Description: "Izanami Hades: You have explored the nature of Death and its strange contradictions throughout these proceedings, battling men untouched by its cold hand and a woman who thrives in spite of its possibility-- and like yourself, all have had the benefit of immortality to crystallize their ways of life. Thus, before your Descent continues, I challenge you to test your might against a man who still seeks to transcend the bounds of his mortality, once and for all-- a demon in flesh grinning from the dark, liminal reaches of humanity. Meet VEGA, the King of Heaven on the field of your choosing, and perhaps on the other side, you will find your will to Descend sharpened in the wake of chaotic ambition."
In the heart of the East half of China exists the Mausoleum of Qin Shi Huang - the first Qin Emperor who united all of China into the nation it is today. Occupying a vast space of nearly fifteen square miles of hidden chambers, most of what lies beneath the earth remains a mystery. Archaeologists have entered and recorded the contents of a few of the large underground chambers constructed over two thousand years ago, but concerns about potential damage to the cultural heritage of the awe inspiring site have kept large scale excavations at bay.
While the use of modern technology, sonars, and other mapping equipment have given eager researches some idea of what the chambers just beneath the surface might be like, their shallow exploration has left one particularly deep sepulcher completely undiscovered. Located two hundred feet below the currently known areas of the Mausoleum, this hidden tomb has not been seen by the living in almost two millennia.
And it is there that Hades Izanami waits patiently.
Clearly dug out of stone by ancient means, the square chamber is at least two hundred meters to a side if not more, and the ceiling is a comfortable twenty meters above the floor. It bears many similarities to the areas discovered above - four life-sized ornately sculpted bronze horses attached to two bronze chariots, with each chariot occupied by a robed figure of clay, its robe painted green with golden cuffs, its face a frozen grimace that has been held since the day it was carved by a craftsman almost a hundred generations in the past. Large golden statues of armored warriors bearing spears guarding a large alter of precious metals and decorated with gemstones of all colors occupy the center raised platform of the tomb. And lining all sides, in silent vigil, rows and rows of terracotta warriors stand forever at the ready to protect their buried lord, numbering well into the hundreds.
But there are features not found in the chambers above equally impressive - between the border of clay warriors and the center platform is a squared moat of liquid silver - mercury, four feet deep and six feet wide. And of additional interest are the large stone braziers in each corner of the raised platform, each one burning a different color of flame: red, green, blue, and white. Close inspection would reveal that it isn't wood the multi-hued fires burn, but rather smooth spherical stones that seem to emit the fires rather than be consumed by them.
Before the central altar, Izanami can be found levitating in lotus posture a few feet over the packed, dry earth. Violet hair, held in a long, free flowing ponytail by a cylinder of gold drapes against her shoulders and back. Her head is bowed, face hidden, but the horned crown of purple stone that juts up from her forehead is difficult to miss. The slender figure is clothed in a backless dress of white and red, the collar of her dress folded right over left - the same way a burial kimono would be folded. Her arms are covered by detached sleeves with white in the center and a cuff of dark purple draping down over the outside. Her folded, crossed legs are covered by gray thigh-high stockings with golden bands at the top and her feet seem to be small even for her stature, encased in tips of golden metal.
Behind the hovering woman's back is another wonder - three gold triangles with encased violet stones orbit behind Izanami along a ring of golden, glowing energy. The ring itself casts a bright enough glow to illuminate the area around Izanami like a small sun, the slow orbit of the pieces casting moving shadows over the patient terracotta warriors.
The one she is to battle this day would recognize her immediately as the Imperator Librarius of the Novus Orbis Librarius - the leader of the supernatural paramilitary organization that has entrenched itself into most First World Nations around the globe. The last time he might have seen her, she would have been dressed in layers of regal robes of Eastern-style royalty, speaking into a camera... where she declared in no uncertain terms that the Librarium would root out and destroy the likes of Shadaloo and other dark cartels like it. It's possible he'd even recall her words from the broadcast:
"Shadaloo... your time of plotting in the shadows is at an end.... Vega... settle your affairs. Leave no regrets. For I assure you... the day of your reckoning is close at hand."
At this moment, there no words from the levitating leader of the Librarium. She would have conveyed to Vega through intermediaries where he could find her. Exactly how he would get into the forgotten chamber deep underground would be left to him to figure out.
Vega, Lord of Shadaloo and God of Psycho Power, was quite amused when the entity that calls itself the Revenant Queen had decided that he should participate in this tournament of hers. Participate in a way that he cannot even -win-, just expend resources of power, and for what? To what end? Initially, he had planned on blowing it off. His plans will not advance themselves, and Shadaloo never sleeps.
