The Descent - Round 3 - Glistening Perfection

[Toggle Names]

Description: The bleak miracles of hyperscience, crystalized hatred, regal nature, and a kiss of hellfire have given rise to something never before seen in the Louisiana Bayou: a swath of gleaming, teeming biomechanical life adapted to drawing what sustenance it can from the harsh paradox of its environment. What better place for Death Incarnate and cosmic chaos to meet, wrapped in their veneers of innocent humanity?

The remote regions of a backwater swamp in Louisiana have been invaded by a blend of contaminants that have left a lasting effect on the region. Science unbounded, crystallized hatred, and a mixture of hellfire bled into the already fragile ecosystem of the bayou and the results have quite the horrid sight to behold.

Before, the region was dark, the air moist, the plant life always seeming to linger somewhere between barely alive or rotting in death. It was an untamed area, too far away and too low in value to be worth domesticating by humanity, the life here had been largely undisturbed for ages.

Now the result of interference is plain to see. The darkness remains, the stench of fungus and rot prevalent, but added to the blend of unwelcoming aspects of the swamp is a spreading sludge of corrupted existence. It amasses around the trunks of withered willows, dangles from the dead branches of once-living trees, coats the leaves of ferns and other plant life. Flakes of metal and dark crimson crystals protrude from the entwined growths that coat the blotched surface of the growing mass.

And into this mire a new presence arrives. A black column of inky black energy surges up over shallow, fetid water, reaching roughly two meters in height, bubbling and churning almost as if liquid. It explodes, sending globlets of ebony flying every which way and where they land, accelerated decay follows: exposed wood of a tree rotting away, suddenly filled with insects eating at its dying remains, a tangle of thick roots collapses into the water as it falls to ash, and even parts of the biomechanical growth sizzle and steam away when the black matter falls on them.

Remaining behind where the column erupted is the figure of a slender woman with long, violet hair. She hovers over the shallow water, lowered toes just inches over its surface. Her head bowed, long violet hair flows down from her head, with two long locks framing her face and falling down to the level of her midriff, and the rest of her voluminous hair bound by a golden ring into a long, open ponytail that fans out behind her head down to the back of her thighs. A two-piece dress of a white, backless top and short crimson skirt tied just beneath chest level cover her frame and near-black violet stockings cover legs up to thigh-level where they end in golden bands. The collar of her top is folded right over left, after the manner of burial robes in Japan. Her sleeves are detached, covering only from her elbow down, an inner layer of white and gold, and a long, trailing outer covering of dark violet matching her stockings.

The young woman's eyes are closed, her arms at rest against her sides as she hovers in place, lifted slightly at the wrists as if being tugged upward a little by the strings of an unseen puppeteer. Behind her back, three golden triangular relics with purple gemstones orbit in a slow spinning formation, a golden ring of luminescent energy that bathes the area around her in a faint glow linking through the base of all three. A long light purple decorative horn projects over her forehead, attached to a golden ring that encircles her head beneath her hair.

At her arrival, there is a reaction from the hungry leeching mass as it visibly withdraws from a radius around her levitating form, leaving the exposed bones of mutated creatures in its wake. In some places, rotting bones covered in black break through the murky biomass, skeletal arms reaching toward the Imperator of the Novus Orbis Librarium as if in supplication.

Slowly, she lifts her head, crimson eyes opening to take in the sight around her, her expression morose and mildly annoyed. The mess here has the Mad Architect's fingerprints all over it... and while she has no compunctions with whatever amoral science he cares to conduct, she certainly isn't amused at playing in the mess left by whatever battle he had here before.

Perhaps this is another of the Revenant Queen's games. No matter. She is more interested in the next to face her in battle than she is the mess that has been made of this once untouched swamp...

COMBATSYS: Izanami has started a fight here.

