NFG Season One - Tempering Process

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Description: Taking stock of her things as the time to say goodbye to EVOLVE gets close, Iris runs into Djamila and Kenzo. The former two get in a quick spar, and everyone thinks about how to best prepare for the upcoming tournament.

When Iris Osterlund graduated from what Americans would call 'high school', she did not have a bittersweet parting with friends she might never see again or any of the other tropes associated with graduation. Frankly, she went to school with a bunch of snobby, rich, petty girls she was glad to see the back of, in the end.

Still, as the wizard gathers up her things in her room at the EVOLVE center and prepares to bid all of this a farewell, she does feel something akin to that weird bittersweet emotion that happens all the time in stories about moving on from high school. If anything, the NFG kind of WAS what Americans view as high school: a bunch of young people, full of potential they may or may not know how to put into practice, having all sorts of literal and emotional conflicts with one another. Forming friendships and rivalries, looking to the future.

But eventually, you have to graduate from that into something else. Someday, you have to 'grow up'.

Iris didn't keep much with her, but as she comes down toward the training area, she puts a good size cardboard box down on top of a table, and starts taking things out of it, one at a time, to make sure she's got it all.

A few little trinkets -- fridge magnets saying 'I <3 METRO CITY' and postcards from Sunshine City. The huge, leather-bound Metallurgicum Mysticus, which she hasn't had a chance to return to her manor library just yet. A drawing of a young woman, recognizable as Iris (or a close Iris analog) in a plain wooden frame. And against all odds, a good size teddy bear slumps against the box, one of its button eyes replaced with an X of thread. Clever observers will note that it's the bear from Iris's fight with Coco on the Skywalk.

"Well, Bacardi," the Brit says to the teddy bear, running a hand across its head. "This looks like everything, I think. Everything that's mine, anyway."

Djamila never went to school properly. So, she does not have that analogy to go by. She is also entirely happy right now. That's because love will do that to you. She doesn't have much here. She did not personalize her room. She has the dog from Kenzo. Which she slept every night with ever since she got it. She has the lucky charm Iris, which she hasn't removed since she got it. She has Chevy's gift too.

So, really, she has nothing to prepare. No other physical things to get ready to move. She's just ready. As ready as someone can be.

She does make her way to the training area no, having an extra swing she didn't have the last time Iris may have seen her, or in any of her matches she may have seen. Djamila is here to train. But she quickly realizes she isn't alone. Not that she expected it one way or another. "Oh Hello. Iris! You've been doing some cleaning?" She asks as she takes everything in. She is smiling quite a bit. "Are you ready for the tournament? I hope you go really far in it. I know you can. You have my cheers."

As she speaks, she moves closer. She's wearing a pair of purple short shorts and a matching sports bra. Of course, she also has her black blindfold, her staff, and some black boots.

"Oh I hope you are well also. I can't believe I didn't ask that yet. Should have been the first thing I did. My bad."

The wizard gives a little jump; it's not like Djamila's a ninja or anything, but the dancer's entrance came at a time when Iris was a little lost in... thought? Reverie? Little of both? Thus the shocked expression on her face when she turns to the new arrival, which is thankfully replaced quickly enough with a grin of faint embarassment at getting caught off guard. "Cheers, Djamila," she says, with a little wave.

For a second, Iris takes in Djamila's appearance, blinking a couple times. "Here to train? I'm doing well, thanks for asking." A pause, before she ruffles the teddy bear's head once again. "I managed to find this little fella again, after trying to summon him enough times." An entire lecture on the nature of Iris's summoning charm gets passed over, in favor of the Brit holding the teddy bear up and pointing to a collar around his neck, which has a little blue stone on which has been carved a rune that looks like a blocky capital C, with bends in the upper and lower branches. "I added a little something so he'd be permanent. I might not have beaten Coco, but I think he was a good luck charm."

Putting the bear down on the table, Iris stretches her arms overhead, clearly having slept in today, or something like it. "Sorry about your match with Creepshow Japanophile," Iris adds. "I haven't had to fight him and I'm not even sure I could. I still truly do not know what his deal is." With a shrug, the Brit leans against a table and waves a hand to encompass Djamila's outfit and, more importantly, that she came armed. "Here to do some training?"

"I have a knack for getting there at unexpected moments. If I can't see people, people can't see me. It's only fair, right?" She says with humor when she notices her presence caught Iris unaware for a moment. "I didn't mean to do that, though." At one point Iris gets a wave back.

"Yes, here to train., I may have finished third, but it just means I need more training. You know the deal. Can't expect to have it easy. All great competitors in that tournament." She smiles even more because she's happy Iris is doing well. She then turns her head toward the teddy bear. "You might not have won against Coco, but you did great though. And seeing as I really believe the good luck charm you gave me helped me. I totally believe your teddy is your good luck charm." She beams.

"It's ok, it's over now. I so don't care. Life is good." She grins. The only thing I care about is you're facing him, and... "Hey, you want to have that spar with me. Get ourselves some good practice for the tournament? I asked you before, and we're both here." She grins at that. "It would be an honor to spar with you." She ponders. "as for Buford if you have a way to deal with his sweet smoke, I think you will be ok." She shrugs. "Not too sure what is deal is either. Maybe he just needs to come out of the closet." She's excited now, waiting for Iris's answer.

