2019-04-07: Friendly Fire (and Flowers)

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  • Log: 2019-04-07: Friendly Fire (and Flowers)
  • Cast: Ivan, Kaguya Alathfar
  • Where: Kilika - Jungles
  • Date: April 07, 2019
  • Summary: Ivan and Kaguya have their promised fight, needlessly raising the stress levels of the medic on standby.

=============================<* Kilika - Jungles *>=============================

The island of Kilika is filled with a massive jungle, which is no stranger to Fiends. The recent attack by Sin has made the jungle a dangerous place indeed; powerful Fiends patrol, and a few Sinspawn are rumored to be sighted. Much of Althena's Guard, having arrived, is devoted to making headway into the jungle and protecting the route to the Temple, which is nestled up in the mountains beyond the jungle.

BGM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHw2V0C-D-o
<Pose Tracker> Kaguya Alathfar has posed.

Night--covering Spira like a blanket, warm and thick and humid, because... this is the jungle of Klika, and the cooler, thinner air atop the higher places further inland is still far away yet, while the cold mists of the night sea and likewise further out. Here, it's hot, the ground is yellow and green, the trees are brown and leaved, mostly palms, with numerous shrubs as cover; there are waterways, bridges across the larger of them, and the stone steps to the Temple ascent in the distance...

But there's a great deal of ground to hide in, or to use as cover. And, the terms?

Well, that's easy. Kaguya delivered them easily; she had cleared an official training duel with the White Knight, which means there's no social censure on either of them, no official stakes... And a medic, in case one of them becomes too terribly injured. The medic is a somewhat nervous boy who is talented in Althena's blessing but not, precisely, 'old enough to grow the beard he's desperately trying to have.' He is not the ref, though--no...

Kaguya's that, dressed not just in her previous casual finery but underneath is peeking out hints of an unknown, almost alien metal, seeming to obey few of the properties that natural materials would with its strange sheen. Just an armored vest, really. At her sides are the twin-sheathed butterfly swords she favors, each one terribly wide, heavy blades with large guards, done up in silvery finery. She stands, fairly casual, and runs a hand through her shaggy blonde hair.

"...So that's the rules--we don't go for kill shots, and I won't go for crippling ones. Fight goes to yield."

The Blue Star hangs high above; the stars are bright. ...Sin isn't here...

...Though there are assuredly Fiends lurking, elsewhere.

"You can use the terrain if you want. So..."

Kaguya widens her stance, brings up her hands. Her stance is still close together, hands up to guard; it telegraphs little, allows for quick mobility--but is not... quite like any Lunar martial art known.

"Challenger gets the first swing. Come at me, Ivan. I wanna see if you fight like your sister."

<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

Ivan isn't thrilled about the implications of calling it a "training" duel, but it meets his desired conditions of engaging in consequence-free violence against a superior, so he's kept that opinion to himself. It's all the more motivation to prove himself.

He steps up to Kaguya, wearing his customary black leather armor and what appears to be a sheathed shortsword at his side.

This weapon, he neglects completely, instead summoning a single-handed blade of similar size from a flash of the ring he wears on his left hand.

"I've got plenty of my own tricks!" he says, and rushes in. Just as he enters her range, he sweeps his blade toward her in a spinning leap, calling a star of flame into his free hand that expands into a swirling fireball and crashes down toward her as he lands nearby.

GS: Ivan has spent 1 Combo on Gatling, including 1 on Gatling!
GS: Ivan has attacked Kaguya Alathfar with Hell Pyre!
GS: Ivan has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Ivan gains 5 FP from Sufferer!
GS: Ivan has completed his action.
GS: Kaguya Alathfar takes a solid hit from Ivan's Hell Pyre for 158 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Kaguya Alathfar has posed.

Kaguya would be the first to admit that it's training for her, too--her superior strength means little if she doesn't keep up her skills, learn to deal with new opponents. ...or, she would be the first to admit that, if she couldn't tell that Ivan probably doesn't like looking at it that way.

She hasn't claimed to Ivan to be nice, though.

As Ivan steps up, Kaguya takes the opportunity again to glance over his armor, his stance, his weapon. Even with his relatively short stature, he's taller than Kaguya without question, allowing for some obvious leverage. ...As does the sword appearing.

