GYM DX: The Dragon and The Diver
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[It was the usual deal. Nobody had to pay for anything, all the equipment would be like new. He had to wonder who even owned this kind of place. It had to be some kind of wealthy or crazy alien that got off to constant fighting. Regardless of the cause, or if it was made to stop people from destroying the city... he was about to use it.]
"She should be showing up anytime soon now. Why am I so nervous then...?"
[Kazuo had spoken to her after class and right before leaving for home, mustering up the courage to ask her to meet him in this one place. The young man walks from one side of the stand area right next to the arena. He kept looking at the door, blushing, like his pride was wounded but was still anxious.]
Emi arrived at the gym fashionably late, or so she'd say, unwilling to cite the numerous inconveniences she created through her immeasurable clumsiness. As she entered the building, she saw her student turned red as an apple and barely mustered the willpower to avoid giggling.
"I know you were just asking for a workout partner, but you have a talent for blowing things out of proportion. Mr. Togami was on my case because he thought you proposed to me! The look on his face!!"
She finally let out a signature hearty cackle before taking a quick survey of the gym. It was hard to ignore the obnoxiously conspicuous arena in the middle of the building.
"I was expecting treadmills and a lot of broken new year's resolutions, not a wrestling ring. Where'd you find a place like this anyways?"
"Whu-what? That wasn't my fault. That's on them for thinking I have weird intension..."
[Kazuo does his best to look cool by crossing his arms and looking elsewhere, pathetically forcing a scowl, which made him look more like he was going to cry than intimidating.]
"A while ago, I just sorta... woke up in front of it and found out people can shoot magic out of their hands. Since then, things got weirder."
[The young man wasn't wearing his uniform anymore, or most of it. Instead, he was wearing a casual white shirt and black pants. He would "calmly" walk towards a long bag he had by his side, opening it to look into the Rapier he normally uses, still inside its scabbard.]
"You... I'm sure you can relate, Sumeragi-sensei. Especially after the other night. Not to mention your own power."
Emi tilts her whole body sideways just to remain in Kazuo's peripheral vision, giving him a playful grin while he tried to look serious.
"Oh believe me, I've been seeing weird things for a very, very long time. This might be one of the most tame in recent memory. Which isn't entirely fair considering the dream with the talking alpaca doll..."
She looked around for anywhere that might have something she could use as a substitute for her normal greatsword, settling for a slightly over-sized shinai conveniently resting nearby.
"Interesting choice of weapon. Rapier... a 16th and 17th century western european blade popular for its versatility, so popular in fact that it saw military and civilian use. A safe choice, I'd say! Quite safe."
She hopped into the ring and rested her wooden weapon on her shoulder, looking quite relaxed.
"So, we gonna make this simple or do I have to worry about a flaming cat who thinks my hair isn't too far off from vanilla ice cream?"
"This...? I just... found it too. I ran into this guy who was working on these old ruins. Decided to help him alongside other people to retrieve a legendary sword. Instead I found this and ran for it."
[Kazuo rubs the back of his head, leaving the scabbard behind and hitting the floor with his blade like it was a stick.]
"It can't break, but that's about it. Nameless, too."
[He was way slower to move than Emi, at least considering he was all distracted. He shakes his head and clears his throat, still just as red as he carefully gets into the ring.]
"I can easily command my Chimera, summon them and fuse them to get greater power but me... I am..."
[He looks down and blushes harder, somehow. His pride was very much wounded by admitting any of this.]
"I...am weak. I don't know how to fight b-beyond just shooting things and quick thinking. But you looked strong, Sensei so...please."
"B-be my Master...!"
Emi chuckled offered a reassuring smile before slashing the wooden shinai against the floor of the arena.
"Sure! I'll teach you how to fight! But I can't promise all my methods will help you all that much. First order of business, I want to see how you swing! Your objective is to land a hit. Just one."
Her stance shifted, the tip of the wooden blade pointing directly at Kazuo while her body became poised, striking a pose not unlike a samurai in the history books.
"But be warned, there's a reason I'm so confident at standing between my allies and the enemy."
Her sword was resting in the middle of her body, offering a fairly balanced defense on all sides. Already, landing a hit on her would prove difficult if not impossible should Kazuo choose a straightforward offense.
"Alright... I got it."
[Kazuo would take a deep breath, or a few just to try and concentrate completely in this game he forced himself into. It's not like he was going to give up and run back anymore. Taking a few jumps in place and moving all his body.]
"I saw how you were fighting, somewhat. I'm mentally preparing for the hospital."
[He would point his Rapier directly at Emi with his right before rushing towards her from the front, holding the blade now in a horizontal grip to keep his defense up. Right in front of her then, he would go for an overhead slash while raising his flexing left arm to keep balance.]
In a surprisingly swift movement, Emi chose not to block Kazuo's strike, but instead to twist her wooden blade into a reverse grip and slam the handle of the shinai into his gut, all the while hunching forward to make sure the rapier didn't catch her before she could land her strike.
She was careful not to use too much force however, and Kazuo would feel more like someone jabbed him than anything particularly painful.
"I don't like your footwork! Your strikes will never pose a threat if I can knock you on your ass before they even happen! Your right hand is dominant, place your right foot forward and your left foot to the side, like you're making an L shape with your feet."
She was careful to catch her student just in case he was in danger of falling over, giving him a gentle shove to help him regain posture. Afterwards, she resumed her previous stance.
[It would be a moment. He would feel a sudden pain quickly impact against his gut, completely throwing him off his balance and concentration, having to hold on to Emi in order to just go back to his previous colder state. After being helped by her, he would take a few steps back to catch his breath and focus.]
"Yeah... yeah I got it. I would've been dead already, that's a lot to take in a second...! I barely saw you move!"
[Kazuo, still red, would find his wounded pride become a slight sense of admiration, like a glint in his eye. With one last breath, he would follow her instructions. Right foot forward; left foot to the side. He would try to keep a stable stance, that was still firm, but not stiff.]
"I'll try again!"
[Kazuo would dash forward and time his next move with his right foot's movements. Instead of going for an overhead slash, he would instead go for a thrust aimed at her torso. He was planning to go through with it, but if it was deflected, then he would move towards the woman's left while keeping his guard up, just to avoid any further attacks and keep some semblance of distance.]
Emi was able to deflect the thrust without much effort considering her blade was not very far from her torso. With Kazuo's reposition however, she raised a brow and started to smirk.
"Well, striking directly into my strongest defense wasn't very smart of you, but capitalizing on your mistake would've been difficult. If nothing else, you have a good understanding of distancing your opponent. Your stance is much better now too!"
She quickly set her shinai down and stepped behind Kazuo, taking a hold of his wrists and guiding him into very slow movements.
"A rapier is famous for its thrusts for a very good reason. While you were able to reposition quickly after being deflected, you wouldn't need to go through the trouble if you had the space advantage to begin with. "
Reaching their final position, Kazuo would realize Emi had guided him into a powerful forward thrust motion with his sword, his right knee bent forward and his left leg extended fully backwards, like his whole body were working together to grant his blade the reach it requires.
"And from here you can return to your resting stance quite easily without giving me much ground."
[He feel chills run around his entire body the moment Emi began showing him how to properly attack with his Rapier. He wasn't too used to having people near him, let alone just go ahead and make contact unless it was a proper fight, and even then, he was mostly good at evading. By the end, he keeps looking onwards then, trying to memorize the position his body needs to be in, as well as the movement.]
"...I think I got it. I need to maximize the reach, but still be balanced enough."
[From there, he would slowly return to the resting stance, then lowering the Rapier. He would remain quiet for a few moments, making a mental note of it all but also nervous by having her too close. However, he figures this is fine. She's teaching him, and he can't be this anxious all the time. He needs to relax. Relax. Relax.]
[He realizes he spoke out loud and forcefully clears his throat, turning around to face her.]
"I-UH! Uhm...! Sumeragi-sensei, where did you learn to fight...? D-Did you practice back at the University or...?"
[Relaxing wasn't as easy as saying it.]
"I can feel you shaking you know, I'm not gonna break your arm or anything! I'm your Sensei, remember?"
She let out another chuckle before letting Kazuo go and picking up her shinai again, tapping it against her shoulder while he regained his composure. Her face darkened a little at the question though, suddenly avoiding eye contact.
"It's... complicated. We can talk after we're done here if you want more details but... I think you'd be surprised to learn that most of these fighting skills I have were... not learned of my own volition."
Her lips were pursed as she spoke, her voice even changing to be a bit more quiet and timid than usual... at least until she brushed off those thoughts and returned to her much more confident and boisterous mannerisms.
"Alright! You still owe me a poke to the ribs! Let's go!"
[Kazuo is taken aback by her sudden change in behavior. He could make a vague idea, that it wasn't a happy story at all.]
"I won't ask then. You're my Sensei, it's not something I should be doing."
[Trying to be respectful, Kazuo would try to smile and return to his battle stance, allowing Emi to prepare as well. It was only fair.]
"You got it!"
[He would dash again forward and consider a somewhat aggressive option. He would aim to strike Emi's shinai to the side using the reach of his Rapier, enough to displace her or startle, which he would then follow up with the same thrusting move she taught him. However, if the first contact won't work as he hopes, then instead of moving towards the thrust, he would maintain contact and close in, forcing her blade down so neither of them had enough distance to properly use them.]