There would have been a team when the thought of sparring just 'for fun' would have been deeply weird to Iris. She only just sat down to write out her own responses to the NFG's final round of interview questions, and in one of them she talked at length about how when she started this whole process, it was just... a thing she was doing. Maybe to get away from what her sister Celica's death meant in terms of 'inheriting the family name'. It wasn't really because of a love of fighting.

And in truth, it'd be a mistake to say Iris 'loves' it, now. But people like Ichika, Djamila, Kenzo... even Hawksley and Coco, in their own weird way, have been an influence on her. If she's going to do this, she wants to be GOOD at it, or as good as the situation allows. Plus, well. In a weird way, ARIA put her trust in Iris, too, in the form of the truesilver replica of Joyeuse.

"Honestly? Yeah. Let's do that," the Brit says with a nod, rolling her arms on her shoulders a bit and doing tiny stretches, as she hadn't exactly warmed up heavily first, unless carrying a heavy grimoire in a cardboard box down a flight of stairs counts. "And don't worry, give me your worst. I think that's how it's supposed to go."

Walking over to the training area, Iris grins a little. "Ichika gave me a whole thing about the Warrior's Road," the Brit explains. "I think if she were here, she'd say you can't grow if you don't push yourself while you're training. Right?"

To the delight of the training staff, Kenzo has returned to his pre-spectator sucker punch state. He has gone back to watching film and training as if he has something to prove, as he attempts to get the last of his training in before the best of 16 tournament begins.

Eventually he finishes up and is about to get ready to shower when he sees the box Iris is packing. He makes a mad dash for his room. After all, he wanted to make sure that his gift got in there as well.

By the time he gets back, Djamila is there as well. Meanwhile, Kenzo is holding a steel warfan with an image of an iris (the flower) etched on the outer strips of metal. It also uses a durable fabric as a web

"Iris, I saw that you were packing your things and I wanted to make sure that you got this as well."

Djamila looks like she's about to burst in some ways. Yeah, in another, she's calm. Djamila is a contradiction in certain things like that.

"I think you will do good in the tournament, like you did in the Rumble. If I can help with that, it's an honor to spar with you." She admits happily. "Magic is still so cool." She grins at that.

When Iris agrees, Djamila can't say anything else, but, "Awesome!" She sets her staff down and stretches on that some more. Having done some in her room before coming out. A good way to wake up." Then she adds. "I will do my worst if you do the same with me. Hit me with all you got short of the kitchen sink." She laughs softly.

"That's cool about Ichika. I think you are right. I am biased against her most time, though. I need to stop that. She's good. I know she's good. So here. She will probably do real good in the tournament, too." At least she's trying to be better about it.

Then she hears Kenzo's voice, and again, she smiles even more. She might look like the Joker soon if she continues. "Oh, we're doing parting gifts now?! I do have one for both of you. It came to me in a dream. It's nothing super cool, though." She doesn't look like she has anything extra on her, however.

The trip to the training area is forestalled by the sudden (unlike Djamila, he IS a ninja) appearance of Kenzo, which -- once again -- makes Iris jump a little with the unexpectedness of it. She accepts the fan, looking it over with fascination. Thankfully, since she's spent 20 years on this earth with the name 'Iris', she's learned to recognize the flower of the same name and doesn't have to ask what the flower is. "Hello, Kenzo. This is lovely! Did you make it yourself?" She sweeps the fan through the air a few times; who knows if it was INTENDED as a weapon, but she's seen Kenzo use his own. "You'll have to show me how to use it properly, to the extent that I can use any weapon I've got 'properly'."

It doesn't take long for her face to fall, however, as she realizes something. "I'm so sorry! I didn't make anything for you. I hadn't even really expected to make anything, but Djamila's charm was an opportu--" A pause, and then her face breaks into a slight grin. "You know... I just thought of something perfect I could make you. Give me a little bit to get the materials together."

A pause, and then she looks over her shoulder at Djamila, before looking back at Kenzo. "We were just about to spar. You're welcome to join, or maybe just watch and shout encouraging things at me when I screw up?" she offers, with a self-deprecating smile. "Your choice."

Kenzo goes to give Djamila a hug and then a kiss on the cheek before returning his attention to Iris.

"I did make it myself though I had some help with the etching. While it's a bit of an oversimplification, when closed, it can be used like a baton. When opened, it can be used like a shield or if you decide to sharpen the tips, like a slashing weapon but that just makes it a hassle to get through airport security."

He then looks back and forth between Djamila and Iris. He shakes his head at joining the session.

"I just finished my training session. That being said, I'd like to stick around so we can talk after, if that's okay with you."

Having spoken with Djamila beforehand, he already knows that the dancer knows what he wants to speak with Iris about.

When Kenzo comes to her to hug her and kiss on the cheek, she knows now what to do. She was a bit confused, not wanting to smother him or what. Because they didn't talk about how they would be in front of others. She hugs him back with a smile. "Hey Babe." With how she is with words and her filter (or lack thereof), she can't help that.

When Iris talks about a charm. "Her charms are great. I vouch for mine, so yours should be great too." She grins

Then there is the talk about the fan, and Djamila listens. She finds it really cool. "That looks useful, for what it can do."

She then adds a bit later. "Just for the record, I don't think you will do as bad as you think you might do, Iris. You got this." She squeezes Kenzo to her though for a short moment more, for good measure. Perhaps he's also her good luck charm.

'Babe'? Kissing? Physical contact? Okay. Well, these are unambiguous signs, as it were, of a thing Iris didn't know about, but hey. In these situations, one just rolls with it... though some sixth sense is telling her talking about how cute they look together, or something of that nature, would be Weird, and thus the Brit refrains from doing it. But, a little smile does work its way across her face regardless.