Then he found out who he was to fight. The twisted smile that crossed his face was a horror.
Far above the chamber that Izanami meditates in, Vega stands, staring at the ground. At his left is Decapre, on his right Marz. He doesn't even look at them. "If I do not return in two hours, return to base and prepare to receive me in the Psycho Drive." Decapre is, as she most often is, silent. Marz bows deeply. "Of course, Lord Vega. Your will be done." The two Dolls step backwards and then make for the transport to wait in silence. Vega tilts his head slightly, expression shifting like he's searching for something. It straightens in some form of recognition, and then the world ripples around him as he bends space with the raw might of his mind.
Far below, the Dictator reappears in the shadows cast by the braizers, his eyes glowing in the darkness. His tone is amused (as it always is unless he's infuriated). "Hades Izanami, master of the Librarium, and," he chuckles, floating out into the light, his cape covering him from the neck down. "'God of Death'. Well met."
Very few sounds exist within the secret tomb. No air seems to flow through it, leaving the silver moats of liquid mercury perfectly still. No creatures stir here, no trespassers but for the hovering Izanami who does not seem to draw breath in her patient vigil. If not for the crackle of the colored flames, the room would be blanketed in absolute silence. Time passes as she waits, legs folded, arms resting across her bent knees, hands positioned palm upward, but she isn't completely still. Instead, her fingers bend and flex, sometimes curling, sometimes stretching, touching finger tips together in rapid transitions between different gestures - the Mudra, most often associated with the faiths out of India and ancient China.
The moment the master of Shadaloo arrives, Izanami's hands stop moving, her thumb and forefinger on each hand touching, other fingers extended, her eyes slowly opening. Her irises are crimson, and though he would likely be too far to notice right away, the bear an inhuman pattern of concentric circles rather than a normal dark pupil.
She unfolds her legs from the Lotus position, stretching them downward, pointing her toes toward the dried clay floor beneath her but never quite touching it as she continues to hover in place.
"Welcome," she responds, "Lord Vega. To one of my many houses." Her voice carries a hint of imperious, but even more noticeable is the almost lyrical way she speaks, tones rising and falling as if in keeping with an unknown song. Her face is lowered slightly in spite Vega's presence standing taller, creating almost a false illusion of looking down on him with the way her eyes roll upward.
She drifts away from her original spot, along one of the many hard packed raised dirt around the trenches full of clay soldiers.
"When Qin Shi Huang's conquest began in earnest to unite the lands of China under one throne... he had this sepulcher dug deep, unknown to all but those in his court responsible for its construction and the craftsmen employed."
Her eyes move away from Vega to take in the terracotta warriors, the moat of mercury, the golden statues, the ornate trappings on the walls and hanging from the ceilings.
"This was to be the last resting place of each of the rulers Emperor Qin conquered."
For all the accouterments and treasures of the memorial, one thing that is not found anywhere within the chamber is a single inscription. No gravestones, no tombs, no epitaphs...
The corner of Izanami's mouth pulls up in a slight smirk as she looks once more toward the Tyrant of Psycho Power. "No one remembers their names - those rulers of defeated lands. No tribute was paid to them in their passing. And no songs sung in their remembrance. The triumphant Emperor anointed this memorial as the Tomb of the Forgotten Kings."
The violet-haired woman's head cants to the side slightly. "I do not pretend to understand the Revenant Queen's ploy. But here we are all the same. Tread carefully, that you do not join these forgotten ones," she sweeps her right hand at the room before lowering it to her side.
A man of his power would see through the veneer of Izanami with ease. While it was a human face with porcelain pale skin looking back at him, and while her slender form matched that of a human body, the thing addressing him from behind those eyes was something ancient, something disconnected from reality, with thoughts and psyche as far from human as anything he had likely ever encountered. What his eyes could perceive was without a doubt some kind of shell, but that did not diminish the threat it represented.
"Let us play the Revenant Queen's game a little, shall we? I am curious to see how far mankind's unbridled pursuit of power has come..."
COMBATSYS: Izanami has started a fight here.
COMBATSYS: Vega has joined the fight here.
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Vega 0/-------/-------|=------\-------\0 Izanami
Vega's eyes glow in the darkness, a blank white with the faintest hint of violet. He hovers slightly closer, listening to the history lesson. On some level, it is interesting, after all it sounds like something he would do. Make a tomb, hide it from the eyes and memory of humanity, and bury his enemies in it so they are forgotten forever. Yes, it's ruthless and poetic. These are things the Lord of Shadaloo likes and appreciates.