"I'll tell you all sometime. As my students, you deserve to know... especially if something happens."
Quickly discarding the morbid thought she readied the same familiar stance again as Kazuo prepared to strike once more. Surprised at his aggressiveness, she managed to maintain her stance, but not at the cost of some subtle yet still noticeable fumbling. Her eyes met with Kazuo's, filled with a vigor he wouldn't have seen directed at him before.
In one fluid motion, she stepped to the side and parted her blade from Kazuo's, letting whatever force he was using to keep her blade down carry him forwards. Switching from two hands to one hand, she slashes her wooden sword at Kazuo in a similar manner to the thrust she just taught him, hopefully landing the attack.
"You mustn't waste too much time without attacking! All you're doing is giving me time to think. Time to think means time to kill you!"
[The first thing Kazuo would do as the situation changes would be to move to the side and redirect her thrusting attack by smashing his Rapier against the shinai, making sure to move towards the side of her dominant hand.]
"Then stop talking so much!!"
[He would go for the thrusting attack the instant her own missed, win or lose, he was not hesitating.]
Impressed with Kazuo's defensive abilities, she made sure to put them to the test, Emi's swings becoming fast, yet not impossible to deflect. Considering what Kazuo had seen her do before, she was clearly holding back, yet her strikes were still heavy and swift, unleashing four swift lateral slashes at Kazuo, knowing he'd be able to block them easily.
"You've got the basics, but you must apply them if you want to win! I've trained for years to see a bullet move in real time, your strikes must be more than just violence! They must be thoughts!"
Before he could capitalize on her offense, Emi retreated, but this time assumed a stance that was much more open, more aggressive. Her entire torso was open as her blade was now pointed straight at Kazuo, aligning with her shoulder as if she was prepared to run her student straight through.
"A fight is not just a test of strength or dexterity! You know this well by now!"
[Kazuo is able to protect himself from Emi's four strikes by using his Rapier and reacting just quick enough to figure out what it was that was happening. Despite this and avoiding extra pain, he was definitely feeling it on his hands and was getting tired himself. He quickly realized how unprepared he is for direct confrontation, despite the kind of abilities he had. He needed more.]
"Not just a test of strength or dexterity...! A fight is..."
[Kazuo's eyes become sharper the second he considered the idea. That's true. He merely needed to look back enough. Individuals and groups out for blood, not for fun, but to outright destroy him. Fighting was a struggle, confronting someone was an act of struggle. It's the struggle for existence, that goes beyond just brute force.]
"I didn't get this far by throwing bombs all over the place. I had to place them too, and act as if I did so when I didn't even have them!"
[Right now, Kazuo didn't know what was up with that pose, but he knew he couldn't beat her by mindlessly attacking. He had to do something else. Despite that, he took just a second to breath in, looking back at Emi with the notoriously more serious eyes, almost enjoying himself. He would change hands, holding the Rapier with his left and standing casually, resting the blade on his shoulder and tapping his right foot.]
"...So, don't keep me waiting. Let me show you what I can do..."
[He smiles with confidence.]
Emi widened her eyes for a moment, but it was less because she was taken aback by Kazuo's sudden seriousness. No, it was something far more elementary than that. It was written all over her face when, even if just for a second, she had a subtle blush.
"Oh-hoh? Switching your dominant hand? Whatever could you be plotting? See it's funny you try that because..."
Suddenly she tossed her sword into her left hand and adopted a vastly different fighting style than she had before. Previously, she was swinging the shinai as if she was doing kendo, but now her swipes were faster, and carried a flick of the wrist not unlike that which she used with her curved greatsword. Despite only using one hand, the weight of her diagonal slash was comparable to when she was two-handing her weapon.
"I see that glint in your eyes! You look like you could take on the world right now! The rules are the same, one strike and you'll win this exercise. But let's see how much you'll endure to earn it!!"
Whether her first strike was blocked or successful, she cared not, slashing five separate times, each a powerful, purposeful strike from a new angle. It was only until the fifth swing that she changed in the middle of the blade's course, her wooden sword slashing from her left side, only for her wrist to flick backwards and curve the handle to her right side and follow through with the rest of the 'cut' from there.
[Kazuo is, most of the time, a showoff, but also just as much of a pragmatic fighter. To win there are no rules, especially against opponents looking to claim your very life. Of course, this entire situation was a bit different and his bigger concern was looking like a dumbass. Emi had a strength far beyond him. Far beyond his current self anyways. At the very moment she took the signal to approach, lines of white light would cover his right hands and forearm up until the upper arm.]
"Purgatorio - Awakening Gauntlet!"
[The light would become an armor exuding a strange energy constantly. The fingers become metallic claws; the palm all the way to the forearm and upper arm would become covered by a black leather-like material. The back of his hand would be covered by metal for extra protection: a manacle-like piece would appear around his wrist from the which a large blade would come out, as long as his arm, providing cover for the rest of the limb, as if having a blade in a reverse grip; finally, four plaques would appear one after another covering the forearm, like gills, subtly moving at the rhythm of his breathing. Appearing in an instant, he would use it to block the initial strike.]
"You're too strong, I had to match you somehow!"
[It was weird to him. Although he resisted the initial impact, and he knew the rest of his body would feel it worse, he still feels a strong pain on his right. Even so, Kazuo kept smiling, the glint in his eyes becoming so clear it was easy to read his mind. It was exciting to him, somehow, how strong Emi was. The second strike he would impact with his fist, then cover again for the third and barely stop the fourth. Each time it hurt like hell, and each time he knew that with the Rapier alone he couldn't have been able to take it. Then the fifth move came and took him by surprise, being unable to really react in time, being struck directly. He can only cry out in pain.]
[These words quickly follow, and by pure reflex Kazuo would use his right to keep the shinai in place, right there where it hit him, using his own strength and the strength his demonic gauntlet provided him. Finally, he would use his left and swipe at Emi with his Rapier, aimed at her neck. However, and although even if it worked and could take a clean hit, he would still go ahead and stop himself right before making any contact that wasn't just a tap.]
Emi couldn't help but wince ever so slightly as she struck Kazuo directly, hoping he wasn't hurt too terribly. Her concern was absolutely thrown out the window as her wooden blade was completely immobilized, and before she knew it, her neck had been lightly tapped by her student's rapier.
"I... suppose you got me. I was just trying to get you to start throwing feints or something like that, but I guess this is a greater surprise than I could've ever expected!"
She used her free hand to gently move the rapier away from her neck with a single finger, offering Kazuo a proud smile.
"I'll accept this for now, but eventually you're going to need to learn to beat someone like me without any of your weird magic, got it? As our lives get stranger and stranger we have to be prepared for every situation, even if it has a 0.01% chance of happening."
Emi took a quick minute or two to take a break, grabbing an inexplicably large pink thermos and gulping down what could've easily been several bottles worth of water.
"Take this moment to celebrate or stretch or do whatever you want, we can work on some more stance variety in a moment."
Those inside the gym may witness split wood through the middle of the front door as a sharp metal protrudes from it, repeatedly chopping through until only a hole remains revealing a man dressed in Samurai garb with the chest exposed standing behind. The face could easily be recognized as Apollo's, who enters the establishment axe in hand.
"I figured I had to win somehow. Force of habit."
[He tries to laugh it off, allowing the Awakening Gauntlet to disappear as he also lowers the Rapier, leaving it on the floor carefully. As he tries to raise again, he can't help but hold the area that just got hit with his left hand. He winces in pain for another moment until he regains his previous posture.]
"I really need to start exercising more. You're really strong. You're the kind of person I could never beat normally unless I just... played dirty tricks."
[He still has red cheeks and all the shame was gone, much like the previous sharp eyes. Instead, he was keeping direct eye contact with Emi as he spoke. At least, he didn't feel like sitting around. The pain may or may have not been a factor.]
"...Does this mean... I should call you "Master" now, Emi?"
"I may be strong, but even as you are now you have the power to defeat me. Like I said earlier, the mark of a powerful swordsman is not their sheer strength or dexterity, it's their mind."
She did a few stretches, also keeping direct eye contact with Kazuo. She seemed a little more confused by her student's intense stare.
"Do I look weirder than normal or something? You're looking at me like I'm some kind of cryptid. Not that you're too far off."
At the title 'master' followed immediately by her first name once more, her bright amber eyes widened. Suddenly, her complexion went from surprise to pure mischief.
"You can call me whatever you want, but if you're gonna say my name like that you should at least take me out to dinner!"
She let out a mad cackle before picking up her wooden sword and giving it a few twirls. She'd switch her stance and hold her handle much closer to her body, resting the sword's guard not much further than an inch from her chest, the blade pointing at Kazuo.
"So! Let's work on some more offensive options. You've got the poking part of a rapier down but I think your slashes could use work. This stance is atypical of rapiers, but it's very common for long-sword fencing. Give it a try!"
[Her teasing would force Kazuo back into looking away, realizing he was all over the place in his way of acting. He covers his face, red, trying to understand which one is it. Confident warrior? Ruthless trickster? Blushing virgin? A question for the ages.]
"I-I... I mean... y-you joke but I need to do something as a proper thank you, Sumeragi-sensei..."
[He would play with his fingers looking around, until he figures out Emi was reading to go again. He would hit his own cheeks lightly to snap out of it, and quickly reach for his Rapier.]