"Fair enough," she says to Kenzo, with a nod, before rubbing the back of her neck at Djamila's comment. "I can't guarantee a little thing is going to be a huge difference or whatever, but... well. Enchanting items is part of what rune magic was made for, really. So why not put it to use?"

With that out of the way, Iris makes her way into the training area proper and shakes her hands out before getting into... well. 'Stance' is kind of a misnomer, since it's not as if she practices a codified martial art. But there's definitely a posture involved, a shift in how the wizard carries herself that says 'I'm ready to fight' vs. just existing in the world. "Alright, then, Djamila, let's not disappoint the 'audience'. I'm ready."

COMBATSYS: Iris has started a fight here.

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Iris             0/-------/-------|

As Iris and Djamila get ready to fight, Kenzo moves to a chair off of the mat. He wanted to keep out of the way as he observes.

As Iris goes into a combative posture, he can still see how much poise she's gained. This Iris is visibly different from the Iris that he fought. Then there's Djamila who's been solid for the majority of the NFG. The nin-gineer figures that both women will have their work cut out for them.

"Alright, you two. Give em hell!"

Djamila giggles a bit and then makes her way inside the training area, grabbing her standing staff along the way. Then she looks at Iris once in.

After a moment. "Ok, I will start, just because Buford might do his best to hit first this time. I don't know." She moves closer and slams the end of her staff down on the ground, sticking it there with some chi. She then jumps on her staff and then inverts herself, letting her legs hold her to the staff. Meanwhile her hands go toward Iris's legs and pull, trying to trip her to the floor.

For those who have fought with Djamila or seen her fight before. There is a slight difference. It's harder to tell how much force she's putting in the move. Of course, if she succeeds with it, Iris will know then.

After the move, if she can, she lets herself slide down until her hand touches the floor, and then she flips back on her feet, one hand holding her staff.

COMBATSYS: Djamila has joined the fight here.

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Djamila          0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0             Iris

COMBATSYS: Djamila successfully hits Iris with Inside Leg Hang.

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Djamila          0/-------/------<|==-----\-------\0             Iris

Well that's certainly an... unusual way to go about fighting, at least in the books of a straightforward personality like Iris's. Strictly speaking, the Brit DID know Djamila was a pole-dancer -- it's in her official bio, after all -- but actually internalizing that is a different thing entirely. More to the point, it's the anchoring of the staff that really catches Iris by surprise. "Everyone keeps saying magic is cool," the Brit mutters, "but how is she *doing* that?"

Maybe it's the surprise, or maybe it's because she didn't warm up, or maybe it's just dumb bad luck; for whatever reason is responsible, when Djamila reaches out to try and trip her up, the wizard attempts to blunt some of the damage of that and does not succeed at all, going down on her back on the training area floor with a loud *WHUF!* of expelled breath. There's a moment where she lies there, looking up, and mutters: "...ow," before getting herself back to her feet and shaking her head out.

"Alright. As we used to say back in school, point to you, but..." And here, Iris reaches out with her right hand, summoning up that more-special-than-it-looks rapier that was made in this very building, last seen in her fight with Coco. With her free hand, the wizard draws a rune in the air that glows purple-blue, before touching her fingers to the rapier, which suddenly crackles with lightning.

"As we ALSO used to say back in school: en garde!" Then she's lunging forward in a typical fencing fleche, striking out with the thunder-enchanted blade three times total, keeping her footwork steady so that -- much as one has to in fencing -- she can fade back to safety if necessary, considering the reach Djamila's own weapon gives her!

COMBATSYS: Djamila dodges Iris' Teiwaz - Prism Blade.

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Djamila          0/-------/------<|===----\-------\0             Iris

The wind and everything related to it has been part of her ever since she lost her mother and her physical sight. It would be the best she would be able to explain it. But to her, what she does is not magic. She's not cool like Iris for doing this. She's just doing it.

Djamila succeeded with her first move, but she's not full of herself for it. She has to be careful with Iris. She has magic.

"Point to me. Until you score your own." She tells Iris as she smiles. SHe trusts Iris knows what she is talking about with high school.

But then there it is. She gets a weapon out of thin air. That's really cool. The added effect after is also nothing short of amazing.

When Iris says en garde, she's not moving yet. She doesn't until Iris starts lunging at her. Djamila starts dancing, holding onto her staff. For the first attack, Djamila leans completely to the left side. When the next attack comes for her, she jumps on her staff. In the last one, she uses her arm strength to flip herself up in the air, her body upside down again but high on her staff. "Some instinct and luck there. It wouldn't have been pretty to be hit by that." She says as she flips herself upright on her staff and extends her rather long legs. She lets herself spin in helicopter kicks, all the way to the ground, into a split if she has her way. Then, if able, she gracefully gets back on her feet.

COMBATSYS: Djamila successfully hits Iris with Chopper Spin.

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Djamila          0/-------/----<<<|======-\-------\0             Iris

If Djamila is waiting for Iris to score her own point, she might be waiting a little longer... or, given how things appear to be going for the Brit right now, she might not be waiting long at all because the fight will be *over*! Again, Djamila's attacks are far too swift to consider diving out of the way, so the wizard attempts to mount some sort of active defense: crossing her arms, bracing herself, whatever. Sadly, Djamila's torrent of kicks makes it way around those defenses, sending Iris to the floor a second time.

