burst of cosmic fire roars across the distance separating them. "It is a question of building something better; of uplifting the strong, the insightful, the -free- who are downtrodden and suppressed. The real trial is not how strong an adversary one can personally best."
COMBATSYS: Kain knocks away Liu Kang with Schwarze Flamme.
- Power hit! -
-+- CALCULATED HIT -+-
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Liu Kang 2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2 Kain
The Destiny of the White Lotus is to put himself to eternal service in the defense of Earthrealm. It is to know a purpose. To know a duty. Liu Kang knows this. And with all the power this Kain brings, he still cannot seem to see the strength in that purpose. He sees only strong being held back by weak, despite the paradox that philosophy requires.
But the man speaks with purpose, and presents the scouring flame that sears the Shaolin. Liu Kang had done all he could to stay one step ahead. To swiftly move around the challenge ahead of him. But he could not. The fire engulfs him. It roars about it, tears through him, destroys his ability to fight. Casts him down in a disregard that shows the gulf of power between the two.
Liu Kang feels the fading around him. He sags, staggers, and stumbles. He drops to a knee. The roaring heat around him. He screams. He cries out in a raging fury.
From him, rises a fiery dragon. His body falling, a searing flame builds within Kain's. A shifting face. A countenance of the dragon roars forward, tearing through the fires and swimming through the air. It's jaws open wide, fangs bared, to close down about Heinlein.
All the while, the energy has left the Shaolin. His spirit spent. He falls back, body tumbling away, rolling listlessly and still amid the fires.
COMBATSYS: Liu Kang can no longer fight.
> /////////////////// ]
COMBATSYS: Kain just-defends Liu Kang's Immortal Dragon!!
> ////////////////////// ]
Ah, but without respect for Liu Kang's strength, without understanding of the necessity amid crisis of the White Lotus' purpose, Kain R. Heinlein would not speak so frankly, so openly to the other warrior. While the wielder of seemingly inexorable, stellar might may judge many of the structures, dogmas, and traditions surrounding the Dragon as faulty at best... no such condemnation waits for Liu Kang himself.
The man is an exemplar, perhaps not a diamond in the rough-- for indeed, the White Lotus has been carefully, precisely polished and prepared to be precisely what he appears to be. Even in the agonizing, burning chill of conjured starfire, of endless, cosmic void, Liu Kang summons remarkable, nigh uncanny reserves-- births his spirit as a celestial beast, a fleeting, phoenix of flame and fury. This bestial projection of will closes its maw around Kain-- and the pyromancer welcomes it. Opens himself to it. Every muscle in Heinlein's body tenses, crimson eyes narrowed in focus, and the dark vacuum of that aforementioned darkness rises to meet the dragon, a clash of chi like the heart of a fusing star.
The fiery totem is not rejected, not detonated, and yet not successful in finding its prey-- a wicked torrent of raw power surrounds and subsumes Heinlein, a coruscating wave of mingling flame and darkness, of blue-touched starlight mingled in a centralized brightness that seems to draw the illumination from the arena itself in dramatic, if transitory clash. For that moment, Kain's aura, his braced defiance, is a conglomerated conflagration of forces, whirling towards a centerpoint and consumed in fire and shadow. When the wild, gale-blown tumult of Heinlein's golden mane settles about his noble features, the pyromancer breathes deep, a satisfied and centering sound.
"You are a worthy champion of your cause, Liu Kang; among the worthiest. Think, however, on what you would build beyond that cycle of sacrifice and duty that cannot be shirked; what promise this world, and humankind itself, might have past its stagnant complicity. What could be built, I wonder, if Earthrealm relied not on the selfless courage of individual champions-- and instead rose to meet a new age with the elevation and evolution of all its promise; of all its untapped potential." Why else -are- they here; surely, it cannot be so simple as the endless karmic spiral of cause and consequence.
COMBATSYS: Kain has ended the fight here.
Log created on 19:12:47 08/11/2022 by Kain, and last modified on 11:36:33 08/25/2022.