"Everything works in a real fight, right...? Even if I don't find much use of it by the end, someone out their fights like that. At the very least I will know how to counter those moves."
[When he was done, Kazuo would resume his previous battle stance and carefully consider his teacher's own stance. He wasn't sure what this was all about, but even so, he had an idea. If slashing was the game, then anything would work. He would rush forward with his sword horizontally to keep his guard up but would then slide past Emi. Past her, right below her, he would use his left hand and right foot to stabilize himself and rise as he goes for a diagonal raising slash. This so he could protect himself from attacks from above but still go for a cut. In the end, he would be back on his feet by the end of the attack, in a position similar to the thrusting one.]
Due to the nature of Kazuo's swing, she found herself unable to strictly deflect the rising slash, instead quickly stepping to the side and rather gently using her foot to push Kazuo over to at least slow his recovery from the attack.
"You're certainly creative, but I somehow doubt any human opponent is going to be hit by that. Try a doing that horizontally next time! My only option there would be to block or jump, both of which are going to be difficult."
Emi took the offensive now, leading with a simple yet powerful thrust forwards into Kazuo's defense, yet something was off about how straightforward her offense was. Assuming Kazuo dodged or deflected her thrust, she'd follow up with a wide horizontal slash to catch him in the act.
"We've been very back and forth so far, but remember that sometimes the enemy won't always stop after one failed move."
[Kazuo could tell something was off but couldn't react in time. He wouldn't admit it or show it, but the pain from before came back and threw him off for a precious moment. Attempting to dodge the attack and managing to do so barely, he is then unable to respond to Emi's follow up move, hitting him again but now on the opposite side of his body. He groans, but keeps his teeth clenched as he resumes his battle position and goes for lightning-fast horizontal slash, following the motion almost exactly as his teacher just did it.]
"I see it! I can't just shoot once, go from sniper rifle...!"
[If Emi blocked the attack, then Kazuo would rush forward and close their distance in order to tackle her. If she dodged by gaining distance, then he would push gain by taking a long step forward for a follow up; if the first slash went from left to right, this one would make the way back, right to left. If Emi ducks, then he would quickly go for a kick with his right foot. Finally, and in the event she somehow fell or lost her stance, he would close in enough to point the blade are her throat.]
"...to a shotgun!"
[Regardless of the follow-up, he would maintain a safe distance and keep his guard up while slowly closing in, trying to force Emi into a position of retreat.]
In response to Kazuo's attempt to tackle, she took a rather unorthodox response, dropping her shinai for a moment and, with a crooked smile, attempting to tackle Kazuo back. She knew her student wouldn't likely be able to handle her brute force head on, but she was now unarmed after having dropped her sword.
"You might be the bravest sparring partner I've ever had, trying to charge into the bull!!!"
Assuming her tackle was successful, she would try to keep Kazuo in a struggle against her strength for as long as feasibly possible, attempting to go for a grapple against him.
"You understand the versatility of your techniques, but let's see your own philosophy applied against you!"
[Kazuo struggles against Emi's push. He knew she was strong, but this was starting to get out of hand. This woman could easily break his bones if she wished to, too easily too. Even so, even if he's slowly sliding back from her own push, he does his best to maintain his balance, trying to figure out how to get out of the situation he just got himself in.]
"My philosophy...! I... aim for victory...to come out on top at the end...! Because I'm lacking...in strength, I have to make up somehow…!"
[That's as far as he can go by resisting, it was a mere moment. He would stop gripping his Rapier and instead grip Emi's coat from the chest with both hands, which he would immediately follow by intertwining his right leg with hers, specifically by pressing the back of his knees with her own. Kazuo would stop applying force and would instead focus on directing Emi's momentum instead, using his hands to launch her forward and then his leg to have her lose balance by taking advantage of her own brute force, aiming to have her fall to the ground on her back right next to him. If this worked, he would follow up by sitting on her stomach and quickly reaching out for the nearby dropped Rapier, which he would press against her neck. But if she doesn't fall, there is very little he can do against her superior force.]
Emi was successfully pushed over, even earning a squeak of surprise from the woman as she toppled onto her back. Like an animal pushed into a corner, she struggled against his grip, knowing that she couldn't possibly toss him out before he could finish the job. That was until he went for his rapier and she made the bold move to grab the sword's blade right as he was about to press it into her neck.
"You like that spot don't you? It's simple... no room for failure, a quick kill! But what're you going to do against someone who's willing to destroy themselves just to live?"
She aimed to move the rapier away from her vitals and follow up with a shove from her other hand, one that wouldn't particularly hurt, but have enough force to potentially knock Kazuo off of her. Still unarmed however, there was little to do offensively other than turn the battle into a fistfight, which she was much too hesitant to do given her strength.
Having nothing else to do, Apollo would start installing a replacement door, somehow having all the tools at the ready.
[Kazuo was distracted by his own pride at pushing Emi down onto the floor and gaining the upper hand in the encounter until she grabs on to his own weapon. Of course, if someone had to be pushed to certain death then they would push harder to survive. Taken aback by her actions and words, Kazuo is pushed back enough to give the woman room to move, and he didn't have his Rapier anymore either.]
"Yeah... I liked it there."
[He chuckles, quickly standing up and clenching his fists, also keeping his feet in a stable position; his right was to the front and firmly pressed against the floor while the left was similarly placed behind, the back of that foot slightly raised.]
"Fighting doesn't have to be with weapons, right? I may lose my magic and my equipment, but my body will still remain there, right?"
[Kazuo's breathing is heavier now, he was tired. But at the same time, he was enjoying himself. He couldn't concentrate in anything else but her at the moment. His eyes made his emotions transparent enough as they sharper.]
"If this is for our survival, what are we willing to do, Emi?"
[Kazuo would remain in place, but was planning to respond any attempt at getting closer with a spinning back kick. He didn't know anything about hand-to-hand combat, but he was willing to improvise until he couldn't move anymore.]
In a surprising move, she picked up Kazuo's rapier, taking a second or two to glance over the blade before suddenly tossing it towards him, the tip aimed towards his chest assuming he didn't decide to dodge the rather obvious projectile.
"And here I thought I would be teaching you swordsmanship!"
Rather than attempting to cause any damage with the thrown rapier, instead she was using this as an opportunity to close the gap, dashing towards Kazuo and aiming a kick at his torso. She was careful not to put much force into the kick, but it'd be impossible to tank the woman's leg without at least bruising.
[Kazuo would love to grab onto his own weapon as it flies but he doesn't have such kind of reflexes, not yet anyways. Instead, he is forced to dodge as soon as he sees it coming. It is also enough to throw him off as his teacher approaches with a kick. He is barely able to raise his arms to protect himself, those receiving the impact instead. He needs to take a few step backs, moving his arms around. He was in great pain already; it was like they were burning now. He was glad this wasn't his chest or stomach.]
"I want to become stronger, whatever it takes...! But you kick so hard, I'll have to work harder than that...!"
[Kazuo laughs as he moves his arms one final time. It was going ot leave a mark, that much was obvious. He was only feeling more excited to keep going.]
"...Back then, you were like a shield, but that's not all you are, you're also a sword!"
[He had no chance with no equipment on him, but Kazuo would still rush forward with his guard up, using his arms to cover his face. When he was right in front of her, he would go for a very simply straight punch with his right, putting his whole back into it and actually trying to hit her face. It was noticeable he was moving slower than before.]
"Please, teach me everything about yourself!!"
Emi was able to block Kazuo's punch, but it was quite noticeable that his exceptional force caused her guard to falter, even if just for a moment, like he could see a faint light of hope that he could keep up with the woman's strength.
"If you want that so bad then let me teach you lesson one!"
She raised her fist to Kazuo's chest before hitting him with a one inch punch. Somehow, it didn't hurt at all, yet if the attack was successful, he'd find himself completely toppled, and Emi's fist would have a spiraling dark energy around it.
"Is that some suitable insight into myself?"
[From that distance, it should be impossible to avoid. Kazuo finds himself forced onto the floor below, not exactly sure of what just happened. He tries to consider the options. She didn't punch him hard at all, and then the dark energy...]
"Yeah...! You are using your weird magic now, too! We are equal there now..."
[She was using her own attacks for weird effect. He could do the same, but even then, his moves were way more lethal and focused on destruction compared to hers. Not that she probably wasn't capable of kicking a powerful demon so hard it goes back into the Abyss.]
"...we share that affinity for the dark. I had a feeling, somehow. Maybe... it was your appearance...!"
[Kazuo would slowly rise back up before going for another right straight punch to the face.]
"Maybe it was the rumors...!"
[He would try to go for a left hook directed at the side of her torso.]
"...maybe just wishful thinking...!"
[Finally, he would try to go for a push kick with all he had. He was getting sloppy in general, clearly tired but still not stopping. Even if all his strikes were blocked, he would still try to finish the improvised combo At the end of it, he would try to keep his guard up while trying to catch his breath.]
"You're the only person I can ask to help me with this... and I'm... not even sure why. All I know is I can't look away."
She was clearly taking notice of Kazuo's shift in behavior, considering he went from focused if inexperienced movements to savage and seemingly thoughtless offense. She blocked his right hand by catching his fist, keeping a firm grip on it to prevent any struggling, taking his left hook head-on but seemingly not even flinching. She was no longer throwing out any attacks, instead seemingly nullifying the impact of every move he'd been throwing.