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

A similar shadow appears across the muck as the shade of a gnarled tree roils and stirs as if it were an extension of the water instead of the land...though the difference between the two is often fuzzy in these parts. From that same shadow rises a silhouette, her arms extended above her head as in a stretch. When the figure---clearly female---reaches her full height, the darkness sloughs off of her as though it were oil on the surface of water.

And suddenly she shifts. Her fingers thread through one another, she stretches, powerfully, and releases a yawn. As the last of the shadows run off, the woman's full visage is visible: bright green hair with black and purple bat's wings poking forth from it, a skintight matching bat-print set of tights and leotard (clinging tightly to a generous figure), and another set of protruding wings unfurling behind her. She fans her mouth in and out with her palm as if trying to disperse the yawn.

"Oh." Morrigan raises and eyebrow at the Revenant Queen. "This is more interesting than I'd hoped."

The green-haired woman floats across the mire, a trail in the water disturbed as she flies weightlessly across it, never quite touching the surface but dancing along the very edge. She draws in close, but without immediate aggression.

"So what brings YOU to compete in this little tournament?" Morrigan says, coming to a stop. She slides her hands along the swell of her rump, smoothing out her tights, then lifting up slightly before a small cloud of bats chatter around beneath her bottom as she sits down upon them, like a chair. The succubus crosses her legs, perhaps theatrically.

COMBATSYS: Morrigan has joined the fight here.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Morrigan         0/-------/------=|=------\-------\0          Izanami

COMBATSYS: Morrigan focuses on her next action.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Morrigan         0/-------/------=|=------\-------\0          Izanami

The succubus's arrival is observed with no outward reaction beyond the same brooding stare the Imperator Librarius already possessed. Thin lips pressed together, her crimson eyes with their inhuman concentric black rings take in the sight of the woman with initial indifference. Morrigan's opposite in many ways, her fellow levitating combatant is slender from head to toe. And while the violet-haired woman seems to be alive as anything else, Morrigan would easily recognize that what the eye can observe is little more than a shell. A very convincingly designed shell, with blood coursing through it, flesh that looks every bit as real as anyone's, and flowing hair that would be the envy of any fantasy princess. But a shell all the same. What lurks within it is something more difficult to pinpoint, however, though the darkstalker would sense that it is ancient.

While the succubus is lively and animated, her opponent barely moves at all, merely floating where she is, arms at her sides, lifted slightly at the wrists, hands hanging down. She doesn't even visibly react when Morrigan draws nearer to her, just continuing to stare at her with her sanguine eyes.

"Hmm," she replies to the open question with a thoughtful noise, as if considering whether to indulge it with an actual response. "Once more, the host sees fit to put one of the Great Houses of Makai in my path... Once more, a creature that pollutes this earth with its presence."

She inhales then slowly exhales, a world-weary sound as she continues to barely move at all. "I wanted to witness the resilience of a soul putting everything on the line. I wanted to look into their eyes and see the moment they realized that this would be their final battle - the impossible fight that awaits all mortals at their end of days... that moment when their mouth fills with the taste of a lifetime of regrets, the panic that sets in when they wish they could only have a little while longer..."

Her voice is lyrical, rising and falling without ever quite becoming song-like. And it builds in intensity as she talks, her right arm twisting so that her palm is upward, fingers curled in slightly.

"I have seen what it is like when worms die. But I wanted to observe the same in warriors - in Earth's strongest - to savor that moment their drive fails and all they thought they were crumbles to ash around them."

Her eyes narrow, looking at Morrigan with a hint of a sneer on her near-featureless face.

"Instead she gives me you. Another immortal that doesn't understand the gift of release promised by death. Another that laughs at the passage of time rather than treasuring up every second in fear of it slipping through her fingers..."

She lifts her right arm further, hand twisting again, palm down, finger extended to point at Morrigan, a faint smile at her lips, her tone almost teasing now, the intensity dying off.

"And why are you here?"

The three pieces of the Magatama orbiting her back vanish and reappear orbiting Morrigan, the tips of each triangle pointing inward at her.

