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Description: Once upon a time, there was a party in an old, haunted castle. There, a handsome prince found a dark princess sleeping in the poison garden. Rather than try to kiss her, he wisely decided to call out to her, and, finding her unresponsive, check her vital signs. Despite his gentlemanly behaviour, the dark princess was very angry when she awoke, because she didn't like his aftershave. Will they both live happily ever after?

"Hello?" a particularly portly pugilist playing prince pursues perilous pathways populated per pernicious, poisonous plantlife. "Is anyone here?"

The well-known (and well-rounded) fighter Bob makes his way deeper into the gardens, presently dressed like a regular prince charming, albeit one whose buttons seem just a bit too tight. The costume ball that occurred earlier in the evening is long forgotten, Bob having started in pursuit of one of the other guests and instead winding up here by his lonesome. His shoes scrape as one of the cobblestones of the walk moves underfoot, but he doesn't miss a beat.

The poisonous plant life that surrounds on all sides of the garden seems to dance strangely in an unfelt breeze as the prince makes his way past, almost as if granted a deeper vitality and animation than what would be expected. While much of the castle has a truly aged appearance, lending to the rumours that the ancient fortress is in fact haunted, the garden is well-kept, seemingly tended recently, and unusually vibrant for the frost-tinged autumn.

From deeper inside the garden, as if in response to Bob's calling, there's a faint sound of groaning - or perhaps some sort of animal calling in return. Should he venture further, the Prince would discover an unusual sight - a woman in a ruffled black dress that appears to be made of actual flowers, adorned with a thorny wooden tiara, apparently fast asleep in an open box within a stone memorial building in the middle of the garden.

A princess? Or a costumed party-goer who's hit an early wall?

"Oh, hey!" Bob calls out quickly. "Sorry if I'm interrupting anything. Everything OK?" he asks, approaching slowly, gently. Bob is a big guy---6'4 and well over 300 lbs. He tries not to be too intimidating when he can. Fighters may not always take him seriously, but someone in a place like this--well, he wouldn't want to give her a fright.

"Some party, huh?" he asks, trying to break the ice as his shoes scuff through the dirt and stone.

The midnight-and-alabaster vision turns over in her nigh-comatose slumber, an arm draping across her forehead and another groan escaping as she remains mired in the throes of Morpheus. It's hardly unusual for someone to be passed out at a party, for any of myriad reasons - yet there seems to be something slightly off about the maiden's sleeping state. Wasn't there a warning somewhere near the entrance to the garden that the floral particulate in the air could induce fainting, or other reactions?

Speaking of airborne flora, there's a vague compulsion that may prick at Bob's consciousness, perhaps foreign, perhaps not - a subtle pull to approach the unconscious woman.

Bob approaches the woman cautiously, carefully. He sniffs the air and pulls a kerchief out from his costume, cupping it over his face as he moves closer. Despite his size, each step is careful, meticulous.

"Are you okay? Ma'am?" He reaches toward her, gently, aimed at giving her a light shake.

The sleeping maiden finally starts to rouse at the hand shaking her arm lightly, a pair of silver eyes fluttering open to gaze incognisantly up at the figure standing over her. The glossy orbs take in the attire of the famous fighter before her lashes start to bat. "Oh... Your Royal Highness. You've come to see me?" the girl says in a sort of yawning awe, her English accent somewhat mismatchedly common to the familiar ear. She reaches up to try and use one of the prince's sleeves to aid her in rising from her stone bed. "I wasn't expecting such esteemed company. Perhaps you would be so kind as to..."

She sniffs at the air abruptly as her face nears the tall prince's tummy - and her nose screws up, before she starts suddenly to cough and retch, tumbling out of the stone box onto her hands and knees and clutching at her throat as she coughs and coughs.

"Wha -" *COuGH* "?!"

"Huh? I'm afraid you have me mis--" When the woman starts to cough, Bob is on the move, ready to brace her or help her to her feet or catch her in her fall.