This time it takes her a wee bit longer to get up; her head is ringing from the successive series of blows, and it shows, as she puts a hand to the side of her head and shakes it a tiny bit. "Alright, well. Can't say I'm doing too hot so far, but that's what training is for, right?" Rolling her shoulders a bit, Iris sweeps out an arm in a arc that seems like nonsense, because her hand is empty... but, of course, it doesn't STAY that way. In her typical burst of rainbow sparks, a whip appears said extended hand, and the sweeping motion of the arm was the setup to the whip itself looking to coil around the dancer's legs and hopefully lasso her into the air and then down to the ground!

COMBATSYS: Iris successfully hits Djamila with Medium Throw.

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Djamila          0/-------/--<<<<<|=======\-------\0             Iris

When she goes through Iris's defenses, she can feel it. She almost winced, knowing that had to be painful. But that doesn't mean Iris is out of the spar. As long as Iris can get up, she can get Djamila.

"You're getting back up. That's what matters. You got this." She says encouragingly.

Then Iris does her thing. At first, there is nothing as Iris seems to attack her with her arm. That's until a whip appears in there with magic and coils around her legs. "Oh wow." She says, not even caring for her 'safety' until she's in the air. "Woah." She reaches for her staff, to stop herself, but she misses and goes in the air properly. Then she comes back down to the ground, crashing on it. "Oof. That was something." She forces herself back up, her senses ringing a bit.

"You got your kind of pain giving. Love it.

After that, she keeps with the flow. She jumps toward her staff, but instead of grabbing it like before, she kicks herself off of it toward Iris, and she kicks once more, but this time at her. She doesn't have a particular place she wants to hit. She's simply trying to connect before landing down on the ground.

COMBATSYS: Djamila successfully hits Iris with Light Kick.

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Djamila          0/-------/<<<<<<<|=======\==-----\1             Iris

Thankfully for her, more than a few times in her fights, Iris's weapons USUALLY vanish into the ether once they've been used, the charm lasting only a scant few seconds. Interestingly enough, the rapier from before *hasn't* vanished; when Djamila hit the wizard before, it clattered across the floor and stayed there. Of course, for someone who can conjure weapons out of thin air that's probably... not a BIG issue.

The kick coming her way, however, IS, in Iris's case. Her bruised arms are already protesting from repeated attempts to defend herself against Djamila's kicks, and so she is more or less forced to try and sidestep out of the way. Alas, it isn't meant to be, and the poledancer's kicking leg slams into Iris's side, sending her stumbling along. At least she doesn't fall over this time!

"Geez. I knew a dancer would be fast, but this is kinda ridiculous," she says, putting a weary but genuine smile on her face as she says it. "Still, there's always options."

Twisting toward Djamila, Iris traces another rune in the air as she moves -- this one a bright emerald green, and different in shape, before closing her hand around it, so that the green glow escapes slightly from between her fingers. When the Brit gets close to Djamila, Iris simply opens her hand, letting the compressed burst of wind she'd gathered there go off like a little localized cyclone, the force of it pushing the two fighters apart if Djamila is unlucky. Of course, she's also a user of wind, so she might have options in this situation...

COMBATSYS: Djamila fails to reflect Eihwaz - Storm and Stress ES from Iris with Improvised Smack.

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Djamila          0/-------/<<<<<<<|=======\===----\1             Iris

The kick hits, and she's happy about that. In the sense that things are working out. "You're still standing. That's grand." She says as she lands

She answers Iris's query. Nan is probably more like an observation. "A stripper needs her agility and speed to work the pole, and strong limbs." If she could give a wink, she would. But alas...

When Iris prepares her next attack, Djamila isn't sure what to expect. But when she feels the wind, she has barely any time to decide what to do. She decides since it's a spar to practice returning it to sending. She tries, but she still fails to have enough chi herself in this attempt to send it back. Instead, it sends her away, making her hit the ground and roll a bit before rolling once more to be on her feet, already some bruises forming on her.

"Oof, winds uh? I was sure I would be able to send it back to you. Teaches me right." She grins and waits. She is aware of where her staff is, and she keeps it where it is, for now, waiting as she catches her breath back.

In truth, Iris is grateful to have a second or two to recover from the smacking she's received so far; for attacks that strike quickly, Djamila packs a considerable punch in them, all things considered. Rather than going on the offensive, the Brit hangs back, taking a second to catch her breath. Tactically, it's probably something Mint might frown at; after all, the corporal told Iris to make her own momentum. Still... her arms HURT right now.

Plus Iris is a bit of a nerd, and Djamila's comment gives her something to think about. "I'm still not entirely clear on what 'chi' is," Iris admits. Certainly, she knows what wikipedia tells her, but that's hardly informative on a practical level. "I know when you all use attacks with energy, it... FEELS a bit like magic does, but it's also... different, too?" A shrug. "I mean, sort of the same, but not. Unlike a couple other people I've fought where I don't know WHAT they're doing." She doesn't call them out by name, which feels a little gauche, but... she's definitely encountered some fights in the NFG whose powers make No Sense At All. At least people like Djamila, Kenzo, Ichika, even Chevy -- it's not "magic," but on some level, Iris understands it.

COMBATSYS: Iris gains composure.

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Djamila          0/-------/<<<<<<<|=======\==-----\1             Iris

With Djamila getting off to a fast start, Kenzo can see that Iris is going to have to play catch up. He's not about to count Iris out though he's been on the receiving end of opponents coming back from behind to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat too many times to think Iris can't come back.