"Remember what I said, Kazuo! Every strike must be a thought!"
As Kazuo finished his combo, Emi finally caught his kick and tossed him backwards like it was nothing, taking full advantage of her student's apparent fatigue. She gave him a stern look and spoke in an inquisitive tone.
"I think you need to take a break for a moment. You look like you were getting way too ahead of yourself in that fight, you practically wore yourself out."
She crouched down to take a break from their sparring, subtly brushing her hand over the side she'd taken Kazuo's left hook on, wincing like she was experiencing an inconvenience rather than pain.
"You're a weird kid, you know that? I've never even met professional fighters that have the thirst for battle you do. So! Let's take a minute to talk. You said you wanted to know about me, right? Well, I'd say you've earned a few answers for today."
[Kazuo would fall backwards and hit the floor with his back, a bit too tired now to keep going. At first, he tries to stand up, but he could feel his body in pain now, various places. His torso, his arms... he didn't really think about it much as they sparred.]
"When I fight... I kind of... get weird gaps. I know what I'm doing but at the same time it feels like I just act."
"I think I'm a bit weird in that sense."
[He then stays quiet as he considers what he could possible ask her at this time. She still was his teacher, the club supervisor and now his master, so he didn't feel like being disrespectful.]
"How... did you get your Persona? Yours is unlike any I've seen."
[He slowly lifts his upper body, deciding to stay on the floor to rest but still wanting to look at her. He was getting redder, not sure how to proceed.]
"If... you don't feel like saying that, then you could tell me whatever you like. Or ask. Y-Yeah."
Apollo, while not really paying much attention to Kazuo and Emi before, took interest in the last few details. As he realized Emi was about to divulge important details of her past, he creepily pulls out his notepad and pencil and flips to a page, gently pressing the tip of the pencil to the top left corner of a page he flipped to while he faced away from the pair in an unsubtle attempt to be subtle.
"Gaps? Is that so? I think that's worth looking into. Not that I would even know where to start! I think it's safe to say I've been exposed to this weird stuff for longer than most of you, but I know a lot less."
Whenever Kazuo broke eye contact, she'd try to scoot her way into his vision, a trick she'd practically mastered at this point after dealing with hundreds of students dozing in class.
"Your face is really red. You didn't overexert yourself, did you? Try to take deep breaths, your body will relax quicker."
She nod-nods as she starts downing more water from her massive thermos, almost like preparation to answer the question.
"Not the normal way, that's for sure. I know about those little... things people shoot themselves with, and I've seen shadows before, but mine was... inorganic. I couldn't tell you the details of the procedure but when I was about... fourteen? I underwent a 'medical' procedure at some lab that my parents worked at."
She tries her best to maintain that signature peppy smile she always wore, but she was clearly struggling to do so, but for the first time she was maintaining eye contact as she told the story.
"I don't remember much of what happened, I just remember the pain. It was worse than a migraine and lasted days. The only detail I remember vividly was waking up one morning with bright gold eyes, and the next morning with this sickly silver hair. I think I was one of the first to complete the process though. When I awakened to my Persona it... it tore all the lab assistants to shreds. My parents included. They barely stopped it before it strangled me to death. Now I have to take sedatives all the time to keep it from going crazy, and even just summoning her can give me headaches. Speaking of which!"
She reached into her bag and pulled out a tiny bottle of pills, popping one into her mouth and sipping her water once more.
"I don't think I'll have to do this forever, though. In the decade or so I've lived with Scáthach in me she's gotten... calmer. I still can't let her go loose though, I suspect she'll still turn on me."
"Your...your parent put you through that...!? Is forcing a Persona out of someone really possible...?"
[Kazuo didn't know how to react to the information he just got. It was outrageous, to force someone that young to go through that, and for what? It didn't seem like she knew, or maybe she had a good reason, or maybe her parents did. He couldn't stop thinking about the "why". Even if he was confused, he was also feeling bad for her.]
"T-That's good to know, that it's gotten easier but... this is all something to learn today."
[He takes a deep breath before trying to move the conversation. If before he was sad and somewhat annoyed, he slowly started to go back into shyness.]
"Well then...do you... have any...hobbies, Emi?"
"I wish I could tell you why my parents did this to me, or how a Persona can even be... well, extracted out of someone, but the procedure also drastically damaged my memory. I remember what my parents looked like, what I looked like, but I don't even remember what my mother sounded like..."
She let out a deep and almost pained sigh as she shook her head.
"I'm sorry. I knew speaking about this would kill the mood, but I've practically gunned it down in the streets!"
Emi chuckles softly, giving a huge smile towards Kazuo despite everything she just said.
"You could say this is my hobby! My job is my hobby. Teaching gives me... fulfillment! Oh, and I like motorcycles! But I can't really afford a fancy one. And... I do enjoy going to the gym! The normal one, but this one's good too!"
[That was it then. There it was why he felt some kind of familiarity. Even so, her way of treating things or feeling regardless what different from what he did at all. Kazuo couldn't help but feel bad for her but at the same time, seeing her smile... it wouldn't be fair to give her a weird expression. So he would decide to smile too, even though he possibly looked all weird doing it.]
"...I don't really remember much of anything anymore, of myself or otherwise. Anything prior to my third high school year is a blur if I'm lucky. I never expected you to have a... similar experience. Even though I have no idea what triggered it..."
[He looks down and plays with his fingers, embarrassed.]
"I understand, I think. But uhm... I want to say, I mean...you didn't kill the mood, it's at the hospital, right?"
[He forces a laugh, but it almost sounds robotic. He feels like he should hide his face again and die in silence. He probably should. There it is. Kazuo wasn't used to speaking to anyone like this.]
Emi would take at least a couple moments, tilting her head at Kazuo before the joke finally clicked.
"Oh! Oh I get it, haha! Funny!"
She started tapping her chin in thought, staring up at the ceiling.
"But you know I'm not bothered by my circumstances too much. Sure, I'm pretty upset that my old life was practically stolen from me, but you know, the one I was given afterwards isn't so bad. I may not know what my parents were like, or who I was before the procedure, or even if Emi is my real name... but I know that I'm genuinely pretty happy with my life right now. I get to do stuff like spend a couple hours in a spooky gym with one of my students!"
She gave Kazuo a much softer smile now, one that didn't necessarily radiate her normal infectious energy, but instead something more like an empathetic smile.
"And for once in my life, I can use this power to help people. When we saved Megumiba I had never been happier! I took this thing... this monster... and I helped save someone's life. That's... special, you know?"
"You've... been a great help all this time. Helping us get Sen out of the TV World, always being so nice at school and out of it. You helped me create the Occult Club and now are help me become stronger. I... don't know how to properly thank you for all that."
[Kazuo had a slight, grateful smile while looking at Emi. He would keep staring, trying to figure out what more to say, but being unable to easily find any words. He would stay like that for a long while until he finally finds at least something.]
"Do you mind... training me again around this time, right here next week? I-I could pay you by... uhm..."
[He looks around the area, trying to force his mind. He hits his left with his right fist.]
"Ah...! I can treat you to dinner afterwards! You were saying something like that a while ago!"
[Kazuo had this kind of proud smile on his face, figuring just money may be hollow.]
"Pay me? You don't have to pay me! Even then, shouldn't I be taking you out to dinner? I'm an adult, I can pay for stuff."
She stuck her tongue out and pouted at Kazuo for a solid five seconds before finally conceding and grumbling under her breath.
"Yet somehow I fear you've got more money to toss around than I do."
She then mimics Kazuo's gesture, hitting her left hand with her right fist and nodding enthusiastically.
"We can get something to eat sometime! But I'll pay for myself. I don't know if I could ever live down having a meal paid for me by my student. In fact, why don't you invite some of the others from the club too? It could be an... outing of sorts. Plus I can write it off as club expenses!"
"Someday then, when it matters..."
[Kazuo laughs, mostly at the worrying implication Emi is a case of regular teacher living in a single room where she gets to drink the night away with cheap beer. The mental image was extremely funny to him, but at the same time, he wondered if that was actually the case.]
"...Should we keep going for now? Or would you rather call it a day, Emi?"
[Kazuo would stand up quickly without a single flinch and would then move his arms in a circular motion, showing he can still move just fine.]
"I can keep going for another round, sparring with you has..."
[He has a slight blush on his face.]
"...it's been really fun. Despite the pain."
[Although he's showing he can keep going like nothing, in reality he is feeling every strike on his body unlike before. As they spoke, the effect of the adrenaline wore off and he would honestly rather be in bed with ice all over. He was wondering if he was even able to walk to the station and then go back home. He laughs loudly and nod-nods.]
"I'm joking of course! It's not painful at all!"
[A singular tear escapes his right eye while he keeps moving around like a fool.]
"While I'd love to continue, I think we should stop for now. I don't wanna bruise you any more than I might have already, and besides, I need to see if the kid got home yet.
She pulled out her phone and started texting rapidly, somehow not even breaking eye contact with Kazuo and finishing her message, like this was all instinct to her.
"I should mention I enrolled my little brother at Kosei recently. We're not related but he looks just like me, so I think you can figure out the details from there. I'd really appreciate it if you could try to be friends with him, he's a little... abrasive."