"Are you okay?" he asks. "Can I get you some water?" He glances around, looking for signs of clean water--"Do you need fresh air?" His attention is split between trying to give the woman a hand directly and looking for something to provide better aid.

The maiden's chest and stomach shudder within the flower-covered corset front of her dress with each bone-rattling cough. "Water --"

She suddenly gives a wet heave, and something of a deep indigo escapes her to spatter on the stone. The cool veins of her face are visible as she staggers up to her feet and away. There's a clicking and scraping sound that may draw attention to the heeled, naturally-formed wooden greaves that cover her feet.

"Blackguard!" she accuses Bob as she wipes the toxic spew from her lips with the back of an arm. "How dare you try to poison me in my own castle! Poison /me/! Nobody poisons the Lady of Poisons in her own demesne! Were you attempting to rob me of my birthright?!"

'Poisoned' as she may be, the 'Lady of Poisons' seems to have recovered admirably, though she has a wild, pallid look and a lingering case of bedhead.

"Well, you won't have it! Castle Blackthorne is mine!"

The vexed noble lunges on unsteady legs at the unfortunate Prince Bob, swiping with blackened nails at his cheek as small, venomous flowers bloom near his feet!

COMBATSYS: Briar Rose has started a fight here.

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Briar Rose       0/-------/-======|

COMBATSYS: Bob has joined the fight here.

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

COMBATSYS: Briar Rose successfully hits Bob with Poison Prick.

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

"What? I would n--" Before Bob can speak further he is first called a blackguard, then assailed by a sweeping claw of her nails that cuts his cheek and leaves a trail of blood dribbling down. "Hey!" Bob draws back defensively. "I've got no interest in your castle, miss. That's all yours. I'm more of an apartment kind of guy. Maybe a farmhouse if the price was right, yeah?" Bob tries to give her a reassuring smile, but the aggression is clear. He shifts his weight, assuming a fighting stance as he circles. He winces as he feels whatever that was starting to take effect.

"But I'm afraid--" Bob surges forward, aiming first to grab her arm, then pull her in to a palm strike. If that connects, he drags her back, sweeping the leg. "I can't let someone calling herself the Lady of Poisons run around freely. I think we need to sit down and talk things out a bit!"

COMBATSYS: Briar Rose blocks Bob's Quarter Deck.

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

The taint of the poison would leave a burning sensation as it began its work - potentially discoloring the bloodways beneath the flesh with its dark purple hue, though the interaction of the toxic chi with that of another may not be entirely predictable.

The prince's reassurances against any intent to press a claim on Castle Blackthorne might have been considered by Briar Rose if she were a reasonable sort of noblewoman, but the petulant petal-Lady is nothing if not petty.

"Then by what motive -" *cough* "- do you poison -"

Arm swept across her mouth to stifle a resurgent cough, the Lady of Poisons is caught out by the grasp of Prince Robert - the soft sleeve of her dress is gripped by the tall fighter, and soon his palm smacks into her chest as she tries to fend him off, causing her silver eyes to widen in shock as she's swept off her feet by the royal, and not in the way a fairy tale heroine might hope. A hand shoots out to touch the cobbled path as she falls - and before she hits it, purple flowers sprout up through cracks in the worn stone, a springy bed of spring greenery catching her before the full weight of her can crash into the cobbles.

"If you wish me to sit down," she growls caustically as she sits up, "then allow me to prepare myself an appropriate throne!"

As she makes the demand, a sickly sound of splitting flesh can be heard from Lady Blackthorne's exposed upper back, and from her shoulder blades emerge four vine-like green tentacles (or tentacle-like vines?) that bristle with painful-looking spines, each growing to several feet in length as they twist through the air. One of the vines slides down below her skirt to serve as something like a mount - the thorns somehow proving harmless to the Lady and her garments - while the other vines form a tripod of legs to support the Lady of Poison as she rises menacingly.

"Now, shall we talk?" she asks with a menacingly sweet sadism, her grey irises tinged red.

COMBATSYS: Briar Rose is surrounded by menacing greenery as she focuses her attention.