"Humans are such interesting creatures, are they not? Their lives are so fleeting and fragile that they must build monuments that will endure centuries beyond them." This is ignoring the fact that Vega is still very human adjacent. The fact that he's discarded his humanity is not in question, though. "They are not like us. We will live forever unless an entity of greater power destroys us."
He assumes, anyway.
Vega descends further, his feet alighting on the ground. His fighting style demands it. He laughs again, a veneer of civility covering the deep madness that is the true existence of Vega. "Her game seems quite simple to me. This feels like a test. Not just this bout, but all of them." He reaches up to grasp the hem of his cloak, and with a flourish, he tosses it aside. "Mankind's search for power pales before mine. After all, what is a man's abition before that of a God?"
The Dictator moves with power and speed, rushing towards Izanami with long strides. He leaps, arcing towards her at speed. His aim is to plant both feet atop her head, then to use it as a springboard to bounce backwards, landing on the balls of his feet. That rictus smile never leaves his face.
COMBATSYS: Izanami dodges Vega's Head Press.
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Vega 0/-------/-------|=------\-------\0 Izanami
"Indeed..." comes the answer to Vega's comments concerning the curious nature of humanity and how different the two of them are from the mortals that dot the earth. The inflection in her voice almost suggests a hint of hesitation, a touch of disagreement, if not with the assessment, perhaps the claim, but she doesn't press the point beyond that. Instead, she studies him, her crimson eyes watching his movement as he descends further out of shadow into the multi-hued luminescence of the braziers, his very presence radiating with a thrum of power that would be suffocating to most.
The corner of her mouth curls upward slightly as he speaks of ambition and hurls aside his cloak - in this he seems to find consensus in the face of the violet-haired woman. Now his feet touch the packed mud that forms the floor of the underground tomb though some space continues to separate the two of them. And then he makes his move. If the gap between them brought her any comfort, it is short-lived as the ruthless Dictator surges forward with a burst of power and speed in one. He takes to the air, descending with potentially bone crushing force, but Izanami narrowly slips to the side, gliding to the left in an instant, leaving his landing to devastate the brittle ground of the raised landing.
"No," Izanami states, still drifting away from him, her arms at her sides, eyes studying him now that they are closer. "That is not enough. I want to see real power, Lord Vega - show me the power that causes mortals to tremble at the mention of your name. I wish to see what such concentrated malice is truly capable of."
Her right arm lifts, twisting so that her palm faces upward, fingers slightly curled toward her palm. "Perhaps a demonstration..."
She clenches her hand closed. Similar to his own crushing presence, another aura washes over the room - an enervating force emanating from the slender figure of Hades Izanami. Thought alone, it would do nothing to one possessing Vega's inhuman strength of will, he would sense that it would be enough to snuff the life out of normal people. "...will provide sufficient context."
And as the aura spreads over the rows of clay soldiers, some of them begin to stir, the sound of something struggling within them, pushing against their hardened shells... until at last skeletally thin arms break through their chests, revealing the preserved corpses of the servants belonging to the fallen kings entombed here. Though the bodies are still mostly entrapped within the terracotta figures, the arms of the dead stretch out through their shattered chests, some toward Izanami as if in supplication, and others toward Vega as if in desperate need to touch the living.
For her own part, Izanami is back on Vega in an instant, relocating in the blink of an eye to slam her right hand out toward him, palm open. Unctuous black energy ripples of her hand as she drives it toward his torso. And should she make contact, he will know in an instant that the threat from her is not in the force behind her strike - as strong as it might be in spite her slender arm - but rather the necrotic, ebony power that accompanies it. Anything it comes in contact will wither, as if years of its existence were stolen in an instant, and it is against that the Master of Shadaloo must defend himself.
COMBATSYS: Vega blocks Izanami's Thunderbolt Lance.
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Vega 0/-------/------=|=======\-------\0 Izanami
Vega hits the ground, shattering the stones beneath his feet before he hops back a little, coming into his stance. "Impressive," he says, his smile never wavering. "I can tell already, that body is merely a vessel for an incredible Will. Show me!"
The power begins to rise from Izanami, animating the long dead, and Vega laughs with what seems like genuine joy. It has been a long time since he has been suitably challenged. His eyes seem to pulse in response to the power she releases, reveling in it. She comes for him with that necrotizing power, and Vega's arms bloom with the flames of Psycho Power. They scintilate through the rainbow as he crosses his arms. Her hand reaches and reaches, the might of his inhuman will pushing against her hand. The very flames of his power corrode and flicker out against her might, the barest brush of her fingers caressing his bracers. The metal itself pits and corrodes immediately, and Vega throws himself back.