As she was packing up, she let out a squeak before turning back to Kazuo, looking a little concerned.
"I totally forgot! Do you need a ride home? I came here on my motorcycle, so there's not much room for two people, but I can take you home! N-Not that you can't handle yourself! It just feels wrong to leave my student to his own after dark!"
"A little brother...?"
[Based on what she told him, it probably was someone else who went through the same thing. It would be fine, he figured, he had met "less than normal, more than weird" types of people. He shrugs and smiles as he takes his Rapier back, returns it to the scabbard and then moves to return it into the bag.]
"I can't promise you we'll be friends but... I'll at least try to be nice at least. I recently got myself a bit of a reputation because of the Occult Club and... well people know I exist. They just...know me as the weird one."
[Ready to go, he would pick the up and strap it around his body, but then he felt it, the sudden awful sting around his torso. He would visibly recoil and consider Emi's offer. He would stand there in silence, trying to swallow the last bit of pride he had. After all, he had opened up more to Emi than anyone thus far. He would scratch his right cheek and look away, blushing.]
"...I-If I'm not an annoyance...then I would like that ride, Emi. Even so I live in Kichijouji, so... it's whatever."
[He plays with his fingers.]
"He's a bit of a prickly one, but I'm sure if anyone can break that rough exterior it'd be you and the other boys in the Occult Club. I think he's just tired of big sister telling him what to do, you know?"
She beckoned Kazuo to follow her outside of the building, picking up a dark blue motorcycle helmet that matched her coat surprisingly well and strapping it on her forehead. From her bag, however, came a bright pink motorcycle helmet that was similarly sized.
"Here, put this on! And don't think about the coloring too much."
She climbed onto her motorcycle and revved it up, making that iconic 'vroom' a couple times. While she wouldn't make it apparent, she got quite a bit of satisfaction just from the sound.
"Ever been on a motorcycle? If not, I recommend hanging on tight."
"What do you mean? They are just colors, right?"
[Kazuo would take the helmet and put it on his head, hitting his own head to see how it would go. He was amazed to see that he could feel the impact but he also was wondering if today was the day he would die. Without much else to do, he would hop on the motorcycle, somewhat excited and hanging on to the back. He had seen it this way in the past.]
"It'll be fine, I promise! How bad could it be?"
"Don't take this the wrong way, but when I say hang on tight, I mean to me. You're gonna fly off and die if you try to grip onto the bike."
She let out a cackle, knowing just how flustered Kazuo would probably get from the suggestion. She started driving slow, letting him get used to the speed and the force of the wind while he could.
"Kichijouji here we go!"
After giving Kazuo a few minutes she started moving full speed, practically moving precisely at the speed limit at all times.
"Hahaha~ Please Emi, I'm an adult. There's no need to worry, It'll be-"
[At first, he thought she was just messing with him, but then the speed suddenly picked up, and he was forced to hang on to her tightly. It was a second, and all the doubt left him. It was a good thing the helmet was pink, it matched really well with the red of his face.]
"NO IT'S NOT FINE!!"
[Kichijouji here we go.]
Sen breathes out a sigh of relief as she finally gets to watch her classmate and teacher drive by.
"I thought they'd never leave."
With the crisis averted, Sen jumps down from the GYM's roof, letting out a deep breath before heading inside. She came to search for a certain lunatic.... But he hadn't been here last time she visited, so at this point she's honestly not sure what to do about it.
For now, Sen wanders aimlessly, looking over the GYM equipment for anything interesting.
A young man would walk through the door rather nonchalantly. He didn't seem to have much of a reason to be here or even to be speaking but he did so regardless with a calm but overly passive tone.
"I was watching, wondering if some weirdo was just watching from the shadows or something. Guess since I was watching that's just the pot calling the kettle black though right. Still, a friend of mine owns this place so I have to ask.
Why are you skulking around in the shadows waiting for everyone to leave?"
Sen turns around, sword drawn, but once she sees the other man her anger turns to something more akin to confusion
"O... Oh. Sorry. I just... Didn't want anyone from school to see me like this."
She had initially mistaken Quintus for another person who had said he worked at the GYM some months back, but she hadn't managed to find him since.
The girl rubs her right arm nervously before letting out a sigh. Right, she hadn't met the person before, so it was appropriate to give their greetings.
"I'm Sen Megumiba, daughter of the prosecutor Seishiro Megumiba. I was looking for someone who said he worked here...."
"Someone who works here? Can't say I'm really an employee here myself. Though I have done some work for the owner."
Quintus would remain oddly calm though there was a hint of suspicion forming in his expression. Regardless he decided to actually try to provide some information.
"Honestly, people who say they work here don't actually show up often. This place has mostly run itself for years. It's unlikely you'll find them anytime soon...
Though, I'm not sure if that's even a bad thing given your willingness to draw your sword. I guess it's not really my business unless you turn that blade against the actual owner. I couldn't care less what happens to his other subordinates."
Sen catches the man's meaning and sheathes her weapon with a sigh
"Right, if you'd ever met them you'd understand my caution. They're... A character for sure."
Sen looks off to her left, staring into empty space more than anything else before turning back to Quin
"I get this probably looks bad but I swear I'm one of the good guys. from my understanding most people take the rules rather loosely but I'm not one to cause trouble."
For a moment Quin tried to keep a neutral look but he couldn't help but chuckle a bit to himself when he heard the phrase 'good guys'.
"Good guys? I'm not exactly fond of that phrasing but if you're serious about following the rules then maybe you do mean it. Most people just use that term to justify dragging others into their problem or interfering with people believing themselves to be doing the right thing."
He'd try to get his composure back after going on a bit of a tangent.
"Sorry, I tend to get over excited whenever people mention anything akin to heroes and villains. Would rather not start some idealist debate. Anyway, you're still not the most suspicious person I've met so as long as you really don't cause any trouble then you won't hear a word from me."
Sen waits patiently for Quin to go off on their tangent. At first it felt like he was mocking her, but as the other person goes on Sen's gaze slowly lowers to a contemplative one. The girl pauses in thought for a second before asking.
"Did you want to be a hero too?"
Quintus actually wasn't quite sure how to respond. He was almost surprised at that suggestion but seemed more tired upon responding.
"I certainly hope I more than wanted. That was a long time ago. Since I've been here I've just seen heroes sacrifice those around them for the sake of the greater good.
I'm tired of watching people die to things that consider themselves beyond human. I'm tired of watching heroes throw everything at these forces and end up only succeeding in delaying them a little longer."
He seemed to show some reluctance in saying anything else but still continued although with a more cautious attitude.
"It's all a cycle that should just be broken. Of course, the only way to break it is to create a world for humans alone. I already know how impossible it might be to desperate forces beyond nature from the natural world but it's either that or more people die pointless deaths."
He seemed to have a hint of desperation as he spoke those last words. Finally, he seemed to stop, holding back any further meaning behind his words.
"Forget it, getting all preachy was the last thing I wanted to do. Talking about this kind of stuff just ends with people looking at me like some kind of mad man. Though, I'd like to meet someone who can maintain their sanity after all I've experienced."
Sen continues watching Quin for a bit, deep in thought. It sounded like he'd been through a lot, but there wasn't exactly much she could do about it.
Still, in an effort to make him feel better Sen gives Quin a faint smile
"Sounds like you're a hard worker. Personally, I'll just do the best I can. I can't just let evil pass by in front of me after all. But I don't have nearly as high an ambition as you."
A boy wearing a black coat, with spiked up blonde hair would wander into the building, absently looking around and spotting... Well a pair seems to possibly be conversing over that way. And he isn't about to but in on that so the boy simply leans back against one of the building's walls for now. Glancing about curiously while pondering exactly how long it's been since he stopped in on this world...
Damn, at least a couple years now by his count. Time really flies when you're out adventuring for the sheer excitement of it clearly. But this strange massive city that draws places in almost like Traverse Town is still an interesting place to him, and he can't help grinning a bit while wondering what all may have changed in his long absence. And hoping that someone he might be able to practice against shows up, that would be cool.
An arrogant, juvenile demon boy casually walks in. Generally, he would disregard most everyone else in the area besides himself. After looking around the arena, he smiles devilishly.
"Mwahahahahaha! What's this, a battlegrounds to prove just how ultimately powerful I am? Very well, who here wants to be beaten by the strongest overlord? There's no shame in losing to the main character, after all!"
The keyblade wielder just sighs and shakes his head, groaning heavily at the fact he actually remembers this jackass. Yes, Larhal left... Quite the impression by being utterly insufferable in that tournament they were in two years ago. Might have won if the so called 'main character' over there had even the smallest willingness to work together, he just walks up to the arena as Oblivion forms in his hands with a burst of black sparkling light and magical energy.
"Sup, guess I could go a round with you... Though I wouldn't be so sure about your victory quite yet, I'm pretty good myself ya know."
He doesn't even betray the slightest hint of actually remembering the boy, if Larharl does and calls him out... It'll be funny pretending he doesn't recall the so called demon lord. If he doesn't, nothing lost by not admitting to still being a bit annoyed even now.
"Anyway, name's Roxas. You ready to get this started?"
Laharl glares at Roxas, preparing to draw his large sword while a fury rises inside him.
"Hey, aren't you that weakling that made me lose that one tournament? Don't think i've forgotten about that! I'll make you pay!"