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

Spiderwebs of purple spread along the site of the the claw marks, and Bob's chest rises and falls more rapidly as he adjusts his stance. Even so, when the Lady coughs again, Bob seems concerned again. When the tendrils emerge, his concern rises, his eyes widen, and he steps back, raising his fists defensively.

"Yeah, let's talk--" He eyes the "throne" of vine and tendril. "How long have you been here, Miss Lady of Poisons?"

COMBATSYS: Bob focuses on his next action.

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

A disdainful snort escapes from the noble nymph's nostrils as Prince Bob asks his question of her, her face tilting upward so that her grey eyes regard him with imperious condescension.

"Longer than you have."

With that solitary remark made, Briar Rose stretches her arms behind her head, as if dismissively lounging atop her thorny throne. As she does so, though, greenery starts to creep from her cleavage, wrapping over the front of her dress and rapidly blossoming red as an enormous flower blooms from between her bosoms. The display seems almost purely for exhibitionist purposes - until a sound of suction comes from the pistil of the fresh bloom, followed by a rapid series of *POPS* that each announce the launch of a needling, thorny seed like a dart from the center of the flower, aiming to pepper the prince-pretender with prickling poison! At the same time, the hedges near Bob sprout with fresh purple blooms, releasing toxic pollen into the air, the machine-gun-like fire of the bust-bloom attempting to herd him toward the hazard!

COMBATSYS: Bob blocks Briar Rose's Thorny Barrage.

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

To his credit, Bob takes the comment in stride. He gives the lady a subdued smile--that is, until the flowers start to bloom. The man turns his head away, politely, but just long enough for the distinct pop to snap him back to attention and force him back on the defensive. His arms come up in defense, the seed smacking against them with a puff of poisonous pollen that sends him into a coughing spell even if the seed itself has its impact dampened. Stumbling back, Bob seems to need a moment to catch his breath.

But hesitate he does not. He's done his part and tried to negotiate, but now it's into the fight or flight portion. To sit there and keep trying to talk while she tries to poison him would make him a fool of a prince.

So Bob cuts in, dashing in low with a gut punch, then a higher punch, then a knee strike, and finally a spinning kick. The flurry of blows is rapid, fluid movement, Bob aiming to keep up the pressure.

COMBATSYS: Briar Rose blocks Bob's Combination Bitter.

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

The gatling-like seedling fire from Briar lasts for a smattering of seconds before the bio-organic 'clip' appears to have spent its salvo, leaving a gap for Bob to gather himself and close the distance between the two. The fae-like flower girl sprouts a modest blossom from each palm reflexively, bringing them up to intercept the punching combination with one hand, then the other, before catching the knee strike with both, losing petals from the blooms that are left scattering on the path with each attack. The spinning finale destroys what's left of the floral defenses, the naked steams retreating into the palms as the dark dryad dances back several paces. Briar shakes out her hands with an angered expression.

"How rude," she declares, before bending at the knees and springing forward - with all the grace and enthusiasm of a preternaturally strong little girl. A cloud of dizziness-inducing spores spring up where she lands, directly next to Bob, and she abruptly attempts to throw her arms around his middle, heaving with that invisible strength of body as she teeters backward - attempting to drop the much bigger fighter into the spore-laden grass in a somewhat clumsy but powerful suplex.

COMBATSYS: Briar Rose successfully hits Bob with Grounding Throw.

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

"Sorry," Bob says, "but I can be a bit forward." He gives the woman a winning smile before suddenly the fae-like being is shifting, dancing in a sea of petals. Bob feels as though he's trying to keep up with a leaf on the wind as she moves and darts around, winding round him into the suplex. It takes him fully off-guard as the larger man is unable to get go back on the defensive quickly enough to regain composure before being slammed heavily into the ground.

A cloud of spores exhales from the grass as he hits, lingers for a moment, then falls on over with another waft of the pollen. Coughing and sputtering, he shifts, climbs to his feet, and goes back in again.

"I guess I'm a bit more lowly than a prince here," he quips, sweeping the leg.--

But after he does, he's suddenly springing up, surging forward to strike with both palms in a cannon-like double-handed blow immediately afterward!