Kaguya's eyes shift just for an instant to that blade as he sweeps in, and she works to get his measure. The flame erupts from the spare hand, though, so it happens quickly--Kaguya is nimble, immediately bends backward to remove herself from the sword's path, and instead takes the fireball straight on, its power crashing against her armor and burning away pieces of her tunic, the heat flowing through the metal quickly as she closes her mouth and ends up back in a neew stance.

"...You do have some tricks," Kaguya says, cracking her neck with a look of focus. "Fire, huh? ...Heh." The flames still burn a little on her, embers shining; that one lingers.

"let's see if you can do it under pressure!"

Kaguya shoots forward, ducking down and rising only when she's close to his position--and then she is suddenly there. Rather than drawing her weapon, she puts up her hand, and only commits to the strike within inches of his chest. One instant, she's moving to touch at his weapon--in the next she slams one fist towards his center with enough force to throw a grown man yards back. "Hah!"

GS: Kaguya Alathfar has attacked Ivan with Axis Strike!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has completed her action.
GS: Ivan takes a solid hit from Kaguya Alathfar's Axis Strike for 140 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

Ivan is ready to find out what Kaguya's got!! Since the original challenge, he has been burning to figure out what makes her tough enough to have outmatched Talia. As Kaguya suddenly accellerates, he feels he's gotten a bit of the answer, and a surprised grin comes to his face as he tries to quickly recalibrate to her pace.

Ivan is also quick on his feet, but he wasn't expecting another twist so soon. As his attention shifts to his sword and he prepares to react to a disarming attack, her fist slides toward his chest as if it were headed that way all along.

He makes a rushed attempt to deflect with his metal bracer, but can't get inside before the blow connects with a cracking impack that knocks him off his feet. He even catches some air on the way down.

Pride won't let him land flat on his back like a sack of potatoes, but that's more or less exactly what happens, so he tries to play off the crash landing as smoothly as possible, twisting into a roll and getting back up on his feet quickly. He gives a sort of winded cough laugh and points at her with his sword.

"That was good! ...That was cool! Let me... let me show you something a little more serious, now!"

This time, he doesn't move toward her, but instead makes a sharp cut across the air with his sword, which causes a rip to appear in the air in front of him, something red-hot visibly roiling within.

"Beasts of fire, show your fury! Molten Roar!"

As he calls out, a raging column of liquid fire spews from the hole as if from a cannon, rushing toward her.

GS: Ivan has attacked Kaguya Alathfar with Molten Roar!
GS: Ivan gains 5 FP from Sufferer!
GS: Ivan has completed his action.
GS: Kaguya Alathfar takes a glancing hit from Ivan's Molten Roar for 84 hit points!
GS: Disrupt and Shieldbreak! applied to Kaguya Alathfar!
<Pose Tracker> Kaguya Alathfar has posed.

You don't become a warlord without an interest in combat--and kaguya is no exception. She's watched Ivan all the trip over, noting his knife skills, the way he moves--and he still has quite a few tricks she hadn't yet had the chance to see. When he grins as she gets in so quickly--

She grins back. She appreciates that attitude apparently. When ivan crashes backwards, though, Kaguya doesn't have to move foward with the blow at all; she just lowers her hand, and becomes to walk slowly towards him, calmly, as he rolls back and stands. His blade is pointed at her.

"My sister taught me that. If you learn to act in the moment, your strikes become more difficult to predict. ...Useful if you're strong, but lack reach, like me."

His move is serious--at first, she is still approaching... but Kaguya eyes the rip in the air that he makes all of a sudden, and feels the building power he cuts free. "Balls," Kaguya mutters, and where she'd been calmly approaching, abrubtly she changes course and leaps to the side, hitting the ground in a roll. The column of liquid flame slams through the space where she'd been hitting an ancient stone with faded inscriptions that explodes under the powerful impact. Shards of rock fly after the Veruni, along with fading gobs of flame. Even as fast as she was, she can't get out of the way more than she did, so there's the scent of burning flesh as she hits the ground flat.

...Then, she pushes herself upward, letting out a slow breath efore kipping up the rest of the way. Her arm flesh is blistered and burned; her tunic reveals about half of the strange metal beneath, and there's dirt and soot on her face; her limbs are a bit jarred, and she coughs despite herself from the smoke.

"...That," Kaguya admits, "Was pretty hot. I was expecting you to be a straight-up stabber. ...So maybe I better rely on a different approach..."