Instead of swinging his sword around, Laharl merely rushes towards Roxas at full force before clenching his right fist, attempting to deliver a fierce fiery uppercut which would send the victim several feet in the air.
"My fault!? What the hell are you talking about you jackass, that was on you for utterly refusing to frigging work together at all! How about I show you what I can do without your sorry self holding me back huh!"
The boy scoffs while that uppercut sails towards him... A normal human would be cut off guard by that speed, he'll admit. But he's no mere ordinay person, and the keyblade isn't any mere mortal weapon either, Oblivion would clash against the blazing punch and endure it easily. The weapon's owner is merely sent back several feet from the impact rather than taking any real damage.
"Now it's my turn!"
The keybearer doesn't waste time, even while speaking he's rushing with inhuman speed that probably wouldn't leave a demon stunned, but it should be in Larhal's league at least. And the magical blast of holy light which comes flying at his enemy in the form of several orbs circling all around and rushing at him with incredible speed seems oddly powerful as well. Perhaps spurred on by the annoyance of their maker.
Soon enough, the doors of GYM swing open...revealing a rather peculiar looking guy.
While the GYM itself did have some people that would look to pretty much stand out from everything else most of the time...this guy might've looked a bit more outlandish in the fact...
...That he dresses like a Cowboy
Well, that aside, he walked in, he came upon the fight that was occuring between the Keyblade wielder and the arrogant overlord...with an unusual looking rifle strapped onto his shoulder, one that had a pile driver under the barrel and a fold out blade in the stock. Not to mention, his ridiculously long revolver...WHY his revolver is that long has yet to be seen as of yet. For now, the cowboy looking man watched the battle whilst leaning to the side...and maybe some western-like music played around for a little, just mostly watching
While Laharl would most likely triumph at this moment if he went all out, he wasn't expecting any mortal to be able to simply tank such an attack. Thus, Roxas was able to knock Laharl around with the holy light, taking some of his stamina with each hit. Once he finds a break, Laharl merely gets up and brushes off the damage
"Okay, I guess you're not as weak as I thought..."
Tensing up, the overlord would merely attempt once more to rush at Roxas and swing his sword towards the keybearers' chest. Although, the knockback from his prior attack gave him ample opportunity to keep up an assault which would rob Laharl of the chance to strike.
A break? Who the hell does this guy think he's dealing with... But Roxas will indeed provide one, in fact he'd cast a spell upon Larhal! One which enhances the demon's power... A modfied version of the enhancing magic known as 'Bravery' which greatly enhances the affected target's physical strength for only a single attack.
This would happen mere moments before his enemy's sword hits Roxas, and very shortly after that, the blade merely a split fraction of a second from slamming into him? A shimmering barrier of magic would slam up around Roxas, a powerful sphere which not only blocks the enemy's attack but reflects double the power the caster was hit with back at their enemy. Including that buff cast upon Larhal.
Of course there's the slight chance of his enemy backing away from the attack before springing this little trap, but that would take both massive speed which Roxas knows the boy has, but also massive restraint that he suspects this foe lacks.
Laharl could outmatch almost everyone in terms of strength, himself included. He would be sent hurtling back as his attack is reflected, nearly slamming through the wall on the other side before thrusting his feet at the ground and stopping himself with the friction. He would then give Roxas an intense glare as the former would watch the latter's every move in anticipation. Laharl would then start flying low to the ground, focusing on evading as he moves left and right distractingly. For his attack, he merely reaches his free hand out as a sigil forms in front of it, a large chunk of ice appearing and jetting towards Roxas.
"Tch, okay, okay. Maybe it wasn't entirely your fault. Still, I won't allow myself to lose this fight!"
After the fight's moved on for a few minutes, a young girl wearing a fancy, antiquated dress and carrying a small, rabbit-shaped doll heads into the GYM. She'd explored the place before, but she remembered getting angry about something.
She was much more calm now. The girl walks in, looking around at the fight, and noticing some weirdo standing by the wall.
Fearless, the girl walks over to the man dressed as a cowboy, and tugs on the edge of his coat
"Hey, hey, what's with the funny clothes?"
The Cowboy took his eyes off from the battle and looked to the young frilly girl who was next to him...
He looked to her from the notch from his hat as he smirked
"Ah, don't worry about my getup, though some people call me a 'Cowboy' for that."
He was somewhat appalled by the fact that a child like her would decide to visit a place like this...although, he does remember having to deal with someone who was like her...namely, a magician who he had to fight a couple of times. Regardless, he tipped his hat to her
"Though, may I ask, what are you here for? Are you lost?"
He wouldn't be surprised if she weren't...there were many surprises that had occured in the Endless Frontier...and if she came for something else or is a capable fighter...he won't exactly be that surprised. He just hoped that she wasn't annoying or troublesome to deal with.
"Cowboy? You're not a cow. That sounds a little weird."
The girl looks back at the cowboy with seemingly empty eyes as she considers the idea, but the girl soon blinks, bringing back her regular, radiant smile.
"Oh, yeah. I'm going on an ADVENTURE! But for some reason whenever I try to play with someone they end up running away."
the air around the girl grows colder as she looks deep into the cowboy's eyes, her childlike grin turning into something sinister within the night air
"You're not gonna run from me, are you?"
The Keyblade Master just grins a little bit, this guy is starting to realize the kind of person he's dealing with here... Which means Roxas can't afford to mess around too much anymore, but going all out at the moment seems a bit too early.
Oblivion would vanish for a split-second, only to be replaced with a weapon reminding one of a Chakram, silver and red with a disc at the handle and an aura of fire burning all around it.
"It'd be accurate to say this weapon is made of one's heart... And the things one cares about most can grant it new power."
And again, he still fights while speaking. The blade rushing through the air as a massive wall of flames appears from it, clearly, this keyblade is best suited to enhancing fire magic. Which it would do quite well as the raging wall of fire rushes to meet his enemy's attack.
Of course, his main plan, in this case, is to... Close in, the raging wall of fire that's trying to distract Larhal is just that. A distraction, but his actual attack requires Roxas to be near so this will do for now.
(edited by Roxas-)
"Well, if you ever watched some of those Wild-West flicks, you'll know what I mean."
Haken noticed the seemingly empty eyes for a moment as she considered the idea
"...Empty eyes..? Well that can't be good"
As he listened to her line of going on an adventure, he quietly wondered why someone would try to run away from her...as the air started to grow cold and her grin became more sinister...
"...Man, I guess I pulled the unlucky draw of this one, the snake-eyes may you will" He fixed his hat a little with one hand and said
"Well, normally I wouldn't deny such a pretty lady the opportunity to have a companion on her adventure...as I have had many adventures myself...but tell me, what is your idea of an adventure?"
Haken treaded lightly around her statement...trying to at least find the best possible way to let her down gently to avoid evoking the girls wrath...whatever is coming from her...it doesn't necessarily look good. She managed to get him on guard as he tried to stay cool. If they would have to fight...well, he'll know what to do hopefully if that happened
"Wild West Flicks? You're saying weird things again"
The girl's smile drops a little, but so does the sinister presence. It almost felt as if nothing had happened, but its unlikely the cowboy would forget as quickly as the air around the girl seemed to.
Her voice is now one full of excitement and daydreams, as one might expect from a child
"Its a really cool adventure, you know? With a totally cool and strong adventurer, finding treasure, slaying evil monsters left and right!"
The girl steps back, wielding her mouse doll as if it were a sword, vanquishing imaginary monsters with every swing. after a few seconds, she lowers the doll, looking back at the cowboy with an almost pleading gaze
"I've tried asking the people around town, but none of them wanna be a monster for me."
Laharl, being as reckless as he is, wouldn't let up attacking long enough to be distracted. Once Roxas strikes through the ice attack, Laharl continues the assault by summoning several (about more than a dozen) spheres of pure heat energy around Roxas. These spheres would quickly gravitate towards them, resulting in an explosive collision.
... Right, this guy is kind of an idiot, that's fine then. Roxas can work with stupid.
The spheres would suddenly find aiming towards Roxas tricky, as he entirely vanishes and rushes with inhuman speed, swerving away from them and cloaking himself in a magical illusion well enough that even if they could normally seek, they'd be unable to for now.
This hopefully gives the boy with incredbile speed enough time to rush in and deliver his next attack... A punch, to be exact a punch that shimmers with the magic of the stars and leaves whoever is struck by it crushed. Destroying eh, about 35% of their raw physical health. The more health a foe has of course, the more deadly this blow is. And while Gravity is normally slow, the punch Roxas aims towards his foe is both cloaked and intensely quick.
"Well, when you'll probably see that on your travels"
Haken raised an eyebrow as her presence changed...but its considering her...she's still possibly a tyke bomb...one mistep and BOOM! She may go crazy. However, as Haken listened to her daydreaming, he smiled a little...but of course, he still had to tread lightly. He couldn't just forget that presence she let out...as she asked her request raising his eyebrow once more
"Monster? Well, I mean many people would rather be the adventurer than the monster that'll be slain. Maybe ask them if they want to be the adventurer accompanying you?"
He suggested this lightly, trying to gamble his efforts...hopefully she'll take his suggesting and, best case scenario, go along her merry way. But if she still pleaded to him, well at least he had other cards to play
"Gahaha. Silly cow man, we can't ALL be adventurers."