"Very well. You wish to see the might that makes mortal men tremble and wither in my presence? I shall grant it, for I am occasionally a benevolent God!"
Vega's feet rise from the ground, the necrotic energy of Izanami finally rotting through his bracers as they fall to the ground. He still smiles, it's unhinged and malevolent, as the flames of Psycho Power erupt around his entire body. He angles himself towards parallel to the ground and begins to spin, one fist held before him, his wrist gripped by his other hand as he rockets across the tomb, licks of psychic energy flickering into the reaching grip of the unquiet dead.
"And I beheld Lucifer as he fell from heaven, like lightning!"
COMBATSYS: Izanami blocks Vega's Psycho Crusher.
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Vega 0/-------/------=|=======\-------\1 Izanami
Lunging in, her smaller hand crashes against his, that withering energy flowing readily from her fingers, threatening to inflict whatever it touches. Bits of it fall to the floor like falling drops of oil but they fade before ever quite reaching it. In the moment they press their might against each other's, the previously serene expression of the Imperator is replaced with an almost feral grin, her lips drawn back, teeth bared, eyes burning with the intense desire to overcome his strength and strike him cleanly.
But his manifestation of weaponized will manages to hold her at bay for now and finally she is forced to relent, claiming only the small bit of collateral damage in the process. And when the clash has ended, the woman appears once again calm, the signs of frenzied desire to crush through his impervious defense no where to be found. Deathless lips are pressed into a thin line as she watches him, hovering in place, her arms once against relaxed at her sides like a puppet's, the ebony energy no where to be found.
But when he answers her request - offering to show her a true portion of that power his reputation clearly purports that he possesses, a hint of that bestial pleasure returns, edges of her lips drawn up into a faint smile that is echoed by a subtle crimson burning in her crimson eyes.
And then he demonstrates one of his formidable techniques, drawing a flowing wreath of the darkest Psycho Power the globe has ever suffered, and rockets his way forward.
As he barrels toward her, a nigh unstoppable force to be reckoned with, the three orbiting pieces of the Yasakani no Magatama that orbits at her back proves that it is for more than simply bathing the area in its golden light. Izanami lifts her right hand, palm forward, and the three pieces surge forward, facing each other and pressing in tightly together, creating a golden barrier with violet stone highlights.
In the next instant, Lord Vega plows into the shield made from a relic forged from before the Earth's first dawn. And in spite its power, in spite the legacy of the nigh unbreakable relic, Izanami is driven back. Her right arm strains, pouring her own power into the barrier holding between her and the Psionic Tyrant, and it still isn't enough to stop him. Teeth grit then as she leans into her defense, her feet finally bracing against the ground in search of enough counter force to brace herself, digging two ruts through the dry clay.
But the strain of trying to hold off the Psycho Crusher doesn't occupy the entirety of her thoughts. There is the faintest flicker of confusion in her eyes as Psycho Power spills over and around the barrier, wisps of it coming in contact with her porcelain-pale flesh, the power having an effect that even she hadn't anticipated.
At last, her hold breaks, and she's sent flying back, smashing against the rear wall of the chamber, dust and shattered pieces of clay spilling down around her as she pushes herself free.
"You..." Her head cants to the right slightly as she drifts forward from a distance, expression wary, her body covered with a thin layer of brown dust.
"What have you done to your soul?"
She shakes her head suddenly, as if trying to dismiss some distracting thought.
"It should not be possible to live like that..."
Her forward movement speeds up as she closes most of the remaining distance, leaving a waste of displaced dust behind her as she suddenly surges upward. Swinging her arms forward and downward, and drawing her legs up beneath her, Izanami plunges back down toward Vega, that fierce look in her face returned. Dark gray energy manifests in front of her, taking on the form of a large human skull. And with that, she plunges, attempting to crash into the being with the soul that shouldn't be.
Unlike the withering ebony power that coated her fingers, this energy would be more familiar to Vega - it is the essence of a corrupted soul. Or, given the magnitude of power behind it, the essence of countless dark souls, conjured to try and pierce through even his mighty defenses.
COMBATSYS: Vega fails to interrupt Arms of Sympathy from Izanami with Psycho Punishment.
- Power fail! -
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Vega 0/-------/---====|=======\==-----\1 Izanami
Vega bounces back to the ground, landing on his feet as the final wisps of the Psycho Power burn away. His glowing, inhuman eyes are locked on Izanami. He can see the shift of her expression, the gears turning in her mind. Yes, good.
'What have you done to your soul?'