"Were you just hungry?"

And then from the tip of each of the 3 pieces a golden laser of intense, burning purification fires, the heat of the beams hot enough to instantly evaporate the water beneath the winged woman instantly with a loud hiss, leaving dry, crusted dirt behind until more of the swamp water can flow in to cover it again.

COMBATSYS: Morrigan dodges Izanami's Droplet.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////// ]
Morrigan         0/-------/----===|=------\-------\0          Izanami

"Oh, you are curious," Morrigan says, "like a little doll of flesh and bone. What strange creations these mortals sculpt." The succubus leans forward on her perch, the bats continuing to writhe and shift to support her weight. "But you're much older than that vessel, aren't you? And yet, I don't recognize you. Curiouser and curiouser." Morrigan raises an eyebrow when the other immortal mentions her intentions. She puts a finger to her lip pensively.

"And that IS interesting. Much more interesting than whatever it is that Dohma is up to these days." The succubus's foot swings rhythmically, tapping steadily against her nocturnal cushion. "You want to see the desperate struggle. The ah--, what was it that Dylan called it? 'Rage, rage, against the dying of the light' or something like that. He had a way with words, you know."

"Hungry? Always."

Morrigan bends unnaturally to kick up with the style of an elite gymnast, albeit one without concerns of bone and muscle limiting her body. The bats part beneath her, scattering in the wake of the lasers. The whip and twist and whirl and sew themselves back together once more as her great, beating wings.

"And bored. I think you're interesting. Let's talk a bit."

Morrigan's fist snaps out and she wraps her fingers around her forearm as if she were bracing a rifle. Suddenly, a skull like orange flame bursts forward from her curled knuckles and soars toward the death goddess, eventually distending its jaw into a horrible, misshappen and monstrous maw.

COMBATSYS: Morrigan successfully hits Izanami with Soul Fist.

[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////////     ]
Morrigan         0/-------/-======|====---\-------\0          Izanami

The succubus initial remarks are met with little more than the continuing baleful stare, the woman tilting her head forward to give the impression that she's almost looking down on Morrigan in spite the darkstalker having a height advantage, irrespective of the fact that both of them clearly don't need to tread upon the murky ground. Her eyes remain unnaturally still, lacking the subtle flicks of motion common to life, and thus far she has yet to blink.

Which is perhaps why when she does finally slowly blink at the comment about not being recognized, it would be safe to assume that's likely all her response on the subject is going to be at the moment.

She remains quiet as the lady of House Aensland continues, mentioning the so-called Vampire Savior himself. Only when she cites a passage of poetry does the Imperator cant her head to the side, the first hint of curiosity visible in her porcelean features.


She looks thoughtful for a moment before continuing, "For some, certainly, yes... it is rage. But not all."

The Temptress avoids the tri-laser assault with agility humans can spend a life time trying to achieve and Izanami reacts by twisting her extended hand around so that her palm is outward instead up. The three triangles of the Magatama vanish then, moving to return to their master, at the same time Morrigan's projection of skull-shaped soul energy surges forward. They begin to reappear in front of Izanami's extended hand then, pressed together, forming a perfect barrier clearly intended to absorb the impact... but they're a split second too late and the attack strikes cleanly.

Soulfire erupts over the vessel's figure, burning brightly before the woman suddenly launches forward, escaping the remaining pyre of soulfire, closing in on Morrigan in an instant. Her right palm juts out as she leans recklessly into the strike, demonstrating no refinement of martial arts mastery, no technique beyond fierce aggression. But it isn't the physical threat of the palm strike the green-haired beauty need fear, but rather the black, unctuous energy that flows over the Imperator's palm extending palm. Anything that energy makes contact with will begin to wither, as if robbed of its vitality and lifespan in an instant, and in this instant, it's slamming toward Morrigan's torso.

"But you are no stranger to a mortal's last moments, are you?"