COMBATSYS: Bob blitzes into action and acts again!

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

COMBATSYS: Bob successfully hits Briar Rose with Medium Kick.

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

COMBATSYS: Briar Rose interrupts Granchi Cannon from Bob with Bed of Roses.

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

Briar Rose rolls through the grass herself, blades of green raining from her dress and hair as she tumbles back to her feet after crashing to the ground with her prince in tow. From her back, a fresh pair of thorny vines sprout from between her shoulder blades, growing like the heads of a floral hydra as they loom behind the disturbed nymph, her grey eyes glowering threateningly.

She seems caught off-guard by Bob's revelation as he steps in to sweep her off of her feet.

"More lowly than a prince? - oh!!"

Her tendrils lash out from behind her, the barbs clinging to Bob's clothing to support her as she starts to topple from his sweep. This causes her to be trapped in the path of Bob's princely palms as they thrust toward her torso - though it also allows her to guide said palms toward the most padded part of her person, where they find a surprisingly solid resistance as both Robert and Rose topple back into the grass.

Red roses sprout up along the vines as they pull tight around Bob, trapping him compromisingly atop Briar as she gazes coquettishly up at him.

"Don't worry, love. Truth be told, I'm a bit more lowly than a princess," she says seductively, the tone suddenly shifting drastically, aided by the heady effects of the spores rising off of her. She raises her head up suddenly to meet his, poison wafting on her breath and lingering on her rose-petal lips as she seeks his with hers, the vines and her arms wrapping and pulling tight as fingernails and thorns dig in -

- soon, though, Briar finds herself coughing and sputtering again as something in the air about Bob invades her anew.

"Oh, gods! What sort of monster bathes themselves in such vile fumes?!"

Bob's eyes widen with surprise when the tendrils lash out, shift, writh around into a hydra-like enoutrage. The two find themselves in a compromising position--Bob certainly seems to object to the sudden shift in positioning--though it certainly does not help that he finds himself entangled in more ways that one.

Bob's eyes widen with surprise when the tendrils lash out, shift, writh around into a hydra-like enoutrage. The two find themselves in a compromising position--Bob certainly seems to object to the sudden shift in positioning--though it certainly does not help that he finds himself entangled in more ways that one.

As Bob struggles against the thorns, he pushes back and catches himself: "Uh, sorry, I didn't mean to--" The scent strikes her again, and Bob takes the chance to try and roll off into a defensive posture.

"Is it that bad?"

COMBATSYS: Briar Rose just-defends Bob's Quick Throw!

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

Bob's pushing hands find little resistance this time in the thorny nymph's form as he extricates himself from her clutches, the girl's body rolling away unharmed across the bed of rose petals spilling on the greenery from the fading vines that Briar Rose has detached herself from. She rises up like a sun-drawn flower, hair and dress ruffled and unkempt as she gains some control of her coughing. Dark tears run down her cheeks as she turns her silvery eyes on Prince Robert, her expression hurt.

"'Tis an unnatural concoction, what wafts from your skin," she says as she brings her hands up to stifle further coughing.

"You should consider more natural aromas... like this!"

As she lowers her palms, she blows into them, a pile of previously unseen pink powder blowing toward Bob's face - a cloud of spores attempting to invade his airways, carrying with them a sense of lethargy and dizziness should he fail to avoid them!

COMBATSYS: Briar Rose successfully hits Bob with Soporific Spores.

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

The pollens have seeped into his nostrils, into his lungs, into his blood. Whatever poisons the plant princess have wields are taking their toll, and Bob finds himself faced with a still unrelenting opponent.

"I'll stick with organic, all natural scents from now on--" Bob says, but suddenly there's a new tide of pink powder, a wave of flower dust invading Bob's space, dulling his sense's, weakening his will...

But he pushes onward again, trying to overcome. The larger fighter surges forward, aiming to grab hold of the woman and pull her into an armlock, from which he hopes to hold her in place and deliver a swift elbow strike, then a spin around behind her---still holding the arm for a violent lock. From there, he finally tries to plant his boot into her back and knock her to the ground.