The girl lets out a cheerful laugh, seemingly oblivious to the cowboy's wariness. She was still lost in her own little world, wherever that may be
"If everyone got to be the adventurer then who's going to die?"
The girl asks with a smile that's the epitome of sweetness.
(edited by -Luna-)
Laharl looks to both his left and right for the oncoming vehicle, unprepared for any sort of disappearing act. Just as well, he'd be powerless to avert the punch aimed towards him, leaving him to merely clutch his chest as his entire body feels as it's about to collapse in on itself.
"Heh, congratulations, Roxas, you're proven yourself to be *huff huff* just strong enough to be my vassal. After I defeat you, of course. Lucky for you, i'm feeling uncharacteristically generous today, so i'm willing to give you time to recover from your injuries before our rematch!"
Just like that, Laharl would begin making for the exit, grinning just as arrogantly as before on his way out.
"Well, the monster can't be someone who wants to when you ask for it...its going to be the one that stands in the way of your adventure. They pop up when you and your friends get into trouble."
Haken said, carefully avoiding that emotional landmine as he listened to her. He at least understood better why people would run away in the first place...other than her presence, why the hell would most people BE the monster? Not to mention, have an intention on dying. It just really depends on the situation really, but that was the most likely scenario he could think of. He still kept up a cool front, not showing his wariness whatsoever, adding to her distorted view
"Man...this little MacGuffin is more naive than I thought..." He thought to himself, before looking up to Laharl ending his match with Roxas, as he thinks to himself quietly for a moment
"Okay Little Princess, I'll just be right back for our little chat. For now, there's someone who I want to size up first."
He said, looking to Roxas, as the guy finished his fight...
The Keyblade Master reappears and waves to Larhal, smirking slightly... He didn't even get hit in that one, and the other boy is already leaving. Once again, clever tricks and swift motions trump brute force.
"Heh... Sure thing Larhal, I'll be sure to remember your name. See ya around man."
He feels much less annoyed after that win, and with the Keyblade vanished he'd glance over at... The cowboy? What's with that getup, is this a new trend in this world or is he someone that got pulled from a different one into here? Or just a weirdo he guesses. Either way, the man is clearly looking at him so sure, he'll bite. With a smile on his face the boy greets this stranger.
"Yo, how's it going? You new around here? I've never seen clothes like that in this world before... But I've been out for a couple years so maybe I just missed something. Anyway, name's Roxas, how about you?"
He speaks in a friendly enough tone with his hands held in the black cloak's pokects, not having any reason to be annoyed by this fellow yet makes all the difference in the world after all.
Luna raises an eyebrow as the cowboy continues talking. She hadn't really thought of anything like that, but its true that in all the stories she heard the hero would kill a monster for trying to stop them or for terrorizing a town. She didn't get why, but it kinda makes sense the monster wasn't trying to be killed. So whoever she played adventure with probably wasn't either.
"So... They're not running because they're scared. They just want it to be more realistic? If I want it to be realistic, I should run around waiting for some mean guy to show up?"
The girl's still a bit confused, but she'll take that answer for now, walking over to one of the GYM's walls to sit down and let the adults do their talking.
Frankly, Haken wasn't really annoyed at how Roxas looked at his getup...it happened to him before...although he wouldn't say that his getup was normal either...given that his black cloak was a bit ominous...but at least he seemed friendly. Upon him offering his name, he responded
"Howdy stranger, It isn't the first time I've travelled in between worlds, but this one looks a little like my home world." he said, tipping his hat to Roxas before saying
"The name's Haken, Haken Browning, Captain of the ground battleship known as the Zeit Krokodil...and a Bounty Hunter, may you will."
He smirked a little, but he remained friendly, as he soon put his hat back on as he hopped onto the arena
"So...You wanna rest for a little, or do you want another bout right now?"
The young man would reach into his coat, pulling out a glowing bottle of some blue liquid that seems to radiate magic. After drinking some of it he'd put the lid back on and just crack his knuckes with a smirk.
"Haken huh... Neat, and I can't say I'm surprised by you traveling worlds before. Normally it's not really meant to be talked about but eh, the secrecy there fell apart a long time ago in this city. So I just don't care anymore."
He'd leap back into the arena himself without even missing a beat, the potion he'd drunk clearly having cleared up what exaushtion he felt after that last battle.
"And I'm good man, just used up some of my magic so a bit of Ether and I'm back in peak condition! Now then... Which one to go with for my start..."
He'd smile as his Keyblade forms again, this time looking all too much like a sharp sword with black and polished silver metal, gleaming in the building's lights.
"Yeah, this'll work. Wouldn't wanna open with something I used against demon boy!"
He'd dart forward, blade held in front of him and ready to try and deflect any gunfire he might need to. Assuming Roxas got a chance, he'd unleash a pair of simple quick slashes with expert form, not much power behind them. But not much commitment or extension either, he's sizing this new enemy up, having no clue of their potential strengths.
"Ah, so starting the battle already?"
Haken said as he unslung the rifle he was carrying and the fold out blade in the stock folded out to meet Roxas's blade. Knowing gunfire would not really be great at this range, he decided to stick to melee as he was just fast enough to parry his attacks, spinning his rifle as before the fold out blade folded back in as he turned his back to land a blow from the pile bunker that was at the front of the barrel, right after parrying Roxas's attacks
"Then its Showtime!"
Parry... This one is a bit faster than his prior foe, and given the demon lord's general style probably less reckless too. As for the blow that rushes at him, it would indeed land it's mark. Sending the young man back a few feet as he smiles a bit. A fact which would cause him to try another approach looking only slightly worse for wear.
"Not bad at all... Somehow I don't think cheap tricks will work quite as well as they did against my last enemy. So let's try this, a nice honorable DUEL!"
A request like that normally wouldn't be worth honoring... But the magical power behind it leaves both of them with weapons undrawn once again, unless the man could entirely null magic in which case he just has an opening. Otherwise, he'd find himself compelled to play this little quick draw game as well. and Roxas circles quietly with a focused look on his face before...
In a split second Two Become One appears again, aiming to slam a blunted blow directly into his foe with a tiny careful motion. He's gambling here, of course. If the gunslinger is better at quick draw with that bayonet than he might well end up hit directly him. Which would send the former Nobody's keyblade flying from his hands towards the enemy as he's knocked back.
(edited by Roxas-)
As the Pile Driver would hit its mark, it would fire itself as it extended forward, obviously knocking him back a few feet, once Haken looked to Roxas, he smiled back a little, as the kid managed to tank that attack pretty well
"Honorable, huh? well, I wouldn't mind those cheap tricks anyways, but lets make it a duel then!"
Anticipating his opponents moves, Haken quickly drew his fold-out bayonet, as swung it upward...but with a twist!
"How about I shoot you with all of this?"
He threw the rifle upwards, spinning fast enough to be a spinning razor, in an attempt to send Roxas somewhat flying in the air, as he drew his extensively long revolver quickly as he hammered down shots at Roxas
He called out as he fired his rounds...before quickly reloading in time to fire another set of rounds when the rifle itself fell down
Roxas isn't quite slow enough to be put entirely off guard, the upswing was a nice trick, and it does send him flying up into the air... But he'd quickly recover with an obviously supernatural flip that sends him rushing away from the first barrage of shots.
"Skill always beats out brute force, and you've got some skill clearly so I won't bother mocking you any longer Haken!"
The second set would have a few rounds land, minor damage is building up for the boy there's no doubt there... But as he rushes through the air towards his foe and quickly lands feet first with a brutal but efficent swing down towards Haken. The gunslinger would notice two things.
One: His keyblade has changed form again, back to the black pointed weapon he used against the demon kid. Two: There's a second white weapon with a snowflake like tip that's got some blue on it in his left hand, and as Roxas switches to his traditional two bladed style his speed would inceasre to a blur.
Ars Arcanum, a mystical skill of swordplay which unleashes 13 strikes upon the foe in mere seconds... And then there's this version, just as fast taking only five seconds total to perform. With a blinding blurry of 26 blows rushing straight at his foe in an almost impossible to block flurry. None of them would do much damage on their own, but if even half of those got through? A quarter? It would be rather annoying at best.
"I'll admit, I was kind of playing around up to now. Which I suspect you may have been too, but no more holding back!"
His breathing is a bit ragged, but the wide grin on his face clearly shows he's enjoying this little challenge despite that.
While Haken managed to get him with the second set of gunfire, the spinning rifle wouldn't hit Roxas as he's out of its trajectory. As Haken caught his rifle, the Nightfowl, he proceeded to parry the keyblade...which has now changed to its previous black form that was used against Laharl...with another snowflake one to go with a two bladed style. Haken grinned as he tried to parry some of the strikes...but it was obvious that he wouldn't be fast enough to parry all of them...so he focused his mind a little...and...
A little spirit command activated, as Haken breathed in to concentrate more, allowing the spinning of his rifle's bayonet to parry about 10 of the strikes. The remaining 3 did end up hit him...Haken decided to retailiate during the parries by firing off a few rounds whilst spinning his rifle, the shots directly timed and aimed at Roxas, before directing an upward swing and gunfire to parry the final blow of Roxas's Ars Arcanum, having countered with his own skill of gunplay with the Rifle...the move known as "Full House"
"Yeah, I've been keeping my cards in check. But now lets see whose deck has the better odds."