As if that wasn't enough, following Izanami's aggressive lean, the Magatama bits behind her back surge together into a singular spike aiming right for Morrigan and launch themselves downward as a follow up attack, the spike coated in a golden fire of divine erasure, demonstrating two destructive aspects of this creature's power.

COMBATSYS: Izanami successfully hits Morrigan with Consecration Liturgy.

[      \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////////     ]
Morrigan         1/------=/=======|=====--\-------\0          Izanami

"Ah, yes," Morrigan says, "a poet. A fun one." She beats her wings once and takes to the air, widening the distance between the two of them as she disrupts the waters of the swamp with the draft. Even so, it is too slow, too intentional. It leaves her open for the flare of entropic power that issues forth from Izanami's hand and pulls away at Morrigan's long life. The succubus winces as, for moment, she seems as though the life is pulled away--only for her regain some of that vitality from a well deep within her, wrinkles disappearing, decay staved off--for the moment.

"A bit. You might say I'm also a hobbyist," Morrigan almost singsong before she moves curve, twist, and --- lose a part of wing to the piercing needle, which seems to disintegrate what it touches. Bats swirl back toward her, throwing themselves together into a fibrous, shadowy mass that sews itself back into wing once more.

And then Morrigan swings her heeled boot, the end of which becomes a pendulum blade, slashing toward the Goddess's middle.

"What have you found so far?" she asks.

COMBATSYS: Morrigan successfully hits Izanami with Medium Kick.

[     \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////         ]
Morrigan         1/-----==/=======|=======\-------\0          Izanami

The rapid speed with which Morrigan's body mends itself doesn't seem to surprise her opponent as Izanami pulls her hand back, the last vestiges of her necrotic energy falling from her fingertips to splash into the muck beneath her. Crimson eyes regard the expeditious work of the leather winged familiars in restoring the succubus's right back to is pristine state with a brooding glare.


She doesn't withdraw following her attack, lowering her arms as if dropping her guard. Compared to some of the legends of combat Morrigan has no doubt faced in her time, the violet-haired enigma in front of her seems to have a pretty straight forward approach to fighting. No circling going on, no feinting or baiting of attacks in hopes of provoking a misstep, none of the mid-match tactics of some of the fighting legends the succubus has no doubt encountered in her travels.

Instead when the kick comes her way, she response by shifting her arm, moving it to intercept the incoming attack, right up until the shift happens and a foot becomes a scything blade. The change seems to cause her to reconsider sacrificing her arm to such a swing and she pulls it up out of the path, leaving it free to slash its way across her stomach, slicing easily through the white and red cloth of her attire and drawing blood from a thin but potentially dangerous wound on the flesh beneath.

Glancing down briefly at the damage, she looks back up, crimson eyes narrowing slightly.

"Nothing." she responds, her voice curt and bitter. "Nothing but others like you, heretics that deny the gift of death. Treating life as a long, ongoing joke, exhausting chore, or farcical adventure..."

One thing's for certain though, the Imperator Librarius can switch from idly floating to being on the offense in an instant - and thus it is that if Morrigan lets her guard down for even an instant, she might be too slow to respond when the woman is once more in her face, both of her arms reaching up, arms going for her neck, teeth grit as if in a moment of focused anger.

"But as I taught the Nightwalker... there are fates to fear far worse than death. Trifle with me at your own peril!"

She's reaching for the alluring creature's slender neck, seeking to get her hands around her throat with a sudden surge of vise-like strength. But as before, the true threat lies in the flood of that necrotic, withering power that pours freely along her fingers if she should get that hold, attempting to wrest the leader of House Aesland into a slam onto her back amid the swampland!

COMBATSYS: Morrigan dodges Izanami's Reach of Annihilation.

[      \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////        ]
Morrigan         1/----===/=======|=======\-------\0          Izanami

In that moment, Morrigan does seem to be immortal with how her body mends, but Izanami certainly knows better. Even a Darkstalker as powerful as Morrigan has her limits, however carefully hidden. Her amusement, or perhaps lack thereof, is less concealed.