Laughter erupts from Vega at the statement as realization hits. "Yes! Yes! Now you know! Now you understand! All of the weakness of Humanity is gone from me! Kindness, compassion, love have been purged and severed. Sent adrift and away from me! All that remains is ambition, fury and power!" He is unhinged in his reveling at her realization.
She comes for him again, and he's a fraction of a second late. Just enough that he's not set correctly. He pivots, splaying a hand wide as her power rushes towards him. A scintilating quarter dome of raw psionic might erupts to catch her blow. This time, it's not flawless, there's a fissure, a crack. Even as he reels back to throw a fist through it, her power shatters it like glass, the terrible power throwing the Dictator away where he actually hits the ground hard, shattering stone as he skids.
The low laughter resumes again as he rises to his feet, half in shadow, his eyes glowing in the dark. "How can you destroy what has transcended? How can you defeat the man who made himself a God?!" He is ready for her press, but he has clearly taken some damage here, but it's not over yet.
Izanami lands amid a cloud of dust, shattered stone, and a small explosion of the soul energy that she had briefly weaponized in her descent against the Dictator. She rises slowly form a three point crouch, her arms resting puppet-like at her sides once more as she lifts up off the ground a few inches to resume hovering in place, eyes on Vega as he too stands again, half concealed by shadow outside the reach of the burning spheres and the golden glow of Izanami's own orbiting weapons. That he can even survive such a blow is proof enough that he has transcended most mortals when it comes to survival.
"Almost... almost you have transcended the passage of time to become numbered among the undying."
There is a hint of marvel in the vessel's subtly lilting voice. This accomplishment should be beyond the mortal races. Was he not like the rest? Was he not born a mewling child like any other, a death sentence already handed down by the inevitable executioner known as Time? Alchemists, sorcerers, brilliant men both mad and desperate, had all tried to accomplish that this individual seems to have done. To see it for herself - that he wasn't simply more powerful than mortal men should be, he was shattering the very rules of mortal existence.
"Is this what Drive is capable when pushed to its fullest?" she wonders out loud though by the tone of her voice, the question almost seems reflective rather than directly asked.
The woman looks to the side for a moment's consideration, then her gaze locks back on the one who would be god.
"Why do you pursue the curse of immortality to the point of fracturing your soul?"
She starts to drift forward, off the elevated platform without adjusting her elevation. "What is it about this wretched existence..." she waves her right arm vaguely, "This pointless trudge of tedious suffering and unending turmoil that is life..." her voice, though still almost lyrical in nature, has taken on a harsher, almost incredulous edge, "That you would pay any cost anything to extend it?"
Her fingers curl inward slightly as she picks up her speed in approaching him. "Unfortunately... there is little point in prolonging your stay on this miserable rock." Her tone has shifted, the slightest touches of sympathy that isn't quite reflected in her neutral expression. "The day is not far off that I will carry out its ruin, when all the world will know the gift of death, and the wretched cycle of existence will at last be broken. Your accomplishments, though commendable and unprecedented, will turn to ash in your mouth, the day my work is completed."
She pivots forward into a dive for him then, fingers of her right hand curling slightly, that deadly, necrotic energy flowing like thick oil of her hand. Her excited, feral expression returns - almost as she is most alive when in the act of clashing with a power as formidable as Vega's. And with the glowing Magatama at her back, she descends like a golden star, sweeping her clawed hand out for Vega to threaten him once more with her withering power.
And the instant her feet slam against the ground, her body folded forward with the forces of her fall, the three triangular pieces of the Magatama at her back pivot toward him and surge forward, each of them wreathed in a expurgatory golden flame. If he should manage to avoid her clawed slash, he will have the scorching Magatama bits to contend with next as all three surge toward him and then, an instant later, reverse direction to fly toward his back from behind on their return to their slow orbit behind Izanami.
COMBATSYS: Izanami successfully hits Vega with Rite of Peace.
~ Cruel hit! ~
# Disabling hit! #
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Vega 0/-------/=======|=======\====---\1 Izanami
Today is not Vega's day. The diminutive woman has his number and is wrecking him with her mastery of the strange energy she commands. He stands in shadow, his hat inexplicably perched atop his head still in perfect poise, as she speaks. The light from his eyes shines out of the darkness, and -still- he laughs, seeming unconcerned with the heavy damage his body is showing. It's hard to see in the dark, but his body has been ravaged by her power, a fact that is evidenced as he steps back into the light. His face is a bloody ruin, slashed and burned by the violence. A terrible grinding noise comes from one of his knees as he steps, but if it pains him, he doesn't show it.
"I merely discarded that which would get in my way. All that human society considers good, I have torn free." He steps closer as her power builds. "Kindness, mercy, love. Burned at the altar of my own divinity. I have made myself into a god. My will be done."