Kaguya's foot slides back, making tracks in the dirt as she brings hands forward in a closed-hand stance, fingers touching as she draws on... something. A strange power--nothing like conventional magic on Lunar to an expert, not the Blessing but an alien force--manifest, green light shimmering around her pale and powerful. There's the scent, faintly spiced, floral--but of no plants known to this world.

"...Do you know? Some plants only grow after a fire rages through their environment."

Throwing her hands forward, Kaguya takes the quickly-gathering power, and it turns into a torrent of green-gleaming wind through which a rush of bladed pink petals surge towards Ivan, each spectral and razor-sharp, each seeking to drain blood and power and send each back to their mistress.

"Hah!"

When it starts to fade, she starts charging forward at a sprint.

GS: Kaguya Alathfar has spent 2 Combo on Gatling, including 2 on Gatling!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has attacked Ivan with Blossom Wind!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has completed her action.
GS: Ivan takes a glancing hit from Kaguya Alathfar's Blossom Wind for 83 hit points!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar drains Ivan! Kaguya Alathfar gains 41 temporary hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

Ivan is not dissappointed to see Kaguya escape the brunt of his attack; he mostly wanted to show off how metal it is, and was trusting her to be able to take on a lava canon without losing any vital organs. If the sight of scorched flesh gives him the slightest hesitation about cutting loose, what happens next will sober him up about what he's up against -- a storm of blade-like petals, carried on an eerie, otherworldly magical wind.

They're coming on fast-- it's time to dance. He whirls between eddies of razor flowers, deflecting them away with sweeps of his sword where he can, and bending or weaving out of their path when the speed of his steps will allow. Damage accumulates with each petal he misses -- opening bloodied lines on his upper arms and legs, a few on his face, and one on his neck that an inch or so in the wrong direction would have called for an emergency medical intervention.

"...Those were some ferocious plants."

As the swarm abates, he charges for her, his speed increasing until a wave of force pulses off his sword, as he delivers the "stabby" attack that his affinity for blades seems to advertise.

GS: Ivan has attacked Kaguya Alathfar with Super Sonic Thrust!
GS: Ivan has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Ivan gains 5 FP from Sufferer!
GS: Ivan has completed his action.
GS: Kaguya Alathfar takes a solid hit from Ivan's Super Sonic Thrust for 105 hit points!
GS: Riposte! applied to Ivan!
<Pose Tracker> Kaguya Alathfar has posed.

It's been a while, since Kaguya's had any obligation to use her magic--well, 'magic', such as it is, not obeying most of the usual rules. It's as strange as her armor can be, as the weapon she keeps largely hidden from even most of the Guard. And she is moving.

Kaguya watches the dance--there are many, many petals, and yet instead of hiding or being overwhelmed, he makes it look graceful. Sure, Kaguya notices the bloodied lines her magic leaves, notices them as they give her strength--but she finds herself grinning on the approach.

"There's whole gardens of them back at my castle. Though the real ones only cut you if you miss the thorns--"

He made it through. But suddenly, he charges too, and they clash in the center, his speed closing the rest of the distance too quickly to be seen. His blade shifts forward--

When he's not a blur anymore, he'll be able to see as well as feel; his speed led to a chunk in Kaguya's armor, an there's blood on the blade as its point has pierced through her side. She steps back in an instant to free herself, but that wound bleeds through the added healing she'd taken from her magic immediately.

"Survive, and counterattack. ...Your style's pretty different from hers," Kaguya says, and this time, she does not bring more magic.

She shifts forward again, instead; his heightened defense would assuredly block a conventional strike, so she... doesn't. Her elbow snakes out to pre-empt use of his sword, but then her hands surge towards his arm. If she can get a hold, she'll whirl, pulling his weight off-balance and hurling him forward and down into the ground, a powerful throw between leverage and strength that could break stone.

...if he evades the grab, she'll have to make do with slamming in the other elbow and shoving.

GS: Kaguya Alathfar has attacked Ivan with Orbit Throw!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Shieldbreak expired!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has completed her action.
GS: CRITICAL! Ivan takes a glancing hit from Kaguya Alathfar's Orbit Throw for 147 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

"We had some different callings!"

Ivan's sword arm is knocked aside by Kaguya's elbow strike, granting her access to go in for a hold. He pivots back, but not entirely out of her reach, giving her less of a firm hold on his arm than she would have otherwise been granted. The result is that his arm takes the full force of the throw without him, wrenching at a bad angle and jarring loose from the socket.