"Do you fancy yourself more of an observer, lass?" The succubus's voice has a certain melodic quality, the well-practice whispers of a siren drawing a sailor to destruction. Even in a situation like this, where she faces her equal, if not her better, the tone still remains. Her leg remains extended briefly after the scything kick. "Or an active participant in the delivery of death? The grim reaper herself, or, what is it, shinigami in that part of the world?"

The mood changes in an instant as Izanami escalates the aggression in an instant, hands reaching sinisterly for Morrigan's neck. As the fingers tighten and the necrotic power wakes, there is a moment in which there are two Morrigans, one in her grasp and one outside it. The phantasmal copy disintegrates into bats and shadows as Morrigan herself widens the gap between them once more to perch precariously on a stump.

"You speak my mind, darling," Morrigan coos. "Mortals have such a joie de vivre! They have so much to fight for, in a fleeting moment, and that's what makes them interesting. I think you agree, no?" Morrigan smiles. "Though I prefer the little deaths, I certainly see the appeal." The succubus's smile turns more wicked. "Perhaps I can keep you at least a little entertained in the meantime. Until we can move on to encounters more to both our tastes?"


EARLIER, as Morrigan disappeared from the ring after defeating Lotus, a a blonde woman appeared in the crowd, one who had not been there before. Her arms slid gracefully, slithering like a constrictor, to wrap themselves around the arms of two Podiebrads watching in the crowd.

"Hello boys~" the blonde cooed, fluttering her eyelashes. "Wasn't that exciting? Is anyone else looking for an afterparty?"

The two Podiebrads looked at each other, then at the blonde, then back at each other.

Soon, a familiar greenhaired woman sat alone on disheveled sheets, her chin on her palm. Her tongue traced her lips pensively, the room quiet as the dead.

"Yes, yes. Much better," her words were said as she rose, kicking a corvian uniform to the side.


NOW, Morrigan surges with power, drawing strength from an earlier meal. "Yes! Let's make this more lively!" Morrigan's smile is predatory, fangs like razors cutting through the dark. "Or perhaps more deadly is to your liking?"

Her wings splay and unravel into more than a dozen spear-like barbs, each piercing through the air, winding like a water moccasin would cut through the swampwater as they seek out Izanami's flesh.

COMBATSYS: Morrigan successfully hits Izanami with Dark Quills.

[      \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////             ]
Morrigan         2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|=======\=------\1          Izanami

"An angel of mercy."

Izanami's answer to the succubus's question comes without hesitation or second thought, already mid-relocation to try and secure a crushing grip on the throat of the Temptress. Her long, slender fingers clench with the sound of creaking bone.

"I offer the promised respite of oblivion."

The phantasmal copy collapses into a swarm of wings and living shadow and Izanami's hands fall to her sides, the traces of withering energy dripping from her fingertips into the murky water. The aggression from a moment before vanishes in an instant, the Imperator once more calm and controlled, seemingly oblivious to the blood further staining the white of her clothing from her stomach wound. Her next words are a quiet whisper of introspection, barely audible even in the quiet stillness that follows.

"If they only understood, they would fall to their knees in worship of me..."

She pivots in place then, turning to find Morrigan once more.

Asked if she agrees that the ephemeral nature of life is what sparks her interest in mortals, the Imperator looks thoughtful for a moment, as if the question was new enough to her as to merit further consideration. She thinks of the boring blood bags that staff the central headquarters of the Novus Orbis Librarium, stuffy uniformed generals and bland, uninteresting aids and technicians... There is nothing interesting to be found there.

But what of the others she had encountered? That loud Nordic relic of the past that would amusingly shout in the face of the gods. That cunningly devious patriarch of the Podiebrads, and the devout priest that tends to the estate flowers... The charismatic Colonel of the NOL's division in Japan... each of them had piqued her interest and made her curious, hadn't they? If they were called away by the grave, would she... notice their absence? The idea that she would miss any of the gnats of humanity dotting the earth strikes her as impossible, but what if?