COMBATSYS: Briar Rose endures Bob's Cooler Shaker.

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

Strangely, Briar Rose doesn't try to dance away or repel the advances of Prince Bob as he wades after her through the cloud of soporific spores. In fact, she allows him to approach, even to take hold of her arm with silent assent, flinching and yet smiling as the elbow drives into her midsection. She's spun around in a violent waltz, before finally being spurned, kicked to the carpet of green beneath their feet and sprawling on her chest and hands.

"You'll be feeling it, now, won't you? The sleeping dust," she says in a sweet sing-song, looking up over her bare shoulder at the prince-imposter as the moonlight gleams through tree-branches on her face. Her silver eyes flash with predatory malice. "You're tiring yourself out, fighting me like this. Why don't you just... give in?" she says, turning over on her rear and offering a hand toward Bob. "I'll even show mercy on you."

As she makes the offer, though, Bob may yet be alerted to the sudden breeze as a vine from the tree that's quietly sprung up from the earth behind him whips diabolically toward his neck, aiming to encircle it and lift the fighter off of the ground in an impromptu hangman's noose, intent on choking the air from him!

COMBATSYS: Briar Rose successfully hits Bob with Garden Gallows.
- Power hit! -

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

Bob blinks several times, shaking his head as the dust settles upon him once again. He sways on his feet, partly from the dust, partly from the injuries he's already sustained. His costume is torn and battered, but he keeps standing.

"I'm sorry, your highness," Bob says, swaying on his feet again. "But I think there's a better prince out there for you than me."

The vine snaps around his neck and pulls him up with a violent jerk, slamming him against the wall before he dangles there, trying to break the hold. When he finally does get free, he drops to the ground in a heap, falling with a heavy thud.

After a long moment, Bob rises to his feet, unsteadily, trying to resume his fighting stance. He nearly falls again, but keeps steady. He looks ready to charge in...

Only to make a break for it, aiming to hurl himself bodily through a greenhouse window and put distance between himself and the princess. Unfortunately for Bob, his escape is short-lived as he collapses almost immediately after crashing through the glass.

COMBATSYS: Bob takes no action.

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Briar Rose       0/-------/----===|

COMBATSYS: Bob can no longer fight.

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Briar Rose       0/-------/----===|

Daintily, the damsel lifts the him of her dress as she steps over the broken glass, her wooden shoes toeing around the shards that lie in the grass as she approaches the collapsed form of Bob.

"Mmm... seems we have ourselves a prize," the nymph murmurs to her garden, the flowers seeming to follow her like the sun before turning toward the sleeping prince. "We could use him for fertilizer, but... honestly... I think that he may be too toxic for our little grove."

The woman gives another little cough, stifling it with a fist, as if to emphasize her point.

"Wendell! Fetch some of the servants and have him escorted to the outer gates, will you?"

The triffid servant emerges from between a pair of toxic ferns and turns a questioning look toward its mistress.

"No, no. I don't want you to put him on a pike. He's royalty. If we go piking every prince who tries to kiss me, we'll be at war in no time, and then I'll never get any sleep at all."

The triffid continues to stare, its blossom tilting slightly to one side.

"He didn't try to kiss me? Well, whatever his intentions were, I'm sure he'll have nothing but good things to say when he returns to his own province. Now, see him out, and while you're at it, have the servants clear the rest of the guests from the castle. I'm certain I didn't give anyone leave to have a party tonight."

The triffid waddles away on its three legs to fetch the servants. Bob may have a vague memory of being pulled upright and carried out of the castle's grounds by a pair of ivy-covered creatures - humanoids - men? - before being dumped in the middle of the dirt roundabout in front of the castle, the gate sealed behind him, the clash of battle ringing vaguely in the forest under the moonlight... and next to him, when he later awakens, a black rose.

Log created on 18:00:25 11/04/2022 by Briar Rose, and last modified on 04:43:48 07/21/2023.