Ivan gasps in a sharp breath, and he can be seen one, twice, three times biting back on a scream for no other reason than stubborn pride. He darts back from her when her grasp loosens, pulling in slow and deliberate breaths to try to gather the composure for a counterattack instead of yielding on the spot.

As he concentrates, a heated wind picks up around him, and tiny, fizzing starbursts flare to life. The wind sweeps them toward Kaguya, where they float around her, crackling softly... then all detonate together at once.

GS: Ivan has spent 2 Combo on Gatling, including 2 on Gatling!
GS: Ivan has attacked Kaguya Alathfar with Stars of Fury!
GS: Ivan gains 5 FP from Sufferer!
GS: Ivan has completed his action.
GS: Kaguya Alathfar critically Guards a hit from Ivan's Stars of Fury for 38 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Kaguya Alathfar has posed.

"That's fair," Kaguya allows, perhaps disarmingly casually given the fact that she says it while she's performing an intense combat maneuver. She'd have preferred the throw--but hearing that awful noise that the joint makes, Kaguya turns her head back to Ivan and grins toothily, waiting to see--is he going to cry out? Is he going to manage it?

...He succeeeds. It's hard to tell whether she's pleased or disappointed, really, while he shifts back. Already, though, she is turning, beginning to take one step forward, eyeing her approach. But then... Then comes the wind. The heat of it is clear, blistering, and immediately Kaguya stops moving, spreading her feet to widen her stance for stability and setting arms to her side. She stares, strange green eyes directly searching out Ivan's gaze, as the fizzling stars become brilliant, furious bursts--until the blasts expand, heat and light and pressure blocking out all vision. The grass below burns, rocks and fragments of ash and roots blasted away; the trees around her shake and sway. There is a deafening noise of all of the explosion, and it is too hot to breathe for an instant within.

Smoke blocks vision for an instant after, too--before it clears, in the sudden breeze. Where Ivan's opponent stood...

There, Kaguya still stands; her tunic is now completely destroyed, her strange plated vest entirely visible; thre are burns on her arms, smudges on her gauntlets, ash at her face... But she stands in exactly the same position it did before it came, and lets out a breath as if relaxing in the aftermath of that strike.

"Powerful," Kaguya admits. "...But I know how it is, with sisters. You have to find a way to stand out somehow, right?"

The superheated air still stings her lungs; she reflects that she'll need to up her dosage of the cough suppressant, later. But she's quiet intact, nevertheless. And her jaw sets, a gleam in her eye.

At her feet, the rocks shift with a sudden gathering of her life force, tainted and flickering as that life may be. She lunges, then, swinging in with a sudden spinning kick low, a series of punches as she rises, and then--one instant hanging longer than it should as she rears her arm back--

There's a dark flash of crimson light rushing from her fist as she closes the distance and slams her fist straight downward, impacting on body or the tree that was behind or wherever it lands--and causing a terrible explosion that blasts fragments of tree in all directions either way.

GS: Kaguya Alathfar has spent 1 Combo on Gatling, including 1 on Gatling!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has attacked Ivan with Blood Moon!
GS: Disrupt expired!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has completed her action.
GS: Ivan guards a hit from Kaguya Alathfar's Blood Moon for 112 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

Ivan stares, a little awestruck, to see Kaguya almost unscathed by the explosions. She wasn't kidding about being able to take a hit. Can you do that with willpower??? Then again, he also hasn't gotten an explanation for her superhuman strength. Perhaps it's all part of the same mysterious package.

Any attempt at movement still sends sharp, ragged pains through the dislocated joint, so he keeps footwork to a minimum when her next assault comes, concentrating on absorbing the hits as best he can with the metal bracer of his good arm.

It's that last hit that finally pushes through his defenses to strike true, and something doesn't sound so good about whatever it does to his solar plexus. He's pushed backward, sliding through the dirt, and kind of sways on his feet, now.

He banishes his sword for a moment, making a hand motion as if pulling something up from the earth. A red-tinted bubble rises up around Kaguya, and begins to solidify into something that glows like magma, and superheats the air within.

GS: Ivan has attacked Kaguya Alathfar with Searing Sphere!
GS: Riposte expired!
GS: Ivan gains 5 FP from Sufferer!
GS: Ivan has completed his action.
GS: Kaguya Alathfar takes a glancing hit from Ivan's Searing Sphere for 75 hit points!
GS: Poison! applied to Kaguya Alathfar!
<Pose Tracker> Kaguya Alathfar has posed.