"Some of them," she allows after a moment, eyes refocusing on Morrigan, "Yes."

Morrigan surges with power, tapping into the reservoir stored away by her dark delights, and as her own expression flashes a dangerous smile, Izanami's thin lips slowly break into a slight smirk that isn't quite echoed in the deadened look of her eyes. Behind her back, the three bits of the Yasakani No Magatam slowly orbit around their golden ring, casting a faint glow of sun-hued light against the fetid rot of the swamp.

"To that, we can agree. Hold nothing back, Lady Aensland. This will be an encounter to be remembered... if you survive it. It would not do to have any regrets."

A pulse of energy radiates out around the vessel of Izanami and all of the biomechanical growing mass within twenty feet of her withers and rots away, decaying before their eyes into maggot-filled mulch that sinks into the water, leaving the exposed bones of countless generations of dead creatures protruding from the muck in its wake.

Once again, Izanami is on Morrigan in an instant - that she moved rather than teleported is evident by the way her hair is swishing against her back and shoulders as she is once again within striking range.

But the destined heiress of House Aensland is already responding, prepared to punish such proximity as her wings shift, becoming an array of sharp tipped spears, all of which surge forward at the same time. What defenses the Imperator might have mustered are unclear as the weaponized appendages stab into her body, piercing torso, upper legs, shoulders, and arms.

As before, her reaction to such damage is not to cry out or gasp, no sign of recoiling or even being distracted by the severe damage rendered to the body she drives even as blood oozes from every puncture. Instead she attacks back in an instant, fingers of her right hand curling as if clawed, leaning forward and whipping her right arm, lashing out once more with that necrotic power of hers as she strikes toward the succubus's abdomen.

At the same time, the three pieces of the Magatama at her back pivot such that their points are aiming toward Morrigan and then, in unison, all three surge toward her, coated with golden, purifying fire. They'll seek to pierce and fly past her before suddenly reversing course and surging right back, attempting to hit her from behind as well, keeping her potentially close to Izanami's slashing hand!

COMBATSYS: Izanami issues a challenge!!

[      \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////             ]
Morrigan         2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|=======\=------\1          Izanami

COMBATSYS: Morrigan dodges Izanami's Rite of Peace EX.

[      \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////            ]
Morrigan         2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|=======\=====--\1          Izanami

"Oh, of course," Morrigan says, as if this piece simply falls into place with everything else that she has been presented--the finishing touches on the painting or the closing notes on the psychiatrist's profile. "Is that what it's about? Worship? Your followers bowed prostrate before you?" Morrigan's wings beat, the mud barely disturbed by the floating succubus.

"Yes! Let's make it all worthwhile! What good is it if it is not memorable--is that not the only thing these mortals can leave when faced with the call of the grave?" The succubus moves weightlessly, her boots unsullied by the muck and the mire as she moves to stay one step ahead of death itself.

And then, abruptly, Izanami is upon her, surrounding her from all sides. Morrigan's eyes widen as she is caught and then, with equal rapidity, the Darkstalker plummets to the ground as though she were diving into a pool. As she does, her own shadow seems to yawn widely for her as she disappears into it like someone descending into a tub, and she is gone.

She emerges again behind Izanami, her wings curled into a scything blade stretched along her forward as she rises into a distinct and familiar spinning uppercut aimed at striking the other immortal and continuing upward back into the air.

COMBATSYS: Izanami blocks Morrigan's Shadow Blade.

[       \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////             ]
Morrigan         2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\1          Izanami

A raking claw, a swath of dark, necrotic power, and a surging golden inferno rip through the space occupied by the succubus only an instant before. The Imperator's movements are both fiercely violent, whipping her body and limbs around without any care for normal limits of physiology, yet also graceful, each turn, twist, and spin flowing easily into the next as she was in the midst of an intricate dance.