She comes for him again, that terrible necrotic energy, he ... stands there? The power ravages him, only to be followed by the terrible burning of the magatama. Twice. The raw might throws him to the ground, and he hits hard enough to bounce. On his way back down, the air itself rends, and the Dictator vanishes.
When he reappears, his body is a ruin. His uniform rent, blood covering what isn't burned or withered. That smile has not wavered once. It's a horror, this man is a monster. "Oh no, my dear Izanami. You will not end this world. I have made myself immortal so that it may lie in the palm of my hand. If you crave death so badly, then destroy yourself, or," he trails off, the bloody rictus almost seeming to widen.
"Are you afraid of it?"
Somehow, -somehow- he's still able to move. To fight. His psychic pressure fills the room, the air itself seeming to static and glitch by the very force of his terrible Will. Stones on the ground quiver and shake, small ones starting to rise. It seems that, whatever damage his body has endured, his Psycho Power is unharmed. He throws himself at Izanami with blinding, unhesitating speed. His body leaps, perhaps literally just a puppet to his will now, and arcs, flipping towards Izanami, leading with his feet. In the space of a second, he flips again to strike out once more before he teleports again.
The shadows of the room illuminate in terrible violet as Vega immolates himself with Psycho Power. His broken body spins as he throws himself into a Psycho Crusher, hurtling across the room at the Master of the Librarium. This Crusher angles upwards to try and drag Izanami towards the sky before he pulls back to let her fall.
He follows soon after, both feet together as he attempts to stick the landing.
COMBATSYS: Vega knocks away Izanami with Nightmare Booster.
! VENGEANCE !
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Vega 0/-------/-----<<|=======\======-\1 Izanami
As Izanami pauses following her attack, the three spikes of the Magatama resume their rotation around the glowing golden ring behind her back. Still hovering just slightly off the ground, she leans into a slight pivot to the right, then to the left, drifting backward slowly all the while as if trying to anticipate where the vanished Dictator of Shadaloo might manifest following his mid-air disappearance.
At last she turns to face him, expression dispassionate, face momentarily lacking any signs of grim satisfaction or dark malice in the aftermath of her attack.
That Vega continues to stand is proof enough of his success in breaking past mortal limits. The attacks sent his way by the violet-haired woman have been nothing short of lethal for most forms of life, assaulting him with purifying fire, withering power that robs matter of its longevity, and corrupted soul energy that would easily pierce most minds to their very core. All that, and he stands defiant, his manic expression reflecting no sign of fear, no intention of backing down, even as blood flows over his inhuman smile.
And at last, their impasse is laid bare - Izanami's desire to destroy that which Vega seeks to rule. There is no future in which both plans can possibly succeed - ambitions diametrically opposed by the leaders of two dangerous organizations.
Is all she has to say at first. Until he suggests that she harbors a fear unspoken and her eyes narrow slightly.
His presence permeates the massive hidden tomb, willpower so forceful that matter itself is disrupted, a tremor causing dust and small stones to fall from the rock ceiling above.
"Does the ocean fear the passing storm?" Izanami replies, her voice still calm, lilting tones rising and falling. "Does the glacier fear the falling snow?"
The entombed dead trying to break free of their clay shells suddenly fall still, their withered arms dropping limp through the openings they had made, as if Vega's expanding aura was snuffing out the bond between them and the Goddess of Death herself.
"Does the blazing sun fear the consuming flame?"
She lifts her right hand, the three pieces of the Magatama surging forward to combine into a barrier like before, a nigh unbreakable defense formed by the timeless relic.
It is against this that Vega's feet slam. The Magatama barrier shudders but holds even as Izanami's calm expression shifts, eyes narrowing slightly, lips pressing a bit tighter, as if holding him off is taking more effort than she is outwardly demonstrating.
The second time his violent kicks smash against it, she is driven backward, lips drawing back to reveal gritted teeth, the shield that should be unbreakable reverberating from the impact and her right arm trembling slightly as she maintains it.
When he hurtles toward her a third time, body aflame with enough Psycho Power to flood the entire chamber, she lifts her left arm, palm forward, pouring more strength into her defense.
And at first, when he smashes against the relic's surface, it seems like it might hold as it had before, even as Izanami is forced backward. But there is something different in the face of the woman behind the barrier - the way her eyes flick from point to point without clear focus, as if trying to find something other than the cruise missile of psionic devastation trying to bowl her over, a crease in her brow, of worry or stress that wasn't there before, as the tsunami of his incomparable psychic aura washes over her around the artifact shield.