Haken said, as he was grinning too, enjoying this fight as well. Frankly, this was a better fight that he had than the moment he had entered the Nexus outside of the Endless Frontier
The young man would sigh. Only about 6 hits there between both keyblades, how annoying. But his enemy's attempt at a parry would find itself... Going straight into thin air, the magical sword it was about to slam into having vanished and Roxas now sending a quick jab infused with a brutal amount of electricity flying directly toward's the gunslinger's right arm.
"Fair enough, I'd feel pretty bad if I went down too easy... Hopefully that one was a little unexpected at least though, nobody ever seems to see the swordsman just jabbing them with his hand coming!"
Haken blinked as he parried in thin air...as Roxas suddenly appearing on his right about to stab his right arm!
"Well played..." Haken thought to himself...as he quickly moved to press a button below the stock of his rifle...under the fold out bayonet, where a playing card would shoot out from it, flying into Roxas's face before exploding...and Haken attempting to move out of the way of the stab...only to have his arm grazed by the brutal electric blade passing through
"Guh..! Not bad! You managed to hurt me alot with a graze!"
Even with him Focusing more...he would need to ensure that he'll be faster in order to match up with Roxas's ever increasing speed. Though...now he focused on firing a few rounds after that card shot out of his stock. Before taking out a few more cards that spun around...in an attempt to send Roxas flying back...
"I'm good at throwing cards, wanna see?"
The card slams into Roxas, not his face directly it ends up blocked by Oathkeeper, but the resulting explosion still manages to do some damage. Keyblades may be nigh-unbreakable, but their owners aren't quite as tough and the blast wave does only get slown down rather than stopped. It doesn't slow him down enough to prevent his next spell though.
"Heh, I try man... Now, Hastega!"
Oblivion would reform in his other hand as Roxas shouts that, both blades shimmering with temporal power for a brief moment as his already inhuman speed suddenly leaps to a level far beyond its prior state.
Of course it did take a bit of time to get that going, and the slowness is enough to force him onto the defenseive for a moment. He only has enough time to focus the enhanced speed onto evading these flying blows for now, but it does serve to make the boy an even harder target to strike, or dodge. Of course he can't keep taking damage forever, finishing this fast would be best now...
"And eh, cards are cool. As long as I don't have to do stupid gambling to fight you, lemme tell ya the guy with card magic I used to know was a pain like that!"
"Oh trust me, I love to gamble, but I don't know any cool magic tricks like that guy!"
As Haken said that...he promptly activated another Spirit command...Accel, which enabled him to move a bit more faster, seeing as Roxas appears to start moving fast...Haken puts his hand on his hat as he starts to prepare a move...
"Okay, black swordsman! Lets play our trump cards now and see which one wins this gamble!"
Haken said, having already reloaded everything in quick succession...it was only a matter of time of getting the timing right and landing the finishing blow. Of course, he wouldn't kill him...but what other way to finish the duel than to use his own powerful skill.
"Last Showdown! Lets end this!"
Roxas would grin slightly, his blades spinning through the air as they begin gleaming with magical light.
"Heh... Black swordsman? Never been called that one before, but I kinda like it!"
The glow on Oathkeeper and Oblivion would become more intense, power surging through the blades as their owner shouts... Not an incantation, a simple statement really.
"Limits are meant to be broken, Thirteen Blades!"!"
Floating swords of magical light would take shape around the Keyblade Master, an aura of some other magic covering both his weapons as well. And faster still than he's moved throughout this fight the young man would burst forward.
Each and every one of his weapons slashing and stabbing towards his foe with a deadly concert of strikes that's designed to leave him open to some of it by sheer volume and speed.
And at the same time his Keyblades rush through the air, black energy coating them as they rush towards Haken and if they made contact, either one would quickly crush away about 20% or so of his physical health.
Both of course, would be more like 40% but Roxas doesn't expect both to hit. Hopefully though with the barrage of holy swords flying at the same time, he can do some decent damage.
In spite of Oathkeeper and Oblivion glowing...and Roxas rushing into Haken with all of his swords...Haken just stood there, fixing his hat with his free hand as Roxas and the blades approached...the black energy coming towards him. He didn't know what exactly the black energy coating did to the light swords that were coming towards him, but all he knew was that they would hurt a lot if they actually all hit him at once...
...But like hell he was going to make that happen.
What he was going to do right now was to gamble this move into a perfect set up...once the blades had converged at Haken...all at one spot before they started striking...at which point, he planned on finally using his Nightfowl bayonet to smack all of the swords upwards, parrying them and Roxas at the same time, to send him upwards while he would unload his revolver, the Longtomb Special, before quickly moving to catch the Nightfowl and spinning it whilst firing rounds, just to juggle Roxas in the air...before finally moving back and spinning it a few more times before sending him flying with the Blasting Stake...and before he hits the ground...he'll utilize his most damaging weapon in his current arsenal...the Longtomb Special's Klondike Mode, in which the Longtomb special will open up and fire out a powerful laser beam that would hurt Roxas a bit...but...in any case, it all comes down to the timing and if his little gamble itself was successful.
All he needed to do was to catch them at the right time. But while Roxas was a full-on magic user with these keyblades, Haken was only a simple Bounty Hunter with access to spirit commands to boost his capacity. All he just needed to do now was to bet everything on this timing...
It's a clever gamble, and against most enemies it probably would have worked... But against a keyblade master with years of experience fighting people who want him dead or worse, augmenting his already impossible physical talents with magic to even greater heights?
It just isn't quite enough, the magical blades of light created by his limit break are rather distracted with a blinding flurry of blows all around, deflecting shot after shot and even sending some of the first bullets fired off towards him flying back at Haken with graceful timing.
That isn't enough to do a ton of damage of course, but the Gravity Raids that had been fired off? Yeah those'll do the trick, not only is there enough crushing gravatic power in them to knock off just under half of his foe's 'health' as it were, the physical impact of both Keyblades striking into him would leave Haken even more harmed.
And the laser is fast, powerful too... But with a final burst of speed right before his Haste wears out Roxas would rush into melee range, standing right by Haken while that weapon fires off and slams into not the keybearer, but into a shimmering purple barrier he created with a shout of
That would just as with his prior foe's attack, send the damage done by whatever strikes into it back at the attacker twice over. He expects this to be the end, which would be good given he's panting and worn out from all the magic he's been throwing around in this battle.
A well played gamble indeed it was...but unfortunately for Haken...it was a gamble that he had lost. poorly so in which case. Despite having fought several magic beings before, including one that constantly stole bodies, for someone who was adept in magic to the nth degree was a little too much for Haken to deal with, as he shot those light swords with his revolver, although he still had tact to be able to dodge some of his own shots...but the gravity raids hit him...really hard.
Of course, still going along with his move, the Last Showdown, Haken dashed behind Roxas as he somewhat were able to parry him...but Roxas was undoubtely faster than he was, so the damage were done. However...Haken still had his final playing card, as he dashed behind Roxas once more to at least give himself some spacing using the Blasting Stake, before dropping the rifle and pulling out his Longtomb Special...as it expanded to enter its Klondike mode...charging up a blue enrgy blast...before Roxas suddenly rushed into melee range and used Defense
Haken had fired the shot...and as per usual, he was sent flying back due to the recoil. The Shot however was inevitably reflected back to him...and as if luck decided to shed some pity on him...barely missed him after he fell onto the ground...creating a hole and incinerating the poor door that usually granted entrance to those in the GYM...poor Eito.
Haken panted a little...nearly being incinerated by his own shot...as his hat was falling back down onto the floor right in front of him and Roxas
"Phew...How about we call that the tie-breaker? Seems that your luck was better than mine."
Roxas would smirk a bit, Keyblades vanishing as the boy nods slightly.
"Heh... Yeah seems that way, I can't deny you have some good skills though. If it came down to a real fight I'm not quite sure who'd win."
He'd bet on himself purely from this showing, but something tells him Haken has some tricks he's not willing to use in non-lethal fights. Same as the keybearer does, almost no doubt.
"Anyway, it's been fun but I think I'm gonna head out pretty soon here. Though before I go... Curaga!"
He'd raise his hand into the air, green light glowing off it and forming a circle which spreads out to cover himself and Haken with magical energy. Their bruises and scrapes would begin healing rapidly, damage undoing itself at an impossible pace as the young man smiles a bit.
"Seemed like kind of a jerk move to just go without even putting a bit of effort into healing, just not my style. See ya man."
He'd wave a bit while walking out from the building, grin on his face the whole time. Two fights and two wins, not bad at all. Even if neither really went to the brink, it's good to know he still stacks up to at least some people around here.
Haken felt his wounds heal up once Roxas casted that spell.
"Well, I don't think I'd ever plan on getting in a real fight with you, the odds stacked against both of us can be quite even. Besides, you're a pretty cool guy."
Haken said, as he went over to pick up his hat and place it back onto his platinum white hair
"Adios, Keyblade guy, it was a pretty nice fight."
Haken then picked up his rifle and then went back to Luna...assuming she was still around
Luna is still standing by the wall, seemingly talking to herself. She had sorta watched the fight for a bit, but ended up getting distracted as most children do.
"So if I wanna play I need to go find something scary? But a real monster might hurt me. And adventurers don't get hurt."
The girl giggles to herself before adding
"I love you too father. I know you'd never let someone hurt me."