She twirls out of the raking claw, leaning into her forward momentum to pass through the space Morrigan just vacated. She comes to rest an instant later, expression once again impassive, with all of the ferocity of her attack already bled out of her as the Magatama bits return to their glowing orbit behind her.

Given the lack of focus in her eyes in the moment, it's almost as if she has found herself confused once more at the elusive techniques employed by her target and would potentially have remained in that state of bewilderment if the next attack didn't come immediately after.

She doesn't turn, simply extending her right hand in front of her, and in response, the three pieces of the relic from before time at her back combine to form a solid golden and violet barrier behind her back against which the succubus's scything power infused wings slice. The impact is enough to shudder the nigh unbreakable shield slightly, but its surface remains free of any gouge.

Rather than following up by trying to attack Morrigan while she's airborne, Izanami pivots around in place and drifts backward slowly, an unfocused look in her eyes as the shield at her back breaks back into its three component parts, no longer offering defense from behind.

"No." she speaks, crimson eyes unfocused as if the presence within was lost in thought. Her voice low and melancholy, she continues. "People will always adore the beautiful lie... while I am the painful truth they despise. I will never have followers, but for those driven by fear or selfish ambition."

Her expression hardens, eyes narrowing, delicate looking hands clenching then relaxing at her sides. "Does the pastor withhold his sermon just because the the parishioner lacks faith? Does the surgeon stay his hand because the wounded fails to understand?"

Her eyes find Morrigan then, lifeless lips twisting into a mirthless smile.

"Neither will I."

Her head cants to the right slightly, suspicion working its way into her porcelain features. "But what do you care? Do your motives find root any deeper than satiating your hunger or pacifying your boredom? I wonder what we might find in that soul of yours."

Again Izanami is on Morrigan. The bewildering speed the vessel moves would be overwhelming to most, but the skilled reflexes of the powerful darkstalker have proven more their match. Once more she puts them to the test.

Rather than go for her throat, her left arm goes for her target's shoulder, attempting to clamp down with physical force far more than the slender limb should be capable of, fingers curled and digging in, fingernails potentially piercing bare skin.

Her right hand extends, open palmed, directly for the other woman's sternum.

"Let us have a look."

If she manages to secure her hold, if she catches the elusive succubus in her grasp, her right hand will plunge beneath the surface without causing physical damage. It would happen quickly, Hades Izanami pulling herself in closely with the hold of her left hand, pressing against Morrigan, while her right hand roots around painfully for what might feel like an eternity but passes in only a second before she wrests her right hand back out and pushes the two of them apart, securing a golden glow clutched in her fingers.

The physical trauma would be inconsequential for a noble of Makai, but the sense of something having been stolen from her vast reservoir of vitality might be the more alarming sensation...

COMBATSYS: Izanami successfully hits Morrigan with Distant Affection EX.
- Power hit! -

[                \\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////          ]
Morrigan         2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|>>>>>>-\-------\0          Izanami

The dance of death continues between the two as Izanami's graceful, effortless movements and deceptive power chase the Morrigan's more practiced---but no less graceful evasion. As the succubus clashes with Izanami's the humming, powerful shield, the Darkstalker's wing-blade unravels again and shifts back to her shoulders. Her wings beat as she darts back and away with that same easy grace.

"Mm," the Makai noble bites her lip. "Oh, I am a creature of whimsy. There are interesting creatures here, and what would I do without them?" the succubus. "Perhaps it is just vain self-interest."

But suddenly Izanami is upon her again, and this time Morrigan's movements are too slow. One hand goes for the shoulder and the other plunges deep. The green-haired woman gasps as the golden glow is snatched so succinctly from within her, but her surprise quickly gives way to rising anger.