Suddenly, the three pieces of the Magatama break apart, scattering before him, leaving the Imperator Librarius completely open to the full force of the Psycho Crusher. Bulldozing into her with his full momentum and telekinetic force, he'll find little resistance in the featherweight figure against being launched up into the air, her own body wreathed in the violet flames of Psycho Power. The unyielding stone ceiling fractures, cracks spider-webbing out from behind the point of impact where Izanami's upward ascent is brought to a decisive, unkind halt with the accompanying sound of grinding bone and cracking ribs within her slender body. And then voiceless she falls freely back to the floor of the chamber, a violet comet, into an eruption of purple flame right atop the golden altar located in the center of the room.
As the flames of will die down, Izanami rolls to the side, falling off the altar into a heap on the ground, like a puppet who's strings were cut. And then she does something she hadn't since the moment Vega manifested into the underground memorial. She gasps. Her arms move, planting her hands against the floor as she shifts to prop herself sidelong by them, resting on her right hip, head bowed, shoulders rising and falling with quick breaths.
When she lifts her face to look up, eyes wide with pain, confusion, and fear, she looks nothing like the being the Dictator had been battling all along. Panting for breath, she winces, left hand lifting to rest against her side, a smaller gasp of pain escaping her lips.
She looks up again, face framed in disheveled, violet hair, the concentric black circles of her eyes replaced with a normal human pupil.
"W-where am I?" she wonders, voice tense with hesitation. She looks down along herself, "What has happened to me?"
Finally her frantic eyes find Vega himself, a man covered in blood, burns, and bearing the friendly grin of an alpha predator.
"Who- who are you?!" the young woman's voice fills with panic, eyes stark white. She shakes her head, pushing back with her left hand into a seated position, back pressing against the broken altar upon which she had landed only a moment before.
"Ragna?!" she cries out. "Jin!" She looks left and right quickly in search of help that could never hear her, tears streaming down her face. "Where are you!"
The transformation that follows is sudden, a shroud passing over her features as emotion bleeds from her frightened face. She bows her head then is pulled up off the floor by unseen strings at her back and wrists, returning to her hovering position. Eyes blink open as Hades Izanami looks up once more, the concentric black circles back in her eyes as she locks her focus on Vega.
"You..." There's venom in her voice now - the kind of rancor one reserves for someone who has truly hurt them. Lingering effects of his disruptive Psycho Power flicker over her body as she starts to float up a couple of feet off the ground.
"I will end you!"
She raises both arms over her head, bent at the elbows so that her hands are actually behind her, then draws one leg up, bent at the knee, folding it beneath her. And there she hovers, eyes fixated on Vega, as she robs everything in the chamber of its time. The colored spheres of fire that have burned unseen for millennia begin to diminish to faint embers of their once bright flame. The clay figures arranged around the room begin to crumble, the bonds that held them in place all this time breaking down as Izanami saps everything around her of its longevity.
Even color begins to fade away, as if any hint of vibrancy has no hope of surviving her extinguishing presence. All of it seems drawn into a black sphere of energy that encases her, shrinking down, not because it is becoming weaker but because it is being compressed tighter and tighter, until at last there is a shock wave of weaponized death that radiates the room with Izanami at its epicenter.
In the center of it, she too has lost her color, her skin as black as oblivion, her clothing deathly white, and her eyes now solid crimson, burning with provoked anger at the one being who seems capable of severing the link she has over the victim she inhabits.
COMBATSYS: Vega fails to reflect Hour of Benevolence EX from Izanami with Psycho Reflect.
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Vega 0/-------/----<<<|=======\==-----\1 Izanami
Izanami's response to his question is telling. It makes him laugh. His jocularity has a wicked and malicious edge to it. Like he's reveling in her discomfort and anger. Let's be fair, he is. He can feel her rage, taste it. It feeds his powers, making him stronger. His tone is mocking.
"Of course. Preposterous."
His impact is titanic, and as he moves clear, a different voice, a different -presence- manifests. "Oh ho, what's this?" A young girl, crying out for others before she is once more subsumed by the malevolent will of Hades Izanami. Her suffering means nothing to him, but the truth is so delicious. "It seems, my dear Izanami, that you and I are very similar. A will occupying a puppet of meat." Her power begins to gather, and Vega stands there even as she finally shows true emotion. True fury and bitter hate.
"My dear, you cannot end me."