When Iris sends the cyclone and Djamila winds up to return to sender Kenzo waits with excitement to see what happens next. When Djamila gets hit by the wind storm, Kenzo lets out the breath he didn't even know he was holding.

She just waits for now, but it seems Iris takes a break. She can't blame her. Djamila herself meditates in the middle of a match and uses the wind to soothe her own body at times, so there is no accusation of anything there.

At Iris's words, Djamila answers, "I would have a hard time describing all I do with the wind, to be honest." She waits for an attack that never comes. So she starts running toward her staff. She grabs it along the way "But the wind has been with me ever since that day..."

She uses it to launch herself forward with it into another sort of jump kick. This time, this one seems more dangerous. Is it, though? It will be up to Iris to figure it out. That's assuming Djamila hits. But she isn't sure. All she can do is aim for her. However, in the end, when it's time to land, assuming she is, she uses the momentum to land herself in a different spot than one might expect.

COMBATSYS: Iris fails to interrupt Butterfly from Djamila with Isa - Fimbulwinter.
- CRAZY Hit! -

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Djamila          1/------</<<<<<<<|======-\-------\0             Iris

It's pretty clear to Iris that when it comes to the more physical side of fighting, the dancer probably has the advantage. No big surprise, for someone whose pre-fighting career was decidedly athletic (and Iris's was... decidedly not). Iris herself, on the other hand, relies on... well, having a pretty big bag of different tricks to work with. She can strike with a hammer, grapple with a whip or chain, summon (a couple of) the elements... and it seems like relying on more overt displays of magical energy might be her best option.

This is why, as Djamila starts heading toward her again, that Iris is preparing one of her more potent 'spells' to deal with the situation... but other than speed or strength, the wizard underestimated a third thing dancers need to have in abundance:


Maybe the poledancer will have a briefly nervous moment once she's committed, to see a ring of blue-white frost start to surround Iris on the floor as the Brit braces for whatever's coming, but she misjudges exactly when Djamila would make landfall.

Like a lot, actually, because the resulting kick hits her in the *head*.

At least Greg Ilvich will have some dramatic footage to look over later, as Iris literally slides across the floor and lands, back-first, against the far wall with a loud *WHAM* sound. Hilariously, she slides to a stop next to her accidentally-discarded rapier.

For a second this doesn't look good; the Brit takes a while before her eyes open again, her face contorting into a grimace of pain. That hurt quite a bit. Reaching out with one hand like someone trying find the alarm shutoff on a clock in the morning, she fishes around until she finds the rapier, which she uses to lever herself standing... but boy, it's only JUST 'standing.' But... she's up.

"Heh," the wizard says, one eye squinted closed. "Didn't hurt."

Djamila has to have a strong physique. Stripping is one of them.

So when Djamila is indeed committed to what she is doing, Iris starts using her magic. It's not so much seeing it in this case, but the feeling. "Shit." She lets out, but she just goes through with the move. Because slowling down, or stopping would be even worse. That's how life gets you, after all.

It seems it works out for her because she actually hits Iris. She hits her head... Then she goes flying like a witch, except with no broom. Oh shit, she did that. Iris ends up against the far wall, and not gently, either. "Fuck" She mumbles to herself. She actually worries for her friend. She's not trying to kill her or anything. Swear to god.

Thankfully she comes back up eventually. She doesn't give up. "Iris, I have to tell you, you're amazing." She means that. She admires the determination to get up from that. "I am sorry. I really didn't try to kill you or anything. I swear. If you want to continue, you attack me. If you want to stop, I will respect it." After saying that, she stops moving and focuses on her senses. She centers herself and sees what Iris decides

COMBATSYS: Djamila stops moving and focuses herself.

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Djamila          1/------</<<<<<<<|======-\-------\0             Iris

"Oh, no," Iris says, sounding steadier than she looks, at any rate. "That was the lesson. The big lesson, going all the way back to round 1 up to now." She sounds steadier than she looks, though that is the proverbial bar one could trip on. Still, despite all the hits she's taken, there's still something wolfish about her faint smile. "Other than my first fight, every NFG match I've had officially has been a loss," the wizard explains. "And early on... not gonna lie. I really wanted to just give up and go home."

It hurts to think about, at least for a second or two, because of the memories attached. A long, frustrating conversation she had late at night, once. "My butler, the vampire-looking old guy who came to my matches... he tried to get me to do it. To admit this whole thing was just me avoiding reality, being a petulant child."

'What do you care if I stay?' had been Iris's infuriated response. 'It's not like any of you thought I'd amount to anything as a magus anyway.'

One may notice that come round two of the tournament, Iris's butler and nanny tagalongs have been conspicuously absent.

"But it was everybody I met, you know? None of you had any reason to expect I would ever amount to anything as a fighter but people still supported me. So I feel like I owe it to everyone to keep going until I can't. So don't feel bad," she says to Djamila, finally, a quirk of the faint smile returning. "I'll keep going until I can't anymore."

Holding up the hand that doesn't have the rapier in it, Iris traces the same violet-blue rune from before... only this time, instead of enchanting her blade, the result is just a bolt of actual freakin' lightning lashing out across the space at Djamila. Apparently she's at least level 5, Wizard-wise!

COMBATSYS: Djamila reflects Thurisaz - Mjolnir's Echo ES from Iris with Improvised Punch.