"How," Morrigan's words are drawn out. "Cheeky." The succubus seems to slow, whatever Izanami took doing more than to wound her than the physical blows earlier. Her wings whip around and curl, shaping themselves into something, something more...mechanical in appearance, as though the protrusions become a mixture of flesh and metal. They shimmer in the dim light of the swamp.

And then, a flurry of rockets issue forth from them, miniature missiles exploding outward and curling around to assail the death goddess from a dozen angles.

"Though," Morrigan's toothy grin hides something else,a sense of excitement, perhaps, "I suppose I should have expected nothing less, hmm?"

COMBATSYS: Morrigan successfully hits Izanami with Finishing Shower.
Grazing Hit

[                \\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////              ]
Morrigan         0/-------/--<<<<<|>>>>>>>\>>>----\1          Izanami

In the immediate aftermath of her invasive attack, the Imperator Librarius isn't paying the most attention to her winged opponent. Instead she drifts backward slowly, crimson eyes drawn to the essence being held within the hand she holds up in front of her, its golden glow casting a warm illumination on the morass around her.

"Hm..." she muses, moving her right hand down to the level of her stomach, palm up, then brings her left hand over it, palm down. For a moment, the curious thief seems to press against the ephemeral matter, its glow becoming more intense under pressure until it burns with the fury of a tiny star. As the light burns hotter, Izanami's mouth curls into a faint smirk of satisfaction as if having discovered something deviously interesting.

As the versatile darkstalker flexes her creative power, the violet-haired vessel at last glances up, seeming reluctant to take her eyes off the energy suspended between her palms, her smirk replaced with a twitch of mild annoyance.

"You are quite the clever one... so subtle with the power you wield; traipsing around this world, meddling here, interfering there, staying just out of notice... You could rule in hell and few could dream of defying you... Curious."

She frowns, finally taking notice of the weaponized deployment of Morrigan's wings, clearly wary of them yet also seeming not quite sure what to expect from such a display.

She is a moment slow to respond when the missiles fire, the nature of the attack catching her off guard. But when she does move, it is with that appalling speed she had demonstrated before, body gliding backward, zigging and zagging left and right, narrowly avoiding some of the torrent of magic-laced conventional-looking warfare. But speed alone is not enough to avoid all of them - the three pieces of the Magatama also combine into their shield form, absorbing some of the impacts against its nigh indestructible surface as it flicks from one side to the other in response to the relentless rocket strikes, each one exploding against with a new pop of light and explosive sound barely muted by the heavy weight of the swamp air.

But speed and ancient protection are still not enough to protect against every last missile when in a single moment, several of the rockets converge on Izanami's position. The Magatama barrier pivots to absorb some of them coming from the left. But the Imperator's right side is left wide open.

Rather than move her right arm to ward against the threat, she turns her back to it, allowing the last few rockets impact against the exposed flesh of her backless dress with enough force to send her flying several meters before catching herself.

In the aftermath, smoke rises from her scorched and bleeding back as she huddles forward over the tiny ember of Morrigan's vitality that she had taken. Hissing, Izanami pivots in mid-air to face the succubus again, expression showing open irritation. The golden mote secured her palms burns a little dimmer now, as if getting struck by the attack had disrupted it in some way.

"You almost ruined my prize beyond recovery."

She straightens up then, relaxing slightly, a tense but judging look to her features as she considers Morrigan further. And then seems to relax. No release of tension through a long exhale, no sigh of resignation. Simply an impression that she was no longer projecting her presence with the same fervency as before.

"I have what I came for. I have no need to tarry longer."

Another column of that unctuous black energy surges up around her, beginning to cover her slender frame from sight.

"I bid you farewell."

The pillar of oily black covers Izanami completely.

"Until next time..."

And when it collapses back down into the swamp water, the Imperator is gone.

COMBATSYS: Izanami has left the fight here.

[                \\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Morrigan         0/-------/--<<<<<|

Log created on 22:33:41 08/16/2022 by Izanami, and last modified on 22:26:51 09/10/2022.