Color, life and light begin to leech from everything. Fire and heat die, the unquiet dead become silent once more. With a thought, Vega is encased in a scintilating bubble of violet power. A true battle of wills ensues, the bubble housing the last bit of life and light in the room. Her fury makes it compress, constricting around the incredibly wounded Vega, his damaged form possibly catching up to his ability to manipulate Psycho Power. He fights back, but it seems fruitless as the bubble collapses entirely, leaving the only light in the room to come from his still glowing eyes, and even they gutter like candles.
Silence falls over the chamber in the aftermath of Izanami's attempt to snuff out the presence of the self-made god. Many of the clay soldiers that line the trenches of the chamber have crumbled to dust, exposing the crumbled desiccated bodies they housed within. The flaming spheres have been reduced to barely more than dimming embers, leaving most of the room shrouded in dark shadows. Gradually, color slowly bleeds back into the environs, Izanami's form shifting from nearly monochromatic in nature back to her normal shades of violets, whites, and reds.
Nothing vulnerable to the sting of the grave should have been able to survive the oblivion that flooded the Tomb of Forgotten Kings and yet, as Izanami drifts down, unfolding from her curled up posture to float upright once more, arms at her sides, her eyes fix on the still standing presence of Lord Vega with a brooding glare.
It should be such a simple thing to kill a man. Mortal beings are susceptible to so many flaws. Parasites, viruses, bacteria, injuries, and of course the gradual, inexorable decay of their bodies as the ever unkind passage of time takes its toll. Yet her target still stands. If she was skeptical of his clams of immortality before, there can only be less doubt now.
He has stood unbroken in the face of death, no retreat, no fear, no pleading, nor regrets. He barely makes a sound in the shadows in spite the condition of the body she can see plainly with her eyes. Either it is because he feels no pain, or because he is able to suppress it entirely by will alone.
"It seems you have spoken the truth," the violet-haired woman murmurs with irritation in her voice. She is clearly not someone used to not getting her way, but being confronted with unbreakable will of one who has cursed himself with immortality has given her cause to pause.
A shudder passes through the chamber, small rocks falling from the ceiling above to bounce against the floor. In other places, cracks break open small seams with dust spilling down from above heralding further instabilities in the chamber. It seems more than the clay statues were weakened by the attacks of the two within.
Seeming to pay no heed to the signs of pending collapse, she addresses the figure in shadow. "Continuing this spectacle accomplishes nothing," she finally states after a few seconds of hesitation, arms folding across her stomach. "The only one who stands to benefit from this is the Revenant Queen herself... and if it is information she sought, she has already been provided with more than enough."
A smaller rock falls nearby Izanami to clack against the hardened clay beneath her as she continues to fix Vega with a spiteful stare. She knew now that this arranged encounter would be no shortcut to beheading Shadaloo of its leader. What else did she have to gain from it?
"I will prepare a place for you, Lord Vega... Even gods can be imprisoned, sealed away for so long that their legends grow dim, their stories forgotten... It may not be the same as death, but..." A corner of her mouth tugs up slightly, "Given enough time, who can tell the difference?"
She plants her feet against the ground as black energy broils up out of the earth around her, like a viscous fluid that forms a burbling column over Izanami.
"Until we meet again."
Her disembodied voice whispers from the corners of the crumbling tomb as another large chunk of rock splashes into the moat of mercury and the ceiling above shows signs of imminent collapse.
The column of energy collapses, splashing down against the floor amid the building tremor, and Hades Izanami is no longer there.
COMBATSYS: Izanami takes no action.
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Vega 0/-------/----<<<|=======\===----\1 Izanami
The body that Vega occupies is a ruin. Enervated, beaten, burned. Many bones are broken, blood seeps and leaks from countless wounds. His eyes, ears and nose even leak it, but somehow his Will keeps him upright. Keeps him afloat. Is he hiding things? Is he actually close to unraveling? No one will no now, as Hades Izanami, the God of Death, does not press her advantage.
She threatens to seal him for eternity, to lock him away from the world, and the rictus, ghastly as it is, does not flicker one whit.
"Seal me if you can, Hades Izanami. Lock me from the world and hide me from man. It matters not."
The tremors begin, crumbling the statues and rippling the mercury, stones and shards clattering to the floor. Her power billows to remove her from here, but Vega, the Dictator, ensures he has the last words.
"I am inevitible."
His laugh mixes with the crumbling earth as Darkness takes him back to the surface, to his waiting Dolls and transport. A waste of resorces? Possibly. Giving two potential enemies an insight into his power? Most likely. Was shaking the leader of the Novus Ordus Librarium's beliefs worth it?
COMBATSYS: Vega takes no action.
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Vega 0/-------/------<|=======\====---\1 Izanami
Log created on 16:47:32 09/04/2022 by Izanami, and last modified on 02:20:11 09/19/2022.