Kaguya offers no overt answers as to how she fights the way she does, where her strength comes from, or the means by which she has become as she is. Instead, she watches that stare--and she watches the way he interacts with an obviously injured arm, the way that the pain must affect him... And yet, he just defends with the other arm.

"You know," Kaguya says, "Most people would give up, with that injury. I bet our little friend down the way is anxious to treat it."

Ivan sways--Kaguya, now that the strike is over, is low to the ground, slowly recovering her armored fist. This is when he seems to begin that smell--and the bubble rises. Kaguya glances to the sides, and her eyes narrow sharply as she realizes she's enclosed--

As it solidifes, she drops abrubtly to the side, moving to roll, and the magic reaches its apex just as her head crosses the threshold. Head and shoulder are spared, but the rest of her body is inundated with heat, the glow burning, melting buttons on her decorations, leaving clinging metal slag that keeps burning along with literal flames that cling to her body as she stands back up, the damage ongoing.

"That, you have in common with her. No matter how hard I hit her, she didn't give up until she couldn't stand anymore. And you know? I respect that. ...It's part of a lesson, see. About... the nature of strength."

Kaguya adopts a low-hands stance--and then focuses. It's not that same oppressive preseence as before, but the scent again of flowers, a green wind building around Kaguya again.

And at Ivan's feet, strange stalks burst from the ground, wnding vines growing as if from years all in moments, shifting up to try to wrap around him. Their thorns grow at the same time, piercing and barbed and filled with a hot venom to burn the blood.

They'll fade, hit or miss, a moment later.

GS: Kaguya Alathfar has activated a Force Action!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has spent 1 Combo on Poison, including 1 on Gatling!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has attacked Ivan with Blossom Briar!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar takes 23 damage from Poison!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has completed her action.
GS: Ivan completely evades a hit from Kaguya Alathfar's Blossom Briar!
GS: Poison! applied to Ivan!
<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

Ivan is still barely keeping on his feet, half his concentration seeming to go into just staying upright and breathing, but he grins back at Kaguya; he would not like to admit it, but he lives for that sort of aknowledgement.

"What injury!" he replies, his face twitching into a cringe even as he says it.

"You twisted my arm a little and gave me a walk through the flowers!"

...and, speaking of flowers, if that scent is any indication, he is about to be introduced to another variety. He expects them to come from Kaguya's direction, but instead the ground bursts open at his feet. Thorny vines writhe upward, seeking him out of their own accord.

Without time to think, his response is instinct only; as the vines encircle him, moments before they go taut, he leaps into a backflip, landing behind them and watching with shellshocked fascination as the vines clench down on empty air before fading back from whence they came.

When his brain catches up, this time he does let out a scream muffled into his hand.

<Pose Tracker> Kaguya Alathfar has posed.

Barely--but he's there. For the moemnt, anyway. Kaguya spots that grin, lifts an eyebrow. "...Ahahah," she answers at his clear bravado, genuine amusement instead of just mockery at the cringe that comes along with it.

"Hey, fair point," Kaguya says, briefly spreading her hands. "It's true, this is a nice hike through the trees."

She recalls, of course, the burns inside her lungs now, the marks on her arms that will probably remain, given her typical anemia. They're the marks that prove at there's something interesting happening.

Ivan's assumption is good--but, it seems, his reflexes are enough better to make up the difference from that misjudgement. Kaguya watches Ivan flip backward, sees him stare at the vines... They fade. They fade, and his brain catches up, and--

Kaguya pauses, looking him over, at that muffled noise. "...Good," she says after that, shoulders falling as she relaxes, taking a more casual stance. "That... was worth my time. But I'll call finally showing pain the end for tonight."

"MEDIC!" Kaguya calls over, since they've drifted a bit from the entrance, and as she turns back to Ivan, she looks him over again appraisingly. "One day, if you still want it, you can have a rematch. For right now? You impressed me. ...Let him heal you up. If you're interested..."

"I think we can accomplish some cool things out here. Better than spearing fish, anyway."

The strange Duchess grins, and pulls something from a pouch at her side, something that looks like a little tablet, and pops it into her mouth. After a swallow, she turns to wait for the medic,