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Djamila          1/-------/<<<<<<<|======-\-------\0             Iris

After seeing that kick, Kenzo wants to call the sparring session to an end himself. It's just a question of whether he can get those words out of his mouth due to the level of awe how hard that hit was.

The only thing more shocking though was Iris managing to get out the words 'Didn't hurt.' And just like when Djamila told him he hit like a baby, his combat specs readouts have determined that was not true.

When Iris states that she'll keep going until she can't anymore, Kenzo's attempt call the fight dies on his lips before it can even be given a voice.

"One thing you need to remember, which is it's part of the lesson. You are truly amazing. I need you to understand that. I am not saying it to be nice. You truly are. You got back up, and you're ready to continue to fight. I admire you so much right now Iris. No kidding, no sarcasm.

She listens to Iris as she recounts her butler and how she reacted. "I am very happy you stayed Iris. Otherwise, would have never met you." She smiles. "That would have been a loss for me."

"No one could guess how all of us doing how we are doing. But you are so totally worth it. If you ever feel like giving up. Come see me. I will tell you why you should never give up, and I will do my best to show you how amazing you are. I promise.

As Iris starts doing things with her empty hand, Djamila starts to have winds surrounding her. When the lightning comes out, she doesn't even have time to think/ Instead, she punches instinctively, the wind chi going in her fist and sending the lightning the other way, toward Iris. Even Djamila looks surprised at that. "The hell." If her eyes were there, they would be wide. That should have been very painful, and instead... The time seems to slow down. She keeps her senses alert for this, but her breathing is elevate. The adrenaline pumping in her from this.

COMBATSYS: Iris just-defends Djamila's Reflected Thurisaz - Mjolnir's Echo ES!

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Djamila          1/-------/<<<<<<<|======-\-------\0             Iris

It really comes down to something Djamila said before, about sending the wind back at her. Perhaps that little bit of warning is what saves Iris in this situation, because it means she was prepared for this eventuality, if it happened... and it has. A lightning bolt being redirected by a punch does take her slightly by surprise, but truly, how surprised could she be: the lightning bolt itself happened (partially) because she drew a shape in the air to conjure it. Why is a punch reflecting it any weirder?

But, the Brit has a secret weapon: the rapier. While her lack of overwhelming physical strength was a factor, since truesilver is lighter than steel, the major reason that Iris asked for the resources to craft this weapon in the first place is that truesilver has a second, more important quality: it's extremely efficient at storing magical energy. When the reflected bolt comes her way, Iris sets her feet, holds the blade horizontally, and catches the bolt on it.

For a moment the air around her crackles as Iris chants under her breath, effectively forcing the energy to be absorbed by the blade and trapped there, rather than electrifying HER instead. And once it's there, well... energy is energy. The lightning crackles, fizzles, and then dies out entirely, having been safely dissipated.

For a second, Iris herself looks down at the rapier in surprise, which quickly becomes a wide smile of accomplishment. "Yes! I knew it was worth it getting this thing made." In a flash of rainbow sparks, the rapier disappears. "Thank you, ARIA."

Turning back to Djamila, however, Iris isn't out of this yet; she reaches out and replaces the rapier she was holding with a slim spear that appears instead. "Even if it's just out of spite," she says firmly, "I'm not going to stop until I've tried everything I can think of, and that's the truth."

Bringing back her arm, the magus flings the spear into the air in Djamila's direction... or at least, in her GENERAL direction. In a technique both Djamila and Kenzo have likely seen if they've watched her fights, the spear heads into the air rather than at the target... because Iris teleports to it in a burst of light, grabbing the weapon in flight and suddenly dropping down on the poledancer from above, Final Fantasy Dragoon-style.

COMBATSYS: Djamila fully avoids Iris' Raido - Solstice Journey.

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Djamila          1/------</<<<<<<<|======-\-------\0             Iris

Djamila was surprised too. So can't blame Iris for being surprised. But the way Iris deals with the bolt surprises even more. emit She just absorbs it in her Rapier. Of course, Djamila shouldn't be surprised. Iris is a great magic user, so being able to deal with her own bolt is probably normal for her. "Wow. This spar. My hat off to you. If I had one anyway. Respect!" She is happy for Iris. Iris is making her do things she didn't really do before, and if she can help Iris too, all the better. Though, she's not taking credit or anything. Just that feeling that the spar is beneficial for them both.

"As long as you don't get destroyed, I want you to give me everything you got. Hurt me, beat me. I will take it all."

She settles herself, wondering what will happen and how she will react. Iris used the spear before in fights she listened to and all. Think Djamila think.

The spear is now thrown in her direction. 'No Djamila. Not now.' She waits.

Then Iris teleports and drops with the spear. Djamila has just enough time to spin out of the way when Iris lands, and she continues the spin with her Staff going toward Iris's legs to trip her, while Djamila is still in movement. If she manages to trip her, she slams the staff into her and uses wind to make it hit harder before pulling back slightly.

"Go need eyes everywhere." She admits, not trying to be funny. "You're fast and tricky."

COMBATSYS: Djamila successfully hits Iris with Jade Split EX.

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Djamila          0/-------/------<|=======\=====--\1             Iris

Fast and tricky... maybe, but not fast enough to avoid another of Djamila's swift kicks, it would seem. It's obvious that Iris is slowed by pain, more than anything else; the hit she just took moments ago definitively left its mark on her in terms of keeping things going. The Brit makes an attempt to sidestep the sweep but is just a little too slow, which leaves her ripe to fall for the followup kick, sending her on her back yet again.

Sometimes in these situations, a person can yank themselves to their feet and throw out a last ditch counterattack to even it up, but as Iris gets to one knee and sizes Djamila up from a distance, she takes a breath in and then shakes her head. "Nope," she says aloud. "That would just be petty." With that, she gives up on getting up, and lets herself fall backwards onto the floor, letting out a long breath and closing her eyes. "Alright. I give. Good show, that."

COMBATSYS: Iris takes no action.

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Djamila          0/-------/------<|

COMBATSYS: Iris can no longer fight.

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Djamila          0/-------/------<|

Djamila succeeds with her move, and she backs up a bit, unsure what Iris will do.

When Iris gets to one knee, she doesn't move. But when Iris says nope and stops, Djamila sticks her staff down and moves toward her just as she falls back. "Good show. I love your magic, you do so many things. Sorry for... I guess I got emotional, but you did great."

"You want a hand to get up when you are ready? You're going to be ok?" She asks Iris.

A bit after, "I will be cheering you on in the tournament. I would be happy with anyone here winning it. You, Kenzo amd Sarah. I don't care if we end up fighting against one another. We're still a team, and I want the best for all of you."

That question gets a bit of a laugh, and Iris stays exactly where she is, eyes still closed, though she brings up a hand and waves it back and forth a little bit. "You're fine, and *I'm* fine, don't worry. Though I think my mate Mr. Cold Floor and I are going to keep getting to know one another better for a little longer." Yeah. She will get up... eventually, anyway. For now, she's okay sitting here listening to Djamila talk.

The poledancer does indeed have things to say: compliments, and hopes and beliefs about the upcoming tournament. For a moment, Iris just listens, not commenting, and thinks carefully about what's being said. It's only after Djamila's said her piece, and the Brit feels like she can actually DO it, that she sits up, bracing herself against the floor with palms down on the floor behind her.

"You know... I probably don't think I'm gonna win the tournament. But I don't think that's a problem?" The wizard breathes out, then shrugs. "I was torturing myself over not winning for a while. It felt like I was letting everyone down, and all. The truth is, though, I think just showing up is worth it. Because someone's ALWAYS going to lose, you know? If two people fight, unless it's a draw, there's going to be a loser. So if that's the case, how can winning be the only thing that matters? If it was, then we would never do it, out of fear of being the losing one."

She stops, then points at Djamila's charm, the one Iris provided to her. "Did I explain what that's made out of? I don't think I did." With some effort, Iris finally levers herself off the ground, before shuffling over to the table where her box of stuff is sitting, and having a seat. She extends a hand and summons the rapier from before.

"It's called 'truesilver'. You basically make it by enchanting regular silver so it's as strong as steel, but much lighter. Truesilver hasn't been made for hundreds upon hundreds of years... but I asked Ultratech to help me do it, and they agreed, and that's how we got here." In a rainbow flash, the rapier disappears again. "That's wild, to me! I made a magic metal that hasn't been seen in the wild on Earth for centuries. How many people get to say that? So who cares if I win the tournament. I'll go and take part, and if I win, great... but if not, I've got plenty of other things to keep me warm at night, you know?"

When the final blow is struck, Kenzo rises to his feet and starts to move towards the two fighters. The combat specs focus in on Iris in particular to possibly suggest medical aid.

The old boy of Justice gets ready to give aid whether it is to kneel down to get a more detailed look at Iris' injuries or just offer a hand to the fallen fighter.

"Iris, Djamila, good job you two."

By the time Kenzo gets close, he gets within ear shot of Iris telling Djamila what the charm is made of. Both eyebrows rise and it's easy to imagine that under the combat specs that his eyes have widened in response to this new information.

"Even so, I do think that it would be a pretty awesome bonus if you manage to send Buford home early and I figured that since we are all facing opponents that other team members have faced before, we can each benefit from our previous experiences."

She doesn't force Iris to get up until she is ready. She gives her time to rest.

She seems relieved when Iris sits up though, after she is done talking.

You may, you may not, but I will cheer you until you're out or win. But you are right. I mean we're all amazing for making it there. Not giving up and doing well enough to be in the tournament proper. We can be proud. She nods her head. Winning, losing, in the end, it will be ok.

"You did not. It feels like silver to me." She then follows Iris to the table

She listens as Iris explains what it is. She listens to Iris saying it hasn't been made in forever, that with some help, Iris made it. "Wow." Her jaw almost drops. "You can be very proud of what you did. You don't need me to tell you, but wow." She smiles again. "Thank you for sharing this with me and sharing what you made with me too. It makes me feel good.

She looks at Kenzo. " it's a great idea." She hugs him. If you excuse me though. I have something I want to get. It's in my room though. I will go get it while you two are talking. I won't be too long." She uses the wind to get her staff to her, and then she skips toward the elevator to get what she needs/wants as soon as possible.

Kenzo's arrival, and subsequent idea, make Iris grin a little. "Well, yeah. Just because I think -- or am working on reminding myself, a lot -- that I don't HAVE to win doesn't mean I don't WANT to win," she says in response, with a little wink alongside it. "After all, the sponsors invested in me, in ALL of us. Trying our best is one way to acknowledge that, I guess. Plus..." A pause, then she shakes her head and laughs. "I'm not going to pretend winning doesn't feel good when it happens, right?"

Djamila notes she's off to get something, and Iris tracks her departure from the room with her gaze for a bit before turning to Kenzo and raising an eyebrow. "Had no idea this was a thing, but good for you. You were on the same team together in the first round too, right? Has this been a long time in the making?"

Kenzo watches as Djamila runs off to grab something before he returns his attention back to Iris.

"Honestly, it's almost as much a surprise to me as it probably is to you. I didn't even know I was even on her radar until a few days ago. That being said, it might have been in the making a long time ago but I was probably too dense to see it."

He pauses for a moment to look where Djamila had headed before turning back to Iris.

"As I had already discussed this with Djamila she won't be missing out on this plus she has the benefit of having received the email I had sent out back in Sunshine City before I faced Buford in particular."

Kenzo shifts his weight as he rubs his chin before he adds, "He's fast. Significantly faster than one would expect considering his body type. Sometimes it goes into making sure he can land his attacks. Sometimes it is focused on avoiding them. Something you might have to deal with are the vape clouds. Djamila doesn't see the way we do so she wasn't as affected, my particular solution was to toss a shock grenade into the cloud to make the area as hostile to him as possible. Djamila had noted that the haiku seemed to destabilize him but my suspicion is that the insults within them were the key."

Kenzo frowns mumbling something about the OTP stuff overshadowed his best haiku. It has been a sore spot that he never got credit for how devastating the NEET haiku was because of that.

"As for Genie, we've all faced her. Her energy feels different. She hits hard but her technique leaves a lot be desired. More than likely, she's addressed this but probably isn't as refined as most and will likely lean on her energy and ability to return the energy to sender. After watching this fight, Genie is just as likely to get energy returned to sender as well."

Kenzo stops to point to himself as he gives the scouting report for himself.

"I didn't have the benefit of fighting her myself but based on what I saw when smashing the car with her, and what Djamila said about fighting her. She hits /hard/ I need to be very careful about letting her get her hands or any nearby objects on me. Also I suspect when I hit her might be just as important as how hard I hit her."

Finally after a bit while Kenzo explains all he discovered about the fighters they will fight the ding of the elevator can be heard. Out comes Djamila, holding her staff in one hand and a rolled-up sheet of paper in her other hand. "I am here. Sorry for the wait. I realized with you taking your things and the spar there might not be another chance for this. You may say I have no imagination with my gifts but."

She makes her way to where Kenzo and Iris are and waits for Kenzo to finish his explanations. She's not that rude. "This comes from my heart, really." She hands the rolled-up paper to Iris. "That should remind you of the whole thing and that you are a winner. I've had to meditate a lot during the nights anyway, and this helps.

When it gets unrolled, there is a big ethereal drawing of Iris holding a fighting trophy in her hands. As it is bigger, the details seem to be sharper than on the smaller drawing.

"I hope you like it. I still have more of them to do. More meditation is not a bad thing either."

"Sorry, it's not going to help you per se in your fights, but you are a winner in our hearts." She smiles. "Kick Buford's ass."

She looks at Kenzo. "You will get one too. I am just not in a hurry to give it to you, because you're not getting away from me if I have any say in it." She tells him and definitely meaning it.

As the drawing gets passed into her hands, Iris smiles a bit. Behind her, on the table, a similar drawing has been preserved in a little wooden frame; looking at the two, anyone could see they were the same artist. Considering how nice the art looks, the Brit long ago decided not to ask how a blind woman paints so effectively... and in truth, even if there was an answer, what would it matter? The paintings exist, and that's the important part.

"It's lovely, thank you. Probably better than any real trophy I would get," Iris adds, holding the picture up and looking at it carefully. "I'll have to get another frame so nothing happens to it." Standing up, and at the very least looking a BIT less like she's about to fall over any second, the magus begins to re-pack the box she brought down before. Not that there was much in it to begin with, but among the last things to be put in are the framed drawing, followed by the teddy bear. Iris rolls up the new drawing carefully and slips it between the bear's paws for safekeeping.

"Alright... I think I'm going to take a hot shower and lie down after that. It was nice to spend a little time with you both, and if I don't get a chance to say it before your matches... give 'em hell."

Kenzo looks over Iris' shoulder so he can get a look at the art work as well. It brings a smile to his face that he isn't inclined to remove.

As Iris finishes the process of packing up, Kenzo goes to the chair that he previously occupied to grab his towel, his water bottle, and when Iris is finished, he waves to Iris, hugs Djamila one more time.

"I should be grabbing a shower myself before I go back to the workshop."(aka. his room)

Djamila is weird, maybe in a way, it's magic, though she would never consider it so. She doesn't do magic. Only Iris does and she's awesome.

"Thank you." She doesn't say it's for having put the other one in a frame to protect it. But it's what she means.

"You're very welcome. I wish you had been on our team right at the beginning as well. You have been a perfect fit." She touches Iris's left shoulder when she gets up, to give a squeeze. Not a hard one, but a meaningful one. If she could cry, she definitely would, but there might be a tad of sadness showing in her facial expression.

"Have a good shower, Iris. Kick Buford's ass, and show everyone your fighting heart! I believe in you.

I would ask to come in with you babe, but that would be too fast, too soon." She hugs him back, letting off a tiny whimper that Kenzo probably picks up. "I will go back in my room then and works on more stuff. So, you know where to find me." She pulls back from Kenzo and grabs her staff again. She had set it aside to hug Kenzo. She feels so good with him.

Log created on 13:42:03 10/21/2023 by Iris, and last modified on 16:43:01 10/23/2023.